Press statement ahead of the elections in Serbia on 21 June 2020 

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Credible, transparent and peaceful elections in Serbia are crucial on the European integration path

In a joint statement Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP, SK), facilitators of the Inter-Party Dialogue on improving election conditions in Serbia, held a final round of inclusive consultations with all key players ahead of the elections scheduled for 21 June 2020 and underlined their call for credible, transparent and peaceful elections.


“On Sunday 21 June 2020, Serbia will be one of the first countries in Europe to hold Parliamentary and municipal elections under restricted conditions due to COVID-19. In addition to ensuring credible, transparent and peaceful elections, we also urge all participants to respect the health and safety measures put in place for Election Day.


The integrity of the election process depends on the full respect of fundamental democratic principles where citizens are free to express their will through the ballot box in a peaceful environment without any form of pressure or intimidation. We hope that the results reflect accurately a democratic competition where all participants could enjoy a level playing field. In that regard, we call on the competent institutions and the media to provide objective, transparent and impartial service in accordance with the laws and regulations. We also call on all bodies responsible for the elections to be proactive and ensure the full implementation of the commitments undertaken during the European Parliament facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament on electoral conditions. However, we regret that despite our efforts, the conditions were not sufficient for one part of the opposition who have decided to boycott the elections. Trying to find common ground between all parties should remain our effort.


Although COVID has prevented the European Parliament from sending election observers, we continue to monitor developments closely and our thoughts are with the people of Serbia as they pursue their democratic aspirations in the polling stations. We welcome the deployment of a Special Election Assessment Mission by ODIHR in these difficult circumstances, who, alongside Serbia election observers, have an extremely important role to play in monitoring and reporting before, during and after Election Day.


The European Union is the number one partner to Serbia and the majority of the Serbian citizens are in favour of European integration of their country. As such, we hope that citizens have had the opportunity to hear from all political parties, including those newly proposing pro-European political programmes and agendas that will take the country closer to achieving EU membership. We also hope that these pro-European political agendas will find their place in the new Parliament and will be influential in accelerating the necessary ongoing reforms in Serbia.


The European Parliament is ready to work with all political parties that are committed to delivering the democratic and pro-EU future, consistently desired by the people of Serbia. To this end, we remain committed to working with the new composition of the Serbian Parliament and to the Second phase of EP facilitated Inter-Party Dialogue.”


Background


In March 2012, EU has granted candidate status to Serbia and since 2014, the country is negotiating for full membership. In October 2019, European Parliament established an Inter-Party Dialogue with the Serbian Parliament in order to improve the electoral conditions, to address the outstanding issues that motivated part of the opposition to declare boycott. The COVID-19 crisis has raised concerns about increased disinformation designed to undermine the EU's support to Serbia during the pandemic.