1. Ukraine: CAN KUCHMA LOSE?
2. Estonia : LOCAL ELECTIONS : A U-TURN
3. Bulgaria: GOODBYE TO NUCLEAR PLANT
4.FRY/Serbia: FEAR OF CHANGES STILL STRONG
Ukraine: Can Kuchma Lose?
By Ivan Lozowy
As presidential election day draws near ( October 31 ), the battle lines have been drawn and the campaign is in full swing. Yet, among the outdoor stands displaying political wares, the media blitzes and whirlwind regional campaign tours, a surprising number of people, anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, are still asking themselves, "Who should I vote for?"
.Indecision has become a hallmark of newly independent Ukraine. Straddling the divide between a Central Europe speeding toward Western Europe and a Eurasia embroiled in regional wars and facing the specter of resurgent communism, Ukraine has stagnated. Add to this unprecedented disarray across the political spectrum and the presidential race becomes an explosive cocktail, with all bets off.
To begin with, the incumbent, Leonid Kuchma, is highly unpopular. Kuchma-s presidency was marked by a grand total of one policy initiatives: at the beginning of his term Kuchma announced a "war on corruption." Since new standards of thievery by government officials were set during Kuchma-s administration - it is enough to recall one of Kuchma-s Prime Ministers, Pavlo Lazarenko (infamous in Beverly Hills ) - Ukrainians can be forgiven for viewing Kuchma-s presidency as a complete failure. As the newspaper "Polityka" portrayed him, President Kuchma says "Give me another term, one term is not long enough to bring such a large country to its knees."
True, there are those who feel that Kuchma, who has marshalled the force of the national and local government powers, will eventually prevail. After all, Ukraine remains a heavily "state-ized" country and the levers of power are almost all exclusively governmental, in the economy and the media in particular.
There are indications, however, that the scenario played out in 1994 is repeating itself. In 1994, then incumbent president Leonid Kravchuk was counting on the government monolith to carry him to a second term. At first, Kravchuk came out ahead of the pack in the first round of Ukraine-s two-tier system. But Kuchma, who came in second in the first round, reversed places with Kravchuk in the run- off to take the title of president. Kravchuk-s government representatives not only failed him, they betrayed him by actively supporting Kuchma.
The reasons for this switch lies in the very structure of Ukrainian society. Very little trickles down to Ukraine-s regions. By 1994 the local governments had received nothing but the brunt of economic decline, whereas Krachuk had been, in their view, lording over them in comfort. The specific reasons for resentment are not important, they may range from unfulfilled economic promises to dashed hopes of closer integration with Russia. The important thing is that the very structures which the president relied on, powerful almost beyond measure in once sense, had betrayed their master.
Today a similar process is taking place and the president-s local representatives are abandoning him. Take the case of a central district, or raion, in the center of the capitol Kyiv. One month before elections, the Starokyiv raion administration had reserved the three, key positions of chairman, deputy chairman and secretary in each of the city-s twelve territorial election commissions for Kuchma and his adherents, which amount to former Minister of Foreign Affairs Hennady Udovenko and self-professed millionaire Oleksandr Rzhavsky. Yet, on the proposal of the representatives of candidates Kostenko, Marchuk, Moroz and Symonenko, about 95 percent of these posts were changed. That Kuchma-s representatives in the center of the capitol are not afraid of reprisals from Kuchma and his team after election day says a lot about Kuchma-s level of authority among even his own representatives.
In such a context, the door should be open to a leftist candidate who, capitalizing on the country-s decline, would take over. Yet the communists and their allies have proved to be so disunited as to make Kuchma-s comeback a real possibility. No fewer than four pretenders, each with their own strengths, are vying for the role of standard bearer of the left. The orthodox leader of the Communist Party, Petro Symonenko, is not highly regarded , to put it mildly. But he has the party faithful behind him, though it is common knowledge that Kuchma would dearly like to face Symonenko in a run-off, which would presumably repeat the Yeltsin-Zyuganov showdown in Russia-s last presidential elections.
The Socialist Party Chairman, Oleksandr Moroz, had gained 13% in the presidential elections back in 1994, after which he served as Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, or parliament, for four years. With excellent name recognition and a public image he has worked on assiduously, Moroz is probably Kuchma-s most feared opponent. Moroz- campaign slogans are, therefore, appropriately, "The only candidate capable of beating Kuchma" and "Serious and for good." Then there is the wildcard, Natalia Vitrenko, without money, without an organization, but with a "mouth that roars." An apparent assassination attempt on Vitrenko through the medium of two grenades hurled at her in the midst of throng on October 2 have provided her with added popularity and an ironic "blessing" along the lines of "She is the one that most discomfits the power-that-be."
Trailing the pack is Oleksandr Tkachenko, supremo of the village collective farm nomenklatura. His campaign has been spotty and his bumbling utterances plentiful. An interesting turn is provided by former KGB chief Yevhen Marchuk, who, despite his solid socialist credentials, moved to the far right and has been able to grab a large share of the voters there.
The right is also disunited. The main contenders are the two leaders of the split Rukh party, Yuriy Kostenko and Hennady Udovenko. Kostenko has run a solid campaign and will doubtless show that his faction is significantly stronger than Udovenko-s. The remaining center-right candidates, such as former Minister of Justice Vasyl Onopenko, if they do not withdraw their candidacies, should amount to no more than half a percentage point each.
In all likelihood the 1994 scenario may well repeat itself. In the first round, particularly given the disarray on both the right and the left, Kuchma should do relatively well despite his bad image. The surprises will be Vitrenko and Kostenko, with the former possibly entering the second round run-off. In the second round, particularly as the most likely other challenger to enter the run-off, Oleksandr Moroz, Kuchma will probably lose. And that is not something that many Ukrainians will regret.
Estonia: Local Elections: A U-Turn
By Valeri Kalabugin
On October 17, Estonia held its third local government elections since the restoration of independence in 1991. Representatives to 247 local government councils were elected for the next three years. The winner is a coalition of centre-right parties, who also hold the central government office since the March parliamentary elections.
For the 3355 seats in local councils, the total of 12801 candidates were running, 35,6% of them women. The voter's turnout was 49,40%, a bit lower than 52,5% in the last local elections in 1996.
The most dramatic contest was between the three main rivaling forces: the parties of democratic orientation, post-Communists, and Russians colonists. This picture has remained unchanged since the "singing revolution".
Those was centre-right parties who then demanded independence, market economy and the rule of law, and are now behind the Estonia's efforts to join EU and NATO. Lately they fulfilled their promises to exempt large and medium business from income tax and to abolish shifting to daylight savings time each summer. They are represented by the so-called "triple alliance" of Pro Patria Union, Moderate Party (lately united with People's Party) and Reform Party.
Leftists, who once resisted the restoration of independence, struggling to preserve the Supreme Soviet instead of the Parliament and to retain Estonia as a Russia's satellite, are represented, above all, by Centre Party and Coalition Party. They are stuck to post-socialist values like egalitarianism, paternalism of the State, governmental programmes and high progressive taxes. They flirt with pro-Russian forces and look at the West with distrust.
The picture would be incomplete without representatives of the Russian speaking electorate, as over a third of Estonia's population are now colonists of different ethnic origin resettled by Moscow during the occupation. Legally, many of them are foreign residents. The process of their naturalisation is going on. More and more Russian-speakers acquire Estonian citizenship and form parties of their own - Estonian United People's Party, Social Democratic Labour Party, Russian Party in Estonia, Russian Unitary Party - who furiously quarrel with each other and seek allies among Estonian post-communists.
Russian-speaking voters are still more important in the local government elections. Unlike most of countries of the world, Estonia permits all legal residents over 18 years old, regardless of citizenship, to vote in the locals. This is a part of Estonia's policy of integration of colonists. This time, 18,64 per cent out of 1,05 million voters were foreign citizens.
The elections gave the results similar to the general elections in March: the same shift from the left to the right centre. After 7 months of the centre-right coalition in the central government, voters haven't been disappointed. In most smaller towns and counties, the triple alliance came with a landslide. The best performing was Pro Patria Union (led by Prime Minister Mart Laar) who won one-third to two-thirds of mandates on average. Together with its allies, the coalition gained a firm upper hand in municipalities.
In the capital Tallinn, a high share of Russian-speakers (28%) complicated the results. The major winner here was the Centre Party, winning with 21 seats out of the total 64. The Centre Party's bad record of wiretapping scandals (called the Estonian Watergate), illegal privatisation and peculation by its leading figures, as well as their conjectural ties with the criminal world, have not reduced its popularity among colonists. The Centre Party's image of the least "nationalistic" party, as well as the authoritarian manners of its leader Edgar Savisaar, both tend to produce strong impression on Russians: no other Estonian party has been praised as much in local Russian newspapers.
Necessity is the mother of strange bed-fellows
To form a majority in the Tallinn council, Pro Patria Union (14 seats), Reform Party (10) and the Moderates (4) had to seek coalition with the Russian electoral union (10 seats). This marriage, forced as it is, turned quite abnormal as, among other candidates, Russian-speakers elected a grotesque figure from the distant past. Stalinist-minded Yevgeni Kogan led the anti-Estonian "Internationalist Front" in 1989 and supported the 1991 putsch. At the USSR Congress of Representatives he fiercely defended the old regime and protested against "cessation" of the Baltic states. Gorbachev considered him possessed by an evil spirit. Estonian mothers frightened children with his name. After having spent some years in Moscow as the head of a "committee for defence of political prisoners" (that is, putschists), he returned to Estonia and was elected to the Tallinn city council by Russian voters.
This story demonstrates fallacy of the idea to integrate foreign colonists by hastily giving them citizenship, instead of first having them learnt the language and history of and adjusted themselves to the cultural environment of the country. This idea - thrust upon the Baltic states by OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel - proves to be as lunatic as are Kogan's or, say, Milosevic's voters. The slow but steady process of integration is underway anyhow, without the need of careless steps.
The deputies of the Russian electoral union persuaded Kogan to write a resignation letter and thereafter concluded a coalition with the "triple alliance". They are thus to enter the capital city's local government. The next round of "integration" will start half a year later, as Kogan resigned temporarily for six months only. Max van der Stoel can be satisfied: somewhat later Stalinist-minded Kogan will be in office. How about denazification versus decommunisation? On this issue, the West keeps mum.
Meanwhile, Estonian voters distance themselves from the communist past.
An absolute loser in these elections was the Coalition Party. One of the major forces in the Estonian politics, the Coalition Party (established 1991) is a mixed society of "specialists" (mild post-communists). Since the 1995 elections it dominated Estonia's politics and thus was responsible for most of corruption scandals of that period. Under this weight it sunk. This March it lost the government office. Now it has only two seats in Tallinn and none in the second largest city, Tartu. To stay four years out of all offices will be a coup de grace for the Coalition Party. With its last breath, another chapter in the Estonian history will be over. The Centre Party, with its one-third of seats in the Tallinn council, will stay in opposition. The present mayor, Edgar Savisaar, will be replaced by Juri Mois. Former board chairman of the Hansa Bank, J. Mois is one of the 11 ministers and MPs of the Pro Patria Union who ran also in the local elections. Some of them must either leave the parliament or hold office simultaneously in the parliament and in local councils, which is possible under the Estonian constitution.
Bulgaria: Goodbye to Nuclear Plant
By Peter Karaboev
On 13 October European Commission proposed to EU leaders Bulgaria to be invited for membership negotiations starting from next year. But there are two conditions:
* First, in the interests of nuclear safety, negotiations with Bulgaria should not begin until the Bulgarian authorities have set an acceptable closure date for the four unsafe units at their Kozloduy power station.
* Second, before negotiations with Bulgaria can begin, the Bulgarian government must have clearly made significant progress in implementing economic reforms.
While the second condition is vague enough and concerns updating of statistics economic reports, the first one sounds as a nuclear ultimatum. It looks like the time to react is up till EU Helsinki Summit in mid-December. But in fact it is even shorter - clear results must be ready for 4 November EU Councel of Ministers. At this point EU leaders will decide to accept or reject European Commission proposal.
It was well known in Bulgaria that EU has for years serious reservations about safety in Kozloduy NP. Few days before European Commission report was made public Prime minister Ivan Kostov said that Kozloduy NP will be an obstacle not for starting negotiations with EU but for the afterward process of negotiating. He didn't say it openly but everyone understood that this will be a tough sell both for the EU authorities and for Bulgarian public.
More than 40 % of Bulgarian electricity are prodiced in Kozloduy.
In fact Government was ready with at least three optoins concerning EU conditions on Kozloduy NP. The best offer which is still not made official in public is to close reactors 1 and 2 in 2001-2002, but it is unclear what means "acceptable" for Brusseles.
First, lets read some history about Kozloduy NP. First reactor VVER 440/230 was started on 7 April 1974 and in the next dozen years three more of the very same type operated from the plant, based on Danube banks. Since November 1987 another more powerful model VVER 1000/320 operates there. At the moment there are 6 reactors in Kozloduy ? four VVER 440/230 and two VVER 1000/320. It is very important to notice that these are not Chrenobil type reactors like the ones in Lituania's "Ignalina" NP. The main construction difference between them is that VVER are water cooled ? and that's why are considered to be more safe - while Chrenobil's RBMK reactors are graphite cooled. The last means that it's not fair to compare Lituania's and Bulgaria's decomisioning programs.
Is it enough 25 years exploatation for first VVER 440/230 at Kozloduy? The answer depends on many aspects - from technical parametres to safety measures to political decisions. According to the chief Director of Bulgarian National Energy Commitee (NEC) Danail Tafrov reactors 1 and 2 can safely operate up to year 2010-2011 and the rest VVER 440/230 - up till 2015-2016. But the State Energy Strategy, allready voted by the Parliament in Sofia, envisions closing reactors 1 and 2 in year 2004 , and reactors 3 and 4 in year 2010, which is a clear compomise and a bow towards EU's concerns. But this is not enough for Brusseles.
The other Bulgaria's argument is that EU is taking decisions based on old data while reactor's safety was well improved in recent years. Dozens of millions of dolars were spend on various programs in Kozloduy and only in 1998 33% of NEC year investments were located in Bulgaria's only nuclear plant.
But EU still points at its unfulfiled bilateral agreement with Bulgaria from 1993, where Sofia promised to close first reactors in 1998. Government explains that this agreement is based on the data from early 1990-es when the safety situation was different. To have a very recent review on Kozloduy condition last week Brusseles sent 10-member expert commission from WENRA - the only EU institution authorised to make nuclear plant safety cheks. The same commission, established by EU only last year, was in Bulgaria in March and was critical for safety level in Kozloduy, but again its conclusions were based on 4 years old data. The 30 pages with questions were sent in October in advance to Sofia and the answers must be only "yes" or "no" without place for extensive technical expert explanations.This time WENRA commission came from Slovakia, visited Kozloduy NP and left Bulgaria with optimistic conclusions which will be made oficial at EU meeting on 4 November.
Georgy Kaschiev - Director of Bulgarian Peaceful nuclear energy commitee, said these days that there is no grond for EU concerns because reactors with construction from 1960-es are still operating in Western Europe, including in France and United Kingdom. Newseek magazine reported in its 18 October issue that 8 reactors in Sellafield NP in England are still operating. Sellafield is home of first in the world commercial nuclear reactor opened in 1956 with aim to produce electricity for next 25 years. The worst European nuclear incident - after the one in Chernobil - was recorded here about 30 years ago. In 1998-1999 here were recorded 27 incidents while in previous 1997 the number of incidents in the world as a whole was 32. Now Kaschiev is concerned that the West is against any expert discussion on safety of Kozloduy's first 4 reactors. In 1992 in Munich was taken a political decision that these reactors are unsafe and it's economicaly ureasonable to debate safety improvements. For years there is an impresion that nuclear regulating institutions in Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, are not supported by the governments, they don't have enough authority and its staff is limited and low paid. A secret 1995 report by USA Department of Energy points out that these institutions in Bulgaria are "years away" from achieving the level of acknowledged competence. Five years later in Bulgaria there is still no developed infrastructure of engenering organisations to propose adequate projects for safety improvement.
That's why WENRA mission was sent in Bulgaria and that's why the problem remains in the field of politics, not in the experts hands. Back in 1993 Bulgarian goverment, supported by former communists, signed un agreement with EU to close 4 reactors in Kozloduy by 1998 (the help was funny little - 24 mln ECU) but under three conditions:
- in meantime to have a National energy stategy on which closing schedule will be based;
- to reconstruct reactors 5 and 6 if there are enough funds for this;
- to start in paralel a new Termal Electrical Plant 'Chaira". Early in 1999 none of these conditions was fulfiled and the trading between Sofia and Brusseles started. National energy stategy was born only this summer and it envisions closing of first two reactors in 2004-2005, when imrovement of reactors 5-6 will be completed. The same strategy states that reactors 3-4 will be closed in 2008-2012 before their life actualy expires. Prime minister Kostov said this spring that closing of reactors 1 to 4 and imrovement of reactors 5-6 will need 0.7 to 1 billion USD investments in next 10 years. Money must come partly from Bulgaria, partly from European Investment Bank and European Bank for Development and Reconstruction. Bulgaria can't collect such huge sum in this short time because if reactors are disconected from electricity production idustry the energy prices will go so high, that people and economy wouldn't be in position to pay. The last means that there will be no money pouring in reconstructuon funds and there will be no alternative than to proceed with the exploatation of Kozloduy NP. For example - only for 1999 about 42 mln. DM are needed for Kozloduy programs.
So the three options, which Sofia is mulling now are:
- to disconnect first two reactors earlier - maybe in 2001-2002 but without actualy closing them. In terms of nuclear technology this means that no new nuclear fuel will be placed in them while the new schedule for closing will be negotiated;
- closing reactors 1-2 in 2001-2002 - which now is considered to be very probable to hapend - but after trading this step for substantial financial help from EU;
- leasing of debated reactors to some western company which will itself complete the process of their closing. The British company BNFL was mentioned as eventual part in this deal after its name appeared in the letter sent this month from British Prime minister Tony Blair to his Bulgarian coleague Kostov. BNFL team is expected in Sofia next week. The other companies interested in Bulgarian nuclear plant are Siemens, Framatom and Westinghouse. Some Bulgarian experts think that the recent pressure from EU is result of intensive lobying from Western energy companies EU to press Eastern Europe, mainly Bulgaria, Slovakia and Czech Republic - to open its energy market at least for some equipment deliveries.
The last, but not the least, the story is not over after reactors closing. They can't simply disappear from the sceene. According to Mr. Kaschiev numerous personal and tight security will be kept operating around them for years because stoped reactor is as dangerous object as an operating one. And this costs a lot of money. Then comes the problem with cleaning of the facilities, removing and storing of the spent fuel and nuclear waste. Some provisional estimates point that from four reactors there will be some 100 thousand cubic meters nuclear waste! This enormous mass of dangerous material will have to be buried safely during the long - eventually up to 50 years - and complicated process.
One more example from United Kingdom. Here the first decommission of nuclear reactor - the one in Dounreay, Scotland - started and the price for cleanup and shutdown is 740 mln. USD. Duration of this process - up to 100 years. And at the end some words about trade. There is opinion in Bulgaria that closing of Kozloduy reactors will hurt energy export. There is suspicion that Romania with some help from France, Canada and Italy, is trying to take over Bulgaria's place on the regional energy market especially on lucrative Turkish consumers. At the same time Brusseles argues that if Bulgaria is exporting electricity than closing of Kozloduy will not be a problem for the price on the national market. The last is very delicate question because Bulgarians still remember winter power cuts in 3 to 1 hour regime from late 1980-es and early 1990-es.
Government is speaking off the record about alternatives like new and modern nuclear reactors build again at Kozloduy NP. But this ambitious project needs money. Too much money. At the same time local media is sceptical on the prospects of EU help.
"Remember what happened after Chernobil? They promised Ukraine 9 billion ECU. Last year it was promise only for 1 billion. Tomorrow there may be only naked sympathy." a weekly "168 Hours" said this week. But few are telling the trugh that in a long term there is no future in nuclear energy. So what? Goodbye to Kozloduy?
FRY/Serbia: Fear of Changes Still Strong
By Zoran Mamula
Sociologist Nebojsa Popov has been participating in the political life of both former and present Yugoslavia and has a great insight into political scene of the country. As a member of "Praxis" movement, he was expelled from the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade in mid-70s, together with a group of the most prominent professors because they "poisoned young generation with their anti-socialist thoughts", as stated in the explanation of that decision. At the beginning of 1989 he founded Society for Yugoslav Democratic Initiative (UJDI) together with a group of well-known intellectuals from Zagreb, Ljubljana and Sarajevo.
Together with political parties from the Republic of Slovenia, the society was an embryo of the pluralistic system soon to emerge in ex-Yugoslavia. During the war he was engaged in anti-war movements and DEPOS official. At the time, DEPOS was the biggest opposition coalition in Serbia. He is an editor of the independent newspaper "Republika" (Republic). We talked with Mr. Popov about the current political situation - opposition demands for resignation of the Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and early election on all government levels.
Q: How would you judge everyday protests organized by the Alliance for Change demanding resignation of the current regime? Do they have enough power to pose a threat to Milosevic's regime? A: I think that there is a significant difference between present protests and first rallies held during the time when war in Kosovo was calming down. The latter were civil demonstrations in Krusevac, Leskovac and Cacak. During the demonstrations, something new emerged in Serbia - people in those cities joined them in order to defend their rights to live.
Let us remember, the motive was funerals of dead soldiers. Several issues emerged during burial ceremonies. Were the funerals private issue of their families or a national problem? Why did those men die and who had the right to decide about human lives? Did a citizen have a right to protect its life or did he/she give it to the state? First post-war protests were organized by anonymous Ivan Nikovcic, technician at the TV Leskovac and icon-writer Bogoljub Arsenijevich from Valjevo belong into that category. Novkovic and Arsenijevic have been arrested afterwards, the latter being brutally beaten up in police station. They symbolized rights of citizens to publicly express their opinions about the events in the country and the right to freely communicate with their neighbors about that issue.
The positive citizens' motivation was to first appear on those rallies - it was not only the issue of who was to be removed from the power but also on which basis to build new democratic regime - human rights in the most literal sense of that phrase. All that was lacking during the later opposition rallies, dominated by requests for removing one person and one regime, but what appeared as a positive energy at the first spontaneous protests was being delayed. More attention is now given to marketing of individual political parties. They have forgotten the fact that, besides outer layer, it is also very important what is inside the package, and that content is what interests citizens the most. Current protests evade those subjects but also ignore people who are exposed to terrible terror because they have organized citizens' demonstrations in the interior of the country. I have in mind Bogoljub Arsenijevic who is now in a critical condition, his life is endangered, and nobody talks about him at the present protests. They have much less to say, there is no positive motivation and, what is very important for a political action to succeed, they lack solidarity with those who are exposed to repression because of their publicly expressed opinion.
Q: How would you comment on a rather common opinion that small attendance at the rallies organized by Alliance for Change can be explained by the fact that not all opposition parties are involved in the Alliance, especially the strongest opposition party Serbian Reform Movement (SPO)?
A: I can completely understand those who think about the attendance and complain that there're not enough people at the rallies. However, I would like to remind you of one fact - an anonymous person Ivan Novkovic managed to gather, just by one appeal, 20,000 people in Leskovac, a town notorious for being a fortress of the ruling party. That means that he succeeded in discovering what was the basic citizens' interest and their wish, even their political will, to do something. And, what is also extremely important, when Novkovic and Arsenijevic were arrested, people didn't scatter as before but solidarily defended human rights, whether they were endangered themselves or somebody else was. More people took part in those demonstrations in Leskovac and Valjevo than in present protests in Belgrade which raises a question of what has changed since 1996 when 100,000 Belgrade citizens demonstrated daily because of local election theft. Neither politicians nor media want to talk about what happened - it was the crisis of trust in political parties. Citizens don't trust parties anymore nor do party leaders trust their parties' membership. In order to understand this situation, we must consider what happened after 1996. Why did Vuk Draskovic act like a supreme commander excluding any independence of its coalition partners, why such hurry to destroy the top of Together coalition and pressure directed towards members and officials not to cooperate with other parties in districts where opposition came to power and, finally, why was Draskovic in such a hurry to enter federal government and why was he so angry when he expelled from power? Reasons for the crisis of trust should not be looked for only in behavior of some party leaders.
Many people were "accepted" by the regime into certain spheres of federal, republic or local government. They participated in war plunder, which doesn't mean only loot from war zones but also progress in the government itself, even some really quick careers to the positions of ministers and above. Despite its rigidity, the regime has shown a capability of allowing even the fiercest opponents into some spheres of power so that the government itself could survive longer, thanks to the infusion from the ex-opponents who became the most loyal regime collaborators. All these issues are very important and without discussion about them and adequate answers, it is hard to expect much attendance at the opposition protests.
Q: A couple of days ago, opposition and current regime reached an agreement about prerequisites for the free and democratic elections. Would the opposition have needed to organize demonstrations if the government had declined demands for free elections? Would demands for fair elections, much likely to succeed than Milosevic's resignation, have brought more people to streets?
A: Regarding elections and changes in the society, the main issue is degree of clarity and force articulated by subjects wanting change. Opposition parties don't discuss what they really want even at the internal meetings, nor is there a communication between parties about how to bring changes. They constantly lament about the lack of unity. The best example of this confusion is the recent disagreement about whether or not to go to Luxembourg to the meeting with diplomacy chiefs of EU countries to talk about the project "Energy for Democracy". The reason for dispute lies in the fact that meeting organizers prepared document on Yugoslavia in advance which, of course, didn't necessarily mean it had to be accepted. Most party representatives solved the problem by not going to Luxembourg, but the key point is why the parties didn't agree on their own document which would be declared at the meeting with the European ministers. They didn't even try to do what is of utmost importance - to on the most urgent actions in the country and to put protection of human rights into the foundations of the next regime. That was already present at the first meetings I talked about. Instead of a concrete action, opposition leaders complain that the regime is showing its worst face to them, which is true, or that the world does not have enough sensibility for our troubles. Why would they have enough sensibility, international community can give or not give support to the concrete political will of a clearly articulated and politically strong action in Serbia, which is not present at the time. Maybe it will be, but there will be no strong element of change nor the adequate support if there is no cooperation agreement.
Q: After the war and NATO arrival to Kosovo, many political analysts said Milosevic's regime would come to an end soon. How much is Milosevic's authority endangered after the fourth defeat and how much opposition pressure at the street demonstrations adds to it?
A: It would only be logical for his position to be weaker than ever. He initiated and then lost four wars, economy is destroyed, the country is totally isolated by the international community, many people fled the country... There is another important reason here: since May 1999, the world has changed opinion about Milosevic - he was a guarantee of the Balkans, not just Yugoslav, stability before. Many relevant facts show that his position is weakened, but life is not always following rules of logic and rational thought. There are some facts on the edge of rationality which relate to fear of change. It is not only fear of regime, fear of arrest or beatings, but fear of changes. That fear existed throughout these 9 years.
Besides, Milosevic could never gather such a support at the beginning of his rule if the people weren't afraid of changes - not any changes, but those connected with democracy and market economy. Instead of pushing forward into development - plus democratic changes, we plunged into destruction - minus democratic changes. Were it not for that fear, the problem could be solved more easily, although some facts show that the regime decided to use all means necessary to stay in power. Many things are to regime's advantage - monopoly to main domination devices, from police and army to propaganda. And propaganda is not only TV and the press, but also the whole system of education, from the elementary schools to academies.
When we think about whether Milosevic is weaker now than a year ago, we must take into account all these facts which talk about his strength, but also show what he had lost. And he lost much, more than all before him. But those who fear changes are also important support for his power.