Issue No. 230 - July 11, 2001

           By Stojan Obradovic

2. Georgia: TO NATO
          By Ivlian Haindrava

         By Howard Jarvis

        By Peter Mikes

5. Special addition: NEW AT TOL

     By Stojan Obradovic
  "It is not about the future of my government but about the
future of Croatia and the basic issue whether Croatia will
continue to improve as a democratic state of law, run away from
the Balkan abyss and integrate into Europe or whether it will be
pushed back into the Balkan shadows because of a silent majority
and a loud minority".
    So said Croatian prime minister Ivica Racan, leader of
Socialdemocrat Party (reformed communists) and chief of the wide
coalition government remarking on the dramatic dilemma put before
Croatia after last Friday (July 6th) chief prosecutor Carla del
Ponte visited Zagreb and confirmed that first indictments of the
ICTY finally came to Croatian addresses asking for arrest and
extradition of indicted war criminals.
    Although indictments are still held secret, it is almost
certain that indicted are two high-ranking generals of Croatian
Army - Ante Gotovina and Rahim Ademi who are accused of
responsibility for war crimes committed during and after operation
Oluja (Storm) in August 1995. During this military operation,
Croatian Army liberated most parts of the so-called Serb Krajina
and its center Knin from rebelled Croatian Serbs.
    Croatian government decided that Hague request had to be
fulfilled, but Racan didn't succeed in forming a consensus.
    His main coalition partner Drazen Budisa, president of the
Croatian Social-liberal Party (HSLS), stood up against that
decision which caused the government crisis. As a consequence,
the prime minister asked Croatian parliament to vote whether it
supports the government or not.
    Although it seems that Racan's government will secure
parliamentary support, with or without Budisa's liberals, and
probably evade early elections for some time, it won't solve the
problem of government crisis and deep divisions among politicians
caused by Hague issue Racan has warned about.
    There have been months, even years, of speculations about
Hague indictments before they came. This nightmare has been
hanging over Croatia since the time of the first hard facts
after the operation Storm, the liberating military  operation
carried out by Croatian army in which several hundred civilians
were killed, mostly after the end of fighting. Killed were
mostly old people who didn't go away in a huge Serbian refugee
column of 150,000 people, almost whole populace of "Krajina",
who escaped in fear of revenge. Also, thousands of Serbian
homes were burnt to the ground (according to sources from
Croatian Helsinki Watch, the number is as high as 20,000).
The nightmare has become a reality now. Suspicion that
hundreds of murdered civilians and thousands of destroyed homes
couldn't have been just blind revenge of frustrated individuals
but that political and military elite used war for ethnic
cleansing is well-founded. But the Storm is not the only
doubtful military operation. A Croatian court has just begun
trial against general Mirko Norac, who is accused of murdering
Serbian civilians at the beginning of war in Croatia in October
1991. Some claim that neither those crimes could have been
committed without silent support of some structures at the top
of Croatian authority.
    Refusing collaboration with Hague, meaning rejecting
accusations delivered to the government would undoubtedly mean
the international isolation of Croatia and probable sanctions
that would certainly bring about democratic, economic and
civilization stagnation as well as retardation of the country
that is still in a difficult situation.
    But, among part of Croatian public, accepting indictments
equals national treason and means accepting the so-called
criminalization of the Homeland War which has been, as said by
proponents of this idea, systematically carried out since
elections in January 2001 when a wide coalition of democratic
parties toppled the nationalistic Croatian Democratic Union
(HDZ) from power after ten years. Aware of international
standings, the coalition put forward collaboration with The
Hague Court as one of its priorities. And that collaboration
was ignored by the former government which caused Croatia to
find itself at the very edge of international sanctions.
    To be honest, former government headed by deceased Croatian
president Franjo Tudjman was pressured by the international
community into passing special constitutional law on collaboration
with the Hague Tribunal and acted as middle-man in extradition
of Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina who were indicted by the
ICTY, but tried to obstruct the Tribunal's Croatian related
investigation in every possible way.
    Literally from the first establishment of new government
(since parliamentary and presidential elections) in the beginning
of 2001, defeated nationalists currents led by hard-liners from HDZ
have been trying to cast shadow on its legitimacy accusing them
that by allowing criminalization of Homeland War and possibility
of trying its prominent leaders before the court because of
alleged Croatian war crimes, the very basics of Croatian state are
in question. For example, The Hague decided to pass to Croatian
courts the case of general Norac as a test. When an arrest warrant
was issued in February, various associations of war veterans
coordinated by HDZ organized mass protests and traffic blocks,
threatening to violently topple the government and asking for
resignations of both prime minister Ivica Racan and president
Stipe Mesic.
    Opponents of cooperation with the ICTY claim that Hague is
trying to judge Homeland War, equalize victim and aggressor
(Croatia and Serbia) and thus revise the history. Those who are
more realistic yet allow that there might have been individual
crimes which are under authority of Croatian court investigators,
but all are frightened of the dangerous device available to the
Hague Tribunal and passionately reject it - indictments for the
objective commanding responsibility because this mechanism is
the core of the war itself and can disclose its character and
goals. There's no wonder that potential extradites are defended
with statements that Croatia won't allow indictments which
allegedly criminalize liberating war, state and the whole nation,
which accuse Croatia of ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc.
    Threats for Hague are constant source of political tensions
and clashes, much more than difficult economical and social
situation Croatia is facing. But the attacks on Racan's government
always came from opposition HDZ or its satellites and
para-institutions. This time, the issue has completely contrasted
viewpoints within the ruling coalition itself.
    HSLS which was viewed as a second ranking party when anti-HDZ
coalition was established, right after SDP, and which created
basic axis of their new government has long since lost that
    As the main partner of Croatian prime minister Ivica Racan,
Budisa was even nominated for the office of president but he lost
presidential elections amid general surprise, defeated by
unconventional but truly pro-European and democratic Stipe Mesic
who is strongly supporting anti-nationalist politics, cooperation
in the region and responsibility for war crimes.
    Since the defeat at presidential elections, Budisa and his
party have been losing their rating in the public, and the recent
defeat at local elections have shown that the party drew close to
a political bottom. Many see it as the source of frustration for
Budisa, who then projects it onto political field thus creating a
significant instability factor in Racan's government almost since
the beginning of the new government. With the present rejection
of Hague indictments, Budisa completely worsened his relations
with other coalition parties. But some members of his party don't
agree with his political decisions and at the end he may loose
    One of the possible outcomes is the fall of government and
early parliamentary elections. Some see the sense in Budisa's move
because by worsening relations with the Hague court and causing
the crisis in government Budisa is actually preparing his leave
from the ruling coalition and possible entrance into a political
alliance with HDZ. In this radicalized situation, when alleged
defense of national interests would become key issue at early
elections, that alliance could turn out to be a new winning
    But, on the other hand, some see the crisis as a chance to
finally clear out the political issue in Croatia. According to
them, disbanding of the current coalition, with or without early
elections, could actually strengthen reformist current in Croatian
politics that would drop off some weights and show the public some
truths it has long been avoiding, would get strong international
support and start deep reforms and integration into Europe which
cannot be realized without dealing with the ballast of Croatian
recent past.
    After Serbia extradited Milosevic, everybody knows that the
Hague Tribunal will continue until the end and that there will
still be many embarrassing indictments. Besides, iron Hague
prosecutor Carla del Ponte said several months ago that even
president Tudjman would be indicted were he alive. Croatian public
has to face those facts because otherwise it could really end up
on the wrong side defending some imaginary values of a bloody
war Croatia has gone through, the war some used for their dirty
criminal and political goals.

                          * * *

Georgia: TO NATO
     By Ivlian Haindrava
   In accordance with an agreement reached at the 1999 OSCE
summit in Istanbul, Russia left Vaziani military base nearby
Tbilisi. On June 29, the Russian and Georgian Defense Ministries'
officials signed a formal protocol whereby Russia handed over
to Georgia the Vaziani base and airfield located on its territory.
Russia still retains some equipment at the airfield, which it may
use free of charge for 48 flights per year until the closure of
two other Russian military bases in Georgia - in Batumi and
Akhalkalaki - for which no date of withdrawal has yet been agreed.
At the same time, Russians have so far refused to leave the fourth
military base on Georgian territory in Gudauta, Abkhazia, by the
July 1 deadline agreed at the 1999 OSCE summit. This Russian
decision turned to be predictable one (see: "Russian Militaries
Start Going Home", NIJ Bulletin No.185-186, August 10, 2000).
    As the deadline of withdrawal from Gudauta approached, the
uncertainty about the fulfillment of Russia's commitments
increased. The separatist government of Abkhazia announced that it
would not allow Russia to withdraw its armament from the Gudauta
base. Guivi Agrba, deputy defense minister of breakaway Republic
of Abkhazia said that neither the leadership nor the people of
Abkhazia would allow the equipment to be pulled out. "The military
can leave but the armor must remain," Agrba said. The next day, the
local population blockaded the base protesting Russian armed
forces commitment to leave Abkhazia. The protesters said that such
 step would leave the region unprotected in the face of possible
Georgian attack aimed to restore its territorial integrity.
Immediately Russia's foreign minister Igor Ivanov seized the
opportunity to note that the planned withdrawal had aroused some
concern from the local population, who feared that it could result
in further outbursts of violence. Russian military officials demanded
Georgian consent to permit 300 Russian military personnel to remain
at the base to guard the remaining armament.
    In response, Georgian authorities accused Russia of deliberately
violating the Istanbul Agreement. Guiorgui Baramidze, Chairman of
the Parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, called the
blockade of the Gudauta base "a masquerade organized by Abkhaz
separatists and approved by Russia." The Georgian Ministry of
Foreign Affairs issued a statement on July 2 condemning Russia's
failure to withdraw from the military base at Gudauta by the agreed
date. The statement qualified as "inadmissible" that the Istanbul
Agreement should be undermined by the Abkhaz separatist regime.
The same day, the speaker of the Georgian parliament, Zurab Zhvania,
said that Russia's request to leave 300 Russian troops in Gudauta was
unacceptable. However, President Shevardnadze was much more
cautious in his comments, acknowledging that problems arose in
connection with the Russian withdrawal from Gudauta, but expressing
the hope that talks between the two sides would result in a
mutually acceptable solution. The president's advisor on
international affairs even noted that the Russian party promised
to completely withdraw from Gudauta by August 1.
    Nevertheless it is commonly recognized that another round of
Georgian-Russian tensions has broken out. Besides the urgent issue
of Russian military base in Gudauta, Abkhazia, which is considered
by many Georgians as one of the main obstacles towards the settlement
of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the status of the two other Russian
military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki is vague. It was agreed in
Istanbul in 1999 that the problem should be negotiated and solved by
2003-2004. Now it has turned out that the parties' positions
completely differ from each other. Russian officials insist that the
withdrawal from military bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki and the
development of alternative locations for the bases inside Russia
will take 14 years.
    Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili replied that the
Russian desire to keep the last two bases for another 14 years
"does not stand up to criticism." Georgians believe that the Russians
are just dragging their feet, and that the three-year term is quite
enough for any kind of preparation and re-deployment. Zurab
Zhvania thinks that the Russian establishment is simply interested in
maintaining a military presence in Abkhazia and, therefore, in
Georgia. It seems that his opinion is built on solid ground.
    On the eve of the scheduled Russian withdrawal from Vaziani
and Gudauta, Georgia for the first time in its history hosted
military maneuvers "Cooperative Partner-2001" under NATO's
Partnership for Peace. Over 4,000 ground and naval troops from 10
countries - USA, Turkey, France, Greece, Italy (NATO member-states)
plus Georgia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine - held war
games on land and in the Black Sea in western Georgia on June 11-22.
The exercises involved simulating a peacekeeping operation, a
humanitarian operation in an earthquake zone, assistance to a vessel
in distress, and refueling at sea. President Eduard Shevardnadze told
journalists that the maneuvers testify to Georgia's aspiration to
Euro-Atlantic integration and will help the Georgian armed forces
achieve NATO standards of professionalism.
    Such an event could not leave Russia indifferent, taking into
account its distinctly negative attitude towards NATO enlargement.
On June 13 Moscow newspaper Izvestia published a detailed plan
allegedly devised by the Georgian general staff for attack on
Abkhazia. According to the publication, NATO maneuvers in western
Georgia were only a prelude to a military attack on Abkhazia.
In spite of the obvious absurdity of such a claim, the foreign
minister of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, Serguei Shamba,
said that his government "could not exclude the possibility of a
Georgian attack as described in Izvestia." He pointed to the need
of "high-level" talks between Abkhaz and Russian authorities in
order to find a "civilized and mutually acceptable solution."
    The next day, Georgian defense minister David Tevzadze called
the Izvestia publication "a complete fabrication" and stressed
that "certain forces in Moscow are so incensed by Georgia's joint
exercises with NATO that they are ready to dream up anything."
Some analysts have noted that the article was a clear indication
that Russia has no intention of withdrawing its military base
from Gudauta by the agreed deadline.
    As for today, the timetable of Russian military withdrawal
from Georgia still remains the subject of discussions. Speaker
of the Georgian parliament Zurab Zhvania told journalists after
his recent visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels:  "I believe
Georgia must fulfill the necessary procedures and apply for full
membership in the North Atlantic Alliance."

                          *  *  *

     By Howard Jarvis
      Just eight months after parliamentary elections got rid of an
unpopular right-wing government, Lithuania has experienced another
political shock: the collapse of a centrist coalition that has
brought about a left-wing government dominated by the Social
Democratic Party and a popular former president as prime minister.
President Valdas Adamkus, who helped cobble together the
coalition, called New Policy, in October as an alternative to the
Social Democrats, bowed to the inevitable. He nominated Algirdas
Brazauskas, the Social Democratic Party leader, for the prime
ministerial post on July 2, and the Parliament confirmed the
nomination by an 84-45 vote with three abstaining.
    Adamkus had little choice. The nomination of a prime minister
is the prerogative of the president, according to the Lithuanian
constitution. But the Social Democrats, the largest party in the
Parliament, were able to form a majority when the Social Liberals,
a New Policy coalition member, defected and joined them. A new
government is quickly being prepared.
    Many Western observers have made much of Brazauskas' return to
prominence, saying it could alter Lithuania's path to European
Union and NATO membership. It won't. In May, all of Lithuania's
parliamentary factions signed a joint declaration agreeing that 2
percent of GDP must be spent on defense in 2002, and that this
should be maintained in 2003 and 2004. It currently stands at 1.95
    As president in 1994, Brazauskas became the first president of
the Baltic states to send an official letter to the NATO secretary
general asking for his country to be admitted to the alliance. The
ruling party he led at the time, the Democratic Labor Party
(LDDP), also proclaimed Lithuania's wish to join the European
Union. The LDDP were largely former members of the Communist Party
of Lithuania, which Brazauskas led from 1988. By breaking away
from Moscow the following year, Brazauskas achieved a great deal
towards finishing off communism in Europe.
    Earlier this year, the LDDP merged with the Social Democratic
Party, established 10 years ago by Soviet-era political prisoners
Aloyzas Sakalas and Vytenis Andriukaitis. These men were never
members of the Communist Party.
    It has been argued that while Estonia is clearly the most
advanced of the Baltic states economically, Lithuania is the most
advanced politically, having the most Western European party
structure in the region. The Social Democratic Party has a great
deal in common, and cooperates closely with, the Western European
Social Democrats currently in power in most countries of the
European Union. Brazauskas' comeback to high politics may still
raise some eyebrows, though. The leftists were always very close
to the bosses of big business in Lithuania. Some of these bosses
have close ties to Russian giants Gazprom and LUKoil, which are
in turn close to the Kremlin. This might increase Russian influence
in the Lithuanian economy. But Lithuania's leftists do not wing
as far to the left as their Swedish or Norwegian friends, who
prefer preserving their state-owned telecoms, oil and gas
industries and some banks.
    Whatever the leftists' agenda, Lithuania's much-trusted media
and abundance of liberal-minded commentators will keep them in
check. To make the suggestion that these "former communists" will
be wanting to defer Lithuania's inevitable entry to NATO and the
European Union would be naive. In neighboring Poland, former
communist (and good friend of Brazauskas) President Aleksander
Kwasniewski is more devoted to the interests of NATO than
French President Jacques Chirac.
    Nearly 64 percent of Lithuania's population supports NATO
membership and less than 26 percent are against it. It would not
be wise to act against the nation's will.

                          *  *  *
    By Peter Mikes
 Last week, the Slovak government was surprised by two serious
problems that can endanger the ambitions of a government focused
on the quick integration of Slovakia into the European Union.
    The first problem is political. When voting on district
reform in the parliament on Wednesday, July 4, the parliament
approved the dividing of Slovakia into 8 districts. But the
former proposal of government was the division of Slovakia
into 12 districts- one of them the district around the city
Komarno in southern Slovakia, where the majority of inhabitants
belong to Hungarian minority. To have such a district was one of
the main goals of the SMK (Party of Hungarian Coalition) because
they believe that the Hungarian minority should have more
influence on life in the region where they are a majority.
    After the approval of the law with 8 districts, which does not
include a district with a Hungarian majority, SMK announced that
in August there will be a special meeting of the party where the
politicians of the party will think about leaving the governmental
coalition. Many of the politicians of SMK have already unofficially
announced that the party will leave the coalition. They think that
the reform of district division is not a real reform. This is the
opinion also of Ivan Niznansky, who proposed the reform. He was
in favor of 12 districts and, after the approval of 8 districts,
he resigned from his position as the coordinator of reform. His
opinion was then approved by Ivan Miklos, who announced after the
voting in parliament that he is not satisfied with the new law.
Because Niznansky and Miklos are pro-EU ascension and are the
politicians who are most reliable and can guarantee reform, and
because the reform is one of the conditions of the integration
of Slovakia into the EU, Slovakia may have very serious problems
in negotiations with the EU. To persuade the EU that this
"reform" with 8 districts is a real reform will be very hard.
    The second problem related to  minorities is as serious as
the first one. On Friday, July 6th, in the village Revuca in central
Slovakia one Roma was beaten to death and two others were seriously
injured. There is a real suspicion that policemen in Revuca are
responsible for the injuries and death.  This suspicion is
strengthened by the fact that the police do not want to give any news
about the case. Only now has it been confirmed that Karol Sendrei -
the Roma killed - died at the police station in Revuca. The other
two Romas, his sons, informed the press that their father's cause of
death was the brutality of policemen when the police questioned all
three of them. Both of the sons were also beaten, and they say that
their injuries were also caused by the police.  The police are silent
- they have only announced that they are not responsible for the
death of Karol Sendrei. All other questions, including whether or
not the two other Roma were beaten in the police station, have not
been answered by the police.  Jan Marinus Wiersma, the corespondent
of European Parliament for Slovakia has already announced that this
case is "absolutely unimaginable."

                     *  *  *

 Special addition: NEW AT TOL                  July 9, 2001
   Last Thursday, 5 July, Transitions Online (TOL)
( received the prestigious "Outstanding
Contribution to Online Journalism in Europe" award at the NetMedia
2001 conference. Other winners this year include BBC News Online
and Guardian Unlimited, and TOL is proud to be included among such
respected company. We are particularly grateful to our network of
correspondents spread across Central and Eastern Europe, the
Balkans, and the former Soviet Union, who have contributed a
much-needed local angle to issues of global importance and
skillfully presented their sometimes neglected countries to an
international audience.

    Transitions Online--a leading Internet magazine covering
Central and Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet
Union--is the online successor to Transitions magazine. A Czech
nonprofit dedicated to strengthening independent journalism, TOL
is based in Prague and uses a network of local correspondents to
provide unique, cross-regional analysis. TOL serves as example for
the regional development of information societies that promote the
use of new media technologies.

    NetMedia's European Online Journalism (EOJ) Awards
( are an annual awards program
to recognize and reward excellence in online journalism. It was
conceived by journalists for journalists. The awards focus on
online journalism, that is, the practice of telling good stories
using digital tools and techniques in an online medium. This is
the third year of the NetMedia Online Journalism Awards. They were
established in recognition of the huge changes the Internet is
making to journalism and the increasing importance of electronic
publishing in the lives of readers and viewers.

    This recognition coincides with TOL's two-year anniversary,
and we thank all our readers and funders for their support during
that time.
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    --- WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    The Hague Calling
    The transfer of Milosevic triggers a series of
tribunal-related developments in Bosnia and The Hague itself.
    by TOL
    One Small Victory
    After challenging his opponents to a roller-skiing race, the
Belarusian president nearly falls victim to a flying tomato.
    by Alex Znatkevich
    Croatian Crisis
    Zagreb's decision to hand over two suspects indicted by The
    tribunal shakes the ruling coalition.
    By TOL
    To Be or Not To Be?
    Rumors fly that Simeon II could become the next Bulgarian
Prime Minister.
    by Polia Alexandrova
    Suspension of the Law
    The international community, under pressure from the United
States, suspends five leaders of Kosovo's civilian guard.
    By Altin Raxhimi
    Estonian Official in Hot Water Over AIDS Comment
    Lithuania Forming New Government
    Justice Minister Fired in Poland
    Uzbek Government Tries to Increase Investment, Exports
    Deutsche Telekom Gains Control Over Croatian Monopoly
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    --- OUR TAKE: Growing Up ---
    All of Croatia's governing coalition should own up their
obligation to educate rather than inflame their constituents.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Hear the latest on the crisis in Macedonia. In cooperation
with TOL, presented an interactive discussion,
"Peace in Macedonia," with TOL's correspondent in Albania, Altin
Raxhimi. The discussion took place on 6 July.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- IN FOCUS: Stealing the Show ---
    Good Diplomacy
    Serbian delegation impresses at the World Economic Forum's
European summit.
    by Victor Gomez
    Show Us the Money, Quickly
    Goran Pitic, Serbian international economic relations
minister, tells TOL that donors understand the urgency this time
around and that the cash will reach its proper destination.
    Playing with Time
    Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic talks to TOL about
cold-calling CEOs, avoiding aid traps, and confronting the past.
    --- FEATURES ---
    Hope From Beyond In the war-torn Northern Caucasus, those who
claim mystical powers of sight have a steady stream of clients.
    by Anna Badkhen
    When Is a Refugee Not a Refugee? Unsurprisingly, Roma citizens
affected by the latest Balkan flashpoints are falling by the
    by Gwendolyn Albert
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- COLUMNS ---
    Balkan Eye: The Culture of Defiance Milosevic's performance in
the courtroom at The Hague was all too familiar. But going on
previous experience, that defiance won't last for long.
    by Tihomir Loza
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    A Dead Sea
    The Croatian media, after enduring ten years of repression
under late President Franjo Tudjman, seem poised to once again
fall under the yoke of the government.
    Opinion by Katarina Luketic
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    OUR TAKE: Growing Up
    All of Croatia's governing coalition should own up their
obligation to educate rather than inflame their constituents.
    The Croatian government of Prime Minister Ivica Racan was
right to respond positively on July 7 to the Hague-based UN
war crimes tribunal's demand to arrest and hand-over two
secretly indicted Croatian citizens. The decision came amid
increasing nationalist noises coming even from within the
government and as such represents a piece of gutsy but
responsible decision-making.
    When it comes to their relation to the Hague-based war crimes
tribunal, Serbs and Croats meticulously square their conducts to
each other. For years, Serb nationalists maintained that the
court was only after Serbs, while their Croatian counterparts
charged that the tribunal's whole purpose was to abolish
distinctions between what they saw as Serbian aggression and
Croatia's war of liberation.
    The news is that the latter line has now been adopted and
promoted unreservedly by the second biggest party of the governing
coalition, the Croatian Social Liberal Union (HSLS). HSLS leaders
have never been "liberals" as they are commonly referred to in
Croatia. The party has spoken for the moderately nationalist
Croatian electorate that broadly approved of the policies of late
President Franjo Tudjman, but quietly disapproved of his
heavy-handed methods. The HSLS has never been particularly vocal
in condemning the atrocities committed by Tudjman's forces, but
neither has it subscribed to the view of hardened Tudjmanists that
Croatian soldiers couldn't have committed  crimes at all because
they were fighting for their freedom. By arguing that command
responsibility over a Croatian military operation that resulted in
war crimes cannot constitute a war crime, the HSLS leader, Drazen
Budisa, is now coming dangerously close to agreeing to that most
extreme nationalist point.
    Budisa reckons it is "immoral" to equate former Yugoslav
President Slobodan Milosevic with the Croatian generals "who led
their army to liberate their country occupied by an army whose
leader was Slobodan Milosevic". Budisa protests the content of the
indictments that, he says, accuse the whole of Croatia and its
armed forces of genocide. More specifically, the Croatian military
and police offensive Oluja (Storm) of August 1995, in which
Tudjman regained much of the Serb-held territory in the region of
Krajina, is treated as "a premeditated plan to expel 150,000 Serbs
from Croatia", according to Budisa.
    The bottom line is that Budisa cannot know exactly what the
goals of the offensive were. At the time, he was only an
opposition politician thoroughly ignored by the Tudjman regime.
What Budisa and the like-minded might be confusing here is their
own conception of what should have happened with what really
happened. The facts remain that nearly all Croatian citizens of
Serbian origin who populated Krajina fled and that unspeakable
crimes were committed against those who were not quick enough.
There is no evidence that anyone from the Croatian political and
military chain of command tried to prevent either the atrocities
or the exodus.
    On the other hand, there is plenty of evidence that the
authorities in Zagreb were at least pleased to see the Serbs gone.
"We solved the Serbian question. There will no longer be 12
percent Serbs ... as there used to be. Three or 5 percent of them
won't endanger the Croatian state ", Tudjman said in an address to
his generals in December 1998.
    Carla Del Ponte, the Tribunal's chief prosecutor, told
journalists in Zagreb on July 6 that she is not in the business of
questioning the Croatian liberation war as such. She didn't say
so, but she obviously is in the business of charging that there
was criminal intent behind particular actions of the Croatian
armed forces.  Del Ponte has perfectly legitimate reasons to do
    Budisa and his party bear the lion's share of responsibility
that the charges against the Croatian generals, which will soon be
made public, find the Croatian electorate so unprepared. Instead
of trying to profit from the public's resistance to the
forthcoming end of the long-cherished and abused notion of Croats
being morally superior to the Serbs, the HSLS should better grasp
that the idea is unsustainable. The role of responsible
politicians in times when constituents are required to part with
such conceptions is to do their best to make the landing as soft
as possible. Besides, by coming close to the hard-line
nationalists, Budisa risks being seen, once the current upheaval
is over, as a scorer of cheap points rather than their natural
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