Belgrade based daily Danas reports that US diplomat Matthew Palmer called the Serbian opposition to participate in the next parliamentary elections, quoting unnamed diplomatic sources.
Danas reports that Palmer told the opposition leaders that Washington does not agree with a possible boycott of elections because that would violate democratic principles.
The opposition leaders are reported to have told Palmer that they won’t turn out for the elections unless their demands are met, including a reform of the Regulatory Body for Electronic Media (REM) and more media space for the opposition.
Palmer met with Alliance for Serbia founders Dragan Djilas, Bosko Obradovic, Zoran Lutovac and Vuk Jeremic and the leader of the Movement of Free Citizens Sergej Trifunovic after the US diplomat’s meetings with President Aleksandar Vucic and Prime Minister Ana Brnabic.
Daily reports and that the European Union also disagrees with the decision to boycott elections.
Daily Vecernje Novosti reports on the meeting as another form of Washington’s pressure on the Serbian president before ”a series of ground-breaking talks on resolving the Kosovo issue”.
The daily’s interlocutors claim that such a choice of “guests” at a lunch on which Kosovo’s problem is “served” is not surprising. The interlocutors interpret the meeting as a message sent to the top of the Serbian state, which reads ”in case it does not agree to certain concessions on Kosovo, the option of additional pressures on the inner scene can always be activated”.
Novosti reports that the US Embassy clarified that Palmer met with a broad spectrum of interviewees in Belgrade in order to hear different views. They did not specify the content of the conversation, nor did the representatives of the opposition want to talk about the topics.
Vuk Jeremic, the leader of the People’s Party, was the only who said after the meeting that the list of officials showed that “the real opposition became a legitimate interlocutor of the international community”.
Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) leader Milos Jovanovic told Vecernje Novosti that he did not understand why Serbian politicians go to foreign embassies, and that he did not receive a call for a meeting with US official Matthew Palmer, adding that he would not even go, if invited.
Jovanovic told daily that “we are really low if America decides who the opposition is in Serbia”, thus reacting to the statement of the People’s Party leader Vuk Jeremic.
Political analyst Dragomir Andjelkovic told Vecernje Novosti that the socializing of a high-ranking Washington official with a part of the opposition acts as a “silent American threat”:
– Suddenly they were now interested in the Serbian opposition. It indicates that they want to instrumentalize it. If we look at the moment in which this happens, hardly that it has nothing to do the Kosovo negotiations. Serbia definitely did not yield the way some people expected and is now entering a new phase of pressure.