|YUGOSLAVIA IN TRANSITION|
October 10, 2000
Newly elected Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica turns his attention to the nation's tattered economy and relations with the West. After a background report, experts discuss the tasks he faces.
GABY RADO, ITN News: A sign of the changing times: The foreign minister of one of the countries which bombed Yugoslavia last year is greeted with warmth in Belgrade. Hubert Vedrine of France came to rebuild bridges with President Kostunica on behalf of the entire European Union, a body which the new Serb leader said his country wanted to join as soon as possible.
And other signs too, at ground level; the motorway out of the capital was blocked this morning by workers from the nearby chemical company. They wanted their boss sacked for being a supporter of the Milosevic regime. Later, they returned to the factory yard to exercise a bit of do-it-yourself democracy. The director in question, Riko Umchanin [ph], was there looking a little nervous, but willing to put his case to the workers who were just about prepared to listen to him. A whole host of grievances began to surface. Rumors of his asset stripping, a bad safety record at the plant, and, of course, Mr. Umchanin's membership of the defeated Socialist Party.
ZHARKO RADELKOVIC, Workers' Committee: No return to yesterday. This is the wind of change.
GABY RADO: Pressure grew for a quick decision. A man got up to ask the crowd whether the boss should stay or go, and his fate was sealed. And now he's been dismissed, and a committee of the opposition group, DOS, the people who support Dr. Kostunica's presidency, have taken over this factory.
This afternoon, President Kostunica was thanking miners from Kolubara whose solidarity aided the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic. But to puncture the air of euphoria, one of his close colleagues claimed the old secret police was back in operation, still working in the interests of the ousted regime.
RAY SUAREZ: For more on the transition in Yugoslavia, we turn to Ivo
Daalder, European affairs analyst on the National Security Council from
1995 to 1996, and now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
He's author of the newly released book, "Getting to Dayton."
And Alex Dragnich, professor emeritus of history at Vanderbilt University.
IVO DAALDER: The very first thing he has to do is consolidate his power. He is the newly elected president of Yugoslavia. But Yugoslavia is a federation. And most of the power in that federation, in fact, resides in Serbia, as well as throughout the society, which the dictatorial regime that Milosevic headed continues to, in some sense, control. He has to get control of the parliament. He has to get control of the Serbian government and the Serbian parliament. Elections are scheduled in December. He has to get control of the security forces, of the armed forces, of the police. He has to get control of the governing institutions, the bureaucracy, which is full of people who are either corrupt or part of... still Milosevic loyalists or both. And he has to get control of the industry and the economic foundation of the country, which is also deeply corrupt and deeply loyal as we just saw in this report to Mr. Milosevic. In short, he's got a big agenda just for the immediate term.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, when you say get control, what does that consist of?
IVO DAALDER: It means moving out people who are either corrupt or still tied to the old regime and moving in the kind of people that he can rely on so that when he orders the army to move in a certain direction that the army moves in the direction that he wants to, when the government is given orders that the bureaucracy in fact follows through, that the economy is used to better the people of the country as opposed to line the pockets of the few. Those are the kinds of things. It's going to be a tough task, but he has a population that is deeply committed for the moment at least, to his rule. And he has an opposition and a group of people who are willing to take the reins of power as soon as they can, provided they do so in a relatively legal fashion, in a fashion that is consistent with the demands of democracy and the demands of the people made on the street.
RAY SUAREZ: Well, Professor, we saw a relatively peaceful transition in the factory in this evening's report. But there must be thousands of offices, government-owned businesses, government agencies, just like that factory with place holders from the old era, and the country still has to run while these shifts are being made. How do you do that?
ALEX DRAGNICH: Well, that's not an easy position. Mr. Daalder has lined out quite a few tasks. It seems to me that the first thing he has to do is to get a few trusted people around him so that he can delegate because he can't do things by himself. He's got to have people that he can say, well, okay, you go up to the Ministry of Interior, and that's a very important one. The minister has resigned. The Ministry of Interior in European countries controls the police. And this is a very important thing, to be able to control the police so as not to be used against you.
Now, we cannot overestimate the difficulties there. You know, look at Russia. They've been trying for 10 years. And yet they... You know, they ran... they had problems with the economy, the Communists have ruined the economy. But the Russians at least did not have NATO destruction, as Yugoslavia has had. So it seems to me that the key element is people around him so that he could delegate, and it's not going to be easy, because after all, no party has a majority there. So there will be jockeying as to who gets the ministry of foreign affairs, who gets agriculture, who gets air or anything like that, so the difficulties, they're enormous. So these people have not had the experience. I mean, you have had maybe quite a few opportunists.
Now, it's true as we found out after World War II, that the lack of talent in Germany, we had to rely on a lot of people who worked for the Nazis. And a lot of those people were opportunists. In Yugoslav ministries I'm sure there are a lot of opportunists there, and we may have - may have to use them. But it's - I'm generally optimistic because the Serbs take to politics like ducks to water. At the beginning of the 20th century the Serbs had a functioning parliamentary democratic system just like France and -- countries, which other countries in Eastern Europe did not have. Even Germany, Austria, Hungary still did not have a parliamentary system. Now, it's true the Serbs have not had a chance to practice it in the last 50 years.
RAY SUAREZ: Ivo Daalder, let's talk about Vojislav's Kostunica's relationship with the outside world. He's got his own neighborhood to worry about. He's reaching out to the European Union.
IVO DAALDER: He basically has on the outside world, he has his own immediate region that he has to worry about. These are people in Romania and Bulgaria and other places who are saying, "Wait a minute. Now all the attention will go to Serbia, to Yugoslavia. And where are we going to be in the pecking order of the West's attention, both economic and political?" So he's got to sort of get them to come along. Then he basically has the United States and the Europeans as his two major audiences.
RAY SUAREZ: But aren't those two very different?
IVO DAALDER: They're going to be very different for him. He wants to join the European mainstream. He wants to be part of Europe. He wants to put Serbia and Yugoslavia on this path that Croatia did earlier this year, that the rest of Eastern Europe in fact 11 years ago started on that path. He wants to join that path and move very rapidly on it.
He wants to keep the United States at a distance. The United States is regarded, rightly and wrongly, in much of Serbia as the instigator of the war over Kosovo, the one that destroyed much of the infrastructure of the country. And to embrace the United States fully and completely at this point would be dangerous, at a time when he is still trying to consolidate his power, at a time that the forces of opposition remain entrenched in many of the institutions of which he does not have yet control. And if he ... where he has successfully -- during the election campaign he was able to separate himself from NATO, from the United States, from the war -- if he were to embrace NATO and the United States at this point, he may well find that, in fact, the Milosevic forces and the loyalists are able to come back and make a political issue out of that that will cost him.
|The fututre of Kosovo|
RAY SUAREZ: Professor, the new president has been what sounds like purposely vague about the future of Kosovo. He told the Washington Post reporter, "We can imagine Kosovo not being in Serbia. We can imagine Kosovo being in Serbia." What's going on there?
ALEX DRAGNICH: He can say "I had nothing to do with Kosovo." Now, under the U.N. resolution that put the U.N. authority in control of Kosovo, that resolution provides that Kosovo remains part of Yugoslavia, an integral part of Yugoslavia. Now what Kostunica can do is say to the people there or to the Western powers, "Okay. Now you've you told me that Kosovo remains part of Serbia. Now, tell me, what authority do I have? I mean, after all, if Kosovo is part of Yugoslavia, Yugoslav central government ought to have some authority. What authority, issue passports? other kinds of things --
it's a touchy issue, but Kostunica has the advantage of coming into it sort of new and saying, "okay. This is what you people decided should be done about Kosovo." Now, my own feeling is -- and maybe I'm jumping too far here -- I don't think that there's any chance for a multiethnic Kosovo, which President Clinton declared as the objective. And I think the only way you can solve that problem is some kind of partition.
RAY SUAREZ: Ivo Daalder, let me get his read on that.
IVO DAALDER: I think that in fact I agree on the question of a multiethnic
Kosovo. It's never been multiethnic, so it's unlikely to become multiethnic
anytime soon, if ever. But we don't necessarily need to partition. The
issue here is to find a formula that satisfies
RAY SUAREZ: Should we assume that NATO is going to be on the ground in Kosovo for some time to come?
IVO DAALDER: Absolutely. In fact, more so now even than under the previous situation in the sense that Milosevic was for the Kosovar Albanians - the great excuse to perhaps become independent, even though nobody in NATO supported that; nobody also supported Belgrade's domination over Kosovo. Under the current situation it becomes virtually inconceivable that anybody in the West would ever support independence for the Kosovar Albanians. There will be Kosovar Albanians who want to have independence and will start to regard perhaps if we don't manage this carefully, the NATO presence and the U.N. presence as not their liberators, which is how it was originally seen, but as their oppressors. And that might mean that NATO needs to stay.
RAY SUAREZ: Gentlemen, thank you both.
ALEX DRAGNICH: I don't see that as realistic, because in the long run, the Kosovar Albanians will settle for nothing less than separation from Yugoslavia.
RAY SUAREZ: Thanks a lot.