Leading MEPs welcome constitutional changes approved in Serbia’s referendum

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Source: N1

Vladimir Bilčík (EPP from Slovakia), Standing Rapporteur for Serbia and Tanja Fajon (S&D, from Slovenia), Chair of the Delegation to the EU-Serbia Stabilisation and Association Parliamentary Committee, welcomed on Monday the result of the country's referendum on Constitutional changes in the judiciary held on Sunday in which the majority of the people who turned out had voted in favour of the Government proposal.

„We welcome the decision of Serbian citizens to support the change of the Constitution reinforcing the independence of the justice system. This is an important step on Serbia’s EU integration path,“ the two MEPs said.

However, they added that they „are concerned about the reports on inadequate preparedness of electoral boards to conduct the voting process and call on responsible authorities to ensure improvements in this area in the run-up to the upcoming elections. We will continue to monitor the implementation of the constitutional changes as approved by the referendum as well as other reforms in the rule of law area.“

Earlier on Monday, European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi welcomed the fact that voters in Serbia supported the amendments to the constitution as an important step and commitment to the EU path.

According to the official results, just over 30 percent of the electorate turned out with a majority voting yes. However, residents in Belgrade, northern and southern cities of Novi Sad and Nis, and the central town of Kragujevac said no to the proposed changes.

In the meantime, several opposition parties and organisations which called for a no vote ahead of the referendum claimed foul play during the voting, some saying the votes were "stolen," while one demanded the annulment of the referendum.

Observers said President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) could not be happy with either the turnout or the overall result which, according to them, could be a signal ahead of the presidential, early general and Belgrade elections in April.

 

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