Is Serbia heading towards the EU through non-compliance with legislation and by stopping investments?
Serbia is on the road to the European Union, but there are several obstacles in its path. Many are related to the rule of law, such as the lack of judicial independence and undemocratic, communist-era laws that facilitate political persecution.
One of the most striking cases is the case against Miroslav Mišković, the greatest Serbian businessman, who was accused under Article 234 of the old, communist legislation. A fictitious indictment was raised against Miroslav Mišković (70). However, the proceedings has been conducted on for three years, despite the fact that the prosecution failed to offer any substantive evidence, and that not a single witness for the prosecution has accused Mr Mišković in his statement.
Old-style thinking continues to vilify capitalism and discourage private investment. Stopping the biggest investor in Serbia and the biggest partner of global corporations is a bad message to all entrepreneurs, who are likely to come under the fire of the media and judiciary that are deeply dependent on political influence.
The case of Mr Mišković, who underwent horrifying torture by politically orchestrated tabloids, is also an example of the low level of media culture that does not correspond to the European standards of fairness and objectivity.
Due to the identified weakness of the judicial system, the EU delivered a roadmap for membership with recommendations for certain corrections to Serbia.
“Denial of Fair Public Trial – The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the courts remained susceptible to corruption and political influence.” – US State Department 2015 Human Rights Report on Serbia
„I believe any U.S. support for improved relations or for Serbian accession to the EU should depend on that country’s commitment to political reform, the addressing of the lack of transparency in the government and genuine efforts to increase the independence of its judiciary. The repeal of Article 234 would go a long way toward establishing those goals.” – US Rep. Chris Van Hollen, statement for the Congressional Record
“Defamation of politically inconvenient people is a popular instrument in authoritarian regimes.” – Markus Loning, former Human Rights Commissioner of Germany, op-ed in Suddeutsche Zeitun and Real Clear World
“Vucic and his supporters stepped up hostile rhetoric and verbal harassment against critical journalists and outlets in 2014… Journalists face threats and risk physical attacks in connection with their work.” – Freedom House 2015 report on Freedom of the Press in Serbia
“Article 359 and its successor Article 234 are likely to make any foreign investor wary of doing deals in Serbia. Levels of foreign direct investment remain resolutely low, and are not likely to improve unless genuine reform of the civil justice system is undertaken.” – Alan Riley, professor of law at the City University London