News for December 31st, 1996

The European Union (EU) demanded that the Yugoslav authorities immediately and fully act in accordance with the report and recommendation of Felipe Gonzalez, the special representative of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

EU diplomats stated today that Serbian authorities are prepared to accept the recommendations of the OSCE report which calls on Serbian President Milosevic to acknowledge the electoral results of Nov. 17. The statement was made after a meeting of the Dutch, Irish and Italian diplomatic mission chiefs in Belgrade with Yugoslav Assistant Foreign Minister Nikola Cicanovic. At this meeting, the foreign diplomats expressed the European Union's expectation that Serbian authorities will urgently and fully comply with the OSCE's recommendations.

Milan Milutinovic, minister of foreign affairs asked for "more time to think" concerning the report of the committee of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) which recommends that the victory of the opposition on the local elections be acknowledged in some cities in Serbia.

Yugoslav Assistant Foreign Minister Nikola Cicanovic reiterated the comments Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milutinovic made on Felipe Gonzalez's report describing it as "good, well-balanced and constructive," stated EU statement forwarded to FoNet from the Dutch Embassy. Although he could not confirm that the Serbian government will accept all OSCE recommendations, Cicanovic said the government's intention is to make sure that the will of the electorate, as expressed in the second local electoral round, is fully respected. Cicanovic said that this process cannot be expected to begin in the next few days because of the New Year holidays.

French Foreign Ministry stated today that Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milutinovic considers the OSCE report as "constructive." In his telephone conversation with French foreign minister Ervet de Charet, Milutinovic said that he needs more time to fully examine the OSCE report and its recommendations, reports AFP. The French foreign ministry statement said De Charet asked Milutinovic to step up the efforts to comply with the OSCE recommendations.

Spokesman of the Serbian Renewal Movement Ivan Kovacevic told a press conference today that the coalition Zajedno has demanded the OSCE make clear their statement as to whether they meant that Zajedno had won in the local elections in the Belgrade City Assembly and 8 of Belgrade municipalities or in 9 Belgrade municipalities. He said Zajedno expects the reply after the New Year holidays.

John Dinger, spokesman for the State Department stated last night to members of the press that USA could not verify the authenticity of the letter of support allegedly sent by a group of officers of the Yugoslav Army to the counter-government demonstrators. Dinger added that "the fact that people are ready to believe that the letter could be authentic is a signal for itself."

The students of the Belgrade University expressed greetings to all the citizens of Yugoslavia and best wishes in 1997. The students wish all the citizens life in peace in the forthcoming year, happiness, love and democracy, it is stated in the announcement of the Informative service of the Student Protest 96. The students of Belgrade wish all the citizens the freedom to walk the streets in the New Year.

The oppositional coalition Zajedno invited the citizens of Belgrade to create noise to outcry the news program of the government-controlled RTS. The same project will be carried out by the students tomorrow.

Radio Television Serbia's prime time news show broadcast this evening the season's greetings by Serbian President Milosevic, whose message altogether failed to mention the present political crisis in Serbia. Milosevic merely said that "we have used the past year very well indeed, if we take into account all interferences we have been subject to, from inside the country and abroad, especially in the last few months."

Montenegrin Parliament rejected last night the text of a resolution proposed by the opposition coalition "Narodna Sloga" (National Unity). Instead of the stern condemnation of the Serbian regime for the nullification of Zajedno's victory in the local elections in major cities of Serbia and for its brutal show-down with the peaceful demonstrators in Belgrade, the adopted resolution expressed concern over these events, reports Montena Fax. The watered-down resolution stressed concern over the negative consequences the events in Serbia might have for the international position of FR Yugoslavia. Novak Kilibarda and Slavko Perovic, leaders of the oppositional coalition "National Unity" sent a letter of support to the Serbian coalition "Zajedno" and "their fight for freedom and democracy."

Some 30 members of the Steering Board of Student Protest '96 managed to reach the Dedinje neighborhood and almost got to President Milosevic's residence today, using public transport. They held a session of the Steering Board on the street itself, not far from where the President resides. The president of the student board read out the students' declaration of freedom. After having read the declaration of freedom the students tried to reach the President's residence but were prevented by a group of policemen. Taking a side street, they reached Dobrica Cosic's home. He greeted them and wished them a happy New Year. The students returned to the School of Philosophy, where the celebration of the New Year's Eve began at 9 p.m.

Radio B92 has unofficially learned that a session by the managing board of the Radio Television Studio B, the once independent station seized by the authorities earlier this year, convened this afternoon. The head of the station, Djordje Minkov, said that either he or the signatories of yesterday's petition must go. Studio B's journalists and editors sent an open letter yesterday to the Student Protest '96, supporting the students' demands and condemning the brutal beatings of local and foreign fellow- journalists. Radio B92 has learned from reliable sources that a great majority of the staff supports the letter and will stick to the position expressed there.

The celebration of the New Year's Eve organized by the coalition Zajedno in downtown Belgrade began in the Republic Square in the early afternoon hours with a distribution of presents to several thousand children, for whom a special entertainment program was performed. Huge screens and public address systems are already set up for the program to take place in this square later tonight. Numerous Belgrade musicians and actors are to perform here as well as in front of the School of Philosophy, where the Student Protest is organizing a party for the youth of Belgrade.

Inviting all Belgraders to spend the New Year's Eve at the Republic Square, one of Zajedno leaders Zoran Djindjic said: "Let Belgrade tonight be the most luminous spot on the earth. Let this be the eve of solidarity of all who want Belgrade to be a European metropolis, as it once was and surely will be again." He said the protests at the nullification of Zajedno's victory in Serbian local elections will continue into the New Year.

The organizational board of the Zajedno coalition appealed to all people planning to celebrate New Year's Eve on the Republic Square to not carry fire arms and cease from firing them into the air.

Today's issue of the daily "Dnevni Telegraf" said that the new Yugoslav President might be Pavle Bulatovic, while the current President Zoran Lilic might become the Federal Prime Minister. The daily, quoting sources close to the management of the Democratic Socialist Party of Montenegro, says that the proposal came from the Serbian President himself in a talk he had with Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic.

Momir Bulatovic, president of Montenegro states that there have been no secret meetings with Slobodan Milosevic, the president of Serbia, nor any secret messages between them.

Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, Pavle, has called for a session of the Holy Synod at which the political situation in Serbia would be discussed. Most of the episcopates will attend the session. Patriarch Pavle will preside.

Describing the political events in Serbia, the Washington Post states the opinion that the public protests of the coalition Zajedno and the students mark the beginning of the end of the rule of the last communist regime in Europe.

Filip Vujanovic, minister of Internal Affairs in the government of Montenegro, denied the statement that the Montenegrin police is helping the Serbian police in the prevention of the protests in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia.

Mihajlo Svilar, the newly appointed mayor of Novi Sad invited the citizens to the New Year's celebration which is to take place on the square front of the City Hall.

Zoran Zivkovic, vice-president of the Democratic art said that the City Electoral Committee of Nis continues its work today. Zivkovic accused the members of the electoral committee of "still lying, not knowing what to do, falsifying even more and involving more people."

The Association of Writers of Serbia informed President Milosevic that protest meetings of the Association have began because of the use of force against the peaceful demonstrations of the students and citizens against the obvious theft of votes on the local elections." In the open letter to the President of Serbia, which was read last night a the first protest meeting at the Writers Association, the writers ask the President whether he hears what is asked of him and whether he sees what is happening in Serbia.

The President of Serbia Slobodan Milosevic is first on the list of people Italians would not toast on New Year's Eve; this is the conclusion of the poll traditionally preformed in Italy at the end of the Year.

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