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June 15, 1992
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 38
Serbia in a Broken Mirror


by Milan Milosevic

The fact that one of the bodyguards of Milosevic's favorite son shot at the taxi drivers and the fact that Branko Kostic, with great pleasure accepted from the same favored son the presidential candidacy, instead of fulfilling his role as head of state by defending the constitution and demanding he be stripped of his mandate and his party disbanded, is just one illustration of how little the first session of the FRY Parliament had to do with constitutionality. Anyway, this session was of interest to almost nobody in a country where the inhabitants are very slow in realizing what is happening to them.

A sign of sobriety is the wave of buying up all the shops have to offer. High on the list are noodles, bread and tinned food. The Serbian Chamber of Commerce announced on Wednesday that the demand for sugar, oil and flour was five times higher than normal, that the delivery of these items was regular and that there were problems in the delivery of rice, salt and detergent. "Politika" wrote that food coupons are being printed in Topcider. The Serbian Government has introduced coupons for petrol which has decreased the queues on petrol pumps.

Ms. Stanislava Boskovic said last Tuesday that the Belgrade Institute for Premature Children does not have enough milk. The Serbian Ministry of Trade announced that it will bring an act to regulate the traffic of goods and the repurchase of market surplus of wheat and corn. On the meeting of the City Council in Belgrade it was admitted that there will be problems with heating, in small towns and villages cigarettes are sold piecemeal.

The Serbian Syndicate, considered up to now as state-operated, on Wednesday expressed doubt that the administration of Dr. Radoman Bozovic could successfully solve the problems facing Serbia. The Syndicate "Independence" has joined DEPOS and announced a general strike until the resignation of Milosevic. Nervousness is apparent in the Government itself, there are rumors that a certain minister has called Bozovic to account responsibility which he rejected, commenting that he was not chosen by the members of the present Government.

A paradox in the present situation in Serbia is that Socialists organize companies to send telegrams supporting Slobodan Milosevic.

All of this sounds ominous and forebodes that the Government will fanatically defend itself. It is clear that it will try to stay in power by spreading fear, issuing coupons and distributing poverty. They could attempt to use isolation and poverty to their advantage. Minister Jovanovic and MP Seselj announced that the administration could defend itself with arms if the opposition tries to bring it down by force. Zoran Djindjic, President of the Executive Council of the Democratic Party, is trying to obtain the promise that Milosevic will be granted personal safety and amnesty should he resign, in order to eliminate his personal motive for introducing a state of emergency.

Judging by a news item transmitted by the radio station B92, Slobodan Milosevic has grasped the seriousness of the situation better than his subjects. It announced, and this was neither confirmed or denied, that the Serbian president had left Belgrade to somewhere outside from where he will carry out his duties. He received one diplomat in Dobanovci, the place Tito used to remove himself from the multitudes. Contradictory rumors about his resignation abound, one that his resignation has already been written out, the other that he categorically refuses to hand it in.

National institutions which up to recently supported him, have now more or less turned their backs on him.

At their meeting at the Law Faculty the students announced a general strike and pressure on the Educational Board. The Declaration is full of criticism of the outside world, local political factors, the government, the opposition, the intelligentsia, and then demands the formation of a concentrated government of Serbia and Yugoslavia made up of the most highly reputed and most competent experts, irrespective of political or party affiliation. The sentence that no-one's personal party aim can be placed before the interests of the Serbian people obviously refers to one important person in Serbia. Emergency elections are being demanded for all institutions of the system. This is supported by the teaching staff of the Novi Sad and Kragujevac universities and Teachers' Union. Teachers at the Music Academy have decided on kneeling in protest.

Academic Matija Beckovic, in the name of DEPOS, wrote the following to Milosevic: "Mr. President, your position has become morally insupportable, your political destiny is clear...Not only for you, but for us all, it is best that you resign with as much dignity as possible, in a manner that will reduce the tension and chaos of a civil war."

DEPOS concludes that all that is left is for Serbian politics to make a complete turnaround. The political indictment against Milosevic is, however, extremely serious: "During you rule Serbia has taken a path not only contrary to the history of the world but totally outside it... No other regime has provoked such a united condemnation... The Serbs outside Serbia would be in a far better position if the army and Serbia of such ill repute had not defended or represented them... you haven't waged a single war, but you have managed to lose three and negated the results of those we did win... For the first time in history, our unattainable ideal and miserable consolation would be for our guilt to be equated with that of other transgressors".

Ten days after announcing their electoral triumph, the Socialists look groggy. They wonder why they are attacked by those they believed to be the architects of their actions. Ilija Rosic, rector of the University of Kragujevac and one of the dissident MPs, said in an interview to "BORBA" that Milosevic can not run away from his responsibility, but that "those who blame him for three lost wars often had greater pretensions than the actual government".

The news that one wing of the Socialist Party was breaking off was interpreted by many as the crumbling of Milosevic's power. It is still not clear against whom this social democracy is primarily set - whether its leadership as a whole or its big chief. In fact, they do not have the energy for a turnaround after radicalization and the production of right wing extremism.

Bozovic has sent another invitation to the parties of Kosovo Albanians, but they have not accepted it, considering it to be insufficient. Andras Agoston, who, after talks with Milosevic, took part in the May elections, in his latest statements in favor of international intervention practically abandoned these talks.

It looks as if everyone except Milosevic, his nasty geriatrics and the seduced Serbian provinces, see that he can do no more and for this very reason fear that he can bring about absolute chaos.

In the Proposals for avoiding civil war, the Democratic Party suggested a peaceful handover of power to a Temporary Government and State Council made up of 20 well-known people and a Negotiations Group which would be formed prior to Milosevic's resignation.

One of the Democratic Party leaders, Zoran Djindjic, said on Wednesday that the military command had been consulted about his, and on Thursday he mentioned on Studio B contact with the secret police "and all those who want to prevent civil war."

In other words, Serbia must negotiate peace; everyone know that Slobodan Milosevic is no longer the negotiator and the whole problem in Serbia is how to make it clear to him that no-one able to think at all thinks otherwise. When even Milosevic's fan, academic Ljubisa Rakic, said that one of the subjects of the next Academy meeting would be whether an individual in committing suicide has the right to kill a whole nation, reporters were astounded.

The Democrats are trying to ensure that the handover of power takes place "without the vacuum" and chaos it could bring. It wants every mixed community to form a body of mixed nationality to prevent the outbreak of conflict. And the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) demands the disarming of armed groups and banning of all parties that spread hate and persecution of members of other nationalities.

The heir apparent to the throne, Aleksandar, has announced his arrival in Serbia, which is desired by the majority of DEPOS, SPO and some other parties.

A third bloc of opposition to Milosevic has been formed: the Civil Council has been joined by the Belgrade Reformists, members of the Belgrade Circle, the Republican Club, the League for Vojvodina, Dragan Veselinov's Farmers' Party, the Center for Anti-war Action, the Civil Resistance Movement, a number of pro-Yugoslav, civil organizations which the regime consistently maligned as "Ante's Serbs", and which left the opposition, with the honorable exception of Vuk Draskovic, without firm support.

As invalids hobble the streets, as young women with children beg, as refugees turn in fear, and "foreigners" take their names of their doors, as you listen on the telephone to the weeping of your friends from Sarajevo, in the pits of its history, isolated and despised by the world, Serbia prepares to see off its worst ruler.

There are few who are innocent, and he knows this. If he looks for a chance here, he may have fooled himself. He has many accomplices, but no-one will want to share his guilt because he was the only one with the privilege of power. He's still playing on the traditional collective defect - spite. He still gets letters of support from simple despair and the peevishly stubborn parties. He should know that they will certainly be the last to admit they wrote them or that they even heard of him.

All has been said about him. Either nothing will be allowed to be said for a long time, or else it will be pointless.

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