1. Bosnia and Herzegovina: ELECTIONS POLITICAL CLEANSING
By Radenko Udovicic
2. Ukraine : NEW LEADER ON POLITICAL STAGE
By Stojan Obradovic
3.Bulgaria : GREAT ENERGY AMBITION
By Peter Karaboev
The Office of the High Representative for Bosnia
(OHR) has made a list of over 70 political officials in the country who
will not be allowed to run for upcoming general elections set for
October. They are mostly people who have been relieved of their posts
by the OHR during the past years or removed from party lists for
various reasons, ranging from financial crime to nationalist politics. Such
a decision by the OHR is unprecedented in the modern world because
there hasn't been a classic international protectorate in Europe since
the allied occupation of Germany.
However, because of the Balkan wars and their complicated political
consequences, civil life in Bosnia is now literally unthinkable without
radical interventions of the international community. The OHR is a
product of a generally accepted viewpoint of western world, including Russia,
that Bosnia has to have an international body that will supervise the
implementation of the civil society provisions of the Dayton Accord.
The OHR was established by the Dayton Accords in 1995, with the
acceptance of all three warring parties, but only during the last
three years has it been granted the huge authority which enables it to
practically rule Bosnia. The OHR can impose laws, relieve
politicians of their offices, have the final say in all disputes
without right for appeal and finally, decide who will be able to
run for office. Of course, OHR didn't ask for permission of Bosnian
authorities for the strengthening of its authority. That it was
accepted in Dayton was enough - everything else came as a logical
consequence of a situation where Bosnian politicians couldn't agree on
anything, so that the international community had to take matter into
its own hands.
HDZ and SDA parties hit hard by the OHR decision.
Most politicians who were removed from the election process
came from the party of Bosnian Croats, Croatian Democratic Union
(HDZ) and Bosniak party , Party of Democratic Action (SDA). Among
them are some famous names like Ante Jelavic, former member of
Bosnian presidency and, until recently, HDZ president as well as
Edhem Bicakcic, former prime minister in Federation B-H government
and SDA vice-president.
Ante Jelavic was relieved from his office of Bosnian
presidency Croatian member last year. The main reason was his
obstruction of important decisions on state level, because he
wasn't satisfied with the fact that his party HDZ, although most
voted for party among Croats, was pushed out of the government by a
ruling coalition which included some minor Croatian parties. HDZ
then opted for radical action and formed Croatian Self-Management,
that was to represent para-state structure on territories with
Croatian majority. In response, OHR replaced dozens of HDZ
officials, including Jelavic, the HDZ president.
Edhem Bikcacic was very close to Bosniak leader Alija
Izetbegovic, although Bikcacic is much younger than him. Already
during communism, Bikacic was sentenced together with Izetbegovic
because of the so-called Islamic Declaration which called for
creation of Moslem Bosnia and Herzegovina. After emergence of new
party, SDA, Bikcacic became a trusted man. Izetbegovic named him
as his successor several times. However, things went downhill two
years ago when SDA lost elections. Bikcacic returned to the wealthiest
Bosnian firm "Elektroprivreda" and assumed the position of director.
OHR found out that Bikcacic financed SDA from income of this public
service company and, furthermore, that he was using Elektroprivreda's
money for the same purpose during his time as prime minister. As a
consequence, he was promptly removed by OHR.
Both parties were given the same condition by OHR- they will
not participate at the elections if they fail to remove «named»
politicians not only from election lists but also from all leading
positions within the parties themselves. Both parties were at pains at
what to do for some time, but finally decided that the bigger harm
would come from their not being allowed to participate at the
elections than from accepting the OHR ultimatum. Besides, both parties
will certainly bring up these grievances during the election campaign, claiming
to be fighters against the international protectorship and being punished
because of their struggle.
Cleaning-up the political scene
But, it is also very important to explain the reasons for such
attitude of international community towards these parties, caused
not by several prominent party leaders but by their program as
whole. The HDZ and SDA are primarily so-called hard liners,
nationalistic parties that have contributed much to the start of the war
in Bosnia, and then to the consequent non-functioning, political layout
of the country. In this group there is also space for Serbian
Democratic Party (SDS); however, thanks to somewhat wiser
politics, SDS wasn't forbidden from nominating some politicians
like the other two. This party, founded and led for many years by
notorious indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic, has been trying
to be on cooperative terms with the international community for a few
year now. SDS in general doesn't fiercely rebuke imposed OHR
decisions. For example, last month, when the High Commissioner imposed
amendments on the entities' constitution, propelling them more towards
multi-ethnicity, SDS was against it as a matter of course.
However, the party eventually accepted that decision, contrary to
the SDA and HDZ that continued to dispute it, thus drawing out all
anger of the international community to themselves. A similar situation
happened before, so that only several politicians out of a total
of the 70 relieved from their positions are from SDS.
Still, the ideology of all three parties is similar and is based
primarily on emphasizing national characteristics, which has in
Bosnia often resulted in minorizing or ignoring of other two
nations. Such attitudes resulted in the wish of Serbs and Croats to
separate and annex parts of Bosnian territory to Serbia and
Croatia. On the other hands, Bosniaks, more numerous, pushed this
extreme idea towards creation of unitarian state ruled by them.
Some opposition parties, led by SDP with current prime
minister Zlatko Lagumdzija, based their election campaign on
criticism of such politics, which finally brought them election
success two years ago. SDA, HDZ and SDS were removed from power
after ten years of rule, which the international community applauded
openly. Western nations, whose presence in Bosnia is embodied
in OHR, realized that there will be no stability in Bosnia and the
Balkans until nationalism quiets down and moderate political
parties become prominent. Although removing exponents of criminal
or nationalist policy by force isn't always the right thing to do,
because it's not enough to change the consciousness of the people,
preventing such individuals from open action still makes the job
easier. Thanks to the SDP, which is extremely cooperative with
international community, Bosnian authorities dealt with foreign
Islamic elements which were a war leftover. Some of them were even
connected with international terrorism, such as bin Laden. Also, the Serb
Republic passed the Law on cooperation with the Hague Tribunal and
arrests should soon begin, according to prime minister Mladen
Ivanic. Neither actions were possible while SDS and SDA were in
power. SDS does still have power in Serb Republic, but has to
share it with Ivanic's PDP, which opens the possibility for democratic
changes. What could have happened had SDS been overthrown
Still, changes in Federation B-H were somewhat deeper because
cities with Bosniak majority remained important strongholds of
multi-national environment, especially areas of culture and
journalism. It certainly contributed to complete liberalization of
social life which served to bring democratic forces to power.
That the current government wants to deal with the dark side of the
past is best illustrated by the example of the arrest of formed heads of
secret service which were accused of preparing terrorist
activities in 1995 in camp Podgorica near Sarajevo. American
forces discovered and destroyed it the same year, finding out in
the process that Bosnian secret service AID had connections with
Iranian secret service. Then SDA government covered up the whole
case and didn't arrest anybody, although there were documents of
terrorist preparations. The current government has finally launched an
investigation about that case and unearthed evidence that trainees
were preparing to assassinate well known SDA opponents, including
Fikret Abdic, former leader of rebellion in north-western Bosnia;
Muhamed Filipovic, opposition politician and Senad Avdic, a
prominent journalist. It is interesting to note that all of three
suspects arrested are now successful businessmen, with one of them
being even owner of a daily newspaper in Sarajevo. That proves best
that the former party and military SDA leaders profited in war and
The HDZ, is in the same position. The party created a true political
and financial para-government. Some individuals got enormously rich and
made real economic empires, not paying taxes and running virtual companies
through banks that were under HDZ control. For that reason, a couple of
months ago, OHR ordered occupation of Herzegovina bank where they
found many secret accounts allegedly belonging to HDZ's.
Mixture of crime and nationalism
However, OHR will still have difficult work ahead. Although some
promoters of nationalist and criminal politics are now removed,
their spirit remains. Ante Jelavic is no longer the HDZ president, but
he was replaced by Barisa Colak, who is, according to some
experts, his loyal ideological follower. It is more than clear
that officials relieved from power will rule from the shadows. The
HDZ structure is laid out in such a manner as to allow influence of
various individuals. Besides, the most influential person in B-H HDZ
was Franjo Tudjman, who was living in another country.
Similar is the situation in SDA where relieved politicians won't
occupy important positions only formally. SDA has been well known
for years by numerous background individuals who exerted strong
influence, each on his own field.
Best example of shadow rule was SDS couple of years ago. The
party was greatly influenced by Radovan Karadzic, although the
majority of its leaders didn't know his hideout.
On 17th of May there will be changes in OHR leadership.
Austrian Wolfgang Petritsch will be replaced by Paddy Ashdown from
Britain. This seasoned diplomat will have to keep a cautious eye
on development of election situation in Bosnia. Ashdown has
already said that now main problem in Bosnia is crime and
corruption, not nationalism. However, Ashdown was only partly
right. Crime itself, no matter which kind, will not shake too much
fragile stability of Bosnia as a state. Also, nationalism itself,
no matter how blasphemous it may sound, is not an insurmountable
obstacle in development of Bosnian society. The basic problem is
mixture of these two elements. Intertwining of crime and
nationalism, or politics to put it more simply, is characteristic
of the last 12 years. Nationalism within the constitutional frame and
lawful behavior wouldn't cause war in Bosnia. If we add another
type of crime characterized by illegal acquisition of material
goods, which is normal for many politicians, then Bosnian trouble
is obvious. It is where Ashdown will have to get its bearings.
Parliamentary elections held in Ukraine at the end
didn't enable the opposition to win over the authoritarian regime of
president Leonid Kuchma, but they have still shaken up his
position, say election monitors. The relative majority was won by
political bloc "Our Ukraine", led by former prime minister Viktor
Yushchenko(48) . President Kuchma relieved him of his post in 2000
because the capable banker and manager started to become more and
more popular thanks to decisive economic actions. As prime
minister Yushchenko started mercilessly collecting state taxes,
but he also provided money for state officials and retired persons
who previously had to wait for it for months.
Although Kuchma will continue controlling parliament over his
parties, election results are still far from the expected two-thirds
majority necessary to make constitutional changes which would enable
him to run the country for the third time. On the other hand, the relative
victory of "Our Ukraine" has affirmed new leader Viktor Yushchenko,
who could pave victory for democratic opposition at the next
presidential elections in 2004.
We talked with Valeriy Asadchev (50), MP and member of
Ukrainian Popular Movement (RUKH) that was part of victorious
Yushchenko's political bloc "Our Ukraine", about election results,
current political situation and future expectations.
Q. What is your opinion about the recent parliamentary elections
in Ukraine? Did the opposition achieve success, and if yes, what kind
A. At these elections we managed to form a group of political
forces arrayed against authoritarian regime in Ukraine. They want
democratic development of the country.
Generally speaking, election results were very close, it was a
tie. The balance of political power between the government and the
opposition, between the president and the parliament, remained more
or less the same. Truthfully, one could talk about certain progress of the
opposition, but the government managed to hold to its position so
they could take it as their advantage.
However, what certainly is a gain for the opposition and the
country in general is the fact that now president Kuchma won't be
able to change the constitution as planned, that is, Kuchma won't be
able to remain president for the third time.
But, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that after Kuchma,
Ukrainian political development will move towards democracy - primarily
because of the specific role of Russia, which is reflected not only in its huge
political influence but also in economic ties, that is, the economic dependence
of Ukraine on Russia. Moscow is capable of strong influence on
many things in our country. Russia has a hold on the main media outlets
in Ukraine as well as majority of the economic powers which enable it
to control the political situation in Ukraine. One should have in mind
that Russia for the most part inherited the political methods and system
of rule from the Soviet era, meaning that political life is still
strongly influenced by secret services - with all the consequences
such a style has.
All of this will greatly influence the next presidential elections
in Ukraine in two years. There is a possibility of a scenario where
Kuchma's successor will be one supported by Russia.
Q. Could you explain more specifically in what way Russia
rules the Ukrainian media and economy?
A. It is enough to watch state television and see how dominant
Russian interests are . Russian companies and capital are integral
of any major privatization. Russian investors have practically
pushed out investors from Western Europe and USA out of the game.
Even after collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia is still
acting like a big power and is trying to have a puppet regime in
Ukraine, to have a government which will be under Russian control
and influence. Such a regime will never develop democracy in
Q. How can that relation with Russia be changed?
A. Our aim is not to enter in dispute or conflict with Russia.
Russia is a big country, our neighbour, and we are interested in
good relations with Russia. But we need a government which is
pro-Ukraine, not pro-Russian, a government which will protect
Ukrainian, not Russian interests. That has to be changed.
Of course, Russia doesn't want a Ukrainian government which will
lead completely independent politics according to Ukrainian
national interests. But only such a Ukrainian government, governed
by our national interests, can develop democracy and general
progress in the country.
Q. What is the economic situation in Ukraine?
A. At this moment, we are still feeling the results of economic
growth, but that is thanks to the former government led by Viktor
Yushenko who managed to promote transparency in some important
elements. However, the current government is returning us once again
into controlled economy without monetary exchange.
For 2002, we already have a state deficit of 200 million USD
which is plainly saying that the economic situation will deteriorate
Q. Will the coming economic crisis you predict help democratic forces or
will it aid the conservation of the current regime?
A. Well, it is possible that a deep and prolonged economic
crisis causes change of government, although a regime's entrenchment
can also prosper in time of crisis.
But the real problem is that economic crisis will anyhow cause
great economic damage. The economy will take much time to recover and
to become attractive to foreign investors without whom there is no
development. And without economic development, there is no true
Q.What you think is important for the future of democratic
changes in Ukraine?
A: I think that parliamentary elections have clearly shown the
way opposition must now take. If the elections were a kind of
success to the opposition, then it is mostly reflected in the fact
that through elections surfaced a new political leader supported
by both opposition parties as well as civil sector and
international circles - Viktor Yushchenko.
There are two important conditions for development of
democracy in Ukraine. One is peaceful transfer of government with
a new president and, second, I think that it would be very
beneficial and important for further democratic development if
that new president would be Viktor Yushchenko.
* * *
Bulgaria : GREAT ENERGY AMBITION
By Peter Karaboev
Traditional Balkan rivals battle for energy dollars
Bulgaria is fighting its way with ambitious projects. Greece is
planning to invest 16 billion euros ($14 billion) by the end of
the decade in its own bid to become the Balkan energy hub. The
lure of lucrative pipeline investment pushes neighbors to compete
for energy supplies to the region and beyond to the European
Union. In this race for planned oil, gas and electricity deals
Bulgaria is a special case with its idea to build a second nuclear
power plant (NPP).
Everyone in the region wants to be an energy hub, but Greece,
Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania will need to attract billions of
dollars in private funds while tackling problems in their own
domestic energy sectors, analysts say. Besides fighting for
predominance, the Balkan rivals would need to work together to
build links among themselves as they plan to become energy bridges
carrying Russian, Caspian and Middle East gas and oil to the EU's
large energy market, Reuters reported in late April.
After seven years of squabbles, Greece has recently agreed
with neighbouring Bulgaria and Russia to jointly build a
700-million-euro trans-Balkan oil pipeline. In March, Greece and
Turkey agreed to build their first ever joint pipeline to carry
Caspian Sea gas to the EU from 2005, while Ankara is also building
a one million barrel per day oil pipeline from the Azeri capital
Baku and a separate parallel pipe that will also pump Caspian gas
to the Turkish network. Greece has agreed to expand an existing
Turkish-Iranian gas pipeline to Italy. Athens plans to discuss
similar gas deals with gas-rich Iran and Azerbaijan. Greece is in
the focus because it's the only EU member in the region and its
domestic power consumption is rising annually at about 4%. At the
same time, Turkey expects an eight-percent rise in power demand in
Bulgaria will compete mainly with Romania (some analyst
pretend that Greece, not Romania is the real competitor) to
strengthen its position as leading Balkan electricity exporter.
Bulgaria now covers nearly half of the region's power deficit, but
if Sofia shuts down its old nuclear reactors by 2006 - as it
promised to do in 1999- the country might turn into importer.
By the end of 2002 Bulgaria will have to shut down two oldest
440-megawatt reactors at Kozloduy nuclear power plant and the EU
is insisting Sofia to decommission Kozloduy's other two 440 MW
reactors by 2006 at the latest. This way Bulgaria will be left
with just two 1000- megawatt reactors in a NPP that covers up to
40% of domestic consumption.
Bulgaria will cut down electricity export after 2008 and might
altogether stop it, the plan for the development of the energy
sector drafted by Bulgaria's National Electricity Transmission
Company (former National Electricity Company) envisages. The plan
contains several variants for the development of the sector
depending on the time of decommissioning of nuclear power plant
Kozloduy's 440 mW reactors. According to the plan if the reactors
are decommissioned by 2006, Bulgaria will have to stop electricity
export after 2008 because of the possible electricity shortages.
The plan encompasses the period until 2020. It also envisages that
in 2005 Bulgaria would increase its electricity export to 5.0
billion kWh from the present 4.620 billion kWh a year. If the
first and second units of the Kozlodui NPP are decommissioned,
Bulgaria will lose electricity exports equal to some 7 billion
kWh, said the NPP's ED Yordan Kostadinov at presentation before
the energy parliamentary commission.
That's why Sofia plans to resume construction of a nuclear
power plant close to the city of Belene to compensate the early
closure in Kozloduy. The building of the 1,000 MW Soviet-designed
Belene plant started in the 1980s and 40% of the construction
works worth $1.0 bln (1.14 bln euro) has been completed, including
a reactor. However, further construction was halted in 1990 due to
lack of cash and environmental protests. At least further $1.3 bln
(1.48 mln euro) are needed to complete it. The new reactor could
be built by U.S., French, Canadian or Russian firms. A new 600 MW
Westinghouse reactor AR-600 might reach $2.0 bln (2.28 mln euro).
A Russian 100 MW reactor of the V-392 type or a V-407 reactor will
require $1.6 bln (1.82 mln euro). Framatom reactors of Canadian
700 MW units cost relatively less. The project is expected to
create up to 8,000 jobs and will take at least seven years to
Then everyone started to offer everything under the sun -
Social Policy Minister Lydia Shuleva said that the procedures
related to decommissioning Kozloduy's reactors one and two will
create about 1,100 jobs but she didn't said how much experienced
these workers should be. Foreign minister Solomon Passi upon
return from Canada said that Canadian companies are interested in
the construction of the Belene NPP, but he said nothing about the
numerous accidents of the Canadian CANDU reactors, including huge
leakages of deuterium and tritium in water basins, and Romania's
grievous odyssey in building the Cerna Voda NPP with CANDU.
Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov offered his own idea -
Bulgarian government to convince the European Commission that
N-units III and IV at Kozloduy NPP should not be closed down
early, while older units I and II should be closed down as agreed,
but upgraded for a possible recommissioning later. At the end
nationalistic Bulgarian party asked president for a o on act on
ratification of the framework agreement with EBRD on financial
assistance for the decommissioning of the first four reactors of
the Kozlodui NPP.
Plans to complete the construction of Belene nuclear power
plant have even rekindled the debate on the suitability of its
location. Some energy experts, including the former executive
director of Kozloduy nuclear power plant Yordan Yordanov, say the
site of the existing plant at Kozloduy should be used to build the
new unit, otherwise construction costs will be steep - between
$3.0 and $5.0 bln (3.4 bln-5.7 bln euro). Another factor working
in favour of the Kozloduy site is that it has already been
licensed by the international nuclear authorities while the site
at Belene has yet to be licensed for the construction. The
opposing view is that the new plant should be built at Belene to
avoid overloading Kozloduy's infrastructure and to ensure
operational safety. In addition, the Belene site can withstand a
quake measuring 7 on the Richter magnitude scale, while the
Kozlodoy site can take a quake no stronger than 6 on the Richter
Apart of these expert discussions , the way and the place to
announce the idea to resume construction were very strange.
Bulgarian PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha announced government's plans
at the end of the meeting that established his new political party
- Simeon II National Movement (SIINM). There wasn't a public
debate on new NPP - idea was declared "a national priority" while
in fact NPP is a huge investment project that should be
profitable. Weeks after Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's statement there is no
financial countdown how much NPP Belene will cost and from where
the money will come. There's no explanation how this will relate
to Russian energy dominance in Bulgaria - Moscow suplies 100% of
nuclear fuel and decommissions and stores from the spent one;
Russia's supplies of oil, gas and electricity cover the largest
part of Bulgaraia's consumption.
With an argument that this project will ensure the country's
role as major electricity supplier of the Balkans this was pure
political declaration. This huge project will ensure the energy
self-reliance of Bulgaria for the next several decades, he
Saxe-Coburg-Gotha added. We will not betray national interests in
the area of nuclear energy and will observe agreements with the
European Union (EU) and the obligations undertaken by previous
governments,. We will take all necessary political actions to
ensure favourable conditions for the construction of the Belene
nuclear power plant in compliance with all modern safety and
reliability requirements, he said.
A 1995 study by the US Department of Energy found Kozloduy,
Chernobyl, Ignalina and Russia's Kola complex to be the most
dangerous nuclear plants in central and Eastern Europe. But the
main pressure comes from Brussels.
Deputy Foreign Minister Meglena Kuneva accused the EU of
"double standards", saying it had treated Bulgaria differently
from Lithuania. Vilnius has been given permission, she claimed, to
keep a reactor at its Ignalina complex on stream until the end of
this decade. (Bulgaria, Slovakia and Lithuania had been asked by
the European Union in 1999 to shut down their nuclear plants.) The
European Commission "really needs to explain what is the logic" of
its policy, Kuneva told members of the European Parliament's
foreign affairs committee on 23 April. "This makes us feel
uncomfortable and that we are suffering from double standards."
Kuneva described the Ignalina reactor as the "worst type" of
nuclear technology. Belonging to the RBMK range, it is similar to
the one which exploded at Chernobyl in April 1986 - the worst
nuclear accident in history.
By contrast, the four Kozloduy plants belong to the VVER
range. She accepted that the first two units are "outdated" but
said that units three and four are more modern and "could be
improved at a reasonable cost".
But Morten Jung-Olsen - the Commission official leading the
institution's talks with Bulgaria said it had told the country it
viewed all four of the reactors as risky about ten years ago.
But today after hundreds of millions of dollars spent on safety
and modernisation at NPP things may be re-negotiated. On the same
23rd April, the European Union's top energy official Loyola de
Palacio said the bloc needed Europe-wide safety standards for
nuclear power stations, a sensitive area for both current members
and those about to join. The issue of safety rules has cropped up
as the EU is set to expand to take in former communist countries
which still run nuclear plants designed and built in Soviet days,
considered to be below Western standards. In Bulgaria's energy
ambition the problem is much bigger than the new NPP. Up to $2.5
billion would be additionally needed in Bulgaria to raise power
capacity and revamp existing plants, most of which are over 20
years old. Bulgaria will have to examine how it can curb its
extreme waste of energy. It is one of the most energy-intensive
countries in Europe, using three times as much power as Hungary
and eight times as much as Germany.