Serbian government attempts to silence International Crisis Group
by ICG President Gareth Evans
On Thursday 3 July, the International Crisis Group’s Serbia Project Director, Dr James Lyon, was informed by the Serbian Interior Ministry that his work permit would not be renewed and he had three days to leave Serbia. The authorities cited national security interests for their decision. No further explanation was provided. ICG will lodge a legal appeal if the decision by the Serbian Interior Ministry is not reversed.
The President of the International Crisis Group, Gareth Evans, has expressed his deep concern about the attempt to stop ICG’s representative from working in Belgrade. ‘I strongly urge the Serbian authorities to reconsider this short-sighted and draconian decision,’ Mr Evans said. ‘Attempting to expel Dr Lyon will only damage Serbia’s reputation. ICG has always been a strong and independent voice for peace building and democratization in the Balkans and this will continue.
‘From time to time ICG has published reports that expose corruption, organized crime and the problems of resolving the war-time legacy of Slobodan Milošević. It is a mark of a country’s maturity that it can absorb and accept such information, and implement reforms to address these issues rather than resorting to heavy-handed tactics to silence its critics.’
ICG will publish a new Serbia report shortly. The report analyses the incomplete elimination of the Milošević legacy from Serbian public life by the post-Đinđić government.
* Two days later the Belgrade authorities reversed their decision