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Crisis 1999
News Archive 1999

Pancevo: Anti-government rallies

Friday, July 23, - Rally of the Alliance for Change and Alliance of Democratic Parties

Despite the rain and cold wind, around 5 thousand people from Pancevo gathered on the main city square at the protest meeting of the opposition umbrella Alliance for Change. Highlight of this gathering was simple - "Resignation".

The first one to address the people was Pancevo Mayor, Zoran Tomic, who said that this meeting confirmed the Declaration adopted by Pancevo city hall, which calls Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslav president and Milan Milutinovic Serbian president to resign. "Hundreds millions dinars are fleeing Pancevo, but only pieces are coming back. Because of that, and because of many other problems that proceed the policy of our government, they have to go!" - said Pancevo Mayor.

Dragan Milovanovic, president of the Association of Free and Independent Unions of Serbia, reminded the audience of unfulfilled promises made by Slobodan Milosevic and called the citizens of Serbia to join the general strike. "When we announce the general strike, I call everyone of you, absolutely everyone, to close your businesses, shops, agencies, offices, factories, everything should be halted. That would be their end!" - said Dragan Milovanovic.

"We are all here. Those from Slavonia, and those from Knin, and those from Bosnia and from Kosovo and Metohia. We are all here, but defeated. We don't want to fight and divide anymore. We don't want to separate with Montenegro. As soon as they are gone, we will easily find the agreement with Montenegro, in new, democratic country, where Montenegro and Serbia will respect each other, where Serbia will be the center of Balkan's development, and not the center of chaos!" - said, among other things, Dragoslav Petrovic, president of Yugoslav Democratic Center.

Bojan Kostres, vice-president of Social Democratic League of Vojvodina, repeated the demand for Milosevic's resignation, and added: "Today, there is no place for that man anywhere in Vojvodina, anywhere in Serbia, anywhere in Montenegro, and anywhere in the world! He can only go to The Hague. He belongs there. Down with Milosevic! We used to get out on the streets before, but this time it's different. This time we are on the streets not because of political leaders and parties. Today we are on the streets to say "Enough is enough!" There are only two parties in Serbia today - one is the people, and other is Slobodan Milosevic. There is no third way, and there cannot be the third way - either he will go, or the county will perish and people will vanish. Therefore, Milosevic has to leave! Down with Slobodan Milosevic! And it's never enough - Down with Slobodan Milosevic! Down with Slobodan Milosevic! Down with Slobodan Milosevic!"

Pavic Obradovic, the vice-president of Social-Democracy named three reasons why Milosevic and his regime should step off the scene. First, because "during these hard years, while the country was bleeding, he never addressed the nation, to share its misery and grief." Because, he "addressed the nation through the decrees and introduction of the state of war, and through the elimination of his opponents. Then, from the first day, he "acted as a president of the country, in which every citizen is member of Socialist Party or Yugoslav United Left". And, finally, he "was always surrounded by obedient not competent and criminals, and everyone else, who has a different opinion was removed from political, professional and sometimes the scene of life." Pavic Obradovic reminded of unfulfilled promises, made by Slobodan Milosevic ten years ago. "Slobodan Milosevic visited Pancevo, exactly 10 years ago. Do you know what did he promise then? He promised that duty free zone will be built in the Port Danube, he promised 100.000 new employment places. Only one hundred people live and work in that zone today. And what happened meanwhile? From 1991 to the beginning of NATO attack, that ridiculous and folly war, over 15,000 people from Pancevo lost their job, and during that last war with the most powerful military force in the world, another 9,000 people form this city lost their jobs."

Slobodan Vuksanovic, vice-president of Democratic Party denied claims of the president of Serbian Parliament, Dragan Tomic, who said that opposition is afraid of elections, and added that Alliance for change will participate the elections, but only the one organized by basic democratic principles. Vuksanovic repeated the demand for the resignation of Serbian and Federal governments, and announced new meeting of the Alliance, scheduled for Saturday in Sombor.

Vesna Pesic, former president of Civic Alliance of Serbia, expressed the regrets because after ten years people of Serbia still has to go to the streets to fight for democracy. Commenting one of the banners from the meeting that reads "I dreamt last night that you are gone" she called the people not to lose the sense for reality, to stop dreaming, and to persist in everyday protests, 'til Milosevic is gone. "All our Balkan neighbors will be in Sarajevo on July 30, where the first meeting of the "Pact for stability" will be held, where the whole Balkan region will get aid for reconstruction and development. Do you know who doesn't have a seat in Sarajevo, although has perished the most? We don't have a seat there! We won't be there; we are expelled from everywhere. Can we stand that anymore? All Balkan countries will be there, except Yugoslavia, or, more precisely, Serbia. Montenegro will be there" - said Vesna Pesic and that invoked the chanting "Long live Milo!" and prolonged ovations to the president of Montenegro. "Long live Milo, you are right!" responded Pesic and called on Yugoslav Army to stand up with people and back their calls for resignation.

Milan St. Protic, president of Serbian Democratic Club "Odbrana" said that democratic Serbia tried several times to unchain itself, and that "this is the last moment for Serbia to break those chains, and look up for a better future." "We have the strength, power and courage to do that, once and for all, in honor of our nation, to remove that dirty mark that this regime and its first man applied on us, and to make a large step forward. Thus, instead of talking, lets work, to finish that job, and then we'll choose the best among us, we'll control them, limit their powers, and warn them if they go off the way, and when they become to tired, we'll change them, and soon this whole country will reach those who passed it by, and will be the example for others, as it used to be, but the example in the new era."

Vladan Batic, leader of Chirstian Democratic Party and coordinator of the Alliance, said that for "several days, new-appointed generals, who lost all their battles, threat with the army" and expressed his belief that the army will be with its people. Batic repeated the call for the united demand of all opposition parties that asks for resignation of Milosevic and his regime, as well as the constitution of interim governments and the organization of free and democratic elections, under the OSCE control.

Professor Dragoslav Avramovic, former governor of the National Bank of Yugoslavia, was warmly welcomed by the crowd, and said: "I won't be long. When we take the power, we'll do four things. First, we'll introduce total democracy, right away, without exception, without any qualifications. That includes complete freedom of choice, freedom of press, freedom of speech, freedom of public gathering, and everything else. Second, we'll try to introduce social trade economy, like the western Europe did, and prospered of it during the last 40 or 50 years. We were part of that prosperity. Ten years ago, we at the almost same level as Austria. Now, we are on the same level with Albania. That economy will mean freedom of investment, freedom of unions - there will be no more political, state-controlled unions - freedom of merging, decentralization of public finances, repair of local finances, by leaving much more income in the local community, then it is a case now. Reduction of taxes and reduction of the police force. Reduction of administration. Third, we will make a serious investment plan, so that our railway trains won't be one and the half hour late, before they even start their journey. We'll have our roads repaired, as well as the water-supply system. An in those decisions, if I would have anything with them, the local communities will have the final voice. To avoid catastrophic concentration of environmentally dangerous facilities. The local communities will have the final decision, on taking or living the project. We will also pay much more attention to the decent prices of agricultural products, so that our farmers don't have to go to the roads striking. And fourth, we'll try to solve our problems with the rest of the world, so that there will be no sanctions, and the access to our trading goods as well as the import of new technologies will be free. One of the key things is that decentralization of the finances, so that the capital is no longer concentrated in Belgrade or anywhere else. It should be concentrated here! I wish you all the best, good night!"

HRH Crown-Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic, actor Branislav Lecic, and play writer Dusan Kovacevic, sent letters of support and saluted the meeting. Meeting begun at 19.15 and ended around 20.40, without any incidents. Next meeting of the Alliance for change is announced for Saturday, July 24, in Sombor.

City Council Declaration

On Tuesday, July 13, the City Council of Pancevo passed a declaration which asks the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic to resign.

Source: Free Serbia

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