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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 154, 99-08-10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 3, No. 154, 10 August 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN KARABAKH
  • [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. CONGRESSMEN
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION TO DEMAND AMENDMENTS TO LOCAL ELECTION
  • [04] RUSSIA DENIES BOMBING GEORGIAN VILLAGE
  • [05] CENTRAL ASIAN OFFICIALS UNFAZED BY STEPASHIN DISMISSAL
  • [06] KAZAKH PRESIDENT DISMISSES DEFENSE MINISTER
  • [07] SQUATTERS STAGE PROTEST IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL
  • [08] TAJIK MILITANTS TAKE KYRGYZ OFFICIALS HOSTAGE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] SERBS, ALBANIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON MITROVICA SETTLEMENT...
  • [10] ...WHILE TENSIONS CONTINUE
  • [11] THACI SLAMS FRENCH KFOR...
  • [12] ...OPPOSES APPLYING YUGOSLAV LAWS
  • [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS WITH PATRIARCH
  • [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION HAILS MEETING...
  • [15] ...WHILE REGIME CRITICIZES IT
  • [16] GENERAL PERISIC FOUNDS POLITICAL MOVEMENT
  • [17] CACAK MAYOR: OUST GOVERNMENT THAT 'HATES THE PEOPLE'
  • [18] YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT THREATENS LOCAL BROADCASTERS
  • [19] SANDZAK RIVALS SPAR OVER PROGRAMS
  • [20] MILOSEVIC MEETS POPLASEN
  • [21] BELGRADE REPLACES UN ENVOY
  • [22] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ON 31 OCTOBER
  • [23] ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS BETTER COOPERATION WITH LOCAL MAYORS
  • [24] ROMANIA AUCTIONS ITEMS BELONGING TO CEAUSESCUS
  • [25] FIFA ASKS ROMANIA TO PROBE OFFICIAL'S ALLEGED ANTI-SEMITIC
  • [26] MOLDOVA, U.S. HOLD JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE
  • [27] BULGARIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF DENIES CODES STOLEN FROM U.S.

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] MONTENEGRO SETS TERMS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN KARABAKH

    CONFLICT

    On a one-day visit to Yerevan on 9 August, Kamal

    Kharrazi met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and

    with his Armenian counterpart, Vartan Oskanian, to discuss

    bilateral political and economic relations and regional

    problems, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kharrazi told

    journalists after the talks that he and Oskanian agree that

    expanding bilateral relations may serve to promote stability

    in the South Caucasus. He reaffirmed Tehran's readiness to

    facilitate a dialogue between the Armenian and Azerbaijani

    leaderships on resolving the Karabakh conflict. Acknowledging

    that offer to promote dialogue, Oskanian said that the OSCE

    (of which Iran is not a member) will remain the main mediator

    the conflict. According to Oskanian, the two sides also

    discussed ways of underwriting construction of the planned

    $120 million gas pipeline from Iran to Armenia. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. CONGRESSMEN

    President

    Kocharian and Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian met separately

    in Yerevan on 9 August with a visiting group of five U.S.

    Congressmen, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The talks

    reportedly focused on U.S.-Armenian relations and regional

    issues, including the Karabakh conflict. Kocharian noted that

    over the past 18 months (that is, since he became acting

    president in February 1998) Armenia's foreign policy has

    become more dynamic but that activity seeks to mitigate

    rather than to exploit conflicts of interest in the South

    Caucasus. Both Kocharian and Sargsian expressed optimism that

    the former's meeting last month in Geneva with Azerbaijani

    President Heidar Aliev could herald a breakthrough in the

    deadlocked Karabakh peace process. Kocharian left Yerevan

    later on 9 August for a 10-day vacation at an undisclosed

    location, Noyan Tapan reported. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION TO DEMAND AMENDMENTS TO LOCAL ELECTION

    LAW

    The Movement for Electoral Reforms and Democratic

    Elections (MERDE) has presented to the presidential apparatus

    a list of proposed amendments to the law on municipal

    elections, Turan reported on 9 August. Those proposals

    include increasing the number of persons to be elected to

    local government bodies at all levels, electing 50 percent of

    those officials under the proportional and 50 percent under

    the majoritarian system, and banning the presence of police

    officials within 100 meters of polling stations. MERDE has

    also created a three-strong committee to negotiate on those

    proposals with the presidential administration. The elections

    are scheduled for 12 December. LF

    [04] RUSSIA DENIES BOMBING GEORGIAN VILLAGE

    Georgian Border

    Guards said on 9 August that a Russian SU-25 aircraft dropped

    several bombs on the village of Zemo Omalo in eastern Georgia

    injuring three people. The village is close to Georgia's

    border with Chechnya and Dagestan. A spokesman for the

    Russian Air Force General Staff denied those reports, adding

    that Russian fighters are not conducting operations in

    Dagestan's airspace and thus could not inadvertently overfly

    Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Minister of State

    Vazha Lortkipanidze telephoned acting Russian Premier

    Vladimir Putin to complain about the incident. Putin

    expressed regret and promised to investigate the incident.

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has likewise requested

    clarification from President Yeltsin of the bombing. In June,

    Moscow rejected Georgian claims that its fighters had

    violated Georgian airspace (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 and 28

    June 1999). LF

    [05] CENTRAL ASIAN OFFICIALS UNFAZED BY STEPASHIN DISMISSAL

    Spokesmen for the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Tajik presidential

    staff expressed confidence on 9 August that Sergei

    Stepashin's dismissal and the appointment of Vladimir Putin

    as acting Russian premier will not negatively affect their

    countries' relations with Russia, according to Interfax. A

    Kazakh official said it is too early for an official

    statement, but he expressed the personal opinion that there

    will be no changes in Russia's policy towards Kazakhstan.

    Unnamed Kyrgyz officials said they are confident Russia's

    next government will promote bilateral economic and political

    relations. Tajik presidential press secretary Zafar Saidov

    termed Stepashin's firing "a purely internal Russian affair,"

    adding that Tajikistan's leadership is confident that the

    dismissal will in no way affect the "alliance and strategic

    partnership" developing between Russia and Tajikistan. LF

    [06] KAZAKH PRESIDENT DISMISSES DEFENSE MINISTER

    Following a

    meeting of Kazakhstan's Security Council on 9 August,

    Nursultan Nazarbaev issued a decree dismissing that body's

    chairman Nurtai Abykaev, Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev,

    and an unspecified number of lower-level defense and security

    officials for their handling of the sale of six

    decommissioned MiG-21 fighter aircraft, Interfax and AP

    reported. Azerbaijani authorities impounded the fighters when

    the Russian transport aircraft exporting them to the Czech

    Republic landed in Baku. The fighters were subsequently

    returned to Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March and

    21 April 1999). Nazarbaev subsequently named Chief of General

    Staff Bakhytzhan Yertaev acting defense minister and promoted

    Security Council Deputy Chairman Alnur Musaev to head the

    council. LF

    [07] SQUATTERS STAGE PROTEST IN KYRGYZ CAPITAL

    Some 1,000

    homeless young people gathered along the administrative

    border between Bishkek and Chu Oblast on 9 August to demand

    permission from the city authorities to build their own homes

    on waste ground on the city outskirts, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    Kyrgyz capital reported. Bishkek Deputy Mayor Abdraim Kulbaev

    told RFE/RL following a similar demonstration by some 500

    squatters on 6-7 August in the south of Bishkek that the

    protesters' demands are illegal. Meeting with homeless young

    people in June, President Askar Akaev promised to form a

    government commission to consider their demand to create a

    new parliamentary constituency whose deputy would represent

    their interests (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 1999). LF

    [08] TAJIK MILITANTS TAKE KYRGYZ OFFICIALS HOSTAGE

    On 6 August,

    some 21 guerrillas who had entered southern Kyrgyzstan from

    Tajikistan in late July took hostage four Kyrgyz officials

    sent to negotiate with them, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek

    bureau reported. Bolot Dzhanuzakov, who heads the defense

    department within the Kyrgyz presidential administration,

    told journalists on 9 August that the guerillas, who are

    armed with submachine-guns and grenade-launchers, are

    demanding safe passage to Uzbekistan. Kyrgyz Security

    Ministry official Talant Razzakov told RFE/RL on 6 August

    that the guerrillas are part of the religious extremist

    forces of Jumabai Namangani, an ethnic Uzbek field commander

    based in Tajikistan who opposes Uzbekistan's President Islam

    Karimov. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] SERBS, ALBANIANS FAIL TO AGREE ON MITROVICA SETTLEMENT...

    Representatives of the ethnic Serbian and Albanian

    communities of Mitrovica, meeting on 9 August under the

    mediation of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) and KFOR,

    failed to agree on ensuring freedom of movement (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 9 August 1999). Ethnic Albanian Mayor Bajram

    Rexhepi told Reuters after the meeting: "Our plan was to

    return the population in 15 days [but the] Serbs said the

    deadline should be September 2000." A Serbian representative,

    however, said that "there is a good will in both sides. I

    don't know if we are going to sign an agreement, but both

    sides had some concrete suggestions." FS

    [10] ...WHILE TENSIONS CONTINUE

    Ethnic Albanians injured a French

    soldier in clashes on 9 August in Mitrovica. The clashes

    occurred as French troops kept the city's main bridge closed

    and installed a roadblock with barbed wire and armored

    vehicles, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service correspondent

    reported. The bridge links the ethnic Albanian-dominated

    south of the city with the Serbian-dominated northern part.

    In an effort to relieve tensions, Mary-Pat Silveira, who is

    the UN's deputy chief representative for north Kosova,

    addressed hundreds of protesters. She tried in vain to

    explain to the crowd that the international community is

    trying to solve the problem through negotiations. Later that

    day, local Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) commander Rahman Rama

    asked the people to end their protests. FS

    [11] THACI SLAMS FRENCH KFOR...

    UCK leader Hashim Thaci told

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service on 9 August that "according to

    all international agreements, the territory of Kosova is

    [undivided]...but the partition of Mitrovica is nonetheless a

    reality today. We cannot accept such a reality. The [ethnic]

    Albanians have every right to try to cross the bridge..., to

    go back to their houses, and to reunite with their families."

    Thaci charged the French KFOR forces with behaving in an

    "undemocratic and arrogant" manner by blocking the city's

    bridge. He also alleged that there are still Serbian police

    and paramilitary forces in northern Mitrovica in violation of

    the June peace agreement. In Washington, State Department

    spokesman James Rubin defended the French position. He argued

    that "at present, there would be a serious risk of large-

    scale violence if the Albanians were allowed to cross the

    bridge." FS

    [12] ...OPPOSES APPLYING YUGOSLAV LAWS

    Thaci on 9 August

    criticized UNMIK's plan to apply laws that were in force in

    Kosova on 24 March 1999, when NATO began its bombing

    campaign. He said that such laws prevailed under a decade of

    repressive direct rule and added that "you cannot establish a

    democratic society with undemocratic laws." Thaci also

    criticized KFOR for briefly detaining UCK Chief of the

    General Staff Agim Ceku and the UCK-backed provisional

    government's Minister of Public Order Rexhep Selimi last week

    for carrying guns illegally or without the required

    documentation. Meanwhile, Ceku met with KFOR commander

    General Sir Mike Jackson in Prishtina to discuss the ongoing

    demilitarization of the UCK. FS

    [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION MEETS WITH PATRIARCH

    Leading opponents of

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic met with Serbian

    Orthodox Patriarch Pavle at his Belgrade residence on 9

    August to discuss their plans for peaceful democratic change.

    Differences remain between several leaders on some key

    points, most notably over the nature of a transitional

    government, Belgrade's "Danas" reported. Those present

    included the Serbian Renewal Movement's Vuk Draskovic and the

    Democratic Party's Zoran Djindjic. It was the first known

    face-to-face meeting of the two powerful rivals since early

    1997. Mladjan Dinkic of the G-17 group of independent

    economists said that the Orthodox Church has "blessed" his

    group's Stability Pact for a peaceful transition to a

    democratically elected government, the Frankfurt-based

    Serbian daily "Vesti" reported. The leaders agreed to take

    part at a Belgrade rally that the G-17 has called for 19

    August. The Church leadership is expected to decide on its

    position on the rally on 10 August. The Holy Synod has

    previously called on Milosevic to resign (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 16 June 1999). PM

    [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION HAILS MEETING...

    Vladan Batic of the

    Alliance for Change said that the 9 August meeting at the

    Patriarch's residence demonstrated the opposition's "symbolic

    unity," "Vesti" reported. Batic stressed that this display of

    unity showed a "new and brighter face of Serbia" to both

    domestic and foreign publics. Both Draskovic and Djindjic

    said that the Church has a key role in promoting political

    change. PM

    [15] ...WHILE REGIME CRITICIZES IT

    Serbian Radical Party leader

    and Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj warned the Church

    not to give its blessing to "those seeking to take power by

    force." He charged that those unnamed individuals want to

    involve the Church in their efforts aimed at launching a

    civil war, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from

    Belgrade on 9 August. The state-run Tanjug news agency said

    that the opposition leaders are in effect calling on the

    Church to "violate the constitution," which calls for the

    separation of Church and state. PM

    [16] GENERAL PERISIC FOUNDS POLITICAL MOVEMENT

    Former General

    Momcilo Perisic has formed a Movement for Democratic Serbia,

    "Vesti" reported on 10 August (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10

    August 1999). Its guiding principles are democratic change

    and the ouster of Milosevic. Perisic is expected to issue a

    more detailed program in the course of the week. He stressed

    that his movement is not a political party and is open to

    members of other political groups. Its founding membership

    stands at 50. On 9 August, Perisic held separate meetings

    with Patriarch Pavle and with representatives of the Otpor

    (Resistance) students' movement. He did not take part in the

    meeting of opposition leaders with the Patriarch. PM

    [17] CACAK MAYOR: OUST GOVERNMENT THAT 'HATES THE PEOPLE'

    The

    Serbian opposition held rallies in Ruma, Mionica, and Valjevo

    on 9 August. In Mionica, Cacak Mayor Velimir Ilic urged his

    listeners to oust the "political riffraff who are running

    Serbia and to replace those [leaders] who hate their own

    people," "Vesti" reported. He chided unnamed politicians who,

    he said, try in vain to steer a middle course between

    Milosevic and his opponents. Observers note that this is

    probably a reference to Draskovic, who wants a transitional

    government that includes Milosevic's supporters as well as

    his opponents. PM

    [18] YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT THREATENS LOCAL BROADCASTERS

    The

    Telecommunications Ministry informed local television and

    radio stations on 9 August that they will lose their licenses

    if they do not pay their back taxes within seven days,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Observers note that

    many local stations are controlled by the opposition. PM

    [19] SANDZAK RIVALS SPAR OVER PROGRAMS

    Sulejman Ugljanin's Muslim

    National Council has approved a Memorandum on Autonomy for

    the Sandzak region, which straddles the border between Serbia

    and Montenegro. The plan calls for six districts in Serbia

    and five in Montenegro to form the autonomous region that

    will be part of the Yugoslav federation, the "Frankfurter

    Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 10 August. Rasim Ljajic, who

    is Ugljanin's political rival, criticized the plan, "Vesti"

    reported. Ljajic charged that Ugljanin has, in effect,

    "stabbed [Montenegrin President Milo] Djukanovic in the back"

    by announcing the program before Belgrade and Podgorica have

    discussed Djukanovic's plan for redefining relations between

    the two republics (see "End Note" below). Ljajic said that

    his rival's program is in keeping with Milosevic's position

    that Yugoslavia must remain a united country. PM

    [20] MILOSEVIC MEETS POPLASEN

    Milosevic discussed unspecified

    political issues with Republika Srpska President Nikola

    Poplasen in Belgrade on 9 August, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. Earlier, the international community's

    Carlos Westendorp had removed Poplasen from office for non-

    compliance with several provisions of the Dayton peace

    agreement. Poplasen refuses to accept Westendorp's decision.

    PM

    [21] BELGRADE REPLACES UN ENVOY

    The Yugoslav Foreign Ministry

    said in a statement on 9 August that Stanimir Vukicevic has

    replaced Nebojsa Vujovic as Belgrade's chief diplomat at the

    UN. Vujovic left his post for "reasons of health," the

    statement added. He was the Foreign Ministry's chief

    spokesman abroad during the recent NATO air campaign against

    Serbia. PM

    [22] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS ON 31 OCTOBER

    Parliamentary speaker Savo Klimovski announced in Skopje on 9

    August that the first round of the upcoming presidential

    elections will take place on 31 October and the second round

    on 14 November. The election campaign will start on 1

    October. Klimovski said: "I expect that the...elections will

    take place in a fair and democratic atmosphere." None of the

    major parties has yet announced its candidate to replace Kiro

    Gligorov, who has been president since 1991 and who is barred

    by the constitution from running for office for a third time.

    FS

    [23] ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS BETTER COOPERATION WITH LOCAL MAYORS

    Pandeli Majko told a 9 August meeting of mayors from

    throughout the country that "we have to understand once and

    for all that we are all sitting in the same boat and have the

    same route in front of us. This is true regardless of the

    coloring of the government and regardless of the name of the

    captain." Majko urged the mayors, most of whom belong to the

    Democratic Party, to overcome differences with his Socialist-

    led central government, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service

    correspondent reported. Majko stressed that misunderstandings

    between the central government and local government officials

    have led to a lack of coordination and that many mayors have

    not made use of funds offered by the central government or

    international donors as a result. He also thanked the mayors

    for their efforts to cope with the refugee crisis during the

    Kosova conflict. FS

    [24] ROMANIA AUCTIONS ITEMS BELONGING TO CEAUSESCUS

    Hundreds of

    items belonging to Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, who were

    executed in December 1989, are being auctioned off in

    Bucharest, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The auction

    began on 9 August and will continue until end of the week.

    The authorities launched the auction on the eve of the solar

    eclipse, hoping that the influx of tourists (the eclipse can

    be best watched in Romania) will help raise at least

    $300,000. Among the items sold on the first day of the

    auction were a black Buick limousine presented by U.S.

    President Richard Nixon to Nicolae Ceausescu, which fetched

    $15,000, and a wooden chess set which chess champion Anatolii

    Karpov gave as a present to the Romanian president shortly

    before to latter's execution. Reuters said that the bid for

    the latter item, which went for $2,368, was rumored to have

    been made on behalf of the Russian Embassy. MS

    [25] FIFA ASKS ROMANIA TO PROBE OFFICIAL'S ALLEGED ANTI-SEMITIC

    ACTIVITIES

    Michael Zen Ruffinen, secretary-general of the

    International Soccer Federation (FIFA), has written to the

    Romanian Soccer Federation (FRF) demanding that a probe be

    launched into the alleged anti-Semitic activities of FRF

    deputy chairman Dumitru Dragomir, Mediafax and AP reported on

    9 August. Dragomir, a communist-era police officer, is the

    owner of the weekly "Atac la persoana," which frequently

    publishes anti-Semitic articles. One of the weekly's

    journalists is on trial for having published several articles

    of an overtly anti-Semitic nature (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9

    and 10 September 1998). MS

    [26] MOLDOVA, U.S. HOLD JOINT MILITARY EXERCISE

    A 10-day military

    exercise involving military police from North Carolina and a

    motorized rifle Moldovan brigade began on 9 August in

    Bulboaca, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The exercise,

    called Blue-Shield 99, is focusing on peace-keeping

    operations. MS

    [27] BULGARIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF DENIES CODES STOLEN FROM U.S.

    EMBASSY

    Angel Katsarov, chief of military intelligence, has

    said that reports about stolen military data from the

    Bulgarian Embassy in Washington are "nonsense," BTA reported

    on 8 August, citing the daily "Trud." The Bulgarian press

    recently began reporting on the alleged theft last month of a

    computer from the office of the military attache in

    Washington, General Stoyan Tsonkov. Tsonkov refused to make

    any comment to "Trud." The opposition daily "Duma" on 8

    August wrote that during the Cold War, "this act of

    carelessness would have been punished with death or a prison

    sentence.... Times have changed now and General Tsonkov may

    even be promoted." MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] MONTENEGRO SETS TERMS

    by Patrick Moore

    The Montenegrin authorities have laid down tough terms

    for continuing a joint state with Serbia. The regime of

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is unlikely to accept

    those terms, but democrats in Serbia might find them

    attractive.

    On 5 August, the Montenegrin government approved a

    detailed plan that would abolish the Yugoslav federation and

    recast Podgorica-Belgrade relations as a loose association

    (zajednica) of two equal and sovereign "member states." The

    Montenegrin parliament is slated to approve the measure soon.

    It is unclear whether the government intends the

    proposal as a basis for negotiations with Belgrade or as a

    take-it-or-leave-it proposition. Top Montenegrin officials

    said recently that they will hold a referendum on

    independence if the Serbian authorities do not respond to the

    proposal by late September.

    The plan calls for establishing an "Association of

    Montenegro and Serbia" with a unicameral legislature.

    Montenegro and Serbia would have equal representation, while

    legislators would be subordinate to the parliament of their

    own member state.

    The positions of president and prime minister would

    rotate between Montenegrin and Serbian officials. The

    president would be from one member state and the prime

    minister from the other, while both would belong to the

    governing political party or coalition in their own state.

    "Bureaucratic" administrative structures would be small.

    There would be a maximum of six ministries with small staffs.

    Each republic would, in effect, have its own foreign policy

    and army, which would be loosely coordinated with those of

    the other.

    The two sides would have to agree to joint foreign and

    economic policy goals aimed at integration into Euro-Atlantic

    structures. Each republic would have economic independence

    and the right to introduce its own currency. Any joint

    currency would be freely convertible and would be backed by a

    currency board and protected by strict legal safeguards. Each

    republic has a veto on joint decisions, including the

    election of the joint president and a declaration of war.

    There would be a constitutional court to rule on the

    validity of legislation passed by the association's

    legislature. Montenegro and Serbia would have equal

    representation on the bench.

    The text, in fact, reads more like a dull legal document

    than a declaration of political principles. Podgorica's

    intent was to make very sure that its rights and privileges

    are carefully protected and that it would no longer be

    Serbia's junior partner.

    Nor would this be a new Yugoslav federation to which

    constituent "republics" would be subordinated. Power clearly

    would rest with the two member states. The joint state would

    exist solely to further the specific interests of each member

    and not as an end in itself. It would not be called

    Yugoslavia.

    The basic political principles are that the association

    would be based on democratic values, the rule of law, and

    human rights. Economic policy would rest on the pillars of a

    market economy, free trade, and a convertible currency. There

    are several references to developing ties with the EU and

    integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. There are no

    references, however, to the proposed union of Serbia, Russia,

    and Belarus, which the Belgrade hard-liners have so warmly

    embraced.

    The Belgrade regime is, in any event, unlikely to accept

    the Montenegrin proposal, which would greatly limit the

    powers that Milosevic enjoys within the current federal

    structure. On 8 August, Ratko Krsmanovic, who is a top

    official of the pro-Milosevic United Yugoslav Left, called

    the plan "an attempt to destroy our country and to provoke

    conflicts. It would create a situation for foreign

    intervention." The Radicals' Vojislav Seselj has blasted it

    as "illegal secession."

    It could be argued that any Serbian politician would

    have difficulty endorsing a plan that gives Montenegro's

    approximately 600,000 inhabitants political weight equal to

    that of the roughly 7 million people living in Serbia

    (excluding Kosova). But initial reactions suggest that many

    members of the democratic Serbian opposition--such as the

    Democrats' Zoran Djindjic and Vladan Batic of the Alliance

    for Change--have responded positively to the Montenegrin

    proposal, seeing it as a step toward the democratization of

    Serbia.

    If the Milosevic regime remains silent on the

    Montenegrin proposal or rejects it outright, Montenegro is

    likely to declare independence. But if Serbia in the coming

    months acquires a democratic leadership that is willing to

    accept Podgorica's principles, the outcome could be a

    democratic state with a sound and growing economy. In such a

    case, might not the association become attractive to some of

    its neighbors, such as Macedonia or Bosnia--or even Albania

    or Kosova?

    10-08-99


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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