News for March 2nd, 1997

Several thousand students of both Belgrade universities walked today (the 101st day of the Student Protest) to the central bus terminal and railway station, and passed by the "JAT" terminal at Slavija, in order to show that they have no intention of leaving the country, as many of their colleagues, participants of the 1992 Student Protest, have done. Dusan Popovic, a member of the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97, appealed to students to gather in as high number as possible at Plato tomorrow, in order to express their protest against the announcement of the republic Ministry of Education, according to which the lectures at Belgrade University will begin tomorrow.

The University Board for the defence of democracy demanded today of the Serbian Government to support their request for the dismissal of Dragutin Velickovic and Vojin Djurdjevic, the Chancellor and the Student Vice-Chancellor of Belgrade University, and thus make the resumption of lectures at Belgrade schools possible. The Board holds Velickovic, Djurdjevic and the authorities, whose orders these two obey, responsible for the delay in the beginning of lectures. "Lectures shall begin only when the students' demands - the dismissals of the Chancellor and the Student Vice-Chancellor - have been fulfilled. These demands have been accepted by professors and assistants, by the University and the Scientific-educational Councils, as well as by the public."

The University Board for the defence of democracy has stated that Belgrade University finally took its fate into its own hands during the today's Assembly and did everything in its power towards the normalization of lectures as soon as possible. The Assembly of Belgrade University adopted the Declaration of Serbian Universities, in which it has been stated that the freedom and the autonomy of the universities in Serbia are seriously endangered because of the attempts of the ruling party to impose its rule not only on the political, but on academic sphere of life as well. These attempts were actually realized through the University Law passed in 1992. The Assembly adopted the decisions of the Scientific-educational Council that Dragutin Velickovic be no longer considered the Chancellor of Belgrade University and that the eldest Vice-Chancellor, Dragan Kuburovic, be appointed the acting Chancellor. The University Board for the defence of democracy is of the opinion that lectures at the University shall begin after the students' demands have been fulfilled.

The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) supports the initiatives for passing the new University Law and including the School of Theology into Belgrade University again, announces the DSS today. The DSS points out that the School of Theology was unjustly excluded from Belgrade University in 1952. The DSS approves of the session of the Belgrade University Assembly, and fully supports the efforts for the return of the autonomy, properties, good reputation and dignity to these institutions of immense importance for the nation, reads the announcement of the DSS.

More than 5,000 citizens of Valjevo participated in this evening's protest walk, which ended with the rally of protest against the violation of the citizens' electoral will.

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