News for March 6th, 1997

With the consent of the Student Protest 96/97 representatives, the Scientific-educational Council (NNV) of Belgrade University voted unanimously for the beginning of lectures on Friday, March 7. The Council demands the resignation of Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic, who has offered his resignation earlier on several occasions but under the condition that students should previously return to their schools. They also demand the resignation of the Student Vice-Chancellor, Vojin Djurdjevic, whose dismissal has been requested for 104 days since the beginning of the protest. The continuation of lectures or their suspension beginning with Monday, March 10, depend on the actions of Chancellor Velickovic and Student Vice-Chancellor Djurdjevic, announced the NNV after the meeting with the leadership of the Student Protest 96/97. This session was closed for public, at the demand of the students. Immediately after the session, around 100 students gathered in front of a side entrance into the building in which the Chancellor's office is, and protested against the decision about the beginning of lectures.

Dragan Kuburovic, the acting Chancellor of Belgrade University, stated for Radio Index last evening that he had appealed to students to attend all lectures on Friday. After the two-hour meeting between the Deans and the leadership of the Student Protest, Kuburovic mentioned the statement by Dragutin Velickovic concerning his resignation and pointed out that should Velickovic fail to keep his promise, it would mean that he did not want the students to return to classrooms.

Marija Bogdanovic, Dean of the School of Philosophy, stated today for the "Nasa Borba" newspaper that she was prepared to resign instantly, if the Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic did the same. Bogdanovic said that Velickovic should have demanded the resignations of all 28 Deans instead of requesting the dismissal of several Deans only. According to her, the Chancellor's intention was to make divisions among the Deans. She denied the assertions that the Student protest has a political background and that students have been manipulated, explaining that the fundamental demand was the independent functioning of the University in the spheres of education and science.

In the course of the today's, 105th protest gathering, Belgrade students will prepare for the tomorrow's return to classrooms, which was decided upon in the last evening's meeting with the Deans and the managers of the institutes included in the University. During their today's walk, the students will go to Slavija, one of the central Belgrade squares. They will bring their books along and study, so that they be prepared or the return to lectures. While studying, they will sit on copies of the "Demokratija" newspaper. The Main Board of the Student Protest, who "occupied" the Chancellor's office yesterday afternoon, is constantly in session. Students have been flying a flag with "Student Protest" written on it from the building in which the Chancellor's office is.

The discussion which had been planned to be held at the School of Economy in Podgorica tomorrow evening, the guests of which were supposed to be the leaders of the Student Protest 96/97 in Belgrade, had to be canceled, since the organizers - the Student Alliance of the School of Economy and the Student Forum of Montenegro - had been informed that the guests could not come. As the organizers explained, the discussion was cancelled because of the decision of the Student Protest 96/97 Main Board to introduce some sort of the state of emergency after the latest events at Belgrade University.

Rebeka Srbinovic, the spokesperson for the New Democracy (ND), stated today that the ND condemned the Government's announcement that it will not finance the schools which do not start with lectures on Monday, March 10. According to the statement Srbinovic made in a press conference, the students proved during the past three months that they are "democrats and patriots", and that they should now seriously think about the "Pyrrhic victory" they are facing.

The Syndicate of the educators of Serbia "Nezavisnost" supported all the conditions set by the Student Protest for the normalization of lectures and the reduction of the tension in the country. The Syndicate qualified the statement made by the Minister of Education, Jovo Todorovic, about this matter as "arrogance and threats".

The members of the leadership of the Student Protest 96/97 tried to persuade discontented students in the square in front of the School of Philosophy today that the yesterday's decision about the one day resumption of lectures was not a betrayal. During the 105 protest gathering, which began in front of the School of Philosophy at 14:00, students kept whistling and shouting "Betrayal!" at their representatives in the Initiative and the Main Board, who had, during the yesterday's meeting with the Deans, decided that students should return to classrooms tomorrow, and continue the protest on Monday if Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic did not resign in the meantime.

The Executive Board of the Student Alliance in the Student compound in Belgrade has demanded that all Belgrade schools should begin with regular lectures tomorrow, March 7, report the media. It is our right and our basic interest; we have had enough of irresponsibility and numerous manipulations - announced the Board.

The University Board for the defence of democracy appealed today to the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU) to support the Student Protest and use all its influence and authority to persuade the regime to fulfill the students' demands. The regime is prepared to declare war to the University unless it manages to crush the Student Protest in a very short time, reads the letter of the University Board sent to the SANU. Slobodan Petkovic, a professor at the School of Forestry, read this letter to the students gathered in the square in front of the School of Philosophy today.

Belgrade students, on the 105th day of their protest, which has been prolonged because of the refusal of the Chancellor and the Student Vice-Chancellor to resign, blocked the traffic at Slavija during the protest walk. On their way back to Plato, students tried to enter the National Museum, in which Mirko Marjanovic, the president of the Government, was giving a reception, but they were stopped by the police posted at the entrance. According to some information, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was to attend the reception. Many citizens joined the students, but a police cordon was made between the crowd and several cars with diplomatic licence plates. The gathered citizens shouted "Red Gang" at those who came to the reception. The protest rally ended at 19:30, at the same time when the reception itself ended.

The Main and the Initiative Boards of the Student Protest 96/97 met this evening in the building in which the Chancellor's office is, in order to discuss the plan for tomorrow's classes. According to the report of Radio Index, it is almost certain that regular lectures will not be held on Friday. Instead of that, students will agree on a common program for all schools, which shall be a kind of lecture on democracy.

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