Situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

Report(1)

Doc. 7744

28 January 1997

Rapporteurs: Mr. Bloetzer, Switzerland, EPP and Mr. van der Linden, Netherlands, EPP


 

Summary:

The Committee proposes that the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia be called upon to:

  1. implement the recommendations of the special OSCE delegation forthwith and to recognize the opposition victories in the second round of the local elections in November 1996;

  2. refrain from the use of force against the opposition demonstrators;

  3. establish a genuine political dialogue with the opposition with a view to introducing democratic reforms;

  4. respect fully the principles of pluralist democracy, human righs, including freedom of the media, and the rule of law, also in Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjak;

  5. observe strictly the Dayton Agreement, including co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

The opposition is expected also to commit itself clearly to respect for democracy and human rights in Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjak, and to the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

 

I. Draft Resolution

1.The Assembly stresses that respect for democracy and human rights in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is essential to peace and stability in the Balkan region and to the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

2.The Assembly condemns the cancellation by the authorities of opposition victories in the second round of the local elections held on 17 November 1996.

3.The Assembly proclaims its solidarity with those who are peacefully, persistently and courageously demonstrating against this manipulation and for democratic reforms.

4.The Assembly deplores the failure of the state-dominated media to report on these demonstrations and strongly condemns the pressure exerted on the independent media.

5.The Assembly fully endorses the recommendations of the special OSCE delegation, led by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, which visited Belgrade 20-21 December 1996.

6.The Assembly expresses its deep concern about the general situation in Kosovo. It condemns the recent incidents. Any escalation of violence there would have grave consequences for the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and for the region as a whole.

7.The Assembly calls on the authorities of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to:

  1. implement the recommendations of the special OSCE delegation forthwith;

  2. refrain from the use of force against the opposition demonstrators;

  3. establish a genuine political dialogue with the opposition with a view to introducing democratic reforms;

  4. respect fully the principles of pluralist democracy, human rights, including freedom of the media, and the rule of law, also in Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjak;

  5. observe strictly the Dayton Agreement, including co-operation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia;

8.The Assembly reaffirms its position that the development of contacts with institutions of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will depend on the implementation of the policies called for above.

9.The Assembly expects the opposition also to commit itself clearly to respect for democracy and human rights in Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjak, and to the full implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

 

II. Explanatory Memorandum by the Rapporteurs

I. Local elections of November 1996

1.A second round of voting in Serbia's local elections took place on 17 November 1996. The ruling coalition consisted of Milosevic's Socialist Party, the Yugoslav Left, run by Milosevic's wife Mirjana Markovic, and the New Democracy Party, took control of 154 of 189 municipalities.

2.A major share of the remaining 35 municipalities were, according to provisional results, won by the "Zajedno" (Together) coalition of three opposition parties: Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement, Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party and the Civic Alliance led by Vesna Pesic.

3.The extreme nationalistic Serbian Radical Party, led by Vojislav Seselj, won the municipality of Zemun, an industrial suburb of Belgrade.

4.The ruling coalition confirmed the results of the elections to the Federal Assembly held on 3 November 1996, where they won 64 of 138 seats in the Chamber of Citizens. The "Zajedno" coalition won 22, the Democratic Party of Socialists of Montenegro won 20 seats while the Serbian Radical Party came fourth with 16 seats(2).

5.Although the ruling coalition took control of the largest number of municipalities,the opposition won in virtually all major cities in Serbia and Vojvodina.

6.Following this outcome, courts annulled the elections in 14 cities(3), including Belgrade(4) and the second biggest Serbian city of Nis(5).

 

II. Street protests

7.The decision to annul the opposition victory brought immediate mass protests to the streets of Belgrade and other cities in Serbia. The number of demonstrators varied from 30.000 to reportedly half a million people celebrating the Orthodox New Year on 13 January 1997.

8.The protests, organised by the "Zajedno" opposition and by students of Belgrade are continuing still today. They are characteristically non-violent and colourful in inventing new strategies to protest against the authorities and the presence of the riot police.

9.The protestors have gained support from a number of Milosevic's traditional allies including the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Yugoslav Army. It's Chief of Staff, General Momcilo Perisic, speaking to a group of students, said that the crises should be resolved in the manner of democratic countries. Signs of support are also coming from Montenegro, where even Milosevic's fellow Socialists begun to voice doubts in the way the situation has been handled by the Serbian authorities.

10.The authorities employed a large riot police force in a clear attempt to intimidate the demonstrators. They also tried to prevent daily street marches by issuing warnings against traffic obstruction. Although in general the police have been restrained from using force, there were occasional eruptions of violence with serious casualties(6) as well as reports of arrests and alleged torture of opposition activists. At the time of writing there were disturbing signs of a more hard-line approach with regard to protests.

 

III. The role of the courts

11.The provisional election results in the municipalities won by the opposition were contested by the Socialist Party. The decision to annul them was delivered by the municipal courts, usually on the basis of minor procedural deficiencies. This was followed by a administrative and judicial labyrinth of contradicting decisions, involving state-controlled courts and electoral commissions, through which the government repeatedly offered and then withdrew concessions in some of the contested municipalities. The administrative and court procedures seem to be manipulated in order to buy time hoping that protests would collapse with time. This practice was strongly condemned by the international community and by a number of Serbian judges.

12.A joint statement of 20 December 1996 by the Lawyers' Associations of Yugoslavia, Serbia and Montenegro expressed concern over the fact that:"...the decision on the annulment of the local elections jeopardised the confidence of the citizens in the work of the courts, in the entire judicial and legal system". The statement further called for: "A true independence of the courts and of other judicial organs, for objective and impartial legal proceedings, which would prevent any interference in their activities; especially the interference of political parties and of the executive authorities.".

 

IV. The reaction of the international community

13.In spite of the fact that Milosevic was one of the signatories of the Dayton Agreement, it was soon widely recognized that any tolerance of his actions would be counterproductive with regard to peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Moreover, progress towards democracy in FRY would also have positive consequences for the developments in Bosnia and Herzegovina and elsewhere in the region.

14.The United States and the European Union(7) have both urged to step up the pressure on Milosevic. Russia and Greece have been using their influence to make the Serbian Government accept the election outcome. The Greek Foreign Minister, Mr Pangalos, was also the only foreign envoy visiting Belgrade who was received by President Milosevic.

15.On 16 December 1996, the Chairman of the Political Affairs Committee Mr Bársony (Hungary, EPP) and the two Co-Rapporteurs also on the implementation of the Dayton Agreement paid a one day visit to Belgrade. One of the purposes of this visit was to asses the impact of the current disturbances in Belgrade on prospects for the implementation of the Dayton Agreement.

16.The delegation met with President of the Federal Assembly (Chamber of Citizens) Mr Minic and with Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr Jovanovic. It also held talks with Mr Djindjic and Ms Pesic as well as with other representatives of the "Zajedno" coalition(8). The findings of the visit are contained in Doc.7733. An assessment of the statements and representations made to the Rapporteurs during their discussions in Belgrade is set out in Annex A.

17.On 13 January 1997, the Political Affairs Committee decided to organise a hearing on the situation in the FRY, during the January 1997 part-session, with participation of Yugoslav political parties.

 

V. The recommendations of the OSCE

18.Following an invitation by the Yugoslav Government, the OSCE Chairman-in-Office Mr Flavio Cotti asked a former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González to visit Belgrade as his Personal Representative. The mandate of the visit was to collect all information available regarding the local elections and to formulate conclusions and recommendations to that regard. The report of the OSCE Delegation, the letter of the Yugoslav Minister of Foreign Affairs that followed the publication of the report and the conclusions of the OSCE Chairmanship can be found in Annex B.

19.The report stated that the elections on the whole reflected the will of the citizens of the FRY. It confirmed the "Zajedno" victories in the fourteen contested cities.

20.As the response of the Yugoslav authorities fell short of what was expected, the Ministerial "Troika" of the OSCE on several occasions(9) demanded that the recommendations be fully complied with and that the outcome of the elections be recognized immediately.

 

VI. The situation in Kosovo

21.Parallel to the disturbances in Belgrade and other cities in Serbia violence again erupted in Kosovo, where the general situation remains critical. The Serb rector of the University of Pristina was injured in a car bomb on 16 January 1997 and an Albanian activist of the Serbian Socialist Party was killed and his son seriously wounded in a gun attack the same day in a village near Pristina.

22.The Assembly has on several occasions already expressed its deep concern with regard to the situation in Kosovo, Sandjak, Vojvodina and other ethnically sensitive areas of Serbia and Montenegro.

23.In Resolution 1066 (1995) it called upon the Government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia to refrain from altering ethnic balance in certain regions through the settlement of Croatian Serb refugees and to respect the right of the ethnic minorities in the country.

24.In Recommendation 1287 (1996) the Assembly asked the Committee of Ministers to consider the possibility, subject to the bona fide implementation by the FRY of the dayton Agreement and its positive response to the OSCE's demand to re-establish its missions in Kosovo, Sandjak and Vojvodina, of inviting representatives of the FRY to meetings organised by the Council of Europe on subjects concerning that country directly.

 

VII. Conclusions

25.The Yugoslav authorities should immediately and fully implement the OSCE recommendations.

26.They should enter in an open and democratic dialogue with the opposition and refrain from any use of violence with regard to the protests.

27.Any escalation of violence in the country and in particular in the ethnically sensitive areas, such as Kosovo, would have grave destabilizing consequences for the region as a whole.

28.The Yugoslav authorities should respect fully the principles of pluralist democracy, human rights, including freedom of the media, and the rule of law, also in Kosovo, Vojvodina and Sandjak.

29.All political forces in the FRY should support and contribute to such reforms.

30.Future relations with the FRY should depend on the observance of these conditions and on its positive contribution to the implementation of the Dayton Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 


Reporting Committee: Political Affairs Committee.

Budgetary implications for the Assembly: to be assessed.

Draft resolution adopted by the committee on 28 January 1997 with one abstention.

Members of the committee: Mr Bársony (Chairman), Sir Anthony Durant (Vice-Chairman), Mr van der Linden (Vice-Chairman), Mrs Ojuland (Vice-Chairperson), MM Aloglu, Antretter, Bakke, Baumel, Mrs Belohorska, MM Belyaev, Bergqvist, Bernardini, Björck, Bloetzer, Bokov, Büchel, Bühler, Cem, Cerqueda Pascuet, Chircop, Chornovil (Alternate: Mr. Yablonsky), Deasy, Diacov, Domljan, Eörsi, Evangelisti, Gjellerod, Gotzev, Hardy, Irmer, Iwinski, Kalus, Kaspereit, Kautto, Kuzmickas, Kyprianou (Alternate: Mr Christodoulides), Mme Lentz-Cornette, MM Lopez Henares, Lupu, Maginas, Martínez, Masseret, Madeiros Ferreira, Melescanu, Mota Amaral, Mühlemann, Oliynik, Pahor, Popovski, Prusak, Mrs Ragnarsdottir, MM Risari, Schieder, Schwimmer, Selva, Sinka, Sir Dudley Smith, Mr Spahia, Mrs Stepova, Mrs Suchoka, MM Urbain, van der Maelen, Vrettos, Woltjer, Ziuganov

N.B. The names of those members who took part in the meeting are printed in italics.

Secretaries of the committee : Mr Hartland, Mr Kleijssen, Mr Gruden.


 

ANNEXES

A. Assessment of the Statements and Representations made to the     Rapporteurs on the Implementation of the Dayton Agreement during their visit to Belgrade on 16 December 1996

B.

C. recommendations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation following observation of the 3 November 1996 elections

D. declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

E. European Parliament resolution on Serbia of 16 January 1997

 


 

ANNEX A

Assessment of the Statements and Representations made to the Rapporteurs on the Implementation of the Dayton Agreement during their visit to Belgrade on 16 December 1996

Mr Milomir MINIC, President of the Chamber of Citizens, President of the Federal Assembly

Mr Zivadin JOVANOVIC, Deputy Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs

 

Policy of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) was to support implementation of the Dayton Agreement. There were 700 000 refugees in FRY as a result of the war. They were not all of the same ethnic background. But all were treated on an equal basis, without discrimination, and could choose where they lived.

Economic reconstruction, leading to the creation of jobs, was the key to restoring links between the two BH entities and to the normalisation of BH-FRY relations. As provided for in the Dayton Agreement, the two entities must be treated on an equal basis.

It was an over-simplification to present the situation in Serbia as "annulment" of local elections by President Milosevic. The European Union was wrong. It was time to remove the "outer wall" of sanctions.

The practice of holding elections was well-established. The first multi-party elections were held in 1990. Federal elections were held in June 1992. Presidential, federal, Serbian republic and local elections were held in December 1993. Federal, Montenegrin republic, regional (Voivodina) and local elections had just been held on 3 and 17 November 1996. Serbian republic elections would be held in 1997.

For the elections held on 3 November 1996, there had been a 60% turn-out of the 7,6 million electorate. Ten parties had won seats in the Chamber of Citizens of the Federal Assembly. There were 138 seats in this Chamber: 108 elected from 29 electoral districts in Serbia, and 30 from 7 electoral districts in Montenegro.

The Left Coalition - supporting Slobodan Milosevic, and consisting of the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), the Yugoslav Left (JUL) and New Democracy (ND) - had won 64 seats, with 1.85 million of the 4.6 million votes. Other seats were distributed as follows:

Following a second round of voting for local elections on 17 November 1996, of 189 municipalities 154 were won by the SPS and 35 by opposition parties (including the Sandzak and Voivodina).

Complaints following this second round had been lodged not only by "Zajedno" but by the SPS. On rulings by election commissions, 3.9% of the elections had been annulled with a view to having them re-run. This was roughly the same percentage of annulments as for previous elections. The rules were the same as for all elections since 1991. "Zajedno" had accepted these rules, and had broken them by declaring premature victories.

A solution should be found on the basis of the OSCE Mission which President Milosevic was inviting, and also on the basis of a proposal by the Serbian Parliament for a "round table" to discuss disputes about voting, the financing of political parties and the media.

Meanwhile, the "Zajedno" Coalition had refused to attend the constitutive session of the Chamber of Citizens on 10 December 1996, and was continuing its boycott. This was not in the interests of the citizens of the Federal Republic, nor good for the stability of the State. Issues arising from elections should be discussed and resolved in Parliament.

The Federal Assembly would welcome the opportunity of restoring its relations with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. A renewal of its participation in debates on implementation of the Dayton Agreement, to which the FRY was party, might prepare the way for renewal of "special guest status". It was understood that this would mean a multi-party delegation reflecting the plurality of opinions in the Federal Assembly and thus including representative(s) of "Zajedno".

However, the unresolved question of "continuity" in the status of FRY following the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) in 1992 meant that in present circumstances no application would be made to Strasbourg on behalf of the Federal Assembly.

"ZAJEDNO Coalition"

The demonstrations were in no way a call for revolution. The call was for the peaceful and regular transfer of local power in specific municipalities following democratic elections. A re-run of 17 November second round voting was unacceptable.

The boycott of the Federal Assembly was justified. Taking their seats as Federal deputies would not improve their access to the media. It would not mean any greater public understanding of their case.

The probable implications of the boycott for the presence of a Federal Assembly delegation at the next part-session in Strasbourg were accepted.

For its part, Europe must understand that the issue of the outcome of the local elections was of great symbolic importance. The question was whether the FRY was ever likely to move under its present leadership from a monolithic to a pluralist structure for the exercise of power.

If not, the political process in FRY was outside the frame of international standards of democracy, and in violation of international principles of human rights. The whole system was illegal.

The test of a dictatorship was quite simply whether or not power was peacefully transferred following an election.

An OSCE inquiry would be welcome, if the Mission stayed long enough and had access to the data. On these conditions, "Zajedno" would be confident as to the outcome of international arbitration and would accept it.

 

ANNEX B (FR)

 

ANNEX C (FR)

recommendations of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Delegation following observation of the 3 November 1996 elections

 

ANNEX D

declaration by the Presidency on behalf of the European Union on the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia

 

ANNEX E

European Parliament resolution on Serbia of 16 January 1997

 


Note: 1 of the Political Affairs Committee


Note: 2The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's report on these elections is attached as Annex C


Note: 3Pirot, Kraljevo, Uzice, Smederevska Palanka, Vrsac, Soko Banja, Kragujevac, Pancevo, Jagodina, Nis, Zrenjanin, Lapovo, Sabac and Belgrade.


Note: 4"Zajedno" claimed to have won in 9 of 16 Belgrade's municipalities, which would give them 67 of 110 seats in Belgrade's City Council.


Note: 5The annulments concerned cities where opposition won by a narrow margin. In the cities where "Zajedno"' victories were overwhelming, which was the case in Vojvodina's regional capital of Novi Sad, the results were not contested.


Note: 6On 25 December 1996, after clashes between pro and anti-Milosevic demonstrators, 56 people were treated for injuries, including one man who was shot in the head and critically wounded.


Note: 7The Declaration by the EU Presidency on the situation in the FRY of 9 January 1997 and a resolution adopted by the European Parliament are in Annexes D and E respectively.


Note: 8Milan Bozic, Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Ivan Vujacic, Ilija Djukic and Trojan Stankovic, Democratic Party (DP), Aleksandra Posarac, Civic Alliance (GS)


Note: 9Most recently at the meeting between the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Switzerland and Poland, held on 23 January 1997 in Copenhagen.