The head of the OSCE mission in Serbia, Jan Braathu, believes that all the conditions for fair elections in Serbia are in place and adds:
“The election observation mission assessed that there are certainly many recommendations that have not been fulfilled, but what we have seen in the working group is a constructive process; further comments have been made, something is still in the works, but everything is still moving forward. We are not at the end of the process, but it is much better now than before. We don’t know the final result yet, but so far the process has been good.”
He adds that the OSCE is in favour of elections taking place and does not believe that a boycott or non-participation is a good solution: “I don’t know what the outcome will be. If we look at the town of Negotin, we can see that the People’s Party achieved great results in the local election, so it is possible for the opposition to win, but they have to be present on the ground. Even in Norway people complain about the electoral process and that certain provisions have been violated. Every political culture is different and it is not advisable to compare the systems in Norway and Serbia. How can you improve and progress – by not participating or by working within the system? This is what you have here, turning your back on the process will not change anything.”
After a year as OSCE Ambassador to Serbia, Braathu says he has been very busy and has met with all decision-makers. “We have constant talks with the President, but also with PM Brnabic and the government ministers. My conclusion is that there is an approach based on willingness to listen to our arguments. I also met with representatives of national minorities, including the Albanians. If we look at the issues such as media freedom and justice, we can see that the working groups that have been set up are willing to listen to the other side. I hope everything will go well,” he added.
Speaking of minorities, he said there are 23 national minorities in Serbia and they all have different areas of interest. Asked whether the OSCE Office in Serbia will help the Office in Kosovo in relation to the referendum, Braathu said its mandate is only related to Serbia: “There is a separate mission there, my colleagues received a request from the government of Serbia and raised the issue before Kurti.”
The same adds that incitement to hatred is a problem in all European countries and that targeting journalists are a common thing. “Let’s talk about it, let’s also emphasise the role of the opposition. We support a culture of dialogue. The extreme polarisation in Serbia is reflected in the media scene. We want to encourage constructive dialogue, a dialogue full of respect. Opinions may differ, but we should respect each other. Silent diplomacy is an effective way to achieve results,” Braathu concluded.
This post is also available in: Italiano