Issue No. 257 - January 25,  2002

            by Valeri Kalabugin

            by Angela Magherusan

           by Milos Jevtovic

    By Valeri Kalabugin

    Why is it helpful to remember who was who years ago? Because,
as the saying goes, the old love never dies. Suppose there are two
friends who were once both in the Young Communist League
("Komsomol"), trained as future successors of those in power, and
later both joined the ranks of new thinkers in the Communist
Party. Suppose that now, when the old regime collapsed and freedom
came, one of them has become a leader of a 'reform party' and the
other is a well known anti-reformer – does this matter? Sure
thing, not. They may at any time fool everyone by shaking hands at
a most unexpected moment.
    That is what happened in Estonia of late. The notable
anti-reformer is the Center Party's chairman Edgar Savisaar. In
his twenties he was a leader of Building Brigades of School Youth.
In his thirties he received a degree in Marxist philosophy. During
the 'perestroika' he became a leader of the Popular Front, a
member of the Supreme Soviet and, finally, the head of the last
puppet government under the Soviet regime. He was a die-hard
fighter against the idea to restore the independent Republic of
Estonia on the basis of legal continuity. He is disliked by most
Estonian politicians for his authoritarian manners. In 1992 he
made an attempt to establish the state of economic emergency but
his government fell since his own ministers initiated the
government's resignation. In 1995 he was offered the office of
home minister in another government that fell soon amidst the
scandal of the home minister having secretly videotaped other
members of the cabinet.
    The Reform Party's chairman Siim Kallas is also a 'perestroika
communist'. As a young man he was active in the Building Brigades
of Student Youth. In 1987 Savisaar and Kallas were co-authors of
the plan named 'Economically Independent Estonia' calling for
limited economic autonomy. In 1989 both joined the marionette
parliament, the Supreme Soviet. An economist, Kallas was later
appointed President of the Bank of Estonia. The new currency,
stable and hard, made him popular. In 1994 he founded the Reform
    Slipping down from center-right to center-left
    The Reform Party, with its 19 seats in the 101-seat
parliament, became a promoter of interests of both old and young
generations of apolitically minded, active, and newly rich people
seeking for success. Whether apolitical or not, the new party had
to choose a stand in the political scenery. Since the times of the
'singing revolution', the Estonian landscape has remained divided
between the two poles: there are old-thinking lefties who call
themselves 'centrists' and there are centrist reformists calling
themselves 'center-right'. Shuffling somewhere in between are all
others, including 'country people's parties' and 'Russian parties'.
    The reformists chose to become an ally of the center-right –
the Pro Patria Union (18 seats) and the Moderates (17 seats). This
tripartite coalition won the March 1999 general elections and took
the office.
    However, the Reform Party did constantly upset its government
partners. It torpedoed the railway privatization: while the
government planned to carry this out step by step, with State
subsidies at the first stages, the Reform Party's MPs broke the
agreement by voting, together with the Center Party's MPs, against
the package. The result was devastating: railway traffic stopped
because of scant financing. The communication with south-west
counties was paralyzed for months, with everyone putting the blame
on the coalition leader -- the Pro Patria Union. Again, it was the
Reform Party whose representatives in the parliament sunk the
draft law on crimes committed by the communist regime. And, again,
it was the Reform Party whose ministers sabotaged the reform of
local government, whose MPs voted against the law on electronic
ID-cards, who broke the agreement to run a joint candidate at the
presidential elections, and so on.
    The final row started when the reformists began secretly
entering talks and forming alliances with the Center Party in a
number of local governments. In December, the Reform Party left
its long-time partners to form a coalition with the centrists in
the capital city of Tallinn. With the help offered by Kallas,
Edgar Savisaar was elected Mayor of Tallinn. That was the last
straw: the reformists lost any trust as a coalition partner. The next
day  Prime Minister Mart Laar told the parliament he would
resign in January after the parliamentary recess is over, and did
so. On 8 January he handed his resignation to the president.
    New government -- new priorities?
    The Mart Laar's decision was well timed as the budget for 2002
was already adopted in the parliament. His step pushed the Reform
Party into the centrists' arms: the fresh allies had nothing left
to do but to jointly form the new government, even if their
programs have nothing in common. By impeding each other's
initiatives the new partners may 'lose their face'. By joining the
centrists, the reformists demonstrate to the voter that they are not
the proper advocates of center-right values. Until now, the Pro
Patria Union and the Reform Party shared some part of electorate.
With about a year left until the next general election, the
reformists will lose those voters who previously had a difficulty
differenciating between the two parties.
    Although the strongest coalition partner is the Center Party
with its 29 seats in the parliament, the job of Prime Minister was
taken by Siim Kallas. He became the head of a minority government,
since the new coalition is supported by only 48 deputies in the
parliament. Kallas was readily stamped by the media as "a PM in
the Savisaar’s government". The latter's decision to continue as
Mayor of Tallinn is explained in the parliament lobby by greater
opportunities to handle finance.
    With the Center Party in the office, the question arises: what
will be the possible priorities of the new government? It has
often been pointed at the threats to the security of Estonian
nation posed by the centrists' goals. They did not favor the
restoration of property rights violated by the Soviet regime.
Neither are they concerned about securing the positions of
Estonian language and the citizenship. The Center Party is ready
to make concessions to the Russians who do not have the knowledge
of Estonian language, and grant them citizenship unconditionally.
This might turn the Estonian political boat upside-down: the clock
would return to the times of the last Supreme Soviet when the
puppet parliament was a battleground of Estonian and Russian
interests -- a perfect situation for Savisaar with his
authoritarian manners. In internal affairs, the Center Party has
been seeking to introduce the proportional tax. In international
relations, Savisaar has never set his priorities clearly. But,
notably, he never called the accession to the European Union and
NATO his priorities.
    However, notwithstanding the twist to the left made by
Estonia, with the former communist Arnold Ruutel elected this fall
as president and the Center Party now in the government, changes
are unlikely to happen. The new government has a limited
playground. It takes the office for a short term. Its predecessor,
the trilateral government, has laid the priorities in the home and
foreign policy that would be hard to revise. There is a wide
consensus that Estonia must remain a West-oriented, open and
investor friendly country. By now, with its fast and timely
structural reforms, stringent budget policy and low corruption,
Estonia has risen to the fourth place among 155 countries in the
Index of Economic Freedom. It is among the first candidates for
accession to the European Union and is waiting for invitation to
join the NATO. With the new government, some processes may slow
down at the most but there is no chance of a U-turn.
    The Center Party cannot even change the current flat tax
system because it would go against the interests of its coalition
partner. The Reform Party's chairman Meelis Atonen said, "We will
not agree to the graduated rate tax, and we will say no to budget
deficit and excessive costs". The only risk might come from the
home policy, as Russian friendly minded Savisaar may seek to
enfranchise the aliens so as to change the composition of the
parliament. But this, too, is impossible for a minority

                                    * * *
      By Angela Magherusan

    Romania's running for NATO has again become the main target for
the country's diplomacy in 2002. On the 17th of January Romanian
government  held a big meeting to discuss all political and
economic priorities Romania should follow in order to get accepted
into NATO by the end of the year. President Ion Iliescu also took
part at this meeting, thus showing the importance of this goal to
the Romanian diplomacy : all forces must work together to make the
country as eligible as possible at the NATO summit in Prague to be held
in November. This national effort, according to the president and
the prime minister, is  supposed to make miracles in just a few
    But miracles happen only to those who deserve them, don't they?
And Romania, as international signals show, doesn't seem to be
deserving of any miracle yet, although 2001 was a good year for the
country. Romania marked a small economical increase, maintained
the internal political balance and had a very good international
activity due to the presidency of the European Security and
Cooperation Organization, exercised by the Romanian foreign
minister Mircea Geoana. But in spite these results, the Romanian
government still has a lot of important problems to solve, among
which are economy and the border issues, especially regarding
Moldavia. Besides, if they want any result in this running for
NATO acceptance, the prime minister Adrian Nastase and the rulling
party, The Party of Social Democracy (PSD), have to learn to work
with the opposition, with which the relations are not very good
and haven't been since the PSD won the elections, in 2000. But
then again, Romanian opposition doesn't  seem willing at all to help
the government in this campaign, since most of the inside and
outside analysts say that Romania doesn't really have any chance
to be accepted into NATO so soon. The most optimistic voices speak
about the year 2007 as the soonest date when Romania could hope
to become a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
    The Party of Social Democracy, as well as the president Ion
Iliescu or the prime minister Adrian Nastase know that very well,
but are still  determined to do everything possible to defend any
chance Romania has in this course. So, the new year began with
Romanian government and diplomacy having very specific tasks.
    The problem is that, through this mobilization, Romania
practically relives all over again a dream already consumed in
1998, when the NATO summit in Madrid literally put the Romanians
into some kind of national hysteria, organized by the former
government over the country's "very close", "quite possible" and
"almost certain" acceptance into NATO. Then, the ruling force of
the country, The Christian Democrat Convention, organized a huge
national campaign which made almost all of the Romanians convinced
that Romania's acceptance into NATO was crucial and imminent. In
fact, all of the polls made at the time revealed that no less that
90 percent of the population strongly supported the goal of making
Romania one of the new NATO members. Of course, probably most of
them didn't even know why this goal was important. A similar
campaign was also organized outside the country, by very
influential circles, supporting the former president Emil
Constantinescu, and which started an unprecedented y before the
Madrid summit. The bigger this campaign was, the faster increased
the Romanians' expectations, and the bigger their disappointment
was, both on the inside and outside, when the NATO summit in
Madrid brought the failure of the romanian candidacy.
    Now, this story seems to be repeating all over again. With the
only difference that, after the Madrid moment, the entire Romanian
policy and diplomacy continued all efforts, in order to convince
Europe and the United States that Romania remains a valuable and
faithful candidate for NATO. But the population didn't. For
Romanians, the campaign related to NATO stooped as fast as it had
    On the other hand, "valuable" means, in the case of Romania,
having a very important geo-strategic position in the South-East
of Europe, an aspect which might be considered by NATO as an
important one. Then, "faithful" comes with an assurance that, no
matter what, being a member of NATO or not, Romania will support
the organization's actions. It happened this way in the case of
NATO's intervention in Kosovo, when Romania, as a state, supported
the action, despite of the huge opposition of Romanian population,
who strongly criticized Romania's involvement in the conflict.
Soon after that, Romanian policy met another occasion in which it
could show its dedication to NATO's goals : the events of
September 11th in New York, and the international coalition
against terrorism, which included Romanian efforts and support as
    The capital question now, is if this new pro-NATO campaign
will be more efficient than the last one. The current government
in Romania sure relies on a more effective propaganda.
Unfortunately, it is not enough for Romania to reach a different
result than the one in Madrid.

                                * * *
    By Milos Jeftovic

      The only European federation of two members, Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), is now entering a decisive phase -
it will either survive in a modified form or vanish, and the Balkans
get two new states. European Union has joined in finding a
solution to this dilemma with the deadline in late spring.
      It cannot be disputed that constitution of the FRY
established in 1992 in the middle of the war in former six-member
Yugoslav federation (SFRY) didn't stand the test of time. Neither
Podgorica nor Belgrade authorities are happy with that
constitution. However, the basic difference among them pertains to
how to redefine this community of Serbia and Montenegro - two out
of six former republics - which have decided to stay together at a
time when SFRY was falling apart in wars.
      At that time, current Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovic
and his Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) gave full support to
socialists headed by Slobodan Milosevic. The constitution of the FRY
was created at a blitz gathering of experts in Montenegrin
mountain center Zabljak. Then Serbian opposition and now leading
parties of the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS)
criticized the constitution, calling it a unilateral act. Changes
of the Yugoslav as well as the Serbian constitution was one of DOS' main
election promises.
      Current Montenegrin authorities say that the future of FRY is
creation of independent countries that would enter into an
alliance, while the Serbian government still insists on redefinition of
the federation and creation of joint country with minimum
authority. The EU is much closer to what Belgrade authorities and the
Montenegrin opposition participating in federal government want.
The EU started an active participation in this issue by offering "good
services", and is not finding the break-apart of Yugoslavia acceptable.
The EU openly favors survival of the federation, where relations
between the member states would be defined according to a
different basis.
      In a unhidden attempt to jump start the talks about the
future of FRY, the EU sent its commissioner for foreign politics and
security, Javier Solana, to Belgrade. After his participation at
the talks of the highest Serbian and Montenegrin representatives,
it was decided that expert teams, joined by EU experts, would find
possible common themes in concepts of Yugoslav future as proposed
by Serbia and Montenegro. Experts were given the task of looking into
all advantages and drawbacks of current federation as well as what
the two concepts were offering.
      Of course, experts named by Podgorica and Belgrade failed to
agree, nor did they come closer about constitutional issues. The
plan was for experts to their part of job and then for politicians
to decide whether to continue or cancel dialogue about the
Yugoslav future.
      Meanwhile, Montenegrins renewed the story about organizing a
referendum about the legal status of Montenegro at the end of
April or beginning of May. There was no visible reaction either
from Belgrade nor from the EU. It seems that they decided to wait and
hear what Djukanovic has to say at his new meeting with them, abut
also see what Solana brings as a Brusslles' stand.
      Because of his political promises, Djukanovic has to insist
on referendum. At one moment, Djukanovic even tied his political
future to referendum. Some messages from Serbia, coming from
expert public, say that the referendum in Montenegro has to done.
Experts explain that only referendum can solve the dilemma, so
that neither supporters of the independence nor their opponents
could have any remaining doubts or objections, which could be a
new source of instability.
      Experts warn that organization of the referendum has to be
technically smooth so that no one could have any doubts about what
is the citizens' opinion. It is also necessary to define what kind
of majority needs to be reached for a decision. International
community joined discussions about it even before Solana came. US
diplomatic representatives who visited Podgorica were among the
first to point out at that problem and proposed to hold a
referendum with a qualified majority of votes instead of simple
      Experts for constitutional right say that it would be
extremely difficult, almost impossible, to create a solution that
would secure complete federal equality between the two
economically, strategically and demographically different
countries, never mind closeness and historic ties between Serbia and
Montenegro. With its almost ten million citizens, Serbia is almost
20 times more numerous than Montenegro which has only 65,000
      Serbia is a continental country, with good land connections
to central Europe and Asia. Montenegro, almost seven times smaller
than Serbia, is extremely mountainous country with a 100 km long
Adriatic coast. In Montenegro there is a great difference in
economic development between northern region, which is
historically and politically close to Serbia, and the south, where the
country's biggest and strongest firms are.
      Montenegro is a country where almost every sixth citizen is
in retirement (approx. 100,000) and where only every fifth citizen
(120,000) has any job. According to some data, as much as 80,000
people are waiting for the job, although government officials say
these are not correct figures and that half of those who are
registered with the unemployment office have some kind of job.
Biggest firms do not work or work with minimal capacity, and
tragic energy situation with frequent blackouts has left traces on
popular sentiment regarding independence. According to the most
recent polls, there is a growing number of those who wish FRY to
survive as opposed to supporters of independence. Also, Podgorica
sees significantly less donation from the international community,
compared with times when Djukanovic launched his idea about
independence. Djukanovic opened the subject during an undisputed
reign of Slobodan Milosevic, who lost his power in October 2000
and has been in Hague since last June, waiting for the trial for
war crimes in Kosovo, Bosnia and Croatia. While Milosevic reigned
in Belgrade, a significant amount of aid from the world came to
Podgorica. Now the aid has diminished so Djukanovic has more and
more problems with the state budget. And that is not helping his
decision to hold a referendum.