When an amateur cosmonaut writes about Serbia and Vučić (on the text “Democracy is locked” in Der Spiegel, 4/28/2020)

It would be all right if Keno Verseck, a freelance journalist from Germany, read a section of the Serbian Constitution concerning the state of emergency before selling Der Spiegel an article on how Vučić was introducing dictatorship in Serbia. Or it would be all right if the Hamburg newspaper editor deleted Keno’s article from his inbox after reading it because it didn’t even pass a basic fact check. They would spend five minutes each and would do a useful thing. The journalist would read in the Constitution of Serbia (in English on the website of the Constitutional Court) on how and why a state of emergency is being introduced and he would make a different article, or he would give up on this topic. By tossing this article in the digital waste bin, the editor would do a favor for his great and reputable newspaper. Thus, laziness, inertia, stupidity and malevolence seem to have once again won the victory over professionalism and truth.

A man who is skilled at writing about Southeast Europe, and especially the Balkans, claims in Der Spiegel that Vučić violates the Serbian Constitution and that this is not his first time by imposing a state of emergency. He uses, he says, a “loophole in the Constitution” to bring a state of emergency outside the Parliament. If he had not read, but merely cast an eye on the Serbian Constitution, he would have clearly seen that there is no hole, that it is very explicit (Article 200, paragraph 6) that the Government, with the President’s signature, be given the opportunity to introduce a state of emergency when the Assembly is not able to meet. And everything described in this article of the Constitution actually happened, just as it was written. And it is completely inaccurate, as Der Spiegel and Verseck say, that in Serbia “only Parliament has the right to declare a state of emergency”, that is exactly what we have proved.

But what can the pitiful facts, when, according to Der Spiegel, “opposition politicians, human rights activists and the independent media say differently  – they speak “almost unanimously of violations of the constitution and the coup“. What fact can counteract the power and authority of these oppositionists, activists and the unquestionability of their words? The Constitution does not prevent the head of state from being the president of a political party, but a German journalist claims the opposite and says with ease of ignorance that a state of emergency is not the first case that Vučić violates the Constitution. Not even the one in Der Spiegel’s text that Serbia is “still relatively slightly affected by the coronacrisis”. And why is it slightly affected by the epidemic? Maybe precisely because of all the measures arising from the state of emergency, which the Government and Aleksandar Vučić enacted in compliance with the explicit provision of the Constitution? It is, for that reason, but that does not fit in with the thesis and attitude Der Spiegel’s guest author had before he began writing the article. This is the way, the way German journalist used, that propaganda is performed, and serious journalism respects the reverse order.

However, the peak of Keno Verseck’s charlatanism and insolence is yet to come – with the April 26 scheduled elections, but due to the coronavirus postponed, Vučić’s party would probably win convincingly, perhaps the only correct estimate in the entire article. But follows – partly because most opposition parties intend to boycott those elections!? Even those who said they would boycott the election, not even them, believe it. Therefore, an expert on the Balkans from one of the largest European newspapers does not know about the basic political fact in Serbia, that Vučić’s political superiority over competitors is so great that boycotters can not endanger him from afar and that they themselves are very aware of it.

The arbitrariness and foolish talk of Der Spiegel journalist, such as that Vučić “has been ruling without restriction for years”, or that the Serbian leadership “does not otherwise show scruples in undermining the Constitution”, are not just a figment of the imagination and yet have a realistic root, you learn when you see that the only interviewee on this topic is Sonja Biserko. The eternal chairwoman of the Serbian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, with enthusiasm at zero, “reminds” that Vučić can do this because the EU allows him because they expect him to deal with Kosovo. This attitude only sounds fresh, new and intelligent to Der Spiegel and their author, who, in addition to Southeast Europe and the Balkans, is a specialist in, and now, watch out – for astronomy, astrophysics and space travel! That’s how it says on his personal website. Whether the words were by the only interlocutor of Der Spiegel from the Balkans and Southeastern Europe domain, or astrophysics and space travel, the author did not specifically explain.

And perhaps he could have known that this same thesis had been repeated since the first day of Vučić’s coming to power eight years ago, and that it had never been realized so far, so only for this reason it could have been circumvented. Even if that is true, how will you challenge the right of a Serbian leader, in this case Vučić, to deal with Kosovo as a key national priority, on whose solution depends not only the future of Serbia, but of the entire region? In doing so, each of the influential countries in the world are cooperating with Vučić and Serbia in this endeavor, offering, some less, and some more, good services to finally resolve this historical problem. There are still holes in Der Spiegel’s and Verseck’s article and each of them reveals that this weave is actually one big hole, which the author fell into when he decided not to change anything in looking at Serbia the way they looked at it for decades, although things have changed in Serbia in recent years. They have not even changed their Serbian consultants, on the basis of whose political perceptions they are still building their perception of events in Serbia, in which things have changed in the meantime. If he had merely glanced at the Constitution, and had not listened to the interpretation of the “free” Serbian public, if he had only followed the election results in Serbia in the recent years, and had not listened to interpretations of his frustrated Serbian interpreters, if he had only used common sense and associated good defense against the corona with harsh measures to suppress it, Keno Verseck would have come up with a decent, perhaps even good article that deserves to be published in Der Spiegel. But that was not his idea, nor his intention, unfortunately. He reached out to chewed, worn out, and inaccurate stereotypes about Serbia and Vučić, wishing who knew what – to justify his (self) naming as the expert on the Balkans, or to join a number of European media who had already written on a similar topic (and equally failed), but they have long since given up. Or, perhaps, a German author-enthusiast, liked to add another contribution to his title of space travel expert. If so, then Keno Verseck hit the center.