18.9.2012. Round table on the advancement of public discussions

Belgrade, September 18, 2012

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Representative of CEAS participated in the work of a round table on the topic ‘How to advance public discussion in the process of developing regulations?’ held on September 18, in Belgrade in the organisation of the Government of Serbia Office for Cooperation with Civil Society and the initiative of civil society organisation ‘Law is Ours’ (www.zakonjenas.rs).

The value of public discussions for the quality of adopted legislation, for the development of participatory democracy and for the fulfilment of a number of other socially desirable goals has been emphasised. The guests from Macedonia, Gordana Dimitrovska, talked about the valuable experience accumulated in that country in the sector of electronic public governance and about the applicability of those experience in other countries of the Western Balkans. Recommendations for the advancement of public discussion in Serbia were formulated and welcomed, encompassing recommendations for amendments or supplements to the law governing Public Administration and Government Rules, as well as a number of sub-legislator acts and regulations which would institutionalise public discussion, encourage citizens to participate in them and allow for representative and qualitative participation of relevant civil society organisations in these discussions. CEAS will continue to participate in the activities of civil society focused on spreading, advancing and institutionalising public discussions in Serbia, especially regarding regulations concerning security sector reform, the advancement of the rule of law or Euro-Atlantic cooperation and integration of Serbia.

14.9.2012. Results of new research on public opinion on corruption presented

Belgrade Media Center, September 14, 2012

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On Friday, September 14, 2012, at a Media Centre conference in Belgrade, newest research results on public opinion on corruption in Serbia were presented. The research, in its fifth cycle, was conducted in June 2012 by the agency Media Gallup for the needs of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Speakers at the conference included Deputy Prime Minister of the Serbia Government in charge for the fight against corruption Aleksandar Vučić, Permanent Coordinator of the United Nations (UN) in Serbia, William Infante, President of the Board of Directors of the Agency for the Fight Against Corruption, Zoran Stoiljković, and the Director of the Medium Gallup agency Srbobran Branković.

Prime Minister’s promises that the fight against corruption will be relentless, that there will be no untouchables and that the appropriate institutions (especially the Prosecution) will be provided with space for undisturbed action as well as all necessary political support, were repeated. The UNDP representative spoke about the rooted understandings of corruption in Serbia, pointing out the need to further educate citizens. The representative of the Agency for the Fight Against Corruption spoke about how cynical the citizens have become on the topic of politicians and corruption. The Director of Medium Gallup presented the main findings of the fifth cycle of research, comparing them to previous results.

Nearly half of Serbian citizens estimate that the level of corruption in Serbia increased, whilst a third believes it remained the same. About 40% of citizens are worried that the level of corruption will only rise even more in the next year. Most of the citizens believe that the fight against corruption is the responsibility of the police (47%) and the Government (46%). More than two thirds of citizens, 71%, believed in June 2012 that the most efficient tool in the fight against corruption are high penalties for offenders, compared to 66% in November 2011.

In its earlier analysis of the problem of corruption in Serbia (e.g. http://ceas-serbia.org/root/index.php/publikacije/75-korupcija-u-srbiji-2012-godine) CEAS pointed out that an enlightened approach to the fight against corruption encompasses not only the active measures in its repression, but also the narrowing of space for its advent, through the retraction of the state from decision making, especially arbitrary decision making, on economic life, as well as other long term activities to repress the culture of corruption inherited from previous times and regimes. With regret, we concluded that a significant part of the political and other elites, even the most well-meaning amongst them, do not understand or do not accept that further meaningful steps in the fight against partocracy, in public enterprises for example, and related corruption, can only be made through privatisation of most firms and generally, significantly reducing the role of the state in the economy.

The notion of liberalisation is economic life is often, and not only in Serbia, seen as insignificant in the fight against corruption. In contrast, the relationship between economic interventionism, excessive regulation, not to mention state administration of enterprise on the one side, and systemic corruption on the other, has been proven both in theory and in practice.

In this view the research brings nothing new to the table. The relation of citizens towards an optimal size of the public sector from a fight against corruption point of view is not even analysed. Would privatisation of public enterprise, especially those where there is no natural monopoly but where the state, on the contrary, unfairly competes with the private sector, bring the problem of corruption in and around them to a minimum? Would a similar effect be achieved with ‘slicing regulations’ by abolishing needless regulation, state intervention and the presence and jurisdiction of the bureaucracy in numerous spheres of economic life? All of these questions are waiting, not just for answers but for them to be raised publicly in the first place.

For example, answering the question ‘To what extent would, in your opinion, the following measures be efficient in the fight against corruption?’, polled citizens were offered numerous and various answers – from the toughest punitive measures, strengthening corruption consciousness, strengthening control over administration, bettering of laws in the sense of coordination with international conventions, greater role of the public sector, and a raise in public servant salaries – but not the opportunity to express opinions on whether reducing public spending from the current level of nearly half of GDP to a more conceivable measure and/or the continuation of privatisation of public enterprise and/or the slicing of regulations in specific domains or similar measures of economic liberalisation, would be efficient in preventing or reducing the spread and scope or corruption.

Regardless of the mentioned shortages, in which this research is no exception, but only confirms general trend, and not just in Serbia, it is a significant contribution to public debate on the problem of corruption here, at the same time contributing to the control and repression of this social evil.

13.9.2012. Dušan Gamser, associate of CEAS, attended the discussion Targeting Weapons

Belgrade Media Center, September 13, 2012

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The Centre for the control of small arms and light weapons (SALW) in South-Eastern and Eastern Europe (SEESAC) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officially launched the campaign ’Safely to safety’, with the aim of enabling Serbian citizens to voice their opinion on the arms culture, as well as report situations in which weapons were spotted or illegally used. Through the ’Targeting Weapons’ platform, citizens will participate in a poll, and be able to report cases of small arms and light weapons misuse.

The campaign and platform ’Targeting Weapons’ were promoted on September 6, 2012 in the Media Centre in Belgrade.

As Ivan Zveržhanovski, Programme Manager, pointed out, the working hypothesis is the fact that there is a culture of possessing and carrying weapons in our regions and that this should be a starting point, from which work on a wider reach of legalisation and thorough education can begin. This includes the seizure or voluntary handover and destruction of illegal SALW. Of the latter, since the formation of SEESAC in 2002 until today, around 90,000 pieces were collected and – in an ecologically friendly matter - destroyed.

The narrowed space and sanctioning of weapons misuse is of crucial importance for the advancement of complete security in Serbia, and thus, its attractiveness for visitors, as well as investors. This is why – as pointed out by William Infante and other UNDP representatives in Serbia – the aim of better control of arms represent a very important developmental goal for this country.


The Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) holds that this SEESAC and UNDP campaign is of vital importance for the implementation of a comprehensive security sector reform in Serbia, and that the newly functioning internet platform is a great way to engage a greater number of citizens. Incidentally, security sector reform advocacy is one of the main programme activities of CEAS.

CEAS associates Jan Litavski and Dušan Gamser attended the promotion and welcomed this action of UNDP, that is, SEESAC. Jan Litavski, contributing to the discussion, raised the question of the (in)existence of a arms record for FTO firms in Serbia and received an answer that, roughly estimated, there is around 50,000 pieces of such kind of armaments. However, the Serbian Ministry of the Interior, as their representative said, still has no record on this. Therefore the estimate is to a great extent generalised.

SEESAC’s new internet platform is publicly available at the following address:

www.oruzjenameti.org

9.9.2012. Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, attended a presentation of the Policy Brief: The Višegrad Group: Exploring New Agenda for the Western Balkans

Belgrade, September 9, 2012

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Jelena Milić, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) attended a presentation of the policy brief entitled “The Višegrad Group: Exploring New Agenda for the Western Balkans”, held on the margin of the Belgrade Security Forum, on September 21st. The policy brief is a part of the series published in the framework of the Višegrad Policy Briefs: Converging Regional Positions project, organised jointly by the Central European Policy Institute, the Slovak Atlantic Commission and the CD International, in cooperation with the International Višegrad Fund.

The authors of the policy brief are István Gyarmati, President of the Centre for Democracy Public Foundation from Hungary, Milan Nič, Senior Fellow at the Central European Policy Institute from Slovakia, Jan Vlkovský, a Western Balkans expert at the Jagello 2000 Association from the Czech Republik, and Tomasz Żornaczuk, Analyst at the Polish Institute of International Affairs. The project envisages elaboration of four expert policy briefs on selected security-related topics from the Višegrad point of view, containing well-reasoned policy recommendations that should be used as an expert input of the regional non-governmental community for debate on issues relevant to the V4 countries. Some of the recommendations include:

- encouraging Serbian leaders to make more progress in the political dialogue with Kosovo, working within the European People’s Party;
- supporting Montenegro’s steady progress, especially its bid for NATO membership through the North Atlantic Council;
- helping the revival of Macedonia’s EU and NATO integration bid by pushing for a new approach;
- keeping Bosnia and Herzegovina focused on tangible results by unblocking Bosnia’s participation in NATO’s MAP programme and supporting a stronger and leading role for the EU in the context of preparing the reconfiguration of their international presence there;
- engaging Kosovo in regional cooperation and promoting progress towards a solution, by supporting regional cooperation among the countries of the region, including between Serbia and Kosovo;
- and shifting from development to technical assistance by providing first-rate expertise and best practices in the integration and transformation agenda, prioritising state administration, transferring of knowledge on economic and social transformation, reinforcing the rule of law and supporting efforts to create a functional and stable civil society. Another form of support sees the already endorsed initiative of establishing a Western Balkan Fund modelled on the International Višegrad Fund.

6.- 8.9.2012. Jelena Milić, CEAS Director, participated in a Round Table under the title “Private Military and Security Companies” in Sanremo

San Remo, September 6-8, 2012

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Jelena Milić, Director of the Center for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) participated in the XXXV Round Table on Current Issues of International Humanitarian Law under the title “Private Military and Security Companies” held between 6-8 September in Sanremo. The Round Table was organized by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, and under the patronage of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Defense of Italy.

The works presented focused on the relevant questions of international humanitarian law, raised by the increased presence and activities of private military and security companies (PMSC) in various contexts. With the contributions of government representatives, international organisations and eminent experts coming from different regions of the world, the Round Table offered opportunities to share points of view and experiences among all the interested parties, including states, international organisations, civil society and the private security industry.

By delving into the nature of the status of private companies and the interrelation of the main initiatives aimed at establishing essential standards, the purpose of the Sanremo Round Table was to provide an up-to-date view of the actual international and national normalisation initiatives and the related institutional endeavours aimed at the implementation of already recognised standards regarding the application of the fundamental norms and principles of humanitarian law and human rights.


The Round Table was officially opened by Gianluigi Magri, Under-Secretariy of Defence, and Gianni Ghisi, Coordinator for the Contrast of Maritime Piracy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. High-ranking personalities such as the Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Christine Beerli; the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of the United States Department of Defense, Gary Motsek and the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Safety and Security, Gregory Starr, also took part to the Round Table.

6.9.2012. Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia presented

Belgrade Media Center, September 6, 2012

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Three non-governmental organisations from Belgrade – Belgrade Centre for Security Policy (BCSP), Belgrade Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) and Centre for Euro-Atlantic Studies (CEAS) – drafted a Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia, published and presented to the public at a conference on September 6, 2012 in the Media Centre in Belgrade. The Collection contains three contributions, from authors Nevena Dičić Kostić (BCHR), Saša Đorđević (BCSP) and Jan Litavski (CEAS). These three experts spoke at the conference, and the introductory speaker was Roar Larsen, Chief of the Law Enforcement Department of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in Serbia. The OSCE mission supported the project and made publishing of the Collection possible.

Presenting his study ‘Building a Safe Community’, the researcher of BCSP Saša Đorđević especially pointed out the importance of the concept of ’community policing’ and police cooperation with citizens in creating security. He asked for a greater attention to be paid in communication between the Ministry of the Interior and the public to the fight against and, especially, prevention of crime, and less to the narrow political promotion of personalities and political options in the ministry. Respecting the rules of budget discipline and saving, even in the existing hard economic situation, by redistributing ressources, money should be found for strategic police reform. Finaly, Đorđević considers the 1980s as a source of good experiences for future police reform, that the idea of ’community policing’ began then, and that there are still experts from that time who can, with whier experience, aid contemporary and future police reforms.

Expert from the BCHR Nevena Dičić Kostić presented her study ’Police Status According to the new Criminal Procedure Act’. She pointed out the changes introduced by the Criminal Procedures Act (CPA), especially relating to the police and judiciary, as well as in the very role of the judiciary in criminal investigations. She considered the consequences which the changes in the CPA could have upon the human rights of those retained, detained or others under investigation, in relation to the practice of retention and detention. She analysed the parallel solutions in a number of European countries. She expressed hope that the suitable new regulations of the CPA will bring about better protection of human rights of suspects and, generally, more legal security, as well as eficiency of the entire process.

Researcher Jan Litavski presented his study ’Professional Culture, Ethics, Errors and Police Accountability’. He especially pointed out that the police should be an integral part of the entire society, decentralised and maximally sensitive to the needs of the local community. The problem of corruption should be especially urgently resolved in the police, as corruption is extermenly dangerous in this service, not just from a moral point of view, but also regarding police credibility. Personal data protection of citizens is also an open question, epseically in light of new technologies. Obviously there is a too elastic understanding of police entitlements and an often unjustified invasion into the privacy of citizens, illustrated by around 270.000 research polls over the Internet annually by mobile phone network operators.

Roar Larsen pointed to the significance that OSCE given to police reform in Serbia. Such reform is seen as an important integral part of transition towards democracy and creation of a secure environment necessary for faster economic development of Serbia. The conference discussion was attended by on MP as well – Saša Vujić – who welcomed the activities of the thee non-governmental organisation in stimulating police reform and aiding legislatures through expert contributions and finalised practical policy recommendations.

With numerous NGO activists and experts, alongside Jan Litavski, the conference was attended by another CEAS associated – Dušan Gamser – who pointed out the importance of ‘slicing regulations’ in the fight against corruption in the police sector. In its research on corruption, CEAS especially emphasises the importance of deregulation – as well as reducing the range of discretionary powers of civil servants, inspection services, or others who impose mandatory fines – for narrowing the scope for corruption.

The Collection of Policy Papers on Police Reform in Serbia is published in Serbian and English. It is available at the CEAS website at:

http://www.ceas-serbia.org/root/prilozi/Zbirka%20predloga%20za%20reformu%20policije%20u%20Srbiji.pdf