European Liberals to Commissioner Varhelyi: We Do Not Believe that Election in Serbia Will Be Fair and Democratic

Hearing of Oliver VÁRHELYI , Commissioner-designate, Neigbourhood and Enlargement - Arrival - Opening statement - Q&A session

Eleven members of the liberal Renew Europe group of the European Parliament sent a letter to the EU Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi expressing “deep concern” over the state of democracy in Serbia and the conditions under which the upcoming election would be organized, the website European Western Balkans reported on Tuesday.

They assessed that the Serbian government and political leadership seriously regressed in terms of commitment to the fundamental European and democratic values, and they added that they were deeply concerned about the widening gap between the statements and commitments that the Serbian authorities undertook and the fulfillment of those commitments in reality.

MEPs from the third-largest group in EP stated that they regretted the decision that the elections at all levels should be held on 21 June in the absence of an agreement between the government and the opposition, which could have prevented the boycott.

They also reminded that Serbia was recently classified as a hybrid regime, which was a result of the unbalanced media reporting and increased pressure on individuals and the civil society critical of the government.

MEPs assessed that the elections in such an atmosphere would be far from fair and democratic, and they also expressed concern over the growing influence of Russia and China and the critical statements of the Serbian authorities against the European Union.

These statements, they believe, cast a shadow of doubt on the real commitment to the common European future of Serbia’s political leadership.

Therefore, they called on Varhelyi to be extra careful when it came to the current development of events in Serbia and that they should be adequately presented in the annual progress report of the European Commission on Serbia.

This is the second letter sent by MEPs to Varhelyi in less than two months, and in the previous one from 16 April, they expressed concern about human and constitutional rights violations during a state of emergency due to the coronavirus pandemic.