Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 9
6 March 2000

Hungarian News Round-up C E N T R A L   E U R O P E A N    N E W S:
News Round-up for Serbia
News from Serbia since 27
February 2000

Vana Suša

On 28 February, the Democratic Party (DP) held its sixth party convention in Belgrade's Sava Centar. After a vote, it was decided that Zoran Đinđić will remain president of the DP, with 605 out of 1111 delegates voting for him. The only opponent to Đinđić was Slobodan Vuksanović, who was until recently vice president of the DP and who received 485 votes. Four new vice presidents were also elected at the congress. They are Predrag Filipović, Slobodan Gavrilović, Boris Tadić and Zoran Živković.

UN Special Representative to Kosovo Bernard Kuchner warned that the process of "cantonization" is Milošević's strategy, in order to destabilize Kosovo and create conditions that would, as Milošević hopes, push NATO out of the region. Kuchner said that the idea to divide Kosovo is not new, but he claims that the UN and KFOR will not consider the division of Kosovska Mitrovica. Rather, they wish to create conditions in which life can return to normal for all national minorities in the city as well as in Kosovo in general. Furthermore, Kuchner said that there is enough space for Serbian representatives in the administrative council for Kosovo, stating that "it is not suprising that the problems in Mitrovica started once moderate Serbs started to think about joining the council. Serbs from Mitrovica answered with violence, which was no doubt good for the congress of the ruling Socialist Party" (Blic, 28 February).

NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe Gen Wesley Clark stated that there can be no peace in the Balkans as long as Milošević is in power. He also warned Slobodan Milošević of the consequences if "Serbia continues its attempts to destabilize Kosovo," or if Serbia tries to forcefully stop the democratization of Montenegro (Nezavisne novine, 1 March). Gen Clark's remarks have increased speculations about the possibility of more NATO bombing in Yugoslavia. According to unofficial sources, there has been an increased mobilization of the Yugoslav Army (VJ), largely due to Montenegro's decision to open its border with Albania. Also, there have been frequent clashes between Serbian police and armed Albanians in the southern parts of Serbia. According to Serbian sources, Albanian extremists "with their permanent provocations and murders of policeman are trying to stage a conflict between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the VJ on one side and NATO on the other side."

Nine days before the ninth anniversary of the first anti-Milošević demonstrations, when tanks were sent onto the streets of Belgrade to quell the protests, it is still disputable whether or not a united Serbian opposition will appear for the first time together on 9 March. None of the opposition leaders would comment on their first meeting. Zoran Đinđić said that no one in the opposition mentioned when exactly a meeting would take place. Furthermore, Đinđić said that the members of the Alliance for Change (AC) do not have anything against holding a meeting on 9 March, however, he added that the AC will not be the first to take an initiative. The Serbian Renewal Party (SRP) stated that they would prefer the meeting to take place on 9 March, however, since all decisions are made by consensus, the SRP will wait for the meeting of the opposition parties when the date for the meeting will be established. (Glas, 1 March).

Students gave their last warning to the Ministry of Education before they will start to boycott classes. They have demanded that the Ministry of Education fulfill teachers' request and raise their salaries and change the present law on primary and secondary education to revert to that passed in 1992. Unless all of the requests are fulfilled by the 7 March, students will boycott their classes.

Serbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanović marked the beginning of construction on a new Varadin bridge in Novi Sad. According to Marjanović, this bridge will be rebuilt in the same place where the previous bridge once stood. The project will be called "Varadin Rainbow." "This bridge, whose rebuilding will be finished on 1 November, represents the best solution concerning money, time, its function as well as aesthetic concerns." Furthermore, Marjanović added that the rebuilding of Varadin bridge will close the circle of the damaged traffic infrastructure, which was "brutally destroyed during the NATO bombing... The Varadin Rainbow, as well as the overall reunion of the country, represent the answer of this brave and emancipated nation against the forces of evil and aggression," concluded Marjanović (Danas, 2 March).

Police in Novi Sad detained 44 activists from the Vojvodina Social Democratic League, because they handed out pamphlets to citizens, calling on them to gather at the ruins of Varadin bridge to stage a protest against the hypocrisy of the ruling regime towards Novi Sad.

Montenegro recieved DEM 40 million credit from Germany. This money will be for projects in which German companies will participate, which was announced after Montenegrian President Milo Đukanović met German Foreign Minister Joska Fischer. During their meeting, Đukanović expressed the determination of his government to continue with market reforms. However, both Fischer and Đukanović stated their concerns that Slobodan Milošević will produce another crisis in the country. Fischer promised Đukanović that Germany will support Montenegro financially.

Vana Suša, 4 March 2000



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