Issue No. 160- February 5, 2000.
1. FRY/Montenegro: INDEPENDENCE - ALREADY THIS YEAR ?
By Slobodan Rackovic
2. Belarus: WHO BENEFITS FROM THE ELECTIONS ?
By Paulyuk Bykowski
3. Bosnia and Hercegovina: A COUNTRY WITH ILLEGITIMATE GOVERMENT
By Radenko Udovicic
Despite hypocritical warnings from the West that "already bellicose Slobodan Milosevic should not be further provoked", the regime in Podgorica, under strong pressure of its own public, is becoming more and more determined to proclaim total independence of Montenegro already this year and to pull the country out of Yugoslavia! The date of political outcome in the Yugoslav republic of Montenegro and the whole of Yugoslavia has become near, and in the capital of Montenegro Podgorica the hour of solution can be felt in the air.
People in this tiny state of 670,000 are simply tired of living in state union with Serbia. Since it was founded on ruins of Tito's SFRY on 27th April 1992, that union is constantly exiled from the international community, is practically unrecognised by most other countries and the United Nations; and is stricken by economic sanctions and even, last spring, Nato bombs. Therefore, even the most righteous Serbs living in this republic want secession of Montenegro from FRY. The feeling that people should "save themselves from the sinking ship" is so pervasive that all polls show that at least two thirds of the population (62% of them being Montenegrins according to 1991 census) are in favour of independence, although only a year or two the proportion was exactly reverse! Naturally, during the last two years Montenegro has secured full economic sovereignty (complete monetary system, export, customs and monetary policy), but that important fact is not only not satisfying Montenegrin population, but makes it even more eager to realise full state sovereignty.
"People in this country have already realised that even with this little freedom they live better and more comfortable than their neighbours in Serbia, so they can hardly wait to completely remove the yoke of militant and retrograde Belgrade regime" - told us an independent political analyst from Podgorica. And really, the pressure of Montenegrin public on their government to make so much wanted move and return a thousand-year-old statehood which Montenegro had before joining Yugoslavia is growing on a daily basis. It can further be illustrated by statement made by Montenegrin prime minister Filip Vujanovic to his American hosts during recent visit to Washington: "There is a dual political pressure to proclaim full independence of Montenegro - on one hand it is the disappointment of majority of our citizens over living together with Serbia, and on the other our coalition partner, Social democrat party of Montenegro, is threatening us with leaving the coalition if we don't stage an independence referendum immediately. And if we don't make a better social and economical environment than the one we are living in, which is the result of being part of Milosevic's Yugoslavia, we will be in great difficulties to sustain additional pressure, and in them Milosevic could certainly find a chance to start a new war" - said Vujanovic to his American collocutors.
Vujanovic came to the USA with an obvious intention to ask for aid in money and food for ruined Montenegrin economy and poor population. He publicly asked Pentagon and NATO to further their military presence in the vicinity of Montenegro, since Slobodan Milosevic is preparing a fifth Balkan war in order to maintain his uncontrollable authority. However, Montenegrin prime minister for the first time stated one argument - Milosevic's removal from power will not solve problems of Montenegro in its relationship with Serbia! Such attitude reflects widespread opinion in Montenegro that the greatest problem between two close republics is not the person of Slobodan Milosevic and his despotic politics, but unsustainability of any form of state community between Serbia and Montenegro. Such logical conclusion is slowly, but firmly, entering the consciousness of the majority of Montenegrins. It is not just a result of the fact that sea shark and fish cannot live together in the same pool, but as outcome of the world experience that federations of two are condemned from the start (for example Czechoslovakia).
However, the present regime in Montenegro tries with all its might, huge patience and skilful tactics not to provoke "wounded lion" in Belgrade, so that the process of Montenegrin secession would be less bloody and painful than those of other Yugoslav republics. Therefore in August last year Podgorica offered Belgrade a kind of union of sovereign countries (but the union would not be called Yugoslavia, but Alliance of Serbia and Montenegro). However, the stubborn and unintelligent Milosevic rejected the proposal with indignation, in the same manner in which he rejected all reasonable proposals to found a Yugoslav confederation, made out of its six republics. Yet, not only Belgrade stands in the way to Montenegrin independence! It may sound paradoxical, but it is true that "democratic West" is the greatest obstacle for independence. Not denying Montenegrin constitutional right to choose, almost all western countries (not to speak of Russia and China) are persuading Montenegrin government that it is better to stay in FRY. As a main argument serves warning "that already bellicose Slobodan Milosevic should not be further provoked".
They say he could cause fifth Balkan war. Also, Montenegro is given a flattering, but unrealistic role of "contributing to democratisation in Serbia and helping Serbian disunited opposition", which is in Montenegro rejected as completely absurd. "Western struggle to keep FR Yugoslavia at all costs is absurd and unrealistic. The crisis is lasting for too long and has already resulted in total breakdown of the Yugoslav community. Although we should not hurry with referendum on independence, we in Montenegro are firm in our decision to completely solve our destiny this year.
Since Serbia shows unwilling to accept our proposals about new union between our two states and since Milosevic carries on with the politics which has had exile of FRY from international community as a result, we shall go our separate way most probably in this year" - said for American CNN and German Deutsche presse agentur (DPA) head of Montenegro Milo Djukanovic, politician who is obviously oriented towards West. He and other high Montenegrin officials, who think that FRY is long dead, are aware of the danger of Milosevic's invasion of Montenegro and start of civil war in the country, since strong pro-Serbian bloc should not be dismissed, but they have idence in the strength of Montenegrin rather numerous police (approx. 20 thousand persons!) and, even more, in the strength of Montenegrin people, who always stood ground when the threat was coming from outside.
Djukanovic hopes for protection of NATO, EU and USA , although they are sending controversial messages about their position. While some western politicians promise to send military aid to endangered Montenegro, other state that West has had its fill of wars in former Yugoslavia and are even already preparing refugee camps for Montenegrins in Albania and eastern Herzegovina! However, among international community, as in Montenegro, there are more and more of those who believe that this state can no longer be in union with Serbia, so Podgorica rightly expects that Belgrade will receive clear messages of warning that at least this time Serbia may not use force to solve a political crisis in FRY.
Form the old to the new year, the Belarusian regime continues to face the unresolved problem of its own legitimacy, but it now seems that it is determined to bring this matter to a conclusion. This, in turn, caught the opposition completely off guard, since they have long demanded elections and even held their own elections just last year.
Even before the birth of Christ, the techniques for maintaining and recreating power were systematized and written down, and this art is continuously refined. It is necessary to maintain one simple and clear precept: divide and rule. What is most humorous is that those people subject to the authorities' control are almost always the same ones who are unprepared to come to terms with this old formula, and almost never really want to unify in their battle against the authorities. This theoretical preamble serves to substantiate the success of the Belarusian ruling regime's political plans to keep the opposition divided. Today, there is no sort of figure in Belarus, no party or movement, which is able to contend with Aleksandr Lukashenko in the battle for power. The current regime could exist indefinitely so long as the babble-type lexicon of the opposition exists, and so long as the Belarus state is isolated from the external world.
However, this ideal situation does not exist, and even an authoritarian regime is forced to contend with the demands to communicate with neighboring states and the world community. Thus, the problem of solving the constitutional contradiction connected with the legitimacy of the Belarusian regime is forever present in the daily day, even if isn't in the headlines. Even today, this news is not of paramount importance, but from the point of view of loss and earnings, the question of legitimacy has become profitable, and no less important, a planned enterprise. In any case, during a recent visit of foreign diplomats, President Lukashenko announced that, "The year 2000 has a particular meaning for the internal political growth of our government. In the Fall there will be elections to the National Assembly, and I, as the head of government, see it as my task to make sure that the elections take place in full compliance with international standards. [We will have a] political dialogue with the participation of all sectors of civil society, which should enable the creation of optimal conditions for the expression of free will. To resolve this and other questions, we are committed to active cooperation with the Consultative-Observer Group of the OSCE."
If one takes into consideration the audience and the background on which this speech was given (in Vienna on the day after the opening of the annual meeting of the special working group on Belarus of the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE), then it possible to come to the conclusion that the regime is determined to continue consultation with the opposition and create conditions for holding free and fair elections. Today, the authorities have the possibility to give some sort of forum to its opponents, who for all intensive purposes, are forced to play according to rather disadvantageous rules. What can the opposition win? Participation in the game testifies to recognition of its rule, and at the same time, even if they win, they only gain the possibility to be elected to an almost powerless Assembly of Representatives. In any case, this unfairness was confirmed just last week when deputies were forced to disregard 70 of the corrections they had made to the budget (because the head of government did not approve of these changes), and they had to accept the government budget in its second reading. The situation for the legislative branch has never been worse.
However, it could get worse. The Consultation Council of the opposition political parties made an announcement last week that if the negotiation process is cut off and if the new voting law is accepted without participation the parliament's opposition members, then the opposition will not take part in the elections. This sort of boycott will lead to automatically to the world community's non-recognition of the National Assembly, and up till now, the West has not recognized the November 1996 referendum altering the constitution. The current Assembly has been able to take part in international "gatherings" only through the "back door," as representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of the CIS. The expense of selecting these outcastes is hardly justified anyway since Mr. Lukashenko recently gave himself the authority to issue normative acts that have the strength of law. It is still difficult to say whether the opposition can really boycott election to a legislative branch that it refuses to recognize. The municipal elections that took place last year showed that many opposition organizations found a formula for participation even though there was an official boycott. It isn't their fault that opponents of regime were almost completely unsuccessful (it turned out that more often than not, the courts blocked the activists, and who will vote for the more passive ones). The anticipated Fall elections to the National Assembly may repeat the elections to the local parliaments. But the stakes now are higher, and parties can take the gamble if only for self-preservation.
The democrat says that in times of need, the stupid will become wise. One possibility is the simultaneous adoption of the election law by both National Assembly and by the 13th Parliament, which was spoken about many times by members of Consultative-Observer Group of the OSCE. It is true that the country's leadership is not particularly active in its consultation with the opposition, and at the same time, the Assembly will examine the election code in a second reading on January 24. Thus, the Assembly of Opposition Deputies in the 13th Parliament are left with the choice to approve the law as it is, or adopt their own. Compromises are available only until [the opposition] burns its bridges, and this will only bring the Parliament closer to accepting the election law. Of course, the lower house of the National Assembly has not yet finished the approval of the election law, and the burning of bridges has only just begun - the authorities can either "roll back" the proposed law at the consideration stage in the Parliament, or when the head of government is prepared to sign it, but this would be done only in the case of extreme necessity. Whether or not this necessity will crop up - one can only guess, but it is understood that the organizations interested in [turning down the law] are in the opposition.
The democrat never speaks about the characteristics of wise people when they fall into a stupid situation, but, as the newest Belarusian history demonstrates, wise people who are in the opposition rarely act to the real benefit of themselves. Opponents of the regime have organized street demonstrations to serve as a stimulus for the regime to return to the negotiating table. However, there really aren't that many organized mass actions. The biggest demonstration at this time last year was the Freedom March. This march, naturally, allowed the opposition to regain its image as an organization capability of taking action, but at the same time served as an example of the opposition's appalling lack of organization and unclear squandering of opposition resources. Now it is hard to find the people and resources to launch an advertising campaign. Taking into consideration the continuing arguments about the date for holding the second round of the Freedom March (either on Freedom Day dzen' voli or on some other abstract day, not tinted by the national colors). One can only guess what comes out of this, or simply expect a failure. Moreover, the opposition's tools will be significantly limited with the nearing end of the Parliamentary Deputies' 13th session. Speaker Semen Sharetsky may, in a personal capacity, remain a symbol of Belorussian democracy, but all in all, both the regime and its opponents will be equally unable legally represent the Belarusian nation. These condition mean that there will be a few certainties in the conduct of the presidential elections.
Lately, information leaks coming from the presidential administration indicate that they are preparing for this, but they haven't done anything yet to prepare public opinion. Or perhaps we can say without "yet," since according to official sources in Minsk, early presidential elections are not planned. In any case, the opposition will once again be unprepared and afraid, just as it was unprepared during last year's May theatrics. In this manner, Mr. Lukashenko's solo performance is not threatened with a duet, and there are no specifically foreseen obstacles. Could it be that the head of government doesn't want to repeat the mistake of Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich, and ballot during a period when society's frustration with the ruling regime is growing. And this frustration could increase during an election campaign. There haven't been any referendums in Belarus for quite a quite, and this is one of the strongest instruments left in the hands of Aleksandr Lukashenko. If he ties a referendum with, for example, the presidential elections, the opposition will be hard pressed to oppose it. In this case, full legitimacy of the ruling regime will be a matter of simple technique. The main task would simply be to choose the referendum question correctly.
A referendum on the creation of a unified Belarussian-Russian government lost a great deal of meaning after the Russian elections were moved up to March. Until Spring, when the new Russian presidential elections will be held, it would be difficult for the Russian nation to serious make changes in its government, and if the future president doesn't dissolve the government Duma, then Belarus's Eastern neighbors will be able rest for a few years from elections campaigns. This means they will be deprived of their traditional integration theme. In any case, Nik olai Gonchar's Russian Central Voting Committee refused last week to name a referendum on unification. So far as it concerns the Fall election in Belarus, it will be enough of an show of integration to have parallel elections in a unified parliament. In either case, the ruling regime can allow itself to be patient and wait for full legitimacy until 2001.
Opposition circles speak about the existence of some sort of government approval list of leaders from the opposition party who would be able to elected to the parliament. It presumes that they will form one of a few opposition factions, but not really have any serious influence on the work of the legislative branch. However, "reliable rumors' are circulating that there are now discussion being conducted about Moscow political structure's search for a replacement to Lukashenko in favor of "a figure who would be able to carry out the exact same sort of politics in regard to Russia, but would be accepted by the West as the free choice of the Belorussian nation." In particular, the leadership of the Conservative Christian Party BNF, headed by Zenon Pazynyak, held a special press conference to discuss this issue. In the game of political chess, there is are always many different possible moves. In Belarus, there is still time to find out where the truth is hiding, and the parliamentary election may make this inevitable.
Bosnia and Hercegovina: A COUNTRY WITH ILLEGITIMATE GOVERMENT
By Radenko Udovicic
At the end of January, Constitutional Court of Bosnia and Herzegovina declared that the Council of Ministers, which functions as a central government, was unconstitutional. The court decision is going to published in Official newspaper in mid-February and thus become fully valid, and Bosnia and Herzegovina will become a country with illegitimate government, which is a unique case in the world. The basic reason behind unconstitutionality of the Council of Ministers is the fact that it has two equal prime ministers, while the Bosnian constitution, written in Dayton, says that the government may have only one prime minister. Many criticise Constitutional Court for being, as they say, too minute, declaring the government unconstitutional only because it has two prime ministers, while there are many more burning issues in Bosnia.
One of such issues in constituency of the various nations. There is still no political unanimity, so the Constitutional Court postponed its decision. The present situation, in which the Council of Ministers has two prime ministers, is the result of failed contacts between representatives of three nations in B-H just after first post-war general elections. Bosniaks-Moslems didn't want to accept a Serb as the prime minister of the country, although it has been agreed during earlier meetings. Bosniaks rejected the possibility of someone from ruling Serbian elite, which never truly accepted Bosnia and Herzegovina, representing Bosnia and Herzegovina on international level. Serbs, of course, completely refused anything but the prime minister position, while Croats were relatively uninterested in it because, according to an earlier agreement, they got functions of minister of foreign affairs and vice-premier.
Representatives of the international community which co-ordinated the talks, in fear of complete failure of the peace process, suggested a compromise solution of two prime ministers. It was accepted, so that the Council of ministers is presided alternatingly by a Serb and a Bosniak, with a Croat being the vice-premier. Discussions about unconstitutionality of the government date from mid-1999 when Constitutional court judged that such government construction was contrary to the constitution, and ordered B-H Parliament to enact a law to transform the Council of ministers. However, due to political struggles, even lack of interest, the parliament didn't bring the law.
Therefore, Constitutional court decided to cling to principles and proclaimed the government unconstitutional. Such decision heated political activity in the country. Office of the High Representative (OHR), which most directly carries out civil part of the peace agreement, asked the BH Presidency to name only one prime minister at its next session. However, there is only a slight chance that all sides will reach a consensus on that person, since 4-year-old problems, which caused two prime ministers in the first place, will arise again. However, the core of the problem doesn't lie anymore in whether one or two persons will preside over government, but in the government's structure and methods of decision making. During foundation of mutual institutions of post-war country, Bosniaks wanted to make Council of Ministers a true government with numerous offices and authorities. However, since Serbs opposed it, the Council was eventually downsized to three ministries - of foreign affairs, civil affairs, and communications and international trade. Each ministry is headed by a representative of one of three constituent nations. Thus one can see that the government was made up on parity and that the dominant method of decision making is consensus. When Constitutional court asked for compliance of government structure and constitution to be brought in Parliament last year, Bosniak representatives saw a chance to create a new government according to the model they have proposed before. However, Croatian and Serbian politicia anded together and obstructed such possibility. At the recent session of B-H Presidency Serb Zivko Radisic and Croat Ante Jelavic voted in favour of a proposal to place only one person as prime minister, but they added that he/she is to be rotated every eight months and that decision making in the Council of Ministers should be according to national consensus.
Bosniak member of the presidency Alija Izetbegovic was against it, explaining that such government would be completely paralysed in its work due to the fact that consensus in Bosnia is hard to reach.Since Izetbegovic was voted down, proposal made by Jelavic and Radisic will be proposed before B-H Parliament. Izetbegovic has already announced that Bosniak representatives in the House of Nations in the Parliament, where consensus is once again method of decision making, will stop every such decision. One can therefore see that constituting new government will be very hard to achieve and that the international community will once again have to act in order to overcome the present situation.
However, even the session of Constitutional court didn't pass without problems. Marko Arsovic, a judge from Republic Srpska, resigned just before court decision because, as he later said, negative political atmosphere in that body. Another judge from Republic Srpska, Vitomir Popovic, asked for break of session until new judge from Serbian part is elected. Other judges rejected his proposal so he quit, too. Thus, decision about unconstitutionality of Council of Ministers was brought without Serbian judges. However, since there is no need for national consensus in that institution, court decided even without those judges. President of the court Kasim Begic turned resignation of Serbian judges into scandal, saying to the press that Vitomir Popovic left session because of the health problems. Popovic denied it immediately the following day.
However, there is a politically much more sensitive discussion before Constitutional court - issue of constituency for all three nations throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dayton Constitution states in its first preamble that constitutional nations in Bosnia and Herzegovina are Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats. However, this preamble has been degraded in entity constitutions, since Republic Srpska was stated to be republic of Serbian people, Federation B-H as republic of Bosniaks and Croats. Opposition parties in Federation B-H have been pointing out for a long time at such lack of logic. Similarly, more than a year ago, Bosniak leader Alija Izetbegovic filed a request to Constitutional court to co-ordinate entity constitutions with B-H constitution, having in mind especially regulations on constituency. Politicians in Republic Srpska are strongly against declaring all three nations constitutional on all territory of B-H because they feel it would damage Dayton construction of Bosnia and Herzegovina which established entities as a way of realising national rights. Serbian politicians also consider that Izetbegovic's demand is a dishonest move which wants Bosniaks to impose decisions in both entities due to their number.
Court discussion about Council of ministers was, one could say, just an excuse for Arsovic to resign. The real reason is the forthcoming clash about constituency. Even now it is clear that Bosniaks and Serbs will have completely opposed views in the court. Croatian judges haven't expressed their views and it is likely that their votes will prevail in the final court decision. According to attitudes of Croatian politicians, the ruling Croatian party in B-H adopted view that each nation should be "law" in its territory. International community, an unavoidable factor in the country, is in favour of the demand to make nations constituent in both entities, which means throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Although judicial system should be independent, it is clear that this institution is influenced by political interests of the ruling parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the international community. Dayton peace accord has suspended total statehood of the country, on the grounds of, as it has been oft repeated, "higher peacemaking interests". Therefore, any decision, be it political or legal one, can be justified by the "higher interests".