Vol 2, No 2
17 January 2000
C E N T R A L E U R O P E A N
N E W S:
Serbian News Round-up
News from Serbia since
8 January 2000
Warlord Arkan was shot dead. See details HERE.
General Vidoje Pantelić stated that during the NATO attacks 524 Yugoslav Amy soldiers died. In the New Year's edition of the magazine Vojska, Pantelić said that 33 soldiers are still missing and that 21 died afterwards from wounds incurred during the conflict. According to General Pantelić, 1109 military targets were destroyed, which amounts to 24% of total military holdings. He also stated that 611 objects were heavily damaged, and 901 objects were somewhat damaged. Pantelić emphasized that losses induced by the NATO bombing are far less than what was previously reported and estimated by the NATO officials.
Yugoslav Foreign Secretary Goran Matić accused Vuk Drašković and other key opposition figures of trying to start a civil war in Yugoslavia in accordance with their Western mentor's wishes. This charge was specifically aimed at the leader of the Serbian Renewal Party (SRP), Vuk Drašković. Matić stated that the "main scenario of the NATO proponents is Serb against Serb" (Blic, 9 January). Furthermore, Matić stated that recently, while in Berlin Drašković kissed the hand of the Madeline Albright, who "killed" 2000 people during the NATO aggression. According to Matić, such a gesture is an offer for the West to provoke political conflicts that would lead to a civil war. But Matić also believes that the citizens of Serbia and Yugoslavia know who bombed them and why.
Foreign Secretary Matić also showed the press a video tape of Yugoslav citizen Petrušić who was arested by the Yugoslav authorities on charges of collaboration with the French secret service. Petrušić stated that he took Vuk Drašković to secret meetings several times and that Drašković requested money from Patric Fore and other French officials.
The SRP announced that they will press charges against Minister of Information Goran Matić, who, as a spokesman for the SRP said, "spread Goebels-like lies that no one believes" (Blic, 10 January 2000). The SRP has requested that Matić resign.
The flu epidemics continues to spread. The number of people suffering from an infection of the respiratory system similar to the flu is increasing daily. According to data from the Health Service in Yugoslavia, there are 128,891 reported cases of this flu. It is estimated that the real number is even greater, considering that a significant percentage of the population has not reported their illness. The situation has been made more acute because of the lack of proper medicines in both private and state-run pharmacies. Some medical experts claim that a new wave of the flu epidemic will come as soon as the schools and universities start working after the winter holidays.
The SRP offered other opposition leaders two documents which call on the government to allow early elections in April. The SRP invited 16 opposition parties to a discussion about the strategies for the early elections. All of the leaders that Drašković invited came and signed the proposed document, except for General Momilo Perišić, president of the Movement for a Democratic Serbia. General Perišić did not sign the document because it did not contain any clause that would allow Milošević's resignation through a Parliamentary and, thus, legal process.
The participants agreed that, if the regime does not accept their request, they will use all means possible, including local media, in order to raise the spirits of the people for the planned mass gatherings and protests. The SRP has planned the first big protest for 9 March 2000, when, as Drašković said, everyone will need to take to the streets and stay there until an agreement with the ruling government pertaining to early elections is reached. In the second document, leaders of the opposition request that the European Union and the United States lift the oil and air travel sanctions from Yugoslavia and increase humanitarian aid for refugees. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the EU, USA, Russia and China will be requested that they quickly implement resolution 1244 of the UN Security Council on Kosovo and Metohija, which allows K-FOR to operate in Kosovo. This will be requested as soon as the opposition reaches an agreement with the ruling government.
The Alliance for Change (AC) agrees generally with the SRP's proposed strategy, in spite of the fact that they will propose certain changs, said Vladan Batić, coordinator for the AC. According to Batić, these changes will be concerned with the more homogenized relationship within the opposition parties, as well as shortening the deadlines of the proposed early elections. Vojislav Koštunica, President of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS), stated that the document that was proposed by the SRP is contradictory and vague on several aspects. He said, "it is unusual that those who organized the meeting gave conclusions in advance" (Blic, 10 January 2000). Radomir Lazarević, vice president of the New Democracy party (ND), expressed satisfaction with the meeting and said, "this is a real opportunity for an agreement and for concrete activities" (Blic, 10 January 2000). Similarly, Nebojša Čović, president of the Democratic Alternative party, stressed the importance of such an event.
More than 10,000 people gathered on the main square in Belgrade to celebrate Orthodox New Year. On 13 January 2000, a student group called "Otpor" (Resistance) organized a celebration of the Serbian New Year's eve. More than 10,000 people celebrated this event by watching video clips from the previous anti-government protests and looking at pictures and names of the young people who were killed or are still missing during the protests. "Otpor" announced awards to the heroes of the resistance in eight categories. Renowned Yugoslav drummer Dragon Đuricšić led the crowd into the Orthodox New Year with his drumming. Shortly after, Ljubomir Tadić, who hosted the show, said to the crowd: "Serbia does not have a reason to celebrate... Now we are going home, our gesture will be a message ... in order to avoid more victims" (Glas, 14 January 2000).
Vana Suša, 14 January 2000
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