Issue No. 158. - January 22 , 2000.
1. FRY/ Serbia: ARKAN AND OTHERS
By Zoran Mamula
2. Bosnia and Hercegovina: CROATIAN IMPULSE FOR CHANGE
By Radenko Udovicic
3. Azerbaijan: CALL TO OPPOSITION TO UNIT
By Mustafa Hajibeyli
4. Slovakia: NEW POLITICAL PARTY
By Zoltan Mikes
FRY/Serbia : ARKAN AND OTHERS
By Zoran Mamula
Zeljko Raznatovic-Arkan, leader of the paramilitary organization "Serbian Volunteer Guard", indicted for war crimes in BiH and Croatia by the Hague tribunal, was buried on Sunday. However, despite his controversial biography or perhaps exactly for that reason, the myth of Arkan will be present among Serbs for years to come. Unresolved will also be the question of who had Arkan, the most famous Serb after Slobodan Milosevic, killed. Police still didn't issue official version so there are many rumors among the public and in media concerning the killers of Arkan and two of his friends in the Intercontinental hotel in Belgrade. Two most widespread versions are mafia shootout and killing important witness of Milosevic's role in the war in ex-Yugoslavia. The most improbable story is the one which claims that Arkan has staged his own murder and then changed his identity and left Serbia to evade Hague Court. State media published, drawing up on police sources, that some of the killers and their associates have been arrested, adding that their identities have been withheld in order not to endanger investigation. Numerous contradictory information mostly mention the names of Branko Jevtovic from Belgrade and Dusan Gavric from Loznica, a Serbian town near BiH border. Media reported Gavric had been wounded in the shooting in Intercontinental and was currently not in prison but in a Loznica hospital, under police surveillance. As could have been officially discerned, he has been a member of "Serbian Volunteer Guard" during the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which fits nicely with the eyewitness' accounts that Arkan had exchanged greetings with the persons who shot him a few moments afterwards. It is well-known that Arkan let only friends and co-fighters to approach him without security checking them for concealed weapons.
Besides Jevtovic and Gavric, arrested were also a Belgrade businessman Dragan Vujovic, Vujadin Krstic who worked as a security in a Loznica caf and another person from Loznica whose name the media didn't state. Two of the latter also belong to "Serbia Volunteer Guard" and people think it was them who brought wounded Dusan Gavric to Loznica after the gunfight in Intercontinental.
Some media reported that Gavric had been transferred from Loznica hospital, but that information was impossible to check. Townsfolk say that there are many black jeeps and boys in black leather jackets in town. All are said to be Arkan's. Loznica townsfolk also gossip that the same boys "visited chief of police in Loznica and informed him that police guard Gavric in vain because he will be struck by a deserved revenge".
While state media claim that the police got information from Gavric about his associates, independent dailies, stating sources in Loznica hospital, report that the police tried to hear out Gavric, but that he declined to talk, saying only that he "has already said goodbye to his life". The same sources say that the hospital staff undertook everything to prevent Gavric from killing himself. He is being guarded by two policemen dressed in civil clothes and carrying automatic rifles. Also there are several policemen at the entrance to surgical department building and several patrol cars at the hospital entrance.
At the same time, arrests of persons suspected of any connection to murder are still going on. Police also questions friends of arrested, in order to finally fit puzzle of executors, associates, aides and possible person(s) who ordered murder of Zeljko Raznatovic.
Since media vary the number and names of the persons, we must stress that the police don't keep them in jail once they have been questioned, since there is no need for it. Although investigation is still going on, we can say even now that assassins, in contrast to earlier similar executions, made many mistakes. Although it seemed so at the first moment, murder of Raznatovic wasn't highly professional and the ordering party wasn't pleased with the way it was carried out. To that conclusion point circumstances of murder, evidence at the crime scene and witnesses - thinks Budimir Babovic, former chief of Interpol Belgrade office and now the vice-president of that organization.
Babovic thinks that there are good chances that the police already arrested real killers. Taking all into account, there are many elements which support the premise that police can fairly soon and easy trace executors and persons who ordered the murder - says Babovic. Really, the public can easily see the real efforts of Serbian government to show via controlled media that they conduct a serious investigation and that, in contrast with similar earlier murders, the murders will be unveiled and arrested. Independent analysts think that reasons for a sudden eagerness are twofold: if the police don't say the names of the killers, no matter how hard the evidence, already tightened situation in the country could get out of control. On the other hand, discovering Arkan's killers would quiet the opposition which claims the government ordered all spectacular murders during previous years. Only a day after Zeljko Raznatovic was killed, all relevant opposition parties warned about "state-sponsored terrorism" and that the authorities try to get rid of all compromising aides and witnesses of all what they have been doing during last ten years. Leaders of the strongest opposition party, Serbian reform movement, have been especially loud in their accusations against the ruling coalition and
They stressed that the authorities tried to kill SPO leader Vuk Draskovic in a similar manner. In a still unresolved traffic accident in October last year, four party officials have been killed with Draskovic slightly wounded. Public prosecutor immediately reacted to the accusations. The prosecutor asked the police "further information about statements made by representatives of SPO, Alliance for change and other parties about the murder of Zeljko Raznatovic" thus paving the way for indictment against opposition leaders because of "spreading false information". If the government use this method, it could cause severe confrontation with the opposition. And while government and the opposition accuse each other, citizens of once most secure city Belgrade fear that they can meet Arkan's fate during every day, in the city center or in a restaurant, accidentally or on purpose. It's all the same to them. And they don't believe the police will find REAL assassins, since they couldn't find (or weren't allowed to) killers of chief of Serbian police Radovan Stojcic nor assassins of Zoran Todorovic, general secretary of JUL; the most powerful Serbian party. Todorovic was killed at full bus station. At least ten similar murders have never been resolved. When the police find real persons behind those assassinations for the first time, there will certainly be a domino effect.
Landslide victory of Croatian opposition at recent parliamentary elections caused various reactions in BiH. Bosniak and Serb public welcomed removal of HDZ from power with explicit enthusiasm while Bosnian Croats expressed their worry about political change in the neighbouring country, fearing that the new government won't protect their interests in BiH enough.
All Bosniak parties sent their congratulations to president of the winning parties - Racan and Budisa - and expressed hope that the new Croatian government will express more honest attitude in normalisation relations with Bosnia and Hercegovina. In his reactions Alija Izetbegovic, president of the most powerful party SDA, didn't hide the fact that he had disagreed with the late Croatian president Tudjman and his HDZ. "I have always felt that they worked on division of Bosnia. New government will certainly start a new era in our mutual relations" - Izetbegovic kept repeating for the past several days. Haris Silajdzic, BiH vice prime-minister, has a similar attitude. A member of Party for BiH he was proclaimed persona non grata from the HDZ government since he said Franjo Tudjman should have been in Hague prison. He thinks the opposition victory also means final recognition of B-H from Croatia, which was only declaratory until now.
Opposition in B-H Federation welcomed victory of Croatian opposition with great enthusiasm. President of the Socialdemocrat party of B-H Zlatko Lagumdzija said that victory of left centre in Croatia will reflect on election in B-H when, he thinks, the government will be changed. "Retrograde nationalistic concept adopted by HDZ in Croatia is here taken up by SDA but it belongs to the past" - says encouraged leader of B-H socialdemocrats. On the other hand, HDZ B-H was surprised when it heard about defeat of Croatian HDZ and expressed hope that the new government will continue protecting interests of Croats in BH. In Republic Srpska all parties welcomed HDZ defeat, but out of completely different reasons. They all said that the government which caused so much harm to Serbs has finally left. It is interesting that the ruling parties in Republic Srpska, united in Coalition Sloga (Unity), have sent their congratulation letters to winning parties in Croatia, expressing hope for future co-operation. Such correspondence couldn't be even imagined during the rule of HDZ. Official Sarajevo's expectations that change of government in Croatia would improve mutual relations is soundly based. Leaders of the victorious socialdemocrats and socioliberals have many times during past few years stressed necessity for full normalisation between Croatia and B-H. SDP president Ivica Racan often criticised HDZ because of intrusion into B-H issues. Complete Croatian opposition gathered into "coalition of six (parties)" was united in their position that president Tudjman has wrong politics in Bosnia and thus making an enemy out of natural ally. Especially opposed to such policy of official Zagreb has been Stipe Mesic, one of the most prominent presidential candidates. Mesic was nominated by four opposition parties which have agreed on post-election co-operation with winners. He has been stressing that Croatia was losing huge money by financing para-state institutions of Bosnian Croats. Few months ago, Mesic also accused now dead president Tudjman that he had been the most responsible person for war between Croats and Bosniaks in B-H and that he belongs to the ICTY in Den Haag. Such attitudes got Mesic great popularity in Sarajevo and one gets impression that majority of Bosniak state officials and public would like to see Mesic as new Croatian president. Bosniak Croats mostly have dual citizenship so they also participated in elections for Croatian parliament. As much as 91 per cent voted in favour of HDZ with the rest of the votes chiefly going to Croatian party of rights. However, voting in favour of so-called hard-liners is more easily explained by fear of Bosniak domination than by their own extreme viewpoints.
Atmosphere in caf "Imperial", favourite meeting place of Sarajevo Croats, was for a long time discussed in Sarajevo. After pronouncement of election results in Croatia, numerous Croats living in Sarajevo gathered in the caf and discussed the opposition victory aloud. Most of the similar, public statements repeat that Croatia will lose its national identity due to new government and that BH Croats will be left to Bosniaks who will melt them into unitarian Bosnia. The latter attitude is the key issue of conflict between Croats and Bosniaks in Federation BH. Croats are the least numerous nation in Bosnia and Herzegovina (before the war 18 per cent of total population, after the war only 14 per cent). Therefore, they are afraid that they will lose their national identity, even constitutional guarantees.
Those fear of the Croats are furthered by tendencies of the most Bosniak political factors which lead towards centralisation of Bosnia and strengthening of mutual political institutions, sport clubs and public firms which are all, generally, controlled by the ruling Bosniak Party of democratic action (SDA). However, BH Croats rendered their, once justified, fear counterproductive because HDZ B-H promoted nationalism and separatism with many decisions, thus drawing anger from international community. HDZ B-H had complete support of Croatian HDZ in such actions. Practically, Croatian HDZ was "great patron" of its Bosnian subsidiary. Besides political support, Zagreb also undoubtedly sent military, police and financial aid. According to some unofficial estimates, as much as 80 000 retired persons in B-H was receiving pensions from Croatian pension fund. It is almost certain that the new Croatian government will change this relationship, so there is no wonder in resignation of HDZ B-H, also among majority of Croats there. In western Herzegovina, part of the country where Croats form a majority, victory of the opposition was commented very angrily, even derided. Someone put a billboard at the border with Croatia stating "Comrades, welcome to Herceg Bosnia". It is an allusion to the fact that Ivica Racan, election winner, is a former communist. It is also known that most of the Croats living in Herzegovina have always been rightists and anti-communists, Defeat of HDZ in Croatia, no matter how much the ruling Bosniak party SDA welcomed it, is not a positive event for it. There are local elections in B-H in spring, followed by parliamentary and presidential elections in September. SDA, tainted by corruption scandals, criticism of international community and more aggressive opposition parties can hardly expect yet another victory at the elections. Change of government in Croatia is yet another blow to the ruling Bosniak party in its fight for power. Socialdemocrat party of B-H, in close touch with Racan's SDP only now got wings in its struggle. Zlatko Lagumdzija constantly reminds about strengthening of the left centre in Europe, and victory of a similar party in Croatia affirms his attitude that democratic transformation is also possible on Balkans, with the leftist parties leading democratic processes. Daily newspapers Dnevni Avaz, state-influenced, in its commentary warned SDA to maximise its caution. "Excellent result of Racan's SDP will certainly encourage Bosnian socialdemocrats. HDZ's political collapse sent a clear warning to Bosnian government: if it doesn't listen to needs and demands of ordinary persons in time and in the right way, it will end in the mud which is now swallowing HDZ" - wrote Avaz, publicly expressing fear in SDA, and expertly hiding it behind phrases about improving relationships between B-H and Croatia. SDA is losing its very strong argument which served to attract a great number of voters - in "hostile environment" one needs to vote for nationalist Bosniak party. Since that environment included Croatia headed by HDZ, now SDA at least partially loses its argumentation for such viewpoints.
SDA is also worried by recent statement given by the future Croatian prime minister Ivica Racan. He said that condition for good co-operation between Croatia and B-H was change of government in Bosnia. In such a way he sent a clear signal of support to Bosnian SDP. Certainly, victory of Croatian opposition will encourage political changes in B-H. However, those changes will first be felt among Bosniaks. BH Croats are still faithful to local HDZ and torn between ""matrix" Croatia and search for their identity inside BH. Bosnian Serbs are not really interested in Croatian events, although latest polls of newspapers Republika from Banja Luka show that democratic coalition Sloga (Unity) widens the gap dividing it with second-ranked nationalistic SDS or SRS which is also explained as an influence of changes in Croatia. Upcoming elections in B-H will probably be crucial for entrance of B-H into Council of Europe. That European institution will in April 2000 once again reconsider membership application submitted by Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Council of Europe imposed strict conditions related to democratisation and adoption of some basic laws upon Bosnian authorities. Still, also important will be results of elections scheduled also for April. It is everybody's secret that the international community supports left opposition in Federation and Coalition Sloga (Unity) in Republic Srpska. So, if the government in Federation changes, with present elite in Republic Srpska staying in power, Bosnia and Herzegovina will improve its chances of becoming a member of the European family. Although unofficial, many Bosnian analysts think the last condition to be the most crucial. International community promised Croatia will enter integration into Europe with new government. That is also a bait for Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everything is now up to the voters.
Isa Gamber, chairman of the party "Musavat", ex-speaker of the Azerbaijani parliament, has spoken with a suggestion of forming an election coalition of the opposition at the parliamentary elections that is planned to be held in the fall of this year. Mr. Gamber stated that 'though "Musavat" has an opportunity to gain success in that election', it supports the participation of the democratic forces with coalition in the parliamentary elections. Confirming the difficulty of unifying all the oppositional forces of the country Isa Gamber considers the necessity of putting such a step for directing the efforts of the democratic forces against the regime at the elections.
The initiative of the "Musavat"`s chairman has caused a resonance in public opinion. In the opinion of some observers, if the opposition unifies in the eve of the elections to the Azerbaijani parliament, the probability of falsifying the elections again can be minimized. Some observers think that if it happens, then it will be possible to strengthen public control over the electoral process.
On the other hand, the participation of the opposition in the elections on the basis of a single list means limiting the opportunities of the government to maneuver. It is known that the authorities have shown one of the oppositional parties warm, and the other cold attitude in the elections held until now. For example, though such oppositional parties like the Popular Front and National Independence Parties gained several mandates at the parliamentary elections held in 1995, the authorities, generally, put "Musavat" "out off game" in that election. The government decreases the truth of the democratic forces to each other by this method and achieves weakening the opposition.
The political observers do not except being repeated of that scenario this year again. The government that uses of incoherence of the democratic forces will try to abolish one part of the oppositional parties at the stage of registering the nominees to the parliament, and the other directly at the election process, according to some analyses. But analysts are also stating that if the initiative on the participation of the oppositional parties in the elections with a single list is realized, then the government can be deprived of this opportunity.
The mentioned suggestion has not been faced simple at the oppositional camp, too. Most of the leaders of the oppositional parties have positively appreciated that suggestion. But in their statements, as a rule, the idea of participating the opposition in the elections with a single list is considered unreal. For example, though Abulfaz Elchibey, chairman of the Popular Front, states his readiness to support any suggestion on the unity of the opposition, he has stated that his party will participate in the up-coming elections alone. The same statement has been given by Etibar Mammadov, chairman of the national Independence Party. There are also parties supporting the suggestion of Isa Gamber. The People's Party and "Vahdat" have already stated on joining to this suggestion
Slovakia: NEW POLITICAL PARTY
By Zoltan Mikes
On the Slovak political scene there will be a new political party named Slovak Democratic and Christian Union SDKU. This party will be created by the Slovak prime mininister Mikulas Dzurinda. Last Monday, he announced the birth of this new political group together with the slovak minister of foreign affairs Eduard Kukan. The both politicians want the new party to compete in the next general elections which should take place in 2002. Another 4 ministers joined the new party -minister of culture and one of the leaders of the Velvet revolution Milan Knazko, minister of telecommunication Jozef Macejko, minister of medicine Tibor Sagat, and minister of internal affairs Ladislav Pittner.
Creation of the new political party is the outcome of a long battle between prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda and heads of five political parties, which created the Slovak democratical coalition (SDK), the strongest party in the slovak govermental coalition. The leaders of the five political parties had to create SDK before the parliamentary elections in 1998 as a political party and not as a coalition because electoral law of Meciar s goverment discouraged coallitions. Head of SDK became Mikulas Dzurinda, who also became the prime minister. But he and all the ministers of the new goverment had to leave their old domestic political parties- which founded the SDK- and join SDK. After the elections leaders of 5 political parties which created SDK (Christian democratic party KDH, Democratic Union DU, Democratic Party-DS, Slovak Green Party- SZS, Social-Democratic Party of Slovakia SDSS) wanted Mikulas Dzurinda to abolish SDK. But the political future of Mikulas Dzurinda and some of the ministers in the Slovak goverment was uncertain. They would never have gotten such goodpositions in their former parties, as they would in a new one That is why they decied to create a new political party - SDKU. Formally, SDK continues to exist - but will be disbanded before the next elections. The members of SDK have a choice - either to return to their old parties or join SDKU. It is unclear what will be the chances of the new political subject in the next elections. Leaders of the 5 political parties, which created SDK, announced, that they would support Mikulas Dzurinda and his goverment, despite SKDU having been created. So it seems, that the chances of Dzurinda as the head of SDKU will depend on the succes of Dzurinda as the head of the government .