President of Serbia-Montenegro

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 26 April 2005

Thank you, Mr President; thank you everybody. This is a great opportunity for me and for my country. We ask you to understand when I say that I shall continue in my own language.

(The speaker continued in Serbian) (Translation) Dear Mr President, members of parliament, ladies and gentlemen. I want to thank you for your invitation and the chance to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. This is a great honour for me, as the President of Serbia and Montenegro, and for Serbia and Montenegro.

Two years have passed since our accession to the Council of Europe. We are grateful for the tangible help of the Council during the period that started just a few months after the assassination of the late Prime Minister Djindjic and we thank all your observers for their reports and suggestions, which have been a great support and have offered a significant benchmark for all the efforts we have invested on our way to achieving a fully developed, democratic, law-abiding European society. This is why now, in 2005, I want to emphasise our deepest devotion to the objectives and the role of the Council of Europe.

“Kosovo must be multiethnic, Kosovo must be European, Kosovo must be open and safe for all its citizens, with the minorities carefully protected”

For Serbia and Montenegro, accession to the Council of Europe in 2003 marked the beginning of the unstoppable process of joining European institutions. The main objective of the state union, shared by both member states, has been – as it is today – the accelerated process of Europeanisation. We are devoted to European values and goals, which are defined as our priority in the constitutional charter of Serbia and Montenegro, and we have been working at all levels – day in, day out – to strengthen democratic institutions, to implement European standards more speedily and to affirm the political culture of an open, tolerant society.

The process of Europeanisation has not always been as speedy and thorough as we would have wanted, and not as efficient as our citizens have expected, due to a constitutional specificity of the state union whereby additional effort and time were needed to define clear, functional mandates for member states and the state union, and due to the still notable lack of appropriate willingness to accept the reality and embrace common interests, thus giving up political disputes in the name of the general progress of all citizens.

The acceptance of the twin-track approach by the European Union in the process of harmonising member states’ different economic systems encouraged the implementation of European standards. In this new climate, significant results have been achieved regarding co-operation with The Hague, especially during the last couple of months. These results confirmed the full understanding of the political leadership at all levels that we have fully to comply with all our international obligations if we want to gain access to the European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.

They also prove how determined we are not to waste a single day or month on our way to European integration and in making 2005 the year of Serbia and Montenegro’s European success. That decision was made by the highest representatives of member states and the state union at the recent meeting of the Council for European Integration of Serbia and Montenegro.

For us, the positive feasibility study represents not only the first step but the foundation of our full and equal membership of the European Union. As much as it is an important sign of hope and encouragement, it is an obligation. The time ahead of us is a time for the conscious and conscientious fulfilment of this obligation without waiting for new pressures or conditions. The time ahead of us must be characterised by internal political consensus and dialogue on common European goals and the future. We must continue to confirm that Europe is our choice, our goal and the future. This must not be just political rhetoric, but a truthful, vital long-term interest for both Serbia and Montenegro.

The state union of Serbia and Montenegro is aware of its responsibility not only for its own citizens, but for global stability and the future of the region. We are very proud of the fact that in this climate Serbia and Montenegro greatly contributed to the new spirit of solidarity, support and mutual help in the region. We will continue to make that contribution in future. We will support all our neighbours who are formally ahead of us in the process of European integration. Naturally, we want to catch up with them, perhaps even overtake them in the race, but not at any cost and not to the detriment of good neighbourly relations, friendship and the joint stability of South-Eastern Europe.

The success and speed of Serbia and Montenegro’s Europeanisation directly influences the stability of the whole region. That is why Serbia and Montenegro will do their best to begin talks on stabilisation and association as soon as possible. With the support and understanding of the European Union, and bearing in mind the importance of the stabilisation process in our region, we are looking not for a shortened procedure but for an acceleration of the process of accession of Serbia and Montenegro to the European institutions. We are not looking for shortcuts to Europe, only for an acceleration of the process. We are clearly aware of our responsibilities. I want to emphasise again, esteemed members, that it depends primarily on us. We have to fulfil our obligations ourselves. We have to perform our tasks ourselves. We have to win our freedom ourselves and secure our safety and the rule of law in line with European conventions and the standards protected and guaranteed by the oldest European institution. Of course, we must bear in mind the specificities that we want to preserve, as they affirm individuality and authenticity. Our policy will thus remain devoted to multi-ethnic principles and tolerance.

As you know, not all the problems in our region have been solved, but that need not be a cause for concern. It is more of a challenge and invitation to show maturity and responsibility so that we can prove that we can indeed solve problems through democracy and compromise.

Ladies and gentlemen, honoured by your invitation, I wish to restate some of the most important messages that I bring from Serbia and Montenegro.

First, Serbia and Montenegro as a state union and their member states remain devoted to Euro-Atlantic integration and to accelerating the process of accession to the European institutions. That will remain our primary task in future in governments, parliaments and in the everyday life of civilian society.

Secondly, after positive results in recent months, Serbia and Montenegro will continue to co-operate fully with international institutions, especially with The Hague Tribunal. No responsible person in Serbia and Montenegro harbours the illusion that we can progress without such co-operation. On the contrary, there is full understanding among all the representatives of member states and the Council of Ministers that full co-operation with The Hague is a prerequisite of any further advancement by Serbia and Montenegro towards Europe.

Thirdly, after defining the proposal to amend the constitutional charter in the presence of the High Representative of the European Union, both Serbia and Montenegro have confirmed their readiness to work democratically on their relations through mutual agreement, as that is in the best interests of both member states and their citizens. Proceedings will soon be initiated to amend the constitutional charter, thus establishing the prerequisites for the full legitimacy of the parliamentary state union. Its legislative activity, as well as the legislative activity of the member states’ parliaments, represents an essential factor in the accelerated implementation of European standards. The agreement restated the interests of all signatories and the member states’ right to hold a referendum.

A referendum is envisaged as a reality by the constitutional charter. Belgrade, Serbia, Montenegro and Europe do not want to avert their gaze from the issue. It is a reality that needs a democratic, peaceful answer. International democratic standards must be respected, thus affirming the values of European societies, guaranteeing stability and supporting devotion to European objectives by both member states regardless of the, outcome of the referendum. We must fight for the affirmation of democratic conditions in the run-up to the referendum and for consensus on different political options. A referendum is a legal possibility after 2006, and it is expected that Montenegro will use that opportunity.

Fourthly, if the European future of Serbia and Montenegro is one of the most important elements of our democratic and general progress, then the issue of Kosovo is one of the most important elements of stability of the whole region. Serbia and Montenegro have a joint clear message regarding the future of Kosovo: Kosovo must be multi-ethnic, Kosovo must be European and Kosovo must be open and safe for all its citizens, with the minorities carefully protected. Belgrade has already invited the highest Albanian officials to a dialogue. From this building, I wish to say again that Belgrade believes that only through dialogue and agreement can the issues be solved. We need to find a solution where there will be no winners and losers, only joint benefits and a victory for all. The Belgrade talks with the representatives of the contact group confirm the joint position – a European, democratic, multi-ethnic Kosovo – more than autonomy, less than independence.

Kosovo cannot go back to the times before 1999, but the solution cannot be the status quo either. When talking about dialogue I refer to dialogue on all levels – local, technical, the level of Kosovo, the level of Belgrade and Pristina. Only through dialogue and with the- support of the international community will we find a solution that will open a perspective for everyone, without endangering anyone. To succeed, we will need patience, maturity and determination.

Fifthly, as a member of the Council of Europe, we want to express our firm belief that the 3rd Summit of the Council of Europe in Warsaw will once again stress the importance of respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in twenty-first-century Europe with no borders and dividing lines, where the different religions, traditions and cultures will be looked on as a heritage that links us together in the new environment of the enlarged European Union. I know that Mr Prodi, former President of the European Commission, used to say that the process of European integration will not be finalised until the countries of the western Balkans join in. I am fully aware that we should work on it diligently together every day, for without a speedy Europeanisation of South-Eastern Europe and the western Balkans the process of stabilisation will be slowed in the whole region. The progress of the region will be in peril, misunderstandings deepened, the instability prolonged and the perspective of a better, safer European life for all the citizens in this part of Europe pushed further away.

Mr President and esteemed members, I remain deeply grateful to all of you who understand, support and help these processes not only here at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, but in national parliaments from your positions of power and influence. Serbia and Montenegro have made an important step in their European history. Citizens, pro- European forces, governments of Serbia and Montenegro, all the parties and all the institutions of the state union firmly believe that a European future is not only our goal, but a reality worth risking and making sacrifices for. On our way to that European future, I know that we can continue to count on your support.

In the name of all the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro, in the name of all their parties and in the name of our institutions, I thank you.


Thank you, Mr Marovic. About thirty members of the Assembly have expressed a wish to put questions to you. I propose to group members’ questions so that we can fit in as many as possible. I call Mr Van den Brande of the Group of the European People’s Party.


Mr President, on 12 April the European Commission agreed to the feasibility study to which you referred, and at some future date European Union accession negotiations, another of your priorities, can be initiated, but only when it is deemed that Serbia and Montenegro are fully co-operating with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague. The Council of Europe is also concerned about the rule of law and human rights. What concrete steps and measures are you currently engaged in or intending to initiate to ensure that the conditions of full co-operation are being met?


Thank you, Mr Van den Brande. I remind members that they have thirty seconds to ask a question. I call Mr Edrsi on behalf of the Liberal, Democratic and Reformers’ Group.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary)

Mr President, we all understand that every political leader has a desire to keep their country together, and we acknowledge your endeavours to give autonomy to Montenegro and Kosovo. As far as we understand, people in Montenegro and Kosovo would like to be independent, no matter what your country, Serbia, would like. If the referendum has a positive result for independence, what will you say to those people?

Mrs SMIRNOVA (Russian Federation) (interpretation)

asked whether acceptable human rights standards in Kosovo had been met in order that its status might be determined in the eyes of Europe.

Mr Marović, President of Serbia-Montenegro (interpretation)

said that results had been very convincing regarding the co-operation of Serbia and Montenegro with eminent international organisations and institutions. He warned that barriers should not be invented for Serbia and Montenegro’s integration into Europe, using events in The Hague as an obstacle. He conceded that there were still issues with war generals, but assured the Assembly that Serbia and Montenegro would continue to work to fulfil the obligations necessary to move closer to the European Union. He was happy for Croatia, applauded Romania and Bulgaria and hoped that the example of Serbia and Montenegro would encourage them in their European integration. The issues surrounding events in The Hague would be solved with co-operation from the international community.

On the referendum, he said that 2005 would be the year of European integration for Serbia and Montenegro. At present a referendum in Montenegro in 2006 looked distinctly likely. The conditions for such a referendum needed to be established. He- stressed that he was not afraid of the referendum. Regardless of the results of the referendum life would go on and Serbia and Montenegro would need to live together closely in the same region in the future. Citizens would shape this closeness. His commitment was to advocate European Union objectives unless it became clear that this was not the choice of Serbia and Montenegro.

Kosovo was a regional matter. A multi-ethnic society was not a reality in Kosovo at present. Commitment needed to be made by both the Albanian and the Serbian sides. The possibility of independence for Kosovo must be discussed but could not be accepted at present. He cited Resolution 1244, which meant that the borders of Kosovo could not change.

Kosovo was a serious problem, and a solution for the future could be found only through responsible and prolonged discussion. The issue of standards on Kosovo was not theoretical but rather an issue of survival. Killings must be stopped and confidence must return to the region. Trust needed to be established and the issue of displaced persons needed to be resolved. The Albanian majority must enter into dialogue with Belgrade.

Mr BUDIN (Italy) (translation)

May I congratulate you, President Marovic, on the favourable results of the European Commission’s feasibility study. The question I should like to ask you concerns the year that remains before a possible referendum. Do you believe you can enhance the image of the state union in the eyes of public opinion in a year?

Mr SCHREINER (France) (translation)

Mr President, in your introductory address, you said that Kosovo should have “more than autonomy and less than independence”. Just what degree of autonomy are you willing to allow Kosovo?

Mr MIRZAZADA (Azerbaijan) (interpretation)

asked what the Government of Serbia and Montenegro was doing to promote cultural and religious integration within its society.

Mr Marović, President of Serbia-Montenegro (interpretation)

said that the image of the state union would be improved by member states showing more efficiency. Results indicated that over 80% of citizens in Serbia and Montenegro were convinced that the future of their country lay in the European Union. As regards the autonomy of Kosovo, it was too early to discuss solutions to the problem. He said that Resolution 1244 should be borne in mind and stressed that the issue of Kosovo elicited widely differing opinions.

As regards ethnic and cultural integration within Serbia and Montenegro, progress was being made and good examples of such integration could be found. Serbia and Montenegro appreciated multi-ethnic values and were striving fully to integrate them in their society.

Mr MILOJEVIC (Bosnia and Herzegovina) (interpretation)

asked if the supporters of Montenegrin independence were satisfied with the Stability Pact.

Mr CEKUOLIS (Lithuania)

Mr President, your increased co-operation with The Hague tribunal must be welcomed but, as has already been said, many people in the country consider voluntary surrender differently from the way in which one would wish. One of the commitments to the Council of Europe was to conduct a public awareness campaign among the people of Serbia and Montenegro about war crimes. What more can be done in that respect? Is there any scope for assistance from the Council of Europe in implementing this difficult task?

Mr VAREIKIS (Lithuania)

Mr President, my question is about regional integration. Before joining the European Union, you must settle relations with neighbouring countries, and the issue of national minorities is always sensitive. What is your view of the status of Serbian communities in your neighbouring countries of Bosnia and Croatia? Do you believe that it is satisfactory? Do you think that you need to improve the status of Hungarian minorities in your country?

Mr Marović, President of Serbia-Montenegro (interpretation)

said that the way in which the problem of Montenegro and Serbia had been solved in The Hague was correct. Decisions had been based on public opinion, which was that there was nothing more important than the nation itself. Public opinion was ready to support the self-surrender of individuals to The Hague. That was both patriotic and evidence of Serbia and Montenegro’s co-operation with The Hague process. Those individual decisions would open the door to enable Serbia and Montenegro to move towards Europe. He emphasised that decisions should not be made under pressure. Such decisions lacked credibility. The change of public opinion that supported the Government of Serbia in its co-operation was seen as the chance for a positive redefinition of priorities. As for regional integration, he was pleased with what Serbia and Montenegro had achieved. That was key in establishing stability in the Balkans. There had been many agreements signed in every capital. There was an agreement between Belgrade and Zagreb, and there was an international council which had placed Bosnia and Herzegovina under the protection of the international community. Finally, minorities in other countries that had since become members of the European Union had provoked burning issues, but these had been cleared up efficiently. The President of Hungary had visited Belgrade and a discussion had taken place concerning the fact that the difficulties were criminal rather than ethnic.

Mr BANAC (Croatia)

Mr Javier Solana introduced a monkey wrench into events in Montenegro by raising the issue of qualified majority voting. What is the President’s opinion? Is qualified majority voting an obstacle to the clear demand for independence in Montenegro?

Mrs PETROVA-MITEVSKA (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

Relations between “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and Serbia and Montenegro are positive in various fields of national interest. The trans-European transport network promotes the development of transport links. What should be done to safeguard that important economic, cultural and historical link?

Mr NASUFI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”)

Today, Mr Milojevic is in The Hague. During the separation of Serbia and Montenegro, the political leadership in Serbia used the same vocabulary as Milojeviô. What is the difference between Milojevic’s approach and the current Serbian approach to Kosovo?

Mr Marović, President of Serbia-Montenegro (interpretation)

discussed the arrangements for qualified voting. He said that the agreement with Mr Solana cohering voting from 2006 would be used in ways that would encourage democracy. There were different standards in different countries. He did not agree that there should be a single set of standards. It was vital that such standards were backed by political will in individual countries. The question should be approached in a rational way. The final decisions would be in the hands of citizens, and he was aware that in this case the citizens of Montenegro would answer. He was standing firmly behind the state union. Mr Solana had one opinion and he had discussed this with him. It was not of course Mr Solana’s personal opinion only, and the Assembly would have a view. Nothing in Bosnia and Montenegro would be done to violate European standards. Of course everyone was entitled to their own views about independence. It was not possible to be against democracy, and the existing rules should be kept. Serbia and Montenegro had excellent relations with Macedonia. There had been a joint meeting with businessmen recently. Political progress depended on economic success, and by signing trade agreements success could be offered to different countries.


Thank you very much. We must now conclude the questions to President Marovic. We still have more than twenty members on the list, which shows the interest and the involvement of this Assembly in developments in your country. On behalf of the Assembly, I thank you most warmly for your address and, in particular, for the way you answered all these questions. I wish you every success with your activities and in your function for your country.