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Issue No. 197. - November 3 , 2000.
Contents :

       By Ylber Emra

2. Bosnia and Herzegovina : SEEKING A NEW STATUS
       By Radenko Udovicic

       By Pavliuk Byikovski

       By Farhad Mammadov

5. Special addition: NEW AT TOL

    By Ylber Emra
    The recent decisive victory of the Democratic Alliance of
Kosovo (DSK) headed by moderate Kosovar Albanian leader Ibrahim
Rugova, as well as the equally important defeat suffered by the
Democratic Party of Kosovo (DPK) led by the former political
leader of Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) Hasim Thaci, represent a
significant shift in the Kosovar political scene and a positive
movement toward final peace in that province.
    The local elections in Kosovo, organized under international
management, may be called an unofficial referendum
for the province's independence, i.e. its official and complete
separation from Serbia and FR Yugoslavia, according to the
statements from important political actors in the region as well
as from the voters themselves.
    Rugova's party carried 58.13 percent of the vote, according to
the OSCE on Sunday night, bringing him to power in most of Kosovo's 30
counties. In contrast, the DPK won only 26 percent, a huge
disappointment for this party, one of three that followed from the
KLA. The other two parties fared no better. The Alliance for
Kosovo's Future led by Ramus Hajradinaj won 7.72 percent while the
Party of the Liberal Centre, headed by Naim Maljok, won only 0.79
percent. DSK was victorious in the major cities, especially
Pristina (66.60 percent) and Kosovska Mitrovica (67.29 percent).
    It is also worth noting that Rugova's party won in the towns
that suffered greatly during the clashes between KLA and Yugoslav
security forces, for example in Djakovica (59.77), Mitrovica,
Orahovac (61.32), Pec (65.64), Podujevo (65.16) and Malisevo
(50.32). A total of 325,908 Kosovars gave their votes to Rugova's
    As expected, Thaci's party only won the mostly rural towns of
Drenica, (birthplace of the DPK leader), Strpac and Kacanik. Strpac is
especially interesting: only 513 votes were needed for Thaci to
win, since most of the citizens are Serbs, who boycotted the
    The third most popular party, the Alliance for Kosovo's Future,
had solid results in western Kosovo, where the party leader Ramus
Hajradinaj was born, but failed to win a majority in any town. The
DPK won 151,059 votes, and the Alliance for Kosovo's Future,

    No Major Incidents
    The visible KFOR and UNMIK police presence at the elections,
which was supported by Kosovar police, is the best indicator of
how carefully the OSCE and UNMIK organisers planned the election
day. The elections were monitored by 4000 locals and somewhat more
than 1500 international monitors.
    There were meant to be 901,000 registered voters who could
vote in 1,464 election polls in 30 Kosovar counties. Voting was to
take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., with tallying beginning directly
after polls closed. However, the first problems began already
early in the morning, when long queues of people wanting to vote
early in the day formed front of the polling centers. To add to
the confusion, some election workers arrived at the polls late, or
failed to bring all the election paperwork.
    Organisers planned that each voter would spend 50 seconds in
the voting booth. However, this estimate proved overly ambitious;
it turned out to be impossible to finish the process in less than
two minutes. Because of this, most polls closed late. In Pristina
the last voting center was closed at 11 p.m.
    The days before and after the elections passed without any
serious incident, and KFOR representatives said they would like to
see UNMIK organise elections more often. According to the UNMIK
police, only 26 persons were arrested on election day, and these
mostly for verbal assaults between rival party members. There were
no murders or injuries, nor any armed assaults.
    According to unofficial data, approximately 80 percent of
registered voters participated in the elections.
    Twelve hours after the last election poll closed Rugova's DSK
announced the first incomplete election results, according to
which DSK won more than 60 percent of the vote. The DPK only
publicised election results from the Drenica region, where it won
the majority. International representatives issued an official
proclamation 36 hours later, confirming for the most part the
results DSK announced on the first day.
    Statements from Kosovar Albanian party leaders and comments
from citizens at the voting booths all confirmed that these local
elections in fact represented an unofficial referendum for
Kosovo's independence. That was the light, at least, in which
Kosovars saw them. This might explain the overwhelming voter
turnout, as well as the support for Rugova, who has promoted
Kosovo's separation since his emergence in politics.
    In his first public address after the elections, Rugova
repeated that he would support an independent Kosovo, claiming he
would fight for good relations with minorities in Kosovo, and
minorities' integration into Kosovar institutions. Rugova also did
not exclude the possibility of meeting with Yugoslav president
Vojislav Kostunica. During his address, the new Kosovar flag flew
behind him - a blue background with the traditional Albanian
two-headed eagle on a red field. Above the eagle appears the word
"Dardania", for the Illyrian tribe of the Dardans, who Albanian
historians say were the ancestors of the modern Albanians.

    Accepting the Results
    Members of the former KLA, especially those who joined Thaci's
DPK after demilitarisation, did not receive the news of their
disastrous defeat well. Thaci himself waited to appear in public
until only a few hours before the OSCE announced the official
election results. It seems he was persuaded to do so by UNMIK
chief Bernard Kouchner and some American diplomats he met with at
his party headquarters.
    Thaci said he was unsatisfied with the election results and
immediately warned his main rival, Ibrahim Rugova, not to organise
a meeting with Kostunica in Pristina. He also left some difficult
work for his campaign chief, Serif Bilali, who accused DSK
activists of pressuring the voters and claimed that "without
manipulation, DSK would win 40 per cent votes at most".
    Kosovo media, especially from the capital of Pristina, reacted
for the most part by analyzing the reasons behind Thaci's defeat,
and discussing the claim that Kosovar citizens prefer peaceful
negotiator Ibrahim Rugova to the often-violent and trigger-happy
Thaci as the future leader of Kosovo. The media also blamed former
KLA members for the defeat, claiming their "hooliganism" had
completely eroded the respect the KLA had gained while fighting
Yugoslav security forces. Even the media who only a year ago were
glorifying the KLA, and later the DPK party, now turned their
backs on Thaci.
    Prominent Albanian dissident and KLA political representative
in Pristina Adem Demaci said the local elections were a referendum
in which Kosovo Albanians voted for their independence. During an
unexpected visit to Belgrade, Demaci said the classification of
"moderate" and "radical" was meaningless, since even Rugova was
extremely radical when it came to independence of Kosovo. The
political representatives of the Kosovar Albanians have not even
responded to remarks from Belgrade that the capital will not
recognise the elections. Such remarks, issued by the provisional
Serbian government, as well as by new Yugoslav president Vojislav
Kostunica, do not disturb the political leaders of Kosovar
Albanians, who are certain the local elections are only an
introduction to the final chapter: the long-awaited international
recognition of an independent Kosovo.

    The International Community
    OSCE and UNMIK, the main organisers of the local elections in
Kosovo, did a good job of organising the elections, a task that
sometimes demanded as many as 15,000 people. Most criticisms of
the process related to the small number of voting centres and the
delay in getting votes counted--all comments that the organisers
themselves agree with. The entire election process was completely
open to the press.
    Immediately after voting booths closed, the leaders of
international organisations congratulated each other for their
successful work, and commended Kosovo citizens for their behaviour
during the elections, calling the elections an important step
towards democracy and acceptance by democratic nations. Neither
Kouchner nor chief of the Kosovo OSCE mission Daan Everts had a
direct answer to the question of how much these elections will
contribute to a final solution regarding the status of Kosovo, nor
did they comment on when general elections will be held.
    International observers did not forget the Kosovar Serbs'
boycot of the elections, citing this as the reason Kosovo lacks
the most basic conditions for political life. But Kouchner blamed,
with good reason, the overthrown regime of Slobodan Milosevic for
the boycott. He said the former Yugoslav presidents used threats
and blackmails to keep Kosovar Serbs from taking part in Kosovo

Bosnia and Herzegovina: SEEKING A NEW STATUS
    By Radenko Udovicic
    The Croatian National Assembly of Bosnia and Herzogovina
opened October 28 in the central Bosnian city of Novi Travnik with
a rendition of the Croatian National anthem (Lijepa Naša),
followed by tremendous applause. Next came the Bosnian national
anthem, which the audience greeted with silence, many refusing to
stand while it played.. This scene illustrates well the political
sentiment of Bosnian Croats at the two-week mark before general
    The Croatian National Assembly was recenly founded as an
institution for Croatian people in Bosnia. Following the call of
the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), almost every
political, social and cultural institution for Bosnian Croats has
joined the assembly. It carries the blessing of the Catholic
Church and has attracted many intellectuals. Only Croats totally
opposed to HDZ's push for national unity have declined membership.
And judging by the current mood, such people are well in the
    The most important decision taken by the assembly was to hold
a referendum for Croatians in Bosnia and Herzegovina on
November11, election day. The referendum will ask Bosnian Croats
how they feel about a declaration of Croats' rights and position
in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The declaration insists on full equality
for Bosnian Croats, a stronger principle of national consensus
when taking key political decisions, and also a redrawing of
territorial boundaries. This last has attracted the most
publicity, since it illustrates the long battle that HDZ and its
allies have waged to create a third, Croatian entity in Bosnia and
Herzegovina--which could cause a rift in the Bosnia-Herzogovina
Federation. To understand this third demand, one must grasp the
most salient facts about the territorial constitution of Bosnia
and Herzegovina.
    Bosnia and Herzegovina, once a united country, was divided
during the war into national territories representing the three
warring sides. In response to enormous pressure from the US on the
Moslem and Croat parties, the war between these two ended in 1994,
and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzogovina was formed as a joint
Bosnian/Croat territory. The Serbian entity - the Serb Republic -
was officially founded in Dayton in 1995. So in reality, Bosnia
and Herzegovina has become a country of three constitutional
nations - Serbs, Bosnians and Croats - but is legally separated
into two, not three, entities. Due to numerous hindrances from
extreme nationalists and to mistrust stemming back to the war
years, the Bosnia-Herzogovina Federation has never functioned as
originally planned. Two opposing tendencies have emerged. One,
embraced by some Bosnian parties, is a movement to outvote the
less numerous Croats and move the Bosnian/Croat entity toward the
center. The second, supported by Croatians, is an effort to create a
third Croatian entity, which would carry the same constitutional
rights as the Serb Republic. This demand is extremely dangerous.
Many territories in Bosnia-Herzegovina are home to more than one
nationality, so there is a real concern that any new division may
lead to a new war. This explains why the international community
was so quick to respond, stating that the referendum will be
invalid and that the Dayton Accords cannot be unilaterally
    Bosnia and Herzegovina's high representative Wolfgang Petric,
who has the authority to use force if he judges the peace
agreement to be under threat, told Sarajevo media that the
international community will not acknowledge the referendum's
results. But when asked whether referendum will be forcibly
opposed, he responded vaguely, saying that the HDZ must respect
OSCE's rules on election silence, since the referendum will be
held on the same day as the elections. This attitude has been
interpreted in Sarajevo as a warning to the HDZ, the referendum's
initiators, that their party could be disqualified from the
elections and possibly even be forcibly prevented from holding the
referendum if it airs any propaganda related to the event.
    Almost simultaneously HDZ president Ante Jelavic, a member of
the Bosnian presidency, was saying in Mostar that Croats will push
for the referendum at any cost. "The referendum can be prevented
only by international forces," Jelavic said, in response to an
appeal from international community to dismiss the idea. He
expressed hope that, in the name of peace and democracy, the
referendum will not be prohibited.
    The direct motive for the referendum was a decision taken by
the temporary election commission, headed in effect by the OSCE,
that MPs in Bosnia-Herzogovina's House of Nations, where laws are
passed by national consensus, will be chosen by representatives of
the cantonal assemblies. This will mean abandoning the present
election methods, where only Croats elect Croats, Bosnians elect
Bosnians, etc. The HDZ says the new decision may mean that in
Bosnian-dominated cantons, Bosnians could elect Croats to the
House of Nations who do not have Croatian interests in mind. Even
the Croatian government has asked Sarajevo's OSCE chief to revoke
his decision.
    The international community is doing everything it can to
neutralise the national separatism that divides Bosnia, and has
clearly stated that the decision will not be changed. Local
authorities were especially shocked by the recent comment made by
Richard Holbroke, American ambassador to the UN, who during his
visit to Sarajevo said Bosnia was the only country in Europe still
ruled by "extremist parties." This time Sarajevo did not have
Belgrade to point to and say "we're not the worst," especially
since Holbroke said Serbia and Croatia should serve as examples
for democratic change.
    Many were surprised that all the influential Croatian
institutions--political and otherswise--accepted the Assembly,
including the most prominent officials in the Catholic church, who
stated that "the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina must
find a new strategy." The assembly is, in effect, an answer to the
dilemma Bosnian Croats found themselves in after disbanding the
para-state of the Croatian Republic of Herceg-Bosnia: whether to
press their national interests through joint Bosnian-Croat
institutions, or to found a body where they could "build a
strategy." Judging from the response at the Assembly, a majority
of Bosnian Croats want to make the Assembly a permanent
institution and the highest political authority of Croatian
Bosnians, the goal of which will be to protect Croatian national
    Some think HDZ's push for this crucial decision just before
the elections points to their fear of bad results at the polls,
since support for the HDZ is said to be declining. Only 40 percent
of Croats are expected to vote for HDZ, according to research from
the US-based National Democratic Institute. This decline would be
significant, compared to the 70 percent HDZ drew at the last
elections. But similar polls were conducted with similar results
before the last elections, and HDZ came out on top. The real
picture of Croatian political sentiment--as well as that of other
nations--will come into focus only after the election results are
    The assembly and the call for a referendum are similar to a
plebiscite organised by the Serbian democratic party (SDS) in
spring 1992, when Serbs were asked whether they wanted Bosnia to
remain in Yugoslavia. More than 80 percent of Serbs responded
tothe party plebiscite, in contrast to to the official referendum
on Bosnia, in which primarily Bosnians and Croats participated,
voting in support of Bosnian independence from the Yugoslavian
federation. However, the political situation in Bosnia today is
very different from the one eight years ago. Nothing can happen in
Bosnia now without the agreement of international community. A
call for a referendum, therefore, doesn't mean voting for or
against Bosnia (although there were such proposals), but is
instead an attempt to rally Croats around the idea that they are
once again in danger, and must support the only forces (primarily
HDZ) capable of protecting them.
    Pavliuk Bykovskii
    On October 29, just after the clocks were turned back for
winter, Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko announced his
intention to give more authority to the Belarussian Parliament. If
on this day we turned our watches back one hour, then this promise
to restore the legislature's influence on government politics is
comparable to a jump back to 1996, when Parliament tried to "fire"
the president, and found themselves fired instead.
    "Before the presidential elections we will take definite steps
within a Constitutional framework to strengthen Parliament's role
in society, because basically the period of anarchy and chaos that
existed before is over," said Lukashenko.
    The announcement also promised democratic reforms, affirmed
the stability of the current regime and justified the 1996
constitutional referendum.
    In November 1996 Lukashenko initiated a referendum on changes
to the Constitution. It passed, albeit with many serious
irregularities, and as a result Lukashenko took over many
lawmaking powers, greatly reducing Parliament's authority. He
fired the old Parliament, and from a group of loyal deputies
formed a Lower House of a new Parliament, then openly determined
the Upper House, and prolonged his own presidential term by two
years. Neither the Belarussian opposition nor the international
community recognized the constitutional changes. As a result
Belarus was left with two parliaments, two constitutions, and the
as-yet-unresolved problem of choosing between them.
    Now Lukashenko has announced his intention to "strengthen
Parliament." But when it comes to political power, strengthening
the role of one player necessarily weakens the role of another. In
this case, if Lukashenko's announcements are actually realized, it
is his own role that will be weakened. Judging from his words, it
seems the president is making this step consciously. "Today we can
transfer powers from the presidency--some powers perhaps
uncharacteristic even for Western presidents to have, " he said.
"We can transfer them either to Parliament or to the government,
depending what they are."
    Can we really be talking about returning to the principles of
dividing governmental authority?
    Without the lessons of the "conquest" of November 1996, that
is, without the changes to the new Constitution, realizing these
recently-announced goals would be impossible. Therefore in the
president's sensational promises we find nothing concrete about
the nature of the changes that will be made before the elections,
plus the most important issues are carried over to the
post-election period, at which point the current regime is not
ruling out the possibility of a referendum on constitution
    "After the presidential elections we will probably make other
serious steps to strengthen Parliament," Lukashenko said. " And if
they don't work within the framework of the Constitution, then we
may have to hold a referendum, in order to make the Constitution
more flexible, if I may call it that, to supplement the powers of
the other governmental branches and official bodies."
    One has to doubt that this promise to change the
constitutional base of the country has come about by chance. It's
impossible to suppose that it was made without serious
consultation with the Russian leadership. If this is the case,
then it would explain the recent three-day informal summit between
the leaders of Belarus and Russia in Sochi, and the subsequent
silence about the meeting's concrete results.
    Surely these promises to restore the legislature's authority
now that "victory" over chaos has been achieved simply represent
an unusual campaign tactic ("see, Lukashenko isn't power hungry"),
one that may help him find compromises with Western democracies
and consequently shake up the democratic opposition. The actual
content of democratic projects will demand attention only after
the elections--so many complications surround the process of
changing national law!
Azerbaijan :
    By Farhad Mammadov
    The actions of the Azeri government are under tight
international control. The campaign for the November 5, 2000,
parliamentary elections in Azerbaijan is coming to a close, since
the election campaigns of all political parties and candidates
must end November 3, 2000. The delegates of the OSCE, the Council
of Europe, the US-based National Institute of Democracy and
International Republican Institute have already arrived in
Azerbaijan to observe the elections.
    More than 300 foreign observers were registered by the Central
Election Commission (CEC) before November 1, 2000, according to
CEC reports. It is worth noting that ambassador Jerrar Shtudman,
director of the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human
Rights [ODIHR], will personally observe the elections. He is
already in Baku, and says he will stay in Azerbaijan until the end
of the elections.
    While the international organizations and Western countries
exercising control over this pre-election period have not been
overly impressed with this stage of the elections, they are
waiting for the November 5 results to issue their final opinion.
    Newly appointed US ambassador to Azerbaijan Ross Wilson said
in a recent press conference that the US will keep the elections
under tight control. Mr. Wilson has stressed that the Azerbaijani
government has changed several laws relating to elections under
pressure from the US. These changes have permitted all political
parties to participate in the parliamentary elections. But most of
the candidates from the one-term election district have not been
allowed to register, and the CEC has barred local observers from
overseeing the elections. While a group of experts from the
Council of Europe has offered some moderate criticism the
pre-election process, they have stressed that everything will be
known on November 5th, 2000. Azerbaijan's induction into the
Council of Europe has been postponed for the parliamentary
elections; the Council of Ministers will discuss this issue on
November 7, 2000.
    The first severe criticisms of the pre-election situation were
made by Human Rights Watch. This watchdog organization's
statement, issued October 30, 2000, accuses the Azerbaijani
government of interfering in the election process, obstructing the
registration of opposition candidates, and failing to carry out
its obligations to the Council of Europe. Azerbaijan has still a
long way to go before it will hold democratic elections, HRW says.
    The upcoming elections were discussed in a meeting between
advisor to the US Secretary of State Steven Sestanovich and Azeri
president Heidar Aliev. Mr. Sestanovich came to Baku October 30,
2000, to hold discussions with the Azeri president on re-opening
bilateral negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He stressed
that the US expects the Azerbaijan elections to be free and fair,
and will carefully observe the electoral process.
    Though the election campaigns are ending, the lack of
independent public opinion research makes it difficult to predict
the election results. The government has prohibited NGOs funded by
foreign grants from observing the elections, by creating a special
addendum to election law. It has instead registered over ten new
sociology research centres over the last month. According to these
centres' predictions, which are undoubtedly financed by the
government, the ruling party of Yeni Azerbaijan [YAP] will
naturally gain the majority vote in the future parliament, and the
major opposition parties like the Musavat, National Independence,
and the Democratic Party will fail to exceed the 6 percent of the
vote needed to acquire a seat. It has also been speculated that
the aforementioned parties will be barred from parliament, and
that perhaps the goal of the "research" of these government-funded
centres is to establish the corresponding public opinion.
    But with a few exceptions, the pre-election campaigns of the
opposition candidates and parties have progressed freely. This may
be explained by the international community's close scrutiny of
the pre-election situation in Azerbaijan.
Special Edition : NEW AT TOL
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 (Free Access)
  Easy, But Irregular, Victory For Akaev
  Czechs Close Deal With Austria Over Nazi-era Forced Laborers
  Kostunica: War-Crimes Admission Taken Out of Context
  Tajikistan Trades in the Ruble for a New Currency
  Bodies From Sunken Russian Sub Retrieved
  Yugoslavia Takes Steps Toward International Integration
  Harvard Hit With Second Lawsuit Over Russian Aid Scandal
  Holbrooke Urges Bosnia To Join the Region's Transition
  Georgian Prosecutors Offer New Evidence on Journalist's Murder
  Latvian Finance Ministry Live on Webcam

OUR TAKE: Russian Man's Burden
   More than a few chuckles were let loose last week when a group
of Russian parliamentarians announced their plans to send
observers to the United States to ensure that 7 November
presidential elections would be free and fair, and to see just how
democratic Americans really are. But they did have a point.
ELECTIONS SPECIAL: Redefining Kosovo
    by Avni Zogiani
    In the first democratic exercise since the end of Serbian rule
in June 1999, Kosovars went to the polls in 28 October local
elections. Ibrahim Rugova--the veteran political leader of the
province and leader of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK)--has
claimed victory in advance of the official results, which are
expected to come out early next week. But it is unlikely that his
victory will mean much immediate change for the beleaguered

ELECTIONS SPECIAL: Kyrgyz President Re-Elected Amid Controversy
    by Alisher Khamidov
   President Askar Akaev rolled to an easy victory in
Kyrgyzstan's 29 October presidential elections, taking nearly 75
percent of the vote and ensuring another five years in power. His
triumph surprised no one, since the authorities had thrown up
numerous obstacles for his opponents. With the OSCE's conclusion
that "the international standards for equal, free, fair, and
accountable elections were not met," Krygyzstan received yet
another blow to its rapidly fading image as an outpost of
democracy and progress in Central Asia.

FEATURE: A Small Kingdom With a Small King
    by Dima Bit-Suleiman
    In Ajara, Georgia, there may not be prosperity, but there is
peace. The Black Sea resort zone in the southwest of Georgia, near
the Turkish border, is a gem in an otherwise troubled country.
Though the autonomous republic has seen better days economically,
Ajara emerged unscathed from the civil war that ensued after
Georgia's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has
avoided tensions with breakaway Abkhazia and ongoing ethnic

BOOKS: "Tsar Boris"--From the Dacha, in Retrospect
    by Elena Chinyaeva
    Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin recently published his
memoirs, "The Presidential Marathon." Though missing any hoped-for
revelations of political scandals and the expected
self-glorification, the book does reconstruct, in its dry way, the
atmosphere and drama of Russia under Yeltsin's rule.

BOOKS: Uzbekistan 101
    by Roger Kangas
    As the most populous country in the region, Uzbekistan is, in
many ways, the linchpin of Central Asian cohesion--be it trade
routes or security measures. Detailed analyses of this key country
are often not readily available for the general reader for a
simple reason: because it is one of five Central Asian states, and
one of 15 Soviet successor states, discussions of Uzbekistan tend
to be in larger comparative assessments or regional treatments.
"Uzbekistan: Transition to Authoritarianism on the Silk Road," by
Neil Melvin, one of the first primers on an independent Uzbekistan
does the job.

OPINION: Owning Up to History
    by Lubos Palata
   The agreement signed last week in Vienna to compensate people
forced to work in Austria during World War II isn't only
long-delayed satisfaction for those victims of Nazism, but is a
turning point in the modern history of Austria. In agreeing to
compensate Nazi-era forced laborers, Austria finally admits to the
dark side of its recent past. Now, the onus is on other Central
European countries to do the same.