Thousands protest against “the breaking up of Serbia”

Thousands protest against “the breaking up of Serbia”


By Milos Mitrovic – Belgrade, Novi Sad

In Novi Sad, the administrative center of Serbian Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, members of two ruling Serbian parties, Serbian Progressive Party (SPP) and Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS), held the rally under the name “Stop the breaking up of Serbia”. According to sources from Serbian police, there were 30.000 of citizens gathered at the protest. They demanded the withdrawal of the Declaration on the protection of constitutional and legal rights of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina, which had been sent to Provincial parliament for adoption procedure, by Democratic Party, the ruling party in Vojvodina.

The protesters demanded the resignation of the president of the provincial government, Bojan Pajtic, as well as the early elections for the parliament of Vojvodina.

“Our demands are very precise, and we will not wait long, since the mood of the people is so obvious, we would not be able to hold the anger of the people if you continue to behave as the last dictator in this part of Europe”, Igor Mirovic, the vice president of SPP warned Bojan Pajtic.

“There will be no separatism in Vojvodina, because we will not allow it”, the vice president of SPS, Dusan Bajatovic, announced.

At the rally, provincial government had been accused that it “robbed the state”. Nationalistic Democratic Party of Serbia (DPS), led by former Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica, also endorsed the protest. The organizers of the protest arranged busses for bringing the supporters from all parts of Serbia to Novi Sad.  As Blic daily informed, Serbs from Kosovo also came.

Today Pajtic repeated that the Declaration on the protection of constitutional and legal rights of the autonomous province of Vojvodina is not a separatist one and that he will not allow “street upheaval”. He said that the protest had actually represented the attempt of the government in Belgrade to remove public attention from the dialogue with Pristina and the European Union, so “Vojvodina had been used as the scenery for verification of patriotism”. He added that no one from the central government in Belgrade had any remark on the text of the Declaration itself, what, he thought, confirmed that in fact the only goal had been to overthrow the provincial government at any costs.

The president of the parliament of Vojvodina, Istvan Pastor, called upon the provincial government not to discuss the Declaration at the following session, as it had been planned earlier. According to Danas daily, it is not quite clear why the Democratic Party ignored its coalition partners and sent the Declaration for the procedure in the provincial parliament exactly in the moment when the Serbian top officials had been occupied with the negotiations about normalization of relations with Kosovo.

The tension which appeared in relation to the Declaration and the protest, reminded on the demonstrations in 1988 when the provincial government, accused for corruption by the supporters of the former Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic, had been overthrown in the streets during the so called yogurt revolution. This political alternation contributed to the consolidation of Milosevic’s rule in Serbia as well as to the separation of the socialist Yugoslavia which followed.