Statement on rallies in Serbia

12. 04. 2017

Ongoing anti-corruption protests in Serbia have led to thousands filling the streets of Belgrade and cities across the country. Following the presidential election on 2 April 2017 large demonstrations are now a daily occurrence, with students and young activists adopting a central role.

The European Youth Forum supports the statement of our member organisation, the National Youth Council of Serbia (KOMS) and the Serbian youth who are expressing their views through non-violent demonstrations and contributing to the development of democratic society in Serbia. By excluding youth and not listening to their concerns and opinions, at every level of governance, politics and society as a whole will not be able to meet young people’s needs.

Democracy requires the voices of young people to be heard and included. As stated by KOMS,

the rallies are a message to the whole society in Serbia that young people do have something to say but their voices aren’t taken into consideration enough.

The European Youth Forum believes that voting itself isn’t the only form of political participation. The portrayal of young people in the media as antagonists of social development contradicts and threatens the democratic right to freedom of speech and manifestation. The Youth Forum fundamentally rejects and condemns any narrative of this kind. Through the organisation and leading of rallies, young people have demonstrated values of openness, democracy, non-violence, tolerance, transparency and solidarity.

The European Youth Forum calls on EU Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations (DG NEAR) to meet KOMS on their next visit and urges DG NEAR to open a dialogue on the reasons behind this rally and solutions for young people. The demands of the Serbian young people must not be ignored.

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