Contribution of the Year to Europe 2016


In the scope of the celebration of the Europe Day the European Movement in Serbia awarded two honors for the Contribution of the Year to Europe for 2016, to Mr. Vladimir Petronijević, Group 484 and to the Refugee Aid Miksalište, on Wednesday, May 25th. At a ceremony in Aeroclub the plaque to Mr. Petronijević was presented by Ombudsman Mr. Saša Janković, winner of the same award for the year 2015. The other plaque was presented to Mr. Ivan Lalic of Miksalište, by the president of the European Movement in Serbia, Mr. Mihailo Crnobrnja.

Contribution of the Year to Europe Award was awarded to Mr. Vladimir Petronijević due to the results of the Group 484 achievements in the previous year. During 2015, they organized aid distributions  in refugee camps of the Red Cross in Šid and Preševo 34 times. They distributed the 24,000 packages, and since the beginning of 2016 they had around 22,000 users. Vladimir Petronijević has 11 years of professional experience in protecting the rights of refugees, internally displaced persons and other migrant groups.

Ombudsman Saša Janković said that the management of refugees and displaced persons has become an important problem and in 2015 it marked European affairs and became a test of European values, because, as he put it, Europe remained divided regarding its own values.

“We would all be very happy if it would never happen again that the award such as this would be handed to a person who has significant merit in taking care of refugees, because that would mean that there were no conflicts and other misfortunes due to which people flee their homes and countries,” said Mr. Janković .

“2015 is the most important in the modern history of Europe, as a consequence of the horrific conflict in the Middle East millions of people sought refuge in Europe. This crisis has opened a second, more serious crisis – that of values. There was never a more open discrimination, xenophobia, hate speech, as in the past year,” said Petronijević after receiving the plaque. He added that those who say that the spectre of fascism is re-haunting Europe were right and it was about time that all those that cherish values of the antifascist struggle form a pan-European front.

In justification of an award to Refugee Aid Miksalište, President of the European Movement in Serbia, Mihailo Crnobrnja said that the jury was guided by the need to highlight the contribution of the civil society and the citizens of Serbia in times of crisis. “We felt it was important that together with an analytic approach we highpoint the contribution of civil society activist in crisis and emergency situations. We have more such examples – beside Miskalište, there is the IDC Association of Citizens Initiative for Development and Cooperation, the German organization Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund ASB, and the Center for the protection and assistance to asylum seekers, but Miksalište perhaps best reflects the collective action because it is open for volunteers and different contributions of organizations from Serbia and the world. This is an illustration of the contribution and the orientation of European civil society organizations in refugee and migrant crisis,” said Crnobrnja.

Director of “Mixer”, Mr. Ivan Lalić thanked the jury on behalf of all the organizations involved in the initiative Refugee Aid Miksalište adding that he believed that it awarded the movement of good people because he and many partners, and emphasized the Foundation “Ana and Vlade Divac” and 1,200 volunteers, gathered the idea of absolute empathy towards refugees, this idea held them together and it has survived in all these people.”

“This is an ethical monument, which is very important to our society. There can be no economic without etical transition. New “Miksalište 2.0″ will also be about integration. It’s not just assistance to refugees, but also the training, recruitment of Belgrade people and all who participated in the work, and we all got together and made a great story,” said Lalić upon receiving the award.

For fifteen years, the European Movement in Serbia in cooperation with the International European Movement, awards a prominent figure, organization or group of citizens for special contribution to European integration of Serbia. The aim is to bring the public attention to significant results, standpoints or actions in the context of promotion of European ideas and values in Serbia.

The desire is to encourage the Serbian society and individuals to actively engage and support the reform process and the implementation of European standards and values in order to modernize our country. The award is given for speech, book, specific action, or standpoint of an individual, organization or group of citizens who have in the past year contributed significantly to the process of European integration and promotion of European ideas and values in our country. There have been 17 winners so far.

European Movement in Serbia in this way fulfilles its mission to influence the public in Serbia to commit to the development of democratic society, as well as the promotion of European values and to support the reform process leading to full membership of Serbia in the European Union.