State of emergency declared in Serbia
Based on the assessment of risks and threats to the security of the Republic of Serbia and its citizens, made by the Ministry of Defence, the President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister decided to declare a state of emergency in Serbia on 15 March 2020.
The state of emergency was introduced in accordance with the provisions of Article 200, paragraph 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, on the basis of letters sent to the President and the Government by the Minister of Defence.
The decision to introduce a state of emergency is effective immediately, Vučić pointed out at the press conference.
The President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, said that one of the tasks of the Serbian Armed Forces would be to guard hospitals and other important facilities.
"From this day on, Serbia is at war against the invisible adversary, a dangerous and vicious enemy that our country must defeat," President Vučić said, stressing that this is a fight for those who created and built this country, for our parents, our elderly, but also for the future of our Serbia.
He called on the elderly to protect their health, not to leave their homes, since they are the most vulnerable category.
President Vučić especially thanked the medical team, all the health care professionals, doctors and nurses for their contribution in the fight against the coronavirus.
There are no deaths from the coronavirus in Serbia yet, Vučić said, adding that we currently have a total of 48 infected.
He reminded that Serbia has gone through difficult crises, a terrible economic crisis, a difficult situation in Kosovo and Metohija, a migrant crisis, but this will be the most difficult battle for us, for our people, for the elderly and the sick.
President Vučić expressed his condolences on behalf of Serbia to all European friends, the Italians and the Spanish in particular.
He stated that as of tomorrow schools, kindergartens and colleges would be closed. There would be no training, no sports. Students would learn via television, RTS 2 and RTS Planet channels, and schools were unlikely to be opened until the end of the school year.
"We are shutting down life to save lives," the Serbian president emphasized.
"I will not make political decisions now but when all this is over, but we have realized that there is not much international or European solidarity and that it was a fairy tale on paper," said President Vučić commenting on the lack of European solidarity and the inability to get medical equipment from European countries.
So today, he sent a letter to the President of China Xi Jinping, "a friend and brother of the Serbian people," as he called him, guaranteeing him "a centuries-long friendship with small Serbia," asking for assistance, because it is the only country that can help us in this situation.
The President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces, Aleksandar Vučić, said that the military would guard hospitals. "We must not allow access to hospitals and that is why hospitals will be guarded by the military. No doctors will be attacked; not everyone will be able to enter hospitals. You will see the military next to the most important facilities," announced President Vučić.
The police will also do hard work, they will monitor isolation, and those who violate the isolation order will get three years in prison, Vučić said, announcing the introduction of numerous measures many of which will be amended from day to day.
We cannot forbid our citizens from entering the country, as we will forbid everyone else, not counting the Chinese, and citizens must respect a possible decision of the competent doctors regarding quarantine or self-isolation, the President of the Republic said.
All measures are being taken to protect the country, said President Vučić and called on all Serbian citizens, all living in Serbia: Hungarians, Bosniaks, Romanians, Slovaks, Roma, Albanians, Croats, Slovenians, and Macedonians, to be disciplined.
"To preserve Serbia, to fight for our future with discipline," said President Vučić, announcing Serbian solidarity, namely, that Serbia will help Republika Srpska in this difficult situation.
"A great battle is ahead of us. We have to enter this battle with a lot of knowledge, a lot of courage, and at the same time passion and calmness. We need to be passionate about helping our elderly and receive difficult messages with calmness knowing that this is the best possible way to save our country,”said Vučić.
"Surrender is not an option. Surrender has never been an option to Serbia and will never be. We will fight and we will win. Long live Serbia – the President of the Republic and the Supreme Commander of the Serbian Armed Forces Aleksandar Vučić concluded his address.
The press conference followed a meeting of the Crisis Staff for the prevention and control of Covid-19 and the Crisis Staff for the prevention of possible harmful effects of the coronavirus, chaired by Aleksandar Vučić. The meeting was attended by the Minister of Defence Aleksandar Vulin.