Sharing the government
The three leading political groups in Serbia have agreed to form a transitional Serbian government. The Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), the Serbian Renewal movement (SPO) and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) have agreed that the ministries of police, information, justice and finance will be managed jointly by representatives of all three parties and all decisions will be reached by consensus.
The Serbian prime minister will be a member of the Socialist Party of Serbia, which will have 12 seats in the government. The DOS and the SPO will each have six portfolios.
Vojislav Šešelj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS) has refused to take part.
Disagreements over the format of a future federal government resulted in the collapse of negotiations between Belgrade and Podgorica this week. Attending for the Serbian side were the DOS' Zoran Đinđic, Dragoljub Mićunović and Žarko Korać.
While the DOS is prepared to compromise with the Serbian Socialists in the Serbian Parliament, it refuses to consider forming a federal government with the SPS, as proposed by Montenegro's Socialist People's Party (SNS) Negotiations are scheduled to resume on Tuesday in Podgorica.
Koštunica believes that the new Yugoslav prime minister should be from the Montenegrin party with the greatest number of seats in the Federal Parliament. Koštunica said that the new prime minister would be from the SNS, but that the new government should compass the entire Montenegrin political spectrum.
Set them free
The Social Democratic Union called on elected and transitional government organs in Serbia and Yugoslavia to release all political prisoners held in the country. The statement highlighted the case of Kosovar Albanians against whom criminal charges could not be proved, saying that such a gesture would provide grounds for dialogue with legitimate Albanian representatives from Kosovo and impose a moral obligation for them to start similar procedures regarding missing Serbs from Kosovo.
Flora Brovina, an imprisoned Kosovar Albanian physician and human rights activist, appealed to the international community Thursday following a court decision to delay an appeal of her sentence. Brovina stated that she was aware from the beginning that she was the hostage of one man and one time, just like many of her compatriots. She said that she was willing to share the fate of her compatriots, who are languishing in Serbian prisons, and that even if the court decided to release her, she had decided to remain in prison until the last Albanian was released.
Human Rights Watch and the Foundation for Human Rights demanded an investigation into the fate of 650 Kosovar Albanians imprisoned in Serbia. The organisations estimate that after the war in Kosovo, 2100 Albanians were transferred from Kosovo to prisons in Serbia, the majority of whom were civilians arrested during the war.
So far, 1250 Albanian prisoners have been released; of the remaining 850, some 650 are political prisoners.
Yugoslavia and the United States have agreed to open talks on the re-establishment of diplomatic relations. The announcement was made jointly by Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica and James O'Brien, Balkan policy advisor to US President Bill Clinton.
Koštunica said the opening discussions had hinged around the lifting of sanctions and had were focused, in particular, on two documents: the Dayton Agreement and the UN Security Council's Resolution 1244, which established the present international administration in Kosovo.
O'Brien welcomed what he described as "the historic changes" in Yugoslavia. He said that he and Koštunica had discussed the situation in the region and agreed that Resolution 1244 must be implemented in order to bring stability.
Meanwhile, President Clinton announced that the embargo on crude oil exports and the air traffic ban against Yugoslavia would be lifted immediately.
In a written statement, Clinton said that Washington had a strong interest in supporting the newly elected Yugoslav administration. The outer wall of financial sanctions will be reviewed as soon as Yugoslavia has made progress in the transition to democracy.
And in other news...
- Elections for the Serbian Parliament will be held on 23 December.
- The Hague Tribunal (ICTY) has announced that any local prosecution of Slobodan Milošević would not prohibit future prosecution by the ICTY. The Tribunal is commissioned by the UN Security Council and, as such, indictments take precedence over national courts and judgements.
- President Koštunica received Serb Prince Aleksandar Karađorđević in a highly symbolic meeting in Belgrade. The Crown Prince acknowledged and congratulated Koštunica (a self-proclaimed royalist) as the legitimate ruler of Yugoslavia and made it clear that he saw the future of the country (that is to say, whether it remains a republic or returns to a monarchy) in the people's hands.
- Yugoslav Defence Minister General Dragoljub Ojdanić denied rumours that the Yugoslav Army (VJ) is preparing a coup. Asked whether Koštunica was now the supreme commander now, Ojdanić replied, "Absolutely."The British Foreign Office said this week that Foreign Minister Robin Cook is expected to visit Yugoslavia in two weeks and that the British embassy in Belgrade will be reopened shortly.
- The International Danube Commission said that the Danube should be navigable by the summer of 2001, when cleanup operations will have cleared the river of the debris of bridges bombed during last year's NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia.
- In a meeting with Swiss President Adolf Ogi, Koštunica discussed frozen Swiss bank accounts belonging to Milošević and his associates, believed to total USD 58 million.
- The Croatian daily Večernji list published survey results showing that 48 percent of Croatian citizens were unhappy with the planned establishment of contacts with the new Yugoslav authorities, and 37 percent supported the proposed links.
- Belgrade University Rector Jagos Purić tendered his resignation to the Serbian government, saying that he wanted to avoid further turmoil at the university and to preserve his integrity.
- Slobodan Milošević will continue as president of the Socialist Party of Serbia, but the party congress scheduled for 26 November will discuss demands for personnel changes.
Eleanor Pritchard, 21 October 2000
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