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March 6, 1995
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 179
The Yugoslav Assembly

An Insolence Which Shocks

by Milan Milosevic

When Yugoslav Foreign Minister Vladislav Jovanovic said that there was "no reason" for a debate on foreign policy, a debate demanded by Social Democratic Party of Montenegro (SDP CG) deputy Srdjan Darmanovic, the work of the Federal Assembly turned into a race to buy time, into waiting for Godot, or an important statement from the talks between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and international negotiators. This topic cropped up once again during the debate on the ratification of the treaty with Russia, which was opposed only by the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) led by Vojislav Seselj.

The so called pro-Karadzic (Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic) coalition in the Federal Assembly has not proved that it has the strength to topple the government because of the turnabout in Bosnia. In September 1994 the SRS proposal for a vote of confidence in the Federal Government because of its decision to break off relations with Republika Srpska (RS) did not attract enough support in spite of the sharply-worded explanation which mentioned "the endangering of the vital national interests of the Serbian people, and the existential interests of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".

Seselj is now brushing up his image and has announced that the SRS actions during the Federal Assembly session will be concentrated on demanding a vote of confidence in the Government over the case of the Belgrade daily Borba, and that "this will be crucial to future SRS activities in the Assembly."

Former Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) deputy group head Nedeljko Sipovac (Milomir Minic, the SPS general secretary now heads the group), told the Belgrade daily Politika that the Radicals were "retaining their old practice" and that their "goal was to obstruct the work of the Assembly".

The Socialists are avoiding obstruction by keeping an indisposed Radoman Bozovic in the place of Speaker and letting him cut in on all speakers with his notorious lack of manners. National Party of Montenegro leader Novak Kilibarda, a man known for his tact, said that Bozovic was "displaying a shocking insolence". Kilibarda had entered the Assembly to consult a deputy, whereupon Bozovic ordered him to be thrown out of the chamber.

The opposition deputies tried to get ten important and interesting subjects on the agenda, but never succeeded in collecting a sufficient number of supporters nor did they manage to get a single concrete answer from the Government.

SDP CG deputy Ranko Krivokapic insisted that the Federal organs submit a report on the abduction of 19 Yugoslav citizens whose fate is still a mystery after two years. Yugoslav vice-PM Nikola Sainovic said that a "detailed investigation" is being conducted on the kidnapping of the citizens off the Belgrade-Bar train in Strpci. Only 36 deputies supported Krivokapic's proposal.

Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) deputy Dusan Curcin demanded a debate on the Army, and said that the session could be a closed one. Curcin mentioned the cases of generals Pavle Strugar and Boro Ivanovic, the public statements of some officers, the trial of General Vlado Trifunovic who has been chosen as the sacrificial lamb, the material circumstances of VJ (Yugoslav Army) officers in conditions of a real danger of war, he demanded that campaign speeches in the garrisons be stopped - referring to Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic's behavior since he is elected and dismissed by the Yugoslav Assembly.

Sainovic was opposed to a debate in the Assembly on the situation in the VJ, claiming that the "statements of some officers" and the "military courts" were "marginal occurrences in comparison to the basic tasks which were being carried out by the VJ", and, washing his hands of the issue, said that the question of the Army (apart from the financing) did not come within the Government's competency. Cedomir Vasiljevic (SRS) didn't get far with his demand for a debate on the report of the Investigative Committee's findings concerning Dafiment and Jugoskandik banks (this was put off for formal reasons). Dusan Curcin asked for a debate on the increase in customs duties, Radonja Zekovic (NS CG) on the status of Prevlaka...

Opposition deputies did not play their hand badly when they wished to get hot topics on the agenda, or when they criticized the Government's proposals. Miodrag Savicevic (SPO) and Miroljub Labus of the Democratic Party (DS) cautioned that the Government's Draft Law on foreign currency meant a moving away from a market economy. Savicevic, who is an experienced manager, said that the proposed solutions could not be implemented under the present conditions, and that they were bad. Labus, on the other hand, said that the Government proposed a penal code with 70 violations and criminal offenses, and not a law on foreign currency. The law on foreign currency was adopted by the Government which practically admitted right out that it didn't have any money.



by Aleksandar Ciric

Serbian Radical Party (SRS) leader, federal deputy, a man with a Ph.D. in national defence, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's former favorite politician (dropped in 1993) - Vojislav Seselj, proposed last week that the Federal Assembly amnesty all those citizens sentenced for carrying arms, on condition that they have not committed another offence. He considers the proposal reasonable, considering that the Government hasn't done anything with regard to the merry-making ("senluk") during the "wedding of the decade" in Zitoradja. This probably means that it is permissible to carry arms, and use them for merry-making. "Senluk" is a Turkish word and means that joy is expressed by firing from arms; according to footage of the wedding of paramilitary leader Zeljko Raznatovic Arkan and popular folk star Svetlana Ceca Velickovic - which Seselj had in mind, "senluk" is a Serbian custom.

Seselj probably had a good reason in bringing up the subject, even though he waived around in public with a pistol during the honeymoon period of the SRS and the SPS and right up to 1993 when it all ended in tears and recrimination. A general insecurity is on the rise in spite of police reports which claim that the number of crimes involving arms is dropping, and that only the mafia use arms in their showdowns.

The police have shown a lot of understanding for old Serb customs: at the start of the wedding in Zitoradja at least a dozen offenses were committed: endangering the traffic (Mercedes-Benz cars without registration plates), carrying and firing from banned weapons (Heckler & Koch), endangering general security and damaging public property (the power line was shot up). At the same time, raids on hidden and unused arms in Sandzak and Kosovo are presented by state television on prime time news as great victories and achievements of the police.

Not so long ago one of the arguments in sentencing the protagonists of the Opera affair (a counter-espionage scandal in the Yugoslav Army in 1991 during the war in Croatia), was that four of the ten guns confiscated at Zagreb airport didn't have signed papers. In short, the unpunished carrying and use of arms are open to interpretation by the authorities. The law is there to be debated by the deputies, unless, as was the case with the Law on arms and ammunition submitted before the Serbian Assembly by the Democratic Party, it is not "forgotten" in procedure.

In the mid Eighties, a few years before the disintegration of Socialist Yugoslavia, the competent departments of the federal police at the time, estimated that 1.5 million weapons had been left over from WW2 and were in the illegal possession of the citizens. In those days, all one had to do was proclaim the weapon a trophy, and the necessary papers would be issued. The line was drawn at anti-aircraft guns and tanks. Judging by the Serbian police activities (or lack of them) we will enter the 21st century with a lot more weapons.

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