AS a prosperous, neutral country in the middle of Central Europe, and the center of a large empire in the region until the end of World War I, Austria has a special interest in developments in Eastern Europe - especially neighboring Yugoslavia.Austrian Foreign Minister Alois Mock recently spoke with the Monitor's editor, Richard J. Cattani, and staff writer Lawrence J. Goodrich about these developments. Excerpts follow. Do you see a changing role now for Austria?
There are tremendous changes in Central and Eastern Europe - communist dictatorships have disappeared and they've been replaced by democratic structures. Austria is again in the center.... So in a way, these radical changes gave us back some of our former geopolitical situation in Europe. I think we not only could, but should, contribute in a sizable way to strengthening the democratic and economic structures in the new democracies ... where we will see a rather unstable situation for a very long time.... We have some sensibility toward those countries and peoples where the common tradition for several hundred years was the saying that that every second Viennese is a Czech or Bohemian or Slovak.
Where should that financial support for Eastern Europe come from?
I think it's mainly up to the European countries. After all, for many, many years the Americans have taken a big share of financial burden of defense.... As far as the United States are concerned, I am much more concerned to convince the US government that if the European Community and the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe fail to settle the Yugoslav crisis, then like it or not, it is going to be on the US table. If the European Community is not successful, it will be a very great failure, and the credibility of the EC will suffer. And the next step will be up to the US....
If the US were to become involved in Yugoslavia as a superpower, what does it do? Does it put ships in the Adriatic? It had an enormous airlift into the Middle East. I think our present policy should be to avoid [the need for US military intervention]. The European Community must take all diplomatic and political and economic measures, selected sanctions against those who do not respect their own signatures.... The Yugoslavian People's Army has discovered that if you don't respect an agreement, it's of no consequence. So why should they respect it? Of course you sometimes get the argument that the Croats don't respect agreements, either. I had a phone talk [several] weeks ago with a member of the Croatian government. I told him that they should be more prudent about blockading the People's Army barracks [in Croatia]. He said: "Mr. Mock, the last three or four weeks we have respected the Sept. 1 agreement with the EC. And every week we have lost control over about 5 or 10 percent of our own territory. If we go on this way, we'll have no control what soever over our own country...." We shouldn't forget that it's not the Croatians who are invading Serbia, but it's the People's Army ... representing the interests of the Serbian republic, which invaded Croatia.... If you speak privately to the foreign ministers of the EC, everybody tells you, "of course they will be recognized [as independent states]. But not now." I say, why not now? We could have things settled. If you are convinced that [their declarations of independence] were democratic decisions, if you accept a point of view that there's no chance that Yugoslavia will reunite after so many people have been killed - after so many refugees, destroyed villages and property, and so on - why not recognize them and concentrate on settling the rest [of the problem]?
It is your feeling then you might have to go right straight to a division? What solution do you see ahead?
No. 1: One has to apply the principles we proclaimed ... in the Paris charter last November. That means self-determination. There are two peoples, the Slovenes and the Croats, who want independence. They have had democratic elections, they have democratically elected governments, they had a plebiscite.... We have to respect the democratic decisions, and to recognize their independence. No. 2: One has to make an effort and to say to the other republics, shouldn't you stay together, form a new Yugoslavian confederation, on the basis of equal rights whatever the republic and people? That means giving back the original autonomy to Vojvodina and Kosovo, which are now part of Serbia, and saying to Montenegro, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, "we have all equal rights in a new confederation...." Third, you have to have very strict protection of ethnic groups which are within the territory of other nations. We have to guarantee their rights internationally. No. 4: No change of borders. In many cases in Croatia, you can say, this is a Serbian village and this is a Croatian village. But what about Bosnia-Herzegovina? In Bosnia-Herzegovina there are 40 percent Muslims, 30 percent Serbs, 20 percent Croats, sometimes living on the same street, at least in the same village. You cannot separate them. You would have chaos from the beginning.