The Vojvodina branch of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party, SRS, has filed an initiative to open a new Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Centre in Serbia’s northern province, alongside the one in Nis in the south.
Deputies of the nationalist Serbian Radical Party in the assembly of Serbia’s province of Vojvodina have collected more than 30,000 signatures supporting the opening of another Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Centre in Vojvodina alongside the one in Nis.
“Vojvodina needs a serious center for emergency intervention in case of natural disasters, fire and floods, like the Serbian-Russian Humanitarian Center in Nis, which is without doubt the best humanitarian centre in this part of Europe,” Radical deputy Djuradj Jaksic said in front of the assembly in Novi Sad after his party filed the initiative on Wednesday.
Jaksic told BIRN that his party wanted the proposal discussed at the next assembly session, but added that assembly speaker Istvan Pastor has a 90-day deadline to put the initiative on the agenda.
“Three of our MPs went to visit the Centre in Nis last summer and got support to launch the campaign,” he added.
The Vojvodina branch of the SRS first announced the initiative back in September last year.
Meanwhile, activists from the party have gathered 31,157 signatures of people who support their idea.
The document asking the Serbian authorities to agree with Russia’s Ministry for Emergency Situations to open a new centre in Vojvodina was filed to the Vojvodina assembly on Wednesday afternoon.
The centre in Nis opened in 2012. Russia insists that it is involved only in the provision of “an emergency humanitarian response, the prevention of natural disasters and technological accidents and the elimination of their consequences”.
However, the US has voiced fears that the centre in Nis could be used for espionage purposes as well. Half of its staff are Russians.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hoyt Brian Yee told the US Senate on June 15 last year that the centre was a matter of concern because of what it could become if Serbia granted the centre’s Russian staff special diplomatic status and immunity.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zaharova said on June 22 2017 that Yee’s accusations were “absurd”.
Djuradj Jaksic told BIRN that he expects the other parties in the Vojvodina assembly to “show political wisdom, maturity and determination and support this initiative”.
The ruling coalition in Vojvodina is made up of the Serbian Progressive Party, the Socialist Party of Serbia and the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians.
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