Thomas Keenan on 11 Oct 2000 14:00:59 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] ICG: Yugoslavia Situation Report #4

Date: Tue, 10 Oct 2000 19:57:40 -0700
From: Eric Witte <ewitte@CRISISWEB.ORG>

International Crisis Group

Yugoslavia Situation Report
No. 4,
Tuesday, October 10, 2000, 7:00PM EST
Prepared by Eric Witte, Washington DC

Milosevic Out, Kostunica Inaugurated:

Shortly after meeting with Vojislav Kostunica Friday night, indicted war
criminal Slobodan Milosevic appeared on Serbian television, announcing that
he accepted Kostunica's outright victory in the September 24 presidential
elections. Milosevic pledged to continue as president of the Socialist Party
of Serbia (SPS). Senior Western officials told the New York Times that a
deal brokered by Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov encouraged Milosevic
to step down in return for assurances that the international community would
not seek his extradition to the International Criminal Tribunal for the
former Yugoslavia (ICTY) at The Hague. Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS)
officials claim that Milosevic attempted a coup, planned by indicted war
criminal and Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko Stojilkovic, shortly after
appearing on television, but that it failed when police and soldiers who
were to take part showed loyalty to the new government.

Vojislav Kostunica was sworn in as Yugoslav president before the new FRY
parliament on Saturday. He proclaimed, "Yugoslavia and Serbia have joined
the community of democratic nations." Milosevic allies delayed the
proceeding for hours.

Resignations and Removals:

Two of Milosevic's closest associates resigned their positions Monday: FRY
Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic and Serbian Interior Minister Vlajko
Stojilkovic, head of that republic's police forces. On Tuesday, Serbian
Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Milovan Bojic, as well as the
Serbian ministers for tourism and higher education also resigned. DOS has
proposed Miroljub Labus, head of the G17-Plus NGO, to replace Bulatovic as
FRY Prime Minister.

DOS leaders have formed a "crisis committee" to coordinate the takeover of
state institutions from the old regime. On Friday, Milosevic associate
Mihalj Kertes was forced at gunpoint by DOS security officials to leave his
position as head of the Customs Department. Sunday, Kostunica's campaign
manager and Democratic Party head Zoran Djindjic reportedly dispatched
paramilitary soldiers to Serbian police headquarters in Belgrade to secure
its loyalty to the new government. Similar takeovers were reported at banks;
workers and students have forcefully removed Milosevic cronies as heads of
factories, mines, and universities throughout Serbia.

Power Struggle:

The Serbian parliament convened on Monday, agreeing on early elections
scheduled for December. Kostunica sought a wholesale resignation of the
Serbian government, including indicted war criminal and close Milosevic
ally, President Milan Milutinovic. DOS forces seek an interim government of
experts who would hold office until the early elections. Milosevic allies
balked at the plan, walking out on negotiations Tuesday. Members of the
former regime demand that the new Serbian interior minister also be an SPS
member, while DOS insists that it will control that crucial office. The
Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) together have
a majority of the votes in parliament, but the former leader of the SRS,
ultra-nationalist Vojislav Seselj, has joined former coalition ally SPS in
decrying the pace of the transition. On Monday OTPOR protesters outside the
Serbian parliament rushed at Seselj, prompting his bodyguards to fire
warning shots.

DOS official Zarko Korac this evening blasted the SPS walkout as an
"extremely irresponsible political move" and said that the consequences for
the SPS could be "very grave." Cacak Mayor Velimir Ilic, who orchestrated
last Thursday's storming of the federal parliament building, today pledged
that he is prepared to again march on Belgrade.

Today, Djindjic said that state security was still pro-Milosevic and that
wiretapping by the service had resumed. The head of state security under
Milosevic, Rade Markovic, had complained to DOS officials that he has
received death threats. Djindjic also said today that elements of the army
were not yet loyal to the new government. Officials of the Kostunica
government have accused outgoing Milosevic regime officials of shredding
documents and transferring funds out of government accounts.

Rule of Law:

The FRY Supreme Court today freed imprisoned journalist Miroslav Filipovic,
who faced espionage charges for reporting on atrocities in Kosovo;
journalist Zoran Lukovic will be freed tomorrow.  The public prosecutor in
Belgrade today dropped charges against four Dutch citizens accused this
summer of attempting to assassinate Milosevic. A Canadian citizen was also
released from prison today; another Canadian and two Britons had been
released Friday. ICN Pharmaceutical, seized by the Serbian government in
February 1999, was today returned to its US parent company, which is chaired
by former FRY Prime Minister Milan Panic.

Milosevic's Fate:

As the extent of the Milosevic regime's plundering of state coffers comes to
light, demands are growing that he face trial. Kostunica's top economic
advisor, Mladjan Dinkic said Monday, "I think Milosevic doesn't have too
much time to stay in the country, because he will go to jail.We want to
break the whole pyramid of the ex-Yugoslavia establishment." New mayor of
Belgrade, Milan Protic, said today, "If Milosevic is found responsible for
all those misdeeds he is accused of, of course he will have to go on trial."
AP reports that Milosevic is holed up in a government villa in Dedinje with
his wife and daughter, protected by 100 well-armed men but afraid to go

EU Lifting Sanctions:

On Monday, the EU lifted the oil embargo and flight ban against Serbia, but
left an asset freeze and visa ban targeting Milosevic cronies in place.
Hungary joined the EU move. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine flew to
Belgrade today, where he said the EU would help clear the Danube of debris
left from the 1999 NATO bombing and aid in rebuilding bridges. The EU has
pledged $2 billion in reconstruction assistance. Romanian Foreign Minister
Petre Roman also visited Belgrade today.

Kosovo, Montenegro:

President Kostunica said Monday the cases of the almost 1,000 Kosovo
Albanians still imprisoned in Serbian jails represent "a problem that can be
solved," though he wants simultaneous information on the fates of missing
Serbs in Kosovo. He labelled independence for Montenegro and Kosovo
"impossible" on constitutional grounds. With Milosevic deposed, Kosovo
Albanian leaders are still demanding independence. Ranko Krivokapic,
Vice-Chairman of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's Social Democratic
Party, today said: "Montenegro cannot accept DOS proposals aimed at building
a state with Serbia which will have joint defence, foreign and monetary
policy." Kostunica has postponed a Wednesday meeting of the FRY Supreme
Defence Council, because Djukanovic is recovering from a Monday traffic
accident and would not have been able to attend.


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