Opening the meeting of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Belgrade, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia Maja Gojkovic stressed that Serbia is dedicated to building a just democratic society and that national and cultural diversity are one of the highest social values which is why Serbia is more than ready to cultivate and keep them.
Gojkovic said that in the 70 years of its existence, the Council of Europe, founded in Europe ravaged by war as the leading human rights organization, has created a common legal and political environment. The Serbian Assembly Speaker said that the Council of Europe and its Parliamentary Assembly had greatly contributed to a variety of human rights issues – protection of ethnic minorities and regional and minority languages, combating sexual exploitation, child abuse and violence against women, preventing torture and inhuman and degrading punishment, combating trafficking in human beings and organs. Gojkovic said that the organization now faces new challenges such as misuse of personal data, cybercrime, radicalism, extremism and unilateralism.
The National Assembly Speaker said that Serbia is a country of equal opportunities that does not tolerate discrimination of any kind be it based on religion, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, reminding the attending that Serbia was one of the first 10 members to ratify the Istanbul Convention.
Gojkovic said that the Serbian Parliament’s Committee on Human and Minority Rights and Gender Equality and the Committee on the Rights of the Child are actively working on advancing legislation and implementing European standards, adding that the Women’s Parliamentary Network has also achieved some outstanding results.
Gojkovic said that the fight against violence against women and domestic violence is one of Serbia’s priority human rights and gender equality goals and the way to achieve it is a clear political and social consensus on the need to suppress and fight violence against women and domestic violence.
The Law on Prevention of Domestic Violence needs to be implemented fully and consistently and all the mechanisms made possible by it need to be used, Gojkovic said adding that by analysing the best practices and experiences of European countries the state needs to pass a new gender equality law which will secure a better social position for women.
The Serbian Assembly Speaker said that Serbia is a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional society with 28 registered national minorities which exercise their individual and collective rights in line with highest European and world standards, stressing that Serbia believes that national and cultural diversity are one of the highest social values which is why it is more than ready to cultivate and keep them.
Speaking of maintaining and promoting equality, Gojkovic said that the country is conducting a great many activities to that and is committed to creating the conditions for multilingual education.
Gojkovic reminded the attending of the slogan of the Council of Europe’s 70th anniversary “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Our Europe” which affirms that rights and freedoms are possible only if they are universal, common and the same for all and that they are the core values our continent resides on, adding that Serbia would continue to work toward making them true.