Vucic’s Test: Increasing Violence Incidents in Serbia

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Globalization has increased the interaction among the international community. Particularly, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was a general acceptance that wars would come to an end. During this process, Francis Fukuyama’s “End of History” thesis received significant attention, leading to the belief that borders would lose their significance. This perception was further reinforced in parallel with the importance of international organizations. However, Samuel Huntington argued that wars would not cease, but rather that conflicts would arise between cultures, not states, through his thesis “The Clash of Civilizations.” Nevertheless, events such as the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, and the Russia-Ukraine War demonstrated that conflicts persisted and highlighted the importance of borders. Moreover, it has been observed that conventional wars have been replaced by hybrid warfare. Additionally, the new era has witnessed the rise of nationalism and radicalism. One of the regions where these trends are on the rise is the Balkans.

As it is known, states take steps to legitimize their policies, and this includes shaping the narrative of history. In other words, actors try to base their current strategies on historical references. In this context, it can be observed that nationalism is instrumentalized. In the Balkans, where nationalism is on the rise, there have been discussions in the Serbian public, especially after the Russia-Ukraine War. These discussions reflect the idea of a “Greater Serbia” and are propagated through media and education policies to permeate society.[1]

Actually, the Balkans have a heterogeneous demographic structure. In other words, different identity groups coexist in all the countries in the region. That is why limiting radical movements is among the priority topics in the regional policies of international organizations such as the European Union (EU). However, radicalization permeates all segments of society. In this regard, the politicization of the population plays a decisive role, especially in an environment where social decay has reached an extreme level.

Due to all these reasons, it can be observed that violence and radicalization are on the rise in Serbia. The proliferation of weapon usage here leads to serious problems. In fact, the incident on May 3, 2023, in Belgrade, where a 14-year-old child used a weapon in school, resulting in the death of nine people and numerous injuries, serves as a concrete example of this.[2] This incident has highlighted the extent of violence and weapon usage in Serbia, leading to the formation of public opinion against the government both nationally and internationally. In fact, Serbian President Alexander Vucic has announced that various measures will be taken in response.[3] Additionally, the Serbian Minister of Education, Branko Ružić, has resigned in order to mitigate the reactions.[4]

Although Ružić’s resignation has taken place, it is evident that the public’s interest in the issue will not cease. Therefore, Vucic has taken concrete steps to regain the government’s reputation and address security concerns. In this context, it has been decided that two police officers will patrol each school to enhance security.[5] The measures taken by the Belgrade administration are not limited to this. In order to develop alternatives to risky behaviors and manage difficult situations, the Council for Prevention of Peer Violence has also been established.[6]

However, it would be incomplete to say that the incident demonstrating the prevalence of violence in Serbia was limited to the attack in the school. Another incident occurred in the village of Dubona, under the administration of Mladenovac Municipality, where eight people lost their lives due to an attack.[7] These incidents, occurring in a Serbia where the culture of violence is widespread, have been met with significant public outrage. In fact, the public has organized protests demanding the resignation of government officials and the closure of media organizations that promote violence.[8] Moreover, it is not possible to say that these reactions are solely coming from the local population. For example, Members of the European Parliament have made statements indicating that there has been no progress in Serbia’s EU accession process.[9] However, these incidents alone have not been the only factors influencing this decision. In addition to principles such as democracy and the rule of law, the implementation of sanctions against Russia for the sake of the EU is also a significant criterion.

Nevertheless, it can be said that the Belgrade administration is making efforts to prevent violence. Especially in order to control the proliferation of weapons, numerous individuals have been detained. Additionally, measures are being taken to make it more difficult to obtain firearms licenses and to identify problematic students in schools.

In conclusion, there is an increasing tendency of violence in the Balkans, and Serbia stands out as one of the prominent countries in this regard. Undoubtedly, the demographic structure of the country and the news coverage in the media have an impact on this trend.

[1] “Cvejić: Sistem, porodica, mediji… uveli nasilje na velika vrata”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[2] “Pucnjava u Beogradskoj školi: Učenik ubio devet i ranio više osoba”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 03.05.2023).

[3] “Vučić najavio oštre mjere koje će ‘suštinski promijeniti’ Srbiju”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 07.05.2023).

[4] “Ružić podnio ostavku na mjesto ministra prosvjete Srbije”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 07.05.2023).

[5] “Policijske patrole u školama Srbije”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 08.05.2023).

[6] “Vlada Srbije formirala Vijeće za sprečavanje vršnjačkog nasilja”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 11.05.2023).

[7] “Srbija u stanju šoka, najglasnija je tišina”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 05.05.2023).

[8] “Serbia Shootings: Tens of Thousands Join Protests”, BBC,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).

[9] “Europarlamentarci: Srbija ne napreduje prema EU”, Al Jazeera,, (Date of Accession: 09.05.2023).