MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues, August 16-20, 2004

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Fri Aug 20 19:26:46 2004


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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 155, Part II, 16 August 2004

MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION LEADER ACCUSES GOVERNING COALITION OF 'HIDDEN
AGENDA.' Conservative Opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary
Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) Chairman Nikola Gruevski told RFE/RL's
Macedonian broadcasters on 15 August that the governing coalition of
Social Democratic Union (SDSM), Liberal Democrats (LDP), and the ethnic
Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) has a "hidden agenda" to
carve up the country along ethnic lines. Gruevski said that recent
statements by BDI lawmaker Fazli Veliu suggest that the BDI still wants
a Greater Albania. On 11 August, Veliu mentioned to a convention of
veterans of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) the
"national unification of all Albanians," according to "Utrinski vesnik."
The following day, Veliu clarified his statement, saying he was speaking
of a "spiritual unification of all Albanians," "Dnevnik" reported. In
2001, the UCK successfully fought for greater rights for the Albanian
minority in Macedonia, which makes up one-quarter of the country's
population. Many Macedonians fear that the insurgency was part of a plan
to create a Greater Albania that would include Kosova, the Presevo
Valley, and parts of Macedonia, as well as Albanian proper. No
mainstream political party in any of those places backs a Greater
Albania as a political program. UB


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 158, Part II, 19 August 2004

SZEKLER ORGANIZATION OFFICIALS IN ROMANIA DEMAND AUTONOMY. Local
Szekler National Council (CNS) chairmen in Covasna and Harghita
counties on 18 August officially requested that the two county
councils organize a referendum on autonomy for the territories
inhabited by this group within the Hungarian minority, Mediafax
reported. CNS Deputy Chairman Csaba Ferencz said a similar official
request will be handed soon to the CNS branch in Mures County.
Ferencz said the CNS will not renounce its struggle for territorial
autonomy "despite the fact that parliament and the Romanian
government have shown that the Szeklers are being treated as
second-class citizens." MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 159, Part II, 20 August 2004

MACEDONIAN REFERENDUM DRIVE SUCCEEDS. A broad coalition of ethnic
Macedonian opposition parties announced on 19 August that more than
150,000 citizens have signed a petition to call a referendum on the
new Law on Territorial Organization, Macedonian media reported (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2, 23,
and 30 July, and 13 August 2004). The organizers of the petition
drive said they will continue to collect signatures until the 23
August deadline to make sure that the validity of the signatures is
beyond question. Former Interior Minister Pavle Trajanov, who is
among the supporters of the petition, said the parliament must set a
date for the referendum within 30 days after the speaker receives the
petition, while the referendum must take place within 90 days after
the announcement of the date, "Dnevnik" reported. As a result of
this, the local elections that are slated for 21 November are likely
to be postponed once again (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 2004).
Meanwhile, the governing Social Democratic Union (SDSM) and the
Liberal Democrats (LDP) are reportedly planning to call their own
referendum on the redistricting law, "Dnevnik" reported. Their
coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Union for Democratic
Integration (BDI), opposes any such plans, arguing that referendums
supported by only one ethnic group will only polarize society. UB

ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS EU MUST BECOME INVOLVED IN RESOLVING
TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT. Romanian Prime Minister Nastase said in Iasi
on 19 August that the EU should become involved in the resolution of
the Transdniester conflict and that it should appoint a special envoy
for this purpose, Mediafax reported. Nastase said his government
would be willing to cooperate with such an envoy in order to
counteract "the aberrant measures taken by the Transdniester
authorities against Romanian schools." Nastase also said Romania is
willing to grant scholarships to students of the closed schools, but
that this must be done with care, as "this is precisely what the
Transdniester authorities are after: they want a purge" of the
Romanian-speaking population in the region. MS

DETAILS EMERGE ON MEDIATORS' PROPOSALS FOR SOLVING TRANSDNIESTER
SCHOOLS CONFLICT. The three mediators in the Transdniestrian conflict
(Russia, Ukraine, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe, OSCE) on 19 August handed to separatist "Foreign Minister"
Valerii Litskay their proposals for settling the conflict over the
closed schools, Infotag and ITAR-TASS reported. Under the proposals,
the six schools teaching in Moldovan (Romanian) would continue using
the Latin script and would operate in line with Moldovan educational
standards and curriculums, but would be registered with the
Transdniester "Education Ministry." Moldova has already agreed to the
proposals. MS

OSCE MISSION IN MOLDOVA CASTIGATES TIRASPOL OVER SCHOOL INCIDENT. In
a statement released on 19 August, the OSCE's Mission in Moldova said
that the separatist authorities' decision to ban two OSCE Mission
members from Transdniester territory "stands in clear contravention
of the agreement signed by the Transdniestrian leadership in 1993"
and represents "a unilateral revocation of that agreement," Infotag
reported. Acting OSCE Mission head Neil Brennan said that the
incident at the orphanage in Bendery-Tighina was the result of "the
uncooperative attitude of Transdniestrian militia, who refused to
abide by current agreements." Brennan also said that the separatist
authorities' claim that a militiaman was injured during the 17 August
incident is "pure fabrication" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August
2004). The UNICEF office in Moldova announced the same day that it
has commenced delivering hot lunches to the students and teachers who
maintain a vigil in the orphanage besieged by the militiamen, thus
replacing the two OSCE members who did that before being banned from
Transdniester. MS