Borrell and Várhelyi: We expect all actors to address long-standing electoral shortcomings

European Commission; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – High Representative of the Union Josep Borrell and European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi released a statement on the yesterday’s elections in Serbia and preliminary findings of the OSCE Monitoring Mission.

“While contestants in Serbia’s parliamentary elections were able to campaign and fundamental freedoms were respected, voter choice was limited by the governing party’s overwhelming advantage and the promotion of government policies by most major media outlets, according to the preliminary findings and conclusions of the international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR)”, the statement emphasised.

Borrell and Várhelyi said that the European Union looks forward to the OSCE/ODIHR final report and recommendations for future elections to be issued in the coming months.

“We expect all political actors and relevant institutions to engage in a transparent, decisive and inclusive dialogue on the implementation of these recommendations to address long-standing electoral shortcomings well ahead of the next elections”, they stated.

They encouraged the new parliament to continue to engage in the inter-party dialogue led by the European Parliament, with a view to forging broad cross-party consensus on EU-related reforms, which is vital for the country’s progress on its EU path.

“We also encourage the Serbian leadership to engage in a genuine dialogue across the political spectrum to take forward important reforms on the rule of law, fight against organised crime and corruption”, the statement reads.

The European Union looks forward to engaging with the next government to take forward swiftly the urgent reforms necessary for Serbia’s EU accession, Borrell and Várhelyi said.

This concerns in particular the rule of law, which lies at the heart of the accession process and should be at the forefront of the next government’s political priorities, and socio-economic reforms, crucial for post COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

“We also count on Serbia’s continued full engagement in the EU-facilitated Dialogue as well as regional cooperation more broadly”, they stated.

As Serbia’s top donor and investor, and its most important trade and economic partner, the European Union is fully committed to continue supporting Serbia’s EU accession process as well as economic recovery following the coronavirus crisis, including through the Economic and Investment Plan for the Western Balkans due in the autumn, the statement concluded.