European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman David McAllister met with Serbian MPs on Monday and said that he heard a variety of views during his meeting in the Serbian parliament.
I always say that Serbia is one country, one people, one parliament but many different opinions,” he said, adding that the truth is somewhere in between.
Journalists were not allowed to sit in on the meeting but could follow it on monitors in the lobby.
McAllister said that a possible boycott of coming elections would not help strengthen democratic institutions and warned that the parties which do not take part in elections would not be heard in parliament.
Opposition People’s Party official Sandra Raskovic Ivic told McAllister that the media are blocked, that a campaign by state officials is underway everywhere and that the rule of law situation is not good. The opposition knows that elections are a democratic right and duty but taking part in them in these conditions would be like running a race with hands and legs tied and warned that Serbia is heading quickly towards a single party system. Fellow People’s Party official Miroslav Aleksic said that a boycott of elections is not a goal but a tool, adding that there is no time to change anything before the elections.
Opposition Democratic Party (DS) MP Gordana Comic predicted that the coming Europea Commission report on Serbia will not differ from the 2018 report, especially the parts on political criteria. She said that the dialogue between the authorities and opposition would not be organized outside institutions if parliament was the site of the dialogue. Her words were echoed by Liberal Democrat Party (LDP) MP Nenad Milic who said that parliament has become a theater for the public. He added that a dialogue on elections serves no purpose.
Ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) MP Vladimir Orlic told McAllister that the authorities were taking part in the dialogue with the opposition and want all proposals to be heard while Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS – a member of the ruling coalition) said that parliament is the place to discuss elections but added that it’s good to have the dialogue outside institutions as well.