Serbia: Inter-party dialogue for the benefit of the citizens of Serbia – letter from EP ombudsman

Serbia: Inter-party dialogue for the benefit of the citizens of Serbia – letter from EP ombudsman

The cross-party dialogue process, mediated jointly by the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia and the European Parliament, will make a significant step forward today, Blic reports, publishing the EP ombudsman’s letter.

Following the start of the dialogue on March 1, a critical phase of stakeholder consultation is under way.

This consultation phase is the key to developing a stable and realistic agenda for cross-party dialogue and identifying all these elements that can help reach a political consensus. We will discuss, and most importantly, listen carefully to what parliamentary groups in the National Assembly and the political platforms currently outside parliament have to say on some of the most important issues for the democracy of Serbia.

This week, we will meet individually with the representatives of the parliamentary groups in the National Assembly, and after Easter, we will have one-on-one meetings with the opposition platforms that had decided not to run in the last general elections. It is clear that we expect all participants in the dialogue to approach these talks in a positive and constructive way.

These individual meetings will help us assess the level of commitment, readiness and ability to reach consensus in order to improve the political climate before the next elections. We firmly believe that the citizens of Serbia deserve the opportunity to elect their representatives in the electoral process that is as free and fair as possible, as well as to be properly informed about the various political programs and positions taken by the participating parties or platforms. In this regard, we rely on the government, the governing parliamentary majority and the opposition to take full responsibility and work together to achieve this goal.

It is important to note that this process is based on cooperation, consensus and trust. That is why the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia, Ivica Dačić, is also mediating in it. We are very grateful for his support, as well as for the support of the National Assembly and its services, which is the key to the success of this effort. We look forward to working closely with Parliament Speaker Ivica Dačić in the coming weeks and months to develop a realistic agenda for cross-party dialogue and achieve tangible results.

This fruitful cooperation with the National Assembly helped during the first phase of the inter-party dialogue in 2019, when we worked with political actors and the government at the highest level and reached a consensus on a wide range of specific results needed to improve electoral conditions. However, according to the ODIHR election observation report, there is still room for improvement in this area.

We know that there are many questions about the second phase of the cross-party dialogue and the role of the European Parliament. The basic idea that governs it, similar to the first phase, is to provide a platform for dialogue between different political parties or platforms in order to find mutually acceptable solutions through consensus on issues of national interest that are essential for the development of a pluralistic and credible democracy.

In this process, the European Parliament assumes its role with great modesty. We are not here to bring ready-made solutions or to impose or support the positions of one or another political party. We are here to support the complex process, and as politicians and committed Democrats, we believe that without dialogue and a willingness to compromise, there will be no successful democratic process that addresses the major problems in our societies.

The European Union and its Member States strongly support the cross-party dialogue process. The European Commission’s latest progress report mentions dialogue many times. Through the adoption of the resolution on Serbia’s 2019-2020 progress report, the European Parliament strongly supports and instructs the ombudsman to assist the National Assembly in its efforts to build consensus and trust across the political spectrum.

We are fully committed to this process and work hard to achieve tangible results. “Our ultimate wish is to help make further progress for Serbia and its citizens on the European path through this process”, the letter concludes./ibna