Issue No. 172. - May 3, 2000.
1. Albania/ Montengero: A MODEL FOR BALKANS
By Slobodan Rackovic
2. FRY/ Serbia: UNITED OPOSITION TROUBLES
An intreview with dr. Zarko Korac
By Zoran Mamula
3. Belarus: CHERNOBYL ROAD AS PERMANENT POLITICAL ACTION
By Paulyuk Bykowski
4. Special addition: AZERBAIJAN - REPRESSION IS GOING ON
5. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
Montenegro and Albania, two neighbouring states that are located at
the centre of war zone in this part of south-eastern Europe, have established
firm good neighbour relations after 50 years of living at each others throats.
Special role in that reconciliation was played by national minorities from
both sides of the border.
Montenegrin and Albanian foreign ministers Branko Lukovac and Pascal Milo (who was visiting Montenegro) have signed the Memorandum on understanding and political, economic and cultural co-operation between the governments of Albania and Montenegro.
According to the agreement Lukovac-Milo, two countries will form a joint committee which will oversee the realisation of agreed co-operation. As the two ministers have stated at the press conference, with that agreement starts a new era of relationships between two neighbouring countries since, as has been stressed, it was the first visit an Albanian foreign minister made to Montenegro in the last 50 years.
"Visit of my colleague Milo speaks well enough in itself, it speaks about the past as well as about the present. It took leaderships completely dedicated to democratic values, to respect of human rights and European standards to come to power in both countries to create conditions favourable to establishing top contacts between two neighbouring countries, two closest neighbours" - stressed minister Lukovac, while the Albanian foreign minister said that it was very important for two countries to start working together: "We would like to send a message of peace also to other countries in the region, to tell them that there is no other way for furthering peace and security in this part of Europe, but for co-operation. We will build firm mutual trust by concrete measures, which gives both sides the basis to believe that we are truly partners and that Albania is the true ally of Montenegro" - said Milo. He specifically remarked on the fact, very important due to many Albanians living in Montenegro, that Albania is completely respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of Montenegro and that Tirana has no wish to occupy parts of that republic. Milo said that position of Albanians in Montenegro has significantly improved, adding that rights of Montenegrin minority in "the land of the eagles" were respected in the same way. Regarding minorities, there is much to be done on both sides - said Albanian foreign minister, adding that both Tirana and Podgorica expect such policy to be met with approval and support of the international community. He especially emphasised that co-operation between two neighbours will be also put to practice in Pact for stability in south-eastern Europe, with Albania and Montenegro offering a number of mutual economic projects. Regarding Kosovo, both sides stressed the need for strict implementation of UN Resolution 1244, although the ministers didn't hide that there had been conflicting viewpoints about the future of that part of Balkans during their talks. While Albanian side insists on the right of Kosovar Albanians to be independent, Montenegro thinks that Kosovo should remain integral part of Serbia (the UN Resolution mentions Kosovo only as part of FR Yugoslavia, not Serbia).
There was also agreed co-operation on sea traffic line Bar-Durres and vice versa, reactivating 10-year long disused railroad Podgorica - Skadar (Skhodra) and building roads, and soon another border pass Sukobinu - Muriqi, near Ulcinj, will be opened. To realise these goals, various ministers related to them will soon exchange visits, and minister Pascal Milo, when visiting Milo Djukanovic, asked Montenegrin president to visit Tirana soon, which was accepted. Prime ministers Ilir Meta and Filip Vujanovic will meet in Tirana at the celebration of laying out optical telecommunication cable between Montenegro and Albania.
Montenegro and Albania have made a giant step forward on their way to total normalisation of their relations, despite the fact that FR Yugoslavia, the formal member of which Montenegro still is, has been keeping its borders with Albania hermetically sealed since March 1997. Risking open conflict, even an armed one, with Belgrade, Montenegro completely opened its borders with Albania two months ago, and both countries removed visa policy. Since then, border traffic has increased significantly (although Yugoslav soldiers are doing their best to slow down or stop that process), economic and political co-operation between Podgorica and Tirana has improved. National minorities from both sides of the border communicate and trade without any impediments. Police authorities have made several joint actions to stop flourishing crime in the border zone, especially illegal traffic of drugs and arms, which increased the mutual trust.
Mutual respect for minority rights is a story in itself, which was emphasised by already mentioned Albanian minister Milo. While in the neighbouring Serbia Albanians are treated as second-class citizens, in Montenegro they have their representatives in the national parliament, government, police and judicial system, and position of Montenegrin minority in Albania has been rapidly improving. Cultural and sport associations of the minority groups are often visiting their mother states, which adds to a positive climate between Podgorica and Tirana. IN a word, national minorities have become a bridge which is linking the two countries, and not a destructive element, as was mostly the case in that part of the Balkans.
That was not always the case in the history of the two neighbours. Since 1948, when Yugoslavian and Albanian regimes clashed due to relationship with Moscow (then Tito's Yugoslavia turned its back on the USSR while Albania led by Enver Hoxha remained one of the mot loyal allies of it) until the present - Montenegrin - Albanian border was one of the most uneasy in Europe, with often armed conflicts between border patrols. It is believed that on that border during past half a century several thousand persons died, since antagonism between Belgrade (whose army is in the control of the border) and Tirana has continued until the present day, although during air-tight economic isolation of FR Yugoslavia Albania remained one of the rare exits for Montenegrin - Serbian federation.
Only when Montenegro distanced itself from Serbia during the last three years have there been created good conditions for co-operation between Podgorica and Tirana. Although still unrecognised, Montenegro has i n foreign politics and trade, opens diplomatic offices abroad and makes agreements with other countries, so Belgrade is jealously and with anger watching from distance as Podgorica gains more and more international prominence. Montenegro has recently removed the obligation of visas for all world countries while Serbia is becoming isolated more and more. Therefore Podgorica with more than 60 foreign offices is taking the initiative from Belgrade, which is also illustrated by the fact that many foreign media correspondent offices moved to the capital of Montenegro. Instead of being a black sheep as Serbian ally, Montenegro is more and more like a light at the end of the tunnel in this unstable region, that has for a long time been a huge burden for the international community.
Q: Isn't there also the issue of the fear of changes. Do Serbian
citizens fear that they will be even worse off after change?
A: Milosevic has made a good judgement that the only way to at least somewhat stabilise his regime is to take control of the media. Escalation of violence over independent media started in the moment when opposition asked for early elections. Milosevic is a model of outdated politician, practically belonging to a kind of policy that was used in some European countries during 20s and 30s. It is a nationalistic populism, emphasised chauvinism with racist elements, unlimited use of power, redrawing the borders and speeches about "life space". All these elements exist also in Milosevic's program, but in one element he is a modern politician - he understands the power of media. That is why his regime is trying to mute electronic media in cities where SPO and Democratic party are in power with high frequency concessions which they are unable to pay so that the government can revoke their license. The government in that way tries to force citizens to watch only state television where the y can see and hear that opposition leaders are "traitors and foreign agents" and that the state will fall apart if such opposition ever comes to power. Such moves often cause counter-effect - media are defended not only by their journalists but also by citizens themselves, who in several towns inside Serbia managed to prevent inspectors from the Ministry of telecommunications, literally with their bodies, to take away the transmitters from local TV and radio stations. However, the fact is that most citizens fear regime more and more due to increased repression.
They understand that in country in which more than 50 per cent of the population has no job, and most of those employed has a pay of less than 100 DEM a month, there is no perspective, but for the change of government, but they are afraid the regime is ready to use even the most brutal measures to prevent changes. There are two dominant emotions in Serbia - wish to change the government and fear. Sometimes one is primary, sometimes the other. My feeling is that slowly and painfully there is developing a civil movement for changes in Serbia, which is formed of NGOs, independent media, syndicates, students... There is an American expression - "to die of thousand bruises", when the man bleeds to death without noticing. Milosevic's regime is bleeding from too many places so that it can't heal all the wounds. Today violence is pointed at parties, tomorrow it will be turned to media or students, but that endless game of violence can also become inefficient. If you fail to make an effect with violence, next time it has much smaller impact on people. Use of violence without any result liberates people from fear of repression.
Q : No government in Serbia or Yugoslavia managed to solve the problem of Kosovo. The current government even went to war with NATO over Kosovo, but still had to accept arrival of international forces in the province. In your opinion, how to solve the Kosovo crisis?
A : International community, which undertook responsibility for Kosovo, has obviously brought a political decision not to discuss status of Kosovo until the change of regime in Serbia and within general stabilisation and democratisation in the Balkans. Pact for stability in south-eastern Europe is the first try to do something in that sense. I think the status of Kosovo will remain open for a long time until there are conditions to solve accumulated problems of Balkans in a more serious way. Evidently, the opposition doesn't have enough courage to say to Serbian citizens that Kosovo will never again have the same political status within Serbia as it had until UN resolution 1244. Most local politicians, not only from government, but also from opposition, say that Kosovo, according to this resolution, remains part of Yugoslavia. That is true, but nobody dares say that Belgrade will never again have control over Kosovo. I don't believe that even the greatest optimists among politicians think that Belgrade will ever again return its political and economic control over that province.
Nobody has enough courage to say to the people that Kosovo in future will somehow remain part of the state federation, but that it will be a special status with Kosovo having all internal authority. However, neither foreign politicians have courage to say something about the future of Kosovo more openly, maybe because it still unknown or nobody wants to. First there must come a drastic improvement in security situation in Kosovo, which is now very bad, especially for minorities, and then return refugees, as in the whole region of former Yugoslavia. And after the period of protectorate on Kosovo there will be there, I believe, some better people in power on both sides and find a solution. There are many examples in Europe, like South Tyrol, with goodwill that produced agreement about special status or a similar solution. Let me be very personal: if I were the president of Serbia, and Veton Suroi president of Kosovo, I have no doubt that we would come to some kind of solution. The problem is that chances for the two us to find ourselves in a position to decide on this problem are very remote.
Q : Relations between Belgrade and Podgorica are worse than ever. From Djukanovic's and Milosevic's teams come fierce accusations, but, paradoxically, the government of Montenegro has so far decided to drop announced referendum on independence. Is Djukanovic defensive and can we, after economic embargo against Montenegro, expect a new Milosevic's action of bringing Montenegrin leadership in line?
A : I think that in Montenegro Milosevic won't do much more than he does now. He has his grip around small federal unit, international community exerts pressure on Montenegro to remain in Yugoslavia and thus practically does Milosevic's job. Finally, Djukanovic received economic aid for abroad and alleviated difficult economic situation in the country. But he is still in a very difficult position since a politician who cannot make serious political decisions risks to be defensive, and that is never fruitful in long term. I think Montenegrins wait for changes in Serbia, and only then will Montenegrin people decide whether it wants to live together with Serbia or not. There would be no risk of war with democratic government in Serbia and then Montenegro could, without any influence, decide on its fate. So, all of us who invested our political futures in the fall of Milosevic's regime - Kosovar Albanians and Montenegrin citizens as well as Serbian democratic opposition must do the most to bring an end to the worst government in the Serbian history.
Members of the National Organizing Committee of Chernobyl Road-2000
filed an appeal in the Moscow District Court in Minsk against the Minsk
City Executive Council's prohibition of the mourning procession dedicated
to the 14th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe on April 26.
On April 10, several dozen Belarussian community representatives lead by corresponding member of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Ivan Nikitchenka filed an application with the Minsk City Executive Council (MCEC) to hold the Charnobylski shlak-2000 (Chernobyl Road-2000) procession from Yakub Kolas Square along Frantisek Skorina Avenue to Independence Square for a meeting.
Separately from the National Organizing Committee, representatives of Zianon Pazniak's Conservative Christian Party, Belarussian People's Front (BPF), applied to MCEC to hold a procession on April 26 from Yakub Kolas Square to October Square, with a meeting on October Square. Chernobyl Road-2000 marchers intended to meet on Yakub Kolas Square at 4:00 p.m., and Conservtive Christain Party supporters at 5:00 p.m.
City authorities refused to allow either group of applicants to hold a procession but agreed to the holding of a meeting on Bangalore Square. Chernobyl Road-2000 organizers consider MCEC's changes in the format of the action illegal and applied to the court. On April 21, they addressed authoritative international organizations concerning MCEC's prohibition of the traditional procession on the anniversary of the accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In the document, they state that the authorities' actions are in violation of international conventions and agreements signed by Belarus, as well as national legislation. It was emphasized that Chernobyl Road-2000 would take place in any case, "although the authorities are once again preparing wide-scale provocation." The Organizing Committee is calling on the international community to take the necessary measures so that the "provocation planned by the authorities" does not take place.
Regardless of the court decision, the opposition intends to gather on Yakub Kolas Square, proceed along the main street of the Belarussian capital with icons, a bell and portraits of those who died in the accident and then hold a meeting. This ncompromising stance threats a repitition of the situation on March 25, when law enforcement agents used force in their efforts to prevent a demonstration at the celebration of Freedom Day.
The newspaper requested that Chernobyl Road-2000 National Organizing Committee member Viachaslau Siuchyk comment on the current situation. He is also vice chairman of the Renaissance Movement BPF and BPF Party, both of which are led by Vincuk Viacorka, and went on a 21-day hunger strike along with Professor Yury Khadyka while being held after a criminal case was initiated in connection with the organization of Chernobyl Road-96:
"Unfortunately, prohibition is the tradition decision of the city executive council, but I hope that there will still be some sort of negotiations and a new decision will be possible. But it should be remembered that the majority of Chernobyl Roads held in our country were peaceful in character. That includes those that were not sanctioned by the authorities, such as the first demonstrations, which took place under the communists and without their permission.
"Chernobyl Road-96 would have been peaceful if the power structures had not been ordered to stage a bloodbath. One day before the demonstration, representatives of the opposition and power structures met in Gennady Karpenko's office and an agreement was reached that the demonstration would be held in the form that it took on the following day. The authorities violated the agreement and there was repression and criminal cases. All of that had serious repercussions throughout the world and the action practically put a halt to the Kremlin's occupational plans for Belarus for a certain time.
"Nonetheless, Chernobyl Road is first of all an action of mourning, without intentional political overtones. The consequences of the Chernobyl tragedy, unfortunately, have not been fully comprehended by our society. It should be remembered that it was the first Chernobyl Roads that made our people aware of the truth about Chernobyl, which was being hidden by the authorities.
"A catastrophe can occur in any country, and it cannot be rules out that they would lie to the populace about the presence of risk in a democratic society as well, and hold May Day demonstrations and force people to consume contaminated food products by mixing them in with pure products up to the limit.
"Belarussians will face the consequences of Chernobyl for a very long time still, and these consequences can be minimized only under a normal state regime. Therefore, Chernobyl Road was, is and will remain a political action. It is an action to save our people. The prohibitions of the authorities (both the communists and those now) of the Chernobyl Road processions are completely logical although, at first glance, it would seem that the authorities themselves ought to participate in them."
LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT THE DETAINED DEMONSTRATORS
As we informed, on April 19 2000, the Democratic Congress of oppositional parties tried to hold a demonstration at the central square of Baku for free and fair elections in Azerbaijan. There happened a clash among the demonstrators and police. The demonstrators were beaten and some were arrested.
Now we have got the information that on May 1, five arrestees detained at the 17th police station of Nerimanov district Police Department of Baku were charged with disciplinary rule by the Nerimanov district Court.
1. Ulvi Hakimov, member of the Popular Front Party, president of the Azerbaijan National Democracy Foundation [ANDF]- 3 days
2. Tural Mammadli- member of Party Musavat- 5 days
3. Tabriz Gasimov- Member of the People's Party of Azerbaijan-5 days
4. Yalchin Aliev- Party Musavat-5 days
5. Elshan Samadov- 5 days.
Then Elshan Samadov was charged with Article 188-3 and 189-1 and 2 of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan Republic [Resistance to the police]. He was not allowed to contact with his lawyer and family. Sakit Mammadyarov, an investigator from the Yasamal district prosecutor, does not allow Mr. Samadov to contact with his lawyer. He has called a policeman Zaur Ahmadov as witness, as if Mr. Samadov beat him. Elshan Samadov wants to apply to the court with a claim that the deputies of the Azeri parliament, Mirmahmud Fattaiev and Gulamhusein Aliev, were witnessed that he did not beat anybody. Elshan Samadov is a member of the Popular Front Party.
It is expected that the detained at the 16th police station will also be charged with the disciplinary rules.
The information was given by Ulvi Hakimov, editor of the "Azerbaijan"
bulletin, who is also under arrest now, from the 17th police station, by
EDITORIAL BOARD OF ANDF
SPECIAL ISSUE N3
1. APPEAL OF THE AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL DEMOCRACY FOUNDATION
2. ARIF HAJIEV: "I HAVE BEEN TAKEN HOSTAGE BY THE OFFICIAL BODIES"
3. PANAH HUSEINOV CAN NOT MEET WITH HIS LAWYER
1. APPEAL OF THE AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL DEMOCRACY FOUNDATION
On April 29 2000, the Democratic Congress held a rally at the Fizuli square of Baku under the slogan "Free Elections". During that rally, Ulvi Hakimov, president of ANDF, advisor of the Popular Front chairman, was detained and charged for 3 days imprisonment by the Nerimanov district court of Baku city. Mr. Hakimov was released on May 2.
Yesterday, at 4PM Ulvi Hakimov had to be released, but he was kept illegally for another 8 hours and released at 12 o'clock at night. This and hundreds of another facts must be denounced as an existence of police willfulness in Azerbaijan, the act of law-enforcement agencies against the Azerbaijani Constitution, laws, and international legal norms, and governance of Aliev regime by communist and administrative order methods.
The ANDF would like to express its deepest regards to all people, organizations,
international parties, information and press agencies, our friends and
partners, who are struggling for releasing of those detained at the April
29 rally and protecting the rights of people still kept under arrest.
At present, over 30 people are still kept under arrest at the police departments and temporary isolations. Amongst them are Panah Huseinov, chairman of the Azerbaijan People's Party, (arrested for 13 days), Arif Hajiev, secretary of the Party Musavat (13 days), and Vagif Hajibeyli, chairman of the Party "Ahrar" (10 days). The elementary rights of these persons were violated, they were not allowed to meet with their lawyers, to phone their families, were not given paper and pen for writing compliant, and were illegally sentenced without any trial. They have been really taken hostages by the current government.
Besides reminding these facts, ANDF claims the immediate release of
all detained by the anti-democratic regime of Heidar Aliev and aggressor
government at the April 29 rally.
ANDF appeals to the international community and free people of the world and calls them to help people raised a struggle for democracy, free elections, and civil society in Azerbaijan, and put an end to the uncontrollability of the criminal government. Democracy and human rights are not a domestic affair of any country. Democracy is a guarantor of your and our freedom. For Your and Our Freedom! Let God helps us in this way!
AZERBAIJAN NATIONAL DEMOCRACY FOUNDATION
2. ARIF HAJIEV: "I HAVE BEEN TAKEN HOSTAGE BY THE OFFICIAL BODIES"
"On April 29 2000, at 17.30 I was kept by the police in front of the Republic palace and taken to the 22nd Police station of Nesimi district", was said in the appeal of Arif Hajiev, secretary of the Party Musavat, detained during the April 29 rally, to the prosecutor general Zakir Garalov. In Mr. Hajiev`s words, a person, who did not introduce himself, at the Nesimi district court told him "I gave you 3 days arrest" after interrogation. Then, Hajiev was kept at the ward of Nesimi district police station 2 days without giving any explanation and announcing any sentence.
On May 1, he was taken to the temporary isolation ward in Garasheher: "While I asked the reason of my arrest several times, I was not answered. There was not announced decision about my arrest and explained my rights. In fact, I am taken hostage by the official bodies".
Arif Hajiev has asked the prosecutor general to take measures for restoring his violated rights, releasing him, and drawing to responsibility being guilty in this act.
3. PANAH HUSEINOV CAN NOT MEET WITH HIS LAWYER
Panah Huseinov, chairman of the Azerbaijan People's Party, arrested during the April 29 rally, has appealed to the prosecutor general of Azerbaijan, Mr. Zakir Garalov. The appeal says that after being detained during that action, Huseinov was taken to the 22nd Police station of Nesimi district. A person, not introducing himself, informed about his 3 days arrest, but did not give any additional information.
Huseinov was not given any explanation about the reasons of his arrest, was not allowed him to meet with a lawyer and given a paper for writing an appeal. After a 2-days arrest in the ward, Huseinov was taken to the temporary isolation ward in Garasheher: "I don't know, why I am taken here, for which period, and by which decision".
"Mr. Prosecutor, I have not been explained my rights during this period and provided my defense. I have to write this appeal on the paper, which I found by chance", says Mr. Huseinov and asks Mr. Garalov to prevent this willfulness and punish the guiltier.
Copyright (c) Azerbaijan National Democracy Foundation (ANDF) 2000