Civil sector: The failure of the referendum does not mean stopping Serbia’s European path
The referendum on changing the Constitution of Serbia on January 16 does not represent a declaration on European integration, and its failure would not mean stopping Serbia’s European path, several civil society organizations announced today.In a joint statement, the civil sector stated that the proposed changes to the Constitution are “not one criterion on which the continuation of Serbia’s European integration depends, but only the first step towards the independence of the judiciary, which only partially achieves that goal.”

“Since these types of messages are incorrect, we believe that it is very dangerous to deceive the public, which is not sufficiently informed about the changes to the Constitution that are being put to a referendum,” reads the joint statement of the BFPE Foundation for Responsible Society, Center for Contemporary Politics. (CSP), the Center for European Policies (CEP), the Center for International and Security Affairs (ISAC) and the European Movement in Serbia (EPuS).

Progress in Negotiating Chapter 23 is said to require a change in Serbia’s constitution in the field of justice, but this is the first of “several very important changes to the legislative framework and patterns of behavior expected to achieve judicial independence in the future”.

It is important to note that the amendments only partially achieve this goal, but also that some solutions do not fully meet the transitional criterion in the part related to the composition of judicial councils. Serbia is expected to change its legislation in order to, in accordance with the previous The amendments to the Constitution completely freed the judiciary from political influence, which is the proclaimed goal of the initiated constitutional changes, “the statement said, adding that whether or not a referendum does not vote for or against Serbia’s European integration process.

The civil society organizations also note in the statement that “Serbia will have to change the Constitution once again by the time it joins the EU, since these changes are not the only inconsistency of the Constitution with the obligations that Serbia will have to take on EU membership.”

The civil sector also assessed the statements of officials as incorrect, that the failure of the referendum would prevent the change of the Constitution in the next four years, and that it would mean a loss of four years in the process of European integration.

“The mentioned messages give the impression of looking for excuses and culprits for the past, as well as future failures and delays in the process of negotiations on Serbia’s EU membership, which are primarily the result of the ruling majority’s lack of political will for necessary reforms,” ​​the statement said.

Progress in European integration is measured, it is added, not only by changes to the Constitution, but also by Serbia’s overall approach to fulfilling all obligations on the road to the EU.

“In order to make progress on that path, Serbia must make serious strides in a number of important areas, from strengthening the independence of the judiciary we are talking about now, in the fight against crime and corruption, to strengthening democratic institutions and media freedom,” the organizations remind. civil society in a joint statement.

The statement said that “nothing, not even the existing Constitution, prevents the Serbian authorities from working diligently on improvements in these areas in parallel with the process of changing the Constitution, even if citizens do not trust the proposed amendments,” but added that the latest for several years “progress in them is weak, slow and mostly of a formal nature, while in certain areas there is a clear setback”.

Civil society organizations called on the citizens of Serbia to “make a decision in Sunday’s referendum in accordance with their information on the quality of the proposed amendments to the Constitution” and “public media services and the Republic Election Commission to enable and encourage public discussion on the content of proposed constitutional changes against “.

This would reduce the possibility of manipulation if the success of the referendum is a key measure for the continuation of European integration, and opposition to the proposed constitutional changes is against Serbia’s EU membership, the joint statement of the five civil society organizations said.

By Editor

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