Issue No. 152---December 5, 1999
1. FRY/ Montenegro: AWAITING FIFTH WAR ?
By Slobodan Rackovic
2. Bosnia and Hercegovina: FIGHT AGAINST HARD-LINERS
By Radenko Udovicic
3. The Czech Republic: STAGNANT WATERS IN POLITICS
By Petruska Sustrova
4. Slovakia: TEN YEARS AFTER PEOPLE ARE NOT WINNERS
By Zoltan Mikes
5. Belarus: CHYHIR CONTINUES POLITICAL STRUGGLE
By Paulyuk Bykowski
FRY/ Montenegro: AWAITING FIFTH WAR ?
By Slobodan Rackovic
Belgrade is creating anti-Montenegrin sentiment in Serbia and atmosphere
already seen at the eve of aggression on Slovenia,
Croatia and BiH, so many in Podgorica and world fear two Yugoslav federal units are on the edge of an armed conflict!
Statement made by ex-leader of the Yugoslav army, retired general Momcilo Perisic (now a leader of the Serbian opposition), that VJ (Yugoslav Army) is forming special units for attack on Montenegro and decision of the FRY Constitutional Court which annulled Montenegrin decision of two-currency monetary system have once again created almost a war atmosphere here. Heavily armed police units once again patrol Montenegrin streets. After temporary relaxation after this spring's outcome of Kosovo events and end of war between NATO and FRY, political tensions are on the rise, as well as opinions that defeated and wounded Milosevic will never leave Montenegro alone. That was strengthened by the press conference organized by FRY government's information secretary Goran Matic. He informed shocked local and international public about arrest of the group of five terrorists from Republic Srpska.They ,allegedly, planned to assassinate Slobodan Milosevic and were organized by French secret service and aided by Montenegrin government According to Matic, they had been trained in police camps in Montenegro, where, as he claimed, there were more terrorists, ready to make diversions on Serbian territory.
Montenegrin Ministry of internal affairs issued a strong retort, saying
that Matic's accusation was just one of many efforts to
provoke civil war in Montenegro. Statement also said that involving Prof. Stivo Henke, Djukanovic's advisor on monetary
politics, with these events represented an attempt to discredit efficient monetary policy and two-currency system in Montenegro.
Montenegrin Ministry of internal affairs stressed it had power and capacity to resist every attacks on political and territorial
integrity of Montenegro and attempts to destabilize it. It's obvious that the Belgrade is using the same tactics like the one
used on the eve of aggression on Croatia and Bosnia. It creates anti-Montenegrin sentiment, fabricates assassination attempts on the Yugoslav president, officers and soldiers of VJ (YA) as well as attacks on military depots in Montenegro... Two Yugoslav federation units, "two eyes in one head" until recently, thus came to the edge of armed conflict. Less informed citizens, who represent a great majority, are not aware how much the situation is grave. They don't see dangers looming over this old, tiny country that has been struggling for the past several months and years to escape the grip of regime in Belgrade, but those more informed about political events in Serbia await new developments with fear and distress.
Many have already sent their children abroad, feeling that war events in ex-Yugoslavia could bloodily end on Montenegrin
territory. "No war missed this tortured people, so it is hard to believe it will do it this time, without regard to expert
balancing Milo Djukanovic and other political leaders undertook in order to evade the catastrophe" - a renown Montenegrin
intellectual told STINA. And, really, president Djukanovic wastes no time in informing the world community about dire danger
threatening Montenegro so he's now almost every day visiting western capitals, asking for support for his tiny state. He even
watered down his former statements about the speed of Montenegrin separation from FRY, wanting to pacify Belgrade authorities, but also pleasing majority of international community, which still nurtures fallow dreams of maintaining Yugoslav federation, after all. As goes the talk in Podgorica, Sandy Berger, Clinton's advisor for national security, told Djukanovic during his recent trip to Washington about Belgrade-planned aggression on Montenegro. Upon finding out that information, Djukanovic asked USA and western countries to prevent that from happening, and not to come to help only when people start getting killed, as was the case in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo. Djukanovic indirectly confirmed the story in his interview published in German daily "Suddeutsche Zeitung", saying that "international community has many reasons to act in prevention here, so that it's Balkan politics wouldn't fail once again." Belgrade regime tries as hard to destroy Montenegro economically (in order to defeat it more easily on political and military levels), bringing measures to isolate the republic and discredit its recently introduced
Few days ago, Belgrade government banned sale of all food to Montenegro,
and Podgorica monetary experts swear that military authorities use helicopters
to transport huge amounts of newly issued dinars to Podgorica in order
to buy as much German marks as possible and weaken Montenegrin monetary
system! Accordingly, DEM in Podgorica rose from official 17.5 dinars
to 19 dinars, and food prices increased by 25 per cent during last month.
Local economic and monetary experts defend as they can, so Montenegro has
already started importing food from Slovenia, BiH, Croatia, Italy and Macedonia
(estimates say Macedonian food could be the cheapest, but transport is
a big issue, due to insecure roads leading through Skopje) and is planning
to completely get rid of dinar. Montenegrin government cancelled customs
on basic food articles to render expensive imported food cheaper and asked
foreign banks for credit to completely substitute dinar with marks. Neither
did announced military measures Belgrade will undertake against Podgorica
catch Montenegrin authorities sleeping. Dragisa Burzan, vice-president
of the Montenegrin government, said that information about existence of
paramilitary forces on the territory of Montenegro and Serbian preparations
for attack hadn't surprised local government at all. He said that the government
was ready for all possible attacks from Serbia. Economy minister and one
of the most high-positioned official of the ruling Socialists' democratic
party Vojin Djukanovic was even more fierce in his statement:
"People and youth are with us. Let them try to attack us from Serbia. We are strong enough to retaliate in such a way that they
will never try [to attack us] again. They cheated us 1918. and they will do it never again" - he defiantly yelled.
Reserve police forces have been almost completely mobilized, while civil
units composed of volunteers constantly offer their
services to the Ministry of interior. Yet, all eyes are directed at international community, especially NATO and Pentagon. There is a far, as president Djukanovic said himself, that they could react late also this time, which could result in a disaster. Pro-Serbian forces in Montenegro try with all their might to incite social unrest in the republic, which is the reason behind many strikes in biggest workplaces. Pressure on present regime in Montenegro comes from all sides and the republic will not be able to resist it without timely aid of international community.
Bosnia and Hercegovina : FIGHT AGAINST HARD-LINERS
By Radenko Udovicic
International community decided to start a serious fight with nationalist
politicians in Bosnia and Herzegovina trying to create
more or less normal state from now deeply divided country. The last move of High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch and OSCE mission chief Robert Berry was to remove 22 local officials in BiH from their office . According to international community, they obstructed peace accord. It incited various reactions among local population - ranging from complete approval to anger and claims that the country became a protectorate of international community.
High representative used authority given to him by world forces who guarantee implementation of Dayton Accord and relieved
those officials by special act. Decision, as Petritsch himself said, is unilateral and international l community doesn't find
those officials negotiation partners anymore. General reason for removing the people were their negative actions regarding
implementation of peace annexes in BiH, especially those that relate to return of refugees. Most prominent officials are Djorde
Umicevic, mayor of Banja Luka, capital of Republic Srpska and Mirsad Veladzic, governor of Una-Sana canton. Mayor of Banja Luka is criticised for continuously obstructing return of Bosniaks and Croats into Banja Luka and is accused of inciting national and religious intolerance with his statements. Also, Umicevic was strong opponent to reconstruction of mosques in Banja Luka, destroyed during the war. Mirsad Veladzic, on the other hand, is not criticised for bad attitude towards other ethnic groups, but for discriminatory and humiliating position towards DNZ party, headed by Fikret Abdic. During the war, Abdic heralded rebellion in this part of the country, which caused a bloody war among Bosniaks. This wave also saw removal of the Jusuf Zahiragic, minister of justice of Sarajevo canton. He is also considered responsible for poor return of Serbs and Croats into Sarajevo.
He's accused of apartments malversations and pressure on courts not
to allow refugees to get their Sarajevo flats back. Many
times, international community reprimanded Bosniak side for upsetting imagined multi-ethnic Bosnia it was so eager to achieve
by obstructing return to Sarajevo. However, this is the first real move which tried to remove protagonists of such politics. Still,
this radical action of High representative is only one of many tries of international community to make united country out of
BiH, able to exist and provide elementary security for its citizens . Since war, there has been some evident progress, but
it's not enough. Positive moves towards pre-war life were made chiefly through efforts of constantly present international
community. Thanks to special authority wielded by High representative, BiH has common currency, unique passports, car
license plates... Bosnian politicians co-operate because of world financial aid. Practically constant influx of international money
provided a good bait for politicians in the country, but at the same times poses a "twin-edged sword" to Bosnian economy, since many businessman moved from market to donators' economy. Besides, corruption, tax and customs evasions as well as other aspects of illegal accumulation of money are also accompanying. Ongoing privatisation causes further accumulation of capital and social restructuring which, since BiH formed part of the Eastern Bloc with no emphasised social differences, comes as a psychological shock to majority of people.
If we add the fact that BiH is composed of two, still inimical, entities and that it means home for three nations that
have been fighting among themselves recently, it is clear that the country is entering new millennium without any perspective.
Radical changes are needed. According to latest data, as much as 900,000 BiH citizens lives a life of refugees. Almost a half of
that number lives within the country, in different place of residence, while the second half is scattered around the world or
has already assimilated into someplace. Many of them have already lost hope of ever returning to their old homes. Besides, 50,000 people, a big number for Bosnia, filed requests for emigration into overseas lands in search for a better future. All this
explains increased activity of international community to outline a country which will be able to take care of its citizens. If
removal of local officials was meant to improve micro situation, then last month's New York Declaration could be a significant aid to generally strengthen BiH as a state. The declaration came as a result of hard work of American diplomacy, namely USA ambassador to UN Richard Holbrooke. He organised united appearance of the three members of BiH presidency at Security Council meeting in New York, at the fourth anniversary of Dayton Accord. It was the first mutual appearance of collective head of state since the outbreak of war in 1992. Although with significantly different political standpoints, presidency members were unison in their claim to support strengthening of central state, refugee return and fight against corruption. Hard Holbrooke's pressure resulted in signing of the aforementioned declaration which concretised verbal promises. The most important decision is foundation of nationally mixed border control. Until now, the border was watched by three national police forces of three constitutional nations in BiH.
Serbs controlled eastern and most part of north BiH border, Croats west
and south border, Bosniaks a small part at the extreme south-west. Such
situation resulted in unprofessional service. Each national police , often
under direct influence of the ruling national party, worked in the so-called
national interests. There were many turning the other way when various
financially or politically important for a ruling elite were crossing the border and their goods should have been taxed (most
of them are dealing with trade). Losses in custom profits were huge. Bosnia and Herzegovina practically didn't even have its own borders. International community has been warning about the situation for a long time, pointing out the futility of Bosnia's
government expecting financial aid when so much loss of custom and tax money was allowed. Special border forces will not solve these problems, but will certainly ensure more efficient (and more honest) border control. If nothing else, at least there will be an inside control between the border officers who are coming from different ethnic groups. However, the basic issue still remains - how to practically implement all these ideas. Certain political structures violently opposed removal of local officials as well as New York Declaration. Almost all political groups in Republic Srpska opposed New York Declaration on the grounds of it being "anti-Dayton". They think that neither unique border office nor small mixed military units at the state level, also mentioned in the declaration, are in accordance with Dayton Accord. Similar behaviour was exhibited by Croatian politicians who, some estimates say, were most favoured by "evading" customs. Bosniak part of the country, on the other hand, is completely in favour of the declaration as a support to the central state. However, the fact that the declaration was also signed by Croatian and Serbian member of the BiH Presidency gives it formal character. There is no doubt that international community will insist on implementing its most essential decisions.
Regarding removal from office of 22 "hot heads", as common people in Sarajevo call degraded politicians, the situation is
simpler. Although Banja Luka mayor has already stated that he "will be removed from office only by force", it's clear that
relatively co-operative government headed by Milorad Dodik will renounce relations with labelled Serbian politicians. Almost a
year ago, High representative removed head of Republic Srpska, president Nikola Poplasen who was notorious for his uncooperative attitude towards international community. Although he has never accepted such decision ,all the relevant subjects cancelled all relations with him so that, effectively, he wields no power. Bosniak member of the presidency Alija Izetbegovic announced that he would respect decision of High representative, but he protested because some Bosniak politicians were also excluded from their power and called it maintaining "national balance". However, international community rejected his criticism and called his attitude hypocritical. High representative Wolfgang Petritsch addressed Bosnian citizens saying that international community will continue to fight for creating democratic Bosnia and Herzegovina and asked its population for help in fight against politicians and actions which inhibit the country's progress. "I believe in this country and its people. In Bosnian politics there is no room for anti-Dayton forces who support ethnicdivision and hate. Changes in Bosnia and Herzegovina must come now" - said Petritsch. However, real changes in BiH are doomed to fail without removing the present government at elections. High representative's message concerned that issue. But, will the citizens listen to his words in April 2000, is hard to forecast.
It is the fact that there was no radical change of government at last three elections during last three years.
The Czech Republic: STAGNANT WATERS IN POLITICS
By Petruska Sustrova
The commemoration of the tenth anniversary of November 17 when the brutal
suppression of a student demonstration initiated
the break-up of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, prompted six former student leaders to issue a declaration. Its title is
"Thank you - please leave now". The former students are appealing to the leading representatives of the Czech political parties to resign and to let others take their place. This is yet another civic initiative, drawing attention to the country's prevailing
discontent with the current political situation.
In only a few days, more than 100,000 citizens signed the declaration
"Thank you - please leave now", but support for it is
likely to be much more widespread. According to straw polls, more than half of those questioned agree with it. Another poll set out to find out how many people would vote for a new political party, should the authors of the declaration decide to establish one. The results are astonishing: about 27% of those questioned would vote for the party, while 46% would seriously consider doing so. These figures are far higher than those achieved by any other existing Czech political party - approximately 20% would vote for the leading Civic Democratic Party, (ODS) (according to different polls, this percentage would go to the Communist Party).
The chairmen of the two largest political parties reacted in a rather
bizarre manner: they described the declaration as
irrelevant and the chairman of the Social Democratic Party (CSSD) and the Czech Premier Milos Zeman even went so far as calling it a "teenage prank". It is worth pointing out that all six original signatories of the declaration are over thirty, and one of them, Vlastimil Je_ek, held the post of Director of the Czech public broadcasting station for six years. The other signatories, too, are well known to the public; they work either in the civil service, in non-governmental organizations or in the media.
Zeman's government is deeply unpopular, especially because of some of its ministers whom the Premier has for a long time
stubbornly refused to dismiss. However it is not so much a question of individual ministers being unpopular but rather that
the minority government is incapable of pushing through important bills of law which could mark the beginning of more fundamental changes. The biggest problem confronting the government is the state budget for next year. Last year, the social democrats managed to get it accepted only with the support of the People's (Christian) Party, But this same party announced this year well in advance that its deputies would not give their support to a budget with such an enormous deficit. This creates a virtual deadlock for the government and for the entire political scene: without its "contractual opposition" allies in the ODS, the
government cannot get the budget approved. The ODS deputies declare that they will not vote for a deficit budget. Ho , the
expected revenue of the Czech state coffers cannot provide a balanced budget.
The Speaker of Parliament and chairman of ODS, Vaclav Klaus, recently
(but before the declaration of the former students)
resolved to settle this stalemate situation. He invited the representatives of the parliamentary parties to a meeting. He
suggested they form a joint government of a "super-grand coalition" to be joined by all the democratic parties; the
objective was to lead the Czech Republic out of a crisis; in such a case, the only opposition in Parliament would be the communists. The representatives of the two smaller parties, the Freedom Union and the People's Party, rejected the proposal, and not even Zeman's social democrats accepted Klaus's suggestion. The smaller parties argued that a coalition between CSSD and ODS would be sufficient to form a majority government. They feel that the main aim of Klaus's proposal is that in a "super-grand coalition" which would inevitably have to adopt exceedingly unpopular measures, all political parties would be discredited equally. They also fear that in such a government they would have a very weak position which would not allow them to achieve anything.
Statements by representatives of individual parties make it patently clear that there is fierce personal animosity and mutual mistrust between them. They are simply not capable of reaching an intelligent agreement. The opposition treaty which the
two strongest political parties concluded following last year's elections and without which the social democratic government could never have come about since Parliament would not have endorsed it, stipulates that the government cannot be sacked and that early elections cannot be called. It is evident that elections would not change anything because, as opinion polls reveal, the only substantial change among voters is a stronger drift towards the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia. However, the communists, according to certain polls the strongest party in the land, so far have no allies, and their preferences would not be sufficient to form a government.
Czech citizens are deeply disgusted by this state of affairs, especially
as politicians are frequently quoted in the
media as being relatively satisfied with the present situation and that they have no intention of making any changes. The student's
declaration therefore arouses high hopes among the Czech public that there may be a prospect of change. In calling for the
departure of the present political leaders, the declaration by the former student representatives is fairly vague and reveals no
political programmes. However, the reaction of the public makes it clear that there is space for a new topic on the Czech Republic's political scene and that there would be considerable interest in this new topic. The authors of the declaration "Thank you - please leave" have not disclosed as yet whether they intend to form a political party, but they have called a demonstration and announced that they intend to carry on with their initiative. It is, however, symptomatic that they did n ke it clear what form
this continuation is to take.
Ten years after the velvet revolution of 1989 is the right time to judge
what goes well and what goes wrong in Slovakia. The
issues can be divided into international and domestic affairs. In the area of international politics it must be stressed that
Slovakia failed to achieve its goals- after ten years it still isn't the member of NATO or EU. In the case of NATO, Slovakia is
to blame - the neighbouring countries Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary achieved this goal. In the case of EU the disadvantage of Slovakia is not so dramatic, and the new government of prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda brought the country to the success in the Eurointegration process. It is expected that the Helsinki EU summit in December will confirm that Slovakia will get an invitation to begin the talks about the entry into the EU. If that happens, Slovakia will be on the same level as the neighbouring countries.
Domestic politic scene was dominated by one person- Vladimir Meciar.
He -in his first term as prime minister, together with his
Czech counterpart, Vaclav Klaus, divided the former Czechoslovakia. Meciar is also connected with the suspect of the
first political murder in Slovakia- it was his government who is suspected of kidnapping Michal Kovac JR. and the murder of Robert Remias, the man, who could help show that Meciar and his secret service is responsible for this crime. That was also a part of why Slovakia did not achieved its goals on international political scene. After the end of the Mechiar's era, new prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda's government began with implementation of democratic rights. The new government also improved relations with Hungarian minority in Slovakia, but is -like Mechiars' - connected with cases of corruption bordering with economic crime. That issue is very interesting to many Slovak citizens who live in bad social situation, on the line- or below the line- of poverty. Because the standard of living of a average man in Slovakia is worth-so lot of Slovaks has no reason to believe, that they are the winners of Velvet revolution.
Belarus: CHYHIR CONTINUES POLITICAL STRUGGLE
By Paulyuk Bykowski
Mikhail Chyhir (51), former Belarus Prime Minister, a candidate in the
presidents on carried out opposition in May, 1999
"underground" presidential choices of November 30 was free from investigation isolator under a subscription about refusal of
In half an hour after clearing Mikhail Chyhir has declared to the journalists,
that his arrest and clearing have political
character. He has informed also, that on the eve of clearing, November 29, he has met in prison Head of Group Advisory and
Monitoring Group Belarus OSCE Ambassador Dr. Hans Georg Wieck and with one of the chief Republican Prosecutors. Chyhir said that he had been offered to sign a paper, thus obliging to co-operate with investigation for liquidation of damage put to the state. However of ex-premieres has insisted on change of the text and has signed under the obligation to cooperage to a consequence for finding - out of true. On words Mikhail Chyhir, he feels well.
The former chief of Belarusian government has declared to the journalists,
that is not going neither to leave Belarus, nor to
leave Belarusian politics, but political activity is going to continue after completion of costs. "I am ready to cooperage both
with opposition, and with authorities ", - Chyhir has declared per day of clearing because of a lattice and has explained that he
supports negotiation process, which the Group Advisory and Monitoring Group Belarus OSCE are trying establish between
authorities and opposition.
"But it is impossible to allow, that about opposition should wipe legs,
then negotiation process - is unpromising ", - has
emphasised Mikhail Chyhir. Between that formal occasion for change of a measure of suppression to the former chapter of Belarusian government there was a completion investigation of actions and transfer of case in Prosecutor. Ex-premieres is accused of excess of an authority or service authorities (article 167, part 1 and 2 Criminal Code of The Republic of Belarus), abusing by an authority or service rule (article 166 of the Criminal Code of The Republic of Belarus) and negligence (article 168 of the criminal Code of The Republic of Belarus), brought to the state damage at a rate of 4 million USD. Mikhail Chyhir itself guilty does not consider and connects prosecution of his person including in organised opposition presidential choices. As the deputy of the General public prosecutor Peter Ivanenka has informed on November 30, the Mikhail Chyhirs case in December should be transferred to court. Former premieres hopes, that the court wholly will justify him. Amnesty International welcomes clearing from under the guards' prisoner of conscience of the former Prime Minister Belarus Mikhail Chyhir. The nevertheless human right-defence organisation is concerned with that it is issued under a subscription and still
can be before court.
In a case if Mikhail Chyhir will be repeatedly arrested by Belarusian
authorities during court or the investigations Amnesty
International will be restored by his status Prisoner of Conscience, is informed in the application Amnesty International.
The human right-defence organisation calls the president Alexander Lukashenko
immediately to release others prisoners of
conscience staying in the conclusion for peace expression of the political sights, switching on Andrew Klimau and Uladzimer
Kudzinau, which have been arrested and accused of lattice after realisation presidential referendum in 1996.