Belgrade, March 17, 2003
SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
KOSOVO – METOHIJA
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SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
MAROVIC SAYS HAS ASSURANCES ARMY NOT HIDING MLADIC
BELGRADE, March 16 (Beta) - SerbiaMontenegro President Svetozar Marovic says in an interview in the March 17 issue of Vecernje Novosti that the military leadership is assuring him that it is not hiding Ratko Mladic, wanted by the U.N. war crimes tribunal in The Hague for war crimes.
Marovic, in response to a query about the origin of the information, says the following of his recent meeting with army chief of staff Gen. Branko Krga: "He told me the army was doing its job in accordance with the law and that it was not hiding anybody. It is important to eliminate doubts that the army could be doing something of this kind."
In addition, he denies that Montenegro is asking for half of the ambassadorships of the new union.
"We of Montenegro have no intention of appointing ambassadors in the entire world. If Serbia wants to, it can," Marovic adds.
"We are interested in several important posts. We do not care about numbers, the important thing is to have competent people who will protect the interest of Serbia and Montenegro."
FUTURE DEFENSE MINISTER ANNOUNCES CHANGES IN ARMY
BELGRADE, March 16 (Beta) - Boris Tadic, the likely future defense minister of Serbia and Montenegro, said on March 16 that one of his first steps after taking office would be personnel changes among the top brass and the position of the general staff.
"I intend to insist on something that is not an integral part of the constitutional charter of Serbia and Montenegro and that is... that the general staff will be subordinate to the Defense Ministry, which is in turn subject to the authority of Parliament and the Supreme Defense Council," said Tadic after a Democratic Party meeting that resulted in his nomination for the post.
At present, the army is controlled by the Supreme Defense Council.
Tadic added that "I will assess how the army stands... and identify key problems."
He also plans to meet Serbia's finance minister and draw up blueprint for "modernizing the army of Serbia and Montenegro."
Although with little formal training for the post, Tadic added that he had been practicing for "another very important post that involves civilian and democratic control of the military."
WORLD BANK PREPARES NEW FINANCIAL AID TO SERBIA
BELGRADE, March 15 (Beta) - The World Bank has already prepared a new aid package for Serbia, and there is a possibility that the payment of loans approved for a three-year period will be accelerated, World Bank Belgrade office spokeswoman Vesna Kostic told BETA on March 15.
"The World Bank has approved $540 million in loans by 2004. For the time being, the sum cannot be augmented, but a faster payment is possible, meaning that the bank may increase the installments it is paying now and reduce those that are to follow," Kostic said.
Kostic said that the loan for structural readjustment of the social sector, amounting to $80 million, has been prepared and that it is awaiting the official approval of the World Bank Board of Directors.
The World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, said in a written statement that programs of financial support to the health care and financial sectors, as well as for privatization in Serbia are being prepared.
Serbia and Montenegro have already been granted about $217 million for various projects.
NATASA MICIC PROPOSES PREMIER DESIGNATE
BELGRADE, March 17 (Tanjug) - Acting President of Serbia Natasa Micic has proposed to Serbian parliament that Democratic Party Vice-President Zoran Zivkovic be elected Serbian premier designate.
A statement of the parliament information service said that Natasa Micic proposed Zivkovic after she heard the opinions of Serbian parliament majority representatives.
CABINET: 307 IN CUSTODY
BELGRADE, March 16 (Beta) - According to a Serbian cabinet news release of March 16, police had 307 people in custody.
Of these, four have offered to testify in return for protected witness status, the release said. No names were given.
It added that a total of 318 people had been arrested in all and that nine had been released. Police were also focusing on associates, agitators, and financiers of the criminal group that killed Premier Djindjic.
"A large number of firearms were found in the possession of the suspects," the statement said.
The protected witnesses, former members of the Zemun clan, have provided information "that has helped solve several unsolved murders."
"Their statements to the special prosecutor confirmed suspicions that the Zemun drug cartel, together with the public and secret police, during Milosevic's rule took part in political murders, the drug trade, and were directly tied with the Colombian drug cartel through European drug dealers.
"These people were involved in thefts, robberies, and armed robberies, as well as other high crimes."
"Their activities continued after the change of government of Oct. 5, 2000, especially when it comes to abductions and drugs. In addition, showdowns within the group have resulted in over 50 murders," said the document.
"With the assistance of a network of informants, people from the ranks of the police and secret police on their payroll, and thanks to police IDs, members of the group managed to avoid arrest and were often able to steer investigations in the wrong direction."
The news release added that "even though charges were filed against many of these people, they managed, by way of pressures and bribery, to stop ongoing legal action, leaving them free to commit other crimes."
BATIC BOOST SECURITY LEVEL IN SERBIA'S PRISONS
BELGRADE, March 16 (Beta) - On March 16 Serbian Justice Minister Vladan Batic imposed a temporary suspension of inmates' visiting rights in Serbia's prisons for the duration of the present state of emergency.
In a statement read on Serbian state TV, Batic stressed that his decision to raise the alert level was made in response to the state of emergency.
He added that guards had been ordered to take special care when frisking prisoners and searching the buildings where they live and work.
The minister explained that this would put a stop to communication between inmates and their family, friends, and associates by mail, pager, or mobile phone.
ZIVKOVIC SAYS STATE OF EMERGENCY UNTIL THE END OF APRIL AT THE LATEST
BELGRADE, March 16 (Beta) - Democratic Party candidate for premier Zoran Zivkovic said on March 16 that a state of emergency in Serbia would stay in effect until the end of April at the latest.
"A state of emergency will stay in effect until the criminals are dealt with, by the end of next month at the latest," Zivkovic said.
He said certain measures would be adopted to help the media in the new conditions.
The Democratic Party candidate for new Serbian premier, Zoran Zivkovic, said on March 16 that there will be no early elections in Serbia since "the cabinet has the Legislature's support."
Zivkovic told Belgrade BK TV that "the Democratic Party is not afraid of elections and is getting ready for them."
After a meeting of the Democratic Party Steering Committee, Zivkovic rejected the idea of setting up a broad coalition government, emphasizing that "the forces that have created the atmosphere of lynch and which are partially to blame for what has happened cannot sit together in the benches."
KOSOVO – METOHIJA
INVESTIGATORS IDENTIFY BODIES EXHUMED IN KOSOVO
DJAKOVICA, March 16 (Beta) - In the past two days, investigators have established the identity of six bodies exhumed from a Muslim graveyard in Djakovica, Kosovo.
Investigators uncovered items belonging to 37 persons. The personal belongings helped to identify Milorad Jovanovic, Dragica Bibercic, Desanka Nisavic, Milica Pantovic, Momcilo Milic and Avdulj Ibrahim.
Pathologist Slavisa Dobricanin said that their remains would be passed on to their families.
Hose Pablo Barajbar, who heads UNMIK's office for missing persons and forensics, said about 70 Serb and several Roma families examined the personal belongings which were placed on display for identification in Merdare, a place on the border between Kosovo and Serbia.
TRIAL OF "COMMANDER REMI" GROUP BEGINS
PRISTINA, March 16 (Beta) - Former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army in the north east of the province, Rustem Mustafa a.k.a. "commander Remi," dismissed the war crimes indictment against him in court on March 14.
Further into the trial, believed to be one of the most important in Kosovo since the conflict there ended, Mustafa said that he could not accept the charges against him because "war was forced upon the people of Kosovo."
"Our struggle was for liberation, and in it, every Albanian, but Kosovo's other citizens as well, contributed," Mustafa said.
In addition to Mustafa, Latif Gashi, Naim Kadriu and Nazif Mehmeti have also been charged. All of them dismissed the charges against them.
For reasons of security, the trial is being held in an improvised courtroom in the youth center in Pristina, with judge Timothy Clayson presiding over the court's trial chamber.
MONTENEGRO INTRODUCES VAT
PODGORICA, March 16 (Beta) - The value-added tax (VAT), which will replace the existing sales tax, will be introduced in Montenegro on April 1, 2003, Montenegrin Public Revenue Administration director Predrag Markovic confirmed on March 14.
Markovic said the VAT will be charged for goods from Montenegro which are sold in Serbia and that goods from Serbia to be sold in Montenegro will be taxed with a common tax of 17 percent. This will remain so until the VAT is introduced in Serbia too, Markovic added.
GERMAN CONCERN BUYS ANOTHER DAILY IN SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
PODGORICA, March 16 (Beta) - The Podgorica daily Vijesti announced on March 15 that the daily has been bought by the German WAZ concern, which already owns over 130 newspapers in Europe, including the Belgrade daily Politika.
The agreement on the purchase of Vijesti was signed by the paper representatives and WAZ director Bodo Hombach, former coordinator of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe.
Following the signing ceremony, Hombach said that he likes the publishing business very much, but that his love has "an economic aspect" as well, Podgorica Vijesti reported.
The WAZ is a co-owner of the Belgrade daily Politika and it is expected to conclude a similar agreement with the Nov Sad daily Dnevnik.