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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Christian values, EU membership, United Nations, Customs Union, Venezuelan theater, Russian Missiles; News, Sport, Culture and Polish scandal

  • From the Top...
  • #448

    Alexander Lukashenko: state ideology should rely on Christian values

    From: BelTA
    Meeting with Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia
    The state ideology should be built on the foundation of Christian values, said President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he met with Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill on 25 September.

    Alexander Lukashenko thanked the head of the Russian Orthodox Church for fulfilling his promise and coming to Belarus. “It is your Belarus, you can consider the land native,” the President told Patriarch Kirill. “It is part of the huge Orthodox nation. 85% of the Belarusians are Orthodox believers. We have an opportunity to thoroughly discuss all the issues that might exist from the Orthodox clergy’s point of view. Although we discuss them every year: meetings with the Synod are held twice a year and we openly discuss everything”.

    The Belarusian head of state admitted he does not completely understand how such a huge institution that the church is can be separated from the state. In his opinion, it is difficult for the state to exist without the church. When Belarus had to choose ideology, Alexander Lukashenko suggested using Christian values as the basis. “We are trying to shape our state ideology but so far there is nothing better than Christian values,” he remarked.

    The Belarus President assured that he will always support the Orthodox Church. “The period when we repented is over. It is now necessary to continue building the strategic avenues of cooperation between the church and the state,” he added.

    According to the head of state, in Belarus there are 25 confessions, which co-exist peacefully. There are no interdenominational conflicts.

    Belarus President: Patriarch Kirill’s visit vividly demonstrates commitment to consolidating Slavonic unity

    The visit of Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill to Belarus is a vivid demonstration of the unbreakable spiritual ties between the Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian nations, sincere commitment to consolidating the Slavonic unity. The statement was made by President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko as he and Patriarch Kirill visited the All Saints Memorial Temple in Minsk on 25 September.

    Alexander Lukashenko believes that it is symbolical that the meeting of the Belarus President and the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia took place near the All Saints Memorial Temple. According to the Belarusian head of state, the temple is a kind example of fruitful joint efforts of the Orthodox church and the Belarusian state. The President said that the temple’s concept is purely noble. It is being erected to commemorate all people of the Earth that fell victim to wars and social catastrophes. “I believe that the memorial will help preserve the historic memory and will become a genuine shrine of the White Russia,” said Alexander Lukashenko. “Your patriarchal blessing in this holy place will contribute to further unification of our society, solidification of people around eternal Christian values”.

    The President and the Patriarch examined the inside of the temple, which is under construction. The temple is shaped as a tented roof with a cross on tope. In the lower part of the temple soil from battlefields of all the great historic battles will be collected. The temple construction is supposed to end by the end of 2010. Alexander Lukashenko invited Patriarch Kirill to visit Belarus once again when the temple is complete.

    Talking about negotiations with the Belarus President, the Patriarch said they had had a serious and thoughtful dialogue. He thanked [the President] for the openness in discussing many issues. “Such discussions are worth a lot. They help understand a lot, the most important of which is what unites all of us,” he said. Patriarch Kirill remarked that his coming to Belarus after visiting Ukraine was not accidental. “I feel like the patriarch of the entire nation that originated from the united Russia”. He is convinced that, with this land divided into sovereign states, the common legacy has not been destroyed.

    Patriarch Kirill: I feel at home in Belarus

    Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia named his trip to Belarus a home visit. The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church made such a statement as he met with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on 25 September.

    “I feel at home in Belarus. I actually have arrived home here,” the head of the Russian Orthodox Church stressed noting that “the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia is not a patriarch of the Russian Federation or some other country. Holy Russia, our historic heritage, is embodied within the boundaries of various states”.

    “Besides, such a phenomenon is peculiar to other world civilizations as well when different state formations have the same spiritual and cultural roots,” he added.

    “The fact that our nations have common roots is very important. They are united not only by the common past but also by a system of values as You were quite right to call it,” Patriarch Kirill said addressing Alexander Lukashenko. According to Patriarch Kirill, the Christian values were held onto even in the times when the very word “God” was prohibited.

    “Then how else can be that great heroism of the Belarusian people during the Great Patriotic War explained! Such a self-sacrificing struggle is impossible on order only, without human intrinsic values and Christian ideals,” the Patriarch said.

    “Preservation of those values which are considered fundamental, the ability to distinguish a fundamental value from the values which are practical, the ability to protect these fundamental values and readiness to conduct a mutually beneficial dialogue with others within the practical values - all the aforesaid is a real face of a modern state that is not going to refuse its origins and wishes to stay contemporary,” His Holiness explained.

    The Patriarch added that he had heard this very approach in the words of the President of Belarus. “It is the right national self-consciousness. Let Belarus develop this way,” Patriarch Kirill said.

    Cooperation between state, church in Belarus unique in ex-USSR

    The practice of cooperation between the state and the church in Belarus is unique across the entire post-Soviet space both in scale and the level of interaction. The statement was made by Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Kirill at an extended participation meeting with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko on 25 September.

    The head of the Russian Orthodox Church pointed out the system of agreements between Belarusian government agencies and religious organizations of traditional confessions. An agreement on cooperation with the Belarusian Orthodox Church was signed in Belarus in 2003 as well as 12 agreements on cooperation between the church and ministries. “Results of such active cooperation are a testimony to the opportunities that faith can give to a citizen,” stressed the Patriarch.

    The national development in the country where Orthodox believers constitute an overwhelming majority is unthinkable without active participation of the Orthodox church in public life, remarked the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. “Orthodox faith is the foundation of the brotherly unity of peoples of Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia. The care for preserving a national identity does not hard cooperation with brotherly countries.” Patriarch Kirill specified that it is especially prominent in cooperation inside the Belarus-Russia Union. In his words, the church is always ready to support the promotion of close ties between the Belarusians and the Russians.

    Patriarch Kirill underlined the importance of working out modern legislation for the development of effective cooperation between the church and the state. The head of the Russian Orthodox Church reminded that in Belarus optional religious studies based on Orthodox traditions are approved on an experimental basis. Belarusian universities teach theology as a profession. The leader of the Russian Orthodox Church said that sharing religious education practices between Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine is useful.

    “For instance, Belarus’ practice of recognizing academic degrees in theological disciplines is interesting for Russia. Students of theology schools in Belarus get state scholarships while professors get salaries paid by the government budget. The cooperation of the church and the state in educational space is unique,” said Patriarch Kirill.

    According to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, ensuring moral unity of the society, preventing conflicts and enmity in the Belarusian land are common goals of the church and the state.

  • Other Belarusian News...

    Czech Ambassador wants Belarus to be EU member

    From: BelTA
    Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Czech Republic to Belarus Jiri Karas expressed hope that Belarus will become member of the European Union. He made this statement at a meeting with reporters in Minsk on 25 September.

    “I think that the day will come when Belarusians will not have to pay for visas to the European Union. I hope that Belarus will become the EU member. I hope so for at least one reason: I sincerely love Belarus,” the Ambassador said.

    According to him, in order to become EU member, the citizens of Belarus and Belarusian politicians have to demonstrate their will to join the European Union. This will be followed by the relevant legal procedures. Czechia went the same way. According to the Ambassador, Belarus should realize that the strength of small European countries is in their unity.

    The Czech diplomat pointed out the change in the political environment in Belarus. “We are looking forward to further steps,” he added. Belarus, just like the Czech Republic, belongs to Europe historically and culturally. “I do not like when some politicians say: we are Belarusians and you are Europeans. I think that we are all Europeans. Belarus is part of Europe. Both Czechia and the European Union know it,” Jiri Karas said.

    Talking about the cost of the Schengen visa for Belarusians, the Ambassador said, “Some people assume that if a person can afford going abroad, he can afford paying €60 for the visa. Other people, including me, believe that it is not quite fair that for some countries the Schengen visa costs €35 and for others €60,” the diplomat said. “I think it is a development issue,” he said.

    In 2008, the Czech Embassy issued almost 20,000 visas to Belarusians, this year the situation did not change significantly. Apart from that, 20% of the visas were granted free of charge to students, children, professors, sportsmen, artistes and elderly Belarusians. Tourists accounted for about 80% of people who visited Czechia. The Czech diplomat expressed hope that the number of Czech tourists to Belarus will increase. In his opinion, Belarus has to improve the infrastructure and build more hotels. “I really hope that the same number of Czech tourists will visit your wonderful country. I think you have much to offer them,” the Ambassador said.

    Belarus taking part in the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly

    From: BelTA
    A Belarusian delegation led by Foreign Minister of Belarus Sergei Martynov is taking part in the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Sergei Martynov met with the Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Portugal, the United Arab Emirates, Azerbaijan, the Netherlands, Estonia, Nicaragua, and Uruguay on 23-24 September. The sides discussed the bilateral and multilateral cooperation, BelTA learned from the Foreign Ministry of Belarus.

    Sergei Martynov and his Uruguayan counterpart Pedro Vaz signed an intergovernmental agreement on visa-free travels between the two countries.

    Sergei Martynov also met with Javier Solana, High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union, and Antonio Maria Costa, Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. The officials discussed the current interaction and expansion of relations between Belarus and the EU and UN agencies.

    The Belarusian Foreign Minister took part in the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In his report Sergei Martynov noted that since the treaty was opened for signing it has come close to the universal status but it has failed to completely stop any nuclear explosions. Sergei Martynov said that Belarus enthusiastically welcomes all the positive signs that manifest the growing interest in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation both on national and international levels. Belarus hopes these positive intentions will be implemented as practical solutions.

    The Belarusian Foreign Minister said he was confident that providing legally binding security guarantees to non-nuclear nations is as important as nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and equitable access to peaceful nuclear technologies.

    Customs Union Code necessitates changes to Belarus’ Customs Code

    From: BelTA
    The Customs Code of Belarus will be changed following the adoption of the Customs Union Code of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, head of the customs clearance department of the State Customs Committee of Belarus Alexander Nistyuk said at the session of the Council on Entrepreneurship Development in Belarus on 25 September.

    Alexander Nistyuk informed that a draft Customs Union Code is already prepared. “The draft code is probably discussed at the session of the Customs Union Commission today. It will be submitted to the heads of the Customs Union member states for the interstate coordination,” the State Customs Committee representative said.

    According to him, this document will be formalized by an international agreement. As this international agreement will have a priority over the national ones, the Customs Code of Belarus will be changed. “There is no doubt that amendments will be introduced into the Customs Code of Belarus. It is possible that some points that are stipulated in the international agreement will be removed from the Customs Code of Belarus,” Alexander Nistyuk said.

    The draft Customs Union Code consists of 8 sections and 50 chapters. It sets forth a great number of regulations, though it contains references to national legislations, too. The terminology of the draft Customs Union Code will be changed. The draft code is based on the terminology used by the Kyoto Convention. According to Alexander Nistyuk, the changes in terminology will not be painful for Belarus as the country adopted its Customs Code in 2007.

    The draft Customs Union Code will spell out regulations related to the declaration of goods.

    Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan unify 98% of customs tariffs

    At present 98% of the customs tariffs between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan have been unified, Sergei Kudreiko, counselor of the CIS and EurAsEC department of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry, told a session of the Council for Business Development in Belarus in Minsk on 25 September.

    According to him, on 25 September the unified customs tariffs are being discussed in Moscow. The unified customs tariffs are expected to be discussed by the presidents of the Customs Union participating countries on 27 November this year.

    Sergei Kudreiko reminded that the customs control will be redeployed from the Belarusian-Russian border onto the exterior border of the Customs Union on 1 July 2010. The united customs area of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia is expected to be set up in 2011.

  • Cultural Scene...

    Venezuelan theater to participate in theater festival Panorama in Minsk

    From: BelTA
    On 25 October, the Venezuelan theater will perform in Belarus for the first time, Gerardo Estrada, Director of the Simon Bolivar Latin American Cultural Center told a press conference on 24 September.

    He noted that the Venezuelan theater intends to take part in the international theater festival “Panorama” which will be held in Minsk. According to Gerardo Estrada, the autumn program of the work of the Simon Bolivar Latin American Cultural Center has a lot of interesting events. Starting 1 October, the center will demonstrate the Venezuelan movie weekly. The center will offer Spanish language courses and Latin dance lessons.

    The Belarusian-Venezuelan cultural cooperation was brought to a new level after a visit of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to Caracas when the culture ministries of the two countries signed the cooperation agreement. Annually, Belarus and Venezuela hold the days of culture which help both the peoples know each other better.

    Belarus hosts German Weeks

    Belarus is playing host to the German Weeks now. The motto of this cultural project is “Open Germany via its culture”. The project will be running through the middle of November, BelTA learnt from the German Embassy in Belarus.

    Within two months, the Minsk residents and guests of the capital will be able to visit various events – concerts, exhibitions, seminars and roundtables.

    The program of the project includes various topics including the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, the Eastern Partnership Program, the elections to the German Bundestag on 27 September, other important events in Germany.

    The German Weeks in Belarus will present concerts of the hip-hop band Rodger & Rodger, the European Borderlands Literary Festival. The events will be held not only in Minsk but in other regions of Belarus.

  • Economics...

    Belarus, Iran to proceed with projects in machine building

    From: BelTA
    Belarus and Iran will continue implementing projects in machine building, says the greeting message of First Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Vladimir Semashko that was read at the opening of the Day of Iranian Economy in Belarus which is held within the framework of the Belarusian-Iranian Economic Forum in Minsk.

    Belarus attaches great importance to the development of Belarusian-Iranian cooperation; the two countries arrange regular visits, including visits of business circles of the two countries. The leadership of the two states set a goal to increase the bilateral trade and investment manifold. The ongoing forum is aimed to achieve this goal.

    At present Belarus and Iran are implementing agreements to expand trade and economic cooperation. The production of Iranian cars Samand was launched in Belarus. About 2,000 Belarusian MAZ buses are to be shipped to Iran. The two countries might sign contracts to deliver MAZ trucks, Gomselmash fodder harvesters and MTZ tractors to the Iranian market. The implementation of investment projects is a special area of focus. Belarus is taking part in a project to explore the Jofeir oil field in Iran. According to the Belarusian side, it is crucial that the two countries harmonize their positions, settle all the issues and proceed with the implementation of joint projects. It pertains to the cooperation in the banking area, real estate, industry and science.

    It is encouraging that the two countries managed to reach an understanding regarding the terms of the implementation of construction projects by Iranian companies in Belarus.

    Chinese corporation to grow grapes in Gomel oblast

    The Chinese corporation Dong Jin Group is implementing a project to grow table variety grapes in film-type unheated greenhouses in the Gomel oblast. The relevant agreement was reached at a meeting of the Heilongjiang province delegation with the Gomel oblast administration in Gomel on 25 September.

    According to Dong Jin Group, several thousand hectares of greenhouses in the Heilongjiang province are used to cultivate grapes, which can be used as food or used to manufacture grape wines and cognacs. Chinese specialists are ready to use their experience in southern parts of Belarus where the climate is similar to that of their province.

    It was decided that initially 100-200 hectares of land 50 km far from Gomel will be allocated for building greenhouses. The investor will be aided with machines and materials. If proven viable, the operation will be extended up to the economically sound size.

    Belarus’ need for table variety grapes is estimated at 6,000-7,000 tonnes. The greenhouses can produce up to 6 tonnes of grapes per hectare.

    The next day Gomselmash and Dong Jin Group are expected to sign an agreement on setting up an enterprise in China for joint assembly of forage harvesters Palesse FS60. The Belarusian company will provide harvester assembly sets while the Chinese side will take care of assembling, tuning and pre-sale preparation. Up to 100 harvesters will be assembled initially per annum.

  • From the Foriegn Press...

    Way clear for Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan Customs Union - Shuvalov

    From: RIA Novosti
    There are no obstacles to the creation of a Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, a Russian first deputy prime minister said on Saturday.

    Igor Shuvalov told the Mir TV channel that the three former Soviet republics had worked hard to adopt a series of international agreements.

    "We have worked very constructively and have unified over 90% tariffs with Belarus," he said.

    "As for Kazakhstan, we had to carry out a great amount of work, as we only had agreements on 50% of tariffs. We worked a lot on the other half of the tariffs and we have now finished this work," he said.

    He also said that a Customs Code would be presented for approval to the heads of the three states in November.

    "In general, there is nothing in the way of the creation of a Customs Union," he said.

    Shuvalov said on Friday that the three states would seek to join the World Trade Organization at the same time and on equal terms as members of the Customs Union.

    "Our goal is joining the WTO simultaneously and on equal terms," he said following a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Community's Integration Committee.

    Russia is the world's only major economy outside the WTO. President Dmitry Medvedev recently blamed Washington for blocking its accession to the global trade body.

    Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in early June to form a Customs bloc and seek joint accession to the WTO. Unified Customs regulations are due to come into effect at the start of 2010.

    At the UN: Belarus highlights role of middle-income countries

    From: Xinua
    Belarussian Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov on Saturday stressed the role of middle-income countries, saying they could be yet another "motor" of economic and social progress.

    "It is quite evident that resources and capacity of a narrow circle of traditional world leaders are insufficient for overcoming the crisis," Martynov told the general debate of the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly. "The greatest potential for growth rests with the states of 'moderate means.'"

    "To a certain extent, one could draw a parallel here with the key importance of the middle class for stable economic and political development of states," he said.

    "We believe in current conditions that the strengthening of economic potential and political role of middle-income countries could be yet another 'motor' of economic and social progress," Martynov said.

    He noted that last year, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on development cooperation with middle-income countries.

    "The real point is that the larger the number of economically prosperous states in the world, the stronger and more predictable the world economy will be, and the fewer crises and cataclysms.

    "More opportunities for economic growth of poor countries and increase in the development assistance will be created," Martynov said. "In the long run, everyone is going to be a winner."

    Saturday was the fourth of seven days' general debate this year at the 192-member UN General Assembly. The theme of this year's debate is "Effective responses to global crises: strengthening multilateralism and dialogue among civilizations for international peace, security and development."

    Belarus cbank to narrow FX band, cut rates in 2010

    Belarus will set its currency trading band at 5 percent next year, reversing this summer's widening which was done to secure cash from the International Monetary Fund, the central bank chief said on Saturday.

    The ex-Soviet economy has been hurt by a recession in neighbouring Russia, and is counting on a $3.5 billion credit line from the IMF to help it weather the crisis.

    To meet IMF requirements, Belarus devalued its rouble by 20 percent at the beginning of the year and pegged it to a basket of currencies, originally in a band of plus/minus 5 percent. In June, it widened the corridor to 10 percent in either direction in a bid to secure the next tranche of IMF cash.

    "The stability of the exchange rate of the national currency will be ensured by a corridor of fluctuations with limits of plus/minus 5 percent," central bank Chairman Pyotr Prokopovich told a government meeting on forecasts for next year.

    On Friday, the official exchange rate against the basket of dollars, euros and the Russian rouble was set at 1,008.42 Belarusian roubles.

    Prokopovich also proposed cutting the refinancing rate to 9-12 percent during 2010 from 14 percent currently.

    The budget for next year, discussed at Saturday's government meeting, features economic growth of 2 percent and a deficit of 1.5 percent of gross domestic product.

    The Finance Ministry wants to raise the value added tax to 20 percent from 18 percent to compensate for the planned scrapping of other levies.

    Some Tons of Belarusian Socks?

    From: EUObserver
    Global economic crisis demands new extensive measures. Belarusian authorities as always come up with fresh, innovative ideas.

    Agriculture in Belarus is loss-making but the authorities are still proud of it. Within the next five years the modernisation of the whole industry is to be sped up to reach the European level of production. The new 2011-2015 rural development programme is aimed at increasing the efficiency of farming and reaching a profitability rate of 25 to 30 percent…

    Homyel region which borders on Lithuania and Poland already suggested selling stones to EU. Why not? We have abundance of those on our fields. The pain will be just to collect and wash them. The product made in Belarus is export ready.

    But the best idea however belongs to the government. The power-wielding structures — Ministry of Internal, KGB (!), Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Emergency Situations (!), Defence Ministry, State Customs Committee — received a list with recommended number of tons of Belarusian goods to be sold to the respective ministries abroad by the end of the year. There’s everything on the list: Belarusian sweets, furniture, tracksuits, rubber shoes, TV-sets, fridges… Luckily no stones.

    State Customs Committee for eg. is expected to sell 700 tons of beetroot a carrot, 200 tons of sausage, 40 000 shirts, 50 000 boxers, etc. KGB officers have it easier, their list is almost 5 times smaller. But not that of the Ministry of Defence, they have to find a purchaser for the furniture (equivalent to 23 million dollars); 11,5 tons of cheese and cottage cheese; 2,15 tonsof sausage. Hope, they will have time and resources for the rest of the duties.

    Customs Committee head Alyaksandr Shpilewski explained the recommendation was not really about selling the goods, but helping Belarusian enterprises find contacts and partners abroad.

    So, has the list been prepared for power departments for them to force their counterparts buy Belarusian products? Or the other way round: their strategy will be forcibly pleading for sympathy? “A couple tons of Belarusian socks, please?… Pleeeease! Oh, pleeeease!”

    You never know which could work better in these difficult times.

    Belarusian steelmakers post strong warehouse reserves

    From: Steelguru
    It is reported that Belarus steelmakers have accumulated 72.1% of their average monthly volume of steel pipe production in their warehouses.

    As per report, the warehouse reserves of Belarusian steelmakers have increased by 1.4% compared to early September 2008. During the past year, the steelmaker reserves of wire rod have increased by 9.5 times to 3, 300 tonnes while their reserves of finished steel products have risen by 9.1 times to 7,300 tonnes.

    As SteelOrbis previous reported, in January to August this year Belarus crude steel output dropped by 3.6% to 1.74 million tonnes its finished steel product output decreased by 1.7% to 1.62 million tonnes, its steel pipe production declined by 39.6% to 67,500 tonnes while its wire rod output went down by 40% to 35,900 tonnes.

  • From the Opposition...

    New Lukashenka’s decree – many Belarusians not be able to go abroad

    From: Charter '97
    Lukashenka signed the law establishing a new order of exit from and entry into the country for Belarusian citizens.

    In six months, when the law takes force, it will be easier to be put on the list of restricted to travel abroad, “Yezhednevnik” reports.

    The biggest change, the Belarusians expected long ago, concerns an order of travelling the minors, who can be accompanied by one of the legal representatives. In accordance with the new law, children will be able to go abroad accompanied by on of the legal representatives without consent of the second one. If one of the legal representatives is not agree with the exit, he or she may go to law and apply for another order of exit.

    This news was announced yet in spring and confused many people, who tried to take their children abroad without consent of the spouse in holiday season. The Border Committee had to isseu a special statement that explained the new law will take effect in six months, in other word, at the beginning of the next holiday season.

    Besides, the new law defines the governmental bodies and cases when exit from the country can be forbidden for citizens.

    A decision on temporary restriction of the right to exit may be made by governmental bodies of Belarus and other legal entities, which signed agreements on access to state secrets with individuals; bodies of criminal prosecution in respect to persons suspected or accused of committing crimes, and agencies providing punishment or other measures of criminal responsibility in respect to persons convicted for a crime.

    Military enlistment offices may put persons on the restricted to travel list if they evade drafting campaign or reserve service.

    Besides, a court may restrict a person of exit from the country, if the person is under preventive surveillance, or doesn’t fulfil estate, tax, or other liabilities without good excuse, if a civil suit is brought against a person, or he or she is a debtor in bankruptcy cases or an interested person in relation to a debtor-legal entity.

    It should be noticed that the law doesn’t define what will be regarded as a “good excuse” of failure to “fulfil estate, tax, or other liabilities”. By all appearances, it will be a judge who will define a “good excuse” that gives grounds for concern.

    FIDH issues report on Viasna's registration trial

    From: Viasna
    Public Human Rights Association 'Nasha Viasna' v. Ministry of Justice of Belarus

    Judicial Observation Report

    I - Introduction
    Kirill Koroteev, chargé de mission of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH),
    was mandated by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint
    programme of FIDH and the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT), to conduct a
    trial observation mission in the case of Public Human Rights Association “Nasha Viasna”
    v. Ministry of Justice before the Supreme Court of Belarus. It is worth noting at the outset
    that Ms. Souhayr Belhassen, President of the FIDH, was refused a visa to observe the
    The trial commenced on 10 August 2009 and the judgment was given on 12 August 2009.
    The judgment is fnal and is not amenable to an ordinary appeal. The task of the chargé de
    mission was to assess not only the degree of fairness of the trial, but also the reasons given
    by the authorities to refuse registration of the NGO as this analysis forms part of the test
    of proportionality of interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and association, as
    guaranteed, e.g., by Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

    II - Brief historical background
    The trial concerned the challenge of the refusal of registration of one of the leading human
    rights groups in Belarus. It used to be named Human Rights Centre “Viasna” (“Spring”)
    before its dissolution by a court order in 2003. Seized of an individual communication,
    the UN Human Rights Committee in Belyatsky et al. v. Belarus1 took the view that the
    2003 dissolution violated Article 22 of the ICCPR. The group continued to work without
    recognition of its legal personality, even though it is a crime under article 193-1 of the
    Criminal Code of Belarus to participate in an unregistered organisation. It reapplied for
    registration twice in 2007 and 2009 under the name of “Nasha Viasna” (“Our Spring”; it is
    illegal to use the name of a dissolved organisation). Both applications were refused by the
    Ministry of Justice and the Supreme Court dismissed the complaints against the decisions
    of the Ministry2.
    Under Belorussian law, every non-proft organisation must be registered with the Ministry
    of Justice and obtain legal personality. it is only under this condition that it may legally
    operate, receive and spend funds (even though receiving funds is practically impossible
    for a human rights NGO in Belarus because of the existing fnancial regulations), formally
    employ staff, etc.
    The present case concerned the third application of the group to be registered by the
    Ministry of Justice. More than 70 of its members applied to the Ministry on 29 March 2009
    and on 25 May 2009 the application was dismissed. The Ministry provided four reasons
    for its refusal:
    Firstly, it argued that four members of the group provided incorrect or false information ?
    on their addresses and places of work.
    Secondly, it did not treat the letter of guarantee for the NGO’s future premises as ?
    1. Communication no. 1296/2004, 27 July 2007. The UN HRC used Russian version of the applicant’s surname
    and the one used here is Belarusian. In this report Mr. Belyatsky and Mr. Byalyatskiy is the same person.
    2. See Annual Report 2009 of the Observatory as well as Urgent Appeals BLR 001/ 0309/OBS 038 , 038 .1
    and 038.2.4 / Public Human Rights Association “Nasha Viasna” v. Ministry of Justice of Belarus – The Observatory
    legally valid and argued that it was not possible for the authorities to visit the premises
    Thirdly, it blamed the founders of the group for not having sent the Program of Action ?
    reportedly adopted by them to the Ministry despite the Ministry’s requests to do so.
    Fourthly, it noted that the NGO’s name “ ? Nasha Viasna” was contrary to its Statute. It
    further noted that the NGO’s founders had engaged in illegal activities in their past, and
    had been brought to justice for “administrative offences”.
    Three of the founders of “Nasha Viasna”, Mr. Ales Bialiatski (Chairman), Mr. Uladzimer
    Labkovich, and Mr. Valyantsin Stefanovich, challenged the refusal in the Supreme Court
    of Belarus. They argued that:
    What the Ministry called misleading information on the identities of the founding ?
    members was merely a number of clerical errors,
    The letter of guarantee was valid and had raised no objections on behalf of the Ministry ?
    in previous proceedings,
    No Program of Action had been adopted at the founders’ meeting ?
    Other objections raised by the Ministry had had no basis in law.
  • Note: For the complete text and trial, please click HERE

  • Russia...

    A look at Russia's violence-wracked North Caucasus

    From: AP
    The mountainous regions of southernmost Russia, known as the North Caucasus, have a combined population of almost 7 million and have long been beset by violence, stoked by poverty, corruption, Islamic extremism, ethnic tensions, feuding criminal gangs and the two separatist wars that ravaged Chechnya since 1994. Here's a look at the most troubled republics:

    CHECHNYA — The epicenter of Caucasus bloodshed, Chechnya exploded into war between separatist rebels and Russian forces in 1994. The Russian army pulled out in 1996 after rebels fought them to a standstill and Chechnya became de-facto independent, gradually falling under the sway of hard-line Islamists. The war resumed in 1999. Large-scale fighting has ended, but hit-and-run attacks on police and government officials persist. The region's Kremlin-backed president has been blamed for widespread rights abuses.

    INGUSHETIA — Ingushetia and Chechnya, its eastern neighbor, have close ethnic and language ties, and were one province until the 1991 Soviet collapse. Ingushetia's stubborn poverty has been aggravated by thousands of Chechen refugees as well as a lingering territorial dispute with neighboring North Ossetia. In recent months, it has been the worst afflicted by violence; in June, a suicide bomber badly wounded the region's president. The Aug. 17 suicide bombing at a police station in the region's largest city killed at least 24 people.

    DAGESTAN — Lying between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea, Dagestan is increasingly gripped by bombings and almost daily clashes among police, militants and criminal gangs. A 1999 Chechen rebel incursion into Dagestan helped spark the second Chechen war. Dagestan is regarded as Russia's most ethnically diverse republic, and some of the violence is blamed on interethnic power struggles.

    NORTH OSSETIA — Sharing borders with Ingushetia and Chechnya, the region is home to a major military base and was largely spared spillover from the Chechen war until September 2004, when a band of Chechen-led terrorists seized more than 1,000 hostages at a school in the city of Beslan. More than 330 people died in the bloodbath that ended the siege, half of them children.

    KABARDINO-BALKARIYA — Home to Europe's highest peak, 5,600-meter (18,500-foot) Mount Elbrus, the region simmers in stubborn poverty and harsh police tactics toward unsanctioned worship by young Muslims. The resentment exploded in October 2005 when dozens of young men stormed the capital city, Nalchik, attacking police and government offices. Some 139 people died, including 94 militants.

    KARACHAYEVO-CHERKESSIYA — Residents have been identified as taking part in suicide bombings and militant activity in other republics. Corruption is a hot issue.

    ADYGEYA _ An enclave surrounded by the larger Krasnodar region, Adygeya is the westernmost of the North Caucasus regions. About two-thirds of its population are ethnic Russians, and it is one of the country's poorer regions despite rich farmland. It has escaped major violence linked to Islamic militants, though tensions between ethnic Russians and Adygei persist.

    Brooklyn, Meet Your Oligarch

    From: NYTimes
    Let’s agree that Mikhail D. Prokhorov, the Russian billionaire who is the latest savior for the Nets basketball team and its ballyhooed move to Brooklyn, is no pushover. After all, oligarchs have their share of occupational hazards: heavily armed rivals, stupendously corrupt bureaucrats and, no doubt, the evil eye of the Kremlin itself.

    Even so, has Mr. Prokhorov ever faced a foe as resourceful, tenacious and just plain ornery as Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn, the grassroots group that has fought the plan for a new arena for the Nets in the borough every step of the way?

    Perhaps Mr. Prokhorov needs an introduction to this place that he hopes will burnish his worldwide reputation (but may instead bring him to tears). And Brooklynites might want learn a little more about the Russian elite, given that Mr. Prokhorov could be as outsize a celebrity owner as George Steinbrenner.

    Allow me to act as an anthropological interpreter. I live in Moscow, not far from Mr. Prokhorov’s office on Tverskoy Boulevard, though my home until three years ago was in Brooklyn, not far from site of the proposed Nets arena, Atlantic Yards.

    Yes, there are contrasts. Mr. Prokhorov bankrolled a magazine for Russia’s nouveau riche called Snob. Denizens of Brownstone Brooklyn like to pad around in plastic clogs.

    Yet first, we should highlight what can unite the two sides.

    Both mourn former glory, albeit in not quite the same context. Brooklyn once had its own major league sports team, the Dodgers, who played baseball at Ebbets Field before fleeing for Los Angeles in 1958, leaving the borough bereft. Well before baseball, the borough had a storied past, land of Walt Whitman and other luminaries. The Nets arena is supposed to accentuate its renaissance.

    Russia fell on hard times after the Soviet collapse, and yearns to return to superpower status. The oligarchs, who before the financial crisis were increasingly going international, are considered an engine for restoring the country’s might and prestige. If Mr. Prokhorov succeeds, it would be a boon for both Russia and Brooklyn.

    Of course, let’s not forget who has helped to drive Brooklyn’s revival in recent decades. Russians! The borough has more than 150,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union, who began arriving en masse in the 1970s and who have made the Brighton Beach neighborhood, a k a Little Odessa, famous in Russia.

    Still, Mr. Prokhorov, who is to control the Nets and a large minority stake in the arena, may have culture shock when he grasps what it takes to complete a project in New York City. Environmental impact statements? Community board input? Appellate court review? Can’t we get the thumb’s up from the local chieftain and get it done?

    In Russia, where governance has an authoritarian cast and civil society is less than robust, it is unusual for a project to be significantly delayed or killed because of community opposition. (On the other hand, work is often hamstrung by financial malfeasance or bureaucratic incompetence.)

    “Things are still done in a very simple way in Moscow,” said Alec Brook-Krasny, a Moscow native who emigrated at age 30 in 1989 and now represents Brighton Beach in the New York State Assembly. “Whoever is the main person in the neighborhood, the main official in the city, that person makes the decisions. In 99 percent of the cases, it’s the final decision, and the community has no say.”

    In other words, Mr. Prokhorov should realize that when it comes to cracking the whip, Marty Markowitz, the bubbly Brooklyn borough president, is no Vladimir Putin.

    Artur Markaryan, head of Russia’s developer trade group, said the arena situation might perplex Mr. Prokhorov because such a backlash over sports almost never occurs in Russia. In fact, Mr. Prokhorov was criticized by some Russian commentators last week for not spending his money on sports teams and arenas in Russia.

    “Stadiums, and facilities like that, are always very welcomed,” Mr. Markaryan said.

    Russian oligarchs prefer London, and when they come to New York, they hobnob across the river in Manhattan. Here, then, are a few things for Mr. Prokhorov to know about the species inhabiting the neighborhoods near the arena site, especially the ones that have been noisiest in opposition.

    Not to overly generalize, but those residents tend to be a liberal, touchy-feely bunch. (During the 2000 presidential election, I recall, there was a public forum in Park Slope to debate the merits of the candidates. It was titled, “Gore or Nader?,” as if the idea of even considering voting for George W. Bush was preposterous.)

    The people like organic food and bicycles. They compost. They fuss over their children. They don’t miss living in Manhattan. You get the idea.

    Muscovites don’t recycle, smoke heavily, are enamored of big cars and often park them anywhere, including all over the sidewalks. They also fuss over their children, maybe more so. But I have never seen them wear plastic clogs.

    By the way, Brooklyn, with its striking diversity and population of 2.5 million people, encompasses a whole lot more than brownstoners and Russian immigrants (who may be simply the ones who draw more of Mr. Prokhorov’s attention).

    Mr. Prokhorov, 44, contributed to the bawdy image of the oligarchs when he was questioned, but not charged, in a prostitution inquiry in 2007 in France.

    Other aspects of his life are more appealing. Earlier this year, he moved his official residence to a village in Siberia, apparently so that he could support the locals by paying taxes there. He is very tall, and enjoys playing basketball, but also has taken up volleyball and kickboxing.

    But maybe none of this is so important, beyond Mr. Prokhorov’s most noteworthy characteristic. He is very, very rich, and for Nets fans, who have had longstanding disappointments, that counts.

    My close friend David Goldberg, a Park Slope resident who roots fiercely for the team, said he has already had visions of Mr. Prokhorov using his fortune to lure a certain superstar to the Nets.

    “As long as he knows how to write ‘LeBron James’ on a paycheck — in Cyrillic or whatever — we are willing to put up with almost anything else,” he said.

    Russia won't put missiles in Kaliningrad: Medvedev

    From: Washington Post
    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Friday he will call off his decision to deploy missiles in the enclave of Kaliningrad, his response to the United States scrapping missile shield plans in Europe.

    U.S. President Barack Obama last week announced Washington will not put interceptor missiles in Poland or a radar system in the Czech Republic, parts of a project viewed by the United States as protection against potential attacks from Iran.

    Medvedev, who met Obama in New York on Wednesday, has described that decision as "courageous."

    Dealing with the issues of the U.S. missile shield, Iran and nuclear disarmament are major elements of attempts by Medvedev and Obama to reset thorny bilateral relations that had plunged to post-Cold War lows under the Bush administration.

    To Russia, the U.S. missile shield plan for eastern Europe was a threat to its security.

    Medvedev had vowed to put Iskander missiles in the Baltic region of Kaliningrad, bordering NATO members Lithuania and Poland, if Washington went ahead with the plan.

    "When I announced this decision I said it was a reaction to the creation of a third positioning region," Medvedev said in Pittsburgh, where he attended a summit of Group of 20 leading economies.

    "Now that this decision was scrapped, I will make a decision not to deploy Iskanders in the appropriate region of our country."

    A senior Russian military official said earlier this week that the military would reverse plans to deploy Iskanders after Obama's announcement. But armed forces chief of staff General Nikolai Makarov later said such a decision should be made by the president.

    The West suspects Iran of seeking to make nuclear weapons. Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has so far blocked attempts to impose strong sanctions against Tehran.

    But Medvedev, annoyed by reports about Iran building a new uranium enrichment plant, warned Tehran to respond to international concerns and give up any military elements of its nuclear program.

    Medvedev, clearly siding with the Western condemnation of Iran's plans, said Tehran should start cooperating with U.N. inspectors by the time it meets international negotiators for talks on October 1.

  • From the Polish Scandal Files...

    Marczuk-Pazura Arrested

    From: Krakow Post
    Polish celebrity caught accepting bribe
    It has not been a good month for Polish television. First, the entire board of Polish network TVP was fired on the 16th, amid allegations of bias. And now, a popular member of the jury on the TV show "You Can Dance - Po prostu talcz", Weronika Marczuk-Pazura, was caught red-handed accepting a bribe.

    On 23 September, Marczuk-Pazura had a clandestine meeting with the chairman of the Scientific and Technical Publishing House (WNT) - and, it turns out, officers from the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau. The meeting, which took place in a restaurant in Ujazdow Castle in Warsaw, was set up to facilitate the purchase of the state-owned WNT, which was up for privatisation. Marczuk-Pazura was to act as the middleman, for which she received 100,000 zloty from the chairman - moments before they were both arrested.

    A spokesman for the Central Anti-Corruption Bureau stated that an anonymous informant had tipped them off, and they had been working on the case for months. Marczuk-Pazura is presently being held on corruption charges.

    The Ukrainian actress and producer hails from Kiev, but has lived in Poland since 1991 and was at one point married do famous Polish actor Cezary Pazura.

    'The Beast' killer dies in prison

    From: BBC
    Kunowski was on the run from Poland at the time of the murder
    A convicted killer dubbed "the Beast" who raped and murdered a 12-year-old girl has died in prison.

    Police say Andrzej Kunowski died of heart failure on Wednesday at Frankland prison, Durham, where he was serving a life sentence.

    He was jailed at the Old Bailey in 2004 for killing Katerina Koneva at her home in Hammersmith, west London, in 1997.

    Police say he has also been linked to numerous investigations, including the disappearances of two young women.

    He had previously served 10 years in jail in his native Poland where he became known as "the Beast" for 27 serious sex attacks on girls and women from the age of 17.

    Police in West London say he is a suspect in the disappearances of 19-year-old student Elizabeth Chau in 1999 and Lola Shenkoya, a 27-year-old who vanished on her way home from work in 2000.

    Detectives say they particularly want to speak to anyone who may have shared a cell with Kunowski during his time in prison.

    Kunowski's trial was told he was on the run for raping a 10-year-old girl in Poland at the time of the murder.

    Following his conviction in March 2004, Det Ch Insp David Little said: "He is probably the most dangerous sex offender I have ever come across and certainly the most prolific."

    Katerina was strangled at her home on 22 May 1997 after she returned from school. Her father, Trajce Konev, came face to face with an intruder when he returned home and chased him into the street.

    Kunowski was charged with murdering the girl when his DNA, which was taken after he was arrested for raping a student, matched a hair found on Katerina's cardigan.

    Polish police detain 57 in child porn case

    From: M&C
    Fifty-seven people were detained in Poland on suspicion of distributing child pornography on the internet, the Polish Press Agency PAP reported Wednesday.

    Polish officials followed a tip-off from police in Wiesbaden, in south-western Germany, to track down the suspects by tracing the IP addresses on their computers.

    The suspects were detained after a country-wide sweep across 16 districts that secured 158 hard discs and nearly 6,000 CDs and DVDs.

    Police said there could be more arrests.

    In six previous child pornography sweeps this year, operations under the codenames: Present, Irena, Cytrus, Simone 3, Typhon, and Karnawal, 322 people were detained.

    Police detained 330 suspects in 2008.

    Poland MPs okay castration for paedophiles

    From: Gulf-Times
    Poland’s parliament has passed legislation introducing obligatory chemical castration for convicted paedophiles and perpetrators of incest proposed by the country’s centrist-liberal government.

    Under the new law, a court must rule on pharmacological treatment aimed at lowering the sex drive for convicted paedophiles or incest offenders prior to imprisonment or six months before their release from prison on probation.

    The law was approved by an overwhelming majority of 400 with one vote against and two abstentions in Poland’s 460-seat lower house of parliament. The legislation must pass in the 100-seat senate or upper house and be signed by the president before taking effect.

    In a raft of amendments to Poland’s criminal code, parliamentarians also introduced harsher sentences for convicted paedophiles and perpetrators of incest of a minimum three years’ jail.

    The legislation also criminalises any attempt to justify paedophilia or any claims that sexual relations between adults and children are not harmful.

    Anyone convicted of propagating so-called “good paedophilia” is subject to a prison term of up to two years.
    The same sentence applies to anyone attempting to seduce a minor under 15 years of age over the Internet.

    The legislation passed yesterday also criminalises the creation and dissemination of nude pictures or sexual activity of individuals over the Internet without their consent.

    Liberal Prime Minister Donald Tusk first raised the controversial issue of chemical castration for convicted paedophiles in September 2008 after a 45-year-old man was charged with having raped and held his 21-year-old daughter captive for six years.

    The young woman gave birth to two children, in 2005 and 2007, allegedly the result of having been raped by her father.
    “I want ... to introduce in Poland the most rigorous law possible regarding criminals who rape children,” Tusk said at the time.

    In November 2008, Polish justice authorities also charged a 47-year-old HIV-positive man with endangering the life of a 15-year-old he seduced over the Internet.

    Seven hundred cases of paedophilia are reported to police in Poland each year.

    Poland’s southern EU neighbour the Czech Republic has voluntary chemical and surgical castration laws in place for sex offenders.

    The Council of Europe’s anti-torture committee has urged Prague to end voluntary surgical castration.

    Since 2000, around 300 Czech patients have undergone chemical castration, with around 94 undergoing the surgical removal of genitalia on a voluntary basis, according to Czech government statistics.

  • Sport...

    Canadians Hole, Johnson win bronze at ISU junior figure skating event in Minsk

    From: CP
    Kaleigh Hole and Adam Johnson
    Canada's Kaleigh Hole and Adam Johnson rallied to capture a bronze medal in the pairs competition Saturday at an ISU junior Grand Prix figure skating event.

    Hole, of Virden, Man., and Johnson, of Chatham, Ont., in their first year together, posted the second-best long program Saturday to move from seventh to third overall. It was their second medal of the season after earning gold earlier this month at Lake Placid, N.Y.

    "We just wanted to come out and do the long program like we have been in practice," said Johnson. "We weren't going to worry about the scores.

    "I feel overall it was an improved performance on what we did in Lake Placid. We certainly didn't expect to start the season with two medals."

    Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China won gold with 152.55 points. Yue Zhang and Lei Wang of China were second with 133.09 points, just ahead of the Canadian duo who finished with 131.83 points.

    Hole, 16, said she and Johnson, 20, were not rattled by a sub-par short program result.

    "We just had to put that behind us," said Hole. "Our strength is our jumps and throws and that's what impressing the judges right now."

    Maddison Bird of Barrie, Ont., and Toronto's Raymond Schultz were fifth while Kristen Tikel of Kitchener, Ont., and Ian Beharry of Guelph, Ont., were ninth.

    Ice dancers Karen Routhier of Quebec City and Eric Saucke-Lacelle of Sherbrooke, Que., finished fifth overall. Nicole Orford of Burnaby, B.C., and Victoria's Malcom Rohon-OHallaron were ninth in their international debut.

    Russians Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin of Russia won the gold medal. Americans Rachel Tibbetts and Collin Brubaker were second, ahead of Ukraine's Alisa Agafonova and Dmitri Dun.

    Artur Gachinski of Russia won the men's singles event. Liam Frius of North Vancouver, B.C., was eighth.

  • Endnote...

    Former Czech Foreign Minister Talks About Missile Defense, Belarus, And Russia

    From: RFE/RL
    RFE/RL's Belarus Service sat down for a wide-ranging interview this week with former Czech Foreign Minister (2007-09) and current Senator Karel Schwarzenberg. In July 2008, Schwarzenberg was his country's signatory to a bilateral agreement with the United States on U.S. missile-defense plans that included the placement on Czech territory of a radar base. So RFE/RL's Alexander Lukashuk and Jan Maksymiuk asked him about the recent U.S. decision to drastically reform the previous administration's plans for a missile-defense shield in Central Europe, as well as about relations with nearby Belarus and other politically slippery issues.

    RFE/RL: Don't you think it was ironic that you -- in all your capacities and with your biography -- delivered such an invitation to Minsk?

    Schwarzenberg: You see, a minister of Foreign Affairs has to meet everybody. He is like a priest, who can't exclude the sinners. Even sometimes it is my main job to speak with the sinners, like for the priests, too. So it was not an irony. It was quite funny, quite amusing for me; but it's a natural part of the life of a minister of Foreign Affairs.

    RFE/RL: You were possibly the first European politician to voice a very important condition for the normalization of ties between [Belarus] and Brussels. You said that if Belarus recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, she would be outside the European context. But as matters look now, the main reasons for Belarus being in the [EU's Eastern Partnership] are just geopolitical reasons, not human rights and so on, don't you think so?

    Schwarzenberg: Well, all this is together. I mean, of course, we tried to attract [Belarus] to Europe so that it is not dependent only on Russia, but so that it can keep an independent position. Of can never be a member of a European Union, or even a close friend, if you don't respect human rights. But, of course, sometimes the policy must start and we see what the result will be.

    RFE/RL: Mr. Schwarzenberg, we still need to talk about the results, not about human rights results, but, say, geopolitical results. Now, [as] we talk, there are the biggest Russian-Belarusian military maneuvers taking place. So Russia's militaries are even closer to Europe. [Belarus] is closer to Russia than it was four months ago, and of course there was criticism of this step from the side of the Belarusian opposition that it will only enhance Lukashenka's power. What can you say now, when you are not a [foreign] minister anymore and you don't have to be diplomatic.

    Schwarzenberg: Well, I never doubted the fact that Alyaksandr Lukashenka tries to balance two influences. Then, of course, when he did a step [toward] the West, entering the Eastern Partnership, of course you need a step to balance it on the East with the military maneuvers. I never thought or said that Lukashenka will turn into perfect, purely pro-Western member of NATO and...democratic president of Belarus.

    He is a very sure politician, and tries as far as he can to keep his independence; and he also tries to keep some balances in influences in [Belarus], not to annoy anybody too much. I mean you have to...for the moment he is the "Chief of Belarus" and we have to take him like that. It was introduced some decades ago.

    When World War II was...between Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy had powers, there was a country with a big question mark, which was Spain with a very unpleasant dictator: Mr. [Francisco] Franco, who was a sure politician too. And as you well know, when the World War II started, Mr. [Adolf] Hitler expected that he would be allied against the Western powers -- he was much [too] intelligent for it, and kept careful balance during the whole war, supplying both sides and therefore creating some economic future for Spain. I mean, you have politicians who don't share your ideas, who have very different ideas, with whom you work together to maybe have less danger in world. That's all.

    RFE/RL: What is for you "moral politics"?

    Schwarzenberg: "Moral politics" is if, in your aims, you are clear in a sense of a "moral code" and if the means you use are still compatible with moral principles. It doesn't mean that you meet only decent people. You don't meet only decent people in your private life, nor as a rule, in your business life, and you don't meet only wonderful people in politics.

    You have all kinds of people in policy to deal with and [that] belongs to the job, as I told you, of the minister of Foreign Affairs -- to speak with nearly everybody and to try to find what arrangements and what possibilities [exist]. And still if we can prevent things develop[ing] to the worst, and if we still can help to keep the country independent, then I think it is a very "moral policy."

    Missile Defense

    RFE/RL: Now for perhaps the most important question in world politics these days: U.S. President Barack Obama took a decision to cancel plans to create an anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. As a foreign did a lot just to make this plan happen. What is your reaction to President Obama's decision? Do you agree with the view expressed by some that in scrapping the plan, the U.S. sold out Eastern Europe to Russia? In your opinion, has this question compromised the Czech Republic's security -- if not in technical and military sphere then at least in the psychological sphere?

    Schwarzenberg: Well, I wouldn't use such stern words; I think it's a bit too much.

    But I have always expected each American president to make politics, first of all, according to the interests of the United States. And evidently the present administration is convinced that by making this very important concession, they could secure some help of Russia in the Iranian affair. They say that is one of the main reasons which, I mean, is the decision of American foreign policy, and of the present administration; and we basically have to accept it was an American radar which should have been placed on Czech soil -- yes, inside the NATO alliance. But it was still an American radar.

    Of course it's up to them to decide where to place it. But we shouldn't forget that we are still members of NATO, the European Union, so I don't think our security is so much endangered. It would have been, of course, for many reasons good if there would be some American presence in our area too. That, for the moment, is finished.

    We will see what will happen in five or 10 years, what the world will bring to us. For the moment ,I am sure that in a serious crisis, the Americans will be reliable allies, but of course it has put us in a bit of an unquiet position. We, the president, the government [inaudible] as a foreign minister; it was difficult to get the whole thing through. For the moment, Americans can't help it.

    But I don't think it is a sellout of Eastern Europe. But definitely it shows that American political priorities are somewhere else now. They are more in the Middle East, more in Iran, and, of course, [in] the Iranian [Persian] Gulf. That is now their main point of interest. And evidently...the American administration would prefer to have, let's say, half-as-good relations with Russia, because of course they have some or many problems which they should solve together. So they made this step, we have to live with it. Life is life, and politics is politics.

    Aristocracy And Moldova's Future

    RFE/RL: Our listeners are rather not used to seeing foreign ministers who are aristocrats, who have the title of prince and possess vast land and property, castles and palaces. So [a question from an RFE/RL listener] concerns these. So do you possess any lands or castles in the Czech Republic or elsewhere? And incidentally, does the Schwarzenberg Palace in Prague belong to you or your family?

    Schwarzenberg: No, the huge Schwarzenberg Palace in Prague belonged to our family; then [around 1940] the Germans confiscated it with the whole huge property back then. One of our elder branches of our family. The Czechoslovak Republic after WWII were already Communist in huge influence [and] made a special law, which is quite exceptional because it was directed against one person. The first [paragraph] of this law says any property in the Czechoslovak Republic of Adolf Schwarzenberg is expropriated. Well, since then we don't dispose this castle.

    But besides that what I got back was the property of my father. Lamentably, some castles on it -- and there are very nice properties, but the best part of it I gave already to my son, so he [looks after] it now.

    RFE/RL: [Our Moldovan Service] wants to know your view on whether a country like Moldova can get closer to the European Union through the Eastern Partnership program. The major concern is that there are six countries, and will the European Union, in your view, have enough power to support Moldovan integration with Europe.

    Schwarzenberg: That depends to a high degree on the development of Moldova. How the conditions in that country develop. How democracy, freedom, rule of law, and human rights will develop in Moldova itself. And of course when there is no problem of Transdniester, which isn't yet solved. The European Union doesn't like to have countries which have unsolved financial problems. So these two problems still exist.

    I hope much further -- for the Moldovan population -- that the rule of law and democracy develop within the next years. And the more it develops, the greater chance that Moldova will get closer to the European and will get more support from the European Union, too. Of course, it will probably become a formal member when the Transdniestrian problem is somehow solved.

    Eastern Security

    RFE/RL: A question from our Ukrainian Service: Ukrainian intellectuals and politicians, including ex-President Leonid Kravchuk, warn the West of a rising Russian threat. They call on Western leaders to hold an international conference to provide guarantees for Ukrainian security. Do you support this proposal?

    Schwarzenberg: I don't know, somebody would have to explain to me how a conference could provide security guarantees for Ukraine.

    I do think...that the greatest danger for Ukrainian security is the fact that the political will of the nation is so split. If the political parties in the Ukraine would be more cooperating, more capable of making a compromise -- an arrangement -- and if Ukraine could present itself as a united country, behind the government, the president, the leadership of the country, then of course I think the greatest danger for Ukraine would be to belong to the past.

    We can support Ukraine, but we -- [and] first of all, the Ukrainians themselves -- must solve this problem. Nobody who is not able to manage his own country can expect that anybody else will do the work for him. And of course if there were a united Ukraine which developed a healthy political life, then I do think it would get much more support and I do think anybody who would be interested in treating the country or having decisive influence on the country would have much more difficult job to tackle.

    But you can't have them between themselves. If [there is an] enemy of the country, the job is much easier. But as we know, that was already the problem of Ukraine in the past centuries: necessary unity.

    RFE/RL: So the first job must be done by the Ukrainians. But is there something specific that Europe -- or, more specifically, the Czech Republic -- can do to encourage Ukraine?

    Schwarzenberg: We can, of course, help them in many questions of the development of the Ukraine -- technical, scientific, economic -- there's a lot that can be done by Ukraine. We can, of course, [do] much less.... Then, of course, you can get the diplomatic help too.... But, first of all, we must know what is the point of view of Ukraine.

    RFE/RL: How do you view relations between NATO and Ukraine? Do you think there is a chance for Ukraine to become part of NATO?

    Schwarzenberg: For the moment, I don't think it will happen. There was a certain chance some time ago, as you will remember, but that was missed.

    The world has slightly changed [since then]. In the present political situation, I don't see great chances for Ukraine to become a member of NATO....

    One of the valid arguments against the acceptance of Ukraine into NATO was that it's not clear if the Ukraine itself wish to become members of NATO. If they were more clear -- the population and the political class in the Ukraine,... then, as it was in Poland, Czech Republic, or Hungary when they became members of NATO, then it [would] be much easier. But of course all these people who were skeptical about the membership of Ukraine in the NATO could always say, "But look at them, they don't know themselves what they wish."