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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 182, 01-09-25

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. 5, No. 182, 25 September 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN INTERPARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION MEETS
  • [02] ARMENIA AGAIN AFFIRMS READINESS TO COOPERATE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM
  • [03] TOP AZERBAIJAN OIL OFFICIAL BRINGS SECOND LAWSUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION POLITICIAN
  • [04] PRESIDENT DOUBTS GEORGIA'S ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO U.S. RETALIATORY STRIKES
  • [05] PARLIAMENT DEPUTY WANTS NATO TO PROTECT GEORGIA AGAINST ANTICIPATED RUSSIAN ATTACK
  • [06] UNFROCKED GEORGIAN PRIEST ANNOUNCES NEW CRUSADE AGAINST NON-ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS
  • [07] NO PROGRESS IN TALKS ON SOUTH OSSETIA
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OFFERS U.S. USE OF AIRFIELDS
  • [09] ...DENIES PLANS TO RESIGN, PLEDGES SUCCESSION WILL BE DEMOCRATIC
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN PREPARES TO RECEIVE COETHNICS FROM AFGHANISTAN...
  • [11] ...HAVING EXPELLED KYRGYZ TRADERS
  • [12] SAUDI ARABIA PROPOSES THAT KAZAKHSTAN SHOULD JOIN OPEC
  • [13] U.S. ACCEPTS OFFERED USE OF KYRGYZ AIRSPACE
  • [14] TAJIK, UZBEK OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO DENY ARRIVAL OF U.S. TROOPS, AIRCRAFT
  • [15] LEADER OF CLANDESTINE MUSLIM GROUP SENTENCED TO DEATH IN UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [16] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDMENTS
  • [17] NATO'S ROBERTSON CALLS ON MACEDONIANS TO STICK TO SCHEDULE
  • [18] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS SURRENDER MORE WEAPONS THAN PLANNED
  • [19] KOSOVA SERBS SET UP ELECTION COALITION
  • [20] ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS BANNED FROM KOSOVA VOTE
  • [21] BOSNIAN LEADERS AGREE TO FIGHT TERRORISM
  • [22] BOSNIAN MUSLIM GENERAL TURNS HIMSELF IN
  • [23] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT SETS UP CRISIS GROUP
  • [24] CROATIAN TOURISM OFF AFTER TERROR ATTACKS IN U.S.
  • [25] CROATIAN MILITARY SUPPORT FOR MACEDONIA
  • [26] CROATIA TO INVESTIGATE TITO'S PARTISANS FOR WAR CRIMES
  • [27] YUGOSLAVIA READMITTED TO INTERPOL
  • [28] FORMER SERBIAN POLICE CHIEF DENIES ROLE IN ARKAN MURDER
  • [29] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WRITES TO BUSH
  • [30] MAVERICK ROMANIAN SENATOR OFFERS TO FOREGO IMMUNITY
  • [31] ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF SAYS PALESTINIANS TRAINED WITH ISRAEL'S APPROVAL
  • [32] GALATI SIDEX WORKERS BLOCK MANAGEMENT ACCESS TO PLANT
  • [33] MOLDOVAN PARTIES MERGE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [34] SERBIAN PREMIER REVIEWS ROLE OF OPPOSITION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN-RUSSIAN INTERPARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION MEETS

    A Russian State Duma delegation headed by former USSR Council of Ministers Chairman Nikolai Ryzhkov attended the third session of the Armenian-Russian interparliamentary commission in Yerevan on 24 September, Noyan Tapan reported. Discussions focused on bilateral economic cooperation in general, and specifically on implementation of the agreements signed 10 days earlier during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Armenia. Ryzhkov argued that the Medzamor nuclear power station should continue to operate until at least 2013-2015. In 1996, Armenia assured the EU it would close Medzamor by 2004, but since late 1998 Armenian energy officials have consistently argued that it will not be feasible to do so unless alternative energy generating capacity totaling 600 megawatts is in place (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 1998, 27 June 1999, and 19 June 2001). Ryzhkov also implied that Moscow would prefer that Armenia purchase Russian gas rather than proceed with construction of the planned Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, and may offer price concessions as an incentive to do so. LF

    [02] ARMENIA AGAIN AFFIRMS READINESS TO COOPERATE AGAINST INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

    Speaking in Yerevan on 24 September at a meeting with visiting EU officials, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian again said Yerevan is ready to cooperate with the U.S. and the international community to fight international terrorist groups thought to be responsible for the 1 September attacks in the U.S., RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. But he declined to specify what form Armenia's support for such military action might take. LF

    [03] TOP AZERBAIJAN OIL OFFICIAL BRINGS SECOND LAWSUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION POLITICIAN

    Natik Aliev, president of the Azerbaijan State Oil Company SOCAR, has filed suit for a second time against Azerbaijan National Independence Party Chairman Etibar Mamedov in connection with the latter's allegations last month that up to 1.5 million tons of oil is illegally exported from Azerbaijan via Iran every year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2001). A Baku district court ruled on 14 September that Mamedov must publicly apologize for those allegations, but Mamedov's lawyer said he will appeal that ruling. Aliev has now demanded that Mamedov make a payment of 100 million manats ($213,200) to a Baku children's home in compensation for his incriminating statements. LF

    [04] PRESIDENT DOUBTS GEORGIA'S ABILITY TO CONTRIBUTE TO U.S. RETALIATORY STRIKES

    It is doubtful whether Georgia's military bases are of a suitable standard for use during the expected U.S. retaliatory strikes against international terrorists in Afghanistan, President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 24 September. He pledged that Georgia will nonetheless offer any support that it can for such an operation. Interfax on 21 September quoted Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze as saying that the U.S. had not requested the use of either Georgian airspace or military facilities as of that time. LF

    [05] PARLIAMENT DEPUTY WANTS NATO TO PROTECT GEORGIA AGAINST ANTICIPATED RUSSIAN ATTACK

    Georgian parliament deputy Koba Davitashvili, who quit the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia faction earlier this month to protest the Georgian government's failure to take effective measures to combat corruption, on 25 September appealed to fellow legislators to ask NATO to send troops to Georgia as a deterrent against an anticipated attack by Russia on Georgian territory under the guise of punitive action against "Chechen terrorists," Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [06] UNFROCKED GEORGIAN PRIEST ANNOUNCES NEW CRUSADE AGAINST NON-ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS

    Father Basil Mzekalashvili, whose followers have systematically assaulted Jehovah's Witnesses in Tbilisi and other Georgian towns, on 24 September staged a march in Tbilisi that was intended to mark the beginning of a new campaign against all non-Orthodox religious groups in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Mzekalashvili and his followers forcibly broke up a meeting of evangelists in Tbilisi on 23 September, according to "Rezonansi." LF

    [07] NO PROGRESS IN TALKS ON SOUTH OSSETIA

    The most recent round of talks on ways to resolve the conflict between the central Georgian government and the unrecognized breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, held in Bucharest from 14-19 September, made no progress whatsoever, and the Georgian delegation has threatened to boycott any further such talks as a waste of time, according to Caucasus Press on 24 September. The Georgian, South Ossetian, and Russian delegations focused on South Ossetia's future status within Georgia and reconstruction of the devastated region's infrastructure. The Georgian leadership has said it will not fund any such reconstruction unless South Ossetia agrees to the status of "broad autonomy" within Georgia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report,"

    Vol. 4, No. 4, 25 January 2001). Meanwhile on 19 September, South Ossetian

    President Lyudvig Chibirov scheduled presidential elections for 18 November and announced his intention to run for a further term. The opposition Ademon Nykhas movement, which advocates South Ossetia's unification with the Republic of North Ossetia-Alaniya, has accused Chibirov of planning to sell out to Georgia, but has not yet proposed a rival presidential candidate. LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OFFERS U.S. USE OF AIRFIELDS

    Speaking at a press conference in Astana on 24 September, President Nursultan Nazarbaev said Kazakhstan is ready "to support an action against terrorism with all the means at its disposal," Reuters and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Asked whether Astana would make its military bases available to the U.S., he replied in the affirmative, but added that the U.S. has not yet made any specific request for aid of any kind. LF

    [09] ...DENIES PLANS TO RESIGN, PLEDGES SUCCESSION WILL BE DEMOCRATIC

    At the same press conference, Nazarbaev rejected as unfounded rumors that he plans to step down, Interfax reported. Nazarbaev, who celebrated his 61st birthday in July, declared that, his hitherto robust health permitting, he will serve at least to the end of his current term in January 2007, after which, he pointed out, he may seek a further presidential term. He also denied planning to ensure that a member of his family succeed him as president. "What succession can there be in a democratic state?" Nazarbaev asked, stressing that Kazakhstan has "laid the foundations" for becoming a democratic state. LF

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN PREPARES TO RECEIVE COETHNICS FROM AFGHANISTAN...

    Nazarbaev declared at his 24 September news conference that his country is prepared to shelter refugees fleeing from Afghanistan, Interfax reported. But he apparently failed to clarify whether he was referring specifically to the estimated 300,000 ethnic Kazakhs now living in Kazakhstan, or to members of other ethnic groups as well. Sherim Asilbekov, who heads the migration department within the South Kazakhstan Oblast administration, said that the entire Kazakh community in Afghanistan wants to leave that country, but that his region could offer accommodation to only 25,000 of them. He added that the oblast's budget for resettlers amounts to only 11 million tenges ($75,500), which is sufficient only to provide for 1,000 resettlers for one month. He estimated the total monthly cost of providing for 25,000 refugees at 1 billion tenges. LF

    [11] ...HAVING EXPELLED KYRGYZ TRADERS

    Also on 24 September, representatives of an estimated 700 Kyrgyz traders who have just been expelled from Kazakhstan staged a protest outside the Kazakh Embassy in Bishkek, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The traders, who ran market stalls in Almaty, said the Kazakh police began rounding them up on 21 September, annulled their registration papers with no explanation, and transported them to the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border. The total number of Kyrgyz traders in Kazakhstan is estimated at 7,000. LF

    [12] SAUDI ARABIA PROPOSES THAT KAZAKHSTAN SHOULD JOIN OPEC

    After talks with President Nazarbaev in Astana on 24 September, Saudi Arabia's Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi told journalists that it is in the interest of all countries that are exporters of petroleum to propose that Kazakhstan join OPEC, Interfax reported. He added that Kazakhstan will attend an OPEC conference in Vienna on 26 September as an observer. But regardless of whether or not Kazakhstan becomes an OPEC member, al-Naimi said, his country will expand cooperation with it in the oil and gas sector. Kazakhstan's Energy Minister Vladimir Shkolnik said Kazakhstan may join OPEC "in a year or two." LF

    [13] U.S. ACCEPTS OFFERED USE OF KYRGYZ AIRSPACE

    After consultation with fellow signatories to the CIS Collective Security Treaty, Kyrgyzstan has offered to open its airspace to U.S. aircraft for use during a counterterrorism strike against Afghanistan, President Askar Akaev announced in Bishkek on 25 September. He said that offer was accepted. LF

    [14] TAJIK, UZBEK OFFICIALS CONTINUE TO DENY ARRIVAL OF U.S. TROOPS, AIRCRAFT

    Interfax-AVN on 24 September quoted unnamed officials from both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as continuing to deny Western media reports that the U.S. has already sent military aircraft or troops to either country in preparation for a strike against terrorist bases in Afghanistan. But addressing a congress that day of the People's Democratic Party of Tajikistan which he heads, Tajikistan's President Imomali Rakhmonov again expressed his willingness to cooperate with the U.S. government in hunting down the terrorists. AFP on 24 September quoted U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell as saying he has no knowledge of the arrival of U.S. electronic surveillance planes in Uzbekistan. LF

    [15] LEADER OF CLANDESTINE MUSLIM GROUP SENTENCED TO DEATH IN UZBEKISTAN

    A court in Khorezm on 24 September sentenced the leader of a clandestine Muslim group to death on charges of having planned to hijack an airplane to Afghanistan, AP reported. Nineteen of his followers received prison sentences ranging from four to 21 years. The group was arrested in June. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [16] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDMENTS

    After several days of delay and acrimonious debate, the parliament approved a package of 15 constitutional amendments on 24 September, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2001, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 September 2001). The vote was 68 in favor, 24 against, and four abstentions. Following a public debate, the parliament will then have to ratify the package, but this time with a two-thirds majority, or 80 out of 120 possible votes. The amendments are an integral part of the political settlement signed by the leaders of the largest ethnic Macedonian and ethnic Albanian political parties in August. The constitutional changes are aimed at improving the lot of the Albanian minority, which makes up at least 23 percent of the population. PM

    [17] NATO'S ROBERTSON CALLS ON MACEDONIANS TO STICK TO SCHEDULE

    Speaking in Skopje on 25 September, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said that the Atlantic alliance has done its part to collect weapons from the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) and called on the parliament to ratify the amendments package, Reuters reported. He said: "The skeptics have been proven wrong. Arms have been handed in and the disarmament process has gone ahead... The politicians of this country...have an obligation to fulfill. We have done our part." But parliament has yet to approve a planned amnesty for UCK fighters who did not commit war crimes. Robertson said, "I am assured by President [Boris] Trajkovski that there will be an amnesty, and it is now time for the parliamentarians to enact this amnesty." Reuters quoted one Western observer as saying that "the problem now [without the amnesty] is that there may be conflicting expectations of NATO. The Albanians are looking to NATO to be their guarantor, while the Macedonians want it to ensure [that] their security forces reenter crisis areas." PM

    [18] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS SURRENDER MORE WEAPONS THAN PLANNED

    AP reported from Brodec on 24 September that the UCK has already given up more than the 3,300 weapons it is expected to surrender to NATO troops as part of Operation Essential Harvest. The mission ends on 26 September. PM

    [19] KOSOVA SERBS SET UP ELECTION COALITION

    Daan Everts, the OSCE's chief representative in Kosova, certified the "Coalition Return" (KP) voter coalition for the 17 November elections, AP reported from Prishtina on 24 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2001). The KP is headed by Sima Garikalovic, who lives in Bujanovac in southern Serbia. The bloc is backed by some 20 Serbian parties belonging or close to Belgrade's governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition. The term "return" can be understood in Serbian political discourse to mean the return of ethnic Serb refugees and displaced persons to their homes in Kosova, or the return of the province to Serbian rule. The news agency reported that it remains to be seen how many Serbs will actually cast their ballots. Some do not want to grant legitimacy to a political process that they cannot expect to dominate. Others feel that Serbs must take part if they want to help make decisions that directly affect them. PM

    [20] ALBANIAN EXTREMISTS BANNED FROM KOSOVA VOTE

    Hans Haekkerup, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova, banned at least two unnamed "extremists" from running in the 17 November elections, dpa reported from Prishtina on 24 September. The two men's parties -- the National Movement for Liberation of Kosova (LKCK) and Kosova's Popular Movement (LPK) -- may field other candidates, however. The extremists' names appear on a list submitted by U.S. President George W. Bush in June as part of an executive order aimed at cutting off funding for the UCK in Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 June 2001). PM

    [21] BOSNIAN LEADERS AGREE TO FIGHT TERRORISM

    Members of the joint presidency and government, as well as the presidents and governments of both entities, agreed in Sarajevo on 24 September to tighten border controls and the procedures for issuing passports, AP reported. It is the first meeting of leaders from all three ethnic groups since the war began in 1992 to be held without international mediation. It is also the first unanimous decision reached by the usually fractious politicians. The leaders agreed that terrorism is a problem that cannot be ignored or exaggerated. They said in a statement that Bosnia is a democratic state based on the rule of law that is "ready for the institutional fight against all sorts of terrorism, and that it is safe and favorable for foreign investments." On 25 September, the Bosnian parliament passed a declaration against terrorism, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. PM

    [22] BOSNIAN MUSLIM GENERAL TURNS HIMSELF IN

    Former Bosnian army commander and cabinet minister Sefer Halilovic voluntarily surrendered to UN authorities in The Hague on 25 September, Reuters reported. The war crimes tribunal has indicted him for crimes committed by his forces against Croats during the 1993-1994 Muslim-Croat conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2001). PM

    [23] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT SETS UP CRISIS GROUP

    Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic will head a top-level body to deal with "natural or other disasters," Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported on 24 September. The group will consist of eight government ministers. PM

    [24] CROATIAN TOURISM OFF AFTER TERROR ATTACKS IN U.S.

    The terrorist attacks in the U.S. have led to an increase in the cancellation of hotel reservations in Croatia by 15 percent, "Jutarnji list" reported on 25 September (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 and 21 September 2001). PM

    [25] CROATIAN MILITARY SUPPORT FOR MACEDONIA

    Macedonian Defense Minister Vlado Buckovski discussed Croatian support for training "antiterror units" and other forms of military cooperation with his Croatian counterpart, Jozo Rados, in Zagreb on 20 September, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. The ministers provided no details of their talks, except to say that much of the substantive work was done by groups of experts and not by them. Rados noted that the two countries have a military cooperation program. He added, however, that unspecified media reports asserting that Croatia is a major arms supplier to Macedonia are greatly exaggerated. PM

    [26] CROATIA TO INVESTIGATE TITO'S PARTISANS FOR WAR CRIMES

    The government has "given the green light" to legal proceedings that could result in former members of Marshal Josip Broz Tito's World War II Partisan movement being tried for war crimes, "Novi List" reported on 25 September. The move is aimed at clearing up unanswered questions from Croatia's recent past. "Vecernji list" quoted Slavko Zadnik of the state Prosecutor's Office as saying that the authorities will conduct thorough investigations, but that many key witnesses to such atrocities are now dead. PM

    [27] YUGOSLAVIA READMITTED TO INTERPOL

    Following a nine-year ban, Belgrade's representatives have been readmitted to Interpol at that organization's gathering in Budapest, "Danas" reported on 25 September. PM

    [28] FORMER SERBIAN POLICE CHIEF DENIES ROLE IN ARKAN MURDER

    Rade Markovic, who headed the secret police under former President Slobodan Milosevic, told a court in Belgrade that he had nothing to do with the murder of paramilitary leader and gangster Zeljko Raznatovic -- better known as Arkan -- in January 2000, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In related news, the Swiss authorities have blocked the bank accounts of four unnamed top Milosevic-era officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 September 2001). PM

    [29] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WRITES TO BUSH

    In a letter addressed to U.S. President George W. Bush, Romanian President Ion Iliescu wrote that his country "stands by the U.S. and the other states that assumed the responsibility to firmly defend liberty, democracy, human rights, peace, and international stability," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu said that "six decades of totalitarianism" have taught Romania "the price for defending liberty is worth paying," and that Romania is "determined to participate for as long as it takes in the struggle against terrorism." On 21 September, Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase received new U.S. Ambassador Michael Guest. MS

    [30] MAVERICK ROMANIAN SENATOR OFFERS TO FOREGO IMMUNITY

    Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor on 24 September sent Senate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu a letter offering to renounce parliamentary immunity in order to allow the Prosecutor-General's Office to investigate him about allegations he made last week that Palestinian Hammas terrorists have been trained in Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. National Liberal Party Deputy Chairman Andrei Chiliman said Tudor is making a "purely propagandistic move," as he is aware that voluntary renunciation of immunity has no judicial validity. Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Emil Boboc said Tudor should stop acting "demagogically" and resign from the Senate to speed up the investigation. Ruling Social Democratic Party senators said they are awaiting a opinion by the Prosecutor-General's Office, after which they might initiate the procedure for lifting Tudor's immunity. MS

    [31] ROMANIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE CHIEF SAYS PALESTINIANS TRAINED WITH ISRAEL'S APPROVAL

    Intelligence Service Director Radu Timofte on 24 September told a local TV station in Piatra Neamt that the "Palestinian fighters" who were trained in Romania carried Israeli passports and the training took place with Israel's knowledge and approval, Mediafax reported the next day. Timofte, who was responding to Senator Tudor's allegations made last week that Hammas terrorists were trained in Romania, said 23 Palestinians were in fact trained as bodyguards for "leaders of the future Palestinian state." Timofte said some "56 or 57" Palestinians were trained by the Romanian Special Protection Service to serve in police forces. He also said there are "several [foreign] extremist or religious groups" whose activity in Romania "infringes on the law," and that the authorities keep them "under surveillance." MS

    [32] GALATI SIDEX WORKERS BLOCK MANAGEMENT ACCESS TO PLANT

    Workers at the Galati Sidex steelmaker on 24 September blocked access to the plant of the transition management appointed by the plant's prospective buyer, the British-Indian LNM Holdings. The workers protested against two provisions in the privatization contract signed by LNM Holdings and the government. The workers' union said the contract now includes a provision making layoffs possible in the first five years after the privatization if the company pays a 10 million lei (about $300) penalty for every such dismissal. The union also said the contract allows Sidex to transfer activities abroad. The union said these provisions are new and are in breach of the conditions they agreed to for LNM Holdings to purchase Sidex. Mediafax reported on 25 September that the union's leaders departed for Bucharest to meet Privatization Minister Ovidiu Musatescu for negotiations. MS

    [33] MOLDOVAN PARTIES MERGE

    The extraparliamentary National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Party of Order and Social Justice (POJS) merged on 24 September, thus forming the new Moldovan Force Social Liberal Union, Infotag reported. The new formation will elect its chairman after six months. Until then it will be headed by a National Council on which former POJS leader Vyacheslav Untila will act as chairman and former PNL leader Mircea Rusu as secretary-general. Among the new party's deputy chairmen are former National Security Minister Anatol Plugaru and the former chairman of the United Social Democratic Party, Anatol Taranu. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [34] SERBIAN PREMIER REVIEWS ROLE OF OPPOSITION

    By Eugen Tomiuc

    On 21 September, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic concluded a two-day visit to the Czech Republic, during which he discussed political and economic cooperation with Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and President Vaclav Havel. Djindjic also spoke at RFE/RL headquarters and discussed, among other topics, what opposition movements must do to successfully oust authoritarian regimes, such as that of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    Djindjic said that in Serbia, after failed attempts that lasted almost a decade, the goal of ousting the Milosevic regime was finally achieved only after the Serbian opposition movement instituted several changes in its strategy; universal approaches that could be used in similar circumstances elsewhere, such as, perhaps, in Belarus.

    The first was to unite the opposition within the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, or DOS, coalition. Djindjic said that as long as opposition forces are unable to unite, they are part of the problem rather than the solution. Dictatorships, he said, rely not on their own strength but on the opposition's weakness.

    Djindjic added that an opposition needs to offer people a clear choice between good and evil, and that this can be achieved by presenting the situation in a country in simple "black-and-white" terms.

    Authoritarian regimes, Djindjic said, always present themselves before their people as the guarantors of the country's independence and sovereignty, often in the face of an imaginary international conspiracy. People are told "stories" that they have to put up with hardships because the "rest of the world" is allegedly against them.

    The prime minister added that opposition forces must be prepared to come up with what he called their own credible "stories" to counterbalance a regime's propaganda: "The opposition must have a story about how the world is perfect and that we are in a prison, and it is not a fight for independence. It is corrupt people who are protecting their interests."

    Djindjic went on to say that a second change in the opposition's strategy is to switch public discussion from politics to issues of greater concern to ordinary people, such as the economy and personal living standards. He admitted that this is a difficult task since in most cases members of the opposition are not directly involved in the running of a country's economy. But Djindjic noted that people must be convinced that a win for the opposition is, in the end, a victory for them, too. "It is not the question why it is good that I [the opposition candidate] win against the government, " he said. "It is important why it is good for you [the voter] that I win against the government."

    A third change, Djindjic said, is to attract to the opposition movement groups and individuals with credibility in the society, such as the church, nongovernmental organizations, and independent personalities.

    Lastly, the prime minister argued that opposition forces must clearly show they are ready to use violence to fight back in case of repression. He said winning democratic elections sometimes is not enough to take power -- as happened in Serbia after the DOS opposition alliance won last September's elections. He said security forces must realize they cannot resort to violence without risks.

    As for the future of Yugoslavia, Djindjic said the federation in its current components -- Serbia and the much smaller republic of Montenegro -- must undergo radical reforms to survive as a state. "I think that Yugoslavia does have a future -- not [as] this kind of country, [but as a] very, very reformed [one]," he said.

    He argued that Yugoslavia should be represented as a single state in international relations but for its own internal purposes become a loose confederation of two individual states, each with a large degree of autonomy.

    However, Djindjic said the future of the Yugoslav Federation is not one of the Serbian people's top priorities. He said Serbs are currently more concerned about economic troubles and crime, and that they will accept any decision Montenegrins might make about their independence. He said Serbia is ready to reform the Yugoslav state, and that it is willing to wait two or three more months for Montenegro's decision.

    Commenting on allegations in the Western media that Serbian paramilitary units from Kosova and other parts of the former Yugoslavia were involved in the overthrow of Milosevic's regime last October, Djindjic said such paramilitary groups did not play a "very active" role in the popular uprising that led to the collapse of the regime. He argued it was of critical importance that the 800-strong special security forces decided not to intervene in Milosevic's favor.

    He admitted that a controversial security official -- General Sreten Lukic, who has been accused of involvement in the repression of ethnic Albanians in Kosova in 1999 -- is now holding a senior position in the Interior Ministry. But Djindjic said Lukic was promoted only after it was proven he had not been involved in repressive acts against Kosovar Albanians.

    The prime minister added that under the new democratic leadership, Serbian security forces are behaving differently in crisis areas, such as in the buffer zone in southern Serbia that they were allowed to reenter this spring. "It was proved that under democratic conditions, with clear goals, with clear responsibility and hierarchy, that police can be used as a normal tool to conduct peace and order," he said.

    Djindjic also said the current international economic situation -- in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks on New York and Washington and amid signs of a global economic recession -- does not bode favorably for Serbia, which badly needs foreign investment to patch up an economy largely destroyed by a decade of war and an infrastructure damaged by NATO's 1999 airstrikes. (He did not make the related point that it is an aging, communist-style economy, virtually untouched by reform and made worse by close links to the criminal underworld.)

    Djindjic said that, owing to war and Milosevic's dictatorship, Yugoslavia has missed favorable opportunities to attract foreign investment. He pointed out that despite the democratic changes, Yugoslavia over the last 10 months has not benefited from substantial economic support from the international community. He said he expects future levels of foreign investment in Yugoslavia to be rather modest. (Such investments are indeed likely to remain that way until Serbia introduces far-reaching free-market reforms, transparency, and the rule of law. Until it does, neighboring countries will remain more attractive to most investors except those from the Serbian diaspora or established foreign investors anxious to recapture their pre-Milosevic market share.)

    Eugen Tomiuc is an RFE/RL correspondent.

    25-09-01


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


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