Belgrade, January 3, 1997, (15:08 GMT/ 16:08 CET)
Mr. Milan Milutinovic's letter [see below] presents a negative answer for the OSCE as well as his refusal of the recommendations given by the former Spanish prime minister Gonzales and the OSCE delegation. Apart from this, this letter is offensive as it contains a number of lies and affirmations opposite to those given by the OSCE delegation.
Information service of the Democratic party, Yugoslavia
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF YUGOSLAVIA
FEDERAL MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
To: His Exellency Mr. Niels Petersen
Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Denmark Copenhagen
Belgrade, 3 January 1997
Dear Mr. Minister
We have been acquainted with the Report of Mr. Felipe Gonzalez, Personal Representative of the Chairman in Office and the head of the delegation of the OSCE who visited the FR of Yugoslavia on 21st December 1996.
As it has been pointed out both the Report and in the letter of Mr. Gonzalez. This visit took place at the invitation of the Federal Government that a high ranking delegation of the OSCE should visit the FR of Yugoslavia in order to be directly and truthfully informed about all facts related to the elections for the organs of local self-government in Serbia and that a completely erroneous picture created by a part of international public about these elections be removed.
We are glad that Mr. Gonsales has noted both in his Report and his personal letter to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office of 27th December that the delegation of the OSCE, during this short visit met without any obstacles and discussed in a frank and open manner with the representatives of political parties, institutions and the judiciary of the Republic of Serbia and the government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The clear position of Mr. Gonsales that he was not an arbiter and that he did not want to arbitrate emphasized both during the visit to Belgrade and at the presentation of his report in Geneva is particularly appreciated. As a sovereign State which autonomously solves its internal questions we could not understand any different position.
We consider that it is at substantial importance that the delegation of the OSCE has established in its Report that the elections for the organs of local self-government "considered in their entirely, reflected the will of the majority of the citizens of the FRY". The delegation has also noted the "the candidates of the coalition SPS, JUL and ND won the majority of the popular votes in the elections held in Serbia, reflecting the free will of citizens". Thus, the allegations of some opposition parties, as well as of a part of international public and media, that the elections for the organs of local self-government in Serbia were annulled because, allegedly, these opposition parties won the elections, have been denied.
We consider that free multi-party elections in Serbia confirm most comprehensively the strong democratic tradition and long experience in developing stabile democratic institutions in Serbia. All these democratic institutions have proved their vitality and ability to ensure to all citizens to enjoy and protect their inalienable rights and freedoms even in the most difficult conditions such as the change of the political system, breaking-up of the former common state of the SFRY, war conflicts in the neighborhood of the FR of Yugoslavia, provision of shelter and assistance to almost a million refugees, embargo against FR of Yugoslavia and its isolation. This confirms that universal values are affirmed in Serbia, including those of the Paris Charter.
According to out assessment, the approach of Mr. Gonzales deserves to be supported firs of all because it calls upon, in a constructive manner, all factors to tolerant dialog, transparent discussion and to the solution of the problems in a democratic way, i.e. that the problems be solved within the institutions of the system, through implementation of "the adequate procedures and in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation", which de facto means within the multi-party Parliament.
The fact that certain opposition parties won the majority in assemblies of a number of municipalities in Serbia, is nothing new for any citizen of Serbia. It was not a novelty even they won the majority in a much greater number of municipalities at the elections for the organs of local self-government held four years ago than at the present local elections.
In respect of the municipalities mentioned under paragraph 7 of the Report of Mr. Felipe Gonsales, we would like to inform you that according to the data at our disposal, the situation is as follows:
I. With respect to 13 municipalities mentioned in the Report:
The coalition "Zajedno" won the majority in 9 municipalities in Belgrade.
As it could be seen from this short list, compared to the list of the municipalities mentioned under para 7b of the Report of Mr. Gonzales, the data concerning the six municipalities mentioned above are significantly different from the data used by the delegation of Mr. Gonzalez. For the purpose of verification, comparison and complete clarification it would be very useful if you could provide to our authorities the data you have at your disposal for the municipalities of Kraljevo, Smederevska Palanka, Vrsac, Soko Banja, Lapovo and Sabac. You can be certain that each detail will be studied with full responsibility by the competent authorities.
The call expressed in the Report that the will of the citizens be respected is substantially our basic position we are committed to. However, it is obvious that all this should be established within the legal institutions, on the basis of law and regulations of the Republic of Serbia.
Furthermore, we wish to emphasize that the very nature of the elections for the organs of the local self-government in the Republic of Serbia, implies, according to our system, that local elections are started and finished at the local level, and that the authorities of the State according to our legal system neither have the right to influence these elections nor do they exert such influence. The only organs, i.e. institutions, authorized to solve the problems which may occur during the election procedure are the regular courts. These institutions are obliged to carefully study each new fact or shortcoming which is established and to make a decision thereof. There is no doubt that these institutions will act accordingly with respect to the municipalities concerned, the number of which is quite small compared to the total number of 189 municipalities in Serbia.
In the letter to Mr. Gonzales sent to the Minister Cotti it has been mentioned that the elections in some municipalities were repeated for reasons "which are not in a whole of serious nature". We do not deny the fact that the experience of the latest, as well as of the previous elections have proved that it is necessary to amend some regulations thereof. This is definitely one of the questions to be discussed at the proposed multi-party panel discussion. However, as long as those regulations are in force, and they were in force at the past local elections, there is no dilemma that they must be respected. We agree with the position of Mr. Gonzalez that these problems should be solved "through implementation of the adequate procedure and in a spirit of dialogue and cooperation". We wish to point out that the Parliament of Serbia has established a panel where representatives of the parliamentary parties will have an opportunity to discuss exactly in the spirit of "dialogue and co! operation" all questions concerning the elections, the role of media and other questions, in front of the public and with live TV broadcasting and to submit appropriate proposals of the Parliament of Serbia.
Dear Mr. Minister,
Allow me to reaffirm at the one our assessment that the visit of the delegation of the OSCE headed by the distinguished Mr. Felipe Gonzalez and realized at the invitation of the Federal Government of the FR of Yugoslavia, has been, according to our deep conviction, useful and positive and that it has contributed to the affirmation of the facts and thus to the removal of the distorted picture created by a part of international public. This is a confirmation that it is in the common interest of both our country and the OSCE that the FR of Yugoslavia be allowed to renew, as soon as possible, its status in the OSCE, in order to eliminate an anomaly which is contrary to the objectives of the OSCE. We expect that a Yugoslav representative will have an opportunity to participate on equal basis in the forthcoming discussions about the Report of Mr. Gonzalez at the session of the Standing Committee of the OSCE.
Please accept, Dear Colleague, the expressions of my high consideration.