Ivan Karic: The Greens of Serbia are authentic Serbian political movement. We focus on fight for clean and healthy state as our main theme. We promote environmental sustainability and green economy, health, non-violence, civil liberties and the right to be different.
Today, more than ever, green political option has a reason for being. For a long time there is a need to put the fight against pollution in the focus of political issues. However, the Greens of Serbia pretend to be a lot more. Our desire is to change the political scene in Serbia and impose new themes for voters and offer different answers.
We believe that politics can and must be different and for that we honestly fight!
The party president is Ivan Karic, a young man without significant political backgrounds. What brings Ivan in politics?
IK: One can imagine that a thirty-six-year old is too young for politics, but I have a rich and meaningful professional and political experience. After graduating from the Faculty of Mining and Geology, I am now ending the master studies at the Faculty of Applied Ecology in Belgrade. As a high school student I passed all levels of the seminar in Petnica Science Center. Later, my professional and public engagement includes being president of the Young Researchers of Serbia, Deputy Director of the Fund for the Environment in Obrenovac, head of flood protection for the City of Belgrade and advisor to the Director General of the Public Water Management Company “Beogradvode”. Major achievement in my scientific career is being the co-author of monography “Natural resources and degraded areas of Obrenovac.” As environmental and political activist, I organized the first planting of pine and poplar shoots on the ash dump in power plant “Nikola Tesla”, then a series of 6 panels on the enormous environmental pollution in Obrenovac and several protests against big polluters. In 2003 we established the “Green Obrenovac” association and in 2007 with a group of like-minded people from other towns in Serbia, political party The Greens of Serbia was founded.
What differs you and the party you represent from anything already existing in Serbian politics?
IK: First of all honesty in choosing topics. In Serbia, there should not be issues that are not talked about. The Greens of Serbia are committed to making ecological truth publicly available, no matter how cruel it is. Also, citizens must not be prisoners of the “big” topics, that have no solutions and that are used only for calculations in political campaigns.
The biggest problem today is 350,000 citizens of Serbia less in the last 10 years. This country cannot afford to lose 5% of the population, because of pollution, poor health and hygiene, socio-economic problems and poverty. It is necessary to conscientiously and honestly identify problems and offer concrete solutions. The Greens of Serbia believe that the country is where the people are, and that people are where there is work, healthy and secure future for children. Citizens of Serbia are the only ones that our country can count on today and in the future. We know how to stop the decline and we offer a new green deal for Serbia’s future.
Do you think that the awareness of Serbian citizens is sufficiently developed to promote themes that can get you a wider social support?
IK: The latest findings show that the citizens are very sensitive when it comes to pollution, health, cleanliness, hygiene … According to the latest opinion poll of the Bureau for Social Research (BIRODI), 42.6 percent of Belgrade citizens who participated in the environmental movement consider the environmental issue the most important for the capital. The biggest environmental problems in Belgrade, according to them, are air pollution, waste management, transport and pollution of rivers. Respondents think that for the poor state of the environment, most responsible are citizens themselves and weak political will to solve problems.
Who is target group of the Greens of Serbia, bearing in mind the upcoming elections?
IK: The target group of the Greens of Serbia are all those people who think that Serbia needs a new direction. The financial crisis, the failure of economic and social policies have meant that Serbia faces a decline in all aspects of our lives. This crisis should be seen as a signal that it is necessary to transform the economic and social system in our country. Change it into a system that will offer a new foundation for the present and the future on the principles of truth, consistency and sustainability. The social and economic development depends on environmental resources, health of the citizens, the government’s ability to resist pressure and renew its resources. Today we live with the responsibility to preserve and protect the heritage of the future for new generations.
The state has to be the guarantor of social and environmental rights, must make education and health care available and ensure that retired citizens live with dignity.
What makes you recognizable in the Serbian public, are you carrying out some concrete actions?
IK: As a party founded in 2007 the Greens of Serbia primarily worked on building a party infrastructure and now we have 13,500 signatures collected in the process of re-registration of parties (in 2010) and close to 100 Movements in Serbia. In 2008 the Greens of Serbia, with Ivan Karic as head of the list, won 4.85% in local elections in Obrenovac (about 2,000 votes), which is the single best achievement of a green party in Serbia. In 2010 in local elections in Bor, in the unequal race and the most brutal campaign, we won 2%.
When we talk about the specific actions, that is primarily collecting 36,000 signatures for a petition against genetically modified organisms, as well as the draft Law on GMOs, which we submitted to the Serbian Parliament. Also, we recently launched a public debate about the flaws in the construction of storage of nuclear and radioactive waste in Vinca, about which we spoke at the Congress of the European Green Party in early November in Paris, which resulted in the adoption of Emergency Resolution against the construction of new nuclear plants and storages for radioactive waste in Europe.
Nowadays, as the whole world is affected by the economic crisis, do you have a green answer to these challenges in Serbia?
IK: Every citizen has equal rights to use resources and equal responsibility to ensure that future generations enjoy the same natural resources as well as the man of today. It is necessary to provide public works in agriculture and infrastructure. Without infrastructure, it is impossible to plan any development. We need to start quality programs for job creation and encouraging self-employment. The overall economy and the economy in the coming decades will be green or environmental. Therefore, we should provide incentive mechanisms for the initiation of green jobs, such as collecting and recycling, renewable energy, new technology, organic food and herbs, spa and ecotourism. It is necessary to ensure economic activity in every rural area in order to protect the diversity of rural landscapes, which is an important part of Serbian identity. The aim is to improve the conditions for growth and employment to help the least developed regions to grow faster. Long term, education must be linked with the labor market in order to systematically carry out the necessary training of staff and workers.
Finally, what political parties in Serbia do you see as your potential allies?
IK: The Greens of Serbia, as political party, base their affiliations and goals on: environmental and ecological wisdom, social justice and solidarity, direct democracy, sustainability and green economy, respect for diversity and human rights and prevention of all forms of violence. All parties with pro-european visions that recognize and support the stated goals and objectives, are our potential partners with whom we want to cooperate and make Serbia worth living.