Issue No. 321 - May 22, 2003


1. Bosnia and Herzegovina: THERE WAS NO CHOICE
by Radenko Udovicic

by Goran Vezic

3. Special addition: BELARUS SPECIAL REPORT: Summary and Conclusions


Bosnia and Herzegovina:
by Radenko Udovicic

        In mid-May, Bosnia signed an agreement with the U.S. that excludes American citizens from extradition to the International Criminal Court in the Hague, becoming the thirty-first country overall and the first among ex-Yugoslav states to decide to grant Americans immunity from this newly established court, whose purpose is to punish war crimes.

        Basically, the agreement was signed as the result of American pressure, but also because of Bosnia’s specific position, being, for all intents and purposes, under international protection and closely watched by the US. The bloody three-and-a-half year war that ended in 1995 following the Dayton Peace Accords was directly sponsored by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. It is generally accepted that the U.S. forced all three warring sides, as well as neighboring countries indirectly involved in the war, to accept compromise and sign the agreement. Americans had an enviable success, especially taking into consideration that the EU tried to stop the war several times without success.

        This is the source for Bosnian gratitude, but also awe. Politicians and citizens themselves are aware of the fact that good relations with the world’s only superpower mean a better political and economic position.

Public Opinion Turns Against Agreement

        Bosniaks (Muslim Bosnians), the most numerous Bosnian nation, has had an especially pro-American attitude for the past several years due to the American government’s inclination towards the official war-time government in Bosnia, which had been dominated by Bosniaks and headed by Alija Izetbegovic. The U.S. gained additional sympathy among Bosniaks and Croats in 1999 when it spearheaded the NATO air strike campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which was for most Bosniaks and Croats the primary culprit for the bloody carnage in Bosnia.

        However, just before the signing of the recent agreement, public polls showed as much as 87 percent of the people against it. Where did such a negative attitude come from in a country that was so America-inclined in those parts dominated by Bosniaks and Croats?

        The collapse of the public’s pro-American stance began after the terrorist attacks on New York in 2001. To be sure, Bosniaks thoroughly condemned this terrorist action and were shocked by it, but later American behavior has shaken their faith in the most powerful country in the world. The constant U.S. pressure for arrests of Islamic oriented Bosnian citizens, followed by the breach of Bosnian laws and European principles of human rights in the demands for their extradition, have shown to Bosniaks that Americans respect the law only when it is convenient for them. The American refusal to accept the International Court for War Crimes only confirmed this view, as did the attack on Iraq without U.N. support and America’s lack of will to pressure Israel towards a compromise solution in the Middle East, pointing citizens in the direction of the European Union for more honest dealings — despite misgivings. Never in the last ten years has there been a situation that Bosnians of all three nations felt more a part of Europe than today, a stance that is reflected in the media.

        What causes the greatest opposition to this agreement is the U.S. insistence on Bosnian authorities to extradite their citizens to the earlier established International Criminal Tribunal for (former) Yugoslavia while demanding at the same time that its citizens be exempt from judgment in the new International Court. Such pressure is judged in Bosnia as immoral — proof that for the U.S. might is above what is universally accepted as right. Croatia’s President Stipe Mesic gave an almost identical reason for opposing the agreement with the U.S., strengthening his standing in an already sympathetic public. But nobody doubts that Croatia will, in the end, also have to kneel down to American pressure, given the millions of dollars per year poured into Croatia by the U.S. for military training.

Without Any Choice

        Bosnian authorities were unanimous in their position that Bosnia had to sign the agreement with the US. It is interesting to note that it wasn't signed in Sarajevo but Banja Luka, capital of the Serb Republic, which never had pro-American sentiment. Members of the Bosnian Presidency tried to minimize the basic meaning of the agreement and emphasized instead the importance Bosnia would have once it was signed.

         The agreement excludes all American citizens involved in international missions in Bosnia not only from responsibility before the International Court in the Hague but also before Bosnian courts. This constituted a compromise of sorts in the U.S. stance since, according to this understanding of the agreement, Bosnian authorities will be able to extradite to the Hague American citizens who come to Bosnia on another basis. Since American citizens arrive in Bosnia almost exclusively due to military and civilian needs to maintain peace, it can be safely said that the effect of the agreement on Americans is nearly absolute. Bosnian authorities did manage to introduce a cosmetic wording that “no-one can be waived of responsibility for war crimes.” But when government representatives explained the agreement, they kept silent about an important fact, namely that someone's responsibility for war crimes can only be tried in an American court. The US is not rejecting the crime, simply the authority over punishment.

        Bosnia had no choice in signing this agreement. Its dependence on the international community, with U.S. playing the dominant role, was decisive. International troops under American high command are still securing peace in the country. The U.S. and E.U. are jointly heading the re-building of civilian structures and are providing Bosnia with millions for reconstruction and reforms. Modernization of the army of the Federation Bosnia and Hercegovina (the entity with a large majority of Bosniaks and Croats) is also controlled by the U.S. Although the number of American soldiers has dropped steadily from 22,000 in 1996 to 3,000 today, Bosnia would probably have caused the U.S. to withdraw completely from the peace process had it rejected the agreement, a consequence with significant ramifications for a still-divided country whose war wounds are relatively fresh. On the other hand, Bosnia has probably antagonized the European Union with its action. The E.U. made a one-year exemption from the International Court’s jurisdiction for American citizens participating in peace missions, an exemption which is to expire soon. However, Bosnian authorities hope that Europe will understand its delicate position and ignore the signing. […]

Treat Ours As We Treat Americans

        At the same time as the U.S. pressured the Bosnian government to sign the agreement regarding the International Court, it has also carried out a strong campaign to arrest the remaining indicted war criminals who so far have escaped the ICTY. The Hague Tribunal issued approximately 50 indictments against Bosnian citizens. Almost half of them remain at large, among them the two most wanted war criminals, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Karadzic, the war-time head of the breakaway Serb Republic, is hiding somewhere in Bosnia, while General Mladic, the commander of the Serbian army during the war, is suspected to be living in Serbia. It seems Mladic could soon become a Hague inmate, since Serbian authorities have recently promised Prosecutor del Ponte that he would be arrested and extradited. If this happens, it would mean so far the biggest victory for international justice, as well as a big gain for Serbia in dealing with its past.

        The authorities in the Serb Republic are now a bigger problem than those in Serbia itself. They lack the will and courage to find and catch all Hague fugitives remaining in its territory. Although the Serb Republic is now under fierce pressure from the international community, they can now use the excuse that if the Americans do not have to go, neither do our people. Even in the Federation B-H, which has a good record of cooperation with Hague, there are some newspapers asking whether it is justifiable to extradite Bosnian citizens but refuse to extradite Americans. Such opinions show just how much some local politicians, the public, and media confuse the matter of war crimes and political issues. However, this time they are joined in their confusion by the teacher of international justice, the U.S.A.

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by Goran Vezic

        On Sunday, May 11, Croats honored two tragic parts of their modern history: in Bleiburg, Austria, near the Slovenian border, and in Jasenovac, on the eastern part of Croatia near the border with Bosnia. There were two commemorations, one for victims of fascism and one for victims of anti-fascist fighters.

        Croatian president Stipe Mesic went to Jasenovac, while the vice presidents of the Croatian government and parliament, Ante Simonic and Ivica Kostovic, represented official Croatia in Bleiburg, Austria, a place that symbolizes the suffering of the quisling Croatian army — the Ustashe — and civilians who followed it in May 1945, after Germany’s surrender, as they retreated before Tito's army.

        Allies turned them over to Tito's partisans who exacted their revenge. The Ustashe emigration has been claiming for years that partisans killed up to 350,000 people, while the prominent demographer Dr. Vladimir Zerjavic states that the so-called Cross Road of about 45,000 to 55,000 Croat and Muslim supporters of the Ustashe régime were murdered. Zerjavic also claims that during WW II, the Ustashe killed 83,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma, and Croatian anti-fascists at the Jasenovac concentration camp, although the number of killed has been augmented in various propaganda claims over the decades, climbing to 700,000.

        Both war crimes are still a source of frustration for the Croatian public. Until Croatian independence and the coming of nationalist Franjo Tudjman to power in 1990, there was no mention of Bleiburg in public conversations or schoolbooks, with the same silence reserved for Jasenovac during Tudjman's rule. Like Franco, Tudjman had a morbid idea to bury both victims and their executioners in Jasenovac in the name of so-called Croatian reconciliation.

        The current government headed by Prime Minister Ivica Racan, current leader of the Social Democrat party and the last leader of the Croatian communist party, decided to pay a visit to both locations. His government will build a monument in Bleiburg, and renovate the current monument and memorial park at Jasenovac. Racan’s opponents say that Tudjman mixed bones while Racan mixes monuments. [. . .]
Croatia is still uncertain about its historical heritage. Already in 1990, Tudjman said that the ustashe Independent State of Croatia was a reflection of the centuries-old will of the Croatian people to have their own state. The echo of those words is felt even today at some mass gatherings where some people lift their hands in a fascist salute, and some individuals, like the world-famous skier Ivica Kostelic and his father Ante, glorify Nazism in public.

        It is useless to make peace between two such opposed things. “Peace will come only with the death of all WW II combatants,” said Ivan Fumic, president of the Croatian Alliance of Anti-Fascist Fighters. “Let them remember what has been done in Jasenovac,” he said of people who came to honor Bleiburg victims.

        “We would also like to go to Jasenovac, to say our truth. Some of the people who were sent to Jasenovac wanted to topple the Croatian state,” says Ustashe member Kaja Perekovic, president of the Society of Political Prisoners. He did not comment on the fact that it was the modern Croatian state which in October of 1999 sentenced Dinko Sakic, former commander of the Jasenovac concentration camp, to 20 years in prison because of war crimes.

        Austrian authorities announced to Sakic's colleagues that they would not tolerate Ustashe uniforms in Bleiburg. They can still be worn in Croatia — a law prohibiting public display of fascist countries, symbols and insignia is not yet passed.

        “Don't make me kiss the Ustashe because I have seen many people knifed by them. But if it is necessary, I will offer them my hand so that we can work together for a democratic Croatia,” said anti-fascist fighter and writer Joza Horvat.

        Democratic Croatia has finally offered its hand to anti-fascists. Just as it had been organizing transportation from Zagreb to Bleiburg, this year it also organized transport to Jasenovac, headed by Croatian President Stipe Mesic. His presence was significant, since neither communist Yugoslavia’s president Josip Broz Tito, nor the first president of independent Croatia, Franjo Tudjman, ever appeared at a ceremony in Jasenovac. Each of them had his own reasons to fear political implications of their visit to a painful spot. President Mesic does not calculate in such a way; he openly tries to show a clear face of the country both to the world and Croatia itself.

        Mesic said in Jasenovac that today's Croatia has no ties with the WW II state, which unfortunately had a Croatian name. “I must say that here, in Jasenovac, but not only here and not only then, people were killed in the name of Croatian state,” said Mesic at the ceremony for the victims of Jasenovac concentration camp. He continued, “The idea of one’s own state is a great idea. However, there is no idea that can justify the politics of murdering innocent people. It simply cannot be allowed,” expressing his personal “deep sorrow for innocent victims which were killed by those who misused the idea of Croatian state as fig leaf for their own murders and crime. We know what was happening and we don't close our eyes before the truth, we are ready to face the facts. Croatian people are not and cannot be held hostage for those who threw a shadow over its name with their crimes. If we allow criminals to escape into anonymity, heritage of crime will pass on to whole nation. It cannot be allowed to happen.” President Mesic clearly indicated that there can be no rehabilitation for Ustashe and fascist regimes.

        Mesic said that Croatia wanted to enter into united Europe where members of national minorities are connecting bridges. “Nobody will prevent it, least of all the people who today, after they have been changing history for a decade with ‘fire and sword,’ are now hypocritically standing up against historical revision. It is the fact that thousands of monuments to anti-fascist fighters and fascist victims have been destroyed in Croatia. It is the fact that our children still learn from schoolbooks that will not teach them the truth about WW II,” said Mesic, adding that it needs to end and that “things should be once forever placed where they belong.”

        After this speech, the daily newspaper Jutarnji List published a poll about citizens' attitude towards President Mesic. Sixty percent of them think that he is a good president. An encouraging attitude for Croatia.

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3. Special Addition: Belarus
“Toward a Future Democratic Victory”
The Mobilization Campaign and Civil Society

[The following is the summary and conclusions of a report on the situation in Belarus issued April 22, 2003 by the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe. The full report may be found at IDEE Country Report Belarus. --- Editor.]

Introduction and Summary

At the request of the Civil Society Center–Supolnasc, Eric Chenoweth, co-director of the Institute for Democracy in Eastern Europe (IDEE) in Washington, D.C., and Miljenko Dereta, executive director of Civic Initiatives in Belgrade, traveled to Belarus from July 1–7, 2002 with the following purposes: (1) to help evaluate the Mobilization Campaign as well as other civic initiatives that were organized during the September 2001 presidential elections; (2) to assess the current situation; and (3) to offer assistance in designing future strategy using the support of IDEE’S Centers for Pluralism Network.

The delegation met with representatives of a wide variety of NGOs, independent media, and opposition political parties in Minsk, Grodno, Barysau, and Zodzina. In all, they had twenty-two meetings, involving more than fifty-five people from around thirty different national and local organizations, independent media, and political parties (see Appendix 1 for a List of Meetings).

The delegation focused its attention mostly on the civic sector, but it also met with representatives from the independent media and democratic political opposition. In addition to meeting with fourteen national organizations in Minsk, the delegation traveled to Horadnia (Grodno), Barysau, and Zodzina to meet with representatives of seventeen regional and local NGOs, party structures, and newspapers. While the one-week program did not provide enough time for a comprehensive trip to all regions, Mr. Dereta and Mr. Chenoweth were satisfied that the trip that was organized provided a thorough overview of the political situation in Belarus, the circumstances surrounding the presidential elections, the performance and capacities of the NGO sector and political opposition, and, finally, the challenges facing the civic and political opposition in the period ahead. The following is a report of the trip and our conclusions.


Belarus, located between Russia’s western border and Poland, is one of Europe’s last dictatorships. Power is centralized in the hands of a single ruler, Alexander Lukashenka, who has gained total power over the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The state’s security forces are freely used to repress opposition activities. Information is controlled, with independent media allowed only on the margins. Internet use is widely monitored. The economy is equally controlled by Lukashenka supporters or himself directly. The only serious threat to Lukashenka’s power is Russia, to which Belarus is tied in a Union State. This entity was first proposed by Lukashenka in 1996 as a means for expanding his power, but while Belarus is formally an equal member in the Union, in fact Russia dominates, especially through its energy conglomerates. Recently, Vladimir Putin proposed — demanded, in fact —incorporation of Belarus as a virtual republic of the Russian Federation. Lukashenka opposes this idea since it destroys any lingering ambitions of becoming head of the Union State. For now, the two states continue to negotiate further incorporation through a common currency, the Russian ruble.
Belarus’s opposition to Lukashenka, while generally pro-democratic, is divided. The Belarus Popular Front, led by Vincuk Viacorka, is the strongest opposition party. Begun in 1988, it was the most important force behind achievement of Belarusan independence. Its platform, reaffirmed at a party congress in December 2002, is based on Western liberal values and strongly supports Belarus’s membership in NATO and EU. The United Civic Party, led by a prominent former deputy of Lukashenka, also promotes liberalism, but is strongly oriented toward Russia. Several parties call themselves social democratic. Two, the Social Democratic Party of Alaksiaj Karol, aligned with BPF, and the Women’s Party, led by Valancina Palevikova, merged in July but could not gain registration. The two initiated unity talks with the Social Democratic Party–Hramada led by Stanislav Shushkievic, which is already registered and can serve as an umbrella for the merged organizations. The united party platform identifies strongly with European social democracy. A fourth party, the Belarus Social Democratic Party–National Hramada, is led by Mikalaj Statkievic. This party is based more on the remnants of the old nomenklatura than the merged grouping. Other parties in the so-called “united opposition” include the Belarus Communist Party, the Liberal Democrat Party (based on Zhirinovsky’s party in Russia), and several other Soviet-era and Russian offshoots; none have any real base in Belarusan society.

There are two main axes of division within the opposition, one between new anti-communist parties and the older nomenklatura-led forces and the second between more pro-independence and pro-Western and more pro-Russian (or accomodationist) orientations. Western embassies and the OSCE have generally attempted to create a “united” opposition that includes all parties so as not to engender open opposition from Russia, but such efforts, especially in the lead-up to the September 2001 presidential elections, failed. They appear only to have impeded the creation of  a more effective common opposition joining together natural coalition partners.

Belarusan civil society is developing only slowly and in the face of many obstacles. In the last five years, however, there has been a large increase in the number of NGOs. The Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs of Belarus began with fewer than 100 members in 1998; in the summer of 2000, it had nearly 500; and its 4th Congress in November 2002 raised the number to 650. The core of civil society lies in the independence movement based in Minsk and major western cities like Horadnia, but it has expanded also to become a stronger force in Belarus’s eastern regions.

The presidential elections from September 2 to 9, 2001 were held in a completely anti-democratic framework. Since a 1996 constitutional referendum was adopted and Lukashenka supplanted a democratically elected parliament supplanted, Lukashenka has since directed passage of a whole regime of authoritarian laws and decrees that prevent any possibility for free and democratic elections. In October 2000, a large part of the opposition boycotted parliamentary elections since there was no possibility for fair competition. In expectation of the 2001 presidential election, however, the opposition decided to change tactics and to field a single candidate to compete against Lukashenka. Also, the Assembly of Pro-Democratic NGOs of Belarus, at its 3rd Congress in December 2001, decided to organize an independent and non-partisan Mobilization Campaign and Independent Observation Campaign for the elections.
However, the opposition parties did not easily agree on a unified candidate. After a complicated and seemingly contradictory process of selection, which many people perceived as the result — at least in part — of interference of foreign embassies, a former nomenklatura candidate, Uladzimir Hancharyk, was selected just three weeks before the elections. The selection of a septegenarian chairman of the official trade union confederation dampened the enthusiasm of many democratic activists for both the political and non-partisan civic campaigns. Regardless of the quality, the selection process left little time for an effective campaign.

Of course, the conditions were already stacked against any opposition candidate. The government established a seven-day voting period and, together with its control over all election commissions and limitation on independent monitoring, allowed the regime a free hand for manipulation and fraud. Election officials thus claimed an overwhelming 76 to16 percent victory for Lukashenka. Independent polls and observation of monitors and activists, however, indicates that the single opposition candidate obtained as high as 40 percent of the vote. At the very least, Hancharyk’s actual vote should have forced a second round of elections.

As for the Mobilization and Observation Campaigns, these succeeded in activating civil society, increasing turnout to an estimated 84 percent, and fielding thousands of monitors at a large percentage of voting precincts (despite the regime’s ban on 4,000 monitors registered under the human rights organization Viasna). Indeed, the disappointing political result as well as the disunity of political parties was contrasted by the unity and effectiveness of the civic movement, which, for the first time, carried out a national campaign that reached a large part of society with pro-democratic and anti-authoritarian messages.

The period since the elections, however, has been marked by heightened repression in retaliation for the opposition and civic election campaigns. There has also been an understandable decrease in civic activities compared to the summer 2001 campaign. There has also been disillusionment on the part of NGO activists over the disappointing choice of a former nomenklatura chief as the single candidate and the overall disunity of the opposition leading up to this choice. The MK and Observation Campaigns nevertheless showed a new capacity for civic organization, a capacity that has been reflected in different public initiatives since the presidential elections (the Kurapaty campaign, the defense of the sentenced editors of the Pahonia and Rabochy newspapers, the citizens’ commission on conscience opposing the new repressive law on religion, active participation in 2003's spring municipal elections, and many local initiatives).

Strikingly, most donors and Western representatives have had a different and less positive evaluation of the results of the elections. Their measurement of success seems to have been an unrealistic expectation that the united opposition candidate should win the elections if only because they felt there could not be a break in the last five years’ string of democratic successes against authoritarian leaders (Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia). There were active efforts to try to superimpose important elements of the Serbian success, especially in replicating the youth movement Otpor (Resistance), on the Belarus campaign. Western actors, however lost sight of the specificities that made up each civic and democratic struggle. In fact, conditions in Belarus were totally different — due to geography, history, social and civic development, lack of opposition unity, and, most important, the role of  “big brother,” a factor no longer present in most of Eastern Europe. When Lukashenka did not lose in these elections, the Belarusan campaign was seen as a failure. One of the results of this judgement, based only on unrealistic expectations, has been a sharp decrease in Western support for Belarusan civil society, independent media, and democratic development since the elections. Much of remaining funding is being redirected away from important parts of the democratic movement in the belief that a new strategy is needed but without any clear partners.


The IDEE delegation traveled to Belarus to meet with a broad range of actors in the civic and political movement to evaluate first-hand the citizen mobilization efforts undertaken in the 2001 presidential elections; to assess the current situation; and to discuss means for assisting the Belarusan civic movement. These are our conclusions:

• Despite the disastrous outcome of the September 2001 presidential election in Belarus — and the ongoing disunity of opposition forces — the country’s civic movement united to successfully activate a significant part of society, inspire new civic initiatives, and convince people to make their voices heard in the elections. The Mobilization Campaign for the presidential elections established a new generation of support for democratic values and reinforced the commitment of the democratic movement to using peaceful, democratic means to end the Lukashenka dictatorship.

 •The campaign helped NGOs overcome their insularity and to become more outward looking in their activities in the community — a necessary approach for any future democratic success. Although many activists and voters knew by the time of the election — or sooner — that there was very little chance of success, the Mobilization and Observation Campaigns showed great maturity in continuing the campaign based on its long-range goals of using the elections as a building block for future civic electoral efforts. Most participants in the campaign seemed to understand and accept it as an important investment in human resources for the future.

 •Although international support helped to achieve much of these civic gains, the international community has been short-sighted in withdrawing funding of the democratic movement for the post-election period. There was an unrealistic belief that Belarus should follow in the footsteps of Serbia and other democratic successes. An artificially specified time for democratic victory seems to have been more important in measuring success than in achieving an actual victory. The international community’s response reflects a misjudgement as to how democratic change is achieved in authoritarian conditions as well as a mistaken evaluation of the results of the civic campaign, which in our estimate achieved concrete gains in the building of civil society and the increasing of social consciousness in support of democratic values.

 •The direct interference of Western embassies and the OSCE in the political and civic campaigns was counterproductive and misguided. There were threats made that there would be a withdrawal of all support to civic and political campaigns if the real opposition went forward with its choice for a single candidate. This open blackmail resulted in the late selection of a weak nomenklatura candidate, Uladzimirz Hancharyk, whose former official union federation had no base of support.

 •The international community should continue to provide support for building a social and civil base for a pro-democratic movement. Lessened international support together with heightened repression by the Lukashenka regime threatens the gains made in the Vybiray and Independent Monitoring Campaigns and any momentum for the next round of elections. Continued full support will heighten the possibility of future success, in the same way as the increased international investment in Serbia following the 1996-97 Protest Movement helped to fuel a new civic movement that formed the foundation of Milosevic’s overthrow in 2000.

 •Independent media and information distribution is in serious crisis as a result of reduced Western support and increased regime repression. Western funders are abandoning independent print media and Radio Racja has already been forced to close. These decisions, and a new approach to support music stations having no information content, are shortsighted and ignore the lessons of how important independent media is in achieving any democratic success. A concerted independent information campaign is needed for Belarus to overcome the obstacles placed by the regime.

 •While there is a strong natural link between the civic movement and some political parties, their closeness  can become harmful to both, especially in maintaining organizational integrity and reducing the outreach capability of both sectors. The BPF, it should be noted, was the most important political supporter of civil society and many of its members are leaders and activists of leading civic organizations. There is nothing to be criticized in this and everything to be applauded that a political party understood the importance of building civil society. Nevertheless, it is essential for civil society to be independent and free of even the appearance of political control in order for it to make a maximum contribution toward social mobilization and democratic change. Political parties reduce their own effectiveness if they begin to use civic allies for their own ends (a phenomenon seen often in Serbia and elsewhere). Thus, efforts at maintaining a clear distinction between party and civic structures are encouraged.

 •The Lukashenka regime should continue to be politically and diplomatically isolated. Legitimacy should not be a reward for longevity. At the same time, Europe and the U.S. must continue to engage with Belarusan society and offer opportunities for study and exchanges that will benefit Belarus’s democratic transition. The delegation encourages the Centers for Pluralism Network to engage fully with its partner, Civil Society Center–Supolnasc and to support its national efforts at building a civic movement.

 •The Belarus movement is now walking forward toward Europe rather than looking backward at Russia. The question is whether the West, as seems to be indicated by many embassies and institutions, has changed its policy and now looks toward Russia as the hope for Belarusan democracy. Such a view is wrongheaded. In the current situation, Belarus democrats should be encouraged in their pro-Western orientation; Belarusan civil society should be engaged not only by Western donors but also by international and Western organizations and by counterpart NGOs and civic organizations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that have struggled successfully or are continuing their struggle for democracy. IDEE and Civic Initiatives are together committing themselves to try to provide just such support to their Belarusan colleagues.

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