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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service
    Odraz B92 vesti (by 10 PM), January 7, 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 10 PM


    Foreign diplomats in Belgrade fear that the police might take
    action against the demonstrators in the next few days, following
    the New Year's and Christmas holidays. A Western diplomat told
    Reuters that there is a limit to Serbian President Milosevic's
    capacity to tolerate having become the laughing stock of Belgrade.
    Milosevic is losing authority by the hour among the army ranks,
    the police, his Socialist party and even the undecided segment of
    the public. His credibility in the West has almost vanished, said
    the unnamed diplomat, adding that Milosevic will feel compelled to
    stop this one way or the other. Foreign diplomats think Milosevic
    has not yet attempted to crush the demonstrations because he is
    uncertain of the support he has even from his strongest ally --
    the state's formidable secret police. Reuters quoted the same
    unnamed diplomat as saying it was out of the question for
    Milosevic to move to crush the demonstrations in the midst of the
    Christmas and New Year's holiday season but a few days later would
    be another story altogether. The British news agency also reports
    that thousands of people turned to the streets of Belgrade for the
    New Year's and Christmas Eves, and that the demonstrators were
    able to get around the ban on protest marches by blocking the
    traffic with their vehicles January 5. The Orthodox New Year will
    be the next occasion for the protest crowds to fill the streets.

    Tensions rose sharply after last night's explosion in front of the
    JUL headquarters. Foreign diplomats tend to believe that the
    explosion was set off by members of this same neo-communist party,
    with the aim of forcing the authorities to ban public meetings in
    city squares altogether. This incident aggravated fears among
    Zajedno supporters and Western diplomats that agents provocateurs
    will try to infiltrate the opposition ranks to stage assaults on
    the symbols of state authority and give Milosevic a pretext to
    crush the protests.


    Speaker of the Montenegrin Parliament Svetozar Marovic told Radio
    Budva that there Montenegrin representatives might stay out if the
    Federal Parliament until ``the electoral crisis in Serbia has been
    resolved democratically.''  He stressed that the developments in
    Serbia were of grave concern to Montenegro, since the whole of FR
    Yugoslavia is paying a steep price for it. The stakes are high and
    include FR Yugoslavia's return to the international community as
    well as the speed at which its economic recovery will now proceed.
    He stressed his belief that the OSCE recommendations should be
    implemented immediately without any further exchange of
    correspondence, referring to, as he said, the bizarre and fuzzy
    reply by ``those who had invited the OSCE commission.''  Marovic
    said that the departure of Montenegrin deputies from the Federal
    Parliament would be a clear demonstration of Montenegro's vote of
    no confidence for all those who have failed to respect the will of
    the people expressed in the November 17 elections and who have
    violated democratic principles and values. According to Marovic,
    this would not represent a rejection of FR Yugoslavia as such.
    ``Montenegro cannot wait while others make decisions,'' Marovic
    underlined, saying that he hopes Serbia will promptly move to
    reach political solutions through a dialogue among the opposing
    factions and the authorities' recognition of the disputed
    electoral results. ``Otherwise, I believe Montenegro will have to
    seriously consider its next move,'' stressed Marovic.


    After dozens of thousands of Zajedno supporters had gathered in
    Republic Square today, the crowd went to greet the several
    thousand strong police cordons deployed around the square. The
    encounter was rather tense, at first, but the atmosphere seemed to
    loosen up when the police realized that the demonstrators wanted
    to wish them a merry Christmas. Asked whether he managed to wish a
    merry Christmas to any of the police, Zoran Djindjic told a Radio
    B92 reporter: ``I did so to one or two of them. The rest looked at
    us blankly and were fairly reserved. It was obvious they weren't
    sure whether we were going to try and break through their cordon.
    These weren't the riot squads [from previous days]. These
    policeman were young and full of fear. When they heard we were
    going to Knez Mihajlova Street, they sighed with relief and gave
    us some smiles and even a wink here and there.'' He announced
    another driving protest for tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. At today's
    meeting, Zajedno announced that they have identified the attackers
    on the demonstrators of December 27 as the same security guards
    who were present at Milosevic's counter-rally of December 24.


    The next protest gathering called by the Student Protest 96/97 is
    set for tomorrow, 12 noon.

    The Communist Alliance Movement for Yugoslavia said today Zajedno
    is responsible for the explosion in JUL headquarters, comparing
    the act to the burning of Reichstag.

    Radio B92 learned today from the Democratic Party vice-president
    in Nis, Zoran Zivkovic, that Zajedno today obtained a copy of the
    falsified electoral minutes and has already brought a legal suit
    against the Leskovac Electoral Commission members.

    Students of the University of Nis will hold a mock ``commemorative
    service for the Nis City Assembly'' tomorrow. For this occasion,
    the city has been covered with obituary notices sporting black
    five-pointed stars and saying that tomorrow ``will be 40 days
    since the passing away of our beloved Nis City Assembly.''

    Kragujevac Mayor Veroljub Stevanovic told several thousand
    gathered citizens of Kragujevac that 2 new churches will be built
    in this city.


    Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democratic Party, and Vojislav
    Kostunica, leader of the DSS congratulated today the Republic of
    Srpska on its State Day, January 9. Djindjic told the news agency
    SRNA that since Serbs are one nation, the future will see similar
    organizations developing in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska. He
    said that by getting their own institutions, Serbs will be able to
    show that they are a democratic nation whose independent,
    unambiguous and progressive decisions will allow them to re-enter
    Europe and the civilized world. Kostunica pointed out that this
    year is likely to bring some major tasks with it, especially those
    related to the local elections in Bosnia. Kostunica expressed his
    belief that the Serbian people and the Republic of Srpska
    leadership will build and steer their state successfully.


    The National Committee of the US Democratic Party has confirmed
    that the leaders of Zajedno and a representative of the University
    of Belgrade Student Protest 96/97 have been invited to Washington
    to attend the second inaugural ceremony of US President Bill
    Clinton on January 20, reports for FoNet Slobodan Pavlovic. The
    State Department said that the invitation to Vuk Draskovic, Zoran
    Djindjic, Vesna Pesic, and student representative Dragan
    Vasiljevic was one of the concrete signs of US support for the
    democratic breakthrough in Serbia, begun after Serbian President
    Milosevic had refused to recognize the opposition's victories in
    local elections in Serbia. During their stay in Washington, the
    guests from Belgrade will have a chance to talk to representatives
    of the Clinton administration as well as to various members of
    Congress. Preparations are under way for their meeting with
    President Clinton as well.

    US peace envoy for former Yugoslavia, John Kornblum is to set out
    on his first Balkan tour this year. Once again as a sign of
    protest at Milosevic's actions since November 17, the tour will
    not include Belgrade. The US Government is, however, interested in
    a dialogue with the representatives of the democratic opposition
    in Serbia and will take advantage of the presence of Zajedno
    leaders and the student representative in Washington to achieve
    this. Among the countries the US has diplomatic relations with,
    only FR Yugoslavia's official representatives have not been
    invited to Clinton's inauguration.


    ``Two consecutive days of huge demonstrations suggest that
    Milosevic's strategy of playing for time, in the hope that the
    protests will peter out, is not working. Instead, the opposition
    shows every sign of being reinvigorated by the holiday festivities
    and is planning new ways of embarrassing the regime,'' reads an
    article in today's issue of The Washington Post.

    The article describes last night's Christmas Eve celebration as
    ``one of the largest demonstrations in Belgrade since the start of
    the popular rebellion in the wake of the Serbian government's
    refusal to recognize opposition victories in local elections on
    Nov. 17.''

    The massive attendance by Belgraders has been described by the US
    media as a result of the important turn the Serbian Orthodox
    Church has made in the last few days with regard to Milosevic and
    his regime. In the late 80's and early 90's, the Serbian Orthodox
    Church, like its Croatian Catholic counterpart, supported the
    aggressive nationalism that lead to the breakdown of former
    Yugoslavia and subsequent wars on its territory. It was only the
    ongoing demonstrations at nullification of local electoral
    opposition victories that made the Serbian Church distance itself
    resolutely from Milosevic and condemn him for his anti-democratic
    policy, said the Washington Post report. The report notes that
    after 7 week of protests, Milosevic is left with only the police
    to back him in his confrontations with the democratic opposition
    and students, now that the Church has turned its back on him and
    the Army is keeping conspicuously neutral. His sole political
    allies are his wife and her party, now that Montenegro is sending
    out signals to the West that it absolutely opposes the state's
    handling of the political crisis in Serbia.


    Serbian opposition and the mass movement of civil resistance to
    the authorities have received a strong and open support from the
    Serbian Patriarch, and an indirect one from the army Chief-of-
    Staff, report Russian media. Branko Stosic reports for FoNet that
    the Belgrade correspondent of the Russian newsagency ITAR-TAS,
    Tatjana Zamjatina in a special report for the Russian television
    network NTV says that in the light of these events, the Serbian
    President can be expected to offer new concessions. The huge turn-
    outs of demonstrators for the New Year and Christmas Eves show
    that partial concessions will not satisfy the Serbian public, said
    the report. Moscow TV and radio stations, however, focus on the
    explosion in the JUL headquarters, the third terrorist action in a
    month directed against the left coalition. Tatjana Zamjetina
    observed in her report that this could be a provocation at the
    hands of the left coalition itself.


    The political crisis in Serbia will be on the agenda of the
    meeting of European Union representatives which is to take place
    during the next three days in the Hague. A meeting of the Working
    Group for former Yugoslavia is scheduled for tomorrow and a
    session of the EU Political Committee is expected to take place
    over Thursday and Friday, reports for FoNet Mirko Klarin. The main
    issue on both meetings' agendas will be the situation in Serbia
    following the publication of the findings and recommendations of
    Felipe Gonzalez's mission. The EU meeting is to issue a joint
    statement of its fifteen members on the present crisis in Serbia
    and perhaps define a new European strategy towards Serbia. The
    statement will probably carry a demand for the recognition of the
    original electoral results and a warning against any attempt to
    crush the democratic movement in Serbia by force, as has already
    been stated by the representatives of all the leading European
    countries. According to the European diplomats engaged in Yugoslav
    issues, the strategy will start with an official recognition that
    Milosevic is not indispensable, and that it is essential to form
    contacts and relations with the political powers that might
    inherit his office. Apart from insisting on ``complete and
    urgent'' implementation of all recommendations by Gonzalez's
    mission, the Hague meetings are expected to express strong
    solidarity of the EU with the democratic movement in Serbia as
    well as examine the means which the EU can use to put pressure on
    the Belgrade regime.


    Reuters reported today that Romanian President Emil Constantinescu
    called on the Serbian authorities to recognize the November local
    electoral results and avoid further aggravation of the crisis,
    reports FoNet. A statement by the President's cabinet urged the
    Yugoslav authorities to accept the recommendations by the OSCE to
    acknowledge the contended electoral results. ``Romanian President
    believes that the continuation of the crisis in Yugoslavia will
    jeopardize its democratic development and the return of the
    country to the international community, and that it will also have
    negative consequences for the stability in the region,'' read the
    statement. ``Recognition of electoral results will decrease the
    internal tensions, set the country on the road of democratic
    development and restore the public trust,'' the statement pointed
    out. Constantinescu warned that the Romanian experience ``has
    shown that halfway measures in solving the situation can only
    raise the political and social costs,'' that have to be paid


    The Hungarian Democratic Forum, a parliamentary party which
    governed Hungary in the first post-communist mandate, issued a
    statement today concerning the present developments in Serbia,
    reports for FoNet Dragan Jakovljevic. Leader of the party Sandor
    Lesak announced that he will visit Belgrade to have talks with
    Zajedno leaders, whose just struggle, he said, his party fully
    supports. Lesak told the press conference that in a letter to
    Alois Mock, Chairman of the European Democratic Union, he urged
    that all democratic forces in Europe which are members of this
    association back the Belgrade demonstrators. The Hungarian
    Democratic Forum also urges the Union of Christian Conservative
    Parties to publicly condemn the policy used by, as Lesak said, the
    undemocratic regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Representatives of this
    party in the Hungarian Parliament will put forward a proposal that
    the Hungarian government initiate a discussion of the situation in
    Serbia in the UN, the European Council and other international
    institutions, since this situation can affect the stability of the
    whole region.


    A Bosnian refugee who was facing expulsion from Germany hijacked a
    passenger plane flying to Vienna today. Brandishing a knife, the
    refugee forced the pilot to turn the plane back to Berlin. FoNet
    reports AFP as saying that the 39-year-old hijacker of the
    Austrian Airlines plane carrying 28 passengers and 5 crew members,
    was quickly disarmed after the plane had landed at the Berlin
    airport Tegel. There were no casualties in this action. The
    hijacker, whose name was not given, was to be repatriated to
    Bosnia. He had filed an application for political asylum in
    Germany, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Justice in Berlin.
    After the plane had landed, the police started negotiations with
    the hijacker, but after an hour, he was physically removed from
    the plane and arrested.


    Member on the Bosnia-Herzegovina Presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik
    told to today's issue of the newspaper Oslobodjenje that ``Bosnia
    and Herzegovina has a chance of surviving only as far as this was
    agreed in Dayton,'' reports the Republic of Srpska news agency
    SRNA. ``Bosnia and Herzegovina will survive as a loose
    confederation of two sates with equal standing -- the Republic of
    Srpska and the Federation of Bosnia Herzegovina, which will most
    probably be transformed into two federal states,'' observed
    Krajisnik. According to him, ``the best possible solution for
    Bosnia and Herzegovina would be that it becomes a geographical
    concept, which would host two independent states or an alliance of
    independent states.''  He stressed that Brcko ``is a common
    denominator for all interests of the RS'' and said: ``Brcko has
    become a synonym for something that cannot be given away, used as
    a compromise nor handed over.'' With regard to the events in
    Serbia, Krajisnik underlined that ``any government must have a
    solution for problems that arise, and if it fails to come up with
    one, it can no longer survive.'' ``We are very interested in the
    solution of the situation in Serbia. There are many reasons why we
    do not want to take a position [on this crisis], one of which is
    that any of our attempts to act as arbiters in this situation
    cannot put an end to the problems,'' he added. ``Our leadership is
    fully committed and aware of who is responsible and for what. Our
    decision not to state our position publicly is a kind of a
    response to their [? ] passive attitude to the fall of Western
    Slavonija.'' ``Only some of the demands by the opposition
    coalition can get our support...  Some of the politicians
    protesting today do not deserve our support, as they did their
    best against the Republic of Srpska, against our interests, and
    had even called for airstrips against Bosnian] Serbs,'' he said.
    Krajisnik argued that the neutral position taken by the Republic
    of Srpska was the best possible contribution to the peace in
    Serbia. ``This is by no means a calculated measure but stems from
    our wish to refrain from aggravating the problem further,'' he
    specified. With a suggestion that the solution to the crisis must
    ``promptly'' be found, he said that ``this situation is heading
    towards a full isolation of Serbia and a complete breakdown of the
    present policy.'' ``Our enemies will rejoice. They are already
    engaged in aggravating the rift to largest possible extent,''
    warned Krajisnik.

    [We apologize for the obscurities in the above news item. The
    fault does not lie in the translation.]


    Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Vinko Puljic attended today the
    Orthodox Christmas service in the oldest church in Sarajevo,
    reports AFP.  Addressing the congregation, Cardinal Puljic
    expressed his hope that the wounds the war had inflicted on the
    souls of the people would be healed so that a true peace can
    prevail as soon as possible. Puljic's attendance at the Orthodox
    service followed up on head of Serbian Orthodox Church in Bosnia
    Herzegovina Mitropolit Nikolaj's attendance at the Catholic
    Christmas service.


    Catholic church of St. Ivan Karistran in the East Slavonian town
    of Ilok was damaged early this morning in an explosion, reports
    AFP. Spokesman for the UNTAES, Philip Arnold said the bomb was
    laid next to the church and did some damage to its facade, but no
    casualties were reported.


    Mladjan Dinkic, renowned economist and author of the book
    ``Economy of Destruction,'' told Radio B92 that the recent rapid
    leap of the Deutschemark is a result of government actions
    undertaken at the end of last year. He said that Serbia carried
    out a ``gray'' issue of banknotes, September through December
    1996, in the amount of 1.1 billion dinars. Serbia's savings banks
    were in the red last year, the main reason being the payment of
    pension benefits. The lack of cash and the natural reaction of the
    holders of savings accounts unable to get their money from banks
    to sell foreign currency increased the demand. The state
    authorized fresh cash provisions to their dealers and the
    Deutschemark has been going up since January 1, culminating
    yesterday and today with a new high of 5 dinars in Podgorica, the
    Montenegrin capital. Fresh from his trip to Podgorica, Dinkic told
    RadioB92 that Montenegrins are dismayed. They think Serbia is
    trying to draw money from Montenegro. He was told by the Dean of
    the School of Economy in Podgorica that the dealers who have
    recently appeared there are not local people at all. Dinkic's
    conclusion was that the stability of the dinar is permanently
    jeopardized and that its rate of exchange will continue to fall,
    which will discourage foreign importers. He also said that
    Montenegro's response is yet to come, for Montenegro does not want


    Belgrade Catholic Archbishop France Perko wished a merry Christmas
    to Serbian Patriarch Pavle. In his greeting, the Archbishop said:
    ``With love and respect, I salute your Holiness and all
    archdeacons, clergymen and believers of your brotherly Church.
    God's peace -- Christ is born.'' Archbishop Perko stressed that
    the region is nearing the year 2.000, the second millennium since
    the birth of Christ an atmosphere of great uncertainty and
    internal clashes among the peoples of different beliefs.
    Therefore, his message read, ``all are in need God's help and
    grace,'' reports FoNet.

    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/

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