News for January 16th, 1997

Today's 56th day of student protest was dedicated to the action of scrubbing the wall of Belgrade Chancellor's building because, in the words of students, the Chancellor himself cannot be cleaned of his guilt. The Steering Board of the Student Protest 96/97 announced 2 actions for Friday: at noon, the students of the School of Veterinary will bring domestic pets in front of their school and take them for a walk; at 18:00 hours all students are expected to gather in front of the Faculty of Philosophy and march with a number of judges who have recently joined them.

The 58th protest meeting in the streets of Belgrade started on Thursday surrounded by 3-deep riot police cordons in Kolarceva Street. To avoid confrontation, and at the invitation of the Zajedno leaders, the demonstrators withdrew from that street to the adjacent Republic Square. After the meeting, the demonstrators marched through Belgrade pedestrian Knez Mihajlova Street.

In almost all parts of Belgrade, the citizens continued their action of making noise during the prime time news program of the RTS (Serbian National Radio-Television Network). More and more suburban areas join in the action of making noise between 19:30 and 20:00 every day.

The "Zajedno" coalition announced today that protest walks are carried out in various parts of Belgrade and a number of suburban municipalities between 19:30 and 20:00 every evening. The coalition also announced that evening walks would be organized in other parts of Belgrade as well within the next few days.

Pristina University Chancellor, Radivoje Popovic, survived an assassination attempt this morning, news agency SRNA reported. Hospital spokesman however said that the Chancellors life was not in danger, in spite of serious injuries and burns. The car-bomb was activated in another car when the Chancellor's car was driving by at 7:45 AM. Both cars were completely destroyed, and windows in surrounding buildings were shattered in the blast. A police investigation into explosion is underway.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) stated on Thursday that the solution to the political crisis in Serbia was simple -- Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's authorities should fully recognize the opposition victory in the local elections and hand seats in the municipality and city assemblies over to them. Danish Foreign Secretary and chair of the OSCE, Nils Helveg Petersen has said that he has made this clear in his letter to Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, reports Reuters.

The European Parliament issued a resolution on Thursday urging the EU member states to freeze economic and other relations with Belgrade until the November 17 opposition victory in the local electons have been recognized, reports AFP. This decision should be effective until the recommendations of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe have been fully implemented and further democratization started. The European Parliament will also demand that a mission comprising of the former, present and the next chair of the European Union be sent to Belgrade to warn the Serbian authorities of the importance of an urgent and complete implementation of the OSCE recommendations, as well as to establish contacts with opposition groups.

Head of the Civic Alliance of Serbia, Vesna Pesic, yesterday visited France and met with French Foreign Minister De Charet. In a statement to Radio B92 about that visit, Mrs. Pesic said "Mister De Charet has convinced me of the French Government's support for the recognition of the November 17th election results. Mr. De Charet confrimed that, on the following sessions of the OSCE, he would stand for the acceptance of the Gonzalez's report in full."

Piero Fassino, undersecretary in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated after his talks with the representatives of the Serbian authorities and opposition that everybody was aware that time for solving the crisis in Serbia was running short, report Italian media today. In his statement for the Italian reporters in Belgrade, Fassino confirmed that the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition would visit Rome on Friday, when they would talk to Lamberto Dini, Italian Foreign Minister.

Today's issue of the Montenegrin daily Pobjeda published a statment from the German ambassador to Yugoslavia, Wilfried Gruber, where he stated that "results of the local elections from November 17 must be accepted in full, and in the manner recommended by the OSCE. After that, the authorities need to open a serious dialogue with the opposition on the true freedom of the press and objective information given by the electronic media. Only after that, conditions for the preparation of the Republican elections can be created."

The German Government and parliamentary parties called on Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to acknowledge the oppositon victories of November 17, Reuters reported on Thursday. During a recent German parliamentary debate, all parliamentary parties expressed their support for the coalition Zajedno. German Foreign Minister Claus Kinkel said that the recognition of the Zajedno victories in Belgrade and Nis City Assemblies must be implemented along with their victories in other Serbian cities.

The Association of the Independent Electronic Media of Yugoslavia sent a letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, in which they called on the OSCE to make a stand for the reinstatement of the broadcast of the Radio Boom 93 from the city of Pozarevac. The letter stressed that the broadcast of Radio Boom93 had been interrupted on December 3 last year, on the same day when the transmitter of Radio B92 was switched off.

President of Montenegro, Momir Bulatovic, stated for British TV Channel 4 that "Milosevic was not guilty for the current crisis in Serbia because he is too good a politician to run a risk on such an insignificant topic," Montena-fax reported. "It is no secret that I too am connected to Slobodan Milosevic. I am his accessory as a result in of our mutual relations. I am, above all, responsible for Montenegro and its citizens."

Chief Prosecutor from the Hague Tribunal, Louise Arbour, is planning her first visit to Croatia, Bosnia and Yugoslavia, AFP reported. Arbour is expected to arrive in Yugoslavia on January 23, for a two day visit, when she will talk to the Federal Ministers of Internal Affairs and Justice.

The students of Nis University protested today for the 57th time against the violation of the electoral will of the citizens. The students in Nis thanked Serbian Orthodox Church for its support for the Student Protest and for the gifts of the Hilandar Monastery, among which was a holy icon representing the protector of that monastery.

The Council of Novi Sad University refused today to make a statement about the announcement of the students of that University, in which they expressed their support for the students in Belgrade and Nis and about the demand that the results of the elections held on November 17 should be recognized. The Council decided to meet the demands of the students concerning the notarization of the first semester and organizing a special examination term for those who have participated in the Student Protest.

Belgrade media reported on Thursday that Serbian President Milosevic and Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic met today to discuss the current situation in Serbia and privatisation of the Serbian economy. President Milosevic stressed that the success of the economic policy hinged on the ability of top cadres to implement it, and announced a reshuffle in the government.

The Belgrade Electoral Commission's decision acknowledgning Zajedno's majority in the Belgrade City Assembly, was sent today to the coalition Zajedno. That decision annuled 45 rulings by the Belgrade Municipal Court on November 23, which cancelled 33 Zajedno seats in the Belgrade City Assembly. The legal term for the appeal against this decision is 48 hours from the time of notification. Zajedno has no intention of submitting any appeal, but sources have indicated that the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and the Yugoslav United Left (JUL) may to do otherwise.

In a statement for German Television, opposition leader Zoran Djindjic, said that he expected that the electoral commission's decision to restore the Zajedno victory in Belgrade would be revoked as the government has a right of appeal. He assessed that, after that, the crisis in Belgrade might deteriorate and that Milosevic could even go so far as to announce a state of emorgency.

Representatives of the opposition coalition Zajedno -- Vesna Pesic, Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic -- will fly to Rome tonight at the invitation of the Italian government. The leaders of the opposition are to have talks with Foreign Minsiter Lamberto Dini and other senior representatives of the Italian government. The Zajedno leaders are expected to return to Belgrade on Friday at 14:00 hours, to attend the day's protest in the Serbian capital.

Vesna Pesic, one of the Zajedno leaders and head of the Civil Alliance of Serbia, told a press conference on Thursday that circumstances surrounding recognition of the local electoral victory of Zajedno in Belgrade were "completely uncertain." She explained that it was still unclear whether or not the Belgrade Electoral Commission had made the decision on its own or on instructions from the Socialist Party of Serbia, who wants to pacify the demonstrators and confuse the international community.

Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) announced on Thursday that a delegation of the French 'Front National', lead by the party's president Jean Marrie Le Penn, is to pay an official visit to the SRS. Seselj stated that the reason for this visit was the similarity between the ideologies and interests of the two parties. Referring to the decision of the Belgrade Electoral Commission to recognize the initial electoral results of the second round, Seselj said his party would be glad to get its seats back but that this decision showed that "no rule of law existed in this state."

Protocole of the Nis City Assembly announced today that the session to constitute a new Nis City Assembly will be held on January 27. This date was agreed on at a meeting with outgoing Nis mayor, Stojan Randjelovic and the Zajedno leadership of Nis. A new mayor and president of the city government will be elected at this session. The Zajedno Nis branch announced that the protests in this city would continue until the local election results of November 17 were recognized in all the cities in Serbia where that coalition had won.

In an interview with Reuters new agency, Dusan Mihajlovic, leader of New Democracy (ND) urged for the immediate recognition of opposition victories in the local elections in Serbia, FoNet reported on Thursday. "The massive damage the current crisis has done to Serbia is proof of a stupid and irresponsible policy," he said and added that his party's position was that the best way out of the crisis was that both the authorities and the oppostion respect the OSCE recommendations.

Although Sergey Beljajev, the leader of the parliamentary faction of the pro-Serbian government movement of "Our Home is Russia," went to Belgrade on a private visit, his talks with the representatives of the opposition in Serbia may effect a change in the Russian position towards the current situation in Serbia, assessed Russia's national radio station "Voice of Russia" . The Radio stated that Beljajev's visit to Belgrade had filled a gap in the contacts between Russian authorities and opposition politicians in Serbia, all the more for his statement that the democratic forces of Russia supported the demands for democratic change in Serbia and Yugoslavia, reports for FoNet Branko Stosic.

Nebojsa Covic, Mayor of Belgrade and former member of the Head Committee of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS), stated today that his exclusion from the SPS was "unreasonable and undemocratic". In a short interview for today's "Nasa Borba", Covic said that his exclusion was a proof that the majority in the SPS, i.e. in certain organs of that party, consisted of those for whom the differences of opinion, tolerance and democracy inside a party were "still unacceptable rules".

Declaration of the principles of internal and external politics, which was adopted by the Main Board of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), has caused "surprise" in the municipal board of this party in Kragujevac", announced a member of the municipal board of the DSS. According to this source, who wished to remain anonymous, the declaration was not officially discussed by the municipal board, and its content caused surprise among all the members of the board, although their determination was to "support the people's revolution and the policy of the 'Zajedno' coalition".

Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs, left Madrid today, after he had talked to his Spanish counterpart Abel Matutes and former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzzales about the attempts of solving the Yugoslav crisis, announce Spanish diplomatic circles. Milutinovic did not give any statement for Spanish reporters.

The information service of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) announced today the information (communicated by the Beta news agency) that Vuk Draskovic, president of the SPO, had met President Slobodan Milosevic was false. In the announcement of the SPO, this information was called a "fraud".

Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party (DS), stated today for the Beta news agency that he had not met with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Concerning the information that Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Draskovic, leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, had made separate visits to Milosevic, Djindjic said that he was surprised by "that construction". Since the Beta news agency had received this information from its diplomatic sources, Djindjic said that he did not know what these diplomatic sources were.

Zoran Djindjic, one of the leaders of the "Zajedno" coalition, stated for the French daily "Le Mond" that the situation in Serbia had changed and that "the people now demand general democratization". "In the course of next few days, we shall form a democratic forum consisting of the Church, students, professors and journalists, the aim of which will be to institutionalize these protest demonstrations and realize the results of this movement for democratization in Serbia," Djindjic said.

Rebeka Srbinovic, the spokeswoman of the New Democracy (ND), stated today that the decision of the City Electoral Committee in Belgrade and the recognition of the victory of the "Zajedno" coalition in Nis were "great encouragement" for those who believe that Serbia would take the path of democracy and the recognition of the electoral will of the voters. Srbinovic pointed out that ND insisted from the beginning of the elections that the regulations should be obeyed, the media free and the advice given by the OSCE accepted.

The "Zajedno" coalition announced today that the police in Vranje took five citizens into custody after yesterday's rally of the opposition, in which they participated. They were released after the intervention of the delegates of the Serbian Renewal Movement and the Democratic Party. Dragan Stojanovic, one of the persons who had been taken into custody, got a document in which it was stated that "two metal whistles tied with a black shoelace are the incriminating objects", so they were temporarily kept by the police.

The Supreme Court of Serbia had accepted three complaints lodged by the "Zajedno" coalition in Jagodina, announced the leaders of that coalition in the 59th protest rally against the annulment of the results of the local elections. They also informed the citizens gathered in the center of the city that the decisions about the other complaints lodged by the "Zajedno" coalition in Jagodina were expected. After the decision of the Supreme Court of Serbia, the "Zajedno" coalition has 31, whereas the Serbian Socialist Party has 20 mandates in the Town Assembly of Jagodina.

Several thousand citizens of Kragujevac protested today for the 48th time against the annulment of the second round of the local elections. The protest rally ended with the walk in the center of the city.

The protest rally of the supporters of the "Zajedno" coalition and the citizens of Sabac was held today in Liberty Square. This was the 47th protest rally against the annulment of the second round of the local elections. The protest will be continued at 15:00 tomorrow.

Several thousands of demonstrators protested in Pirot this evening against the obstruction of the establishing of the Town Assembly, an act of which the "Zajedno" coalition in Pirot accuses the delegate team of the Serbian Socialist Party and the delegates of the Serbian Radical Party. The 54th rally of the citizens of Pirot against the annulment of the results of the local elections in Serbia is scheduled for tomorrow.

Elizabeth Rehn, Special Envoy of the UN for human rights in former Yugoslavia, arrived today in Belgrade from Pristina. Rehn will meet Patriarch of Serbian Orthodox Church this evening. During her stay in Belgrade, which will end on Sunday, Rehn will meet Government officials and representatives of the organizations for protection of human rights.

The Yugoslav Government decided today to continue intensive political and diplomatic activities with the aim of regulating the status of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in international financial institutions, report Belgrade media. A team of experts will attend the meeting of the Work group for succession of the Council for peace application in Brussels on January 22 and 23. The head of the team will be academician Kosta Mihailovic.

The policemen guarding the City Hall in Pirot prevented today Danilo Vukadinovic, a newly elected delegate of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS), to enter the building. Vukadinovic had intended not to leave the City Hall today, in order to express his disagreement with the behaviour of the local officials of the SPS. Vukadinovic announced that he would attempt to enter the City Hall tomorrow.

The second panel discussion about the results of the local elections in Serbia ended today eight minutes after it had begun, since all the participants agreed that the discussion was pointless until the representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition and the Serbian Radical Party decide to participate in it. The session was broadcast by the Second channel of the RTS (Serbian National Radio-Television Network). Sandor Pal, the presiding officer, announced that the New Democracy (ND) had informed him that its representatives would not take part in the work of the panel unless the representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition participate.

The first comment made by Chinese press about the events in Serbia did not come from Beijing, but from Hong Kong, reports Aleksandar Novacic, the correspondent of FoNet. The influential "South China Morning Post" commented in its editorial that a new era might be opening in Serbia, after nine years of Milosevic's rule.

Vojislav Kostunica, president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), met today Slavomir Dabrov, the Ambassador of Poland in Belgrade. According to the announcement made by the DSS, Kostunica and Dabrov discussed the situation in Serbia, the post-election crisis and the possible solutions.

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