News for March 11th, 1997

Dusan Popovic, member of the Main Board of the Student Protest, said today in his address to the Belgrade students assembled at the Plato before the School of Philosophy that the Main Board decided at the last night's session that the Protest, with the boycott of the lectures, will continue until March 20th. The route that the protesting procession took on the 110th day of the protest, was the following: Vasina, Srpskih Vladara, Kneza Milosa, Takovska (by the building of the state television, RTS), 27. Marta, Cara Dusana and Tadeusa Koscuskog, and finally returned to Plato. The tomorrow's gathering is scheduled for 14:00.

Aleksandar Tijanic, former Minister of Information in the Serbian Government, stated for Beta agency today that the working version of the Public information law was "restrictive", and announced that the Association of private owners of media would be formed. The Association would "struggle against the repressive measures imposed by the state". The version of the law which was presented to the public by the Serbian Government yesterday imposes such restrictions on the electronic media that it will be impossible to ever found a national network in Serbia which could rival the state television, said Tijanic.

Ivan Kovacevic, spokesman for the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), stated today that the working version of the Public information law, presented yesterday by the Serbian Government, "has no significance unless it is discussed at a round table". Kovacevic said that the coalition Zajedno would not accept the invitation of Radmila Milentijevic, the Minister of Information, to participate in the public discussion. The coalition would only take part in a round table conference, in which certain decisions of obligatory character would be made.

Slobodan Vuksanovic, spokesman for the Democratic Party (DS), stated today that the suggestion for the Public information law was "dissatisfactory and restrictive". He mentioned the possibility of renewed citizen protests for the unblocking of the media. The regulation which determines that private television networks may cover only 25% of the population does not merely restrict their activities, but discriminates private property as well. He added that, should the law be put into effect, the work of news agencies would be completely limited by numerous regulations.

FoNet news agency and the Associated Press, one of the most eminent world agencies, signed a contract today, according to which FoNet will be allowed to use the photo-service of this American agency.

The Association of free and independent syndicates (ASNS) condemned today Serbian Radio-television network (RTS) for banning BK Television from using the transmitter. The members of the Association are of the opinion that the extinguishing of the "television with open eyes" must not be allowed, since independent syndicates would suffer a great deal if the ban be imposed.

Dragor Hiber, President of the Executive Board of the Civil Alliance of Serbia, estimated today that the passing of the new Information Law cannot alter the informative portrait of Serbia, but that such change requires the complete democratization of the society, as well as the application of the legal regulations which guarantee freedom, independence and the equality of the media. In his statement for the media, Hiber declared that the founding of a Republic Board for the defence of freedom of public information, or, in other words, a "collective ombudsman", may be "a step ahead toward the unhindered information process", but he was of the opinion that the suggested composition of that Board "doesn't provide the adequate representation of all parties concerned".

Jovo Todorovic, Minister of Education in the Serbian Government, stated that the normalization of the teaching process at the Belgrade University is "satisfactory, with some initial difficulties, which were expected". When asked how massively the classes are being attended, Todorovic cited the reports of the deans, and said that "what is most important at this moment is that the classes have begun, with a varied number of students present". He said that "only a minority of the students" have once again expressed their distrust to the return to classes. The Minister of Education also said that the deans will, according to their authority and in keeping with the organization of the schools, make a plan of compensation of the lectures, with respect to the global deadlines set by the Ministry of Education. Todorovic maintained that this school year is to end on September 30th, while the next one must commence on October 1st, while freshmen will be enrolled at the end of June and the beginning of July.

Gordana Logar, President of the Independent Association of Journalists of Serbia stated today to the Beta news agency that the part of the draft of the Public Information Law, concerning the financing of the media from abroad, "was transcribed from the party program of the Yugoslav Left", in which the media and journalists are being treated as "adversarial political parties". She ascertained that it is logical that the political parties do not receive assistance from abroad, but that the media houses, which are in the open market, may have any business arrangements they find suitable. "The draft of this law is a disgrace to the entire profession. A journalist once again becomes merely a political laborer, as he was once in the countries of Eastern Europe", Logar said.

The University Board for the Defence of Democracy demands from the Vice-chancellor, professor Tomislav Dragovic that he immediately transfer all the jurisdiction he received from the resigning Chancellor to professor Dragan Kuburovic, the announcement of this Board cites. It is also stressed in the announcement that professor Kuburovic made substantial efforts to normalize the operation of the University during the Student Protest 96/97.

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