News for February 24th, 1997

The students of Belgrade have organized the action "Return to Desks" which symbolically showed their readiness to return to classes right after the Chancellor and Student Vice-Chancellor hand in their resignations. On the 95th day of protest against the annulment of the electoral will of the citizens, the students have placed desks on Plato in front of the Chancellorship building windows and listened to two lectures on political manipulation and civil disorder held by Ljubisa Rajic, professor at the School of Philosophy, and Milan Podunavac, professor at the School of Political Sciences. The students started a protest walk through the city streets after hearing out the lectures.

The students of the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Architecture in Belgrade searched today for the Chancellor of Belgrade University, whose resignation they demand, "under the ground" - in Belgrade tube. Around 2,000 students "failed" today (the 95th day of the protest) to find Chancellor Velickovic, although they had thoroughly searched all terminals in Belgrade tube.

Cedomir Jovanovic, one of the Student Protest 96/97 leaders, stated for Radio B92 today there will be no returning to classes because the students' demands have not been met and that he does not expect anything sensational from the Belgrade University Dean Council conference today, that shall deal with the normalisation of the situation at the University.

Jovo Todorovic, the Minister of Education in the Serbian Government, stated today that the Government would, in accordance with the Constitution and law, use all available measures to normalize lectures in primary and secondary schools, should directors of the schools fail to provide necessary conditions for the continuation of lectures.

In their today's session, the Deans, managers of the institutes and members of the Council of Belgrade University (BU) suggested that the session of the Education Council of BU should be held on Wednesday. The session would be called by Vice-Chancellor Dragan Kuburovic, instead by the Chancellor. The today's session was called by the Council chairman, Fedor Zdanski, the Dean of the Technology and Metallurgy School. Only one issue was on the agenda - the normalization of the situation at the University, connected with the fulfillment of the remaining demands of the Student Protest 96/97. The representatives of the Initiative board of the Student Protest 96/97 attended this session.

The European Union (EU) is considering the possibility of sending a delegation to Belgrade, whose task would be to find out to what degree the Serbian Government fulfills its legal obligations of regulating the transition of authority in the municipalities in which the opposition won the elections, of liberating the access to the media and of introducing democratic reforms. This information was came from EU sources, who pointed out that this was the condition for any trade or financial cooperation.

Tomic, President of the Serbian Parliament scheduled constitutional conferences for the Municipality Assemblies of Smederevska Palanka, Vrsac, Soko Banja, Pancevo, Zrenjanin, Jagodina, Savski Venac, Rakovica and Cukarica.

Cedomir Cdrnja, President of the municipality of New Belgrade, supported the demands of educational workers where they were justified at today's conference of primary and secondary school activists. Cdrnja, who is a official of the Serbian Socialist Party, estimated that the demands are justified, especially the demand for regular payment of wages.

Nada Dotlic, Syndicate President in Branko Radicevic primary school refused to talk today to the teachers who do not wish to hold classes. Dotlic stated for the Beta agency that between 70 and 80 teachers of this school do not wish to resume holding classes, while around 20 of them started working this morning. The people on strike are in the school, where they arrived on foot after talking to Cedomir Cdrnja, President of the Municipality of New Belgrade, who had supported them. Two policemen are also in the school premises.

The educational workers of Serbia, who have been on strike for several weeks, continued their gatherings in front of the Serbian Government building demanding payment of outstanding debts and higher wages. Several thousand people blocked the traffic at one of the busiest intersections in Belgrade, at the corner of Kneza Milosa and Nemanjina street. They have set up a loudspeaker through which their representative team members, who are expecting further negotiations with Government officials, should address them.

Milos Gasic, Headmaster of the Mechanics Trade School in Nis, threatened to go on a hunger strike unless the teachers of this school, who have joined the general strike of educational workers, resume holding classes.

232 primary and secondary schools in Vojvodina, from a total number of 490, have started to hold classes regularly again, said Jovo Gavric, President of the Regional Board of the Independent Syndicate Unions involved in education.

The students of the Law School in Belgrade have expressed their lack of confidence in the current leadership of the Student Alliance at this school and elected a new, temporary leadership with a three - month mandate. The new leadership should organize the first closed elections for the Students Alliance leadership at this School.

Around two thousand educational workers protested today in front of the high school in Kragujevac demanding the payment of outstanding debts and higher wages. Nineteen primary and nine secondary schools are still on strike in Kragujevac.

In accordance with the decision of the Municipal Syndicate Board representing people working in educational, cultural and artistic professional fields, the holding of classes has been totally resumed in all secondary schools in Pirot on Friday, 21. February.

The Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) condemned today the conduct of the police and the bodyguard of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic towards the citizens who happened to be at Dedinje (the Belgrade district in which President Slobodan Milosevic resides) during the student walk yesterday. Radio Index announced last evening that during the yesterday's student walk at Dedinje, a verbal conflict broke out between the students and President's bodyguard Senta, who pulled out his gun and threatened the students.

Sreten Vujovic, a professor at the School of Philosophy in Belgrade, gave a lecture about the student and citizen protests in Belgrade to students of the School of Social Sciences in Ljubljana.

The municipal strike board of educators in Kikinda has decided to end the strike temporarily (till March 31), warning the authorities that the strike would be resumed should any penalties be imposed on the participants of the strike.

The Council for human rights of the Center for anti-war action warned today the Serbian Government that should the threats against educators continue, the Council might lodge a complaint at the Committee for the right to organize of the international work organization. They would also demand of that Committee to form an ad hoc commission and send it to Yugoslavia. All teachers who, because they participated in the syndical activities, have any problems with school managements, or are threatened with dismissal, were invited to call the SOS line for victims of discrimination, so that they could get free legal assistance.

Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic, the leaders of the coalition Zajedno, are travelling for Madrid tomorrow, at the invitation of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They will be received by Abel Matutes, the head of Spanish diplomacy, tomorrow - announces the Democratic Party. Tomorrow evening, the three leaders of the coalition are supposed to arrive to London. At the Foreign Office invitation, they will remain in Great Britain till February 28.

At the today's meeting of the Main Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) with the presidents of the municipal and county boards, it was estimated that the demands of the Independent Teachers' Syndicate are unrealistic and that the strikes, which are opposed to the legal regulations, only have the purpose of politicizing the situation in the fields of education and schooling, harming mostly children, the students.

According to the announcement of the information service of the Main Board of the SPS, transmitted by the Belgrade media, on the meeting, presided by Gorica Gajevic, General Secretary of the SPS, unreserved support was given to the Government of the Serbian Republic in its attempts to obey the law and enable the regular functioning of the schools.

Radmila Milentijevic, Minister of Information in the Serbian Government, announced today at a press conference in Washington, that a new Law on Informing will soon be adopted and will, as she indicated, make ground for the complete opening of the Serbian media, Slobodan Pavlovic, the correspondent of "Nasa Borba" reports for FoNet.

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