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Statement by PACE monitor, ending visit to Serbia

The Parliament of Serbia - Belgrade

Ending a visit to Belgrade and Novi Sad (2-4 October 2023), Axel Schäfer (Germany, SOC), co-rapporteur of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for the monitoring of obligations and commitments by Serbia, made the following statement:

“I am very grateful to the Serbian authorities for their openness and the constructive dialogue that we had as well as for the possibility of exchanging with opposition parties in the National Assembly.

During the visit, I was informed by all political forces in Serbia about the possibility of holding new parliamentary and some local elections in the course of December 2023. Since 2000, all but one parliamentary election have been early elections. The frequent organisation of elections at short intervals destabilises the functioning of democracy and State institutions.

I commend the recent reform of the justice system and the authorities’ commitment to fully implementing it in line with the recommendations of the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). I encourage the authorities to adopt the pieces of legislation as soon as possible and according to the adopted time-schedule.

Finally, the state of freedom of expression and media freedom remains a matter of concern. due to the State monopolisation of the majority of media outlets as well as the harassment of journalists expressing critical views or investigating cases of corruption and organised crime.”

The conclusions of the visit will be presented in an information note to the Monitoring Committee at one of its forthcoming meetings.