By Bojana Barlovac
Thousands marched through Belgrade carrying red roses as the city marked the passing of a decade since the assassination of pro-Western Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.
Thousands of people gathered in front of the headquarters of the Liberal Democratic Party in Belgrade on Tuesday for their annual procession through the capital commemorating Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic called the “Walk for Zoran”.
The marchers, all of whom were carrying a red rose, met members of the Democratic party at Belgrade’s Terazije.
The rally, which ended at Djindjic’s grave, was headed by Cedomir Jovanovic, leader of the Liberals, Dragan Djilas, leader of the Democrats, and Boris Tadic, honorary president of the Democrats.
After laying wreaths and flowers in front of the government’s building where the former prime minister was killed on March 12, 2003, Jovanovic said that it was “a Serbian duty to maintain Djindjic’s vision no matter what”.
Djilas said that he hadn’t worked with Djindjic but that he remembered “Djindjic was instilling hope in people that eventually toppled [strongman Slobodan] Milosevic”.
The walk was organised by the opposition Democratic and Liberal Democratic parties, which were both under one roof under Djindjic.
Besides the rally, other events are planned to mark the tenth anniversary of the premier’s untimely death.
A ceremony entitled “Zoran Lives”, at which Djindjic’s vision and work will be presented with excerpts from speeches, selected photographs and video recordings, is to take place at the Sava Centar in Belgrade at 5pm.
The Dr Zoran Djindjic Foundation and the Democrats have for eight years organised a public-speaking contest called “Sermons in Zoran’s honor.”
The theme of this year’s competition is his well-known phrase, “Serbia will be better than it is if all of us are better than we are.”
At the same time, his thoughts and witticisms live on on Twitter and Facebook, as many Serbs make use of every March 12 to post their favourite quotes.
The Liberal Democratic Party dedicated a special session on Sunday to the anniversary of Djindjic’s murder.
Cedomir Jovanovic, the party leader, said that Serbia needs to stay loyal to the political ideas of the late Prime Minister.
Djindjic was among 13 founders of the Democratic Party, which spearheaded a revolt against the regime of Slobodan Milosevic in October 2000. He became Prime Minister in 2001.
In June 2001, he played a pivotal role in the arrest and extradition of Milosevic to The Hague to face war crimes charges.
As Prime Minister, Djindjic was frequently attacked by Serbian nationalists, including his former ally, the then President of Yugoslavia, Vojislav Kostunica.
After he was assassinated in front of the government building, Milorad Ulemek “Legija”, former commander of the Special Operations Unit, JSO, was found guilty of organizing the group that conspired to kill him.
Zvezdan Jovanovic, in active service in the unit at the time of the assassination, was found guilty of firing the shots that killed the Prime Minister. Both men are currently serving 40-year prison sentences.
Members of the unit were found to have conspired to commit the murder with the help of the Zemun Clan, an organized crime gang.
The political background to the killing remains unclear. Jovanovic’s Liberals have filed a draft resolution that would oblige parliament to support efforts to determine the political background of the murder.