Despite the opposite announcements by Deputy Prime Minister Bujar Osmani, the government decided to send the entire Law on Languages to the Venice Commission. The opinion of the advisory body of the Council of Europe regarding the constitutionality of the law is sent to the two members that are not part of the adopted decision: the provisions on bilingualism of banknotes and military uniforms. The Government emphasized that in a letter to the President of the Commission, Gianni Buquicchio, it was stated that, as before, the opinions received from them represent significant support to the reforms of the legal system in Macedonia, which aims to establish the highest European standards, especially as the concrete law executes the program determination for a society.
“The letter to the Venice Commission also states that by sending the Law and the Alternative to Article 8, the Government expects an opinion on them in terms of their compliance with European standards and the principle of the rule of law. The Law on the Use of Languages derives from the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which has been implemented in the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, and one of its goals is to create a harmonious legal framework in which the legal provisions will not compromise the constitutionality of Macedonia nor the European standards, a good starting point for the process of its implementation “, emphasized the Government.
The sending of the Law on languages for review coincided with the return of Prime Minister Zoran Zaev from his winter vacation. In his absence, Deputy Prime Minister Osmani threatened that only the articles on Banknotes and uniforms would be sent to the Venice Commission, and not the entire law, because in this body, as a representative from Macedonia, Professor Tanja Karakamiseva was allegedly attempting to subjectively influence the law. Professor Karakamiseva, who is chairman of the VMRO-DPMNE political system committee, was called a destructive element by Osmani, for which Osmani who he and his coalition partners would “try to remove from the Venice Commission.
“This “destructive element” is a constitutional law professor whose term lasts until 2020. Fortunately the laws about the use of minority languages do not depend on one professor Karakamiseva, or on you Osmani. Those rules must comply with international and European documents on the law and the scope of their use in the States. What you want in Macedonia to apply something that does not apply to any minority in the world is a problem for your party, but not for legal science and expert analysis. As a medical doctor, you obviously have no idea about the standards and rules associated with the use of minority languages in the world. Therefore, you have no right to talk about legal rules, and even less you have the right to interfere with the commission’s work and hypothetically to guess who can influence the decision making process. The Venice Commission is not your village convenience shop in Mala Recica. It is a serious expert body that thoroughly and reasonably estimates and analyzes legal acts. Your comment that the Commission will be influenced by my ‘subjective attitudes’ will show your elemental lack of culture and ignorance of the functioning of institutions, which, unfortunately, you have everyday contact,” replied Karakamiseva to Osmani.
She says that the President, the Secretary General and all the members of the Venice Commission will be informed for this shameful public comment to assure them of the democratic capacity of this minister from the ranks of DUI.
It’s impossible to influence
Judge Margarita Caca Nikolovska explains that it is practically impossible for a representative of a country to influence the decision of colleagues because, first and foremost, there is no chance in any way for her to be involved in a case pertaining to her country.
“A committee is formed, mainly consisted of four experts. Thereby, at least one of them is aware of the affairs, that is, the legal conditions in the country for whose law or provision is being decided. For instance, the Law on Courts that was the last and for which we received an opinion from the Venice Commission, were decided by professors from Ireland, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Hungary. They perceive diversity, follow similar experiences, check if the law, or the constitution of that country is violated. Some of them can come to the country in order to be personally assured of the situation. Sometimes, a country sends only certain articles of the law, but in such a situation, experts usually require that they get the whole legal solution to see the context so that they can form an opinion,” explains Caca Nikolovska, who was a judge at the European Court of Justice for human rights in Strasbourg. She explains that the term of experts lasts four years, and each country proposes its own candidate.
The Law on the Use of Languages was published in the “Official Gazette” on January 14th, only with the signature of the Parliament Speaker Talat Xhaferi, indicating that this was only done because the Head of State Gjorge Ivanov refused to sign it.
The law is foreseen in all state administration bodies in Macedonia, central institutions, public enterprises, agencies, directors, institutions and organizations, commissions, legal entities that perform public authorizations according to law and other institutions, an official language in addition to the Macedonian language and its letter and the language spoken by 20 percent of the citizens of Macedonia and his letter.
Ramka: Independent experts decide on constitutional law
The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe and is composed of independent experts in constitutional law. It was created in 1990, a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall, when a new horizon of democracy and co-operation opened in Europe. It is called ‘Venice” because its first meeting took place in Venice, otherwise it is called the European Commission for Democracy through Law. The Commission holds four meetings annually in Venice, which provided headquarters in one of its palaces.
The Commission currently has 60 member states: 47 from the Council of Europe, and 13 others from other continents, such as the United States, Canada, Brazil, Israel, etc. According to the provisions, committee members (one from each country) are “prominent scientists, especially in the field of constitutional and international law, judges of supreme or constitutional courts and members of parliament.” Since 2009, the chairman of the committee has been Gianni Buquicchio, who until then had been Secretary General. The main work of the Venice Commission is reviewing constitutional proposals and constitutional amendments. Commission opinions are not binding on member states, but are largely observed.
Ramka: Zaev: We will respect the decision
“The Law on languages is sent to the Venice Commission, along with the two alternative provisions, and it is expected that the commission will give its suggestions in a regular time period, which will then be incorporated into the text. Just as we did more than a year ago, when the debate about the Law on Languages began and when we accepted suggestions to remove the reserves of any citizen, again we say that after the voting, announcement and sending of the law, and after the introduction of the Venice Commission, each indication will be inserted. Let’s not be afraid because it’s about the use of languages, we will understand it more easily. It is the constitutional right for some of our citizens from smaller communities, and this does not violate any other rights,” said Prime Minister Zoran Zaev yesterday.