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Populism and Resistance to Europeanization Regardless of the Changed Rhetoric and the Brussels Agreement

- 2012 Annual Report -

Belgrade, July 5, 2013

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The Helsinki Committee has recently issued its 13th annual report on the situation of human rights in Serbia against the backdrop of political, economic and social developments. Human rights are still overshadowed by xenophobia: after years and years of incriminated institutions and disastrous policies one can hardly expect see a closed society transformed and civilized in the short run. This is the more so since the new government – emerged from the Milosevic’s regime and warring policies - is itself at the stage “self-taming” and adopting new standards of behaviour.

“Though formed a year ago, the Serbian government is still at the beginning – it has not yet adopted a systemic program or strategy.

The structures in power are practically in a permanent election campaign…The predominant populism that promotes Vice-Premier Vucic in the first place is best exemplified by the arrests within the “anti-corruption campaign” and the “socially-oriented” budget for the year 2013… What marks domestic policy, except for populism, is a strong resistance to Europeanization and modernization, regardless of the changed rhetoric and the agreement signed with Prishtina.. Populism is nothing but one of manifestations of Serb nationalism that persists as the only ideology…One cannot deny that some governmental steps – such as negotiations with Prishtina – were positive. But only the implementation of the agreement will show whether or not the government signed it in good will.”

These are some of conclusions of the introductory section of the report published under the title “Populism: Entropy of Democracy.” This section also point out:

“The democratic opposition and civil society organizations do not respond promptly and adequately to the state of affairs: they are either tired out and disappointed, and take uncoordinated actions or irresponsible, corrupt and prioritize personal or group interests over the country’s modernization…The process of accession to EU is crucial for Serbia regardless of all the criticism of EU for its ongoing crisis. This is the only way for Serbia to establish the rule of law and stabilize its institutions, as testified by all earlier cases of the countries acceding EU.”

Apart from recommendations to European Union, Serbia’s government and civil society, and the opening chapter titled “Human Rights in the Shadow of Xenophobia,” the Committee’s 600-odd-page annual report examines the areas that are grouped in the chapters: “Judiciary,” “Security System,””Parliament,” “Independent Agencies,” “Economic Situation,” “Religious Communities,” “Discrimination,” “Media,” “Decentralization vs. Centralization,” “Kosovo,” “Serbia and Neighboring Countries” and “Serbia and the World.”

These are the topics to be presented in more detail on Monday, July 8, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. in the Media Center, Belgrade.

The 2012 annual report was issued with the assistance from the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Belgrade. The edition is available at, while some copies can be obtained at the Committee’s office.

The abridged version in English will be publicized online and available at the organization’s website by the end of July 2012.

Belgrade, July 5, 2012

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