Thursday, 29 September 2011

Parliamentary Questions in September

On 29 September, in line with article 205 paragraph 1 of the National Assembly Rules of Procedure, the MPs posed various questions to the Government of the Republic of Serbia.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic, Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic and Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government Milan Markovic responded to the MPs’ questions, while Deputy Prime Minister Bozidar Djelic and Minister of Education and Science Zarko Obradovic were also in attendance.

In addition to the Government representatives, Head of the Negotiating Team for the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina Borislav Stefanovic answered the MPs’ questions regarding the current situation in Kosovo-Metohija.


At the beginning of the proceedings, at the sitting of the Eleventh Extraordinary Session in 2011, at the proposal of the Administrative Committee, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia noted the termination of the terms of office of MPs Dragi Damnjanovic and Nebojsa Zdravkovic, elected from the For European Serbia – Boris Tadic electoral list, before the expiration of the term they were elected to, on the day of resignation, 27 September 2011.


In the course of the sitting, at the proposal of the Administrative Committee, the National Assembly noted the existence of sufficient grounds to verify the terms of office of MPs Jaroslav Hrebik and Nikola Stojsic, elected from the For European Serbia – Boris Tadic electoral list.


MPs Riza Halimi, Velimir Ilic, Bojan Djuric, Slobodan Samardzic, Jorgovanka Tabakovic, Boris Aleksic, Srdjan Milivojevic, Aleksandra Jankovic, Ivan Andric, Dragan Sormaz and Milan Avramovic asked the questions.


MP Riza Halimi asked what the Government can actually do to improve the position of Albanians in the south of Serbia because unemployment, as he said, is the main reason of their leaving Serbia and seeking asylum in developed European states.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Cvetkovic said that the unemployment rate is one of the most difficult issues the Government addresses and all the measures it implements are directed towards changing the economic system, raising production and increasing employment. Minister of Human and Minority Rights, Public Administration and Local Self-Government Milan Markovic agreed that the economic situation in the south of Serbia is very poor, but that the bad situation in Presevo and Bujanovac cannot be viewed out of the context of the situation of many of the municipalities in the Pcinje and Jablanica Districts. As the head of the Coordination Body for the south of Serbia he reminded the MPs of the many joint projects and actions implemented in the last three years to overcome the problems and improve life in many spheres, as well as resolve the asylum-seekers issue. Responding to MP Halimi’s comment on the upcoming census in Serbia, Markovic deemed that there are no technical reasons to boycott the census and that it is a bad political decision that might exacerbate the relations in Bujanovac and Presevo. He appealed to the Albanians from the south of Serbia not to boycott the census which, says he, is a civilization-affirming product in full compliance with the existing standards of the international community.


MP Velimir Ilic asked Prime Minister Cvetkovic who gave the Government permission and legitimacy to install EULEX in Kosovo and whether the Government has secured the majority. The Prime Minister said that it is a well-known fact that EULEX was deployed under the UN Secretary General’s six-point plan, and to Ilic’s question whether the Government has secured the majority Cvetkovic said that it will become apparent when the Assembly debates the rebalance of this year’s budget.

To the MP’s question how it was possible for someone in 21st century to open fire on an ambulance transporting wounded and injured people, Cvetkovic stressed that noone approves of what happened recently at the Jarinje administrative crossing repeating that the Government adopted a conclusion at its sitting requesting that the UN fully investigates the occurrence.

Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic said that there were other occurrences of shooting at ambulances during armed conflicts stating that it happened during the attack in Dobrovoljacka Street in during the 1999 NATO bombings of Serbia. He said that two ambulances were sent to be examined and that the injured driver received medical attention in Kosovska Mitrovica.


MP Bojan Djuric asked Borislav Stefanovic what he meant by saying that Serbia is in a “stalemate”, and the Head of the Negotiating Team said that he meant a situation in which the international community states that the situation established by Pristina’s unilateral moves remains unchanged, and the Serbs in Kosovo maintain that it has. To MP Djuric’s question how Belgrade would end the stalemate and his estimation that the solution lies in accepting Martti Ahtisaari’s plan, he responded that Ahtisaari’s plan is unacceptable for Serbia as it leads to Kosovo’s independence and was not approved by the Security Council.

Borislav Stefanovic stressed that Serbia had not stopped negotiations with Pristina but rather they were postponed and would soon be continued. He said that Serbia’s strategy is not postponement but addressing the problems through dialogue as dialogue is the only way to resolve the issues. However, Serbia could not continue the dialogue with Pristina as regards the electrical power, telephone and regional initiative issues at a time when unarmed people in the north of Kosovo were being shot at.


MP Slobodan Samardzic asked the Government why, as he said, it allowed KFOR to turn into NATO and, as Prime Minister Cvetkovic had previously left the hall, noted that he had noone to pose the question to, stating that the competent ministers in charge of the matter are not in attendance.

The Chair, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gordana Comic said that, since Samardzic stated that he had noone whom he might pose it to, his question would be forwarded to the Government in writing.


To MP Jorgovanka Tabakovic’s question whether taking the Eurobond loan in this time of crisis was necessary, the Prime Minister said that both the public and the Assembly share a degree of misunderstanding as regards the Eurobonds. He stated that the Government, in addition to the three channels keeping the budget liquid, ensured a fourth channel and that the issue of Eurobonds onto the global financial market would deepen the channels financing the current liquidity of Serbia’s budget. He added that there have been no objections or criticisms that this was a new debt, that it secured additional funds for the economy and that all the neighbouring countries already have Eurobonds.

Jorgovanka Tabakovic asked why the Government has changed its attitude to Kosovo since March, and Borislav Stefanovic responded that it was a fact that Serbia can neither quit its European road, nor give up Kosovo and that it was not true that Serbia has given up its established policy.


MP Boris Aleksic wanted to know what the Government would do if NATO and KFOR attacked the Serbs on the barricades. Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that he would be the first to go to Kosovo if that would help resolve the problems and stressed that the Government kept following the situation and that its policy was dialogue, talks, diplomacy, the UN and everything that can be done without entering into an armed conflict.


MP Srdjan Milivojevic asked the Minister of Health for information on the state of the injured in the conflicts at the administrative crossings in Kosovo. Minister Stankovic said that 118 Serbs were injured and that so far there was no need to send them for treatment in Serbia. He deemed the supply of medicines and medical material in Kosovska Mitrovica and the enclaves adequate adding that the Ministry of Health had secured the necessary supply of medicines and blood derivatives.


MP Aleksandra Jankovic asked whether the Government had a position on the Pride Parade and what the Prime Minister would do to prevent it at a time when the southern province is on fire. Cvetkovic stated that the whole Government shares the position that the Constitution and the right to diversity must be respected and that the Government never debated the Pride Parade issue or the issue of the people who wish to protest. He explained that the police, in accordance with the security situation, would estimate whether the Pride Parade would be held and they would have their position on it.

Minister of Health Zoran Stankovic said that Serbia’s health care system is ready to assist anyone who might need assistance, including the participants of the Pride Parade.


MP Ivan Andric asked why Serbia took a billion-dollar loan and whether it was a direct consequence of the Decentralisation Law passed three months ago which had left such a hole in the budget which could not be covered by the existing income.

Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that such speculation was incorrect and that the loan would be used for the same things for which the current loan was used. To Andric's question why we had taken such an unfavourable loan, Cvetkovic said that it was not true that the loan was connected to the new budget but has been envisaged by the budget currently in force.


To Dragan Sormaz's question what in the policies of the Republic of Serbia and its Government represented the red line that Serbia would not cross, Prime Minister Cvetkovic responded that the red line meant not giving up on either European integration or the fight for Kosovo-Metohija. The Prime Minister stressed that the Government would never turn its back on the people living there and that it fully stood by the Serbian people in Kosovo-Metohija and was not indifferent to anyone’s suffering.


MP Milan Avramovic requested an Assembly session to be held in Strpce and that the census covers Kosovo-Metohija so as to see how many Serbs live down there. Prime Minister Cvetkovic said that he did not understand the question, but he understood the disagreement with diplomatic means, so he asked MP Avramovic to propose other undiplomatic means that the Government should implement.

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