Independent Serbian Radio Station Pioneers a Free Media

The independent Serbian radio station B92continues to champion freedom of the press. Government attempts of block its signal in 1996 incensed international journalists. Since then, incessant efforts to quiet its voice have transformed B92 from a lone radio station to the hub of a 38-station network, the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM). But in April, 35 of the 38 independent radio and television stations that broadcast news in the Yugoslav republics of Serbia and Montenegro,were shut down. Radio B92, by now well known internationally, was the only independent radio station granted a new "temporary" licence. Mr. Milosovec's wife, son, and daughter did, however, each manage to acquire a broadcast station.

Then, on April 27, 1998, Milosevic's government set an exorbitant monthly fee for those granted temporary use of radio frequencies and TV channels by the Federal Ministry of Communication. B92 was required to pay; stations which had permanent frequencies were not.

On May 26, ANEM, and several other organizations, including the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights-Serbia, proposed to the Federal Constitutional Court that the government policy was illegal and unconstitutional. As if to underline this point, on May 27, Radio B92 was honored at the Congress of the International Press Institute with the "Pioneers of Free Media" award for its protection of free speech. Sasa Mirkovic, general manager of B92, used the occasion to warn the international public about the problems ANEM has with the Yugoslav government's attempts to ban all independent radio and TV by depriving licences and imposing exorbitant fees.

Coincidentally, on May 28, the government announced an ad hoc decision to decrease fees to those with temporary licences by 75%. ANEM observed that the government's decision was made on the spur of the moment. In covering the announcement ANEM stressed that laws and regulations concerning public information must be changed systematically to encourage the possibility of democracy.

Perhaps Yugoslav Information Secretary Goran Matic's comments at the signing of frequency contracts on June 11 can offer some insight. He said,"there are media that are an extended arm of some political ... interests that are not working for the benefit of this country... [They] receive certain resources from abroad. [They are] urging NATO's military intervention, distorting the important processes of our society ."

U.S. Leads World As Top Arms Exporter

In June, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released its annual publication, the SIPRI Yearbook 1998: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security. This bookcontains statistics on world military and arms spending.

According to SIPRI, total worldwide military and arms spending was approximately $740 billion in 1997 - one-third lower than 10 years ago at the end of the Cold War.

The most dramatic cuts in military spending since 1987 have come from states of the former Soviet Union. SIPRI reports that while the U.S's share of deliveries of major conventional weapons has grown to 43%, Russia's share has fallen to 14%.

Though world-wide there have been significant declines in overall military and arms spending, some countries continue to increase their spending and contribute to regional instability. In North Africa, which has seen a 45% increase over 10 years, Algeria tripled its purchases to $1.5 billion in 1997. The Middle East region has seen expenditures increase by 9% over 10 years, and South and East Asian spending has risen 25% in the last decade.

In addition to being the world leader in arms transfers, the U.S. continues to dominate the development of military technology. The U.S. military research and development budget is more than seven times that of second- place France, according to SIPRI. Researchers found that of the $58 billion spent for military research and development in 1997, $37 billion was spent by the United States. SIPRI theorizes that this U.S. dominance of new technology will make the rest of the world increasingly dependent on the United States for advanced weapons, thereby further increasing the Americans' share of the global arms market....

The USA can hardly take a back seat on the issue of setting standards for arms transfers if it wants to mitigate instability in volatile regions.

From a longer report by researcher Rachel Stohl for the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. Additional information about SIPRI and its 1998 yearbook can be found at The Center for Defense Information is at: <>.

For more information about Albrightís comments at the Stimson Center and follow-up comments by James Rubin, please see Ruppe, David, "Albright Calls for Increased Arms Export Control," Defense Week, June 15, 1998, 7.

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1998

Peace Magazine Jul-Aug 1998, page 31. Some rights reserved.

Search for other articles by PMag staff here

Peace Magazine homepage