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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    WED, 31 JUL 1996 20:42:33 GMT

    Political-Private Scandals in Belgrade


    There will be no coalition "All Together" as Vojislav Kostunica suggested, and it might happen that even those who are now "Together" (The Civic Alliance of Serbia, the Democratic Party and the Serbian Revival Movement) will cease to be that. Squabbling on the occasion of the published text by Danica Draskovic titled "Sumadijan from Nevesinje" have already begun.

    AIM Belgrade, July 29, 1996

    The telephone in Belgrade restaurant called "Madera" rang. Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) called Vuk Draskovic, the first man of the Serbian Revival Movement (SPO) and informed him that he was interrupting all negotiations on joining the opposition coalition "Together". The present leaders of the Serbian and the Montenegrin opposition - Vesna Pesic, Zoran Djindjic and Novak Kilibarda - who were celebrating at lunch the beginning of the talks on joint appearance in the forthcoming elections, could have choked.

    After that, an urgent statement was sent from the headquarters of the DSS to all the media that Kostunica "after the end of the meeting with opposition leaders from Serbia and Montenegro with a shock discovered that in the latest issue of 'Srpska rec' Danica Draskovic had stated the worst insults and slanders at the expense of the parents of Vojislav Kostunica and his wife. For that reason Kostunica has decided to interrupt further talks with Vuk Draskovic, and file a complaint against his wife Danica and the journal 'Srpska rec'".

    That is how the several months long effort to win Kostunica over, whose party is the tip on the balance which oscillates either towards Seselj's Radicals or those who call themselves "Together". There will be no coalition "All Together", as Kostunica had proposed, and it might even happen that those who are "Together" now (Civic Alliance of Serbia, Democratic Party and the Serbian Revival Movement) will not be that any more. Squabbling because of the published text by Danica Draskovic titled "Sumadian from Nevesinje" in the coalition block have already begun.

    Desperados, Flatterers and Others

    When journalists had asked Kostunica before he read "Srpska rec", whether the SPO and his DSS had overcome differences and whether the DSS had become closer to the coalition, he gave an indirect answer: "The very fact that for the first time this group of people talked about modalities of cooperation is sufficient in itself. We concluded that regardless of the relations between the participants of the meeting, there should be no controversies and hesitation".

    Modalities of cooperation, controversies and hesitation - these indeed are euphemisms for the previously striken low blows. Opposition leaders pry into each other's origin and morality, and the language of the street fills the coluumns of journals in Serbia.

    To a comment of Vuk Draskovic that he was blackmailing the coalition, Vojislav Kostunica answered at a press conference by saying: "After his 'lessons' on honour and honesty one cannot but wonder what honesty means to Vuk Draskovic, the author of flattering statements about Broz and Milosevic and the disgraceful feuilleton on Draza Mihajlovic, the occasional coalition partner of the Socialists, the man who has managed to surprise even foreigners with the abundance of ugly declarations about his own nation..."

    Draskovic responds with the statement that he preferred not to even utter Kostunica's name, but the spokesman of the SPO, Ivan Kovacevic, joins the quarrel by claiming that Kostunica is "conistent only in hatred and haggling".

    At an evil hour, Danica Draskovic comes out on the scene and vindictively writes that Kostunica "for the sake of cheap political profiteering" is concealing the fact that he is by origin from Herzegovina in order to preserve the myth about him as the only politician from Sumadija (the heart of Serbia), that his father was a judge who sentenced members of the Chetnik movement after the war, that his wife's father was a notorious official of Tito's intelligence service. "although I believe that children are not and cannot be guilty for the sins of their parents"...

    The thing that worries is the seriousness with which the parties from the coalition have approached this newspaper article, as well as their readiness to take part in the quarrel. Because of a newspaper article, main boards of parties are in session, statements are issued...

    "We do not wish to have any political contacts with the SPO, nor to join the coalition. Coalition with other parties is not impossible, but that does not depend on us but on them", says spokesman of the DSS, Milorad Jankovic.

    Zoran Djindjic, leader of the Democrats who has recently played the role of the reconciler, demands from Vuk Draskovic and his party to disassociate themselves from the text in "Srpska rec" believing that this is not the same policy Vuk Draskovic advocated at the meeting of the Serbian and the Montenegrin opposition. "Obstacles set up by desperados such as 'Srpska rec' must be removed", Djindjic adds.

    Vuk Draskovic calls Djindjic's demand for apology a relapse of Stalinist editting of media. "As concerning the pogrom-like and primitive attacks, they have come from Vojislav Kostunica and were addressed at me... noone was concerned because of them... nor was he accused of destroying the coalition in the midst of the talks about the coalition", Vuk responds.

    And the deputy of the ruling party, Radovan Radovic, triumphs: "I have never believed that a serious opposition coalition will be formed, and even if it were, it would have quickly been dissolved. The only thing that connects them is hatred towards the Socialists, but even that is of no use to them when they hate each other."

    Realists and Fundamentalists

    After five years since the first multiparty elections in Serbia, it is no news that leaders of the opposition are breaking agreements, occasionally bargaining with the Socialists and that they do not like each other. Only incurable optimists believed that the thunderous announcement of "historical" meetings of the opposition would lead to their union. Reason dictated that it was inevitable to take into account feebleness of political programs, personal animosities, but also destroyers installed by the regime, men-levers inside the coalition block as deja-vu in the previous elections. Nevertheless, the fact that personal quarrels acquired so much vehemence at the moment when temporary peace agreement could have been expected, surprised many.

    Dr Zarko Korac interprets such clashes by an increase of nervousness before the elections. He anticipates new conflicts, alliances and coalitions, but also increasing apathy of the voters.

    "People do not act normally, because large political interests are at stake. They are also panic-stricken, because the latest polls show that interest of the citizens for politics is decreasing, since an increasing number of people are announcing abstention in the elections. It needs wisdom to see that the conflicts of personal nature are often just a mask, a cover for making important political points. This will cause even greater apathy among the voters. It is possible that this is exactly what somebody aims to achieve", Zarko Korac believes.

    Dr Milan Podunavac, a politicologist, also believes that insulting words are just a screen which conceals a much more profound split in the opposition block. It is caused by different diagnosis made by the parties concerning the regime which rules Serbia.

    "It is obvious that a plebiscitary dictatorship is consolidating itself in Serbia right now, and the opposition does not have a joint plan what to do with it. I see two factions here - the realists and the fundamentalists. The Serbian Revival Movement, now it is quite certain, with the controversial article shows that it is closer to the authorities than the other members of the coalition. Draskovic belongs to the realists, he still believes that it is possible to win power by using the premisses of the existing system. He is wrong. According to my conviction, fundamentalists such as Kostunica are superior, they have a future regardless of the cause they advocate. They are aware that everything must be started from scratch, that the old strategy is of no use any more.

    Apart from the "strategic" divisions which Podunavac talks about, the old gaps concerning Bosnia and the national project in general have not been bridged yet. Faced with the impossible task to unite the irreconcilable, unable to create a new project, exhausted by constant election defeats, the opposition seems to be preparing an alibi for yet another defeat this autumn.

    (AIM) Gordana Igric



    It would be wrong to believe that representatives of the authorities in Serbia are less nervous than the oppositionists. After Minister of information, Aleksandar Tijanic, had met with the editor of "Srpska rec" Danica Draskovic in front of a Belgrade restaurant, the expected "big bang" occurred, and in the end the police had to intervene. After the verbal conflict with the Minister, Danica Draskovic was the one who called the police from the offices of "Srpska rec", because, as she claims, Tijanic threatened her in the street because of an article about Mirjana Markovic, saying: "I will crush you down like a cockroach and scrape you off the pavement with a razor when I'm finished with you. You and your newspaper are an evil for this nation and I will do my best to liquidate you".

    The Minister wanted to strike Mrs. Draskovic, but she avoided this form of conflict. "I watched from the window of the editorial office. Tijanic was doing gymnastics in the middle of the garden restaurant, and policemen did not dare ask him anything", says Danica Draskovic.

    Amusing the readers of the Dnevni Telegraf, Aleksandar Tijanic has his caricatured version of the event. He was peacefully drinking coffee, he says, when Danica Draskovic came up to him and invited him to have a drink with her, which he refused fearing that he would be infected with foot-and-mouth disease. She insisted that he should not refuse "the girl with such a body and slit on the skirt", and he defended himself with his traditional up-bringing. He therefore, begs Danica Draskovic via the newspaper not to disturb him any more "because he would file a complaint against stating of indecent offers and harassment". Finally, the newly nominated Minister of information sends word to Danica Draskovic: "Not even the police can force me to do what I don't want to do to you."