October 3, 2018

DECLARATION ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC UNIFICATION OF VOJVODINA AND SERBIA INTO A FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

The Fourth Vojvodina Convention

held in Novi Sad, 1st April 2012, attended by representatives of regional and minority parties of Vojvodina and other democratically and Europe oriented political parties and NGOs; eminent representatives of all nations and natioonal minorities who live in Vojvodina for centuries and of Vojvodina geo-historic regions of Backa, Banat and Srem; members of Vojvodina Academy of Science and Art and other renown members of Vojvodina society– representatives of scientific, cultural, educational, media, commerce and other fields of public and political life who support the same orientation – convoked under the name of “New Vojvodina Constitutional Initiative”,

 

adopts by acclamation

D E C L A R A T I O N
ON THE FOUNDATIONS OF DEMOCRATIC UNIFICATION
OF VOJVODINA AND SERBIA
INTO A FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF SERBIA

 

I

 

As legitimate representatives of the authentic democratic Vojvodina which c o n s i d e r s :

- that the Republic of Serbia- especially after the political changes which started at the end of the 80’s, and crowned by the latest Constitution Act-has determined itself as politically and constitutionally unconsolidated society, tarred-down by a sum of essential contradictions and tensions, which cannot be resolved while in chains of unitary and centralized political system and the existing constitutional mechanism; that Serbia has, as such, been for a long time in permanent conflict with itself, with Kosovo independent for some time and Vojvodina as its constitutive entity of its own, with some ethnic communities within its complex being and – in spite of recent positive shifts – with its neighbors, its European surrounding as well as with the international community;

- That the valid Constitution Act of Serbia is an essential generator and fullest expression of general – deep and lethal – economic, political, social and moral crisis;

- That citizens of multinational Vojvodina had said by a clear majority a plebiscite NO to the valid Constitution on a referendum held before its acceptance, and that makes that Constitution plitical questionable and illegitimate in essence. All this gives an unquestionable democratic credibility and political legitimacy of the First, Second and Third Vojvodina conventions and their demand for bringing a new constitution, but the one that is accepted by plebiscite on the whole territory of Serbia

- That the only way out of the deep and overwhelming crisis and a historical cul-de- sac in which our society has been stuck for a long time calls for a complete discontinuity with the policy of centralized “great- Serbian” approach and the ideology of Serbian national and political elite devoted to “memorandum”, calls for a radical democratic political reforms, basic constitutional changes and, as soon as possible, break-up with the valid Constitution;

- That the ruling political elite and the those who presentlly govern the country should be brought to make radical constitutional reforms, including the recognition of the obvious historic rights of Vojvodina, which have been forcibly annulled, and which have also been ignored, although binding, by the Contract between DOS and the people of 2000, conclusions of the London Conference of 1992, a number of explicit resolutions by the European Parliament in Strasbourg, and the opinions of the Venetian Commission on the valid Constitution;

- That not only in Vojvodina, but also in central Serbia, there are growing political forces which – in their demands for radical decentralization, regionalization and better constitutional place for each citizen and the world of labor – are more and more decisive on the demands for constitutional changes, and therefore these changes are becoming politicaly inevitable and historically inescapable;

- That it is a constant long-term interest of all citizens – both the members of Serbian nationality and also of other nationalities and national communities of both Serbia and Vojvodina, the two being specific and irrevocable geo-historic regions and two separate constitutive entities which together make today’s Republic of Serbia – that even after the breakdown of Yugoslavia and the disappearance of SRY and the Union of Serbia and Montenegro, go on living in a mutual, complex, federal, modern, democratic and secular state with republican shape, where they will unite willingly by their voice given at a plebiscite.

- That by new historic agreement of legitimate representatives of two actual constitutive entities – Vojvodina and Serbia – on their self- constitution as federal units and on willful joining into a mutual and complex state union – Federal Republic of Serbia – based on the principles of full constitutional equality and principles of federalism which is suited for the historic, political and civilized characteristics and evident, but different constitutive rights and specifics of the two constitutive entities. This would materialize in the fullest form the achieved and unquestionable historic rights of Vojvodina and Serbia as well as historic interests- primarily of the Serbian people in Vojvodina, but also minorities and ethnic communities living within them for centuries- to produce a stable mutual state on solid grounds, which equally belongs to all its citizens, because they are all equal and with equal rights.

- That firm securing and constitutive base of life together is possible only and exclusively based on such a new historic agreement, respectively – on the foudations mutually defined and adopted by legitimate representatives of both constitutive entities The Charter on the uniting of Vojvodina and Serbia into a mutual and complex state – Federal Republic of Serbia.

 

We strongly believe that according to such persuations – and based on the Declaration given here – today’s Serbia being so unitaristic and centralized, can peacefully and successfully be t r a n s f o r m ed into a complex, truly democratic, permanently stable and prosperous modern European state and become a lasting stability factor, guaranteeing peace and carry on development on the Balkan peninsula, in the Danube region and in the South-East Europe, as well as within modern Europe in general.

 

II

 

In the name of that Vojvodina represented by the participants of this Convention, we propose and agree to bring a Charter – together with legitimate representatives of Serbia proper as a constitutive entity – by which we would determine the following essential political fouundations and principles, as preconditions and outlines for the building of the future common state:

- Vojvodina respects the unquestionable historic heritage and inalienable right of Serbia to statehood, sovereignty and international legal subjectivity, as well as the fact that Serbia – in the common interest of all, and especially the Serbian people – these inviolable attributes carry onto the common state – Federal Republic of Serbia (FRS) – whose nationals are all the citizens of both constitutive entities. In the common federal state, Serbia is the federal unit with the status of a republic, constituted in accordance to its historic, geopolitical and other characteristics, with the right on its own constitution act, legislative and judicial power and disposal of assets, source incomes and all natural and manufactured resources on its territory, with constitutional guarantees on human, minority, working and social rights for all its citizens by the highest international standards;

- Serbia respects the historical right of Vojvodina to the status of a constituent of the common state and distinct federal unit, which includes the unalienable right of the citizens and nations who live in Vojvodina to perform in it all their sovereign rights, apart from the ones transferred to the federal state. Serbia respects, as unquestionable historic heritage and political specificity of Vojvodina, its unalienable and inconsumable political right of Vojvodina to political subjectivity, regional European identity and right to its own constitution act;

- Basic principles upon which both constitution of the Federal Republic of Serbia as well as constitutions of its federal entities will be built upon, are those prinples of the most modern European states. The129 se are: principle of the rule of law, legal state and civil society; principles of parliamentary democracy and consistent struggle to stop the party rules of governing, as well as other public work; principles of secular state, consistent division of power, subsidiarity, radical constitutional decentralization and regionalization, as well as full respect of civil and human individual and collective rights and modern labor rights;

- Federal state, in its exclusive jurisdiction has its original functions which are the attributes of every internationally recognized sovereign state: it organizes and secures its borders and territorial integrity; international relations and foreign policy; defense and security; freedom, rights and obligations of each person and citizen; crossing borders, traffic of goods and the position of foreign citizens; bases of economic system and relations, property and obligatory relations, market, companies and entrepreneurs; monetary, currency, foreign trade and banking systems; customs and fiscal policy; bases for regional and scientific and technological development and the development of big technical and technological systems, water flows regimes, sustaining and protecting the environment; traffic safety, social security and workers’ rights; health protection; production and trade of pharmaceuticals, weapons, toxic and flammable materials; relationships within the federal state, its organization and financing.

 

Certain areas, which are not in the jurisdiction of the federal state, based on the common interest of the federal entities and their agreement, can be transferred to federal state and regulated by a federal law and other federal acts . This is especially referring to the questions of a unified trade and commerce system, strategy of economic development, urban planning, infrastructure and other questions of vital and lasting common interest.

 

The constitution act of the federal state will define the contents of each of these functions, as well as the way of deciding on the laws and other acts brought by a two-housed Federal parliament, consisting of the House of citizens and the House of federal entities, the Government and/ or other authorities of the federal state. Also the way of electing and the structure of these authorities should ensure equal participation of the federal entities in their work and equal responsibility for the functioning of the common state.

 

The federal state has its own property and autonomous sources of income according to its functions. Federal constitution court secures consistent implementation of the federal constitution act and the constitutionality of the laws and other acts of the federal state, as well as the compliance of the acts of each federal entity with the federal constitution, while the Federal supreme court decides as a last instance on the implementation of federal laws, and also supervises the judicial practice on the whole territory of the federal state.

 

Federal state has its coat of arms, flag and hymn. As the capital city of the federal state, the city of Belgrade has a status of a specifically defined district by the constitution act;

- Federal entities, by their own constitution act and laws, individually and according to their specific characteristic, arrange all the questions which are not in the jurisdiction of the federal state: they decide on their coat of arms and flag, on their capital cities; arrange the institutional organization of federal entities and the territorial organisation in them, implementing the principle of regionalization and decentralization; arrange the relationships between regions, sub-regions and boroughs. Apart from this, based on the principle of subsidiarity, they secure the implementation of human individual and collective rights defined by the federal and its own constitution, the position of the working people and social rights, organization of judiciary and courts, including the constitutional court, which ensures the implementing of its own constitution act and the constitutionality of laws and other acts brought by the authorities of each federal unit.

 

Federal units have their own property and original fiscal income and they are responsible for the whole social and economic development and the protection and development of all natural and other resources on its territory.

 

According to the basic foreign policy of the federal state, defined by consent of all federal entities, federal units perform all the international cooperation and sign international agreements, which do not suppose its, by internationall law recognized subjectivity.

 

Both federal units are equally responsible for harmonic and efficient functioning of the federal state and its institutions and authorities.

 

With respect to the above mentioned opinions, approaches and principles, and in accordance with its own specifics, each federal unit brings its own constitution act at its constitutional assembly, and the Constitution act of the federal state is brought by the Constitutional Assembly elected in the way and according to the procedure defined by the Charter.

 

The Fourth Vojvodina convention, following the political principles of previous three convention, is of the opinion that Federal Vojvodina – as a consisutive entity equal in its status with the federal Serbia – should be defined as a federal Republic of citizens and nations and national communities of Vojvodina, where all its nationals are equal and constitutive, independent of its number, and that they all have the right to any form of national autonomy, according to the Constitution of federal Vojvodina.

 

This Constitution should define the status of its traditional regions: Backa, Banat and Srem and the principles of their constituting, wheras the law on regionalization should define the contiditons and the procedure for constituting other self-governed regions and sub-regions. Multi- cameral Parliament – The Parliament of Vojvodina- formed by the Assembly of citizens, Assembly of nations and national communities and the Assembly of regions and boroughs, elects the president of the Republic of Vojvodina, heads of Parliament and its chambers and the prime minister of the Government of Vojvoidna, who names the members of Government- ministers and other high officials.

 

According to their jurisdictions, The Parliament and the Government of Vojvodina name their representatives in the delegate bodies and other constitutional institutions and authorities of the federal state.

 

III

 As constitutional reforms for which we are calling for in this Declaration include radical reconstruction of the existing Republic of Serbia and radical break-up with a practice that lasts for decades as extremly unitaristic and centralistic and which has, primarily to Vojvodina, and to Serbia as well, brought a great deal of damage which is impossible to correct, we find it very important that the Charter- which would be mutually defined by representatives of both Serbia and Vojvodina- should very carefully elaborate the steps and procedures for the implementation of the constitutional reforms, for constitution of federal units and the common federal republic of Serbia; so that they would secure the legitimacy of such reforms and the procedural efficiency in the complex process of its enforcement.

 

The task of defining in detail, together with the representatives of federal Serbia, those pro- cedures and steps, as well as the proposal of the Charter as a whole, The Fourth Vojvodina Convention, as authentic representative of the constitutional movement of Vojvodina, shall delegate the Coordination Board, named by its separate decesion, whose task is to implement this Declaration.

 

IV

 

The participants of the Fourth Vojvodina Convention, having in mind the state of mind of the national elite and the balance of power in today’s Serbia, are strongly aware of the hardships of achieving a historical agreement on the bases advocated here and of all kinds of obstacles and oppositions in each phase of its materialisation and the realization of the initiative started here; as well as they are aware of the inevitability of the constitutional reforms which they are asking for and proposing.

 

We are also, at the same time, clearly pointing out that, starting from this Declaration and the principles herewith, the propositions and demands, we will not give up the struggle for the full realization of these constitutional changes.

 

We know that the only politically unavoidable as well as unwanted alternative to this suggested and mutually agreed way towards the new constitutional structure of the country – by which the constitutional position of Vojvodina would finally be rationally and in principle resolved as a crucial internal political question – is a lasting political instability and the threat of dangerous political radicalization and inevitable internationalization of the constitutional position of Vojvodina.

 

In order to prevent this, we firmly declare that we consider – if even one year after the 2012 elections such a suggested historical agreement and the definition of the Charter on political reforms and constitutional changes based on this Declaration, is not reached – that it is our moral and political obligation and our legitimate democratic right to start a wide action for a referendum where the citizens of Vojvodina will express what should be the constitutional position of Vojvodina and which concept of state is acceptable to them. 

 

Confident, however, that the growing emancipating, truly democratic and European political forces in Serbia proper understand that – without a radical break with the valid centralistic Constitution and the even more harsh practice of the party-governed high summit of the Republic – there is neither perspective, nor wellbeing for the citizens of Serbia as a whole, we consider that the struggle for radical constitutional and democratic changes is entering its crucial phase; meaning that their postponing would only prolong and deepen to the stage of agony the general crisis in which our society has been for a long time and would bring inevitable, new big damage to both Vojvodina and Serbia and all citizens and nations living in them.

 

We therefore call upon those political forces of Vojvodina and Serbia to join us in our struggle for radical constitutional and democratic reforms. And-in particular-we call upon the citizens of our disempowered, robbed, exhausted and humiliated Province – to firmly support us in this hard struggle.

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