MPs quizzing ministers on Hague, Vojvodina

BELGRADE -- MPs have begun quizzing ministers at today's parliamentary session devoted to MPs' questions, though SRS and DSS members have walked out of the chamber.

Parliament (FoNet, archive)
Parliament (FoNet, archive)

Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković has also left the session.

At the Radicals’ request, the theme of today’s session are the results and consequences of cooperation thus far with the Hague Tribunal, while the Vojvodina Statute and the Law on Vojvodina’s Jurisdictions are also scheduled to come up for debate, at the LDP’s request.

SRS whip Dragan Todorović said that his party had asked for the session to be devoted to Hague cooperation, adding that under the Parliamentary Code of Procedure, 180 minutes should be set aside for debating this issue.

“The SRS chose the theme and called for the session. Responses can take up to 180 minutes and that’s clearly set out. You can’t have both themes at this session and we won’t stand for it,“ warned Todorović.

Also unhappy that questions on subjects proposed by two different parties had been put on the same agenda, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) leader Čedomir Jovanović said that his party could not discuss Vojvodina’s autonomy under these conditions.

“What has happened to Vojvodina’s autonomy and where has it gone astray in the last three years? We don’t believe that Vojvodina or Vojvodina’s citizens should be humiliated by open questions in this atmosphere,“ said Jovanović, proposing that the time allocated should be used for the SRS’s proposed theme.

Gordana Čomić, presiding the session, proposed that work begin and that MPs begin asking the government questions, stating that under the Code, everyone was entitled to ask questions.

Also in attendance at the session are Ministers Rasim Ljajić, Snežana Malović, Verica Kalanović, Žarko Obradović and Svetozar Čiplić.

Today's session had in fact been due to take place yesterday, but only four ministers were present in parliament.

Having finished talks with Hague Chief Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, Interior Minister Ivica Dačić also appeared, as a fifth minister, but by that time no-one was left in the chamber, opposition MPs having walked out in disgust.

“I’m disappointed that there aren’t any more MPs, as I genuinely came at the invitation of the National Parliament. Having said that, I don’t know how this mix-up came about over who was supposed to turn up,“ Dačić said upon his arrival.

Serb Radical Party (SRS) MP Nataša Jovanović noted that Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković had not found the time to appear before parliament, but had managed to fit in a TV appearance.

“Prime Minister Cvetković appeared on the RTS news last night, so he was not on official leave of absence. The government is deliberately and tendentiously subverting parliamentary life in Serbia and is deriding parliament,“ said Jovanović last night, speaking to B92.

Speaker Slavica Đukić-Dejanović tried to repair some of the damage, stating that parliamentary questions were a new feature, and that the government was have difficulty in adapting to the schedule.

“You know what, nothing is irreparable. I told you, we’ve never had this kind of work in this parliament before. This is an attempt, a question of how much the government has grasped the current of these changes and annexes to the Code of Procedure in that section,“ she explained.

“I will, of course, make every effort to contact the prime minister and the members of the government, nothing is lost, all those questions are in MP’s hearts and minds,“ said the speaker.

The only ministers who did appear in parliament yesterday were the ministers of telecommunication, public administration, health and trade.