News for March 4th, 1997

In their today's session, the Council of Deans appealed to the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97 to invite students to lectures and thus support the decisions of the Scientific-educational Council and the Assembly of Belgrade University concerning the dismissal of the Chancellor and Student Vice-Chancellor and the appointment of the acting Chancellor. The Council of Deans also suggested that a joint session of the Council and the Main Board of the Student Protest be held tomorrow.

The Chancellor of Belgrade University, Dragutin Velickovic, stated today that he would resign when the students have returned to classrooms. In a press conference held in his office, Velickovic demanded that Vice-Chancellor Dragan Kuburovic and managers of the eight institutes included in Belgrade University be suspended. He also demanded the dismissal of 13 Deans, whom he accused of taking part in the organizing of "illegal and parallel organs" and of "contributing to the destabilization of the University".

Dusan Vasiljevic, the spokesman for the Student Protest 96/97, stated this evening that the demand of Belgrade University Chancellor concerning the dismissal of a number of highest University officials "represents an additional impulse" for the continuation of the Student Protest.,/p>

The Chancellor of Belgrade University, Dragutin Velickovic, stated this evening that no uniformed or armed persons had been guarding the building in which his office is during the Student Protest. Velickovic said that he had heard about the police burst into the School of Philosophy "only three days after the event, from the media reports", but added that he "had no right to react to that event, since the management of that school and a part of the students had renounced his services as the Chancellor".

Around 19:00 this evening, the members of the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97 burst into the National Museum in Belgrade, in which Radmila Melentijevic, the newly appointed Minister of Information in the Serbian Government, was giving a reception for Yugoslav and foreign journalists, and diplomates. After a 15 minute protest walk inside the National Museum, deafening sound of whistles and shouts:"Serbia, Serbia", "Students, students", and "Red Gang", the whole Main Board left the building and took a protest walk along the streets of Belgrade. Several hundred guests - diplomats, foreign and Yugoslav journalists, from both state and independent media - were present at the reception. A foreign journalists, on exiting the Museum, stated that it had been a "great finish of a tedious reception", whereas another added that it was the greatest reception he had ever attended.

The Scientific-educational Council (NNV) of Belgrade University and the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97 will hold a joint session tomorrow, in which they will discuss the suggestion for the resumption of lectures, in order that the school year not be lost. This decision was made in the today's meeting between the NNV and the representatives of the Student Protest. Students will chose whether to stick to the decisions of the NNV, according to which lectures would be postponed till their demands have been fulfilled, or to place trust in their Deans to formally obtain the Chancellor's resignation, or his dismissal, which is one of their remaining demands.

The Minister of Education in the Serbian Government, Jovo Todorovic, stated today that "20 percent" of Belgrade students protested, and expressed his concern about the possibility of students becoming "the victims of politics and those who put pressure on them". In a press conference, Todorovic said that the public would soon be informed about the measures prepared by the Government with a view to normalize lectures at the University, so that students should not lose the school year. Minister Todorovic also announced the reform of the schooling system, reports Radio Belgrade. New University Law, in accordance with the development of modern universities in the world, should be passed, said Todorovic and added that a modern way of managing the University, with the participation of students, was planned. He pointed out that the state, as the founder of the University, would be in a position to punish the professors' inactivity.

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