Protecting Vojvodina through the adoption of a new Constitution for Serbia
Published on 5th November 2012
The House for Human Rights and Democracy requests the representatives of the Serbian parliament to urgently set up a committee for the adoption of a new Constitution of Serbia and open a public debate with representatives of all stakeholders in society. The decision of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, which drastically reduces the competencies of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, proves once again that the present Constitution is a serious threat to Serbia’s development as a modern European state.
As a result of the decision of the Constitutional Court of Serbia, the province of Vojvodina has lost a significant number of competencies. The House for Human Rights won’t comment on the legal side of the decision until we get the whole explanation, but it is already clear that the problem lies in the Serbian Constitution, which leaves to the Constitutional Court the possibility to drastically undermine acquired rights and damage the position of the Vojvodina province.
The battle for provincial authority does not involve splitting the country, it is rather a legitimate protection of the acquired rights of citizens of Vojvodina, which were harshly and unconstitutionally repelled by acts of the illegitimate one-party Serbian Assembly in 1989 and 1990. There is no justifiable reason why Vojvodina could not open an office in Brussels, adopt a development strategy for high technology or manage water and forestry resources on its territory. Especially dangerous is the symbolic importance of making this decision on the anniversary of the start of Milošević’s “anti-bureaucratic revolution” that opened the path to the breakup of Yugoslavia and subsequent wars.
Instead of the expected further decentralization and transfer of authority to a level that is closer to citizens, this decision restores the policy of centralization at work under the rough rule of Slobodan Milošević. We remind the public that centralization has never and nowhere proved to be a good solution for the preservation of national integrity. On the contrary, the best solution to build a state that satisfies all citizens must respect the legitimate interests of different regions. Vojvodina citizens must regain the right to decide on all matters and decisions related to their future. This can only be achieved by adopting a new Constitution that will be the result of an extensive and serious public debate and public consensus on the values that provide the foundations of any serious state.
House for Human Rights and Democracy
Belgrade Centre for Human Rights
Lawyers’ Committee for Human Rights
Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
Centre for Practical Policies