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J. Joksimović: Referendum – chance that shouldn’t be missed

December 29 2021 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Referendum – chance that shouldn’t be missed

Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has stressed that she will circle “Yes” at the referendum on the amendment to the Constitution scheduled for 16 January, because it is a chance that should not be missed.

“Of course it is important for European integration, but what is crucial is that citizens have been expecting a more independent judiciary and a more efficient fight against corruption for at least a decade. It is our duty to respond to those expectations and demands”, said the Minister.

Joksimović has assessed that it is the duty of every member of the Government and everyone in the National Assembly to talk about the referendum, adding that, by saying that, she is risking to breach the provisions of the Law on Referendum.

“This is an extremely important issue for the citizens and a matter that is not decided upon based on personal preferences – this is not a matter of the coat of arms, the look of the flag or the national anthem”, noted the Minister, emphasising that the constitutional amendments and the referendum represent a substantive step forward.

This is a very technical matter, added the Minister, stressing the importance of the need to explain the issue that is the topic of today’s dialogue, i.e. the way the constitutional amendments can contribute and are contributing to the improvement of human rights and access to justice, fairness and equal treatment, which is essential for citizens.

The Minister has underlined that all relevant studies conducted in the past 10 years in the context of the EU have shown that, in addition to personal and economic standard, citizens have cited the rule of law and the judiciary reform as dominant expectations that should also contribute to a more efficient fight against corruption and access to justice and fairness for all.

According to her, the judicial reform is vital not only in the context of meeting the requirements of the EU. She has emphasised that there is no imposed solution, but a good European practice based on which the Venice Commission, as a permanent expert body in a broader format which acts on a global level, has given a positive assessment that the proposed constitutional amendments are in line with the highest European practices and standards and that they follow the political and institutional tradition of the society.

She has also recalled the importance of institutional arrangement because it changes things, reduces the corruptive pattern of behaviour and regulates other procedures.

“You cannot know whether a judge or a prosecutor is ethically ideal, whether they are committed to their work, but the system and procedures make every one of us act according to the best practice which aims to improve the human rights of every citizen”, said the Minister, noting that the institutions are the ones that provide the framework and enable better access to justice and fairness.

She has added that no confusion or misconception should be spread if the Venice Commission gave positive assessments.

“This is a substantive step forward, be it ideal or subject to further improvement. The Constitution is not a dogma, it is the highest legal act that determines the framework of life and that should correspond to the spirit of the times”, said Joksimović, adding that the procedure for amending the Constitution is very rigorous and demanding in Serbia, which is why the whole process has been conducted in a transparent way.

She has assessed that it is good that the 2009 reform was mentioned at the meeting.

“That catastrophic reform cost the citizens at least EUR 60 million, and that is something that we are now trying to make right, among other things, in the interest of the citizens”, said the Minister.

The thematic social dialogue “Judiciary, Public Administration and Local Self-Government and Protection of Human Rights and Gender Equality – Outcome of Referendum”, organised by the Ministry of Human and Minority Rights and Social Dialogue, has been held today in Belgrade, as one of the three dialogues that will be organised until 16 January for the purpose of helping the citizens to freely decide whether they will vote at the referendum and accept the proposed constitutional amendments.

The second dialogue will be organised in Novi Sad on 5 January, and the third one will be held in Kragujevac on 12 January.

Source: Tanjug