The US envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, expressed concern over the authorities' attitude towards the opposition in Serbia and added that the regime "must provide fair treatment" to election observers, the media, and civic activists in the April elections, the Voice of America (VOA) reported on Thursday.
„It is something that we openly express our concern about and discuss with the authorities. There are three elements: the first – is the attitude towards the opposition. We believe that the opposition must participate in the elections in free and fair conditions. The second thing is the media environment: many media in Serbia are indeed under the control of the Government. The third thing is the attitude towards civil society – people involved in democratic activities: election observers, media freedoms and civic activism supporters. Serbia’s authorities must provide fair treatment to these organisations,“ Escobar said.
He added that „the United States is not the only one who points to that – but also the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), as well as other international organisations that have indicated their expectations regarding the April elections in Serbia.“
Escobar said that the Western Balkans had been the focus of permanent engagement, investments and bipartisan support of the United States for the last three decades.
Addressing the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Escobar said the results of such an engagement were precise.
„The countries of the former Yugoslavia are now among the four allies in NATO, while the two countries are members of the EU. Among the countries of the Western Balkans, all either share the strategic goal of deeper integration with the West as aspirants to EU membership or are members of the EU,“ Escobar told members of the Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation.
During a discussion with US Senator Bob Menendez, Escobar said that establishing the Community of Serb Municipalities (CSM) in Kosovo, agreed by Belgrade and Pristina in 2013, would not contribute to the destabilisation of Kosovo.