The European Commission is aware of reports of passivation of ethnic Albanians in the Presevo Valley in Serbia and is monitoring the situation in the light of Belgrade’s commitments in the EU accession process.
Researcher and academic Flora Ferhati-Saschenmeir first sounded the alarm over the “administrative ethnic cleansing” of Albanians in the region through an editorial published on Exit.al. The revelation was the result of nearly a decade of work on the matter.
She found that the Serbian authorities were removing almost 4,000 ethnic Albanians from the civil registry, depriving them of their right to vote, to send their children to school, to access health care health, rendering them essentially stateless. In light of the upcoming presidential, parliamentary and local elections scheduled for April 4, this raises concerns about the rights of ethnic minorities to participate in democratic processes.
Exit asked the commission if they were aware of the situation and what action could be taken. Although they did not address the issue of citizens being barred from voting in the triple elections, they will consider it as part of the membership process.
“We are monitoring the situation in the light of the commitments made in the context of the accession negotiations, in particular those relating to the rights of persons belonging to national minorities”, declared a spokesman for the commission.
They added that “Serbia is obliged under Chapter 23 ‘Judicial and Fundamental Rights’ to implement its legal framework and action plan dedicated to minorities”.
While welcome, it will do little to help 4,000 citizens who have been illegally disenfranchised in elections less than a month away.