CEAS Statement - President of the Army Trade Union Novica Antić keeps up his harmful actions

In an open letter addressed to the Higher Public Attorney’s Office in Belgrade, published on 12.02.2019, Novica Antić, former president of the Army Trade Union of Serbia, referring to the alleged recent decision [1] of this office to charge one person and one minor who took part in the protests “1od5miliona” on 2nd February carrying a makeshift gallows for the criminal offense of “racial and other discrimination”, invited the Public Attorney’s Office to bring the same charges against the current Minister of Defense Aleksandar Vulin and his subordinates and requested their incarceration, as was the case with the persons who paraded with the makeshift gallows in the public protest held on 02.02.2109.         

Setting aside legal qualifications used by the public attorney’s office and court in connection with the events of 2nd February in Belgrade, CEAS hereby issues a warning against dangerous, unfounded and provocative actions of Novica Antić, who claims to be the president of Army Trade Union of Serbia.    

Therefore, we must ask:

Is Novica Antić still the president of the Army Trade Union of Serbia [2] in spite of the court decision sentencing him for the disciplinary offense of “participation in illegal trade union activities” over an extended period of time, from Article 149, paragraph 27, of the Law on Army of Serbia and “violation of the principle of impartiality or political neutrality”, from Article 149, paragraph 26, of the Law on Army of Serbia.        

Has the Army Trade Union received any official notification that their president Novica Antić has been dismissed from the Army and stripped of his rank by the Disciplinary Army Court, which action automatically resulted in discontinuation of his service in the armed forces, as reported in November 2018 by N1 [3].         

Has the Army Trade Union of Serbia gave up on its established goals of advancing and protecting the economic, social, labor, professional, social, cultural and other interests, rights and freedoms of its members? [4]    

CEAS is using this opportunity to remind the readers once again that though freedom of speech is guaranteed by provisions of Article 10 of the Convention on Human Rights, this freedom also entails certain obligations and responsibilities which are clearly outlined by local legislators, namely: 

In Article 12 of the Law on Army it is stipulated that the Serbian Army at all times shall remain neutral with regard to ideology, vested interests and party politics, One of the gravest disciplinary violations according to this Law is violation of the principle of impartiality and political neutrality or expressing and advocating political views while in the army service, Special collective contract for the government employees also specifies what are the major violations of work duties and obligations, including participation in the managing bodies of political parties or expressing and advocating political affiliations in the course of work for the employer, Local regulations also stipulate that trade unions cannot take part in elections, and this model of influencing political life and political trends is not tolerated.

Invoking Article 8 of the Convention MOR No. 87 on protection of trade union rights and freedoms is out of place, as the Convention itself makes it clear that in exercising of the rights granted by the Convention the employees, employers and their organizations are obliged to observe the law, like any other persons or organizations.       

Belgrade, 14.02.2019


[1] In a statement given to Tanjug the spokesperson of the Higher Court in Belgrade specified that these two have been charged with endangering personal security, and not “racial and other discrimination” from Article 387, paragraph 1, of the Criminal Code as claimed by Novica Antić.

[2] Though Novica Antić himself claimed otherwise in his interview for the portal Lepa Šumadija: By decision of my colleagues in the Assembly of VSS, I remsin the head of this important trade union organization, and I am very proud of that. Accessible at: http://www.lepasumadija.rs/joomla16/index.php/in-rv-u/202-eks-luzivno-n-vic-n-ic-pr-djs-djni-v-n-g-sindji-srbi-u-b-zicn-in-rv-uu-z-n-p-r-l-g-ruci-h-b-nic-ri-in-l-ru-i-v-s-u-srbi?fbclid=IwAR3FbifF7E6JZtR9rdUvMo2DkWDsZcFJH6X2NGo1-tbrGOZAr7XqV2lIKSY

[3] http://rs.n1info.com/Vesti/a432692/Sud-predsedniku-Vojnog-sindikata-oduzeo-cin-ostao-bez-posla.html

[4] http://vojnisindikatsrbije.rs/ciljevi/