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Vol 3, No 15
30 April 2001
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News from Serbia News from Serbia
All the important news since 21 April
Ljubomir Pajić


Status quo in Montenegro

No matter what the future might bring, the elections held on 22 April in Montenegro, the smaller of two Yugoslav republics, should be called historical. Not only because 81.8 per cent of citizens of Montenegro have voted, a higher turnout than ever before in Montenegrin elections but also because any future decision in the long neglected smaller part of Yugoslav federation will permanently change the future of Serbia and Yugoslavia.

The ruling coalition went to the polls under the name of "Victory belongs to Montenegro" and won 36 of 77 seats in the Montenegrin Parliament. "Together for Yugoslavia" received 33 seats. As none of them have enough votes to create a separate government, they will have to start negotiating with possible coalition partners. That could mean that the decision about future government will depend on Liberal Union of Montenegro (six seats), Albanian Democratic Union (one or two), or the National Socialist Party (two).


Europe wants no change

In early commentaries on the Montenegrin elections most European officials advocated negotiations between Serbia and Montenegro. They want the two to remain in the same state built on democratic principles in order to avoid further destabilization of the region.

Montenegrin President Milo Đukanovicć has slightly changed his tone. "We shall not give up the idea of independence, but it can be postponed," said Đukanović in an interview with the Italian daily La Stampa. Without admitting his disappointment with the election results, he did not deny that he expected better results.


Koštunica no, Đinđić maybe

Referring to the political dialogue advocated by EU, Đukanović refused any talks with Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica, calling him "a man of the past." But Đukanović said that he believes there might be a dialogue with Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đindić, who "really represents the future of Serbia."

On the other side, Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica estimates that after this vote separation from Yugoslavia would be "the least suitable solution" for Montenegro. Totally ignoring the statement by Milo Đukanović, Koštunica said that he would initiate talks on future relations within the Yugoslav federation. In an interview with the Belgrade weekly Nin, Koštunica said that everything was negotiable with Montenegro except the fact that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia has one seat in the UN.

After a one-day postponement, William Montgomery, the US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, visited Montenegro on Friday. After his talks with President Đukanović, Ambassador Montgomery said that he sees "a democratic Montenegro in a democratic and reformed Yugoslavia." Montgomery also met with other leaders of Montenegrin political parties.

The latest developments in Montenegro brought to light the complexity of the Yugoslav political scene. Political parties in Montenegro that advocate the federation of Yugoslavia consist mainly of former Communists — the same as in Serbia. Yet, in Montenegro as in Serbia there are also strong democratic forces that sincerely believe in a federal state with two equal members.

The date of the US Ambassador's visit to Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, coincided with the National Day of FR Yugoslavia that was founded on 27 April 1992 after the former state, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, went down in the flames of war. Still, his visit did not change the official attitude to that holiday in Montenegro. According to the Montenegrin Ministry of Employment, the Yugoslav holiday was not to be celebrated in the republic. In Serbia the holiday was celebrated and all employees had a day off.


Slow justice, slow changes

There is almost no politician in Yugoslavia who does not speak about social changes and justice. The media are full of such statements — but the population is not convinced that anything will change soon except the prices that rise daily.

Almost seven months after his fall from power and almost a month after his arrest Slobodan Milošević is in jail, but nothing about his fate is clear. Milošević will remain in custody for another 30 days, according to the state controlled Radio Television of Serbia. Sourcing that news to the Belgrade District Court, the report said the court had made this decision because of the possibility that Milošević might flee the country or try to influence witnesses.

Since none of announced arrests of his aides have happened so far, there is much speculation that the government is trying to make a deal with its political opponents because of possible elections. The situation is more uncertain because of the finely balanced election result in Montenegro.


Small signs of change, maybe

Two events sent confusing signals about the possibility that leaders and functionaries from the former regime might be getting closer to justice. First, the governor of Yugoslav National Bank Mladjan Dinkić said in an interview with Radio B92 that the list of those who made extra profits through to different frauds and other abuses of power could be published soon. All of those listed would have to pay one-time taxes, while those who committed criminal acts would be prosecuted.

Then there was much outrage and anger in Belgrade when families and friends of 16 workers killed in NATO bombing of the Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) building gathered at a small monument to mark the second anniversary of the deaths. The gathering was held at 2.06am and the tension rose after the RTS news broadcast that evening.


Why weren't they told?

The RTS building in BelgradeA cameraman has already revealed that one day after bombing police informed him that 20 minutes before the bombing the evacuation was announced. Dragoljub Milanović, RTS director at that time, ordered everyone to remain in position. Even so, all journalists close to the regime were informed of the danger and left the building. The victims were mostly young members of technical units. Milanović has been in custody since 13 March suspected of not evacuating the workers deliberately.

The gathering was repeated at 14:06 the next day and rumours were heard about the former director being released from jail. That was confirmed a few hours later. At 19:30 RTS stopped broadcasting for 30 seconds in protest against his release.

Ljubomir Pajić, 27 April 2001

Moving on:


Radio B92


Sam Vaknin
Macedonian Economics 101

Ieva Raubiško
Latvia Fights Corruption

Nadia Rozeva Green
A Majestic Comeback?

Montenegro Votes:
Sam Vaknin
A Vote for Victory?

Brian J Požun
Independence or Chaos?

Elke de Wit
L'Amour, L'Argent, L'Amour

Brian J Požun
Slovenia's Potorož film festival

Necati Sönmez
Milčo Mančevski interviewed

Iva Pekárková

Madeline Hron
Iva Pekárková interviewed

Madeline Hron
Gimme the Money Reviewed

Iva Pekárková
An excerpt from
Gimme the Money

Recommended Reading

Štěpán Kotrba
Sow and Reap

Brian J Požun
Shedding the Balkan Skin

Martin D Brown
Czech Historical Amnesia

Dejan Anastasijević (ed)
Out of Time

Gusztáv Kosztolányi
Hungarian Oil Scandal

Sam Vaknin
After the Rain

Czech Republic

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