Check our bulletin board of Hellenic Cultural News A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Tuesday, 19 November 2019
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 211, 00-10-31

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. 211, 31 October 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] DEMONSTRATORS CALL FOR ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION
  • [02] FORMER BAKU MAYOR SAID TO HAVE LEFT AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] IRAN CUTS POWER SUPPLIES TO AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVE
  • [04] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY FACTIONS CONDEMNS VIOLENCE
  • [05] GEORGIA IN LINE FOR NEW IMF CREDITS?
  • [06] NEW COMMANDER OF CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCED IN GEORGIA NAMED
  • [07] OSCE SAYS KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL POLL FAILED TO MEET
  • [08] ...WHILE ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN DENIES, THEN CONCEDES
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN ALLOWS TRAIN TO COLLECT STRANDED TAJIKS
  • [10] AFGHAN FUGITIVES GATHER ON BORDER WITH TAJIKISTAN
  • [11] THREE TAJIKS CHARGED IN KOREAN CHURCH BOMBING
  • [12] UZBEK TERRORISM TRIAL OPENS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] RUGOVA'S MODERATE PARTY DECLARED WINNER OF VOTE IN KOSOVA...
  • [14] ...AS THACI ACCEPTS RESULTS
  • [15] U.S. PRAISES VOTE, SAYS 'NO' TO INDEPENDENCE
  • [16] YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT CLOSE TO BEING FORMED
  • [17] OUTGOING YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT CHALLENGES APPLICATION FOR UN
  • [18] SURVEY SUGGESTS MAJORITY OF MONTENEGRINS SUPPORT
  • [19] CROATIAN PREMIER DENIES COALITION IN TROUBLE
  • [20] OSCE SAYS REFERENDUM BY BOSNIAN CROATS IMPERMISSIBLE
  • [21] SERBIAN OFFICIALS BURY UNIDENTIFIED WAR VICTIMS
  • [22] ALBANIA RATIONS ELECTRICITY
  • [23] ROMANIAN PARTY WANTS TO STOP PRIVATIZATION PROCESS
  • [24] GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER AGAINST LIFTING VISA REGIME FOR
  • [25] HACKERS PUT ILIESCU ON FBI'S MOST WANTED LIST
  • [26] LUCINSCHI OPPOSES FOREIGN FINANCING OF MEDIA
  • [27] IMF PREPARED TO RESUME CREDITS TO MOLDOVA
  • [28] TRANSDNIESTER VIEWS BADEN MEETING AS PREMATURE
  • [29] MOLDOVANS ILLEGALLY ABROAD BEING EXTRADITED HOME
  • [30] BULGARIAN STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR QUITS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] RUGOVA EMERGES VICTORIOUS IN KOSOVA LOCAL ELECTIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] DEMONSTRATORS CALL FOR ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION

    Some

    10,000 people attended a three-hour demonstration in central

    Yerevan on 30 October at which Arkadii Vartanian, millionaire

    businessman and leader of the 21st Century Association, laid

    the blame for the country's economic problems and the ensuing

    mass emigration on President Robert Kocharian, and called on

    the latter to resign, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The

    demonstrators then marched to the presidential palace, where

    they submitted a letter demanding Kocharian's resignation.

    The demonstration was the culmination of a one-month campaign

    by Vartanian, who aspires to succeed Kocharian as president,

    despite being a Russian citizen. Vartanian was summoned to

    the Yerevan police headquarters earlier in the day and warned

    not to make calls for violence. He said the city's police

    chief threatened to launch criminal proceedings against him

    unless he stops his campaign. During the evening of 30

    October, police forced entry into Vartanian's Yerevan home

    and took him into custody for 10 days for having organized an

    unsanctioned march on the presidential palace, Noyan Tapan

    reported on 31 October. LF

    [02] FORMER BAKU MAYOR SAID TO HAVE LEFT AZERBAIJAN

    Rafael

    Allakhverdiev, one of the deputy chairmen of the ruling Yeni

    Azerbaycan Party, has left Azerbaijan to avoid reprisals

    after criticizing numerous fellow senior members of the

    country's leadership, Turan reported on 28 October (see

    "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 42, 28 October 2000).

    Some of those persons whom Allakhverdiev accused are

    currently gathering evidence incriminating him, according to

    the independent daily "Azadlyg" on 28 October. LF

    [03] IRAN CUTS POWER SUPPLIES TO AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVE

    Iran's

    Energy Ministry halted power supplies to Nakhichevan on 27

    October in retaliation for Azerbaijan's failure to meet a $45

    million debt for deliveries, Groong reported, citing Turan

    and the "Tehran Times" of 29 October. An Iranian energy

    official told Reuters on 26 October that Baku had paid only

    $1 million toward the cost of electricity supplied to

    Nakhichevan over the past three years. Iran supplied more

    than 50 percent of Nakhichevan's electricity. Since 27

    October, the town of Nakhichevan has had electricity for only

    four hours per day. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY FACTIONS CONDEMNS VIOLENCE

    AGAINST DEMONSTRATORS

    Members of the Union of Citizens of

    Georgia's (SMK) parliamentary faction on 30 October condemned

    police violence against some 200 supporters of deceased

    President Zviad Gamsakhurdia who staged an unsanctioned

    demonstration in Tbilisi two days earlier to mark the 10th

    anniversary of the parliamentary elections that brought

    Gamsakhurdia to power, Caucasus Press reported. The faction

    again expressed its dissatisfaction with the work of the

    Interior Ministry and with Minister Kakha Targamadze.

    Targamadze hinted last month that he has compromising

    materials on some SMK deputies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28

    September 2000). LF

    [05] GEORGIA IN LINE FOR NEW IMF CREDITS?

    Georgian government

    ministers and IMF official David Owen signed a memorandum on

    27 October on the conditions that Georgia must fulfill to

    qualify for the release of new tranches of two suspended loan

    programs, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. The funds

    suspended those programs last year on the grounds of poor tax

    collection and failure to meet planned budget revenues. The

    conditions include the publication of a long-awaited

    government anti-corruption program, the drafting of measures

    to combat poverty, fulfillment of tax collection targets, and

    structural economic reform. Owen also discussed with the

    Georgian leadership a possible three-year $150 million loan

    program to combat poverty. LF

    [06] NEW COMMANDER OF CIS PEACEKEEPING FORCED IN GEORGIA NAMED

    Convening in Dushanbe on 26 October, the CIS Defense

    Ministers' Council named Major-General Nikolai Sidorychev to

    succeed Lieutenant-General Sergei Korobko as commander of the

    CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between

    Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, "Vremya-MN" reported the

    following day. Sidorychev previously commanded the CIS

    peacekeeping force in Tajikistan. LF

    [07] OSCE SAYS KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL POLL FAILED TO MEET

    INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS...

    In a preliminary assessment

    released in Bishkek on 30 October, the OSCE/ODIHR election

    monitoring mission said the previous day's presidential poll

    did not meet OSCE standards for democratic elections. It said

    "the international standards for equal, free, fair and

    accountable elections were not met." The statement noted that

    although the existing legislation allows for democratic

    elections, the flaws that marred the parliamentary poll in

    February-March 2000 were not eradicated. It noted

    restrictions on the registration of candidates that limited

    the field to six candidates and intervention by local

    officials in the electoral process. The statement noted the

    "remarkable transparency" for tabulation of returns provided

    for by the law was "marred by serious violations." LF

    [08] ...WHILE ELECTION COMMISSION CHAIRMAN DENIES, THEN CONCEDES

    IRREGULARITIES

    Speaking on national television on the

    morning of 30 October, Kyrgyz Central Electoral Commission

    chairman Sulaiman Imanbaev denied that any procedural

    violations had taken place during the previous day's ballot,

    Interfax reported. Following the release of the OSCE/ODIHR

    evaluation, however, Imanbaev conceded that such violations

    had taken place but "do not merit such a negative assessment

    from the OSCE." Imanbaev accused that organization of bowing

    to pressure from unnamed political forces to give a negative

    evaluation of the presidential poll. LF

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN ALLOWS TRAIN TO COLLECT STRANDED TAJIKS

    Kazakh

    and Tajik railway officials have reached an agreement to

    allow one Tajik train to transit Kazakh territory en route

    for Russia, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 30 October. The train

    will bring back from the Russian city of Volgograd some 800

    young Tajiks who were stranded there after Kazakhstan

    suspended the passage of further Tajik rail traffic because

    of safety considerations and non-payment of debts (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 2000). No further Tajik trains

    will be allowed to transit Kazakhstan until Tajik railways

    pays its $1.6 million debt to its Kazakh counterpart. LF

    [10] AFGHAN FUGITIVES GATHER ON BORDER WITH TAJIKISTAN

    Some 1,500

    Afghans fleeing the ongoing fighting between Taliban and

    Northern Alliance forces have congregated at the Pyandj

    border crossing between Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Interfax

    reported on 30 October. Russian border guards in Tajikistan

    have thwarted at least one attempt by about 100 of the

    fugitives to enter Tajikistan. The Tajik authorities fear

    that a mass influx of Afghan refugees would destabilize the

    domestic political situation. LF

    [11] THREE TAJIKS CHARGED IN KOREAN CHURCH BOMBING

    Prosecutors in

    Tajikistan have charged three students from the Dushanbe

    Islamic Institute with terrorism in connection with the bomb

    that killed seven members of a Korean Christian congregation

    in the city earlier this month, AP reported on 30 October

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 23 October 2000). Three further

    suspects have been arrested in connection with the bombing,

    the motives for which are as yet unclear. LF

    [12] UZBEK TERRORISM TRIAL OPENS

    The trial began on 30 October at

    Uzbekistan's Supreme Court of 12 men charged with committing

    a series of terrorist acts, including the February 1999 car

    bombings in Tashkent, that killed more than 50 people,

    Russian agencies and RFE/RL's Tashkent bureau reported. Nine

    of the accused, including banned Islamic Movement of

    Uzbekistan leaders Takhir Yuldash and Djuma Khodzhiev, are

    being tried in absentia. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] RUGOVA'S MODERATE PARTY DECLARED WINNER OF VOTE IN KOSOVA...

    The OSCE said on 30 October that ethnic Albanian leader

    Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) has won 58

    percent of the vote, with 90 percent of the votes counted,

    Reuters reported. The party of former Kosova Liberation Army

    (UCK) commander Hashim Thaci, the Democratic Party of Kosova

    (PDK), was trailing with 27 percent of the vote. The Alliance

    for the Future of Kosova, an ultranationalist group made up

    of many UCK leaders, is currently in third with some 8

    percent of the vote. The results give the LDK control of 21

    municipalities, while the PDK has six and three are still

    undecided. Daan Everts, the OSCE mission head in Kosova, said

    "we can confirm that the election took place without fraud

    and incidents." He said turnout was about 80 percent. Reports

    did not indicate, however, if that figure relates only to

    ethnic Albanians or also includes the ethnic Serbs, who

    overwhelmingly boycotted the vote. One count showed that some

    1,100 Serbs had registered to vote in the election. There are

    an estimated 50,000 to 100,000 Serbs living in Kosova (see

    also "End Note" below). PB

    [14] ...AS THACI ACCEPTS RESULTS

    PDK leader Thaci said on 30

    October that his party accepts the results of the election

    and will cooperate with the LDK, Reuters reported. "We did

    not expect such a result...[but] the PDK will recognize the

    final result of the municipal election." He said that the

    election was made possible only because of the earlier

    military resistance of the UCK. Thaci echoed Rugova's call

    for independence for the province: "Citizens of Kosova should

    have no doubts about their future. We are here to continue to

    work for an independent and democratic Kosova." PB

    [15] U.S. PRAISES VOTE, SAYS 'NO' TO INDEPENDENCE

    The U.S. State

    Department hailed the municipal elections in Kosova, saying

    that "all indications are that they were free and fair,"

    Reuters reported. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher

    said LDK leader Rugova's demands for independence will have

    to wait because the province's final status, according to UN

    resolution 1244, can be determined only after the province

    "develops democratic institutions in the interim period."

    While Yugoslav and Serbian officials continued to criticize

    the election because it was boycotted by ethnic Serbs, the

    moderate Serb National Council of Kosovo, based in the

    Orthodox Serb monastery in Gracanica, said it viewed the

    result with "cautious optimism." PB

    [16] YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT CLOSE TO BEING FORMED

    Supporters of

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said on 30 October that

    they have agreed to a cabinet lineup, Reuters reported.

    Vladan Batic, a leader of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia

    (DOS) bloc, said the federal parliament will meet on 3

    November, "when the new government will be voted on and then

    constituted." The DOS is to provide some 10 ministers in the

    new government, which is expected to be reduced from the

    current 28 ministries to 15 or so. Batic said the DOS will

    have Miroljub Labus, an expert from the G-17 Plus group of

    economists, as deputy premier in charge of foreign economic

    relations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 October 2000). PB

    [17] OUTGOING YUGOSLAV GOVERNMENT CHALLENGES APPLICATION FOR UN

    MEMBERSHIP

    The cabinet of former Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic said on 30 October that President Kostunica does

    not have the authority to file an application for UN

    membership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2000), AP

    reported, citing Tanjug. Tomislav Nikolic, Yugoslav deputy

    premier, said the request is "unauthorized" since "the

    federal government, not the president of Yugoslavia, is in

    charge of foreign policy." But DOS official Batic said the

    same day that Yugoslavia could be admitted to the UN--where

    its status has been in limbo since 1992--within days. He

    added that objections from Montenegro, which wants Belgrade

    to refrain from joining international bodies until the

    federation's status vis-a-vis Montenegro is resolved, will

    not hold up the process. Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko

    Lukovac said on 29 October that Podgorica will not contest

    Yugoslavia's application to join the UN. PB

    [18] SURVEY SUGGESTS MAJORITY OF MONTENEGRINS SUPPORT

    INDEPENDENCE

    A poll published in the Montenegrin daily

    "Vijesti" on 30 October showed that a majority of respondents

    would favor independence if a referendum on the topic were

    held, although a majority also favored some future

    association with Serbia, Reuters reported. Conducted by

    Montenegro's Center for Democracy and Human Rights, the poll

    found 48.1 percent of respondents would vote for independence

    and 38.9 would vote against it. But more than half of those

    polled said they want some kind of alliance with Serbia.

    Montenegrin Premier Filip Vujanovic said on 27 October that

    both republics should be internationally recognized but that

    some functions could be shared. PB

    [19] CROATIAN PREMIER DENIES COALITION IN TROUBLE

    Ivica Racan on

    30 October downplayed differences between members of his

    coalition as a "normal occurrence in coalitions and

    democracy," AP reported. "Where there is no fighting, there

    is no love," he told journalists. But speculation continues

    that differences between Racan's Social Democrats and the

    Social Liberal Party over posts in state offices, economic

    policy, and amending the constitution could lead to the

    government's fall. The main point of contention is changes to

    the constitution, with the Liberals complaining that Racan

    and his party are trying to shift powers currently held by

    the president to the cabinet instead of to the parliament.

    Racan has ruled out calling new elections, despite his

    party's increased popularity in opinion polls. PB

    [20] OSCE SAYS REFERENDUM BY BOSNIAN CROATS IMPERMISSIBLE

    The

    OSCE said that a proposed referendum by nationalist Bosnian

    Croat political parties would violate election rules, AP

    reported. Luke Zahner, the OSCE's spokesman in Sarajevo, said

    "we are not even calling it a referendum, but an expression

    of opinion and a political party activity. If they go through

    with it on election day, they would be in violation of

    election rules." Party activities are prohibited one day

    before an election begins and one day after the election

    ends. Kresimir Zubak, leader of the moderate New Croat

    Initiative, said the Croatian Democratic Community's call for

    the referendum is "an effort to realize their permanent idea

    of the division of the country," the Sarajevo daily "Dnevni

    Avaz" reported. PB

    [21] SERBIAN OFFICIALS BURY UNIDENTIFIED WAR VICTIMS

    Authorities

    in Banja Luka began burying the bodies of some 450

    unidentified victims of the Bosnian wars, AP reported on 29

    October, citing the daily "Glas Srpski." The bodies had been

    laid out in a factory for more than five years. DNA samples

    are being taken before burial. The head of the Association of

    Killed and Missing Soldiers and Civilians, Nedeljko Mitrovic,

    said some 900 Serbian soldiers and about 5,000 civilians

    remain missing following the war. PB

    [22] ALBANIA RATIONS ELECTRICITY

    Albanian officials said on 30

    October that electricity in the country is being reduced to

    five hours a day owing to the severe drought, which has

    lowered water levels at hydroelectic power plants, AP

    reported. Households are also experiencing water shortages

    because of insufficient energy supplies to pump water. PB

    [23] ROMANIAN PARTY WANTS TO STOP PRIVATIZATION PROCESS

    The Party

    of Social Democracy in Romania's (PDSR) first deputy

    chairman, Adrian Nastase, announced that the PDSR will put

    forward a motion in the parliament to reduce the prerogatives

    of the current government, Romanian media reported on 27

    October. The PDSR wants the government to undertake only

    administrative work until the parliamentary elections on 26

    November. Nastase explained that PDSR wants to stop the

    government from privatizing large companies. Prime Minister

    Mugur Isarescu responded the next day by saying the PDSR's

    move is part of that party's electoral campaign and violates

    existing legislation and agreements with the World Bank

    Meanwhile, the opposition Party of Romanian National Unity

    has put forward a draft bill that would stop the government

    from continuing the privatization process. ZsM

    [24] GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER AGAINST LIFTING VISA REGIME FOR

    ROMANIANS

    German Interior Minister Otto Schilly is opposed

    to lifting visa obligations for Romanian citizens, "Adevarul"

    reported on 28 October. Schilly argued that statistics show

    Romania is the third largest source of illegal immigration to

    Germany and that the country's borders are not secured enough

    to prevent the flow of illegal immigrants. Schilly added that

    many Romanian citizens are part of organized crime in

    Germany. Romanian Foreign Minister Petre Roman responded that

    Romania knows its obligations and is applying measures in

    order to strengthen border controls. Earlier this year both

    the European Parliament and the European Commission

    recommended the lifting of compulsory visas for Romanians and

    Bulgarians, but many European countries expressed doubts

    about doing so. ZsM

    [25] HACKERS PUT ILIESCU ON FBI'S MOST WANTED LIST

    Computer

    hackers have linked former President Ion Iliescu's official

    electoral website to the FBI site of its most wanted

    criminals, Reuters reported on 29 October. Anyone who tries

    to visit Iliescu's site at www.ioniliescu.com sees the FBI

    page instead. Iliescu's aides said they are trying to

    discover who was behind the incident. PG

    [26] LUCINSCHI OPPOSES FOREIGN FINANCING OF MEDIA

    President Petru

    Lucinschi told AP Flux on 30 October that he supports a

    legislative proposal that would prohibit the distribution of

    newspapers financed by foreign governments. Such a step is

    needed, he said, to level the playing field for all

    publications. In another move, Lucinschi promulgated the

    presidential election law, BASA reported. PG

    [27] IMF PREPARED TO RESUME CREDITS TO MOLDOVA

    IMF representative

    Richard Haas said in Chisinau on 30 October that his

    organization is ready to resume its loan program to Moldova

    as soon as the IMF leadership agrees to a memorandum of

    cooperation with that republic, Infotag reported. Haas said

    that the first $12 million of a $150 million credit package

    is likely to be extended in December. The IMF froze its

    assistance program to Moldova a year ago after Chisinau

    failed to approve laws regulating its 2000 budget and

    privatizing the country's wine and tobacco sectors. PG

    [28] TRANSDNIESTER VIEWS BADEN MEETING AS PREMATURE

    The Foreign

    Ministry of the separatist Transdniester Republic broadcast a

    statement on Tiraspol television on 30 October saying that

    OSCE plans to hold a meeting in Baden of all parties to the

    dispute over the future of the breakaway region are premature

    and that the session should be postponed, Infotag reported on

    30 October. The statement suggested that it would be better

    to hold a session only after Moldova elects a new president.

    PG

    [29] MOLDOVANS ILLEGALLY ABROAD BEING EXTRADITED HOME

    The

    Moldovan Interior Ministry press service told AP Flux on 30

    October that some 2,240 Moldovans who entered other countries

    illegally have been extradited back to Moldova in 2000 alone.

    Interior Minister Vladimir Tucan said that Chisinau plans to

    increase its efforts to prevent this flow of illegal

    migrants. PG

    [30] BULGARIAN STABILITY PACT COORDINATOR QUITS

    Nikolai

    Karadimov, Bulgaria's stability pact coordinator, handed in

    his resignation on 30 October to protest parliamentary calls

    for Sofia to withdraw from the pact if the EU does not end

    travel restrictions on Bulgarians, Reuters reported. On 29

    October, Assen Agov, the chairman of the parliament's foreign

    policy commission, said in a radio interview, that Bulgaria

    will withdraw unless EU countries drop their visa

    requirements for Bulgarian nationals. Karadimov said he

    resigned in order to disassociate himself from those remarks.

    PG


    [C] END NOTE

    [31] RUGOVA EMERGES VICTORIOUS IN KOSOVA LOCAL ELECTIONS

    By Jolyon Naegele

    The OSCE announced late on 30 October that Ibrahim

    Rugova's moderate Democratic League of Kosova (LSK) won 58.13

    percent of the vote in municipal elections two days earlier.

    The LDK took 21 of the 27 districts where voting was held.

    The OSCE stressed, however, that these are "unofficial

    polling station results." Preliminary results are not

    expected until later this week.

    The big losers were two parties led by former UCK

    commanders. Hashim Thaci's Democratic Party of Kosova placed

    second with 26.95 percent of the vote and Ramush Haradinaj's

    Alliance for the Future of Kosova was third with 7.72

    percent. Both men have said say they will accept the election

    results.

    Rugova, known as the Albanian Gandhi for his advocacy of

    non-violence, says the poll was a clear call for Kosova's

    independence. At a 29 October news conference at his home in

    Prishtina, Rugova called on "Paris, London, Berlin, and

    Washington to recognize the independence of Kosova. The

    people of Kosova have demonstrated that they are for

    democracy and peace and that they know how to lead Kosova.

    The proof of this is the massive turnout."

    Voter turnout was, in fact, overwhelming, at "around 80

    percent," according to OSCE mission head in Kosova Daan

    Everts on 30 October. At many polling stations, voters had to

    wait hours to cast ballots. Some polling stations remained

    open six hours longer than scheduled to cope with the crowds

    of eager voters.

    The office of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica,

    however, issued a statement on 29 October declaring the

    Kosova local elections invalid on grounds that the poll

    applied only to the province's ethnic Albanians. Most of

    Kosova's remaining Serbs, estimated to number between 50,000

    and 100,000, chose to boycott the poll. Only about 1 percent

    of Serbs registered to vote. Nor did Serbian parties field

    candidates.

    But the head of the OSCE election process, Jeff Fischer,

    told a news conference in Pristina on 29 October that the

    vote was free and fair because it represented a matter of

    choice. "I believe that the case can be made that this was a

    free and fair process because it represented a matter of

    choice. There are people in Kosovo who chose to participate.

    There are people in Kosovo who chose not to participate. That

    was their free choice."

    Fischer added that "the door remains open to the Serbian

    community to participate in the governance of their

    municipalities, and I'm hopeful that the next electoral event

    will be more reflective and have greater participation by all

    communities within Kosovo."

    UN chief administrator for Kosova Bernard Kouchner has

    said he will appoint Serbs to sit on local councils and may

    call new local elections within months. But Fischer noted

    that any decision on new elections will have to be made at

    the highest levels of the UN and OSCE.

    In Belgrade, pro-Kostunica politicians have welcomed the

    victory of Rugova's LDK.

    A leading member of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia

    (DOS), Social Democratic Alliance chief Zarko Korac, told

    RFE/RL that Rugova's victory is "basically a good thing as it

    opens up space for the start of a dialogue between

    democratically minded Serbs and Kosovar Albanians about the

    future." He added that "if Rugova positions himself as the

    leading politician of Kosovar Albanians, it will be easier

    for the [Serbian] political forces that want dialogue with

    the Kosovar Albanians."

    The head of another DOS member party, the Democratic

    Center's Dragoljub Micunovic, told RFE/RL, "We expect that

    Rugova as a moderate politician who has been through all the

    changes that Serbia and Yugoslavia have, is working toward

    the goal of stability of Yugoslavia, the Balkans and the

    region as a whole. As far as we can tell, somewhere sometime

    a change of thinking [on the part of the voters] occurred--at

    any rate it is a good thing that extremists did not win the

    elections."

    In contrast to the pro-democracy leaders in Belgrade,

    Kosova Serb politicians are taking a more reserved view.

    Moderate Rada Trajkovic, a member of the Serb National

    Council of Kosova and a member of Kosova's joint

    administration council (along with Rugova and Thaci), insists

    the conditions did not exist for legal, democratic and free

    elections for the Serbian community in Kosova. Trajkovic told

    RFE/RL, "You know we certainly do not have freedom of

    movement and the Serbian community in this region are denied

    their human rights."

    Similarly, in the Serb enclave at Gracanica, near

    Pristina, Father Sava Janjic, a moderate Serb, said the

    significance of the election is overshadowed by the absence

    of conditions for Serbs to participate. He told AP that the

    legitimacy of Rugova's party will depend very much on its

    attitude toward the rights of the Serbs and other minorities

    in Kosova.

    And the head of the Serbian community in the divided

    city of Mitrovica, Serbian National Council chairman Oliver

    Ivanovic, said in an interview with RFE/RL that he remains

    skeptical over whether Rugova's victory really means a vote

    for moderation. "We were expecting some sort of victory by

    Mr. Rugova and the Democratic League of Kosova, but not so

    convincing," he commented "Today, generally speaking, this

    doesn't mean anything at all for Serbs. I think the concepts

    of Mr. Rugova and Mr. Thaci in principle are very similar."

    The 28 October vote was peaceful and orderly. Making the

    next round more inclusive to all the province's communities

    may be easier with Rugova's LDK replacing Thaci's UCK

    veterans in town councils across Kosova.

    The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent based in Prague.

    31-10-00


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


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Tuesday, 31 October 2000 - 16:33:04 UTC