|Monday, 19 August 2019|
OMRI: Pursuing Balkan Peace, Vol. 1, No. 47, 96-11-26
From: Open Media Research Institute <http://www.omri.cz>
Vol. 1, No. 47, 26 November 1996
 Massive Protests Sweep Serbia
by Stan Markotich in front of the Belgrade parliament building with egg stains on his jacket
It was the sixth consecutive day of mass protests in Belgrade and across Serbia -- 25 November 1996. Radio B 92 estimated that as many as 200,000 people may have gathered in the capital city to register their anger against the ruling authorities, who in the past week have worked to overturn initial electoral returns from the 17 November municipal voting. Many commentators have already begun speaking of a new era in Serbian politics.
The protests have been peaceful but are the largest to date against the government of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, which is trying to retake control of urban municipal councils by forcing a third round of balloting. Early returns from the second round had shown that the opposition Zajedno (Together) coalition had taken at least 60 of 110 seats in the Belgrade Assembly. In addition, the coalition -- with the core of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO), Zoran Djindjic's Democratic Party (DS) and Vesna Pesic's Serbian Civic Alliance (GSS) -- won majorities in Serbia's twelve largest municipal areas. These were the returns that the ruling Socialists immediately questioned.
On the first evening, the protests and demonstrations were comparatively small. Only an estimated 5,000 people turned out near the Serbian legislature. Within a few days, however, crowds of an estimated 100,000 began gathering in the center of the capital. And on the night of 25 November, while the now-customary march past landmarks such as the Serbian legislature, Politika publishing house and RTV Serbia was largely peaceful, it did include the pelting of those landmarks with what appeared to be thousands of eggs. March organizers and Zajedno leaders urged protesters to maintain calm and to "peacefully" target only designated locations, which is what happened. In what appeared to be the only sign that tempers boiled over, a window at the RTV building was smashed, probably by a rock.
For their part the authorities have thus far used the state-media to describe the demonstrations as "anti-democratic" and a serious threat to public safety and stability. A third round of elections is slated to take place in Belgrade on 27 November, and the only major party from the opposition (and not affiliated with Zajedno) to say it will take part is the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) of accused war criminal Vojislav Seselj, Nasa Borba reported on 25 November. Meanwhile, Zajedno leaders have called for a third-round election boycott, insisting instead that the returns from the second round must be "honored."
If the demonstration of 25 November -- in which students played a prominent role -- is any indication, a large segment of the population refuses to have its will dampened and will likely continue with mass protests. What course the protests take, however, will likely be shaped by the outcome of events of 27 November. For not only has the third round been slated for that date, but Zajedno has appealed to Serbia's Supreme Court for a ruling on the lower court's invalidation of the second round. Zajedno is determined not to let "victory [turn] into defeat."
 Kosovo: Government, Parliament, and President Fight over Strategy and Power
by Fabian SchmidtBut the Kosovo Albanians also have problems of a far deeper nature. Four years after the Kosovars elected their parliament and president, the Kosovar shadow state is in a constitutional crisis. It badly needs to breathe life into its institutions and to launch a discussion among its people about their political future.
The legislature was not been able to hold its opening session due to intervention by the Serbian police in 1992, and since then Rugova has opposed a second attempt to get the parliament together. Instead, legislators hold irregular meetings in working groups in which they keep some contact with local government bodies.
The shadow state has managed to carry out crucial executive functions, such as to maintain the underground education and health systems and to collect at least some taxes. The parliament is, however, still suffering from an acute lack of authority and is virtually unable to pass legislation under the strained circumstances. This in return has an impact on the development of the shadow state as a whole. Only functioning and democratic structures can convince its inhabitants of the state's legitimacy, secure their loyalty, and prompt them to pay taxes and contribute to its future.
A number of indicators, however, suggest that the shadow state, as it is working now, has reached its limits. Shadow state exile Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi sharply criticized Rugova's moderate policy in an interview published in Koha on 6 November. Bukoshi charged that Rugova had abandoned the policy of independence and argued that Rugova's office could only function under toleration of the Serbian authorities. He also said Rugova was sidelining the shadow-state government, adding he did not consult the its education minister during negotiations about an education agreement between Rugova and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic signed on 1 September. Bukoshi warned that Rugova's policy -- which seeks the diplomatic "internationalization" of the conflict -- will lead nowhere besides the creation of a "quisling government," and demanded that Rugova "once and for all give up the idea that [the shadow state] is able to play world politics."
But not only the relationship between the president and the government is strained: the legislators are increasingly demanding that the parliament meet. In late October, 31 out of 100 legislators -- including Health Minister Adem Limani -- sent a letter to Rugova demanding a constituent meeting of parliament and for Rugova to take an oath of loyalty.
If the shadow state remains unable to create functioning democratic institutions, it will also fail to begin an internal discourse that could lead to negotiations with Belgrade. Such talks could eventually result in a compromise about the future status of Kosovo within the framework of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, the status that is supported by the international community. Rugova instead continues to claim that the September 1991 referendum has given him a mandate to press demands for independence.
Difficulties are thus increasing because the shadow state cannot carry out any normal governmental functions other than its health and school programs and because it has been unable to launch a discussion among its own people about the province's future. Meanwhile, the constitutional crisis also deepens with time. Bukoshi's government was appointed by the communist-era parliament, the predecessor of the current legislature. The new parliament's four year term expired on 24 May this year, before it was even able to vote for a new government or to properly approve the old one. Rugova solved this problem cosmetically by decree and prolonged the term of the legislature for one year. But for now, the only one currently holding a direct and valid mandate from the electorate is Rugova himself, whose five- year term runs out in May 1997.
Others are preparing to run against him in the next elections. Probably his most serious competitor is Adem Demaci, a senior human rights activist and famous communist-era dissident who spent 27 years in prison. Demaci, like Bukoshi, has voiced criticism about Rugova's hesitant and careful approach. He has called for louder protests against the Serbian regime and for demonstrations in the streets. Whether new presidential and parliamentary elections will take place remains, however, in doubt.
 War Criminals in Bosnia - Government Protection and IFOR's Blind Eye
-- Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal in SarajevoBut the international community as a whole has shown less zeal in rounding up indicted war criminals than some of its members have in deporting refugees. Since October 29 -- when The Boston Globe found four indicted war criminals working in the Prijedor or Omarska police stations -- more evidence has surfaced suggesting that not only does the Republika Srpska government openly protect war criminals, but also that it is IFOR's deliberate policy for now not to arrest them (see below and Pursuing Balkan Peace, 19 November 1996).
IFOR claims to have had no previous knowledge about Zeljko Mejakic, Mladen Radic, Miroslav Kvocka and Nedeljko Timarac being policemen in the Prijedor area until The Boston Globe revealed these cases at the end of October. However, "Version 5" of the wanted poster of indicted war criminals -- printed by IFOR itself 9 August 1996 -- states under the photograph and description of Mladen Radic - "PARTICULARS: employed at SJB." That is the old Yugoslav acronym for both police force and police station and it is still in use. On 30 October, The Boston Globe revealed that another two indicted war criminals, Blagoje Simic and Stevan Todorovic, still hold influential public positions in Bosanski Samac. Todorovic is even deputy chief of state security for this area. All international institutions on ground claimed not to know. But OMRI has a document proving that European Community Monitoring Mission (ECMM) monitors knew about Simic' position as early as the beginning of May.
It is not hard to guess why such behavior takes place. Three independent IFOR sources have told OMRI that since the beginning of IFOR's mission there was a specific order concerning indicted war criminals still in positions of power. Two of them said the order is nicknamed the "Monitor - Don't touch" rule. Four people also told OMRI that they themselves witnessed indirect evidence of such an order. At the end of October a convoy of two UN police (IPTF) and four IFOR vehicles went through Bosanski Samac. Two international policemen took photos and video footage of the workplaces and houses of at least two other indicted war criminals, Simo Zaric and Miroslav Tadic. Zaric himself told OMRI: "I went through IFOR check-points hundreds of times. In March, an American soldier even took my ID, looked at the photo and checked my face, looked at my car plate, saluted and waved me through. It is a lie that they do not know where we are and what we do".
Both IFOR and IPTF deny that any of their personnel filmed or took pictures or that any such incident took place at all. IFOR also denies that IFOR officers, as stated in a Human Rights Watch report, deliberately avoided the possibility of arresting indicted war criminal Milan Martic in August in Banja Luka. OMRI has a document proving Martic's official contact with the RS government ministry of information. IFOR's wanted poster clearly states his address in Banja Luka, which is in the vicinity of several international institutions. Meanwhile, the IPTF acknowledged that its officers have known since August that yet another indicted war criminal, Radovan Stankovic, is on the payroll of the RS police force in Foca. However, according to an OMRI source, there are also two more indicted war criminals on this payroll, Radomir Kovac and Dragan Zelenovic. They are shown on IFOR's wanted poster.
Thus out of twelve indicted war criminals found by the international press within the last four weeks, eight worked until recently as RS policemen. And with The Washington Post finding Goran Jelisic and Ranko Cesic earlier this year, combined with frequent media reports on the whereabouts of the Croats Dario Kordic and Ivica Rajic, the official version that "IFOR would get them if it came across them" has become less and less credible.
 "The Srebrenica of our Time"
by Jan Urban and Yvonne Badal in SarajevoBut 12 months after Dayton, international political and military representatives have nothing to say on the issue of indicted war criminals - - they have already tried everything from pretension to outright lies, even where the biggest fish are concerned. It took seven months and immense diplomatic pressure to convince the Bosnian Serb leadership that indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic had to step down from his official posts. All observers nonetheless agree that five months later he is still a potent force, an indisputably adept behind-the-scenes strategist. General Mladic, who commanded the Bosnian Serbs during the Srebrenica massacres in July 1995, is still strong enough to take hostages and try to dictate who is going to be his successor in commanding the VRS (see above).
Three weeks ago, on 2 November, Carl Bildt reacted angrily to the fact that the international press found several other indicted individuals working as police officers in the Republika Srpska (see above). "The issue of indicted war criminals running loose around this country unhindered, unaccountable, and unsought by anyone is a scandal that threatens to become, could become, but must not become the Srebrenica of our time of the post-Dayton period - a scandal that haunts those who were negligent and insults its victims. We must not sleep on this watch." In the same statement, he even appealed to the countries of the United Nations Security Council "to design the mechanism and take the actions."
Since then, the international press has located a grand total of more than 20 indicted war criminals and gathered additional information on 35 persons listed on the IFOR "most wanted" poster. Caught by their own rhetoric, representatives of IFOR, IPTF, OHR, and the OSCE pretend to be unimpressed. "We stick to our official version that IFOR had no prior knowledge of any of the four indicted war criminals in Prijedor police station until the end of October, when The Boston Globe ran its story on them," IFOR spokesman Simon Haselock said. He did not wish to speculate on how IFOR included that information on Radic on its poster (see above) without understanding its content. Neither IPTF nor The Office of the High Representative were willing to comment.
Findings by the international press over the last three weeks have demonstrated the paralyzing effect the continuous presence of indicted war criminals has on the future of post-war Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Republika Srpska's government openly shelters and in many cases even officially hired nearly 40 known indicted individuals. Most, together with four indicted war criminals living in federal Yugoslavia, are in contact with the Belgrade lawyer Pantelic, known for his close ties to Milosevic. As Newsweek found, all 15 indicted Bosnian Croats and Croats are represented by the Zagreb lawyer Zvonimir Hodak, who has close family ties within the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)-lead government. Neither Serbia nor Croatia, both signatories to the Dayton peace accord, have been subjected to international pressure over that situation. Sanctions against federal Yugoslavia were lifted and Croatia was even accepted into the Council of Europe, following a supposed "improvement in the human-rights situation."
"Nothing will change in the Republika Srpska if war criminals are allowed to control or to have influence in the police force," said an opposition party official in Doboj. The official continued: "They run and merge politics with organized crime. They are both servants and masters to Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) top brass. Without direct action from the international community, this system will soon become unbreakable from within."
West Mostar and most of West Herzegovina are already notorious for equally close ties between politics and organized crime. None of the three consecutive European Union administrators of Mostar since 1994 were able to change that. And there are extremely worrying signs that even among the Muslims -- who have been the most cooperative of the three groups thus far - - populist politics may start to demand a slowdown of the investigations into crimes against Bosnian Serbs in Sarajevo. The alleged perpetrators of those crimes are believed to have built close personal and economic ties with many powerful police and political figures.
 A Tough Week for Bulgaria's Socialists
by Stefan KrauseIn Bulgaria, the past week underscored the deep crisis of the governing Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP). On 11-12 November, a BSP plenary meeting gave Prime Minister Zhan Videnov a vote of confidence until an extraordinary party congress scheduled for December. But on 13 November, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski resigned, casting new doubts on the future of the party and its leader.
After 22 hours of closed-door deliberations among the members of the BSP Supreme Council and the BSP parliamentary deputies , the 158 delegates present at the plenary meeting had to decide whether to continue supporting Videnov as prime minister or not. Finally, 87 delegates backed Videnov, 69 voted against him, and two abstained. They also decided that an extraordinary BSP congress on 21-22 December will discuss future party policies and possible leadership changes.
Prior to the meeting, Videnov was under attack from all sides. On 5 November, 19 leading BSP members ranging from orthodox Marxists to social- democratic reformists called for his resignation in an open letter published in the BSP daily Duma. Despite their prominence, they failed to muster a majority against the unpopular prime minister and party chairman. On the other hand, Videnov's victory was not overwhelming, especially considering that although the BSP is highly fragmented, party discipline had always been one of the ex-communists' strongest assets.
During the plenary meeting, Deputy BSP Chairman Yanaki Stoilov and prominent party members Nikolay Kamov and Filip Bokov resigned from the Executive Bureau, the party's highest decision-making body. All three had signed the anti-Videnov letter.
And only one day after the plenary meeting, Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski handed in his resignation, saying that the government "no longer enjoys the necessary minimum confidence" of the people. At the plenary meeting, Pirinski had announced that he would vote against Videnov. Pirinski said that the outcome of the meeting "does not show convincing enough support" within the party for Videnov and noted that the majority backed Videnov not so much because it trusted him but rather because the consequences of rejecting him were unclear.
Pirinski's resignation cast new shadows on the future of Videnov, who by the 12 November vote appeared to have stabilized his position at least until the upcoming congress. No longer bound by cabinet discipline, Pirinski is free to pursue his own agenda and rally around him the reformist wing of the BSP. He is not only the most popular BSP politician, he is also arguably the most prominent reformer. As such, he is a deputy chair of the Alliance for a Social Democracy (OSD), the most important pro- reform group in the BSP. He has repeatedly been named as a possible successor to Videnov as prime minister.
After the 2 October murder of former Prime Minister Andrey Lukanov -- in recent years the mentor and unofficial leader of the OSD -- Pirinski started promoting himself as Lukanov's political heir. On 10 October, he published an article in Duma, entitled: "10 November is Approaching," a reference to the date when in 1989 long-time Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov was ousted. This article called for an extraordinary BSP congress and a review of government policy and was widely understood as demanding Videnov's sacking. And Kontinent the following day interpreted Pirinski's article as saying "I am Lukanov's successor."
Even if Pirinski's remains the only minister to resign -- talk has it that other Videnov critics may follow his example --, the pressure on Videnov remains high. Videnov's strongest asset is that he is a politician who knows how to play the intraparty game, at least partly thanks to his training as a Communist youth functionary. Whether this is enough to get a new mandate at the upcoming party congress is a different question. Although Videnov currently holds the two most important posts in the country, it seems that in the longer term, Pirinski has the better potential. At present, it is too early to say which side will come out on top in December. If the reasons for the present BSP crisis -- most notably that the party has to decide between reformism and dogmatism -- remain unresolved, even a split of the party cannot be ruled out.
 DRASKOVIC'S WIFE FREED FROM POLICE CUSTODY.As part of the fast-moving events, Danica Draskovic was freed from police custody on 22 November. She had disappeared the previous day, prompting her husband to express concern that she had been kidnapped. After her release, she told Nasa Borba that she had been taken by police and questioned about a public remark calling on violence to address regime repression (see above). "They put a knife to my throat, pistol in my mouth, and they pulled my hair," she said. She added that the police had wanted to her to call her husband to say "they want to kill me if you don't stop the demonstrations ... and [concede] that the returns in Belgrade are nullified." -- Stan Markotich in Belgrade
 KOSOVO EDUCATION SECRETARY DIES IN CAR ACCIDENT.Still in Serbia, Xhavit Ahmeti, education adviser to Kosovar shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova, died on 21 November after a car accident with a truck near Smederevo. Democratic League of Kosovo deputy chairman Hydajet Hyseni and general secretary Fatmir Sejdiu and a driver were injured but are out of danger, Deutsche Welle's Albanian-language service reported. The four were on their way to Belgrade for meetings with western diplomats. Ahmeti was the key negotiator in talks with Serbian authorities, which resulted in an agreement on the normalization of the education in Kosovo. Rugova and Milosevic signed the agreement on 1 September. -- Fabian Schmidt
 CROATIA'S TUDJMAN SLAMS OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE.And there has been much political uncertainty in Croatia as well. President Franjo Tudjman returned to Zagreb on 23 November after spending just over a week in Washington's Walter Reed Army Hospital, Croatian and international media reported. His office said the stay there was because of an ulcer and swollen lymph nodes, but unnamed U.S. and Croatian diplomats told CNN that he has terminal cancer. The VOA on 25 November also explicitly said he has cancer. Television footage two days earlier showed the president gaunt and weakened, while his wife Ankica appeared visibly distressed. He nonetheless attended a social function in the company of hard-line Minister of Defense Gojko Susak soon after returning home. He also made a tough speech in which he used communist-era language to blast unnamed sinister "European and trans-Atlantic powers" whom he alleged are meddling in Croatia's affairs even though they "are not able to solve their own minority, racial or social problems." -- Patrick Moore
 100,000 DEMONSTRATE IN ZAGREB FOR RADIO.The address came in the wake of the 21 November demonstration in which 100, 000 people in Zagreb protested in favor of independent Radio 101. It was one of the largest mass meetings in Croatian history and took place in Zagreb's central Jelacic square. Protesters representing a broad cross- section of society showed their support for independent Radio 101, which had lost its license the day before. The authorities had meanwhile restored the license in the course of the day, but the crowds turned out in the evening anyway. What began as a protest in favor of freedom of speech turned into one for democracy as well. The independent daily Novi List wrote on 22 November of a "revolution in the air waves." It added that a wave of protests from foreign governments and NGO's had turned "a local radio [into] a global problem." Radio 101 also received a message from the 202nd rocket-artillery unit, saying "we are with you with our voices, manpower, and weapons if necessary." -- Patrick Moore
 BOSNIAN SERB POWER STRUGGLE UNRESOLVED?The military were also in the news in Bosnia, albeit for different reasons. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic held a four-hour meeting with cashiered army chief Gen. Ratko Mladic at his headquarters at Han Pijesak, Nasa Borba reported on 21 November. A statement from Mladic's office said there was no information on the contents of the talks. Plavsic has insisted that the general and his 80 loyalists must go, but Mladic is believed to be trying to maintain his influence in the army from behind the scenes. Plavsic announced on 22 November that the army's command center will be moved from Han Pijesak to the northeastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina, Reuters reported. -- Patrick Moore
 REPUBLIKA SRPSKA UPDATE.Meanwhile, the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) began destroying 13 tanks, 30 mortars and two armored personnel carriers at the start of a program to meet arms reduction quotas. The deadline for meeting all the limitations is the end of 1997, AFP reported. The OSCE criticized the Croats and Muslims for not having started their own program, the VOA noted. World Bank officials on 22 November pointed out that the Republika Srpska has received only 2% of the $900 million in reconstruction aid earmarked for all of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Bank blamed a number of factors but singled out a lack of cooperation from local officials, the VOA noted. All of Bosnia suffers not only from wartime devastation but also from massive unemployment aggravated in turn by the demobilization of tens of thousands of soldiers. -- Patrick Moore
 NATO CONFISCATES WEAPONS IN BOSNIA.IFOR troops and UN police took a number of mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and other weapons "one would not ordinarily expect to find in a police station" from Muslim police in Sanski Most, the BBC said on 24 November. The northwest Bosnian town was held by the Serbs for most of the war but captured by the Bosnian and Croatian armies in their fall 1995 offensive. But $100 million-worth of U.S. weapons also began arriving for the federation's army, and Vice President Ejup Ganic spoke of an "historic day" as the cargo was unloaded in Croatia's port of Ploce, Oslobodjenje noted on 21 November. -- Patrick Moore
 ISLAMIC COUNTRIES DISCUSS AID TO BOSNIA.And other kinds of assistance have been in the news as well. The group for aid mobilization to Bosnia-Herzegovina of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) convened for a two-day meeting in Sarajevo on 22 November, Oslobodjenje reported. Representatives of 12 countries and the Islamic Bank discussed economic, social, humanitarian, and military issues. Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic said the Islamic world has provided 15% of the total amount of reconstruction aid to date. Muratovic criticized High Representative Carl Bildt for trying to postpone some reconstruction projects until the three-man presidency agrees to appoint the Council of Ministers. Muratovic also complained that Bildt was attempting to postpone a forthcoming donors' conference in Brussels. "If Bildt does not change his attitude very soon..., we'll be forced to ask for diplomatic help from our friends," he added. -- Daria Sito Sucic in Sarajevo
 MISTREATMENT OF SARAJEVO SERBS.Turning to human rights issues, UN police spokesman Alexander Ivanko said that Serbs are still victims of attacks in the capital (see below). A list of incidents prepared by the Democratic Initiative of Serbs includes the bombing or torching of homes of prominent Serbs or their families and the mistreatment of elderly Serbian women. The report also notes an apparent singling out of ethnic Serb males between 16 and 60 years of age for military call-ups, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina reports in its latest newsletter. Meanwhile, the leader of the Islamic community, Mustafa Ceric, urged President Alija Izetbegovic to take action to prevent the Serbs from building on the land in Banja Luka on which mosques once stood. The Serbs systematically destroyed the all city's mosques, including two historic ones that had been registered with UNESCO. And in Mostar, the international community's Michael Steiner over the weekend took part in the organizational meeting of a refugee group called Road to Return. It consists of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims alike and is dedicated to the principle set down in the Dayton peace treaty that all refugees have the right to go home. -- Patrick Moore
 GERMANY AND BOSNIA SIGN REPATRIATION AGREEMENT.But not all refugees are anxious to go back to what they may regard as a dangerous and uncertain existence. German Interior Minister Manfred Kanther and the Bosnian Minister for Refugees and Emigration nonetheless signed an agreement on 20 November in Bonn providing for the expulsion of about 320, 000 Bosnian refugees from Germany, Berlin's Die Tageszeitung reported. Interior ministers of Germany's 16 federal states agreed already in September to start sending refugees back starting on 1 October, but most states have delayed implementation until spring. The state of Bavaria, which is governed by the conservative Christian Social Union, has so far sent back 11 criminal offenders. Bosiljka Schedlich of the Berlin-based Southeastern European Culture Club told OMRI that no expulsions have yet taken place from Berlin, which was the second state that had pledged to send refugees back early. She noted, however, that expulsions will start in the spring. She added that fear among refugees is on the rise because no freedom of movement has been secured and the Dayton agreement has not been properly implemented. According to the interior ministers' plans, all single refugees and childless couples are to have left by June 1997 if they come from areas deemed suitable for return. Excepted are: refugees undergoing medical treatment and people aged over 65 with relatives in Germany; witnesses with evidence on atrocities for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia; and students close to the end of their studies. Kanther claimed that expulsions would "take into account the concrete evolution on the ground," AFP reported. Bonn and Belgrade signed an agreement in October for the return over three years of 135,000 citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, most of whom are ethnic Albanians. -- Fabian Schmidt
 UN FORCE IN MACEDONIA TO BE EXTENDED AT REDUCED STRENGTH?Moving southward to Macedonia, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali on 22 November recommended that the mandate of the UN force stationed there be extended by six months at a reduced strength, Reuters reported. Under the proposal , the UN Preventive Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) will be gradually reduced from 1,100 to 800 troops by 1 April. Boutros Ghali, in a report to the Security Council, said recent developments in the region and Macedonia's increased international standing have made the possibility of a spread of violence from other parts of the former Yugoslavia less likely. He added that "the primary threat...may come from internal tensions" instead. -- Stefan Krause
 PARTING SHOTS.A Bosnian Serb man recently had a fight with his wife at their home in Bijeljina in northeastern Bosnia. She tried to run away but he came after her, AFP reported on 19 November. The man chased her with a bazooka and shot at her but hit his house instead. The whole thing transpired in what UN police spokesman called a "classic Bosnian style," Oslobodjenje noted. The man was arrested and charged with possessing an illegal firearm. -- Patrick Moore
Edited by Patrick Moore
This material was reprinted with permission of the Open Media
Research Institute, a nonprofit organization with research offices in
Prague, Czech Republic.