[Menu] [dDH]   If you came here via a search engine looking for news: remember that search engines are never 'up to date'. But you are close, try our front door

Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 6 PM), January 3, 1997

    e-mail: beograd@siicom.com      URL: http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/
            odrazb92@b92.opennet.org     http://www.siicom.com/b92/
    All texts are Copyright 1997 Radio B92. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

    NEWS BY 6 PM


    Yugoslav Foreign Minister, Milan Milutinovic, today sent a letter
    to Danish Foreign Minister, Niels Helveg Petersen, Chairman of the
    OSCE, concerning the report of the OSCE delegation on the
    municipal elections in Serbia. The letter reads:

    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 21
    December 1996.

    As it has been pointed out both in 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. Gonzalez has noted both in his Report and in
    his personal letter to the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on 27 December
    that the delegation of the OSCE, during its short visit, met
    without any obstacles and discussed in a frank and open manner
    with the representatives of all political parties, institutions
    and of the judiciary of the Republic of Serbia and the Government
    of the FR of Yugoslavia.

    The clear position of Mr. Gonzalez that he was not an arbiter and
    that he did not want to arbitrate, emphasized both during his
    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 of 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 entirety, reflected the will of the majority of the citizens
    of the FRY.'' The delegation has also noted that ``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
    its 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 were annulled
    because, allegedly, these opposition parties won the elections,
    have been denied.

    We consider that the free multi-party elections in Serbia confirm
    most comprehensively the strong democratic tradition and long
    experience in developing stable democratic institutions in Serbia.
    All these democratic institutions have proved that vitality and
    the 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 FRY, provision of shelter and assistance to
    almost a million of refugees, embargo against the FRY and its
    isolation. This confirms that universal values are affirmed in
    Serbia, including those of the Paris Charter.

    According to our assessment, the approach of Mr. Gonzalez deserves
    to be supported first of all because it calls upon, in a
    constructive manner, all factors to tolerant dialogue, 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 when they won
    the majority in a much greater number of municipalities at the
    elections for the organs of local self-government four years ago
    than at the present local elections.

    In respect of the municipalities mentioned under para 7 of the
    Report of Mr. Felipe Gonzalez, we would like to inform you that
    according to the data at our disposal, the situation is as

    I. With respect to 13 municipalities mentioned in the report:

    a) The coalition ``Zajedno'' won and has already constituted the
    local organs in the municipalities of: Uzice, Kragujevac and

    b) In the municipalities of Pirot, Pancevo, Jagodina no party won
    the majority, and the assemblies have not been constituted yet;

    c) In the municipalities of Kraljevo, Smederevska Palanka, Vrsac,
    Soko Banja, Lapovo and Sabac SPS and JUL won the majority;

    d) In the municipality of Nis the situation is being thoroughly
    studied. When competent authorities establish the facts, the
    results of the elections will be known, i.e. the measures which
    will be undertaken in accordance with the results of the current
    procedure and under the regulations in force.

    II. With respect to 9 municipalities in Belgrade

    The coalition ``Zajdeno'' won the majority in the 9 municipalities
    in Belgrade.

    As it can be seen from this short list, compared to the list of
    the municipalities mentioned under para 7b of the Report of Mr.
    Gonzalez, 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 to 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

    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 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 not 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 of Mr. Gonzalez sent to Minister Cotti it has been
    mentioned that the elections in some municipalities were repeated
    for reasons ``which are not in a whole of a 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 these 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 procedures and in a spirit of
    dialogue and cooperation.'' We wish to point our that the
    Parliament of Serbia has established a panel where the
    representatives of the parliamentary parties will have an
    opportunity to discuss exactly in the spirit of ``dialogue and
    cooperation'' 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 to the Parliament
    of Serbia.

    Allow me to reaffirm at the end of 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 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 county
    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

    Milan Milutinovic


    Radio B92 learned today from sources close to Gonzalez's
    commission, that the letter by Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan
    Milutinovic to OSCE Chairman Niels Petersen is still under
    consideration. One European diplomat, however, who insisted on
    staying anonymous, has told Radio B92 that the text of the letter
    by the Yugoslav Foreign Minister is imprudent, to say the least.
    ``What Milutinovic has sent us has nothing to do with the OSCE
    recommendations nor with the findings of Gonzalez's commission,''
    said the diplomat. This source did not state when the OSCE is to
    deliver its final position with regard to Milutinovic's letter to
    Danish Foreign Minister Niels Petersen.


    A coalition Zajedno press release today said that ``the actions of
    the riot squads have cost the citizens of Serbia at least 50
    million Deutsche marks.''  The statement stressed that at least
    20,000-strong police forces have now been deployed in the streets
    of Belgrade for days, and that their daily wages, food, transport,
    lodging and equipment cost one million DM a day. Zajedno
    underlined that the police in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia
    have been engaged for over 45 days. It estimates that the overall
    costs amount to almost 50 million DM.  ``All those costs are paid
    out of the pockets of the citizens of Serbia, especially those
    most afflicted [by economic hardship].  Since the state is not
    capable of funding its own costs, and the state funds are for the
    most part in private bank accounts, Slobodan Milosevic has started
    fresh issuing of money,'' said the statement. Zajedno's press
    release added that, since this was not enough, the top management
    of the SPS has made a decision to re-channel a great part of the
    state money set aside for other purposes to the police. ``Thus the
    SPS and the JUL are punishing the citizens for protesting the
    local electoral theft for 45 days now,'' concluded Zajedno.


    Spokesman of the State Department Nicholas Burns said today that
    the US hopes that the current OSCE session will discuss a prompt
    and decisive condemnation of the Serbian government if Milosevic
    decides not to respect the electoral results.


    In a statement to Radio B92 today, Vuk Draskovic, one of Zajedno's
    leaders and head of the SPO, said that Serbian President Milosevic
    has used Yugoslavia's Foreign Minister as a proxy to send an
    offensive and humiliating reply to the OSCE recommendations on the
    recent local elections in Serbia. Vesna Pesic, head of GSS and
    also a leader of the coalition Zajedno, told Radio B92 that
    Milutinovic's letter stressed the victory of the left coalition,
    as if the opposition had ever disputed their victory in various
    small towns. She pointed to the fact that Milutinovic asked the
    OSCE to send him further details on the electoral results of the
    second round of balloting held last November 17, adding that this
    letter demonstrates utter disregard and even ignorance of basic
    diplomatic courtesy.


    ``These are unjust and undeserved walks! '' [alluding to the
    clich=E9 used by the state propaganda in describing the
    international sanctions formerly imposed on FR Yugoslavia]

    ``This people has completely lost its mind. High time it did!''

    ``Abolish the Danube. It is a foreign interference into our
    internal affairs.''

    ``What this document says is irrelevant. What is relevant is the
    end we can put it to.''

    ``Hats off to those who've managed to mislead us thus far!''
    [spoof of the state propaganda claims that the 5-week long
    demonstrations consist merely of ``a handful of misguided people
    in the streets of Belgrade.'']

    Prepared by: Aleksandra Scepanovic
    Edited by: Vaska Andjelkovic (Tumir)

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    e-mail: beograd@siicom.com      URL: http://www.siicom.com/odrazb/
            odrazb92@b92.opennet.org     http://www.siicom.com/b92/

[Menu] [dDH]