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S&Ds call for expert mission to assess and address systemic rule of law issues in Serbia

Date

08 Feb 2024

Sections

InfoSociety

Following the Serbian elections, which were marred by reports of widespread and systematic fraud, the Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament call for an expert mission to assess and address the systemic rule of law issues in Serbia, following the example of the Priebe reports*. This is one of the key messages of the European Parliament’s resolution ­– negotiated under the leadership of the Socialists and Democrats  which will be adopted later today.

Andreas Schieder, S&D MEP and member of the European Parliament’s election observation mission in Serbia, said:

“In today’s resolution, we are sending an important message to Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić and his ruling SNS Party who have been systematically ignoring international calls for tackling reported electoral irregularities and respecting international democratic standards.”

“We urge the European Commission to launch an initiative of an expert mission to assess and address the systemic rule of law issues in Serbia, following the example of the Priebe reports. This is key to restoring people’s trust in state institutions.”

“We also call for an independent international investigation into all reported electoral irregularities, such as phantom voters, vote buying, ballot-stuffing, intimidation, media bias, misuse of public resources and pressure on public sector employees.” 

Tonino Picula, S&D spokesperson for foreign affairs, added:

“It is hard to believe that the alarming fraud claims refer to a candidate to become an EU member state. It should be self-evident that the accession negotiations with Serbia should not advance without significant progress on EU-related reforms, including full implementation of international election recommendations.”

“All but one Serbian parliament in the past 12 years were dissolved early. Unnecessary snap elections have undermined political stability and democracy. The Serbian authorities lack respect for basic EU and international democratic standards. We must find a way to stop Vučić clinging to power by systematic abuse of institutions and media.”

“As we have saidagain and again: to achieve this, the EU must stop its appeasement politics towards Vučić and ensure that Serbia, as the biggest country in the region, fully assumes its accountability for stability and peace in the Western Balkans.”

“The bulk of responsibility here lies with European conservatives  Vučić’s political family  who should stop turning a blind eye to what is happening in Serbia. As if the EPP has learned nothing from their dealings with Viktor Orbán.”

Note to editors:

In response to the political crisis in North Macedonia in 2015, the EU gathered a group of independent experts, led by retired European Commission director Reinhard Priebe, and tasked them to identify systemic rule of law issues in the country. This form of work, outside of formalised EU structures, is believed to allow for a better analysis than regular EU reporting. They produced the Priebe report, which remains a reference tool against state capture in the Western Balkans. Two more Priebe reports followed, the second one on the rule of law in North Macedonia in 2017 and one on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2019.

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