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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 219, 00-11-10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 219, 10 November 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT DENIES GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE IMMINENT
  • [02] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DISCUSSES SECURITY ISSUES IN IRAN
  • [03] ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS INVITES POPE TO VISIT
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PLANS PROTESTS
  • [05] AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA HOPE TO REACH AGREEMENT ON CASPIAN...
  • [06] ...AS U.S. CALLS FOR INCLUDING KAZAKHSTAN IN BAKU-CEYHAN PROJECT
  • [07] KARABAKH OFFICIAL DENIES PLANS TO RESETTLE KURDS ON OCCUPIED AZERBAIJANI TERRITORY
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT CRITICIZES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL, INTERIOR MINISTER...
  • [09] ...CANCELS ATTENDANCE AT OIC SUMMIT
  • [10] LIBYAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN
  • [11] KYRGYZ POLICE WARN PICKETERS
  • [12] TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN DISCUSS BORDER DELIMITATION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] COUNCIL OF EUROPE URGES YUGOSLAVIA TO STRIVE FOR MEMBERSHIP
  • [14] SERBIAN OFFICIALS AGREE TO INMATES' DEMANDS
  • [15] CROATIA BECOMES PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
  • [16] TUDJMAN WOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED BY WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL
  • [17] BOSNIAN-CROAT LEADER THREATENS TO BREAK UP FEDERATION
  • [18] SLOVENIA: READY FOR EU BY 2002
  • [19] ROMA MURDERED UPON RETURN TO KOSOVA
  • [20] ALBANIA WANTS TO ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH YUGOSLAVIA
  • [21] TIRANA'S MAYOR SURVIVES SNIPER ATTACK
  • [22] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON BOSNIANS TO VOTE AGAINST NATIONALISTS
  • [23] PARTIES DENY A COOPERATION PROTOCOL BETWEEN PDSR AND PNL
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SKEPTICAL ABOUT TRANSDNIESTER PROGRESS
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL REJECTS CALL TO INDICT COMMUNIST LEADER
  • [26] BULGARIAN PREMIER DEMANDS THAT EU SCRAP VISA REGIME

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] BOSNIAN VOTERS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT DENIES GOVERNMENT RESHUFFLE IMMINENT

    Addressing a cabinet session on 9 November, Robert Kocharian warned ministers responsible for mounting wage and pensions arrears that they could be fired if the situation does not improve by the end of this year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. But Kocharian said he has no reason to be dissatisfied with the performance of the "power" ministers, and he denied that any major cabinet reshuffle would take place in the immediate future. Also on 9 November, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian again pledged that all back wages and pensions will be paid within the next two months. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DISCUSSES SECURITY ISSUES IN IRAN

    Visiting Tehran on 7-8 November, Serzh Sarkisian met with Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamhani, Supreme National Security Council Secretary Hojjatoleslam Hassan Rowhani, and parliamentary speaker Mehdi Karroubi, IRNA reported. In talks with Khatami and Karroubi, the two sides agreed that the presence of foreign forces poses a threat to regional security. IRNA quoted Sarkisian as telling Rowhani that no comprehensive or useful initiatives aimed at either resolving regional conflicts or establishing a regional security system can succeed without Iranian input. Before his visit to Tehran, Sarkisian had met three times since May with the Iranian ambassador to Armenia. Meeting with Kharrazi, Sarkisian discussed bilateral ties and expediting construction of the planned gas pipeline to supply Iranian gas to Armenia. Armenia is still seeking investors to fund that project. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS INVITES POPE TO VISIT

    During a meeting in the Vatican on 9 November, Armenian Catholicos Garegin II extended an official invitation to Pope John Paul II to visit Armenia during next year's celebrations to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's official religion, Reuters and AP reported. The pontiff had been scheduled to travel to Armenia in 1999, but that visit was postponed due to the terminal illness of Catholicos Garegin I (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 17 June 1999). LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PLANS PROTESTS

    The leaders of five Azerbaijani opposition parties--Musavat, the Azerbaijan National Independence Party, the Liberal Party, the Democratic Party, and the conservative wing of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party-- adopted a statement in Baku on 9 November accusing the Azerbaijani authorities of usurping power by falsifying the outcome of the 5 November parliamentary poll, Turan reported. They called on other "democratic powers" not to cooperate with the new legislature and appealed to the international community not to recognize the poll outcome as valid. They also plan to appeal the results in the European Court. Democratic Party General Secretary Sardar Djalaloglu told journalists the same day that the opposition plans to launch mass demonstrations beginning on 18 November to call for the annulment of the ballot and new elections. Also on 9 November, the Central Electoral Commission ruled to invalidate the elections results in one rural constituency. It had already done so in a district in Baku and another in Sumgait. LF

    [05] AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA HOPE TO REACH AGREEMENT ON CASPIAN...

    Speaking in Baku on 9 November, Viktor Kalyuzhnyi, who is Russian presidential envoy for Caspian issues, said that Russia and Azerbaijan are narrowing their differences over the status of the Caspian Sea and now both advocate dividing the seabed into national sectors, Interfax reported. Unlike Russia and Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan had earlier proposed dividing both the seabed and the waters. Kalyuzhnyi and Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev expressed optimism that a bilateral agreement on dividing the seabed along the median line analogous to that signed between Moscow and Astana could be signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin's planned visit to Baku later this month. Kalyuzhnyi said such a bilateral agreement could pave the way for convening a summit of the five Caspian littoral states, for which he has been lobbying for months. At that summit, a formal agreement on dividing the sea would be finalized. The Russian envoy added that if Iran does not modify within 10 days its position advocating the division of the sea into equal sectors, he will propose another working meeting of littoral state representatives instead of the hoped-for summit. LF

    [06] ...AS U.S. CALLS FOR INCLUDING KAZAKHSTAN IN BAKU-CEYHAN PROJECT

    John Wolf, who is the U.S. special envoy for Caspian issues, said at an international energy sector conference in Baku on 9 November that the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline originally intended to export crude from Azerbaijan's sector of the Caspian to world markets should be extended to the Kazakh port of Aktau on the eastern shore of the Caspian, ITAR-TASS reported. But he denied that proposal is intended to exclude Russia from Caspian oil transportation projects. Russian presidential envoy Kalyuzhnyi, for his part, argued that no pipelines should be laid on the Caspian Sea bed until the five littoral states reach agreement on how compensation should be calculated and paid for in the event of possible environmental damage resulting from the construction of underwater pipelines. LF

    [07] KARABAKH OFFICIAL DENIES PLANS TO RESETTLE KURDS ON OCCUPIED AZERBAIJANI TERRITORY

    A spokesman for the presidential staff of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has rejected as untrue Azerbaijani media reports that the enclave's authorities have reached agreement with representatives of international Kurdish organizations on resettling several hundred Kurdish families from Syria and Iraq in the Kelbadjar and Lachin areas of Azerbaijan, according to Groong citing Snark of 8 November. Those districts are controlled by Karabakh army troops. Turan reported on 8 November that the Kurdish settlers would be granted Armenian citizenship. LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT CRITICIZES PROSECUTOR-GENERAL, INTERIOR MINISTER...

    Addressing a national conference on crime and corruption in Astana on 9 November, President Nursultan Nazarbaev criticized the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor-General's Office for under-reporting crimes rather than implementing measures to prevent them, Interfax reported. He said there has been no improvement in the crime situation since a similar conference in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 2000). Nazarbaev also accused both agencies of systematic violations of human rights, including humiliating and even torturing persons under arrest, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. He warned Interior Minister Qairbek Suleymenov and Prosecutor-General Yurii Khitrin that they face dismissal if the situation does not improve. LF

    [09] ...CANCELS ATTENDANCE AT OIC SUMMIT

    President Nazarbaev has cancelled a planned visit to Qatar to attend the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit there on 12-14 November, ITAR- TASS reported on 10 November. No reason was cited for that decision. Asked on 9 November whether he found his frequent foreign trips tiring, Nazarbaev, who is 60, had assured journalists that his health is excellent and his blood pressure and internal organs normal and that he plays tennis twice a week, Interfax reported. LF

    [10] LIBYAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

    Saad Musatafa Mujbeer met in Astana on 8 November with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev to discuss expanding bilateral economic ties, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The two officials told journalists after their talks that they had agreed on the creation of a bilateral economic committee and that Libya is especially interested in Kazakhstan's oil sector. Mujbeer was also scheduled to meet with President Nazarbaev and present him with an invitation from Libyan leader Muammar Qaddhafi to visit Libya, according to Interfax on 8 November. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ POLICE WARN PICKETERS

    Police in the southern town of Djalalabad on 9 November warned 12 people who are picketing the local administrative building that they will be arrested if they continue that protest, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. For almost one month, the 12 have been protesting the sentencing in September of seven of their relatives on charges of planning to assassinate President Askar Akaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October and 8 November 2000). Also on 9 November, the Bishkek City Court continued hearing appeals against those sentences. One of the men, Mamadiyar Orozov, told the court that until the trial commenced he had never met opposition Erkindik party leader Topchubek Turgunaliev, who is accused of having masterminded the abortive plot. LF

    [12] TAJIKISTAN, UZBEKISTAN DISCUSS BORDER DELIMITATION

    Tajik and Uzbek government representatives met in Dushanbe on 10 November for a third round of talks on delimiting their common border, Asia Plus- Blitz reported. The talks focused on Tajik casualties from mines erroneously laid by Uzbek border forces on the Tajik side of the border. The first talks were held in July following the signing of an protocol between Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June and 18 July 2000). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] COUNCIL OF EUROPE URGES YUGOSLAVIA TO STRIVE FOR MEMBERSHIP

    The Council of Europe told Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica on 9 November in Strasbourg that Belgrade will be admitted to the body once it has established democratic institutions and observes human rights, AP reported. Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said the council is "duty bound" to help Kostunica build a democratic country. He said Kostunica will have to "commit himself to a wide-ranging process of reform and moral and material reconstruction," as well as to holding free and fair elections, implementing democratic reforms, and protecting human rights and minorities. Kostunica told the council that Yugoslavia "has embarked on a democratic transformation, the first real reform since World War II." PB

    [14] SERBIAN OFFICIALS AGREE TO INMATES' DEMANDS

    Serbian authorities released 14 Serbs and one ethnic Albanian from the Pozarevac prison on 10 November as the prison revolt in the republic loses momentum, AP reported. In exchange for the release, prisoners agreed to put down their weapons and allow guards back into the facility. Prisoner spokesman Darko Pavlovic said "we believe that we shall have a new amnesty legislation by the end of January." Serbian prisoners were angry that Kosovar Albanians were to be granted an amnesty that excluded them. Serbia's Justice Ministry said it will include some Serbians in the amnesty. The previous day, Kosovar human rights activist Flora Brovina secured the release of an ethnic Albanian teenager from Belgrade's central prison. Arrested in Kosova last year, Xhavit Podvorica was never charged with a crime. Brovina herself was set free by President Kostunica last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 2000). PB

    [15] CROATIA BECOMES PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY

    The parliament voted on 9 November to reduce the powers of the presidency by altering the constitution, AP reported. The vote was 106-35, with only the party of late authoritarian President Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian Democratic Community, voting against the measure. A compromise was reached in the dispute between President Stipe Mesic and the six-party governing coalition over the right to dissolve the parliament--which only the president had previously--as the president can still dismiss parliament, but only after a request by the government. The president also retains the post of supreme commander of the armed forces and participates in foreign policy by appointing ambassadors and the head of the intelligence service, after consultations with the prime minister. The powers of the Constitutional Court were strengthened, and the government will now be held accountable only by parliament. Both Mesic and Premier Ivica Racan promised during the last campaign that they would reduce presidential powers if elected. PB

    [16] TUDJMAN WOULD HAVE BEEN CHARGED BY WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL

    Graham Blewitt, a prosecutor for the UN war crimes tribunal at The Hague, said on 9 November that the late President Tudjman would have been indicted by the court if he were still alive, AFP reported. Blewitt declined to comment on the charges that would have been brought against Tudjman, but he said evidence of his role in the Balkan wars will come out as more prosecutions are conducted. Tudjman died of cancer in December 1999. PB

    [17] BOSNIAN-CROAT LEADER THREATENS TO BREAK UP FEDERATION

    Ante Jelavic, the Croatian member of Bosnia's three-man presidency and head of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), said on 9 November that he will break up the Muslim-Croatian Federation if international officials punish the HDZ for holding a referendum on autonomy, Reuters reported. Jelavic said at a campaign rally in Mostar that if the international community punishes the HDZ, "we will proclaim the Croatian National Congress the supreme legislative body and form a provisional government for the Croatian people in Bosnia." Jelavic said Croats will never accept a Bosnia based on individual rights instead of the rights of the three ethnic communities, and he called the Muslim-Croatian Federation "a prison for Croatian people." Bosnia's high representative, Wolfgang Petritsch, has banned some HDZ campaign posters and said that the holding of a referendum on autonomy by the HDZ during the 11 November elections will be declared illegal. PB

    [18] SLOVENIA: READY FOR EU BY 2002

    Janez Potocnik, the head of Slovenia's office for European affairs, said that it welcomed an EU Commission report on Slovenia's progress as a candidate for EU membership and expected Ljubljana will be ready to join by 2002, Reuters reported on 9 November. Potocnik said the draft report "is relatively favorable and includes the warnings we expected." The report said that Slovenia's economy is stable but that the government should accelerate reforms in public administration and privatization. PB

    [19] ROMA MURDERED UPON RETURN TO KOSOVA

    Four Romany men were found murdered less than two days after they had returned to the Kosovar village of Dosevac, AP reported. The UN's administrative head in Kosova, Bernard Kouchner, called the attack "shocking and beyond comprehension." The men, who died of shotgun wounds, had gone to their former homes ahead of their families. Roma have been a target of attacks in Kosova because Kosovar Albanians accuse them of siding with Serbs during Belgrade's crackdown against ethnic Albanians last year. PB

    [20] ALBANIA WANTS TO ESTABLISH CONTACT WITH YUGOSLAVIA

    Albania's Foreign Ministry said on 8 November that it is prepared to establish contacts with the Yugoslav government, AP reported. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said in a statement that "Albania wants to establish contact with the new authorities in Belgrade in order to strengthen cooperation in the region and to peacefully solve all problems involved in relationships between the Balkan countries." Largely because of Belgrade's treatment of the Albanian minority in Kosova, the two countries have had weak or non-existent relations. Tirana recognized the Republic of Kosova in 1992 and supported the Kosova Liberation Army in its fight against Serbs. PB

    [21] TIRANA'S MAYOR SURVIVES SNIPER ATTACK

    Edi Rama, the newly elected mayor of the Albanian capital, escaped injury when a sniper fired shots into his apartment on 9 November, dpa reported. Rama, elected in October, blamed opposition leader Sali Berisha for the attack. Rama was brutally beaten by three men in 1996, when Berisha was president. Berisha's Democratic Party is protesting alleged fraud in last month's elections. PB

    [22] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL CALLS ON BOSNIANS TO VOTE AGAINST NATIONALISTS

    Lord Robertson appealed to Bosnian voters on 9 November in Sarajevo not to vote for nationalist parties and to "reject the politics of the past," AP reported. Robertson said developments in Bosnia's "neighborhood" recently "show that change is possible and brings its own rewards." He said he hopes voters "seize this opportunity and look to the future." Observers predict that the Serbian and Croatian nationalist parties will fare well in the elections but that the multiethnic Social Democratic Party will make inroads (see also "End Note" below). PB

    [23] PARTIES DENY A COOPERATION PROTOCOL BETWEEN PDSR AND PNL

    Adrian Nastase, first deputy chairman of the main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), and Valeriu Stoica, first deputy chairman of the National Liberal Party (PNL), have both denied signing an electoral cooperation agreement, Romanian media reported. Bucharest-based "Curentul" daily on 9 November published an agreement allegedly signed by the two party representatives that fixed electoral and post-electoral cooperation, including the division of ministries in a new government. The agreement also mentioned the possibility of including the Democratic Federation of Hungarians in Romania in a future governmental coalition. Nastase called the agreement "intoxication," while Stoica called it a "gross lie" and accused the paper of "manipulation." ZsM

    [24] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SKEPTICAL ABOUT TRANSDNIESTER PROGRESS

    Petru Lucinschi has said he believes the prospects for progress in talks on the status of the separatist Transdniester region are becoming dimmer, Interfax reported on 8 November, quoting presidential spokesman Anatol Golea. Lucinschi said presidential elections in Moldova and parliamentary elections in the self-proclaimed republic in Transdniester are likely to influence the outcome of negotiations. Golea confirmed that a meeting between Lucinschi and Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov was cancelled last week. Lucinschi this week announced he will not stand for re-election. Moldova's parliament is due to elect a president on 1 December. ET

    [25] MOLDOVAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL REJECTS CALL TO INDICT COMMUNIST LEADER

    The Prosecutor-General's Office has rejected a call to indict Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin for allegedly desecrating the Moldovan flag, AP Flux reported on 8 November. Twenty-six right-wing deputies made that call after the Communist leader had said during a parliamentary debate that the flag is a fascist symbol. Voronin later denied he insulted the Moldovan flag but said he referred to Romania's national colors. Both Romania and Moldova have the red-yellow-blue national colors. The Prosecutor-General's Office said in a statement that Voronin's remarks do not constitute a criminal offense. ET

    [26] BULGARIAN PREMIER DEMANDS THAT EU SCRAP VISA REGIME

    Ivan Kostov demanded in Sofia on 10 November that the EU immediately lift visa restrictions on Bulgarians, Reuters reported. In a strongly-worded speech to parliament, Kostov said, "We want Bulgaria transferred to the list [of countries] with a visa-free regime, without any conditions, and that should come into force immediately." Bulgaria and Romania are the only two EU candidate countries that are excluded from having visa-free travel within the Union. Bulgarian politicians have expressed annoyance at being placed at the same level as Romania, recognized as the country among the 12 EU aspirants that needs the most reform. Kostov hinted in his speech that Sofia will consider resigning as a member of the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe if the EU continues to enforce its visa regime on Bulgarians. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [27] BOSNIAN VOTERS TO CHOOSE BETWEEN NATIONALISM AND DEMOCRACY

    By Jolyon Naegele

    Up to 2.5 million voters in Bosnia-Herzegovina will cast ballots in several elections scheduled for 11 November. They will elect representatives to legislatures in the Muslim-Croatian Federation and its 10 cantons and in the Bosnian-Serb entity, Republika Srpska. They will also vote for an all-Bosnian parliament as well as for the president and vice president of Republika Srpska and leaders of one municipality, Srebrenica.

    The results of previous legislative elections, in 1996 and 1998, reflected pre-war political divisions along ethnic lines. But there is some hope this time that the recent shift away from radical nationalism toward moderation and democracy in Croatia, Serbia, and Kosova will serve as an example for voters in both Republika Srpska and the Muslim-Croatian Federation.

    Since the civil war, which ended five years ago with the Dayton Peace accords, Bosnia has experienced a brain drain of some 100,000. Many experts have fled a homeland where more a third of the population remains unemployed, while close to two-thirds--including the jobless--live in poverty.

    A recent cartoon in the Sarajevo daily "Dnevni Ajvaz" shows three scenes. In the first, a man in Croatia stretches out under a sunny sky. In the second, three men blink after a light is turned on in the darkness of Yugoslavia. And in the third, a man stumbles in the darkness of Bosnia- Herzegovina and asks, "Will it ever be dawn here?"

    The European Union's high representative in Bosnia, Austrian diplomat Wolfgang Petritsch, is urging voters across Bosnia to rethink their political allegiances. He used the "Dnevni Ajvaz" cartoon in a speech in Sarajevo earlier this week to appeal to voters to follow the example of moderation recently set elsewhere in former Yugoslav republics. He said a long-term protectorate is not the right answer for Bosnia.

    For its part, the OSCE, which is supervising the elections, has produced a video clip featuring three young female singers--a Croat, a Serb, and a Muslim from different parts of Bosnia. The three young women tell voters that they can shape their own future. Television stations across Bosnia have been showing the clip for the last three weeks.

    Among the political groups campaigning for moderation is Bosnia's multiethnic Social Democratic Party (SDP). SDP chairman Zlatko Lagumdzija is hoping voters will opt for responsibility rather than cast ballots according to their ethnic identity. "The SDP is a political party that wants to work with other political parties on a responsible program," he said. "This is the only chance for Bosnia and Herzegovina, for both entities, all three peoples and Bosnia's 4 million people."

    The SDP's moderate stance has upset nation-oriented parties-- including, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA)--which fear they will lose votes to the Social Democrats. SDA leader Alija Izetbegovic recently resigned the presidency of Bosnia saying he wants to devote all his energies to party work, an indication of the serious threat he and his party perceive in the elections.

    The end of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's regime in Yugoslavia is unlikely to have a significant impact on the outcome of voting in Republika Srpska. True, the Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), which had its differences with Milosevic, has kept its nationalist, anti-Western rhetoric to a minimum in the campaign. Nevertheless, an international think tank--the International Crisis Group--and U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke have recently called for the party to be banned. The OSCE rejects the calls, saying the SDS has yet to commit "a particularly egregious violation of the rules and regulations."

    The SDS was founded by indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic but is now distancing itself from him. The party's candidate for Republika Srpska president, Mirko Sarovic, is expected to get almost twice as many Serbian votes as Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik, his chief rival.

    Another moderate group fighting for votes in the Bosnian Serb entity, the Party of Democratic Progress, is campaigning on an economic reform and anti- corruption platform.

    Bosnia's biggest Croatian party--the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)--is warning that Bosnia's Croats face extermination if moderate parties win. The HDZ's sister party in Croatia was defeated in parliamentary elections early this year after the death of the party's leader, President Franjo Tudjman.

    Bosnia's HDZ has provoked the international community's ire by organizing a referendum on establishing a Bosnian Croat legislature. The EU's high representative has denounced--but not banned--the referendum.

    The HDZ leader in the divided city of Mostar, Ante Jelavic, is telling Croats in Bosnia, who in past elections have voted overwhelmingly for HDZ, that a vote for HDZ means a vote for equal rights with the Serbs and Muslims. "On 11 November, we are going to the polls But we are also going into a referendum on the right of the Croat nation not to give a millimeter more or less than the Serbs and Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina," he commented.

    The Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia-Herzegovina earlier this week called the 2000 parliamentary election campaign the "dirtiest" since the war--even though it has been less violent than recent past campaigns. It is doubtful that the increased mud-slinging will serve to persuade the people of Bosnia to vote for moderation.

    The author is an RFE/RL senior correspondent based in Prague.

    10-11-00


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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