BELGRADE – Serbia, Montenegro no longer democracies, says Freedom House

For the first time since 2003, the US-based NGO Freedom House did not rank Serbia among “semi-consolidated democracies” in its report. Instead, the NGO put Serbia in the “hybrid regimes” category based on authoritarianism as a result of incomplete democratic change.

Montenegro has also taken a step back by joining the category of so-called ‘hybrid regimes”, according to the “Nations in Transit” study, which includes 29 states of the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. The term ‘hybrid regime’ refers to states whose governments can enable political repression and call elections at the same time, where democratic elections are weak and challenges in defending political rights and civic freedoms are strong.

By comparison, Kosovo and North Macedonia are the only two states in the Western Balkans that have made progress. 

In the Balkans, years of increasing state capture, abuse of power, and “strongman tactics” employed by Aleksandar Vucic in Serbia and Milo Djukanovic in Montenegro have tipped those countries over the edge – for the first time since 2003, they are no longer categorised as democracies in Nations in Transit,” the Freedom House says in the report, adding that negative indicators in democratic reforms and methods of rule have been recorded in Serbia for five consecutive years.

International community should ‘sound the alarm’

Political analyst Boban Stojanovic believes the international community should “sound the alarm” and act on raising the level of democracy in Serbia.

Stojanovic told the Belgrade based Beta news agency on Thursday (7 May) that Freedom House’s report “is just one in a series of reports that point to [this problem],” adding that the EU should pay greater attention to this matter.

According to him, “basic freedoms of Serbian citizens” and strengthening democracy in the country should be dealt with, not just the Kosovo question. 

Stojanovic also said he does not expect the current Serbian government to work toward increasing democracy levels in Serbia because of the government controlling the media and a high number of propaganda media outlets, according to the report.

The EU should “finally” put aside other matters and start dealing with the citizens’ freedoms in Serbia, he added.

[Edited by Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic]

Subscribe to our newsletters