Issue No. 236  Aug. 24, 2001

1. Macedonia: SHADY PEACE
    By Zvezdan Georgievski

                    By Paulyuk Bykowski

3. Slovakia: ON CROSSROADS
    By Peter Mikes


5.  Special addition: NEW AT TOL

Macedonia: SHADY PEACE
     By Zvezdan Georgievski
     If peace is lack of war, then one might say that there is
a peace in Macedonia now. But...
    After signing the so-called preliminary agreement between
representatives of Macedonian and Albanian political bloc (of
course, with the help of the international community) it is
still uncertain whether this historical agreement will become
useless or will be a true turning point in Macedonian life. As
local media would say, although there is a relative ceasefire
in effect, there are still daily reports about the casualties
in the crisis area.
    Doubts whether the signed agreement is only a strategic
farce serving for both conflicting parties to affirm their
goodwill in establishing peace and their cooperation with the
so-called international community, the West, and at the same
time go on with creating instability in the region are
supported by many elements.
    In the meantime appeared the so-called Albanian National
Army that is questioning the authority of Ali Ahmeti, leader
of the so-called National Liberation Army (UCK), who has
already signed technical agreement about voluntary disarmament
of his paramilitary formations with Patrick Feit, representative
of NATO general secretary George Robertson. Albanian National
Army does not acknowledge signed agreement.
    On the other hand, Macedonian prime minister Ljupco
Georgievski, leader of the strongest Macedonian party VMRO-DPMNE,
who also signed the agreement, said on August 2, Macedonian
national holiday, that every Macedonian should be ashamed of
the agreement because it was meant to defeat and was signed
under the pressure of arms. Also, it is very difficult to
subscribe to theory that Albanian guerrilla were fighters for
collective and individual human rights and that their goal was
change of Macedonian constitution that would create more rights
for Albanian minority. In other words, if taking up arms wasn't
so that election of the judge in a small Macedonian town has to
be approved by at least half Albanian representatives in the
parliament, then one has to ask himself why would guerrilla now
leave their weapons. Finally, if the international community
had recognized that fighting in Macedonia was caused by human
rights, then it would have probably included also Ali Ahmeti
into negotiations. But, paradoxically, if the international
community hadn't recognized it, then there would have probably
been no negotiations at all.
    Dominating opinion among Macedonian public is that Macedonian
side made too many concessions to Albanians and gave them too many
rights. According to the agreement, almost two thirds of all bills
will have to be passed with at least half minority votes which is
interpreted as consensual democracy which means federalization of
Macedonia having as its final consequence division of the country.
This opinion has become more often heard even among parliamentary
representatives who should vote for constitutional changes. There
are more and more representatives who claim that they will note
vote for capitulation. So it is better to shoot a little bit more
than live in an imposed peace! (There is an obvious similarity
between Radovan Karadzic's signing the so-called Vance plan in
Athens and its failure to pass the vote in the Serbian parliament
in Pale).
    Without regard to these doubts or because of them, NATO
decided to urgently deploy its troops for disarming paramilitary
formations. According to the agreement, when one third of UCK
weapons is collected, Macedonian parliament will start with the
procedure to adopt constitutional changes. Asked how will NATO
know that one third has been collected, NATO envoy in Macedonia
said that NATO had precise information about weapons of this para-
military formation. The statement caused many speculations and
incited already established anti-western sentiment. As it stands,
NATO could have precise information only in two cases - either
NATO itself provided arms to the paramilitary Albanian formation
or it has a really good intelligence service. If the second option
is true, then NATO didn't provide logistic support to Macedonian
side (or, if you like, Macedonian state, member of Partnership for
Peace) but aided Albanian guerrilla instead. So the crucial
question is who will then guarantee that ONA will be disarmed?
However, it seems that the agreement signed on August 13 is a
historical chance to finally end the last Balkan war in the former
Yugoslavia. War in Macedonia was nothing else then war against
democracy and it seems West finally understood it. On the other
hand, NATO Pact as the only military peacekeeping alliance cannot
allow itself further misjudgements.
    If NATO wishes to expand to east, as proclaimed, if
Partnership for Pace is a guarantee against new bi-polar system,
as proclaimed, then it might be that the so-called small war in
Macedonia causes much headache to a huge military goliath called
    Although situation in Macedonia is better labeled misty but
clear, there is more and more people who believe that the victory
of democracy is the only way out of crisis. For start, lack of war
is enough, as the first step towards peace.

                           * * *

     By Paulyuk Bykowski
    The current presidential elections scheduled for September 9
have already lost the confidence of the only multilateral
organization that was in a position to carry out full-fledged
observation-the OSCE's Bureau for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights.
    Director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and
Human Rights (ODIHR) Gerard Stoudman announced August 6 that by
not inviting the Bureau's oversight, the Belarussian government
is obstructing effective international observation of the upcoming
presidential elections.
    "This is an unacceptable situation," said Stoudman. "Never
before has an OSCE participating state refused entry to the ODIHR
to observe an election. It's a clear violation of the international
commitments undertaken by the government."
    The Belarussian government claims it doesn't know OSCE's or
ODIHR's official position. For over a month the state has been
justifying its failure to invite ODIHR's participation by claiming
it was trying to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels.
This explanation finds slippery ground, however, when European
institutions are openly expressing their interest in organizing
international observation over the presidential elections in the
    European institutions held a conference in Paris July 5,
cooperating within the framework of the European "Troika"
(European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE and
the Council of Europe). Present were OSCE representatives (the
acting president, the secretary, ODIHR, and the
Consultation/Observation Group of OSCE in Belarus), the European
Commission, the Council of the European Union, as well as the
American National Institute for Democray (NID), which corresponds
to the Belarussian "International Observation Mission). The
decision was made to turn to ODIHR with a request to organize
full-force long-term and short-term observation missions.
    Moreover, the Belarussian state information agency BELTA
announced July 17 that it was ready for an international
observation mission. The Centrizbirkom (Central Commission for
elections and referendums) received a letter from Ambassador Dr.
Hans Georg Wieck, the Head of Group Advisory and Monitoring Group
Belarus OSCE, according to the agency. The letter said that the
consultations between the various European institutions had
resulted in an agreement to conduct short-term and long-term
observation of the Belarussian presidential elections coming up in
September. The letter also mentioned that the mission could only
be launched pending a corresponding invitation from Belarus,
according to BELTA.
    Centrizbirkom secretary Nikolai Lozovik commented clearly on
the letter in a BELTA interview, saying "European structures have
announced their readiness to launch short-term observation on
election day, as well as long-term observation during the weeks
leading up to the voting. This would be full-fledged observation
of the election process in Belarus. This will happen, as it does
in other countries, under ODIHR's patronage."
    But the invitation to ODIHR was never issued, and the weeks
are counting down. ODIHR had hoped to deploy its observation teams
by August 1, according to a standard procedure that requires
observers to be on the ground six weeks before the elections in
order to conduct an effective operation. Later OSCE placed its
hopes on August 7, and now, it would seem, has lost them
    If standard procedure had been observed, fourteen long-term
ODIHR observers (in pairs in the counties and in the capital)
would have already arrived. Then two to three days before the
elections about fifty short-term observers would come, whose task
would be to monitor the actual voting on election day.
    The international mission's mandate runs out after the polls
close, when ODIHR will enter the country and announce its refusal
to recognize the election results. This is different from the
recent Parliamentary elections. Then ODIHR announced beforehand
that the election conditions did not correspond to OSCE standards,
and launched a fact-finding mission along with a full-fledged
observation team. The National Assembly was hence pronounced
undemocratically elected.
    Now Minsk could have won full legitimacy, but it is not to be.
They didn't encourage the West, but the West expressed its
readiness to come-and didn't get an invitation.
    No, of course, the individual governments of Belgium and Italy
were invited, and representatives of the CIS, all the groups who
observed the parliamentary elections and pronounced them
democratic. And finally Minsk invited representatives of the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, who responded
with, "Only after ODIHR."
    "You'll have to draw your own conclusions as to why they would
choose to block the entry of the only European multilateral
institution in a position to field a large-scale, long-term
observation," said Stoudman. "Time is running out. As a result of
this obstruction, it is already too late to conduct the kind of
full-fledged observation that we do in other countries. The
credibility of the entire election process is being drawn into
    Stoudman spoke without emotion and clearly outlined what will
happen if Minsk fails to invite the oversight of the Bureau.
Western diplomats stationed in Minsk who cooperate regularly with
Belarussian leaders, politicians and analysts, were more
emotional. They either expressed bafflement as to why the regime
would act so clearly against its own interests, or chalked it up
to irrational fear of the head of state.
    Some questions could have been answered in the press
conference Lukashenko had long been promising journalists, but
instead it only made things more complicated. Aleksandar
Klaskovski, the editor-in-chief of the private media company
BelaPAN, asked the president about the government's hopes to
normalize relations with the West and keep the commitment to
invite ODIHR's international observers. Lukashenko responded with
the following:
    "Thank you for that pertinent question. But I want to clarify.
These hopes, to use your terminology, are mutual. The West can't
get by without Belarus; that's why it's involving itself so
actively in her affairs. Belarus is located at the crossroads of
all energy paths, first and foremost, from the East to the West.
You can't get around that, and that's why these hopes, to use your
term, are not just ours, but theirs too. That's the first thing."
    "Secondly, you spoke of some commitment. What commitment? Is
there some sort of limit on the time in which we can make an
invitation, or have the ODIHR come? There has never been such a
limit; it doesn't exist. And now your question. It's absolutely
clear and transparent. You know, when inviting this or that
observer, we are coming from the position of 'are they prepared to
come to us?' The Joint Independent Government made that decision
right here in this hall. The head of the government decided to
send invitations to observers to come here, and we sent them."
    "Many governments approached us asking to send observers.
Belgium, Italy, Israel, and many, many other governments. And
whomever expressed an interest in coming, we sent them all, almost
all, invitations. Today and tomorrow we are sending out the last
    "So far OSCE has yet to decide to send observers as far as I'm
aware, and I would be someone who would know about this matter.
And this "commitment" was dependent on exactly that. OSCE
officials-that's not OSCE. Officials can make whatever decisions
they want and say whatever they like. But it's unacceptable when
an official - an official that we are also paying, I might add,
since we do pay our dues to OSCE - dictates to a government the
will of a group of officials."
    "We are equal members of the OSCE. We would therefore come to
anything they invited us to. We expected a similar decision from
this organization.  It's better to let them come and see what's
really going on. Let them write and say what they hear from the,
shall we say, "hosts," or however you want to put it. But they
need to spend a little time here. They should see our country,
that it's not some kind of banana republic, that it's really a
government. I know Westerners who, having read things over there,
or gotten information from our opposition, come here and say,
'It's completely different from what we heard about Belarus.'"
    "Therefore we are very interested in having Western observers
come, perhaps even hired in some capacity. And, jumping ahead, I
will say directly that in the near future we will make an
invitation like this even though OSCE has not yet made its
decision about conducting observation."
    The presidential administration's newspaper "Soviet Belarus"
published a different version of this answer under the heading
"Strength and Truth." The tone seems to have changed, and
Lukashenko is shown as being more convinced of the ill will of
Western institutions than he really was: "I'm coming from the
position, along with Centrizbirkom, of thinking we would do well
to have better observers. We unquestionably have reason to believe
that ODIHR will take the position they did during the
parliamentary elections. They'll come with documents in their
pockets, where they will write whatever they want beforehand. Not
what is actually the case, but what they want to portray. Well,
let them."
    It has already been remarked that ODIHR didn't send
representatives to the Parliamentary elections, to which they had
an official invitation from the Belarussian side, made long before
the election.
    Now Minsk's official position should be based on the
confidence that ODIHR won't come no matter what. Judging from the
way things look now, that's probably true. The time has run out,
practically speaking, to conduct any long-term observation.
    Deputy Head of the ODIHR Election Section Branimir Radev
commented on the problem : "It's clear that if they let us come to
Belarus two or three weeks before the elections, there won't be
any question of conducting anything but short-term observation,
that is, on election day. But you're correct to point out that
some very important things are occurring during the election
campaign, which we-that is, a long-term ODIHR observation team-are
not present for. The creation of the electoral structure, the
campaign to gather support and signatures for candidates,
checking, registration of candidates-all of that has past or is
already going on."
    A coordinating meeting was held between European institutions
August 10 in Vienna, in the framework of the Parliamentary
"Troika"-the same group that asked ODIHR to launch an observation
mission to the Belarussian presidential elections. Now they
discussed the question of what to do without ODIHR's observation.
    "This consultation had to do with coordinating the work of the
international institutions who are invited to observe the
elections in Belarus, when and if they show up in Minsk," said

Belarus: Presidential Candidates Registered
     By Paulyk Bykowski
The Belarussian Central Commission for elections and
referendums registered four candidates August 14 for the upcoming
September 9 elections: leader of the Liberal Democratic Party
Semen Gaidukevich, president of the Federation of Belarussian
Unions Vladimir Goncharik, chair of the grodnend... county social
coalition Ratusha and acting president Aleksandar Lukashenko. The
signature campaigns for these candidates gathered, respectively,
133,066, 212,041, 160,077 and 395,821 voter signatures, meeting
the obligatory minimum of 100,000 signatures.
    Candidates were also required to submit declarations about
their income and the income of their closest relatives. No
violations of this rule occurred. Gaidukevich was unable to
produce a declaration for his youngest son Vladimir, who lives
with his mother in Russia, but Centrizbircom considers that this
is no basis for denying Gaidikevich's candidacy, considering their
longtime estrangement.
    Twenty-two people expressed their intention to run for
president, but only four party groups were able to meet the
registration prerequisite of 100,000 signatures. One political and
social organizations in opposition to Lukashenko's regime "United
Candidates of Democratic Forces" supported Goncharik. A ceremony
was held August 13 to sign the Agreement on Mutual Obligations
between a single candidate and the broad citizens' coalition in
the period before and after the presidential elections. In a
corresponding document, after Goncharik's registration as a
presidential candidate, S. Domash should withdraw his candidacy to
endorse Goncharik, and head a political advising council for the
candidate. In the event of Goncharik's victory, Domash is expected
to head the Belarussian government.
    After the registration ceremony, candidates had the
opportunity to make a short speech. Domash made no announcement
withdrawing his candidacy in support of Goncharik.

                          * * *

     By Peter Mikes
    The Hungarian coalition /SMK/ is deciding if it should leave
the slovak government of prime minister Mikulas Dzurinda. But it
is not only the SMK on crossroads- the whole Slovakia is on
    After the reform of political districts SMK announced, that it
would leave the coalition. The reason was clear- the representatives
of 5 governmental parties changed their mind and did not do what
they promised to SMK. The reform did not create an own "Hungarian"
district. The representatives of the party of civil Understanding
/SOP/ and The party of  Democratic Left /SDL/ - both part of
governmental coalition- voted against the proposal which would
create a Hungarian district. Prime minister Dzurinda said that he
was satisfied with this vote. The Hungarian coalition announced
angrily, that it will leave the coalition. Nowadays that does not
seem to be a wise decision. SOP and SDL will be very glad to see
SMK  outside of coalition. Not only because there will be more
political functions for their political representatives. Both
parties could "be proud" of this act among the voters. Voters of
both parties were not satisfied with cooperation of SOP and SDL
with Dzurindas government at all, and especially not with
SMK. Both parties would not be in the Slovak parliament, if
elections were to be held today. It seems that both parties have
decided one year before the elections to change the direction.
Well informed journalists in Slovakia do not close out, that both
parties would be very glad if SMK left the coalition.
    In this case it is not clear, what would happen. The
government of prime minister Dzurinda would be in minority and no
possibility is closed out - from backing the government by
opposition of the Meciar´s Movement for Democratic Slovakia /HZDS/
to fall of Dzurinda´s government. The situation is serious-
chargé d'affaires of USA DOUGLAS HENGEL in Slovakia spoke out and
in a very direct speech announced, that for integration efforts of
Slovakia it would be very useful if SMK would not leave the
coalition. SMK is thinking about it - if there would be a change
of political culture in Slovakia in the direction of the methods of
HZDS, the Hungarian minority would not profit from it. This is the
opinion of Pál Csáky, the second strongest man in SMK and the
rival of Bela Bugar, the head of SMK, who announced the leaving of
Dzurindas government.
    So the next Saturday, when the final decision falls, there
will be fight also inside the SMK. But not only SMK, the whole
Slovakia can be on crossroad next Saturday.

                          *  *  *

     In the past month, the situation in Chechnya has worsened a
lot. In an attempt to punish the people of Chechnya, the
infamous mop-up operations - which are essentially the kidnapping
of innocent civilians by Russian soldiers - have become more
frequent. During these operations, Russian law enforcement
officials (it is generally they who run the mop-up operations,
with the support of the army) take whatever they please from
people's homes - audio and video equipment, gold jewelry,
decorative knives and money. They arrest innocent people and
demand bribes for their release. The price of a prisoner can rage
from $100 to $3000.
    The mine war has also intensified. Landmines explode daily in
Grozny, Gudermes, Argun and Urus-Martan, along the roads where
federal troops usually travel. But it is often not soldiers but
civilians who are injured or killed, usually women, children and
the elderly. It is also common for those who set the mines,
generally teenage boys, to be killed by explosions.
    Russian troops generally take punitive measures immediately
after any land mine explosion. Any man from 15 to 45 years of age
who happens to be nearby is taken to so-called filtration camps.
Most of those who are taken, if they make it out alive, are
crippled or ill. It is not uncommon for young men who have left
the filtration camps to die under mysterious circumstances within
two or three weeks of their release.
    Recently, an unknown group set up a land mine in front of the
Russian command post in the village of Stariye Atagi. Immediately
after the explosion, 19 villagers were arrested. Two of them were
killed and several more were seriously injured. A few days later,
soldiers from the command post robbed the local hospital. They
forced all the patients out into the street, where they insulted
and threatened them. Finally, after taking money from several
female patients and doctors, they ran off. These are only some of
the many examples of the barbaric nature of this war, which is
being fought without concern for human rights or even the most
basic international norms.
    Both Russian and Chechen sides violate the human rights of
civilians.  Especially bad are the so-called Wahhabis, who have
initiated a campaign of terror against ordinary Chechens. People
are shot in their own homes, in front of their children. Over the
past two months there have been more than 20 such attacks on
peaceful, unarmed people. The victims are more often than not
socially active people - local government officials, clergy and
Chechen human rights activists. Extremists have even begun
attacking members of President Aslan Maskhadov's administration.
    Nonetheless, no one will take responsibility for the murders
that have been committed. The Russian government insists the
murders have all been committed by Chechen soldiers. President
Maskhadov, however, denies that his troops have had any part in
these murders and claims that they were committed on the orders of
the Commander of the Russian armed forces. The Wahhabis, while not
denying that they took part in the murders, do not claim
responsibility either. Generally these crimes are committed by
ethnic Chechens wearing camouflage fatigues and masks.
    The entire population of Chechnya is paralyzed with fear of
attacks from both the Russian army and extremist Chechens. The
social and economic life of the Republic has come to a standstill.
    The new [Russian installed ed.] government of Chechnya has
neither power nor influence in the Republic. Power remains in the
hands of the Russian troops who are engaged in a full-scale
genocide against the Chechen people. The Russian armed forces are
literally hunting down young Chechens. They arrest, shoot or maim
the most talented and healthy young men. Drug addicts, alcoholics
and criminals are free to go where they please without anyone
paying them the slightest attention.
    In the midst of total destruction, Russian soldiers support an
illicit oil drilling industry that causes irreparable harm to the
natural environment and to the health of Chechnya's people.
    Specialists estimate that 2,000 tons of petroleum products are
exported from the Republic every day. The profits from this
primitive oil industry serve mostly to line the pockets of Russian
    Three institutes of higher education are still in operation in
Grozny - the State University, the Teacher Training College and
the Petroleum Institute. There are several dozen elementary and
high schools remaining.
    Children study in very difficult conditions, and their lives
are constantly in danger. Both the school and university buildings
are periodically shelled by Russian troops.
    Teachers and professors have not received their salaries in
months. They experience frequent threats from unknown individuals
who demand that they cease their work or face violent
    The work conditions for doctors are no better. According to
the head doctor at one of Grozny's hospitals, medical facilities
in the city receive no funding, and they lack necessary equipment
and medicines.
    Chechnya is still under a curfew. Anyone who goes out on the
streets after the curfew takes effect will be shot without
    In the midst of all this, crime, especially in Grozny, is
flourishing. Every hour, dozens of crimes are committed in the
city, from pick pocketing to robbery to murder. Over half of the
crimes in Chechnya are committed by Russian soldiers. In the past
three months soldiers murdered several drivers with the intent of
stealing their cars. Crimes are reported only when there is a
witness or the victim is left alive. In reality there are probably
many criminal acts that go unreported. Around Grozny there are
frequent discoveries of new mass graves, all containing the
remains of people who were shot without trial and without
    At a recent session of the Russian State Duma, Vladimir
Kalamanov testified that the official number of people missing in
Chechnya is 950. In reality, there are well over 5000 people who
have disappeared without a trace.
    Earlier this spring, the Russian government attempted to drive
Chechen refugees out of the camps in Ingushetia and back to
Chechnya. On April 1, the government stopped providing aid to
refugees in Ingushetia and officially prohibited humanitarian
organizations from distributing aid. But despite this, refugees
refuse to return to Chechnya until the military campaign is
brought to an end.
    On June 15, three refugees living in the Sputnik camp on the
Chechen-Ingush border began a hunger strike, demanding that the
Russian government stop the war and begin negotiations with
President Maskhadov. Today there are 37 people participating in
the hunger strike. They are being monitored by doctors from the
Sleptsov regional hospital. Several of the hunger strikers are in
serious condition and have already been given medical assistance.
This act of protest by Chechen refugees has already been shown
several times on Russia's NTV television station, but to this day
there has been no official reaction from the Russian government.
A few high-ranking bureaucrats called the hunger strike a ploy of
the Maskhadov regime.
    In sum, the conditions in the Chechen Republic are very
troubling and they are getting worse every day.
    * Dispatches from Chechnya no. 15 published by LAM - Center
for Pluralism , Grozny /Nazren and IDEE , Washington

                                *  *  *

Special addition: NEW AT TOL                         Aug 20, 2001



On A Roll?
    The Belarussian single opposition candidate appears to be
gaining ground in the run-up to presidential elections.
    by Alex Znatkevich
    The Coup That Wasn't
    Ten years on, the anniversary of the failed putsch provokes
mostly yawns among average Russians.
    by Maria Antonenko
    NATO Deploys
    NATO's vanguard mission arrives in Macedonia to assess the
parties? readiness for peace.
    by Vlado Jovanovski and TOL
    Rat Race
    Tajikistan seeks international assistance to combat a growing
infestation of rats in the capital.
    by Parvina Khamidova
    Corruption or Approval-Rating Concerns? The Party of Yugoslav
President Vojislav Kostunica withdraws its representatives from
the Serbian government.
    by Ivan Milenkovic
    More Week in Review:
    Ethnic Hungarians to Leave Slovak Government.
    Wrangles Over Royal Restitution Raise Hackles in Romania
    Hungarian Government Under Fire for Millennial Party
    Riga Celebrates 800 Years
    Lithuania in the Dark About Kaliningrad War Games
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- TOL MESSAGE ---
    TOL contributes to CNN package, "Soviet Legacy: From Communism
Through Chaos"
    In August 1991, hard-line Communists staged a coup in a
last-ditch effort to block the reforms rocking the Soviet power
structure. Boris Yeltsin, president of the Russian Republic, stood
atop an armored vehicle in front of the parliament building and
rallied tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators. The coup
was thwarted, and a wave of new freedom washed away the Soviet
empire. Ten years later, the splintered region is still reeling
from the transition.
    Check out the package at:
and TOL's contributions: "The New Russians" and "Central Asia's
Growing Clout."
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- FEATURES ---
    Slip-Sliding Away
    Peace over Nagorno-Karabakh remains elusive as the populaces
drift farther apart.
    by Seymur Selimov
    17 August 2001
    This Land Is Your Land
    Poles living in the western and northern regions of their
country fear a return of the German inhabitants who were expelled
after the war.
    by Wojtek Kosc
    17 August 2001
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    TOL is proud to announce the publication of its first annual
report, which tracks TOL's development since its founding in 1999.
The report gives a detailed rundown of TOL's activities, history,
mission, and financial situation, as well as insight into TOL's
upcoming projects and management structure. Take a few minutes to
learn the background story on TOL!
    Click here:
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    25 September, Prague: Practical contacts in the Czech Republic
through Information Group Interfax, followed by Business Access to
MSV Engineering Exhibition, Brno, Czech Republic. Meet foreign and
Czech partners and your competitors in: automotive and aerospace
sector, electronics, software and communications, Financial sector
CzechInvest Agency (with information on practical programs) For
more information, a program and more information about other
delegates, please contact Interfax in London: 020 7467  2742 or -
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- SPECIAL PACKAGE: Yugoslavia: Stumbling Forward ---
    Serbia's Reluctant Path to Catharsis
    Few Serbs seem eager to start down the path of coming to terms
with the past any time soon.
    by Milovan Mracevich
    16 August 2001
    Ruling Voices Two collections of essays by Kostunica and his
colleague highlight the reasoning behind the regime.
    by Christian A. Nielsen
    16 August 2001
    DOS vs. DOS Has the ruling coalition block in Serbia reached
the final phase of consensus? From an article originally published
in the Yugoslav newspaper Danas.
    by Ivan Torov
    16 August 2001
    Yugoslavia 2000: The End of the Milosevic Regime With
Milosevic finally out of the picture, the country began to
concentrate on the rebuilding process. by Gordon N. Bardos
    16 August 2001
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- COLUMNS ---
    Media Notes: From Perestroika to Perestrelka
    In honor of the media circus surrounding the 10th anniversary
of the Russian coup attempt, Alexei Pankin offers an irreverent
inside story of reforms in the Soviet Union.
    by Alexei Pankin
    15 August 2001
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE ---
    A Feather in Their Cap
    That the Czechs arrived first in Macedonia is a solid bit of
symbolism for a small country.
    Being first, the saying goes, isn't everything. But sometimes
it is--especially when being first carries hugely symbolic, if not
practical, meaning. That was striking evidence this past week,
as Czech soldiers were the first NATO soldiers to arrive in
Macedonia to help oversee the recently signed peace agreement.
    For a small nation perpetually worried about its place in the
world and how foreigners see it, the news was big--even if only 16
men comprised that first contingent, and British and French troops
soon followed. "Czech Unit Reached Macedonia First," blared the 18
August headline of the Czech daily ***Lidove noviny,*** with a
large photo of red-bereted soldiers in fatigues arriving at the
airport in Skopje. "The Czech share in the sharply watched
operation is generally considered clear recognition of the
capability of our soldiers, which they demonstrated during
previous Balkan operations," read the article, dramatically
describing how the paratroopers only had "a few hours" to scout
out and secure a location for NATO's high command "in a country
that stood a few weeks ago on the edge of a bloody civil war."
***Mlada fronta Dnes,*** the country's largest daily, quoted one
young soldier saying: "I'm proud that the alliance chose our unit,
it testifies that we are good, the best--it's just not possible to
say otherwise."
    An opinion piece on ***Lidove noviny***s front page declared:
"It is a proof of our reliability and the trust of the allies. We
can be truly proud that our soldiers are improving our reputation
in the world." Two days later, the same paper revisited the issue
with another front-page headline: "Brits disappointed that Czechs
were first in Macedonia." Citing an article in the ***Daily
Telegraph,*** the paper somewhat gleefully reported that the
Czechs' promptness amounted to "a small disgrace," for their
British counterparts, who had been counting on the honor.
    Over the past few years, the Czechs have distinguished
themselves in supporting roles in Bosnia and Kosovo, and have
become known for their toughness and willingness to participate in
dangerous jobs, including the arrest of war criminals. They have
graciously pushed hard for the acceptance of their ex-partners,
the Slovaks, into NATO and recently agreed to the formation of a
joint Czech-Polish-Slovak battalion. The brigade, to be formed
within a year and based in Slovakia, is intended to strengthen
Slovakia's chances for inclusion before the alliance's summit in
November 2002, which will be held in Prague.
    The achievements on the ground are even more impressive when
taken in the context of the rocky relationship the Czech Republic
has had with NATO from the start--in large part because the
country was accepted for political rather than practical reasons.
After much forceful nudging by Czech President Vaclav Havel,
Madelaine Albright, and the Central European lobby in the United
States, the Clinton administration agreed to NATO enlargement, and
Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary were admitted shortly
before the Kosovo crisis in March 1999.
    Neither the army nor the political elite were ready, however.
To NATO's chagrin, Czech governmental officials sent out mixed
signals before supporting the war in Kosovo, with some arguing
that they wouldn't simply mouth the NATO line like their
predecessors had once slavishly followed the Warsaw Pact's lead.
And Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and his Greek counterpart embarked
on an unauthorized and embarrassing peace initiative without
consulting the other NATO allies.
    Worse perhaps, NATO officials soon found out--if they hadn't
known already--that cooperation would be hampered also by the
wretched state of Czech military reform. Even today, the Defense
Ministry finds itself on the brink of economic disaster. A string
of ministers with good intentions have been swallowed up by a
bureaucracy incapable of managing the military's 90,000 employees,
its property worth 1 billion crowns ($27 million), and aging
equipment; incompetent planning and lack of funds to buy
replacement parts have rendered some military hardware unusable;
and accidents with fighter planes seem to occur every few months.
A stench of corruption also emanates from the ministry, as
officials have closed numerous, suspicious contracts--for things
like hundreds of defective parachutes--to the tune of millions of
crowns. And now the new minister of defense--Jaroslav Tvrdik, a
former officer who took over in May--has been taxed with creating
a fully professional army, a goal he ambitiously promised would be
fulfilled in the next six years.
    As in other countries in the region, the reform stagnation and
low salaries have led to the departure of qualified, younger
people and other experts. While many army officers have studied at
Western universities and academies and gained a valuable education
through their participation in various NATO missions, the same has
not happened with ministry bureaucrats. Tvrdik says that this
dichotomy is behind the sharp conflict between the general staff
and ministry. In an interview with ***Mlada fronta Dnes*** shortly
after his appointment, he said: "Antiquated opinions and survival
thinking clash with progressive and modern way of thought. In
many cases, the army command has incomparably more progressive
ideas than the management of the Ministry of Defense."
    Perhaps allowing the Czechs to reach Skopje first was a reward
to the general staff for its dedication, despite an incompetent
ministry, or a good public relations move to generate pride back
in the Czech Republic. Or maybe the alliance calculated that
ethnic Macedonians--many of whom have accused NATO of being
pro-Albanian in recent weeks--would be more welcoming to the
Czechs, who are less representative of the "West." Some analysts
have also said that locals in the Balkans have accepted the Czechs
because they have seen them as fellow Slavs and "post-communists"
and thus more familiar with local circumstances.
    "After the experience with the Czechs, there are at least 100
reasons why not to enlarge NATO [further]," one high-ranking NATO
official said recently. "But I would find another 100 reasons, on
the contrary, to do it." If the Czechs keep looking at the Balkans
as a way to prove their worth in the alliance, the balance should
tip much more in their favor in the future.
    Look in the coming week for an on-the-ground analysis of the
Czech role in Macedonia from regular ***TOL*** contributor Lubos
    The TOL weekly newsletter is published by Transitions
Online--The leading news provider covering Eastern Europe. Check
us out at
    The TOL and BRR weekly newsletters reach thousands of
subscribers every week. Want to get in touch with them? Contact us
at for more information or visit
    TOL publications:
    Transitions Online (TOL) ...... http:/
    Balkan Reconstruction Report....
    The TOL Wire...................
    -- Transitions Online - Intelligent Eastern Europe
    Copyright: Transitions Online 2001
    To UNSUBSCRIBE from the TOL Weekly Newsletter, please go to
    To SWITCH TO HTML formatted newsletters, please go to