Finance and Economy Minister Mlađan Dinkić has denied the allegations, stressing that the new bills will not affect individuals but only municipalities.
The session on changes to laws on property tax and tax on legal entities’ profit started on Wednesday but it was suspended after a heated debate. The opposition MPs accused the ruling coalition of “legal violence” because it had put the laws on the parliament’s agenda without a public debate.
The MPs will also discuss changes to the law on tax procedure and tax administration, mandatory social security payments, excise taxes and income tax.
In an interview for the Belgrade-based Novi Magazin, he also asserted that “no party can have a decisive influence on any factory,” and that, considering that he also served as interior minister at the time the investigation has been launched, this represented “a big plus for the SPS, because it means that there are no privileges.”
“The problems” that the prime minister referred to concern a corruption affair
that saw several persons, accused of stealing at least EUR 12 million from the company, arrested last week.
“It is wrong to think that the party has something to do with it. I never let party personnel interfere in the MUP. In the case of Galenika, it can be said that somebody was close to the SPS, it can be said that somebody who is a member of the SPS sat in the Galenika managing board – but the story that one party ruled Galenika is nonsense. Anyway, I am the interior minister and why should any of that upset us,” he was quoted as saying.
Dačić also stated that “the Ministry of Finance rejected offers,” and identified as “the key problem that should yet be investigated” the huge debt that the state had toward Serbia’s biggest drugmaker.
“If you look more closely, it turns out that the state did make payments, but not the factory directly – instead they paid retailers. And there’s the situation where out of those one hundred million (debt) the state owes 60-70-80, and nobody’s been held responsible! Some foreign manufacturers collected payments for their drugs, well I can wonder if somebody was out to destroy the domestic drugmaker? All that needs to be determined. Business policy is one thing, crime another. But whoever it may be, I’m not interested in partisan affiliation,” Dačić said.
Asked about allegations that he had ties with the crime clan headed by the suspected fugitive drug lord Darko Šarić, and speculations that the American DEA provided him with protection after the affair broke out, Dačić once again rejected all claims against him.
“If my ties consist of having known a man four or five years ago, who was later suspected of criminal activity – then that is one pathetic fight against crime. Pathetic, if that’s the main evidence. I am not running away from discussions and truth. Anyway, few would have survived the kind of attacks and blows that I have. But, if I meant to do something criminal, I would have some interests… Even today I live the same way I did before,” he was further quoted by the magazine.
The prime minister also noted that he “met four times with the director of (the U.S.) Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),” and added:
“In June I will travel to Moscow to a conference organized by the DEA, I met with the director of the FBI. These are police structures and all that was happening after that event (meetings with Rodoljub Radulović) from the start of my mandate. I knew the man from before, and nobody warned me that he was involved in that kind of activity. Well, somebody would have reacted, warned me, or at least avoided me.”
Tanjug, Novi Magazin]]>
They will take part in the training of military and security forces of Mali.
The decision was backed by 162 MPs.
The Serbian army personnel’s engagement in the EU mission to Mali was not envisaged under the annual report, which the parliament adopted in February, Beta has reported.
However, following the invitation to take part, which came from EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, the government suggested that the initiative be debated urgently.
The Defense Ministry earlier described the EU mission to Mali as being of a moderate security risk. The mandate of the EU mission, which will engage up to 13 Serbian Army personnel, is for training the military and security forces of Mali for fighting secessionist and terrorist rebel groups.
B92 has unofficially learned that former RBV Board of Directors President Goran Kostić and former Board of Directors member Jelena Kokelj Protić were arrested.
They are suspected of abuse of office during approval of loans and bank guarantees to Dušan Borovica’s firms.
Borovica was arrested on May 9 on suspicion of taking illegal loans from the RBV.
According to media reports, the investigators believe that more than EUR 20mn was siphoned out from the bank over a five-year period.
Three former RBV officials were arrested in late March on suspicion of incurring damages worth EUR 25mn to the bank.
The petitioners argue the piece of subordinate legislation attempts to regulate matters which are under the sole jurisdiction of the Constitution and laws, while the authorities of the autonomous province say the Statute does not jeopardize the constitutional order in Serbia.
The motion was submitted by the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), New Serbia, and an association for the protection of the Serbian Cyrillic alphabet Ćirilica from Novi Sad.
Constitutional Court President Dragisa Slijepčević said the matter up for debate are “contentious legal and constitutional issues which were brought to the attention of the Constitutional Court.”
The provincial administration believes the Vojvodina Statute does not go against the Constitution and the public debate will show this, said Stevica Nazavić, chairman of the Vojvodina Assembly’s Regulations Committee.
According to Nazavić, the most important thing is that the Statute’s provisions regulating the organization of the provincial government and relationship between provincial bodies remain in effect.
“It is important that the Statute survive in its current form, along with the rights the citizens can enjoy through the Autonomous Province. It is very important that these things are kept on, as principles which will some day also be of use to other parts of our country in achieving territorial autonomy,” he said.
The Vojvodina Statute attempts to regulate not only the matters already transferred onto the autonomous province, but also matters regulated by the Constitution, said professor Kosta Čavoski, disputing the Statute on behalf of the DSS.
A piece of subordinate legislation such as the Statute cannot have constitutive properties, said the professor, noting that its passage is an attempt to regulate a whole series of issues which are regulated by the Constitution or laws.
The document classifies the Serb people as a national community even though it is the constitutive people in Serbia, and gives Vojvodina a representative office in Brussels in the provisions defining regional cooperation, said Čavoski.
He also criticized the establishment of the Vojvodina Academy of Sciences, noting that all countries have only one such academy, with the exception of Germany and Italy for historic reasons, and adding that “the Serbian state has always had only one academy.”
The petitioners also argue it is unconstitutional that the Statute establishes a council of national communities as a second house of the Vojvodina Assembly.
Čavoski says the attempt to gain the right of veto over future changes to the Serbian Constitution is also unconstitutional.
Vladimir Cvijan (SNS), chairman of the Serbian parliament’s Committee on Constitutional and Legislative Issues, said he was tasked by the Committee to relay its position that “the Vojvodina Statute was approved by the previous legislature, but in the meantime the Constitutional Court has found over 20 provisions in the law establishing the competences of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina unconstitutional.”
“In light of its previous decision, the Constitutional Court should give its ruling on the Statute without interference from any political debate.”
The DSS said in its motion that the Vojvodina Statute contains elements of statehood, among other things by stating that Vojvodina has a capital, and that the Serbian version of the Latin alphabet can be in official use in the province.
They also consider unconstitutional the provisions stating that the province can sign inter-regional agreements, open representative offices abroad, and is the holder of executive power in the province.
Last year, the Constitutional Court found over 20 provisions in the law establishing the competences of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina unconstitutional.]]>
The head of the Vojvodina provincial government from the ranks of the Democrats (DS) added that the document was not asking for a change of the Serbian Constitution, but rather that it “only wants to see the letters in the highest state act and laws put in practice.”
Noting that the Vojvodina Assembly adopted the Declaration by a three thirds majority vote of the members (75 in favor, 21 against) on Monday, he told B92 that that the document is an appeal by the province to all competent institutions of the republic to deal with the existing problems.
Pajtić said that the document represents an exclusively internal political issue and the provincial government does not want to call on anyone outside the country to help it ensure rights guaranteed by the Constitution and the law are honored.
Pajtić reiterated his earlier observation that the central government and other competent state institutions have in the past violated not only the provisions of the Constitution on budget guarantees for Vojvodina, but also a number of other laws such as those on the responsibilities of the province, health insurance and property.
He noted that the province is aware of the political situation and of the way the ruling coalition at the central government level views the provincial government, led by the Democratic Party (DS), adding that their hand has been extended to central government institutions but “has unfortunately been hanging in the air all this time.”
Serbia’s ruling coalition is led by the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the United Regions of Serbia (URS).
Pajtić added that he believes that it is not realistic to expect a change in the Constitution of Serbia in the next few months or even a year or two, but the European integration will require amendments to be made to the Constitution.
Pajtić believes that the provincial opposition’s collecting about 160,000 signatures demanding his recall over the last few days was unnecessary business as the number makes up only about eight percent of Vojvodina’a population and does not reflect the will of the majority of the people in the province.
A total of 75 assembly members voted in favor, while 21 were against the document proposed by the Vojvodina government, which has caused a stormy reaction in the political public sphere recently.
Assembly members of the Serb Progressive Party (SNS) and the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), opposition on the provincial level, who were against the declaration, left the session after the vote.
DSS MP Milenko Jovanov told reporters that the party’s deputies left the session because the adopted Declaration proclaimed the “separatist policy of the provincial government an official policy.”
The DSS will continue to fight against this policy before the Constitutional Court of Serbia, where a public debate on the Statute of Vojvodina started Tuesday.
The Declaration was adopted after the provincial government, led by the Democratic Party (DS), accepted one amendment to the document that was put forward by the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina (LSV), and another five amendments, out of a total of 11, tabled by the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM).
By the LSV amendment, change was made to Article 2 in the draft declaration to state that the autonomy of Vojvodina is a historical and natural right of its citizens who by their own free will decided, in Novi Sad in July 1945, that the province is a constituent part of Serbia as an autonomous province.
The Declaration, inter alia, states that constitutional principles and legal responsibilities in relation to the rights and powers of bodies and institutions in the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina have been violated on a number of occasions.
It calls on Serbia’s central government, bodies and institutions to work jointly with the provincial administration and representatives of local governments on strengthening mutual cooperation and improving the level of respect for the rights and obligations of the province.
Although he got majority support from the party’s municipal offices, Sapic told Tanjug he would not be part of a “dirty media campaign” that hurt the DS.
At the same time, Sutanovac confirmed to Tanjug he entered the race to lead the DS in Belgrade.
DS General Secretary and member of parliament Balsa Bozovic said he was collecting signatures and intended to run for the position as well.
The election will be held on June 8, and in order for it to be successful, at least 30 percent of the 27,000 DS members in Belgrade should vote.
It will be the first election for the leader of the DS in Belgrade with more than one candidate to choose from.]]>
BELGRADE – President of the Vojvodina government Bojan Pajtic stated on Monday that the declaration on the protection of constitutional and legal rights of the province constitutes a call to rule of law and respect of obligations toward Vojvodina.
Pointing out that Vojvodina’s powers are unquestionable, Pajtic said that the Constitution envisages that the province has the right to 7 percent of the state budget but it is not getting the whole amount.
If we received the funds envisaged in the Constitution, we could employ five times the number of current employees and we would have many more investments, Pajtic said at the session of the Vojvodina Assembly ahead of the debate on the draft declaration of the Vojvodina government.
Pajtic claims that less than RSD 100 per province citizen is allocated to Vojvodina’s development which is why Vojvodina cannot develop better and the living conditions for its citizens cannot improve.
He underscored that citizens of Vojvodina have the right to get back what they earned, to choose those who would serve them and use their property as they see fit.
Pajtic recalled that there were a number of fierce political reactions to the draft declaration and several protests were staged in Novi Sad, adding that the document seeking respect of the Constitution and laws of the Republic of Serbia should not be a reason for protests and denials in a country hoping to get the date of EU accession talks soon.
Opposition parties stated that the draft declaration expresses separatist tendencies and participants of the protest in Novi Sad on April 12 which gathered around 30,000 people called for the withdrawal of the document, resignation of President of the Vojvodina government Bojan Pajtic and calling new elections.
After this, the original text of the declaration was slightly changed, including Point 2 which caused most controversy, saying that Vojvodina’s autonomy is the historical and natural right of its citizens and that by their will, Vojvodina was incorporated into Serbia, according to the decision of the Great people’s assembly on November 25, 1918.
Instead, the document now states that Vojvodina’s autonomy was brought about by the will of its MPs 27 years later, during the session of the Assembly in Novi Sad on July 30 and 31, 1945.
The opposition stated that the new text is even worse than the original one and Vice President of the Serbian Progressive Party Igor Mirovic warned that this is a dangerous act whereby the democratic legitimacy is drawn from a communist assembly held at a time of military administration.
Prior to the parliamentary debate, opposition representatives filed to the provincial government the signatures of 160,000 Vojvodina citizens against the declaration, together with the request for Pajtic’s replacement.
Tanjug Video Screenshot, camera operator Aleksandar Milanovic
NOVI SAD – Representatives of opposition parties in the Assembly of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina submitted to the provincial government Monday about 160,000 signatures of the province’s citizens supporting a petition for immediate resignation of Vojvodina government President Bojan Pajtic.
Chair of the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) Council for Vojvodina Igor Mirovic said that the SNS has collected a little over 130,000 signatures, while the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) collected additional 30,000.
Mirovic said that they appended to the petition a list of reasons why the president of the provincial government, which is led by the Democratic Party (DS), should resign and in that way enable the calling of early provincial elections.
According to Mirovic, Pajtic is responsible for the bad economic situation in the province, and the Vojvodina government lost its legitimacy in the local and provincial elections held in its municipalities in May last year.
Yet another reason for the petition, said Mirovic, is the Declaration on the Protection of Constitutional and Legal Rights of Vojvodina, which he believes is damaging to the people of Vojvodina, and completely unnecessary.
“By putting their signatures on the petition, the citizens of Vojvodina are clearly showing that they do not want any gaps to exist between the provincial and central governments (the latter is led by the SNS and SPS),” said Mirovic.
Photo Tanjug, Jaroslav Pap