MPs quiz cabinet members at start of spring sitting

BELGRADE -- The Serbian parliament began its regular spring sitting on Thursday. MPs will discuss several bills, including agreements with the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

(Beta, file)
(Beta, file)

The session started around 10:00 CET with Serbia's army guard of honor and the sounding of the national anthem.

Bills on energy efficiency, legalization of structures built without a permit and ten more items are on the agenda.

In accordance with the parliament’s rule book, MPs started the session with questions to cabinet ministers.

Rich Serbia leader Zaharije Trnavčević requested that a session be held every last Thursday in a month at which MPs would ask questions to the government members.

He said that he had already sent a request to parliament Speaker Nebojša Stefanović.

“Three months will pass before I will get a chance to ask an important question,” Trnavčević stressed.

Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) MP Bojan Đurić once again requested that a special session be held so MPs could debate the aflatoxin issue, adding that test results from the Netherlands were “more than alarming”.

“What were the humane and political reasons that motivated the parliament speaker to ignore the LDP’s request to hold a session on milk, have standards for milk control been met? I suppose that your answer will be that the speaker has the right to call a session once a month and this is why I did not ask what the reasons from the rule book were but humane and political ones,” he explained.

Đurić added that the milk test results from the Netherlands showed the volume of political irresponsibility and insensitiveness toward Serbian citizens.

“You can pack a title and a lead in the Serbian media but not comments. Standards in Serbia have been forcibly and in a foul manner changed so preliminary results from the Netherlands would not show that aflatoxin levels in samples exceeded 60 percent of the permitted level,” he noted.

According to the LDP MP, this is a question both for the parliament speaker and for the prime minister.

“You can fake the reality, wait for March 15 but Serbian citizens cannot wait for that date. You did not do what you offered in order to protect Serbian farmers and citizens and everybody suffered the damage,” he said.

Democratic Party (DS) MP Dušan Milisavljević stressed that the citizens’ health was at risk and that the issue could not be swept under the rug so easily and that the DS therefore requested a resignation of Agriculture Minister Goran Knežević and other ministers who had voted for the proposal to raise the maximum permitted level of aflatoxin in dairy products from 0.05 to 0.5 micrograms per kilogram.

“We want the names of ministers who voted for the proposal that Serbian citizens should drink contaminated milk with 0.5 level of aflatoxin,” he said and added that Serbia had become a “warehouse of toxic milk from the entire region”.

Milisavljević asked the government what would be done with the milk – whether it would be returned to shelves or be disposed of, noting that 33 out of 48 samples contained increased levels of aflatoxin and that two even had aflatoxin levels higher than 0.5 micrograms per kilo.

Chairwoman Vesna Kovač said that a session on the aflatoxin issue would be called soon.

Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) whip Slobodan Samardžić asked the prime minister and the government whether Serbs in Kosovo would be citizens of Serbia or Kosovo. He also assessed that the public had been misinformed about the negotiations in Brussels.

New Serbia (NS) MP Dubravka Filipovski asked Culture Minister Bratislav Petković whether his ministry, the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC) and the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) would launch an initiative to mark 900 years since the birth of Stefan Nemanja, a founder of the Serbian state.

“His most important deed is the Serbian state that still exists. We have no right to be negligent toward important figures,” she noted and added that President Tomislav Nikolić should sponsor the manifestation.