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Open letter to the Democrats from Božidar Djelić

Belgrade, December 31, 2013

Dear Democrats,

I received a professional offer that I could not refuse. I will be a Managing Director in one of the most prestigious global investment banks, Lazard, in Paris.   

I submitted my resignation to the position of Member of the Parliament, as well as to the positions of the Sector Committees Center Manager and member of the Political Council of our Party. I remain member of the DS. That I will always be.

I am returning to the exciting world of international finances, in which Lazard has been playing one of the leading roles for over 160 years. I am looking forward to new professional challenges, which will take me all over the world. I will be counseling States, large companies and banks in the management of their financial strategies.

I am excited that my new office, though I will spend little time in it, is located just a few hundred meters away from the home where my children live.

I am certain that these new experiences will prove to be beneficial to our country in the future. In the meantime, my engagement in Serbia will be exclusively in charity work, through a science and art foundation I plan to start up in the months ahead.     

I am leaving deeply concerned for our country. I am leaving with true hope that the Democratic Party will soon be able to help Serbia and its citizens.  

I am worried, of course, because of the deep economic and social crisis. Investments have dried out, the purchasing power is declining, poverty is on the rise, while the public finances have reached the breaking point. But I am also deeply concerned because of the deterioration of our fragile democracy. The Government is yet again hyper-centralized, relations in the public arena extremely strained, and the media largely fuel up the societal tensions or provide leisure of the lowest quality. Violence is increasingly present in families, in schools, on the streets. The only recently acquired freedoms, such as the visa-free travel regime, are threatened.

Of course, each and all in the DS, especially its leaders, myself included, must deeply think over one’s own responsibility for the current state of affairs. This, however, does not bring solutions that our citizens need. The ones that are proven to have broken the law should answer for their deeds. Let everyone else have a turn to the future, with useful experiences they have gained and lessons that they have drawn from their own mistakes. 

Without the full capacity of the Democratic Party, it will be very difficult to pull Serbia out of this crisis. We had the same situation back in 2001 when with the departed Zoran we literally tugged our country out of the deep mire it was in. I fear that we will have to do it all over again in the near future.

Our voters, especially the disappointed and the passivized ones, expect us to show unity, expertise and strength.

Our priority today is to unite and get ready for the Belgrade and, most likely, early parliamentary elections. The power of the DS has always been in its strong personalities. On the other hand, personal vanities and uncontrollable ambitions have so very often defiled it. Any internal discussions have to be left aside until after the elections, in which our citizens expect from us a clear and consolidated message.

This message can no longer be both Europe and Kosovo. We have won for Serbia in a way that our political opponents came to our strategic positions. It is now time to lead with our knowledge and ideas in the most important areas. In the past we successfully proposed and implemented measures in agriculture, science, defense, culture, infrastructure, and we have also shown success in running Vojvodina, Belgrade and many other towns, municipalities, public companies and institutions. We have to persevere in this road of real life policies and decisions. All our citizens, including those that do not vote for us, expect this from the DS. In order to reach this goal, our Party must become a model of a meritocratic institution, where positions are gained by knowledge and effort, and not by obedience and close relations with the leaders. We all know how difficult it is to achieve this in Serbia, but there is no other way.
Our strength will emerge out of our unity, our expertise, as well as our courage. The same courage that gave us strength to defend the European values in the nineties, to sign the Stabilization and Association Agreement with the EU when it was dangerous, and to reconcile with our neighbors when it was unpopular to do so. The same courage that we had while confronting the red berets, the Hague indictees, smugglers and drug lords. We must show that same courage today in confronting the current regime, which wants to destroy us as a political organization.

Historical distance will show our extensive positive impact on Serbia since the fifth of October, despite our wanderings and mistakes, despite the tremendous negative campaign today trying to convince our citizens otherwise. Let’s grasp this as just one more reason to provide an even greater contribution in the future. With the enthusiasm that is our hallmark. With a sincere belief in the equality of all citizens, starting from the equality between women and men. With the desire to build a socially responsible and economically efficient State in which it will be good to live.

I would like to thank everyone who supported me. I also wish to thank the ones that tried to minimize my efforts, and those who unduly smeared my name in the media. They only made me stronger.

Always with you,

Božidar Djelić