Pisonero: State institutions should treat civil society as a crucial component of democracy

European Commission; Photo: European Union

BRUSSELS – An empowered civil society is a crucial component of any democratic system and should be recognised and treated as such by state institutions, said European Commission’s Spokeswoman Ana Pisonero for EWB. 

We asked Pisonero for the European Commission’s assessment of the decision of the Serbian Government to request bank records of dozens of CSOs, including media associations, and individuals, mostly critical of the ruling party.

The Government justified its decision by the need to check whether any organisation is involved in money laundering, though it failed to provide any explanation for this suspicion, leading to the interpretations of the event as a form of pressure on Government critics.

“CSOs and human rights defenders play a key role in raising awareness about civil and political rights and need to be able to operate freely”, said Pisonero.

She added that fighting money laundering is an important pillar of Serbia’s EU integration.

Pisonero said that the European Commission is following the reports on a request issued by the Administration for Prevention of Money Laundering for information on financial flows and other banking details closely.

“We expect further information from the relevant authorities on the request, including information regarding the selection criteria”, Pisonero concluded.