On the detteriorating situation in Serbia and the role of the EU

After a visit in Belgrade and talks with different representatives of several political parties (ranging from opposition to government), representatives from Civil Society and media we regrettably have to affirm that the political situation in Serbia is very fragile, delicate and deteriorating. The announced boycott of many opposition parties is a result of the political pressures of the Progressive Party under the leadership of President Aleksandar Vučić to prevent a lively opposition. Harassments and intimidation of followers of the opposition and especially of the very few mayors are systemic, the strong control of the media allows no fair party competition and election essentially for a functioning parliamentarian democracy. This appalling political attitude from the side of the government has been confirmed by representatives of the civil society and the media. Their efforts to promote a fruitful dialogue have been confronted with the lack of readiness of the government to implement decisive reforms concerning the election board, the board supervising the electronic media and the fight against corruption.

The EU was, in the past, too much concentrated on expecting from the leadership of President Vučić to “deliver” on Kosovo. However, we cannot see any readiness to develop and implement a realistic and conciliatory strategy on the side of the President and government – irrespective of some similar negative approaches from the Kosovo side. In addition, the Serb government is also contributing actively to a decrease the regional cooperation and reconciliation efforts on the basis of an unhealthy nationalism – especially in pre-election times.

This situation could become worse with the nomination of the former minister of justice of the Viktor Orbán government as EU Commissioner for enlargement. The nomination is a slap into the face of all those who fight inside the countries of the Western Balkans for true democracy and rule of law, especially the vivid civil society.

We expect from all political entities in Europe to demand a different policy of the EU Commission and the Council which is supporting all those who are fighting for European principles and values. Soft attitudes towards those who are systematically violating these principles and values must stop. In addition, there are many good reasons to challenge the nomination of the new Commissioner for enlargement.

Serbia is currently fighting for its “democratic air” and the EU should be a strong partner for those who are willing to transform the country.