News for February 12th, 1997

The special law by which the local election results according to the report of the OSCE delegation were recognized, has gone into effect after it was printed in the "Official Register of the Republic of Serbia" last evening, said Zeljko Corac, the editor-in-chief of the Register.

The daily noise protest during state television's main news bulletin was accompanied on Wednesday by the launching of a red boat symbolising the departure of the Socialist government from the Yugoslav capital. Opposition leader Zoran Djindjic launched the Styrofoam boat onto the Danube with an effigy of the Serbian President at the helm. Mr Djindjic announced that the launching would be carried out annually to mark the "day when the anti-urban ideology of communism left Belgrade." The column of the citizens who had come from Republic Square to attend the launching, returned peacefully for the Zajedno rally.

Dragan Tomic, the President of the Serbian Parliament described the protests of the citizens against the annulment of the local election results as "brutal and threatening" and emphasized that "there is not a single reason that they should continue".

Ivan Ivanov, professor of the School of Veterinary at the University in Belgrade stated today that the police has been at that school revising the managing documents. Ivanov said at today's session of the Council of Deans of most of the schools and managers of all eight institutes within the Belgrade University that a large number of teachers and associates of the School of Veterinary has asked for the change of the Dean, Danilo Vickovic and vice-dean Slobodan Jovanovic.

The Council consisting of most Deans and all directors of institutes at Belgrade University concluded today that the adoption of the special law by which the results of local elections were recognized confirmed that the first demand of the Student Protest 96/97 was justified. The Council expressed their hope that the passing of this law would lead to full recognition of the electoral will of citizens. Lectures at the schools of Belgrade University could be resumed on February 24, under the condition that Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic and Student Vice-Chancellor Vojin Djurdjevic should resign by that date, concluded 25 of 30 Deans of Belgrade schools, the eight directors of institutes included in Belgrade University and representatives of the Student Protest in their today's session. The additional conditions are the acknowledgement of the results of November 17 elections according to the original records and the OSCE report, and taking legal proceedings against those who committed electoral crimes and conducted the state violence against citizens.

Several hundred teachers, parents and students of primary and secondary schools protested in front of the building of the Serbian Government today against the Government's dragging out the negotiations with teachers, who have been on strike for nearly three weeks now because of low wages and unpaid salaries.

Washington announced on Wednesday that it would soon reestablish high-level contacts with Belgrade if the Serbian Government implemented the special law the Serbian Parliament adopted on Tuesday, reports FoNet. Contact was discontinued a month ago as the sole measure the US Government thought would force Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize the opposition victories in the local elections. US Assistant Secretary of State for human rights John Shattuck has announced that he will visit Belgrade next week.

Dragoljub Micunovic, the president of the Democratic Center (DC), stated today that the adoption of the special law concerning local elections by Serbian Parliament yesterday represented a positive introduction into solving the political crisis in the country. Micunovic told a press conference that after that law had been passed, it was essential that a round-table discussion about social and economic reforms and about the freedom of media should be organized.

Vojislav Kostunica, the president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), stated today that the passing of the special law by which the results of local elections were acknowledged represented a negative compromise. The Gonzales-Milosevic law represents another blow for the legal state, because it means the acceptance of the OSCE propositions, and not of the people's will, which is a dangerous precedent, said Kostunica in a press conference. The DSS delegates did not participate in the yesterday's session of Serbian Parliament in any way, because they did not want their participation to bring the decisions made in the session a semblance of legality.

The Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed officially its dissatisfaction to the US Government, because of the fact that American congressmen and senators, during their recent visits to Belgrade, participated in the protests of students and the democratic opposition, reports Slobodan Pavlovic, the correspondent of the "Nasa Borba", for FoNet. According to the oral protest to the US Embassy in Belgrade, such conduct of the three delegations of congressmen and senators, who visited Serbia and Montenegro during December and January, was not merely a coarse and inadmissible interfering with the internal affairs of Yugoslavia, but an abuse of Yugoslav hospitality as well. The authorities warned the US Embassy that, should such practice continue, they would react in an appropriate way.

Klaus Kinkel, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated today that the recognition of the opposition victory in the the local elections on the part of Serbian Parliament represented a new positive step.

Hungarian writer and eminent intellectual Conrad said to Belgrade students today that they had managed to combine culture, art and political protest, thus creating a new Belgrade. Conrad addressed the students in the square in front of the School of Philosophy, where several thousand students gathered at 13:00 in the 83rd protest rally against the violation of the electoral will of citizens.

Aleksandar Vulin, the vice-president of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL), stated today that he was sure foreign countries had involved into the protests in Serbia, because such enormous incidents as these demonstrations could not occur without foreign influence.

Coalition Zajedno in Pirot condemned today the attack on Nebojsa Icic, a delegate of that coalition, who had been hit on the head with a brick during the yesterday's protest walk in Pirot. The coalition also demanded that an investigation of this case should be made immediately. Mirko Djordjevic, the head of the Pirot police department, told the reporters that the investigation had begun yesterday evening and that the police took the fingerprints from the pieces of the brick with which the coalition Zajedno delegate was hit. He added that the results of the investigation would be made public in due time. It was announced that Icic felt good after the medical help he had received in the Trauma Center in Pirot.

Several hundred supporters of coalition Zajedno in Uzice "welcomed" yesterday Vojislav Seselj, the leader of the Serbian Radical Party, in front of the building of Radio Uzice, for which he was to give a previously planned interview. The gathered people booed at Seselj, to which his body-guards reacted by running among them and beating Milojko Lazarevic, a pensioner. Seselj's body-guards seized the reporter of the "Dnevni Telegraf" who had taken the picture of them beating Lazarevic, and took his film. According to the "Nasa Borba" report, several policemen stood by during the incident.

Nicola Vehter, a member of the European Commission, stated the Slobodan Milosevic's proposition that the victory of the opposition in the local elections in Serbia should be recognized by a special law has caused a great relief in the European Commission. In his statement for the today's "Blic" he added, however, that the recognition of the results of the local elections did not mean the end of the post-election crisis in Serbia. According to his words, Yugoslavia has a lot to do in order to be seriously taken by the Europeans. One of the conditions is that Yugoslavia keeps the promises it signed in the Dayton agreement, Vehter pointed out.

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