Return of Milošević
Slobodan Milošević has dominated news in Serbia this week for a number of reasons. Firstly, through his extraordinary television appearance to try and rally party colleagues in the run up to the conference.
Secondly, due to the extraordinary SPS conference itself scheduled for the 25 November. Despite last week's list of potential contenders for the leadership of SPS, Milošević has been declared the sole candidate, and therefore it seems that the future of SPS will remain closely linked with Jugoslav Left (the party of Mira Marković, Milošević's wife).
Several high ranking members of the SPS have left the party and two (Zoran Lilić and Milorad Vučelić) have formed their own new organizations. A further 70 percent of the Central Committee are expected to be dismissed at the upcoming meeting. The position of the Socialists in the run up to the parliamentary elections of 23 December looks bleak.
Finally, he has dominated the news due to the accusations of Carla del Ponte (Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia) that Milošević was guilty of stealing a "huge, huge amount" of money from the Serb people. She went on to say that many governments had assisted the tribunal in the reconstruction of Milošević's financial affairs. The BBC reported German intelligence sources as saying that Milošević and his allies had moved in excess of USD 100 million out of Serbia.
The current governmental position on Milošević is that he will not be extradited for trial, although he will have to face justice for his role in Balkan wars.
There have been several events in the Southern Serbian region around the towns Preševo, Medveđe and Bujanovac this week. The region, technically a demilitarized zone, saw repeated clashes in border villages of the Serb police and the Liberation Army of Preševo, Bujanovac and Medveđe (UCPMB). Five policemen were injured and a further three are missing, presumed dead.
A commander of the UCPMB, known only as Hadxhiu, claimed that his troops had seized the Dobrošin police checkpoint and killed three policemen. There were miscellaneous other incidents involving gunfire.
The Preševo, Medveđe and Bujanovac region of Serbia has a sizeable Albanian population, and was an unresolved issue at the end of the Kosovo conflict. There have been rumours in the region that some Albanians would like to secure an exchange of territory with Serbia; giving the region north of Mitrovica back to Serbia in exchange for this section of Southern Serbia; formalising de facto ethnic partitions.
These events have caused uproar in Belgrade where Zoran Đinđic said that such actions threatened peace and stability in the region, and Koštunica appealed to George Robertson, Commander in Chief of NATO, to ensure better security within Kosovo and the surrounding security zone.
On the border between Serbia and Kosovo, KFOR seized a truck carrying mortars, land mines, a machine gun and 5000 rounds of ammunition which was heading for the Albanian-held Serb village of Dobrošin. In a separate incident, ten people carrying radio transmitters were detained as they attempted to enter Dobrošin.
In Priština itself, one person was killed and three injured in a bombing at the home of a Yugoslav liaison officer. Stanimir Vukičević, the head of the Yugoslav committee for cooperation with the UN-led administration, escaped unhurt, but his driver was killed in the blast.
Unknown gunmen assassinated one of Ibrahim Rugova's closest associates outside his Priština home on Wednesday. No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the shooting of Xhemail Mustafa, Rugova's adviser, spokesman and publicist. Mustafa was also a long-standing editor of the Albanian daily Rilindja and the manager of the Kosovo Info Centre.
Bosnia and Yugoslavia announced this week that they would soon re-establish diplomatic relations after eight years of non-communication. Foreign Minister Goran Svilanović told reporters after meeting the Serb chairman of Bosnia's collective presidency, Živko Radišić, that government negotiations could be expected within the next two weeks.
Yugoslavia stated on Monday that it would establish diplomatic ties with Slovenia, which broke away from the old Yugoslav federation in 1991. A major obstacle to bilateral relations in the past was Belgrade's determination under Milošević to be recognized as the sole legal successor to property of the former Yugoslavia, including financial assets held abroad and embassy buildings around the world.
Foreign Minister Goran Svilanović met his Greek counterpart, George Papandreou, in Athens this week. This was the first official contact between Greek and Yugoslav foreign ministers since former Yugoslav Foreign Minister Živadin Jovanović visited Athens in September 1998.
On Friday, Belgrade restored diplomatic ties with four Western states—the United States, Britain, France and Germany—which were broken off in March 1999 just ahead of the commencement of airstrikes.
The Council of Europe officially accepted Yugoslavia's application for membership. The application has now been forwarded for consideration by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. This progress comes with a cautionary warning that the Council will watch the coming events in Yugoslavia, particularly in the run up to the elections on 23 December.
OSCE: Vojislav Koštunica and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright were guests of honour at the OSCE conference in Vienna. Koštunica also signed three major OSCE documents at the conference, the 1975 Helsinki Declaration, the 1990 Paris Declaration and the 1999 Istanbul Declaration.
And in other news...
- Yugoslav President Vojislav Koštunica and Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović attended the Euro-Balkan summit in Zagreb. Croatian President Stipe Mesić said that Đukanović would be allowed to speak at the summit, but added that the summit had been planned before the changes in Yugoslavia and there had been some difficulties regarding the logistics of the Zagreb meeting.
- Montenegrin Socialists and DOS reached an agreement this week on the candidacy of the G-17 Plus Director, Mlađan Dinkić, for the Yugoslav National Bank governorship. Dinkić will be officially nominated for the position at the Federal Parliament session on 27 November.
- The International Red Cross secured the release of four Kosovo Albanians from Serb prisons in Niš, Požarevac, Smederevo and Čuprija. This release represents a major breakthrough in the ongoing effort of the International Red Cross to secure the release of imprisoned Kosovo Albanians on humanitarian grounds. The Red Cross said that another 726 Kosovo Albanians are still being held in Serbian prisons.
- Serbia's EPS power company says there will be no emergency power cuts over the winter, as donations have provided electricity worth USD 100 million. However, the devastated power supply system could cause occasional power cuts if it keeps breaking down.
- Federal minister for national and ethnic minorities, Rasim Ljajić, said that an expert team was being established to deal with national and ethnic issues. The team will be made up of experts from the human rights field and representatives of various ethnic communities and international organisations.
Eleanor Pritchard, 24 November 2000
- Archive of Serbian news reviews
- Archive of articles on Yugoslavia in CER
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Buy English-language books on Central Europe through CER
- Return to CER front page