The quality of public debate in Serbia has taken a turn for the worse, which is a concerning development, a delegation of the European Parliament said in a press release on June 3, after spending two days in Belgrade. It urged political stakeholders to behave responsibly.
According to a press release posted on the EP's website, Serbian Speaker Vladimir Orlic met with EP rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilcik, EP Stabilization and EU Association Committee delegation member Matjaz Nemec and former MEPs Knut Fleckenstein and Alojz Peterle. Dialogue has been postponed at this time due to current political events, it was agreed after the meeting, but will resume in the shortest realistically possible time, after summer break. The statement on the EP's website said many citizens were expressing their genuine discomfort over the direction that the country's political culture is sliding toward.
Citizens "are anxious about the brutalization of public discourse but parliament as well. With the protests this weekend in Belgrade, it is crucial that everyone act responsibly, so that citizens can express their opinions peacefully, safely and without fear. We count on the police and the authorities to fulfil their duty and secure a safe space for these protests," the statement said.
The statement added that political stakeholders shouldered particular responsibility and urged all to refrain from hate speech toward people who think differently and called on media outlets to be responsible and objective and follow professional standards and ethics.