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Protests in Serbia Archive
Koha (independent magazine from Kosova) on the protests

Date: 25 December 1996


The observers of the war of the others

By Dukagjin Gorani / Prishtink

As this issue will be printed, the thirtieth day of protests of citizens and students in Belgrade will end. Zajedno's protests, besides becoming a national display of fun, have recently started illustrating its organization logic - no spontaneity and superficiality, played inside but dictated from the outside - by a population, whose best news in the past six years has maybe been the victory of the basketball selection in Athens.
Thirty days later, in the whole mess of the electoral theft, which has justly (or, is it finally?) affected Serbia - Kosova Albanians, who in the past six years remained convinced in their capacity to decipher the timing for proper social mobilization - can hardly conceal the enthusiasm about the path that the ordinary Serbian citizen has chosen to eventually change the address of the sources of all the problems he/she faces. Maybe recently they were even surprised with supportive statements coming from Albanians, a public letter of Adem Demagi, the statement of the Albanian foreign minister, Tritan Shehu, or the minute of silence the Belgrade protesters dedicated to the killed teacher, Feriz Blakgori - but, judging upon the pronouncements of the Albanian leadership in Kosova, the principled support of the Serbian events, has no intention to move from its starting point: communiques and press conferences. There is no doubt among the leading political subjects of Kosova: the struggle of the Belgrade "strollers", despite their devotion and dedication, remains their internal affair...
How much does the silence of Albanians help or harm Milosevic? According to Behlul Beqaj, chairman of the Association of Politologues of Kosova, "the internal Serbian destabilization" could be a good chance for the "forces of active politics", for undertaking concrete steps to change the situation". referring to Demagi's activation within the PPK, of whom he says: "...he is again putting at stake his authority for the sake of the national question. Beqaj adds "that realistically, the threatened Serbian government can't defend itself successfully, neither can it protect the state".
The last statement of the LDK also represents an attempt to remain faithful to declarative supports to "the attempts for democratization in Serbia" - statements that were led in the past couple of days by the official voice of the Albanian TV, together with the disclosed statements of the political leadership of Albania.
How much is the present moment understood as the adequate moment for a concrete political manoeuvre of Kosova Albanians? For the beginning of protests? Demonstrations? According to the statements of political observers in Prishtink and in Belgrade, any of their attempts to go out on the streets, will not only deteriorate their situation, but also the attempts of Milosevic's opposition to "dethrone" him. In this regard, almost all the asked offered a joint precedent: Milosevic mobilized Serbs through Kosova in 1989, but also closed the problems at home with war in Croatia.
Chances are that the activities of this kind in Kosova would be used by him for the new mobilization of masses that he needs so much. Consequently, Albanians in Prishtink are expected to give only formal support to the Belgrade "strollers", which according to Belgrade sociologist Dusan Janjic, "still remain nationalist, but ever more less chauvinistic".
If the actual moment would even be understood as the right time for any Albanian protesting "counter-attack", then the well informed Albanians would think of one address, although it is still covered up with mystery - the UGK (Liberation Army of Kosova). Whoever composes it, it's absolute silence during the thirty-days long tremors in Serbia can only be outlined as a clear political posture.
If Serbian protests will continue till the end of the year - and there is no reason for them to stop - Milosevic and his government will be absolutely not interested in implementing the agreement on education. The Albanian leadership has declared that if the agreement is not implemented, then this would incite the use of other methods. Which, having in mind the existing arsenal they would oppose, would not differ much from Belgrade's "strolls". Neither would the so much proclaimed political activation of Albanians and the internal political movements (Demagi) could have a different manoeuvring space but, among others, the civil disobedience on the streets of our centers. What do Kosova Albanians do nowadays? Are they convinced that their silence continues being the noisiest weapon the have? Or are they simply queuing in line for "strolls"?


Miladin Zivotic, a '68 dissident & member of the Belgrade Circle

"Anything, but not on the streets"

Interviewed by Dukagjin Gorani/ Prishtink

KOHA: What do you think about the Kosova Albanian posture, as the massive protests in Belgrade continue? Do you think that Albanians should also join the battle against Milosevic's regime?
ZIVOTIC: Always the promotion and expansion of civil freedoms is sought, all citizens of one country are expected to participate peacefully, without fearing the consequences that would lead towards the exacerbation of the conflict, in the case of Serbia, between different entities.
Nevertheless, I fear that the regime would quite well use the chance - any kind of political activity of Albanians in Kosova - to undertake repressive measures. I believe that people should be very careful right now. I personally believe that Demagi's support to this civic initiative was great, regardless of the reactions that it could cause in Kosova among the Albanians. The people's reaction in Belgrade towards his letter of support was really positive. I welcome this, and in this sense, I believe that something should be happening in Kosova too. But, what? How? Believe, I really don't know.
KOHA: How do you evaluate Milosevic's counter-manifestations?
ZIVOTIC: They are really weak. They are just too much organized by the political leaders that are supportive of Milosevic; I believe that they can't last long and I believe that the regime can't gain anything with them - especially in the sense of bringing back the internal and external reputation, However, the electoral theft is something really brutal. Stubbornness and the criminal posture in regard to the basic precondition of any rule of law - the respect of the electoral results - make me believe that the counter-attacks of the regime through the last meetings, aim to prove what has been insisted on on the state TV: that the ruling party and president Milosevic has the support of the majority of the people. They can't illustrate it, aboslutely.
Thus, Milosevic's legitimacy is disappearing on the run, therefore today, the only issue is to try and find a way to give away the power without much noise, in a democratic way. Right now, the best moment would be the next elections.
This is what I see as the core of the Serbian problem, today. The application of any violent method, will not lead towards democratization. Only democratic struggle allows the change of power. This is the reason why so many people go out on the streets.
KOHA: Isn't the influence of the leaders of "Zajedno" on the people a bit surprising?
ZIVOTIC: True. A big part of the protesters aren't even followers of Draskovic, Djindjic, not to mention Vesna Pesic's Civic League. The people are defending the law, but also to prove that the rule can be changed.
KOHA: What do you think Milosevic's next steps will be?
ZIVOTIC: I believe that the regime is deep into considerable concessions, first of all because of the presence of the international commission - which I believe will do its job in a correct way. I don't see how will the regime ignore the conclusions of the international commission, because there are too many facts that corroborate the electoral fraud. After all, it was the regime that invited the commission.
KOHA: Do you think that the regime could create the conditions to place the opposition outside the law, i.e. to establish the state of emergency and even maybe the intervention of the army?
ZIVOTIC: I believe that the application of this kind of obedience has long ago passed. Naturally, nothing can be forecasted: none of the pressure and brutalities can be excluded. Nevertheless, I think that the regime could only start its bloody end with the use of this kind of brutality. Bloody and absolute.
Moreover, the situation in the army now is disastrous. Having in mind the results of the terrible destructions during the war in the former Yugoslavia and its disgusting consequences - the regime could hardly count on proclaiming the state of emergency or martial law. Particularly, having in mind the democratic processes that are ongoing in the neighboring countries.
KOHA: Do you think that "Zajedno" is becoming a controlling factor in the actual political scene of Serbia? Do you believe that Kosova Albanians should count on this political force as the new negotiating address?
ZIVOTIC: I would be a bit careful, because until recently, this coalition was leading an electoral campaign for the federal parliament which I believe was catastrophic, which was wrapped with a disgusting greater-Serb nationalism. But today, in order to prove that it is an important political factor which should be counted on by the international community in the efforts for the democratization of Serbia, this political coalition replaced and their political behavior, trying to neutralize its nationalistic framework. On the streets, this nationalism is almost invisible. It is precisely because of this reason that Belgrade honored a minute of silence for the Albanian teacher killed by the police in Kosova. This is a very important event, despite the fact that a large number of citizens of Belgrade was long contaminated with nationalism. However weak it may be, what is happening in Belgrade these days is a process of civil consciousness-building that should be strongly applauded.


Dusan Janjic, founder of the European Movement in Serbia

"Stay away from the quarrel between brothers"

Interviewed by Dukagjin Gorani / Prishtink

KOHA: The protests of the citizens in Belgrade haven't stopped for over a month, the OSCE delegation was here, while the Serbian regime seems to go through its hardest times ever. In all of this, the Kosova Albanians and the solution of their problem seem to have stagnated. How would you evaluate an hypothetical Albanian engagement, similar to the Belgrade protests, especially having in mind the efforts to activate the political life in Kosova?
JANJIC: I believe that if Albanians would join these protests, it would be a wrong evaluation of their leadership. If such political manifestations would take place, maybe they would sound as follows: "now we can put our demands, while they (Serbs) have no way to oppose them, because they are extremely weak".
Milosevic used such a justification in the case of Croatia in 1991, when the full mobilization of the population started and when he marginalized the opposition. In the case of Kosova, I don't believe there would be a real repressive reaction, but chances are that he would start with tactical negotiations in order to win the necessary points he needs for his international reputation, highly unestimated lately.
Naturally, the real repression would come later. This would be a counter-reaction, i.e. a projected chauvinism. This would be the first possibility.
The second option would be the activation of the Albanian question not in Kosova but in Macedonia. Anyhow, I am deeply convinced that actually there are no conditions for the peaceful and democratic solution of the Kosova question.
KOHA: Foreign analyzers claim that a big burden of the present opposition protests is the greater-Serb nationalism...
JANJIC: True. I tend to believe that nationalism will be the feature of all political movements in the former Yugoslavia in the next coming years. It is a big misfortune that nationalism should be used still as a mobilizing factor, but often this should be taken as an indispensable evil, in this phase. What is worth mentioning is that greater-Serb chauvinism is decreasing in the "strolling" protests. That could be noticed with the reaction to Demagi's letter and the minute of silence for the Albanian teacher. This should be greeted...
In regard to the actual situation in Kosova, I believe that the problem here has to do with the capacity of the actual Albanian leadership to control people and its disposition. I believe this is a big problem.
I don't know, I hope what is happening in Belgrade and other towns in Serbia right now, will stop by the end of this year and that finally - by the beginning of January - the negotiations on the status of Kosova will start. This would be the best option to escape the most difficult variant - the presentation of the Albanian corps as a separate factor in the game that would irritate the Serbian substance, and, naturally, would offer the media enough material to propagate that "Zajedno" has weakened the Serbian people, therefore the enemy (Albanians) started working on its final destruction. I believe that any involvement of Albanians, would be a gain for Milosevic so he could continue playing the role of the "peacemaking negotiator".
KOHA: A reason to join together and fight the Albanian enemy...
JANJIC: Yes, this is where Milosevic's real role would be revealed. This would disclose his secret coalition with Seselj and other Serb radicals. Milosevic and his SPS has always worked through the Serbian Radical Party and some "independent" individuals. I believe that the regime is trying to keep the existing situation, at the same time is offering itself as a column of guarantee of social safety. Naturally, I don't think that keeping the present situation is in the interest of the Albanians.
KOHA: However, in principle, you agree to safeguard the actual course of the Albanian politics in Kosova?
JANJIC: A form of political activation is necessary. I don't think I have the right to lecture on what should Albanians do in Kosova, but maybe their leadership should become more active. I'll try to be more specific: maybe the existing situation should be used, to test both Zajedno and the government about their willingness for negotiations. This would imply multi-party Albanian-Serb talks. Whatever the decision is, the option of having Albanians protest on the streets would be the most dangerous one.
KOHA: What would the manoeuvres of the regime be in the coming days?
JANJIC: A lot of noise in the republican parliament and a lot of threats against Kosova - are only an illustration of the fear that the government feels because of Zajedno's increasing influence. In general, there are two possibilities for the elimination of the protests: the beginning of an internal political problem in which no one seems to be interested to be part of; the second would be the expansion of the conflict to Kosova and Macedonia. Or even Bosnia. But, this wouldn't be allowed by the international community.
Consequently, there is no real manoeuvring space for the regime. Therefore, I believe everything will be centered on long and exhausting political truth and then negotiations will take place with only one purpose: that Belgrade is preserved. All other centers could fall gradually and pass into the hands of the opposition.
This will either end with new elections, or the installation of the opposition rule in the municipalities in which it won.
KOHA: What could Milosevic do?
JANJIC: What could he do? Convene the extraordinary congress of his party; purge his staff. I believe that he will eliminate Dragan Tomic, Speaker of the Parliament, Nebojsa Covic, mayor of Belgrade; maybe he will replace the whole republican government. But, whatever reorganization he will make in the future, he will not be able to count on the support of the Radicals. He will be left with Zajedno and be forced to cooperate with them.
I believe things are much more simpler today. It could be that Milosevic will share the government with the opposition. But, in this case, Zajedno could easily win the republican elections and win the mandate to form the government. Naturally, this can hardly happen if supposed that Kosova should become an independent state. The coalition would have a difficult institutional struggle in which it would need the two-thirds majority. Finally, the Radicals would become part of everything - and this would not be in the interest of the Albanians.
KOHA: How do you perceive the situation in Kosova?
JANJIC: What can today be perceived as a further complication of the Albanian situation is the truth that actually in Serbia there are minor possibilities to realize any joint Serbian platform towards Kosova Albanians. I am not very optimistic to expect a deep change, e.g., that Milosevic will sober up soon.

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