You always pass failure on the way to success. - Mickey Rooney
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 122, Part II, 23 June 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 122, Part II, 23 June 1999

A daily report of developments in Eastern and
Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central
Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty.

This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning
Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.  Part I
covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is
distributed simultaneously as a second document.  Back
issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are
online at RFE/RL's Web site:
http://www.rferl.org/newsline

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Headlines, Part II

* EU CONFIRMS CZECH TARDINESS, IMPROVED SLOVAK, POLISH
CHANCES

* CLINTON THANKS MACEDONIAN, ALBANIAN LEADERS

* PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN CHISINAU CENTRAL
SQUARE

END NOTE: 'BEYOND BORDER MAGYARS' -- IS KOSOVA A
MILESTONE?
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CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

BELARUSIAN NATIONAL BANK TO CONTROL OFFSHORE OPERATIONS.
In a move intended to stop the outflow of hard currency
from the country, the Belarusian National Bank has
ordered commercial banks to report on customers who
transfer money to offshore company deposits, RFE/RL's
Belarusian Service reported on 22 June. A list of
offshore tax havens supplied by the National Bank
contains 47 geographical names. According to an RFE/RL
Minsk correspondent, the order is a "quite logical" step
in the current policy of the Belarusian government to
eliminate intermediaries in trade operations. JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET LOOKS FOR NEW LOANS TO REPAY 2000
DEBTS... Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov told a
government-sponsored conference on the 2000 budget in
Kyiv on 22 June that the government needs 15.3 billion
hryvni ($3.9 billion) to repay its debt obligations in
2000. Mityukov added that in order to pay this sum
Ukraine must borrow another 11.1 billion hryvni. The
cabinet have ordered to set up a special commission to
prepare a list of sources for drawing money for next
year's debt payments, but Mityukov declined to name
prospective lenders. JM

...REMAINS OPTIMISTIC ABOUT ECONOMIC PROSPECTS. Economy
Minister Vasyl Rohovyy told the same conference that
achieving a no-deficit budget in 2000 is a realistic
task. The Economy Ministry predicts a 2 percent increase
in GDP in 2000--the first projected economic-growth year
in independent Ukraine--and an inflation rate of 10
percent. According to Rohovyy, the exchange rate in 2000
will remain "below 4.6 hryvni to $1," the "Eastern
Economic Daily" reported on 23 June. JM

KUCHMA TOPS LATEST POPULARITY POLL. A poll held in June
by the independent Democratic Initiatives Fund and
Socis-Gallup showed a sharp increase in President Leonid
Kuchma's popularity, AP reported on 22 June. Of those
respondents who want to cast their ballots in the 31
October presidential elections, 25 percent would vote
for Kuchma. Natalya Vitrenko, who has so far topped
popularity polls, would receive 19 percent of votes.
Petro Symonenko and Oleksandr Moroz followed with 11
percent and 7 percent backing, respectively. The poll
offered no explanation for the boost in Kuchma's rating-
-which stood at 18 percent last month. JM

RUSSIAN ORGANIZATIONS PROTEST ESTONIAN REBURIAL. Several
organizations in Estonia representing Russian-speaking
communities are protesting the reburial of Alfons
Rebane, planned for 26 June. The government recently
earmarked funds to rebury the Estonian freedom fighter,
who was also a commander of the Estonian Legion of the
German army during World War II. They are not opposed to
the reburial itself, but to the full military honors
given to Rebane. The party secretary of the United
People's Party, Leivi Sher, said: "Unless canceled by
the government, the decision, in our opinion, serves as
an indication that fascist ideology is recognized in
Estonia," BNS reported. Rebane lived mostly in Great
Britain after the war and played a leading role in the
anticommunist resistance efforts in Estonia led by the
British secret service. MH

BELARUSIAN PREMIER IN LITHUANIA. Belarusian Prime
Minister Syarhey Linh visited Lithuania on 22 June. In a
discussion with Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus
about Belarus's outstanding energy debt, Linh indicated
a readiness to pay: "We will by all means settle this
debt and we intended to [earlier] but [the] financial
crisis which severely hit Russia and Belarus prevented
us from paying it back timely and swiftly," ELTA
reported. Linh led a business delegation taking part in
an exposition in Vilnius. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian
parliament ratified an agreement on social issues with
Belarus. MH

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES PROTOCOL ON DEATH PENALTY
BAN. The Lithuanian parliament on 22 June ratified the
6th Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights,
which bans capital punishment. The ratification passed
73 to two. The protocol only allows for the death
penalty during wartime. Once the ratification is
registered with the Council of Europe, Lithuania will
join Latvia and Estonia as adherents of the ban. The
parliament removed the death penalty from the statutes
last December. MH

POLISH GOVERNMENT ADOPTS 10-YEAR ECONOMIC STRATEGY...
Finance Minister Leszek Balcerowicz said on 22 June that
the government has adopted a strategy for public
finances and economic development from 2000-2010. Two
major goals of the strategy--which focuses on job
creation--are to balance the budget by the year 2004 and
to bring inflation to below 4 percent. The rate of
economic growth is projected to increase significantly
already the next year, reaching 5.6 percent. The
forecasted economic growth in 1999 is 4 percent.
According to Balcerowicz, 3-4 million jobs are needed in
the coming few years to defuse hidden unemployment and
the demographic boom that is now entering its working
age. JM

...BILLS ON DEFENSE INDUSTRY RESTRUCTURING. Economy
Minister Janusz Steinhoff said the same day that the
cabinet has adopted two bills that will pave the way for
a restructuring of the defense industry. The first bill
provides for writing off armament plants' collective
debt of some 800 million zlotys ($200 million) and for
their privatization. The state treasury would hold
controlling interests in only seven out of 34 defense
industry plants. The second bill concerns offset
contracts and, according to Steinhoff, will "tie
purchases for our army with orders in our defense
industry." Offset transactions will apply to all deals
valued at more than 20 million euros ($20.6 million).
Premier Jerzy Buzek said the government will spend up to
2 billion zlotys ($500 million) on army orders in Polish
arms plants, the modernization of the plants, and social
programs. JM

EU CONFIRMS CZECH TARDINESS, IMPROVED SLOVAK, POLISH
CHANCES. German State Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Gunther Verheugen told journalists on 22 June after a
meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg that
the Czech Republic and Slovakia will join the EU
together, Reuters reported. The agency said this
confirms reports on Czech tardiness in complying with EU
requirements as well as Slovakia's improved chances
following the demise of former Premier Vladimir Meciar.
Verheugen also said that Poland's ambition to join the
EU by 2003 is "not unrealistic." Hungarian Foreign
Minister Janos Martonyi said that his country aims to
enter the EU by 2002 and Slovene Foreign Minster Boris
Frlec said his country intends to join one year later.
Estonian Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves said that
while Estonia will be ready to join in early 2003, he
was "not counting" on the EU to accept it then. MS

STEEP DROP IN SUPPORT FOR CZECH GOVERNMENT. Only a
quarter (25.5 percent) of respondents to a survey
conducted in June by the STEM institute said they were
satisfied with the performance of the Czech government,
CTK reported. Satisfaction with the cabinet's
performance has thus been halved since the Social
Democratic Party (CSSD) minority government was formed
last September, when 51.3 percent said they were
satisfied with its performance. Some 65 percent of the
respondents to the same survey were of the opinion that
the Czech Republic is undergoing a crisis. However, only
24 percent want early elections to be held. According to
another survey released by the Institute for Social
Science Research, only 20 percent are satisfied with the
current political situation, while 76 percent are
"fairly dissatisfied" or "very dissatisfied." MS

CZECH GDP FALLS AGAIN. The GDP in the Czech Republic
dropped 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 1999
compared with last year, dpa reported citing the
National Statistics Office. The decline is the second
quarterly drop, since the last quarter of 1998 also
showed a 4.1 percent decline. Overall, however, the GDP
in 1998 rose by 2.1 percent. MS

ETHNIC-HUNGARIAN PARTY THREATENS TO VOTE AGAINST
LANGUAGE BILL. Bela Bugar, chairman of the Hungarian
Coalition Party (SMK), said on 22 June that the SMK will
not vote for the bill on the use of minority languages
in official contacts unless its proposals for amendments
are taken into consideration, CTK reported. Bugar said
the bill would be "more acceptable" if the
recommendations made by OSCE High Commissioner on
National Minorities Max van der Stoel were included in
it. Premier Mikulas Dzurinda earlier on 22 June said
that he was ready to include those recommendation in the
bill. Dzurinda has repeatedly rejected SMK demands for
changes beyond the High Commissioners' recommendations.
Even without SMK's support, the cabinet can pass the
bill, since the three other parties of the coalition
have 78 of the 150 seats in parliament. MS

HUNGARY, ROMANIA DISCUSS MILITARY COOPERATION. Visiting
Romanian Defense Minister Victor Babiuc and his
Hungarian counterpart, Janos Szabo, agreed on 22 June in
Budapest that their countries will analyze the
possibility of allowing military troops to transit each
other's territories without prior parliamentary
approval, Hungarian and Romanian media report. The two
defense ministers also agreed that the planned joint
Hungarian-Romanian peacekeeping battalion will be set up
next year. Meeting with Babiuc, President Arpad Goncz
denied what he called "speculation by extremists,"
(presumably in Romania), according to which Budapest
wishes to re-annex Transylvania to Hungary. MSZ/MS

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

CLINTON THANKS MACEDONIAN, ALBANIAN LEADERS... In Skopje
on 22 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton thanked
Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister
Ljubco Georgievski, and their Albanian counterparts,
Rexhep Meidani and Pandeli Majko, for supporting NATO
during the Kosova crisis and for taking in hundreds of
thousands of refugees. He also promised international
assistance to promote stability in the region, AP
reported. Clinton stressed that "we must create real
opportunities for ordinary citizens throughout
southeastern Europe." He announced that the U.S. will
assist Macedonia with $12 million in food commodities in
addition to $72 million in aid that the U.S. has given
to Macedonia since 1998. FS

...URGES KOSOVARS TO SEEK RECONCILIATION. President
Clinton told an enthusiastic crowd of Kosovars at
Macedonia's Stenkovec refugee camp on 22 June that they
should wait to go home until landmines are cleared. He
also said that "no one, ever, ever should be punished
and discriminated against or killed or uprooted because
of their religion or their ethnic heritage." Attempts to
take revenge, he stressed, "will only compound the
horror." The president told U.S. peacekeepers bound for
Kosova that "you've got a big, big job." He added that
it will be their role "to protect the ethnic Kosovar
Albanians and the ethnic Serbs alike." PM

KOSOVA PLAGUED BY EXPLOSIVE DEVICES. Following the
deaths of two British soldiers in Kosova in an attempt
to render harmless unexploded "bomblets" from NATO
cluster bombs, a Pentagon spokesman said on 22 June that
there are probably "thousands" of unexploded bomblets in
Yugoslavia, dpa reported. A Pentagon spokesman also
noted that Serbian forces planted several hundred
thousand landmines in Kosova. He noted that Serbian
forces have provided little information on the location
of mine fields and that much of what they have turned
over is inaccurate. UN officials have estimated that the
landmine problem in Kosova is on a level with those of
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, and Afghanistan and will
remain so for years to come. PM

DID RUSSIAN VOLUNTEERS COMMIT WAR CRIMES IN KOSOVA? The
New York daily "Newsday" ran a story on 22 June saying
that about 60 Russian volunteers recently participated
in the killing of hundreds of ethnic Albanians and the
destruction of towns and villages in the area around
Prizren. The daily added that the volunteers were
organized in a single unit, created by the Serbian
Interior Ministry after the beginning of the NATO air
strikes in March. Roy Gutman, who won a Pulitzer prize
for his reporting on Serbian concentration camps during
the Bosnian war, broke the story. He quoted ethnic
Albanian and Serbian security sources as mentioning
several examples of Russian involvement in atrocities
against ethnic Albanians. Gutman also reported that
German troops ordered that particular group of Russians
to leave Kosova just last week, adding that most of them
were military men either retired or not in active
service. Their commander was an army colonel. FS

PENTAGON CONFIRMS PRESENCE OF RUSSIAN VOLUNTEERS IN
KOSOVA. Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said in
Washington on 22 June that international war crimes
investigators will examine the role of the Russian
volunteers. Bacon said: "We certainly know that Russians
participated. Russian volunteers, mercenaries, we
believe, did participate with paramilitary and other
[Serbian] forces. ...I do not have verification that
there were units or groups of the size that 'Newsday'
reports." Bacon, however, stressed that the "Newsday"
report will not affect the status or role of the Russian
KFOR contingent. He noted that "we expect [the Russian
KFOR troops] to be totally fair and professional in
their dealings with both Serbs and Kosovar Albanians, as
they have been in Bosnia and where they have been very
stalwart and successful members of the peacekeeping
force." FS

FRENCH ARREST THREE SERBS IN SHOOTING INCIDENT. French
KFOR troops have arrested three Serbs who fired on a
French patrol in Mitrovica, Reuters reported on 23 June.
The Serbs had previously tried to force several ethnic
Albanians to leave their homes in a primarily Serbian
neighborhood. A French army spokesman added that members
of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) have begun putting
up posters in mainly Albanian areas of Mitrovica, in
which they called on local Serbs to leave. Several
English-language dailies have recently reported that
French KFOR troops have done little to control ethnic
tensions in France's sector in northern Kosova. PM

MOUNTING REPORTS OF ATROCITIES AGAINST SERBS. Some 30
elderly Serbs in the Prizren area told AP on 22 June
that armed ethnic Albanians recently came to their
homes, took their weapons, and told them to leave.
Several Serbs said that the Albanians had beaten them
and showed reporters their scars. International media
have reported a series of incidents in recent days
involving Serbs being stabbed to death, decapitated, or
kidnapped. Some ethnic Albanians claim that local Serbs
committed atrocities against them, looted their
property, or acted as guides for Serbian paramilitaries
from outside the region. "The New York Times" reported
on 23 June that local ethnic tensions remain very high
in Obilic and some other communities. PM

DJUKANOVIC CALLS ON CLINTON TO PROTECT SERBS. President
Milo Djukanovic told Montenegrin Television on 22 June
that he urged Clinton during their recent meeting in
Ljubljana to use his "authority to provide full
protection for the people [in Kosova], especially to
Serbs and Montenegrins, who are unfortunately exposed
these days to the dangers of vengeance from Albanian
armed extremists" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1999).
Djukanovic added that Montenegro will continue to
promote democratization, market reforms, and integration
into Euro-Atlantic structures. Clinton, he continued,
"showed full understanding" for Montenegro's policies.
Djukanovic added that he did not seek U.S. support for
Montenegrin independence. PM

IS BELGRADE PREPARING A COUP IN MONTENEGRO? "Yugoslav
army troops forced out of [Kosova]...are reported to be
pouring into Montenegro at an alarming rate, raising
fears that Serbia's tiny neighbor is about to become the
next victim of [Yugoslav] President Slobodan Milosevic's
aggression," the London-based daily "The Independent"
reported on 23 June. The paper added that "Serb
paramilitaries...have been fanning out through the
republic, allegedly including forces belonging to the
most notorious paramilitary, [Zeljko Raznatovic] Arkan."
Support for independence is growing in the mountainous
republic, the daily concluded. PM

B-92 STAFF SACKED. Serbian officials have fired 17 long-
term employees of the formerly independent Belgrade
Radio B-92, "Danas" reported on 23 June. Veran Matic,
who is B-92's former chief, called the move illegal and
demanded that state-controlled B-92 be restored to "its
legal owners." PM

DRASKOVIC SETS OWN COURSE. Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian
Renewal Movement said in Belgrade on 22 June that
Serbia's leading parties should reach a formal agreement
on forming a provisional government to launch reforms
prior to the elections, which are slated for 2000. He
rejected calls by a coalition of opposition groups for
early elections. Many observers say that Draskovic still
commands a loyal following but has seriously harmed his
credibility by recently serving a brief stint in
Milosevic's government. He is also widely regarded as
mercurial and given to strong nationalist views. PM

ALBANIA'S BERISHA PROPOSES RETURN TO PARLIAMENT.
Opposition Democratic Party Chairman Sali Berisha
proposed on 22 June that the party return to parliament,
Reuters reported. The party leadership issued a
statement saying that it "approves the proposal of its
chairman to start procedures for the return to
parliament." The statement added that the party
leadership will soon call a meeting of the Democrats'
130-member National Council. The National Council will
then consider organizing a special party congress that
can approve the end of the parliamentary boycott.
Berisha said: "I am convinced [the council and the
congress] will listen to the call of the party
chairman." He added that he recently received pledges
from U.S. officials to help investigate the murder of
Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari in September
1998. The Democrats have boycotted parliament since then
because they suspect the governing Socialists of
complicity in the killing. Albanian investigators say
their work on the case has been hamstrung by the refusal
of many witnesses to testify. FS

BOSNIAN UN POLICE TO KOSOVA. A UN spokesman said in New
York on 22 June that some 42 UN police have left Bosnia
for Kosova. An additional 158 police will follow within
10 days. In Sarajevo, NATO officials lifted a ban on
training, movement, and air activity that SFOR imposed
on the separate Bosnian forces during the NATO air
strikes against Yugoslavia. PM

WESTENDORP AIDE WARNS OF CORRUPTION. James Fergusson,
who is a spokesman for the international community's
Carlos Westendorp, said in Sarajevo on 22 June that
corruption is a "cancer that threatens to destroy the
society" of Bosnia-Herzegovina. He added that corruption
involves hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and
that evasion of taxes and customs duties are key
problems. Fergusson rejected recent remarks by Muslim
leader Alija Izetbegovic, who said that charges of
corruption cannot be proven, RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. Recently, Westendorp's deputy, Jacques
Klein, called corruption the largest single obstacle to
Bosnia ever becoming independent of aid programs. Klein
noted that some estimates suggest that the illegal
economy accounts for up to 70 percent of Bosnia's GDP,
Reuters reported. PM

ALBRIGHT IN BUCHAREST. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright met in Bucharest on 22 June with President Emil
Constantinescu and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu,
RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. She praised the
position Romania adopted during the Kosova conflict and
said that by so doing it had "become a part of the NATO
family." She also said that Bucharest must play "a
leading role" in the process of achieving stability in
the Balkans. Albright said that the U.S. supported
Romania's aspirations for NATO integration as well as
its candidacy for the OSCE chairmanship in 2001. Plesu
said he presented Albright with proposals for Balkan
reconstruction using the Southeast European Cooperation
(whose rotating-presidency Romania holds) as an
instrument for implementing regional stability. He
offered that Romania host some of the planned talks on
Balkan reconstruction. MS

ROMANIAN CHIEF OF STAFF PRESENTS ARMY RESTRUCTURING
PLANS... General Constantin Degeratu on 22 June said
military expenditure must rise from the present 1.8
percent of GDP to 2.2 percent by 2007 in order for the
country to realize aspirations for NATO integration and
to allow for the planned military reform, RFE/RL's
Bucharest bureau reported. He said the reform includes
two stages, one to restructure the armed forces by 2003,
and another to modernize equipment by 2007. The per
capita annual expense is to rise from $4,000 to $10,000
by 2007. Under the plan, drafted with U.S. and British
expertise, Romania will have 480 tanks and 940 other
armored vehicles, as well as 84 fighter planes and 80
helicopters. Degeratu said only 12 out of Romania's 18
MiG-29 planes are capable of flying. MS

... AS BELL ABOUT TO MAKE NEW OFFER. Premier Radu Vasile
will meet this week with representatives of Bell
Helicopters Textron, who will make a new offer for a
majority stake in the IAR Gimbav aircraft company,
Mediafax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 June 1999).
Vasile, however, has several times said that he
considers the likelihood of a deal with the French-
German Eurocopter consortium to be more advantageous.
Representatives of the consortium are to visit Bucharest
next month and present their offer, after which a
decision will be made. MS

PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE IN CHISINAU CENTRAL SQUARE.
Violent clashes between police and members of the
National Trade Union Federation took place on 23 June in
Chisinau's central square, Infotag reported. The trade
unionists are protesting against wage arrears. By noon,
13 demonstrators had been arrested, two of whom were
hospitalized, one of them with head injuries. On 22
June, World War II veterans besieged the presidential
office, trying to force their way in to deliver a
petition protesting against poverty and civil rights'
infringements. After being repelled by police, the
veterans said they would join the unions' demonstration
the next day. The unions have also declared a "warning
strike." The government warned that the strike may lead
to "destabilization" of the situation in the country and
said it is doing all it can to meet the unions' demands.
MS

LUCINSCHI MEETS RULING COALITION DEPUTIES. President
Petru Lucinschi on 22 June met with deputies
representing the ruling coalition, explaining the
reasons for his drive to amend the constitution and
introduce a presidential system in Moldova, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. Iurie Rosca, leader of the
Christian Democratic Popular Front and parliament vice
chairman, said in reaction that he is a supporter of the
parliamentary system. Parliament chairman Dumitru
Diacov, who heads the pro-presidential For a Democratic
and Prosperous Moldova Bloc (PMDP), was non-committal
when asked by journalists to comment on the president's
arguments. He said the PMDP will "analyze" Lucinschi's
plea. MS

TRANSDNIESTER LEADER DISSATISFIED WITH RUSSIAN POSITION.
In an interview with Russian NTV broadcast on Tiraspol
television, separatist leader Igor Smirnov on 21 June
said Russian leaders are lately displaying "coarseness"
towards the "Transdniester people," the independent Flux
agency reported. Smirnov said he no longer can describe
relations with Russia as being characterized by "sincere
friendship" when "I hear from the U.S. ambassador [to
Chisinau] that the U.S. and Russia have reached
agreement on the evacuation of the Russian troops and
arsenal from the Transdniester without my knowledge." He
said the Transdniestrians will "defend their interests,
even if [Russian troop commander Evgenii] Yevnevich says
Russia has no strategic interest here." Smirnov said
that the Transdniester has "no intention" to renounce
what he called "our military assets," which Russia plans
to give to Moldova. MS

BULGARIA URGES KFOR TO PROTECT KOSOVA SERBS. Prime
Minister Ivan Kostov told the parliament on 22 June that
the KFOR peacekeeping force in Kosova must "perform its
mission and secure the safety of all citizens in
Kosovo." He said that Bulgaria was "categorically
against forcing out the Serbian population" and insisted
on a quick disarmament of the Kosova Liberation Army,
stressing that a slow disarmament process would result
in "the full expulsion of the Serbs" from the region and
"a power vacuum that may be filled by illegitimate and
armed groups." Kostov also said Bulgaria was "very
concerned" about reports of "assaults against Serbian
villages and violence against the Serbs," Reuters and AP
reported. He added that an "ethnically pure, Albanian"
Kosova will be "reason for new conflicts and
destabilization in southeastern Europe." MS

BRITISH ENVOY SAYS BULGARIA MAY JOIN NATO IN 2000.
Bulgaria may receive an invitation to join NATO in 2000
if it succeeds to fulfill its military reform plans by
then, British ambassador to Sofia Richard Stagg told a
NATO seminar in Shumen, northeastern Bulgaria, on 22
June. He said that the U.K. actively assists and
supports the Bulgarian political and military leaders to
this end, "but everything is in Bulgarian hands," BTA
reported. MS

END NOTE

'BEYOND BORDER MAGYARS' -- IS KOSOVA A MILESTONE?

By Michael Shafir

	As of late, Hungarian leaders display a constant
preoccupation with the fate of the 350,000-strong Magyar
minority in the Serbian province of Vojvodina. Indeed,
hardly a day passes without either Prime Minister Viktor
Orban or Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi raising the
issue at one meeting or another, be it with their new
NATO allies, with visiting Yugoslav opposition leaders,
or in encounters with prominent members of the
province's ethnic Hungarian leadership.
	This insistence has certainly not gone unnoticed in
neighboring Romania and Slovakia, which also have
sizable (1.7 million and 560,000, respectively)
Hungarian minorities and where fears of similar demands
being raised are constantly looming and cut across the
political spectrum. Indeed, Romanian President Emil
Constantinescu's denunciation earlier this month of a
document whose origins are still unclarified, and which
called for Romania's federalization and for autonomy for
the Banat and Transylvania speaks miles of the echoes
that the fragile post-Kosova truce may unwarrantedly
have produced. After all, Constantinescu must have been
aware of the fact that by denouncing the handful of
intellectuals (Hungarian but also Romanian ethnics) who
allegedly authored the document, he was willy-nilly
playing the tune that extremist nationalist forces in
his country had been playing for about a decade. And
yet, the trumpet sounded in Budapest obviously
penetrated the walls of the Banat, a historical province
of the Austrian-Hungarian empire that Yugoslavia and
Romania divided after World War I, producing a stringent
note in Bucharest.
	In neighboring Slovakia, where, as in Romania, the
Hungarian minority is a member of the ruling coalition,
the Vojvodina offensive is not known to have triggered a
reaction at leadership level, but it certainly was not
very helpful to the Hungarian Coalition Party (SMK),
whose drive to translate promises made by its coalition
allies into post-electoral deeds is encountering
considerable difficulty. Indeed, observers are of the
opinion that the Slovak nationalist counteroffensive,
aimed at stopping the minority-language bill from being
passed by submitting the issue to a referendum, is not
without chance of being successful. SMK leader Miklos
Duray had to admit last week that some 60 percent of
Slovaks are, in fact, quite unhappy to see the SMK in
the government.
	Why should Hungary's neighbors fear the Kosova
fallout? To put it in a nutshell, because they perceive
Budapest's "Vojvodina offensive" as being perhaps the
first step towards what many a Romanian or Slovak
nationalist has long been suspecting Budapest of:
destroying the post-Trianon treaty border arrangements.
After all, that 1920 treaty is still widely referred to
in Budapest as a "diktat," whereas the Hitler-imposed
"arbitration" (the Budapest terminology) that briefly
returned part of Transylvania to Romania in the early
1940s is considered a "diktat" in Bucharest. And, to be
sure, those who chose to look at the Vojvodina autonomy
demand through dark glasses seemed to be vindicated by
politicians of the likes of Justice and Life Party
leader Istvan Csurka, who did not wait for the guns to
fall silent before calling for Vojvodina's annexation.
	In other words, Slovakia and Romania fear what
political scientists used to call "the diffusion of
political innovation" when they referred to East
European dissident demands crossing borders and being
emulated from one country to another. The fact that for
the first time after many centuries Hungary finds itself
on the winning side of an alliance after a war (even if
brief) does not much help to alleviate those fears, to
put it mildly. But to what extent is anxiety of such
emulation justified?
	If one examines the ideas promoted by Budapest, one
is bound to be surprised that their origin is, in fact,
not really Hungarian. Or, more exactly stated, its
origins may be Magyar, but not from within Hungary's
present-day borders. The Hungarian Democratic Federation
of Romania (UDMR), has for some time now promoted a
program of a "three-pronged" autonomy for members of the
community in that country and, as one may witness from
the declarations made in Cologne on 10 June by Zsolt
Nemeth, who is in charge of ties with Hungarian
minorities beyond borders, it is precisely this model
that has now been embraced in Budapest. In other words,
yes, there is diffusion, but in the opposite direction.
Of the three components of autonomy for the Vojvodina
Hungarians that Nemeth mentioned at a conference in
Cologne on 10 June, only one really needs explaining,
and that is the concept of "personal autonomy." The
other two--separate representative bodies and an
alliance of settlements with Hungarian ethnic majority--
simply amount to self-rule and territorial autonomy.
"Personal autonomy," in the view of the UDMR, means that
ethnic Hungarians will have a right to participate in
elections to the first structure mentioned above even if
they do not reside in districts where there is a
Hungarian minority. The "specter," as it turns out, is
rather benign and the Foreign Ministry in Budapest has
clearly distanced itself from any Csurka-like demands.
But it is benign only as long as "autonomy" is read to
mean a right that every citizen in a democratic polity
has by definition of its being a democracy. And that
reading, alas, still needs translators into Romanian or
Slovak.

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