18.2.2013. Irina Rizmal, CEAS Researcher, attended a public hearing on the topic „Action Plan for the fulfillment of recommendations of the European Commission“

Belgrade, February 18, 2013

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CEAS Researcher, Irina Rizmal, attended a public hearing on the topic „Action Plan for the fulfillment of recommendations of the European Commission contained in the annual Progress Report on Serbia in the process of European integrations for the year 2012“, held on Monday, February 18, at the National Assembly House.

As keynote speakers, Milica Delević, Parliamentary Committee for European Integration President, and Milan Pajević, Serbian Government Office for European Integration Director, explained that the Action Plan presented is only short term, until September 1, 2013, and that the National Assembly should, by the end of February, adopt a longer terms plan for the next four years. In the meantime, the European Commission is drafting a shorter report on Serbia, focused on particular fields which should, alongwith Catherine Ashton’s report on the progress of the dialogue between Belgrade and Prishtina, form a platform for an EU decision on opening accession talks with Serbia.

Addressing those present, Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia, Vincent Deger, repeated that the critical issues in Serbia’s progress towards the European Union are judicial reform and the fight against corruption and organised crime. He emphasised that laws should be adopted based on a previous, clear picture of the current situation, pointing out to the current practice of adopting laws on an expedited basis, with no public discussion and enough time for MPs to analyse the proposed legislation. As a second, also urgent matter, he highlighted the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, especially the issue of the LGBT community, as well as the establishment of control over the workings of secret services.However, Deger commended the first signs of parliamentary cooperation with EU Member States, giving the example of a recent visit of the Greek delegation, calling upon the authorities to continue with this practice.

Those present were then addressed by representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Agency Anti-Corruption Agency, State Council of Prosecutors and High Council of the Judiciary, giving brief reports on the workings of these institutions, initiatives launched, fulfilled and future goals, as well as problems which these institutions are faced with. A debate was then opened, discussing the role of the expert community in Serbia which was not consulted nor engaged during the Strategy’s formation; the problems of defining corruption, lack of specific law enfocrement measures and coordination in the fight against corruption; need for public sector reduction; selective fight against corruption; as well as the fact that the Assembly at the moment has no working plan, or list of laws that are to be deliberated, adopted or ammended, no time for draft law proposal analysis, thus reducing the entire workings of the Assembly to improvisation. Based on the expressed views, Deger concluded that in principle, the basic draft of the Strategy, in terms of goals, can be transcribed from one candidate state to another, but that what makes a Strategy of one single country specific is contained exactly in the strategy for achieving those goals.

Those present were then addressed by Dušan Ignjatović, Office for Human and Minority Rights Director, explaining that nine vulnerable groups were identified in Serbia and that accordingly, nine expert and thematic sub-groups were formed, working under the auspices of one working group of the Office, with the aim of ahiceving the goals put forward in the Action Plan. He placed special emphasis on the work of the Office regarding the position of Roma in Serbia, highlighting the need for implementing anti-discriminatory laws primarily with the aim of protecting members of the LGBT population and those legally invisible. However, the Action Plan for 2012-2014 was pulled back for revision in January 2012 and has not been adopted yet so its adoption is expected soon.

Saša Janković, Ombudsman, expressed prtoest due to the fact that, according to him, attention is given to independent regulatory bodies only when foreign officials are present, whereas that their work is mainly ignored, whilst the percentage of implementation of the Ombudsman’s recommendations in other European countreies is 82%. He especially pointed out to the fact that the Assembly never discussed the Annual Report of the Ombudsman for the year 2011 last year, eve3n though this is obliged by the law. He also pointed out to the problem of decisions on his or the Commissioner for Information’s initiatives for new or reform of existing laws, being waited for for enduring periods of time and that it seems that the only way to achieve results is referring such matters to the Constitutional Court which will, according to him, happend in the end with the Law on Criminal Procedure and Law on Electronic Communications.

A debate was opened following Janković’s speech, hearing comments of the Commissioner for Equality, Nevena Petrušić, whjo expressed the need to address questions on equality all year long and not just ahead of specific dates, as is the case with the Pride Parade; Republic Agency for Electronic Communication Director, Milan Janković, who highlighted that the Agency is a fully liberalized sector, but that laws adopted by other ministries complicate the work of this regulatory body; and Jelena Trivan who pointed out the apsurdness of presenting a Strategy for fighting discrimination if the individuals adopting and/or implementing it themselves promote hate speech and discrimination (e.g.against asylum seekers) and support or fail to react to actions of right-wing organisations which call for lynch and compile lists of those „unsuitable“.

In the hearing’s conclusions recommendations were heard that the Annual Repor of the Ombudsman be urgently put on the Assembly’s agenda; that the greatest problem which independent regulatory bodies are faced with is the fact that they represent something that our system does not yet recognise, and thus they are excluded from the issues regarding them as well; and the conslusion by Sonja Lichet that the attendance of the hearing is evidence that this form of public debate is more than needed in Serbia and that the conclusions of this assembly should contain regular meetings as such, whilst the Council for European Integration should be re-established, for the needs of debating Serbian European integration, as representative of all sectors that are to be reformed in the Serbia’s further progress towards the EU.

11.2.2013. Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, took part in the Balkan Forum on Regional Cooperation

Thessaloniki, 7.-9.2.2013.

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Jelena Milić took part in the Balkan Forum on Regional Cooperation, organized by the Rockfeller Borthers Fund, in the period 7-9 February, 2013 in Thessaloniki.

The Forum recognizes that there is now a unique opportunity to create a new narrative for the Balkans, given the aspiration of Western Balkan countries to join the European Union, and the many people and institutions in the region that are committed to fostering economic development through regional collaboration. This new narrative would leverage the region’s cultural, religious, and ethnic diversity as a valuable asset rather than highlighting divisive issues. It would present the region as a joint market wherein people and goods can move freely. As a framework for considering these issues, this first Forum focused on four interconnected sectors where challenges are significant but the potential for innovative approaches and meaningful change is considerable: 1) Regional Educational Approaches, 2) Human Capital and Labor Markets, 3) Infrastructure and Tourism Development, and 4) Energy, Environment, and Economic Development.

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Over 50 Western Balkan civic and political leaders along with business professionals from the Balkans participated in this year’s Forum. In support of the initiative’s goals, David Burger, Deputy Director, Office of South Central European Affairs of the U.S. State Department, and Jan-Erik Enestam, Nordic Council Secretary General also participated. Learning from representatives of other regional models, participants had an opportunity to focus on the region’s strengths and comparative advantages, with the overarching goal of catalyzing regional development competitiveness within European and global markets.

During the year following each Forum, concrete ideas and initiatives that emerge from its deliberations will be further developed and supported by The Balkan Forum, a regional non-profit institution based in Thessaloniki. Each subsequent Forum will review and build on progress made during the year.

You can download a full transcript of the speech Jelena Milić delivered at the Forum here.

28.1.2013. CEAS held an international conference "Serbia, the Western Balkans and the EU: What do we have in common in the areas of security and defense and how to make the most of it for stability and progress in the region”

Presentation of the third issue of the CEAS online quarterly The New Century

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On January 28, 2013, at the Zira hotel in Belgrade, the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) from Belgrade held an all-day conference "Serbia, the Western Balkans and the EU: What do we have in common in the areas of security and defense and how to make the most of it for stability and progress in the region” and presented the third issue of the online journal – The New Century quarterly, issued by CEAS. The conference was attended by approximately one hundred experts, civil society activists, representatives of state institutions, diplomats and representatives of international organizations in Belgrade, participating in the discussion encouraged by the panelists. The presence of a high number of activists from local non-governmental organizations based outside of Belgrade especially contributed to the conference, providing greater quality.


Presentation of the third issue of The New Century

During the introductory part of the conference, the new, third issue of the online journal – The New Century - liberal responses to global challenges quarterly, available at the CEAS website was presented. The most significant articles published in this issue were pointed out to and the authors were presented.

Jelena Milić, presenting the third issue of The New Century, expressed CEAS views related to the current condition of the security sector, drawing particular attention to the challenges and obstacles which the process of security sector reform is faced with and the shortcomings existing in the process itself which are making it hard for final implementation, as well as to the often ignored basic measures for security sector reform presented in the 14 Recommendations by Šabić and Janković. She called upon all those present to give honest feedback on the quarterly and therefore participate in its further development.

Tanja Miščević praised The New Century quarterly, concluding that in these times it is exactly what is needed in order to enable the wider public to familiarize itself with the conditions of the security sector. She expressed hope that this project will successfully be continued in the future as well.

You can access the third issue of The New Century via the following link: http://ceas-serbia.org/root/tromesecnik/The-New-Century-No-3.pdf

The first conference panel

The first conference panel was titled „EU Common Security and Defense Policy (EU CSDP): development and perspectives“. It dealt with the experience of EU CSDP states, with a special emphasis on the role which EU policy had in security sector reform as a precondition for democratization and stabilization of post-conflict regions. Serbian participation in some EU activities under the CSDP was analyzed. During the discussion it was also pointed out that the fight against corruption cannot be led anywhere, Serbia included, without a reformed security sector, and that CSDP and participation in it under certain conditions can contribute to the acceleration of such reform.

The panelists of this part of the conference were:
- Luca Bianconi, First Secretary and Head of the Political Sector of the EU Delegation in Serbia, who praised the adoption of legislation regarding parliamentary oversight of the security sector in Serbia and expressed a desire of the EU to see an implementation of these laws as soon as possible. He strongly supported the activities and proposals of independent bodies such as the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, as well as the activities of Serbian civil society in advocating and promoting security sector reform.
- Marian Majer, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs (CENAA) in Bratislava, who spoke about the Slovak experience in sorting out their security sector after the fall of the communist regime and gaining independence and the meaning which NATO integrations, firstly through Partnership for Peace and later through full NATO accession as well – even more than EU integrations – had in this process. Moreover, Majer believes that the „strengthening of EU vectors is impossible without the Euro-Atlantic vector, even though some perceive these as competitive“, or at least fully independent.
- Tanja Miščević, professor at the Faculty of political Science of the University of Belgrade and former Director of the Government Office for European Integration, emphasized the importance of careful monitoring of development trends in the world in the field of security and adaptation of Serbia to these trends, as well as a need for strategic planning in order to overcome the inertia or resistance to changes in the security sector and in security and defense policy. Miščević especially emphasized the meaning of the fight against corruption for security sector reform.
- Vít Střítecký, Analyst at the Institute for International Relations from Prague, based on both good and bad experiences from transition in the Czech Republic, especially emphasized the importance of preservance in matters of security sector reform, as well as finding a genuine response to the challenges of such reform in light of European values and principles instead of mere mechanical copying of completed solutions from developed European democracies. Střítecký pointed out to the importance of transparency in public procurement in the security sector, again, based on a number of different experiences from the Czech Republic.
- Anton Bebler, full Professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana, analyzed the Slovenian path of joining EU and NATO and participation of Slovenia in EU and NATO missions until now, and based on these experiences questioned the understanding that CSDP can be a replacement for complete NATO integration of states in transition, at least when integration is perceived as an incentive for security sector reform, both due to the inherent shortcomings of the CSDP, as well as due to the obvious lack of discipline of EU members and insufficient financial development of the entire project.
- Munir Podumljak, an anti-corruption civic activist from Zagreb, President of the Partnership for Social Development association, openly and courageously spoke about corruption in Croatia and the fight of civil society organizations against it, especially regarding unreformed sections of intelligence activities. His insights are extremely valuable to all of those who, like CEAS, insist on the idea that a reformed and democratically controlled security sector is an important precondition for developing free market institutions in contemporary conditions.

During the discussions the question of Serbia’s „military neutrality“ was mentioned a number of times – how honest, but also, how viable it is in the contemporary world, in Europe and in the Balkans. Regarding Serbia’s cooperation with the EU within the CSDP framework, the newly formed „combat groups“ of EU states were mentioned as well, considering Serbia’s possibility to, alongside the two groups it already participates in, joint others, as well as a possibility of creating one more, new combat group in the Balkans.

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The second conference panel

The second conference panel focused on the region of the Western Balkans and Serbia. The sub-topics included:
- The challenges and achievement of the EU CSDP in the Western Balkans region;
- Can it be better linked with the EU Enlargement Policy?;
- Is cooperation of CSDP with NATO in the region adequate?;
- Can CSDP be better used for the remaining challenges in security sector reform?;
- Is there a need for a clearer EU attitude on personnel in security structures of states in the region?;
- EULEX – lessons learned;
- Serbia – how far has security sector reform gone?
- Serbia and CSDP – what is expected, and what has been fulfilled so far?

The panelists, seven of them – Hamza Višća, Project Manager at the CSO Nova formaRe from Sarajevo, Emir Kalač, Researcher at the Centre for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) from Podgorica, Rok Zupančič, Research-Fellow of the Department of Defense at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana, Nazim Haliti, Deputy Executive Director of the Forum for Civic Initiatives from Pristina, as well as two from Belgrade, CEAS Director Jelena Milić and researcher and political analyst, but also President of the New Socialdemocracy of Serbia, Dušan Janjić – mostly dealt with the current situation in the Western Balkans and the specifics of security sector reform in some countries of the region, all relating to the given sub-topics of the panel.

Hamza Višća pointed out the importance of differentiating between mere „changes“ and reform, as well as parliamentary control as opposed to mere „oversight“, as the desired activities. He described the arduous process of forming a single BH Armed Forces, as an upgrade of the Dayton Agreement carried out over the past decade, where expert and other civil society organizations played an important role in creating a favorable social climate in both entities for the integration of previously divided armed forces. According to him, a sincere confrontation with the past is still necessary, and Euro integrations should not be an excuse for discontinuing with this process.

Dušan Janjić spoke about the conditions in Kosovo, especially in the north, various present or potential future security challenges and possible and probable scenarios of resolving these. He gave special attention to the challenges which the EU Common Security and Defence Policy mission in Kosovo - EULEX, is faced with.

Nazim Haliti spoke about the current relations of political forces in Kosovo and the state of public opinion, but also about the individual successes on the agenda of security sector reform or its establishment in line with democratic principles. Kosovo Customs was mentioned in the discussion as one of the institutions of remarkable professionalism and integrity, built in cooperation with the international community and thus representing – considering the economic structure of Kosovo – significant support for the Kosovo budget.

Emir Kalač asked whether the EU has capacity to carry out security sector reform in countries aspiring for membership and pointed out to the non-implementation of the Lisbon Treaty and other problems in the EU itself. This is why, according to him, the role of NATO is irreplaceable, proving as especially useful in the case of Montenegro. Parliamentary control of the security services in Montenegro is, according to him, exemplary, and Montenegrin soldiers are well integrated in NATO missions in the world, including the mission in Afghanistan. Some serious problems in the security sector though still remain unsolved. As such he pointed out to the bad conditions, even including torture, in prisons, lack of personal data protection, problems in applying anti-discrimination laws and others.

Rok Zupančič revealed the results of his public opinion poll results from last year, as well as attitudes of politicians, in Kosovo, in both of the largest communities, Albanian and Serbian (the latter conducted in Gračanica and Leposavić as well). It showed that the Kosovo Serbs, as well as their elected political representatives, contrary to the prevailing trends in Serbia, and contrary to the mortgages from the recent past, have a better opinion of NATO than of the EU. His conclusion is that the EU failed to explain its goals and policy towards Kosovo well enough, both to Kosovo Albanians as well as Kosovo Serbs.

Jelena Milić pointed to Macedonia as well, as a part of as overall Balkan security challenge and warned of the danger of excess of the so-called „identity politics“ within both of the largest communities in that country.

The third conference panel

The third panel dealt with the topic of „Transitional justice and security sector reform“. It started with asking whether the EU is consistent in its support of transitional justice and is it possible to successfully implement SSR without dealing with the past and transitional justice. The role of Russia and the activities of Vuk Jeremić, Chairman of the UN General Assembly, regarding the evaluation of ICTY’s work and legacy were also touched upon.

The new Director of the Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) Sandra Orlović spoke about the activities of her NGO in the fight against the culture of impunity and reminded of the numerous cases and actors (both perpetrators and silent witnesses) of war crimes who continue to occupy high positions in the security institutions. Their presence for example, in the tops of the Army, or in the witness protection unit, indirectly or directly interferes with the implementation of transitional justice, hampering the prosecution of those few processes that are running.

Former Military Prosecutor Lakić Djorović – repeating his previous assessment that the state in military court departments and prosecutors’ offices in Serbia is worse today than prior to judiciary reform – referred to the highest political leadership in Serbia, along with sections of today’s war crimes prosecution, as actors of war crimes and obstacles to the fulfillment of transitional justice and security sector reform. He listed events which he witnessed during the early 1990s, when some of today’s prosecutors were allegedly direct agents of war crimes or actively participated in the cover-up.

The Deputy War Crimes Prosecutor, Mioljub Vitorović, present at the conference, denied Djorović’s allegations, and a sharp discussion which developed between them still failed to provide a clear answer to the question who exactly among today’s prosecutors acted criminally or unprofessionally in the past.

Gordana Igrić, from the BIRN media house, spoke about the opposing narratives in the Western Balkans, the character of the 19990s wars, but also the need for a wider and comprehensive coverage of actors in war crimes in proceedings before domestic courts.

Nearing the end, the discussion was joined by Žanka Stojanović, the mother of one of the 16 RTS employees killed in the NATO bombing of that media house in April 1999. She once more asked for the extension of the investigation into this event to encompass the persons who were, in the chain of command, above the (convicted) RTS Director and called for the disclosure of the related secret service documents. She repeated her request that the newly founded government commission dealing with investigations into cases of murdered journalists include in its mandate the case of RTS bombing as well.

Shortly after the conference it was revealed that the above mentioned request of families of the killed RTS employees, which alongside other organizations CEAS initiated and supported, was finally accepted.

The fourth conference panel

The final, fourth conference panel, titled „Ethnic-based and other security challenges in Serbia“, dealt with a string of not only ethnic, but also socio-cultural, socio-economic and regionally motivated tensions in Serbia, and related security challenges, as well as how can Serbia, in cooperation with the EU, best respond to these. Questions were asked whether ethnic tensions can be successfully overcome without confronting a war-crimes and generally authoritarian past, whether the new authorities in Serbia are encouraging the strengthening of extreme right organizations and whether national minority national councils have justified their existence as mechanisms for protecting members of national minorities from discrimination and improved their position in society.

Alongside the President of the local branch of the Alliance of Hungarians of Vojvodina in Belgrade, Nebojša Marjanović, the panelists were prominent civic activists from placed all over Serbia: Snežana Ilić, Executive Director of the Center for Development of Civil Society from Zrenjanin, Nadica Stošić, Executive Director of the Initiative for Integration from Vranje, Milan Stefanović, Director of the OSC PROTECTA from Niš and others. The discussion was joined by the President of the Associations of Montenegrins in Belgrade, Borislav Mrvaljević, CEAS Associate, Dušan Gamser, PhD student at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Belgrade, Nikola Lakić, Chairman of the Board of the Centre for Policy Research from Prijepolje, Slobodan Martinović, and many others.

The complex intra-national and related security situation in Vojvodina was discussed in general, and the situation in smaller, ethnically mixed areas in particular. As a result of ethnic and more generally population engineering since the 1990s, as well as due to serious shortcomings in the education system and social discourse, extremism, in this case right, ultra nationalistic, is gaining strength in Vojvodina, both within the majority and minority populations and communities, leading to more and more common incidents and ethnically motivated violence amongst the youth. For example, previously an exemplary and peaceful multi-ethnic environment such as the suburbs of Novi Sad, are today strongholds of extremist organizations. The latest incident in Temerin was mentioned where two young men were seriously injured. The youth communicates over ethnic barriers harder and lesser.

In east Serbia, the problem of the Vlach community is growing, posing as a problem between Serbia and Romania.

In south Serbia, the problem of the monument in Preševo is only the tip of the iceberg, and the majority of the problems is felt by all citizens, regardless of nationality, as it consists of a terrible socio-economic situation in which the greatest number of young people are unemployed and wants to leave for big cities or go abroad as soon as possible.

A similar situation is present in Sandžak, where the problem is further complicated by the division over which of the two National Councils of Bosniaks is the authentic representative of that national minority, as well as divisions within the Muslim community.

The situation is not much better even in relatively nationally-homogenous cities such as Niš, where a number of security problems – including the existence of zones in which the police rarely goes, and which are actually ruled by gangs of drug dealers – is caused by the failure to name a Police Chief in the town.

Lastly, the discussion learned that National Minority Councils in Serbia do not operate as it was expected of them when they were legally regulated. Some of them became politicized, becoming merely another part of the spoils around which political parties ruthlessly compete. Therefore it is necessary to continue the discussion about them and consider everything, both theoretical and political aspects of their work in Serbia i recommend reform, in order to better respond to their task of protection of, primarily individual, and based on these, collective rights of national minorities.

Conference conclusions

The general conclusion of the conference is shortly exposed through the formulation that the EU can contribute, through political criteria, as well as through Serbian cooperation within the framework of EU missions and other EU CSDP activities, to further security sector reform in Serbia. However the precondition for this is to take more care of the interdependency of security sector reform, the realization of transitional justice and the fights against corruption, as well as historical, cultural, ethnical, socio-economic and regional particularities and diversity of Serbia. Furthermore, European integration in the field of security and defense are not and should not be a substitute for, and even less so be presented as a confrontation to, Atlantic integration, more specifically, to greater cooperation between Serbia and NATO within the framework of existing mechanisms, if not even full accession to the organization.

The conference was followed by a great number of journalists and representative of foreign missions in Belgrade.

This international conference, along with The New Century quarterly, are part, and a final product, of a wider CEAS project titled „Serbia and the EU: What do we have in common in the areas of security and defense and how to make the most of it – continued advocacy of security sector reform in Serbia through intensive use of Serbia’s EU accession process resources“ which was, over the past ten months realized with the support of the Fund for an Open Society, Serbia.

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The New Century - liberal responses to global challenges no.3 (February 2013)

In the journal foreword, CEAS Director, Jelena Milić argues the conclusions that the current Serbian Government acceded to more intense and sincere negotiations and agreements with institutions in Pristina from an authentic need for a faster Europeanization of Serbia, emphasizing that the leading domestic politicians were actually blackmailed. The price – to which, as a compensation for official Belgrade’s cooperation in these negotiations the international community agrees to, is slowing down democratic consolidation in Serbia.

In the article „How to fight corruption with an unreformed security sector?“, CEAS Associate Dušan Gamser analyzes the situation in the field of corruption and the fight against corruption in Serbia at the start of 2013 and concludes that – with a continued lack of more meaningful security sector reform and an established fight against corruption in the empowered institutions instead of sheer political will and professional motivation of individuals from the security sector – the situation will remain grim, and prospects for progress weak.

Tanja Miščević writes about the concept of a comprehensive approach to security, and CEAS Researcher Irina Rizmal writes about new understandings of the concept of sovereignty at the start of the 21. century, regarding the international norm in the making better known under the title Responsibility to Protect. Nikola Lakić deals with some aspects of the so-called „human security“, and Ivana Jovanović writes about UN peacekeeping missions. In the article „The church state or the state churchSrđan M. Jovanović writes about the clericalisation of the state, politics and society in Serbia, and the influence of these processes on security and the increase of violence.

Furthermore, the journal transcribes a paper by two Dutch authors on theconcept of Responsibility to Protect, as well as a transcript of Barack Obama’s speech at the inaugural ceremony in Washington regarding the start of his second mandate as the President of the USA.

The New Century journal is published in Serbian and English.

You can access the third issue of The New Century via the following link: http://ceas-serbia.org/root/tromesecnik/The-New-Century-No-3.pdf

You can also find the previous issues of The New Century at the links below:
The New Century no.1 (August): http://ceas-serbia.org/root/tromesecnik/the-new-century-02.pdf

The New Century no.2 (November): http://ceas-serbia.org/root/tromesecnik/The-New-Century-No-2.pdf

23.11.2012. CEAS representatives participated in a Round Table: Recommendations of Serbs from Kosovo for the new President, Parliament and Government of Serbia in the field of politics

Belgrade, November 23, 2012

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Jelena Milić, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) and Dušan Gamser, CEAS Adviser, participated in a round table on the topic “Recommendations of Serbs from Kosovo for the new President, Parliament and Government of Serbia”, held on Monday, July 23, 2012, at the Aeroclub in Belgrade. Participants included representatives of political parties – the Serbian Democratic Party of Kosovo and Metohija, Liberal-Democratic Party, Serbian Renewal Movement, Serbian Progressive Party, Socialist Party of Serbia and United Regions of Serbia – as well as nongovernmental organisations, amongst which, aside from representatives from the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies, representatives from the Balkan Fund for Democracy, Citizen Initiative “Serbia, Democracy, Justice”, Forum for Ethnic Relations and the Council for Inclusive Governance, were present. Representatives of the media, as well as the University in Belgrade, were present as well. The round table was organised by the Council for Inclusive Governance (CIG) in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

The programme encompassed two sessions. The first was focused on the current problems and challenges that the Serbs in Kosovo are faced with, reviewing the most pressing problems requiring urgent attention of the President, Government and Parliament of Serbia, the necessary preconditions for a more efficient politics and the possible consequences of the recently held elections on the future of Serbs in Kosovo and the solutions to their problems.


The second session dealt with practical policy recommendations for the Serbian leadership regarding the best ways for attending to the problems of Serbs in Kosovo, partnerships and bodies that need to be instituted, expectations of Serbs for the new Government and participation in dialogue with Pristina, and the ways in which Serbian leadership can help in the implementation of Recommendations of Practical Policy, adopted by the group of leaders of Serbs from Kosovo in 2011.

5-11.10.2012. Jan Litavski, CEAS Researcher, attended the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg

Strasbourg, 5-11 October, 2012.

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Jan Litavski, Researcher at the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) attended the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, in the period between the 5th and 11th of October. The Forum is part of a partnership agreement between the Council of Europe and the citizens of Strasbourg. The aim of the World Forum for Democracy is to identify new possibilities of action for the strengthening of democracy in the world through the aid of dialogue and exchange of expertise and experiences between various experts and country leaders. The Forum was opened by the General Secretary of the Council of Europe Thorbjorn Jagland, the Major of Strasbourg, Roland Ries, Tawakkol Karmen, the winner of the Nobel Prize in 2011 and Ban Ki-moon, United Nations General Secretary.

The problems and topics that the Forum dealt with are whether a liberal market needs democracy, democracy and new social networks, democracy and globalisation, religion and democracy, democracy and extremism, and many more. Some of the distinguished speakers included Alexey Kudrin, former Minister of Finance of the Russian Federation, Sali Berisha, Prime Minister of Albania, Wolfgan Schaubla, Minister of Finance of Germany, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Kenneth Wollack, President of the National Democratic Institute, Nicolas Bratza, President of the European Court for Human Rights, Vladimir Lukin, Ombudsman of the Russian Federation, Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada, and many others.


One of the conclusions of the Forum surely is that there is no unique model of democracy applicable to all countries; there are many principles and values such as peace, freedom and human rights, which are an inseparable part of democracy instead. Overcoming cultural and religious differences, the mentioned values are universal and present the basis of democratic societies. Democracies must adapt to the reality of the 21 century, including citizen requests for greater participation in public decision making, which presents an aspiration specifically stimulated by the evolution of new information technologies and social networks. This is why constant reassessment, inspection and balance are necessary to preserve democracies from authoritarian excesses and preserve democratic processes of decision making.