Thousands Gather in Show of Support
Tens of thousands of people gathered in the center of Belgrade on Friday to show their support for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. The rally, named “Serbia of Hope,” was organized in response to recent anti-government protests sparked by two mass shootings that claimed the lives of 18 individuals earlier this month.
Prominent Speakers and Attendees
The “Serbia of Hope” rally featured several notable speakers, including Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto and Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik. Supporters traveled from various regions of Serbia as well as neighboring Bosnia and North Macedonia to attend the event.
Protests Triggered by Tragic Shootings
The recent protests were prompted by two devastating mass shootings. The first occurred on May 3 when a teenage boy killed nine pupils and a security guard, marking the first school mass shooting in Serbia. The following day, a 21-year-old man killed eight individuals outside Belgrade, fueling public discontent and sparking widespread demonstrations.
Calls for Government Accountability
Protestors, backed by opposition parties, have voiced concerns over the government’s alleged failure to address media outlets promoting violence and to effectively combat criminal elements within society. Demands for the resignation of President Vucic and certain ministers have further intensified the demonstrations, prompting the ruling elite to organize the massive rally as a display of their support and strength.
President Vucic’s Pledge
During the rally, President Vucic called for a minute of silence to honor the victims of the two mass shootings. He also made a significant announcement, stating his intention to step down as the head of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) on the following day. Vucic expressed his commitment to serving as the president for all citizens of Serbia, transcending partisan lines.
Messages of Solidarity
Attendees at the rally proudly waved Serbian flags, displayed images of President Vucic, and carried banners expressing their support. Foreign Minister Szijjarto addressed the crowd in Serbian, emphasizing the shared challenges faced by Serbia and Hungary in the face of international criticism. Bosnian Serb leader Dodik declared his support for Serbia and President Vucic, along with a call for unity and the celebration of national identity.
The rally had a significant impact on the city, with traffic in Belgrade being heavily disrupted and buses parked throughout the streets. Supporters from various regions traveled to Belgrade to demonstrate their solidarity with President Vucic and his efforts to promote peace and stability in Serbia.