MPs quiz ministers on Turkey, gas, cheese

BELGRADE -- Thursday was question time in the Serbian parliament, and MPs took the opportunity to ask cabinet minister about a wide range of issues.

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Opposition DSS MP Miloš Aligrudić thus wanted to know how the state would react to Turkish PM Recep Erdogan's statement in Priština on Wednesday that Kosovo was "his second country," and that "Turkey is Kosovo and Kosovo is Turkey."

At the same time, opposition LDP MP Kenan Hajdarević asked whether "a part of Srbijagas" - the country's state-run natural gas enterprise - "would become the property of Russia."

Hajdarević then asserted that the company was "in a difficult condition," and that he never heard ministers Zorana Mihajlović and Saša Radulović talk about the concrete measures to restructure it.

The MP also wished to know why the government does not do away with a mediator in gas imports, launch an initiative to increase the ore rent which stands at three percent for NIS and seven for others, "and in that way somewhat secure some funds that would enable better business."

Hajdarević accused the government of violating the Law on Public Enterprises that obligates it to abolish management boards, and set up supervisory ones instead.

The opposition Together for Serbia MP Nebojša Zelenović asked Health Minister Slavica Đukić-Dejanović how her ministry planned to cope with "a lack of expert medical staff," while the ruling SPS MP Stefana Miladinović asked Education Minister Tomilslav Jovanović whether the ministry planned to rent out school facilities in rural areas that are not in use.

SPO MP Mirko Čirkiz asked the government whether it was concerned with who would be the heir to Đorđe Mihajlović - the 85 year-old guard of the Serb military cemetery in Zeytinlik, Greece.

Opposition DS MP Srđan Milojević then produced a package of feta cheese, that he claimed was of plant origin, "made from an unknown raw material," which he said sold "in the gray market" for RSD 180 per kilogram. The consumers, said Milojević, were misled by the product, considering that it was not labeled as "not being of animal origin."

He pointed out to the "devastating effects" of genetically modified food when it came to the Serbian agriculture sector and called on his fellow MPs to support a draft law on GMOs submitted by his party.

Speaker Nebojša Stefanović then asked Milivojević "not to bring food into the parliament hall in the future - of either plant or animal origin."

PUPS MP and Deputy Speaker Konstantin Arsenović said that he was "ready to step down" in the wake of media reports that a proposal to increase the number of Stefanović's deputies from five to six was motivated solely by Arsenović's advanced age, his frequent inability to replace the speaker, and the fact he was the only deputy from the ruling coalition.

Stefanović then said he was "proud of all his deputies," that they "all worked in the best possible way," and that Arsenović's life experience was "a big advantage."

"I am sorry that somebody could even think that, and I am glad you are a part of our team," Stefanović reassured the 73-year-old MP from the ranks of the Pensioners (PUPS).

Having asked their questions, MPs turned to the debate on the amendments submitted to the Draft Law on Legalization of Buildings, which they had started on Wednesday.