Serbian Prime Minister-Designate Zoran Djindjic addresses the Parliament - January 25, 2001

Zoran Djindjic
Addressing the deputies to the Serbian Parliament, Serbian Prime Minister-Designate Zoran Djindjic stressed that this day, when the parliament of this Yugoslav republic should endorse his cabinet, was the beginning of the implementation of a national consensus for radical reforms.

Presenting his programme in Parliament, Zoran Djindjic said the cabinet, which should be approved today, had been given the people's mandate to carry out reforms, not to rule.

He saw general political stability in the region as vital if the country is to regain credibility - viz. regulating relations between Serbia and Montenegro, suppressing terrorism in southern Serbia and finding a way for coexistence of Serbia and Kosovo.

Other prerequisites, according to him, are stable democratic institutions in Serbia, a good legal system, a good transport infrastructure and a skilled and reliable labour force.

"We suggest that our colleagues in Montenegro should take the principle of least risk as their point of departure in redefining relations and opt for reforming the existing common state, rather than creating new states", he said.

He advised ethnic Albanians in Kosovo that "they can promote their economic and human interests today and in future only in cooperation with Serbia and through Serbia, because Serbia is becoming the motive force of regional development".

Speaking about southern Serbia, he said that "our solution is to involve local ethnic Albanians in Serbia's political and social life, and combat terrorism uncompromisingly".

According to Djindjic, doing away with crime and abuse of position, which have been rampant for the past ten years, is prerequisite for any serious reforms.

Grave crimes, such as murders and abductions, must be cleared up in the shortest possible time, he said, announcing that a commission would be set up to investigate the involvement of state services in crimes.

According to him, all those who have tarnished the reputation of the country and nation by committing crimes against women and children under the guise of some so-called patriotic mission must be brought to book, as must those guilty of fraud.

The government would be successful in combating crime only if instruments were created to control the government itself, he said, announcing a package of laws in this area.

He said that among the strategic targets was the creation of stable institutions and highly skilled workers, a society with a dominant middle class, higher living standards and employment.

"Our strategy must be to attract investment in order for Serbia to return to work over the next four years. After ten years of going downhill, what we need is a truly new deal, the most dynamic development since World War Two", he said, adding that huge foreign investment was expected in agriculture, transport and the power industry.

He said that another objective was to get the country into the European Union within 10 years at most.

The government would work to assess the situation in finances, ownership, rights and duties, deblock the economy's finances, and adopt laws to allow free business transactions and a new tax policy, he said.

Speaking about privatization, he stressed it was necessary to set up independent mechanisms of control to supervise financial transactions and bear witness to their correctness.

He announced the adoption of a law on restoring confiscated property, adding that the royal Karadjordjevic family should be returned their citizenship rights.

He said a motion would be tabled in parliament for establishing the office of ombudsman to deal with the people's complaints against the government.

Stressing that his was a "government of great reforms and energetic action", he said it had two components - one, a team for strategy and priorities, made up of Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) bloc parties' officials, and the other, of experts.

Speaking about the structure of the ministries, he said some had been reorganized and others transformed into secretariats and agencies, while the Ministry of Information had been scrapped as unnecessary "because there is no censorship in democratic Serbia".

He said the government intended over the next six months to set up a ministry for administering the natural resources and protecting the environment.

"The least we can do is promise that this will be a government of swift action, efficacious and transparent in its work. We shall act on every problem at once, tell the truth and propose a solution.

"We shall not lie, we shall not cheat, we shall not steal", Djindjic said.


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