The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle 1975-1881
RFE/RL NEWSLINE

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 131, Part II, 8 July 1999


________________________________________________________
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 3, No. 131, Part II, 8 July 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

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Headlines, Part II

* SLOVAK PRESIDENT VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC SERBIAN
OPPOSITION

* ISSUES CALL OF 'NOW OR NEVER'

* ETHNIC ALBANIANS PROTEST PARTITION OF MITROVICA

END NOTE: THREE THOUGHTS ON DEMOCRACY IN SERBIA
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CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

FRENCH FIRMS TO BUILD NUCLEAR WASTE STORAGE FACILITY FOR
CHORNOBYL. A consortium of three French firms led by the
Framatome state company has signed a deal with Ukraine
on building a nuclear waste storage facility at the
Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development will finance the $72
million contract. The facility, which will have a
storage capacity of 3,000 tons, is scheduled to be
completed by 2003. Vissarion Kim, director of Ukraine's
Enerhoatom nuclear energy company, described the
construction of the storage facility as a "step toward
the timely closure of the [Chornobyl] station." JM

UKRAINIAN POLICE REMOVES PLANT MANAGER FROM OFFICE.
Police on 7 July forced Vitaliy Meshyn, former director
of the Mykolayiv Alumina Plant, out of his office and
"isolated him in another room," the "Eastern Economic
Daily" reported. The government, which holds a majority
stake in the plant, on 24 June appointed a new director
to replace Meshyn. Meshyn's dismissal has provoked
protests among the plant's 7,000 workers. According to
Meshyn, the government fired him in order to put the
plant under the control of an international
metallurgical company which already controls much of the
aluminum production in the former Soviet Union. Last
week, the Ukrainian parliament passed a statement
declaring Meshyn's dismissal illegal and asking the
government to revoke it. JM

BELARUS AGREES TO RUSSIAN RUBLE AS UNION CURRENCY.
Russian Premier Sergei Stepashin said at a session of
the Executive Committee of the Russian-Belarusian Union
in Moscow on 7 July that a union treaty between the two
states could be signed this fall. Stepashin added that
the two sides do not differ in principle on the
structure or content of the treaty. "We are moving ever
closer to becoming a unified state," Interfax quoted him
as saying. Belarusian National Bank Chairman Pyotr
Prakapovich said at the session that Belarus accepts
Russia's proposal to introduce the Russian ruble as the
single currency of the union. Stepashin instructed the
central banks of Russia and Belarus to finalize a plan
for the gradual introduction of the single currency and
the establishment of a single emission center. The plan
is expected to be implemented from 1999-2008. JM

OSCE TO SEND SPECIAL MISSION TO BELARUS. Adrian Severin,
head of the OSCE working group for Belarus, announced at
the 7 July OSCE parliamentary session in St. Petersburg
that an OSCE special mission will visit Belarus from 15-
17 July to help promote a dialogue between the
opposition and the authorities, Belapan reported.
Severin said one of the main tasks of the Belarusian
authorities is to organize free and internationally
recognized parliamentary elections in 2000. Severin
asked Belarusian Council of the Republic Chairman Pavel
Shypuk to persuade President Alyaksandr Lukashenka to
enter into a dialogue with the opposition. Otherwise, he
said, no progress will be achieved in the political
standoff in Belarus. JM

BRITISH MILITARY COMMANDER IN ESTONIA. The chief of the
British Defense Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie, met
with President Lennart Meri, Defense Minister Juri Luik,
and military leaders during a 6-7 July visit to Estonia.
He also toured a center for training peacekeepers in
Paldiski. Guthrie visited Latvia and Lithuania on 7-8
July. MH

POLISH NURSES STAGE SIT-INS, HUNGER STRIKES. The Nurses
and Midwives Trade Union announced that some 20,000
nurses staged sit-ins at regional health centers
throughout the country on 7 July, while another 10,000
went on hunger strike, PAP reported. The nurses are
demanding a salary increase (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7
July 1999). The government insists that a package of
health care reforms introduced earlier this year
effectively transferred responsibility for pay increases
to individual hospitals. Meanwhile, a poll held last
month by an independent health sector watchdog found
that 82 percent of Poles believe that the reforms have
not improved health care in their country. JM

SLOVAK PRESIDENT VISITS CZECH REPUBLIC. During a 7 July
meeting with Czech President Vaclav Havel in Prague,
Rudolf Schuster proposed that the two countries adopt a
joint program aimed at improving the situation of their
Romany minorities and stemming the exodus of Czech and
Slovak Roma to other countries, CTK and Reuters
reported. Havel said he accepts the proposal and will
pass it on to Petr Uhl, the Czech government's
commissioner for human rights. Havel also said that
Schuster's decision go to the Czech Republic for his
first trip abroad as president demonstrates "a clear
intention...to follow up on the close ties of the past
and develop them in all possible ways." Schuster also
discussed the division of the former Czechoslovakia's
assets with Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman. MS

CZECH JOURNALISTS SEND PREMIER AN OPEN LETTER. In a
response to Zeman's recent attacks on journalists (see
"RFE/RL Newsline, 7 July 1999), a group of Czech
Television employees, along with journalists from
other media, sent an open letter to the premier on 7
July. The letter states that the manner in which Zeman
treats journalists has become "an obstacle to any
dignified cooperation between the media and yourself."
The journalists argue that most members of their
profession do their best to carry out their work
properly. They add that Zeman's "persistent and harsh
attacks" on journalists will not force them to "change
their critical view of the work of public officials,"
which is "their duty towards readers and listeners."
MS

SLOVAKIA 'UNDERSTANDS, REGRETS' FINNISH DECISION ON
VISAS. The Slovak Foreign Ministry, in a statement
carried by CTK on 7 July, said it "understands" the
reasons that led the Finnish government to suspend its
visa-free agreement with Slovakia but added that it
"regrets" the decision. The ministry further stated
that it is determined to take action to prevent the
development of "a situation that would question
Slovakia's observation of human rights and democratic
principles" and raise questions about the
"justification of Slovakia's integration in Euro-
Atlantic structures." Also on 7 July, the European
Roma Rights Center (ERRC) sent a letter to Finnish
Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen in which it described
the Finnish government's decision as "discriminatory."
The ERRC said it is troubled that the Finnish
government, which has been a "traditionally strong
advocate of Roma rights, has apparently succumbed to
the widespread racial stereotypes and anti-Roma
sentiment prevalent in much of Europe." MS

SLOVAK VICTIMS OF NAZIS TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION. The
Slovak government on 7 July approved a draft bill that
provides for token compensation to be paid to
survivors of Nazi concentration camps and to their
relatives. Under the bill, which will now go to
parliament for approval, the survivors will receive
2,500 crowns (about $57) for every year they spent in
a concentration camp and the descendants of those who
perished in the camps will receive a lump sum payment
of 100,000 crowns. Some 70,000 Slovak citizens, mostly
Jews, were deported to the camps by Slovakia's war-
time pro-Nazi regime, CTK reported. MS

HUNGARIAN SKINHEADS ADMIT DESECRATION OF JEWISH
CEMETERY. Two skinheads belonging to the Arrow Cross
Movement on 7 July admitted to having defaced 15 tombs
in a Jewish cemetery in the western town of
Szombathely last weekend, local police told Hungarian
media. The skinheads painted swastikas, the Star of
David hanging from gallows, and obscene drawings on
the tombstones shortly before a Holocaust
commemoration was scheduled to take place in the
cemetery. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz strongly
condemned the desecration and urged Hungarians to
reject anti-Semitism. MSZ

SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

SERBIAN OPPOSITION ISSUES CALL OF 'NOW OR NEVER.' More
than 10,000 people attended a meeting in Uzice on 7
July, which was organized by the opposition Alliance for
Change under the slogan "now or never" to demand the
resignation of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic,
"Danas" reported. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic
told protesters that, for the fourth time in 10 years,
Milosevic has sent tanks into a war with the result that
Serbs have fled their homes on tractors. PM

DEMONSTRATIONS CONTINUE IN LESKOVAC. On 7 July, some
2,000 protesters turned out for a third consecutive day
in Leskovac to call for the resignations of Milosevic
and district governor Zivojin Stefanovic, who had
earlier called protesters "traitors, terrorists, and
deserters," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July
1999). The protesters, whose ranks included an
unspecified number of army reservists, demanded that
Stefanovic apologize and that the authorities publish a
list of all soldiers and police officers from Leskovac
who were killed in Kosova. The demonstrators also called
for the release of jailed television broadcaster Ivan
Novkovic, whose unauthorized call on the air for a
protest led to the 5 July demonstration, which attracted
20,000 people in a town not previously know for anti-
Milosevic sympathies. According to "Danas" on 8 July,
Stefanovic threatened a human rights activist with a
pistol and police detained the activist's brother, who
was one of the protest's organizers. PM

SERBIAN PETITION DRIVE MOVES AHEAD. Representatives of
the Alliance for Change said in Belgrade on 7 July that
their week-old anti-Milosevic petition drive has already
collected some 100,000 signatures, AP reported. Nis
Mayor Zoran Zivkovic said that the petition received
3,200 signatures on its first day of circulation in that
city. Police told a group of people collecting
signatures in Nis that they were engaging in illegal
activities but took no action against them, "Danas"
reported. The aim of the drive is to pressure
legislators to launch proceedings aimed at ousting
Milosevic. PM

U.S. SAYS MILOSEVIC'S DAYS ARE NUMBERED. State
Department spokesman James Foley said in Washington on 7
July that the protests against Milosevic recall those
that drove Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos from
office or those that ended British rule in India. Foley
added: "Milosevic's days are numbered. It's impossible
to predict how many numbers there are in those days.
Serbia historically has been a part of the West. Its
separation from the West has been an anomaly. [Serbs
nonetheless] have a lot to catch up on, and I think one
can sympathize with the sense of impatience that's
growing on the part of opposition leaders and their
followers inside Serbia." PM

ETHNIC ALBANIANS PROTEST PARTITION OF MITROVICA. About
20,000 ethnic Albanian residents of Mitrovica
demonstrated on 7 July against the recent de facto
partition of their town, an RFE/RL South Slavic Service
correspondent reported. They marched to the main bridge
leading to the northern part of the city, which is
currently held by Serbs. French KFOR soldiers and
gendarmes guarded the protesters. Serbian inhabitants
insulted and shouted at the marchers, saying that
Russians forces will soon come to the town. A Kosova
Liberation Army commander in Mitrovica told RFE/RL that
Serbian paramilitary groups are present in the northern
part of Mitrovica. He added, however, that: "We have
received guarantees that [KFOR] will ensure the security
of the returning citizens. They have given us guarantees
that all paramilitaries will be disarmed and will leave
Mitrovica." French soldiers arrested one Serbian
paramilitary fighter on 7 July. FS

KOSOVARS PROTEST AGAINST RUSSIAN DEPLOYMENT. About 3,000
ethnic Albanians protested against the deployment of
Russian troops in Rahovec on 7 July, AFP reported. The
protesters claimed that Russian volunteers and
mercenaries participated in massacres of ethnic
Albanians in that area in the spring, and that they do
not trust the Russians to protect them now. A total of
750 Russian soldiers will be deployed in Rahovec under
German "tactical control," which is a euphemism for de
facto command. A Serbian resident there told AFP,
however, that "we prefer to be protected by the
Russians.... The Germans and Dutch do nothing to protect
our houses." About 2,000 Serbs remain in that town. FS

WHAT DOES PODGORICA WANT FROM BELGRADE? The Montenegrin
government has not made public the content of its
proposals on the future of the federation, which it
recently sent to the federal authorities in Belgrade,
RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 7 July.
Montenegrin Labor Minister Predrag Drecun of the
People's Party said in Podgorica that he disagrees with
recent remarks by Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic, who
indicated that Montenegro will enter talks on
recognizing the federal government if Montenegro's
governing coalition is allowed to name that body's prime
minister. Elsewhere, the Montenegrin Interior Ministry
said in a statement that it will firmly oppose any
attempt by the Belgrade authorities to send their
paramilitary police into Montenegro. PM

NEW JUDGE FOR THE HAGUE. Officials of the Hague-based
war crimes tribunal announced on 7 July that U.S. Judge
Patricia M. Wald will replace Judge Gabrielle Kirk
McDonald on the bench on 17 November. McDonald has also
served as the tribunal's president. In Washington, Wald
said that she regards the court's work as vital because
"it establishes what kind of conduct is acceptable, even
in times of internal stress." Back in The Hague, a court
spokesman also said that Louise Arbour, who is the
tribunal's outgoing chief prosecutor, will visit Kosova
later this week. In January, Serbian authorities denied
her permission to investigate a massacre in Recak. PM

ARBOUR STRESSES LOCAL RESPONSIBILITY. Arbour
congratulated NATO forces on 6 July on their arrest of
the Bosnian Serb war crimes suspect Radislav Brdjanin
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 1999). She stressed,
however, that the primary responsibility for arresting
war criminals under the Dayton peace agreement lies with
the local authorities and not with SFOR. Speaking in
Sarajevo, British Defense Secretary George Robertson
added: "We look on all of these arrests even-handedly
and impartially, and those who have been indicted in any
part of the former Yugoslavia must be prepared to face
justice. All those who know of them have an obligation
to deliver them." PM

BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN HALTED. Local ethnic Croatian
officials and representatives of the international
community agreed in Drvar in western Bosnia on 7 July to
halt the return of ethnic Serb refugees to that town
"temporarily but completely," RFE/RL's South Slavic
Service reported. The move followed recent clashes
between returning Serbs and Croatian displaced persons
who had settled in the area since 1992. In Zagreb,
representatives of the Croatian and Bosnian governments
approved documents delineating the 1,000 kilometer-long
boundary between the two states. PM

CROATIA TALLIES WAR'S IMPACT ON TOURISM. In Sarajevo,
visiting Croatian Tourism Minister Ivan Herak said on 7
July that the conflict in Kosova has led to losses of
$1.4 billion to his country's tourist industry, RFE/RL's
South Slavic Service reported. He added that he will
advise the government to cut the VAT for tourist-related
purchases from 22 percent to 10 percent. In Zagreb,
unnamed officials reported that 202,000 tourists have
visited the country so far this year, which is an
increase of 15 percent over the corresponding period in
1998. The Croatian authorities have recently sought to
attract tourists by slashing prices for hotels and
package arrangements. PM

MACEDONIAN CHURCH LEADER DIES. Archbishop Mihail of the
Macedonian Orthodox Church died in Skopje on 6 July at
the age of 88. He died in hospital and had suffered from
a heart condition for two years, but the exact cause of
his death was not released. Mihail became head of the
church in 1991, shortly after Macedonia declared
independence from Yugoslavia, AP reported. It is not
clear when the Holy Synod will name his successor. The
Macedonian Orthodox Church separated from its Serbian
counterpart in 1967. PM

ALBANIA, MACEDONIA SIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION AGREEMENT.
Albanian Privatization Minister Ylli Bufi and Macedonian
Economics Minister Mihailo Tolevski signed an economic
cooperation agreement in Tirana on 6 July. Under the
agreement, the two countries will cooperate in the
fields of energy, mining, and trade. Both countries also
plan to built new power lines to link border towns.
Albania will supply a metallurgy plant in Tetovo with
chrome. The two governments also agreed to implement
projects aimed at protecting the environment around Lake
Ohrid and Lake Prespa, dpa reported. FS

GREECE EXPELS 2,000 ALBANIANS. Greek police deported
about 2,000 Albanians during the first week of July,
Reuters reported. The wave of deportations peaked on 6
July, when Greece expelled about 1,000 immigrants. Many
claimed they were wrongfully deported given that their
visas and residence permits were in order. Gezim
Gjermeni, the Albanian deputy police chief at the
Kakavia border crossing, confirmed their claims: "We
checked the papers of some 200 and found that half of
them had regular papers." Greece usually deports about
60 illegal immigrants a day, but on 1 July the Greek
authorities suddenly increased the number of deportees.
Some of them said police beat them in prison. Others
quoted Greek police officers as saying: "Go and emigrate
to Kosova. Now there is only room for immigrants from
Serbia here. Let NATO employ you." FS

NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL IN ROMANIA. Javier Solana on 8
July met with Romanian President Emil Constantinescu
at the end of a one-day visit to Romania. Solana
thanked Romania for its stance during the Kosova
crisis and said Bucharest had "led the way" toward
achieving stability in the region. He also said that
Romania will play a "major part" in the proposed
stability and reconstruction pact for the region. He
said Romania is "very close" to NATO, but he avoided
using the words "NATO membership." In an attempt to
soothe recent Romanian anxieties, Solana said NATO
supports the principle of respect for minority rights
but stressed that "European borders must not be
changed." On 7 July, Solana met with Prime Minister
Radu Vasile and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu. MS

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ENDS TURKEY VISIT. Constantinescu
on 7 July ended a two-day visit to Turkey after a
meeting in Istanbul with a group of Turkish
businessmen. On 6 July, Constantinescu met with
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, Prime Minister
Bulent Ecevit, and other officials. Romanian and
Turkish delegations signed five agreements on economic
cooperation, scientific research, and social security.
Demirel said the Kosova crisis demonstrated the need
for Romania and Bulgaria to be admitted into NATO. In
turn, Constantinescu expressed support for Turkey's
full membership in the EU, an RFE/RL correspondent
reported. MS

ROMANIAN COURT ALLOWS 'MULTICULTURAL' UNIVERSITY. The
Supreme Court of Justice on 7 July overturned an
earlier ruling by a Bucharest court which had rejected
as unconstitutional the government's decision to set
up the Petofi-Schiller "multicultural" university (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 11 December 1998). The government
had brought the appeal to the Supreme Court, while the
earlier verdict was the result of a case brought to
the court by the Party of Romanian National Unity
(PUNR). PUNR chairman Valeriu Tabara--who on 3 July
was designated as PUNR's candidate in the 2000
presidential elections--described the Supreme Court's
ruling as having resulted from "political pressure."
The Supreme Court has yet to rule on other appeals by
the government against similar verdicts delivered in
cases brought to court by the opposition Party of
Social Democracy in Romania and the Greater Romania
Party. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ONCE AGAIN POSTPONES DEBATE ON
SPENT NUCLEAR FUEL TRANSIT. The leadership of the
governing coalition on 7 July decided to postpone
indefinitely a parliamentary debate on ratifying the
1997 agreement on the transit of spent nuclear fuel
from the Bulgarian Kozloduy nuclear plant (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 25 June 1999). If it actually takes place,
the debate could cause the current government to
collapse, since three of the four parties in the
governing coalition are opposed to the transit,
RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Party of
Moldovan Communists has hinted that it might join the
coalition's pro-presidential For a Democratic and
Prosperous Moldova Bloc in supporting the deal's
ratification. MS

EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS EXAMINES CASE OF
DETAINED MOLDOVAN DEPUTY. The European Court of Human
Rights has started examining the case of parliamentary
deputy Ilie Ilascu who has been sentenced to death in
Tiraspol for alleged terrorist acts in 1992, RFE/RL's
Chisinau bureau reported. The lawyers representing
Ilascu filed the suit against both Russia and
Tiraspol, arguing that Moscow is supporting the
separatist regime which has imprisoned their client.
The suit had to be brought against Russia because the
European court only has jurisdiction over states that
are members of the Council of Europe. MS

BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES RUSSIAN OVERFLIGHTS. The
cabinet on 7 July approved the transit of Russian KFOR
peacekeepers through Bulgaria's airspace and asked the
parliament to endorse the decision, Reuters reported.
Parliament chairman Yordan Sokolov said the
legislature may require 72 hours to debate the
approval. Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova said
that the parliamentary debate may extend past the
dates that Moscow has requested for the transit of its
troops. MS

LEBANON CONSIDERS CANCELING BULGARIAN FLIGHTS TO
BEIRUT. Lebanon is considering canceling all flights
by Bulgaria's national airline to Beirut because the
company was recently sold to two Israeli companies, AP
reported. A consortium of the Zeevi Group Knafaim and
Arkia Holdings bought a 75 percent stake in the debt-
ridden Balkan Airlines in late June for $150,000 and a
commitment to invest $100 million in the airline. MS

SECOND BULGARIAN JOURNALIST ATTACKED WITHIN ONE MONTH.
Svetla Asenova, a layout editor for the "Computer
World" weekly, was hospitalized with a skull fracture
and brain injury on 7 July, after being severely
beaten and robbed by unidentified assailants in Sofia,
AP reported. A journalist from the weekly "Kapital"
was hospitalized after being attacked in late June
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 1999). Also on 7 July,
a court in Sofia acquitted due to lack of evidence a
man accused of throwing acid in the face of Anna
Zarkova, a reporter from the daily "Trud," during an
attack on her in late 1998. MS

END NOTE

Three Thoughts on Democracy in Serbia

By Patrick Moore

The legacy of Slobodan Milosevic's four lost wars has
recently prompted Western capitals to show an interest
in promoting democracy in Serbia. Part of the goal is to
eliminate the main source of Balkan instability, once
and for all. Much has been written on the subject in
recent weeks, and more will no doubt follow. In the
ensuing discussion, one might also raise these three
points.
	First, democracy comes from the bottom up. The
focus of efforts to promote a transformation in Serbia
should start with local and grass-roots efforts,
including groups from the civil society and independent
media. "Danas" wrote on 30 June that the German
government plans to help opposition-run cities. That
will be well and good if it happens. But one should not
forget that previous pledges by the EU and other foreign
sources to help Serbian independent media and the civil
society have not always materialized, as the "Berliner
Zeitung" reported on 28 June.
	Furthermore, in concentrating on local initiatives,
one should not waste energy in lamenting the absence of
some admirable and dynamic national political leader--a
"Serbian Cory Aquino," as Richard Holbrooke recently put
it. There are many opposition-party mayors and other
local leaders who deserve support. Some of them have
been at the forefront of the recent protests that have
taken place in several cities and towns. Many prominent
Western leaders began their careers in local or regional
politics. Might Serbia, some day soon, offer similar
examples?
	Second, use the international protectorate over
Kosova to make it a safe haven for Serbian democracy,
including NGOs and the independent media (see "'RFE/RL
Balkan Report," No. 25). One recalls that in Habsburg
times the Vojvodina played a similar role in bringing
modern European culture and politics to the Serbs of
Serbia proper. The Kosova protectorate now provides a
golden opportunity both for Serbian democrats and for
the international community. Perhaps the time has come
for those concerned to seriously discuss the
possibilities with each other.
	Before all else, however, Kosova has to be made
safe for Serbs. Ending the revenge attacks and restoring
an atmosphere of safety and security should be top
priorities for KFOR. They are also necessary
prerequisites if the international protectorate is to
serve as a vehicle for promoting democracy in Serbia
proper.
	Third, perhaps time has come for giving serious
consideration to the restoration of the Karadjordjevic
dynasty in Serbia. The decision to do so will obviously
be a matter for the Serbs themselves, but foreign
governments might want to think about what role, if any,
they might seek to play. They might reflect, for
example, on whether they wish to treat Crown Prince
Aleksandar as a private citizen or as something else.
	The main argument for the restoration is that a
good constitutional monarch could provide a stabilizing
and guiding influence in Serbia's transition to
democracy. The role of Spain's Juan Carlos in his
country's transition comes to mind. The monarchist
tradition is strong in Serbia, and among Serbs outside
its boundaries. Aleksandar's British education and his
exposure to British political culture might be just the
qualifications that would best recommend a
constitutional monarch in a troubled country like
present-day Serbia.
	The main argument against a restoration has been
that a majority of Serbs do not support it, at least
according to polls in the past. Perhaps in view of the
dramatic events of the past few months, however, it's
time for some fresh opinion surveys. A democratically
elected Serbian parliament might choose to settle the
issue by calling a referendum.
	A second set of negative arguments involves
Aleksandar personally. Critics charge that he is a man
of only average intelligence. They add that his command
of Serbo-Croatian is very limited, noting that he was
born and raised in Britain and never expected to reclaim
the throne.
	Whatever the merits of the first argument, it fails
to appreciate that he has apparently shown excellent
judgment in selecting good advisors and following their
suggestions. And with his British background, Aleksandar
may be precisely the sort of individual best suited to
serve Serbia in these difficult times.
	As to the language issue, it might be recalled that
most of the Balkan countries were ruled at one time or
another in the past 100-odd years by foreign-born
monarchs who had little knowledge of their people's
language. One exception was Serbia, where the two rival
dynasties--Karadjordjevic and Obrenovic--were both home
grown. Given his family's place in Serbian history,
perhaps many Serbs would be willing to forgive
Aleksandar on the language issue. In any event, he has
two young sons who could still master the intricacies of
Serbo-Croatian declensions.

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Natasha Bulashova, Greg Cole
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Updated: 1998-11-

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