European Parliament officials Tanja Fajon and Vladimir Bilcik wrote in an editorial for Belgrade daily Blic that the Serbian authorities have failed to meet most of the obligations they accepted in the talks on improving election conditions, while the opposition said if elections were not postponed, "we are wasting time."
Fajon, the former EP rapporteur for Serbia now chairs the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee while Bilcik took over as rapporteur. Both are involved in the talks on election conditions between the Serbian authorities and part of the opposition with former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein.
Bosko Obradovic, a leader of the Alliance for Serbia (SzS) opposition told N1 he would only ask the EP delegation later on Thursday was the option of postponing the general elections due in March ‘on the table’ in the talks with Serbia’s authorities. “If it’s not, we only waste time,” Obradovic said. “If the MEPs say there are no conditions for free elections, Aleksandar Vucic will have to negotiate the next day. If they say there are conditions, it means they choose Vucic and scarify democracy in Serbia.”
SzS will have a separate meeting with MEPs since it boycott the talks in Serbia's Parliament.
According to their article, an analysis of the situation following two rounds of the talks showed that some progress had been achieved but that more than 60 percent of the accepted obligations had not been met or had been partly implemented. “Clearly, significant steps have to be taken, especially in regard to freedom of the media and the role of public broadcasters,” they wrote. They warned that there is little time left to improve election conditions by implementing all obligations before the election campaign starts and suggested a review of the election time frame with full respect for the constitution and laws to allow the implementation of obligations and restore trust in the election framework.
Under current Serbian law, the elections for parliament have to be called by the president 90 days before the current parliament’s term in office expires and the vote has to be held no less than 45 days and no more than 60 days after the elections are called. This parliament was constituted on June 3, 2016.
Fajon and Bilcik said that the only way that the opposition which has decided to boycott the elections can present themselves to the electorate is to join in the political and election process. They said that the implementation of the accepted obligations is the most important thing at present to ensure that the voters are sure that real changes and improvements have been achieved.