The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee Borko Stefanovic and Committee members Biljana Pantic Pilja and Natasa Jovanovic met today, in the National Assembly House, with Matteo Mecacci, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).
At the beginning of the meeting, Stefanovic took the opportunity to thank the representative of ODIHR for the support shown in the previous parliamentary and presidential elections, emphasising the importance of ODIHR’s work for electoral processes and the work of the parliament. He stated that Serbia follows the reports and recommendations of the Office and promotes the principles of democracy in accordance with them, adding that the standards of democracy and free elections are not up to par in Serbia and that there are countless elements that should be improved.
Stefanovic also said that, despite great efforts invested along with the Working Group set up for the task, the Republic of Serbia had failed to conduct presidential and parliamentary elections on the territory of Kosovo-Metohija, which is contrary to the principles of protecting the democratic rights of all citizens, including non-majority communities, i.e. the electorate of 100,000 Serbian voters living in these areas.
He pointed out that the political situation in Europe affects both Serbia and the region and that it is his position that it is best for Serbia to align its foreign policy with that of the European Union. He added that the public still has no insight into the "French-German" document that was proposed for the normalisation of relations in Kosovo-Metohija, which harms Serbia’s position in its struggle for national interests.
Mecacci pointed out that ODIHR has for decades been monitoring and giving recommendations how to improve the electoral process, strengthen democratic institutions and implement reforms in various areas in Serbia. He added that ODIHR also monitors pre-election processes and the representation of political campaigns in the media, which gives a broader picture of the election processes. He said that there is no country that does not have an area it could improve and democracy takes different forms in accordance with the times.
Biljana Pantic Pilja and Natasa Jovanovic stressed they appreciated the help and cooperation with the Office during the election processes in Serbia, adding that the elections held on 4 April 2022 showed Serbia's readiness to have democratic elections and that all the demands of the Inter-Party Dialogue conducted in the pre-election process were adopted and implemented, which led to the presence of a considerable number of political parties in the National Assembly.
They also said that early parliamentary elections, which were not a rare occurrence in the previous period, are not a sign of a government crisis but a possibility for the opposition to be part of the National Assembly. They added that the polling board trainings went well and that group voting does not harm the secrecy of the vote. They also agreed that human rights in Kosovo-Metohija were violated in the previous elections, because the voters could not vote in their municipalities. They also emphasised that they look forward to further cooperation with the Office.
The officials expressed their willingness to continue cooperation, opining that Serbia has come a long way in the reform process.