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Issue No. 196. - October 27 , 2000.
1. FRY/ Kosovo : WE DON'T WANT ANY POLITICAL TIES WITH
An Interview with Veton Suroi By Slobodan Rackovic
2. FRY/ Montenegro : MONTENEGRO - KOSOVO'S HOSTAGE ?
An Interview with Srdjan Daramanovic By Stojan Obradovic
3. Belarus : FAILED ELECTIONS
By Pavliuk Byikovski
4. Bosnia and Herzegovina : INDIRECT TACTICS TO WIN
By Radenko Udovicic
5. Lithuania: FIXING FUTURE STABILITY, PROSPERITY
By Howard Jarvis
6. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
As a prominent Kosovar political analyst, publisher
Albanian-language newspaper "Koha Ditore," ex-politician and
former president of the Parliamentary Party, Veton Suroi is no
doubt one of the best experts on the current situation in Kosovo
and consequently on the upcoming local elections in this former
Serbian province on Octoebr 28.
Q: How do you see the situation in Kosovo
now that Slobodan
Milosevic has been removed from power and what will the future
status of the former province be in light of UN Resolution No.
A: When the resolution was passed, many people
said it was a
rotten compromise because we were still left with a kind of
Yugoslavia. It's true that the resolution was a compromise. But it
had important sections stating that Kosovo should build its own
government and only then raise the question of status. This means
that no change of government in Belgrade, not even the removal of
Milosevic, should reflect on the issue of Kosovo's status.
Milosevic's downfall, although his policy on Kosovo still
survives, has had both positive and negative resonances in Kosovo.
It's certainly easier to talk with Vojislav Kostunica or somebody
like that than with Milosevic, a war criminal responsible for the
deaths of ten thousand people in Kosovo. The negative side of the
change is that now the "hit of the season" will be Serbia, and not
Kosovo. But that's nothing new, either: Croats have already
complained that money was going to Bosnia, Bosnians said it went
to Kosovo, now Kosovars will be saying t the money is going to
In any case, Kosovars now have to pay more attention to
democratization in their communities. They have to think about the
fact that during the next six to twelve months we'll establish a
transitional constitutional system, set up a privatization system,
hold elections for the Kosovar Parliament and probably elect a
president of the Kosovo state. So the basic task is for Kosovo to
become a fully functional country, and not to be so concerned with
the issue of its sovereignity...
Our defence policy has now been drafted in Brussells, at the
NATO headquarters. We have KFOR and I hope we'll have it for a
long time to come. Our foreign policy is decided by Javier Solana
and Christopher Patten, so we are talking about a sovereignty
bounded by all these integrations taking place in Europe.
We're often told that we'll be part of Europe someday. But we
don't forget that Europe accepts new members one by one, as they
are ready. That's why we want to prepare for the moment when we'll
become part of that trend. And only soveriegn states can join
Q: In several days' time the first free elections
will be held
here. Is Kosovo ready for that important process? Russian
diplomats say it isn't, considering the unsatisfactory security
situation and Kosovar Serbs' abstaining from the voting.
A: One shouldn't rely on Russian diplomacy
since it's losing
ground in the Balkans and wants to be present here in a different
way. That's why it's been bringing up those issues. I think it's
very important that the elections be held, since they will have a
threefold effect. First, we will finally establish political
transparency--we had a parallel society during the ten-year
struggle with Milosevic, and that society had to be, by
definition, semi-illegal. Second: we'll have political
responsibility, which couldn't be addressed during the last decade
due to the conflict. Third, there will be internal education among
political parties. Up to now it has been very easy to become a
politician in Kosovo, for the very simple reason that the
catchphrase "Kosovo independence" was so popular. However, nobody
explained how that goal could be achieved. And now the time has
come to prove it, and to show it... A good indicator in all this
is that there have been some signs that Serbs could also be in the
local Kosovar government, maybe not immediately, especially since
they almost ritually go to the losing side. Their political
leaders are also their biggest enemies. They recently gave the
majority of their votes to Milosevic and severed their ties with
the opposition in Serbia, which sent a very negative signal to
Kosovar Albanians. It would be best for the Serbs to participate
in the local elections on Saturday, so they can win the number of
seats they have a right to, and have a voice in creating a new
constitutional system that would give them unalienable rights,
indisputable by any party in Parliament...
As for Albanian parties, all the polls predict that a
significant majority will go the Democratic Alliance headed by
Ibrahim Rugova. However, due to the proportional system of
election, there will be as many as 9 or 10 parties in the
parliament from the whole political spectrum. That will be good
for democracy, because we'll have a variety of coalitions.
Q: Is peaceful co-existence possible in Kosovo?
A: I think co-existence is still possible.
The only question
is how to put it into practice. It's not enough just to put up
signs with mottos about co-existence. We have already seen that
all through Bosnia and Herezgovina, and it failed dismally. There
has to be a lawful state, a political atmosphere of tolerance, and
many other factors before co-existence will be possible. Kosovo
has to become a tolerant and democratic society. Political parties
already feel a certain level of tolerance toward each other, but
it has to go further than that. That tolerance should be widened
to embrace all nations. We have an example of this in the town of
Prizren, where the townspeople are co-existing peacefully with the
Romas [gypsies], who all returned there. This means that it's not
impossible for people in Kosovo to live together.
Q: There's talk about future confederation
A: Kosovo's future is very clearly defined.
It will establish
local government institutions and initiate talks about the legal
position of Kosovo. Whether Montenegro is included will have to be
negotiated with Belgrade. So Montenegro can neither help us nor
We don't want to be with Belgrade, and we'll say it plainly.
We don't want Serbian soldiers, Serbian customs officials, or a
joint government. We want open borders, and joint cultural and
economical projects, but we don't want Belgrade to have any
authority over Kosovo. This is the attitude adopted by all
political parties in Kosovo. It is irreversible, and can't be
influenced by future situation in Montenegro. We don't hide it,
and we hope that the time will come when democratic Serbia and
democratic Kosovo will be more amenable to a deal than they are
Q: How can the protection of minority rights
be enforced in
A:We've come a long way on that issue. We've
rights which are valid not only for the large minorities (Serbs
and Bosnians), but also for Turks, Romas and others. These laws
acknowledge national identities, languages, etc. For example, the
right to use one's native language also means that that language
can officially be used in communications with the government. A
Turk [0.6 percent of the population] could communicate with the
central government in his own language and expect the government
to respond in Turkish. We insist that elementary and high school
students be taught in the languages of their respective national
minorities. We want national minorities to be represented in
government institutions disproportionately to their actual
numbers. Finally, no minority right can be changed without a
majority vote among minority representatives in the parliament. It
is this so-called "minority veto" that could be used for the issue
of minority rights. In this way minorities ld block Parliament in
order to protect their rights.
Srdjan Daramanovic is the Director of the Centre
and Human Rights in Podgorica.
The Centre is a non-governmental organisation which, among
other things, deals with transitional monitoring, public opinion
research and strategic analyses. Many foreign diplomats and
politicians turn to Daramanovic for independent analyses of
Q: The federal elections that Montenegro boycotted
political changes. But president Djukanovic says the boycott was
principally a political action independent of the possible
outcomes of the elections. How will relations develop between
Serbia and Montenegro now?
A: First, I think that we should stress the
that, since Milosevic has been removed from office, Montenegro is
no longer threatened by war. Milosevic's departure created
conditions in which Montenegro can't decide whether to strike some
deal with Serbia or seek answers through independence, now that
the fear of war, which was present throughout Milosevic's time in
power, is gone. Although certain representatives in the new
government in Belgrade still have some opinions which are
displeasing to Montenegro, it's clear they won't use force to
solve their political issues.
At this time Montenegro has two major political options -
either make an alliance or union between the two states with some
joint institutions, or proclaim the independence of the two
countries, either by referendum or by a separation agreement.
Anyhow, a federation or unitarian state of Montenegro and
Serbia is out of question now. That option was effectively
rejected at every election during the past three years in
Montenegro. After Montenegro's experience with FRY, I doubt any
future Montenegrin government would choose to enter into a
federation with a country seventeen times its size. The federation
option has attracted very little popular support.
Q: Which of the two major options has more chance of success?
A: It will depend on a myriad of factors,
especially on how
the political situation in Serbia develops, and on the influence
of international community.
Q: But the international community isn't likely
A: No, the international community doesn't
independence of Montenegro right now. Furthermore, it has clearly
said that in the event of such a solution Montenegro would lose
both economic support and international favour. Even though the
fear that conflicts will escalate in the process of obtaining
independence is now obsolete, there still remains the issue of
Kosovo's status. The international community fears that
Montenegro's independence further complicate things in Kosovo and
would encourage many to ask for a quick resolution on the status
of Kosovo. And foreign countries aren't inclined toward that now.
Q: Does that mean Montenegro is a kind of hostage to Kosovo?
A: It is well known that international circles
Montenegro as Kosovar's hostage. I repeat, the main reason for the
opposition to Montenegrin independence is the Kosovo factor. But I
don't believe there is a member of government or a politician in
Montenegro who could address the Montenegrin public and tell them
Kosovo is the reason Montenegro cannot be independent. That would
be political suicide. You can say we won't be independent because
the people don't want it, or because we're being threatened, or
because we're not ready for it yet, but you can't say it's because
of Kosovo. International elements have some idea about creating a
triple Serbia-Montenegro-Kosovo federation, but that has no
support in Montenegro, and the people in Kosovo also oppose it. I
think the problem of Kosovo will have to be resolved with a
relationship between Serbia-Kosovo and international community,
but without Montenegro.
Q: So will the independence of Montenegro
be dependent on the
attitude among international community, i.e., the permission of
A: No. Despite that unfavourable sentiment,
the future is in
our hands. Were Montenegrin citizens to vote for independence, I
don't see how could the international community oppose it. They
would have to accept it in the end; anything else would be a
violation of the democratic rights of Montenegrin citizens. The
international community, and this is for certain, will continue to
pressure Montenegro not to hold a referendum. But if the issue is
solved by a loose confederation or something similar, the trend of
Montenegro as an independent state will be unstoppable.
The political and cultural elite is firmly in favour of
independence, and most of the public is also for independence or
some kind of loose union. A key role will now be played by the
ruling Democratic Socialists' Party, headed by president
Djukanovic. If the ruling politicians, led by Djukanovic, decide
to support the idea of Montenegrin independence, such an option
would get 60 to 70 percent of the votes at the referendum. If the
political leadership decides not to risk confrontation with its
main allies in the West, then there will probably be the option of
prolonged discussions with the new Serbian government, with a
demand for minimal joint institutions between the two countries,
joined in some sort of Commonwealth.
Q: But the Serbian side always talks about
a common currency,
army and foreign policy. These are not minimal institutions, and
they are basically key factors in the joint state...
A: A common currency cannot be the matter
of negotiations, a
"common" currency is possible only if Serbia introduces the German
mark or the euro, since Montenegro will never fall back to the
dinar. At this moment, the dinar in Montenegro amounts to less
than 5 percent of the total currency traffic, and soon there will
be new laws passed that further strengthen the monetary
independence of Montenegro. A common border is much more likely
than common currency.
When it comes to the matter of a joint army, based on our
former experience and what Montenegrin government offered in its
1999 document on resolving open issues with Serbia, I think it is
out of question for Montenegro's military command to be located in
Belgrade. If there were some joint army, each state would have its
own headquarters, with some kind of co-ordination or the like. The
biggest problem is foreign policy, because there are conflicting
viewpoints. For example, Montenegro readily agrees to promptly
extradite indicted or sentenced war criminals to the court in
Hague, while the Serbian attitude is yet unknown. Also, we have
resolved the issue of Prevlaka for ourselves. It is a Croatian
territory, and Montenegro has no pretensions to it. The area will
be de-militarised, and a system of free maritime traffic will be
established. Furthermore, Montenegro doesn't have Kosovo, which
causes problems on an international level. I doubt that the
government of Montenegro can suppo he present country being
accepted by the UN under the current name of Yugoslavia. If the
Montenegrin government accepted the name, then it would have to
separate from that country tomorrow. At this point, everything
begins from zero; Yugoslavia was effectively non-existent once
Milosevic destroyed it with his constitutional changes of July 6.
Montenegro is negotiating with Serbia.
I don't think politicians from Democratic Opposition of Serbia
(DOS) understand these problems, which is why they accuse
Montenegro of blocking the constitution of the federal government.
That is not the real issue, the real issue is what the status of
Montenegro will be.
Q: Kostunica mentioned the possibility of
referendum both in Montenegro and Serbia. What if Serbs vote for a
A: It is enough for one party to say "no".
There is no
"marriage" if one side doesn't accept it. Kostunica himself was
very clear about that; he said that he respected the law, and that
he therefore thought a referendum should be held in both states,
but if one state decides in favour of separation and independence,
then that decision stands. Even I think it would be good for the
Serbian people to have this kind of referendum, since nobody has
yet asked them whether they want a joint state or not.
Q: Isn't it more realistic to suppose that
the idea of
separation will be overwhelmingly opposed in Serbia, since there
are crucial strategic interests at stake, such as, for example,
A: I am certain there will be no problems
issue. Whatever the final solution will be, it will represent an
arrangement between two friendly countries. All issues can be
solved by various contracts. We will guarantee the property of
Serbian citizens, there will be no visas or passports required at
our borders, Serbia will have open access to Montenegrin ports,
but Montenegro will also have similar access to Serbian market,
etc. It isn't hard to resolve at all.
Q: What is your standpoint on the formation
of the federal
A: I'm afraid Kostunica will make the mistake
of giving a term
to someone from the Socialist People's Party (SNP), led by Momir
Bulatovic, since the prime minister has to come from Montenegro.
Montenegro will never accept such a government, and will oppose
every decision it makes, since the SNP is a minority party in
Montenegro. I understand that Kostunica has no majority in the
federal parliament, and I can understand his appealing to
legality, but I don't think he's fully transparent. If there are
some emergency headquarters throughout Serbia instead of legal
government institutions, I don't see any reason not to form a
transitional government formed from some group of experts in order
to solve some joint problems--a government not dominated by a
political party. Besides, Kostunica is also a transitional leader
in Yugoslavia. He may play an important role in Serbia, but not in
the federation itself. He is the leader of one of the 18 parties
in the ruling coalition, and his party is not the strongest among
them. At this moment he is the president of a country, but no one
really knows what that country is. Montenegro can cancel his job
with only one move - by proclaiming independence or by creating a
new union, since there is no president after a new union is
Q: What good will state elections in Serbia
bring in further
resolving relations between Montenegro and Serbia?
A: I expect that at these elections Milosevic's
will finally be defeated, and that there will be a new Serbian
government, with which Montenegro will be able to communicate
about further partnership.
Q: Is there any possibility of Milosevic ever
A: None. Milosevic stands no chance of ever
politics. If his party underwent some changes and democratisation,
it might have a chance. But if Milosevic remains at the head, it
will mean the end of the party.
Q: If Montenegro has nothing to fear from
Serbia, is there
anything to fear from internal struggles, since there are many who
oppose separation from Serbia?
A: Well, no, those who are for a firm mutual
state with Serbia
are now in a minority and have lost the support they once had.
They cannot impose their will through force as a minority. If
there will be a referendum, it will be organised in accordance
with democratic standards and the Constitution. Nobody could
dispute its outcome. True, there is the People's Party in the
ruling coalition which is in favor of some kind of bond with
Serbia, but they haven't completely decided on it. But were they
to support some kind of more radical approach, then they would
surely drop out of the ruling coalition, which cannot endanger the
government but could help form a so-called independence block.
Q: Montenegro recently set a positive example
democratisation in FRY. But there have been constant pressures and
threats of conflict. Did this serve to establish a kind of
political monopoly on national interests and their anti-democratic
abuse as, unfortunately, often happens?
A: The rift with Milosevic three years ago
didn't mean just a
change of a policy but also really opened democratic processes in
Montenegro. There are greater possibilities for freedom of the
press, for NGO activities, for minority rights, etc. Of course,
like any transitional country Montenegro still has much to
achieve. During last years, Montenegro hasn't completely
homogenised on a political level. At the elections in 1998
Bulatovic's party won 36 percent of the votes. Political fights
are alive in Montenegro, and that is perfectly okay, as long as
they stay within the usual political rules and methods. But, the
truth is that there was an unwritten consensus in the ruling
coalition not to push or open certain disputed issues during
recent struggle with Milosevic, so criticism of the government and
Montenegrin authorities was somewhat reduced. It was an
understandable situation, but there were no rude government
attacks on democratic process. I think that what was lacking will
ve oon be compensated for in the new circumstances.
WEEK IN REVIEW
U.S. Threatens Sanctions Against Russia Over Pope Case
U.S. Rejects Armenian Genocide Resolution
No Balkans With Bush
Izetbegovic Steps Down, Leaves Radisic as Chair of Bosnian Presidency
Italian Journalist Found Murdered in Georgia
Ukraine, Russia Strike Gas Deal
Kostunica Makes Some Progress, Practices Diplomacy in Bosnia
Moldova Agrees To Privatize Wine and Tobacco Enterprises
Slovenia's Drnovsek To Form Next Government Coalition
Walesa's Delusions of Grandeur
OUR TAKE: Until They're Blue in the Face
Once again geopolitics trumps human rights
FEATURE: Inflammatory Elections
by Altin Raxhimi
Albania's southwestern Himara region, made up of seven
villages, stretches along a spectacularly beautiful strip of the
Ionian coastline. The village houses are made of whitewashed
stone, and the roofs and courtyards are arranged like steps up the
mountain side. But recently the picturesque region has become the
center of the country's political attention, after the second
round of local elections on 15 October--the first test for
stability since the anarchy of 1997--prompted allegations of
improprieties and meddling from Albanian and Greek authorities.
ELECTION SPECIAL: Victory For Lukashenka--So Far
by Alex Znatkevich http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=5&NrSection=2&NrArticle=345
Belarusian authorities organized the 15 October parliamentary
elections in a similar fashion to how the Soviets would serve up
sour cream--watered down and lacking in substance. Most opposition
parties did not participate and hundreds of activists were
detained and beaten for boycotting. The opposition cried foul as
local election commission members told of widespread fraud.
Meanwhile, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's support is eroding
and the opposition doesn't seem to be gaining any in return.
This month's "In Focus" package: Rotten To the Core
Three more pieces on corruption in the region.
IN FOCUS: The Other Side of the Corrupt Coin
Interview by Peter Pomaranzev
Debate surrounding corruption has increasingly come to focus
on the role Western firms and international lending institutions
play in post-communist countries. Transparency International (TI),
an NGO whose stated aim is to increase government accountability
and curb corruption, says it is concentrating on a more
constructive approach to the battle by creating independent civil
society groups to fight corruption in these countries. Dr. Miklos
Marschall, the executive director of TI's Central and Eastern
European department, talks about the organization's work, and how
Western bodies have influenced the extent of corruption in the
IN FOCUS: The Catch-22 of Giving Aid
Opinion by Susan Rose-Ackerman
The most needy countries are often the most corrupt. That puts
international financial institutions in a difficult bind. Because
of the need for accountability to donors, some form of loan
conditionality for borrowers is inevitable, but it should not take
a mechanical form. The World Bank should concentrate on public
sector reform and on supporting service delivery projects that are
insulated from the corrupt environment. That might mean involving
the private sector, both for-profits and nonprofits, or insulating
government-run projects from those public officials and agencies
judged to be most corrupt.
IN FOCUS: Rich Pickings
by Andras Pap
Motorists digging deep into their pockets after police
officers have slapped them with a spot fine is a common enough
sight throughout the post-communist world. In the crime-infested
areas of the former Soviet bloc, empowering the police and
widening their powers sounds good, as does raising the fines on
impudent drivers and other violators. But a constitutionally
sanctioned, armed kleptocracy, where the police can stop and fine
almost at will, hinders rather than furthers the fight against
corruption and immoral behavior.