News for February 25th, 1997

Students of the Schools of Architecture, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering searched Belgrade marketplaces for Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic today, for they "supposed he had his own stall, since his salary could not suffice for the holiday on Kopaonik mountain". Being unable to find the Chancellor of Belgrade University, whose resignation they demand, on their own, the students decided to visit Belgrade prophetess Branka tomorrow and ask for her help.

Around 40 professors of Belgrade University (BU) read "1,800" reasons for the dismissal of Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic at Plato square today. The action "Return to classrooms", the purpose of which is to show that students are prepared to start attending lectures after the Chancellor has resigned, was continued at Plato today. Several thousand teachers, who have been on strike for more than a month now, joined the students at Plato and then the protest walk along the central Belgrade streets started.

A delegation representing the Student protest 96/97 had a meeting with the representatives of the Council of Belgrade University Deans, who informed the students that at the next session the Scientific-educational Council could make the decision to dismiss the Chancellor, after which, as they suggested, students should return to classrooms. According to FoNet's sources among students, the Deans' suggestion is yet to be discussed by the Main Board of the Student Protest.

Around 1,000 teachers of primary and secondary schools, students and their parents gathered today in front of the Serbian Government building, demanding that the negotiations between the Government and the educators, who are demanding higher rates of pay and the payment of their salaries, should be resumed. After the rally, some of the members of the negotiating team went to Belgrade Assembly, whereas the rest of the team went to the session of the Independent education syndicate of Serbia. After the talks had been completed, it was announced that the representatives of Belgrade Assembly supported the teachers' demands, that they requested the continuation of the negotiations and that they had announced that a rally of support for the teachers would be held in Republic Square on Thursday, at 16:00. The rally would be organized by the syndicates and the Forum of parents.

The "Zajedno" coalition is preparing a platform for the reformation of the society and the democratization of Serbia, thus making way for a higher form of cooperation of the parties in this coalition, so its disintegration is completely out of the question, Vesna Pesic, President of the Civil Alliance of Serbia announced today.

Serbia is swinging above an abyss, and could easily go bankrupt and face an economic breakdown maybe even as soon as in three months, six at the most, if it doesn't begin the process of democratization and opening up towards the world, which is a prerequisite of attracting foreign capital, the Belgrade newspaper "Nasa Borba" estimates in its today's commentary.

Gorica Gajevic, General Secretary of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) declared today that the SPS completely supports the concept of the new Federal Government made by Radoje Kontic. "Kontic presented us with the program of the Government, which he will introduce to the Federal Parliament representatives, and with his vision of the way this government should be composed. The SPS supports all the elements of his proposal, because it coincides with the program of the SPS", Gajevic said. She also explained that they are "completely turning to the development, strengthening of the federal state and its integration into all international organizations".

Nenad Sadzakovic, President of the Municipal Board of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) in Jagodina irrevocably resigned from his function. At the last night's session of this board, Sadzakovic explained that his resignation is a moral act after the defeat of the SPS at the local elections in Jagodina. The Municipal Board of the SPS decided that one third of the board members be replaced with new ones.

The Branch Syndicate of the Metalworkers "Nezavisnost" appealed to all the employees in the metal industry to request from the Serbian Government the payment of all delayed salaries, the rise of production, the refutation of the Law on Employment, as well as the political, economic and social reforms. At the session of its Main Board, the Independent Syndicate of the Metalworkers launched an initiative named "Liberate yourselves and your factories" and for its duration, the activists of this syndicate will visit all the organizations from this line of work and appeal to all the employees to support the demands of the metalworkers to the Serbian Government.

The employees in the health services and the social security of Serbia went on an hour long, forewarning strike today, in order to remind the Serbian Government of their material status and all their demands. Stevan Djordjevic, President of the Republic Board of the Syndicate of Health and Social Security, stated to the Beta news agency that the employees in the Belgrade Clinical Center had an one hour suspension of work. The employees of the health services held syndical assemblies in their health facilities from 11:00 to 12:00, while those who were on duty worked incessantly. They supported the teachers, who have been on strike for more than a month, and requested their salaries to amount to 60 percent of the republic average in the economy, the Collective Agreement to be respected, as well as for the payment of their bonuses.

According to the writing of the today's "Blic", referring to reliable sources, the delegation of the European Parliament, which arrived for a three day visit to FR Yugoslavia on Sunday, wasn't permitted to meet with any of the representatives of the Socialist Party of Serbia. They were told, at the party's headquarters, that those in charge of the relations with the international community are not "available" these days. The delegation of the European Parliament, consisting of three members, came to FRY to meet with the leaders of all the parties and institutions it considers significant for the solution of the post-electoral crisis in Serbia, and for the further development of the democracy, the newspaper reminds.

Serbia and Yugoslavia are on a good way towards the democratization of the society and its institutions, under the condition that the human rights and the freedom of the media are recognized, stated the members of European Parliament today, after their mission of establishing the facts had been completed. As Doris Pack, a member of the parliamentary team of the Demo-Christians, and Johanes Svodboda from the team of the European socialists pointed out to a press conference in Belgrade, the relations between Belgrade and the European Union will depend on the accomplishment of these goals.

The authorities of Palilula (a Belgrade district) support the strike of educators and offered their legal help to the strikers, announces the Palilula assembly.

The visit of Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic and Vesna Pesic, the leaders of coalition Zajedno, to Spain and Great Britain, the purpose of which is to prove that democratic forces do exist in Serbia, started today, announced Ivan Kovacevic, the spokesman for the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO).

The leaders of coalition Zajedno met several Spanish politicians and the representatives of the media during their today's visit to Spain, reports Vladimir Stankovic, correspondent of "Nasa Borba", for FoNet agency. Vesna Pesic, Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Draskovic met Abel Matutes, the Spanish Prime Minister, first, and later in the afternoon and during the evening they met Felipe Gonzales, general secretary of the Socialist Workers' Party of Spain, and Hulio Angito, leader of the Spanish United Left. During these conversations, the leaders of coalition Zajedno pointed out that further political support and economic help would be necessary for the democratization of Serbia.

Ivor Roberts, British Ambassador in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, stated this evening that it has always been the practice of London to invite leaders of the oppositional parties of other countries to visit Great Britain, and that the invitation to the leaders of coalition Zajedno should be viewed in that light.

The Democratic Party (DS) appealed today to Jovo Todorovic, Serbian Minister of Education, to fulfill the demands of teachers and thus reduce the damage made by the Republic Government. The comment of the DS regarding Todorovic's statement that the state would take measures for the resumption of lectures in primary and secondary schools was that the only measure which should be taken by the Government should be the payment of teacher's salaries.

The municipal board of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) in Kragujevac declared invalid all the decisions of the Main and Executive boards of the party by which certain municipal boards had been dismissed and some party members excluded. In their last evening's session, the Kragujevac DSS board dismissed those decisions as "contrary to the statute and illegitimate".

Zoran Mirkovic and Juraj Belanji, professors at the secondary trade school "Pinki" in Novi Sad, who participate in the strike of educators in Serbia, were dismissed from their jobs today. Branislav Ceranic, the school director, signed the dismissal papers, without mentioning that they were participants of the strike. The independent and the state syndicates of educators in Vojvodina called upon their members to enter a general strike against this decision. In the meantime, larger groups of primary and secondary school students took to the streets of Novi Sad, in order to support their teachers on strike.

Ljudevit Boricic, a member of the Independent student movement Board, stated today that there was no reason for the continuation of the Student Protest at Belgrade University and that students should return to classrooms.

Milena Milosevic, president of the Vracar Assembly (a Belgrade district) and Aleksandar Babic, a member of the municipal Executive board, received today representatives of all primary and secondary schools in Vracar which had gone on strike. According to the report of the meeting, the representatives of Vracar Assembly supported the justified demands of teachers and promised to give them legal and organizational help.

The Independent education syndicate of Serbia (SSOS) decided in a closed session today to end the teachers' strike and accept the agreement signed on February 16 by Mirko Marjanovic, president of the Serbian Government, and Tomislav Banovic, president of the Council of the Independent syndicate of Serbia. It was also decided that, unless the payment of salaries goes according to the plan, the strike, according to the February 16 agreement, would be resumed on April 15.

The Syndicate of education, science, culture and art in Serbia decided today to end the strike and appealed to all the members to start work at 7:00. The Syndicate decided to end the strike under the condition that the Serbian government keeps its promises, or otherwise it would call upon its members to go on strike once again.

Jelena Hristodulo, president of the Independent syndicate of educators, stated today that this syndicate would continue the strike tomorrow and that its members would gather in front of the Serbian Government building at 12:00, as planned.

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