There has been a week of opposition protests in Belgrade as the political campaigns start to crank up in anticipation of rescheduled elections in Serbia on 21 June. These were due to be held in April, but have been delayed because of the crisis facing the country with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commenting on recent developments Tanja Fajon (S&D, SI) and Vladimir Bilčík (EPP, SK) issued the following statement:-
“As Serbia emerges from the extraordinary COVID-19 lock-down, it is more important than ever that all political forces and citizens have full confidence in the integrity of the electoral process. Nobody should be exposed to any unnecessary risks when performing their political campaigns and in casting their votes.”
“Due to the consequences of the COVID-19 that will lead to restrictions on the normal conditions for carrying out the electoral campaign, the role of the media is more important than ever. In this regard, a step-change in addressing the area of media and the role and regulation of the public broadcasters is crucial for a successful electoral process.”
“We are very concerned about the polarisation in the media environment, the use of media for political – including personal – attacks and escalation of tension. Let us be clear, it is the responsibility of all politicians to avoid inflammatory language, to counter hate-speech, to avoid aggravating social divisions by respecting political opponents, and not to mislead the public with disinformation in the media before, during and after the electoral campaign.”
“We call on politicians in public and through the media to de-escalate tensions and re-focus on putting forward policy agendas that are pro-European and in the spirit of democratic society and that promotes development of the country and prosperity of the Serbian people. We call on the media to report objectively and professionally in the interest of the citizens.”
“We call on all political forces and citizens to engage in the electoral process so as to ensure the widest possible representation and promotion of different ideas and contributions which reinforce pluralism and strengthen democracy.”