1. Moldova: "UNIVERSITY SQUARE" MOVES FROM BUCHAREST
By Angela Magherusan
2. Belarus: ECONOMY INTEGRATION UNDER QUESTION
By Paulyuk Bykowski
3.Croatia:END OF MYTH OF REGIONAL MILITARY POWER
By Pero Jurissin
Bucharest, 12 years ago. Political songs against
Hundreds of students protesting for months under free sky, against
the new power installed after the Romanian revolution. An entire
society torn apart by this protesting pattern, called "The
University Square", the place from which, in 1990, a relatively
limited number of people started a war against the danger of
neo-comunism. It wouldn't really change anything in Romanians'
thinking, but it will bring along the changing of a Prime
Minister. Besides that, the political power contested by the
protesters remained untouched, governing then, as it does even
today, under a different name.
Chishinau, today. The communist power confronted with the first
big protest against it. The people of Chishinau, mainly students,
marching, singing and asking for the government's resignation. A
demonstrating pattern borrowed from none other than the Romanians,
the nation closest to Moldavians, and not only in a geographic sense. The
"University Square" moved from Bucharest to the Central Square of
Chishinau. The entire Romanian public opinion is showing strong
support for the Moldavian brothers' manifest.
No wonder the communist power of Moldova accused Romania of
interfering in its internal affairs and of orchestrating the
protests in Chishinau.
If we were to see things in black and white, we would draw
this picture: Moldova and Romania missed the opportunity for
re-unification in 1990. Some say they still want to, but Moscow
has some interests in the former Soviet republic, and Romania
can't afford to further upset Russia by pushing the subject. But,
as in most pictures, this one is full of grey tones as well.
Although now they are different countries, Romania and Moldova
have some common background. Moldova has always been a part of
Romania, except for a century and a half, and its very name is the
name of a Romanian region, Moldova, from which the present
Republic of Moldova was taken apart. The final rupture took place
during the Second World War, when this part of Moldova, called
Basarabia in the Romanian history, was given to the Soviet Union,
as a clause of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. But its inhabitants
continued to consider themselves Romanians, and kept on speaking
Romanian, despite the massive russification.
In fact, this process of russification, continued even after
the republic proclaimed its independence, is the source of the
protests taking place in Chishinau for the last few weeks. It all
began with the manifestation against the government's decision to
reintroduce Russian language as obligatory in schools. And in a
short period of time, it turned to a protest against the regime
and its participants, from a few "pupils" to ten thousands people,
who formed a so-called "National Council for Defending the
Democracy". The protesters, gathered around The Popular
Christian Democrat Party (PCDP), accused the communist power of
trying to kill the opposition and asked for its resignation.
During the whole process, the communists tried unsuccessfully to
push PCDP outside the low, the number of the manifestants grew
constantly. PCDP began boycotting parliamentary sessions after one
of PCDP members and a Member of the Parliament, Vlad Cubreacov,
strangely disappeared on the 21st of March and the country began an
on-going diplomatic crisis with Romania. PCDP's position was also
joined by the liberals and the Branghis Alliance, the second
political force of the country, named after Dumitru Branghis,
former prime minister during the presidency of Petru Lucinschi.
In the meantime, the communists don't seem to be really worried
about the whole situation, since it is not confronted with a
massive protest. These 10.000 people manifesting in the central
square of Chishinau represent less than one percent of Moldova's
population, and therefore they don't have the right to ask for the
resignation of a party voted by one million electors. Since they
do not represent the Moldavian public opinion, say the communists,
the protesters are in fact tools handed by the PCDP, in order to
take over the power, by undemocratic methods. To prove that the
people of Moldova don't want any political change, the communist
power takes into consideration even the possibility of organizing
a referendum. After the communist party won the elections a year
ago, it's not hard to guess which the results of this referendum
Taking care of its international image seems to be a much
bigger concern for the power in Chisinau. To avoid any suspicions
of not respecting human rights, the communists haven't repressed
protests in any way so far. But the human rights situation in
Moldova is exactly the topic on which international institutions
keep their eye on.
As for the diplomatic problems Moldova and Romania now have,
it's not for the first time the small ex-soviet republic has
accused its neighbour of interfering in its internal affairs.
Just a few months ago, in October 2001, the Modavian Justice
Minister, Ion Morei, launched this accusation, during a session of
the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg, which was
investigating the Moldavian government decision not to recognise
the existence of the Orthodox Church in the country. In this prior
incident, Ion Morei implied that the Romanian Orthodox Church had
interfered in Moldova and accused Romania of expansionism. In its
turn, the power in Bucharest faces a big challenge towards these
accusations: it must keep the appearance of neutrality, but it
also has to be careful not to upset the Romanian public opinion
sensitive to the events in Chishinau, nor Moscow, which is
needed as a friend mainly because of economical reasons.
Speaking of economics, one can note a paradox: protests taking
place in Chishinau serve the communist regime. They turn the public
attention away from the economical disaster of Moldova, now
considered one of the poorest European country.
As for Romania, it seems that its relations with neighbors
are at an all-time low. After the crisis of the Hungarians' Status
Law, Romanian diplomatic problems now move away from Bucharest to
A session of the Supreme State Council, founded by
Belarussian-Russian Union Government, is set for April 12. The
founding documents for a "Unified Economic Space" are to be drawn
up by that time.
It has been reported that a decree and order by the president
of Belarus have already been prepared to eliminate
institutionalized privileges for Belarussian enterprises. However,
the documents come into power only after the Russian government
passes a decision on "equal prices on energy resources and equal
tariffs on railroads." It had originally been suggested that the
agreement be concluded on April 1. At least that was the date
mentioned on March 12 by prime minister of the Russian Federation
Mikhail Kasyanov at the session of the union administration in
Minsk. It was decided that four inter-administrative agreements
were to be signed by then to set up unified tariffs on natural
gas, electricity and rail transport services and a system of
reciprocal indirect taxation by country of origin and to complete
the unification of customs duties.
Two days later, the Belarussian administration designated
finance minister Nikolai Korbut to sign the agreements on the
principles of reciprocal indirect taxation during the import and
export of goods, labor and services. So far no one has been
appointed to sign the remaining three agreements, which is,
according to rumor, connected with the principle Belarussian
position that the Belarussian Council of Ministers will not
approve any of the package while the question of reciprocal
indirect taxation is unresolved.
That tax has long been a stumbling block between Minsk and
Moscow. The Russians have acknowledged the principle of
reciprocal indirect taxation "on the country of the destination of
the goods," that is, on the state budget of the country of
destination, in trade with CIS countries, but an exception has
been made for Belarus ("We are building a Union State") preserving
the old principle of taxation "on the country of the origin of the
goods," by which those taxes go to the Russian budget. The
Belarussian budget looses about US$200 million due to that. The
Belarussian administration would like to be compensated for those
losses from the Russian budget, but the Russians claim that they
too suffer losses because they supply the Belarussians almost like
themselves but do not export Belarussian resources. Thus,
according to Russian deputy minister of finance Mikhail Motorin,
the Russian state budget looses US$170 million just from Gazprom's
trading with Belarus.
Incidentally, compensation for reciprocal indirect taxation in
the Russian state budget with favorable gas delivery would not
provide the Belarussians with any particular benefits. It is a
matter of a possible price of US$23 per 1000 cubic meters. Belarus
now pays US$30 per 1000 cubic meters. Taking into consideration
Belarus's annual consumption of 16.5 billion cubic meters, the
savings would amount to US$115.5 million, which does not make up
for the losses to the Belarussian state budget.
In the wake of the Minsk session of the Union Council of
Ministers, the prime ministers of Russia and Belarus reported that
they have "agreed in principle." Belarussian industries will be
able to receive the services of natural monopolies at
intra-Russian prices. However, reciprocal indirect taxation will
still be received in whole by the Russian budget, and the
Belarussian state budget should receive compensation through a
mechanism set forth by a special intergovernmental agreement. All
of that is included in the package of four documents on the
establishment of a single economic space on the territories of the
two countries. The signing of those documents was scheduled to
take place before April 1. Whether that signing will take place
at all is still an open question.
What remains today of Croatia as regional military
deceased president Franjo Tudjman liked to say? According to
current defense minister Jozo Rados and his recent statement on
Croatian army readiness--almost nothing. Rados said that Croatia
couldn't defend itself from an invasion of a modern army.
This Rados' statement caused numerous angry protests, but also
dispersed many illusions of Croatian army as victorious military
power which was created by Tudjman's party HDZ while they were in
power. These illusions served as a cover-up for organized crime
and theft that was going on under protection of war and the
process of military build-up.
Already during the HDZ era, until two years ago, the media were
writing about the business success of General Vladimir Zagorac, a man
with only a high-school education, who was the main decision maker on
the technological development of the Croatian army and the chief person
regarding the purchase of weapons.
After the change of government two years ago, it became clear that
huge amounts of money were invested in modernization of the army
to no effect. As a result, General Zagorac,who became enormoulsy
rich in the meantime, is now under criminal investigation.
There were also hazy actions of alleged production of native
Croatian weapon, worth millions, but the arms were never actually
produced. Minister of defense recently said that Croatia bought
rockets S-300 in 1995. The purchase was auhorized by late defense
minister Gojko Susak. The rocket system was never actually
completed, so that the rockets are in fact unusable. Still, some
of them were purchased at an outrageous price. The supplier was arms
dealer Zvonko Zubak, ranked the sixth most wealthy person in Croatia,
with a property worth more than 70 million euros.
Elaborating his statement, minister Rados said that he was having
in mind military technology. "Croatian army equipment was
purchased through various channels during past ten years. It was
mostly coming from former Warsaw Pact countries, and is worn down
by war", said Rados, adding that last five years didn't see much
updates of equipment, but rather the purchase of expensive apartments for the
commanding elite of Croatian army instead. It seems that some of
them will be indicted for war crimes by International Criminal
Court for former Yugoslavia in the Hague. Several days ago deputy
of the chief Hague prosecutor Graham Blewitt announced new
indictments against commanders of Croatian army.
Until now, two Croatian generals, Rahim Ademi and Ante
Gotovina, have been indicted by the Hague Court. Gotovina is still
in hiding. He is the retired general who was sent to retirement in
the autumn of 2000, together with six other active generals, by
president Stjepan Mesic. This group of generals with some others
wrote a letter attacking the newly elected Croatian government.
According to some, Mesic prevented a right-wing military coup, but
he also started the process of removing Tudjman's and HDZ's
influence from Croatian Army. Defense minister Rados, who was
supposed to continue that process, yielded to protests of the Croatian
right led by HDZ and let some time pass before starting the
process of restructuring within the army, which is only now beginning.
As a consequence, the core of people who were crime leaders
during the last decade was preserved; they are removed from the
army only after court trials or clear indictments. How the Croatian
army was susceptible to crime can be best illustrated by the trial of
Zeljko Maglov several years ago. Maglov was one of commanders in
military police, who was found guilty for smuggling cars and food
supplies together with a group of military policemen. The court
decided not to pursue charges pointing to the highest state leadership
as organizers for these operations. Also mentioned was the name of
the son of late president, Miroslav Tudjman, who was a long-time
head of all intelligence services. But that was not the only case.
Last year, a group of officers was arrested and accused of a
long-time organized drug smuggling which was also carried out
under protection of military circles.
Therefore, courts are beginning to show the true role and
importance of Croatian army, which Tudjman's regime hailed as
victors and stability factors in southeastern Europe.
As more time is passing since the end of the war, there are
more and more secrets of Croatian Army coming into light, which
are ruining its reputation. There is an ongoing trial of general
Mirko Norac, proclaimed to be legendary fighter of the Homeland
War. He is indicted for assassinations of helpless Serbian
civilians at the beginning of the war in Croatia. And there are
several court trial preparations against members of Croatian army
because of crimes against Serbian civilians throughout Croatia
during the war.
Exposed to harsh criticism and demands to resign from his
office because of alleged spreading of defeatism, Rados came out
before the public with the whole truth about military readiness of
Croatian Army. First he showed that because of devastated economy
state budget had to be cut in half. Likewise the budget of Defense
ministry, which was decreased by 130 million euros. He said it was
success that military readiness was managed at the same level as
found in the past two years instead of dropping further.
That "regional military force" had to be immediately updated is
perhaps best witnessed by situation in Croatian Air Force (HRZ).
HRZ Commander general Josip Stimac has recently said that HRZ will
be unable to prepare helicopters Mi-8 for fire fighting and
medical interventions during tourist season if the government
didn't provide money for it. In an indirect way, Stimac warned
about the situation throughout HRZ where even MIGs' flight
capability is under question. Their repair, with upgrades, was
scheduled to be made in Israel. Then Poland was mentioned, and the
last information speaks about Romania, although nobody knows when
finances for it will be secured, or if at all. There is no word
about purchase of new, more quality airplanes.
The only way out is decrease of personnel employed in Ministry
of Defense and Armed Forces because 73 per cent of the defense
budget is spent on wages. Rados says it will have to be decreased
to only 60 per cent next year with the aim of cutting down to 50
per cent, without lowering total defense budget which at this time
amounts for 2,2 GDP.
According to recently passed package of defense laws, there is
over 13 thousand extra soldiers and civilians in Croatian Army.
4000 persons will have to go to regular or early retirement for
start. 6000 persons will be moved into work reserves. Out of
current 4000 employees in the Ministry of Defense, 1500 to 2000
will be allowed to remain. Even the number of generals will be cut
down, with the final number of only 30. According to the five-year
plan, Croatian Armed Forces should count around 26,5 thousand
persons at the end.
However, it is certain that the plan for rationalization of the
Croatian Army will cause new tensions which can be used for
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS APPEAL TO ALL WHO MAY BE ABLE TO HELP...
URGENT APPEAL TO THE EASTERN EUROPEAN ORGANIZATIONS
MEMBERS OF THE PEDRO LUIS BOITEL FREEDOM AWARD, AND ALL
EASTERN EUROPEAN ORGANIZATIONS WHO HAVE A CONCERN FOR HUMAN
The winner of the first Pedro Luis Boitel Freedom Award, Juan
Carlos Gonzalez Leiva, who is blind, has been savagely beaten
within prison after being arrested on March 4th during a
pro-democratic activity. It is reported that his skull was
fractured on the frontal part during a savage beating in
prison by half a dozen state security guards. His wife, Maritza
Calderin Columbie, has reported that his health is deteriorating
very quickly, and the activist is carrying out a hunger strike
that is approaching 40 days.
We, the DIRECTORIO, and members of the internal civil
resistance in Cuba appeal to you to please exert pressure in your
countries by calling the embassies and inquiring about Juan Carlos
Gonzalez Leiva today. A series of phone calls are very effective
in putting pressure on the Cuban Dictatorship who prefers to
violate human rights in the cover of darkness. You, dear friends,
are the light that can help Juan Carlos in this moment of great
need. Please put pressure on the Cuban Dictatorship!
Please help us! Please launch a series of phone calls to the
embassies today, don't let them hide. Thank you for your
For more information please contact us at email@example.com
CUBAN DEMOCRATIC DIRECTORATE
Javier de Cespedes