Issue No. 225 - June 5, 2001
Contents:

1. FRY/Kosovo: IMPORTANT TEST
           By Ylber Emra

2. FRY/Montenegro: BETWEEN SOVEREIGNTY AND YUGOSLAV FEDERATION
          By Slobodan Rackovic

3. FRY/ Serbia: AT THE NEW CROSSROADS
         By Zoran Mamula
 
4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
 
 


FRY/Kosovo: IMPORTANT TEST
     By Ylber Emra
    Formally Yugoslav province of Kosovo, which has been under
protectorate of the UN since June 1999, is preparing itself for
the first general elections, set for November 17.  Election
rules have been adopted ten days ago which practically signified
the start of the election period. Three leading parties of Kosovar
Albanians expect those elections, as they did the local organized
last October, with great impatience. Almost the same attitude
towards the elections have international representatives because
their success will also be the indicator of how much international
missions to Kosovo, together with their 50,000 members - KFOR,
UNMIK and OSCE - had success in the field during the last two years
in creating democratic atmosphere in the region that has seen
severe political and, lately, armed fighting during the last
decades.
    For political parties and leaders of Kosovar Albanians who now
make up 95 percent of the population in the province of 1,7
million, it will be another opportunity to test their forces. It
especially applies to the Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (DSK) led
by Ibrahim Rugova, Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDD) led by Hasim
Taqi and Alliance for Kosovo future (ABK) headed by Ramush Haradinaj.
The three parties, which won almost all votes at the local
elections last October - DSK got 56 percent, PDD 21 percent and
ABK 10 percent - are certain they will once again divide "the
election cake" in November.
    The stakes for Kosovar Albanians are big: 110 MP seats in
Kosovar parliament that will have 120 MPs total. Those
representatives will choose presidency of the Assembly with 7
members able to elect Kosovar president, which is very important
for Kosovar Albanians. That election cannot be influenced by votes
from ten Serbian representatives, which is the number decided by
the international government.
    Legal basis for these elections is temporary constitutional
framework for Kosovo, document brought passed by chief of civil UN
government in Kosovo Hans Haekkerup acting upon his authority. He
signed the act on May 15 and effectively ended months-long work
which included politicians and experts from Kosovo and, even more,
abroad. By signing the document containing more than 1,200 lines
called "Constitutional framework for self-government in Kosovo",
Haekkerup basically passed the highest law act which will enable
general elections.
    The act with the force of the law has been adopted with
reserves by political leaders of Kosovar Albanians, but they said
they would still participate at the elections. Taqi refused to
sign it, but announced that he would participate at November
elections. Rada Trajkovic, representative of Kosovar Serbs, said
immediately that the document was unacceptable for her, adding
that decision of Serbian participation at the elections would be
brought together by representatives of Kosovar Serbs, Belgrade
authorities and the Serbian Orthodox Church. Later came
contradictory information from Belgrade, one saying that Serbs
won't participate, the other claiming that decision was completely
on Kosovar Serbs, third saying they will participate after all...
Basically, their decision doesn't influence division of "election
cake" since, disregarding all struggles and lobbying, they have no
veto on key political decisions of the future Kosovar parliament.
    UNMIK chief Hans Haekkerup was aware of the displeasure of both
Albanian and Serbian side with that solution and tried to ease the
tensions and to show that the future of all Kosovo citizens
depends upon political and democratic behavior. It was the reason
NATO, protecting Albanians, started air strikes against FR
Yugoslavia in the spring of 1999. The result of that bombing was
putting the province under the international protection and
retreating Yugoslav military and police forces.
    Since the arrival of the international government, about
170,000 Serbs have ran away, together with 60,000 Moslems
(Bosniaks) and 30,000 Romas. Kosovar Serbs' leaders and Belgrade
authorities say there should be no general elections until all
who fled return back, which is one of the provisions of 1244 UN
security council resolution on Kosovo. Alternatively, they could
be allowed to vote without disturbance.
    "I don't know how long transitional period in Kosovo will
last, but it depends upon the nation on Kosovo. There are not many
countries in the world that have the opportunity to build their
own institutions with so much goodwill and the international
support as it is Kosovo" - said Haekkerup on May 28 in his article
in the most influential Pristina daily in Albanian "Koha Ditore".
Saying that "all should build Kosovo where they will live together
in peace" he showed to both parties, one overtly stronger - Albanian
- as well as more numerous and the other politically weaker,
Serbian, the way the international community will follow. Haekkerup
then emphasized that the constitutional framework means "broad spectrum
of civil and political rights" for all in Kosovo, emphasizing that in
any case, all important issues ranging from security to law are
still in the hands of the international government.
    With this, Haekkerup practically answered both Rugova and
Haradinaj who accepted the document with reserves. The two leaders
of Kosovar Albanians have basically objected that there were no
words about referendum about the final status of Kosovo. Haekkerup
has already before resolutely rejected demands of DPK party,
created from the former Kosovo Liberation Army (OVK) and its leader
Taqi who asked for referendum and said the constitutional framework
was the deal between the international community and Yugoslav
government.
    UNMIK chief rejected Taqi's claims, saying that all members
of the international community opposed Albanian idea of referendum
after the transitional period. Haekkerup said that the Constitutional
framework of Kosovo was a temporary document which guaranteed that
some part of the government was transferred to Kosovo citizens.
Diplomats in Pristina think it was warning enough that everything
related to Kosovo remains exclusively with the international
community.

                          * * *

FRY/Montenegro: BETWEEN SOVEREIGNTY AND YUGOSLAV FEDERATION
     By Slobodan Rackovic
    Will Montenegro be the greatest loser of the break-apart of
ex-Yugoslavia? It is a question that is asked more and more often
here in Podgorica but also in many world capitols, especially
after major powers completely turned their backs on their former
Balkan favorites - Montenegro and its president Milo Djukanovic.
    It was only yesterday, until dictator Slobodan Milosevic was
removed from his Yugoslav office, when western powers swore in
Milo Djukanovic, called him the one of the most modern and capable
statesmen in europe supporting his politics of multi-faceted
distancing of Montenegro from "Lucifer" Serbia, adding unlimited
financial support and competing in generosity among themselves.
Podgorica became one of diplomatic centers in south-eastern
Europe, Djukanovic spent more time in Paris, London, Berlin, Rome
and Brussels than home, and Chirac and Schroeder sent him their
personal planes to travel around Europe. In Spring 1999, NATO
spared Montenegro in its devastating death-dealing blows in
Yugoslavia. Podgorica had much more foreign representative offices
and press correspondents than many well-known and much larger
European capitols. Although not an independent state, Montenegro
became one of the founders of the Stability Pact, Adriatic-Ionian
initiative and other regional associations where only independent
states have been included. Montenegro enjoyed all privileges of a
sovereign nation, although formally it still belonged into the FRY.
    To be frank, nobody explicitly promised Montenegro their aid
in its independence, what Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia and Bosnia
have done before in 1991/92, but also nobody objected when
Montenegro got its attributes of a state, when it completely
liberated its economy, foreign trade and politics, when it
established its diplomatic and trade representative offices -
practically embassies, when it canceled visas for all citizens
coming into the republic. And when, two years ago, Montenegro
introduced German mark as its currency instead of the ruined
Yugoslav dinar, there was nobody among serious political analysts
who didn't think that Montenegro got "green light" from its
powerful allies to completely take the matter of statehood into
its own hands.
    Alas! Although October 5 was the day when Serbia was
liberated from 13 years of Milosevic's dictatorship and began some
democratic processes in the country, that date was fatal for the
modern Montenegrin history. Former Montenegrin allies and
protectors from the west completely turned to much larger and
richer Serbia, practically overnight accepting Serbia into UN,
IMF, World Bank and many other political and financial
international organizations directing all their financial aid now
to Belgrade. Political and economical pressure on Montenegro to
drop the subject of leaving Yugoslavia has been frighteningly
intensified, its international status has turned from privileged
to almost unbearable. Financial streams from abroad have almost
completely dried out, the only thing that is coming are credits
promised already earlier.
    USA, which have been previously among the first to support
Djukanovic and Montenegro, have said that only Yugoslav delegation
could take part in new round of Donors Conference to be held on
 June 29. It means that foreign donations for FR Yugoslavia will
be addressed to Belgrade. And how it will look in practice can be
discerned by the statement of Serbian minister for foreign
economic ties Goran Pilic who said that Montenegro will get only 5
percent of donated aid, while the second federal unit, Serbia,
will get 95 percent.
    Same story is also repeated on a diplomatic level. Montenegro
was excommunicated from the Stability Pact. Similarly, only
Yugoslav foreign minister could have attended the recent
Adriatic-Ionian Initiative conference in split, although much of
Adriatic-Ionian highway from Trieste to southern Greece passes
through Montenegrin territory. Since Serbia will be shut off from
the main European traffic flow if that road is built, it is
certain that the road will be the most secondary care of Yugoslav
authorities. At the same time, Croatian and Yugoslav foreign
ministers Tonino Picula and Goran Svilanovic met in Split and made
some important decisions on the future of disputed peninsula
Prevlaka without participation of Montenegrin representatives,
although Montenegro is very interested in the future of this cape
as it is the key to entrance into the gulf of Boka Kotorska. All
this and many other indicators tell about bad international
position of Montenegro which doesn't want to yield to
international pressure and blackmails of giving up hopes of own
independence.
    The situation is extremely similar to the one in 1920, when
major powers at the Versailles peace conference forgot about the
substantial Montenegrin contribution to allied victory in WWI. The
tiny ancient country, oldest among Southern Slavs, was then
drowned into then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, later
Kingdom of Yugoslavia. To make the matters worse, internal
situation is also grave, not to mention catastrophic economic
conditions (although Serbian economy is even worse).
    Pro-independence Montenegrin parties Democratic Socialists'
Party, Social democrat Party and Liberal Alliance that won 57
percent at early parliamentary elections on April 22 and got
mandate to lead this republic to independence cannot agree on
cooperation in order to achieve goal Montenegro has been waiting
for over a century. It was shown that the thirst for power among
leaders of those parties was stronger than love towards
independent state so that referendum date scheduled for this June
during their election campaigns is now prolonged indefinitely. For
a month and a half those parties couldn't agree on joint
government which would prepare a complicated Law on referendum and
organize the whole process. Liberal Alliance has proved to be
especially deceptive and power-loving, although it has won only 6
seats out of total 77 parliamentarian seats. This party refused
to form a coalition with parties with similar program so that the
ruling duo DSP-DSP couldn't form the government on its own.
    The exit out of this draw position was found out when liberals
decided to finally support minority government in the parliament
if referendum will be held by the end of this year. As this is
also the goal of Djukanovic and his coalition, it could seem that
all obstacles on the way to Montenegrin statehood are evaded.
    However, Serbian-Yugoslav front in Montenegro called "Together
for Yugoslavia" has open political and economical support from
Belgrade and the world. There is no secret that Belgrade and the
Yugoslav president Vojislav Kostunica who doesn't enjoy
presidential status in Montenegro have spent many millions German
marks for election campaign of their favorites which, together with
Serbian media that sided with Serbian-Yugoslav front, had direct
influence for election results. This extensive help from Belgrade
and abroad had much reflection on political sentiment of
Montenegrin voters and political forces in the republic, with an
important role played by various constructed scandals about
allegedly bribed and crime-protecting Montenegrin regime,
especially president Djukanovic, so one shouldn't dismiss
expressions of people's anger.
    There are already many workers' strikes that are undoubtedly
planned in Belgrade. Besides, it is an old practice that has been
used last time in 1989 when Montenegrin leadership was forcefully
removed from their offices and inherited by new officials loyal to
Serbia. Therefore, Djukanovic and his colleagues are constantly
advised to hurry up with the referendum. And once Montenegrin
people decide they want to live in their own independent country
(and that is the outcome nobody here doubts) then both Serbia and
the international community will have to respect that decision. As
was the case with Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia.
    One might say that in the best possible ending this republic
and its president may still evade to be the greatest tragedians of
the bloody Yugoslav break-apart, which is the role many in the
world are prepared to give them.

                          *  *  *

 
FRY/ Serbia: AT THE NEW CROSSROADS
     By Zoran Mamula
    Eight months after democratic changes and toppling of Slobodan
Milosevic's regime, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is at the
new crossroads. Although insurrection of Albanians in southern
Serbia was resolved with their acceptance to drop weapons and
turn to political dialogue, the other two problems - Kosovo and
undefined relations between two members of the federation Serbia
and Montenegro - threaten to seriously endanger not only the new
government but also survival of Yugoslavia itself.
    Recently proclaimed Constitutional framework for Kosovo
self-government brought by UNMIK chief Hans Haekkerup which gives
important elements of the independent state to Kosovo, such as
parliament and president, has caused huge displeasure among official
Belgrade. Serbian officials said that approach of the international
community towards Kosovo hadn't changed even after toppling of
Milosevic's regime. The ruling DOS found itself under fire from
ex-regime parties, socialists and radicals, that said adopted
document "introduces half-independent Kosovo because it doesn't
mention neither the FRY nor Serbia or its authority over the
province" which makes it "a slap in the face of Yugoslavia and
its president Vojislav Kostunica, which needs immediate official
reaction". And that reaction was really fierce. Claiming that
Hans Haekkerup yielded to the pressure of Albanian politicians,
president Kostunica said that it was once again shown that
"the international community backs down and yields to extremists
among Albanian people". Serbian minister of justice Vladan Batic
said that the "arrogance of the international community and
dismissal of viewpoints of Kosovar Serbs leads to confrontation
in the province", and Serbian prime minister Zoran Djindjic said
that "Belgrade will respect all decisions of Kosovar Serbs". Last
Sunday, Serbian parliament passed a resolution which dismissed the
Constitutional framework for Kosovo self-government, but this
action, as other protests of Yugoslav officials, didn't meet much
resonance in the world.
    The constitutional framework is the highest legal act the goal
of which was enabling general elections in the province, set for
November 17. According to this document, after the elections Kosovo
will have the president of a Kosovo presidency and president of
the parliament. Presidency will have 7 members. One of them will
have to be a Serb, one is representative of other ethnic
communities, while the other five are Albanians. Out of 120 seats
in Kosovar parliament, 20 is reserved for non-Albanian national
minorities - 10 for Serbs and 10 for other minorities.
    President of the presidency will be chosen by the parliament
and he/she will represent Kosovo which, said Haekkerup, partially
met Albanian demands. Serbian demand of veto was also accepted,
although slightly modified, in order to secure protection of
Serbian interest from being voted over in the future Kosovar
parliament.
    Kosovar Serbs' representatives said that the legal framework
was unacceptable to them and announced that, almost certainly,
they wouldn't participate in the elections under these conditions.
The main reason is that the document met over 98 Albanian demands,
the only exception being referendum on the final status of province
which wasn't accepted by the international community. But it seems
that it was rejected only temporarily, because UNMIK chief said
that when taking Kosovo future into consideration, they will
"consider clause about will of the citizens".
    During long negotiations, Serbs proposed 30 amendments to the
mentioned legal act, but when the most important - that Kosovo is
a part of Yugoslav territory under temporary international
management - was rejected, everything came into question. With the
obligatory mentioning of "two types of measuring", Serbian
representatives said to EU members that "as well as Albanians",
they too want autonomy and independence.
    This recent events once again activated public rumors about
possible division of Kosovo, especially after the proposal of
Serbian government vice-president and creator of peace plan for
southern Serbia Nebojsa Covic to create two entities - Serbian and
Albanian. Initiative to divide Kosovo has been started already ten
years ago from a group of members of Serbian Academy of Arts and
Sciences (SANU), headed by Dobrica Cosic. According to Cosic's
proposal, Andorra-like tiny states would have been formed around
big Serbian monasteries and enclaves in northern Kosovo while
provinces regions in northern Kosovo mostly populated by Serbs
would have been joined to Serbia. Southern parts with Albanian
majority would have been free to join Albania if they had wished
so, according to Cosic.
    Branislav Krstic, author of the book "Kosovo at the trial of
history" which was prohibited from publishing during Milosevic's
regime, went one step further - he has drawn a map of Kosovo
cantons according to population and land ownership. His proposal
was supported by Dobrica Cosic who was then (1992-93) Yugoslav
president, but he thought that there were still to many Albanians
inside Serbia in both outcomes. Krstic's book has been published
recently, and one of the co-authors and advisor to Yugoslav
president Vojislav Kostunica, dr. Slobodan Samardzic said that
Kosovo internal structure could be based to a great extent on
Krstic's maps.
    The basic idea of cantonization is that peace won't come until
both sides want the whole province for themselves.
    There is no time for waiting, warns Samardzic, who claims that
the best solution is constituting two entities. It's unclear how
can that be put into force at this moment, because the international
community and Albanian leaders still insist on undivided Kosovo.
However, warns Samardzic, Belgrade doesn't have time to spare and
has to do everything to remain an important player in the game,
especially because 70,000 Serbs still live in Kosovo.
    Another big Yugoslav problem is relation between Serbia and
Montenegro, which fell into background after minor election
victory of the coalition led by Montenegrin president Milo
Djukanovic who is in favor of independence of Montenegro. However,
it came into spotlight in the least expected way.
    When it looked like chances for survival will rise after
formation of minority Djukanovic's government and indefinite
postponement of referendum on independence, federal coalition
partners DOS from Serbia and SNP, main Djukanovic's rival, from
Montenegro, have clashed because of the bill on the FRY cooperation
with the Hague Tribunal. DOS proposed to urgently pass that bill
which would also regulate extradition of other accused war
criminals to the Hague Court, which is a condition set by the USA
and some EU countries before Yugoslavia is able to take part at
the upcoming Donor's conference.
    SNP, the party which collaborated with Milosevic's socialists
until last year, opposed cooperation with the Hague and proposed to
adopt only framework of cooperation with the Tribunal and to leave
federal republics to regulate extradition process with their own
laws. Long negotiations from last week didn't come to a
conclusion, so DOS threatened their Montenegrin partners with
breaking the coalition if they didn't change their opinion
shortly. DOS also said they were not interested of SNP fears that
they would lose support of their voters in case of Milosevic's
extradition to the court in Hague.
    But still, it is a big question how much DOS would profit from
the fall of the government and new federal elections. Even if the
ruling Serbian coalition wanted new Montenegrin partner at federal
level, chances are slim that they would persuade coalition led by
Milo Djukanovic to participate at the elections since he doesn't
acknowledge federal state. On the other hand, it is also uncertain
whether DOS would remain the same (coalition of 18 parties) or
whether it would be broken into several groups before elections
which would enable Milosevic's socialists to return to political
scene. So all options remain open, with only one thing certain:
many estimates that Yugoslavia will finally sail calmer waters
after democratic changes proved to be too early.

                     *  *  *
 

 Special addition: NEW AT TOL                 June 4, 2001
    --------------------------------------------------------------------
   --- WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    A Double Dose of Reconciliation
    Germany agrees to release funds to compensate World War II-era
slave laborers at the same time an ex- Nazi guard is convicted.
    by TOL
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Putin Surprises Critics
    Rising to the challenge to do something about the corrupt
practices of Gazprom, the Russian president votes to replace the
company's powerful head.
    by Maria Antonenko
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Looking for the Right Partners The Slovenian government agrees
on plans to privatize the country's two largest banks.
    by Ales Gaube
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Prime Minister or Puppet?
    Scandalized Ukrainian president's choice for new prime
minister wins landslide victory amid accusations that his weakness
is Kuchma's strength.
    by Oleg Varfolomeyev
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    In Pursuit of Ethnic Purity Two Macedonian academicians
propose territory and population exchange between Albania and
Macedonia
    by Altin Raxhimi
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    MORE WEEK IN REVIEW
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Azeri-Armenian Meeting in Geneva Canceled
    NATO, EU Foreign Ministers Meet in Budapest
    Ousted Russian Governor's Protégé Wins Elections
    Czech Television Board Faces More Controversy
    Fed-Up Farmer Briefly Takes Hostages in Kyiv
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Putting a Price on Suffering ---
    Gestures--big and small--can help in the process of coming to
terms with the wrongs of the past.
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=16&NrArticle=1054
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- COLUMNS AND OPINIONS ---
    Introducing TOL's new column section, featuring weekly
contributions from a wide selection of thought-provoking authors
on issues across the region. We hope you find them provocative ...
    Letter from the Caucasus: Safe in Moscow There's a lot less
testosterone and fewer wounded bodies in the Russian capital.
    by Nabi Abdullaev
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1018&ST1=body&ST_T1=letter&ST_max=1
    Balkan Eye: Motley Crew Parties Balkan politics is much more
complex--but much less arrogant--than it used to be.
    by Tihomir Loza
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1022&ST1=body&ST_T1=letter&ST_max=1
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    From the BRR this week:
    Bulgaria's High-Tech Hopes
    Bulgaria hosts a high-profile international conference on
intellectual property and the Internet.
    by Polia Alexandrova
    http://balkanreport.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=1&NrArticle=1051&ST_max=0
    Darkness in Serbia
    Serbia weathers its first springtime electricity crisis.
    By Dragan Stojkovic
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    Perfume and Cigarettes Still Available ? For Now
    A Slovenian court delays the enactment of a controversial law
closing down duty-free shops.
    by Ales Gaube
    http://balkanreport.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=1&NrArticle=1048&ST_max=0
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    --- FEATURES ---
    Fiscal Pardons To Cure Capital Flight?
    The Albanian president again proposes controversial amnesties
for illicit financial dealings as a measure to prevent an outflow
of capital.
    by Altin Raxhimi
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1039
    'We Close this Chapter' With emigration, 2,500-plus years of
Jewish heritage in Uzbekistan is fading away. A TOL partner post
from EurasiaNet (www.eurasianet.org).
    by David Kohn
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1024
    Hard To Stomach
    Drug trafficking in Central Asia is a matter of survival for
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    A TOL partner post from EurasiaNet (www.eurasianet.org).
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    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1005
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  ..  .
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- MEDIA ---
    Caught in the Crossfire
    The media are increasingly caught between pressure from the
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    by Laura Belin
    29 May 2001
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=21&NrSection=5&NrArticle=1015
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- ANNUAL REPORT ---
    Belarus 2000: More of the Same
    The Belarusian president tightens his grip as the economy
falters in the eyes of everyone but the government.
    by Alex Znatkevich
    http://archive.tol.cz/frartic/belar00.html
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    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Putting a Price on Suffering ---
    Gestures--big and small--can help in the process of coming to
terms with the wrongs of the past.
    Two events in Germany this past week served to once again
confirm that World War II remains an intense and emotional fact of
life in much of Europe. In many ways, this is particularly true in
Central and Eastern Europe, where decades of Soviet paralysis
prevented a proper healing process from taking hold.
    At the end of May, more than five decades after the end of the
war, the German Bundestag passed a motion that should enable
hundreds of thousands of Eastern European survivors of Nazi slave
labor camps to receive a few thousand dollars each in compensation
for their suffering. On the same day, a Munich court sentenced the
89-year-old Anton Malloth, who was one of the cruelest guards in
the Nazi ghetto of Theresienstadt/Terezin, to life imprisonment
for murdering and attempting to murder inmates of the ghetto.
    There is a great need for such a reconciliation with the past
in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, where survivors of
Nazi slave labor camps have been waiting for compensation for more
than five decades and where Holocaust survivors have only received
a small percentage of the reparations paid to victims living in
the West. This was in part due to the idea that the former
communist East Germany should pay compensation to Eastern Europe's
victims--twisted logic that made the issue no less painful for the
survivors behind the Iron Curtain. In that sense, this gesture
from the German government and thousands of German companies, many
of whom are significant investors in the post-communist region,
can contribute to a better understanding between Germany and its
eastern neighbors.
    Survivors of Nazi cruelty, as well as others around Central
and Eastern Europe, welcomed the decisions, although many noted
that both moves were a very, very long time in coming. During the
half century that has elapsed since the war, many survivors of the
Nazi labor camps have passed away, just as many of "Handsome Tony"
Malloth's prisoners have died with the knowledge that their
tormentor was alive and well in Germany.
    In some ways, that has reduced the two acts of justice and
compensation into mere gestures. But that does not take away from
their importance, even two generations later. Bishop Ignacy Jez in
Poland said it well when he noted that the acceptance of the
compensation, however small and late, was all the more compelling
because it came from a generation that was not directly
responsible for the Nazi sins of the past.
    In any case, both the conviction of past crimes against
humanity and the payment of compensation to the victims of such
crimes provides a point from which a people--in this case the
Germans--can come to grips with their own past and build bridges
of reconciliation with other peoples.
    But confronting the past works both ways. Perhaps the
Bundestag ruling will open the way to dealing with other
injustices related to the war and its aftermath. It was long
considered taboo in Central Europe to speak of any reconciliation
with the former German inhabitants of the region or even to
express regret at their forced and often cruel expulsion from the
countries they had lived in for centuries. Czech and German
historians estimate that 14,000-30,000 ethnic Germans were killed
when nearly 3 million were transferred from the border areas of
the former Czechoslovakia where mainly ethnic Germans lived.
Certainly, few would call on the Czech government to pay out
millions of dollars in compensation to Sudeten Germans, but there
are many angles to the idea of coming to grips with the past.
    In fact, attitudes on this issue seem to be changing. The city
council of the Czech city of Brno recently passed a resolution
expressing regret at the fact that many of its citizens were
forced to leave the city under tragic circumstances in the
1940s--both the Roma and Jews during the war and the Sudeten
Germans after the war.
    It was a vague statement, and many Sudeten Germans grumbled
that it did not go far enough. But as a move toward addressing the
once-taboo issues of recent history, it--like the Bundestag
decision and the Malloth conviction--was a welcome and
long-delayed step toward acknowledging the wrongs of the past.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    -- Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe
    Copyright: Transitions Online 2001
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