Category Archives: Announcements

School of Interculturalism

Within our second School of Interculturalism, in the period from 24 January to 16 February 2019, we will hold three three-day workshops in Niš, Novi Pazar and Bor. The topic that will be dealt with is Violent Extremism among Young People.

Young attendees of the School from these three cities will have the opportunity to hear, among other things, introductory lectures: Conflicts – Raising Critical Awareness, Extremism and Mainstream Politics, Forms of Extremism in Serbia, WE and THEY- Migrant Crisis, WE and THEY- Islamophobia and Hijab, WE and THEY – The Temerin Case, Extremism – the Theoretical Definition and Examples, The Relation of Politicians from Serbia’s Political Life to the far Right from 1990 to the Present, The Sport fan’s Right-Wing Extremism as the most Dangerous form of Extremism in Serbia, Antigypsyism, Extremism Directed against the Roma Population, My Neighbors – Religious Minorities in Serbia, My Neighbors – Religious Identity in Preserving the National Identity, My Neighbors – Unprivileged at Strike.

The lecturers are Vladimir Ilić, Jovo Bakić, Osman Balić, Draško Đenović, Aleksandra Marković.

The workshops will be organized as part of the project Do not count on me! Combating Violent Extremism through Intercultural Youth Education, with the support of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.

Hungarian Irredentism as a Threat to Stable Inter-ethnic Relations

Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS), within its continuous monitoring of the rights of national minorities in Serbia, believes that it is necessary to draw attention to the following:

The Officials of Hungary have issued statements that destabilize inter-ethnic relations in the region. These statements have been further radicalized by the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, which is the part of the ruling coalition in the National Assembly and the part of the Government of Serbia, represented with several state secretaries. Serbian government, under whose control are the media in Serbia, has not responded to this. Accordingly, in the media, this trend is not mentioned.

The lack of reaction of the Serbian Government and the Serbian public to this provocation is concerning. In the case of adverse developments in the process of Pannonian basin, the cost, as so many times before, is likely to be paid by members of the Hungarian minority. Their rights and their real position are irresponsibly being threatened by the acts of the Budapest Government, failure to act by the government in Belgrade, as well as by their most influential political party in Serbia, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians.

Mr. János Lázár, the minister in charge of managing the Office of the Prime Minister of Hungary said on May 31 in Mako, that the Trianon trauma “does not only have victims but also perpetrators, accomplices and beneficiaries. Monuments to their responsibilities, monuments of apologies are not found in Paris, among the castles of Versailles, not in the Felvidék, Erdély, Partium, Délvidék and the Transcarpathian”. Mr. Lázár stressed that the former Allied powers did not apologize to Hungarians and showed no signs of dealing with the past. Mr. Lázár said that Hungary did not require a revision of borders, nor a “return of the land”.

On the same occasion, Deputy Prime Minister of Hungary, Mr. Zsolt Semjén said that “Trianon tragedy happened because the government that came into power did not consider the existence of national value and deliberately wrecked the army, government and paralyzed defensive reflex of the Hungarian nation.”>>>

Some new tones in the process of Serbian – Hungarian reconciliation

Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) noticed some, by no means, insignificant changes in this year’s marking of the anniversary of the killing of innocent Hungarian civilians during the liberation of Vojvodina in 1944.
Namely, like in the previous years in Vojvodina, the end of October and the beginning of November 2016, was marked by a public reminder of the civilians of Hungarian nationality, who were killed by Yugoslav partisans, after the liberation of Vojvodina from fascism, in 1944.
At various commemorations, in Čurug, Subotica, Temerin, Senta, Horgoš, Martonoš and elsewhere, speeches were given by the descendants of the slain civilians, Ambassador of Hungary Dr. Atila Pinter, president of the Assembly of Vojvodina Mr. Ištvan Pastor, the presidents of political parties, the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians, mayors, Roman Catholic and Calvinist priests, the president of Hungarian National Council, and others.
In organization of the Hungarian National Council the issue of the mass graves of the innocent Hungarian victims from 1944/1945 was released, which includes GPS-coordinates of the mass graves.
In Novi Sad, Mr. Bela Čorba, the president of the Democratic Party of Vojvodina Hungarians among other things said: “The people of Novi Sad during the Second World War and its aftermath could experience the sins of two terrible ideological misconceptions of the 20th century: fascism and communism: thousands of innocent have become victims of ideological fanaticism and national hatred. (…) The war was still in progress and in Eastern Europe winners over Nazism immediately repeated this inhumane practice and principle. Examples of this are the six death camps and many labor camps that were created by Tito’s forces and the calvary of interned Germans and Hungarians (among them citizens of Novi Sad). ”
The media in the Hungarian language conveyed the title from the commemoration from Adorjan: “killed by freshly mobilized Banat partisans.”>>>

The background to Orban’s visit to Belgrade

Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS), on the occasion of the visit of Viktor Orban to Belgrade, believes that it is quite evident that a cordial political alliance between the Serbian Progressive Party and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, based on a very close relationship the governments in Budapest and Belgrade, means the consistent implementation of minority rights in regions where the Hungarian minority has the majority and the rapid assimilation of the Hungarian minority where most of the ethnic population is Serbian.

This behavior of the governments in Belgrade and Budapest, as well as the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians and the Serbian Progressive Party, is the road towards the realization of the Bosnian scenario of destruction of the modern civil state at the ethnic seams.


Strategic foreign politics cooperation between Serbia and Hungary and minority policy

In the light of the launched action of civil society, to reconstruct the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights during formation of the new Serbian government, Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) has found it necessary to draw attention of the public to the following facts:

This request for re-establishment of the Ministry for Human and Minority Rights is more than understandable, given the basically good experiences of the post- fifth of October ministries in the governments of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the Council of Ministers of the State Union and the Government of Serbia. The special importance to these thoughts and the proposed action is given to the upcoming opening of chapter 23 of the negotiations with the European Union.

Circumstances have, however, changed significantly. More generally, Serbia, in terms of regulating minority rights today, depends more on bilateral relations with the mother countries of national minorities, which are already members of the EU, than by the standards of international organizations. Serbia has largely fulfilled liabilities to international organizations in this field, with the exception of Roma issues. It is enough in this regard, to see the last few reports of the European Commission on progress in the areas relating to the rights of national minorities.

With the candidate status, and in the light of the forthcoming opening of Chapter 23, the issue of the rights of national minorities in Serbia, from internal issues turned into a variety of bilateral issues. Every EU member state has the right to veto. Candidate status was directly caused by the signing of the Protocol with the Government of Romania with which Serbia has accepted the obligations towards the Romanian / Vlach national minority on the day of receiving the candidate status for the EU (March 2012).

Lately, Croatia has conditioned opening of chapters 23 by direct political representation of Croatian national minority in the National Assembly.>>>

Twilight of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina

The incomplete autonomy of Vojvodina is slowly fading away. When Belgrade formally accepts the independence of Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, the autonomy of Vojvodina will be impossible. The nucleus of the state organization and all of social activities shifted to the northern parts of Serbia: the city of Belgrade is incomparably stronger, not only economically and politically, but also in the sense of cultural activities and potentials, than Vojvodina with all of its cultural peculiarities and diversities. In the context of demography, when we examine the population according to educational and professional structure, the predominance of the capital over the devastated yet semi-autonomous province is even stronger.

Predictions are uncertain, but it can be assumed that semi-autonomy of Vojvodina will survive another election cycle. It will be carried by the Progressive party (Naprednjaci), with their allies, Čanak’s private party, with Pásztor’s Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, and perhaps with the Socialists. Small parties will pursue the policy of dumping, waiting for the Serbian Progressive Party to fall apart before or after the first regular election. In the meantime, many members of the Progressives will join to the drones from uncountable provincial administration, and as well as to the board of directors and various parastatal bodies.

It is unrealistic to expect that the system of protection of national minorities, which is still working great in Vojvodina after the abolition of its autonomy, will be extended to the whole national territory; acquired rights, which allow the Slovaks, Romanians, Bunjevci, to have their information programs, teaching in their own language, the official use of languages and alphabets, even when they take up only a few percents of the population, will be facing the national standard which prescribes threshold of fifteen percents share of national minorities in the population of the municipality in order for them to be able to exercise certain rights. The Vlachs will not get what they traditional Vojvodina’s minorities have, and Bulgarians, who’s only newspaper in their native language is already abolished, and who in the municipality where they make up three-fourth of the population (Bosilegrad) do not have complete education in their own language, will not get the implementation of minority rights.

The demography of Vojvodina still interfere with the abolition of its autonomy. Two-thirds of its population are ethnic Serbs. One-fifth belong to ethnic minorities. One-sixth declare themselves as regional, Yugoslav, or inarticulate, opposing to divisions along ethnic criteria.>>>

Regarding the world day of social justice

Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS), on the occasion of the World Day of Social Justice, finds it necessary to alert the public to the following:

According to the provisions of Article 1 of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, the state is based on the rule of law and social justice.

In the Republic, there is no rule of law or social justice. These two phenomena are related.

Numerous successive reports of the European Commission on the progress of Serbia testify to the absence of separation of powers into three branches. This deprives citizens of legal protection.

Citizens who do not have adequate legal protection are faced with growing poverty, and millions of them with real misery.

The state has robbed a seven-digit number of pensioners of payments they have been putting into the pension fund for decades.

Unemployment is huge. The only secure employment is in the public sector. The requirement for employment, in a large number of cases, is the membership in one of the political parties that are at the particular time in power.

This way, the unemployed people, and especially young unemployed people, are deprived of the freedom of political choice and their right to freedom of opinion and freedom of conscience is significantly undermined. Partocratic relation to employment leads to the formation of parallel social strata at every level of the social hierarchy. Employees in the public sector, in terms of safety of employment and level of income tend to have a disproportionate advantage over their counterparts from parallel social groups in the private sector.>>>

Risky minority policy of the Government of Serbia

Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) warns that the Government of Serbia still hovers between integration of national minorities into Serbia’s political system and their Serbianization. Schizophrenic character of the ruling party, made up of former radical ultrachauvinist who have succumbed to the inevitability of European integration, is quite visible here.

In Subotica, the progressive Assembly President, Ilija Maravić, announced that Subotica would get a cultural centre that would bear the name of Brana Crnčević, and that they would close the Foundation of Danilo Kiš.

This was opposed by the city board of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians, a coalition partner of Maravić’s Serbian Progressive Party.

Brana Crnčević was one of the leading representatives of war policy in the nineties. Danilo Kiš is a symbol of, not only multiculturalism, but also the European character of Serbia.

At the same time, in the municipality of Bečej, where the ruling coalition is comprised of SNS and SVM, for the first time among the holders of the most important functions there are no Hungarians, although Hungarians make up half the population of the municipality.>>>

Regarding the proposal on the equalization of civil and church marriage

Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) interprets the proposal on the equalization of civil and church marriage, which is embedded in the Draft Civil Code, as the continuation and strengthening of religious discrimination in Serbia.

Legal Recognition of church marriage is a human right, but only if the consequences are such that they do not compromise the equality of citizens before the law.

In given conditions in which unconstitutional and unlawful discrimination against a large number of churches and religious communities is applied, this will contribute to its further strengthening.

In Serbia, a lot of Protestant churches are discriminated. None of the non-Christian religious communities is registered. A few years ago, the Minister of religion insulted the then-Ambassador of India, mentioning in their official talks with her that Vishnu, Shiva and Buddhist communities in Serbia are close to satanic cult’s sects.

The then-Minister of Religion began the forced unification of the Protestant churches. This policy has been applied up to today.

Only privileged churches and religious communities are present in classes in state schools. Only their representatives are authorized to take seats in the National Education Council. Only they can perform religious services in the military and religious services in prisons. Binding instructions of the Radio Broadcasting Agency were given to broadcasters to make them talk about underprivileged churches mostly in the context of the threat of extremism. Police officers held public lectures in which they equated Protestant church with satanic sects.>>>

Transparency in law-making process in the light of forming of the new government in Serbia and Ukrainian crisis*

The problem of transparency in law-making process is conditioned by a number of factors that are changing quite rapidly. One must be naive to think that the crucial laws whose adoption is being prepared with insufficiently transparent public debate, as the Labor Law, or whose drafts are merely mentioned, without anyone seeing them, as the legislation in the field of education in Serbia that is allegedly still being prepared, are brought in social and political vacuum.

Like countries of the Visegrad Group and Western Balkans, Serbia is faced with a situation in which the new government with a strong parliamentary majority emerged. This is, of course, a good thing, since there will be fewer blockages in the legislative process, and as civil society will know exactly who to turn to seeking greater transparency and wider public debate about the laws that are passed and are yet to be passed in the coming period.

However, some other factors are changed as well. As the Center for Development of Civil Society has been engaged in the protection of the rights of ethnic minorities for fifteen years, it is hard not to see the intertwining influence of different factors.

When we talk about the recent political changes that have taken place, we think of the elections in countries such as Serbia or Macedonia, or the Visegrad countries, for example Hungary. But, other changes significantly affect the transparency of the legislative process as well.

Crimean crisis is a new trial and a new challenge. Any factual border changing in Europe affects not only international relations but also the managing mode of internal issues in all European countries. Crimean crisis has intensified issues related to the adoption of the Labor Law, since it implies adherence to the standards of one of the parties who are confronted regarding Ukraine. It also raised the issue of the existing legislative solutions and their possible changes with regard to such important matters as the oil rent and South Stream. In small countries, foreign policy influences the legislation. Ukrainian events increase the vulnerability of small countries and may decrease transparency not only of their foreign policy, but also the legislative process and the role of the public in them. This cannot be stressed enough. Exacerbated international situation makes demands for transparency even more necessary, and, at the same time, more difficult to achieve. There is an understandable tendency of power holders in exacerbated international situation to further remove public from decision-making process.

Any change in international relations, such as the annexation of the Crimea, affects all countries in Europe, and in different ways. It opens up the possibility of a certain dose of risk in the recomposition of different policies, not only regarding international politics, but also the internal one. Despite a very sustained and constructive behavior of the most influential country of the European Union to Ukraine’s crisis, border changes in Ukraine created a porous border in the Sudeten Mountains and the rivers Oder and Neisse. The deployment of U.S. military in Poland serves deterrence, but not necessarily only deterrence of the possible danger from the East. Some of the Visegrad Group countries are objectively in more delicate position both from the east and from the west, after the annexation of the Crimea.>>>