Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper), MEPs have called for an expert mission to assess and address what they call “the systemic rule of law issues in Serbia.”
This is one of the key messages of a European Parliament resolution which was adopted on 8 February.
The plenary voted on a resolution at noon wrapping up its assessment of the situation in Serbia following recent elections.
MEPs state that, although smoothly conducted, the elections fell below the expected standards for an EU candidate. The draft also calls for an independent investigation into the parliamentary, provincial, and local elections’ irregularities.
Andreas Schieder, S&D MEP and member of the European Parliament’s election observation mission in Serbia, said: “In today’s resolution, we are sending an important message to Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić and his ruling SNS Party who have been systematically ignoring international calls for tackling reported electoral irregularities and respecting international democratic standards.”
“We urge the European Commission to launch an initiative of an expert mission to assess and address the systemic rule of law issues in Serbia, following the example of the Priebe reports. This is key to restoring people’s trust in state institutions.”
“We also call for an independent international investigation into all reported electoral irregularities, such as phantom voters, vote buying, ballot-stuffing, intimidation, media bias, misuse of public resources, and pressure on public sector employees.”
In a separate resolution adopted on Thursday with 433 votes in favor, 56 against, and 18 abstentions, Parliament expresses what it calls its “complete outrage and grave concern about the continuous efforts by Russia to undermine European democracy through various forms of interference and disinformation.”
A parliament statement said, “With the Kremlin attempting to sow divisions between European citizens, the text highlights how Moscow is recruiting some MEPs as “influence agents” and has created a dependent relationship with certain European political parties, including through funding, which then act as amplifiers of Russian propaganda and serve Russia’s interest.”
Expressing “deep concern” over recent media reports that one MEP has allegedly acted as an informant for the Russian security service FSB, the resolution stresses it is imperative for both the European Parliament and the authorities to “thoroughly investigate the matter, to determine any appropriate sanctions and criminal proceedings.”