News for January 20th, 1997

After a night standing toe to toe with a cordon of riot squad police, several hundred Belgrade students were still in Kolarceva street on Monday morning. The student numbers were swelled by Belgrade residents who joined the protest throughout the morning. This is the first occasion on which the riot squad has appeared determined not to give in to the students' tactic of standing their ground until police commanders withdraw their troops. So far no incidents have been reported.
Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, addressed students who had stood facing a riot squad cordon for more than twenty hours. "We pray to God to give us peace, to free us from the misery of civil war, international sanctions and their side-effects and to allow you, our youth and our future, to see better and happier times than ours," he told the students, adding "I am not here to support this side or that, but to support those things which have always been sacred, both to our people and to the church."
A spokesman for the protesting students told journalists that the student action of 'blocking the blockade' would continue until riot squad police withdraw from the street. He added that members of the Steering Committee for Student Protest 96/97 were ready to begin a hunger strike if police continue blocking student marches.

Zajedno leader Zoran Djindjic, addressing tens of thousands of Belgraders gathered in Republic Square, claimed that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic had forged an alliance with Serbian Radical Party leader Vojislav Seselj. He described the alliance as the opponents of democracy closing ranks. Mr Djindjic pointed out that the Radicals had appealed the electoral committee's decision, despite the fact that this had given them twice the number of seats in local government. Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition, expressed today his admiration for the students of Belgrade University, who have been standing in front of the police cordon since 18:00 yesterday. During the 62nd protest rally of the citizens of Belgrade, Draskovic also condemned those who had ordered the police to stand in front of the students for hours.

Several thousands of Belgrade citizens went along Srpskih vladara street around 20:00 today, bypassing the cordon of the police, who tried to prevent their walk. The demonstrators, who were heading for Terazije and Republic Square in several groups, made a lot of noise, using pans, whistles, etc. The policemen in the cordon helplessly watched the citizens who stepped onto the sidewalk to bypass them and then continued their walk along the street.

The EU issued a statement demanding that the Serbian government urgently, fully and unconditionally implement all recommendations of the OSCE's Gonzalez report. The statement specified that this included recognition of the November electoral results as well as the opening of a dialogue with the opposition on democratisation, media freedom, a non-political judiciary and electoral reform. EU Ministerial Council Chair Hans van Mirlo announced that the EU will continue to pressure the Serbian Government until it meets these demands.

Lamberto Dini, Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated in Brussels today that the European Union was concerned about the situation in Belgrade and about the danger of further straining of that situation, as well as about the possibility of its moving to Kosovo, and even Bosnia. The present situation at Kosovo should be calmed, said Dini, and added that the ministers of the European Union were also concerned about the hesitating on the part of the authorities in Belgrade to accept the conclusions of the OSCE and put them to practice.

French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jacques Rimmelard claimed that the situation in Belgrade could turn violent. He said that this would be the result of continued paralysis of the political system as the government refuses to recognise the opposition victory in November's local elections. Mr Rimmelard said that this risk would exist as long as Belgrade refused to implement the recommendations of the OSCE.

Abel Matutes, Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, stated in Brussels today that a concern about possible clashes in Serbia exists among the governments of the European Union. According to his statement, the clashes and disintegration threaten Serbia unless the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic accepts and put to practice the conclusions of the OSCE delegation, which had been headed by Felipe Gonzales, former Spanish Prime Minister. The Head of Spanish diplomacy made this statement after the discussion about the difficult situation in Serbia, during the ministerial session of the European Union. He informed his colleagues about Gonzales' and his recent meeting with Milan Milutinovic, Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs. According to his words, Milan Milutinovic insisted on "legal difficulties which hinder the carrying out of Gonzales' suggestions".

Igor Zezelj, a member of the Main Committee of the Student Protest, announced today that a group of students of the School of Mathematics and Natural Sciences would enter a hunger strike, the course of which would depend on the future actions of the authorities.

Twenty deans of faculties within Belgrade University have petitioned the University Chancellor, Dragutin Velickovic, demanding he resign his position.

Slobodan Jovanovic, a doctor of the "Anlave" clinic, stated for the Beta agency that during the evening the teams of that clinic had helped five citizens who had been beaten by the police. He said that the doctors offered medical help to both the students and the policemen. The policemen complained mainly of headaches and fever caused by the cold and rain. TV Reuters recorded the moment when the police in Belgrade bashed a woman.

Zoran Trifkovic, a student of the School of Electrical Engineering, was beaten up by the police today and taken away in a police car, reported his colleagues, who were going to the student rally with him, to the Beta news agency. In the underground passage near Zeleni venac, two policemen separated Trifkovic from the group which was going to the rally, beat him up with police clubs and dragged him into a police car with two other policemen inside. Trifkovic's photograph, in which he is shown in his underwear, appeared today in the "Dnevni Telegraf" newspaper, since two days ago, in front of the "Albanija" building, he had protested by taking his clothes off.

The students of Nis University continued the protest against the annulment of the results of the local elections today. Around 2,000 students gathered in front of the Chancellor's office at 14:00. The contest for the best banner of the month was organized there. After that, the students went for the protest walk along the streets of Nis, reports the Press center of the Student Protest in Nis.

Dragoljub Jankovic, the Chairman of the First Municipal Court in Belgrade, said today in a press conference that this court had received the complaints of the Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) and the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) against the decision of the City Electoral Committee in Belgrade, by which the victory of the opposition in the elections for the City Assembly had been confirmed. Jankovic said that the complaints of the City Boards of the SPS and SRS are based on the fact that the City Electoral Committee, as a subordinate organ, could not annul the decisions made by the First Municipal Court. He added that the First District Court had demanded that the Supreme Court of Serbia should appoint some other municipal or district court in Belgrade to make the decisions concerning those complaints.

Zoran Djindjic, the leader of the Democratic Party (DS), said today that the authorities in Serbia "do not realize that within a few days they will have to accept Gonzales' report fully". Regarding the complaint of the Serbian Socialist Party against the decision of the City Electoral Committee, by which the victory of the opposition in Belgrade had been recognized, Djindjic said that the authorities "are trying to solve the crisis without making any concessions".

Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Milan Milutinovic, stated that Yugoslavia's foreign policy priorities were the establishment of peace and stability throughout the region, normalisation of the country's status in the international community and an acceleration of economic and democratic development.

Serbian Renewal Movement President Vuk Draskovic has given Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic ten more days to recognize the results of the November local elections, reports AFP. According to the agency, Draskovic said that Milosevic's persistent refusal to yield to pressure from those who have recognised the results would most probably result in a "social explosion." Mr Draskovic also warned of the danger of bloodshed if tension continues.

The Chancellor of the University of Pristina, Radivoje Papovic, is recovering from injuries received when a car bomb exploded.

An illegal Albanian organisation know as the Kosovo Liberation Army (OAK) claimed responsibility for Thursday's attempted assassination of Pristina University Chancellor Radivoje Papovic. OAK described Mr Papovic as "an enemy of the Albanian people" and demanded that Serbian authorities withdraw from Kosovo, reported AFP. Mr Papovic is notorious for his staunch resistance to the reintegration of Albanian students into the University of Pristina as agreed between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova in September 1996.

Opposition supporter, Ivica Lazovic, who was attacked by a pro- Milosevic demonstrator in a Belgrade street is still in intensive care at the Belgrade Emergency Centre.

Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) spokesman Ivica Dacic made a guest appearance on Belgrade's BK Television on Sunday evening. Speaking about the decision of the Belgrade Electoral Commission, he said "That decision was, is and will be a matter for the consideration of legal experts within SPS and other political parties." Asked about last weeks reshuffle of SPS officials, Mr Dacic replied "This was done in order to deal with certain weaknesses in the Party's operations in Nis and Belgrade."

The Faculty of Economy at Pristina University received two anonymous warnings that a bomb had been planted in the faculty building. Radio B92's Pristina correspondent reported that the anonymous caller, speaking in bad Serbian, had claimed that the bomb would be detonated between noon and 1.00 pm. Police are still searching the building. News of the bomb threat has not yet been made public in Kosovo. Police believe that the calls are a hoax.

The German daily Zuiddeutsche Ceitung warned that implementation of the Dayton accords and stabilisation of the Balkans was no longer possible with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic as its sponsor. The newspaper was commenting on warnings by Serbian opposition coalition Zajedno, that Milosevic may resort to mass violence. The German press is generally predicting a shift in German relations with Serbia following the recent meeting between Zajedno leader Zoran Djindjic and German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel.

We shall end our demonstrations only when all our electoral victories have been recognized, and if that does not happen, we shall remain in the streets until Milosevic submits his resignation, stated Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), in his interview for the Spiegel. According to Draskovic's words, Milosevic could only rely on the television and other state media, and on what Draskovic called "the left terrorist organization JUL". Draskovic pointed out that both the Church and the Army dissociated themselves from Serbian President.

Belgrade media reported that the Supreme Court of Serbia has awarded victory to the Socialist Party in local elections in the city of Sabac. The Court disallowed 14 out of 15 Zajedno appeals against the results of the second and third round of local elections in the city. The decision has confirmed the Socialist majority in the already constituted Sabac City Assembly.

Belgrade's German Ambassador, Wilfred Gruber, presented the Radio B92 Editor-In-Chief Veran Matic with the Medienhilfe award for "World's best Radio Station of the Year." Thanking the Ambassador, Mr Matic said: "We receive it as an award to all media who oppose war and struggle for democracy on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. This applies especially to those media in Serbia and Montenegro who are engaged in the struggle for democracy in the present Yugoslavia."

Miodrag Vukovic, the Vice-president of of the Montenegrin Government, has denied all surmises concerning the alleged preparations for the change of the Federal Constitution, pointing out that "the Constitution cannot be changed without the agreement of a constituent state", reports the Montena fax.

Ljubomir Tadic, a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SANU), stated that he wholeheartedly supported the Student Protest, "which is the most charming part of a broader people's movement". He said that his prognosis was that Slobodan Milosevic "has no chance of winning the republic elections", and added that only people like Dragan Tomic and Nikola Sainovic would remain faithful to Milosevic, which would be a kind of a comedy, since the regime was already laughed at.

Daliborka Uljarevic, Aleksa Grgurevic and Dragan Pecinar, members of the Main Committee of the Student Protest 96/97, left for the USA this morning, on the invitation of American universities, announced the Information service of the Student Protest. During their seven days' stay in the USA, the three students of Belgrade University will be the guests of several universities, and they will also meet the officials of the State Department. Dusan Vasiljevic, the spokesman of the Student Protest, left for the USA yesterday. He will attend the inauguration of American President Bill Clinton today.

The recent event at Kosovo, the explosion of the car bomb in the center of Pristina, which could be a provocation against the Albanian minority in Serbia, has cast a shade over the witty, noisy and inventive protests in Belgrade, reports the Times today. The Times cites the warning Vuk Draskovic, one of the leaders of the oppositional "Zajedno" coalition, that Serbian President Slobodan MIlosevic is preparing the war at Kosovo, reports the BBC in its news program in the Serbian Language.

The "Media Center" from Belgrade has published a book about the citizen and Student Protest 96/97, the title of which is "Come on, all out - let's walk". Another book was published by the same firm under the title "Whistles and Eggs". These books will soon be promoted in the Center for Cultural Decontamination. The Foundation for Open Society has helped the publishing of these books.

Djordje Balasevic, the famous song-writer from Novi Sad, has stated for the "Daily Telegraph" that "a big lie is hard to conceal", and that the authorities "have been caught", which has been proven by thousands of people in the streets. "I am very happy that my predictions have come true," said Balasevic, who is described by the daily Telegraph as "a kind of Serbian prophet of peace".

The Board of the Serbian Civil Alliance (GSS) in Zemun appealed to the municipal authorities to cancel the invitation to Jean Marie Le Pen, the president of the National Front of France, to visit Zemun. The visit of the president of a party which stands for the discrimination against the foreign workers in France and "inflames racial, ethnical and religious intolerance" would be a disgrace for our multiethnic and multiconfessional municipality and an insult to numerous people from Zemun who live and work in France, reads the announcement of the GSS in Zemun.

The citizens of Belgrade are the winners of the award "A piece of the Berlin Wall", which is given yearly to individuals and organizations struggling for peace, announced today Rade Radovanovic, one of the head officials of the United Branch Syndicate (UGS) "Nezavisnost".

The Managing Board of the Public firm Radio-television Kragujevac made the work schedule for the following month, and elected the acting deputy manager of the firm. A completely new work conception was adopted in the schedule. Beside the existing cooperation with the Tanjug agency, the firm will cooperate with other agencies in the country and from abroad in future. The news of "Free Europe", "World Service" and Beta agency will be broadcast.

Zoran Zivkovic, the vice-president of the Democratic Party, stated today that the new city authorities in Nis would be "more rational and will act more effectively than the previous one" and that it would "try to make as high income as possible without the taxes imposed on the citizens". He said that the representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition in Nis had talked with the current representatives of the City Assembly and found that there is no reason for altering the previously set date of the constitutive session of the City Assembly (January 27).

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is playing the card of nationalism against the opposition, reports the Roman "Republic" today. Under the title "Kosovo is catching fire too", this Roman daily reports the statements of Dusan Simic, Mayor of Pristina, and some other officials, who have described the students in Belgrade as equal with Albanian separatists, regarding the Student Protest and "the aggression against Serbia" as two equivalent matters.

Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic uses Kosovo for diverting the attention of the public from the demonstrations in Serbia, writes the prestigious Greek "Mega" television station. That tactics "is becoming dangerous, since certain high officials, including Milosevic's wife, have accused the opposition of encouraging Albanian secessionists and terrorists by its activities", reports the same source.

The citizens of Svilajnac have been protesting for nine days now against the annulment of the election results and the media blockade, announced the Information service of the "Zajedno" coalition in that town today.

Miodrag Petrovic-Ckalja, a famous Belgrade actor, sent a letter of support to the students of Belgrade University, who have been protesting against the violation of the electoral will of the citizens for 60 days now.

The citizens of Kragujevac gathered today for the 51st time in the center of the city, in order to express their disapproval of the annulment of the election results in Serbia.

Around 1,000 citizens of Leskovac gathered in the center of the town today for the 48th time and protested against the annulment of the second round of the local elections. The police forces posted in the streets today were less numerous and wore less equipment than usual.

The opposition followers in Jagodina continued their protest in the center of town tonight against annulment of electoral results, but the police prevented them from starting a protest march. The police attempted to stop the citizens from marching within the town center, but the citizens bypassed the cordons and continued their protest march.

Zivko Topalovic, one of the head officials of the "Zajedno" coalition in Sabac, stated today that the coalition had not received the decision of the Supreme Court of Serbia, by which the victory of the Serbian Socialist Party in Sabac was recognized. Topalovic said that they got this information from the Tanjug agency. Sabac is one of the cities in which the OSCE delegation, headed by Felipe Gonzales, established the victory of the opposition.

The RTS (Serbian National Radio-television Network) accused today Zoran Djindjic, president of the Democratic Party, of arranging the yesterday's strike of Belgrade taxi-drivers together with Claus Kinkel, German Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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