National minorities in Serbia have been living from challenge to challenge for years. Minority rights are considered luxury and generosity by the Serbian state authorities. More precisely, the concept of human rights, in which the rights of minorities should be included, first of all, is understood by the current authorities only as the rights of the Serbs, their human rights to unite.
In fact, human rights, but also the rights of minorities in particular, are an inseparable part of the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia. In addition, they are also regulated by laws and by-laws as necessary instruments, however their implementation is far from reality. The efforts made over the years by various factors in Serbia, to implement the rights of minorities, under the authoritarian regime of Aleksandar Vučić, they have been lost. Those efforts have not only been lost, but the political will to implement the rights of minorities that are established on paper is also completely missing. As a result of the influence of politics, the social mood in Serbia is extremely unfavorable and less interested in the rights of national minorities.
The national minorities in Serbia are not small in number, but in terms of the geographical extent where they live, compact in their settlements, first of all are the Hungarian minority in Vojvodina, the Bosnian minority in Sanjak and the Albanian in three municipalities that make up the Preševo Valley region . Under the authoritarian regime of Aleksandar Vucic, national minorities, especially Albanians and Bosniaks, have been subjected to various administrative measures through a structured discrimination and disrespect for their rights, both as minorities and as human rights.
The aim of these measures is to reduce their number as much as possible, which aim would avoid any demand for a greater autonomy which would guarantee peace and national but also existential stability. In order to reduce the number of Albanians in Preshevo, Bujanoc and Medvedja, Serbia has long been implementing the process known as “Passivation of the addresses of Albanians” who work abroad, or those who have gone to Kosovo.
Their flight to the countries of the European Union has come as a result of not having an economic perspective in their country of birth. The measure in question is a method and form of ethnic cleansing of the Albanian national minority that lives in Southern Serbia, specifically in the region of the Presheva Valley. Unfortunately, citizens who live and reside continuously in their addresses are also affected by this measure. The issue of the passivation of the addresses of the Albanian residents of these three municipalities, despite progressive voices in Serbia, has not received the attention of the authorities in Belgrade.
Serbia is constantly striving for its goal of an ethno-national state and uniting all Serbs while systematically marginalizing all minorities and their rights. Unfortunately, despite the presence of numerous embassies, the OSCE and other organizations in the south of Serbia, Albanians live in oblivion and wait for their status to be resolved. For years, their insistence has been that their problems be solved as part of the solutions to the problems with Kosovo.
For comparison, they have referred to the rights of the Serbian minority in Kosovo and the development of these rights, both constitutional and legal, as well as their implementation on the ground. As a result of the also not good position of the rights of the Bosniak minority which compactly lives in the region of Sanjak, demands have also been submitted by those that their rights as a national minority should be comparable to the rights of the minorities in Kosovo.
Seeing the whole range of non-respect of the rights of national minorities in Serbia, in a detailed report to the Belgrade-based Helsinki Committee, it is mentioned that the European Commission through its reports has criticized the weakness of the rule of law, this is why no chapter of the negotiations for Serbia’s EU membership has been opened in the last two years.
The national minorities of Serbia are organized in National Councils through which the preservation of language, culture, education and information in their languages is proven. This has repeatedly proven to be insufficient and not helpful for their real integration into society. With the current capacity of these National Councils, minorities are excommunicated from the opportunities they would have if there was a will from Belgrade for their integration into Serbian society.
An example to prove this situation can be the explanation of the report of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights based in Belgrade, an avant-garde organization of human rights, where it elaborates the Strategy for Culture of the Government of Serbia for the years 2020 – 2029, which was approved by the Serbian Government.
“The national policy is exclusively oriented towards the development of a mono-cultural policy for individuals, which does not coincide with the multi-ethnic nature of the society”, the report states. The strategy defines a “cultural core and a cultural space that includes all Serbs in the region”, which essentially coincides with the “Serb world” project, while excluding others who are not Serbs.
The exclusion from the interest of the state for national minorities, whether they are Bosnian, Albanian, Hungarian, Roma or others, is inconsistent with all the values of the European Union required by its founding treaty. The EU Treaty as a value, especially in its articles 2 and 21, mentions the importance of respecting the rights of minorities.
Article 2 of the Treaty on European Union mentions “respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities” as one of the values on which the EU was founded. Meanwhile, in Article 21 of the European Union Treaty, it is stated that the EU will commit to “consolidating and supporting democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law”, which includes respecting the rights of minorities.
Recalling what are the standards and values defined by the European Union for all those countries that want to join this community is necessary, among others, to compare the position of Serbia in relation to the respect of these values, which are related to the rights of national minorities. The position of minorities and the level of their integration in the society, politics, economy and culture of a country is the essential indicator of the level of democracy in that country. Serbia is not the reference example of democracy! /THE GEOPOST/