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J. Joksimović: Serbia respects religious, ethnic and other diversity, so should others

January 30 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Serbia respects religious, ethnic and other diversity, so should others

“What Montenegro is doing by adopting the Law on Freedom of Religion is not in line with the fundamental principles underpinning both the Euro-integration process and the accession process itself,” stated Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović tonight, adding that she does not expect Montenegro to be invited to withdraw the law, but rather that a thorough review be carried out on how Montenegro is implementing its negotiation chapter on the rule of law.

Joksimović has told the Serbian National Assembly, during the part of the session where ministers respond to MPs' questions, that competent EU institutions are informed on a daily basis on this issue through discussions, stressing that she has recalled that, since the accession process is equal for all, it must be carried out under equal rules, as well.

“That is the essence and added value of the process”, Joksimović has said, adding that both Serbia and Montenegro are countries in the accession process and candidates for membership, but that Serbia is the only negotiating country that had the obligation to develop a special Action Plan for National Minorities under Chapter 23 - Rule of Law, which it gladly fulfilled.

“In this way, we have shown that, as a country, we are unequivocally, clearly and honestly committed to respecting multi-ethnicity, multi-confessionality and every other form of diversity that exists in our country”, said the Minister.

She has pointed out that churches and religious communities in Serbia are all free to structure their relationships within the church and dispose of their property, according to the best European standards. “I believe that that is worthy of attention and that it should be emphasized, and that what Montenegro is doing is not in accordance with the fundamental principles on which the European integration and the accession processes rest”, specified Joksimović.

“I believe that nobody will invite Montenegro to withdraw the law because, just as laws are not welcomed, they are also not withdrawn at someone's invitation”, said Joksimović.

“However, it is necessary to somehow send a warning, without introducing too much tension into the already fragile relations in the region; this deserves to be implemented as an instrument”, Joksimović said, and, referring to the proposal of MP Djordje Vukadinović that a UN Security Council session should have been requested, stressed that this issue has nothing to do with the UN Security Council.

“That would be a wrong approach within the multilateral mechanisms that exist in our diplomacy. First, there is OSCE”, said the Minister, adding that she has observed that whenever the issue of the rule of law and the state of the media is raised in Serbia, everyone from the opposition and the non-governmental sector make a strong reference to the OSCE, however, she has never heard that anyone remembered to perhaps send a letter or draw attention of relevant OSCE offices to the developments in Montenegro concerning a part of its citizens.

“I believe that Serbia responded tactfully, I really think we have done a lot”, said Joksimović, agreeing with the Prime Minister that not everything that is being done has to be visible to the public.

In her words, Serbia, as an acceding country, acted responsibly, as a country that has an interest in having good relations with Montenegro, but that certainly has an interest and the right to protect, primarily, the human rights of not only its community but also other communities. “And this is an example of the rule of law - when you protect the interests of your community as well as those of others. Just as Serbia willingly, honestly and consistently implemented what was expected of it, so should others,” indicated Joksimović.

“I do not expect that an invitation be made to withdraw this law, but I do expect a thorough review of how Montenegro implements its negotiation chapter on the rule of law. It is a fair approach and anyone else in Serbia would react the same regarding the status of inalienable religious rights that are a part of human rights”, stated Joksimović.

Joksimović has emphasised that Serbia is acting reasonably and that it has not deteriorated relations with Montenegro to an unprecedented extent, reiterating that all instances - the Prime Minister, the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of European Integration - were performing their duties.

Source: Tanjug

“What Montenegro is doing by adopting the Law on Freedom of Religion is not in line with the fundamental principles underpinning both the Euro-integration process and the accession process itself,” stated Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović tonight, adding that she does not expect Montenegro to be invited to withdraw the law, but rather that a thorough review be carried out on how Montenegro is implementing its negotiation chapter on the rule of law.

Joksimović has told the Serbian National Assembly, during the part of the session where ministers respond to MPs' questions, that competent EU institutions are informed on a daily basis on this issue through discussions, stressing that she has recalled that, since the accession process is equal for all, it must be carried out under equal rules, as well.

“That is the essence and added value of the process”, Joksimović has said, adding that both Serbia and Montenegro are countries in the accession process and candidates for membership, but that Serbia is the only negotiating country that had the obligation to develop a special Action Plan for National Minorities under Chapter 23 - Rule of Law, which it gladly fulfilled.

“In this way, we have shown that, as a country, we are unequivocally, clearly and honestly committed to respecting multi-ethnicity, multi-confessionality and every other form of diversity that exists in our country”, said the Minister.

She has pointed out that churches and religious communities in Serbia are all free to structure their relationships within the church and dispose of their property, according to the best European standards. “I believe that that is worthy of attention and that it should be emphasized, and that what Montenegro is doing is not in accordance with the fundamental principles on which the European integration and the accession processes rest”, specified Joksimović.

“I believe that nobody will invite Montenegro to withdraw the law because, just as laws are not welcomed, they are also not withdrawn at someone's invitation”, said Joksimović.

“However, it is necessary to somehow send a warning, without introducing too much tension into the already fragile relations in the region; this deserves to be implemented as an instrument”, Joksimović said, and, referring to the proposal of MP Djordje Vukadinović that a UN Security Council session should have been requested, stressed that this issue has nothing to do with the UN Security Council.

“That would be a wrong approach within the multilateral mechanisms that exist in our diplomacy. First, there is OSCE”, said the Minister, adding that she has observed that whenever the issue of the rule of law and the state of the media is raised in Serbia, everyone from the opposition and the non-governmental sector make a strong reference to the OSCE, however, she has never heard that anyone remembered to perhaps send a letter or draw attention of relevant OSCE offices to the developments in Montenegro concerning a part of its citizens.

“I believe that Serbia responded tactfully, I really think we have done a lot”, said Joksimović, agreeing with the Prime Minister that not everything that is being done has to be visible to the public.

In her words, Serbia, as an acceding country, acted responsibly, as a country that has an interest in having good relations with Montenegro, but that certainly has an interest and the right to protect, primarily, the human rights of not only its community, but also other communities. “And this is an example of the rule of law - when you protect the interests of your community as well as those of others. Just as Serbia willingly, honestly and consistently implemented what was expected of it, so should others,” indicated Joksimović.

“I do not expect that an invitation be made to withdraw this law, but I do expect a thorough review of how Montenegro implements its negotiation chapter on the rule of law. It is a fair approach and anyone else in Serbia would react the same regarding the status of inalienable religious rights that are a part of human rights”, stated Joksimović.

Joksimović has emphasised that Serbia is acting reasonably and that it has not deteriorated relations with Montenegro to an unprecedented extent, reiterating that all instances - the Prime Minister, the President, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of European Integration - were performing their duties.

Source: Tanjug