BELGRADE — Rumbles of Yugoslavia’s next civil conflict reverberated over the nation’s public TV airwaves last week after an appointment to Radio Television Serbia (RTS) in the northern Serb province of Vojvodina angered local politicos.
“I will no longer allow Belgrade to step all over Vojvodina,” declared Nenad Canak, leader of Vojvodina’s parliamentary assembly.
Echoing the secession sentiments now brewing in Vojvodina, Canak went to TV-radio Vojvodina studios in the provincial capital of Novi Sad and tore down RTS signs Oct. 10 before ordering that the RTS logo be removed from both Novi Sad state TV channels.
“This media house will be managed by people chosen by the Vojvodina Assembly,” Canak declared.
Canak said the RTS appointments broke a political agreement sealed Oct. 5 with Yugoslavia’s ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) alliance, presumably to keep Vojvodina within Serbia and Yugoslavia.
Ever since the revolution that toppled the dictatorship of Slobodan Milosevic a year ago, Vojvodina and the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro have threatened secession.
Although Yugoslav leaders appear to view Montenegro’s departure as inevitable, Belgrade has worked to keep Vojvodina leaders satisfied — and the province within the Serbian republic.
But on Oct. 10, RTS execs balked at Novi Sad’s hysterics. “RTV Novi Sad is still legally a part of the RTS system,” Aleksandar Crkvenjakov said in reaction to claims by the Vojvodina Assembly leader that the province had the right to appoint its own board.
Crkvenjakov noted that the RTS management committee is made up of reps from Vojvodina, and he alleged Canak’s anger was partisan politics. Choosing between two candidates for the board, the RTS appointed a Novi Sad journalist rather than Aleksandar Kravic, a member of Canak’s party, Crkvenjakov said.