|We do not live an equal life, but one of contrast and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action. - Ralph Waldo Emerson|
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 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx 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. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. 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