BELGRADE, October 2, 2006
NEW SERBIAN CONSTITUTION
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NEW SERBIAN CONSTITUTION
PARLIAMENT ENDORSES DRAFT CONSTITUTION, SCHEDULES REFERENDUM
BELGRADE, Sep 30 (Beta)-On Sept. 30, Parliament unanimously endorsed a new constitution whose opening paragraph defines Kosovo as an integral part of the country that has meaningful autonomy.
The preamble also states that the document, which is to be adopted by the people of Serbia, is based on Serbian tradition and the principle of equality of the citizens and ethnic communities, as well as on the fact that Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of Serbia.
Serbia is defined as "the state of the Serb people and the citizens who inhabit it, based on the rule of law and social justice, the principles of civic democracy, human and minority rights and freedoms, and adherence to European principles and values."
Parliament also schedule a referendum on the constitution for Oct. 28 29.
Voters will be asked if they approve of the new constitution.
Both President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica called on citizens to vote in the referendum and support the document.
Tadic stressed that it will "finally constitute Serbia as a European state," adding that the proposal "is immeasurably better than the previous [current] constitution."
He admitted that "it is not ideal, but it is certainly better than the previous one."
President Tadic also lamented the lack of public debate on the constitution.
He stressed that he insisted on the constitution "having a European character," and went on to read the preamble out loud.
In his address, Prime Minister Kostunica said that the constitution will "establish Serbia as a well organized country and confirm that Kosovo and Metohija is an integral part of its territory."
"We have to work together to ensure that the referendum is as successful as possible. In that way the new constitution will truly be a collaborative effort for Serbia's benefit and the benefit of all its citizens," Kostunica added.
He went on to say that the proposal confirms that Serbia is a modern, democratic state and that Kosovo is a part of it "and an inalienable part of us all."
"Much in the way that Kosovo defended Serbia long ago, Serbia will use all democratic and legal means to defend Kosovo," Kostunica stressed.
BELGRADE, Sept 30 (Tanjug) - The preamble of the draft Serbian constitution, which will be on the agenda of the Serbian parliament on Saturday, says that the province of Kosovo-Metohija is an integral part of Serbia and Article 1 says that Serbia is a state of the Serbian people and all citizens who live in it. "Beginning from the fact that the Province of Kosovo-Metohija is an integral part of the Serbian territory, that it has essential autonomy within the sovereign state of Serbia and that due to this position of the Province of Kosovo-Metohija all state organs have the obligation to represent and protect Serbia's state interests in Kosovo-Metohija in all internal and foreign political relations, the citizens of Serbia adopt the following Constitution of the Republic of Serbia," the preamble says. Article 1 says that Serbia is the state of the Serbian people and all citizens who live in it, resting on the foundations of the rule of law and social justice, principles of civil democracy, human and minority rights and freedoms and European principles and values. Its sovereignty comes from citizens who implement it at a referendum, through popular initiative and through their freely elected representatives. "No state organs, political organisations, groups or individuals can take this sovereignty away from citizens or establish authority without the freely expressed will of citizens. The rule of law is the main prerequisite of the Constitution and it rests upon inalienable human rights," the draft says.
The Serbian president will still be elected at direct elections, to a five-year term of office. Serbia's state symbols - flag, coat-of-arms and national anthem -will remain the same. Serbia's territory is integral and indivisible. The official language is Serbian, the script cyrillic and the official use of other languages and scripts will be defined by laws on the basis of the Constitution. The state authority is limited through the citizens' right to provincial autonomy and local governments, the state protects minority rights and guarantees special protection to national minorities in order to achieve full equality and preserve their identity, the draft says.
REFERENDUM ON CONSTITUTION SCHEDULED
BELGRADE, Sep 30 (Beta)-Serbian Parliament Speaker Predrag Markovic scheduled on Oct. 1 a referendum on the new constitution for Oct. 28 29.
The referendum question will be "Do you affirm the Republic of Serbia's new constitution? Yes orMarkovic said that the referendum campaign would last a month, which he said was enough time to explain the constitution and its significance to citizens. He added that the vote would take two days and that voting would be organized for all eligible voters.
He added that the Serbian Parliament would not meet until after the referendum. Parliament's regular autumn session began on Oct. 1.
The Republican Electoral Commission will supervise the referendum.
GALLACH: EU POSITIVELY ASSESSES ADOPTION OF NEW SERBIAN CONSTITUTION
BRUSSELS, Oct 2 (Tanjug) - The European Union (EU) positively assesses the fact that Serbia is changing the Constitution from the time of Slobodan Milosevic, Cristina Gallach, spokesperson for EU High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana, told Tanjug late on Sunday. What is positive is that Serbia will have a different Constitution from that of the time of Milosevic, Gallach said. As for Kosovo-Metohija, she pointed out that its status was discussed on in scope the negotiations led by United Nations envoy Martti Ahtisaari. Gallach pointed out that Brussels respected the decision of G17 Plus to withdraw from the Serbian government, which had been reached due to lack of cooperation with the ICTY. I truly hope that all democratic forces will continue their joint work on developing the strategy for the path forward and for the stability of Serbia, Cristina Gallach underscored.
OSCE HAILS CONSENT ON NEW CONSTITUTION
BELGRADE, Sep 29 (Beta)-On Oct. 29, the OSCE Mission hailed announcements from political representatives on an agreement on Serbia's new constitution and said that a comprehensive public debate on the constitution was necessary prior to adoption.
"Stressing the importance of the new democratic constitution, and the essential legislative process that will ensue after its adoption, the OSCE Mission encourages securing enough time for a public debate, that will include civilian society, experts and minority representatives before a discussion and vote in Parliament," the OSCE statement said.
The OSCE said that the democratic legitimacy of the new constitution "will be enhanced" if the act is passed transparently, while including the widest possible number of factors and a social consensus.
PRISTINA-DECISION ON CONSTITUTION WILL NOT AFFECT KOSOVO'S STATUS
PRISTINA, Sep 30 (Beta)-The Kosovo authorities and the province's main opposition parties have said that the Serbian Parliament's decision on a new constitution which defines Kosovo as an integral part of Serbia will have no effect on the negotiating process on Kosovo's status.
Officials in Pristina said that the decision was part of a political game being played by Serbia that would not help relations in the Balkans.
Kosovo Deputy Premier Ljutfi Haziri said that the decision should be the first sign to the international community to accept Kosovo's independence.
"It is an announced threat and a unilateral decision that will create problems in normalizing relations between the future independent Kosovo and Serbia," Haziri said.
Skender Hiseni, a spokesman for Kosovo's negotiating team, said that the Serbian Parliament's decision was aimed at delaying negotiations in Vienna on Kosovo's status.
"We know these Serbian games. Kosovo can be a part of Serbia as much as Azerbaijan or some other country," Hiseni said, adding that he believed that the international community was determined to define Kosovo's status by the end of the year.
Kosovo's main opposition parties said that the Serbian Parliament's decision would have no affect on the solution to Kosovo's status.
Enver Hodza, vice president of Kosovo's main opposition party, the Democratic Party of Kosova, said that the decision resembled a Milosevic era decision and that as such it would have no impact on Kosovo's status.
KOSTRES: CONSTITUTION DOES NOT FULFILL VOJVODINA'S DEMANDS
NOVI SAD, Sep 30 (Beta)-The president of Vojvodina's Assembly, Bojan Kostres, said on Oct. 1 that in the proposed new constitution Vojvodina had received "certain benefits," but added that they were far less than what the province's administration had advocated.
Kostres told BETA that the new constitution envisaged a certain financial autonomy for Vojvodina, and observed that that was "by no means the only thing demanded by the Vojvodina administration."
The Vojvodina Executive Council last year adopted a platform on Vojvodina's position in the new constitution of Serbia, which seeks legislative, executive, and to a certain degree judicial authorities for the province, as well as direct revenues and property.
Kostres said that he would decide after detailed analysis whether he would call on Vojvodina's citizens to boycott the referendum on the new constitution.
Leader of the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians Jozef Kasa said on Oct. 1 that his party would either call on the voters to participate in the referendum on the new constitution or to boycott it, depending on whether the proposed constitution fulfilled the party's demands for the respect of minority rights and Vojvodina's autonomy.
Kasa told BETA that he had not yet had a chance to see the proposed constitution, and added that his party would express its opinion on the proposal after the party's presidency session, which is to be held on Monday evening (Oct. 2).
G17 PLUS LEAVES SERBIAN GOVERNMENT
BELGRADE, Sep 30 (Beta)-Ministers from the G17 Plus party have submitted their resignations to the Serbian prime minister, but they will perform their duties until their resignations are verified by the Serbian Parliament in accordance with the law, said G17 Plus party President Mladjan Dinkic.
At a press conference, Dinkic said that beginning Oct. 1, the party's members in the Serbian Parliament would not be attending the Parliament's sessions, but he announced that at the party's steering committee session on Oct. 8 he would propose that the party's members in Parliament take part in the Parliament session devoted to the proclamation of the new constitution.
"G17 Plus will actively participate until the end of the process of adopting a new constitution, together with Boris Tadic and Vojislav Kostunica, and then we will go to elections," said Dinkic, and stressed that he "accepts with all his heart what the prime minister has asked of him that G17 Plus not obstruct the process of adopting the constitution, but that after the elections parliamentary elections be announced."
Dinkic said they had already begun negotiations on the date the parliamentary elections would be announced, and stressed that G17 Plus had demanded that the deadline for the elections be Dec. 17.
He said that last week consultations began between the party's representatives, their coalition partners and the Democratic Party on the date of the election announcement, and he added that he had discussed this with Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, Serbian President and Democratic Party leader Boris Tadic, as well as with the president of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Vuk Draskovic.
"It seems to me that we have a consensus on the elections," said Dinkic and added that, apparently, only the Serbian Radical Party feared the elections, and is asking for the elections to be held in March next year.
Ministers from the G17 Plus party resigned on Sept. 29, in accordance with the party's steering committee decision of May 13, because the negotiations with the EU were not resumed.
Dinkic called his resignation from the position of finance minister, as well as the resignations of Deputy Prime Minister Ivana DulicMarkovic, Minister of Health Tomica Milosavljevic and Minister of Agriculture Goran Zivkov, acts of personal, party, and national responsibility, and assessed that they had speeded up the process of adopting the new constitution, but that they would also contribute to the announcing of parliamentary elections.
KOSTUNICA: CONTINUING NEGOTIATIONS WITH EU IS BEST AND MOST SUITABLE
BELGRADE, Sep 30 (Beta)-Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Sept. 30 that, considering the degree of Belgrade's cooperation with the Hague tribunal, the best and most suitable thing would be to continue the negotiations on stabilization and association between Serbia and the EU.
"I have said many times that it is in Serbia's interest to finalize cooperation with the Hague tribunal. To this I would add only one thing: that no government until now, when cooperation with the ICTY is examined, has done as much as the present Serbian government," said Kostunica at a press conference.
The chief prosecutor of the ICTY, Carla del Ponte, will visit Belgrade on Oct. 2, and on the same day the prime minister will be on an official visit to the Slovak Republic.
As has been announced, Carla del Ponte will meet the president of the National Council for Cooperation with the Hague Tribunal Rasim Ljajic, and Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Ivana DulicMarkovic.
"The Action Plan engages both sides. The Action Plan was not adopted by the Serbian government, it was made in cooperation with the EU. Therefore, it is a frame for cooperation, and a good frame. Del Ponte will be informed about what was done within the plan," said Kostunica.
OSCE BLASTS PASSAGE OF CONTESTED MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS
BELGRADE, Sep 29 (Beta)-On Sept. 29, the OSCE Mission in Serbia expressed regret that Parliament had adopted a number of controversial amendments to the Broadcasting Law.
"The Mission remains of the opinion that these amendments are flawed, firstly with regard to the procedure, and secondly, with regard to material law," said Ambassador Hans Ola Urstad, head of the OSCE Mission to Serbia.
Late that day, Parliament passed the bill containing the controversial amendments that President Boris Tadic had refused to sign on July 26.
The Constitution now requires Tadic to sign the bill.
Urstad said that, "It is not sound legislative practice that matters of such high public importance are legislated under urgent procedure and without prior consultations taking place with relevant authorities, Serbian stakeholders and interested parties or international institutions mandated to provide expert advice in this field."
The Independent Journalists' Association of Serbia has expressed shock over the bill's passage, stressing that officials have "arrogantly ignored" the opinion of the president, Serbian experts, and the highest representatives of the OSCE and European Commission in Serbia.
The association also stressed its objections to the appointment of Aleksandar Vucic, a senior official of the Serbian Radical Party, to head the programming council of the Serbian Broadcasting Corporation, which is the state radio and television network. Vucic was minister of information during the Milosevic era.
SERBIA PROCEEDS TOWARDS FULL MEMBERSHIP IN OIF, BATAKOVIC
BUCHAREST, Sept 29 (Tanjug) - Serbian President Boris Tadic's special envoy at the 11th summit of Francophony, which concludes its work in Bucharest on Friday, Ambassador Dusan Batakovic, has told Tanjug that Serbia, even though in an observer status, has entered "by the front door" one of the most important international organisations that is significant because it represents part of the multilateral cooperation traditionally backed by Serbia. Batakovic said that at the summit of the Organisation Internationale de Francophonie (OIF), Serbia was one of the states that was received into observer status whereby, de facto, has started the process towards full membership in that respected organisation that rallies French-speaking countries, in which French culture is promoted. He said that in the capacity of envoy on Thursday at the plenary session he read Tadic's speech it which it was emphasised that since the Encyclopedist Period Serbia has accepted the values and the common heritage that is Francophony, both culturally and ideologically. Batakovic pointed out that the Serbian delegation had emphasised at the summit that "Serbia as the key pillar of the project of democratic consolidation of the Balkans would endeavor, in line with its possibilities, to make a significant contribution also to the political stability of the Balkans."
CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL JOY OF EUROPE OPENS
BELGRADE, Oct 1 (Tanjug) - The traditional five-day children's festival the Joy of Europe opened in Belgrade for the 31st time on Sunday. More than 400 girls and boys from 18 countries of Europe and their Serbian hosts, dressed in national costumes, singing and dancing to their folk songs walked through the city centre to the parliament building. They were welcomed by Deputy Belgrade Mayor Radmila Hrustanovic, who said that Belgrade was the happiest city in Europe and children itís most beautiful part. The children from Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Italy, Cyprus, Leetonia, Hungary, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Sweden, Czech Republic, Greece and for the first time Ireland were hosted by children from 16 primary schools in Belgrade.
POLL: 36 PERCENT EXPECT KOSOVO TO BECOME INDEPENDENT
BELGRADE, Sep 29 (Beta)-Almost 60 percent of Serbian citizens favor retaining the province of Kosovo as part of Serbia, but only 12 percent believe that is a realistic possibility, according to the latest opinion poll from the Center for Free Elections and Democracy (CeSID) published on Sept. 29.
Another 38 percent expect Kosovo's final status to amount to independence, according to CeSID's Marko Blagojevic.
Respondents in the poll, taken from Aug. 26 to Sept. 5, were asked about their preferences for the future status of Kosovo and their expectations.
The sample encompassed 1,634 adults from all parts of Serbia, but not including Kosovo.
As for Euro Atlantic integration, most people agree that EU membership is desirable because of its expected impact on improving the standard of living, CeSID representatives added.
The organization's representatives stressed that the poll's main objective was to gauge how Serbs view their own nation. "The results show that, in general, most citizens have a positive opinion of their nation, and that only a small number have an openly negative attitude toward other nations."
However, they pointed out that there were indications of prejudice when the respondents were asked if they or a family member would be willing to marry a nonSerb or if they approved of a nonSerb holding a senior government post.
The poll showed an increase in animosity toward Montenegrins in the wake of Montenegro's independence, with 42 percent being against Montenegrins holding high-ranking posts.
SCHOOK: 11 PERSONS ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH INCIDENTS IN 2004
KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Sept 29 (Tanjug) - UNMIK deputy chief Steven Schook said on Friday that in the past two weeks in Kosovo have been arrested 11 persons implicated in incidents during the March violence of ethnic Albanian against Serbs in 2004. Schook, as a guest on the local radio Contact Plus said that in the coming weeks he expected more arrests in connection with the riots from two and a half years ago and said he was satisfied with the work of the Kosovo police and prosecution. Responding to the question whether the international community guarantees the security of Serbs, regardless of the status of Kosovo, UNMIK deputy chief confirmed that, and added that everything should not be left up to the international community. That is the duty of provisional institutions and of the mayors, police station commanders, they are the ones who should be duty bound in that respect, Schook said.
IF REQUIRED - VETO OVER KOSOVO, ALEKSEEV
BELGRADE, Oct 2 (Tanjug) - Speaking about the resolution of the future status of Kosovo-Metohija, Russian Ambassador in Belgrade Alexander Alekseev said in an interview for the Monday issue of the Belgrade daily Vecernje Novosti that Russia would be satisfied with everything which was based on international law and acceptable both for Serbia and for Kosovo Albanians. In an interview entitled "If required - veto over Kosovo," Alekseev explained that Russia found as completely unacceptable any imposing of solution for Kosovo-Metohija or deadlines by which the solution should be found. The principled stand of Moscow, which does not change, is: the solution must be the result of negotiations, a compromise one and acceptable for both the Serbian and ethnic Albanian side, Alekseev said. Furthermore, the proposal on "final status," which will be presented to the UN Security Council has to be in keeping with the international law, principles of European security and principles of resolving crisis, he said. Therefore, Russia is ready, should it be foced to do so, to defend be means of veto the international law and principles of the territorial wholeness of countries, the Russian ambassador in Belgrade pointed out.