First EP-mediated dialogue in Serbia: Part of the opposition refuses to participate

National Assembly of Serbia; Photo: Wikimedia Commons

BELGRADE – Steps for improving the conditions for the next parliamentary election need to be taken before the next round of dialogue in November, stressed the representative of the European Parliament and former MEP Knut Fleckenstein and Speaker of the Serbian Parliament Maja Gojković in a joint statement.

The topics of the meeting mediated by Fleckenstein and his colleague Eduard Kukan were campaign financing, media coverage, voters’ registry and the training of the voters.

The first round of inter-party dialogue in Serbia took place on 9 and 10 October but not everybody showed up.

The biggest opposition coalition Alliance for Serbia welcomed the involvement of the European Parliament but refused to participate in the dialogue with the ruling parties, stating that there is no time for their demands for fair election conditions to be met before April, when the next parliamentary election is scheduled.

President of the People’s Party Vuk Jeremić stated that the progress cannot be achieved using the chosen “Jean Monnet” format, which includes MPs rather than party leaders.

He added that the Alliance for Serbia does not want to send confusing messages to the electorate by participating in the dialogue, having already entered into the campaign for the boycott of the next election.

On the other hand, leader of the another Alliance member party, Zoran Lutovac met with Knut Fleckenstein before the dialogue started on Wednesday.

Lutovac, whose Democratic Party is an associate member of the Party of the European Socialists, stated that Fleckenstain, member of German Social Democratic Party, is familiar with the situation in Serbia and that he will meet with the representatives of other opposition parties.

The Alliance is the only opposition coalition polling above 10% on the national level. Smaller opposition parties, such as Free Citizens Movement, participated in the dialogue.

Conclusions of the meeting drew attention to the role of public broadcasters in the campaign, as well as the recommendations of the OSCE/ODHR and European Commission.

The inter-party dialogue in Serbia was initiated by the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee David McAllister in September, following the unsuccessful conclusion of the talks between government and opposition hosted by the Open Society Foundation in Serbia.