National Assembly Deputy Speaker Elvira Kovacs spoke today at the opening of the seminar co-organised by the secretariat of the informal Green Parliamentary Group, OSCE Mission to Serbia and the National Assembly, which established the joint work of the Green Parliamentary Group and the 13th legislature of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia.
The following is the address of National Assembly Deputy Speaker Elvira Kovacs in its entirety:
Dear fellow MPs, Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,
This is the fifth legislature of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in which the Green Parliamentary Group has been formed as an informal parliamentary coalition, starting in 2009, having gathered over 80 MPs in the previous 13 years and advocating not only that environmental protection and sustainable development policies become the focus of parliamentary debates, but that every legal regulation is analysed from the perspective of the right to a healthy environment - as a human right.
The issues of environmental protection and sustainable development are at the same time issues of economic and social development, unemployment, population growth, lack of food and water, depletion of sources of raw materials and energy. Moreover, they are issues of intergenerational solidarity, because it is our responsibility to leave the legacy of healthy air, water and soil to future generations, in a word, a preserved environment.
In its Report on Serbia of 12 October of this year, the European Commission assessed that, on the whole, limited progress had been achieved in Cluster 4 "Green Agenda and Sustainable Connectivity", but no progress was recorded in the part that concerns harmonisation with the EU laws on environmental responsibility and crime
We cannot refute the criticisms of the European Commission: namely, even though Serbia has transposed most of the provisions of Directive 2008/99/EC into the Criminal Code, and though Chapter 24 of the Code defines criminal acts in this area in 18 articles (Articles 260-277), and at least 7 sectoral laws prescribe another 10 criminal acts of environmental crime, the data shows that since the beginning of this year, a total of 442 criminal reports have been filed for 451 criminal acts against the environment, 428 of which from the area of biodiversity.
Unfortunately, Serbia is not the only bad example, Europol estimates that environmental crime brings in between 110 and 280 billion USD in profit every year, which ranks it third on the ladder of crimes, right after narcotics and pirated products.
Unfortunately, although the draft on responsibility for environmental damage was discussed a few years ago, it did not reach the adoption stage, wherein the polluter would not only pay a fine but the remediation of the consequences of the environmental damage as well.
Honoured members of the Green Parliamentary Group, I am sure that in the 13th legislature of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia the Green Parliamentary Group will promote dialogue and tolerance, because we cannot talk about green policies without green dialogue, and that the Western Balkan parliaments’ green parliamentary groups will connect through the green agenda, because the problem of environmental protection knows no borders.
These are realistic and achievable goals, because if man were to disappear from the face of the earth by self-inflicted means, it would not be possible to give a simple answer to the question - did he fall or was he pushed, said the National Assembly Deputy Speaker.