Message to Belgrade Students and CitizensDear Belgraders,
I denounce most strongly last night's police action against Belgrade students and citizens who went to the streets to protest peacefully against the removal of leading journalists from the Managing Board of Studio B and the manner in which changes have been effected in the city council. Peaceful demonstrations are the right of citizens in all democratic countries, and the brutal police action, in which many citizens were beaten up severely, has shown the true face of Serbia's ruling regime. I received reports about last night's events with a feeling of sadness and shame that such a thing could happen in Serbia's capital city on the threshold of the new millenium. I ask the men in power to refrain from further police action. Serbia is no longer prepared to tolerate police terror and lawlessness.
During 88 days last winter, citizens throughout Serbia demonstrated their desire for radical changes and a democratic rebirth of the country, as well as for putting an end to the undemocratic rule of one party. The nationwide democratic movement evoked great admiration throughout the world and awakened the hope that an end was coming to the rule of darkness in our country. But at the moment of victory there appeared divisions and differences between political parties, and thus the hopes of a huge number of people, primarily people students and citizens not affiliated to any political party were dashed. This caused disillusionment and even despair. Petty politics destroyed the vision of a genuinely democratic and progressive Serbia, which would have taken her honourable place in Europe and the world.
Last night's protest in Belgrade has shown that the Serbs are not prepared to put up with this situation after all. Serbia has had enough not only of the regime that has unscrupulously manipulated the fate of the people for more than five decades, but also of petty party maneuvers and cheap populist slogans and promises. All that is leading Serbia to disaster. For this reason, she must resolutely say: "NO" to all that. Serbia must become a country of freedom and democracy, progress and social justice, honesty and honour. She must find a way out of the spiritual and moral wasteland and political despair to which those deciding her fate have led her. She is resolved to embark along the road, which will restore her Old Glory and splendour, and simultaneously make possible the creation of a modern society in which every citizen could take pride. I appeal to you to fight for such a Serbia.
1 October, 1997