Serbia's President Vucic Dissolves ParliamentSoutheast Europe | November 2, 2023, Thursday // 14:19| views
In a move driven by mounting political pressures, both domestically and from the European Union, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic has dissolved the country's parliament, signaling the onset of snap parliamentary elections alongside local polls scheduled for December 17.
Less than two years following the electoral victory of the Serbian Progressive Party, President Vucic, the party's leader, took the unprecedented step of dissolving parliament, as reported by Al Jazeera.
Serbia's political landscape is poised for a major transformation as the nation strives to secure its place within the European Union, joining the 27 member countries of the supranational political and economic union. EU membership requires adherence to a set of stringent guidelines, including sanctions against Russia for its Ukraine invasion, the crackdown on organized crime and corruption, and the reinforcement of the rule of law and human rights.
Despite President Vucic's and the Serbian Progressive Party's lengthy leadership since 2012, they have faced accusations from protesters of fostering a culture of violence and suppressing media and electoral freedoms, Al Jazeera noted. The backdrop to this political turmoil includes the tragic events of back-to-back shootings in May, which claimed the lives of 18 people.
Several pro-EU parties within Serbia have persistently called for new elections, asserting that their demands for change have been ignored. In a statement made to Al Jazeera, a pro-EU party in Serbia declared, "Serbia is in a deep political and social crisis," adding, "The demands of those who have been protesting for months were ignored. We need responsible people in politics who will solve problems instead of ignoring them." The calls for new elections were finally heeded with the dissolution of Vucic's parliament.
Challenges on the path to EU accession are further complicated by enduring tensions between Serbia and Kosovo. While Kosovo is recognized by over 100 countries as an independent state, Serbia maintains its position that Kosovo is a southern province.
Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, underscored this challenge during her visit to Belgrade when she stated that "Serbia and Kosovo must make more progress if they want EU membership," according to Al Jazeera.
Notably, Serbia and Kosovo have a history of deep-seated animosities, culminating in a war that raged from February 1998 to June 1999, resulting in an estimated 10,000 casualties. The conflict ultimately drew in NATO forces, leading to the withdrawal of Yugoslavian forces from the region. Subsequently, NATO troops have been stationed in Kosovo ever since.
Tensions flared up once again in September following violent incidents in northern Kosovo, which prompted the deployment of Serbian troops to the Kosovan border.
Experts believe that the absence of a functioning parliament will allow President Vucic the latitude to delay decisions regarding relations with independent Kosovo while preparing for Serbia's bid to join the European Union.
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