News for February 10th, 1997

During the protest gathering of the students of the Belgrade University, the professors of the BU, who singed individual demands for the resignation of the Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic made a wall around the Chancellorship. It was announced that they would do the same every day until the Chancellor resigns. Between 12 and 3 o'clock 1,435 professors filed their demands.

Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition estimated the accusations of the President of the Serbian Parliament on the account of the refugees as "dishonor and disgrace". The Belgrade citizens came to the tonight's protest in large groups from various parts of town, and one of the largest, which consisted of thousands of people, walked all the way from New Belgrade. Strong police forces were placed in the center of the city, but the citizens were mostly undisturbed in their approach to Republic Square. The citizens of Belgrade were joined by the citizens of Loznica at the tonight protest, who were enthusiastically greeted. "We have to remain cautious, and prepare to run our democratic marathon until the end. Let's stay together", Zoran Djindjic, one of the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, told the 30000 people gathered at the protest tonight in the center of Belgrade. Djindjic said that the regime annulled the electoral victory of the "Zajedno" coalition, because they knew that it was the beginning of their decline. The leader of the Democrats said that the Socialist Party of Serbia is falling apart in the cities, because "they are not being held together by the idea or program, their only program is power, corruption and abuse. If they lack this, they don't exist", Djindjic said.

"Welcome, but not sufficient" - is, according to Brussels diplomatic circles, the message Belgrade will get from European countries, should Serbian Parliament adopt the lex specialis tomorrow, thus recognizing the results of local elections held in November, reports the "Nasa Borba" correspondent. It will be considered sufficient, according to the same sources, when the law has been put to practice, and when Gonzalez's propositions, i.e. the dialogue with the opposition, free media and the reform of the election system, have been accepted. Until this happens, the European Union shall keep putting pressure on on the Serbian regime - there will be no concessions, no positive measures, no opening towards the Serbian regime, announce these sources, admitting, however, that such pressure might have a limited effect.

At the extraordinary session of the Serbian Parliament tomorrow, when the results of the local elections from November 17th should be recognized, the reconstruction of the new Republic Government will also be announced, the Belgrade media write. In the course of the day a final decision will be reached on the cancelation of certain Ministries. For now, only the Ministry of Religion and the Ministry for the Connections with the Serbs outside Serbia are being mentioned.

The "Zajedno" coalition announced that it won't participate in tomorrow's session of the Serbian Parliament, while the Serbian Radical Party stated that their representatives will vote against the proposal of the special law which should recognize the temporary results of the November 17th elections as final.

Laszlo Joza, Vice-president of the Association of Hungarians in Vojvodina announced that this party's representatives will submit a proposal for an alternation of the text of the law on recognition of the local elections' results at the tomorrow's session of the Serbian Parliament. Joza pointed out that Subotica and Backa Topola are not mentioned in the proposal of the law, while "extreme fraud was also notified" in these towns at the November elections.

The Legislative Board of the Serbian Parliament supported today, with the majority of votes, the proposal of the Law on announcing the local elections' results in 19 municipalities in Serbia and the City Assemblies in Belgrade, Nis and Kragujevac, which were cited in the OSCE report. The Board supported the suggested alterations of the Law on the Ministries in the Serbian Government, by which the Ministry for Private Enterprises will be transformed into the Ministry for Economic and Property Transformation.

"We regret that the solution to the problems regarding the local elections wasn't reached through the courts, but through the application of a special law, which denies the existence of independent courts in our country", Miodrag Ilic, member of the Collective Leadership of the Protest Board of the students of the University in Nis stated today. "Still, we are acclaiming the fact that the authorities want to acknowledge the November 17th elections", Ilic said, and added that it will be the decisive factor for the cessation of the lectures boycott at the schools of the University in Nis.

Zoran Lilic, President of the FR Yugoslavia said today that he will announce the name of the mandatary of the Federal Government by the end of the week.

Radoje Kontic, Federal Prime Minister will retain his position, while significant changes are not expected in the Federal Government, "Blic" writes today, refering to the well informed sources in the Federal Government. The newspaper writes that the Federal Parliament should be in session by February 15th, when a new Federal Cabinet will be formed on the proposal of Lilic. The Prime Minister Kontic and his new cabinet will be "only a transitional solution", becouse the negotiations between the Serbian and Montenegrin Presidents are "temporarily frozen", the newspaper adds, refering to a confidential statement of a Socialist Party official. According to this source, it could so happen that in June already Milosevic is elected President of FR Yugoslavia and Momir Bulatovic Prime Minister of the Federal Government.

Zivko Sokolovacki, member of the Main Office of the Yugoslav Left (JUL) announced today that JUL supports the proposal for Radoje Kontic to be the mandatary of the new Yugoslav Government. Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party stated after the talk with the Yugoslav President that the radicals will not support Kontic as new Prime Minister and they want no part in the Federal Government.

Even if the latest move of the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "isn't just a trick meant for him to gain time", Serbia will "have to wait for at least a few more years for true democracy", writes the Czech weeky "Tyden" today. "Milosevic is unscrupulous and a skilled manipulator who has been known to throw his allies overboard, and it seems that he is now preparing to sacrifice his electoral committees and courts, although there is no trace of doubt that it was him who was behind the decision that the electoral results be annuled".

In the municipalities which are being transferred to the hands of the opposition, "everything is smelling of fraud and material difficulties", and all the debts will be inherited by the opposition, the today's edition of the Italian journal "Corriere de la Sera" reports. The journal considers that "Serbia which is out in the streets, seemingly pro-westerly oriented, hasn't begun the collective contemplation on the war and the responsibilities of the country". "The nationalist nerves still are open", the "Corriere de la Sera" concludes, argumenting this statement with the problems of Kosovo, Slavonija and the future of the Bosnian Serbs which have not yet been solved.

Today's edition of the Spiegel tries to answer the question: why did the President of Serbia wait 76 days to step back and give in to the acknowledgement of the local elections. The Hamburg weekly speculates that the fact that "National Westminster Bank" froze its reactions with the National Bank of Yugoslavia is the reason in addition to the change in the attitude of the Church and Army.

Zoran Zivkovic, the Mayor of Nis stated that the municipalities in which the opposition won are already being hassled by the Republic administration. He also said that the contacts of the new authorities in Nis are "necessary" and that "the present Nis opposition has no reason to fear the new authorities".

Arandjel Markicevic, the Minister of Justice in the Serbian Government told the Beta agency that the proposal of the Special Law on the announcement of the local elections' results is "an act of good political will" of the Serbian President meant to solve his problems with the opposition.

A student team, lead by Mile Ilic, member of the Protest Board of the students of the University in Nis is an absolute winner in a football tournament which was held last the night in the "Cair" hall for the humanitarian causes. The students beat the team of the "Zajedno" coalition, whose captain was Zoran Zivkovic, the Mayor of Nis, as well as the reporters' team, and managed to collect almost 5000 dinars for the operation of the seven year old Aneta Markovic from Nis, which will be performed in Russia.

The football game between the student team and the team of Kragujevac authorities, which was organized by the student Protest 96/97, was won by the students with 5:3. The game was financed by the City Assembly of Kragujevac, and the money gathered by selling the tickets for the game will be spent for humanitarian goals.

Fedor Zdanski, Dean of the School of Technical and Metallurgical Engineering scheduled a session of the Council of the Deans, the Institute Managers and the members of the Educational-scientific Council of the University in Belgrade for Wednesday, February 12th, when the conditions at the University, provided the demands of the Student Protest 96/97 are fulfilled, and the preparations for the University Assembly will be discussed. Silvija Zdravkovic, the Secretary of the University, the representatives of the Student Protest and the members of the Professors' Board for the Defence of the democracy were also invited to the session. The Deans of most of the schools and the Managers of all the Institutes of the Belgrade University ceased all cooperation with Dragutin Velickovic, Chancellor on the January 30th session, because they consider him the most responsible for the crisis at the University.

The Association of Drama Artists of Serbia (SDUS) summoned all the theaters in Serbia to, as of Wednesday, February 12th, restart their operation, which was stopped due to the police repression over the citizens, Svetislav Goncic, President of the Association announced today. The Association of Drama Artists will, by further actions, continue to support and participate in the struggle for democratic changes in the society, it is stated in the announcement. The decision of the SDUS on starting to play again was harshly opposed by the actor Bora Todorovic, who evaluated the attitude of the SDUS "as shameful and inarticulate".

Nada Popovic-Perisic, Minister for Culture in the Serbian Government stated that "it is not the fault of this Ministry" that the National Theater is on strike and reminded that this theater was given approximately six million German marks last year, which is one third of the whole Serbian budget intended for culture.

France Perko, the Belgrade Archbishop stated today that the Belgrade Archbishopric has had a correct cooperation with the Ministry of Religion, but that he doesn't know whether the announcement of this Ministry's cancelation is only an "administrative measure" or an announcement of the new policy towards the church.

The anniversary 25th FEST will be continued tomorrow, after an eight-day interruption, with "slight changes" in the program, it was announced today at a press conference. Two days ago, the representatives of the distributors, the "Sava Centar" and of the Assembly of Belgrade reached an agreement on the continuation of FEST.

Vidosav Stevanovic, acting Manager of the Radio-television of Kragujevac congratulated the editorial staff of the "Nezavisna svetlost" ("The Independent Light") on the decision of the Higher Economic Court in Belgrade, which reintroduces this firm as a public enterprise.

The decision of the Higher Economic Court in Belgrade, to return the "Nezavisna Svetlost" the status of a public enterprise represents, above all "a moral satisfaction and the victory of the law", Miroslav Jovanovic, the head editor editor of the "Nezavisna Svetlost" announced today. In his statement to the Beta agency Jovanovic said that the editorial staff of the "Nezavisna Svetlost" greets the court the decision "despite its year and a half long delay".

All the kindergartens in Belgrade, except for those with special purposes, ceased operation today, so almost 50,000 children aren't at the nursery-schools and kindergartens, it was announced today by Marija Tunic, the President of the Syndicate of the Employees in the Preschool Institutions of Belgrade and Serbia. The representatives of this Syndicate appealed to the parents to be understanding in regard to their problems.

Aleksandar Radosavljevic, spokesman of the "Zajedno" coalition in Kragujevac stated that the interest of the citizens for the membership in all the parties belonging to the coalition has been increasing lately, especially after the November elections.

Bojan Bogdanovic, spokesman of the Student Protest 96/97 confirmed today that the protest of the Belgrade students, after the demonstrations have been concluded will continue in the form of an independent student organization.

Vesna Pesic, President of the Civil Alliance of Serbia addressed the Federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic in the form of a protest letter regarding the text in the newspaper "Borba" in which "it is viciously affirmed and acclaimed" that she was "exposed to police brutality" in the night between February 2nd and 3rd.

The Belgrade lawyers, who are on strike, because of the disrespect of the citizens' electoral will, visited the Third Municipal Court in Belgrade today, where they were greeted by Zoran Petrovic, President of the Court, many judges and other employees of this Court. Except for the demand for the electoral will of the citizens to be respected, the Belgrade lawyers seek the resignations of the Ministers of Justice and of the Internal Affairs of Serbia.

The delegation of the Student Protest 96/97 resided in Geneva from February 6th to 9th on the invitation of Daniel Boyer, Dean of the American University in Paris and Geneva and in the organization of the League for the Protection of Private Property and Human Rights, it is stated in the mutual report of the Student Protest and the League. The delegation of the Student Protest, among others, conversed with Boris Vukobrat, President of the Foundation for Peace and Solving Crises, who came from Paris to meet the Belgrade students. As it is stated in the announcement, Vukobrat promised the students concrete aid in the realization of their demands.

About a hundred foreign currency account holders protested today in front of the National Bank of Yugoslavia and in front of the Presidency of Serbia in Belgrade demanding their money and the reception with the President of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic.

The President of Albania stated that "the demonstrations in Belgrade should be supported" since they demand the expansion of Democracy. Berisa said that he is "well aware" of the fact that "some of the leaders of the opposition have some unclear nationalistic ideas" but added that hi still supports the anti-government demonstrations because they are "generally" democratic.

The representatives of the syndicate of education workers announced today that the talks with the authorities have not continued, warned that the Serbian government will be responsible for the future events and announced that they will consider other means of syndical resistance unless the government changes it's attitude towards the workers demands. He said that "unseen pressure is applied onto the teachers from the organs of the Ministry of Education through the principals, teachers and parents".

More than 5,000 members of the independent syndicate of the Sevojno metal works, the Froteks textile factory and the Zlatibor construction company from Uzice, as well as workers from other companies, education workers and students protested today in the center of Uzice against the extremely difficult material position of the workers.

The Council of parents of primary and secondary school students in Belgrade supported today the teachers' strike and appealed to the Ministry of Education of Serbia to fulfill the justified demands of teachers immediately. Teachers and parents have one common demand - that children start going to school again, but only when the demands of teachers have been fulfilled, announced the Initiative board of the Council of parents. It was also suggested that parents should express their revolt against the state in which the educational system in Serbia is and against the disregard for the demands of teachers by gathering in schoolyards and in the streets of Belgrade.

The session of the Administrative board of Serbian Parliament, in which the decision about the removal of Nebojsa Covic from his position of a SPS (Serbian Socialist Party) delegate should be made, announces BK Television this evening. Covic stated for this television station that he had recently sent a letter to the president of Parliament and the Administrative board, in which he warned them that there was no legal foundation for his removal from that office, and that the fact that his blank resignation, which he had withdrawn, had been subsequently dated was an act of forgery.

Five secondary schools out of the whole number of 62 schools in the Jablanicki district went on strike today. Members of the Strike board expressed their hope that other schools would join the strike.

Branislav Jovanovic, the president of the city government in Nis, stated this evening that coalition Zajedno has 54 of the 70 delegates in that city, and that "no other lex specialis can be accepted". In front of some 10,000 citizens of Nis gathered in the 85th protest rally against the annulment of the results of local elections, Jovanovic announced that the city authorities, as well as public firms and institutions, would be completely reorganized.

Several hundred citizens of Pirot gathered this evening in the central town square to protest against the annulment of the results of local elections in Serbia. The gathered citizens also protested because the highest representatives of coalition Zajedno, which is the organizer of the protest rallies, had not appeared in Pirot yet. The protest rally ended with a protest walk. Another rally has been scheduled for 19:00 tomorrow.

A few thousand supporters of the opposition held a rally in the center of Jagodina today. The police were not hindering the demonstrators. The "Zajedno" coalition in Jagodina is supposed to constitute the new municipal authorities after the special law which will recognize the results of the local elections' second rounds is adopted.

The judges of all the courts in Belgrade, from the municipal to the Supreme and Constitutional Court of Serbia, decided tonight to found an Association of judges within the Lawyers' Association of Serbia. An alternation of the constitutional and social position of the judiciary, as well as the status of the judges are the main goals of the future Association, it was told at the meeting of the Initiative Board for the Foundation of the new Association of the Judges. The Organizational Board for the Preparation of the Assembly of the Association of the Judges was also formed, which was constituted of the representatives of all the courts in Belgrade, from the municipal to the Supreme Court of Serbia.

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