for Slovenia, 1998 to 2004
Focusing on coverage of the Izbrisani (Erased Citizens) issue, concerning "administrative ethnic cleansing'
the Genocide Convention
on July 6,1992.
Previously the Yugoslavia ratified the Convention on August 29, 1950.
Slovenia became a party to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Additional Geneva Protocols of 1977 on March 26, 1992.
Slovenia ratified the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on December 31, 2001.
The Izbrisani (Erased residents) Issue in Slovenia: An introduction by Jim Fussell (Feb. 26, 2004), followed by news articles.
On February 26, 1992, the newly independent state of Slovenia deleted the names of some 30,000 residents from the nation's civil registries. The targeted population, which came to be known as izbrisani (erased residents) were not of Slovenian ancestry, but were so-called 'new minorities" including ethnic Serbs, ethnic Croats and ethnic Bosnian Muslims, ethnic Albanian Kosovars and ethnic Roma which the government sought to force out of the country. (In contrast 'old minorities' include ethnic Italians and ethnic Hungarians, specifically mentioned in the December 1991 Constitution.)
Twelve years later the Slovenian Government has still not yet acted to fully redress this massive violation of human rights. Critics of this radical action by the Slovenian government have sometimes characterized the mass erasure as 'soft genocide' or 'administrative genocide." A more appropriate term is probably 'administrative ethnic cleansing' or 'civil death.' By whatever description, redress for the mass 'erasure' is still badly needed. In other historical contexts this kind of radical action which in and of itself is a massive violation of human rights, has been a step toward more extreme actions including mass expulsion and even genocide. In the case of Slovenia, the izbrisani were targeted for elimination solely on account of the non-Slovene groups into which they were born. Furthermore, this 'administrative ethnic cleansing' on February 26, 1992 in Slovenia can be viewed as a contributing factor to the radicalization in former Yugoslavia which only a few months later saw violent ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The policy of "mass erasure", which could also be called mass denationalization, must especially be condemned because it was a partially successful policy, causing over one-third (12,000 out of 30,000) of the targeted population to leave Slovenia. When officials asked an izbrisani for his old Yugoslav passport the top right corner would be cut off, making the document useless and marking the bearer for further discrimination. The izbrisani (erased residents) were not forced out at gunpoint and their homes were not burned down as in Bosnia, nevertheless they lost their jobs, medical benefits and sometimes were deported for minor offenses. The multiple possible translations of the term "izbrisati" (erase, red pencil, rub out, score out, scratch out, delete, expunge, obliterate) shows the impact the policy might have on a person. In Slovenia, seven izbrisani committed suicide. Ultranationalist politicians characterized the izbrisani as war criminals, swindlers and undesirables.
The radical 'mass erasure' of February 26, 1992 took place eight months after Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991. The erasure occurred just days after Slovenian Athletes participated for the first time in Olympic competition at the XVI Winter Olympic in Albertville, France. Acceptance into the United Nations was still three months away (May 22, 1992). Notably, Slovenia was not at war at the time the 'mass erasure'. The previous summer war with Yugoslavia had lasted only a few weeks ending a with European Union sponsored agreement calling for withdrawal of Yugoslav Federal troops from Slovenia and the demobilization of Slovenian troops. Furthermore the 'mass erasure' came after the completion of a new Constitution is which Slovenia committed itself to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms (Article 5, and Articles 61 to 63).
For the past 12 years the status of the 18,000 izbrisani who remained in Slovenia in limbo status, has been unresolved. This year, after much delay and pressure from Human Rights groups, the European Union, and judges within Slovenia, the government may soon act to reverse the policy and compensate the victims of erasure.
Presently Slovenia is scheduled to join the European Union on May 1, 2004 and will also soon join NATO. The European Union and Council of Europe are providing important guidance toward a positive resolution of this issue. If this should occur the case of Slovenian izbrisani may become an important precedent for other countries which have pursued policies of mass denationalization. Other countries which have pursued such policies include Cambodia (ethnic Vietnamese 1993), Myanmar (Rohingya Arakanese 1992) and Syria (Kurds 1962). Another set of countries conducted mass denationalization followed by mass expulsion, including Ethiopia (Persons with Eritrean affiliation 1998), Bhutan (Lhotshampas - ethnic Nepalis 1991), Vietnam (Hoa - ethnic Chinese 'boat people', 1978-1979), France (ethnic Germans in Alsace-Lorraine 1918-1920). Seen together, these cases along with that of Slovenia, demonstrate that policies of this type can create large-scale international refugee problems.
Mass Erasure (or mass denationalization) can not be viewed solely as a matter of domestic policy, but must be viewed as a matter of international concern. Civil Society organizations within a country and outside it, along with regional intergovernmental organizations (such as the European Union) must hold countries which engage in policies accountable for their actions. This case of a massive human rights violation is quite different from other cases of atrocities, massacres, crimes against humanity and genocide. Still if global civil society is to truly prevent genocide instead of only halting it or afterward assisting the victims, we must also look at cases such as this one. Some governments will not stop with mere 'civil death', but will seize opportunities to take still more radical measures such as internment, expulsion or physical elimination of targeted population groups.
[For a related global survey of this issue, see Jim Fussell's report Group Classification on National Identification Cards as a Facilitating Factor in Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing, presented at Yale University in Nov. 2002]
An organization Drustva izbrisanih (Stran Drustva izbrisanih drzavljanov Republike Slovenije - Society of Erased Residents of Slovenia www.geocities.com/drustvo_izbrisanih/izbrisani.html) has been established for izbrisani to advocate for restoration of their citizenship.
See also the online forum: http://izbrisani.siol.net/ and www.dostje.org/Izbrisani/izbrisani.htm
See also the Mirovni inštitut/Peace Institute's report "THE ERASURE: 'Eleven Years After' " by Jasminka Dediæ February 27, 2003
Articles and Reports on the Izbrisani Issue, 2000 to 2004
Helsinki Monitor Slovenia, statement N° 9, Restitution of Permanent Residence Permit to the Erased Citizens, 11 December 2000
www.insightnewstv.com [date not known] Slovenia: The Erased People Duration: 8'58" Director: Ron McCullagh Producer: Mariana van Zeller Imagine waking up one morning and discovering that you no longer exist. That's happened to 130,000 people in Slovenia. People who had been born or had lived most of their lives in this newly independent state have discovered that their government has 'erased' them from all public records. They have lost their jobs. Their children have been turned away at the school gates. Pensions have vanished. Suddenly they have no health insurance. Many have been evicted from their homes. When Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia and became independent in 1991, one of the first acts of the new government was to remove non-ethnic Slovenes from the public registries. Their votes had counted in the referendum for Slovenian independence, but now they're not welcome in the new republic. In Slovenia they are known as the 'erased people' and their lives have become Kafkaesque. The Helsinki Monitor of Slovenia has documented 6,500 cases of what they call "civic death," or "administrative genocide." Ten years ago construction worker Franjo Herman became one of those people. Born in Croatia, he moved to Slovenia in 1955. Like all former Yugoslavs he had had the right to live anywhere in what was then a united Yugoslavia. Deregistered, he lost all his social security benefits. In August 2000 he was diagnosed with cancer. Franjo paid his National Insurance until the day he was 'erased'. They refused to treat him at the hospital. They said he wasn't insured. Mr Herman died a year ago, untreated and unrecognised by the state he had lived in for nearly fifty years. Officials of the European Union were horrified at the actions of the nation whose independence they had brought about. They pressurised Slovenia's authorities to adopt legislation to deal with the injustices. That law took effect in August 1999. It gave 'the erased' three months to apply for citizenship. Only 14,000 people took up the offer, although 70,000 of these people, according to UNHCR, were still living in Slovenia. Critics, including a senior judge, now say the legislation was impractical - many people simply didn't know the law existed, others couldn't get required documents in the time allowed. Those who overcame the obstacles found more hurdles to jump - they needed to prove they had lived in Slovenia before independence. How do you do that when there are no records of your existence? And it's still happening. Two years ago Milenko Zoric tried to extend his driving license. The Ministry of the Interior said he couldn't. He was no longer 'in the computer.' Apparently he was a Slovenian no more. Officials told him that because he'd been out of the country for more than three months he was now an illegal alien. Desperate, many have fled. Those who have stayed behind live in fear of arrest, abuse and deportation. The latest EU report on enlargement says: 'Slovenia continues to respect human rights and freedoms.'
Ljubljana Life 29 June 2002 (Weekly Bulletin in English ) www.geocities.com/ljubljanalife/ by Brian J. Pozun
Helsinki Monitor (HM) filed suit against former Interior Minister Igor Bavc(ar, present Interior Minister Rade Bo hinec and head of the national police force Marko Pogorevec this week at the Ljubljana district court. In 1992, thousands of people were erased from the register of permanent residency and left with no legal status in the country; nearly 6000 of them have sought the assistance of HM. The suit accuses the three of abuse of position and official rights as well as irresponsible execution of their duties. On Monday, head of the Slovene branch of HM Neva Miklavc(ic( Predan called the erasure an “administrative genocide.”
Ljubljana Life 22 February 2003 (Weekly Bulletin in English ) www.geocities.com/ljubljanalife/ by Brian J. Pozun
Week of the Erased in Ljubljana Upon independence from Yugoslavia, the Slovene government undertook what some have called a "soft genocide" by revoking the residency status of nearly 30,000 people who were living in Slovenia at the time but who did not have, or otherwise qualify for, citizenship in the newly independent Slovenia. Wednesday, 26 February, marks the eleventh anniversary of the so-called izbris (erasure). The Society of the Erased, which is working for a resolution of the issue, organized a week of events to mark the anniversary, beginning with a screening of a documentary produced by the BBC about the situation. Other events included one round table called "Erasure, Legal Error or Ideology?" and another "The People Without." The Society also held a lecture for foreign ambassadors. The highlight was Wednesday’s protest march, which passed by both the parliament building and the office of the president. The week ended on Friday with a reception at Gromka club at Metelkova. In November, Internal Minister Rado Bohinc and State Secretary Bojan Bugar ic( confirmed that the erasure was illegal, although the Constitutional Court came to the same conclusion in 1999. In October 2002, Bohinc promised to resolve the issue within one month’s time, however, nothing has been done yet. According to unofficial estimates, there are between 3000 and 4000 people in Slovenia who were erased from the registries and have not yet been able to regulate their status.
Ljubljana Life 4 July 2003 (Weekly Bulletin in English ) www.geocities.com/ljubljanalife/ by Brian J. Pozun
Constitutional Court restores the "Izbrisani" On 3 April, the Constitutional Court finally resolved the case of the so-called izbrisani ("erased"). The izbrisani are citizens of other republics of the former Yugoslavia who were living in Slovenia at the time of independence but who did not have, or otherwise qualify for, citizenship in the newly independent country. The government revoked their permanent resident status and erased them wholesale from the registries. The act has been called a "soft genocide" by activists. The Court has ruled that the Law on the Regulation of the Status of Citizens of Other Successor States to the Former Yugoslavia from 1992 is unconstitutional, and that all of the izbrisani must have their residency rights returned. The government has six months in which to bring the law into alignment with the constitution, based on the Court’s decision. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, there were 18,305 citizens of other Yugoslav republics living in Slovenia in 1992 who had permanent resident status, though unofficial accounts put the figure as high as 30,000. Of the Ministry’s figure, 12,937 have applied for citizenship under procedures introduced later. Some 10,713 have since gotten citizenship. But according to unofficial estimates, 3000 to 4000 people are still without formal legal status in the country.
Radio Free Europe/ Rado Liberty 3 Nov 2003 From: Ivo Skoric
Balkan Report Vol. 7, No. 36, 31 October 2003
RESTORING 'THE ERASED' IN SLOVENIA. Slovenian political vocabulary is full of peculiar expressions that in their simplicity belie the historical import packed into them. For example, the "pregnanci" (expellees) are the 63,000 Slovenes forcibly deported by the Axis powers during World War II (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 13 June 2003), and the "optanti" (choosers) are the 130,000 ethnic Italians who fled to Italy when Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste was incorporated into Yugoslavia in 1954 (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 May 2002). A new term was added to this lexicon in 1992: the "izbrisani" (erased ones). On 26 February of that year, the Slovenian authorities deleted from the official records all non-Slovenian residents who had not applied for citizenship in the new state. Nearly 30,000 people were affected by the decision. The reasons for not applying for citizenship were various. Many of those who failed to do so belonged to the social underclass and were ignorant of the requirement. Some had criminal records and were reluctant to make contact with the authorities. Still others opposed Slovenian independence from Yugoslavia on principle, and made a political decision not to comply. Altogether, over one-third of the "erased" left Slovenia permanently and renounced their residency, but 18,000 remained without official status. Under pressure from the EU, in 1999 Slovenia adopted the Act on Regularizing the Status of Citizens of Other State Successors of the Former SFRY in the Republic of Slovenia, giving the "erased" a second chance to regulate their status. The law required that applicants prove permanent residency in Slovenia prior to independence as well as current residency in Slovenia. Some 12,000 people took advantage of the new law -- 7,000 received citizenship, and 4,800 obtained permanent or temporary residency. However, critics faulted the three-month deadline, arguing that it was often insufficient to allow time to gather the necessary paperwork from Slovenia's cumbersome public administration system. An 18 April "Delo" interview with the president of the Society of Erased Residents of Slovenia, Aleksandar Todorovic, revealed the mixed feelings of some erased persons toward their host country. "I didn't apply for citizenship because that would be agreeing to discrimination against myself," he declared. "I'm a foreigner with permanent residency, and that's what I wish to remain." A new law being debated in the National Assembly this week will grant permanent residency status to nearly all the remaining 4,200 unregulated cases from the 1992 erasure, excepting those convicted of crimes against the state or against humanity. Most significantly, this "third chance" will be a blanket decision instead of applying on a case-by-case basis, and will take effect retroactively. The erasures have been an embarrassment to Slovenia's otherwise fairly good record on human rights, with unpleasant social consequences for those who refused to comply. Driver's licenses and identity cards were confiscated when presented for renewal, state health insurance was cancelled and free health care denied, and pensions were lost. While this fell far short of the atrocities committed elsewhere in Yugoslavia, critics of Slovenia have used hyperbole to characterize the erasures as "civic death," "administrative genocide," or "soft genocide." Jasminka Dedic, a researcher at Ljubljana's Peace Institute, recently noted that because the erasures affected almost exclusively non-Slovenes, and particularly nonindigenous Roma and former Yugoslav Army (JNA) officers, the action was ethnically and socially discriminatory. Dedic also observes that Slovenia differs from other postcommunist successor states, where non-naturalized long-term residents (e.g., Russians in Estonia or "Slovak Roma" in the Czech Republic) have not been stripped of their previous status, even if citizenship is difficult to attain (paper available at: www.mirovni-institut.si/eng_html/ publications/Erasure.doc). On the other hand, many Slovenes are incensed by the concessions being made. The non-parliamentary Party of the Slovenian Nation (SSN) has characterized the erased as traitors who left Slovenia in 1991 in the hope that it would be reconquered by the JNA, only to return later to take advantage of its relative prosperity. Repeated attempts to launch a popular referendum on the issue have also been struck down. Opposition parties warn that the erased could take advantage of the new law to demand up to 600 billion tolars ($3 billion) in damages, "Delo" reported on 29 October. Majda Zupan of the New Slovenia party (NSi) warned that such a claim would amount to 300,000 tolars ($1,500) per Slovenian citizen -- well over the average monthly wage, the news site 24ur.com reported on 28 October. The right-wing Slovenian National Party (SNS) has condemned the proposed law, saying that it rewards those who gambled against Slovenia's future. The United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), along with the other coalition parties, favors resolving the issue once and for all for the sake of "human rights and a state based on the rule of law," according to a 10 October statement from Milan Potrc, the head of the ZLSD parliament group. Notwithstanding the opposition, the law is expected to pass, finally turning the question of the "izbrisani" from an ongoing civic debate into another footnote in Slovenian history. (Donald F. Reindl, dreindl at indiana.edu)
Radio Prague 9 Jan 2004 www.radio.cz/en Slovenia's forgotten minorities [09-01-2004] By Ksenija Samardzija-Matul Slovenia's president has launched a blistering attack on what he calls "elements of intolerance" in his country. He was speaking after parliament approved a referendum, which seeks to overturn a Constitutional Court decision to restore permanent residency status and other rights to minority groups living in Slovenia. It concerns around 20,000 people, mostly Croats, Bosnians and Serbs who were living in Slovenia before it won independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. They were originally stripped of their permanent residency because they did not apply for Slovene citizenship by 1992. In April 2003 the Constitutional Court ordered that the status of citizens of the former Yugoslavia who were erased from the population registry in February 1992, must be reinstated from that date onward. Although the decision refers to the fulfilment of basic human rights the issue caused a rift on the political scene. Miran Potrc, head of the United List of Social democrats wants a quick implementation of the Constitutional Court's decision: "Our party wants Slovenia to respect the rule of law, we want a Slovenia that follows human rights and the clear and concrete decisions of the Constitutional Court. The Constitutional Court has stated repeatedly - the last time in April --which the erased have been deprived of their rights. We want the decision of the Constitutional Court to be implemented. I believe that a referendum in this case would be extremely useless and harmful. No legal proceedings will be solved, and everything will result in misunderstandings and a lot of interpersonal disputes and political discord. This, of course is not useful. If we want to continue respecting the rule of law in a country where people living together have understanding and care for each other, we have to solve this problem sooner or later. Delaying the problem and trying to find a solution by carrying out a referendum is not useful." Slovenia's opposition parties however claim that the people in question were not erased in the first place and Zmago Jelincic head of the Slovene Nationalist party viewpoint on this topic differs completely from the intensions of the Slovene government. "They were not erased from any register, but were simply not filed in the citizens register because they did not want to. The Slovene National Party is concerned about the estimated financial consequences of this decision as we are certain that restitution claims of the erased could be as high as 1 billion euros or possibly even up to 4 billions. We are convinced that all expenses will be transferred to the taxpayer's shoulders. With this ruling the constitutional court has annulled the act of independence and activities connected to it and also disgraced all independence fighters and equalled them to those who were acting against Slovenia's independence." And it looks like there will be a referendum on the erased. But the question is, is it really useful to let voters decide on issues such as the erased or other minorities. And is there a point in carrying out the referendum, if the outcome has no effect on the Constitutional Court's decision.
Slevenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) Slovene Press Agency www.sta.si/en/ Interior Ministry Starts Issuing Decrees on the Erased Ljubljana, 03 February (STA) - The Interior Ministry on Tuesday started issuing the decrees on the permanent residency of the erased that reinstate their permanent residency status for the period they were without it. The decrees are based directly on the 2003 ruling of the Constitutional Court, the ministry said in a press release.
Slevenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) Slovene Press Agency www.sta.si/en/ Another Referendum Petition Filed as "Erased" Story Continues Ljubljana, 03 February (STA) - Slovenia looks set to head to another referendum, but not on the technicalities act on the erased, as might be expected. Much to the dismay of the opposition, parliament rejected amendments to the decree on the referendum on the technicalities act on the erased at Monday's extraordinary session. Opposition lawmakers struck back, submitting late in the night 1,000 voters' signatures in support of a legislative referendum on a second piece of legislation on the erased, the systemic bill.
Associated Press 5 Feb 2004 A 'genocide' through paperwork By WILLIAM J. KOLE
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- On a bright morning in 1992, Zoran Vojinovic awoke to the realization that he no longer existed. Not on paper -- when his identity card expired, officials refused to renew it. Not at the hospital -- when he got sick and sought treatment, he was told he had lost his health benefits. Not in government computers -- when he asked an agency for help in finding a job, he was turned away as an illegal alien. Vojinovic, 29, is among 18,000 people in Slovenia known ominously as "the erased ones" -- non-Slovene residents whose names were deleted from the population registry a year after the country declared independence from Yugoslavia. Under pressure from the European Union, which Slovenia joins in May, voters will decide in a referendum, likely next month, whether to restore permanent residency and rights to those who suffered what critics call "administrative genocide." "In Bosnia, fascists walked around doing horrible things with weapons. Slovenia did the same thing with paperwork," said Aleksandar Todorovic, an archaeologist born in Serbia who heads the Association of Erased Persons. For the erased, it's a question of recovering dignity and the right to drive a car, get health care, own property and collect pensions. Permanent residency also would carry the option of citizenship. The dispute also underscores the murky Cold War-era pasts confronting the EU as it expands to take in a part of the continent stained by nationalism and strife. Most of the erased were Bosnians and Serbs stripped of their rights in February 1992 after declining offers of citizenship. Many say they were hesitant because of unrest in Bosnia and Croatia, and thought Slobodan Milosevic might retake Slovenia. Nearly all 18,000 lost their jobs, and at least seven people committed suicide in despair. Some were arrested for simple offenses such as jaywalking and were deported for lack of documents. Zoran Vojinovic , 29, was erased even though he was born in Slovenia to Serbian parents and has never left. Deputy Interior Minister Bojan Bugaric, acknowledging that the erasure was a "mistake," said his office approved retroactive residency for 40 people this week and would issue permits to others. Parliament is expected to enact a law soon laying out guidelines for seeking damages. But the government is under fire by boisterous right-wing opposition parties who could use the dispute to make gains in October parliamentary elections. Vojinovic now has a job supervising a cleaning crew at a shopping mall. "I was cheated, and Slovenia should be ashamed," he said.
Slevenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) Slovene Press Agency www.sta.si/en/ Erased Referendum Question Largely Unconstitutional Ljubljana, 26 February (STA) - The Constitutional Court has found that most parts of a question proposed to be put at a referendum on the systemic bill on the erased violates the Constitution. The court said that as many as five of seven points enumerated in the question are unconstitutional.
Slevenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) Slovene Press Agency www.sta.si/en/ Protest in Support of Erased Staged in Ljubljana Ljubljana, 26 February (STA) - Some hundred people gathered for a protest in the centre of Ljubljana on Thursday to bring the problem of the erased to the public's attention. Moving from Zvezda Park to the near-by parliament building, the protesters, a few dozen of them dressed in white overalls sprayed red, unveiled a banner saying "Freedom Is Diversity".
BBC 26 Feb 2004 Referendum question on "erased" violates constitution, Slovene court rules February 26, 2004 Excerpt from report by Slovene television on 26 February [First Announcer] The Constitutional Court has ruled that the question in the motion to call a referendum on a systemic bill on the erased [citizens from former Yugoslav republics who had been unlawfully erased from the Slovene population register in 1992] filed by Coalition Slovenia [a coalition of opposition parties Slovene Democrats and New Slovenia] is unconstitutional in all its most important points. [Second announcer] The National Assembly sent the questions together with the motion to the Constitutional Court for examination. The court's verdict means that at the referendum on 4 April we will not be deciding on both bills on the erased, but only on the technicalities bill. [Reporter S. Rakusa] [Passage omitted] The chairman of the [Social] Democrats [Janez Jansa] who, in case it was unsuccessful, had announced a new referendum motion, was today reserved. [Jansa] After studying this ruling, the Slovene Democratic Party will decide what to do in the future, more precisely, what to do to prevent the enforcement of the law in line with which decrees [on reinstatement of residence rights] would be issued retrospectively without any kind of selection, which would enable the filing of high compensation claims. [Passage omitted] [Reporter] The LDS [Liberal Democracy of Slovenia party] and the United List [of Social Democrats] expected this kind of verdict. [LDS executive director Bogdan Biscak] We hope that with this the referendum mania in Slovenia will be over. But at the same time we fear that Coalition Slovenia will continue blocking the adoption of legislation in this area and the settlement of this issue. [Passage omitted] (Source: BBC Monitoring / Television Slovenia, Ljubljana) .
BBC 26 Feb 2004 Slovenia: Erased citizens write to CoE about their plight February 26, 2004 Text of report in English by Slovene news agency STA Ljubljana, 26 February: Marking twelve years since they had been deleted from the population register, the erased citizens [from former Yugoslav republics] on Thursday [26 February] wrote a letter to the Council of Europe (CoE), saying they decided for the move because they feel the only institutions they can trust in Slovenia are the Constitutional Court and the ombudsman. The letter was addressed to Alvaro Gil-Robles, the CoE human rights commissioner, and the CoE Commission Against Racism and Intolerance. It informs the CoE about the latest developments in the attempts to solve the problem of the erased, the efforts made by the erased and the responses of the politicians to the problem. The Association of the Erased has so far addressed three calls to the state and the public, which have all been ignored. Because the solving of the issue is taking so long, many of the erased might not live to see the day when the story gets to an end, the association wrote. "The shame of Slovenia, which is also our home, will rise to unthought-of proportions," the association believes. The letter was addressed to the CoE as the association held its third assembly in Ljubljana on Thursday, exactly 12 years since the erasure. Presenting the efforts of the erased, Aleksandar Todorovic, the president of the association, said that the media are the chief means with which the erased are fighting for their rights. While the seven founding members of the association needed primarily courage, the association now needs better organization, said Todorovic. "We have managed to become the main political topic in Slovenia, and the problem is also institutionalising," he said. Todorovic also said that members should be solving their problems on the principle of solidarity as this is the only way to solve all problems. Matevz Krivic, a former constitutional judge who legally represents the erased, said the association finds the current situation worse than that a year ago. Last year there was still hope that the problem could be solved within Slovene borders, while this hope is gone today. "We have won in a legal way, but the more we win legally, the more we lose politically," said Krivic. The assembly of the erased is just one of the activities staged within the "Week of the Erased", reminding the public of the illegal and unconstitutional removal of 18,305 people coming from former Yugoslav republics from the Slovene population registry, which happened twelve years ago, to the day. Thursday also marks two years since the erased started organized efforts in a bid to get their rights back. (Source: BBC Monitoring / STA news agency, Ljubljana)
For Slovenian coverage of the Izbrisani Issue see
Slevenska Tiskovna Agencija (STA) Slovene Press Agency www.sta.si/en/
Other News stories:
United Nations 3 November 1998 Press Release GA/9495 ASSEMBLY ELECTS NINE JUDGES TO INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL TRIBUNAL FOR RWANDA TO SERVE UNTIL MAY 2003, IN FIVE ROUNDS OF BALLOTING 19981103 __Six to Replace Judges Whose Term Expire May 1999, Three Others Will Begin Duties Without Delay on Newly Established Third Trial Chamber The General Assembly elected nine judges to the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in five rounds of voting today. Elected to the Tribunal were Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia), Mehmet Güney (Turkey), Laïty Kama (Senegal), Dionysios Kondylis (Greece), Erik Mose (Norway), Yakov Ostrovsky (Russian Federation), Navanethem Pillay (South Africa) and William Sekule (United Republic of Tanzania) and Lloyd George Williams (Jamaica and Saint Kitts and Nevis). The nine newly elected judges shall serve a term of office of four years to end on 24 May 2003. Six of them will replace the judges of the two acting Trial Chambers of the Tribunal, whose term of office expires on 24 May 1999. Their four-year term is to commence on 25 May 1999. Three others are to perform their duties in the third Trial Chamber, which was established by the Security Council this year to try, without delay, the large number of accused currently awaiting trial. As an exceptional measure taken to expedite the Tribunal's work, the three judges elected to the third Trial Chamber will be designated by the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Tribunal, to commence work as soon as possible. The judges were elected from a list of 18 candidates earlier established by the Security Council, taking into account the adequate representation of the principal legal systems of the world. Other candidates for election were: Eugénie Liliane Arivony (Madagascar), Salifou Fomba (Mali), Willy C. Gaa (Philippines), Asoka de Z. Gunawardena (Sri Lanka), Aka Edoukou Jean-Baptiste Kablan (Côte d'Ivoire), Bouba Mahamane (Niger), Cheick Dimkinsedo Ouédraogo (Burkina Faso), Indira Rana (Nepal) and Tilahun Teshome (Ethiopia). For a photo and brief biograph of Judge Dolenc see www.ictr.org/ENGLISH/factsheets/dolenc.htm
SPEECH BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SLOVENIA H.E. MR MILAN KUCAN 2 AT THE MILLENNIUM SUMMIT OF THE UNITED NATIONS. New York. 7 September 2000 This historic session is an opportunity to reaffirm the positive role of the United Nations and to stress the demand for the respect of human dignity and human individual and collective rights as the fundamental and universal principle of its future actions. Peace and security, the two basic objectives of the United Nations depend mainly, in today's world, on consistent respect of this principle. This is the key challenge of our future. Experience tells us that recognizing, promoting and protecting human rights is equally important for peace and security as is recognizing and protecting sovereignty of States. Today, armed conflicts are as a rule taking place within the borders of sovereign States and not between them. These internal wars engender violence, genocide and ethnic cleansing, where people's fates depend on their belonging to a race, a nationality or a religion. Regional security and global peace are becoming increasingly dependant on the UN's capacity to efficiently intervene when States are perpetrating violence against their own citizens. The international community has already been intervening in such conflicts. In most cases, the intervention came too late, the means were inadequate and the results insufficient. Although these are recognized facts we still lack systemic and agreed solutions that would ensure timely and efficient effects. Also for these reasons the United Nations reform is imperative. Within its premise I would place the principle that sovereignty of a State, which includes also its responsibility for its own citizens and for other States, cannot be an excuse for systematic violence and mass violations of human rights. It cannot be the value that would in such cases prevent a UN intervention. We all were aware of and are co-responsible for tragedies that occurred in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Srebrenica and in Vukovar and which continue to occur in the world. We are also responsible for preventing them from happening again. Clear signs in the South East Europe in particular, warn that the tragedy could happen again. Therefore I am confident that we shall find the necessary political will to modernize and equip the United Nations for this task. I wish to believe that those who have been entrusted by virtue of the UN Char-ter with a seat in the Security Council and thus with a special responsibility to safeguard world peace and security will gather the necessary commitment, spirit and courage to take timely decisions. The Security Council must act in line with its primary responsibility to preserve peace and security in the world. It must recognize circumstances that demand UN authorized action, including use of force. It must respect the principle of protecting State sovereignty but not by remaining paralyzed when faced with crimes against humanity. The international community, led by the United Nations, has the obligation to protect threatened and innocent civilian populations against genocide, ethnic cleansing and systematic mass violence perpetrated by the authorities in their own State. The right to veto, which represents a special responsibility borne by permanent members of the UN Security Council, must not be hiding behind arguments that national internal affairs are at stake and thus in such cases paralyze its work and responsibility. I support the appeal by the Secretary General of the United Nations, His Excellency Kofi Annan regarding humanitarian interventions, quoted in his report: "We the Peoples: the Role of the United Nations in the Twenty-First Century." I expect that together we shall endeavor to make it possible for the international community to be capable of reacting and ensuring that when the principle of State sovereignty is abused, it would not remain helpless when faced with violence and mass violations of fundamental human rights. A humanitarian intervention is an active response to a humanitarian crisis and a prolongation of preventive diplomacy which attempts to solve disputes before they grow into conflicts. It demands a new chapter in the international law which would be adapted to contemporary understanding of international morality. International humanitarian law is an impressive idea and a requirement of our time. For the time being, its norms are vague, often unknown and frequently deliberately violated. For this reason it is imperative to elaborate a doctrine for humanitarian intervention which will be based on modem interpretation of the UN Charter and in line with new international relations and norms, which in certain conditions give priority to the protection of human rights. My conviction about this is reinforced by my human and political experience from the Balkan tragedy and from Slovenia's participation in peacekeeping missions. Distinguished delegates, Despite positive achievements, we remain, at the turn of the millennium, still far from achieving our goals in terms of global security and peace, poverty eradication, reducing the enormous disparities in welfare, development and ensuring social and legal security of people, far from equality among different civilizations we belong to and which enrich the material and spiritual lives of humankind. Now the opportunity has come to recognize the universal significance of human rights also for global security and peace in the globalized world with multiple centers of development of human civilization and to prevent former confrontations between military and political block from being replaced by confrontations between civilizations, cultures and religions which would have fatal consequences for the future of humankind. In future also the role of the United Nations remains irreplaceable. However, its authority and reputation will not be ensured by our words. People's faith in the UN will be strengthened by its effectiveness, capacity to implement declared principles, by ensuring peace, security, human dignity and human rights. Slovenia supports the noble principles and objectives for which we have gathered here. Now, brave steps are needed. I am confident that in the spirit of the UN we are capable of making them. Thank you. http://www.un.org/millennium/webcast/statements/slovenia.htm
BBC 19 June, 2001, Hungary 'Status Law' irks neighbours The Hungarian parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new law aimed at helping more than three million ethnic Hungarians who live in neighbouring countries to work and study in Hungary. Hungarians abroad Croatia - 25,000 Romania - 1.7m Slovakia - 600,000 Slovenia - 10,000 Ukraine - 125,000 Yugoslavia - 340,000 The conservative government, which sponsored the bill, said the legislation will help to protect the cultural identity of Hungarian minorities in the lands where they have lived for centuries. But the law has been sharply criticised both by part of the domestic opposition and by foreign governments who say it meddles in their affairs, and differentiates among their citizens on the basis of ethnic background. Under the so-called Status Law, Hungarians living in Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, Serbia and Slovenia will be entitled to a special identity document proving that they are Hungarian and allowing them to work in Hungary for three months each year. Higher wages The Romanian Government issued a statement on Tuesday describing the law as "discriminatory" and "contrary to the European spirit". A bell of mourning for territory Hungary lost in 1920 The Slovak Government said "intensive further consultations" were needed before the law was implemented. Ethnic Hungarians issued with the identity card will have to pay tax and make national insurance contributions on any income earned in Hungary but will qualify for free health care and improved rights to study. The BBC's Central Europe correspondent, Nick Thorpe, says the law has gained widespread support among ethnic Hungarians in neighbouring countries. He says tens of thousands of them already work illegally in Hungary, attracted by higher wages than they can usually earn at home. Austria dropped The law applies to ethnic Hungarians in six neighbouring countries, but Austria was dropped from the list after the EU objected. The plaque says: Sweet Homeland Hungary A spokesman for the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, Gabor Horvath, said the EU apparently had no further objections to the law once references to Austria had been dropped. However, the Romanian Foreign Ministry said Austria's exclusion indicated that the law was not compatible with "the European spirit". The opposition Socialist Party supported the bill in its final form but the Alliance of Free Democrats opposed it. A deputy for the Alliance of Free Democrats, Matyah Oershi, said the law would encourage ethnic Hungarians living abroad to leave their homelands and emigrate to Hungary. However, the Hungarian Government - which estimates that 25% of ethnic Hungarians would like to emigrate to Hungary - says the law should have the opposite effect. The large overseas diaspora came about when Hungary lost two-thirds of its territory in the Treaty of Trianon after World War I.
AFP 29 July 2001 Intellectuals to probe war crimes INTELLECTUALS from all the republics of the former Yugoslavia, with the exception of Slovenia, said today they had set up a committee to investigate war crimes committed across the region over the past 10 years. The committee is comprised of 25 intellectuals from Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia and Macedonia, five of the six republics which formed the old Yugoslavia until its break up during bloody independence wars in the early 1990s. There are also representatives from the mainly ethnic-Albanian Serbian province of Kosovo, which is under international administration and which saw its own conflict in 1998-99. Slovenia, which formed the northern Alpine tip of the old Yugoslavia, gained independence during a short, relatively bloodless war in 1991, and was not wracked by the war crimes which were rampant in its then Balkan partners in the country. All the members of the committee, which met for the first time last week in Montenegro, were vocal opponents of the wars which dogged the region between 1991-1999. Yugoslavia is now only made up of Serbia and Montenegro. Natasa Kandic, the leader of the group of thinkers said it was not trying to do the work of a Truth Commission, set up in April by reformist Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica. Kostunica took power last October after the ouster of hardline president Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic himself is now in court at the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague on war crimes charges. However, Kandic, who also leads a Belgrade-based humanitarian non-governmental organisation, said the Kostunica committee had been low-key - it had met only once and two of its members had left. She told AFP that the group would "start by establishing the facts and responsibilities" and would try, unlike national bodies investigating war crimes, to look at the issue regionally. The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague, has published the names of 68 people indicted for war crimes, of whom over a third are still at large, as pressure mounts for the former Yugoslav states to hand them over.
RFE/RL 27 Nov 2002 Eastern Europe: Language Group Turns Its Attention To Minority Languages (Part 2) By Breffni O'Rourke The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) is planning a major drive to expand its activities in Central and East Europe. That coincides with the admission into the European Union of 10 states from the region in 2004. EBLUL is a nongovernment organization that works on behalf of those in the EU who speak minority languages. It says there is much to be done to help the 20 million people who speak minority languages in Central and East Europe. But in some cases, the work will be politically delicate, such as in the Baltic republics. In this second of two articles, RFE/RL correspondent Breffni O'Rourke reports on the situation. Prague, 27 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The European Bureau for Lesser Used Languages (EBLUL) is planning a major push into Central and Eastern Europe in line with the EU's expansion there in 2004. The Brussels-based nongovernmental organization is committed to preserving languages, like Occitan or Sorbian, that are threatened with extinction. But the organization is also active in helping to protect the rights of any minority linguistic group -- such as the Russian minority in Latvia -- even in cases where the survival of the language is not in question. With these objectives in mind, the EBLUL is planning to set up member-state committees in all of the new EU countries to represent the interests of some 20 million minority-language speakers. EBLUL Secretary-General Markus Warasin says: "Our plan is now to meet next year in Bozen in South Tyrol, in Italy, and to invite as many contacts as we have in the enlargement countries, and start there with the setting up of the member state committees." Warasin says the work of EBLUL is at its most delicate where there are tensions between the linguistic communities, such as the case in Latvia, where Russian speakers make up some 40 percent of the population. Warasin says: "Although if you look at it from a global context, Russian is of course not a lesser-used language. If you compare it with Latvian -- which will become an official language of the European Union. But since minority protection and the promotion of lesser-used languages is the competence of member states of the European Union, you have to look at it from the view of state borders, so that if you look at it from inside Latvia, Russia will be a lesser-used language." That means Russian speakers from the Baltic republics will have a place at EBLUL's table. As Warasin says, the bottom line concerns human beings, in that for instance thousands of people in those republics are at present receiving electricity bills in a language they cannot understand. As to other languages, Warasin goes onto say: "A community which is of huge importance are the Hungarians, for example, in Romania, in Slovenia, in Slovakia; so there are several languages like this which have millions of speakers. And there are, of course, others like the Sorbs where you have small communities. For example, you have a very small community of Italians in Slovenia." EBLUL President Bojan Brezigar cautions against thinking that Eastern Europe is necessarily worse than Western Europe in its treatment of language minorities. He says there are failures and successes on both sides: "I hope we shall start to speak of 'one Europe' from next year, up till now we used to make a lot of distinctions between East and West. I would say from my point of view there are situations in the west where a minority language situation has been well resolved, as well as in the east." If national committees are established in all 10 of the expected new EU member states, the number of people represented by EBLUL will grow by 20 million to 60 million people across 25 countries.
Guardian UK 25 Nov 2002 End of the road for far-right Haider Jeevan Vasagar in Klagenfurt, and Jane Burgermeister in Vienna Jörg Haider, the far right Austrian politician who once praised Hitler's employment policies, was fighting for his political survival last night after voters deserted his party in droves. The Freedom party's share of the vote collapsed to below 10% after bitter internal squabbles between Mr Haider and rival leaders. He had also alienated voters with increasingly eccentric behaviour, including a trip to Baghdad to meet Saddam Hussein. European leaders were appalled three years ago when the hardline anti-immigration party won 27% of the vote. But last night's result was the biggest collapse of any political party in Austria's postwar history and came as the conservative Austrian People's party scored a landslide victory. Preliminary results gave 42% of the vote to the People's party which had shifted to the right to attract former Haider voters. Even in the province of Carinthia, a party stronghold where Mr Haider is governor, the Freedom party was pushed into third place. At the party's headquarters in the regional capital, Klagenfurt, spokesman Siegfried Jost said the party was "licking its wounds" and had to work out how to regain voters' lost trust. "This is a heavy blow for Haider," Mr Jost said. "He is in a difficult situation. He has seen his life's work go up in smoke in a very short time. There is no question that Jörg Haider also carries a certain responsibility for this defeat." Mr Haider is not the official leader of the Freedom party, but is still regarded as de facto boss. His party may still play a role in a coalition government but its influence will be massively diminished. The far right's collapse was due partly to vicious internal power struggles between Haider and his rivals. But it was also a consequence of the conservatives stealing their policies. As soon as the election was called, the conservative interior minister, Ernst Strasser, began hounding asylum seekers, forcing refugees deemed to have come from "safe countries", such as Kosovo, to leave government-run camps. Mr Strasser gave charities the responsibility of looking after these refugees but he did not give them any extra funds, creating chaos. Thousands of asylum seekers, including children, were evicted and in some cases forced to sleep rough. But unlike Mr Haider, the People's party has steadfastly condemned the Nazis and made reparations to Jewish wartime slave labourers. Yesterday Mr Haider went climbing in the Alps to evade the media, but at a folk dance in Klagenfurt on Saturday, he told the Guardian that his party had been a victim of its own success. "The People's party have refused to accept our ideas, but later on, they have taken them on. This is our problem." He added: "It is essential that we put some questions on the table, like the immigration question. We need to have a debate on this subject." Asked about his statements lauding the SS and praising Hitler's employment policies, he said: "This is a democracy. It must be possible to make statements on history without being labelled as a Nazi." Carinthia lies on the border of Austria and Slovenia, which is also the frontier between the EU and eastern Europe - for the time being. Mr Haider plays on fears about the border, anxiety over asylum seekers and fears that EU enlargement will spur further immigration. For the ethnic Slovenians, who make up more than 10% of Carinthia's population, that has meant a constant struggle to keep their language on road signs, and to ensure it is taught in schools. Marjan Sturm, the leader of an ethnic Slovenian community group, knows what can happen when ethnic hatred is unleashed. His sister died, aged six, after being experimented on by Nazi doctors in the second world war. She, and his parents, had been deported from their homes in Carinthia because they were Slovenes. "Haider is a racist whose parents were Nazis," Mr Sturm said. "He is a modernised Nazi, and that is more dangerous. "We have the right to have schooling in our own language. The right to have bilingual signs. It's in the constitution. But he is always minimising our rights. "He has created a racist climate in Carinthia, which has led to Slovenes asking whether we should stop speaking our language, just be assimilated, because it is less trouble." Outside a cafe in central Klagenfurt is a picture depicting rightwing Austrian politicians with Hitler hairstyles and moustaches. Mr Haider's face is covered with swastikas. The cafe, a hangout for left-leaning artists and writers, has been threatened with closure by the city authorities for displaying the satirical artwork. Yesterday the cafe owner was preparing to take it down, hoping it would no longer be necessary to remind her fellow Austrians of the evils of fascism.
Guardian UK 22 May 2003 UN extends tenure of four ICTR judges Arusha The United Nations (UN) Security Council has extended the terms of four judges of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) to allow them to finish the trials they had begun, reports Hirondelle news agency. On the recommendation of the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the 15 members of the Council meeting in New York on Tuesday unanimously adopted a resolution extending beyond May 24 the mandates of Navanethem Pillay (South Africa), Pavel Dolenc (Slovenia), Yakov Ostrovsky (Russia) and Churchill Matanzima Maqutu (Lesotho). Maqutu and Dolenc were not re-elected last January while Pillay and Ostrovsky did not stand for re-election. Pillay was elected to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and Ostrovsky retired of old age. In a letter addressed to the Security Council and the UN General Assembly, Kofi Annan supported Pillay’s demand, arguing that failure to extend the judges’ mandate would have dire legal and financial consequences, could be prejudicial to suspects being held by the ICTR and at the same time derail the tribunal’s programmes. Kofi Annan pointed out that apart from the trial of senior officers of the former Rwandan army, other cases being worked on by the judges were at an advanced stage. He added that failure to extend the judges’ tenure would risk the cases starting all over again. Other outgoing judges will be replaced by Serguei Alecksejevich (Russia), Ines Monica Weinberg de Roca (Argentina), Jai Ram Reddy (Fiji) and Mansoor Ahmad (Pakistan). The new judges will be sworn in on May 26, 2003 at the ICTR after which they will immediately take part in the plenary session of all judges of the ICTR slated to take place May 26 and 27. The judges will be meeting to elect their new president and vice-president, as well as the adoption and modification of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence. The will also adopt the annual report and matters regarding the internal mechanisms of the chambers and the tribunal as well as assessing conditions of detention. The tribunal is also awaiting the arrival of 18 Ad Litem judges (not permanent) who will help accelerate the trials. According to the spokesman of the ICTR, the process of electing the judges is expected to be over in June.
Slovenia 2 Oct 2003 BBC Monitoring International Reports, USA TEMPORARILY STOPS MILITARY FUNDS FOR SLOVENIA OVER ICC Washington, 2 October: Since Slovenia refused to sign a bilateral agreement on non-extradition of U.S. citizens to the International Criminal Court (ICC), Washington will freeze the military funds earmarked for the country until it becomes a NATO member, STA has learnt from the sources in the State Department, as the Congress goes on adopting the 2004 fiscal year budget. In order to continue receiving U.S. funds for military purposes, the states that signed the Rome Statute on the ICC establishment were asked to strike the non-extradition agreement with Washington by 1 July this year. An exception to the rule were the current NATO members and some allied countries. According to the sources in the State Department, this does not mean though that Slovenia will lose the funds, as they will merely be frozen. Once Slovenia officially becomes member of the alliance next year, it will be automatically treated as an exception and once again entitled to the funds. Slovenia has been financed from two programmes, namely the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and the Military Education and Training Program (IMET). The U.S. budget for the fiscal year 2003, stretching from 1 October 2002 to 30 September 2003, envisaged 5M dollars to be handed out to Ljubljana within the FMF and 950M dollars within the IMET. The State Department officials told STA that Slovenia has still not used 3.75M dollars earmarked within the FMF for 2003, while the figures regarding the IMET funds were currently not available. Regardless of all, the Slovene Armed Forces will not be deprived of anything as the country will receive the entire sum promised once it joins NATO.
BBC Monitoring International Reports, October 15, 2003, ICRC OFFICIAL PLEASED WITH COOPERATION WITH SLOVENIA, ITS STANCE ON ICC Ljubljana, 15 October: Justice Minister Ivan Bizjak on Wednesday (15 October) received Patrick Zahnd, the head of the regional Central Europe office of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Budapest. Zahn praised cooperation with Slovenia, as the country ratified 22 international conventions dealing with humanitarian law, and was pleased with the prompt implementation of conventions, the justice minister's office said. The ICRC official also welcomed the establishment and the activities of the government commission for international humanitarian law, set up in 1999. Zahnd, who is paying an official visit to Slovenia at the invitation of the Slovene Red Cross, used this occasion to stress the importance of the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC), and was pleased that Slovenia has been advocating a stance that defended the court's integrity. Because of this, Slovenia is a good example for other countries, the guest stressed as quoted by the ministry. He also expressed hope for even closer cooperation with the country. Minister Bizjak said that Slovenia has been supporting the basic idea and goals of the ICC from the very beginning, which is why it rejects any additional multi- or bilateral agreements that would diminish its role, the press release said. Bizjak reassured the guest that Slovenia is firmly determined to assume international standards of humanitarian law. Currently, changes to the penal code are under way in an attempt to bring home legislation in line with the international documents the country has signed. Source: STA news agency, Ljubljana, in English 1612 gmt 15 Oct 03 ) BBC Monitoring
B92 Serbia 5 Nov 2003 Serbia launches probe against top Kosovo Albanians BELGRADE Serbia’s special war crimes prosecutor has launched investigations against four prominent Kosovo Albanians, including the leaders of two of the main parties in the province, on suspicion of genocide and terrorism. A statement from the Serbian Justice Ministry said that Vladimir Vukcevic had taken over cases against Hashim Thaqi, Agim Ceku and the Haradinaj brothers, Ramush and Daut. All four are former senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army, KLA. Thaqi now heads the province’s second largest political party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj is leader of the third largest, the Alliance for the Future of Kosovo, and Agim Ceku commands the Kosovo Protection Corps, a civil protection unit set up by the United Nations mission from the ranks of the disbanded KLA. The statement said that Thaqi and Ceku are suspected of committing genocide, while the Haradinaj brothers are under investigation for terrorism. Vladimir Vukcevic became Serbia’s first ever war crimes prosecutor under legislation adopted in July this year. The justice ministry noted today that he is authorised to prosecute anyone suspected of war crimes, crimes against humanity and violations of international law committed in the former Yugoslavia, regardless of nationality or citizenship. Agim Ceku was arrested in Slovenia last month on a warrant issued by the current authorities in Belgrade. He was swiftly released on the intervention of the UN governor in Kosovo, Harri Holkeri. The ministry statement said that Justice Minister Vladan Batic had asked Holkeri to take possession of a number of documents containing evidence of crimes committed by the KLA against Serbs so that they can eventually be prosecuted by the UN judiciary in the province.
WP 24 Nov 2003 EDITORIAL: Allies and Ideology, Jackson Diehl President Bush's address at Whitehall in London last week propelled his administration closer -- at least rhetorically -- to embracing the multilateralism without which transatlantic relations cannot be repaired. "Our first choice and our constant practice is to work with other responsible governments," he pledged. "Like 11 presidents before me, I believe in the international institutions and alliances that America helped to form and helps to lead." That doesn't sound like the Bush administration most Europeans know. But with the U.S. need for help in Iraq steadily growing -- and an election year approaching in which the tattered state of U.S. foreign relations could become a Democratic campaign theme -- there are signs that the White House may be somewhat more inclined to choose cooperation with allies over its own ideological agenda. One came on Friday, when Bush ended a debate that had raged inside the administration for months by signing a waiver freeing six European countries from sanctions. The punishments were imposed because of the various governments' failure to sign treaties exempting U.S. citizens from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The president's decision should have been a no-brainer. That it wasn't helps explain why his international prestige has fallen as low as it has. The most relevant facts are that all six countries -- Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Bulgaria -- have supported the United States in Iraq and Afghanistan, not just rhetorically but with their own troops or bases. All are about to join NATO, where they could help to balance the growing anti-Americanism of Germany and France. Yet all saw their U.S. military aid suspended in July -- including the very funds intended to compensate them for joining U.S. military missions. The nominal cause of this, the ICC, is just getting started; it has yet to make its first case. Though it lacks foolproof safeguards, the risk that it would prosecute a U.S. citizen is pretty small: It is designed to punish war criminals in failed states, not citizens of countries with their own functioning justice systems. The main reason the governments haven't signed the treaty is that doing so would violate the policy of the European Union, which most are also joining. Yet in implementing legislation mandating a ban on military aid to countries that cooperate with the court, Bush initially passed up the chance to issue waivers. Lithuania, a small country on the Baltic Sea that sent troops to Iraq, lost $ 4 million in aid. Estonia, which also sent troops, had $ 2.75 million suspended. Bulgaria allowed U.S. planes to use one if its air bases in transit to Iraq. But the administration froze $ 1.2 million appropriated by Congress to upgrade that base. Aid to another two dozen countries was suspended; these include Ukraine, which also supplied troops for Iraq. Appeals by these would-be friendly governments at first fell on deaf ears. An administration interagency committee set up to study the problem got nowhere. The problem was a familiar one for the Bush administration: The common-sense considerations were cancelled out by a narrow ideological cause. In this case, it is the burning conviction of a handful of political appointees in the Pentagon and State Department that international systems of justice are an evil against which the United States must wage an uncompromising crusade. The ICC, Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton ranted in a speech earlier this month, "runs contrary to fundamental American precepts and basic constitutional principles of popular sovereignty," thus mandating "a global campaign." While ignoring events in much of the world, the administration has devoted large amounts of time, energy and diplomatic leverage to strong-arming some 70 countries into signing the exemption treaties. Most are small, weak or entirely dependent on the United States: The latest to sign are Antigua and Barbuda, Botswana, Ghana, Malawi, Uganda and East Timor. Almost all European countries have refused, and the biggest champions of the ICC, like France and Belgium, are automatically exempted from sanctions because of their existing NATO membership. Bolton and his Pentagon friends nevertheless insisted that the European states that chose to risk their own soldiers' lives to support the United States get a slap in the face. Bush's delivery of the exemptions on Friday -- more than 41/2 months after sanctions went into effect -- seems to have been precipitated in part by a congressional rebellion. A measure to exempt the six countries from the military aid cutoff passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously earlier this month, under the bipartisan sponsorship of Democrats Joseph Biden and Richard Durbin and Republicans Gordon Smith and Lisa Murkowski. In the House, a similar measure was sponsored by Republican John Shimkus of Illinois. The message for the White House was easy to read: Even for the mainstream of the Republican Party, Bush's heedless erosion of American alliances has become a serious concern. What remains to be seen is whether Bush's words at Whitehall signal a genuine correction of course.
TOL Transitions Online 9 February 2004 knowledgenet.tol.cz Testing Slovene Tolerance
LJUBLJANA, Slovenia--Religious intolerance in Slovenia reached an all-time high on 6 February as opponents of a planned mosque in the capital succeeded in gathering enough votes to stage a referendum on the construction of the country's first mosque. Slovenia is the only remaining Central or Eastern European country without a single mosque. For over three decades, the country's 50,000-strong Muslim population has been fighting for the construction of an appropriate place of worship. Since the 1970s, several proposals have been filed with the capital city municipality, but the former communist regime had always seen to it that those proposals simply disappeared. With the fall of communism, the procedure has become more transparent, but the opposition has not subsided. The hopes of the country's Muslims--who have long worshipped in an old sports hall--were raised in December 2003 when Ljubljana's city council adopted changes to the zoning law at the site where an Islamic religious and cultural center is scheduled to be built. The changes meant that the Islamic community had finally overcome all the administrative hurdles to begin construction. But soon afterward, an independent city councilor, Mihael Jarc, announced that he would start collecting votes for a referendum against the implementation of the newly adopted zoning law. According to the councilman, the move is based on fears that underground water resources near the building site would be endangered. It was the first sign that Jarc had ever shown of being a conscientious environmentalist, and many observers suspected his motives. Those opposed to the building of the country's first mosque are found mainly in the center-right parties--the Slovene People's Party (SLS), New Slovenia (NSi), and the Slovene Democratic Party (SDS)--and also from the far-right Slovene Nationalist Party (SNS). Some of their members assisted Jarc in gathering signatures for the referendum. Aside from Jarc's alleged environmental concerns, the opponents' argument is, they say, mostly an aesthetic one: Slovenia does not need an Islamic religious monument that would change the look of its landscape. They are particularly annoyed by the fact that the mosque would boast a 27-meter-high minaret. Citing fears of Islamic extremism, opponents also say that the mosque could be used as a stage for political rather than religious gatherings. Surprisingly, there have also been some "moderate" voices among the opponents. While they do not openly oppose the building of a cultural center for the Muslim community, they have said that the size of the structure should be scaled down. The Islamic cultural center is designed to cover 4,000 square meters and include a prayer room, classrooms for religious education, a library, a morgue, a hall for social events, a tearoom, and other facilities. OFFICIALS COME UNDER FIRE SLS party officials have been the most outspoken in their opposition. "The construction of a mosque in Ljubljana would, knowingly or not, mean the expansion of the infrastructure of Al Qaida and other terrorist organizations," former science minister and SLS member Andrej Umek said on 6 January. The plans for the construction must be blocked immediately and considered again only once Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism have been overcome, said the SLS official, who portrayed the planned mosque as a "drug market and terrorist breeding ground." Umek's views were underscored the remarks of SLS city committee head Jozef Jeraj, who has said that the party respects the rights of the Muslim community to hold religious ceremonies but must also respect the "right of the majority of Ljubljanians to a safe life." "The construction of a mosque at this moment would represent an unacceptable rise in the risk for most inhabitants of Slovenia's capital, the country, and Europe as a whole," Jeraj said. The opposition to the mosque prompted the Youth Forum of the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) to file criminal charges against the SLS officials for promoting intolerance and discrimination. In an attempt to repair some of the damage, President Janez Drnovsek received Slovenian mufti Osman Djogic on 15 January. During the talks, the president stressed that it would be "harmful" if members of the Muslim community were treated as criminals because of the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States and any other subsequent terrorist-related incidents. Slovenian ombudsman Matjaz Hanzek also condemned the SLS statements. Even the Catholic Church has broken its vow of silence. In a 24 January interview with the daily Dnevnik, Anton Stres--Maribor's assistant bishop and a member of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Slovenian Bishops Conference--said that Muslims should not be accused of having bad intentions, nor should they be portrayed as potential terrorists. Just like Catholics, Muslims have a right to their own places to meet and worship, he said. AN INTOLERANT SLOVENIA FOR EUROPE? The mosque row has also crossed borders. Sefko Omerbasic, head of the Croatian Muslim community, on 1 February criticized the "fierce opposition to the construction of a mosque in a neighboring country that will soon become a member of the European Union." On 1 May, Slovenia will officially join the EU. But the criticism was not enough to persuade Jarc to abandon his "environmental" mission. With the required signatures already gathered, Ljubljana's city council will be forced to call a referendum within 15 days. But the city's mayor, Danica Simsic, says that she will do everything in her power to prevent that, including asking for a constitutional court review. On 6 February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Slovenia joined in the debate by urging the public not to accept a policy of separation and exclusion, but to choose tolerance and respect for basic human rights. The UNHCR believes that the construction of the mosque is a key indicator of Slovenia's level of commitment to the protection of human rights. --by Ales Gaube