|Wednesday, 20 February 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 111, 01-06-12
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 111, 12 June 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 KARABAKH OFFICIALS BLAME AZERBAIJAN FOR HIATUS IN PEACE TALKSSpeaking to journalists in Yerevan on 11 June, Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR), said he believes that Azerbaijan has retreated from tentative agreements on the principles of a Karabakh peace settlement agreed on in Paris in March during talks with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian said at a press conference in Brussels last week that Armenia bears no responsibility for the current "slowdown" in the peace process, which has led to the postponement of talks originally scheduled for this month in Geneva. Ghukasian said that the Karabakh leadership should be represented at future peace talks, at which he said new proposals and approaches should be discussed, according to Noyan Tapan. NKR Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian said at a public lecture in Yerevan on 11 June that "today Baku is not prepared for a solution" to the Karabakh conflict. She said Aliev has not specified what concessions he is prepared to make to Armenia. LF
 AZERBAIJAN'S KARABAKH WAR INVALIDS' SOCIETY AGAIN THREATENED WITH EVICTIONA police official ordered members of the Karabakh War Invalids' Society on 11 June to vacate immediately the premises in Baku that the society has temporarily leased and to halt its activities immediately, Turan reported. The lease expires in late July. The society has asked the Baku municipal authorities for permission to stage a protest demonstration in Baku on 16 June to demand the release from custody of six of its members detained in the course of clashes with police during a hunger strike in February to demand an increase in invalids' pensions and allowances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 and 21 February 2001). LF
 GEORGIA HOSTS MANEUVERS WITH NATOOver 4,000 ground and naval troops from 10 countries, five of them NATO members (the U.S., Turkey, France, Greece, Italy, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine) embarked on war games on land and at sea in western Georgia on 11 June, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. The exercises, which will end on 22 June, involve simulating a peacekeeping operation, a humanitarian operation in an earthquake zone, assistance to a vessel in distress, and refueling at sea. Georgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze noted at the opening ceremony that the maneuvers are the first involving NATO to be held in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, who in February hinted that Georgia might relinquish its quest for NATO membership (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report,"
Vol. 4, No. 6, 9 February 2001), told journalists in Tbilisi that themaneuvers testify to Georgia's aspiration to Euro-Atlantic integration and will help the Georgian armed forces achieve NATO standards of professionalism. LF
 GEORGIA INSISTS RUSSIA MUST MEET DEADLINE FOR WITHDRAWAL FROM ABKHAZ MILITARY BASEGeorgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 12 June that Georgia will insist that Russia meet the 1 July deadline for withdrawal from the Gudauta military base in Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported. Local residents, both Russian and Abkhaz, have blockaded the base since 6 June to prevent the removal of military equipment, arguing that only the Russian paratroopers' presence can prevent further hostilities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 2001). Echoing those fears, Abkhazia's senior cleric, Father Bessarion, told "Izvestiya" that "Georgia and Abkhazia may be on the brink of a new war." Menagharishvili also said that Tbilisi will insist that Russia close its two remaining bases in Georgia, in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, within three years. Moscow wants to extend that period to 15 years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 May 2001). LF
 SOUTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PREMIERLyudvig Chibirov has proposed Defense and Emergency Situations Minister Dima Sanakoev as prime minister of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, Caucasus Press reported on 12 June. Chibirov described Sanakoev as a young man capable of overcoming the economic problems resulting from the still unresolved conflict that erupted in 1990 between the then-South Ossetian Autonomous Oblast and the Georgian central authorities. On 9 June, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported that after Chibirov and Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov signed an agreement on 21 May, whereby the latter will provide the economic assistance to South Ossetia, the Georgian authorities refused to participate in talks scheduled to be held in Moscow on 6-7 June on overcoming the economic consequences of the conflict. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN, CHINA MAKE PROGRESS IN TRANSBORDER RIVER TALKSDuring a fourth round of talks in Almaty, Kazakh and Chinese government delegations have virtually completed drafting a framework agreement on the joint use of waters from 23 transborder rivers including the Irtysh and Ili, "Rossiiskaya Biznes-gazeta" reported on 9 June. Those talks began in 1999 at the suggestion of Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 15 April 1999). That agreement does not mention specific rivers or hydroelectric installations, or specify the amount of water each country may use for irrigation and other purposes. Nor is it clear whether experts have reached a consensus on whether the annual flow of the Irtysh is 9 billion cubic meters as Kazakhstan estimates, or 12 billion according to the Chinese calculations. According to Kazakhstan's Ambassador to Beijing Kuanysh Sultanov, Kazakhstan was nonetheless constrained to make two key concessions in order to reach even that framework agreement: Astana has ceded some 500 square kilometers of territory to China and dropped its earlier insistence that Russia should also be a partner to the talks as some of the rivers in question flow from China via Kazakhstan into the Russian Federation. LF
 U.S. TO FINANCE FEASIBILITY STUDY FOR KAZAKHSTAN CASPIAN PIPELINEU.S. special adviser for Caspian energy issues Stephen Mann and Kairgeldy Kabyldin, the deputy general director of the newly created Kazakh pipeline company Oil and Gas Transport (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001), signed an agreement in Almaty on 11 June under which the U.S. will provide $346, 000 to fund a study of the technical, economic, and ecological aspects of extending the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline across the Caspian to the Kazakh port of Aqtau, Interfax reported. LF
 KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ARGUES AGAINST RATIFYING DEFENSE PACT WITH UZBEKISTANSpeaking at a press conference in Bishkek on 11 June, parliament deputy Tursunbai Bakir Uulu, the chairman of the Erkin Kyrgyzstan Party, argued that the legislature should not ratify the bilateral agreement on military cooperation with Uzbekistan signed last fall, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September 2000). He said Bishkek should demand that Uzbekistan remove the land mines it has planted along its border with Kyrgyzstan to deter incursions by fighters from the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and which have killed several civilians. The Kyrgyz government made a formal request to Tashkent the following day to reveal the location of the minefields, AFP reported. Bakir Uulu also said that the Kyrgyz leadership is exaggerating the potential threat posed by Islamist extremists in order to extract more aid from the West. The U.S. delivered a consignment of climbing gear and cold-weather clothing for the Kyrgyz armed forces last week, according to AP on 6 June. Also on 11 June, the Kyrgyz parliament began a closed session at which Premier Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev, Defense Minister Esen Topoev, and Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev reported on the security situation in southern Kyrgyzstan. LF
 ADB TO INCREASE AID TO TAJIKISTANFollowing talks in Dushanbe on 8 June with Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov, Asian Development Bank President Tadao Chino told journalists that his organization will provide additional funds to help cover Tajikistan's budget deficit and to fund programs aimed at reforming the agrarian sector and poverty reduction, Asia Plus-Blitz and ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June. The ADB and the Tajik government signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year whereby the bank undertook to provide Tajikistan with new low-interest loans totaling $120 million in 2001-2003 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2000). LF
 UZBEKISTAN DENIES NEW ISLAMIST INCURSIONThe Uzbek Defense Ministry on 11 June formally denied media reports that Islamist guerrillas have entered Uzbek territory from either Tajikistan or Afghanistan, Interfax reported. It added that large-scale military training exercises are currently underway in Surkhandarya Oblast, which borders both of those countries. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MACEDONIAN CEASE-FIRE HOLDINGThe government announced a "temporary cease-fire" on 11 June to enable water supplies to reach Kumanovo and food and medicine to be delivered to nearby guerrilla-held villages. Nikola Dimitrov, the security adviser to President Boris Trajkovski, said the cease-fire has nothing to do with a recent ultimatum given to the authorities from the fighters of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK), RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He did not specify how long the cease-fire will last. Elsewhere, the guerrillas announced a cease-fire slated to last until 2:00 p.m. local time on 12 June. Reuters reported that the truce appears to be holding. The only reported incident was near Tetovo during the night, when the UCK ambushed a police patrol. PM
 U.S. HAILS MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT, SLAMS UCKSpeaking to reporters in Washington on 11 June, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "The United States condemns in the strongest terms the extremist actions of the so-called National Liberation Army. We oppose their violent tactics, which aim to undermine Macedonian democracy and threaten regional stability... With the occupation of Aracinovo, the extremists have escalated the conflict and pose a potential threat to NATO supply lines... We welcome the Macedonian government's declaration today of a cease-fire as another strong indication of [its] courageous restraint in the face of extremist provocations. We continue to urge the government of Macedonia to act with restraint in response to the extremist provocations, to use only that force which is necessary and proportionate, and to take steps to avoid endangering civilians," Reuters reported. PM
 EU CONCERNED OVER WORSENING SITUATION IN MACEDONIAEU foreign ministers said in a statement in Luxembourg on 11 June that they condemn the continuing "terrorist actions" of ethnic Albanian extremists. The guerrillas should lay down their arms and turn to "appropriate forms" of protest to make their views known, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. The ministers called on Trajkovski and the government to take all necessary steps to intensify the dialogue between all ethnic groups and enact a package of reforms that will benefit all citizens. The ministers agreed that the EU Commission will receive authorization by the end of the year to begin talks with Albania on a Stabilization and Association Agreement for that country. Macedonia has already signed such an agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 April 2001). "Studies" are planned for launching similar talks with Sarajevo and with Belgrade. PM
 GREECE CLOSELY MONITORING EVENTS IN MACEDONIAA government spokesman said in Athens on 11 June that the authorities are watching developments in Macedonia, where Greece is the largest foreign investor. He said that the government will "take initiatives" to protect Greek investments but ruled out any military role. He added that the authorities are in contact with Macedonian officials. Greece has investments totaling $300 million in its northern neighbor. Greece owns 69.5 percent of the main oil refinery, AP reported. PM
 RELIGIOUS COMMUNITIES IN MACEDONIA ON CRISISAfter a religious service in the town of Stip, Macedonian Orthodox Church (MPC) leader Gospodin Gospodin Stefan said, "our belief teaches us to be patient and just, but if terrorists come to steal territories from Macedonia, then the church agrees to use against the terrorists what is necessary in situations like this," according to the Skopje daily "Utrinski vesnik" of 11 June. Meanwhile, in an interview with Radio Spektar, Stefan pointed to a deep moral crisis as the basis for the current interethnic problems in Macedonia. The leader of the Islamic Religious Community of Macedonia, Reis ul-Ulema Hafiz Arif Efendi Emini, told the same radio station: "I call for a return to reality, and that we reach realistic and rational conclusions. We all live in this area and we have to stay here. We should tell the devil: Stop." UB
 ETHNIC ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS UNDER PRESSURE IN MACEDONIAAccording to a press release issued on 9 June by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), Macedonian police arrested one of its correspondents, the ethnic Albanian journalist Veton Latifi, on the outskirts of Skopje. Latifi was held in detention for about two hours. IWPR claimed in the press release that some of the police threatened him verbally. One day later, the private homes of an unspecified number of journalists of the Albanian-language Skopje newspaper "Fakti" were searched, the Macedonian daily "Utrinski vesnik" reported on 11 June. The intrusion took place in the early afternoon while the journalists were at work. The editor in chief of "Fakti," Shkelzen Halimi, sharply protested the searches and asked the Interior Ministry for an explanation. UB
 IMF GRANTS SERBIA LOAN OVER U.S. OBJECTIONSThe IMF approved a $249 million standby loan to Belgrade on 11 June. The move came despite objections by the U.S. that Serbia has not met its obligations to cooperate with The Hague-based war crimes tribunal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 May 2001). Stanley Fischer, IMF first deputy managing director, said in a statement: "The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's authorities have embarked with impressive speed and commitment on the extremely difficult task of reconstructing their devastated economy, " Reuters reported from Washington. PM
 SERBIAN MINISTER OUSTED IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT ROWThe Serbian parliament on 11 June endorsed a recommendation by Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic that Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Obradovic be fired, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Several women in his own party accused him of sexually harassing them, a charge that Obradovic has denied (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2001). He argues that the charges are the result of a conspiracy by those who fear his investigations of corruption under the former regime. PM
 TAXIS BLOCK SERBIAN ROADS"Several thousand" taxis blocked roads all over Serbia on 11 June to protest the government's tax policy on taxi drivers, "Danas" reported. PM
 SERBIAN CRIME REPORTER KILLEDMilan Pantic, a crime reporter for the Belgrade mass-circulation daily "Vecernje Novosti," was killed by unidentified persons in Jagodina on 11 June by a series of blows with a sharp object, possibly an ax, "Danas" reported. A journalist colleague of his told Reuters that they both wrote about crime and corruption and had received death threats. PM
 U.S. PLEDGES $25 MILLION FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURNAmbassador Thomas Miller said in Sarajevo on 11 June that Washington will provide an additional $25 million in its aid package for 2001, bringing the total to $73 million, Reuters reported. He noted that this is less than the $75 million granted in 2000, but added that the amount is nonetheless "remarkable" in view of declining foreign aid contributions for Bosnia. The money will go for infrastructure projects in areas where returnees represent an ethnic minority. Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija cited declining aid contributions as a major problem in facilitating refugee returns. PM
 BOSNIAN MINISTRY SETS DEADLINE FOR CROAT MUTINEERSThe Defense Ministry said in a statement on 11 June that ethnic Croatian soldiers must renew their contracts by 15 June if they still wish to be considered part of the army, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2001). "Oslobodjenje" wrote on 12 June that the compromise agreement reached between the government and hard-liners in May is in danger of collapsing. PM
 BUSH HAILS SLOVENIA ON EVE OF EUROPEAN TRIPU.S. President George W. Bush, who will arrive in Ljubljana on 16 June for a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, told Slovenian television on 11 June that he is pleased to have "the opportunity...to go to a country that is showing what can happen when freedom is allowed... Slovenia is an example of what can happen if freedom-loving people insist upon institutions that free people [support]. We want NATO to expand -- no country has a veto power over the expansion of NATO," AP reported. Bush added that his trip to Slovenia is a "signal that our nation is not only interested in the old part of Europe, but also a part of Europe that is very important -- the emerging part of Europe." Elsewhere, a Slovenian police spokesman said that "we have increased security not only on the borders to Croatia, but also on those to Austria, Italy, and Hungary. Every person and every car that enters Slovenia is registered." PM
 ROMANIAN RULING PARTY ATTACKS HUNGARIAN 'STATUS BILL'...The ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 11 June said it is "worried" about the consequences of the pending Status Bill in Hungary, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. It said it is "particularly concerned" by statements made by Hungarian politicians who view the bill as "an act of reparation" of the 1920 Trianon Treaty. The PDSR also claims the bill envisages implementing "discriminatory measures" on the territory of other states that are contrary to "current European standards." The PDSR said its claim is proved by the fact that the bill' s provisions will not apply to Austria, which is a EU member. Budapest's intention to use the bill for recruiting "1-2 million workers" from among ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries" adds to it an "evident economic social dimension," the PDSR said. MS
 ...IS REBUKED BY UDMR CHAIRMANBela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, said in reaction that the PDSR is "inflating" the bill's importance without justification and that the party's mention of alleged revisionist intentions regarding the Trianon Treaty is "gratuitous." MS
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT'S ATTEMPT TO 'DEFLECT ATTENTION' CAUSES STIRThe publication in the daily "Evenimentul zilei" on 11 June of a leaked memorandum prepared by Public Information Minister Vasile Dancu and distributed last week to members of the government has created an uproar, Romanian media reported. After monitoring the negative image in the Romanian media of Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and the cabinet as a whole, the memorandum recommended that Nastase "reduce" his meetings with journalists and that "attention be deflected from the problems of the Justice Ministry." Dancu claimed the use of the term "deflection" was "ideological" and said it was not used in the memorandum, but Nastase called it "unfortunate." MS
 ROMANIAN SENATOR WOULD DISMISS RADIO ADMINISTRATIVE BOARD 'ON THE SPOT'PDSR Senator Adrian Paunescu on 11 June said the airing by the national radio of a protest meeting of journalists and the contents of the letter of protest they sent to the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline", 11 June 2001) was "blatant defiance of democracy" and that "in any civilized state, such acts are sanctioned," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Paunescu, who heads the Senate's Commission on Culture, Arts, and Mass Media, said the managers of the radio who "allowed and provoked" the broadcast "should have been fired the next day." Also on 11 June, Premier Nastase said the PDSR has "not yet" decided what position it will take in parliamentary debates on the radio and television boards "because we do not want to create the impression that the decision is rushed." MS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, FORMER MONARCH, PATRIARCH, ISSUE JOINT APPEALIon Iliescu, former King Michael, and Patriarch Teoctist on 11 June jointly appealed to Romanians in the country and the diaspora to "display solidarity" to help overcome the country's poverty and the problem of abandoned children, Romanian Radio reported. The appeal said Romania's suffering can end only if economic progress and integration into the EU and NATO are achieved, and that these objectives "must stand above any other political or personal interests." MS
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SAYS IMF, WORLD BANK PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR COUNTRY'S PLIGHTVladimir Voronin said in an interview with the official Russian publication "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 11 June that the IMF and the World Bank are partly responsible for Moldova's economic plight, along with the country's former rulers, Infotag reported. Voronin said the two international financing organizations, "which are about to announce Moldova's defaulting on its debt," should "think hard about who has led the country into it." He emphasized that the three memoranda signed with the IMF had been implemented in Moldova "with greater anxiety than the CPSU Central Committee resolutions in past decades." Such "servility," he said, is unmatched by anything that happened in the past. Voronin said he sees just one possible solution to leading the country out of its crisis -- to rely on its own on itself. "All these credits and fabulous promises do nothing but further tie down the republic," he said. MS
 MOLDOVA TO HOLD PARTIAL LOCAL ELECTIONSPartial local elections will be held in 11 towns and villages on 17 June, Infotag reported on 11 June. The largest town in which the elections will be held is Balti, Moldova's second-largest locality after Chisinau, where seven candidates are running for mayor. Altogether, 52 candidates will contest the mayoral posts. Of these, 10 are members of the Party of Moldovan Communists. The Centrist Alliance, the National Liberal Party, and the "Furnica" ("Ant") Party of Social Democracy have four mayoral candidates each. MS
 BULGARIAN POLL SHOWS PRO-KING MOVEMENT STILL LEADINGA public opinion poll conducted by the MBMD Institute shows the National Movement Simeon II is still leading the field one week before the 17 June parliamentary elections, BTA reported on 11 June, citing the survey's results published by "24 Chasa." The movement now has public support of 38 percent, some 2.5 to 3 percent less than in May. In second place, the United Democratic Forces (SDS) alliance is backed by 17 percent, closely followed by the Coalition for Bulgaria, whose main component is the Bulgarian Socialist Party and which has 16 percent support. The ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms has only 3.5 percent support in the poll. The MBMD says no less than one-quarter of voters may change their minds in the last few days before the ballot. Seventy-seven percent of the respondents said they will definitely participate in the elections. MS
 EU WORRIED ABOUT BULGARIAN ELECTORAL OUTCOMEGuenter Verheugen, the EU commissioner for enlargement, said on 11 June that he is concerned about the possible outcome of the Bulgarian elections, Reuters reported. "We must not interfere in national elections...[But] we have carefully studied the platforms of parties running...and there are reasons to be concerned about the future pace of the country in its accession to the EU," he said, in a clear allusion to the National Movement Simeon II. Speaking in Brussels, Verheugen said that "some of the promises and statements in the platforms give reasons for questions in terms of what they mean for continued political and economic reform." He emphasized that during the past four years [with the United Democratic Forces alliance in power] "the situation in Bulgaria has developed in an encouraging way" and added that "I can only say that stability and continuity are the main pillars of a country's political success." MS
 SOFIA MAYOR READY TO HEAD GOVERNMENTIn an interview with the daily "Trud" on 11 June, Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofiyansky said he is ready to head a coalition government formed by the United Democratic Forces and the National Movement Simeon II, BTA reported. The mayor said he would accept the job "if he is asked to and if the situation after the elections requires it." He said the drop in the rate of approval for the SDS, of which he is a member, is the result of several mistakes, among which he counted "personification." Sofiyansky said the fact that Premier Ivan Kostov is both prime minister and head of the party turned his personal achievements into party successes but it did the same with his personal failures. MS
[C] END NOTE
 MACEDONIA: TIME FOR CONTINGENCY PLANNING?The following is Part I of a two-part series.
By Patrick Moore
The Macedonian crisis is threatening to spin out of control, leading some to argue that the time has come for the international community to make some serious plans about how it intends to deal with it.
Something has gone terribly wrong in Macedonia. What had long been hailed as the one Yugoslav republic that managed to leave the former federation without a bloody conflict now appears headed for a full-blown civil war. This is one conflict in that region that cannot be blamed on Serbia or former President Slobodan Milosevic. Indeed, even though the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (UCK) are clearly receiving some help from across the border in Kosova, it is obvious that this conflict has very deep domestic roots.
The intensity of the mutual hatreds in Macedonia has truly been striking. Mistrust and a lack of mutual comprehension or respect quickly brought about a polarization of the republic's two largest ethnic communities, starting in the spring. The mood has often been ugly; one recalls especially the ethnic Macedonian mobs of Bitola and the calls by some Macedonian leaders to "crush" the UCK. There is, in fact, language to be heard on both sides of the ethnic divide that seems to describe the other group in terms that are less than human. This is but one more version of the "hate-speech" familiar to students of the previous conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
Matters have not been helped by the glaring lack of leadership in Macedonia. This is particularly the case among the ethnic Macedonians, because President Boris Trajkovski and Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski are not only Slavic nationalist political leaders. They are at the same time the head of state and the head of government, respectively, of a multiethnic country.
That means that they have an extra burden on their shoulders to be statesman-like and conciliatory. Trajkovski seems to assume such a role in many of his public statements, but his roundtable talks have failed to lead to any practical resolution of the Albanians' constitutional grievances over status and language. This has led some Albanians to conclude that Trajkovski speaks one way but acts another. Moreover, Trajkovski shocked some top U.S. officials during his recent visit to Washington by saying things in private that suggested that he regards the Albanians -- who form at least 23 percent of the population -- as foreigners and interlopers and not as fellow citizens.
This problem of leadership is even more pronounced in the case of Georgievski. Having made apparent concessions to the Albanians on the constitutional issue about two weeks ago, he retracted his remarks some days later, claiming that he had spoken ironically or had been misquoted. Indeed, Georgievski has rarely adopted a statesman-like posture in the course of the crisis, preferring instead to rail against "terrorists," whom he will "destroy."
The case of Georgievski illustrates an important aspect of the leadership problem: the prime minister speaks to his nationalist supporters as though he were the head of a national state's government and as though complex social and political issues could be dealt with by force. And matters probably will not become better -- as far as the conduct of any of the major politicians is concerned -- as early elections draw nearer (they are expected either in January 2002 or in the fall of this year).
To single out Georgievski is not necessarily to say that his rivals have been much more prudent. Elder statesman Kiro Gligorov also speaks as though he believes that there is a military solution to the crisis. The Social Democrats, with whom he is closely connected, similarly take an ethnic Macedonian hard line. Of the Albanian leaders, Arben Xhaferi of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) at least chooses his words carefully and talks of a need for dialogue and solutions. But Georgievski has a point when he says that none of the Albanian politicians has sharply condemned the UCK and its resorting to violence in what had been a peaceful country.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty