MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues, September 13-17, 2004

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 174, Part II, 13 September 2004

MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER SUPPORTS REFERENDUM AGAINST
REDISTRICTING PLANS. Arben Xhaferi, who chairs the opposition Democratic
Party of Albanians (PDSH), told RTV Kosova that he wants his followers
to support the referendum against the Macedonian government's plans to
reduce the number of administrative districts, "Utrinski vesnik"
reported on 10 September. Xhaferi said the administrative borders
envisioned by the new Law on Territorial Organization are worse than the
current ones because they create ethnic Macedonian enclaves in western
Macedonia, which did not previously exist (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report,"
23 July, and 3 and 11 September 2004). He hopes that a new dialogue on
the future of Macedonia facilitated by the international community can
be initiated if the referendum succeeds and the government has to
withdraw its redistricting plans. Meanwhile, EU special representative
in Macedonia Michael Sahlin told RFE/RL's Macedonian broadcasters on 12
September that the EU recognizes Macedonian citizens' right to call a
referendum, adding, however, that its passage will hold up Macedonia's
Euro-Atlantic integration and administrative decentralization. UB

OSCE CALLS ON TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER TO OPEN MOLDOVAN SCHOOLS IN
BREAKAWAY REPUBLIC. In a 10 September press release, William Hill, the
head of the OSCE's mission in Chisinau, called on Transdniestrian leader
Igor Smirnov to respect his recent promise to register and open schools
in Transdniester that teach Moldovan (Romanian) in the Latin script,
Flux reported. Hill said two of the six schools that were closed down in
mid-July are still closed, while the remaining four remain unregistered
and face additional difficulties. He added that local authorities have
refused to discuss the issue, and a joint appeal signed by the
representatives from Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and the Council of
Europe who are mediating the conflict has gone unanswered. ZsM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 174, Part I, 13 September 2004

RUSSIAN DUMA SECURITY COMMITTEE CHIEF LISTS NEW ANTITERRORISM MEASURES.
The head of the Duma's Security Committee, Colonel General Vladimir
Vasilev (Unified Russia), told RTR on 12 September that after the recent
attacks on civilians in Russia, the notion "terrorist act" has been
exhausted and the country should operate under the category of "war."
"This is an unconventional war without a front line, a war in which we
have an enemy inside the country and we should learn to create security
zones around vital objects," he added. In this war, Russia should
consider all existing world experience, including the Israeli practice
of punishing relatives of terrorists and destroying their houses. In
doing so, we should not forget that unlike Israel, Russia is a
multiethnic country and proposed measures should not lead to ethnic
tension, which could breed more terrorists, he said. Vasilev also said
that in its fall session, beginning 22 September, the Duma will consider
new legislation on a national alert on the level of terrorism threat
similar to that existing in the United States. Another measure will be
laws strengthening security on the national air-, ground-,
water-transportation, and subway systems. The antiterrorism amendments
will introduce legislation on bank and commercial secrecy. Finally,
legislation will be adopted on strengthening the southern state border,
including construction of two new border stations in the Caucasus
region. VY


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 175, Part II, 14 September 2004

TENSIONS BETWEEN SERBIA AND HUNGARY EASING? Hungarian Foreign Minister
Laszlo Kovacs told his EU counterparts in Brussels on 13 September that
recent incidents against the Hungarian minority in Serbia's Vojvodina
province "are a question of law and order," Reuters reported. "I am
absolutely certain that the Serbian authorities do not stand behind
these incidents. Their task is to put an end to them," he added. Kovacs
had previously referred to the incidents as "atrocities," but now said:
"I use the word incidents.... Ethnic tension, if it results in
incidents, can deteriorate, and this is what we want to avoid" (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 September 2004). Speaking in Belgrade later
on 13 September, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said that the
Serbian authorities also seek to protect the rights of the Hungarian
minority, adding that Kovacs's latest remarks will help promote good
bilateral relations, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages
Service reported. Ethnic Hungarians make up about 15 percent of
Vojvodina's 2 million people. PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 176, Part II, 15 September 2004

SERBIAN, HUNGARIAN PRESIDENTS AGREE ON MINORITY RIGHTS. Serbian
President Boris Tadic told his Hungarian counterpart Ferenc Madl in
Belgrade on 14 September that the Serbian authorities take seriously the
recent incidents directed against Vojvodina's Hungarian minority,
Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9, 10, and 14 September 2004).
"I am particularly sensitive to all cases of violation of human and
minority rights. I asked for an analysis to be made of all events in
Vojvodina and insisted on a full legal and police investigation," Tadic
said. He added that "everyone is responsible in their state for
preserving European values and democratic principles." Madl said that he
appreciated Tadic's remarks. Later, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav
Kostunica said that new tensions or conflicts in the region are in
nobody's interest. In recent weeks, several Serbian officials and
commentators dismissed the incidents as the work of drunks, or blamed
politicians in Vojvodina or Hungary for exploiting the incidents for
political gain. PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 177, Part II, 16 September 2004

UN CHARGES ETHNIC ALBANIANS WITH ANTI-SERB VIOLENCE. A spokesman for the
UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) said in Prishtina on 15
September that international prosecutors have charged Labinot Gashi and
an unnamed minor with the 5 June murder of a Serbian teenager in
Gracanica, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 2004). The
spokesman told reporters that "the murder was premeditated and motivated
by ethnic hatred." In addition, prosecutors charged three other ethnic
Albanians -- Bekim Moskov, Ibrahim Buleci, and Talat Pula -- with
allegedly torching and damaging the interior of the 14th-century
Bogorodica Ljeviska Serbian Orthodox church in Prizren during the
ethnically motivated violence on 17-18 March (see "RFE/RL Balkan
Report," 2 and 16 April 2004). PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 178, Part II, 17 September 2004

BOSNIAN SERBS GET NEW INTERIOR MINISTER. Republika Srpska Prime Minister
Dragan Mikerevic named Darko Matijasevic interior minister on 16
September, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service
reported. The previous interior minister, Zoran Djeric, was one of 60
Bosnian Serb officials sacked by High Representative Paddy Ashdown in
June for failing to arrest top war crimes indictee Radovan Karadzic (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 30 June 2004). In announcing Matijasevic's
appointment, Mikerevic stressed that he expects the minister "to fully
respect and fulfill obligations of the Republika Srpska toward the
international community, especially towards the Hague-based [war crimes]
tribunal." Matijasevic is currently Bosnia-Herzegovina's representative
to NATO in Brussels. Mikerevic also announced the sacking of Mensur
Sehagic from the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) as minister of
urban planning, engineering, and ecology. Relations between the SDA and
the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) have been stormy, and the
sacking of Sehagic brought sharp protests from the SDA leadership. His
successor is Hrusto Tupekovic, who has no party affiliation. He is from
Zvornik, where he was a factory manager and functionary in communist
times. PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 178, Part II, 17 September 2004

TIRASPOL AUTHORITIES EXPEL MOLDOVAN EDUCATION MINISTER. Tiraspol police
on 15 September expelled Moldovan Minister Valentin Beniuc and
Reintegration Ministry representative Sergiu Valcov from Transdniester,
arguing that the two entered the region illegally, BASA-Press reported.
Beniuc and Valcov were to meet with OSCE representatives and teachers
and parents from the Lucian Blaga school in Tiraspol. The
Romanian-language school was shut down by Tiraspol police in July and an
alternative location has not been found. As the two officials entered
Tiraspol, police reportedly stopped their car, took them to a police
station, questioned them on the purpose of their visit and after two
hours escorted them out of Transdniester. ZsM