News for March 20th, 1997

At the session of the Belgrade University Council, held yesterday evening, Dragan Kuburovic, the eldest Vice-Chancellor, was elected the acting Chancellor by a public vote. Prof. Tomislav Dragovic, PhD, presided at the meeting, although he explained that it was against regulations. Namely, the president of the former line-up of the Council was supposed to preside at the constitutive session, but he had refused to do so. Dragovic named the commission which verified the mandates of the University Council members, suggested by the Serbian Government, 30 schools and eight institutes of Belgrade University. The School of Forestry and the School of Civil Engineering had not submitted the necessary documents for their candidates, so only 74 mandates were verified. After this was completed, Dragovic invited Budislav Tatic, the eldest member of the Council, to preside at the session. Momcilo Babic, general manager of the "Bezanijska kosa" clinic was appointed the president of the Council, by a vote of 38. Bosko Vlahovic was appointed the deputy president by a vote of 38.

The U.S. Government has officially supported the demand of the democratic coalition Zajedno that a dialogue with the authorities in Serbia, about all questions concerning the process of democratization, be entered upon, reports Slobodan Pavlovic, correspondent of "Nasa Borba", for FoNet news agency. These questions were mentioned in the report of the OSCE commission, led by Felipe Gonzales.

Radmila Melentijevic, Serbian Minister of Information, has announced that a public discussion about the second version of the information law will be held on television in two or three weeks. She has mentioned one innovation introduced into the first version of the law - establishing of an advisory council, modelled on similar organs in other European countries, whose duty it would be to supervise the observance of the law.

The chairman of the Main Board of the Student Protest 96/97, Slobodan Homen, stated last evening, after the University Council had accepted the resignations of Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic and Student Vice-Chancellor Vojin Djurdjevic, that "it is a disgrace that after 120 days of the Protest they only stated that he was not Chancellor any longer". When asked to comment on the appointment of Momcilo Babic, general manager of the "Bezanijska kosa" clinic, as president of the University Council, Homen said that Babic was a regime's man, who did not come from the University.

Dragan Kuburovic, newly appointed acting Chancellor of Belgrade University, has stated that he is surprised with his election to this function, but has expressed doubt that he will hold it for a longer period of time. "At times like these one needs to be strong enough to perform his duties the way he is expected to. I am a man of the University and have excellent cooperation with the other colleagues Vice-chancellors, above all with Tomislav Dragovic (the previous acting Chancellor)", Kuburovic told the press and expressed conviction that he will create "a somewhat better atmosphere from the one seen at the University Council". Speaking of the election of Momcilo Babic, Manager of the Clinical-medical Center "Bezanijska Kosa", to the position of the President of the University Council, Kuburovic stated that he expected the academician and professor of the School of Physics, Milan Kurepa, who was Mr. Babic's opponent, to be elected. Babic was nominated for the function of the University Council President by the members of the Council appointed by the Serbian Government.

Today the Belgrade students have celebrated the adoption of the irrevocable resignations of the Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic and student vice-chancellor Vojin Djurdjevic and victoriously walked through the broader center of Belgrade, thus marking the end of the protest. At the beginning of today's 119th protest gathering the student wrapped the building of the Chancellorship with enormous white bands of cloth, as construction workers go while renovating the facade, and four bands read "Student Protest 96/97", "To be continued..." (English and Serbian) and the band on the front of the building read "Renovation". The students were accompanied by a big rig carrying a 12,000 Watt loud speaker in stead of the the usual jeep, which played music the whole way, which lifted the spirits of the students in the extremely cold weather. The protest walks are stopping, as we are informed by representatives of the Main Board, but there is an idea for there to be a protest walk every month. The Main Board has already adopted the decision for the founding of the Student Parliament which will be involved in student questions, but will also follow other social happenings. The Belgrade Students have beaten all world records in the length of protest.

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