CEOL - Serb govt, media slam opposition over Berlin trip

BELGRADE, Dec 20, 1999 -- (Reuters) Serbia's pro-government daily Politika and the hardline Serbian Radical Party slammed the opposition parties on Saturday for travelling to Berlin and setting up a body to cooperate with the West. At a meeting on Friday the main Serbian opposition parties set up a Trilateral Commission which also includes representatives of the European Union and the United States, aimed at expanding ties between the West and democratic forces in Serbia.

In a commentary headlined "They Love Aggressors More Than Their Own Nation", Politika said the commission constituted a direct foreign involvement in the domestic political scene.

"A group of non-parliamentary parties, which has...embraced the U.S. strategy on the Balkans, has managed to win a... Commission, members of which will be representatives of the EU and the U.S., proven humanists and admirers of our nation.

"How will those who had bombed us, and who still keep us in isolation, help us," Politika wrote.

The Serbian Radical Party criticized the opposition and accused the United States and Europe of trying to enslave Serbia and its people without choosing the means.

The party is a member of the Serbian ruling leftist coalition, which also includes Socialists and neo-communists.

"In Berlin, the Americans have left in the waiting room for their democracy and alleged human rights all those from Serbia, to whom serving to the aggressor is the ultimate, almost sacred task," the party said in a statement. "The Serbian radicals will oppose the aggression against the Serb people and Serbia by all means," it said.

Serbian opposition leaders, in a reaction to the Berlin meeting, acknowledged they got more promises than concrete aid.

Most of them hoped the European Union would agree to lift, at least temporarily, a flight and oil embargo to ease hardships faced by the majority of ordinary Serbs, exacerbated after three months of NATO's bombing earlier this year.

Leader of the Democratic Party Zoran Djindjic was quoted by Beta independent news agency as saying that the opposition, which is trying to oust Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, got "a package full of promises".

"First, there is support in principle for a brand new strategy towards our region, comprised of positive initiatives, promises and preparations for a new future," Djindjic said.

Members of the opposition would be allowed to participate as guests in events discussing the future of the region, he added.

Predrag Simic, advisor to the president of the Serbian Renewal Movement party, said the Berlin trip had been only partially successful, because all the sanctions remained in place.

Leader of the Democratic Center party Dragoljub Micunovic said the Trilateral Commission would meet early in January in the Montenegrin coastal town of Budva to discuss humanitarian and fuel assistance to Serbia.

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