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Issue No. 204-205 - December 28, 2000.
Contents :

           By Zoran Mamula

           By Ylber Emra

3. Bosnia and Herezgovina: BLEAK FORECASTS
           By Radenko Udovicic

           By Peter Mikes

           By Ivlian Haindrava

6. Special addition: NEW AT TOL

    By Zoran Mamula
    Former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and his Serbian
Socialist Party (SPS) are now definitely a part of history. After
victory in the federal elections, The Democratic Opposition of Serbia
(DOS) overwhelmingly defeated the socialists in the Serbian elections
on 23rd December. DOS got 64 per cent votes, SPS 13 % while the
Socialists' former partners - the Radicals - got 8 per cent votes. This
triumph has secured to DOS, a coalition made out of 18 parties,
a two-thirds majority in Serbian parliament which enables it not
only to change all Milosevic's laws but also to change
the constitution itself. Election results were as expected and in
accordance with polls, so that there wasn't any celebration in the
street as it was in October when citizens used the method of
"peaceful revolution" to force Milosevic to admit defeat by DOS
candidate Vojislav Kostunica who is now the Yugoslav president. It
is also known who the new prime minister will be - it is Zoran
Djindjic, president of the Democratic Party. Many considered him
the most powerful man in Serbia even before the elections. He has
already selected most of his cabinet and people expect that
already at the beginning of next year the new government will start
working and trying to get the country out of its great economic,
social and energy crisis. However, this doesn't mean that Serbia
and Yugoslavia have calm political times ahead.
    According to the most prominent political analysts, next year
will be marked by a struggle between two DOS leaders - Zoran
Djindjic and Vojislav Kostunica. That the beginning of the duel
wasn't far away was symbolically demonstrated by Vojislav
Kostunica who didn't show up in the DOS election HQs the night
after elections so that Djindjic had to open champagne all by
himself. The main front between the two will open with the start of
negotiations between the two Yugoslav federal states - Serbia and
Montenegro - about their future relations. Already during
Milosevic's regime, Montenegro started preparations for separation
because of its inferior position within the Yugoslav federation and
issued a proposal to the Serbian side according to which Serbia and
Montenegro would be independent and internationally recognized
countries forming an alliance with little common institutions.
Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovic said before the Serbian
elections that he is ready to initiate talks with the new Serbian
government if Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica doesn't attend
negotiations since Motenegrin authorities don't recognize federal
government. Zoran Djindjic accepted this condition, but quickly
withdrew it after Kostunica threatened not to be the leading
person on the DOS election list which could have worsened the
coalition's chances in the elections due to the huge popularity
Kostunica enjoys among the Serbian people.With the elections over,
Djindjic avoids mentioning Kostunica as a potential member of
negotiations about the future relations between Serbia and
    The new Serbian prime minister said Monday in an interview
published in Montenegrin newspapers "Pobjeda" that the Montenegrin
proposal was completely acceptable, which spurred Kostunica to call
for meeting of the DOS presidency where he warned Djindjic that he
couldn't express such ideas without consulting him first. The Yugoslav
president talked to Milo Djukanovic on the same day and warned him
that authorities in Serbia and Montenegro cannot negotiate as if
the federal government didn't exist and that any unilateral
secession would have dire consequences for the whole region.
    It is obvious that Kostunica fears a Gorbachev sindrome. The
whole world applauded Gorbachev for the democratization of the
Soviet Union and the end of the cold war, but in the end he was left without the
country he was leading and had to cede power in Russia to Boris
Yeltsin. However, since Motenengrin authorities insist that Serbia
and Montenegro enter the alliance as independent countries it is a
big unknown whether the Yugoslav president, even if he participated in
talks about the relations between Belgrade and Podgorica will
manage to save FR Yugoslavia and, consequently, his job.
    If the Serbian side accepts the proposal of a loose alliance of the two
independent states, it will no longer be "Kostunica's Yugoslavia".
If Belgrade rejects the Montenegrin proposal, Montenegro will organize a
referendum on independence that will, taking into account the
public sentiment, very probably result in the independence of
Montenegro which will also leave Kostunica without a country to lead
as well as without his presidential function and strengthen
Djindjic who will safely remain Serbian prime minister.
    Kostunica and Djindjic also have some serious disagreements on
the subject of troubles in Serbia, especially the rebellion of
Albanian extremists in the southern part of the country. Although
famed as a nationalist, the Yugoslav president thinks that force against
separatists should be used only as a last resort when all
diplomatic attempts have failed , while Djinjdic opts for urgent
armed intervention against the rebels. Some analysts think that in
such a way Djindjic is trying to repair his bad reputation resulting
from the accusation of the former regime that he fled Serbia
during NATO air strikes. It will be known very soon whether
Djinjdic's bellicosity was real or just part of the election
    One mustn't forget that after the elections Serbia will be
subjected to great pressure from the international community to
finally extradite Slobodan Milosevic to the Hague Tribunal and that it
will also be a condition for foreign financial aid. President
Kostunica maintains a firm standpoint that Yugoslav citizens
cannot be extradited to the court in the Hague since the Yugoslav
constitution doesn't allow it and that Milosevic should be tried
before a domestic court. Djindjic thinks the former Yugoslav
president should be tried in Belgrade with the participation of
Hague judges, but as a pragmatic politician he left open the
possibility of extraditing Milosevic to the Hague.
    Djindjic and Kostunica also disagree on the speed of removing
officials of Milosevic's regime from their jobs. While Djindjic
thinks all of them are guilty and should be urgently removed and
tried before a court, Kostunica supports "legal procedure of
removing officials from their posts". That is why Kostunica
didn't remove either the chief of the secret police Rade Markovic
whom the opposition accused of being involved in many political
assassinations before the Serbian elections or chief of army HQs
Nebojsa Pavkovic. Well-informed analysts say that Kostunica in
this case is less concerned about legal procedure but predicted that
Djindjic would have installed people loyal to him in these
important functions. And he certainly predicted well. There is no
doubt that the struggle between Djindjic and Kostunica will reflect on
parliament and government since it seems that DOS will split into
two groups. One will be led by Djindjic's Democratic party and the
other by Kostunica's Serbian democratic party. In that case
Djindjic faces hard work and uncertain survival as Serbian prime
    By Ylber Emra
    The victory of the moderate political option in the local
elections in Kosovo and the coming to power of the opposition in
Yugoslavia at the beginning of October and in Serbia at the end of
December cannot quickly lead to improvement in the tense relations
between Serbian and Albanian citizens in this formally Yugoslav
province which has been under international protection since June
last year. The current situation in Kosovo is still burdened by
inter-ethnic intolerance and, to a large extent, by open hate. Such
tense situations and incidents cannot be constrained by strong
international forces and members of many international
organizations that have been present in the province for as much
as 18 months.
    Two ethnic groups, the majority Albanians who now represent more
than 95 per cent of the population in the province and the minority
Serbs who now count 80,000 according to international
evaluations, are still living completely separated, without any
indication that they will have anything in common in the near
future. Separation of the two communities is the result of a
long-time process started when the former SFRY was a
communist country, and greatly speeded up during the past 12
years of the undisputed rule of the now completely marginal
Slobodan Milosevic, former Yugoslav and Serbian president.
    International analysts who are situated in Kosovo emphasize
that at this stage "whoever is in power isn't able to change
anything" since "the hate is too great at present in both parties".
They are warning that one "mustn't forget the war ended just a
year and a half ago and that 10 years of Serbian discrimination against
Albanians cannot be erased in so short a time". They say that
perhaps in two or three decades there will be peace between the two
ethnic groups.
    The beginning of the warming of relations between the two groups is
possible only with the start of political dialogue between
representatives of Kosovar Albanians and Belgrade authorities, but
it is nowhere in sight, says one analysts who insisted on
remaining anonymous. He added that only the beginning of political
dialogue will create some kind of chance for improvement of
relations in the everyday life of the Albanian and Serbian population
in Kosovo. There are many conditions that must be met in order to
initiate dialogue. The most important condition to Albanians is
the freeing of 700 of their fellow citizens from Serbian jails, as well
as uncovering what happened to 2,5 - 3 thousand missing Albanians.
    There have already been attempts to start a dialogue, but
there is still not a concrete result. Several weeks ago the new
Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica publicly called the winner of
the Kosovo local elections Ibrahim Rugova, the leader of the strongest
Kosovar party, to sit at a table, but it was rejected as too early
since general elections in Kosovo will be organized under
international patronage in mid-2001. The political leader of the
former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and head of the Party of
Democratic Action Hasim Thaqi is also against any dialogue with
Belgrade. Thaqi enjoys the trust of almost one third of adult
Kosovar Albanians.
    That there should be no dialogue with Belgrade is also the firm
attitude of other representatives of relevant political parties in
Kosovo. At the same time, they accept negotiating with
representatives of the remaining Kosovar Serbs about their position in
Kosovo, the future of which is viewed by all of them as an
independent republic, completely separated from the current
Yugoslavia. One such meeting was organized last week in Pristina
by the US office Kosovar initiative for civil society.
    That meeting got much publicity in media from Pristina and was
attended by representatives of the Serbian national Kosovo and
Metohia council (SNV KIM) who don't enjoy significant support
among their own people. However, this meeting was practically the
first meeting of representatives of the two communities in Pristina in
the last three years and earned due attention. The representative of
Kosovar initiative for civil society Veton Surroi put out a
proposal about the future position of the Serbian minority in Kosovo
with ten provisions.
    The proposal is basically completely acceptable, guaranteeing the
rights of the majority nation to ethnic minorities, but one of the SNV KIM
representatives, Rada Trajkovic, while lauding the proposal's concept,
immediately emphasized that it was unacceptable for Kosovar Serbs
since "Serbia is defined as the home country of Kosovar Serbs". In
that sentence she claimed to have recognized the frightening concept
of independent Kosovo. Anyhow, such talks will continue because
they are continuance of the project of dialogues organized by
influential NGOs from the US.
    All those talks, no matter how the two sides saw them,
represent at least a step, no matter how small, leading up to
normal atmosphere where all democratic and non-violent proposals
to solve the issue of Kosovo are legitimate.
    Much time will pass before Kosovo reaches that stage,
especially since the influence of supporters of Milosevic's regime
can still be felt in the north of Kosovo, where most of the Serbs
have remained.
    During ten years of absolute domination, Milosevic's
supporters rejected even the notion of resolving justified demands
of Kosovar Albanians and weren't even thinking of solving the
problems with a dialogue.
    There have been two serious incidents in the north of Kosovo
in the past ten days. In Leposavic, mostly inhabited by Serbs,
there have been riots. Serbs have attacked a police station with
rocks and Molotov cocktails since one of their compatriots was
jailed because of a traffic incident. They tried to free him using
force, and one of the motives for the riot was the fact that he was
arrested by Kosovar policemen of Serbian nationality who completed
OSCE international training in Vucitrn. The government in Pristina
remarked that Serbs with that action showed that they didn't
respect either international rule or Kosovo.
    Similar remarks were made after polling places were opened
in some Serbian enclaves for the parliamentary elections
in Serbia on 23rd December. In the elections Kosovar Serbs gave
more support to the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS), but DOS
still got less support than Milosevic's Socialists.
    Voting in the elections as well as the Serbian inclination towards
the Socialists was a motive for a prominent daily from Pristina "Zeri"
to remark that it was the best evidence that "that minority"
doesn't want to live in Kosovo. Secretary of Thaqi's PDD Jakub
Krasniqi said that "Kosovar Serbs really voted against themselves"
and that the Serbian community in Kosovska Mitrovica and Zvecani where
Socialists have won, was "once again an ally of the criminal Slobodan
    The most influential and highest circulation Pristina daily "Koha
Ditore," owned by Suroi, said that Albanians "once again closed
their eyes over UNMIK tolerance", offering just a pale and verbal
opposition to the Serbian elections.
    Leaders of the Kosovar Albanians completely rejected the statement of
the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan who on 17th December said that
the status of Kosovo should be solved in the contaxt of redefining
constitutional ties between "Serbia, Montenegro and Kosovo".
    That was interpreted both in Pristina and Belgrade as a concept
of three republics. Belgrade rejected it immediately saying
that it was contrary to resolution 1244 which gave Kosovo broad
autonomy as part of Yugoslavia while leaders from Pristina
unanonymously said that such a proposal came too late. They said
they could've talked about it ten years ago, but not anymore.
Bosnia and Herezegovina : BLEAK FORECASTS
    By Radenko Udovicic
    Bosnia and Herzegovina and Federation B-H still don't have a
constituted parliament, although the first deadline set by the
international community was 18th December. The reasons for this
are deep disagreements between political parties which are balancing
between the wishes of the international community that the new majority in
parliament end ten years of the rule of the so-called national
parties and the fact that these parties made a very good showing
in November's elections.
    In Federation B-H there have been long negotiations between
the Socialdemocrat party (SDP) that has become the strongest
individual party at the national level after the last elections;
the Party for B-H led by former Bosnian prime minister Haris Silajdzic
and two minor parties.
    The SDP's initiative is to form the Alliance for changes, a kind
of post-election coalition which would take over power and place
into opposition the formerly ruling parties SDA and HDZ. The obstacle to
forming this coalition is the reluctance of Party for B-H. In return
for participating in the new government, that party asked
the international community to guarantee the return of at least 30 per
cent of refugees during 2001 and to secure efficient functioning of
the country with some entity authority transferred to the state level.
Also, Party for B-H demands consistent implementation of the Bosnian
constitutional court's decision on the consituency of all nations
throughout Bosnia and the founding of the Home of nations in the Serb
Republic. The High Representative of the international community
Wolfgang Petritsch sent Haris Silajdzic a letter giving him no
special gurantees since it is, as he says, the responsibility of
Bosnian politicians, but stressing that the international community
wants to strengthen the state institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina
and implement the decision of constituency of all three nations on
every part of Bosnian territory.
    But, whether or not the Alliance for changes will be formed, there
is a general consensus that it would be an unnatural coalition
made out of conflicting parties. The SDP has a reputation of a liberal
left party that has muti-national core members and an extremely
pro-European orientation. The Party for B-H was for years in coalition
with SDA, and its president Silajdzic was a loyal associate and
follower of Alija Izetbegovic who is still considering whether to
nominate him for his heir - a new Bosniak leader. But the most
controversial is the participation of the New Croatian Intiative (NHI)
which opts to represent Bosnian Croats in the new government. HDZ
which won over 70% of Crooatian votes warned that there couldn't
be a government without it since it would be an unnatural
overruling of election results. Although the NHI and the international
community chose to ignore these warnings, a government without the HDZ
could hardly be efficient since it would have no authority over
territories with Croatian majorities.
    It is interesting that during the election campaign the Party for
B-H got the reputation of a war mongering party which is in favor of
revision of the Dayton Accord. Its program is colliding with the
struggles of SDP to create respect among nations and to implement
the rule of law in Bosnia and Herzegovina. But what is even more
unnatural is the attempt to also create an Alliance for changes on
a national level which would, besides the mentioned parties, also
incorporate some moderate Serbian parties from the Serb Republic
in order to move the hard-line SDS from power. It is difficult to
imagine a government made out of parties which favor change of the
Dayton Accord and those which think that any change of that
agreement equals the worst form of centralizing power.
    In contrast to the parliaments of Bosnia and Herzegovina and
Federation B-H, the National Assembly of the Serb Republic was formed
prior to the deadline. A parliamentary majority was formed by the SDS,
the Socialist party and Party of democratic progress (PDP). The new
president of the Serbian entity Mirko Sarovic has already proposed
Mladen Ivanic, PDP president, for the new prime minister. Ivanic is
a well-known economy expert who enjoys the reputation of an
experienced and moderate politician. The international community,
unsatisfied with the return to power of the nationalist SDS, has
already warned that it would not cooperate with a government
consisting of SDS ministers. That's why Ivanic put forming of a
non-partisan expert government as a condition for taking up the
post of prime minister. The SDS, fearing further confrontation with
the international community and loss of promised donors' aid for the
Serb Republic, agreed to this solution. Although it didn't seem
likely just several days ago, it seems that by nominating Ivanic
as prime minister, the Serb Republic is emerging out of a deep
political crisis, as opposed to Federation B-H where the huge
political fight is still bound to begin.
    But passing from one millenium into another in Bosnia is not
marked only by "Bosnian partisan mixture". During the past several
days, the Bosnian public was interested in political efforts to
normalize relations with the former Yugoslav republics, which is a
part of the international startegy embodied in Pact for stability
statements of creating connections between countries of
south-eastern Europe. In just a couple of days the highest
representatives of the Bosnian government made a duty free trade
agreement with Croatia and a favored trade agreement with
Macedonia. Similar agreements with Yugoslavia have been announced.
One might freely say that foundation has been placed for creating
a unique economic region on the territory of former Yugoslavia,
with a maximum liberalization of trade with minimal or no
customs taxes.
    Still, at this moment, the most important thing is establishment of
diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, Already in 1996, during the
reign of Slobodan Milosevic, Yugoslavia recognized Bosnia and
Herzegovina and bound itself to respect its territorial integrity.
But diplomatic relations were never established because Bosnia
filed charges against Yugoslavia before the International court in
Hague accusing it for genocide and agression, with a high
financial repayment.
    Yugoslavia therefore insisted that this charge be withdrawn as
a condition for any relations. It was a stalemate which caused
much grief for literally hundresd of thousands of people. There are
300,000 Bosniak-Moslems living in Yugoslavia and as many
Serbs who fled from Bosnia. Also, there are almost a million
Serbs living in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and most of them have
family or business relations across FR Yugoslavia. Because of the
lack of any relations between the two countries, most of the legal
issues were left on hold. Bosniaks living in Serbia were in an
especially different position since they were facing the terror of the
Serbian regime without the possibility of Bosnia being able to improve
their rights and protect them.
    However, the situation has completely changed after the victory of
democratic forces in Yugoslavia. The attitude of the new authorities
is unconditional and urgent establishment of diplomatic ties with
all former Yugoslav republics. After a series of talks in Sarajevo,
on 20th December the two parties signed protocol about the
establishment of full diplomatic relations in Belgrade. On
that occasion Yugoslav foreign minister Goran Svilanovic said that
good ties between the two countries will show how absurd are Bosnian
accusation of genocide and aggression, especially since none of
the present politicians, as Svilanovic said, wast in power
during the war or supported the war in Bosnia.
    Before the end of the year, NATO secretary general George
Robertson visited Bosnia in order to encourage NATO soldiers in
their peace-keeping tasks, but also to state some important
messages to Bosnian politicians. Robertson particularly addressed
the possibility of Bosnia joining European integrations, saying
that it was hard to imagine without a government of the
so-called non-nationalist parties.
    Robertson also said to the highest government representatives
that Bosnia will not enter NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program
unless her military forces are united. According to the Dayton
agreement, there are two armies in Bosnia - one belonging to the
Serb Republic and another to the Federation B-H, that is in its turn
divided into Bosniak and Croatian components.
    Consequently, there are three armed formations in the country
which are controlled by the representatives of three still
clashing nations. It is hard to believe that a united army is
possible, even at higher levels which was proposd by international
community so that the army wouldn't be torn apart by national
antagonism. Especially alarming is the recent statement of a
Serbian officer who said that he is afraid that in a joint
army somebody would shoot his soldiers in the back. Since in all
three armies there are commanders who served  in their posts
during the war, this statement is not too far from reality, no
matter how politically calculated it is. The Military is just
following the trend of mistrust and tensions in Bosnia and
    That is why the NATO Secretary General warned almost angrily:
"The frustration and mistrust of the international community is growing
and it is time for the chosen representatives but also ordinary
people in Bosnia to take up responsibility for the situation in
their own country. The end result of years of ethnic nationalism and
hate is apparent: three armies, two entities, one country, and
everybody broke". Robertson was clear. If there is no political
progress in Bosnia based on Bosnian politicians and people
themselves, Bosnia will lose all foreign financial aid. And that
would be disastrous.
    Yet, Bosnian citizens for now aren't very burdened by
bleak forecasts and warnings from abroad. Two weeks' celebration
period has begun, with every nation celebrating a religious
holiday each.
    There has already been celebration of Catholic Christmas and
Jewish Hanukah, on 27th December is Moslem Bairam, and after the New
year, on 7th January is Orthodox Christmas. It is interesting that
in the past ten years religious holidays significantly overtook
New Year as universal, joint holiday. As in other segments of
everyday life, what was common has been put behind of what was
national. As a consequence, New year is somewhat isolated between
the national holidays and is felt as a declarative celebration,
necessary more because of ties with the West, then as a true
secular and especially joint holliday.
    By Peter Mikes
    Despite the failure of the referendum on early elections proposed by the
Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) of the former prime
minister Vladimir Meciar, the political instability in Slovakia grows.
    The reasons for this fact are coming from the both sides of
the political spectrum. First, at the beginning of December two of the
five parties of the Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) , the strongest
governmental party, which nominated the prime minister Dzurinda,
announced that they were leaving this coalition {SDK}, although
they will back the governmental coalition and members of
governmental coalition. These two parties belong to the right-wing
spectrum the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) of Minister of
justice Jan Carnogursky (head of the party) and the Democratic
Party {DS} of Jan Langos. Not all members of the Democratic Party
agreed with Langos's decision- the deputy prime minister Ivan
Miklos, the head of economic reforms in Slovakia was so angered,
that he announced that he was leaving the Democratic Party. After
Miklos's departure the position of the Democratic party is very
complicated- Miklos is very popular among the voters of the Democratic
Party. The loss of Miklos's supporters could additionally worsen
the political troubles of the Democratic party, which had only 3
percent popularity prior to Miklos's leaving.
    The step of the KDH and DS weakened the position of the Slovak
Democratic Coalition SDK inside the whole governmental coalition.
The other parties protested that the Slovak Democratic coalition
wasn't the strongest party anymore, and it was assumed, that
they did not initiatee a new  division of ministry posts only
because they have enough problems inside their own parties and are
only waiting for better timing to reconsider the coalition
agreement and to request more positions in government after SDK
was weakened. One of the parties eager for more power in the
governmental coalition is the Party of Democratic Left (SDL). It
is assumed that in the future it will be this party which will
open the issue of division of governmental posts and require the
revision of  the governmental coalition agreement.  But now SDL is
facing an internal struggle.  This party has two factions - one
opposing cooperation with Meciar's HZDS and another which is
considering this idea. Recently the pro-Meciar wing has been
gaining political power inside the party significantly. One more
sign of it is the involuntary resignation of defense minister
Pavol Kanis, who supports the anti-Meciar wing inside the
party. Kanis had to resign after he could not explain the source
of his personal financial wealth. The pro-Meciar wing, to which
the head of SDL Jozef Migas also belongs, proposed for the position
of Minister of defense the former chief of the Slovak army during
Meciar's government, Mr. Jozef Tuchyna. Prime Minister Dzurinda and
the heads of other governmental parties angrily rejected Tuchyna
telling to SDL, that they should propose somebody, who will "not be
a hurdle " to the ambitions of Slovakia to enter NATO. It
is not clear, how the fight between the SDL and the other parties in
the governmental coalition will end- the new defense minister should
be announced by the SDL on January 2nd.
    But the weakening of the SDK and strengthening of the pro-Meciar
faction inside the SDL is a nice Christmas present of the governmental
coalition to the opposition parties, especially Meciar's HZDS.
    By Ivlian Haindrava
    December is more than half over, and it's time to draw some
conclusions from the past year's experience. The fact that this
year is the last not only of the century but also of the whole
millennium further magnifies the importance of such conclusions.
In addition, if one keeps in mind that October 28 marked the tenth
anniversary of the first non-Communist elections in Georgia, one
may admit that there is every reason to reflect on the topic "What
the independent state of Georgia is at the present moment".
    December this year turned out particularly cold and dark. With
winter's arrival the supply of electricity to Georgian homes
diminished drastically. The six-hour limit on electricity
established in November fell to three hours a day, and by the
beginning of December the country was practically without any
light or heat at all. Such desperate circumstances forced people
to break out of their homes and block traffic in the streets and
highways with burning tires and still-surviving trees. It's
remarkable that such violent acts occurred not only in the
provinces, but also in the most fashionable areas of the capital
city. The authorities responded by promising to improve the
situation shortly. The  residents in prestigious areas, assuming
nothing more could be expected from the government, went back to
their dark and cold apartments.
    But in the less prestigious areas of Tbilisi the protests
continued, although such acts of protest were not only
unsuccessful, but also too late. Indeed, all this should have
happened either a year ago at the time of the parliamentary
elections, or at least last spring when the presidential elections
were going on. The government's main challenge, however, consisted
in approving an under-implemented - although sequestrated last
summer - national budget for 2000, as well as one for the first
year of the new millennium. As a result, the country got a new
national budget with the following amazing parameters: revenues -
GEL 839,700,000; expenses - GEL 1,117,313,000 (with an exchange
rate of GEL 2.00 to US $1.00). These figures imply that the
government is planning to raise US $420 million and spend about US
$600 million next year. At least, such are the expectations of the
MPs from the ruling party, the Citizens' Union of Georgia, who
have enough seats to adopt any budget they like.
    Unfortunately even such miserable budgets which, as one
legislator quipped, can only be matched by certain European
football clubs, have not managed to accrue the projected revenues
with the same ease as they gained the yearly support of optimistic
MPs from the parliamentary majority. In the meantime, the
country's foreign and domestic debts have reached US $2 billion
and $750 million respectively. These and other parameters led the
Budgetary Office of the Georgian Parliament to suppose that the
coming fiscal year will not differ much from the current one
(which, in turn, was scarcely different from the preceding one and
so forth) and would likely be stagnant.
    There is no reason to expect anything bright or warm to come
from such a budget for the next year, according to the Office.
    Former president of the National Bank of Georgia Nodar
Javakhsihvili believes that although the adopted national budget
for 2001 is exceptionally meagre and not based on the country's
actual fiscal potential, it is nevertheless unfeasible. It's
curious that as little as $45 million has been allocated for the
maintenance of public order and national security, $20 million for
national defence, $19 million for public health, and about $17
million for education. This is thought to be enough for a whole
year for a country with 5 million people. It doesn't take a
genius to imagine how educated or healthy Georgians will be in the
near future, or how reliably public order and national security -
to say nothing of the national defence - will be maintained by the
government. President Shevardnadze admitted that the national
budget for the Year 2001 could not be expected to satisfy the
needs of law-enforcement ministries, and called on them to
"understand" the government's present funding capabilities. The
president promised that the 2002 national budget would give both
national defence and security top priority. It was perhaps the
eighth time during his eight-year rule (following his second rise
to power in Georgia) that Shevardnadze emphasised that the
adoption of the national budget in its present (miserable) form
was a precondition for continued financial assistance from the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The president
hopes that such assistance will enable the country to reduce its
foreign debt and solve a number of other problems. But
international financial institutions do not seem to be in any
hurry to get the Georgian president's hopes up.
    Taking advantage of the total darkness in which most of the
country is living, some have turned to equally dark deeds. Two UN
observers were kidnapped on December 10 in the Kodori gorge
located in Abkhazia, a breakaway province of Georgia partially
controlled by the Georgians and partially by the Abkhazis. Unknown
persons abducted them to an unknown place for unknown reasons--and
five days later, again for unknown reasons, they brought them back
safe and sound, having not got a penny, sources swear, for that
brilliantly implemented operation. Unknown persons have kept six
hostages for two weeks already in Pankisi, another highland gorge
neighbouring Chechnya. Among them are two Spanish businessmen who
were kidnapped from the highway while driving to the Tbilisi
airport. Although in this case a "Chechen trace" is obvious, it
can  hardly raise the country's prestige.
    Contrary to all the authorities' pledges to improve the
situation and special measures ordered by the National Security
Council, the government seems to have lost control of this region
where more than seven thousand Chechen refugees reside, according
to official sources. In his interview with the National Radio,
President Shevardnadze mentioned that the Pankisi gorge sheltered
several dozen exceptionally dangerous criminals, but that the vast
majority of both the local population and the Chechen refugees
sympathised with the law-enforcement agencies' efforts to
re-establish stability in the region.
    Chechnya's President Aslan Maskhadov has issued a special
order on the criminal responsibility of Chechen citizens guilty of
criminal offences in Georgia.  In particular, the order states
that serious crimes, such as intentional murder, kidnapping,
robbery, rape, etc. will be punishable by death. As Khizri
Aldamov, an unofficial representative of Chechnya to Georgia, said
time served by Chechen criminals in Georgia for their crimes will
not be recognised by the Chechen authorities as adequate
punishment for these crimes, and that all such criminals will
still be subject to capital punishment as soon as hostilities in
Chechnya end.
    Mr. Aldamov believes that there are many Russian secret
service agents in the Pankisi gorge, including ethnic Chechens,
who intend to undermine friendship between the Georgians and the
    "They're the ones," he said, "who disseminated the rumours
about how the residents of the Pankisi gorge want to secede from
    According to him, the Chechen president sent the people and
government of Georgia an appeal in which he used the word "absurd"
in reference to Moscow's claims that weapons and fighters were
supplied to Chechnya by way of Georgia. The Chechen resistance
will have no problem with their weapon supply "while corruption is
booming in the Russian military", the Chechen President noted.
    As for the above-mentioned two Spaniards, according to
Aldamov, they are not and never have been in the Pankisi gorge. At
the same time, he admitted that thanks to the people who want to
see relations between Chechnya and Georgia deteriorate, it may be
that the kidnapped Spaniards will be found in the Pankisi gorge.
Aldamov said that in the near future he would do his best to
explore the situation more closely. At the same time, to keep the
situation from deteriorating, he suggested that the Georgian
authorities withdraw the troops the Interior Ministry had deployed
there in order to bring events under government control. In this
context, the rumours about the possible separation of the Pankisi
gorge from Georgia do not seem so groundless.
    In the meantime, a previously announced visa regime between
Russia and Georgia went into effect December 5, 2000. The Consular
Division of the Russian Embassy in Georgia issued Russian visas to
more than fifteen hundred citizens of Georgia during the first
week, according to official sources. It issued only 116 visas to
Russian citizens during the same period. As of December 20,
Russian visas will be issued only to those citizens of Georgia
with invitations from individuals or legal entities of the Russian
Federation. The European Parliament has expressed their concern about
these steps Russia has taken, which have caused Georgia to become
the only CIS country from which Moscow has revoked its non-visa
regime. According to the Embassy of the European Union in Georgia,
the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament has recently
proposed amendments to the Uniform Strategy of the EU towards
Russia (Oostlander Report), which in the course of discussions
were supported by other political groups as well. As a result,
the European Parliament has decided to request the Government of the
Russian Federation to suspend the visa regime with Georgia.
Otherwise, the Georgian economy may undergo serious setbacks, which
may result in the further deterioration of relations between
Russia and Georgia - such is the opinion of the deputies of the
European Parliament.
    "Another reason Russia's decision is unacceptable to us is
that it implies Russia's de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia, regions that form an integral part of Georgia, and whose
populations will be exempted from the newly introduced visa regime,"
said Per Garton, the European Parliament's spokesman for the countries of
the South Caucasus. According to him, such measures taken by the
Russian government could greatly harm the troublesome process of
re-establishing peace in those conflict zones.
    Marian Islerbegen, a member of the European Parliament's delegation
to the  countries of the South Caucasus, said that by deciding to
establish a simplified  visa regime for the benefit of residents
in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russia had forfeited her right to
play a mediating role in the Georgian-Abkhaz and Georgian-Ossetian
peace processes. Hereafter this part should be played by the
European Council, Mr. Islerbegen said.
    In the meantime, the UK Embassy in Georgia warned British
citizens to be cautious owing to an intensification of assaults on
foreign citizens in Georgia over the past three months. Those
intending to travel to Georgia are advised to avoid Abkhazia,
South Ossetia and the whole perimeter of the Russian-Georgian
border, including the Pankisi gorge. All UK citizens were
cautioned to refrain from driving at night owing to the poor roads
with inadequate illumination. Due to frequent electricity outages,
especially during winter, residents were warned against going
outdoors after dark, or walking alone at night. Indeed, the Brits
have good reason to be cautious. A total of 13,605 crimes
were registered in Georgia over the past 11 months, 855 more than
for the same period last year, according to a deputy of the
Prosecutor General. While the number of murders and bodily
injuries dropped in 2000, the number of robberies, thefts,
larcenies, misappropriations and tax evasions rose. At the same
time, the deputy said, existing official statistics still do not
reflect the real picture in its entirety. Serious offences
occurred in the sphere of pension payments and the energy sector - "I
mean the misappropriation of public funds", the Deputy General
Prosecutor said.
    The power supply remains one of the most striking problems facing
Georgia. Michael Scoley, general manager of the Tbilisi power
distribution company that was privatised to a US company three
years ago, said his company has been buying electricity in huge
quantities to ensure that the needs of Tbilisi residents are
met. Mr. Scoley told the media that during the first eleven days
of December his company purchased 16 million kilowatt hours in
excess of what Tbilisi residents actually received (based on
market rates, this amounts to $800,000). He said he had no idea
where the rest of the electricity could have gone. "This has to be
investigated," Mr. Scoley said. "Otherwise we will resort to some
other steps." Since he did not specify what these steps could be,
we can only hope that he did mean shelling Tbilisi, reminiscent of
what Serbia suffered recently. But there is good news too.
Following the Russian military bases in Vaziani (next to Tbilisi)
and Akhalkalaki (South Georgia), the first train loaded with
Russian military equipment has left Gudauta Base (Abkhazia). The
withdrawal of the military equipment deployed in Gudauta is
planned to be completed by December 26, 2000. This must be
implemented consistent with the agreements about the reduction of
conventional weapons in Europe signed in November 1999 during the
Istanbul summit of the OCSE. In all, 89 units of Russian armoured and
artillery equipment should be withdrawn from the Gudauta Base. But
whatever the case may be, there is no hope that with the new
millennium Georgia will rid itself of the Russian military presence.
Generally speaking, there is an overwhelming impression that the
third millennium is in no hurry to arrive in Georgia. Or, more
precisely, it turns out that Georgia herself is not ready to meet
it. Thus, burdened with paying for their own and others' sins and
mistakes, Georgians can only look from a distance at other
nations' celebrating and rejoicing in their dazzling, brightly
lighted streets. We must be content, for now, with greeting the
old New Year.


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 (Free Access)
Kyiv Implodes Over "Kuchmagate"
Russian Media Magnate Arrested in Spain
Violent Protests Shake Kosovo
Polish Nurses Step Up Nationwide Strike
Czech, Austrian Nuclear Tension Stabilizes
Gambling Legalized in Kyrgyzstan
U.S. Company Wins Bid for Estonia Rail
Putin Courts Castro
Ancient, Under Water Burial Found in Kazakhstan

OUR TAKE: Tis' The Season to be Wary; On the region's prospects for 2001

OPINION: The Romanian Scenario
by Cas Mudde and Anna Siskova
    Recent elections in Romania have caused anxiety well beyond
the borders of the country itself. Both the United States and the
European Union have raised concern about the country's
development. However, the significance of the elections might even
go beyond that. A "Romanian scenario" could follow in other
Central and Eastern European countries as well. Disillusionment
with liberal democracy could be a worrying trend in the region.

FEATURE: Milosevic Back on the Box
    by Dragan Stojkovic
    Ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, faced the nation
on 12 December in his first interview since removal from office
and admitted that "his conscience is clear and that he can sleep
well." He added that he had nothing to fear from the International
Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague--which
has indicted him for war crimes--and said that it was part of a
system used to inflict genocide on the Serbs.

FEATURE: Culture Without Language
    by Matthew Reynolds
    A stroke has slowed Stefan Bunganic down in his golden years.
The retired chemist, mathematician, and scholar still gets around,
but his limbs are not entirely obedient. "I want to write a book
on the philology of the Rusyn language," he says, sitting in his
small home in the eastern Slovak village of Zbudska Bela, patting
a worn notebook containing thousands of words he's been collecting
for over 30 years. "And I'm going to stick around long enough to
finish it," he says. A handful of Rusyns are attempting a revival
of their dying tongue--but implanting passion in the people is a
difficult task.

FEATURE: Let's Do the Time Warp Again
    by Sophia Kornienko
    This year, Christmas came a bit early in the Russian
parliament when the country gave itself a new/old national anthem
and decided on the national flag and the coat of arms on 8
December. And almost everyone was a winner. The communists
unwrapped their Stalinist-era Soviet anthem--minus the lyrics; the
radicals were pleased as punch to be able to keep the
ominous-looking double-headed eagle as the coat of arms, and the
democrats got the go-ahead to keep flying the national tricolor.

EU SPECIAL REPORT: The Bigger, the Better
    On 12 December, one day after European leaders finished their
discussions in Nice, Dr. Gunter Pleuger, state secretary of the
German Foreign Office and one of his country's delegates at the
summit, addressed an audience at the German Embassy in Prague.
Pleuger said that although he did not think that the summit
achieved everything it had intended to, it was certainly not a
failure. He added that the process of enlargement was independent
from the summit and that entry into the EU remained in the hands
of the applicant countries themselves. After his speech, he spoke
to TOL's Andrea Mrozek.