IIn a four-minute video shared on Instagram over the weekend, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić sharply attacked Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and announced a Serbian response to the expulsion of tennis player Novak Djokovic. At the same time, he presented the case as a kind of world conspiracy against Serbia and the Serbian people.
“But what they could never take away from us as a people is our hearts, our pride, our dignity,” Vučić commented on the alleged attacks. The pressure on Djokovic, “on a Serbian citizen, a Serb, a citizen of this country” has reached such proportions that it is impossible not to respond.
Serbia often has to listen to lessons about the rule of law, the Serbian president said in the video captured in a snowy winter landscape. He asked what would have happened if a minister in Serbia had overturned a court decision and accused Australia of not being a constitutional state, “because all power is in the hands of the executive.”
Serbs ‘will fight for Novak Djokovic’
Even more important, however, is the “moral issue” of the matter, according to Vučić. If you wanted to prevent Djokovic from winning the tennis tournament in Melbourne again, “why didn’t you send him back right away?”. In this sentence, it is not grammatically clear whether the “they” refers to the Australian Prime Minister, the Australian State or the Australian Government, but the context suggests that it means Australia’s Scott Morrison.
Vučić continues: “Why do you not only mistreat him, but his family and a whole free and proud nation? Do you need this to win any elections? (…) I’m telling the truth, and you too know that I’m telling the truth,” Vučić said. The Serbs “will fight for Novak Djokovic,” announced the President.
Apparently addressed to journalists from all over the world who, in the past few days, had been critical of the trickery and at least dubious documents that the athlete and his team had presented when he entered Australia in order to be able to take part in the tennis tournament without being vaccinated, said Vučić, these “could also write hundreds of thousands of the worst possible texts about him”, none of that will change the fact that Djokovic remains “the greatest tennis player of all time”.
Serbia’s most powerful politician expressed his respect for the Australian people, but also announced, now apparently turning back to Morrison or the Australian government: “Serbia will know how to answer you, behaving much better than you have behaved towards Novak Djokovic .” Vučić did not say what the Serbian answer would be. He concluded by saying: “Long live Serbia! Novak, we are with you!”
Milorad Dodik, the President of the Serbs in Bosnia-Hercegovina, also joined the allegations. For many people around the world and especially for the Bosnian Serbs, Djokovic is “much more than an athlete”. The Serbs are “infinitely proud” of Djokovic’s behavior and convinced “that only a Serb could go that far,” said Dodik in an open letter to the athlete. “You have shown once again that you are one of the best sons that this people has produced over the centuries.”
For the Serbs in Bosnia there is no doubt that a good part of the attacks that Djokovic had to endure happened “because you are Serb”. With Djokovic’s expulsion from Australia, not only the Australians and tennis lost, but “all truth-loving people in the world”.
In Serbia, meanwhile, a hero’s reception awaits the tennis player. “I told Novak that I can’t wait for him to come back to Serbia, to his country, where he is always welcome,” Vučić said after a phone conversation with the athlete.
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