Some leaders of the opposition Alliance for Serbia (SzS) walked out of Monday’s round table on the media, saying that officials of the ruling parties had trivialized the debate.
This was the third round table discussion between the authorities and opposition at the Belgrade University Faculty of Political Science which was organized by the Open Society Foundation. The only SzS officials who stayed in the meeting are Sabac Mayor Nebojsa Zelenovic and Democratic Party (DS) leader Zoran Lutovac because they were at the previous two meetings.
Meeting organizer, Open Society Foundation Executive Director Milan Antonijevic, said that the meeting could not be called constructive and added that the next two meetings will be held early in September to discuss electoral rolls and voter rights after which “we will see how much political will we can get for the REM and RTS”. “I don’t know how much optimism I might have, talking like this is exhausting. We have put all our capacities and energy into placing certain issues before the participants,” he said.
Popular Party (NS) deputy leader Miroslav Aleksic told reporters outside the FPN building that the SzS decided to leave the meeting because ruling party officials had trivialized the talks. He said that he would propose that his party no longer take part in the talks on election conditions and boycott future elections. “Obviously, nothing has changed in terms of creating democratic and fair election conditions,” he said, adding that a boycott does not mean only a boycott of elections but serious changes in society, no legitimacy for the regime to form institutions and no obligation for the population to abide by their decisions. “That takes us into civic disobedience and unfortunately that will certainly led to some unrest,” he said.
Dveri leader Bosko Obradovic echoed his words, saying that he would also call his party to boycott elections. “The SzS will take a stand at a meeting of its presidency today,” Obradovic said. According to him, the media are the main condition that the authorities have to meet. He said the opposition wants at least six months of free media and a transitional government to guarantee that freedom. “The protests will continue and we have to defend freedom of the media and democracy. We will have to use a boycott to fight for free and fair elections,” Obradovic said.
Nova Stranka leader Zoran Zivkovic said his party delegation walked out a few minutes before the SzS because of the primitive way that SNS official and Deputy Belgrade Mayor Goran Vesic addressed the meeting. He said that his party would continue the fight for better election conditions. “Round tables are not the only way, there are ways to do this and ways to beat an authoritarian regime regardless of difficult conditions,” Zivkovic said. According to him, democratization of society suits the authorities the most because they are on their way out. “They will leave in the same way that they defend their position in power. If they defend it by force with no respect for the law and calling for blood that is how they will leave. If they accept a normalization of relations, with respect for laws and rules, free media and respect for election laws, that is how they will leave,” Zivkovic said.