Free Citizens Movement to boycott elections in Serbia, demands EU reports on the rule of law and media

Free Citizens Movement; Photo: Free Citizens Movement

BELGRADE – Free Citizens Movement (PSG) will participate in elections only when there are conditions for holding them, which do not exist now, PSG President Sergej Trifunović said at the press conference today.

PSG thus joined the Alliance for Serbia in boycotting the parliamentary election scheduled for April this year.

According to Trifunović, actions of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić lead to a moratorium on freedom of thought, speech and public action.

“Trust in democracy has been at its lowest level since the introduction of multiparty system in Serbia. As many as 31% of young people believe that democracy should be replaced by some other form of governance. Free Citizens Movement does not want to play a role in the simulation of democracy and contribute to the further deterioration of that image”, Trifunović said.

He added that PSG waited with the decision on boycott because they wanted to be responsible as much as possible, aware that all changes take some time, but that the will for change did not exist among those who need to implement those changes.

“Those who stole the state from its citizens need not to waste time explaining to us why they have not fulfilled what they have pledged to do. But they will have to explain it to the international community”, said Trifunović.

“They will have to explain why five new members of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media were not elected by the end of December. Why amendments to the laws preventing a functionary campaign have not been adopted. Why is the head of the Assembly’s Supervisory Board who is supposed to control the elections a man who was on the electoral list and who makes videos for the ruling party. And in the end, they tried to exchange all that is a precondition for free elections for lowering down the census to 3%”, he said.

Request for the EU: Media and Rule of Law Report

Serbia has evident problem of state and media capture, which is at the same level, if not worse, as it was the case in North Macedonia, when the EU mediated in solving the crisis, highlighted the PSG president.

“In such a country, there is no democracy, no free and fair elections. For them to happen, the Free Citizens Movement will continue the fight”, added Trifunović.

He said that PSG is currently demanding from the EU an independent expert report on the state of the media in Serbia, as well as an independent expert report on the state of the rule of law in Serbia.

“We call on the European Commission to form an independent group of legal experts to analyse the state’s capture and state of the institutions and to point out the specific problems that need to be addressed during the reform process. The so-called Priebe report, which the European Commission made to better understand the situation in North Macedonia during the political crisis of 2015, could serve as a model for such reports”, Trifunović said.

Free Citizens Movement also calls on the European Parliament and the European Commission to set up an independent task force to conduct a study on the state of media freedom and media functioning in Serbia, according to the Priebe Model Report.

Trifunović estimated that the current reforms on the media scene are only touching the surface.

“Until the last citizen of Serbia can vote without fear and without coercion. Everything below is not worthy of a man, and we do not consent to that”, concluded Trifunović.