European Western Balkans

Continuation of the Inter-Party Dialogue in Serbia tomorrow, focus on the media

Vladimir Bilčik, Tanja Fajon, Knut Fleckenstein and Parliament Speaker Maja Gojković following the 2019 IPD; Photo: EU Delegation to Serbia

BELGRADE – The first live meeting within the second phase of the Inter-Party Dialogue mediated by the European Parliament, will be held on Friday and Saturday, with the presence of MEPs Tanja Fajon and Vladimír Bilčík, and former MEPs Eduard Kukan and Knut Fleckenstein, as well as the Speaker of the Serbian National Assembly, Ivica Dačić.

According to the agenda, the meeting will be opened with a discussion on the expectations from the Inter-Party Dialogue, followed by a discussion on the media, with a special emphasis on the public broadcasting service.

A discussion on further steps is scheduled for Saturday, as well as a joint press conference of European mediators and the President of the National Assembly. The process will then, after the summer break in the European institutions, continue, as announced, on  September 17 and 18.

According to daily Danas, European mediators will also meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić tomorrow, before the meeting with party representatives.

Starting from March 1, European parliamentarians held online meetings with representatives of parliamentary groups in the National Assembly, then with groups of opposition parties that mostly boycotted last year’s elections.

One of the mediators in the dialogue, Knut Fleckenstein confirmed for EWB last week that the EP gave official approval for the travels, which is necessary for the current parliamentarians, Bilčik and Fajon.

“I am very sorry that we postponed the procedures due to the pandemic, but now we should really start”, Fleckenstein said.

Asked if he is optimistic about reaching any compromise between the government and the opposition, Fleckenstein said he hoped that is possible.

“My impression is, after talking to some interlocutors, also after I met with the Speaker Ivica Dačić, that there is a lot of good will, but whether that is enough – we will see”, concluded Fleckenstein

The Inter-Party Dialogue began with the exchange of letters between the then Speaker of the National Assembly Maja Gojković and David McAllister in September 2019. Meetings followed with the presence of European mediators in October, November and December of that year, and the mediators last physically visited Serbia in February 2020, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, to assess the implementation of the agreed measures.

The agreed measures were not enough to prevent the boycott of the June elections of the opposition then gathered in the Alliance for Serbia, which did not directly participate in meetings with the authorities, but met separately with European mediators.

When it comes to the media, the first phase of dialogue focused on the work of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM), i.e. its completion, adoption of regulations for public services and media monitoring, as well as the establishment of the National Assembly Supervisory Board, to follow media coverage.

It remained unclear how these measures contributed to the media scene last year, and Vladimir Bilčík and Tanja Fajon, after the re-election of Olivera Zekić to the REM Council and the resignation of Slobodan Cvejić, issued a statement in which they assessed that this body still does not trust of the public. Tomorrow’s discussion is expected to cover REM again.

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