News for January 13th, 1997

Belgian newspaper Libre Belgique has proposed University of Belgrade students for the Nobel Peace Prize. "If the Nobel Prize still makes any sense, then it should be awarded to the Belgrade students," says the newspaper.

A six-member delegation of the Student Protest 96/97 was admitted, after long negotiations, to the today's session of the Teaching Council of the University of Belgrade. Members of the delegation told the press that the students will table the following demands:
1. That lectures of any kind be suspended until the student demands are accepted.
2. Each faculty can compensate for the loss of lecture time according to its own specifications. Generally, we request make-up lectures as well as make-up exams.
3. If the Student Protest lasts so long that it becomes impossible to make up for the loss of lecture time, we demand that students be given the opportunity to take their exams retroactively.
4. We appeal that students on scholarships are given a chance to settle their obligations after the beginning of the [next] semester.
5. We demand from the members of the Teaching Council, as well as from the faculties whose chairs did not comply with student demands, not to divide the student body but to enable their students to have make-up lectures, deferral of exams, and prevention of possible negative consequences for their participation in Student Protest 96/97.
A member of the Steering Board of Student Protest 96/97 said that he had contacted the rector of the UofB in order to learn the procedure allowing for students' participation in the sessions of the Teaching Council. This is what he had to tell the press about that conversation: "The rector told me that it is better for us not to come, lest he throw us out. As the reason, he mentioned that his resignation will not be discussed at the session." Eventually, the student delegation was admitted to the session. The official agenda for the session focuses on the normalization of teaching at the University, reports Radio B92.

The representatives of the Student Protest told a press conference today that the conclusions of today's session of the UofB staff are a "compromise solution" reached thanks to the "opstruction" at the hands of the UofB dean Dragutin Velickovic. The representatives of the Student Protest left the session before it ended in protest of, they said, the inadmissible behaviour of the minister of education Dragoljub Mladenovic and his deputy Milivoj Simonovic for their speeches urged the staff to support the government and not the students. In addition to this the voting procedure was not respected and the deans were taken off the floor before finishing their speeches. The conclusion of the session, however, was that the UofB staff supports the student demands accepted by the Serbian government vice-presidents and the fulfillment of the committments the two vice-presidents undertook in the meeting with the Student Protest delegation. Deans of 35 UofB schools were in favour of the student demands while only 3 (those of the Schools of Veterinary, Agriculture and Economy) voted against. Before the meeting, the UofB Dean at first told the students not to come, for this session was not the occasion to discuss the student protest, then saying they might come but will not be allowed to attend the session. The students take this to be the Deans attempt to show their demands for the November 17 electoral results to be acknowledged was not a support for the right cause. They, however, claim that their demands are political but are non-partisan. "The student demands are not serving any political party, the same way they do not serve any government," they said. The student demand for the dean to be replaced was left for the Wednesday session of the UofB Counci, the body authorized to discuss this issue. The Student Protest will continue until the student demands are met. After tonight's protest meeting celebrating the Ortodox New Year, the students will next gather Wednesday, during the session of the UofB Council session, reports FoNet.

Dean of the UofB, Dragutin Velickovic told a press conference after today's session of the UofB staff that the session's conclusions were primarily that the teaching be resumed after the student demands accepted by the Serbian vice-presidents be fulfilled and that the participants of the Student Protest will face no consequences. Asked whether he is considering handing in his resignation, Velickovic said it is a "complicated matter," adding that the overall situation of the university is "unfavourable," for the teaching has been disrupted. He insisted, however, that this is not the case in all schools, for he has learned from his daily contact with the school deans that teaching has gone on as normal in 19 UofB schools. Asked why he failed to address his students over the past 50 days of protest, he said that if the students had reached him, there would have certainly been some talks. He maintained that "discussions of political issues are not allowed in the university, for they disconcerted the students from attending lectures." His opinion was that he performed his duty as Chancellor well and concientously.

Tonight saw the continuation of the campaign to drown out the state television prime time news bulletin with noise. In some parts of New Belgrade as well in downtown Belgrade, there were some who put loudspeakers in their windows playing the programmes of Radio Index and Radio B92. A few hundred citizens of Banovo Brdo blocked the traffic in the main street in this part of Belgrade tonight, during the prime time news on the state controlled television. This is the third consecutive evening that the citizens have been blocking Pozeska sreet for a half an hour during the Radio and Television of Serbia news. The citizens blocking the traffic were making noise in accordance with the rhytm dictated by two young men with drums. Whistles and horns were being blown and even a ship syren could be heard from somewhere. Part of the "music" was made by automobile syrens.

Over 5,000 students of UofN went for their 54th consecutive protest march in downtown Nis. The head of the procession bore the golden icon of the Holy Mother, set in jewels, which they received from the monastery of Hilandar this morning.

A large number of the citizens of Uzice, members and supporters of the "Zajedno" Coalition, will see the New Year in tonight in the central town square and in front of the Town Hall. It has been announced that leading officials of the Town Assembly, among whom the president and the deputy president of the Assembly, and the priests of the church in Uzice will attend this gathering.

Approximately 5000 people gathered in the center of Leskovac who, in a merry and relaxed atmosphere, greeted the coming of the Orthodox New Year. New Year's Eve by the orthodox calendar was organized by the "Zajedno" coalition, whose leaders addressed the citizens assembled at the central city square. Toward midnight 100 torches were lit at the square, and then the celebration, which lasted til 2:00 in the morning, commenced.

A few thousand people, accompanied with trumpet music and fireworks, greeted the coming of the Orthodox New Year on the central square in Pirot. The whole event was organized by the oppositional coalition "Zajedno". The citizens present were addressed by one of head people of the opposition in Pirot, Tomislav Panajotovic, who wished them a Happy New Year. The celebration lasted until 2:00 after midnight.

A few hundred people spent the Serbian New Year's Eve on the Majdanpek central square, it was announced by the town's oppositional coalition "Zajedno". A midnight liturgy was conducted in the church located in the center, after which the supporters of the opposition moved to the central square, where the celebration was to last til early morning hours. There were no police forces on the streets of Majdanpek.

Thousands of people are arriving to the center of Kraljevo tonight, where they will, on the summon of the oppositional coalition "Zajedno" await the coming of the Serbian New Year. The arrival of actors and singers from Belgrade is expected, and those assembled will be addressed by the local opposition's leaders. In the town center, brandy is being warmed up in three large stills. Women from Kraljevo and nearby villages have brought food as well.

More than 50000 Kragujevac residents celebrated the Serbian New Year's arrival together, in the center of the city. This is the largest number of people gathered since the meetings protesting the annulment of the local elections' results began, 45 days ago. Before the commencement of the celebration, the citizens made a noisy walk throughthe city. The police weren't present. The trupet players from Cacak were entertaining the Kragujevac citizens with a message - the liberated Cack to the liberated Kragujevac.

Approximately 5000 citizens of Smederevska Palanka celebrated the Serbian New Year's Eve on the central city square, it was announced by the "Zajedno" coalition in that town. The citizens greeted the coming of the Orthodox New Year merrily, with the music of the newly assembled group "Zajedno".

Savski Venac, a municipality in Belgrade, on which the opposition is presently ion charge, marked the coming of the Orthodox New Year by a reception which was among others, attended by Vuk Draskovic, the President of the Serbian Renewal Movement, the representatives of other oppositional parties and the church and by two officers of the Yugoslav Army from the Teritorial Recruitment Department.

Thousands of citizens of Nis rushed to Liberation Square tonight, where, as organized by the oppositional coalition "Zajedno", the coming of the Serbian New Year will be celebrated. It is estimated that there were 13000 people present at 22:00. The citizens of Nis, arriving at the central city square were being greetd loudly from the buildings located nearby, by whistling, confetti, and pounding pots and pans. Traffic was suspended in the main street. On most of the automobiles and surrounding streets, pictures of Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement could be seen.

President of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, has expressed hope for democratic and constructive compromise in Serbia. Bulatovic also observed that the OSCE report is very good for the authorities in Serbia, since it confirmed the victory of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in the federal elections as well as in the local elections in the majority of constituencies. Montenegrin President noted that the situation in the country is getting more complex. According to the data issued by the National Bank, a certain amount of new money has been released without any collateral, stated Bulatovic.

The City Electoral Commission in Nis has sent its written decision to the coalition Zajedno, by which 8 of the disputed mandates are confirmed to have been won by Zajedno. However, Zajedno claims that 9 more mandates belong to them and that the supporters of Zajedno will organize a protest rally tonight, coinciding with the Orthodox New Year's Eve.

The Steering Board sent a letter today to all judges in Yugoslavia with claims to professionalism urging them to protect the fundamental Constitutional rights and civil freedoms, reports FoNet. "Do not let us lose faith in truth, justice and independent judiciary. Deliver a public lecture to the police on Constitutional and Criminal Law. It is your turn to lead the students and all Serbian people in the struggle for a minimum of democracy," the letter said.

President of the People's Party of Montenegro, Novak Kilibarda, has sent a new letter to Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic after Bulatovic rejected Kilibarda's previous proposal that the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists abandon its alliance with Serbian Socialists and join the democratic opposition in the federal Parliament.

Today's issue of Nasa Borba, relying on well-informed sources, claims that the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) does not intend to recognize in full the results of the local elections from November 17. The paper says that the general strategy of the ruling party and the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) is a partial acceptance of students' demands, like the replacement of the chancellor and the student deputy chancellor. Their departure is expected in the next few days. The authorities estimate that the students, grateful for the acceptance of some of their demands and exhausted from the 8-week long protest, will withdraw from the streets. "After that, the "breaking" of the demonstrations would be an easy job," says the source of the Belgrade daily Nasa Borba.

The citizens of Belgrade have given a lecture on citizenship to the whole world, since during their demonstrations which have been lasting for several weeks they have not asked any personal benefits of the "omnipotent authoritarian regime", but only more dignity in their state, writes "Le Figaro" today. "Le Figaro" observes that the revolt in Belgrade has become more than a demand for the full reinstatement of the electoral victory of the opposition. This newsparer adds that the students of Belgrade University, who have the support of the majority of the middle class in urban areas in Serbia, did not take to the streets in order to support a particular politician. They are struggling for a legal state, for the right to live in a country in which the authorities would not think of stealing the votes in the elections, concludes the Parisian daily.

Czech daily Lidove Novini today says that the opposition in Serbia is refusing all partial concessions and that it wants a thorough- going democratization of the political conditions in the country, a process which has the de-blocking of the media as its main demand. This newspaper, known as "the newsletter of the intellectuals," says that the Serbian opposition expects half a million people tonight in the center of Belgrade. The most widely read Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that the opposition has refused the offer to enter into some kind of a coalition government formed jointly with the present regime. The Belgrade correspondent of the daily Pravo reports that the role of the Mayor of Belgrade, Nebojsa Covic, is very important, because he is known to be a pragmatist and may well be the one to start a dialogue with the opposition.

Today's issue of the London daily Independent says that the political crisis in Serbia is coming to a close, reports the Serbian edition of BBC Radio. "Pro-democracy protesters in Belgrade can smell the victory, and it seems that Milosevic is also getting ready to accept the defeat in the November local elections. However, it seems that the finale will be a complex and dark scramble for power. Last weekend, it looked like everything was over. But it was not. So far, the state media have only given some vague hints that great changes are possible," said BBC Radio in its broadcast today commenting on the article in the Independent.

56 days after the protests of the "Zajedno" Coalition began in Serbian cities, the cracks that have started to show in the structure of the authorities and the criticism coming from the West show that president Slobodan Milosevic does not have much choice, reports the Finantial Times today. Milosevic must accept the results of the local elections from November 17, which would mean a defeat for him, since he claims that he has no influence on courts or political institutions in Serbia, reports Radio BBC in its program in the Serbian language.

The demonstrations in Serbia have been lasting for too long, and without a definite outcome, for their consequences to effect that country only, estimates the "Oslobodjenje" newspaper from Sarajevo today. The autocratic regimes in this region, no matter whether they show their extreme nationalism or hide it, feel that their rule is endangered, writes the same newspaper.

Today's Financial Times reports that during his yesterday's meeting with "the unofficial mediator", head of Greek diplomacy Theodoros Pangalos, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic refused to admit the victory of the opposition in the November local elections. According to the Radio BBC's programe in the Serbian language, this paper reports that Pangalos himself stated this in his conversation with the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition.

In their today's reports from Belgrade, French newspapers focus on the request made by Theodoros Pangalos, head of Greek diplomacy, on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to accept the conclusions of the OSCE fully and without delay and to recognize the victory of the opposition in the local elections, "including Belgrade". According to these reports, Pangalos warned Milosevic that, should he fail to do this, he would be isolated from the rest of the world. The "Liberasion" estimates that "Milosevic's regime is falling apart".

Yesterday, Greece became one of the countries which put pressure on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to recognize the results of the local elections in Serbia, reports "Elefterotipija", a Greek newspaper of moderate left orientation. This newspaper states that yesterday's visit of Greek head of diplomacy to Belgrade "turned into direct mediating between Slobodan Milosevic and the oppositional parties", the aim of which was to maintain peace and stability on the Balkans.

In his interview for the Brussels daily "Libre Belgique", Milan Bozic, one of the leading persons in the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), said that the opposition in Serbia fears that something similar to the events in Romania after the fall of Ceaucescu might happen in Serbia, "because we know that the regime still has a strong influence on the police".

The international community should treat Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic as it has treated President of Republic of Srpska, Radovan Karadzic, said Vesna Pesic, one of the Zajedno leaders and head of the Civil Alliance of Serbia (GSS), today. In an interview to the AFP, she said that the democratic countries should freeze their relations with Milosevic as they have done with the leader of the Bosnian Serbs, who left the political scene under the international pressure over his indictment for war crimes, FoNet reports. Pesic is to go on a visit to France to meet the French Foreign Minister Ervet de Charette and French President's diplomatic advisor Jean-David Levitte, proceeding to Italy and Sweeden. Her aim in of all three visits is to explain to the foreign public that the opposition in Serbia is struggling to provide the fundamental conditions for a normal democratic life in the country, most of all the free media. Pesic is firmly against economic sanctions against Serbia, for they would affect the whole population.

"All conditions for the establishment of the final electoral results in all the polling stations for the Nis City Assembly have been fulfilled and it is essential that this is done immediately," said a statement signed by the Serbian Minister of Justice, Arandjel Markicevic reported by the state media. "The electoral documentation [the Ministry has] reviewed indisputably shows that the political organization Zajedno has won the majority of seats, and the Nis Electoral Commision is the only competent body to establish the exact number of seats. Serbian Government has neither been engaged in establishing this, nor does this fall into its competence," said the statement.

Today's issue of the daily Nasa Borba brings parts of the transcripts from a meeting attended by the Socialist and Yugoslav United Left (JUL) top officials. Here are some excerpts. Mirjana Markovic, leader of the JUL, also Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's wife, said: "The main question is why the victors [in the local elections] have been driven into mousewholes, while the opposition is carrying on violence in the streets... Serbia is the sole non-marionette state in Europe contrary to what the West wants and is trying to effect... There is a special war going on in Serbia, for the people in the streets have been indoctrinated by [foreign] mercenaries." As a way out of this situation Markovic proposed a firmer unity of the leftist forces. She criticized the police and army as well as the secret police "which is not fighting the special war with the right methods," claims the source of Nasa Borba. Zoran Todorovic Kundak, secretary general of the JUL said that "the police must take a more active part and if necessary, disperse the demonstrators from the streets by force." Ljubisa Ristic, president of the JUL, said that "a mob of beserk citizens" is on the streets, the demonstrations being an attack on the political mechanism in Serbia. He blamed the opposition for the recent leap of the Deutschemark. "We have a chance of defeating the opposition. We should focus on fast and confusing actions to gain iniciative," he concluded stressing that police action is essential to "calm" the situation.

A letter by the coalition Zajedno demanded that the Army Command Head-quarters and the Serbian Interior Ministry urgently state their position with regard to the recent statements by the SPS and JUL leaderships in their joint meeting. The media has informed the public that the SPS and JUL leaderships demand that the police use force to crush the demonstrations in Serbia. According to this information, it is obvious that the SPS and JUL are trying to provoke large scale clashes and OFFICIALLY PROCLAIM a state of emergency in Serbia. This is why Zajedno demands that the Yugoslav Army Command Headquarters and the Serbian Interior Ministry protect the citizens and the state interests from the open attacks by the SPS and JUL leaderships.

The management of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) decided by a majority vote Saturday to leave the coalition it had formed with the coalition Zajedno just before the federal elections November 1996, reports today's issue of the daily Blic. The leader of the DSS, Vojislav Kostunica, cited the unbridgeable differences in the political programmes of Zajedno and his party, above all over the national issue, implementation of the Dayton accords, and the position towards the international community and the Serbs outside FR Yugoslavia.

"A session of the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) convened today to discuss the current political and economic situation in the country. 120 company managers, members of this party, attended the session. The conclusion of the session was a full support to the iniciative by the Serbian President Milosevic to embark on economic reforms. It pointed out that the main goals of the JUL are restructuring the state economy and encouraging private ownership," said today's JUL statement.

Prince Alexandar Karadjordjevic assessed the demonstrations in Belgrade as the best chance for his becoming King of Yugoslavia, reports FoNet AFP as saying. He said he believes that the majority of the people in the streets, including the students, was in favour of monarchy. He told AFP that the Zajedno leaders also have expressed support and sympathies for this cause in the contacts he has been having with them since the beginning of the demonstrations. Saying that it was high time Serbian President Milosevic withdrew, for "he has no concept of democracy or fundamental human rights," the Prince announced his possible arrival to Belgrade where, he said, he "might play an important role in bringing democracy to the country."

Radio Television Kragujevac will remain the property of this city rather than be affiliated to the [state] Radio Television Serbia, despite the staments to the contrary by Minister of Culture Nada Popovic-Perisic, said a statement by the newly formed City Hall today.

The coalition Vojvodina demanded today a public investigation in the January 10 police raid and physical assault on the journalists of the weekly Nezavisni [Independent]. The coalition "Vojvodina" demanded that the policeman with identification number 441130, who beat the reporters, should be adequately punished, and that the public should be informed about it. The coalition also made the request that the police publicly denounce such acts.

The editorial staff of the Radio Belgrade Three announced today that the "agreement of the representatives of the Student Protest and the Serbian Government that the people's will expressed in the local elections be fully respected and those responsible for the falsifications of the electoral minutes" is "the right way to peacefully and democratically end the current political crisis." "Fulfillment of this agreement is the necesarry pre-condition for the beginning of serious, uncurbed dialogue on the problems hindering the objective reporting. These are the fundamental pre- conditions for a as painless transition as possible into a market economy and political democracy," said the statement of the "entire staff of Radio Belgrade Three," reports FoNet.

Nenad Canak, the president of the Social-democratic League of Vojvodina, stated that the arrogance of the ruling set in Belgrade, which has "deep roots among the representatives of the regime, as well as among the majority of the opposition members represents the most serious hindrance to the progress of this country".

Academician Dobrica Cosic appealed today to the students at Nis University to persist in their protest since by struggling for the recognition of the political will and democratic rights of the people, they are struggling for their future. Dobrica Cosic informed the students that for reasons of health he can not accept their invitation to come to Nis.

More than 60 doctors of the emergency squad in Nis appealed to the "Zajedno" coalition today, asking for support in their attempt to change the situation in that institution.

Gyula Horn, Hungarian Prime Minister, stated today that the mass demonstrations in Serbia and Bulgaria are the consequence of the refusal of the socialist governments in these countries to carry out democratic reforms. Horn compared the the mass protests in Serbia and Bulgaria with those which took place in Hungary seven years ago, when the citizens demonstrated peacefully against the communist government.

The panel discussion will be held in Serbian Parliament tomorrow, learns the BK television from the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS). They did not find out which parties will attend the discussion. The Serbian Radical Party announced a while ago that it would not participate in the work of the panel until its mandates have been reinstated, whereas the Serbian Renewal Movement, the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party of Serbia refused to take part in the discussion until the results of the local elections have been recognized.

Slobodan Radulovic, deputy president of the Serbian Government, stated today for the BK television that it is not recommendable to ask the Government officials whether there would be any changes in its structure and that they did not discuss that issue. Mr. Radulovic said that the Serbian Government was elected by Parliament and that only this institution is authorized to make any changes in its structure. "We, the Government officials, have not discussed about this matter, at least I haven't".

Branislav Jovanovic, Vice-President of the Municipial Board of the SPO in Nis stated today that the citizens will confirm by acclamation the mandates of 41 council members of the "Zajedno" coalition whose election is based on original voting records that was held on 17. November last year.

The "Zajedno" coalition office in Sabac has recieved a verdict of the Supreme Court of Serbia concerning the appeal of the coalition against decisions made by the Municipial Court on local elections held on November 17. 1996. The "Zajedno" coalition demanded an extraordinary examination of the decisions made by the Municipial Court which were the basis for the overruling of their objections to the decisions made by the Municipial Electoral Committee.

The "Zajedno" coalition have brought criminal charges against Nenad Zivadinovic, chief of police in Zajecar, for banning the protest walks. The statement of the "Zajedno" coalition at today's press conference in Zajecar said that Mr. Zivadinovic had banned the protest walks through the streets of Zajecar without proper justification and had limited them to a space surrounding the town square for a duration of 30 minutes.

The underaged A.S. (17), student of the second grade of the Agricultural school in Sabac, who was beaten by the police yesterday, was transfered to the Medical Center in Sabac, because it is assumed that he had a brain concussion. The manager of the Medical Center schedulled a press conference for tomorrow, where he will make a report on the condition of A.S. The parents of the beaten boy announced that they will press charges against the Sabac police. Due to the press insisting for the deputy chief of the Sabac police, Momcilo Petrovic to make a statement regarding the beating of A.S., he said: "Don't be a nuisance and stop calling. We are not authorized to give any statements about that case."

The Minister of Internal Affairs of France, Herve de Charette received the President of the Civil Alliance of Serbia, Vesna Pesic for a meeting, and on this occasion reappealed to Belgrade to acknowledge the results of the local elections in Serbia. "I keep telling Belgrade that the times when the will of the people could be ignored, and elections be annuled, have passed in Europe", the Chief of French Diplomacy said after the meeting with Vesna Pesic, which lasted 40 minutes.

The Board for Political Issues of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council expressed its solidarity with the citizens of Belgrade "who are not cesing their peaceful and courageous manifestations" against the annulment of the results of the second rounds of the local elections.

The employees of the Radio and Television of Serbia (RTS) demanded from the General Manager to reexamine the decision that the dramatist Mladen Popovic be sent to leave because it further diminishes the already undermined reputation of the RTS. The open letter to the General Manager of the RTS was signed by 51 employees in this television - editors, associates, directors, producers, dramatists, cameramen and translators. Those signing the letter state that they are "addressing the General Manager in order for him to reexamine his decision and correct the mistake which diminishes the already dangerously undermined reputation of this institution."

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