European Parliament debates results of Serbian election after all

Members of the European Parliament have urged Serbian authorities to transparently investigate reports about fraudulent activities during the December 17th election in Serbia.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said these elections were very important, and that they were observed by very international missions.

“Though technically well-administered and offering voters a choice of political alternatives, they were dominated by the decisive involvement of the (Serbian) President, which, together with the ruling party’s systemic advantages, created unjust conditions,” he said.

He added that it was concluded in the observers’ preliminary report that the electoral process requires tangible improvement and further reform.

“We expect that all credible reports of irregularities are followed up in a transparent manner by the competent national authorities. This also includes allegations related to the local elections in Belgrade and other municipalities. Following the adoption of the final OSCE/ODIHR report and recommendations for future elections, we expect Serbia to implement them quickly ahead of future elections,” said Reynders.

European Parliament’s Rapporteur for Serbia, Vladimir Bilcik, was next to voice his opinion about the election:” Frequent snap elections cause people’s distrust of the state governance and are hindering the implementation of needed EU accession related reforms. As observers, we also said on the day of elections – key procedures for voting and counting were mostly followed, however, we have reported cases of lack of secrecy. We received several reports of mass registration in Belgrade, of voters from abroad and from other municipalities from inside Serbia, specifically to enlarge the electorate. We call on the competent authorities to investigate properly and follow up on all the problematic issues we have referred to. This was said jointly by all the EP observers on the 18th of December, after the elections.”

Head of the group of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament, Andreas Schieder, mentioned “phantom voters, biased reports, and a whole list of irregularities” which all need to be cleared up, Instead, he said, the Serbian President and Prime Minister are criticizing electoral observers.

“The 35 irregularities that occurred in these snap elections have proved that Serbia has a serious issue with meeting basic democratic standards and conducting free and fair elections. We have been aware of these issues for years. However, what is new is the brutal openness with which these irregularities took place,” said Klemen Groselj of the Renew Europe Group in the EP.

It looked like the Serbian authorities did not even care because they are still confident that nothing will happen, he added.

“Unfortunately, they are right. The reaction of the Commission and the Council has been, to put it mildly, very soft. This is the essence of the problem of our enlargement policy as a whole. The question is: will the EU insist on the implementation of our fundamental democratic values and principles, such as the principle that free and fair elections are the foundation of the EU? Or will we be politically pragmatic, and, for the sake of quasi-geopolitical stability sacrifice the democratic hopes and aspirations of the Serbian people? For me, the answer is simple, but I know many in the EU have a huge dilemma,” said Groselj.

Viola von Cramon-Taubadel of the Group of the Greens/European Free said that the mass migrations witnessed in the Serbian elections are something she has never seen in her entire career.

“Pressuring voters, carousel voting, no access to international media for the opposition before the election day, the plan to publish election results tomorrow but backdated to the 3rd of January will ensure that the opposition loses any right to appeal to the High Court. Let us be crystal clear – these elections are rigged, they are stolen! Dear citizens of Serbia, the European Parliament stands with you. First, we demand an impartial international investigation, together with the OSCE, as was the case in Serbia after the 1996 elections,” said Von Cramon.

A different opinion could be heard from French MEP Jean-Lin Lacapelle who said there were 5,000 observers in Serbia to supervise the election, more than ever before, and that only 13 irregularities were reported. Lacapalle went on to say that ideology, rather than the facts, are motivating the EU. He said Vucic did not follow the EU ideology, which is why the EU wants to destabilize Serbia.

(N1, 17.01.2024)

This post is also available in: Italiano

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