[Marxism] Slovenian democracy?
lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 13 11:13:28 MST 2006
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Missouri), June 22, 1999
CLINTON PRAISES SLOVENIA'S RESISTANCE TO MILOSEVIC;HE URGES SERBS TO OUST
LEADER, EMBRACE DEMOCRACY
From this pro-Western country that broke from Slobodan Milosevic's grip,
President Bill Clinton urged Serbs on Monday to "reject the murderous rule"
of the Yugoslav president and follow Slovenia into democracy.
In a drenching rain, thousands of Slovenes cheered Clinton on the first
visit by an American president to this small nation, wedged between the
Alps and the Adriatic coast. A patchwork sea of umbrellas covered Congress
Square during the president's speech.
Clinton did not mince words about Milosevic during a day that stretched
from diplomatic talks in Germany to dinner in a 16th-century castle once
used as a summer home by Josip Broz Tito, the late communist leader of
The president pledged that no U.S. money -- "not a bit, not a penny" --
would be given to help Milosevic rebuild bridges and roads destroyed in
Yugoslavia by 78 days of NATO airstrikes.
"I can't wait for the day," Clinton said, when a democratic leader replaces
Milosevic, who has been charged by a U.N. tribunal with war crimes in Kosovo.
Just five days shy of the anniversary of Slovenia's declaration of
independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Clinton recalled that Milosevic
dispatched troops to the republic eight years ago to prevent its secession.
"But you resisted," he said. "You secured your freedom. And you proclaimed:
It will never be the same again.
NY Times, November 13, 2006
Hounding of Gypsies Contradicts Slovenias Image
By NICHOLAS WOOD
AMBRUS, Slovenia, Nov. 6 Half a mile short of this picturesque village in
central Slovenia, two brick houses and a cluster of sheds lie empty. A
babys stroller sits abandoned outside, and chickens and geese race about,
apparently unfed, all evidence of a rapid departure by the family that
lived here until just over a week ago.
The Strojans, an extended family of 31 Gypsies, 14 of them children, fled
the property on Oct. 28, after it was surrounded by a mob from Ambrus and
nearby villages, threatening to kill them and demanding their eviction.
While the police kept the crowd back, Slovenian government officials
negotiated the familys removal to a former army barracks about 30 miles away.
The scene is at odds with an image of Slovenia as the most advanced and
wealthiest of the 10 Eastern European states that joined the European Union
two years ago. Slovenia prides itself as being free of the ethnic tensions
that dominate the rest of Yugoslavia, from which Slovenia broke free in
1991 after a 10-day conflict. Since then Gypsies, also known as Roma, have
been the victims of sporadic assaults, including a grenade attack last year
in which two women, a mother and her 21-year-old daughter, were killed.
While none of the Strojans were seriously hurt in the incident here, rights
groups say the governments role in the forced removal of the family makes
it one of the most serious such incidents in Europe in a decade. And now
other municipalities are calling for the removal of Gypsies.
Ambrus seems an unlikely place for such discord. Renovated houses are
surrounded by lush fields and well-kept woodland. New cars are parked in
driveways, symbols of wealth that make Slovenia the envy of the rest of the
But a dispute over an illegal occupation of land by some members of the
family two years ago began to sour relations, said Alojz Sinkovec, the
village president, and then villagers suspected the family of dumping trash
in a nearby stream. The police eventually exonerated the family. Matters
worsened in mid-October when a man living with the Strojans fought with a
villager, who fell into a coma.
Soon afterward police officers advised the Strojans to leave, the family
said. They told us people are gathering and that we should get in our cars
and leave, said Mirko Strojan, sitting in the former army barracks that
has become his temporary home. For five days, the family sought refuge in
the woods, living under tarpaulins and receiving food from a Romany
community. Then they tried to go home. The police told them that a crowd
was gathering in Ambrus, Mr. Strojan said. This time, riot police officers
surrounded the houses, and several hundred villagers gathered, local
People were coming on foot through the woods, they were shouting, Kill
the Gypsies, kill the Gypsies! said Miha Strojan, Mr. Strojans brother.
He said he remembered someone shouting, Well string you up on a cross!
Photographs that Borut Peterlin, a local photographer, took of the crowd
show both menace and boisterous spirits, with people laughing.
At 6 p.m., Interior Minister Dragutin Mate arrived to mediate. Mr. Mate
said he proposed that the Strojans leave and that the government find them
new houses within three weeks. I gave them the proposal; both sides agreed
with it, he said in an interview.
He said the Strojans would not be allowed to return because their houses
had been built without permission, although the family has lived in them
since the 1960s.
Witnesses said the family had no choice but to leave. There was no
negotiation, the minister had taken his decision before he arrived, said
Zarko Grm, a representative of the Romany community in Novo Mesto, east of
Ambrus, who took part in the talks.
When Mr. Mate told the people in the crowd of the agreement, they cheered,
television images showed.
They were singing the national anthem and other songs, Mr. Peterlin said.
There were also shouts of, Gypsies raus! he said, echoing a taunt used
by the Nazis during the deportation of Jews and Gypsies during the Holocaust.
The European Roma Rights Center criticized the government for setting a
dangerous precedent. Were it to become permanent, this is an extremely
worrying event, said Claude Cahn, the groups program director, who called
the move a serious breach of basic civil rights.
But the government has defended the move. I think the standard of living
is far better in Postojna, said Milan Zver, Slovenias education minister,
who is also in charge of a government committee responsible for the
Gypsies. They are probably better off than they would be in Ambrus, he
said an interview on Pop TV, a private station.
And now, an initiative has been started to remove the community of more
than 600 Gypsies from the outskirts of Novo Mesto.
According to Slovenias ombudsman for human rights, Matjaz Hanzek, the
government and public reaction illustrate a deep-rooted prejudice that
permeates Slovenian society. They really dont understand they are using
discriminatory speech, he said in an interview. Our neighbors are
watching this very closely. If this can happen here in the European Union,
then nationalist groups in countries like Serbia and Croatia will know they
can get away with the same.
Mr. Hanzek has in turn been accused by Janez Jansa, Slovenias prime
minister, of denigrating Slovenias name by raising the issue with the
Council of Europes human rights commissioner.
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