Analysis of the News: “The entire text of the Declaration adopted by the first All-Serbian Assembly”

June 2024.

As part of the program Regional Initiative for combating disinformation “Western Balkans Combatting disinformation Center: Exposing malicious influences through fact-checking and Analytical Journalism“, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

The entire text of the Declaration adopted by the first All-Serbian Assembly

The All-Serbian gathering entitled “One Nation, One Assembly – Serbia and Srpska” convened on June 9, 2024, where the Government of the Republic of Serbia and the Government of the Republic of Srpska jointly adopted the draft of the Declaration on the Protection of National and Political Rights and the Common Future of the Serbian people. On the occasion of this ceremony, the media wrote about the importance of this Declaration for the entire Serbian people, which served as a cover for promoting already established anti-Western narratives, as well as Serbian nationalism.

The social and political context in which the Declaration was adopted is important. It is clear that this Assembly and the Declaration mentioned above represent a response to the recently adopted Resolution on Srebrenica, and the preparation of the All-Serbian Assembly was discussed as recently as last month. All this happened during the pre-election campaign on the occasion of the announced local elections in the Republic of Serbia, which were held on June 2. In recent weeks, the phrase “We are not a genocidal nation” has been widely used in Serbia, both in the media and on billboards. It can be said that the ruling structure has made a basis for its political campaign from the newly created tensions in the region to gain as much support as possible from the citizens before the elections.

It is well known that the media is the most important instrument through which the ruling party controls the narratives marketed to the citizens. This time, it was particularly noticeable, given that for the last 3 months, the media has been exclusively writing about the Resolution on Srebrenica and how crucial it is for Serbia to defend its national interests. The terrain prepared for the All-Serbian Assembly was covered with various misinformation, most commonly blaming the unstable political situation on the West.

At the very beginning, the text of the Declaration says that “The All-Serbian Assembly consists of representatives of Serbs elected to the legislative and executive authorities, members of the academies of sciences and arts, members of the Assembly of the Serbian Orthodox Church…”. This creates polarization in society and negates any form of multiculturalism. Representatives of other nations are also employed in the public administration bodies, so we can conclude that this position makes a clear distinction between Serbs and peoples of other nationalities represented in the state bodies of the Republic of Serbia.

The text further states that “The All-Serbian Assembly recommends that the institutions of the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska act in a unified and coordinated manner to stop the assimilation of Serbs in the states of the region.” This objective, as outlined in the Declaration, directly contravenes civil rights and liberties. One may question why Serbia and Srpska (which is part of another state, i.e. the entity BiH) would jointly try to limit the individual’s right to choose to apply different values, culture, religion and customs apart from those that are “Serbian”. Furthermore, special acknowledgment is extended to the Serbian Orthodox Church, whose members will be represented in the All-Serbian Assembly. However, Serbs of other faiths will not have the opportunity for representation. This exemplifies the exclusive link between nationality and religion, a connection unlawfully endorsed by the Serbian government. We should not forget that not only Orthodox Serbs live in Serbia and that with such declarations the Government of the Republic of Serbia is creating increasing tensions and divisions between different ethnic and religious groups.

The Declaration also mentions the status of Serbs in the north of Kosovo, i.e. the “comprehensive repression of the Albanian secessionists against the Serbian population in Kosovo”. It calls for the implementation of Resolution 1244 and the formation of the Community of Serb majority municipalities. Political analyst Dušan Janjić believes that the President of the Republic of Serbia exaggerated “the importance of the Community of Serb majority municipalities and that he neglected all other important issues, and created the illusion among Albanians and the international community that he will recognize Kosovo de facto and de jure as soon as he receives the Community of Serb majority municipalities.” Now the responsibility is transferred to the All-Serbian Assembly and the Assembly of Serbia, which is below any political level,” the portal Danas reports. Also, it is important to point out that in recent weeks, during the pre-election campaign and preparations for the All-Serbian Assembly, media attention was directed exclusively to the Republic of Srpska, and that the relations between Pristina and Belgrade and the status of Serbs in Kosovo were significantly less represented in the media, as well as in the discourse of Serbian official.

Then, all the measures aimed at preserving and nurturing Serbian culture and Serbian national identity are listed, where family and traditional values ​​are especially emphasized as the fundamental values ​​of Serbian society. “The All-Serbian Assembly encourages the Republic of Serbia and the Republic of Srpska to further develop a common economic, cultural, social, sports and spiritual space”, within which more intensive cooperation in the field of infrastructure is highlighted.

The Declaration further “calls on all international actors to return to respect for the letter of the Dayton Peace Agreement”, which of course mentions the already frequent narrative about the illegitimate election of the High Representative in BiH (a topic that ISAC has already covered in its analysis). While calling for respect for Dayton, the President of the Republic of Srpska, Milorad Dodik, talks about the unification of the Republic of Srpska and the Republic of Serbia in an interview with the Russian media on the sidelines of the meeting in St. Petersburg. It appears that the representatives of the authorities of Serbia and Srpska have a hidden agenda concealed behind the All-Serbian Assembly. Criticisms of this event were not absent, with the harshest coming from opposition circles.

Pavle Grbović, MP and leader of the Movement of Free Citizens pointed out for Danas that “the MPs of this movement will not participate in a nationalist fair that will not bring anything good to the Serbs, to Serbia or the region”, while the MP for Serbia Center, Slobodan Cvejić, says that “this latest the cynical public performance serves further media and political manipulation and deception of the citizens of Serbia and Republic of Srpska. While citizens find it increasingly difficult to make ends meet, and the international position of the country worsens, the ruling regime hides behind irresponsible and quasi-sovereigntist notions that threaten the stability of our country in the long term.”

With this event, we are witnessing serious political and media propaganda that is transmitted through television, newspapers, and portals, which are mostly controlled by the ruling elite. In moments of crisis and political tensions, the growth of nationalism and the simultaneous decline of free media are noticeable. If this absurdity is maintained, televisions with a national frequency will continue to broadcast such nationalist ceremonies, the regime media will write about the victory of the Serbian world, and the citizens will, as always, be deprived of true information.

Author: Nataša Stanojević