The release of the secret service files from both the communist era and Milosevic’s regime requested by the EU will have to wait for a new government in Serbia.
In its latest resolution on Serbia, on March 28, the European Parliament called on the authorities “to continue their efforts to eliminate the legacy of the former communist secret services as a step in the democratisation of Serbia”.
The European Parliament requested the opening of the National Archives, and in particular the documents of the former intelligence agency, the UDBA.
The EU also demands that Serbia “facilitates access to those archives that concern the former republics of Yugoslavia and to return them to the respective governments if they so request.”
However, the files can only be opened after the general elections in May. The Serbian parliament has already been adjourned, which means that the long awaited Law on the Opening of the Secret Files will have to wait a bit longer.
Several attempts have been made to pass the law in the past. The first attempt was made after the democratic changes in 2000, and the last in 2004, when the SPO, one of the Serbian political parties, put forward the law. The law, however, never gained wide support in the Serbian parliament.
The majority of the political parties in Serbia are currently in favour of releasing the files, claiming that they back the disclosure of the names of war crime perpetrators contained in the files.
Ivica Dacic, the leader of the former Slobodan Milosevic’s party, the Socialist Party of Serbia, who has been the biggest opponent of the law on secret files, says that neither he nor his party are afraid of the files being released.
“We have no reason to be afraid. Milosevic’s opponents should worry, since we will find out which of them cooperated with the secret services. Actually, I cannot wait for the files to be opened,“ said Dacic to the media on Tuesday.
The Serbian State Secretary for the Ministry of Justice, Slobodan Homen, believes that as well as implementing the new law, the new government will have to form a special commission to deal with such a sensitive issue.
“Those documents are full of sensitive information, not just about public figures, but also about ordinary citizens. That is why we need someone who will decide what should be made public, what is truth and what is misuse [of the information],” explains Homen.
Serbia is expected to use the so-called European freedom of information model, where each person can access his or her own file, while the misuse of information by a third party is prohibited.
The Serbian archives are thought to contain thousands of secret documents about political murders, the blackmail of politicians and criminals, relationships with domestic and foreign intelligence agencies. It also contains information about citizens from across the former Yugoslavia, as well as Serbian citizens.
Serbia is the last county in Europe to open its secret archives.
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