MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues, August 30 - September 10, 2004

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 167, Part II, 1 September 2004

70 pupils from Transdniester have applied to study in schools in the
northwestern Romanian county of Iasi, Mediafax reported on 30 August.
Iasi County school authorities said that all applicants will be given
places. The Transdniestrian authorities have closed six of the eight
schools in Transdniester teaching Moldovan (Romanian) in the Latin
script in the last several weeks. ZsM

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 168, Part II, 2 September 

Minister Vasilii Sova said on 1 September that schools closed down by
Transdniestrian authorities in Tiraspol and Rybnitsa remained closed for
the start of the school year the same day, Flux reported. Three schools
in Tighina were opened, but two of them were cut off from electricity
and water supplies. A Russian Foreign Ministry release posted on its
website on 1 September suggested that during a visit to Chisinau and
Tiraspol on 30 and 31 August by Russian special envoy Igor Savolski, the
parties found a solution to the conflict and that Transdniestrian
authorities were to register schools established by Moldovan education
authorities. According to Flux, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman
Markian Lubkivski asked in Kyiv on 31 August for a reopening of the
schools, threatening "economic restrictions" against Transdniester if
officials failed to comply. Transdniestrian authorities have closed six
of the eight schools in Transdniester that teach Moldovan (Romanian) in
the Latin script in recent months, after refusing to register them. ZsM

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 169, Part II, 3 September 2004

NGO WARNS OF INTOLERANCE IN SLOVENIA. Ljubljana's Peace Institute issued
a report on 1 September warning of growing intolerance in Slovenia,
Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported. The study drew particular attention
to intolerance toward Muslims, Roma, gays, lesbians, and former
residents of Slovenia removed from state records in 1992, known as "the
erased" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 February and 23 April 2004). The
report noted an increase of hate speech by several politicians,
particularly toward Muslims and Islam. It also warned of what it called
a tendency by the Roman Catholic Church to meddle in politics, charging
that some leading clerics "consider the [Slovenian] constitution simply
a supplement to the Holy Scriptures." PM

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 170, Part II, 7 September 2004

ELECTIONS. After meeting with top officials in Belgrade on 3 September,
diplomats from the six-member international Contact Group called on
members of Kosova's Serbian minority to vote in the 23 October
parliamentary elections in that province, dpa reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24, 30, and 31 August 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13
August 2004). The diplomats from the United States, United Kingdom,
Germany, France, Russia, and Italy stressed that voting is the best way
for the minority to ensure that it has a voice in Kosova's future.
Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said
that the international community should institutionalize protection for
the minorities through decentralization based on the separate plans put
forward by Belgrade and the UN's Kosovo Working Group. Several Serbian
leaders support a boycott of the parliamentary elections on the grounds
that there is not sufficient security for Serbs to go to the polls.
Kosova's elected government notes that many Serbs in Kosova had no
problem casting their ballots in the June Serbian presidential election.
Albanian leaders charge that the real motive for the boycott is to
pressure the UN's civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) to accept
Belgrade's decentralization proposal, which the UN rejects and the
ethnic Albanian majority regards as a first step toward partition. PM

ELECTION. A meeting of representatives of the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania's (UDMR) Council of Union Representatives in
Targu-Mures on 4 September nominated Chairman Bela Marko to be that
party's candidate in November's presidential election, Mediafax
reported. Marko said his electoral program is the UDMR's program, adding
that his nomination is "a task, a responsibility, and an honor far
greater than being UDMR chairman." He asked ethnic Hungarians  to vote
for the UDMR candidate only if they consider he is fit for that role.
Marko also said the ethnic issue can be solved by democratic methods,
adding that Romania needs to build a society in which becoming president
is a real possibility for members of ethnic minorities. Marko also vowed
that the UDMR will be transparent in its nomination of candidates for
the November parliamentary elections. He said internal elections will be
open to "every group, all opinions" from the Hungarian community,
including the Hungarian Civic Union (UCM) formed by former dissenters
within the UDMR. ZsM

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 172, Part II, 9 September 2004

Leading diplomats from the international Contact Group on Kosova --
which consists of the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France,
Russia, and Italy -- will issue a policy declaration during the upcoming
session of the UN General Assembly, Munich's "Sueddeutsche Zeitung"
reported from Berlin on 9 September. The move comes in response to
increasing UN and Western criticism of the current "standards before
status" policy, which many feel has turned into a dogma leading to
frustration among Kosova's ethnic Albanian majority and complacency or
arrogance within the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK). On 7
September, German Defense Minister Peter Struck told his parliament's
defense committee that the time has come to move more quickly on
resolving the status question, a view that has gained strength in the
United States, the United Kingdom, and among some top-ranking UN
diplomats in the wake of the 17-18 March violence in Kosova (see
The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 9 September that Struck's
comments reflect frustration in the Defense Ministry and the military at
being given a thankless task in Kosova while the Foreign Ministry
pursues allegedly ineffective and unimaginative policies. PM

Following several months of incidents against the Hungarian and Croatian
minorities in Vojvodina, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said
in Subotica on 8 September that the Belgradeauthorities are determined
to resolve interethnic tensions there,RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian
Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May and 22 June
2004 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 30 January 2004). He suggested that
unnamed politicians and media have blown the situation out of proportion
for their own gain. Kostunica was apparently referring in part to some
recent statements by politicians in Hungary, which Kostunica criticized
as unnecessary attempts to "internationalize the issue," Reuters
reported. On 8 September in Budapest, Hungarian Foreign Minister Laszlo
Kovacs appealed to EU foreign ministers to issue a statement at their 13
September meeting expressing concern "over atrocities against
non-Serbian communities in Vojvodina, which endangers democratic
stability and the safety in the region." Jozef Kasza, who heads the
League of Vojvodina Hungarians, said recently that the Serbian police
have not faced up to the seriousness of the recent incidents, dismissing
them as the work of "drunken kids." Anti-Croat and anti-Hungarian
incidents increased following the strong showing by Serbian Radical
Party leader Tomislav Nikolic in the December 2003 Serbian presidential
election. PM

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 173, Part I, 10 September 2004

RACIALLY MOTIVATED ATTACK. Magomed Tolboev, a Hero of Russia, test
pilot, and former pilot of Russia's Buran space shuttle, was reportedly
beaten by Moscow police officers on the evening of 9 September because
of his Caucasian features, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 10
September. Tolboev was reportedly stopped by police officers as he
emerged from the subway and was allegedly beaten despite showing the
officers documents identifying him as a Duma deputy's aide. The officers
reportedly ran off shouting racist epithets when passersby began calling
the emergency services. Tolbaev told Ekho Moskvy that the two officers
were sergeants and that he could identify them, although he does not
intend to press charges. "I am a Russian officer, a colonel, and I don't
want to crawl into that muck," he said. "Moreover, there are 10,000 of
them and there's nothing that can be done about them." The Moscow police
have launched an investigation into the incident. Meanwhile, several
unidentified young people have been arrested in Yekaterinburg in
connection with a recent spate of attacks on local Caucasian cafes,
Interfax reported. Three cafes were reportedly attacked on the night of
8-9 September, with windows and furniture being broken and Molotov
cocktails being thrown. Two people were hospitalized as a result of the
incidents. RC

RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 173, Part II, 10 September 2004

foreign-affairs spokeswoman for the European Commission, said in
Brussels on 9 September that the EU will "closely monitor the ethnic
situation" in Vojvodina following recent complaints by Hungary
regarding a series of incidents directed against the Hungarian
minority there, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 September
2004). She stressed that "respect for minority rights is a major
issue in relations between the EU and other countries." But the news
agency quoted an unnamed "EU diplomat" as saying that EU foreign
ministers are unlikely to comply at their 13 September meeting with
Hungary's request for a public declaration on what Hungarian Foreign
Minister Laszlo Kovacs has called "atrocities against non-Serb
communities in Vojvodina." The diplomat added that "there is no
eagerness" in Brussels to make the dispute between Budapest and
Belgrade "a European issue at this moment." Reuters suggested that
Hungary might be interested in testing how much clout it wields as a
new member of the EU. Furthermore, domestic politics in both Hungary
and Serbia clearly plays a role in the bilateral dispute. In related
news, the office of Serbia and Montenegro's President Svetozar
Marovic announced on 10 September that his Hungarian counterpart
Ferenc Madl will pay a three-day visit to that country, including
Vojvodina, starting on 14 September, RFE/RL's South Slavic and
Albanian Languages Service reported. PM