Speculation increased this week that a serious rift was emerging between Koštunica and his DOS backers over the pace of reforms. This was exemplified by circumstances surrounding Rade Marković, Head of State Security and Nebojša Pavković. Observers have commented that Đinđić appears to want high profile, immediate reforms, while Koštunica seems to favour more tempered reform, through close observation of legal issues and the electoral process.
Marković is heavily implicated in state repression activities during the Milošević period, and is seen by DOS and SPO (two of the three government coalition partners) as a remnant of the Milošević era. Both DOS and SPO demand the immediate dismissal of these two figureheads. The final government participant, SPS, thinks they can remain.
Koštunica is reported to have protested he has no authority to dismiss Marković because his post is accountable to the Serbian, rather than the Federal government. This, he says, makes the matter one for the Serbian government to resolve following the elections on 23 December. In addition, he stresses that this is not an immediate priority, saying that the government has other matters to occupy it in the immediate future.
Marković himself has said he will not resign, but will accept the will of the Serbian government, or an expert committee in the wake of the elections. This scenario caused the blockage of parliament this week as DOS and SPO refused to participate until their demands were met. The situation was complicated further still following the publication of a revised persona non grata list by the EU.
Removed from the blacklist
Marković, along with around 183 others, was removed from the list (leaving a new total of 623 persons on the list), apparently in recognition of his restraint during the revolution. The French government confirmed that the list was revised with the help of the new Yugoslav authorities, a revelation which appears to have angered DOS, who say they were not consulted or indeed aware of this process.
What the outcome of this standoff will be is uncertain as of yet. Cynics are rubbing their hands with glee at what (superficially) appears to amount to a new president defending pillars of his predecessors regime, also at the prospect of the DOS coalition collapsing in the spectacular manner which has marked previous coalitions such as the Zajedno movement of 1996 to 1997.
Koštunica's great strength
However, there are marked differences between this disagreement and the squabbles of previous coalitions. Zajedno failed because of the inability of participant members to forgo personal disagreements for the greater good of the group. DOS is faltering over a technical point of law. If Koštunica is correct and he is not constitutionally allowed to dismiss the Head of State Security, to do so would (again) play into the hands of those anxious to portray him as Milošević's ideological successor.
Koštunica's great strength lies in his lack of flamboyance and his much-proclaimed respect for law and procedure. This week should tell whether he will be able to stick to his guns, or be forced to temper them for a "quick" publicity fix. This in turn will impact the way in which DOS approach the upcoming elections—as a coalition or as separate parties.
Aid and support
Stability Pact deputy coordinator Don Chris announced at the conference this week that Yugoslavia will receive some EUR 500 million for urgent assistance. This figure included the EUR 200 million already pledged by the European Union. Chris refused to explain where the remaining EUR 300 million would come from, saying only that the US Congress had promised USD 189 million.
Other sources of support come from the following places: Germany began daily deliveries of about two and a half million KwH of electricity on 15 November; the US Government has pledged USD 50 million, in addition to the USD 189 million waiting for Congressional approval and in Greece, Yannos Papandoniu promised USD 250 million of investment over the next five years, to be concentrated in sectors such as transport and communication.
Norway will also help: Following Norway's promises of bridging assistance to accelerate IMF membership, Yugoslavia has appealed to Norway for assistance in clearing arrears to the IMF which amount to USD 130 million. Finally, there is also some internal assistance: The government has abandoned "solidarity contributions" deducted from salaries of three million Serbs since the NATO strikes last year. It also agreed to increase public sector salaries by 30 percent.
International and diplomatic relations
Western Links: The Yugoslav government agreed to re-establish diplomatic relations with Britain, France, Germany and the USA; the primary protagonists in last year's NATO action, on 16 November.
Russia: Dmitri Rogozin, Head of the Duma's Foreign Affair's Committee told this week how Russia played a critical role in the events of 5 October. He said that were it not for the strong message of Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, Milošević would have mobilised the 64 and 73 Brigades of the JNA against the people in Belgrade.
USA: William Montgomery, former head of the US diplomatic mission to Belgrade said this week that the US Embassy would be fully staffed by June 2001.
Romania: Military cooperation was resumed between Yugoslavia and Romania this week, reactivating an accord of military cooperation signed in 1997 but never enacted due to Romanian's pro-NATO stance during the Kosovo Crisis.
EU: Koštunica told representatives of the European Parliament at a meeting in Strasbourg on Wednesday that he wanted Yugoslavia to apply to EU membership as soon as possible. Acknowledging that the procedure would not be as quick as that for rejoining the Council of Europe he nonetheless emphasised that the road to recovery for Yugoslavia lay not through aid handouts (which were of course, invaluable in the short term) but through long term facilitative actions by the West, such as investment programs.
CEI Membership: Foreign Minister Goran Svilanović announced Yugoslavia's intention of applying for membership in the Central European Initiative, adding that he expected the country to be admitted at the CEI meeting scheduled for 24 November in Budapest.
Hague: 14 November saw the first contact between the International War Crimes Tribunal and Koštunica's office. A decision as to whether the Hague will open a representative office in Belgrade is expected shortly.
IMF, EIB: Pedro Solbes, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner said this week that Yugoslavia's reentry into world financial institutions would be rapid, but after emergency assistance to get through the winter had been dispensed, special favours could not be expected. Solbes said that IMF membership should be renewed by the end of the year, and EIB membership in the very near future.
EBRD: Yugoslavia applied for membership of EBRD on Tuesday 14 November.
WTO: Dragan Đuric, economic adviser to the president, told a conference on Yugoslav Reconstruction held in Washington this week that Yugoslavia would seek admission to the WTO.
Interpol: Yugoslav Police Minister Zoran Živković announced their intention of applying for Interpol membership this week.
Secretary of State: Madeleine Albright is expected to meet Koštunica after an OSCE meeting in Vienna at the end of this month.
Kosovo: Rasim Ljajić, Minister for National and Ethnic Communities visited Kosovo to investigate the "missing" (Serbs) of the province.
Hungary: Yugoslavia and Hungary are to sign agreements on trade and reciprocal protection of investments.
Stability Pact conference
The Pact for Southeast European Stability Pact held its first meeting in Yugoslavia on 13 and 14 of November. The meeting was entitled "the Consultative Forum for Yugoslav Municipalities." About 120 Serbian mayors took part in the proceedings, joined by some 60 mayoral delegations from cities throughout Europe which was joined by representatives from the World Bank and the IMF.
Prisons: riots, strikes and an amnesty
In the wake of last week's prison riots, warders at Niš prison remained on strike, appealing for better salaries and conditions and the dismissal of senior figures in the prison management.
Guards at the Zabela prison near Požarevac agreed to return to work on Sunday, following negotiations with representatives from the Ministry for Justice.
Up to 100,000 Albanians flooded the streets of Priština on Monday 13 November to demand the release of ethnic Albanians still held in Serbian jails. They voiced concerns for their safety in the wake of the unrest in several prisons. The counterpart protest was held on Thursday 16 November outside the Serbian Parliament. Protesters here demanded an investigation into the fate of the Kosovo Serbs still missing from the Province. The protest totaled several hundred people.
DOS have agreed that the post of prime minister should be offered to Zoran Đinđic, subject to his presenting a concept of government to the coalition as soon as possible. He has undertaken to do this and preliminary results should be available during the coming week.
And in other news...
- Koštunica expressed his conviction that the Federal relationship of Serbia and Montenegro could not be sustained under the present constitution; highlighting the need for constitutional reform and removal of the self serving appendages attached to it by the Socialist government in the period since its adoption in 1992.
- Grain prices reached a 50 year high of DIN 8-8.30 per kilogram. Crops this year were severely affected by drought which reduced the yield to 3.1 million tons from last year's 6.1 million tons. Experts said that there is ample grain to serve the needs of the nation, but it is too expensive and therefore not being bought.
- At an extraordinary conference on the 25 November, SPS will vote to appoint a new president. Current candidates include: Mihajlo Marković, Milomir Minić, Branislav Ivković, Ivica Dačić, Željko Simić and Milan Milutinović. Milošević is expected to be listed as a candidate but to retire.
- All persons accused of perpetrating electoral fraud in the presidential elections in September have appeared before a Belgrade court to give evidence, with the exception of Milošević himself. A court spokesman said he would be summoned last, because the statements of the other witnesses would indicate whether he was implicated or not.
- Judge Nebojša Simeunović, who refused to sign warrants for the arrest of two DOS leaders and the Kolubara miners during the October revolution is reported to have disappeared without trace this week. This is the second apparently politically motivated 'disappearance' in three months—Ivan Stambolić's whereabouts remain unknown.
- Oil flowed into the country through the Adriatic pipeline this week for the first time in two years. The crude oil, imported from Switzerland will ease the current oil crisis in Serbia.
- Presevo: Lieutenant General Vladimir Lazarević, commander of the Third Yugoslav Army said that there had been 30 terrorist attacks by Albanian separatists in the municipality over the past month. This figure is unconfirmed.
Eleanor Pritchard, 17 November 2000
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