Promotions proceedings Towards greater openness of the legislative process in the Western Balkans countries, published by CRCD

28.02.2014_2 28.02.2014_1Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in the Republic of Srpska presented 28 February 2014 this proceedings at the Faculty of Law in Tuzla. Speakers at the presentation were Tamara Zrnović and Mirjana Trifković from the Helsinki Committee.

The audience consisted of students from the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Philosophy – Department of Journalism. The presentation included examples of good practice, the comparative experiences of the countries members of the Visegrad Fund, and recommendations related to the increasing openness of the legislative process in the Western Balkans.

Discussion and questions raised during the presentations were focused mainly on the comparative experiences of the countries of Poland and Hungary, as well as the problems faced by journalists who attempt to report on the procedure of adoption of a law. Students emphasized that there are no laws on lobbying transparency to reduce corruption to a minimum, which is ultimately one of the reasons for organizing the recent protests in Tuzla.>>>

The consequences of altered regional policy of Serbia for the ethnic minorities

Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) considers it necessary to pay attention to the following processes. The current government, dominated by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), is strategically oriented towards an alliance with Budapest as a regional partner and gateway for entry into the EU.

Strategic alliance with Budapest is caused by a desire of SNS party to weaken Vojvodina as a stronghold of DS, but it has provoked a range of other effects on the position of national minorities:

1. The position of Serbia towards Bucharest is strengthened. Romania is completely isolated in Belgrade. This allowed the continued pressure on the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) in the Eastern Serbia, with the participation of local authorities and the police.

2. Continuous efforts are made to weaken the autonomy of Vojvodina, which got its expression through two decisions of the Constitutional Court, by which two-thirds of the Statute of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina and numerous provisions of the Law on National Council (national minorities) were declared unconstitutional.

President of the Parliamentary Party of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM) and current President of the Assembly of AP Vojvodina, Mr Pásztor signed a joint declaration of Hungarian parties from the Carpathian Basin, in Mártély in Hungary on 23 March 2013, asking for territorial autonomy for Hungarians in Romania, Slovakia and Serbia.

It should be noted that, if the autonomy is achieved, the level of enjoyment of minority rights in Vojvodina, south of the border of the Hungarian territorial autonomy, would be significantly reduced.>>>

Panel on Violation of human rights on the Internet

11.02.2014Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS), Provincial Ombudsman of AP Vojvodina and the Independent Journalists’ Association of Vojvodina (NDNV) organized the panel discussion titled Panel on Violation of Human Rights on the Internet to mark the 11th February – Safer Internet Day.

Safe Internet Day is an international initiative supported by the European Union. This year, the day was celebrated on 11th February in thirty-one European country, and this year’s campaign slogan is “Let’s create a better Internet together .”

By their opening statements, the participants of the panel, namely, Eva Vukašinović, Deputy Ombudsman of AP Vojvodina, Snežana Ilić (CDCS), Miroslav Keveždi (CDCS), Oliver Muškinja, a contributor to the Provincial Ombudsman and Nedim Sejdinović (NDNV), opened many questions and tried to provide answers to some of them: the real threats arising from the use of the Internet for various target groups in Serbia (vulnerable groups, children, human rights defenders ….), hate speech on the Internet, legislation in this area, examples of misuse of social networks and censorship of the Internet, child safety on the Internet, pros & cons to the full freedom of speech on the Internet, controversy of no-hate-speech initiative, self-regulation of Internet services, media literacy and the definition of media on new platforms, Internet activism, new media during the election campaign, social networking as a means of recruitment of political extremists …

Regarding the decisions of the Constitutional Court on the Law on National Councils and the Statute of Vojvodina

Center for the Development of Civil Society (CDCS) stresses out that the decision of the Constitutional Court on the Law on National Councils points to the true meaning of not only this decision, but the whole policy of the latest ethnicization of Serbian society in the light of the factual recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

After assessment of all local politicians and international organizations on the politicization of the judicial system in Serbia, one must be naive to believe in the independence of the Constitutional Court of the current government.

The decision of the Constitutional Court, as well as the previous declaring most of the Vojvodina Statute unconstitutional, what is lost in Kosovo is trying to be retrieved by ethnicization, namely Serbianization and centralization of Serbia. At the same time concessions are made to that minority that cannot be Serbianized, whether due to the number of its members, due to the language differences, or because of close cooperative relations of Serbian Government with the parent country of the Minority.

Serbia, like in the nineties, gambles with the stability of the region. Instead with Sjeverin and Štrbac, they intensify the relations with the Republic of Srpska. The loss of Kosovo is compensated by canceling the Statute of Vojvodina, as a prelude to the confiscation of its jurisdiction. A separate agreement with the largest minority is created, which has already implemented all legal options and increasing the gap between them and those of minorities, which currently have almost nothing (for instance Vlach minority) or have only partially achieved minority rights (this also includes the Croat and Bosniak minorities, for example.)

No wonder that at this point the question of the legitimacy of the national council is raised, which is evident from the recent statement of the President of the Hungarian National Council.1 The decision of the Constitutional Court has to deal with the direct confrontation with the opponents within minority communities, which is important to emphasize given the fact that in October there are upcoming elections for new national councils.

A political system is created in which a single dominant party in the Serbian ethnic majority corresponds to an agreement with one party organized national minorities.>>>

Strategy of Development of Culture of the Vlach national minority

12.01.2014_2 While still working on the preservation and development of the Vlach culture and strengthening of institutions and organizations in th12.01.2014_1e Vlach community, CDCS organized a seminar/ workshop – Creating the first strategic document of Vlach National Council: Strategy of Development of Culture of the Vlach national minority from 9 to 12 January, 2014. As with any strategic planning, during the two working days, a disciplined effort was made focused on the future, guided by skilled young professionals for management (and) in (minority) cultures, Miroslav Keveždi (CDCS) and Milina Sklabinski (Institute of Culture of Vojvodina’s Slovaks). With the active participation of the members of NCV and Vlach cultural organizations, among other things, the development vision (draft version) of the Vlach culture in the period between 2014 – 2019 was designed, which for instance includes: actively dealt with linguistic and ethno-genetic issues, established network of cultural centers, identified and systematized cultural contents, etc., all of which should contribute to ensuring that the Vlachs in the foreseeable future become “a quality player in the cultural scene in Serbia”. During the spring of 2014 this strategic document will be published and presented to the wider cultural community in Serbia.

Map of Vlach cultural events

While taking one of three initiatives in the field of preservation and promotion of Vlach culture in 2013 and 2014, from 21 to 24 November 2013 on Lake Bor, CDCS has organized seminar Manifestational 23.11.2013Vlach Culture: Creating a Map of Vlach cultural events. The speakers, experts on minority cultures and cultural activists in the Vlach community exhibited the following topics: Introduction: cultural events, history, functions, types, Miroslav Keveždi, MA, CDCS; Map of Slovak cultural events, experiences, challenges, Milina Sklabinská, MA, Department for Culture of Vojvodina Slovaks; Vlach cultural events from outsider perspective, Andrej Kubiček, MA, CDCS, Vlach cultural events, Snežana Gržobić, a member of the Committee for Culture of the Vlach National Council (NCV); Vlach music events, Časlav Radukanović; Vlach folklore events, Dragomir Dragić, Vlach Forum; Festival as a community development potential – a case study “Bread Festival” and “Harvest”, Miroslav Keveždi; Museum exposition and thematic catalogs in role of the visibility of ethnic communities in multi-ethnic communities, Dr Vesna Marjanović, Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, Vlach cultural events in future Strategy of cultural development of the Vlachs, Miroslav Keveždi, Milina Sklabinská. At the end of the seminar, a working group for preparing the publication Map of Vlach cultural events and a specific timing of future work on the Map was determined. Anyhow, the Map of Vlach cultural events is the first document of its kind in the Vlach community, which will include a list of Vlach cultural events in 18 municipalities of Eastern Serbia accompanied by the description of the occurrence, type and holder of each of these events, as well as basic demographic information about the municipalities in which Vlach population lives.

The seminar was organized as part of the project Multiculturalism in Serbia is not Dead (2nd year) Strengthening the Vlach minority institutions through three initiatives implemented in the field of culture, with the support of the Royal Norwegian Embassy and in partnership with the Vlach National Council and OCD from Bor – MC 21 Bor.

International Conference For responsible government in the Western Balkans

24.09.2013_2 International Conference for responsible government in the countries of the Western Balkans was held from 19 to 22 September 2013 on Palic with the participation of representatives from six countries.

Speakers and participants were representatives of five partner organizations (the representatives of the partner organization from Slovakia could not attend and gave their excuse), and representatives of national and local parliaments, civil society representatives and independent regulatory bodies, members of the political parties and journalists from the Western Balkans.

Conference participants had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the functioning of the legal system and the level of transparency of the legislative process in the Western Balkans and the countries of the Visegrad Group, the role of the public, the media and civil sector in the legislative process, as well as the so-called examples of good practice. About legislative transparency in their countries, the following speakers gave their presentations: Barbara Grabowska (Poland), Dr Drinóczi Timea (Hungary), Bojan Spajić, MA (Montenegro), Mirjana Trifković (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Boban Karapejovski (Macedonia); a lecture on the role of the public in the process of passing laws in Serbia was held by Olivera Ristić, MA (CDCS), Nedim Sejdinović (NDNV) spoke about the role of media and civil society, whereas, as a representative of the independent regulatory body, provincial Ombudswoman Aniko Muškinja Hajnrih spoke of their role and importance in the legislative process.(Speakers’ presentations can be viewed on the website>>>

Museum display Vlach Corner

10.09.2013_2 Within its long-term commitment to the empowerment of the Vlach national minority institutions and improving the status of the Vlach minority members, CDCS has organized a seminar Museum display Vlach Corner from 5. to 8. September 2013 at the Lake Bor. Keynote speakers were: Bora Dimitrijević- a director of the National Museum in Zaječar, Snežana Gržobić-Pavlović M.A. – a member of the Committee for Culture of the Vlach National Council, Vesna Marjanović- a museum consultant, Associate Professor, Ethnographic Museum in Belgrade, Suzana Mijić – an ethnologist,>>>

More effective measures needed to reduce discrimination against people with disabilities

Centre for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) warns that a case of discrimination in Doljevac, when the restaurant banned serving a person with disabilities because of her disability, requires more powerful, socially significant, and above all effective measures by public authorities. Otherwise, discrimination against people with disabilities will continue to the same extent and intensity.

It must be borne in mind that the situation of people with disabilities is even worse than the worst, and that, according to the estimate of the competent authorities expressed yesterday, they are among the most vulnerable citizens in the Republic of Serbia.

CDCS believes that it is very good that the public broadcaster (Radio Television of Serbia) informed the public about this issue on 24 July 2013. This represents fulfillment of one of the important tasks of public broadcaster.

CDCS supports the Network of the Committees for Human Rights in Serbia CHRIS, which on this occasion filed a complaint. CDCS strongly welcomes timely reaction of the court of competent jurisdiction, which scheduled a hearing for this violation of the Law on prohibition of discrimination that should be condemned. >>>

Regarding the Declaration of the National Assembly condemning the crime against the Hungarian civilians

Abstract: Center for Development of Civil Society (CDCS) welcomes today’s adoption of the Declaration of the National Assembly condemning acts against the civilian Hungarian population in Vojvodina committed from 1944 to 1945.

Declaration of the National Assembly, with its content, represents a political maneuver of the authorities provoked by the Brussels agreement and factual recognition of the independence of the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija. It is not only an expression of the necessary respect towards the innocent victims of communist terror, but also an expression of the aspirations of reshaping the past, recomposing the territorial organization of Serbia and as a consequence, it poses a threat for the stability and security of the region.

CDCS considers it necessary to warn for certain circumstances arising out of this Declaration. Due to what is left out of it, in particular, the common anti-fascist struggle of the Serbs and Hungarians, i.e., all citizens of Vojvodina, which is the basis of legitimacy of AP Vojvodina, the Declaration represents a stronger and more effective attack on the autonomy of Vojvodina and potentially threatens the realization of minority rights and civil character of the Republic of Serbia, than the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Law on establishing the scope of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. It represents a blow to the very foundations of the legitimacy of the autonomy of Vojvodina and directly undermines the Declaration on the Protection of the Constitutional and Legal rights of AP Vojvodina, declared by the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina on 20 May 2013.