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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 194, 00-10-06

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. 4, No. 194, 6 October 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL MEETS WITH ARRESTED KARABAKH
  • [02] ARMENIA DENIES HOLDING 1,474 AZERBAIJANI PRISONERS
  • [03] U.S. SAYS RESTRICTIONS ON TWO AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES'
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT AMNESTIES 64 PRISONERS
  • [05] GEORGIA UNVEILS SECURITY, FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT
  • [06] GEORGIA SUFFERS MAJOR POWER OUTAGE
  • [07] BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN AIM TO EXPAND BILATERAL TRADE
  • [08] KAZAKH-U.S. OIL CONSORTIUM OUTLINES PLANNED PRODUCTION
  • [09] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT DESIGNATES OSH SECOND CAPITAL
  • [10] MASSOUD MAY BE ALLOWED TO RETREAT TO TAJIKISTAN
  • [11] TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE AGREE ON DEBT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] KOSTUNICA GREETS CITIZENS AS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT...
  • [13] ...OUTLINES PLANS AND VISION AT HOME...
  • [14] ...AND ABROAD
  • [15] YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT SESSION FOR PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION
  • [16] NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES SET UP 'CRISIS COMMITTEE'
  • [17] LAST HURRAH OF MILOSEVIC'S YUGOSLAV ARMY?
  • [18] SOME SERBS STILL FEAR MILOSEVIC
  • [19] SOME FOREIGN FRIENDS DESERT EX-YUGOSLAV LEADER
  • [20] PRAISE FOR NEW YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT FROM FORMER YUGOSLAV
  • [21] ...AND FROM WESTERN LEADERS
  • [22] KOUCHNER RAISES KOSOVA ISSUES WITH NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES
  • [23] ROMANIA REACTS TO YUGOSLAV EVENTS
  • [24] FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO SEEK THAT OFFICE AGAIN
  • [25] MOLDOVA 'SURPRISED' AT ROMANIA'S AGREEMENT TO GRANT
  • [26] MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN U.S.
  • [27] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS BORDERS SEALED TO YUGOSLAV WAR

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] SERBIA'S SWIFT REVOLUTION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICIAL MEETS WITH ARRESTED KARABAKH

    OFFICIAL

    Armenian presidential human rights commission

    chairman Paruyr Hairikian met in Stepanakert late last month

    with Karen Babayan, former Stepanakert mayor and brother of

    the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic's former army

    commander and Defense Minister Samvel Babayan, Noyan Tapan

    reported. Both brothers are charged with involvement in the

    22 March attempt to assassinate the unrecognized enclave's

    President Arkadii Ghukasian. Hairikian told his commission on

    5 October that Karen Babayan informed him that during the six

    months he has been held in custody he has been systematically

    deprived of the right to take exercise or receive food

    brought by his relatives. Also on 5 October, the Armenian

    government newspaper "Hayastani Hanrapetutiun" criticized the

    conduct of Samvel Babayan's ongoing trial, noting that

    persons who have no connection with the attempted killing are

    being called as witnesses. LF

    [02] ARMENIA DENIES HOLDING 1,474 AZERBAIJANI PRISONERS

    The

    Armenian National Security Ministry issued a statement in

    Yerevan on 5 October refuting claims made by Azerbaijani

    National Security Minister Namik Abbasov last month, Noyan

    Tapan reported. At a meeting on 21 September between Abbasov

    and representatives of local human rights organizations and

    the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Abbasov

    had accused the ICRC , the OSCE and the UN of "indifference"

    to the fate of Azerbaijani prisoners of war in Armenia, whose

    number he gave as 1,474. The ICRC walked out of that meeting

    to protest Abbasov's statement. Abbasov further accused

    Armenia of reneging on an earlier "all for all" agreement to

    exchange prisoners of war. The Armenian statement noted that

    Yerevan has released 10 Azerbaijani POWs this year, adding

    that two more Azerbaijanis are currently being held, one of

    whom it said is a "terrorist" who "offered his services" to

    the Armenian side. LF

    [03] U.S. SAYS RESTRICTIONS ON TWO AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES'

    POLL PARTICIPATION SHOULD BE LIFTED

    Speaking in Washington

    on 5 October, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Reeker

    criticized the decision by Azerbaijan's Central Electoral

    Commission to bar the opposition Musavat Party and the

    Democratic Party of Azerbaijan from contesting the 5 November

    parliamentary poll under the proportional system, dpa and

    Reuters reported. He said that exclusion "seriously

    jeopardizes the potential for the conduct of free and fair

    parliamentary elections," adding that "the participation of

    all major opposition parties is essential in offering the

    voters of Azerbaijan a real choice." He urged the Azerbaijani

    authorities to allow the two parties to compete through

    proportional lists as well as in single mandate

    constituencies. Reeker apparently did not mention the other

    five opposition parties, including the small but respected

    Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, that have been barred from

    competing under the proportional system. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT AMNESTIES 64 PRISONERS

    Heidar Aliev

    has decreed the release of 64 prisoners, including 42 found

    guilty of staging attempted coups in 1994 and 1995, ITAR-TASS

    and AP reported on 5 October quoting the presidential press

    service. Five of those amnestied are associates of former

    Prime Minister Suret Huseinov, who is serving a life sentence

    for allegedly leading a coup against Aliev in October 1994.

    Aliev amnestied 87 prisoners serving sentences for similar

    crimes against the state in late June, just days before the

    decision was due to be taken on admitting Azerbaijan to full

    membership of the Council of Europe (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    26 June 2000). LF

    [05] GEORGIA UNVEILS SECURITY, FOREIGN POLICY CONCEPT

    Speaking on

    5 October in Tbilisi at the opening of an international

    conference on strategic cooperation, Georgian Foreign

    Minister Irakli Menagharishvili listed as the key tenets of

    Georgia's national security policy the adoption of universal

    human values, defining Georgia's role in the process of

    globalization, and protection of its national identity and

    cultural legacy, Caucasus Press reported. He further listed

    as foreign policy priorities integration with the EU,

    cooperation with the UN in conflict resolution, expanding

    economic cooperation within the framework of GUUAM, the CIS,

    and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation, and reforming the

    country's defense potential to bring it into compliance with

    international standards. LF

    [06] GEORGIA SUFFERS MAJOR POWER OUTAGE

    Eastern Georgia,

    including Tbilisi, was without electricity for four hours

    early on 6 October following a failure at the main Tbilisi

    switching center, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. The

    outage affected radio, TV, transport and water supplies. LF

    [07] BELARUS, KAZAKHSTAN AIM TO EXPAND BILATERAL TRADE

    Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev discussed the

    potential for expanding bilateral economic cooperation with

    his visiting Belarusian counterpart Uladzimir Yarmoshyn in

    Astana on 5 October, Interfax reported. Both men agreed that

    bilateral trade could and should be expanded from the present

    annual level of $60 million. Yermoshin said Belarus is ready

    to provide Kazakhstan with farm machinery and trucks, and to

    cooperate in the spheres of light industry and high

    technology. The two countries' first deputy premiers,

    Aleksandr Pavlov and Alyaksandr Papkou, signed inter-

    governmental agreements on economic and information

    cooperation, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

    [08] KAZAKH-U.S. OIL CONSORTIUM OUTLINES PLANNED PRODUCTION

    GROWTH

    Nick Zana, Ddrector of the Eurasia Department of U.S.

    Chevron Overseas, told the annual international oil and gas

    conference in Almaty on 5 October that the Tengizchevroil

    consortium in which his company owns a 50 percent stake,

    plans to produce 10.4 million tons of oil in 2000, Interfax

    reported. Zana said that production will rise to 12 million

    tons in 2001 and to 17 million tons within the next two-three

    years. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ PRESIDENT DESIGNATES OSH SECOND CAPITAL

    Kyrgyz

    President Askar Akaev on 5 October issued a decree

    designating the city of Osh in southern Kyrgyzstan the

    country's second capital, Interfax reported. As such, Osh

    will house a second presidential residence. The city is

    currently celebrating the 3000th anniversary of its

    foundation. LF

    [10] MASSOUD MAY BE ALLOWED TO RETREAT TO TAJIKISTAN

    According to

    senior Russian Federal Border Service official Lieutenant

    General Vladimir Makarov, anti-Taliban Northern Alliance

    units commanded by Ahmed Shah Massoud may be allowed to

    retreat from northern Afghanistan into Tajikistan if the

    Tajik government gives its permission for them to do so,

    Russian agencies reported quoting the 5 October issue of

    "Rossiiskie vesti." Makarov added that he does not believe

    the Taliban will launch an attack on neighboring CIS states

    in the near future. Also on 5 October, First Deputy Chief of

    Russian Army General Staff Colonel General Valerii Manilov

    said he sees no need to strengthen the Russian troop

    contingent in Tajikistan, Interfax reported. Manilov also

    said he does not think the Taliban are preparing to advance

    beyond the borders of Afghanistan, but warned that "we must

    consider all possible developments...so the situation does

    not take us by surprise." LF

    [11] TURKMENISTAN, UKRAINE AGREE ON DEBT

    Visiting Ukrainian

    President Leonid Kuchma assured his Turkmen counterpart

    Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat on 5 October that Kyiv will

    implement investment projects in Turkmenistan in payment of

    its 1999 debt for Turkmen natural gas, Interfax reported. He

    also invited Niyazov to visit Ukraine in May 2001. Also on 5

    October, Ukrainian First Deputy Finance Minister Petro

    Hermanchuk and Turkmenistan's Central Bank chairman Seitbai

    Kandymov signed an agreement that sets Kyiv's state debt to

    Turkmenistan at $281 million. Negotiations on how that debt

    is to be repaid will resume after Niyazov's visit to Ukraine

    next year and after Kyiv reaches agreement with its Paris

    Club creditors. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] KOSTUNICA GREETS CITIZENS AS YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT...

    Crowds of

    some 500,000 people amassed in Belgrade on 5 October to end

    the regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic (see "End

    Note" below). In the evening, opposition presidential

    candidate Vojislav Kostunica addressed the crowd from the

    balcony of the parliament building and hailed what he called

    "liberated Serbia." "Serbia is running a victory lap at this

    moment and along that track there is no Slobodan Milosevic.

    Serbia hit the road of democracy and where there is democracy

    there is no place for Slobodan Milosevic," he added.

    Kostunica stressed that he is proud to be a Serb and a member

    of the Orthodox Church. PM

    [13] ...OUTLINES PLANS AND VISION AT HOME...

    In the evening of 5

    October, Kostunica said in an interview on state-run

    television that "we don't need violence to communicate. I

    have a vision of a country without inner tensions... I

    guarantee that we will live in a normal state where there

    will be no revenge and there will be a normal dialogue

    between people of different opinions." He noted that he plans

    to name a Montenegrin as prime minister (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 3 October 2000). PM

    [14] ...AND ABROAD

    Turning to foreign affairs, Kostunica on 5

    October hailed what said were the plans "of the EU" to lift

    sanctions against Serbia as early as 9 October. He referred

    to "the friendly peoples of Europe, the Greeks, the French,

    the Norwegians." He ruled out any cooperation with the Hague-

    based war crimes tribunal, which he called "an instrument for

    maintaining American influence and a NATO presence in the

    Balkans." Kostunica nonetheless added that he wants his

    country to be "open to the international community. Our life

    day after day, hour after hour, was too exciting and people

    now want some peace. That's what I felt in the campaign, and

    saw in the eyes" of people he has met around the country. PM

    [15] YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT SESSION FOR PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION

    The parliament is slated to meet in the afternoon of 6

    October to inaugurate Kostunica as Yugoslav president,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. It is expected that

    Montenegrin deputies will attend. PM

    [16] NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES SET UP 'CRISIS COMMITTEE'

    The

    leaders of the democratic opposition have established a

    committee to deal with pressing issues affecting "public

    order and peace," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 6

    October. The committee includes departments to deal with the

    army, police, economy, and supply, as well as other,

    unspecified "vital" matters. Virtually all of the Milosevic-

    controlled media have deserted him and issued statements

    pledging to report the news "objectively." The headline of

    the formerly pro-Milosevic daily "Politika" reads: "Dr.

    Vojislav Kostunica, President of the Federal Republic of

    Yugoslavia, Addresses The Nation. Serbia Is On The Road To

    Democracy." PM

    [17] LAST HURRAH OF MILOSEVIC'S YUGOSLAV ARMY?

    Top military

    officials discussed the changing political and security

    situation well into the night of 5-6 October in Belgrade. The

    generals did not issue any official statement afterward.

    Tanjug news agency reported, however, that unnamed "army

    sources" told it that the army will not use violence if it is

    not attacked. Observers note that the army consists primarily

    of conscripts, whom the former regime cannot rely on. Most of

    the top generals are political appointees of Milosevic and

    are likely to be replaced very soon. PM

    [18] SOME SERBS STILL FEAR MILOSEVIC

    Several hundreds of

    thousands of people remained in Belgrade's streets and

    squares throughout the night of 5-6 October at the request of

    opposition leaders, who said that they fear that Milosevic

    might try to retake control of the capital, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. Zoran Djindjic, who is campaign

    manager of the united opposition, told an RFE/RL

    correspondent that he does not rule out the possibility that

    Milosevic might try to launch a "counter-coup." Djindjic

    stressed, however, that this possibility is becoming

    increasingly unlikely because most of Milosevic's supporters

    have deserted him. Djindjic suggested that Milosevic is

    hiding with his hard-core loyalists in the Bor region of

    Serbia. PM

    [19] SOME FOREIGN FRIENDS DESERT EX-YUGOSLAV LEADER

    Cypriot

    authorities have ordered that Milosevic be arrested if he

    flees to Cyprus, Reuters reported from Nicosia on 6 October.

    Spyros Stavrinakis of the Central Bank of Cyprus added: "We

    have given instructions to all banks to closely monitor all

    transactions which are directly or indirectly connected with

    Yugoslav entities." Cyprus is well known as a haven for

    Yugoslav bank deposits and companies. In Athens, government

    spokesman Dimitris Reppas said that "Greece will not welcome

    persons seeking political asylum. Greece does not offer its

    territory, its airports for visits by elements in Mr.

    Milosevic's government." An unnamed "senior government

    official" was even more blunt: "If [Milosevic] arrives in

    Greece, he will be arrested and handed over [to the Hague-

    based tribunal] for trial." PM

    [20] PRAISE FOR NEW YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT FROM FORMER YUGOSLAV

    REPUBLICS...

    Rival Bosnian Serb leaders Zivko Radisic and

    Milorad Dodik both said in Banja Luka on 5 October that the

    change of government in Belgrade will be good for democracy

    and the Republika Srpska, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. Croatian President Stipe Mesic said in Zagreb,

    however, that Serbia "needs a catharsis" of its political

    emotions and to prove to its neighbors that it does not covet

    their territory, the BBC reported. Mesic stressed that he

    hopes that Kostunica will be the leader of a "European

    Serbia" that will pursue the same sort of forward-looking

    policies as its neighbors. PM

    [21] ...AND FROM WESTERN LEADERS

    Speaking in Washington on 5

    October, U.S. President Bill Clinton said that the "United

    States stands with people everywhere who are fighting for

    their freedom. We believe in democracy. I have said before,

    the opposition candidate, who according to all unbiased

    reports clearly won the election, obviously also has strong

    differences with us. This is not a question of whether he

    agrees with us. All we want for the Serbian people is what we

    want for people everywhere: the right to freely choose their

    own leaders... It's been a hard-core dictatorship... I

    think the people are trying to get their country back," an

    RFE/RL correspondent reported. In London, Prime Minister Tony

    Blair said that "the prize, not just for the Serbian people,

    but for the rest of Europe, is the prospect of Serbia being

    welcomed into the Europe of nations," AP reported. Similar

    messages of support for the new Belgrade authorities came

    from Paris and Berlin. PM

    [22] KOUCHNER RAISES KOSOVA ISSUES WITH NEW YUGOSLAV AUTHORITIES

    Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration

    and whose replacement Kostunica has demanded, said in

    Prishtina on 5 October that he is in contact with the former

    opposition, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6

    October 2000). "I intend to start a meaningful dialogue with

    the new government in Belgrade to begin work on resolving

    crucial issues facing Kosovo, first of all that of detainees

    in Serbia and the thousands of missing people," he stressed.

    He called the changes in Belgrade the "realization of a

    dream" but argued that "the attention of the international

    community must not be diverted from the tasks at hand here in

    Kosovo." Asked whether he thinks the new government can help

    improve relations between Serbs and Kosovar Albanians,

    Kouchner replied: "It's difficult to expect a worse

    relationship" than the one that currently exists between the

    two peoples. PM

    [23] ROMANIA REACTS TO YUGOSLAV EVENTS

    President Emil

    Constantinescu said on 5 October that Romania is "ready to

    resume dialogue and cooperation with Yugoslavia and to back

    Serbia's reconstruction as a result of the triumph of the

    Serbian people's democratic choice," Romanian Radio reported

    on 6 October. Constantinescu, who is paying a visit to Italy,

    discussed the situation in Yugoslavia with his Italian

    counterpart, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. He is also due to meet

    with Pope John Paul II on 6 October. The same day,

    presidential counselor General Constantin Degeratu and

    Defense Ministry spokeswoman Cristina Dumitrescu both denied

    an AFP report that Romania has agreed to grant Yugoslav

    military airplanes access to its airspace. Degeratu said that

    Romania has taken "all necessary measures" to prevent "any

    threat to its national security as a result of the special

    situation in Yugoslavia." MS

    [24] FORMER ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO SEEK THAT OFFICE AGAIN

    Party of

    Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) chairman Ion Iliescu on 5

    October officially launched his bid to regain the country's

    presidency, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. In his

    speech, Iliescu insisted on the need to return to "Romanian

    values," mentioned the Church and the army as "pillars"

    representing such values, and called for Romania's

    "dignified" integration into NATO and the EU. He promised to

    raise living standards, boost investments, eliminate

    corruption, reform the tax system, and support medium-sized

    enterprises. One day earlier, Iliescu had announced that

    Adrian Paunescu, a former Ceausescu court poet who earlier

    was deputy leader of the Socialist Labor Party, has joined

    the PDSR and may run for a seat in the parliament on its

    lists. MS

    [25] MOLDOVA 'SURPRISED' AT ROMANIA'S AGREEMENT TO GRANT

    CITIZENSHIP TO ILASCU

    Moldova on 5 October said it is

    "surprised" by the recent decision of the Romanian

    authorities to grant citizenship to Moldovan deputy Ilie

    Ilascu, who has been imprisoned by the Tiraspol authorities

    since 1992 on charges of "terrorism." Presidential spokesman

    Anatol Golea said Moldova was not informed about the decision

    in advance and that the parliament must now examine whether

    the move violates legislation barring foreigners from

    becoming members of the parliament, Reuters reported. MS

    [26] MOLDOVAN PREMIER IN U.S.

    Dumitru Braghis, currently on a

    visit to the U.S., said after talks with government officials

    on 5 Octobers that Washington is ready to extend help to

    "socially vulnerable" sectors of Moldova's population. He

    said he cannot provide an exact figure but believes

    approximately $4 million will be granted to partly cover the

    cost of electricity, gas, and heating supplies to the needy.

    Braghis also said that IMF officials had "positively reacted"

    to Moldova's request to restructure the country's debt. He

    said he will meet again with IMF and World Bank officials to

    work out details of a proposal that would then be submitted

    to the parliament for approval, Infotag reported. MS

    [27] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS BORDERS SEALED TO YUGOSLAV WAR

    CRIMINALS

    President Petar Stoyanov, responding to the events

    in Belgrade earlier on 5 October, has ordered chiefs of the

    army, police, and border guards to take special measures to

    prevent suspected war criminals from fleeing across the

    border from Yugoslavia, AP reported. The agency, citing

    Bulgarian television, said the government is determined to

    prevent "any attempt by people who are indicted by The Hague

    [war crimes tribunal] from slipping into Bulgaria." MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] SERBIA'S SWIFT REVOLUTION

    By Patrick Moore

    People power has triumphed in Belgrade. Opposition

    leader Vojislav Kostunica has declared himself Yugoslav

    president before cheering crowds, and Serbia's new leaders

    are turning their attention to the business of governing.

    Some half a million people amassed in Belgrade on 5

    October to end the 13-year rule of Slobodan Milosevic. Tens

    of thousands of Serbs arrived in the capital from the

    provinces, where many citizens had begun to lose their fear

    of the regime and its police in recent days. Perhaps the

    decisive moment came on 4 October, when the miners at

    Kolubara and thousands of their local supporters refused to

    yield to police intimidation and prompted the police to

    withdraw.

    The protesters in Belgrade and elsewhere in Serbia

    demanded that Milosevic recognize Kostunica's victory in the

    24 September elections and step down. The Constitutional

    Court's 5 October decision to annul the election provided the

    spark that set off the crowds' anger, which in turn saw the

    revolt through to its successful conclusion.

    The fact that the demonstrators brought down the regime

    in less than a day shows how bankrupt Milosevic's rule had

    become. In any event, the 24 September ballot cost him

    whatever legitimacy he once had. He has now become

    politically irrelevant and without any serious source of

    support. In that respect, it does not matter whether he has

    fled the country or is in hiding.

    This is because what were once his main sources of

    backing have gone over to the opposition, been taken over by

    the opposition, or chosen to remain silent. The state-run

    media have switched sides, as have many of the police.

    Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" shows a photo of a riot

    policeman in full gear--sporting an opposition anti-Milosevic

    "He's finished!" sticker on his shield. The largely conscript

    army, for its part, remains in its barracks.

    There are two immediate reasons why this protest

    succeeded whereas numerous Belgrade demonstrations in recent

    years had failed. First was the arrival of a critical mass of

    citizens from the provinces. Those citizens were angry at

    being cheated out of their vote and intended to put an end to

    the regime then and there. The people from outside Belgrade

    gave the democratic movement a broad base that went beyond

    Belgrade's intellectuals and politicians. Illustrative of

    this was the fact that the determined crowd apparently

    ignored the pleas by newly elected Mayor Milan Protic--a

    U.S.-educated expert on Balkan history--for non-violence.

    The second reason for the revolution's success was that

    the army and police did not intervene in any serious fashion.

    Police were present and used tear gas on more than one

    occasion. But they soon withdrew or joined the protesters.

    The police and army may have been under orders not to inflame

    an already tense situation. But it appears that, in any

    event, they realized that Milosevic was finished--and that

    Kostunica would soon be their new boss.

    Now that the Serbian people have retaken control of

    their country, its future is entirely in their hands. The

    government's work must soon begin in earnest.

    It has a host of tasks ahead of it in both the domestic

    and external fields. Its first job at home will be to

    preserve the unity that saw it to victory on 24 September and

    5 October. If the former opposition reverts to its former in-

    fighting, then it will soon prove itself unequal to its

    tasks. That may give a political opening to forces that are

    now marginalized, such as the backers of Milosevic, the

    Radicals' Vojislav Seselj, or the Serbian Renewal Movement's

    Vuk Draskovic.

    The new government's second domestic priority will be to

    carry out its election program, the Contract with Serbia.

    Some tasks will prove fairly quick or easy, such as

    depoliticizing the media, military, police, and judiciary.

    The real difficulty will be implementing deeper political and

    economic reforms. These will involve taking on solidly

    entrenched political and economic structures that often date

    from pre-Milosevic times and frequently have links to

    organized crime.

    The third internal issue will be renegotiating the

    constitutional relationship between Serbia and Montenegro.

    Both republics now have democratic governments, but the

    relations between them are frosty. It will take much effort

    and tact on both sides to reconstruct a mutually beneficial

    relationship.

    The most important set of external issues involves the

    other former Yugoslav republics, as well as Kosova. Kostunica

    will be hard pressed to square the circle between his desire

    to keep Kosova a part of Serbia with the determination of the

    Kosovars to become independent.

    As to relations with the other former republics, the new

    government will need to address Slovenian, Croatian, Bosnian,

    and Macedonian demands for a fair division of the former

    Yugoslavia's assets and properties. Kostunica, in particular,

    will have to deal with suspicious leaderships in Zagreb and

    Sarajevo that regard him as a die-hard nationalist and

    remember his opposition to the 1995 Dayton agreement. And if

    the new Belgrade government wants good relations with the

    former Yugoslav republics and with the international

    community, it will sooner or later have to address the

    question of cooperating with the Hague-based war crimes

    tribunal.

    The international community seems eager to welcome a

    democratic Serbia back to its ranks with open arms. The new

    government will need to take advantage of this abundance of

    good will and show quickly that Serbia has indeed entered a

    new era.

    In short, the Serbian revolution has triumphed. Its

    leaders' work has only just begun.

    06-10-00


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


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