The Friedrich Ebert Stiftung said in its latest Democracy and the State of Emergency report that the situation in Serbia recalls the 1990s with unrest, police brutality, a lack of credible information, biased media reporting and the borders of neighboring countries closed.
The report said that the coronavirus pandemic caused “more than a health crisis” in Serbia.
“By disclosing the state of democracy in its true light, with the (mal)functioning of institutions and processes brought to the surface along with manipulations, lack of transparency and political accountability, the Corona-virus pandemics has triggered more than just a health crisis in Serbia. The state leadership recognized the seriousness of the situation with a slight delay, spreading uncertainty among citizens who were emptying stores and pharmacies. A month into the crisis, the state seemed to have improved its management with the pandemic, at least from the perspective of spreading of coronavirus that was restrained with the State of Emergency and hard restrictive measures,” it added.
“The overall track record in the management of the crisis over the past four months can be summed up with uncertainty and under-performance that further decreased already low trust among the citizens, leading to an overall lack of credibility,” the report said.
It said that the reality of the situation led to people taking to the streets fully aware of the risk of infection “in a desperate cry against the increasingly authoritarian face of the regime”. “The police brutality should be taken as the most serious alarm on the state of “democracy” in Serbia,” it warned and added that the reasons for the discontent are much more complex than a protest against the return of restrictive measures.
“In light of a potential second wave of the pandemic that would bring disastrous consequences to Serbia and its citizens, it is high time (for Europe) to stop looking away and to support the citizens’ demand for accountability as well as supporting the remaining democratic forces in all the processes and heavy decisions that await Serbia,” the report said.