News for February 23rd, 1997

At least 10,000 Belgrade students started tonight for a protest walk to Dedinje, but were stopped in Kneza Milosa street by a police cordon. The cordon of 100 police officers were on the corner of Kneza Milosa and Visegradska streets, and more were in the surrounding streets.

Dusan Vasiljevic, the spokesman of the Student Protest 96/97, stated today for FoNet news agency that the protest will continue until all its demands have been fulfilled. He pointed out that the students have already won and that there is no chance for the Chancellor not to resign. Vasiljevic expects that the whole situation could be resolved at the beginning of next week and explains that the Chancellor's stubborn refusal to resign proves the irresponsibility of the authorities, for it is clear that it is a matter of political command and not his personal will. He decisively denied certain speculations that various political organizations stand behind the Student Protest. "Tens of thousands of students stand behind the protest," he pointed out.

More than a half of Belgrade citizens who participated in the protests during the past two months expressed their readiness to protest again for "obtaining new aims", shows a poll conducted by the Argument agency among the participants of the celebration of the first opposition victory in Belgrade, on February 21.

According to the announcements of the representatives of the independent and stated syndicates of education workers in Vojvodina, the strike will continue in most of the 490 schools in the province. The provice board of the (independent) syndicates of education workers of Vojvodina sent an announcement to the public late last night in which it is stated that the members of this syndicate "are continuing the strike through the full cesation of class in elementary and high schools until the fulfillment of all all the strikers demands."

The strike of schools continues and all the education workers who have stopped working are called to continue it, it was concluded at today's meeting of the representative of the state and independent syndicates as well as the Initiative Boards of the schools in strike. It was also decided that a protest rally should be held at noon in front of the building of the Serbian government and thus support the negotiation team which will send a letter to the Serbian government and the president of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic, with the demand for the urgent continuation of the negotiations.

The United Branch Syndicates (UGS) "Nezavisnost" accused today the Serbian Government and the representatives of the Council of Serbian syndicates of disdaining the syndical demands of educators and of imposing certain repressive measures upon them, i.e. of dismissing teachers who participate in the strike. The UGS "Nezavisnost" also stated that the agreement signed by Tomislav Banovic, the president of the Council of Serbian independent syndicate, and Mirko Marjanovic, the president of the Serbian Government, on February 16 was a a counterfeit. The UGS "Nezavisnost" will call the signers of the February 16 agreement to account, should the Parliament and the syndical union fail to do that, and they will inform the International work organization about that action.

Klaus Kinkel, the head of German diplomacy, has congratulated Zoran Djindjic on having been elected the Mayor of Belgrade and wished him success in completing the difficult tasks which lie in front of him, pointing out that it will help Serbia and Montenegro in finding their place in Europe.

The president of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) Vojislav Kostunica stated today that there is no basis for the scheduling of an extraordinary session of the party assembly and estimated that most of the demands are based on "unbased" accusations that DSS selfwillingly seperated from the coalition Zajedno and left the people's protest, and that it is leading a "nationalistic and Greater-Serbia politics".

The Civic Alliance of Serbia (GSS) announces today that they have finished their share of work at determining the joint program of the coalition Zajedno. The GSS has worked at two issues contained in the program - the first concerns the international relations and the second the relations between different ethnical groups in the country. In accordance with the agreement signed by the parties joined in the coalition, the social and the economic programs, as well as the plans leading towards the full democratization of the society, are in the process of being defined. All points included in the program of the coalition Zajedno shall be analysed by the Presidential council of the coalition, reads the announcement.

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