Issue No. 240. - September 21,  2001

            By Petruska Sustrova

            By Angela Magherusan

            By Stojan Obradovic

 4. Special addition : NEW AT TOL

    By Petruska Sustrova

    In the middle of September the Czech government decided not to
back a bill of law on lifting the secrecy embargo on the material
accumulated by the former communist secret the political police.
The bill of law submitted by a group of Senators and which the
Senate had approved, was to complement and extend the right of
Czech citizens to look into the secrets of the former repressive
    In the Czech Republic there has been a law in force for
several years, which allowed citizens who had been persecuted by
the State Security (StB) in the days of communism to have access
to the files the police had gathered about them. But this right is
confined to files,  put together by the counter-intelligence
service, the StB, in other words, by that section of the political
police operating on the territory of the former Czechoslovakia.
The files that had been the work of members of the intelligence
service remain inaccessible to citizens, and that is precisely
what the Senators wish the proposed law to change.
    The Czechoslovak StB had a structure similar to that of the
Soviet KGB and the secret services of the other countries of the
Soviet bloc. It consisted of an intelligence service,
counter-intelligence and military intelligence, and all this under
the roof of the Federal Ministry of Interior.  When the opening of
these materials to the public at large were considered after the
collapse of communism there was a predominant opinion that the
intelligence service operating outside the borders of the former
Czechoslovakia had not been involved in the repression of the
population and that its task was to single out the true enemies of
the Czechoslovak state.
    But this was no more than a myth - the Czechoslovak
intelligence service, in the same way as the special services of
the other Soviet bloc countries were virtually under the command
of Moscow. This means that  the secret service was looking for
information, which the communist leadership needed. It had nothing
much in common with the interests of the country. What is more, it
had been proved time and again that intelligence officers
participated directly or indirectly in the suppression of human
rights in their own country. Proof of this can be found easily in
the recently published archive which Vasilij Mitrochin, a former
officer of the KGB, had brought from Moscow not long ago.  He
compiled his findings together with the British historian
Christoph Andrew and they published them jointly in the book
"Mitrochin's Archive" which caused a sensation.
    The inaccessibility of the files, kept by members of the
Czechoslovak intelligence service, restricts the possibility of
citizens to find out facts about their own past.  This applies not
only to Czech ?migr?s who left their country in the 1940s and
1950s and those who under pressure of the StB had been forced to
emigrate in the 1970s and 1980s. The inaccessible files also
contain a host of material about people who had, or could have had
contacts with those in exile in democratic countries or with other
institutions, which were active in the West.
    The Czech government, contrary to the upper chamber of the
Czech Parliament, is not interested in revealing to the public the
shady part of its past. The government puts forward mainly two
arguments: it argues that the Czech Republic has a law on the
protection of personal data  under which personal data about other
persons can be obtained only with the consent of those persons.
But the Senators maintain that to protect the personal data of
persons who had participated in suppressing human rights was out
of place. The government goes on to argue that the inaccessible
files contain information the revelation of which could damage the
Czech Republic on the international scene.
    But this second argument is refuted by reality itself. The
point is that serious and damaging information has come to light
during the past few days. The Czech press carried a report that
Osama bin Laden who is the main suspect for the terror attack on
the United States on September 11, had in the past traded with
Czech and Slovak goods. The press added that Wahid El Hage, a
Lebanese associate of bin Laden, used to visit Slovakia where he
discussed the purchase of trucks and tractors, but also the
purchase of chemicals for bin Laden's firm. Wahid El Hage was
given a life sentence this year in the United States for his part
in the bombing of the US embassies in Kenya and he had disclosed
these facts during his interrogation by a US court.
    In the present situation, this information is rather
unpleasant for the Czech Republic, and especially for the Czech
and Slovak intelligence agencies. The point is that the Czech
authorities collaborated with terrorists within the communist
bloc. A training camp operated in the locality of Zastavka near
Brno in Czechoslovakia where police and intelligence training was
given not only to Czechoslovak citizens but especially to "guests"
from "friendly" countries and national liberation movements. There
can be no doubt that these people included also some terrorists,
active at the time or later. But what is more, for these types of
people Czechoslovakia was a place to rest and leisure where they
were safe from Western intelligence services.
    The Czechoslovak services used to receive instructions from
the Soviet KGB as to whom they were to invite and who was to be
offered a place of safety. Let us recall the most notorious fact,
namely that Leon Trotsky's assassin, sent by the KGB, left Mexico
by air and came to Prague on completing his task; here he spent
some time at the expense of the Czechoslovak intelligence service.
But he was by no means the only one; some time ago Czechoslovakia
also hosted one of the most notorious terrorists who acted under
the name of Carlos.
    All this makes it abundantly clear that the archives of the
former Czechoslovak secret service contain a multitude of
information, which could nowadays be useful in the struggle
against international terrorism. It can be expected that the Czech
intelligence service has handed over at least a section of the
information connected with this subject to its international
partners, above all the United States. But the Czech public is not
in possession of precise information on the subject - information
on similar deals between secret services is obviously kept secret.
    To sift through all the archives of the Czechoslovak
intelligence service incorporated in the structure of the Ministry
of Interior (the Czech intelligence service is the only one
incorporated in the structure of the Ministry of Interior) would
be a Herculean task.
    If we take all this into consideration, it becomes evident how
important it would be for the public to have access to the
information accumulated in these archives. Before an applicant can
get access to a file, which concerns his or her past, as it has
been perceived and influenced by the State Security, officials
have to go through such a file and check whether it contains
information, which could even today endanger the security of the
state. And in the process facts could come to the surface which
could be useful but which remain deep down in the archives.
    Consequently, it would be most helpful if the government did
not succeed in preventing the opening of the archives. This is not
impossible since the lower chamber of the Czech Parliament, the
Chamber of Deputies, will shortly take a decision on the law. It
will now depend on the Deputies whether they decide to obey or
fail to accept the government's NO. The current Social Democratic
government does not have a majority in Parliament and it cannot be
ruled out, indeed, it is likely, that the right-wing parties will
unite in the vote on the opening of the archives, and outvote the
    By Angela Magherusan

    The Hungarians are the most important ethnic minority in
Romania. This made DUHR - The Democrat Union of the Hungarians in
Romania- one of the most powerful political forces of the country
in the last 11 years. In elections, it usually gets 6-7 percent of
the votes. During the governing of the former Christian-Democrat
coalition, between 1996-2000, DUHR reached its highest political
influence. It has been part of the governing coalition although it
doesn't consider itself a political party, nor an ethnic one.
DUHR, say its representatives, is more like a civil organization
of the Hungarian minority, thus having several political outlooks
within itself. Today DHUR is not far from the position it had till
last year. It is the main partner to the rulling party, SDP, The
Social-Democrat Pole in Romania, although between the two doesn't
exist a governing partnership, but a so-called "collaboratin
protocol" valid until the end of 2001. The SDP needed this
collaboration, in order to obtain the necessary majority in the
Parlament, to back its own laws. DHUR agreed to it to implement
some of its most urgent requests: admittance of Hungarian language
in the local administration of parts of Romania where Hungarians
compose at least 20 percent of the population, foundation of
Hungarian State University, the restoration of Hungarian
properties confiscated by the comunist government, and so on. So
for  few months collaboration between SDP and DHUR was a
successful one. Then occured the issue of Hungarian status law.
Today, the tension between the two parts increased after a new
meeting, with new requests from DHUR. Adrian Nastase, Romian prime
min ister and SDP leader, had a passionate reaction to them.
    But which are DHUR's achievements and requests so far ?
    In the last nine months, since The Democrat Union of the
Hungarians in Romania began collaborating with the rulling party,
it has obtained one of its oldest requests : The Public Local
Administration Law, which brought along big changes, especially in
those towns and villages where the Hungarians represent at least
20 percent of the population. But some Romanians saw this law as a
concession made by the SDP to DHUR. On the other hand, the rullng
party motivated the law by the neccesity of adopting latest
European rules regarding the protection of the minorities rights.
Although DHUR admits that the law was a succes, the Hungarian
Union also says that it is a failure in the same time, because of
the delay which marked its aplicability in the teritory.
    Now, DHUR marches on the idea of restoration of proprierty,
especially of that confiscated by the comunist from the Hungarian
citizens who were big landowners, mostly in Transilvania. A law
has been also promoted in this sense, but Hungarians'
representatives are concerned that it is not properly put into
practice. A special and very sensible part of the subject is
connected to the former church proprieties, for which the Romanian
state hasn't promoted a law yet, maybe exactly because it would
mean huge assets given back to the Catholic church, in dominantly
Orthodox country.
    At this last meeting, DHUR added two important new demands: a
modification to the Policeman's Status Law, made to oblige police
forces to speak Hungarian in regions where Hungarians have more
than 20 percent, and a decision to create a national Hungarian
radio station. Prime minister Adrian Nastase responded that the
Romanian state could only admit the creation of a minorities'
national radio, and not an exclusive Hungarian one. He did not
agree with the proposal regarding policemen either. Nevertheless,
he told the DHUR lider, Marko Bela, that the relationship between
their parties has been marked by the debate regarding the
Hungarians' status law, which promotes special rights for
Hungarian ethic minority and is, therefore "nationalist law, which
looks up to the idea of the extended nation".
    Both sides stated that the essence of protocol between SDP and
DHUR will not be influenced nor changed by these new disscutions.
But each of the two is being presured from inside to clarify this
colaboration. Especially the reformist wing in the DHUR, which
request an ending of this protocol, due to what it considers the
moderate achievements reached so far. The leaders of DHUR do not
agree with this, and SDP at its turn, doesn't want to end the
colaboration, since it doesn't have too many options for replacing
DHUR and especially its support in the Parlament. The other
parties in the opposition already refused any colaboration or
support for the gouverning party. In these conditions, the whole
situation seems to be turning in a "one hand washes the other"
case. Still, the tension between the ruling party of Romania, SDP,
and its main colaborator, DHUR, is constantly growing, and the end
of the year is getting closer and closer, bringing with it the
neccesity of a renewal of the protocol...
                               * * *
    By Stojan Obradovic

    Proposal of German foreign minister Joschka Fischer at the
meeting of EU ministers in Genval, Belgium at the beginning of
September about creation of a joint economic space in the western
Balkans (ex-Yugoslavia countries minus Slovenia plus Albania),
some kind of Balkan (economic) union has caused new political
instability in Croatia and renewed latent fears that the aloof
international community wants to leave Croatia in Balkans instead
of accepting it into Europe, pushing it into a kind of new Balkan
(neo-Yugoslav) association.
    Still, immediately after this idea of Fischer's, Croatian
foreign minister Tonino Picula said that Croatia wasn't worried
about such initiatives and that it would know how to respond to
it, and the ministry of foreign affairs said in its statement that
Fischer's initiative is primarily intended to consolidate peace
process in Macedonia and its neighbourhood, especially Kosovo to
improving regional stability and stopping possible spreading of
the crisis to other countries in the region, which is in the
national interest of Croatia. Furthermore, the statement expressed
readiness to further regional cooperation on a bilateral basis,
but rejected any possibility of Croatia being part of any
political or economic institutionalized association of countries
from south-eastern Europe.
    But that German initiative has caused worry especially because
it is coming from a country thought to be traditionally inclined
towards Croatia was proved by expedient visit of special envoy of
German ministry of foreign affairs for south-eastern Europe
Michael Shaefer who came to dampen negative reactions and remove
(unnecessary) fears, but also to clearly say what is expected from
the countries in the region.
    Shaefer said more precisely that Fischer's initiative
represented the idea of giving additional political impulse to
processes already going on within Stability Pact which would
enable building of trust and economic prosperity of the countries
of south-eastern Europe as best prevention to further conflict via
additional regional cooperation.
    Although he emphasized that initiative was primarily motivated
by wish to stop fighting in Macedonia and Kosovo and that Croatia
is not in the centre of such idea, Shaefer also left a very clear
message to Croatia what is expected of it if it wants to get close
to Europe. Repeating that he didn't want nor could impose
anything, he once again stressed that regional cooperation will
help European integrations and warned that no country would be
able to develop to the degree necessary to be accepted into Eu
membership while the region is unstable.
    And many seem to stubbornly refuse to understand, even less
accept, that message which is being constantly sent out to
    Regional cooperation and responsibility for situation in the
region, it seems, is only a necessary political mantra of the
current Croatian government without true initiatives, visions and
courage to actually do something on it. According to some western
European experts like famous Italian Balkan expert prof. Stefano
Bianchiniinavhe, director of the Centre for Europe and Balkans
which is analysing processes in the region also for European
Union, new Croatian government that has replaced hard-core
nationalists in January 2000 has disappointed the most in the area
of regional cooperation. Many ideas about institutional links
between countries in the region are therefore coming from
international circles because there is no expected organizing and
developing their mutual cooperation as a necessary condition for
stabilizing the region as a whole.
    Even experienced politicians who undoubtedly know the approach
of international community to this region, like former veteran
Croatian foreign minister dr. Mate Granic, stubbornly claim that
vital interest of Croatia at this moment is to throw off any ideas
of pressure about some kind of Balkan integration.
    Rare are those like well-known Croatian economist Branko
Horvat who say that potential Balkan associations are Croatian big
chance and that Croatia should "push up" to bear the brunt of it
because it would make Croatia leading country in the region and
very desirable European partner.
    Terrorist attack on the USA and preparation of a global
anti-terrorist shield envisioned by United States and EU have
further increased fears that Croatia would be pushed away from
Europe, left to Balkans.
    Croatian prime minister Ivica Racan himself expressed fear
that EU could increase isolationist policy because of
anti-terrorism regulations and create barriers around some
countries. That can also hit Croatia, said Racan who thinks that
it is a matter of life and death on which side of the barrier
Croatia will find itself.
    Leading politicians of his Socialdemocratic party think that
before fear of Balkans was emphasized, but that now it really
became real danger and that primary Croatian goal at this moment
is to get away from Balkans and tie Croatia to middle Europe.
    The whole story about impeding isolationism was launched and
used just when parliament needs to be persuaded to accept border
agreement with the neighbouring Slovenia, made only after long and
exhausting negotiations. This agreement met fierce protests in
Croatia because of allegedly big cessions given to Slovenia. The
government is now trying to tell the public that adopting the
document with Slovenia (one of prime candidates for inclusion into
EU) is a necessary step in running away from Balkans and into
Europe. But it is the same Croatian readiness to solve issues with
Slovenia to show its political wisdom and readiness for European
integrations that is well illustrating what Croatia should put
into practice with its eastern neighbours if it wants to get
closer to Europe.
    Contribution to easing situation in the region and regional
cooperation will still be one of the key criteria on which Europe
will insist and reward those that want to joint her in it. Idea
about Balkan (economic) union was envisioned as economic and
political space where countries of the region are prepared and
tested before being accepted into European Union. European message
is clear. It is far less important whether addressed countries
will really decide to enter some kind of association. What really
matters is that they are asked to establish and develop models of
cooperation that can start solving issues in the region. Those who
are proven reliable in it will be able to file a serious
membership application for European integrations. That is why
Croatian obsession of getting away from Balkans at any cost won't
yield any grand results. Nobody can escape his shadow. Much better
strategy for Croatia would be to start several economic or
political initiatives for solving at least some issues in the
Special addition : NEW AT TOL: September 17, 2001
    --- OUR TAKE: Running A Huge Risk ---
    If the United States enlists Central Asian states in likely
strikes against Afghanistan, then a whole region could end up in
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- ANNOUNCEMENT ---
    The European Roma Rights Center (ERRC) has published State of
Impunity: Human Rights Abuse of Roma in Romania. ERRC monitoring
of Roma rights in Romania has established that Romani victims have
been overwhelmingly denied the right to justice and compensation
for crimes committed against them, including crimes committed
during the savage pogroms in the early 1990s. When Roma rights
violations occur, non-prosecution of perpetrators is the norm. The
full text of the ERRC report can be downloaded from:
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    On the Front Lines
    The former countries of Central Asia are bracing for any
potential U.S. attack on terrorists in Afghanistan.
    by Didar Amantay in Kazakhstan, Saidazim Gaziev in Uzbekistan,
and Konstantin Parshin in Tajikistan.
    Support From Old Foe On the whole, Russia's response to the
attacks on the United States has been cautious, yet supportive.
    by Maria Antonenko

    He's Back
    Not surprisingly, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
easily wins re-election.
    by Alex Znatkevich

    What Comes After a Harvest?
    NATO and Macedonian authorities have different views on how to
avoid a security vacuum after the ?Essential Harvest? mission is
completed later this month.
    by Robert Alagjozovski

    Deadly Spirit
    Moonshine vodka kills 56 in Estonia.
    Compiled Reports.


    Mixed Marks For Romania's Economy
    In the Dark in Tajikistan
    Croatia Lukewarm About Greater Economic Union
    Mongolian Democrats Claim Political Vendetta
    Yugoslav, Montenegrin Presidents Meet
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- FEATURES ---
    Waste Land
    In war-ravaged Chechnya, fear is still engulfing every part of
daily life.
    by Mylene Sauloy
    What Lies Beneath Environmentalists say a park in Moscow is
just one of the many sites across Russia that were once used by
the military as dumps for chemical weapons.
    by Anna Badkhen
    Sanctioned Smuggling in the Balkans NATO created a black
market monster with Bosnia?s Arizona Market, but the international
community says it?s a good monster.
    by Anes Alic and Jen Tracy
    From the Balkan Reconstruction
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- COLUMNS ---
    For the Love of the Deutsche mark
    When the Deutsche mark is replaced by the euro at the end of
this year, many people from the former Yugoslavia will have a hard
time adjusting.
    by Tihomir Loza
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    Struggling to Learn
    The Tajik education system is in a state of crisis, but some
NGOs, international organizations, and the Tajik government
itself, are trying to fix the problem.
    by Konstantin Parshin
    Religious Dividing Lines
    Almost a year after a fatal bombing that forced it into the
limelight, a Korean-led church in Tajikistan is still creating a
stir among established religions.
    by Ravshan Kasimov
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Running A Huge Risk ---
    If the United States enlists Central Asian states in likely
strikes against Afghanistan, then a whole region could end up in
    As the United States still reels from the last week's attacks
on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, in the former Soviet
republics of Central Asia, anxiety is increasing. In the long
term, a new U.S.-led military campaign could only further increase
the contradictions within these societies--eventually leading to
their breakdown.
    But if the United States does decide to attack Afghanistan it
is possible that its forces?land or air?could use the former
Soviet bases that facilitated the invasion of Afghanistan two
decades ago, which are located in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. Most
of these bases, such as the air bases in Tashkent, Termez,
Khojand, and Dushanbe, are already operational.
    If Central Asian states did rapidly develop into military
stations for a new Afghan war, that would likely bring deep
instability to the region, especially to Tajikistan and
    Tajikistan--a close ally of Russia--has around 10,000 Russian
troops on its territory guarding the border on Penj river with
Afghanistan. The Russian military is also active in supplying arms
and ammunition to the northern Afghan alliance--which has been
fighting the Taliban-- through air fields in Kulyab, to the
alliance-controlled air field in Bagram.
    Tajikistan is a country that is still emerging from the
collapse of the Soviet Union and a devastating civil war--with
difficulties. Like in its neighbor, Afghanistan, drought for the
second consecutive year has brought nearly one million people
close to famine. On the political level, the conservative
government and the Islamist-dominated opposition signed a peace
agreement in 1997, and in 1999 the opposition took part in
parliamentary elections. A third of governmental positions are
attributed to the former opposition as part of the peace
    But the peace is fragile. A group of the opposition field
commanders have refused to respect the peace agreement, and are
still active in the Karategin Valley in the center of the country.
There are numerous press reports speculating on their relationship
with the extremist Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) which has
close relations with the Taliban. The country is witnessing a new
wave of Islamic radicalization by the spread of the group Hizb
ul-Tahrir. Although this group rejects armed struggle, its program
calls for the creation of a vast Islamic state by unification of
all Muslim lands.
    The situation in Uzbekistan is even more delicate. A country
of 23 million inhabitants, it is ruled by the iron fist of
President Islam Karimov, where no public criticism to his rule is
tolerated. Since 1997, thousands of Muslim believers have been
imprisoned and hundreds of mosques closed down. This wave of
repression has increased popular support for the IMU, and other
radical Islamic movements. The IMU operates out of bases in
Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and has showed its military
capabilities by launching massive cross border raids on several
targets in Uzbekistan and in Kyrgyzstan. The attacks of the last
year led to the death of up to 200 Uzbek army soldiers, and an
unidentified number of guerrilla fighters and civilians.
    Post-Soviet Central Asian states are fragile constructions:
ruling elites have little experience in governance, are seen as
corrupt and increasingly illegitimate by their own populations,
and are unable to lead their countries into economic
reconstruction and out of deepening poverty. Any U.S. (and
possibly Russian) intervention in the region might boost these
Central Asian regimes in the short term (by justifying and
possibly increasing mass repression against religious groups) but
the long-term impacts on their societies would be difficult to
    It's also unclear quite what the Russians make of all of this
as signals have been mixed. Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov, in a
15 September declaration to Itar-TASS from Yerevan, has already
dismissed the possibility of a NATO country deploying forces in
ex-Soviet Central Asia. But on the same day, the Russian Foreign
Minister Igor Ivanov declared in Moscow that the use of force
could not be ruled out in the fight against terrorism, the Russian
news agency Interfax reported.
    Russian hesitation is linked not so much to Cold-War reflexes,
but instead to fear of  U.S. forces spreading out into regions
formerly under Soviet control. In 1994, Washington gave the green
light to the NATO expansion to former Soviet satellite countries
in Central Europe and still remains vague about plans for
incorporating former Soviet republics such as the Baltic states
and Ukraine into the alliance.
    Moscow is also angry about U.S. efforts to decrease Russian
influence over the former Soviet republics in Transcaucasus and
Central Asia. The United States has tried to use financial,
economic, and military means, such as investments in oil projects,
new pipeline routes, financial aid, to dampen Russian presence in
the region. Many in Moscow fear that the introduction of U.S.
troops into Central Asia will further decrease its influence
    The problems of the Middle East is haunting Central Asia
today. The risk is that Washington could repeat the same mistakes
there: collaborate with tyranny and unpopular regimes for
short-term gains--thus creating long-term catastrophes.