News for February 6th, 1997

The former Spanish Prime Minister, Felipe Gonzales cautiously reacted to the proposal of the president of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic for the acknowledgment of the victory of the opposition on the local elections according to the recommendations of the OSCE committee.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) cautiously greeted the decision of the Yugoslav government to acknowledge the opposition their victory on the local elections and the repeated their appeal to Belgrade for the starting of long term democratic reforms.

The President of the Board for Foreign policies of the Civic Alliance of Serbia and the professor of international law, Vojin Dimitrijevic estimated today that the proposal of the law regarding the recognition of the results of the local elections is missing some counties which the OSCE committee report stated belong to the opposition, which "creates new tensions, this time not before the courts, but the minister of justice".

The Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces today that all the municipalities mentioned in the report of the OSCE delegation have been specified in the bill about the recognition of the results of local elections.

Elizabeth Rehn, special UN envoy for human rights in the region of former Yugoslavia, approved the proposition of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic that the results of local elections should be recognized. At the same time, she protested against the violence with which the police had treated the peaceful demonstrators in Belgrade.

The President of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Vojislav Seselj stated today that the SRS will vote against the "special law" recognizing the results of the local elections in the Serbian Parliament, who's adopting was proposed by the President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic.

Zoran Djindjic, one of the leaders of coalition Zajedno, stated this evening that substantial reforms and the democratization of Serbia represented the general aims of the protests which had been lasting for 80 days in all parts of Serbia. At the 79th protest in the center of Belgrade he said that the occasion and the reason for the protest is electoral theft, but that the substantial democratic changes, economical, social and political suspension of the monopoly, crime, the authority of the corrupt minority over the majority, are the most significant aims, whose realization will mark the true victory.

The leaders of the opposition Vesna Pesic, Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic arrived this morning in Paris, where they were received at 11.30 by the Chief of the French diplomacy Herve de Charette). In the short address to the press in front of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vuk Draskovic expressed his delight because of the invitation by De Charette. A joint press conference is planned to take place after the meeting.

Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of coalition Zajedno, stated in Paris today that should Serbian Parliament officially recognize the victory of this coalition in local elections, the opposition would end the demonstrations. He added that the leaders of the opposition were prepared to enter a dialogue on all other problems, first of all concerning the freedom of media and the establishing of independent judiciary.

The Dean of the School of Philosophy Marija Bogdanovic denied the rumor that there are hidden weapons at the school.

A three-member delegation of the Lawyers Association of Belgrade had a 45-minute talk with the Chancellor of the Belgrade University Dragutin Velickovic, about his possible actions concerning the beating of students, the police burst into the School of Philosophy and the injuries inflicted upon student Rastko Kostic. Chancellor Velickovic told the lawyers that he has no intention of doing anything, because he was isolated by students and by a number of Deans, and did not have the information about the current events. Velickovic repeated that the prerequisite of any actions on his part was a conversation with a student delegation. The delegation consisting of Milenko Radic, Milenko Lucic and Kosta Nadj stated that the Chancellor is completely out of touch with the ongoing events and that he was not capable answering the question of the lawyers association.

The Lawyers Association of Belgrade demanded of the director of the Trauma Center and member of the Main Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia Zivorad Djordjevic to answer as soon as possible whether the health institution provided adequate attention to the injured students during the peaceful demonstrations in Belgrade. The Lawyers also asked whether the injured students were interrogated by the police or other agencies of law ad order after the reception to the medical center, and whether there is a complete documentation for each students who came to the Trauma Center. The Association also asked whether the center is capable of providing adequate medical attention to Rastko Kostic, the severely injured student and member of the Main Board of the Student Protest '96/97.

The Lawyers Association of Belgrade demanded of the minister of Internal Affairs of Serbia Zoran Sokolovic and the Head of the Belgrade city Police Department, general Petar Zekovic the names of the persons responsible for the ordering for the blocking of the streets of Belgrade and the use of force against the students and other activists of the peaceful demonstrations. The association also the minister of education if he knew that the police beat and used water canons against the students of the Belgrade University on February 2 and 3 and threatened the autonomy of the University by entering the school building.

Laslo Joza, President of the Municipal Organization of the Lawyers Association of Vojvodina in Subotica, stated today that the lawyers of Subotica, abiding to the decision made by their association, went on strike yesterday. The lawyers of Subotica, together with colleagues from other towns in Vojvodina, went on strike due to the "ignorant attitude of the government towards the law, the administration of justice, law practice, illegal actions of state organs responsible for law and order and state institutions, oppression towards the peaceful expression of public opinion and use of force against the demonstrators", it is stressed in the decision of the Lawyers' Association of Vojvodina concerning their going on strike.

Konstantin Obradovic, Spokesman for the Civil Alliance of Serbia, expressed his scepticism concerning the proposal of the law by the Serbian Government on the recognition of the results of local elections. "The "Zajedno" coalition shall not call off the demonstrations until the Parliament is not assembled according to the 17th November results", said Obradovich for the press.

The Primary and Secondary School strike in the Uzice municipality is justified, said Radisa Dimitrijevic, Serbian Socialist Party Board representative. He said at a press conference that the SPS Board in Uzice accepts the justified demands of the syndicates concerning regular payment of wages, but does not accept attempts of certain syndicate members to lead the strike outside syndicate boundaries.

The Assembly of most of the Deans at Belgrade University and the directors of all eight institutes included in the University denounced this evening the beating and the arrests of students and professors, and the violent police attacks on citizens, as well as the police burst into the School of Philosophy by which the autonomy of the University was seriously violated. In the session in which 25 of 30 Deans and the directors of the eight institutes of Belgrade University participated, it was unanimously demanded that those who had ordered and executed the mentioned actions should be identified and punished.

Professors and students of the School of Drama Arts in Belgrade expressed today their concern about the recent events in Belgrade and announced that they would continue the struggle for democratization of the university, of media and of the whole society. With a view of accomplishing these aims, the School made the following demands: that the police cordons should be removed and the repression in the streets of Belgrade stopped, that those who had ordered, as well as those who executed the brutal arrests and beat the citizens, should be called to account and punished. The School demands that the autonomy of the University "both as regards its territory and its fundamental rights" should be recognized and that a new University Law, which would guarantee the inviolability of its autonomy, be passed.

The Council of the School of Mechanical engineering in Kragujevac decided today to stop the lectures and suspend the examination term. The initiative for this decision came from the protest board of the students of this school, and represents a gesture of protest against the burst of the police into the building of the School of Philosophy in Belgrade.

The negotiations between the representatives of the Serbian Government and the negotiating team of the teachers' syndicates were not continued today, because of the Government's session. The negotiations will be continued at 11:00 tomorrow.

Students of Nis University sent a letter to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic today, in which they stated that he was not a man who could lead Serbia forward. They informed President Milosevic that it would be honest of him to admit that he had entangled in his own web of deceit, and that he himself had broken the law and regulations. The students stated that the period of President Milosevic's rule was marked by the selling out of the country, breaking of laws and of the Constitution and by rough treatment of the people.

Students of Novi Sad University have "occupied" the buildings of five schools and suspended the lectures at them. Students of the Schools of Philosophy, Agriculture, Law, Technical sciences, and Mathematics and natural sciences demand that a session of the University Council should be called immediately and lectures suspended at Novi Sad University until all the demands of the Student Protest 96/97 have been fulfilled. They already have the support of most teachers at their schools.

Coalition Zajedno held the 67th protest rally against the annulment of the local election results in the center of Kragujevac today. Several thousand citizens, together with Kragujevac lawyers, enthusiastically greeted Zoran Simonovic, the federal delegate who appeared in public for the first time after he had been injured during the police intervention on January 23.

The Councils of the Schools of Philosophy and Law in Novi Sad have supported the demands of the Student Protest and denounced the violation of the university autonomy by the police burst into the School of Philosophy in Belgrade. The students' demands supported by the Councils of these two schools are the recognition of the second round of local elections, free media and the introduction of new University Law, by which the autonomy of the university should be acknowledged.

Jagos Stamenkovic, a delegate of coalition Zajedno, stated this evening that delegates of this coalition would not attend the session of Republic Parliament scheduled for February 11. According to his statement, the fact that President Milosevic admitted the victory of coalition Zajedno in local elections represents only the first successful step towards democracy.

The 80th protest rally organized by coalition Zajedno was held in Kraljevo this evening. After the rally in the central city square, around 15,000 citizens protesting against the annulment of the results of local elections walked freely along the streets of Kraljevo.

A protest rally against the annulment of the results of local elections was held again in Cacak today. Radio Cacak broadcast a live report of the rally, during which the citizens were addressed by Velimir Ilic, president of the City Assembly, Milos Filipovic, a federal delegate and Milan Vasiljevic, president of the municipal board of the Democratic Party. Several thousand students in Cacak walked along the streets today, which was a gesture of support for their Belgrade colleagues.

Citizens of Jagodina demonstrated today against the annulment of the results of local elections for the 80th time. Protest rallies are regularly held in other towns of this part of Serbia - in Paracin, Cuprija, Svilajnac and Despotovac.

Terry Gilliam, British actor, one of the six members of the Monty Python's Flying Circus, sent today his support to the Belgrade students, who have been protesting for 77 days, by seeking recognition of the second rounds of the local elections, held on November 17th. "The world is observing. We are with you, fight to the end", Gilliam said, and his words were transmitted by the Information Service of the Student Protest 96/97. He signed the message with: "From a sixth part of the Monty Python, your friend Terry Gilliam".

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