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EU-HoMs Statement on the Kosovo municipal and mayoral elections on 22 October 2017

Voters in Kosovo exercised their democratic rights by voting in municipal elections on Sunday. At the invitation of the President of Kosovo, the EU deployed an Election Observation Mission (EOM), the fourth fully fledged EU election observation mission of the kind in Kosovo. As for the June legislative elections it was once again headed by the Chief Observer Alojz Peterle, Member of the European Parliament.

We are pleased that, according to the Preliminary Statement, which the EU EOM issued earlier this week, the elections were overall held in a calm and orderly manner in most parts of Kosovo. At the same time, the EU HoMs noted with serious concern that the campaign environment was marred by intimidation within many Kosovo Serb communities and that the election process within Kosovo Serb-majority municipalities thus did not meet some international and European standards for democratic elections.

EOM identified a continuous, co-ordinated and concerning pattern of intimidation within Kosovo Serb majority areas, directed against candidates competing against Srpska Lista. This included pressure on individual candidates to withdraw and restricted political competition, raising questions about key principles of the overall democratic process in those areas. Persistent weaknesses in the election process were also repeatedly observed by the Mission that were not sufficiently addressed prior to these elections. We call upon all relevant actors from the entire political and community spectrum to address these shortcomings without any further delay.

In line with established practice, a Final Report containing recommendations on the improvement of the wider electoral framework will be released by the EU EOM after the end of the current electoral process, including the second round of Mayoral elections to be held in four weeks’ time in some municipalities. These recommendations will help the Kosovo authorities in their efforts to improve the electoral framework and thus to further improve and consolidate democratic governance and institutions. The EU is fully committed to supporting the Kosovo authorities in these efforts, including through an ODIHR-implemented regional project.