I consider that the rule of law is a priority question at this moment, but I also think that we should discuss about Kosovo, said director of the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights (YUCOM), Milan Antonijevic, for the FoNet. He recommended the deadline for constitutional changes to be shifted.
When he was asked whether the rule of law or finding the solution for the Kosovo problem is more important for European integration of Serbia, Antonijevic replied that he puts more emphasis on the quality of citizens’ life.
As an interlocutor in a series of interviews “European without gloves“, Antonijevic explained that it means all the situations that citizens are having with courts, the mismatch of court practice and legal uncertainty.
As the coordinator of the working group of the National Convent on the EU for Chapter 23, which includes justice and fundamental rights, Antonijevic reminds that work on amending the Constitution is underway, but he also speaks about a different passing time than planned.
“The Action Plan for Chapter 23 is quite ambitious, because it anticipates the end of this year as a deadline for the adoption of the new Constitution, but that is not realistic”, said Antonijevic.
Referring to the procedure that includes public debate, decision-making in the Serbian parliament and a referendum, Antonijevic emphasizes that the deadline should be moved in the next year.
If it’s clearly explained why it is necessary to organize a lengthy debate, then, according to Antonijevic, Europe has no reason to show misunderstanding.
On question how many countries hear the voice of the civil sector on changing the Constitution, Antonijevic answered that at a roundtable, which was organized by the Ministry of Justice, a series of remarks by NGOs were given. Remarks were about needed changes in Judiciary system.
We will see what will be included in the new Constitution. Our text is explained and it is very difficult to give the opposite opinion, Antonijevic said.
“Dialogue should reach the solutions, not to last for years”
Explaining why YUCOM accepts the invitation of Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic for dialogue on Kosovo, Antonijevic pointed out that at the core of human rights organizations is to resolve the problems through dialogue.
According to his attitude, this also applies to such large state issues that may seem far from civil society.
On the contrary, we have been dealing with issue of security of our citizens in Kosovo, war crimes and many other issues for many years and therefore we strongly believe that we are partners in that dialogue, Antonijevic said.
He also expects an official call with details, because there are a lot of things to be done before dialogue begins.
Speaking about the conditions, which he finds necessary for dialogue, Antonijevic specified that there must be a form of dialogue and a deadline.
That means that the dialogue has “the beginning and the end” and it should be very focused, so it goes for solutions, not to last for years.
We expect not only a civil society, but also those who was dealing with Kosovo in the previous period, said Antonijevic, and emphasized that the dialogue framework should be comprehensive.
The call comes from the president and I think it is pretty logic that he should be at the event that will be organized, Antonijevic said.
He notes that the form is not given by civil society. The form is given by the state, but he also believes that other branches of government should be in process, as well as the Office for Kosovo and Metohija.
Antonijevic insists on the public dialogue and states that the dialogue is a sufficiently wide form, so there can be organized a roundtable, as well as other kinds of meeting.
According to Atonijevic’s words, the question about Kosovo has been closed to the public for too long, without the media, and therefore “should stop with that”.
It cannot be an official meeting with a statement after it, but a real dialogue about all open issues, Antonijevic said.
He says it is ungrateful to comment on the reactions on call for dialogue. He stressed that he comes from an organization that is always in dialogue and which wants to be where it is being discussed on certain things.
It is too early to rate whether this dialogue will be effective or not, said Antonijevic. He understands those who want to participate, but also those who don’t want that at this time.
“I don’t know how it is possible to reconcile those two, but we will see”, Antonijevic concluded.