Central Europe Review Balkan Information Exchange
Vol 2, No 35
16 October 2000
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News from Serbia
All the important news
since 9 October 2000

Pat FitzPatrick and the Crna Gora Medija Klub

Serbian parliamentary elections called...

The Serbian Parliament opened Monday with a full legislative agenda, but ended its first session in the Koštunica era by dissolving itself and calling extraordinary elections for 17 December 2000.

Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) leader Zoran Đinđić told the Beta new agency that the vote of non-confidence in the Serbian government and subsequent call for extraordinary elections had been supported by all parties.

The parliamentary caucuses also agreed to form a transitional government with representation from DOS, the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). Đinđić said the transitional administration has been mandated with caretaker responsibilities and will ensure the organs of government return to "normal functioning" while also ensuring all parties will be treated fairly and equally in the upcoming elections.

Serbian President Milan Milutinović said he was unsure whether he would stand again for his post in the 17 December contest.

Meanwhile, a mob claiming to be DOS supporters hurled stones, bottles and invective at SRS leader Vojislav Šešelj as he left the Serbian Parliament building. Šešelj was separated from the main body of his security detail, was unable to reach his car and fled the area on foot.

The demonstrators also stoned the cut-off security detail, whom Beta reported as having fired pistol shots over the demonstrators' heads. In a second incident, an ANEM television crew was assaulted by an SPS security detail as it filmed members of Mira Marković's Yugoslav United Left (JUL) leaving the Serbian parliament through a back door.


Negotiations on transitional government at impasse

SPS representatives broke off negotiations with the DOS over the form and mandate of a Serbian transitional government late Tuesday, but on Thursday B-92 quoted Aleksandar Rastović, a senior SPS official, as saying his party would resume negotiations "soon."

Belgrade-branch SPS President Ivica Dačić told media later in the day that the party had not formally agreed to resume negotiations, but did say SPS officials "are talking to [DOS]."After SPS spokesman and Milošević loyalist Nikola Sainović ducked media questions, Dačić told reporters the party had not discussed whether Slobodan Milošević will continue as party president, adding that the upcoming 25 November SPS congress "would discuss demands for personnel changes."


Milošević in Moscow?

On Wednesday, Čačak mayor and DOS leader Velimir Ilić repeated his earlier claim that former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević had fled to Moscow following the ousted leader's meeting with President Koštunica last Friday, 6 October.

"There is a solid evidence that Milošević left the country," Ilić told B-92, adding, "Milošević is communicating over the phone only through Milutin Mrkonjić [director of Yugoslav Reconstruction Bureau], a fact that is being hidden from their closest associates."

Meanwhile, as Austrian police joined the international hunt for Milošević hidden bank accounts and other assets, the deposed president's son Marko was turned away by China.

Travelling on a diplomatic passport, Marko Milošević left Moscow for Beijing on a regular Aeroflot flight, but was returned to Moscow for "visa irregularities," Beta quoted an Aeroflot spokesman as saying.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Dju Bangzao would not say whether Marko had tried to gain entry to China, but was adamant in claiming that no member of the Milošević family had entered China's borders contradicting earlier press reports that Mira Marković had fled there.

Finally, the Dju said he did not know whether the former Yugoslav president planned to seek political asylum in China. Asked whether Beijing would grant Milošević asylum if he asked for it, Dju described the question as "extremely hypothetical" and said he could not answer it.


Filipović freed, journos demand answers

Kraljevo native and Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) journalist Miroslav Filipović was released from Nia Military Prison this week. He left escorted by his wife, Slavica, and his lawyer.

The Supreme Court had earlier overturned Filipović's seven-year sentence for espionage and disseminating false information and ordered him released, citing violations of legal procedures in the original military trial as the grounds for its decision.

Filipović told about thirty foreign and domestic journalists waiting outside the prison that he felt wonderful and that he had never lost hope that the sentence would be overturned. "I was simply not guilty of the things I was charged with," Radio B-92 quoted Filipović as saying.

Another imprisoned journalist, Zoran Luković, was also released on parole, B-92 reported. Luković, a staff journalist with the now defunct Dnevni telegraf, was sentenced to a five-month term for reporting on Serbian Health Minister Milovan Bojić's alleged involvement in a murder.

Finally, noting that a year and a half has passed since publisher and journalist Slavko Čuruvija was gunned down outside his home, the Independent Association of Serbian Journalists demanded that Serbian and Yugoslav authorities confirm the case was open and under investigation.

The association added that Serbia would remain unsafe for professional journalists trying to support democracy until the assassins are brought to justice.


Hombach announces aid package

Stability Pact coordinator Bodo Hombach was in Belgrade this week to announce a series of short—and long-term aid projects for Yugoslavia. Hombach emphasised, however, that it is essential that an "appropriate federal government" be established to act as the EU's partner in implementing the projects.

Several short-term projects would be implemented immediately, he said, to provide a normal day-to-day life for the people of Yugoslavia. Hombach also expressed the belief that a donor conference for Yugoslavia could be held as early as spring 2001, adding that, in the meantime, the country should seek IMF membership and negotiate clearance of its debts to the World Bank and European financial institutions in order to prepare for foreign investment.

Hombach explained that the pledged aid packages would be delivered in two phases. The first will include financial support for democratic initiatives, media development, education and refugee returns.

Hombach also pledged that the pact will appoint a manager to begin clearing the Danube of bombed bridges and unexploded ordinance. The second phase of assistance, he said, would be support for the Yugoslav economy and an energy sector assistance package.


Stambolić's fate remains uncertain

Although Serbian media reported last week that former Serbian President Ivan Stambolić was in jail and would soon be released, the Serbian Justice Ministry said this week that Stambolić is not and has never been in any state prison under its jurisdiction.

Leškovac prison warden Slavko Đorđević also denied reports Stambolić was detained at his facility. Stambolić was reportedly kidnapped more than a month ago, and has not been seen or heard from since.


And in other news...

  • As reported in all domestic and international media, the EU moved on Monday to ease sanctions on Yugoslavia and ended its oil ban. The United States moved to follow suit late in the week.
  • Vojislav Koštunica is already inspiring new faith in both the open and black market economies. The Yugoslav dinar strengthened dramatically on the Belgrade black market Monday, rising from over 40 to the German mark to below 30. On the black market, marks were selling for 25 dinars and being purchased at 28.
  • Milošević loyalist Momir Bulatović opened the week by resigning his post as federal prime minister.
  • On Monday, Belgrade authorities agreed to release four Dutchmen arrested in July on suspicion of having conspired to murder former President Slobodan Milošević, defence lawyer Zoran Jovanović told Radio B-92. The release came after a Dutch diplomat met with President Koštunica over the weekend to demand the men's release.
  • A Canadian mining engineer arrested in Montenegro on charges of terrorism was also released. The man, Sean Going, had been arrested with his nephew and two British police constables while on vacation from their work in Kosovo. The three other captives were released earlier in the week.

Crna Gora Medija Klub and Pat FitzPatrick , 16 October 2000

Files from B92 were also consulted in the compilation of this report.

Moving on:


Pat FitzPatrick
Reappraising Relations

Tom Gallagher
Return of the Poet

Magali Perrault
Nuking the Neighbours

Sam Vaknin
Parasitic Economics

Martin D Brown
Duplicity Revisited

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Roads to Roma

Wojtek Kość
Here He
Comes Again

Mel Huang
Lithuanians Vote

Andrea Mrozek
Visiting Auschwitz

Peter Hames
The Best Czech
Film Ever

Oliver Craske
The Uninvited

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Press Reviews:
Andrea Mrozek
Re-emerging Debates

Oliver Craske
Redrafting History

The Arts:
Židas Daskalovski
Strange Folk


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