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August 10, 2001
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 503
Milosevic Vs. Ivkovic

Nobody Like Bane

by Nenad Lj. Stefanovic

Via Zivadin Jovanovic's cell phone, Milosevic first made an analysis of the state and the SPS, based on his impressions from The Hague. He tempted his fellow comrades to stick together, to come out as a 'unique patriotic party in the country', to preserve the unanimity, to cease assaulting those from JUL (the Yugoslav Left), to resist to all temptations imposed by the 'marionette government'... All in all, Milosevic sounded like a chief of the party, who scheduled a new party congress for the end of the month, not at all like a prisoner, who was in fact scheduled to be interrogated by the Tribunal's judges on August 30th.

Those who concentrated on their boss's messages coming from the loudspeakers lost their breath when he mentioned the name of Branislav Ivkovic. Milosevic demanded that Ivkovic (known in the SPS circles as Bane) be immediately excluded from the party, because he finds him most responsible for his arrest in Belgrade, his extradition to The Hague and the most suitable person, via whom the current authorities are attempting to dissolve the socialists from the inside out. Milosevic also asked that the voting concerning Ivkovic's exclusion to be public, in order to see who would endorse 'Bane's Fifth Column'. At the end, Milosevic added that he would also regard that voting as a voting about his own confidence. I suppose I don't have to remind anyone that in many similar occasions in the past, Milosevic shortly notified his associates about who would be disqualified from the party's top positions (Bora Jovic, Mihailo Markovic, Milorad Vucelic) and that such processes lasted no more than a few minutes, and were followed by no argumentation or questions. But, that's how it was.

The day after, at the session of the party's Central Committee, Ivkovic was not disqualified. Instead, he became member of the newly founded Secretariat of SPS. The Secretariat will run the party in the future, instead of the hitherto five vice-presidents, whose offices were called off. This is, above all, the expression of the interparty compromise and perhaps one of the last attempts to prevent the breaking up of this political faction.

In majority of reports from this session (composed from the 'second', or perhaps even 'third hand') it is asserted that the Central Committee of SPS managed to pronounce its 'historical no' to the so far immaculate Slobodan Milosevic. Simultaneously, Branislav Ivkovic can now be recognised as the founder of new and modern views within this party, someone who might carry out substantial reforms of SPS, or at least induce the extrication of one of its wings. Some even find similarities between Bane and Hruschov????. The outcome of the SPS CC session was a daily newspaper's headline 'One score for Bane', which suggests that the main conflict within the party would soon be on the line Sloba-Bane.

Numerically, the real score of what has happened at the last SPS CC session would be 3:0 against Milosevic, but that can certainly not be attributed to Branislav Ivkovic. The party's top leadership also refused to fulfill the second Milosevic's wish - that Zoran Andjelkovic must not enter the Coordination Centre of the FRY Government and the Serbian Government for Kosovo, because 'SPS ought not help the DOS (the Democratic Opposition of Serbia) Government; it should let them collapse'. It was quite the reverse - the majority of CC members voted for Andjelkovic's cooperation with the DOS authorities concerning Kosovo (according to some opinions, Andjelkovic was the one who really strengthened his position in the leadership of that party in the course of latest events). The third Milosevic's defeat stems from the position of the party's delegation, the group of officials that would soon visit their party's president in The Hague. Milosevic insisted to be visited by those who had been with him on the night of his arrest in Dedinje - Zivorad Igic, Bogoljub Bjelica, Slavica Djukic-Dejanovic. However, only Zivadin Jovanovic remained on the list of those who would soon set off to The Hague, including also Zoran Andjelkovic, Dusan Bajatovic and Dobrosav Radovic.

The day after this session of the SPS Central Committee, one of the distinguished socialists Dmitar Segrt explained for BK Television that 'the Ivkovic case was particularly irritating because it occurred after Mira Markovic's visit to her husband. In a TV program called, 'Serbs are not used to silence', Segrt claimed that Milosevic's suggestion to exclude Ivkovic from the party 'was not good' because it was based on incorrect information. 'It was done by a group of people who want to be a government in the shadow of the socialists. She's got a good communication with JUL, and therefore, she objected the popularity of Branislav Ivkovic as well as the party's attitude', said Segrt. This high official of SPS also stated that the delegation which is about to visit Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague, has a task of convincing the former president that the allegations against Ivkovic and his alleged 'Fifth Column' were unsupported and uncorroborated. However, it will be very difficult to make Milosevic believe in something like that. Ivkovic has so far come closest to his hope to become head of the party one day. He gave up at the right moment, but was first to agree on in an interview that the former president' made some mistakes in that past'. Not that long ago (while Milosevic was still imprisoned in Belgrade), Ivkovic stated on BK TV that it was perhaps best for Milosevic and his wife Markovic to withdraw from Serbia's political life. According to many, Ivkovic openly expressed his ambition to replace his boss and was first to begin to deface the figure of Slobodan Milosevic.

Ivkovic surely belongs to the most popular and most 'perspective' leaders of the Socialist Party of Serbia. Among the socialists who supported him last week, there are also those who wanted to reproach him for his many underperformances. Part of his potential rivals doubt that he is in the hands of DOS, whose leaders blackmail him on the principle - cooperation for being quiet or withdrawal at crucial moments.

But, even among those who are not so devoted to their caucus leader in the Serbian Parliament, almost nobody denies that Ivkovic is a very skilled politician, i.e. that nobody like Bane possesses such political sensors. Ivkovic was first to go public with what he believed was being prepared against him - that JUL intended to oust him from SPS, and that Milosevic was about to suggest his final dismissal from the party. However, those who were not too fond of Bane could not let JUL interfere or even take over the managing policy of SPS.

Slobodan Antonic, a political scientist has recently wrote that SPS was being tormented by a great agony, and that heritage is called Slobodan Milosevic. Many socialist haven't got a clear conviction whether it would still be good to follow Milosevic's path, or not. Antonic does not reject a possibility of Milosevic's sudden rise in popularity at the local political market, and he does not share the DOS politicians' belief that SPS is a party without any significant political future. He reminds us in an interview to VREME that the socialists won about half a million of votes in the past elections. 'One should also bear in mind a possibility of protesting voting, and SPS could be a very suitable choice in that case. Milosevic is in The Hague, and many people might starts considering him as a martyr. Also, all those that have something against the restitution of property to the Karadjordjevic Royal Family, those who object the introduction of religious studies in schools or have a negative view towards the new Law on Privatisation, can easily turn their preference in the direction of SPS. If the reforms start getting flawed or too slow, or if someone exposes a financial affair within the government, SPS might get another million of votes in the next elections. Of course, this party can never actually resume its former glory, but it should not be underestimated so soon', says Slobodan Antonic for VREME.

For a start, the socialists began with returning something of their old atmosphere, in which they used to live for 13 years. During that period, many people's careers flourished, they profiteered politically or economically, recalling what their boss and his wife had told them. But now, Sloba is far away and will not be back from The Hague very soon. For that reason, the socialists are dividing among themselves to those who understand that, and those who relentlessly decline to believe in such something, to those who are always available, and those who are more and more often unavailable. Bane, for example, became unavailable even when the mobile phones are connected to the loudspeakers.

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