RFL/RL (Un)Civil Societies on minority issues


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RFL/RL on minorities


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RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies
Vol. 3, No. 1, 4 January 2002


.................


GEORGIA

AZERBAIJANI COMMUNITY PROTESTS DISCRIMINATION OVER PARLIAMENT MANDATE.
A political party representing Georgia's estimated 250,000 Azerbaijani
minority has written to President Shevardnadze to protest the decision
taken by the Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) not to allocate to
Azerbaijani Mikhail Makhmudov the deputy's mandate recently
surrendered by David Maghradze. Makhmudov was the next after Maghradze
on the list of SMK candidates elected under the proportional system in
the November 1999 elections. But Maghradze's mandate has gone to a
Georgian who is next on the list after Makhmudov. The Azerbaijanis
warned Shevardnadze, who resigned in September as SMK chairman, that
they will resort to mass protests if their constitutional rights are
not respected. Shevardnadze professed to be unaware of the
controversy, according to "Svobodnata Gruziya" on 19 December.
("RFE/RL Newsline," 21 December)


HUNGARY

FIDESZ SIGNS ELECTION AGREEMENT WITH ROMANY ORGANIZATION.
The major coalition party FIDESZ and the Romany association Lungo
Drom signed an election cooperation pact on 21 December under which
the senior governing party will provide three seats to Romany
candidates on the FIDESZ-Democratic Forum national list and seven
seats on regional lists. Lungo Drom President Florian Farkas
described the cooperation alliance as "historic," Hungarian media
reported. However, Jeno Zsigo, the president of another Romany
organization, the Roma Parliament, said the agreement means "FIDESZ
has declared war on Roma," as the coalition pact will politically
divide Hungary's Roma. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December)


KYRGYZSTAN

RUSSIAN FINALLY BECOMES AN OFFICIAL LANGUAGE. Kyrgyzstan
President Askar Akaev on 24 December signed into law the amendments
to the country's constitution approved by both chambers of parliament
earlier this year that designate Russian as an official language,
RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. In an official message of thanks,
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed the hope that the move
will benefit Kyrgyzstan's dwindling Russian minority, according to
ITAR-TASS. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December)


MACEDONIA

STILL NO BREAKTHROUGH ON AUTONOMY LAW. EU envoy Alain Leroy
failed in attempts on 25 December to persuade Macedonian and ethnic
Albanian politicians to accept compromises aimed at launching greater
home rule for ethnic Albanian communities, dpa reported from Skopje.
No international donors conference is likely to take place before the
local autonomy legislation is in place. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28
December)


MOLDOVA

COMMUNISTS INITIATE INTRODUCTION OF RUSSIAN AS OFFICIAL
LANGUAGE. Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) parliamentary group
leader Victor Stepaniuc on 27 December announced that his party,
together with some deputies from the Braghis Alliance, have put
forward an initiative at the Constitutional Court to introduce
Russian as the country's second official language, Flux reported.
Stepaniuc said Moldova is a "polyethnic state," and there is a need
to introduce a second official language understood by all ethnic
minorities. He added that Russian will not have "identical" status
with the Moldovan language, but all civil servants will have to speak
both languages. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December)


RUSSIA

CONFERENCE OPENS ON THE FATE OF SOVIET JEWISH COMMUNITY.
The international conference Soviet Jewry: Yesterday, Today, and
Tomorrow opened on 18 December at the Moscow Jewish Community Center
in Marina Roshcha, "Kommersant-Daily" reported. Participants include
activists of the Jewish emigration movement through the 1970s and
1990s; leaders from most Russian political parties; heads of Duma
factions; and a senior official from the presidential administration.
According to Vladimir Engel, the director of the Federation of Jewish
Communities of Russia, the goal of the conference is to study the
impact the Jewish emigration movement had on the democratization of
the Soviet Union and to use their findings to solve current issues.
Another goal is to create the World Congress of Russian Jewry, which
will unite the Jews who emigrated from the Soviet Union and now live
abroad. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 20 December)


TURKMENISTAN

INCREASED REPRESSION OF PROTESTANTS. On 21 December, a court in
Turkmenabad ordered the eviction of a Seventh Day Adventist because
unregistered Adventists had been meeting in her flat. Other recent
moves against Protestants include the threatened eviction of an
elderly, blind Baptist. The police raid of the Baptist service held
in his flat resulted in heavy fines for some 40 people; the expulsion
of three foreigners to Russia, and two-week jail terms for several
participants. A police raid on an Adventist meeting in Turkmenabad
resulted in the brief detention of six and confiscation of religious
materials. (Keston News Service, 27 December)


REGIONAL

HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN PREMIERS SIGN AGREEMENT ON STATUS LAW.
Viktor Orban and his visiting Romanian counterpart Adrian Nastase
signed an agreement on Hungary's Status Law in Budapest on 22
December. According to the agreement, not only ethnic Hungarians, but
also Romanian nationals will be allowed to perform seasonal work in
Hungary for up to three months. The two premiers also agreed that
Romanian nationals who are married to ethnic Hungarians will not be
eligible for travel and educational benefits in Hungary. The
opposition Socialist Party sharply criticized the extension of
employment benefits to Romanian nationals, saying that the more than
500,000 Hungarians who live off seasonal work will now have to face
competition from Romanians. FIDESZ Chairman Zoltan Pokorni told
Hungarian television that the concession made to Romania is not
significant, since Romania has not even exploited half of the 8,000
quota on seasonal work that was in force. For his part, opposition
Free Democrat parliamentary group leader Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said the
cabinet chose the worst possible solution and accepted the extension
of job benefits to Romanians without first analyzing its impact.
("RFE/RL Newsline," 28 December)

.............


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RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
________________________________________________________
RFE/RL (Un)Civil Societies
Vol. 3, No. 2, 9 January 2002

................

BULGARIA

TWO-CHILD FAMILY PREFERRED. According to a recent poll conducted
by the Bulgarian National Statistics Institute, about two-thirds of
respondents said they would prefer a family with two children,
news.bg reported on 7 January. One-fifth of the respondents said they
would prefer to have one child, and about 14 percent said that they
would like to have three or more children. Among the various ethnic
minorities in the country, only Romany respondents show different
figures, while the responses of the Turkish minority resemble the
overall results. Among the Roma, about one-third of the families said
they would prefer to have three or more children. ("RFE/RL Newsline,"
8 January)


CZECH REPUBLIC

PLAN TO ADDRESS PERCEIVED SEGREGATION IN 'SPECIAL SCHOOLS.'
The Education Ministry has drafted a program to enhance Romany
children's education that includes the closure of "special schools,"
which critics say lead to de facto segregation of Roma, CTK reported
on 7 January, citing a report in the daily "Hospodarske noviny." More
elementary schools will include classes that target "specific needs
of children with social or cultural disadvantages," the paper said,
instead of forcing such children into alternative institutions.
Separate schools will remain only for children with severe mental
disorders, the agency said. Local advocacy groups and international
organizations, including Human Rights Committee, have called on the
Czech government to take resolute steps to end segregation in the
education system. Figures published by the Education Information
Institute estimate that 30,000 children are enrolled in 432 "special
schools" across the country. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January)


HUNGARY

HUNGARIAN CABINET REASSURES TRADE UNIONS OVER STATUS LAW.
The Hungarian-Romanian memorandum of understanding signed by the two
countries' premiers on 22 December does not overwrite Hungary's
Status Law, Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi said at a meeting of the
National Labor Council on 4 January, Hungarian media reported.
Martonyi said the memorandum merely states that work permits cannot
be denied to Romanian citizens of any nationality if jobs are
available in the Hungarian market. Romanian job seekers will not have
to wait 30 days for permits, he explained. However, the Employment
Act authorizes the Economy Ministry to determine the number of job
permits issued, which implies that the number of foreign job seekers
allowed to enter the country could not reach 100,000, Martonyi
concluded. For his part, Economy Minister Gyorgy Matolcsy told the
Labor Council that 37,300 foreigners were issued job permits in
Hungary last year, about half of whom were Romanian nationals.
("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January)


MOLDOVA

COMMITTEE FOR 'DE-RUSSIFICATION' OF SCHOOLS ESTABLISHED.
Participants at a 3 January meeting in Chisinau protesting
introduction of compulsory Russian-language classes in schools
established a "Committee for De-Russification of Moldovan Schools,"
=46lux reported. According to a press release, the committee is a
response to the "dramatic situation in the educational system." The
committee is to fight against the "abusive and totalitarian measures
of the Communist government." The committee launched a signature-
collecting campaign against the introduction of Russian classes.
("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January)


ROMANIA

INFORMATION OFFICES ON IMPLEMENTING HUNGARIAN STATUS LAW
BEGIN WORK. Local offices giving information on implementing the
provisions of the Hungarian Status Law have already started work,
Mediafax reported on 4 January. Only hours after opening, hundreds of
ethnic Hungarians expressed their will to get the Hungarian ID card
that will grant them special rights in Hungary. In related news, the
Romanian government's secretary-general, Serban Mihailescu, said
Slovakia and Ukraine have told Hungary that they intend to follow
Romania's example in implementing the Status Law. Romania and Hungary
signed an agreement on 22 December that prohibits the law's
enforcement in Romania. ("RFE/RL Newsline," 7 January)

................

(Compiled by Catherine Cosman)
(Deputy Editor: Yulia Aleksandrovskaya)
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