For the purposes of the exercise of the rights to the self-government in culture, education, information and official use of languages and scripts, persons belonging to national minorities may elect their national councils. Persons belonging to 20 national minorities have formed their national councils: Bunjevci, Bulgarians, Bosniaks, Hungarians, Roma, Romanians, Ruthenians, Slovaks, Ukrainians, Croats, Albanians, Ashkali, Vlachs, Greeks, Egyptians, Germans, Slovenians, Czechs, Macedonians, Montenegrins. The Executive Committee of the Association of Jewish Municipalities in Serbia carries out the function of the national council.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government is responsible for maintaining the Register of National Councils of National Minorities, announcing and holding elections for members of national councils of national minorities, maintaining the Specific Electoral Register of the National Minority, as well as the oversight over the legality of the activities and acts of national councils of national minorities.
FINANCING THE ACTIVITIES OF NATIONAL COUNCILS
Funds for financing the activities of national councils of national minorities are provided from the budget of the Republic of Serbia, budget of the autonomous province and the budget of a local self-government unit, donations and other income.
The procedure of allocation of funds from the Serbian budget for financing activities of national councils of national minorities which are entered into the Register of National Councils of National Minorities, is regulated by the Regulation on the Procedure of Allocation of Funds from the Budget of the Republic of Serbia for the Financing of Activities of National Councils of National Minorities. Funds from the budget of the autonomous province are allocated in accordance with the decision of the responsible authority of the AP, national councils with the seats within the territory of the autonomous province. Funds provided in the budget of local self-government units are allocated in accordance with the decision of the responsible local self-government authority, national councils with a seat in the territory of that municipality or town, or where national minorities make up at least 10% of the total number of inhabitants of the local self-government unit, or national minorities whose language is in official use on the territory of the LSGU.
BUDGETARY FUND FOR NATIONAL MINORITIES
The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government executes the Budgetary Fund for National Minorities. The procedure of allocation of funds from this budgetary fund and conducting a public competition are regulated by the Regulation on the Allocation of Funds from the Budgetary Fund for National Minorities, on the basis of which the Programme for Allocation of Funds from this Fund is adopted, and priority areas of finance are established. The priority area for financing projects from the Budgetary Fund for National Minorities in 2018 is information in languages of national minorities. Total funds to be allocated in this open competition are in the amount of 21,800,000 RSD, which is 12 times more than the previous year.
RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS OF NATIONAL MINORITIES
According to the 2011 census, national minorities constitute about 13% of the population of the Republic of Serbia. The most numerous national minorities are Hungarians (most numerous in the Region of Vojvodina), followed by Roma (Region of Southern and Eastern Serbia and the Region of Vojvodina) and Bosniaks (mostly in the Region of Šumadija and Western Serbia). There is also a significant number of Slovaks – 52,750, Croats – 57,900, Montenegrins 38,527, Vlachs – 35,330, Romanians – 29,332, Macedonians – 22.755, while the following minorities have numbers under 20,000: Bulgarians, Ruthenians, Bunjevci; a few thousand – Germans, Slovenians, Albanians, Ukrainians, and a few hundred – Poles, Ashkali and Greeks.
Regardless of the fact that the percentage of minorities is not large, the social and political system of the Republic of Serbia is structured according to the principle of full protection of national minorities, with many new and original solutions which are not found in other countries.
The Republic of Serbia resolves and implements the issue of the status of national minorities in accordance with the Framework Convention of the Council of Europe on the protection of national minorities, and on the basis of generally accepted international standards, and in line with the Constitution of the Republic of Serbia, Law on the Protection of the Rights and Freedoms of National Minorities, Law on National Councils of National Minorities, Law on the Official Use of Languages and Scripts, and other laws regulating the rights and status of national minorities. The legislative framework relating to the status of national minorities in the Republic of Serbia is broad and reaches a high level of standard in this field on a European scale. According to experts of the international community, the legislative framework of the Republic of Serbia in this field is above the European average. Serbia was, in the EU accession process, obliged to adopt the Action Plan for exercise of the rights of national minorities under the Negotiating Chapter 23, which has received support and positive responses from the European Commission and certain EU Member States.
The Ministry of Public Administration and Local Self-Government, in accordance with its responsibilities and Action Plan, conducts a number of activities with a series of affirmative measures aimed at improving the status of national minorities, mostly with regard to the following areas: