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Balkan Report: December 21, 1999

21 December 1999, Volume 3, Number 56

What Kind Of Future For Kosova? Even though NATO has established a strong presence in Kosova and the UN is working to build institutions there, the future of the region remains uncertain. Whether Kosova will remain a part of Yugoslavia or become independent will primarily depend on the survival of federal Yugoslavia and on the extent of its democratization.

What remains of Yugoslavia is going through yet another phase of disintegration. Similar to 1990, on the eve of the dissolution of the socialist Yugoslavia, today the only remaining and functioning institution of federal Yugoslavia is the army. Montenegro refuses to recognize the authority of the federal parliament and the government, which have no control left over Montenegro except through the military. Montenegro has nonetheless avoided holding a referendum and declaring de jure independence--so far--and the government officially does not pursue independence.

On one hand, the government still hopes to serve as a model for the democratization of Serbia; on the other, it fears the danger of war with that country. In practice, however, rump-Yugoslavia has already ceased to exist. Montenegro has the German mark as a currency, controls its border crossings, does not respect Yugoslav visa laws, and pursues its own foreign policy. Thus the question is not whether Yugoslavia will fall apart, but whether it will unite again, based on a new federal constitutional framework. And that depends on the readiness or failure of Serbia to democratize.

If the future of Serbian-Montenegrin relations is unclear, the position of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) is ambiguous. According to UN Security Council Resolution 1244, UNMIK is in charge of "promoting the establishment, pending a final settlement, of substantial autonomy and self-government in Kosovo, taking full account...of the Rambouillet accords."

This includes the creation of democratic institutions-- notably those provided for in the Rambouillet accords-- and the holding of elections. The resolution also reaffirms "the commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia."

In the long run, in fact, it is federal Yugoslavia that will determine the future Kosova will have. Should Montenegro declare independence and Yugoslavia disintegrate, the international community will find itself in a position where the Yugoslav party to the June agreement with NATO has ceased to exist. The international community could then be pressed to recognize the independence of Kosova. But if Serbia democratizes and Montenegro remains linked to it, the pressure on the Kosovar Albanians to negotiate a long-term settlement with the Montenegrins and Serbs will increase.

While such long-term scenarios remain open, the medium-term future is equally likely to remain ambiguous. But under these circumstances UNMIK and the international community must make sure that this ambiguity does not jeopardize the stabilization and democratization of the province. In order to facilitate progress towards democracy and stability, Kosova needs economic recovery. The international community will spend over $2 billion in Kosova over the coming two years, but this alone does not ensure success.

If UNMIK does not back up these investments in peace by promoting substantial internal reforms, Kosova will likely become a "bottomless pit," as many critics feel that Bosnia has. Economic recovery also needs legal security, including adequate legislation and an independent and professional judiciary. To give security to investors and boost production, Kosova needs a speedy and systematic privatization of socially-owned enterprises. But this would touch on the status question of Kosova, and UNMIK is more likely to leave the privatization process to an elected government of Kosova, thus avoiding criticism from Belgrade and Moscow that it has overstepped its mandate and interfered in Yugoslavia's internal affairs.

But time remains the key factor affecting economic success or failure. Thus UNMIK faces a dilemma. On the one hand, Kosova needs a legitimate legislature soon to launch the necessary reforms to prepare the ground for an economic recovery. Therefore, local and general elections need to be held sooner rather than later. On the other hand, any elections must be democratic, fair, free, and credible. But it is impossible to organize such a ballot so soon, only partly because of the still high level of crime. UNMIK will first have to organize a census, including ethnic Serbian, Albanian, and other refugees scattered all over the world. The registration will be most problematic within Serbia, where voting registers were manipulated during previous voter registrations for Bosnia, and where most ethnic Serbian refugees from Kosova are now located. For these reasons, elections are unlikely to take place before late in the year 2000.

Furthermore, the administration to be elected will have to appreciate the need to pursue political and economic reforms. UNMIK is already preparing a democratic legal framework in compliance with international standards, hoping that the elected representatives follow up on these initial steps. The international community is also establishing public order by building up a justice system and a police force despite a shortage of resources. And it will need to invest in its human capacities and transfer know-how about how to run an efficient administration.

Such a strategy can only be successful when Kosovar society accepts democracy and a market economy, which is open to the free flow of goods, people, and services. Therefore it will also have to overcome its widespread belief in nationalist protectionism, rooted in Yugoslavia's socialist past.

In the last analysis, the task is one of state-building. Only after that process is finished will Kosova's elected representatives will be able to determine the province's future and define its position towards Serbia and Montenegro--and also towards its other neighbors. Any future involving successful economic recovery, moreover, will be a future of integration. Kosova under such circumstances will be part of a broader European vision. But by that point the current question of de jure or de facto independence will have lost much of its importance. (Fabian Schmidt) (He is an analyst at the Suedost-Institut, Munich)

Will The HDZ Survive In The Post-Tudjman Era? The death of President Franjo Tudjman is the most significant political event in the Croatia's history since the country gained independence nearly nine years ago. His departure from the political scene leaves a huge power vacuum in the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). He ruled both with an iron hand. Under Tudjman the HDZ was completely subordinate to his political will and failed to develop a coherent identity or ideology of its own. The HDZ is more of a mass movement than a modern political party. It brought together different interest groups under his leadership. Now that Tudjman is gone the very future of the party is at stake.

The party is divided into three main political factions: a radical nationalist wing led by the president's domestic policy advisor, Ivic Pasalic; a conservative right-wing segment led by Deputy Speaker of Parliament Vladimir Seks; and a moderate and technocratic group led by the Western-oriented Foreign Minister Mate Granic. These three men are the main contenders for Tudjman's top spot in the party and they will divide the top positions in the ruling party among themselves.

Whoever takes over for Tudjman will not have the same personal power and authority as the late president. The opposition (and even some voices in the ruling party) has announced that they will work towards reducing the extensive powers of the presidency in favor of a parliamentary system. No one--even in the HDZ--wants another Tudjman. The delicate balance between the different factions will not allow a new Tudjman to arise in the HDZ. The party leadership will insist that the HDZ's president not be the party's presidential candidate. Tudjman's successors will be battling for two top positions: the HDZ nomination for the presidency of the country and for the presidency of the party itself.

While Tudjman was still alive, Ivic Pasalic was regarded as the second most powerful politician in the country. Relying on his Herzegovinian and other connections, he has established a wide network of cronies in the government, military, and media. He is also the moving force behind the country's intelligence services and has used them against his political opponents in the past. Yet Pasalic has been weakened most by the late president's departure from the political scene. He relied on Tudjman most for his power and authority. Pasalic is one of the most unpopular politicians in the country and knows that he does not stand a chance in presidential elections. Nevertheless, his connections and solid base within the party make him one of the top contenders for the party presidency.

Seks has gained considerable clout in the party as the HDZ's most important man in parliament. He also enjoys strong grassroots support among the party faithful. While Pasalic and his faction are implicated in numerous corruption charges surrounding privatization, Seks has managed to stay away from scandal and enjoys the backing of those who want to rid the party of corruption. Seks is currently the HDZ's candidate for speaker of parliament. However, if the HDZ loses the parliamentary elections, it is likely that he will challenge Pasalic for the top spot in the HDZ.

Granic may have gained the most from Tudjman's departure from the political scene. Every major poll predicts that the ruling party will lose control of the parliament and government after the upcoming January 3 parliamentary elections. It will thus be essential for the HDZ to retain control of the presidency. Granic is the only major HDZ politician who has any chance of beating an opposition candidate in presidential elections. It is true that Granic is unpopular with the right-wing majority in the party because of his pro-Western policies. Nevertheless, the HDZ may have no alternative but to support Granic's presidential bid.

Yet Granic is far from being a certain winner. Seks has indicated that he will make a bid for the presidency, and several other candidates (including Speaker of Parliament and acting president Vlatko Pavletic) are still in the running. The ruling party put off making a final decision about who their presidential candidate will be until December 26. It is also unlikely that the HDZ will chose its new president until after the presidential elections. In the meantime, back-room wheeling and dealing will continue as each faction works to squeeze the most out of any future agreements.

The future of the ruling party will depend on the results of the presidential elections. If the party wins the presidency it will likely maintain its unity. The HDZ will also begin the slow process of transforming itself from an instrument of Tudjman's personality cult into a modern political party. However, a loss in the presidential elections could be a complete debacle for the HDZ. It will be very difficult for these factions to bridge over their ideological differences if the HDZ loses its grip on both the parliament and presidency. One or more of the factions may eventually decide to leave the HDZ to form their own political parties.

In any event, Croatia has reached a turning point. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections, one thing is certain: there will be no Tudjman after Tudjman. His one-man rule is a thing of the past, and the country can expect to see a much greater level of political pluralism and democracy in the future. (Andrej Krickovic) (The author is a freelance journalist based in Zagreb.)

It's Very Simple. Some Serbian academics are getting on the nerves of the ruling family again. Mira Markovic--aka Ms. Slobodan Milosevic and head of the Stalinoid United Yugoslav Left (JUL)--gave her insights into the activities of some unnamed professors when she inaugurated JUL's new radio station recently. Mira said that the professors "receive instructions from Western embassies" and from "foreign intelligence services." She added that "on Western orders they instruct their students about the political situation in Serbia." And for her finale, she noted that the offending academics "offer their students hard currency and drugs." RFE/RL's South Slavic Service carried the story on 15 December. (Patrick Moore)

Quotations Of The Week. "I shall not allow ethnic hatred and intolerance to undermine Macedonia's stability. The country's integrity is an issue on which there will be no compromise." -- President Boris Trajkovski in his inaugural address on 15 December. Reported by AP.

"We could have defended Kosovo as long as we have liked. We had strongly concentrated and well positioned forces, and the fighting morale was very high among more than 90 percent of our officers and soldiers.... [NATO is] in Kosovo only with a mandate that expires in June. It is expected that by then there will be a power shift in the world after the elections in Russia and America." -- Yugoslav army commander General Nebojsa Pavkovic, quoted by Tanjug on 16 December.

"Europe must eventually take more responsibility for its security and cannot rely only on NATO. The decision was influenced by the lessons from the Kosovo crisis." -- Slovak Deputy Prime Minister Pavao Hamzik, to "Praca" on 16 December.

"We need money. Without money, no success...without money, no confidence, without money, no restarting of daily life. I asked for 6,000 police officers. I just received 1,800. This is ridiculous and a scandal." -- UNMIK's Bernard Kouchner, in Brussels on 16 December. Quoted by Reuters.