Starovic: I believe that the turnout in the referendum will be substantial

12. Jan 2022.
State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Nemanja Starovic said that he believed that the turnout in Sunday's referendum would be substantial and that citizens would support amendments to the Serbian Constitution, because it was in the interest of all of us that there is a greater degree of independence, accountability and efficiency of the judiciary.

In an appearance on "Happy" television, Starovic expressed his belief that none of us wanted to live in a country where the executive branch dictated the functioning of the judiciary.

The State Secretary stated that he believed that the majority of citizens understood the importance of an independent judiciary and that they would go to the polls on Sunday and support the amendments to the Serbian Constitution, which were supported by a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

He emphasized that it was important for the participation of citizens to be substantial, because citizens are the bearers of sovereignty and it is up to them to make final decisions on major political issues, and noted that voting was also made possible for our citizens in the diaspora.

Starovic said that the turnout in the referendum would probably not be as high as the turnout in the parliamentary and presidential elections, but that he believed that a significant number of citizens will show responsibility towards the state and society by participating in the referendum and supporting constitutional changes.

As he explained, the changes to the Constitution of Serbia pertained exclusively to the segment of the judiciary, to the change in the procedure for electing the holders of judicial functions.

Starovic said that some irresponsible political actors were sending the message that participation in the referendum was a matter of being supportive of or against the current government, which had nothing to do with the truth.

"The referendum has nothing to do with whether someone supports one, the other or the third option, but whether the citizens want to have an efficient and independent judiciary and whether they support the path to the EU. I am convinced that the majority of citizens will support the amendments to the Constitution", said Starovic.

He also referred to, as he said, manipulations which implied that the preamble would be changed by constitutional amendments and that we would give up Kosovo and Metohija, and stated that this was far from the truth.

"Not a single letter of the preamble will change. Nothing concerning our territorial integrity and sovereignty will be changed. It is very important that we reject these manipulations in this way as well", said Starovic, and added that those who manipulate in such a way knew very well what the subject of constitutional amendments was, but consciously decided to deceive the citizens.

Starovic said that he did not understand most of the criticism from those who were in principle in favour of Serbia's EU path, but who at the same time called for either a boycott of the referendum or a vote against amending the Constitution.

According to him, the EU did not dictate anything to us, but if we wanted to continue on the EU path, if we committed ourselves to a package of reforms, then amending the Constitution is on the agenda at this moment, which would ensure a greater degree of judicial independence.

Asked what would happen in case of failure to amend the Constitution, Starovic said that Serbia's European path would be stopped for an extended period.

Starovic said that Serbia was a record holder in the region in attracting foreign direct investments, which reached 3.9 billion euros, and that most investments came from Germany, and that progress on the European path was directly related to what is perceived as political stability and certainty, as well as that a large number of foreign investors were, without a doubt, taking into account where Serbia was on its European path in their decision-making.

"We would have major problems with attracting foreign direct investments", Starovic said, adding that this would affect our fiscal stability and that it would be unlikely that we could talk about the growth of salaries and pensions.