BALKAN_MEDIA_&_POLICY_MONITOR

Issue 44, Vol. 3, November 15, 1996


IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Feral Tribune on the open political questions between Bosnia and Croatia

  • Feral Tribune on Croatian foreign policy

  • Feral Tribune on Croatian policy towards Eastern Slavonia

  • Vreme , Feral Tribune and Nezavisni on the results of FRY elections

  • Vreme on the elections and use of TV

  • Novi Prelom on post-electoral Bosnia

  • Svijet on the role of the army in Bosnian politics

  • Monitor on the importance of the Bosnian military industry capacities

  • Svijet on the role of the religious communities in Bosnian politics

  • Koha on the political situation in Macedonia

  • Vreme , Svijet and Monitor on war crimes and the Hague Tribunal

  • Svijet -Slobodan Milosevic : a criminal or a peacemaker ?

  • Arkzin and Feral Tribune on the Croatian policy towards the Serbs

  • Republika on Greater Serbia and Croatia

  • Vreme (two comments) on Serb politics

  • Svijet on the shady deals of the Croatian army company

  • Vreme on the changes in the Serbian security service

  • Feral Tribune on the new Croatian media law

  • Thematic supplement : Events in Kosovo


    CROATIAN INTERNAL POLITICS

    Vjeran Grkovic of the Split weekly Feral Tribune , examines in the October 21, 1996 issue of that magazine the current state of the Bosnian-Croat relations reflected in the delineation process concerning the Bihac region of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    The Council of national defence and security of Croatia (VONS) was preparing an assassination attempt on Atif Dudakovic (the Commander of the 5th Corps of the Bosnian Army), since they estimated that with his removal they would cause divisions within the authority and the people in the Bihac region, which they could further feed and channel. This quote from an article published in the Sarajevo weekly Dani (Days) obviously produces various comments, but also numerous questions, among which there is space for the one concerning the reasons for the Croatian interest to cause, feed and channel divisions within the authority and the population of the Bihac region .

    The replies - even in the form of more or less based speculations - are sifting currently also through very regulated information on the negotiations between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina on delineation of state borders, with contested points precisely in the Bihac region, that is, the region of the Zeljava airport. These are combined with the newspaper articles on the demands of the Croatian citizens of a number of villages in the Pljesevica heights, that they be returned from Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they supposedly do not belong, into the fold of Croatia, from which they were supposedly forcefully pushed out.

    So, between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina there is, for 50 years now, an open contestation of the claims to the Pljesevica mountain region. The more precise data shows that the problem between the two states today is also possible concerning seven villages with Croatian population Southeast and Southwest of Bihac. These are the facts that are practically unknown to the Croatian public today, just as are the attempts of the Croatian authorities to correct the historical injustice in that region.The Croatian public is also unaware that for a year now, a commission on the borders between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is operating.

    Since during this period the Commission was not able to solve any of the open problems in delineation between the two countries, even the basic one - the border line at the Bihac airport - it could be speculated that the negotiations are long and tough and that the insistence on unsettled accounts from the past represents a heavy burden on the relations between the two countries. The problems are obviously mounting, the differences are growing, so the Croatian claims based on the historical rights , inflexible and not based on the current situation, are seen from the Bosnian side as the open aspirations of the Republic of Croatia towards sovereignity of Bosnia and Herzegovina .

    As could be predicted, it is the guilt of the communists and the silence of the post-war Croatian authorities that are guilty for all of today's problems concerning the border line. At one point, part of the Croatian territory on the Eastern slopes of Pljesevica was ceded to the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, without an agreement and with always present indifference of then authorities of Croatia. The border determined in 1945/46, after the conflict, solely known by its archive name the forest disagreement , is really a temporary border.

    A permanent and agreed border was to be determined. So, in the situation of the lack of good will, the fate of former municipalities of Zavalje, Baljevac and Skocaj, is really a serious territorial problem.But, it can also be used as a means of pressure in the solution of some other open questions.

    That is why it becomes clear that the Bihac airport is not the only contested pint about which Croatia and Bosnia cannot reach an agreement. It is logical that the airport has to be the subject of an agreement not blackmail. Zeljava airport is enabled to receive military and civilian aircraft. It is interesting to Croatia since it is close to Udbina airport, which is solely a military air field. At the same time, it is very close to Plitvice national park, which should become a peacetime backbone of development of that region of Croatia. On the other hand, this airport has much more military/strategic value for Bosnia than for Croatia, since it is a safe counterpoint to the Banja Luka airport, controlled by the Serbs.

    Source: Split weekly FeralTribune , October 21, 1996

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    The September 23, 1996 issue of the Split weekly Feral Tribune brought the analysis of the Croatian political scene in the light of the recent developments in the region of former Yugoslavia by its regular commentator Marinko Culic.

    The Belgrade agreement between Croatia and FRY delineated, in more or less desirable borders, two of the most potent nationalisms in this region. With the clear victory of the nationalistic parties at the Bosnian elections, they have gathered dividends of their policies which were condemned, but in the last instance tolerated and allowed in the World. Moreover, the Bosnian elections speak of the ability of the two, above all, unpopular regimes on the Continent to partially regenerate themselves, despite the impression that they are disintegrating from within.

    With this, these two prolong the chaos which they produce in practically all segments of public life. There is no doubt that the Bosnian elections have bettered the starting positions of the ruling parties in Croatia and Yugoslavia ahead of their respective forthcoming elections. This is particularly true of the HDZ, which has won in Bosnia even in those places where some have predicted its certain failure (Posavina), while, on the other hand, the first crack has appeared in the Serbian entity (Krajisnik's opponent Ivanic has garnered enough votes which enabled Izetbegovic to win in the end).

    Along with all this, some quiet movements have occurred, so that after the shocking defeat in Mostar, the HDZ is now, as it seems, still the first party in this town. If this possibly means that some hidden delicacies of the Croatian-Bosniak normalization (Sarajevo to Bosniaks, Mostar to Croats) have been pushed through with the elections, than this could speak of the readiness of the three nationalistic parties to guard the one thing that is solely identical to all of them: that is practically unbound, but still trilateral power, which cannot remain without minimal will for co-existence. Still, not everything will depend on them.

    The first interpretation of the Dayton Constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina spoke that the first three members of the Presidency (Izetbegovic, Krajisnik, Zubak) will rotate each for one term at the top function, which would mean that the new regime has been immediately put into full swing .

    But, Robert Frowick gave immediately after a new interpretation, according to which Izetbegovic would be the only one to sit through his two-year term, after which the elections would again follow. This leads to the conclusion that the three sides were, after all, given only limited authority to rule the country, and that more long term solutions will be sought further away from the effects of the war and national hatreds.

    The thing that will be designated as the short term plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina, will, of course, have to be turned into demands towards the neighbors across the Drina and Una rivers. During a debate in the Croatian Parliament,foreign minister Mate Granic stressed that the international sponsors of Bosnia and Herzegovina will insist on the formula one (State) plus two (entities) plus three (constitutive nations) .

    It was quite obvious that Granic is stressing this not only as a dry information to the Parliament ,but as a muted warning that the Croatian nationalistic project has touched its last lines and that it is dangerous to further gamble with the patience of the tiered, but still powerful world monitoring.

    Contrary to his party colleagues who still blindly believe that if it were to these mighty, there would be no Croatia, he almost fell into some touchy indiscretions ( The Storm was, he says, prepared so well, that there was no danger of negative reactions from the World), only to show the contrary.

    But Granic has also indicated new pressures on Croatia, first of all concerning the acceptance in the Council of Europe and the co-operation with the Hague Tribunal, while he explained the contested agreement with Belgrade as the crown of strong and concentrated pressures which could not be evaded. Granic has made a relatively good deal, since he almost moved away in a balanced manner from the heated ideological diatribes which included a part of his party colleagues (according to which Milosevic was thrown to his knees) and part of the opposition (according to which this is yet to be done).

    But making sure that the Croatian chief of diplomacy does not distinguish himself was made sure by Zarko Domljan, who, speaking in the name of the HDZ parliamentary faction, stated that most of those sitting in the Council of Europe are camouflaged communists and socialists. And those the ones that have prevented the membership of Croatia, since, supposedly , they cannot forgive it for breaking their sweet Yugoslav illusion. Even for always unpredictable Domljan, this is too much of studdering lies and rituals that it could be considered coincidental.

    Due to these trembling and amateurish duels with the loose windmills as are various Euroslavia's, Adriatic Confederations - which it seems becomes current when equally trite domestic curses are wasted - it is even hardly possible today to discern what is Croatian foreign policy, what are its goals, and when will they be achieved. The idea, also initiated by Domljan, that Croatia is the empowered guardian of the Christian world towards the threatening Islam, is actually the lowest point to which the Croatian foreign strategy has tumbled.

    The fall was deep, but inevitable, since from the beginning the foreign policy was only the puppet on a string of the internal politics. Simply, the boys from the Ministry were, once more, used as the charging unit of the VONS (The Croatian National Security Council).

    The target, obviously chosen ahead of the elections is this time the far Eastern end of Croatia, which emerges as a problem exactly there where, according to the insistence of the state top itself, it should not be. Although it is insisted that the agreement with Belgrade is a guarantee enough of the Croatian territorial integrity, Jacques Klein was confronted with the demand of urgent elections according to the 1991. census, as well as the ending of the UNTAES mandate by the beginning of next year.

    Both demands are in contradiction, not only with the UN resolutions, but also with the agreements signed by Croatia itself. With this, it brings into its international relations the stubbornes and scorn toward the regulations which its regime top shows at home, and at that, in a situation which substantially differs from the one on the eve of the fall of Krajina.

    It is obvious that this time there is declarative will for the war on the Serbian side as there was on the eve of the Storm , as well as there is no doubt in the world organization that this region should be returned to Croatia in a limited time frame. So, to create a psychosis around Vukovar so that the HDZ would remain in power could eventually overflow the glass.

    Source: Split weekly Feral Tribune , September 23, 1996

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    Drago Hedl, also of the Split weekly Feral Tribune , examines in the October 21, 1996 issue of that magazine the question of the re-integration of the Croatian Danubian region.

    When the peaceful re-integration of Easter Slavonia, Baranja and Western Srijem are in question, it is getting harder and harder to discern the gossip from the truth.The members of the Croatian Parliament have not yet put down their hands with which they passed the resolution about the conclusion of the UNTAES mandate, when Tudjman and Klein, supposedly after a tough meeting, announced that UNTAES will end its mission until the early summer of 1997.

    At the same meeting, Tudjman praised Klein's initiative on the opening of the market on the Osijek-Vukovar road, where thousands of people would meet each Saturday, while only a few days later regional head Branimir Glavas brought about a decision which closed it ! That is why it is no surprise that the Osijek gossip about night calls to the reserve police corps have coincided with the Belgrade news report about Tudjman's visit to Vukovar.

    The policy of re-integration of the Croatian Danubian region, if things are observed more closely, has actually always be lead on two tracks: one which counted upon the real peaceful re-integration of the territories and majority of the inhabitants there, and another, who wanted to end the story in the manner already seen in the actions like Lightning and Storm .

    At the same time, Tudjman give the right to citizenship to both options, although, to be sure, much more close to the heart entrance into Vukovar in the manner of kissing the flag on the Knin tower, than the entrance with the escort of white UNTAES tanks,that is, if he really accepts Klein's invitation to visit Vukovar in the spring.

    If it was not so, it is a moot question whether Branimir Glavas would use alledged two cases of food poisoning to close the market, slapping Klein loudly over both cheeks, if he did not feel Tudjman's parallelism of policy. Glavas used this opportunity to kill two flies with one move. At that moment, the head of the Croatian bureau for peaceful integration of the Danubian region was in hospital, Jacques Klein was in Ukraine, while Mato Simic was holding the Fourth conference of the exiles union in Zagreb.

    The fact that Ivica Kostovic apologized to raging Klein for the closure of the market does not take anything away from the believability of the thesis that along with the cards on the table , Tudjman keeps a reserve ace up his sleeve.

    The stories which have made rounds around Osijek in recent times about the fact that some form of a Croatian military action is only a matter of days; a series of tough political statements, very much helped by an orchestrated media campaign; almost unbelievably synchronized Serbian pouring oil onto the fire (the attack on the administration personnel who have been issuing Croatian documents and the inability of UNTAES to protect them in another manner than renting them bullet proof vests), were maybe geared towards calming down the exiles and the part of the radicalized public, but have also stimulated the dilemmas concerning what does Croatia really want with its Danubian region.

    Source: Split weekly Feral Tribune ,October 21, 1996

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    THE RESULTS OF THE FRY ELECTIONS

    Milan Milosevic, the domestic policy editor of the Belgrade weekly Vreme , discusses the results of the FRY elections in the November 9, 1996 issue of that magazine.

    He won again and when he wins we all usually pay the price. Serbia is the only remaining country in the East which never saw a change of the authorities, the basis of a democratic system. At federal level, the democratic forces were defeated worse than in 1990 and at the local level they stand a chance of doing better in towns whose inhabitants account for 40% of the entire population if they get up and their supporters show a will to vote in the second round.

    Every result in politics has two sides and the opposition, which did not fight to win at the federal elections but for an honorable defeat, is now fighting to survive. If it is eliminated, as some ruling party officials have said, Serbia will be the site of battles between the left (mainly the new rich) and the right (mainly the unhappy poor).

    That won't be a political battle. Although many things are uncertain and unpredictable in this country it seems fairly certain while this article is being written (Wednesday, November 6) that the SPS-JUL-ND coalition will win 1,847,610 votes (42.4% of the votes cast which means 25% of the electorate), about 300,000 votes more than at the republican elections in 1993.

    However this was accomplished and whatever it means, Serbian Socialist Party (SPS) chief Slobodan Milosevic has won his fifth election in a row. That means that if you're sorry we lost a state, that the entire world despises us, if your salary's low, if you can't travel the world, if your shoes are falling apart, if you've had enough suffering and wonder how long this will last, don't go after Milosevic but go to your neighbors. That's called working among the people. State TV polls showed many of them saying they voted for the same authorities that brought us to ruin so that things would get better.

    Voters believed that reality is what they see in ads. In Kragujevac, for example (a goods reserve scandal, factories not working, 30,000 jobless, a two month strike) the ruling party won 69,719 votes and had about 52,000 three years ago. The main critic of the authorities, the Zajedno coalition, won 56,246 and had 71,000 three years ago. Seselj got 6,000 new votes. Something similar happened in Nis (social tensions, an unpopular mayor) where the Socialists won 5,000votes more than in 1993 and Zajedno lost 10,000.

    The left won about 300,000 more votes in Serbia in 1996 than the ruling SPS did at republican elections in 1993. The ruling SPS-JUL-ND coalition is close to the dominant position the authorities held after the first multi-party elections and just prior to the war in 1990 (2.3 million votes). The ruling party's support was lowest in 1992 when it won 1,359,000 votes but it had an ally in the shape of the Serbian radical Party (SRS) which won 1,066,765 votes.

    Once the SRS and SPS broke up the socialists increased their voter support by 200,000 but their new partner was the weakest center party---New Democracy. The results of the latest elections give the Serbian left 64 seats in the federal parliament chamber of citizens. Combined with the 20 seats the Montenegrin ruling democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) won that means they can form a federal government and pass laws (69 seats needed).

    That majority is not enough to change the constitution which requires a two thirds majority or 92 MPs. This writer is one of the people who believe that the ruling coalition does not want to change the constitution since the federal prime minister now has more powers than the German chancellor---for example---on the condition that laws are in accord with the federal constitution.

    If the two thirds majority is needed (eight MPs), an offer could be made to Novak Kilibarda's Montenegrin National Party. The tendency of the authorities to remain unchanged is perhaps the main reason why the ruling elite tried to prevent the competition from getting its act together. That is probably why the authorities were so nervous, imposed total control over the media and money channels and why it aimed its campaign not against opponents of its new post-Dayton policies the SRS---but against the group that lent support to Milosevic for Dayton. The leftists renewed their ideological speech and introduced a new political goal; wiping the right off the political scene.

    That included democratic center parties. Those efforts resulted in an election list full of red capitalists. The ruling elite's election victory has far reaching consequences which are dangerous to the democratic center and have strengthened the right with Seselj at its head. The democratic opposition has suffered a number of defeats here, they learned a little the amateurism from the start of the campaign. Media conditions in Serbia are worse than in 1990. There isn't a single TV station which is not under government influence.

    There are many newspapers but people don't have the money to buy them. Businessmen are not eager to work with the opposition and there was a lot less money.

    The 100,000 posters Zajedno managed to scrape together illustrate the financial shortage. The united appearance of the SPO, DS, DSS, GSS and independent unions is the biggest union of center parties to date. DEPOS in 1992 included intellectuals, students and a large number of parties but not the DS.

    In 1993, it went its way without the DS and DSS. What will the consequences of this union be? While this article is being written, the Zajedno leaders are licking their wounds and looking to the local elections. The young people who support the opposition are growing tired but do want to hear some good news. The defeat of Zajedno at the federal elections is just psychological so far since it wouldn't stand a chance in the federal state. The problems of the federation weren't the focus of the campaign. Parties devoted more attention to the local elections.

    But the defeat is far reaching for the November 17 second round and the 1997 republican elections and the political scene in general. Zajedno leaders are under pressure from the left and right and have been warned off by many of their supporters. They will have to think about consolidating their ranks and returning their MPs to parliament for a year's worth of fighting for their principles and controlling the government. If they do win the local authorities somewhere they have to show more maturity and less greed.

    The Zajedno defeat was not predicted by the three polls VREME commissioned in September and October from the Partner agency, nor the September poll by Mark-Plan although that poll did indicate a large number of undecided voters. The leftist victory was predicted by the Public Opinion Research Center (IDN) but the difference in predictions seemed too big just five days prior to the elections. The IDN predicted Seselj would get 6.4% of the total votes, i.e. 10.4% of the votes cast while the final results released by the election commission said he won 17.88%.

    Partner was closer to the mark, giving him 10.4% of the electorate or 15% of the votes cast. We're not certain whether the ruling party wanted to see Seselj's SRS consolidate it's 779,126 voters since it opposes post-Dayton policies now that the Kosovo issue has to be resolved along with cooperation with the Hague tribunal and the reintegration of Eastern Slavonia into Croatia.

    That is all a consequence of the attack against the center. Seselj will suit the establishment for a while so that they can show that the right is endangering them but they will be told that Seselj is their own product.

    If they think about it, they'll see that Seselj's return is a settling of accounts for Dayton more than a reaction to internal conditions. The ruling elite is probably counting on being able to control Seselj. In 1992, Seselj won a million votes with the help of the warmongering state TV. In 1993, he opposed Milosevic's change of policies and won 595,467 votes after a media campaign. In 1996, Seselj was used by the state media as the frontman for attacks on Zajedno.

    Kostunica's attempt to reply to his national rhetoric failed because that is Seselj's own game. So Seselj is back in Serbia stronger than Zhirinovski in Russia or Le Pen in France. How did he get past the socialist warning systems? Similarities between them.

    Source: Belgrade weekly Vreme , November 9, 1996

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    Split weekly Feral Tribune brought in its issue of November 4, 1996, brought an article by Milan Becejic, which looks at some elements of the political background of the recently held elections in FRY.

    In the situation when the average salary in Serbia is 200 DEM, where the element of feeding the family requires 400 DEM, when more than 20 thousand companies have no cash flow, when those most seriously hit are the public companies, when the yearly inflation is expected to be 60 percent, while the pensioners have not yet received their September pensions... it would be realistic to expect that federal and local elections in Yugoslavia would get a realistic conclusion in the form of a change of government.

    Of course, logic is one thing, and the politics is the one that comes first ! The combat fro such a hot political and social potato might be in the domain of a political perversion, but it is no lesser than at the time of an even worse situation from 1993. What poured out from the state and para-state TV stations (there are no other) could freely be named TV-violence: the prices for TV adverts were too high, and the legal times for the promotion were, like in previous electoral occasions, and occasion for verbal exhibitions of ordered clowns from some funny parties. Remaining to the opposition were some dailys (Nasa Borba, Blic and Dnevni Telegraf), weeklies (NIN, Vreme and Nedeljni Telegraf), as well as the gatherings and meetings across Serbia, based on the principle we are in your town tonight .

    The regime also won the poster war, since, after it hung its own wherever it could, it imposed fines for those hanging electoral posters outside legally designated areas. The voters from abroad were excluded again, while electoral announcements were filed in the mailboxes along with the SPS propaganda material. No matter to the well designed foreplay and the results, the opposition will come out of this elections strengthened, most of all - it will get an identity.

    Although there are predictions that the Zajedno coalition will fall apart after the elections, it seems that the opposition came to senses that only jointly they can do much more than they expected. If the former governor of the national bank Avramovic remained as their leader, it is probable that the electoral results would be much tighter.

    Avramovic could have helped the opposition, particularly in the situation of personalized politics, which sucessfuly persists, not only in Serbia. But, this help could not have the same effects as the help Milosevic got from the West, first of the US. Milosevic is an American man, at least in the measure given to him by the Dayton mandate. This mandate understands working out a number of homeworks which he is obliged to do, but also for his possible successors.

    This job understands stability at any price , meaning at the price of suffering of the population, to which, the opposition could not agree. It is hard to say whether the Milosevic rule will end with the end of the Dayton mandate , with a ready story of the regime that the support for him is the support for Yugoslavia. Maybe the situation will be untangled only next year, on the republican elections, into which the citizens of Serbia will come into freed of the fear of change and with somewhat more happy and wiser opposition.

    Source: Split weekly Feral Tribune ,November 4, 1996

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    An analysis of the results of the Serbian elections is also presented by Teofil Pancic in the November 8, 1996 issue of the Novi Sad weekly Nezavisni .

    The largest oppositionary coalition in the post-communist history of the land of Serbia has walked its way through all city and village squares in the named state, it has turned the regime to open criticism in the most ardent and successful way so far, it has promised everything, including the return of dr.

    Avramovic, but in the end, the victory was taken by the lovers of flowers in the hair (the favorite fashion statement of ms Milosevic) and other non hygienic habits. So it was shown that in the Land of Bad Infinity, it is futile to make efforts to change the system in a manner in which it is done in the normal world. We do not need to mention various Great Briatains, Frances and other exotic countries; it is enough to remember that our Eastern neighbours, the Romaninans, South Eastern neighbors the Bulgarians, have just changed the regime again.

    Interestingly, the sky has not fallen. But, we are still something else, or what a flowery PhD of meteorological sciences (ms Milosevic again), we are somewhere between the East and South. After, ahem, those things there is no repentance, as they say, and it is up to the opposition to see what it will do with its newly acquired capital of a few hundred thousand lost votes.

    The new media tactics of ignoring the political opponent brought the regime even more success that the strategy of satanization. The fact that such unable no-goods are able to brilliantly keep and strengthen their power could be interpreted with the inspector Clouesau syndrome : God guards those lower in spirit.

    The opposition had another therapeutic session of shouting across the squares, rocking across poorly paved roads of Serbia, and now it will be peaceful until the next elections. Unless, the ideas of the greatest female in the history of the city of Pozarevac about the non-pluralist democracy come to life. The defeatist mood which overtook the Zajedno coalition., and badly covered with wise cracks about a triumph in impossible conditions , is understandable, but also harmful and self-suicidal.

    The excellent result of the Serbian Radical Party (Seselj) at the polls, is one sense, a product of some higher justice: we wanted too easily to forget about the ghosts of war and chauvinism, and dr. Seselj and his subtle friends have returned to remind us that the children of the national revolution are still here, and that they should still be rocked and fed.

    Maybe it is also just that they will have to be rocked and fed by those that have created them, but that is a bad consolation for those that have hoped we have pulled out of the bloody mud.

    Source Novi Sad weekly Nezavisni , November 8, 1996

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    Belgrade media analyst Jovanka Matic, looks at the role of the state TV in the recent FRY elections in the October 31, 1996 issue of the Belgrade weekly Vreme .

    A poll conducted for BETA news agency by the Belgrade Social Sciences Institute showed that in the last week of the campaign for the coming elections (October 16-22), Serbia's state RTS TV aired 71 reports on the SPS-JUL-ND coalition and six reports on the Zajedno opposition coalition.

    TV is obliged under election rules to show equal treatment in reporting on all political parties but gave the leftist coalition 99.18 of air time and the opposition 3.4 minutes. RTS aired a speech by an opposition leader only once that week and that was nine seconds of Vuk Draskovic's speech in a 43 second report about an opposition rally. The evening news (the only news show seen across Serbia and the one with the highest ratings) reported on the ruling coalition in a positive light and on the opposition in a negative context. Of the 14 reports the RTS aired which included the Zajedno coalition, 11 were negative (9.29 minutes) and three were neutral (2.29 minutes). The leftist coalition was mentioned in 42 reports and always in a positive context (59.54 minutes). The most aggressive reporting against Zajedno was in the coverage of Seselj's Serbian Radical Party (SRS) rallies.

    All five of those reports (2.17 minutes) covered only SRS attacks against the rest of the opposition. The ruling coalition was shown as a well synchronized, successful and very popular organization. The RTS used every tool it had to demonstrate that the SPS-JUL-ND coalition had wide-spread support and a selection of topics in five reports showed that it was convinced it would win, with the success of its rule to date shown in another 23 reports and its program and promises for the future in 46 reports. TV audiences in 28 electoral districts know the names of the leftist coalition's candidates there. The names of other candidates were never mentioned. The media presentation of the opposition focused on the lack of supportfor its ideas and lack of interest among the population. The media scene has changed greatly since the last federal elections.The number of TV stations with significant political air time has grown. In the 1992 campaign two stations were important---RTS and NTV Studio B. A year later, when TV Politika appeared, there were three.

    This time BK TV has joined them. But, the diversity of political messages aired on TV has dropped drastically compared to 1992 and 1993. If that trend continues we'll return to the way things were in the 1980s. The role of the media in democratic political communication won't be the subject of anyone's interest because there will be none. In this campaign, TV has demonstrated that the battle for professional autonomy has to start from the beginning.

    Four year ago, in the final two weeks of the campaign for republican and federal elections when the RTS suspended all opposition affiliated journalists,'' RTS aired 27 reports on the SPS (41.43 minutes) and 23 on its main rival DEPOS (23.7minutes). That was seen as a violation of the election rules and an intolerable favoritism. That RTS strategy hasn't changed at all; the station still favors official definitions of reality and defends the existing balance of powers.

    The reality produced by the RTS daily is made up of one image: the success of the ruling party's policies. There's no mention of any criticism of the ruling party. At the start of this campaign (September 8-14), RTS aired 30 positive reports on current policies and 46 neutral reports. In 23 of those 30 reports officials praised themselves.

    At the end of the campaign, state officials are shown in a positive light in 44 of 88 reports. The rest show them in a neutral context. Since there is no outside control (an overseeing commission to monitor the media) that support has become absurd and could produce counter-effects like the ones we saw in the 1993 Russian elections. A novelty in this year's pre-election media scene in Serbia are not the unprofessional journalistic standards in the RTS but the existence of three commercial stations which are implementing the same editorial policies. The nine main news shows on those four stations show more or less the same image of reality, pieced together in fragments: Bosnia, the economy and politics at home, cultural events and sports.

    All three TV stations favored the ruling coalition. Studio B aired 11reports (9.43 minutes) on the leftist coalition and another 11 (6.34 minutes) on Zajedno. The ruling block's marketing was positive while theopposition block was portrayed through Avramovic's withdrawal and a critical attitude by all those parties on the elections. TV Politika did not report on the campaign itself, only on procedural issues. Of the eight reports (4.49 minutes) on that subject (figures on the electorate, the printing of ballot papers), half covered Avramovic and reported Zajedno problems on the coalition name in detail (3.5 minutes).

    The similarity between the state TV and the three commercial stations is much more significant in terms of the professional standards they use to report on everyday life and that is characterized by openness towards official and a restrictive stand on alternative views.

    TV messages on who will win the elections were sent out using a consistent selection and presentation of reports which make the ruling establishment seem successful. Political and economic links with the rest of the world dominated reporting on all stations in this campaign. In the week that was analyzed, TV Politika reports on that topic accounted for 20.7% of all its reports, 19.7% on the RTS, 14.3% on Studio B, 11.7% on BK TV. The next most frequent topic was the economy at home and development (TV Politika 12.6%, Studio B 7.8%, RTS 5.5% and BK 4.7%) followed by cultural events with the biggest being promoted by officials (TV Politika 10.8%, Studio B 11%, RTS 5.9% and BK 7.8%). State officials were the main actors in those reports. TV Politika covered them in 27.4% of its reports (42.8% of its total news air time).

    In 20 of 83 reports state bodies got positive reporting and negative in only one (Zarko Lausevic's court appeal). Studio B devoted 29.% of its reports to officials (32.2% of news air time) including 37 reports on federal and 21 reports on city officials. In 19 of 72 reports the portrayal was positive and negative in only two (in both cases the federal election commission was criticized by Zajedno) BK TV covered state officials in 17.8% of its reports (16.7% of news air time).

    In six of 44 reports the reporting was positive, negative in one (city officials who didn't provide help to a Belgrade suburb) and neutral in the rest. The positive publicity method for official definitions of reality as the main mechanism to format reality is aimed at creating reference points among the population to show the senselessness of alternative political projects. Source: Belgrade weekly Vreme , November 9, 1996;

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