The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions
Size of text
Processing. Please wait...
Is the West helping to thaw or re-ignite a "frozen conflict"?
HITS: 9466 | 19-02-2008, 14:15 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Moldova , PR and human rights, Analyzing
Across the former Soviet Union, the status of four unrecognised states with de facto independence has remained unsolved since 1991. Three of these so-called “frozen conflicts” – Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia – are in the Caucasus, close to oil and gas pipelines. Each has a friendly neighbour – Armenia for Karabakh, Russia for Abkhazia and South Ossetia – which inhibits attack by the nominal sovereign, Azerbaijan or Georgia. The fourth unrecognised state, Transnistria, is sandwiched between its sovereign claimant Moldova and Ukraine. Since March, 2006, Moldova and Ukraine, backed by the EU and United States have tried to bring rebel Transnistria to its knees with a de facto blockade. Western analysts, who have backed secessionist movements in the Balkans have demanded the enforcement of Moldova’s sovereignty - until now.
BHHRG visited Montenegro in the pre-referendum period to observe the conduct of the campaign. Large billboards urging people to vote ‘Da’ (Yes) were plastered all over the scruffy capital, Podgorica. It took some time to find any ‘No’ posters although there were many more in coastal areas, for example, and the north of the country. The ‘Yes’ campaign concentrated on Montenegro’s historical past and harking back to the republic’s noble ancestry, the authorities have erected large statues of the country’s last monarch, King Nikola, astride his horse - one stands in Podgorica while another was delivered to the depressed industrial town of Nikšić shortly before the poll. Apart from the daily Dan, all newspapers in Montenegro (e.g. Pobeda, Vijesti and Republika) were vocally pro-independence. Television coverage was even less diverse although the authorities claimed that independently owned Montana and Elbig TV were somehow immune from bias. The most egregious propaganda vehicle was Montenegrin state television, Television Crna Gora (TVCG). It took many forms, mostly directed to Montenegro’s brief period of independence: grainy black and white film of King Nikola, his courtiers and family was played and replayed; the new/old crimson Montengrin flag embossed with the Njegoš coat of arms fluttered above rallies of enthusiastic citizens and, members of the Academy of Sciences solemnly took possession of sets of leather bound tomes containing a recently completed history of Montenegro.