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Voice of America, 00-04-08

Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Voice of America <gopher://>





    INTRO: Bosnians are voting in municipal elections Saturday. Tim Belay reports Western officials hope voters there will use the occasion to reject hardline nationalism, which in the past has led to war and bloodshed.

    TEXT: Pre-election surveys indicate more moderate politicians will win in some areas, including the capital Sarajevo. But diplomats and observers say it's probably too soon after the devastating conflict of 1992-1995 to expect radical political change. This is in contrast to the results of recent voting in neighboring Croatia, where a centrist coalition this year ended a decade of nationalist rule. Bosnians will be electing councils in 145 municipalities. Saturday's vote is the second municipal election since the war. General elections were held in 1996 and 1998. With many Serbs, Croats and Muslims likely to continue voting along ethnic lines rather than on economic issues, hardline parties look set to remain influential in post-war Bosnia, despite poverty and an estimated forty percent jobless rate. Even though the fighting in Bosnia ended almost five years ago, Western officials say corruption and poor local leadership are still hampering efforts to speed up refugee returns and introduce free market reforms. These are seen as the key areas which would reduce Bosnia's dependence on massive foreign aid. Since ethnically based parties remain popular, observers say the international community has done little to change the political landscape in post-war Bosnia. For example, the Serb Democratic Party founded a decade ago by wartime Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic -- now an indicted war criminal in hiding -- is expected to remain the single biggest party. SDS leaders insist the party has changed and that Mr. Karadzic no longer has any influence on it. In Croat areas in the south, the local branch of the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union is expected to retain power, despite its heavy defeat in Croatia. Still, the opposition Social Democratic Party, which enjoys support from the West, is predicted to do well in Sarajevo. Some two and a half million Bosnians are eligible to vote. Preliminary results are expected by Monday. (signed)
    NEB/TB/PLM 08-Apr-2000 05:05 AM EDT (08-Apr-2000 0905 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America



    INTRO: The issue of independence for the Yugoslav province of Kosovo has overshadowed a two-day conference in Budapest, where senior ethnic Albanian and Serb officials met for the first time since the war ended last year. Stefan Bos reports from Budapest.

    TEXT: The conference in Budapest ended Saturday on a bitter note: Organizers said it will be difficult - if not impossible -- for the ethnic Albanians and Serbs in Kosovo to agree on the future status of the province. The Budapest talks also included representatives from the European Union, the United States NATO. But after two days of negotiations, ethnic Albanian leaders and Serbian officials appeared unwilling to make any compromises on the issue of independence for Kosovo and each side accused the other of instigating hatred. Even so, the chairman of the conference, Allen Kassof, told reporters that both groups agreed in principle to continue their talks. But Mr. Kassof says it has become clear that reconciliation between the various ethnic groups in Kosovo is still a long way off.

    /// Kassof Act ///

    It would take them years to come to any kind of accommodation. That is absolutely clear. And it will not be a perfect accommodation. It will be a constant struggle over assertions of language rights and so on.

    /// End Act ///

    The leader of ethnic Serbs in Kosovo, Momcilo Trajkovic, rejected a proposal made by ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, to offer two cabinet seats to ethnic Serbs in any future elected Kosovo government. But speaking through an interpreter, Mr. Trajkovic says Kosovo is not ready to hold elections in which ethnic Serbs can vote.

    /// Trajkovic Act ///

    It is often said that we boycott (the elections). We do not boycott. We just demand that the international community and Albanians act according to the U-N resolution. We need tanks to meet each other...So there is no possibility of taking part in the elections under current conditions.

    /// End Act ///

    /// Opt ///

    Kosovo was excluded from the Republic of Albania when major European powers established the borders of the modern Albanian state in 1912. But the way the border was drawn left nearly half of the region's Albanian speakers outside the Albanian state. Serb officials have warned that the creation of two independent Albanian states in the Balkans -- the Republic of Albania and Kosovo -- would represent a major threat to regional stability. /// End Opt /// But despite the pessimistic assessments, diplomats say the Budapest conference did accomplish something. The fact that Serbs and Albanian leaders met face to face for the first time since the end of the war, the diplomats say, could reduce the chances of widespread bloodshed in the Balkan region. In any case, scores of people have been killed in ethnic clashes in Kosovo and southern Serbia in recent weeks, forcing NATO to send additional troops to the area. (SIGNED)
    NEB/SB/JP 08-Apr-2000 16:08 PM EDT (08-Apr-2000 2008 UTC)
    Source: Voice of America
    Voice of America: Selected Articles Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
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