21 June 2002, Volume 6, Number 23
MACEDONIAN ELECTION CAMPAIGN GEARS UP. On 14 June, the leaders of the four major political parties finally overcame their differences over proposed election legislation. Under the mediation of U.S. special envoy James Holmes and his counterpart from the European Union, Alain Le Roy, the party leaders signed a compromise agreement. The parliament then began discussing the proposed legislation that same day.
The points at issue included the languages and symbols to be used on the ballots, as well as the nomination procedure for election commission members at all levels, from the State Election Commission down to the commissions in the election districts.
The compromise provides, most importantly, that the ballots show the Macedonian flag and the number of the election district. President Boris Trajkovski will nominate "a person who has wide political support" as chairman of the State Election Commission. The State Election Commission, for its part, will elect the chairmen of the regional and municipal election commissions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3, 10, 11, and 17 June 2002).
Reaching a compromise over the election legislation coincided with the unofficial start of the election campaigns of the larger ethnic Macedonian parties.
As has happened before, the biggest splash was made by the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization-Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) of Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski. At its annual convention in Ohrid, party spokesman Vlatko Gjorcev suggested to the opposition Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) that they form a coalition government after the 15 September parliamentary elections. He added that his party has also formally asked the SDSM to form a pre-election coalition with the VMRO-DPMNE in the mostly ethnic Albanian sixth election district in western Macedonia. That district includes the towns of Tetovo, Gostivar, and Debar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002).
The reason behind this "offer" was quite obvious, since Gjorcev added that, "with its reply, the SDSM will show whether it is the party of Macedonian unity or the party of Macedonian division."
The VMRO-DPMNE wanted to polarize the electorate along ethnic lines and to set a trap for its major opponent, the SDSM. From the outset, it was clear that the SDSM could not accept the offer without facing the risk of losing its credibility with its own followers. But if the Social Democrats rejected the offer, the VMRO-DPMNE could say that the SDSM works against national interests.
The Social Democrats rejected the deal. Replying to the VMRO-DPMNE's offer, SDSM leader Branko Crvenkovski said: "The SDSM has to defeat the VMRO-DPMNE in these elections, not form a coalition with it. Immorality, irresponsibility, crime, and corruption in Macedonia have to be defeated in these elections," "Dnevnik" of 17 June reported.
But some observers like Saso Colakovski of the daily "Utrinski vesnik" -- which is close to the SDSM -- say that Crvenkovski's major mistake is that he only reacts to accusations and offers by his opponents, instead of taking the initiative himself. At the same time, Colakovski doubts that Georgievski's plan to split the electorate along ethnic lines will work. After all, the prime minister depends on the support of his coalition partners in the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH).
Some of the smaller ethnic Macedonian parties also rejected Georgievski's offer to form a pre-election coalition in the sixth election district, but for other reasons. Their basic complaint is that they feel excluded from the prime minister's plans.
Pavle Trajanov of the Democratic Union (DS) said that: "the VMRO-DPMNE now promotes the idea of a [coalition] of the [ethnic] Macedonian parties, even though we were the first to suggest it. But we accept this...only if it includes all [ethnic] Macedonian parties." Leading figures of the Democratic Party of Macedonia (DPM) and the "Macedonian" VMRO made similar statements.
The Democratic Alternative (DA) of former Foreign Minister Vasil Tupurkovski, for its part, rejected the idea of a common platform for all ethnic Macedonian parties, calling the suggestion a "trial balloon." Tupurkovski stressed at the 15 June party convention that his party will gain from the newly introduced election system of proportional representation.
For the Liberal Democrats (LDP) of Skopje Mayor Risto Penov, the coalition question has already been resolved. They will run together with the SDSM in the pre-election Together for Macedonia coalition. But unlike the other parties, the LDP has already produced its own concrete party program.
In response to the tough talk already evident in the campaign, the EU foreign ministers recently warned that if the elections are not free and fair, some member states might reconsider ratifying the Stabilization and Association Agreement with Macedonia. A nonratification would come close to imposing economic sanctions in practical terms. (Ulrich Buechsenschuetz, firstname.lastname@example.org)
STILL MORE CANDIDATES FOR SLOVENIAN PRESIDENCY. The 14 June announcement by Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek that he will stand as a presidential candidate in the fall elections brings to seven the number of candidates running for the position (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002). Milan Kucan's final term will expire this year. Drnovsek's decision, which was awaited with considerable impatience in Slovenia, means that he will likely step down from his position as prime minister by September in order to concentrate on his campaign.
In addition to Drnovsek, who is president of the Liberal Democracy Party (LDS), other candidates from parliamentary parties include Zmago Jelincic of the opposition Slovenian National Party (SNS) and Barbara Brezigar, who has the joint backing of the conservative opposition Social Democratic Party (SDS) and New Slovenia Party (NSi).
The major candidate from outside the parliamentary parties is former central bank governor France Arhar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2002). Arhar is running as an independent candidate but has the backing of the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), which belongs to the ruling coalition. That party is one of the heirs to Slovenia's tradition of having Roman Catholic parties, as well as those of the left and right. Minor candidates include Tomaz Rozman of the League for Slovenia, Marko Kozar of the Patriotic List of Independent Citizens of Velike Lasce, and businessman Stefan Hudobivnik, who is running as an independent.
Three parliamentary parties remain without candidates, although all of them have declared their intention to select one. These include the other two coalition parties -- the Democratic Party of Slovenian Pensioners (DeSUS) and the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), as well as the opposition Slovenian Youth Party (SMS). The ZLSD is the direct heir to the former League of Communists, of which Drnovsek was also a leading member.
The SMS earlier approached Joze Mencinger, the rector of the University of Ljubljana, to run as its candidate, but he declined and has voiced his support for Arhar. The SMS is not now expected to field a candidate this fall, despite its earlier intention to do so.
Anton Rous, the president of DeSUS, has declined to run himself, but says that his party will decide on a candidate by the end of June. Likely choices include Ivan Kristan, who served as the first president of Slovenia's National Council, or Vinko Gobec, who heads the Slovenian Association of Pensioners' Organizations.
Dusan Kumer, the party secretary of the ZLSD, is not offering any names and says only that the party will not necessarily select a candidate at its upcoming meeting in Kocevje. However, Slovenian media speculate that the ZLSD may invite the academician Matjaz Kmecl to run.
Many observers believe this fall's election will likely be a contest between the current front-runners in public-opinion polls, Janez Drnovsek and France Arhar. (Donald F. Reindl, email@example.com)
SLOVENIA PRESSES CLAIM TO LIPIZZANER RIGHTS. The daily "Delo" reported on 14 June that Slovenia's Ministry of Agriculture sees no quick solution to the impasse over rights to the title to the Lipizzaner breed of horses (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 November 2001). The dispute stems from negotiations by Austria and Italy to obtain exclusive EU management rights to the Lipizzaner stud books of origin. As a non-EU state, Slovenia was excluded from participating.
After Italy conceded this right to Austria in 1998, Slovenia took the unprecedented step of registering the label "Lipizzaner" with the World Trade Organization, in much the same way that "champagne" and "cognac" are protected. Slovenia is willing to share the appellation "Lipizzaner" with other countries. It insists, however, that the stud farm in Lipica, Slovenia, be recognized as the homeland of the Lipizzaners and entrusted with the stud books. These breeding records, kept since 1735, allow the holder to define what is and is not a Lipizzaner.
In a press release of 13 June, Agriculture Minister Franci But stated that he raised the issue in a letter to EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen in January. He stressed that Slovenia will soon harmonize its zootechnical legislation with that of the EU and, following its EU accession, intends to apply for management of the stud books. According to But, Verheugen agreed that Slovenia's demands are legitimate. The priority now, says But, is to begin talks between Austria and Slovenia as soon as possible.
Lipizzaners are characterized by their sturdy build and short, strong necks and legs. They are born dark-gray and only slowly become pure white. The animal's powerful hindquarters allow it to rear up easily. This ability is exploited at various Lipizzaner performances around the world -- most famously at Vienna's Spanish Riding School. The sight of horses hopping on their hind legs to classical music (the "levade") appeals to many tourists, although the "Lonely Planet" guidebook has likened the performance to watching "a demented kangaroo."
It is universally acknowledged that the breed's name originates from the village of Lipica (in Italian, Lipizza), but its geographical history is anything but simple. Austrian Archduke Charles II established a stud farm for Spanish horses at Lipica in 1580. Over the centuries, Danish, Neapolitan, Andalusian, and Arabian bloodlines were added and interbred with the native draft horses of the Karst region, creating the Lipizzaner breed with several distinct family lines in the 18th and 19th centuries.
However, the breed was not kept continuously at Lipica. Over the centuries, wars forced the herd's evacuation to various locations in what are now Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and other countries, often establishing competing herds. After the dissolution of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the Piber stud farm in the Austrian province of Styria eventually became home to some of the Lipizzaner stock. Italy also maintained a portion of the herd at the historical stud farm at Lipica, incorporated at the time into the interwar Italian state.
During World War II, the Lipizzaner mares and foals at Piber and Lipica were separated from the stallions and relocated to the Hostoun stud farm near Prague. Here they joined other elite breeding stock from across German-occupied Europe.
In April 1945, the Germans, fearful that advancing Soviet troops would slaughter and eat the horses, negotiated the surrender of Hostoun. General George S. Patton himself issued the order for American troops to seize the stud farm. After the German surrender, continued Soviet interest in the mares prompted their secret evacuation to Bavaria. In the meantime, the stallions had been evacuated to the province of Upper Austria.
After the war, the herd was again split between Austria and Italy, to stud farms at Piber and Monterotonda, respectively. Yugoslavia also demanded the return of the Lipizzaners to Lipica -- now part of Slovenia -- but received only 11 horses. However, later infusions from stock at the Demir Kapija stud farm in Macedonia, as well as purchases and exchanges, regenerated the bloodline at Lipica.
According to Rajko Vojtkovszky, president of the Slovenian Lipizzaner Breeders Association, today only the Lipica and Piber farms have preserved the classic form of the breed. Other stud farms -- for example, in Romania and Slovakia -- have larger horses that deviate from the classical Lipizzaner, with variations in the head and body profile. Vojtkovszky notes that 600 of the 3,600 Lipizzaners in the world are in Slovenia, the largest share held by any one country. The director of the Lipica stud farm, Janez Rus, says that Lipizzaner breeding organizations rather than an EU agency should mutually decide on the management of the stud books. "Who gave the Austrians [this authority]? Where? How?" he demands.
Although every stud farm keeps its own breeding records, there is only one official set of stud books of origin. The final decision on the right to manage them will likely pit Austria's imperial claim against Slovenia's geographical claim. Ultimately, however, the countries of the region will have to acknowledge that the Lipizzaners reflect a common cultural heritage and act accordingly. (Donald F. Reindl, firstname.lastname@example.org)
QUOTATION OF THE WEEK: "My music has nothing to do with politics. Politics is the most awful thing that happened to this nation...it disrupted everything," -- Ceca Raznatovic, widow of Arkan, after her megaconcert on 15 June. Quoted by AP in Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 June 2002).