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August 3, 1996
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 252

Improving the Image

Tanjug reported from London on Tuesday that Great Britain and London are increasingly become the places from which the FRY is returning to the international business and financial community the Financial Times says, in a report on last week’s talks between FRY delegation and the London Club of creditor banks. That optimism was excessive in an article titled Yugoslavia Looks for Image Advisor in Britain, the daily said the "rehabilitation of the rump Yugoslavia which was under strict international sanctions up to the signing of the Dayton agreement was a very hard job for the Lowe Bell Financial agency" and that was the only assessment in the article by Bruce Clark diplomatic editor.

The report on the hiring of a very good company is a good sign: so far the Yugoslav, i.e. Serbian, ruling elite relied on the primitive and short sighted strategy of chauvinist propaganda which does no good in the rest of the world. Various Serb lovers were hired for low wages at one time.

Public relations and image enhancement are a serious business in developed countries with big money involved. Serb moaning that the Moslems and Croats got better treatment in that field because they spent more money is based in fact: the US Rather Finn agency did a good job for them but it wasn’t so hard given the situation. Now after Dayton, normalization of relations with Croatia and Ejup Ganic’s visit, the time is right to push forward Slobodan Milosevic’s peacemaking image. Lowe, Bell Financial, headed by Sir Timothy Bell public relations expert for the British ruling Conservative party and Margaret Thatcher, is a successful company. It was hired to promote Boris Yeltsin, works for the British livestock commission and a number of others.

Combined with the NatWest financial group which is mediating in FRY dealings with foreign creditors, it is a good investment in rehabilitating Yugoslavia.

New Tax Law

The federal law on books and other publications, which publishers are calling an uncivilized fabrication, will swallow 250-300 new titles every year.

The law on basic taxes was published on June 28 after being signed a day earlier by FRY president Zoran Lilic.

It says the state will collect a 10% tax on book, textbook, brochure, magazine and other expert publication sales. In short taxes on education and culture. Another 10% will be collected from producers of food, furniture, carpets, appliances, electricity, cosmetics, clothing, shoes and coffins. Another 2% will be added in republican taxes for railways and inhabitants of Belgrade another 3% local tax. Added to that service duties and another 3% for indexing books and the sum exceeds 30%.

Publishers said even the cheapest books are expensive now and that the new tax will greatly reduce the number of new titles and that many small publishers won’t survive. They added that no one taxes books anywhere else in the world. Ognjen Lakicevic, director of the FRY publishers association informed the International Publishers’ Association in Geneva about the tax and asked about the situation in other countries. Some publishers in Serbia agreed not to pay the tax and not raise prices although they were obliged to increase prices by 15% by July 16. They feel that the federal law is declarative until Serbia agrees to it and that it can’t take effect earlier. Vladislav Bajac, head of the Geopoetry Center told VREME the new tax is an effort to undermine his work. "This publishing house can survive perhaps but publishing can’t survive without someone’s help only through the production and sale of books. I think publishing is the last business the state should grab from."


Political Kitsch

The Moral Fall Of this Country

by Nenad Canak

(The author is president of the Vojvodina Social Democrat League)

I ran out of words when I saw everything around us in connection with Radovan Karadzic. It all began when opinions and views were voiced about what the Bosnian Serb Republic (RS) president should do and what the SDS party leader should do and whether his resignation is an act of patriotism or a moral obligation and does the international community dare continue ignoring the Serbs in negotiations.

What else could I do but be striken dumb for a moment in the face of all that cynicism and profitable slyness behind virtually every statement on the issue and wonder if there is an end to the moral fall of this country when even the opinions can be taken on such a brutally clear crime among the people who aspire to be running the country and not invest every effort to close the door on the most shameful part of this nation’s history. What’s this all about anyway? What stand should be taken on whether (or not) the man who contemptuously spent years trampling on everything that was built for millennia as elementary humanity should face justice? What else has to be proven that hasn’t been proven by the many bodies in Bosnia and carved into the minds of the survivors?

If Karadzic and everyone else who orchestrated the Bosnia hell doesn’t face the Hague tribunal, we’ll all be facing some court (even the judgment of history). Some for what they did others for what they didn’t do.

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