Issue No. 214 - March 9, 2001

            By Zvezdan Georgievski

2. Bosnia and Herzegovina: REVIVAL OF HDZ SEPARATISM
            By Radenko Udovicic

           By Zoran Mamula

 4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL


    By Zvezdan Georgievski
    The gravest in the biggest Macedonian crisis since the leave
of the former Yugoslav army from its territory is the fact that
Macedonian state became a hostage of only a couple hundred
    The answer can be found in local political situation. The
ruling party VMRO-DPMNE led by current prime minister Ljupce
Georgijevski has to maintain a close coalition with Democratic
Party of Albanians (DPA) in order to stay in power. DPA, headed by
Arben Djaferi, is openly advocating independence of Kosovo and
gives at least logistic support to Kosovar political elements. So,
Macedonian border village of Tanusevci populated mostly by
Albanians is nothing else but part of that logistical support.
Public secret for several months has been that Tanusevci is in
fact a terrorist base. Since it is located on Macedonian
territory, KFOR and UNMIK have no authority over it, and
Macedonian government is turning its eye to it to maintain peace
at home.
    As much as a year ago one could see that something wasn't
all right. KFOR extradited commander of a KLA unit, Djavid Hasani,
to Macedonian government. Hasani was a Macedonian citizen accused
for attack on uniformed persons (Hasani shot policemen, wounding
one, when they tried to tear down his illegally built home). When
Hasani ended up in jail, four Macedonian soldiers were kidnapped
at the Macedonian border near Tanusevci village. Soon afterwards,
Hasani was released, and soldiers returned to Macedonian border.
    For a long time, Macedonian government unsuccessfully refused
to admit that it negotiated with the terrorists. Finally, prime
minister Ljupce Georgijevski asked the public were it better to
release (on a 200,000 DEM bail) a criminal or to get four coffins.
Djavid Hasani, born in Tanusevci, returned to Kosovo but he was
often seen also in his native village.
    Since that moment, it was clear that Tanusevci weren't under
Macedonian control anymore. Still the government used every
opportunity to reject such stories until one TV crew researched
the whole matter and got kidnapped. At the same time Macedonia
signed an agreement with FR Yugoslavia regulating borders which
came out to be a big failure among a part of local Albanian
politicians who think that Macedonia should've talked to Pristina,
not Belgrade, about  the borders. As a consequence, part of
Macedonian Albanians don't recognize some of the borderline
between Kosovo and Macedonia and, even worse, acts as if the
border doesn't exist.
    The authorities found themselves trapped, and culmination came
with death of three Macedonian soldiers, two of them killed in a
jeep that hit a land mine. Jeep was a security escort for
Macedonian OSCE mission's cars so that the international community
also decided to take up a more active role in dealing with this
problem. These deaths also sobered Macedonian government,
especially because the land mine was placed deep in Macedonian
territory. Police ministry had to admit that the land mine was
probably put there by a Macedonian citizen, which was the first
admission that terrorism wasn't only "import" from Kosovo but that
it also has its own local "autonomy". It was confirmed during a
fierce conflict of Macedonian forces against Tanusevci and nearby
villages, when over 200 people escaped from this region into
village Aracinovo near Skopje, which only confirms information
that terrorists are "ours", not foreigners.
    Authorities claim that Tanusevci are "liberated" and that
control over whole Macedonian territory is established. However,
not one representative of Macedonian government entered village in
fear that whole territory is littered with mines, so that
"liberation" is under doubt. Furthermore, some local analysts
claim terrorists are only regrouping. This thesis can be confirmed
by the fact that total mobilization of reserve army and police is
still in force, and border crossings with Kosovo are still closed.
    Meanwhile, Macedonia proposed NATO to make a buffer-zone in
Kosovar territory, which NATO refused as an unrealistic proposal
that doesn't solve anything. Regardless, Macedonia got full
support of neighboring countries, and Bulgaria even proposed to
send its own army in. Still, Macedonians think that the most
precious help came from Albanian prime minister Ilir Meta who
condemned terrorists' methods and distanced himself from them.
    What is causing most problems for Macedonian authorities is an
unidentified National Liberation Army that took responsibility for
local terrorist attacks. Political platform of the attackers is
still unclear. There aren't any demands issued to Macedonian
government. There are no requests for separation or autonomy, so
that the government doesn't really know whom it's fighting. Such
situation prompted several theories, first of them saying the plan
is to destabilize the country - which is a situation comfortable
for many political structures. Another theory is that the whole
incident was created so that NATO could stop supporting Kosovar
Albanians. After the fall of Slobodan Milosevic's regime, solution
of Kosovar crisis is seen in its integration into Serbia, which
isn't acceptable to yesterday's favorites of the international
community. So now roles should be reversed - Albanians become bad
guys this time. Third theory, which isn't unfounded, is that
border agreement between Yugoslavia and Macedonia presents a big
threat to highly developed smuggling between Kosovo and Macedonia
and that basically it's all about border and smuggle control.
    Regardless what is the real issue, at this moment Macedonia is
at rest, but the peace is still far away.

                          * * *

Bosnia and Herzegovina: REVIVAL OF HDZ SEPARATISM
    By Radenko Udovicic
    As was expected after Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) was left
out of state and entity government, there was Croatian National
Assembly held where most Croatian political parties and
institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed Croatian
    At the assembly held on March 3 in Mostar, representatives
of HDZ as the strongest Croatian parties and delegates from some
minor parties together with representatives of the church and
various organizations coming mostly from Herzegovina, formed a
para-state institution which will have power in the territory where
Croatian people form majority.
    Practically, it means a creation of third, Croatian entity in
Bosnia and Herzegovina which is a rude breaking of the Dayton Accord
which established peace in Bosnia in 1995.
    The reason for one-sided formation of a new legislative body in
Bosnia goes back to the beginning of the Federation B-H in 1994, as a
joint entity of Bosniaks and Croats.
    However, as the entity was created amid international pressure
it never truly gained firm ground because of the constant fights
between Bosniak and Croatian nationalists. HDZ politicians were
always expressing the need for their own, special, entity which would,
in their opinion, create Bosnia and Herzegovina made out of three equal
national parts where each nation would have equal rights in joint
    Direct motivation for final realization of this tendency was
creation of Alliance for Change in Federation B-H, a post-election
coalition made out of Social-democratic party (SDP) and Party for
Bosnia and Herzegovina together with two minor Croatian parties.
This alliance took over power in Federation B-H and completely
left HDZ out of government. Similar thing happened at the state
level where Alliance joined forces with some Serbian parties. In
such situation, HDZ was pushed into opposition also on the state
level. Going into opposition is nothing unusual for democratic,
one-nation societies. But in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country
consisting of three nations and where there is a personal national
rotation in the highest levels of government, this removal of HDZ
from power just had to cause major political disturbances.
    For, HDZ won over 70 percent votes of Bosnian Croats at last
elections, thus getting huge support from one of the three
constitutional nations. However, Alliance for change, thanks to
the fact that it enjoys majority in parliament and since it had
Croatian politicians inside, nominated Croats that objectively
don't enjoy support of Croatian voters for Croatian-only
government positions. Because of it, HDZ left the highest levels
of power in the country, saying that it will not recognize any
government without their representatives. Special strike against
HDZ was formation of the House of Nations in the federal parliament
that was formed with Croats from the Alliance for Change. Since House
of Nations has the role of protecting vital Croatian national
interests, HDZ said it disrupted equality of Croatian people in
Bosnia and Herzegovina and thus justified creation of para-state
Croatian parliament.
    On the fateful March 3 for HDZ, there were passed numerous
decisions in Mostar. If carried out , they will seriously endanger
further life of Bosnia and Herzegovina, especially the Federation B-H.
It was especially emphasized that Bosnian Croats don't recognize
Bosnian government institutions anymore.
    It was decided to proclaim Croatian self-government headed by the
Legislative Council consisting of Croatian representatives which
won support from voters at the last general elections. Some sort
of government will be formed to carry out decisions of this
    Financing of these institutions but also of the whole para-state
will be secured from public income which will be transferred to the
new government. According to decisions of the council, areas where
Croats form majority should stop paying taxes to the Federation's
budget and give them to the new Croatian unit instead.
    It was emphasized that this system will last until the
constitutional transformation of Bosnia and Herzegovina which will
enable full equality of Croatian people. Acting in this direction,
the Croatian National Council adopted a platform for re-defining
Bosnia and Herzegovina and forwarded it to the UN Security Council and
American president Bush. Platform insists on the creation of the federal
state Bosnia and Herzegovina consisting of more federal units with
equal rights and responsibilities.
    It is interesting that in all federal units one
constitutional nations would form a majority, but other two
nations would be equal and constitutional also. The new federal state
would have joint institutions created on the basis of parity,
consensus and rotation.
    Immediately after the council came fierce reactions from the
international community but also from Bosniak and Serbian side. The
Office of High Representative which has a broad authorities for
implementation of the Peace agreement in Bosnia, called formation of
the Assembly an illegal action which topples the state of Bosnia and
Herzegovina. High representative Wolfgang Petritsch released main
persons behind this crisis of their functions. Member of Bosnian
Presidency Ante Jelavic, who is also president of the Croatian
National Assembly, as well as his party HDZ, were found
responsible for disrupting constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
That is why OHR decided to fire Ante Jelavic as well as several
other high-ranked HDZ officials. They are forbidden to have any
public function. "If we didn't do this, our presence here in
Bosnia wouldn't make sense anymore", said an international source
in Sarajevo. There are considerations about possibility to ban
highest HDZ officials to enter European Union countries, which was
a measure taken against closest associates of Slobodan Milosevic.
There is even an option of asking the Croatian government to withdraw
Croatian passports from those officials, since all Bosnian Croats
have two citizenships, a Bosnian and a Croatian. However, besides
personal sanctions, the international community is considering
economic sanctions against Croatian self-government. It has
already been announced that all banks, firms and institutions that
supported it will be isolated and that any international aid will
be denied to them. From announcement of this plan only, it is clear
that the international community decided not to allow any foothold
for Croatian self-government. Also, if sanctions really came into
effect, which is undoubtable, then a high HDZ officials will have
their political careers ruined, and whole financial system of
western Herzegovina, otherwise very rich region, will be
    Bosniak reactions to formation of Croatian self-government
were also fierce. The only partial understanding came from the Party
of Democratic Action (SDA) that was HDZ's coalition partner for
ten years. Its leaders said that last Croatian moves were greatly
caused by the international community with its biased relation towards
the Alliance for Change. However, SDA condemned foundation of the Croatian
Assembly and called it dangerous and illegal. All other Bosniak
parties and institutions called Croatian self-government the
"reincarnation of Herzeg-Bosnia". During the war in Bosnia,
Herzeg-Bosnia was a para-state of Bosnian Croats that tried to
separate and join Croatia and which implemented ethnic cleansing
of Bosniaks and Serbs. After Federation B-H was created,
Herzeg-Bosnia integrated with Bosniak territories, but was left
imprinted in some Croats as a model of a good solution for them.
    In present circumstances, one should give special attention to
the behavior of Serbian side about this issue. During the post-war
years Serbian parties, especially SDS once led by indicted
war-criminal Radovan Karadzic, had sympathies towards Croatian
demands for third entity. The reason for their support was that
Croatian demands were basically decentralistic, which suited
Serbian side. Both Bosnian Serbs and Croats had a joint attitude
that Bosnia and Herzegovina should be absolutely decentralized
country with a minimum of joint institutions. That is why Serbian
parties thought that the Serb Republic will have even more
independence if Federation B-H split into two national parts.
However, as Croatian demands for the third entity met no support from
the international community, and lately not even from Croatia, HDZ
decided to propose a model of Bosnia made out of a number of
federal units which practically means elimination of both Serb
Republic and Federation B-H. This proposal is grounded on HDZ's
evaluation that the international community and Bosniaks will prefer
this solution than a clear tri-national division. As soon as HDZ
officials came out with these proposals, they lost all support
from Serb Republic because all Serbian political parties are
firmly opposed to any idea about canceling of their entity. It
was the reason why Serbian member of the Bosnian presidency Zivko
Radisic agreed to demands of the international community and nominated
Bozidar Matic, a Croat supported by the Alliance for Change, for
Bosnian prime minister. HDZ labeled that action as Bosniak-Serbian
coalition oriented against Croats adding another reason for
restructuring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
    However, the Serb Republic isn't passive towards Croatian
proposals for restructuring. Various Serbian political circles
openly criticize HDZ lately and call it nationalistic and
anti-Dayton party, using vocabulary once reserved only for
Bosniaks. From yesterday's ally in decentralization of Bosnia, HDZ
turned into biggest danger for the Serb Republic. One shouldn't be
surprised with almost urgent signing of agreement about special
relations between Serb Republic and FR Yugoslavia. With this
agreement Serbian authorities wanted to emphasize existence of
Serb Republic. If somebody wanted to cancel their entity, they would
also have to face the new Yugoslav government that enjoys strong
support of the international community. Besides, those authorities
also had support of OHR when they were signing the agreement few
days ago.
    Because of the fierce opposition of Serbian side, it is
unrealistic to expect a new conference on B-H, at least not as HDZ
sees it. It is true that HDZ somewhat put issue of Bosnian Croats
into spotlight. The international community has been acting towards
the relativization of national exclusiveness for a long time now.
However, it can hardly support demands to cancel out entities
because in the Serb Republic it could be implemented only by shedding
new blood.
    What is especially compromising for the idea of canceling out
entities is that it was proposed by HDZ, which carries the burden
of a nationalist and conservative party. This party simply
couldn't transform into pro-European and democratic party but
based its existence on stories about the danger Croatian people are
 in and on the international conspiracy against Croats. So some even
justified remarks of HDZ regarding foundations of Bosnia or bias
of the international community become irrelevant, since they are
uttered by someone who will very likely be ranked among regime
like the one that was headed by Slobodan Milosevic.

                          *  *  *

     By Zoran Mamula
    "Arrest of Slobodan Milosevic is only a matter of few days".
With these words new Yugoslav authorities have been trying to
pacify the international community for months, especially the
USA, the country which set a deadline of March 31 for Belgrade
to turn over the former dictator or at least his collaborators
to the Hague Tribunal. Otherwise, United States threatened to
cancel their financial aid.
    Also, authorities have to calm down Serbian public which
stubbornly insists on accountability of the chief culprit for
ten-year long agony of the country. Numerous world media fell for
almost everyday announcements of Milosevic's arrest and sent their
own special reporters to Belgrade to film the most notorious
indicted war-criminal with handcuffs. However, they quickly
realized that they had come to Serbian capitol for nothing and
that they would still have to wait for Milosevic's arrest, if
ever there will be one.
    The truth is that in DOS, Serbian ruling coalition made out
of as many as 18 parties, there is no general consensus about
collaboration with the Hague Court. Vojislav Kostunica is a great
opponent to Milosevic's extradition to Hague and is mentioning the
federal constitution which prohibits extradition of Yugoslav
citizens to other countries. Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic
has a more pragmatic approach to this problem, claiming that
uncooperativeness with the Hague Tribunal would lead to
international sanctions against Belgrade, already asked by chief
prosecutor Karla Del Ponte.
    Civil-oriented parties think that Milosevic should be sent to
Hague immediately since the constitution doesn't prevent extradition
to international institutions like International Court for War
    However, when DOS parties somehow reached an agreement to pass
special law on cooperation with Tribunal that would include
extradition of Yugoslav citizens, a new problem arose. DOS'
coalition partner on a federal level, Montenegrin Socialist
People's Party (SNP), that has been cooperating with Milosevic for
years only to turn its back on him after October coupe in
Belgrade, doesn't want to pass this law before Montenegrin
elections, set for April 22. They think that their voters would
abstain because many of them are still certain that former
Yugoslav figure is a "national hero and fighter against the new
world order". Because of this blockade on a federal level, Serbian
authorities have been feverishly trying to find hard evidence
against Milosevic accusing him of crime, corruption and numerous
political assassinations lately, trying to ease the pressure of
the international community with his arrest, at least for crimes
committed in Serbia.
    Yet, now it seems that, disregarding huge wish to accuse him
as soon as possible, there isn't enough evidence against
    Pompously announced investigation against recently arrested
ex-chief of secret police Radomir Markovic, closest associate of
Milosevic, who is indicted for organizing traffic accident when
four officials of then strongest opposition party Serbian Revival
Movement (SPO) were killed and leader Vuk Draskovic was lightly
wounded, should have provided evidence against former Yugoslav
president. Only a day after Markovic's arrest, almost all
newspapers wrote that Milosevic is soon going to be indicted and
that it was only a matter of days before his participation in many
political murders and kidnaps will be disclosed.
    However, although local public prosecutor's office refused to
give any official information about investigation explaining they
were acting upon government's orders, public found out that
Markovic was keeping a stubborn silence and that he refused to
give a statement, but said that he had no connection with the case
instead. Rather unconvincing is also the story published in all
media that truck driver who caused the accident, undercover secret
agent, also "appeared". He allegedly turned himself to the police
and said that he didn't know what kind of "job" it was, but that he
was told that car transporting SPO officials was in fact carrying
a group of Albanian terrorists he was to eliminate. Just to
illustrate the story, one should mention that road accident site
is 300 kilometers far from Kosovo, and even the most gullible
would hardly believe that Albanian terrorists can walk in Serbia
without problems. It is also interesting that the driver turned
himself in on his own, although he is aware that Serbian law doesn't
recognize the institution of court settlement and that even
collaborating with police he could get the harshest punishment for
murder of 4 persons - 20 years of prison.
    Former chief of crime department in Belgrade police and
Interpol official Marko Nicovic is certain that nothing will come
out of announced trial of Markovic because everything related to
that case is "thin".
    There can be various witnesses, even paid, but it seems there
is no material evidence, says Nicovic, adding that Markovic had
enough time to tamper with the evidence since the change of
government on October 5, and it is also relevant that Markovic
probably knows a lot about politicians who are currently in power.
    Even if the trial proved that Markovic organized assassination
of SPO officials, that case could hardly be related to Milosevic
if Markovic himself decided to remain silent. Regarding other
political murders like assassination of journalist Slavko Curuvija
and kidnapping of former Milosevic's rival and Serbian
vice-president Ivan Stambolic, investigations into these cases
have just been started, but it is not hard to predict that there
also won't be any material evidence about the involvement of former
Yugoslav president.
    One shouldn't forget that, according to a respectable Belgrade
weekly, Milosevic burnt all documents containing discussions with
his collaborators and orders he issued, just prior to leaving his
    The only hard evidence the new government has against former
dictator is illegal purchase of a villa in the elite neighborhood
of Dedinje in Belgrade. Although he has already purchased a villa
in Dedinje into which he moved ten years ago as the Serbian
president, Milosevic initiated new purchase of a residential
building into which he moved as a Yugoslav president two years
    According to law, one person cannot buy two state apartments
and also he/she has to live in the house he/she bought and Milosevic
was breaking both.
    Old promises of new authorities about punishing Milosevic came
to possible trial because of the misuse of the official function
which can yield maximum punishment of 5 years in prison. Former
Yugoslav president evaded charges of election manipulation which
almost caused civil war because the prosecutor couldn't find
evidence against him, but only against members of elections
committee that have already been put to trial.
    Of course, remains what is most important to the international
community - war crimes; mentioned in Serbia only by rare
individuals like Nenad Canak, president of the Voivodina Assembly who
said that in case there was an independent Voivodina police he
would arrest Milosevic as soon as he stepped into the province and
send him to Hague.
    Trial for war crimes could, of course, start in Serbia which
could show that the new government wanted to face the crimes
former regime committed in the name of the people. However,
although deputy of Carla Del Ponte, Graham Blewitt, indirectly
said that Hague would approve of that trial, it seems that the
local government isn't ready for such move, explaining that it
could cause destabilization of the country because of the rebellion
of Milosevic's supporters.
    Recent attempt of Milosevic's party officials shows how much
that argument is out of contact with reality. SPS officials tried
to organize a guard in front of Milosevic's house to prevent
arrest of their leader. Although it was announced that Milosevic's
supporters would block all nearby streets, only fifty persons
showed up, announcing they "will protect their hero from new
authorities and hated the Hague Tribunal day and night".
    And while the ruling parties have difficult discussion about
cooperation with the Hague Court, the international pressure is
increasing. Also, numerous human rights' organizations like the
Amnesty International and the Human Rights have already asked the
USA to block any aid to Yugoslavia if Milosevic weren't extradited
to the Hague Tribunal by March 31.
    On that day, the American Congress should officially confirm
second part of already planned aid to Belgrade worth 100 million
dollars. If Yugoslav authorities don't show they're ready to
cooperate with Hague, president Bush surely won't suggest to the
Congress to give the money to Belgrade.
    But it won't be the worst consequence of the Yugoslav government's
behavior: USA will use its influence in the IMF and the World Bank
to veto any credit or investment in Yugoslavia which will return this
country to a nightmare of poverty and isolation it has barely come
out of.

                     *  *  *

 Special addition : NEW AT TOL
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    --- OUR TAKE: Walking on Egg Shells ---
    On Macedonia's troubling resurgence of violence.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
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    --- TOL WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    Macedonia: Out of the Shadows
    Daily gun-battles between Macedonian police and ethnic
Albanian insurgents are threatening Macedonia's delicate ethnic
    by Gordana Icevska
    Bosnia: Judgment Day
    The Hague issues several ground-breaking sentences against
Bosnian Croats and Serbs for war crimes.
    by Daria Sito
    Estonia: Not Quite a Model Railway
    With the privatization of Estonian Railway, all is not exactly
what it seems.
    by Kristjan Kaljund
    Russia: "Colonel Budanov, We're Proud of You"
    Russia prosecutes its first high-ranking military officer for
war crimes in Chechnya.
    by Maria Antonenko
    Poland: Cruelty Goes Both Ways
    The historic trial of a Polish man accused of war crimes
against Germans begins.
    by Wojtek Kosc
    Former Karabakh Defense Minister Sentenced to 14 Years
    Where Now Moldova?
    Georgia Attempts Communist Abortion
    Czech Tunnelers Forced To Throw in Their Cards
    Thousands Rally Against Drugs in Poland
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
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    ANALYSIS: Testing the Waters
    It takes two to tango, and Russia seems willing to view its
stranded Kaliningrad region as a good place to start cooperating
with Europe.
    by Ekaterina Vasilieva
    ANALYSIS: Cleaning Up Kaliningrad Fears that Russia's exclave
will bring its future EU neighbors down is prompting a good deal
more foreign investment.
    by Giedrius Blagnys
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OPINION: No Farewell to Arms ---
    The citizens of Dagestan were militarized in 1999--now the
challenge is to convince them they don't need to have weapons
    by Nabi Abdullaev
    --- OPINION: At the Gates of Hell ---
    Yugoslavia's new amnesty laws are less about "European
standards" than they are about simple human decency.
    by Dragan Stojkovic
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- BOOK REVIEW: Eurasian Pathos ---
    The idea of Russia and Turkey as the two poles of Eurasian
civilization seem as unrealistic as ever.
    by Ekaterina Stepanova
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    OUR TAKE:Walking on Egg Shells
    While police and terrorists are shooting at each other in
Tanusevci, an ethnic Albanian village on Macedonia's northern
border, the country's citizens are asking themselves once again if
this means war.
   The National Liberation Army--a new organization made up of
ex-Kosovo Liberation Army fighters and local ethnic Albanians--is
supposedly responsible for the terrorist attacks that are
threatening the country's delicate ethnic balance and stability.
Ethnic Albanians are the country's largest minority, representing
perhaps as much as 30 percent of the population. Many do not want
to break with Macedonia, but have been campaigning for more
rights--especially the elevation of Albanian to an official
   Exactly why the terrorists have decided to up the ante now
remains unclear. The occupation of Tanusevci is probably the
result of the dissatisfaction of ethnic Albanians in southern
Serbia with the border demarcation agreement between Macedonia and
Yugoslavia that was signed in Skopje recently. Serbian Deputy
Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic had taken steps toward the
integration of ethnic Albanians into the south of the country,
partial demilitarization, and financial aid for the region.
Brussels, Moscow, and Washington have shown their support for the
plan, but it has not been warmly received by local Albanians, who
would prefer to be integrated with Kosovo.
    Others in Macedonia have been more conspiratorial, suggesting
that the resurgence of terrorism is nothing more than the
government's attempt to divert attention from a recent
eavesdropping scandal that has created a bit of a mess. The
biggest opposition party, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia
(SDSM), accused the government of wiretapping and presented
transcripts as a proof that many politicians, officials, and
journalists were being secretly monitored. Government officials
denied the accusations, throwing them back at the SDSM.
    Regardless of what caused the fighting to break out, many
Macedonian officials are trying to diffuse the situation. After
such terrorist incidents in Macedonia, the authorities usually
deny the existence of paramilitary organizations operating in the
country, explaining that the attacks are perpetrated by extremists
who do not belong to any organization. The government has been
cautious about giving them a name and a voice. The official line
is that the group is a spill-over from Kosovo, not a
Macedonian-based terrorist organization.
    Some ethnic Albanian parties have also tried hard not to
exacerbate the situation and have thrown water on the fire. Menduh
Taci, the vice president of the Democratic Party of the Albanians
(DPA)--a member of the ruling coalition said, "If there is no
possible political solution, the next step is obvious ... the
territorial integrity of Macedonia must be protected by the state
armed forces." Many politicians are keen to distance themselves
from the insurgents and say that they want to solve problems
through the institutional and democratic means. Opposition ethnic
Albanian parties--making radical statements in an attempt to score
political points--have blamed the police for "torture of the
people of Tanusevci, who are [being] forced to leave the village
and [flee] to Kosovo."
    Macedonia's inter-ethnic government is walking a fine line.
Presently it is comprised of two Macedonian parties and one
Albanian party. The authorities would like to find a peaceful
solution but are wary about entering the village and provoking
further fighting. At the same time, it is necessary for the police
to step in and prevent the violence spreading. And waiting for a
political solution is eating away at the country's waning
stability, while the citizens' fear is mounting. The increased
violence in Kosovo and southern Serbia has been adding fuel to the
    Such tolerance on the part of the government is
admirable--possibly not as a model of multi-ethnic governance but
certainly as an illustration of a government that is aware of the
inflammatory nature of radical and hasty decisions; of a
government that is careful not to upset the ethnic apple cart.
Unfortunately, the same tolerance isn't being practiced at lower
levels. Authorities, citizens, and armed forces on either side
don't always share the same virtues. Regardless of the actions of
politicians, local police can act on their own and can spark
further violence, and citizens--by moral complicity--can set and
permit the level of violence. And then there's the matter of high
unemployment and poverty--often the galvanizing factors that lead
young people to violence.
   Since the outbreak of the recent Balkan wars, Macedonia has
often been touted as the next Balkan tinderbox: an ethnic war just
waiting to happen. During NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia,
Macedonia emerged relatively unscathed, even after dealing with
the influx of hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanian refugees.
Compared to this recent crisis, the country has seen much worse.
With the same sensible approach, moderate actions, and help from
the international community, the hope remains that Macedonia will
weather the same storm once again.
    -- Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe
    Copyright: Transitions Online 2001
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