SOFIA, BULGARIA — ZHELYO ZHELEV of Bulgaria struggled against the ruling Stalinists of the Bulgarian Communist Party for 25 years.
In the 1980s, he supported democratic initiatives, and in December 1989 was elected president of the multiparty Union of Democratic Forces, which defeated the ex-communist Socialist Party in October 1991 parliamentary elections. Mr. Zhelev was elected president, the first non-communist head of state in 43 years.
If the Bosnian war spreads, who faces the most danger - Kosovo or Macedonia?
The situation is worse for Kosovo, where 90 percent of the population is Albanian. They are deprived of all the rights gained under the 1974 [Yugoslav] Constitution, even the right to have their children taught in their own language. The presence of the Serbian Army and police makes the situation continuously more explosive because, if Serbia blows up in social turmoil because of Milosevic's policy, it will spill over into Kosovo.
Milosevic now has total power. Nonetheless, the likelihood of unrest is increased by UN sanctions.
There are three possible developments: 1. Milosevic will resort to military dictatorship, with the support of his generals and the ex-communists he represents. 2. A growth of public dissent, causing conflict between different groups of society. 3. Milosevic and his acolytes can divert public frustration and danger [to themselves] toward Kosovo ... as a pretext for labeling all opponents as `traitors.'
What should the West do?
The West should have intervened at the start - one and a half years ago and ... compelled the warring parties to negotiate. But differences among the Western states allowed the fire to spread, so that we now have a new Lebanon in the former Yugoslavia. The responsibility still lies with the West to intervene energetically.
In the long run, military intervention is the solution. It will come, but when it does, the price will be much higher. Moreover, after all the crimes committed, the villages and towns destroyed, after all the seeds of new hatreds, it will take at least two generations to overcome them.
The West proved itself totally unprepared for the post-Communist developments in our part of Europe. When the Soviet empire fell, the West was quite unable to deal properly with any one of that empire's former members.