Issue No. 233 - Aug 3, 2001
Contents:

1. Bulgaria: GOVERNMENT OF SURPRISE
         By Peter Karaboev

2. Romania: HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW - INNOVATIVE OR DANGEROUS ACT?
         By Angela Magherusan

3. Macedonia: AT THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS
         By Zvezdan Georgievski

4. Special addition: NEW AT TOL
 
 


Bulgaria: GOVERNMENT OF SURPRISE
     By Peter Karaboev
     After hitting the news headlines across the world with the
sensation of a former king entering actual politics, Bulgaria has
now given the world something more - a king as a Prime Minister.
On Tuesday 24 July his Council of ministers was approved by vote
in the Parliament while politicians and analysts continue to debate,
"What in fact is this?"
    The National Movement "Simeon the Second" (NMSS) won general
elections on June 17 with an amazing 42%, but five weeks later, the
Government is full of representatives of all parties in the
Parliament except the former ruling coalition of United Democratic
Forces (UDF). The leaders of the only opposition party reacted
with surprise because there wasn't any clear reason to include
Bulgarian Socialist Party (former communists) among the Ministers.
More than this - BSP got the post of one of the three Deputy Prime
Ministers (and, at the same time, Minister of Regional Development)
and one Minister of the State Administration. These posts are
considered to be more important than the ones given to the already
well-known coalition partners from the Turkish Movement for Rights
and Freedoms (MRF). The last were given the two minor posts of
Minister of Agriculture and the Minister without portfolio (in
fact, Minister for Emergencies). Maybe as a kind of compensation,
a new head for the Sofia regional administration was promised to
MRF, which was quite surprising to a number of Bulgarians.
    And really this Cabinet is The Cabinet of Surprises.
    First, without serious negotiations with BSP, Simeon formed a
coalition with their "red" mayors. He is ultimately trying to
compensate for the fact that the very new NMSS has no
representatives on the local level. Second, the new economy team,
the foreign minister, and minister of interior are signs that there
will be no surprises for outside foreign partners and investors as
there were for Bulgarians on the "inside." The new foreign minister
is a confirmation of pro-NATO orientation and a symbolic gesture
to President Petar Stoyanov. Third, the backbone of the Government
is made up of jurists, a group with traditionally strong internal
links which will now take over the Internal and Defence Ministries.
    The admission of BSP into the Government was analyzed as
proof of secret negotiations with Simeon because their contacts
for eventual coalition were canceled few weeks ago. Asked why it
happened like this, Simeon responded with "Oh, please!"
    By admitting one more partner through the back door, Simeon was
criticized for bringing about the killing of Bulgaria's
"European" Project; i.e., the return to normal democratic and
transparent political practice. The answer will be clear at least
a year from now when it will already be known what the new state
budget will look like, whether Bulgaria will be a new NATO member,
what the living standard of common Bulgarians will be, and whether
public expectations will be satisfied. The question arises again
because BSP is considered by local analysts as something of an
anti-pod to the European model. The problem is that there are many
people who wish to follow a European path without UDF and they have
remained without clear representation. This last point means that,
in fact, the political system is cracking down because too many
people have been left without representation - a danger that was
already visible during local elections in 1999 when people voted
"no-BSP, no-UDF". And while BSP was invisible as a political force,
UDF was turning itself from a political to an administrative
organism focusing itself on all of the  negatives. This degradation
killed political motivation and public debate submerged into talk
about the "poor Bulgarian people" and "all these corrupted rulers"
- all because of the fact that, as an administrative structure, UDF
was dealing with collecting and distributing resources, not with
portraying the way to Europe as the only way out of misery. According
to some analysts, at this point Bulgarian SOCIETY reverted to the
status of PEOPLE - a population, structured by the social agenda of
19th century.
   This was an invitation for politicians like Simeon to appear on
the stage as an icon of this PEOPLE. They recognized him as
someone who is ready to deconstruct the political system based on
political parties and Parliament, whether bad or good. Simeon
proposed - and to some degree succeeded - to surround himself with
almost every party on the stage. But this is not the case with
common Bulgarians: in the case of the PEOPLE, a large part of them
united around the cause for a better life NOW. If nothing happens
in the next few months it will fall apart and the early warnings
are already coming - a month after elections Simeon lost almost
10% of his popularity.
   And because anger can be easily channeled through political
parties, Simeon is introducing a new Government model - not one
with representatives of coalition parties, but a corporate one
where different groups - lawyers, journalists, immigrants, ethnic
minorities, women - have their representatives. Some analysts in
Bulgaria are pointing to the similar model of Franco's Spain - a
diffused power with its decisions difficult to investigate and
with final aims that are known only to Simeon. Decisions could be
made after "behind closed doors" consultations with "friends and
advisors", who are out of public control. This scenario is still
theoretical because UDF could be a strong and sound opposition and
there are enough people critical to the new government media.
   The problem may come from another direction - how predictable
and transparent is the new power going to be? Coalition formation
was done under tight secrecy and the names of the future ministers
were announced at the last moment - at the meeting with President
Petar Stoyanov. The content of the new Government came as a
surprise to many people and these "surprises" may go on and on.
More than half of the ministers are unknown to the public, which
is without precedent in recent Bulgarian history. This changed the
idea of a political career in Bulgaria - not through parties, but
through the personal choice of a leader. (Simeon confirmed that he
didn't know 2 or 3 of his ministers up till the last day of
negotiations.)
   More than this - Simeon attacked the Left-Right model from the
last 10 years, BSP-UDF clash, old-fashioned traditionalism versus
modernism, and - to some degree - Bulgaria versus Europe. Simeon
came from Europe (for decades he lived in Spain) and was
recognized as a "translator" of Bulgarian interest to Europe. And
people expect this to be translation with a human face - a more
prosperous Bulgaria with more business opportunities, social security
for the poor, jobs for the young. But the ones who voted for Simeon
and some of his own folks soon will have to recognize that they
can't keep paternalistic comfort and be a part of modern Europe
at the same time.
    There is still no easily recognized Left and Right in Bulgaria -
if this was to be the case (but UDF didn't succeed in its effort
to create a strong modern Right), Simeon could have been met with
powerful trade unions and environmentalists. But he wasn't and
that's why the New Left didn't appear as a strong alternative. The
new - Simeon's - alternative is "national unity", meaning
replacement of the previous horizontal structure of political
power with the vertical "monarchical" one between the Tzar and his
people. It's true that Simeon is only a Prime Minister, but he is
still in the role of double-faced leader - one face looking to
Europe and the other - as Father of the Nation - towards
Bulgarians. In this situation the Left and the Right are only
empty words, coming from parties pushed out to the margins.
   Is democracy in Bulgaria under threat? Only the future will
show.
                          * * *

Romania: HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW - INNOVATIVE OR DANGEROUS ACT?
     By Angela Magherusan
    For over a month now, Romanian society has been confronted by
the issue of the Hungarian Status Law which was recently promoted
by the Hungarian parliament. Is it a legitimate act? Should Romanians
be worried about its application in their country? Have the
Romanian authorities overreacted to this document? Is it a law
responding to European principles regarding minorities' rights,
or is it a discriminatory document ?
    These are the questions to which Romania must find quick answers
if it doesn't want to let the document affect its relationship with
Hungary.
    But what is the law about? Basically, it proclaims the right of
Hungarians living abroad to have almost equal rights to those of
Hungarian citizens: the right to work legally in Hungary, the right
to study in their mother-country through certain scholarships, the
right to have free transportation on Hungarian territory, and so on.
In order to take advantage of these rights, Hungarians must obtain
some kind of identification cards which provide them with all the mentioned
benefits. In Romania, these identification cards are to be made by the
Hungarian party, DUHR (The Democrat Union of Hungarians in Romania).
    The law has had a huge impact on Romanian politics. The first
question to answer now is if it is, indeed, an extraterritorial law.
The Romanian government says that it is since it imposes other state's
rules over its citizens. On the other side, Hungary rejects this
accusation saying that those rules are to be applied on its own
territory, and not on the territory of another state. But the law
makes a big distinction between Romanian citizens on the basis of
their ethnicity, reply Romanian authorities. There have already been
a few cases in which certain people have falsely claimed to be
Hungarians in order to benefit from the mentioned advantages. It is
not a discriminatory law, the Hungarian authorities countered, but a
law made to protect Hungarians living in other countries.
    Yet many countries do not agree with this assessment. Besides
Romania, Austria also refused from the very beginning to permit the
Hungarian Status Law to be applied on its territory.
    Concerning Romania, analysis must include another very important
element: the DUHR, the Hungarian political party which held a very
strange position during the whole debate. At first, it proclaimed the
necessity of this law. After it was promoted by the Hungarian parliament,
DUHR began to have a more relaxed attitude toward the subject,  and it
concentrated particularly on the instruments to implement this law. As
the tension between Romania and Hungary developed, DUHR adopted a rather
distant attitude towards the subject, and the explanation is a very
simple one: DUHR is the main partner of the ruling party, The Party of
Social Democracy in Romania, and it cannot risk this position because
of an open confrontation with the government. So, it just lets Hungarian
officials defend its interests.
    But defending sides led to this growing tension between Romania and
Hungary. It got so far that some analysts even put into question the
bilateral treaty, signed by the two countries in September 1996.
Romanian president Ion Iliescu rejects these opinions. But he also says
that Romania might interdict the law on its territory if the Hungarian
authorities insist on imposing rules outside its borders. Ion Iliescu
even declared that the Romanian government has to consider the aspect
of national dignity in this issue.

                          *  *  *

 
Macedonia: AT THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS
      By Zvezdan Georgievski
    At this moment, Albania is at the edge of the abyss. It is in
a situation of a kind of controlled war - on one side there are two
million Macedonian citizens who look up to their politicians and on
the other side is the abyss offering huge number of casualties, ruins
and an estimate which shows that Macedonia will return to the standard
it had 50 years ago if it ever survived this war. Political leaders
are like a modern "Don Quijotes" which struggle, rather inefficiently,
with papers while Albanian extremists use the "cease-fire" situation
to enforce an ethnic cleansing in the town of Tetovo and its vicinity
(it is estimated that 40,000 ethnic Macedonians have moved out of their
homes by force or threats). Last cease-fire, made with the help of
Peter Fait, special envoy of the general NATO secretary George Robertson,
is not respected, especially by Albanian extremists. During that time,
state institutions said that "we stayed calm and refused to answer to
provocations"... Despite defending property and lives of its citizens,
as was expected by people from Tetovo, Macedonian country just
meticulously penned down "provocations and breaking of cease-fire" -
248! Consequence of such behavior is complete loss of citizens' trust
into their own country.
      On the other hand, total confusion in the so-called government
of political unity (made out of political parties of Macedonians and
Albanians the leaders of which are on the opposite side of
diplomatic round-table thanks to the international community) is
further spreading the wildfire. Unlucky proposals about statutory
solving of Albanian-Macedonian relations, promotion of Albanian
language into an official one, together with Macedonian, that
came from so-called "helpers" to the dialogue between Albanian
and Macedonian political bloc, Francois Leotard and James Perdew
(lately joined by high OSCE official for minorities Max van der
Stuhl) as well as useless guarantees made by Peter Feit about
cease-fire and return of refugees have turned public opinion
against the international community. This  situation was used by the
ruling party VMRO-DPMNE led by Macedonian prime minister Ljupco
Georgievski who is accusing the West (especially NATO alliance)
of collaboration and "open support to our enemies". In such an
atmosphere it is not difficult to channel revolt of refugees and
other citizens as proved by recent protests in Skopje when several
foreign embassies have been stoned (US embassy is now guarded by
50 marines and America doesn't give out visas to Macedonian citizens
anymore) with many OSCE vehicles destroyed. On the other hand,
Socialdemocrat Alliance of Macedonia (recently leading opposition
party, now second strongest party in the government of political
unity) is acting like a moderate factor, not giving out even their
opinion about ethnic cleansing in the country.
      Such political confrontation in Macedonia is most often
reflected where it is least necessary: quiet fighting between
ministries of internal affairs (minister Ljube Boskovski, of
VMRO-DPMNE is for radical military measures) and defense
(minister Vlado Buckovski, of SDSM, tries to find a moderate
solution). Macedonian citizens best felt the difference during
ethnic cleansing of Macedonian villages in the region of Tetovo.
Ljube Boskovski revoked his policemen from the crisis territory,
allegedly because of inferior weapons (lack of mortars and
artillery that can only be in the ownership of the army) and
Vlado Buckovski didn't send the army to intervene, allegedly
because of clauses in the cease-fire agreement and evading
further casualties!
     Result of such politics is that at this moment a third of
Macedonian territory is under control of UCCK. Macedonian
vehicles are attacked on the highway Skopje-Tetovo, and on
Tetovo-Gostivar highway UCCK is enforcing payment for its usage!
However, under pressure the from international community,
Albanian rebels have partly retreated from "conquered" territory
during "cease-fire"... However, exiled people still cannot return
to their homes, not only because many of them are burnt to ground,
looted or damaged, but because according to the agreement signed
via Robert Feit, their villages have been demilitarized, with no
Macedonian army or police! Of course, it is the civilians who get
hurt.
    What about political dialogue? It is going at the usual pace:
one step forward - two steps back! It moved from the capital of
Macedonia into a resort of Ohrid. But, despite optimistic
statements from international representatives that 95 per cent of
the work was already done, it seems that talks run into a 5-per
cent obstacle. Mainly in question are statutory resolution of
Albanian language, and the issue of forming local police hasn't
even been touched yet. Talks are led behind barred doors, so
information is let out only as a public opinion tests than as
relevant facts. What we have found out is that the current
proposal of constitutional status of Albanian language formulated
in Article 7 is : "Macedonian language and its cyrillic writing
is the official language on Macedonian territory and its foreign
relations". In another clause of the same article is written that
every language spoken by at least 20 per cent of Macedonian
population will also be an official language, but limited to
certain regions and circumstances: local government, citizens'
correspondence with local representatives of government
ministries, trials, official documents, education, some parts of
central government (special parliamentary sessions)... However,
this proposal is resolutely rejected by Albanian parties, while
also Macedonians aren't to eager to accept it. Anyhow, the
international community has clearly said that talks in Ohrid
are the last chance to reach an agreement. With the politics of
"carrot and the stick" and "constitution or peace" offer,
the international community is exerting a huge pressure on
negotiating teams to finish everything by Monday. In that case,
NATO troops will be deployed in Macedonia within ten days, and
disarming of UCCK members will last a month or two. Then there
will be sent EU and OSCE monitors to the crisis areas with later
financial aid to help Macedonia overcome the crisis. But if the
parties don't reach an agreement and there is no signal that
someone could ease off, then Macedonia is in the abyss of war.
However, despite these options, inter-ethnic mistrust has risen
among the people. Nobody is talking about the civil orientation
of Macedonian constitution anymore. In other words, it may be
that some compromise reached at the green table could be a
generator of war because it is hard to imagine solution that
would be acceptable to both nations.

                                *  *  *
 
Special addition: NEW AT TOL                         July 30, 2001
 

 Transitions Online Celebrates Two-Year Anniversary With Award
    PRAGUE, Czech Republic--This month Transitions Online (TOL)
(http://www.tol.cz/) celebrates its two-year anniversary as the
premier provider of news and analysis on the post-communist world.
    Jeremy Druker, director and editor in chief, says, "Two years
along, we've survived the dot.com boom and then gloom. The hype
has never bothered us. We've continued providing quality content
and building a large, loyal readership. Our desire to produce a
compelling publication has luckily dovetailed with our non-profit
mission of training young reporters and strengthening independent
journalism in the region."
    On 3 July, TOL received the prestigious "Outstanding
Contribution to Online Journalism in Europe" award at the NetMedia
2001 conference. Other winners included the BBC News Online and
the Guardian Unlimited. TOL was also recently profiled in a Wired
News article on online journalism in Europe
(http://wired.com/news/culture/0,1284,45227,00.html).
    Increasingly, TOL is recognized as a customized content
provider, using its expertise and network of regional
correspondents to produce varying depths of analysis for both
expert and non-expert audiences. A partner with CNN.com, TOL
provides quick and succinct analysis of the day's breaking news
for CNN.com's general readership.
(http://europe.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/europe/04/20/montenegro.independence/)
   TOL correspondents have appeared on interactive discussions
hosted by
   the WashingtonPost.com,
   (http://discuss.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/zforum/01/world_raxhimi070601.htm)
and TOL editors recently wrote two chapters in Transparency
International's forthcoming book, The Global Corruption Report.
   TOL is based in Prague and uses a network of local
correspondents to provide unique, cross-regional analysis. The
magazine offers a local angle on events in Central and Eastern
Europe, the Balkans, and the former Soviet Union. TOL is dedicated
to strengthening independent journalism in the region and serving
as a model for how public service media can flourish using new
media technologies.
    In the year ahead TOL will offer more diversity and more
content with the official debut of its news aggregator service,
the TOL Wire (http://wire.tol.cz), which will present daily news
from local partner newsrooms from across the region, and the
Balkan Reconstruction Report (http://balkanreport.tol.cz), a
sub-publication monitoring the efforts to rebuild southeastern
Europe.
    Transitions Online would like to thank the following
organizations for their generous support: The Robert Bosch
Foundation, The Eurasia Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The
German Marshall Fund of the United States, The Media Development
Loan Fund, The Open Society Institute, the Independent Journalism
Foundation, ProMedia, The Reuters Foundation, The Westminster
Foundation for Democracy, Press Now, The Guardian Foundation,
      Hewlett-Packard, Raiffeisenbank, and the Swedish International
Development Agency.

    Check out Transitions Online at http://www.tol.cz.
    Transitions Online: Intelligent Eastern Europe
    Interview Contact: Jeremy Druker, Editor in Chief
    Telephone: ++420-2-2278-0805
    transitions@tol.cz
    http://www.tol.cz
    Transitions Online
    22 Chlumova, 130 00 Prague 3, CZECH REPUBLIC
    Voice ++420-2-2278-0805. Fax   ++420-2-2278-0805

--------------------------------------------------------------------
Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe

New at TOL:                                     Monday, 30 July 2001

--------------------------------------------------------------------

--- WEEK IN REVIEW ---

Romania: Selling the Beast
The Romanian government demonstrates its change of heart on foreign
investment by selling off the country's largest state-owned company.
by Zsolt Mato
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Belarus: Bashing the Bison
In pre-election Belarus, the authorities are clamping down on the young
opposition movement, Zubr.
by Alex Znatkevich
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Bulgaria: A Fresh Start?
Bulgaria gets a new government headed by its former king, Simeon II.
by Polia Alexandrova
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Poland: The Water is Wide
Flood damage continues across Poland, causing economic and personal
hardship.
by Wojtek Kosc
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Macedonia: A Compromise Required
Negotiations between representatives of Macedonia's  two main ethnic
groups resume after a decisive intervention from NATO and EU envoys.
by TOL
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

MORE WEEK IN REVIEW
http://www.tol.cz/week.html

Boost to Tech Sector in Latvia
Disgruntled Slovene and Croat Border Residents Decry Deal
Writer Wins Free Speech Case Against Slovakia
Changes at the Top in Crimea
Second Victim Dies of AIDS in Mongolia

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

- - - TOL MESSAGE - - -

***ADDING MORE ORIGINAL DAILY CONTENT FROM THE REGION***

TOL Wire - Daily News. Local Angle.

TOL has launched a daily news service bringing together breaking news
and in-depth analysis from selected independent newsrooms
--(http://wire.tol.cz)

==> unique material: expanded and alternative coverage of the region -
material translated from local languages, cross-regional perspective.

==> greater regional and international exposure to local media outlets
whose material is often inaccessible to foreign readers.

Keep an eye on the site that will be constantly expanding and bring
readers a broader selection of local media content partners!

Want to become a partner? Interested to know more about the project?
Contact Virginie Jouan, TOL Wire Editor, at: jouanv@tol.cz

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- OUR TAKE: A Recipe to Head Off Disaster ---
The United States should commit troops to Macedonia.

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=16&NrArticle=1762&ST1=body&ST_T1=wir&ST_max=1

- - - TOL MESSAGE - - -

Be sure to visit our new mediakit. We reach thousands of people with
this newsletter every week. Your future business partners, customers and
readers are probably among them. No one reaches the region like TOL -
visit our mediakit for more information:
http://archive.tol.cz/mediakit/index.html, or e-mail us at
marketing@tol.cz.
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- IN FOCUS: More on EU Accession ... ---

A Bitter Pill
Eastern Europeans are crying foul at the EU's acceptance of restrictions
on the free movement of labor.
by Yordanka Nedyalkova and Victor Gomez

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1713

Getting In
Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar talks to TOL about the European Union,
transition periods, euro-skepticism, and NATO membership.
by Victor Gomez

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1654

Laborious Questions
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek exchanges views with the EU's
commissioner for enlargement, Gunter Verheugen, over transition periods.

Excerpted from an EU enlargement panel discussion.

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=7&NrArticle=1653

 .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- OPINIONS AND COLUMNS ---

Media Notes: Just Another Murdered Journalist
After the death of the Ukrainian journalist Gongadze last year, freedom
of speech continues to be seriously violated.
by Oleg Varfolomeyev

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1691

The Deep End: Not Getting Enough at Home
Quirky news from around the region.
by TOL staff

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=17&NrArticle=1694

Russia Rising
Is Moscow a good partner or a loose canon?
by Elena Chinyaeva

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1707

Running in Place
Tbilisi State University is proud of its traditions, but the students
are demanding an outlook toward the future, not the past.
by Jaba Devdariani

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1695

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

--- FEATURES ---

Back to School
School is still proving elusive for many of Bulgaria's Roma. But recent
desegregation programs are starting to make a difference.
by Polia Alexandrova

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1709

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

>From the newly launched Balkan Reconstruction Report
(http://balkanreport.tol.cz):

A Shy Reformer
Talking to TOL, Bulgarian Finance Minister Milen Velchev says the new
government is persuading young professionals working abroad to come back
to Bulgaria.
by Polia Alexandrova

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1728

Cookie-Cutter Formulas Challenged
Corruption and poor macroeconomic performance are the lowest common
denominators of Balkan economies. But each also has its own spectacular
failures, from inherited debt to natural-resource endowment.
Book review by Julia Gray

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=5&NrArticle=1689

Maturity Test
In Albania's recent elections local institutions performed their
constitutional and legal duties with a previously unseen degree of
professionalism.
Opinion by Eno Ngjela

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1683

Tower of Babble
The talks continue among various experts in Macedonia, while
increasingly serious cease-fire breaches are reported in the Tetovo
region.
by Vlado Jovanovski

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=1652

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

IN FOCUS: Water, Water Nowhere

Two reports on environmental dangers facing Central Asia, from TOL
partner Eurasianet (http://www.eurasianet.org):

Just Deserts
In Uzbekistan, global warming is already causing rapid desertification
and growing environmental problems.
by Alanna Shaikh

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1721

In Short Supply
A severe water shortage has hit Tajikistan, and there is no end in
sight.
by Konstantin Parshin

http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=1722

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

- - - TOL PARTNERS - - -

- The Network of Independent Journalists of Central and Eastern Europe
(NIJ), a weekly service run by the Croatian-based STINA press agency. To

subscribe to STINA's NIJ weekly service, giving you timely news of
events in the region, send an e-mail to: stina@zamir.net

- [http://www.eurasianet.org ] EurasiaNet is a website that provides
news and
analysis on political, economic, environmental and social developments
in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus, as well as in
Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Turkey. The web site also offers a
variety of other features including: hundreds of links; an extensive
research database; book reviews; newsmaker interviews and a discussion
forum.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

OUR TAKE: A Recipe to Head Off Disaster

The United States should commit troops to Macedonia.

The conflicts that accompanied the breakdown of the former Yugoslavia
were often anticipated well in advance with some of them even described
with a certain accuracy. While war raged in Croatia in 1991, popular
wisdom among journalists and politicians was that it was only a
precursor for what would soon take place in Bosnia. As for Kosovo, it
was repeated throughout the 1990s that the shadow of Serbian leader
Slobodan Milosevic--who came into the limelight over the Kosovo crisis
in 1987--would eventually fall over the troubled province.

There were two schools of thought on Macedonia. One maintained that the
country would be spared because the Milosevic regime--the main source of
instability in the region--didn't have an obvious interest or excuse to
move against Macedonia and was anyway far too busy elsewhere. The other
saw a future violent conflict in the fragile republic as inevitable: The
ultimate Balkan nightmare scenario would unfold since literally all of
its neighbors have aspired--or were assumed to have had aspired--to one
or another part of its territory. In recognition of such a risk, the
first ever UN preventative mission, the UN Preventative Deployment
Force, was dispatched to Macedonia in late 1992.

Neither theory has been accurate. The armed conflict that broke out in
February demonstrated that Serbian nationalism was not a necessary
ingredient of a post-Yugoslav conflict. As for the rest of Macedonia's
neighbors, they have all either exercised restraint or have sought to
play constructive roles. The situation in the Macedonian "neighborhood"
has radically changed since 1992. There is a democratic government in
Belgrade. In Sofia, a determination shared by all main parties not to do
anything that may put at risk Bulgaria's prospects of joining NATO and
the EU takes precedence over any smoldering Bulgarian territorial
ambitions that might still exist. The Greek establishment has realized
that its initial objections to Macedonia's right to exist simply made no
sense and that there are, in fact, good trade opportunities north of the
border. A combination of weakness and a desire to gain the international
respectability induces soberness into Tirana's thinking. The irony is
that the only place in the neighborhood that exports trouble into
Macedonia is Kosovo, a territory controlled by NATO.

What the international community has on its hands in Macedonia is
low-intensity guerrilla/anti-insurgent warfare that doesn't threaten to
spill over too much. What it does threaten, if it is not brought to an
end this summer, is to destroy the last remnants of the social fabric
that linked the ethnic Macedonian majority and the ethnic Albanian
minority.

There are two long-term approaches that the international community--and
the West in particular--could take. It could essentially give up on
Macedonia as a multiethnic state and start from a recognition that the
pan-Albanian drive--fueled mainly from Kosovo to eventually incorporate
all Albanian-majority territories into one state--is unstoppable. The
approach would involve redrawing the international borders between
Macedonia, Serbia, and Albania to appease pan-Albanian nationalism. The
policy would appeal to many in Pristina, Skopje, Belgrade, and Tirana.
But the big question is whether there could ever be a map that majorities
in all three countries would accept wholeheartedly. In addition, a remake
of the borders in the southern Balkans would reinvigorate the Serbian and
Croatian aspirations in Bosnia.

The other approach is the one that the West is pursuing right now.
Sophisticated power-sharing arrangements are proposed by the U.S.
mediator James Pardew and his EU counterpart, former French Defense
Minister Francois Leotard. The proposals provide for greater Albanian
participation in key segments of the state institutional structure, such
as the police and education, while the Albanian language is to be given
more of an official status than at present. Officially, that is all the
two main ethnic Albanian parties and the National Liberation Army (UCK)
ask for. That is also what many on the ethnic Macedonian side might be
ready to agree to if it is sufficiently camouflaged.

The ethnic Macedonians, however, don't believe the UCK rebellion was
about making sure Macedonia gets a constitution that guarantees its
multi-ethnic character. The UCK brutality and especially last week's
actions to expel ethnic Macedonians from the Tetovo region give credence
to such fears. In other words, there is no reason to believe that an
agreement--even if signed by all main players--would be fully respected
by any of them.

At present, the West plans to send a British-led, 3,000-strong NATO
force to supervise UCK arms decommissioning, if and when the political
agreement is achieved. The force is to leave the country once that task
is accomplished. Furthermore, the United States hasn't yet pledged any
combat troops to the force. That is plainly wrong.

The only way to make a success of the pursued approach of remaking
Macedonia as a multi-ethnic country in its present borders is to back
good constitutional arrangements with a long term, NATO-led armed
presence with significant U.S. participation. The importance of such
presence would be primarily political, while the military tasks would
be less difficult than they seem.

The United States bears a good measure of responsibility for the fact
that ethnic Albanian extremism hasn't yet been addressed and properly
condemned internationally. However, U.S. credibility among ethnic
Albanians is such that Washington could, if it wished, easily solve
things that others couldn't. Although anti-Western sentiments are
strong among ethnic Macedonians, Skopje's desire to eventually join
Western structures makes the West, including the United States, the
most influential force among them too.

Militarily, NATO has nothing to fear. The UCK is a small, easily
manageable force that will have no choice but to disband if NATO arrives
in the context of a political agreement between the main ethnic
Macedonian and ethnic Albanian parties.

A long-term NATO presence in Macedonia is what Pardew and Leotard should
immediately recommend to both Washington and Brussels. If NATO misses
the chance now, it may later have to come in on fighting terms.

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