At the sitting held on 1 April 2019, the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region reviewed the funds allocated by the 2019 National Budget to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and the Media and Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development to finance activities concerning the diaspora and Serbs in the region.
Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta said that representatives of the organizations of Serbs in the diaspora and the region had informed the Committee that the funds the allocated by the mother country to finance their work are insufficient and need to be much higher, which is why this item has been proposed for the Committee’s agenda.
Representatives of the abovementioned there ministries - Dr Bojan Tubic, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, Nikolina Milatovic Popovic, acting director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, Dr Ljiljana Niksic, Ambassador, Head of the Department of Migration Policy, Diaspora and Social Security Agreements at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as Mladen Veskovic and Milan Petkovic of the Ministry of Culture and the Media Contemporary Art Sector and Information and the Media Sector respectively, spoke on the topic.
Dr Bojan Tubic, Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Development, presented the higher education projects and programmes financed by the Ministry, number one being student scholarships increased at a yearly basis by 18 (31,500,000 RSD this year), and number two, lectors abroad (4 million RSD), a field that would need additional funds as the existing ones are enough to pay only four lectors, said Tubic, adding that the Ministry would submit data concerning primary and secondary education at a later date.
The projects financed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region were presented by Nikolina Milatovic Popovic, acting director of the Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region, who said that the funds are lacking and should be increased. This year’s budget is lower by four to five million RSD than last year’s and of its 157,439,000 RSD, 100,402,000 are earmarked for the programme activity of cooperation with Serbs in the diaspora and region and projects concerning the preservation of Serbian national and cultural identity. The beneficiaries of said funds are associations in the diaspora and region, as well as organizations in Serbia itself. This year, 4,700,000 RSD was allocated for the purchase of books and didactic material.
Dr Ljiljana Niksic, Ambassador, Head of the Department of Migration Policy, Diaspora and Social Security Agreements at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that as a state we must set project tasks to correspond with significant events of national importance, as well as set up an interdepartmental team to tackle the matter, and to make sure these events are timely, and not a delayed reaction.
Mladen Veskovic of the Ministry of Culture and the Media Information and the Media Sector said that the Ministry had allocated 12 million RSD for the diaspora and Serbs in the region, to be awarded via competitions. The funds should be ampler to cover all the needs seeing how the number of applicants is higher every year. The funds are reserved for organizations registered outside of Serbia, especially ones in the region.
Milan Petkovic of the Ministry of Culture and the Media Contemporary Art Sector said that the funds for the broadcasting of content in Serbian in the countries in the region should be increased. This year’s budget for the media is lower by 8.7% and is 21,320,000 RSD though there have been more applicants for it. All the funds are intended for media in the region at a yearly level. The Ministry also funds sustainable projects in the region concerning problems in the field and the national public service, available in the region and diaspora.
Following a debate, the Committee members adopted two conclusions: the Committee members should have a meeting with the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and the Media, Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development, Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs and the Ministry of Youth and Sport in the coming period, to define the capital projects for next year and speak about possibly increasing the budget for the ministries involved in cooperation with the diaspora and Serbs in the region; and the Committee supports all the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Culture and the Media and the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development aimed at improving the position of Serbs in the diaspora and especially the region.
The Committee members went on to consider the initiative to meet with the Romanian Chamber of Deputies’ Committee for Romanian Communities Living Abroad and unanimously decided to accept the initiative and have a meeting in Belgrade in September of this year.
Finally, the Committee Chairman informed the Committee members about the meetings held between the current and previous sitting and about the memo of the organization of Serbs from Venezuela saying that a considerable number of Serbs live in this country who would like to have Serbian citizenship, however the high administrative fees complicate the process as does the fact that there is no Serbian Embassy in the country. The Committee decided to forward the memo to the competent Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Miodrag Linta and attended by the following Committee members: Prim. Dr Vlado Babic, Blaza Knezevic, Olivera Ognjanovic, Mirjana Dragas, Aleksandar Markovic, Zoran Bojanic, Aleksandar Cotric and Marjana Maras.