“The comments on the European Commission’s report on the state of democracy in Serbia and progress towards EU membership are close to hate speech, but they are only part of the responses from government representatives,” says Goran Miletic, European director at the Civil Rights Defenders organization.
Other government representatives deliberately hid the results of the EC report while trying to divert public attention by announcing the appointment of a new Prime Minister at the same time when the report came out, Miletic adds.
“As usual, in the coming period, we can expect a different presentation of the report in a way that suits the authorities more. Some simpler things are expected to be “fixed”, although no effort has been made to change anything fundamental in terms of reforms regarding the rule of law, media freedom, human rights and the fight against corruption. Although the emphasis is placed on the parts of the report that relate to the economy, people in Serbia should know that any economic reform and improvement in this area is not possible without the state implementing the rule of law, ”Miletic underlines.
According to him, what is particularly worrying are the increasingly frequent verbal attacks on EU representatives, and now also on members of the European Parliament.
“After journalists, activists and whistleblowers, it seems that the people close to the authorities have found a new target and that they are increasingly sending veiled insults to the members of the European Parliament who deal with the situation in Serbia. Tanja Fajon and other Slovenian or Croatian parliamentarians are always a good target. The deafening silence of the authorities after these attacks speaks for itself. For instance, Tanja Fajon is derogatively called Tijana Ajfon, after a starlet in a reality show,” Miletic warns.
As Ognjen Radonjic, professor at the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade says, the EC report is objective, however, he wonders what can we do about it.
“The EU has long noticed all the negative characteristics of the Serbian government, but we are not doing anything about it. Most of the criticism does not lead to change, and now they have blocked our negotiations with the EU, “ he says.
According to Professor Radonjic, emphasizing the role that whistleblowers play in the report is very positive.
“I feel optimistic about Aleksandar Obradovic, the Krusik whistleblower. I see that he now enjoys direct protection, which is good. But as far as we are concerned, without concrete actions by the EU, I don’t see how anything different happening, because I haven’t noticed Europe’s sincere interest in the state of democracy in Serbia. There are no concrete steps made. Furthermore, it is obvious that the current Serbian government is not particularly interested in this. The President went to Washington to get closer to the US administration. Not only did they provoke Russia and China by doing so, but also Europe. Vucic has bypassed the EU and at this moment, has tied his destiny and the country’s foreign policy solely to America, ” says Professor Radonjic.
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The pro-European opposition in Serbia, gathered in a coalition, sent a letter to the members of the European Parliament in which they highlighted that they welcomed the EC assessments on the state of democracy in Serbia, and in particular, the problems in the electoral process.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the Democratic Party and the Free Citizens Movement (SSP, DS and PSG respectively) have welcomed the renewed request to continue the dialogue between the parties under the auspices of the European Parliament.
“We see this report by the European Commission as an alarm that democracy in Serbia is eroding, which must be stopped through EU-mediated dialogue, which is the only appropriate way to resolve the political crisis and for Serbia to return to its EU path”, the letter reads.
This post is also available in: Italiano