| PROJECT ON ETHNIC RELATIONS |
Winter/Spring 1999 Bulletin
GALINA STAROVOITOVA: 1946-1998
Galina Starovoitova, a friend, cherished colleague, and member of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord, fell to assassins' bullets in St. Petersburg on November 20, 1998. She was Russia's most outstanding stateswoman, and a champion of democracy.The many tributes to Galina that have come from all corners of the world rightly celebrate her accomplishments as a scholar and politician, her fierce independence, and her ability to combine principle with pragmatism. We feel privileged to have known her. We last saw Galina in Princeton when she came here for a conference in December 1997, and we consulted with her by telephone in the months before her death. She had met with fellow members of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord and PER staff, for what would be the last time, in September 1997, during several sunny days in Antalya, Turkey, where we had gathered to chart PER's future course. She was, as always, engaged, wise, and authoritative. We would like to remember her as she was during those days, in the golden light of late summer on the seacoast, among admirers and friends.
Balts and Russians, Can they Get Along?
One of the most divisive issues between Russia and its neighbors concerns the uncertain status of large ethnic Russian populations in Estonia and Latvia, considered by many Balts to be unwelcome remnants of the Soviet rule after 1940. Most Russians do not speak the state languages and, because of restrictive new citizenship laws that require pre-1940 residence of the individual or parents, many of whom were citizens of former Soviet Latvia or Estonia and are now in effect stateless.
The political leadership in Russia maintains that it is obliged to defend the rights of ethnic Russians and has put considerable pressure on Estonia and Latvia, including the threat of economic sanctions. The Baltic populations see this as Russian interference in their domestic affairs or even as an effort to reassert Russian authority in the region. Thus, relations continue to be troubled.In cooperation with the Russian Public Policy Center, headed by Alexei Salmin, a member of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord, PER arranged the first regional Russian-Baltic dialogue, in Novgorod, Russia, in May 1998, emphasizing the potential for cooperation between Russia's northwest provinces and the Baltic countries. Officials from the foreign ministry and from the northwest provinces, and members of the presidential council represented Russia. From the Baltic countries came political directors of ministries of foreign affairs, senior parliamentarians, and leaders of the Russian ethnic communities in Latvia and Estonia. Representatives from the U.S. government and from the EU and NATO, and diplomats from Denmark, Poland, Sweden, and Finland, also took part.
Two days of intensive and often emotional discussions confirmed the great gap between Russians and Balts, especially concerning issues of national identity, human rights, and regional security, including NATO enlargement. The participants agreed that an exchange of views was much needed and should be continued, all the more since the discussions revealed the possibility of making step-by-step improvements.
In October, in Tallinn, Estonia, PER brought together a group of leading media professionals from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia to discuss the media's role in interethnic relations in the Baltics. Participants voiced their concern over inaccurate coverage of one another's countries and over the coverage of interethnic relations in the region, which is often characterized by stereotypes and hostility. As a practical step, participants agreed to establish an Internet network of Baltic journalists to raise professional standards for the media in the region. Following that meeting, PER staff consulted with politicians and government officials in Estonia and Latvia on ethnic relations in the region, regional stability, and Euro-Atlantic integration. They also discussed the current political situation in Moscow, and Estonian-Russian and Latvian-Russian relations. In Tallinn, they met with the Estonian minister of foreign affairs, Toomas Hendrik Ilves; the minister responsible for ethnic minority issues, Andra Veidemann; the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Estonian parliament, Eino Tamm; former prime minister Mart Laar; and other leaders of Estonian parliamentary parties. In Riga, they met with the Latvian prime minister, Guntars Krasts; the chairman of the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Latvian parliament, Juris Sinka; former minister of foreign affairs Janis Jurkans; leaders of Latvia's Way, People's Party, and other Latvian parliamentary parties; and leaders of the Russian community in Latvia.
EUROPE AND THE U.S. LOOK AT ETHNIC CONFLICTS
How should the West respond to violent ethnic conflicts in post-Communist Europe? When does interethnic violence within the boundaries of a sovereign state become an issue for the international community? Who should take the lead—the United States, as the predominant military and diplomatic power, or the Europeans themselves? Europe and the U.S. have worked together on the emergencies in Bosnia and in Kosovo. But sometimes they disagree about what needs to be done, how to do it, and when. Their arguments strain the Euro-Atlantic alliance, while delays in devising and instituting joint actions allow ethnonationalists to take advantage of the divisions.
These are urgent questions for the U.S. and its European partners, but they can be difficult to discuss in official settings because of the restraints of diplomacy. PER is conducting a series of unofficial discussions in which American and European officials can tackle these questions. The discussions engage senior policy-makers from the Atlantic institutions and member countries in a continuing dialogue to identify the political impediments to Euro-Atlantic cooperation. The first meeting in the series was held at NATO headquarters on January 30, 1998.
The second meeting, held at NATO headquarters on July 9 and 10, 1998, considered European crisis-management resources, especially in the EU. Discussion revolved around a paper on this subject prepared by a European participant. The paper asserted that there is no credible, independent European capacity for crisis management and, indeed, that there can be no question of crisis management at all in Europe without the direct involvement of the U.S.Several Europeans sharply contested this view, citing the growing coherence of EU foreign policy.
SLOVAKIA: A NEW BEGINNING
The turnover in Slovakia's government after the general elections held on September 25 and 26, 1998 opens dramatic new opportunities for improvements in interethnic relations in that country. Before the elections, PER helped lay the foundation for cooperation between Slovak and ethnic Hungarian politicians. In March 1998, PER brought leaders of the then-opposition parties in Slovakia to confer with political leaders in Romania concerning the Romanian experience in dealing with interethnic relations and multiethnic governing coalitions. (Members of the then ruling Slovak coalition were also invited but declined.) Almost all the members of that delegation now occupy top positions in the newly formed Slovak government; they include the foreign minister, the minister of justice, and a (ethnic Hungarian) deputy prime minister.Pal Csaky, newly appointed deputy prime minister for human rights, minorities, and regional development, has recently written to PER that "the successful formation of an interethnic governing coalition following the recent electoral victory of the democratic opposition results in no small part from PER's work. During the years when there was no cooperation and almost no communication between ethnic Hungarian political leaders and their Slovak counterparts, even among the democratic opposition, you helped us to establish and maintain a dialogue that prepared the ground for the coalition that we now have."
In 1996, PER had organized a group of parliamentarians from Slovakia to draft a proposed statute on the use of minority languages that complied with the requirements for membership in the EU, the Council of Europe, and the OSCE. The previous Slovak government had pledged its support for such a law when its representatives signed an interparty agreement at a PER roundtable in Le Mont Pelerin, Switzerland, in September 1996. Subsequently, however, the Meciar government took the position that no new legislation was needed, although opposition parties and international organizations contended that it was.
In February 1998, another draft, drawn up by an interparty committee organized by Samuel Abraham and Peter Priadka of PER's Bratislava office, was circulated among political leaders of all the major opposition parties, asking for their suggestions and comments. The document has been presented to the new Slovak government, which will use it in preparing a law for submission to parliament. Two members of the PER committee are serving in the new government: deputy prime minister Pal Csaky of the Party of the Hungarian Coalition, and Milan Ftacnik, of the Party of the Democratic Left, who is minister of education.
On a follow-up visit to Slovakia in December, PER president Allen Kassof and executive director Livia Plaks were received by foreign minister Eduard Kukan, justice minister Jan Carnogursky, deputy prime minister Pal Csaky, and Bela Bugar, deputy speaker of the Slovak National Assembly, and other officials, to discuss PER's Slovakia programs.
EUROPEAN, AMERICAN POLICY-MAKERS WEIGH "GREY-ZONE" PROBLEM
Senior policy-makers from Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, the U.S., NATO, and the European Parliament gathered in Budapest on December 8-9 to discuss the new situation resulting from the acceptance of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary for NATO membership, and the postponement or uncertainty of membership for others in that organization, as well the delays in European Union enlargement. The discussion centered on the impact of this new stratification within Europe for regional relations and interethnic issues.
All agreed that the newly admitted NATO members will have important advantages over those who are still waiting, but that it is in their self-interest to encourage further enlargement in order to avoid a security vacuum in the region. Participants debated the significance of the recent changes in Slovakia and the change of government in Hungary, and expressed concern that changing policies at NATO, and an apparent slowdown in the EU accessions timetable—with possible disappointments ahead—have created an atmosphere of uncertainty in some countries of the region. Participants included, among others, Zsolt Nemeth, newly appointed state secretary in the Hungarian foreign ministry, Istvan Szent-Ivanyi, chair of the parliament's foreign relations committee, Csaba Tabajdi, member of parliament, Dorin Marian, advisor to the president of Romania, Ioan Mircea Pascu, chair of the Romanian parliament's defense committee, Ralph Johnson, U.S. ambassador to Slovakia, Andrew Dolan, director of strategic analysis and policy development at NATO, and Geoffrey Harris, head of secretariat, European Parliament.
The meeting was organized by Ferenc Melykuti, PER's representative in Budapest, with the cooperation of the Teleki Laszlo Foundation.
PER AND PRINCETON UNIVERSITY HOST HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT LEADERS
The 1998 Hungarian elections brought in a new government, along with questions about whether Hungary would continue the efforts of the previous government to seek accommodation with its neighbors about the status of Hungarian minorities abroad. In order to explore this question, PER and Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs hosted a luncheon and roundtable discussion featuring a delegation of the foreign affairs committee of the Hungarian parliament at Princeton University on October 29, 1998. The members of the delegation were Istvan Szent-Ivanyi (Alliance of Free Democrats), chairman of the committee; Laszlo Surjan (Hungarian Christian Democratic Alliance), Zoltan Rockenbauer (Alliance of Young Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party), and Gyula Molnar (Hungarian Socialist Party).
Szent-Ivanyi, now a member of the opposition, emphasized the theme of continuity, pointing to the three pillars of Hungarian foreign policy: membership in the EU and NATO, improved bilateral relations with Hungary's neighbors, and the protection of Hungarian minorities abroad. He added that there is a national consensus in Hungary over these foreign-policy objectives, and that, although he was disappointed with the delays Hungary had experienced in gaining EU membership, he was confident that Hungary would be admitted by the year 2002.
Hungary's motivation for joining NATO, Szent-Ivanyi said, was more political than military, and Hungary's accession would help stabilize the entire region. He did not see NATO membership as a step toward defining an enemy but as an opportunity to achieve closer relations with European political, economic, and cultural institutions. Laszlo Surjan added that Hungary is committed to promoting NATO membership for its neighbors, particularly Romania.Regarding Hungary's relations with its neighbors and the issue of Hungarian minorities abroad, particularly in Romania and Slovakia, Szent-Ivanyi said that improving relations with these countries was the only way to resolve tensions over the rights of Hungarian minorities there.
Mass Media and Ethnic Relations in Transylvania
PER's consultative program for Central and Eastern European journalists, launched in 1996, continued with an event in Tirgu Mures, Romania, on April 29, 1998. A workshop entitled "Mass Media and Ethnic Relations: Information—Opinion—Impact" brought together newspaper and television journalists from the Romanian cities of Brasov, Cluj, Oradea, Sibiu, Timisoara, and Tirgu Mures for an analysis by international experts of the media's role in shaping public perceptions of ethnic relations and a critique of reporting practices.
Conferees agreed that the media do indeed play a significant role in ethnic relations through their coverage of local and regional politics and that journalists therefore need to exercise greater sensitivity in their reporting practices.
Another major theme of the discussions was professionalism in the media. Participants agreed that, despite great strides in the overall quality of reporting, objectivity in the coverage of ethnic relations was still lacking. Editorial opinion needs to be separated more clearly from news and feature stories.
Maria Koreck, PER's representative in Tirgu Mures, organized the meeting.
Controversy over Hungarian University in Romania
The inclusion of Hungarians in the governing coalition that came to power in Romania following the 1996 elections, an historic breakthrough for Romania, was hailed as a model of interethnic relations for the region. But the implementation of the accord between the Romanians and their ethnic Hungarian partners has proven to be difficult.
An argument over whether, and how, to establish a state-sponsored, all-Hungarian university has become the crux of the conflict. Hungarians argue that they are only restoring an historic tradition, while many Romanians claim that a Hungarian university would promote separatism. The dispute could bring down the coalition if it causes Hungarians to leave the government.
PER, which has helped with Hungarian-Romanian dialogue since 1992, stepped into the fray in September 1998, when PER staff held a series of private discussions with leaders of the principal parties in the Romanian governing coalition concerning the establishment of a Hungarian university. The consultations were prompted by increasing strains within the interethnic coalition over administrative and educational policies and the threat they pose to Romania's considerable progress in improving relations between the Romanian and Hungarian communities.
PER staff held consultations with Ion Diaconescu, president of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies and president of the National Peasant Christian Democratic Party; Petre Roman, president of the Senate and president of the Democratic Party; Zoe Petre, counselor to the president on domestic and foreign policy; Valeriu Stoica, minister of justice; Bela Marko, president of the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania and other members of that party's leadership; Gyorgy Tokay, minister in the Department for the Protection of National Minorities; Senator Gyorgy Frunda; and Laszlo Borbely, secretary of state at the Ministry of Public Works and Land Planning. During the visit, the party leaders worked out a compromise position supporting the creation of a new university that will include Hungarian and German sections. However, this agreement is still subject to parliamentary ratification and court approval.
POLICE TREATMENT OF MINORITIES: HUNGARIAN-AMERICAN COOPERATION
The leadership of the Hungarian National Police (HNP) is increasingly aware of the need to improve community relations and to establish the police as a community-service organization. The Southern Police Institute at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, under a grant from the U.S. Department of State, has asked PER to continue its assistance in organizing the institute's training series on community policing.
After the success of the first round of police training, held in Budapest from May 25 to 29, 1998, a second round with Hungarian police chiefs was held from September 28 to October 2 at the regional center of the International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest. Two senior police officers from the Southern Police Institute led the workshop. Forty-six high-ranking police officers participated, including the chiefs of the Budapest districts and of several county seats, the chief of the Danube Water Police, officials of HNP's public safety department, and teachers from the police colleges. Jozsef Hatala, deputy chief of HNP and director for public safety; Philip C. Turner, manager of training for the Southern Police Institute; and Ferenc Melykuti, director of PER's Budapest office, greeted the participants.
Community policing produces closer and more durable links to the community and brings greater trust between the police and minorities. Principles and practices of community policing can also build bridges to minority populations by involving them and ensuring their fair representation in the local police force. This course will be followed by two similar training sessions.
Interethnic Relations in Montenegro: an Alternative for Yugoslavia?
The Republic of Montenegro, like the rest of Yugoslavia, is an ethnic mosaic: 63 percent of the population are Montenegrin, 15 percent are ethnic Muslims, 9 percent are Albanians, and there are also Roma, Croats, and others. In the May 1998 elections, ethnic minorities overwhelmingly voted for president Milo Djukanovic's For a Better Life coalition over their own ethnic parties. The new government includes both Muslims and Albanians. A ministry for the protection of ethnic minorities has been established, led by an Albanian, along with a council for interethnic relations that functions directly under the president's office. These are encouraging signs, especially against the background of the ongoing violence in Kosovo.At the request of president Djukanovic, PER president Allen Kassof and program officer Alex Grigor'ev traveled to Podgorica in December 1998 to continue discussions about assistance to the Republic in carrying forward its interethnic efforts. During a one hour discussion with the president and his advisors, PER made plans to organize, in April 1999, a joint regional seminar that will highlight Montenegro's efforts and make recommendations about legislation and implementation of the new program. During the visit, Djukanovic emphasized his hope that Montenegro's minorities policy could become a positive model for the region. Kassof and Grigor'ev also met with deputy prime ministers Burzan and Kilibarda and other members of the government; Miodrag Vukovic, chair of the executive board of the ruling Democratic Party of Socialists; leaders of the Albanian community; officials of the main opposition Socialist People's Party of Montenegro; and representatives of local NGOs.Prior to the visit to Montenegro, Grigor'ev consulted in Belgrade and Pristina with political party leaders about Kosovo. He conferred with, among others, Vladimir Stambuk, deputy speaker of the Yugoslav parliament; Socialist Party of Serbia officials; Vuk Draskovic, Serbian Renewal Movement president; Vesna Pesic, Civic Alliance chair; Fehmi Agani, head of the Kosovar Albanian negotiating team; Adem Demaci, political representative of the Kosovar Liberation Army; Rexhep Qosja, president of the Albanian Democratic Movement; and leaders of other parties.
ROMANIA'S NEW MINORITIES
Romania has experienced increasing immigration from Asia, Africa and Central Asia in recent years. Some immigrants are seeking political asylum and others an improvement in their economic condition. Still others see Romania as a transit point to Western Europe. The "new minorities" raise questions and sometimes problems for Romania, yet they have received almost no attention from the government, NGOs, or international institutions.In an effort to clarify these issues, PER's office in Bucharest organized a roundtable entitled "Refugees, Asylum-seekers and Citizens: Romania as a Transit Country and the Rise of New Minorities" in Predeal, Romania, December 2-4, 1998. The roundtable considered criteria for distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration within the context of international treaties and provisions for human rights. Prominent in the discussion were concerns of law enforcement officials that drug and weapons trafficking, international terrorism, and organized crime are increasing alongside this new influx of immigrants. The two days of discussion also focused on procedures for dealing with petitions for Romanian citizenship and the challenges that new minorities present for Romanian society.
Dan Pavel, director of PER's Bucharest office, organized and chaired the meeting.
Aiming for Bias-free TextbooksIn the Balkans
In every country where PER is involved, one of the most pernicious problems is the highly nationalistic content of the textbooks used in secondary education. The histories of other countries in the region—and of domestic national minorities—are ignored, minimized, or, most often, portrayed in a highly distorted or hostile light. Students carry these prejudices into their adult lives, providing the raw material for future ethnic conflicts.PER launched a multiyear project to work with the ministries of education of Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on programs to bring about more objective treatment of regional and national histories. The inaugural meeting, organized with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education of Bulgaria, was held May 1-3, 1998, at the Saint Kirik monastery near Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In addition to education officials, representatives from the Council of Europe, the Georg Eckert Institute, and EURO-CLIO (an association of history teachers) also attended.
The discussion touched on many factors that determine the outlook of pupils, but participants agreed that textbooks seem to be key in creating an attitude of mistrust and divisiveness. Most of the participants acknowledged that the material in these textbooks is often biased and is sometimes manipulated for political purposes.Participants said that while they may have different views of history, the Balkan countries share a common heritage which should be emphasized rather than the history of wars and conflicts. It was agreed to revive the practice of bilateral meetings and to form a committee of experts to examine textbooks and to prepare recommendations for their revision for the Council of Europe. The committee of experts would also take steps toward producing a common reader in Balkan literature and a supplementary reader entitled "The Balkans, Our Home," on the cultural characteristics of the Balkan region. They also agreed to initiate a curriculum-exchange program among schools of the region in history, literature, geography, and political science.
Ivan Ilchev, director of PER's office in Sofia and chair of the Balkan History Department at the University of Sofia, organized the meeting.
The textbooks currently used in Romania cover only the history of ethnic Romanians, with little mention of the histories of the substantial ethnic minorities in the territory of present-day Romania. This is a source of resentment and frustration for millions of citizens.In cooperation with the Romanian Ministry for National Education, PER's office in Tirgu Mures organized a seminar entitled "History Textbooks: Sources of Knowledge or Stereotypes?" in Poiana Brasov, Romania, October 17-18, 1998. The seminar addressed the place of national minorities in Romanian history textbooks. Participants at the meeting agreed at the outset on the necessity of making substantial changes in the textbooks and focused on what should be changed and how. They agreed to start work on a history of Romania as a state, to replace the history of the Romanian people, for use in grades 10, 11, and 12. The new textbook is intended to provide a more objective view of Romanian history.Participants concluded that:
Dr. Dinu Giurescu, a member of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord and professor of history at the University of Bucharest, and Dan Pavel, director of PER's office in Bucharest, chaired the meeting. n
Europe and its Roma
When PER organized the first regionwide contacts between leaders of the large Romani (Gypsy) populations of Central and Eastern Europe and officials of the new post-Communist governments at a 1992 meeting near Bratislava, there was almost total ignorance on both sides. There still are no easy answers to the plight of this most-abused European minority. But, guided by leading young Romani intellectuals and activists, PER's efforts over the years to mobilize the attention of national governments, European organizations, and the international community have started to pay off. Both the Council of Europe and the OSCE now have programs and offices concerned with Romani affairs. The EU, which has lately begun to focus on the Romani question, will constitute a major political force (and material resource) as it requires prospective members to show progress on programs for the Roma.
PER and its Romani Advisory Council (PERRAC) have helped to move these efforts forward. PER executive director Livia Plaks, Andrzej Mirga, chair of PERRAC, and Nicolae Gheorghe, member of PERRAC and of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord, have been active in policy and strategy meetings throughout the region.
The Fate of the Roma in Romania during World War II
Changing prejudiced attitudes and stereotypes about ethnic minorities and cultural identities is partly a problem of coming to terms with the past. The Roma have historically been one of the most alienated groups in Romanian society. Their forced deportation to Transnistria, a region that is now the eastern part of Moldova and the southwestern part of Ukraine, has dominated their history.In an effort to encourage discussion of this problem, PER convened a seminar entitled "The Fate of the Roma in the Romanian Holocaust during World War II" in Predeal, Romania, May 28-30, 1998. The topics addressed were the Roma in contemporary public consciousness and controversies regarding moral and material compensation for the victims of racial persecution.
The seminar brought together historians and experts from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Romanian State Archives and representatives of the Romanian Presidency, Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Romanian Intelligence Agency, and Department for the Protection of National Minorities. Opinion leaders from the media also participated.
Dan Pavel, director of PER's Bucharest office, and Elena Cruceru, PER's representative in Bucharest, organized the meeting in collaboration with Rromani CRISS, a Romani NGO in Romania.
Local Governments and the Roma in Bulgaria
In cooperation with the Council of Europe and the Roma-Lom Foundation, PER brought together a group of Romani leaders, government representatives, and experts to assess recent steps taken toward improving the condition of Bulgaria's large and impoverished Romani community and to exchange ideas on what the next steps might be. The meeting took place in Lom, Bulgaria, on April 24 and 25, 1998.
The discussions reflected the ongoing debate, often tense and passionate, about whether desperately needed social services should be provided by the government or the private sector. Those in the government acknowledge its responsibility to address the needs of the Romani communities, but they contend that it simply does not have the necessary financial resources. Representatives of the NGO's, on the other hand, expressed their resentment that the government expects the private sector to take over what is a fundamental governmental responsibility—the provision of social services to citizens in need. They argue that the government must assume a more prominent role in the public-private partnership for providing assistance, because the need is so great.
It became clear from the discussions that NGO's could not be expected to take over all of the government's functions in this area. Rather, state and local governments need to cooperate with Romani and other organizations to provide social services for the Roma in Bulgaria. It is also clear that the time for effective action is short before violence replaces dialogue.
The meeting was chaired by Nicolae Gheorghe and Andrzej Mirga, members of PER's Romani Advisory Council (PERRAC), and Nikolay Kirilov, president of the Roma-Lom Foundation. Ivan Ilchev, director of PER's Sofia office, organized the meeting.
The Bulgarian government has since requested that PER and PERRAC act as consultants on their policies toward the Roma. The collaboration will focus on developing comprehensive strategies to improve conditions for the Roma in Bulgaria.
Regional series on the Roma and Elections continues
PER convened the second in its series on the Roma and the elections in Central and Eastern Europe in Kosice, Slovakia, July 3-4, 1998. Participants examined Romani representation in the political and administrative systems of Slovakia on the eve of Slovakia's general elections. Romani experts and representatives of Slovak parliamentary parties also discussed strategies to increase this representation of the Romani community.
Like the first meeting, held in Budapest, March 24-25, 1995, the Kosice meeting brought together disparate groups that rarely confer with one another: the Romani Civic Initiative (the oldest Romani political party in Slovakia), the Romani Intelligentsia for Coexistence, the Party for the Romani Rights Protection in Slovakia (the latter two representing Hungarian-speaking Roma in Slovakia), and representatives of Slovakia's mainstream political parties.Participants discussed the present situation of the Roma in Slovakia, the upcoming parliamentary elections, and the prospects for cooperation between their groups before the local elections. Two divergent views emerged on the status of the Roma in Slovakia: the Roma as a helpless minority requiring governmental assistance, and the Roma as a self-confident, equal element of society that, given the means, is capable of helping itself. Although no agreement was reached to cooperate before the parliamentary elections, participants did agree that the meeting provided a good opportunity to discuss various issues and to exchange opinions.
PERRAC members chaired the meeting, including Klara Orgovanova, program director at the Open Society Fund. PER's representatives in Bratislava, Samuel Abraham and Peter Priadka, organized the meeting.
Specialist Group considers migration of Czech and Slovak Roma
The migration of Roma from the Czech and Slovak republics has attracted considerable attention during the past year. PER staff and PERRAC members represented PER at the sixth annual meeting of the Council of Europe's Specialist Group on the Roma/Gypsies, held in Prague, Czech Republic, from September 28 to October 1, 1998. Andrzej Mirga, chair of PERRAC, serves as co-chair of the specialist group.
The meeting started with a field visit to Usti nad Labem and Chanov, two Romani neighborhoods near Prague. Usti nad Labem has been a center of controversy since 1994, when local authorities there moved the Roma into tenements opposite non-Romani families. Earlier this year, the local authorities proposed building a dividing wall down the middle of the street, at the insistence of the street's non-Romani residents. Participants urged the government and local authorities not to build the wall. This came on top of disputes over the Czech Republic's treatment of its minority of 300,000 Roma, highlighted in 1997 when hundreds of Roma sought asylum in Canada.
After an assessment of the field visit by the specialist group, representatives of the Romani community in the Czech Republic presented their views and joined the discussion. Representatives from the Czech government involved in Roma/Gypsy issues and in city and regional planning also participated in the discussion.
OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
At a meeting of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation in Warsaw, November 2-4, 1998, PER and PERRAC, in cooperation with the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions for Human Rights (ODIHR) and the Council of Europe organized a roundtable on national policies and the Roma. PER staff and PERRAC members Ian Hancock, Nicolae Gheorghe, and Andrzej Mirga represented PER at the meeting. Governmental delegations from the U.S., France, Romania, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Switzerland, Austria, Denmark, and Finland, and representatives of ODIHR, the Council of Europe, the European Commission, and some 35 Romani NGO's attended the meeting. Gerard Stoudmann, director of ODIHR, gave opening remarks. The roundtable then took up three general topics suggested in a proposal by Andrzej Mirga: the development of national policies to prevent violence and discrimination against the Roma and Sinti; the European Commission's Agenda 2000 and its impact on the Roma and Sinti in countries aspiring to membership; and avenues for cooperation among the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the European Commission. A paper by Nicolae Gheorge and Jennifer Tanaka of Rromani CRISS on public policies concerning the Roma and Sinti in the OSCE region served as the basis for discussion.
In the first session, participants pointed to developments in the adoption of more progressive Romani policies in the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovakia, countries with some of the largest Romani populations. They encouraged other countries to develop their own policies. The session on Agenda 2000, which sets forth improvements in the condition of minorities as one of the criteria for membership, took note of some progress toward the integration of minorities in the countries seeking EU membership, except for the situation of the Roma. In a concluding session, a number of recommendations for improving relations between these organizations were put forth for submission to ODIHR.
PER Executive director gives congressional testimony
Livia Plaks, PER's executive director, testified at a hearing on Romani human rights in Europe conducted by the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on July 21, 1998, in Washington, D.C. Congressman Christopher H. Smith (R., NJ), the commission's co-chairman, and Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (D., MD), the ranking member of the commission, chaired the hearing. Dr. David Crowe, professor of history at Elon College in North Carolina; Dr. Ian Hancock, professor of history at the University of Texas and a member of PERRAC; and James Goldston, legal director of the European Roma Rights Center, also testified.
After opening remarks by the chairman, the four witnesses gave their prepared statements. David Crowe provided a historical overview of the Romani people. Ian Hancock addressed the question of Romani goals and objectives. James Goldston spoke about the current situation of the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe. Livia Plaks concluded with an account of PER's conflict-resolution efforts and its practical experience with the Roma in Central and Eastern Europe.
New and Renewed Grants
PER is pleased to announce the renewal of support from the Carnegie corporation of New York and a new grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
These grants will make it possible for PER to continue its efforts to work for ethnic accord in Central Europe, Russia and the Baltics, and the Balkans. PER is grateful to these funders for their generous contributions to its programs.
PER COUNCIL MEMBER APPOINTED AMBASSADOR
Martin Butora, who is a charter member of PER's Council for Ethnic Accord, will become Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to the United States. Butora, a distinguished social scientist and political activist, has been one of the most prominent figures in Slovakia's civic society movement and has guided the work of several of Slovakia's most important new foundations. PER began to work with Butora in 1991, in his capacity of advisor to Czechoslovak president Vaclav Havel, when he served as government liaison during preparations for PER's pioneering meeting of government officials and Romani officials from Eastern and Central Europe. In 1993-1994, Butora and his wife, Zora Butorova, spent the academic year at Princeton University. (Butorova pioneered public and political opinion polling in Slovakia, and her surveys have been the main source of independent opinion data in that country.) Butora was a key participant in several of PER's interethnic roundtables for Slovak and ethnic Hungarian officials from Slovakia.
As of August 15, 1998, Naum I. Kaytchev joined the PER office in Sofia as a new representative. Kaytchev received a Ph.D. in Balkan history from Sofia University.
He has published a number of articles in Bulgaria on various issues in the history of the Balkans at the beginning of the twentieth century. In addition to his native Bulgarian, he speaks English, Greek, Russian, and Serbo-Croatian.
Allen H. Kassof, President
Livia B. Plaks, Executive Director
Alex N. Grigor'ev, Program Officer
Warren R. Haffar, Program Officer
Patrice Chadwick, Administrative Associate
Robert A. Feldmesser, Senior Editor
Andrzej Mirga, (Chairman, PER Romani Advisory Council)
Tirgu Mures, Romania
PER Headquarters moves
Effective March 15, 1999, PER's headquarters office will relocate to:
Project on Ethnic Relations
Telephone, fax, and e-mail addresses will remain the same. The move from PER's present location on Palmer Square in Princeton, where it has been since 1992, will provide more space.
The Project on Ethnic Relations (PER) was founded in 1991 in anticipation of the serious interethnic conflicts that were to erupt following the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. PER conducts programs of intervention and dialogue and has served as a neutral mediator in several major disputes in the region. PER also conducts programs of training, education, and research at international, national, and community levels.
PER is supported by the Carnegie corporation of New York, with additional funding from the Starr Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the Council of Europe.
Council for Ethnic Accord
Harry Barnes, The Carter Center of Emory University, USA
Martin Butora, Ambassador of Slovakia to the United States, Slovakia
Bronislaw Geremek, (emeritus member), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Poland
Nicolae Gheorghe, Romani CRISS and the Romanian Academy, Romania
Dinu Giurescu, Bucharest University, Romania
Donald Horowitz, Duke University School of Law, USA
Allen H. Kassof, Project on Ethnic Relations, USA
Daniel Patrick Moynihan, United States Senate, USA
William Pfaff, author and journalist, USA
Livia B. Plaks, Project on Ethnic Relations, USA
Attila Pok, Hungarian Academy of Sciences and the Europa Institute, Hungary
John J. Roberts, American International Group, USA
Peter Sager, former Vice-President, Parliamentary Assembly of Europe, and former member, Swiss Parliament, Switzerland
Alexei M. Salmin, Presidential Advisory Council of the Russian Federation and Russian, Public Policy Center, Russia
John D. Scanlan, former U.S. Ambassador to Yugoslavia, USA
Vojislav Stanovcic, Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Yugoslavia
Galina V. Starovoitova, State Duma, Russia
Valery Tishkov, Presidential Advisory Council of the Russian Federation and the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Cyrus Vance, former U.S. Secretary of State, USA
Elie Wiesel, Boston University, USA