All the participants of the gathering showed that they wished democracy and changes. But some frailties of the unity also became obvious.
In April, just before the Easter, representatives of the Serb opposition, Diaspora, non-government organizations, and syndicates of Serbia gathered in Athens. The catchword was "It's time for changes-it's time for democracy." It was another step towards the unification of all democratic forces of Serbia. The Serb opposition tried to unite for several times. Their mutual aim is the change of the regime. But the question is how to preserve the good intentions and avoid bad results. Every attempt of the opposition's unification represented a traumatic experience both for the political parties and for the citizens. On one hand, the citizens became hostages of the regime, which isolated them from the rest of the world. On the other hand, they became hostages of disagreements within the opposition.
In the opening speech, the crown-prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic said:" Unite in order to achieve changes! You must require the change of the regime decisively! Do not cooperate with the regime and do not quarrel! Show to the world that you are the face of a new European Serbia!"
Representatives of Montenegro didn't appear. It seems that Montenegro wants to decide upon its destiny and that it cannot wait for the changes in Serbia. Some rich and eminent Serbs from Diaspora didn't come to the gathering. There were rumors that Diaspora was divided too. Foreign journalists were primarily interested in the role of Aleksandar Karadjordjevic. The crown-prince said: "As far as my role is concerned, the most important thing is to crown democracy and to take our country from the marsh in which it is now." The Serb journalists could hear anti monarchists and atheists praise the authority of the Crown and Church. Those who really have such opinions were silent. Their political opinions are different, but it seems that all of them were aware that they were sentenced to unity.
Greek journalists wanted to know if the Greek government had helped with the organization of this gathering. They also wanted to find out why Aleksis Rondos, a high official with the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs had resigned. Did it happen just because he had addressed the crown-prince with "Your Highness" or because he had announced the arrival of Mr. Papandreu at the meeting? Although it is hard to believe that Aleksis Rodos announced the arrival of the Minister of Foreign Affairs groundlessly, the news that Papandreu wouldn't come arrived immediately. In his speech, Aleksis Rondos approved of the efforts of the Serb opposition for democratic changes. This speech provoked the protest of the official Belgrade. According to the rumors, the resignation of Rondos was needed to calm the situation. Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jorgos Papandreu didn't come to the gathering of the Serb opposition, non-government organizations and church; but he received their representatives in the Greek Government building. Another surprise was the arrival of James Dobins, the special advisor of Bil Clinton on the questions of the South-East Europe. He was followed by Nick Hill, an expert for the Balkans and Nicholas Berns, the former spokesman of State Department. James Dobins insisted that the Serb opposition should be united.
We asked Vojislav Mihajlovic, the mayor of Belgrade to comment the diplomatic activities at the gathering in Athens.
"I must say that the international community begins taking the opposition more seriously. The most critical point of the meeting was reaching the final declaration. Many participants were surprised by item number 7. According to this item, the Council of democratic forces of Serbia, lead by the crown-prince, Aleksandar Karadjordjevic and the Serb Patriarch Pavle, should reach the decisions vital for the activities of the united opposition. The participants who disagreed with this idea, didn't want to start a discussion that might cause the conflicts. Representatives of the Serb Renewal Movement were not present at the time of voting. Some participants didn't vote either for the declaration or against it."
The gathering in Athens was another attempt of making the opposition unity stronger.