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Issue No. 209 - January 31 , 2001
1. Bosnia and Herzegovina CROAT HARDLINERS PROVOKE NEW
By Radenko Udovicic
2. FRY/Serbia: THERE IS NO POST-MILOSEVIC SERBIA
By Sanja Vukcevic
3. Alabania: CRAVING FOR MEDIA CONTROL
By Mero Baze
4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
Q: How do you see the processes that have
been underway in
Serbia after Milosevic, after democratic elections?
A: Even after Milosevic, there still isn't
Serbia. Practically speaking, this means that all the economic and
financial monopolies that were created during his era still exist.
People who amassed fortunes have found new political sponsors,
mostly in DOS. Even most of the members of Milosevic's SPS and
JUL, headed by his wife Mira Markovic, transferred to another
parties. JUL members mostly go to parties of democratic center,
and SPS to national conservative parties. In a few months' time
we'll probably see seven SPSs with various names. It's obvious
that Serbian political life will be characterized by battles for
institutions, money, monopolies or-- which is happening now -
certain individuals. The key issue is who goes to the federal and
who to the republican level. The people who grabbed the federal
level, like Kostunica, now owe a political and ideological debt to
Milosevic's inheritance, as can be seen from their attitude
towards Hague, since the federal government was formed with
Milosevic's Montenegrin partners. We need an independent court
system, a series of trials, the passing of amnesty laws, the
publishing of police dossiers, the rehabilitation of political
victims, the hunt for war crimes and criminals--all told, a five-
to ten-year process.
Q: The attitude of the new government towards
Hague is rather
"hard", despite Europe's expectations based on some earlier
speeches made by ruling coalition leaders.
A: The Hague is a very complicated issue since
most people in
Serbia, objectively speaking, have no idea that there was a war
and that 50,000 people--Serbian citizens--died in it. It was
hidden, swept under the carpet. True, it was used for political
aims, to blame Milosevic. However, many people who were active
participants in the whole story took part in the coup after the
elections. Two or three DOS leaders are afraid to face Carla Del
Ponte. Milosevic is only a minor problem for The Hague. Kostunica
acts like some kind of national father figure, but he has the
least to fear. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic could even be
called upon to explain why he was visiting Karadzic. But they
can't do anything against current Yugoslav president Vojislav
Kostunica. His personal position is here only ideological,
nationalistic - "we are defending our pride," while some other
people have some real interest in evading Hague.
Q: What is the future of the ruling coalition
DOS, composed of
18 very politically different parties?
A: Opening the police dossiers, which has
already been drafted
in law, will help restructure the whole political scene in Serbia.
It's a beginning. DOS will lose five or six leaders, some of them
to the Hague Tribunal. I can say that in the coming year DOS will
be headed by other people, and that 90 percent of those now
holding positions in federal government won't be in politics
anymore. There are political earthquakes ahead. The first will
occur in Montenegro and will cause the collapse of the federal
structure. Then there are the changes to the Serbian constitution,
and at the 2002 elections politicians who remain in DOS will try
to stick together. The only persons who will try their luck
outside the coalition are Djindjic and Kostunica. Milosevic isn't
a relevant factor anymore, but he can do a lot of harm. Still,
there is the Resistance movement that is in the process of
becoming a political party, and the group of independent economy
experts called G-17, which is close to Res nce, so there is
constant internal opposition to Milosevic. Kostunica aided this
in large part when he met Milosevic and said Milosevic "wasn't
done with" yet. This pushed half of the DOS over to the
Q: What will be Milosevic's personal fate?
A: That man has no future. He defends himself
by laying blame
on anybody and anything in sight - he could be extradited to
Hague, he could be tried in Serbia, he could be assassinated, but
he's not likely to remain free for long.
Q: How would you assess the changes in Serbian
A: Serbia doesn't exist on an international
everybody treats it as if it does, which is very interesting. The
international community does because of the so-called recognition
as a state. I say "so-called" because what was recognized was a
mailbox. FRY and the federal government is a mailbox with nothing
in it, but it's obvious that the international community was in
hurry to recognize the state. This readiness to cooperate is also
new. It's no secret that the overall politics still scares The
Hague and America. I was always curious about why Western Europe
was in such a rush to recognize us. I don't think they did us any
favors; they just emphasized our internal problems, that is, the
status of Kosovo and Montenegro. Europe wanted to relieve itself
of a very poorly executed job in Kosovo. They also feared changes
from the Bush administration. So it was Europe that started
clinging to the formula of FRY with Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia.
Besides, there is also the fact that capital in Serbia during
Milosevic's rule wasn't included in sanctions--Western buyers
bought huge Serbian companies, like our telecommunications system.
They were in a terrible hurry to recognize Yugoslavia and "clean"
their business. Because of all that, they will insist on existence
of FRY. So, there will be only provisional solutions, not clear or
Q: Is this how you think about the issue of
solving the status
of Kosovo and Montenegro?
A: I think that the negotiation process with
it in fact isn't, will collapse, that Montenegro will proclaim
independence and live for a time like Taiwan. It will declare
independence, nobody will recognize it, everybody will cooperate
with it, and it will formally be part of a non-existent FRY. There
will be an international peace conference for Kosovo, which will
recognize it as the Republic of Kosovo after the elections, but it
will also formally be within FRY. Those who want real power in
Serbia, like Prime Minister Djindjic, will have to proclaim Serbia
as a country in itself.
Q: Is there a possibility of armed conflict
Kosovo or in the region?
A: Not like the ones we used to have, or used
to fear. Kosovo
was the last war on the territory of the so-called FRY.
Kosovo-related ultimatums to international community mostly came
from the level of the republican Serbian government while the
federal Yugoslav one acted in a diplomatic and tolerant manner.
The federal government and Kostunica have the idea of dividing
Kosovar territory. In terms of classic armed conflicts, Macedonia
is in real danger and this could panic the West. Bosnia and
Herzegovina is in danger of terrorism because of the push to
divide the territory. So I expect there could be that kind of
conflict - guerilla warfare and terrorism against the army and
police in southern Serbia and within Kosovo among Albanians and
between Serbs and Albanians. It is also possible in Sandzak
region, but there is no possibility or political will for
organizing a Serbian army to invade Montenegro. But people will
still get killed owing to crime, politics, revenge--we'll have a
terrible period of changes in government, changes in officials and
parties, a series of earthquakes...
Albania: CRAVING FOR MEDIA CONTROL
By Mero Baze*
The Tirana Court of Appeals repeated its sentence of nearly
$13,000 for three Albanian journalists, on the basis of charges filed
by the wife of Prime Minister Ilir Meta, for public insult and
unfair corruption, while ending a successful year for government
control over the press in Albania. Most of the conflicts between the
government and the press during this year have a common characteristic,
which is the family of Prime Minister Ilir Meta, and against them,
a group of selective journalists who are not under the government's
control. Since this is clearly a negative development, on which the
international community is not focusing its attention, the conflict
between the government and the press in Albania needs reliable explanations.
It is crucial to understand that the problem lies neither in the
sporadic cases of violence against the press, nor in the isolated
cases of illegal governmental financing for part of the press.
What must be explained is whether the current official administration
in Albania really has a strategy to control the Albanian press. In
order to analyze this it is important to know the position of the current
Prime Minister, who has more conflicts with and sentencing of journalists
in in his record than any other Albanian Prime Minister.
The relations of the Prime Minister with the governmental press
The day Ilir Meta was appointed Prime Minister, the newspaper
considered as the most popular in the Albanian left wing, "Koha
Jone", opened with the front page headline "Government of the open
files". The headline, as well as the content and the comment of the
newspaper attacked the cabinet of Prime Minister Ilir Meta,
established in November 1999, as a cabinet that started with many
non-investigated corruption files. Among them, the most
conspicuous was that of the Prime Minister and his wife, Monika
Kryemadhi, who were officially accused by the prosecutor's office
over a sceme related to the buying of passenger wagons from an Austrian firm.
The case still remains uninvestigated because of the new
position of Mr. Ilir Meta in the government. After the publishing
of the article, people close to Prime Minister Ilir Meta tell of a
rare scene in Albanian journalism. The Prime Minister headed
towards Lezha, the birthplace of the publisher of "Koha Jone"
newspaper, Nikoll Lesi and asked for the "besa" (word of honor) of
his father not to be attacked any further by the newspaper. No
matter how incorrect the description of this scene by people close
to PM Ilir Meta might be, the fundamental truth is that since his
second day as a Prime Minister, Ilir Meta's main concern has been
gaining control first of the governmental press and then of the
nongovernmental press. Considering the way things developed,
it seems that this turned into a main objective. In December 1999,
the Minister of Finance, Anastas Angjeli order the tax office in
Tirana to free the "Demokracia" printing house from a debt of nearly
$100,000 to "Albania" and "Koha Jone" newspapers,
who had managed to create, with the knowledge of the Prime
Minister and of the Minister of Finance, a fake trial to prove
they had less obligations towards the state than they did in
In reality, the two publishers with close ties to the current
administration, directly favored by Prime Minister Ilir Meta won a
trial, which "proved" that "Demokracia" printing house had not
been founded in 1993, when it was actualy founded, but in
1995. Therefore, it was declared that this printing house could
not have incured its fiscal obligations during those two years.
Under this example during the year 2000 the Prime Minister
started to exercise his control over all governmental newspapers,
which were mostly controlled by the chairman of the Socialist
Party, Fatos Nano.
Thus, after "Koha Jone" newspaper, which showed that the Prime
Minister instigated a campaign of partnership, towards the
financial compensation to be controlled by him, "Albania"
newspaper, once a fanatic supporter of [former President Sali]
Berisha, was put under government control on the basis of a threat to
privatize the government building where the newspaper operates
without paying a rent and on the other hand, by pressuring the
publisher of this newspaper by threatening to disclose his previous
cooperation with the Albanian secret service. A Parliamentary
Commission of the Verification of the 1997 events, has found
documents which prove the sponsoring of this newspaper by
the National Secret Service during the term in office of Mr. Berisha,
but facts were not included in the report, while using this as a means to turn the
publisher of this newspaper to the service of the current
administration and preserve its anti-opposition nature.
Later, the Prime Minister managed to put under his full
control "Gazeta Shqiptare" newspaper, an Italian daily, which is
slighly dependent on the Italian government and on segments of
Italian politics. The editor in chief of this newspaper, once a
local correspondent of the newspaper from Gjirokastra and later
the host of a radio night show in Tirana, was appointed to
this post and given a house in Tirana's most expensive area by a
personal decree of the Prime Minister. The decree of the Prime
Minister, published in "Tema" newspaper, proves that Arjan
Çani, editor in chief of this newspaper, has been given an
apartment which was previously the home of a foreign diplomat (a very
comfortable apartment) After this and after other facilitations that the
Prime Minister has personally given to the editor in chief, the newspaper
has turned into a faithful mouthpiece of the Prime Minister, while
causing problems inside the newspaper staff
The newspaper is used mainly for aggressive attacks against the
opposition and to warn of schemes of the State Secret Service
against the opposition. This newspaper has published fake
versions of all Albania police actions and of assassinations that
have taken place, where the government has been implicated. The
newspaper is so controlled that in the latest international fair
of "Fiera Del Levante" in Tirana, the newspaper, whose publisher
is Italian, severely attacked all Italian investors in Albania,
while clearly becoming the advocate of the Prime Minister who was
criticized by Italian investors operating in Albania for corruption.
"Shekulli" newspaper, another pro governmental daily, is more
careful in relations with the Prime Minister, because of the bad
relations it had with former Prime Minister Fatos Nano. The
newspaper has previously supported the former socialist Prime
Minister Pandeli Majko and the current President Rexhep Meidani.
The support of this newspaper for Prime Minister Ilir Meta is
conditioned by the conflict position it has with the current
chairman of the Socialist Party, Fatos Nano.
"Zeri i Popullit" newspaper, the oldest Albanian daily,
created by Albanian communists in 1942, is almost totally
controlled by the Prime Minister and it carries out a personal
policy against his rivals within the party. The newspaper has
been distant from the Socialist Party chairman, Fatos Nano in all
his conflicts with Prime Minister Ilir Meta while at the same time
positioning itself aggressively against the opposition as often as
the latter has threatened the figure of Mr. Ilir Meta, something
it has not done when similar attacks are meant for the chairman of
the Socialist Party Fatos Nano.
Relations of Prime Minister Ilir Meta with the nongovernmental press
The nongovernmental press in Albania has had the majority of
the problems with the current Prime Minister. Since Ilir Meta
became Prime Minister, there have been nearly 40 court cases
against journalists of these newspapers, two of which are party
newspapers and the other two are considered independent.
"Rilindja Demokratike" newspaper, the newspaper of the
opposition Democratic Party is the champion of court cases with
the current Prime Minister. During the last three months alone,
there have been 17 court sessions called by the wife of the Prime
Minister against journalists.
On October 12, 2000 the Tirana Courthouse commenced a court
hearing against three journalists, Astrit Patozi, Shemsi Peposhi
and Redin Hafizi, who in some articles had accused the wife of the
Prime Minister for being responsible for the death of two employees
in a stone-quarry, unregistered in the Tirana tax office, which employees
acknowledged was administrated by the wife of the Prime Minister.
She filed charges and began a court hearing where she managed to have
the three journalists sentanced within three months, a record time,
which testifies to the involvement of state structures in the justice system.
A normal court hearing in Albania ends in approximately two years, if it
goes through all court levels and if it is seriously investigated, while the
trial of the wife of the Prime Minister versus the three journalists ended
with severe verdicts within three months, by failing to consider the proofs
presented by the journalists.
On October 19, the Tirana Court sentenced the journalist Ndrek Gjini
to two months in prison. He was accused on the basis of an article on the
illegal acquisition of a sum of nearly $600,000 from the
solidarity tax by officials of the Albanian police. The journalist
based his report on a control act of the State Control Agency.
Journalists of "Republika" newspaper have received five
summonses from the prosecutor's office, which has been instigated
by members of the cabinet of Prime Minister Ilir Meta in response
to corruption charges published in the newspaper. "Tema" newspaper,
an independent daily critical of the government, was the only
newspaper excluded from the government's project for
assistance to the press and which during the last two months alone
has received four summonses to the prosecutor's office by
senior officials of the Albanian government.
On December 9, 2000, a sudden fire caused by an electric
shock in the electricity network torched "Tema". The newspaper
in its commentary directly accused the government structures, but
the reaction of the government was beastial. Prime Minister Meta ordered
the Miniser of Health, Mr Leonard Solis, not to use a government helicopter
to send a person who was terribly burned in the fire abroad for treatment.
The Minister of Health had promised the newspaper's staff that he would
send the wounded person, who had little hope of survival, to be treated
abroad, but at the last minute, after a government meeting and
consultations with the Prime Minister, that promise was forgotten.
The decision of the Prime Minister was cruel and was made at a time when
the newspaper was publishing a series of articles which threw
light on the suspicious past of the current Minister's collaboration with
Former President Berisha during 1993 -1997, when the socialist leader
Fatos Nano was in prison. At the same time the government did not offer
even symbolic assistance to the newspaper, whose premises and computers
were destroyed. All these reflect a clear picture of the almost hostile
relations the Prime Minister has esablished with the newspaper he
does notr control, which in fact he has a passion to destroy.
The newspaper "55", another non-government daily, was faced
some time ago with a series of judicial processes opened by leaders of
the socialist party in power, because of its accusations against
them related to the criminal implications in the events of 1997.
Though these proccesses are rarefied against that newspaper and
the government has symbolically included it in its donations for
the press, it still is avoided by state agencies advertisments and
faces innumerous difficulties and obstacles in its efforts to
survive in the press market.
The independent magazine "Koha" is also faced with
varions difficulties caused by the government. A donation of
$70,000 was given to the pro-government oriented magazines
"Klan" and "Spektër", whereas "Koha" was refused by the Prime
Minister for the simple reason that it doesn't have such an
editorial orientation. Though "Klan" and "Spektër" have lower
circulation than "Koha" being pro-government, they are favoured
with advertisments and donations 50 times greater. Meanwhile the
director of this magazine, Mr. Enver Bytyçi, was taken hostage
by members of the State Information Service on November 23. The
Albanian Forum for the Free Media has already denounced that
All these five press organs are very critical of the Prime
Minister, and each has different relations with the
opposition and the other political leaders in the country.
The Prime Minister has the electronic media under
his almost total control
Prime Minister Ilir Meta, has almost full control over the electronic
media in Albania. He has made use of the licensing process of the private
TV and radio stations in November 2000 in order to have power over this
media. He has used for his purposes the most important pro-government
TV station "Klan" and at the same time, supported it with advertisments,
government financing and infrastructure which have helped it to be
technically ahead of the other TV stations. The Prime Minister has done
the same thing with the other TV stations. "Arbëria", recently
licensed nationaly, had a suspicions start because of the accusations,
not yet judged by the Tirana Court, that its equipment were stolen from
an Italian bussinessmen in 1997. Such accusations have been raised even
in some pro-government newspapers in Tirana such as "Shekulli",
"Koha jonë", "Albania" etc.
The other TV stations are under the Prime Minister's control
because he uses segments of his government to controle the
quantity of advertisments on their screens as well as the ways and
means of serving them information.
During the latest electoral campaign in Albania, the press
office of Prime Minister Ilir Meta served as an official TV
agency, which distributed films of his electoral meetings to all the
TV stations under his control. They were obliged to transmit these
same passages, creating in this way uniformity of false information.
The scandal broke when "Klan" TV, which had its cameras in the
Prime Minister's helicopter during all his campaign appearances,
transmitted Meta's visit in Tropoja with almost celebratory pictures.
When a private cameraman brought an original video recording of
the visit to Tirana, a TV station close to the opposition which transmitted
it, become very popular, as it showed that the Prime Minister had serious
problems during the visit, including the overturning of a car by
the angry crowd. After that the pro-government TV stations lost a
lot of their professional reputation, but they got money,
advetisments etc. Actually the Prime Minister has under control
"Klan" TV, "Arbëria" TV, State TV, which are the only national
channals in the country, and Norba TV. and other local TV
stations are either under the government's influence or subject to its
persecution. The government excluded and disqualified the first private
TV in Albania, "Shijak" TV from a national lecense, with the objection
that it is not close to the government. For the same reason "ATN1" TV
was surrounded by police several times this year. A cameraman from this
TV was maltreated by the police in Kuçova.
"Kontakt" radio, one of the most popular, has been under constant
pressure for three years, and has survived only through donations from
its listeners. One of its owners was killed, the staff of the radio hold the
opinion that his death is related to his oposition to the government.
The radio has hardly any advertisment from the state agencies, and,
despite its popularity, no opportunity or possibility has been given for national
Two journalist's organisations have been operating in Albania until
recently, the League of Albanian journalists and the Association
of Albanian Journalists. Both organisations were badly
compromised after the Prime Minister's campaign against the press
in Albania. The chairman of the "Association of the Profesionional
Journalists", Mr. Armand Shkullaku, in a live program with "Voice
of America" together with Mr. Astrit Patosi, one of journalists
condemned by the Prime Minister's wife, openly took the side of the
government and supported the journalist's punishment. This was
repeated a few days later on another TV station by Mr. Ylli Rakipi -
Former Chairman of the Albanian Journalist's League. Since then, both
lost their authority, both among journalists and public opinion. This made
necessary the reorganisation of these organizations. At the beginning of
November 2000, all the editorial staffs that participated in the League of
Journalists declared the establishment of the Albanian Forum for The Free
Media. The forum has gathered all the non-government newspapers, magazines
and the radio and TV stations, which feel the need of being protected from
the policy of the current Prime Minister. The Forum has elected a board with
9 well known journalists and has intensified the journalists's efforts against the
Prime Minister's aims to control of the press.
Another group of local electronic media which is not highly
critical of the government but could hardly exist as part of
the association of Prefessional Journalists, was separated and
establishend the National Association of the Electronic Media, an
organisation which aims to protect the rights of the electronic
media against the government and the state licencing commission,
which is totally politically biased.
The new journalists' organisations have avoided the Prime
Minister's control and are trying to find international support in
order to clarify the difficult position of the Albanian media under
Mr. Meta's administration. Albania does not yet have a press
law, because the current administration in 1997 abrogated the
existing press law, creating a legal vacuum, which created conditions
for punishing journalists with the Penal Codeas as if they were
All the latest punishments of journalist, from fines to
imprisonments, are all legally based on the Penal Code.
The situation is expected to get even worse with the
upcoming new electoral campaign which is characterised by a deep
political polarisation. Besides, the freedom of press is
encroached even from the internal rivalries in the Socialist Party
and the power struggle of the Prime Minister within this party.
The current Prime Minister has no confident support within his
party and intends through his control over the media to triumf
over his rivals. All these warn a difficult year for the free
press in Albania as well as a difficult challenge of the Prime
Minister against the freedom of press.
Consoling until now is the fact that the first victim of each
battle between the media and government is the latter and its
* Mero Baze is Chairman of the Albanian Forum of Free Media
WEEK IN REVIEW
Pummeling the Press: Proposed measures on information security could deal a further
blow to the already beleaguered Belarusian independent media.
By Alex Znatkevich
Political Romance Ends: The conviction of a famous opposition leader adds to the
growing political tension in Kyrgyzstan.
by Alisher Khamidov
Poisonous Anniversary: A second cyanide spill threatens both human life and foreign
relations in Romania.
by Zsolt Istvan Mato
The Chechnya Shuffle: Putin announces partial troop withdrawal and an imposition of
federal rule in the breakaway republic.
by Sophia Kornienko
No Warm Welcomes: Hague Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte gets few greetings and makes
little headway in Belgrade.
by Dragan Stojkovic
Amnesty International Apologizes in Hungary for Controversial Ad
New Polish Party Receives Popular Support
Typhoid Threatens Thousands in Tajikistan
Croatian Pipeline Explosion Prompts Criminal Investigation
Minorities in Romania Granted Language Rights
MEDIA: Color TV
by Jeremy Druker
Sometimes it's not an election or a corruption scandal or even
an EU accession report that provides the clearest benchmark for
how far a country has progressed. It can be something as
unexpected as a TV revolt, as has taken place in the Czech
Republic over the past month. During such crises, nations show
their true colors.
BOOK REVIEW: Boast Writer
by Gabriel Sipos
"Slovenske tabu (The Slovak Taboo) by Vladimir Meciar with
Dana Podracka and Luba Sajdova. Silentium: 2000; 379 pages; in
Slovak." Shameless self-promotion has never been one of Vladimir
Meciar's weaknesses. The three-time Slovak prime minister, now out
of office for a record two years, recalls in his latest book a
time during his tenure when he was sent to the hospital for
examination and put to sleep with a narcotic. "I woke up, finding
myself alone in the room, took my clothes, changed, left the
hospital, and walked to work. Moments later a horrified team of
doctors started searching for me, asking where did their prime
minister go. And I was already sitting at my work desk." If you're
looking for critical analysis of Slovak politics, don't read
Vladimir Meciar's new book.
SPECIAL REPORT: The Bush World Order
ANALYSIS: No Pettiness on the Periphery
by Chris Walker
One of the key pieces of the security puzzle in Northeastern
Europe--NATO expansion--will move onto the international agenda
very quickly. A NATO summit will take place next year in the Czech
Republic, and expansion will be the topic of the day. Among the
many foreign policy issues the incoming U.S. presidential
administration will need to take up in the next weeks and months
will be sensitive questions relating to security issues in the
Baltic states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.A real test of
Bush's leadership abroad will be whether he pushes for NATO
enlargement in the Baltics.
OPINION: Cold Shower
by Elena Chinyaeva
Over the course of the U.S. presidential campaign, Russian
analysts often openly wished for George W. Bush to win, reflecting
a prevailing public opinion that Russia generally finds it easier
to do business with Republican administrations. On 13 January, a
few days before his inauguration as the 43rd president of the
United States, Bush made a declaration that some have already
dubbed a "cold shower" on Russian expectations: The United States
will no longer extend a financial helping hand--except for funds
earmarked for dismantling nuclear weapons, of course--to a country
that never seems to meet its obligations. Newly elected U.S.
President George Bush says no more aid to Russia--but no matter.
Western aid hasn't helped Russia much anyway.
ANALYSIS: The Challenges of a Changing World
by Tanya Domi
When the foreign policy team of newly elected U.S. President
George W. Bush gave their testimonies before the Senate
confirmation a few weeks ago, the message that emerged was
somewhat mixed. The new president's advisors seem to possess
differing opinions on a whole range of policies and--while
bold--are giving off contradictory signals.