European Enlargement Commissioner Varhelyi urges Serbian parties not to boycott elections

The European Union delegation on a visit to Belgrade called on all political parties to take part in the forthcoming general elections but added that freedom of the media had to be implemented.

 “We call upon all political parties to participate in the elections, not to boycott them. We think it’s important for Serbia, for the Serb people. From this place I’m sending that message – democracy functions if we all take part in it,”  the EU Enlargement Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi told a joint news conference with a member of the European Parliament, Tanja Fajon and the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Serbia, Vladimir Bilcik.

They all agreed that free public sphere and free media were a prerequisite for fair elections, but when asked if the conditions for fair and free elections existed in Serbia, Várhelyi replied – “we’re getting there.”

He added that “if the entire Parliament agrees on a lower electoral threshold, than it’s OK. Although, it is not good to change rules so close to the elections.”

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However, Várhelyi fell short of mentioning that it could not be “the whole parliament” since the leading opposition group Alliance for Serbia (SzS) had been boycotting the Assembly’s work for months.

Bilcik said that the aim of their visit was to speak with political stakeholders, civil society and generally about what had been achieved after the three rounds of inter-party talks last year.

He added that they heard from all sides that the level of confidence in the institutions was deficient, as well as in what was going on in the public sphere.

Bilcik added he was ready to work on improving the situation together with Fajon and that any opportunity to make the elections successful should be used until the election day.

Fajon, who is also the Chairwoman of EP Delegation for Serbia, said they were satisfied when they witnessed certain changes in December, but that “today, our main message is media freedom, media freedom, media freedom.”

“It seems to be the most important condition for those who have decided to boycott the election. Our common message is that there is still time for improving the conditions for all, and I still want the door to the dialogue open, and for the opposition get back to the table and maybe take part in the elections,” Fajon said.  

Earlier, the European delegation met with Serbia’s Parliament Speaker Maja Gojkovic and some opposition MPs who hadn’t yet decided whether to boycott the election or not.

(, Beta, 06.02.2020)




This post is also available in: Italiano

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