At the sitting held on 2 February 2021, the members of the Committee on the Diaspora and Serbs in the Region considered the status and prospects of Serbs in the region in the context of support by the Republic of Serbia and impact on the position of the Serb community in the region.
At the very beginning, Committee Chairman Milimir Vujadinovic welcomed the guests, saying that they are not really guests, they are friends come to their own home, the National Assembly House, Mr Ivan Stoilkovic, President of the Democratic Party of Serbs in Macedonia and member of Parliament of North Macedonia, Gordana Jovic-Stojkovski, president of the Serbian community in Macedonia, Pavle Jakoj (Brajovic), Association of Serbian-Montenegrin minority "Morača Rozafa" from Shkodra, Albania, Ekrem Dulevic, president of the Association of Serbs "Jedinstvo", in Fier, Albania, Esin Lekic, member of the Association of Serbs "Jedinstvo" in Fier, Albania, Dr Ivan Bosnjak, co-chair of the intergovernmental mixed commissions for the improvement of the position of minorities, and Dusko Cutilo, Director of the Fund for Assistance to Refugees, Expelled and Displaced Persons of AP Vojvodina.
The Chairman said that this sitting is a continuation of the previous one with the same topic - the position of the Serbian community in the region, only this time with friends from other countries. He said that the goals of the two sittings is to find answers to the questions: what burdens the Serbian community in the region today, how much the Republic of Serbia’s help means and what can the Committee do to help the community through initiatives. He added that the problems faced by the Serbian community in countries where it is smaller, such as North Macedonia, Albania, Slovenia and Romania, are more pronounced than in countries such as Montenegro, Republic of Srpska and Croatia.
The Committee Chairman once again thanked National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Vladimir Orlic for his presence and asked him to address the attending.
National Assembly Deputy Speaker Dr Vladimir Orlic thanked the Committee for re-organising the sitting with a high-priority topic for Serbia and the region. Orlic said that the topic of the session was the position of Serbs in areas where they have been for centuries and represent the indigenous population, especially when it comes to Albania, Shkodra, North Macedonia, Northern Banat, which, as he said, would not have been built without a Serb population. He stated that Serbs in this area often have to fight for their basic rights, which is the reason for organising these types of sittings. He added that it is very often said that tens of thousands of Serbs live in this area, and it is the task, among others of the National Assembly, to determine that number precisely. "Wherever we are, it is important for us to determine that number, because that gives strength to the arguments for our people to deal with their culture, their history and their tradition", said Orlic. He also underlined that it was neglected and covered up that Serbs have the right to education in their own language, literature, as well as strong ties with the Serbian motherland in the mentioned areas.
Milimir Vujadinovic pointed out that today there is a will to improve the position of Serbs in the region, which has not always been the case, so the problems have accumulated, but there are also results, which may not be visible in the surrounding countries due to the closed systems they live in.
Ivan Stoilkovic, President of the Democratic Party of Serbs in Macedonia and member of the Parliament of the Republic of North Macedonia, pointed out that the position of Serbs in Macedonia depends in every respect on the international position of Serbia, both economic and political. He said that as Serbia emerged as the leader in economy in the region, so the position of Serbs in Macedonia began to change. According to him this is the biggest help that Serbs in Macedonia can receive, and considering that the position of Serbia has changed in the past few years, projects have been launched and space has opened up for further cooperation. When it comes to the everyday challenges that Serbs in Macedonia face, he cited the pressure of imposing collective responsibility directly on Serbia as an example. "In order to survive in Macedonia, we must survive as political Serbs," because, as he said, if Serbs rely only on non-governmental organizations, they will be left without political influence in Macedonia. "That is the only way to preserve our rights in North Macedonia, of which we are also a constituting element," Stoilkovic pointed out. He explained that St. Sava, as a state holiday of Serbs in Macedonia was obtained through political activities, as was the Agency for Community Rights and a bill currently in the parliamentary procedure which guarantees a parliamentary mandate for members of national minorities. Stoilkovic also spoke about the census to be conducted in April and which he suspects will not be conducted properly because there is ample room for manipulation as there is no census methodology and it is not known what the census list will look like.
Gordana Jovic-Stojkovski explained the organisation and functioning of the Serbian community in Macedonia adding that it was crucial for the formation of the Democratic Party of Serbs in Macedonia in 1991. She said that one of the elementary problems is the Albanian government in Macedonia, which discredits every initiative that the Community tries to implement.
Pavle Jakoje Brajovic spoke about the extremely difficult position of Serbs in Albania, where there is a lot of Serbian history that needs to be preserved, but there is no doubt that Serbs are fighting for their position. He added that in Albania, as well as in North Macedonia, the number of Serbs living there is being manipulated. Ekrem Duelevic also spoke about the position of Serbs in Albania, referring to the failed project for the construction of a Serbian school.
Dr Ivan Bosnjak, co-chair of the intergovernmental mixed commissions for improving the position of minorities, also spoke about the results achieved in the region, starting from Macedonia and Albania, to Romania and Croatia.
Dusko Cutilo, Director of the Fund for Assistance to Refugees, Expelled and Displaced Persons of AP Vojvodina, said that since its establishment until last year, the Fund has dealt exclusively with support programs for refugees, expelled and displaced persons from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republic of Srpska and Croatia, as well as Kosovo-Metohija. Support programs for returnee communities have also been implemented. As of this year, the Fund has started dealing with Serbs living in the countries in the region with the objective to provide the Fund with means for cooperation in the field of culture, education, science and sports.
The Committee members took part in the ensuing discussion.
The sitting was chaired by Committee Chairman Milimir Vujadinovic, and was attended by the following Committee members and deputy members: Aleksandar Cotric, Prof. Dr Ljubisa Stojmirovic, Biljana Jakovljevic, Slobodan Alavanja, Goran Milic, Stefan Srbljanovic, Sanja Lakic, Mladen Boskovic, Janko Langura, Milan Ilic, Aleksandar Markovic, MA Slavenko Unkovic, Radovan Tvrdisic, Haji Milorad Stosic and Justina Pupin Koscal.