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Protests in Serbia Archive
Odraz B92 Daily News Service

    ODRAZ B92, Belgrade                             Daily News Service

    Odraz B92 vesti (by 7 PM), January 30, 1997

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

    NEWS BY 7 PM


    On Thursday Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic and Yugoslav Army
    Chief-of-Staff Momcilo Perisic, met with representatives of the
    Second Army command in the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on
    Thursday, Montena-Fax reported.

    Follwing are excerpts of Mr. Lilic's statement:

    ``Further destabilization of the state, for the sake of party
    interests is inadmissible and must be stopped immediately. Whether
    the Gonzalez report or some other form of compromise will be used
    is not the most crucial issue, although the Gonzalez report has
    many elements that could be used as a basis for resolving this
    complicated dispute over 3% of electoral units [in Serbia].''

    ``Before the [local] elections the international community had
    opened its door wide for the normalization of relations [with the
    FR Yugoslavia], we had intensive talks with the International
    Monetary Fund, World Bank and World Trade Organization, and it is
    obvious that this is not the case today. Today we see the
    consequences... of the unresolved...  local elections in Serbia.''

    Mr. Lilic then explained that ``due to poor electoral laws in the
    Republic of Serbia, and also to the dishonourable actions of some
    individuals in a number of the electoral units,'' policital
    tension in Serbia had increased. He expressed hope that Serbia
    would find the strength to bring those individuals to justice.

    ``We all have the duty, and especially the government of the
    Republic of Serbia, to make a special effort to legitimately solve
    these... problems, to decrease tension, to offer solutions, and
    the dissatisfied part of the opposition is obliged to accept those

    These misunderstandings should be solved democratically... and
    within the institutions we have all been referring to. Without
    doubt the Yugoslav Army will support such an institutional
    approach, without the use or provocation of violence, for it is
    our duty, as it is our right, to bring the seriousness of the
    current situation to the attention of all. A democratic solution
    [to this dispute] will open up the road to economic recovery in
    the FR Yugoslavia.''

    ``Our strategic interests are peace, the freedom of our citizens,
    economic recovery, and above all stability, unity and the
    integrity of the FR Yugoslavia. These goals demand that we rise
    above narrow party or any other interests. Therefore it is
    essential that the most important political parties in the
    Republic of Serbia find a political solution to... clear up these
    misunderstandings immediately. Failing this, I think those parties
    will bear an enormous responsibility for the possible consequences
    that may put more pressure on the region of FR Yugoslavia. I
    strongly believe that with a compromise, and with the full respect
    and recognition of the truth, the FR Yugoslavia should emerge from
    [this crisis] considerably stronger...''

    ``Taking full responsibility, I state that the opposition in
    Serbia should be granted its electoral results, in all places
    where it won by the will of the citizens, and be enabled to
    constitute their bodies of local self-government, for this is in
    the interest of stabilization. I also believe that the opposition
    must be aware of its responsibility, and not insist on those
    demands which are contrary to the will of the people and are
    unrelated to the local elections and have directly contributed to
    the weakening of the FR Yugoslavia's standing.''

    Mr Lilic also insisted that state institutions should be
    strengthened and that the army abide by the constitution and
    protect the interests of citizens of the FR Yugoslavia.


    Tens of thousands of Belgrade students marched from several
    different parts of the city to the main railway station unhindered
    by police on Thursday.

    In front of the School of Philosophy, their destination, they were
    informed that the Belgrade University's Chancellor meeting had
    been cancelled as there had not been a full quorum. Only 12 deans
    of a total of 34 turned up for that meeting. At the same time, a
    parallel meeting of those deans who support the student protest
    was held at the School of Philosophy.


    The session of 21 deans, 8 institute directors and 9 university
    staff members, was held at Belgrade University's School of
    Philosophy on Thursday.

    The meeting concluded that the responsibilty for the crisis lay
    with the University's Chancellor, Dragutin Velickovic.

    The meeting demanded that the Serbian government remove its
    members from the University Council, as they had publically voted
    against the Chancellor in public and for him in secret vote.

    The meeting gave its full support to student demands and commended
    their behaviour, as well as that of lecturers, throughout the


    When University Chancellor Dragutin Velickovic realised he did not
    have a full quorom for Thursday's meeting he decided to hold an
    impromptu press conference.

    Mr. Velickovic said that the council of deans, who were at that
    time convening at the School of Philosophy, was not legitimate and
    had no authority to make decisions as only he had the authority to
    convene such a meeting.


    New Democracy spokesperson Rebeka Srbinovic stated on Thursday
    that they expected the crisis in Serbia to be resolved and that
    the recommendations of the Organization for Security and
    Cooperation in Europe to be implemented. Ms. Srbinovic explained
    that this expectation was based on the ``optimistic'' statements
    of Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, FoNet reported.


    Vojislav Seselj, leader of the Radical Party of Serbia (SRS)
    stated on Thursday that Radomir Lazarevic, chair of the Belgrade
    Electoral Commission, should be sent to prison for ``the criminal
    behaviour'' of that body.

    Mr. Seselj blamed Mr. Lazarevic for allowing opposition leader Vuk
    Draskovic to directly influence the work of the Commision. Mr.
    Seselj also condemned the Commission for holding talks with the
    Gonzalez mission, student representatives and Russian diplomats,
    thus losing any ``legality, legitimacy and objectivity.''

    Mr. Seselj said that the only possible solution to the election
    dispute was that the Supreme Court of Serbia, and the Serbian
    Public Prosecutor, take extraordinary legal remedies, thus
    enabling the courts to rule by the law. ``It is obvious that this
    ruling could be the recognition of the November 17 results,'' Mr.
    Seselj concluded.

    Mr. Seselj also stated that his party possessed evidence, soon to
    be made public, that ``leading experts for special warfare from
    Germany and the US'' were engaged in organizing the demonstrations
    in Belgrade. Proof of this, according to Mr. Seselj, had been
    given when a student delegation was invited to the US, FoNet
    reported on Thursday.


    The parliamentary session of the Council of Europe adopted
    Wednesday night a resolution on the situation in FR Yugoslavia.
    The resolution called on the Yugoslav government to implement the
    recommendations of the Organization for Security and Cooperation
    in Europe, to refrain from violence against opposition
    demonstrators, and establish true political dialogue with the
    opposition in order to start democratic reforms.

    The resolution also demanded that the Yugoslav government respect
    the principles of pluralistic democracy, human rights, including
    freedom in the media, and the rule of law, including respect for
    minorities Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandzak.

    The resolution also demanded that Belgrade adhere strictly to the
    Dayton accords and cooperate with the International War Crimes
    Tribunal. The fulfilment of all these demands was made a condition
    for future contacts with Yugoslavia.

    The Council of Europe also called on the opposition to clearly
    commit itself to respect for democratic and human rights in
    Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandzak, as well as the Dayton accords.


    Many analysts in Washington have predicted that Serbian President
    Slobodan Milosevic could provoke clashes in Kosovo in order to
    direct attention away from the election crisis in Serbia, Slobodan
    Pavlovic reported for FoNet on Thursday.

    Warren Zimmermann, last US ambassador to Yugoslavia, said in an
    interview to CNN that President Milosevic would not hesitate to
    use brutal force if he judged this would enable him to stay in
    power. He pinpointed Kosovo as a potential fuse for a new crisis
    in Yugoslavia, with possible catastrophic consequences for the
    whole Balkan region.

    According to Mr. Zimmermann, while Serbian people could expect
    some help from abroad, they would have to struggle for democratic
    transformation themselves.


    Opposition leader Vesna Pesic said on Thursday that Serbian
    President Slobodan Milosevic might soon propose an interim
    government for Belgrade, paving the way for new elections, as a
    possible exit from the current crisis.

    Mrs. Pesic said that such an interim government would be
    tantamount to introducing a state of emergency and would thus only
    worsen the crisis in Yugoslavia.

    She said that any solution short of recognition of the November 17
    results was no solution at all. ``There are state institutions
    that could respect the people's will.'' Ms. Pesic stressed.


    A statement by the opposition coalition Zajedno condemned on
    Thursday the purge and repression of journalists and supported
    their struggle for basic human rights, including the right to

    The statement cited the cases of Television Trstenik, Radio
    Television Kragujevac, 'Kanal 4' of Bajina Basta, dismissals at
    Radio Television Serbia's Channel 3, as well as other suspensions,
    forced leaves and black lists in the state media.

    Zajedno called on all journalists in Serbia to join the struggle
    for a free media, as one of the key demands of the civic protests
    in Serbia.


    The round table -- ``Serb-Croat Relations and the Problem of
    Refugees,'' organized by the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
    in Serbia -- began in Belgrade on Thursday.

    Participants attended the round table from FR Yugoslavia, Croatia
    and Bosnia Herzegovina, as well as representatives of diplomatic
    missions, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations in

    The overall conclusion of the round table was that the
    repatriation of refugees was the best way to prevent the
    establishment of mono-ethnic states on the territories of former
    Yugoslavia, and to maintain stability in the region, FoNet
    reported on Thursday.


    An opinion poll conducted by the Institute of Social Sciences in
    December 1996 was presented in Belgrade on Thursday, Beta
    reported. According to that poll, 50% of Yugoslav citizens did not
    trust any politician or could not determine which politician they
    trusted most.

    The percentage of people who said they would vote for the leftist
    coalition [Socialists, Yugoslav United Left and New Democracy
    Party] and for the opposition coalition Zajedno was almost

    Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's rating decreased from 31%
    in November to 25% in December 1996. Radical leader Vojislav
    Seselj improved his rating from 3 to 6% while support for Vojislav
    Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, increased
    from 4 to 5% and Zoran Djindjic and Vuk Draskovic, the Zajedno
    leaders, from 2% in November to 4% in December.

    One third of those polled did not know for whom they would vote,
    8% said they would abstain and 7% said they would give their votes
    to the Radicals and 4% for other parties. The greatest fall in
    popularity recorded was that of the leftist coalition -- from 34%
    to 24%, while support for the opposition coalition Zajedno
    increased from 17 to 23%. The percentage of undecided voters
    increased from 21 to 34%, while the number of abstainees dropped
    from 10 to 8%.

    Prepared by: Marija Milosavljevic
    Edited by: Julia Glyn-Pickett

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

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