The Vancouver Sun from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on December 11, 1991 · 13
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Vancouver Sun from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada · 13

Publication:
Location:
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Issue Date:
Wednesday, December 11, 1991
Page:
13
Start Free Trial
Cancel

K 0- P The Vancouver Sun, Wednesday, December 11, 1991 A13 SOVIETS UNITED NATIONS Ugly winter mood grips hungry people ALISON MITCHELL Nowaday MOSCOW THE ASTROLOGERS show up on television near midnight to read the daily horoscope and give out investment advice to fledgling Soviet entrepreneurs. But sometimes the seers veer off onto the theme that is preoccupying everyone these cold, dark, slushy days: when the next coup will come. The superstar of Soviet star readers, Pavel Globa, predicted that the putsch wouldn't happen in February, but in March. That was reassurance of sorts, since politicians are saying the coup will take place by the end of this month. "There are some who expect a new coup. Perhaps they are even organizing one," Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told an interviewer from the weekly Literatur-naya Gazeta. The fear of apocalypse, is everywhere, born out of escalating chaos. The leaders of the Slavic republics, Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia, have pronounced the nation dead. The Communist party has disbanded. The new demigods like Russian President Boris Yeltsin are dropping off their pedestals. "People don't like the old system, but they also don't like the new system. There's no future," said 17-year-old Tanya Fayeraizen, capturing the dismal state of mind in Russia. ' TCT I'Vy- Jf m :ry- trv Secunty S ' Council . :;- , Xy reform f. w . j LEONARD DOYLE Tf T 89 "i Independent News CHEERING HIM ON: Supporters of Boris Yeltsin (left) carry picture of their hero, while Russian Prime Minister Gannady Burbulis and Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrav (above) sort things out and Nursultan Nazarbayev (below) is sworn in as President of Kazakhstan. ' As temperatures have begun dropping way below freezing, the decay, the general collapse, the shortages of food, gasoline, electricity and heat around the former Soviet empire have reached proportions no one dreamed of even a year ago, when officials said the situation was as dire as any time since the - Second World War. . At one of Moscow's filthy, primitive airports, passengers started rioting recently after bad weather and no fuel left thousands stranded for days. In the far eastern city of Khabarovsk, residents have started to flee because of shortages of drinking water and heat. In the republic of Georgia, the workday has been cut to five hours for lack of electricity. For some, the chronic shortages have hit their final absurdity a shortage of money. Although government printing presses have been churning 24 hours a day, the central government went bankrupt last month and had to be bailed out by Yeltsin's Russia. Workers employed by at least one medical institute in Moscow say they haven't received any pay in two months, just promises of money next week. Now is the critical period for Russia and its neighbors, a time of scarcity that could determine the politics of the future. With people already desperate and shellshocked by shortages and spiraling prices, most remaining state price controls are now scheduled to vanish on Jan. 2. The Russian Parliament has also approved a value-added tax of 28 per cent Gorbachev asked the republics Friday to help Moscow with food. He said that meat, butter and sugar reserves in the capital would last only a few days and warned that price decontrol could trigger riots ' against democratic government Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a right-wing populist who polled a surprise third place in Russia's presidential race last summer, has been filling halls with his vows to make the Soviet Union great again. He would not let Ukraine become independent, he said. He would increase Soviet military forces in Europe and make Germans pay reparations for the death of every Soviet citizen in the Second World War. And yet the democratic-minded liberals, in full power since the August coup broke the Communist party;: wallow ineffectually. In months of bickering, they have proved themselves as paralyzed over economic plans as Gorbachev's cabinet was for years. What's in a name? journalists continues wonder as breakup HOWARD KURTZ Washington Post The journalistic world has decreed an end to Ukraine but is still searching for a proper name for what used to be called the Soviet Union. "Commonwealth of Independent States," the appellation that Russia, Byelorussia and Ukraine have applied to their new alliance, doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. There may be a few North Americans out there who still can't tell Uzbekistan from Kazakhstan. And yet journalists not to mention diplomats, scholars, mapmakers and other kibitzers need something to call this conglomeration of 290 million people that once answered to the name U.S.S.R. "If there were somebody somewhere maintaining that the Soviet Union still exists and is viable, it would be more difficult," said Allan Siegal, an assistant managing editor of the New York Times, which has FOREIGN AFFAIRS tively vaporizing." the Baltic states declared their inde- The Washington Post has dropped pendence but were not recognized "IT CCD" fi.w. oil rlofnlixnc, r,A i w py Moscow, 'U.S.S.R." from all datelines and is using the republic names instead. Still unresolved is what to call the land mass of which Mikhail Gorbachev is president and which still has an embassy here and 27,000 nuclear warheads. "The rule of thumb is common sense," said Post managing editor Robert Kaiser. "Obviously we're not going to deny that the Soviet Union is a member of the United Nations." Kaiser, the author of two books on the Soviet Union, said "the Ukraine," whose use dates to the 19th century, literally means "of the border areas." "The decisive argument for me is that Ukrainians consider the name itself patronizing," he said. "There's absolutely no reason at all except habit and custom for using it." Editors generally try to avoid using language that appears to side with one faction or another in an international dispute, such as when "Our general rule is to use the name that a place calls itself. . . if those are comfortable to Americans and don't imply a unilateral editorial statement on our part," Siegal said. News executives also try to make their own determinations so as to avoid "being jerked around by the state department," as one put it (It should be noted that U.S. correspondents are in no hurry to move from Moscow to Minsk, the capital of the new commonwealth.) The guidance from Foggy Bottom remains somewhat vague. "We can take the bureaucratic approach, which is don't change anything until the official committees have met," one state department official said, speaking on Deepest Background. "Or we can take the flexible approach, which is calling them what they want to be called." kmmamemamMmsmMmM P I iff vS Y'' ? 4m I feP -J A". St i With the death of the Soviet Union, a hornets' nest has been stirred up over Moscow's permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council, throwing open the delicate issue of whether there should be a radical reform of the world's most important diplomatic body. The President of the Security Council this month is Yuliy Voront-sov, the Soviet ambassador. No one is sure who he represents anymore, and there is a sense that the Council which is responsible for maintaining international peace and security in the world is becoming hobbled at a key phase in its history. Unable even to pay its bills at the UN, the entity called the U.S.S.R. may soon be disqualified from voting in the General Assembly. s At the same time the moves towards European union at Maastricht are also hastening the day when Britain and France may lose - their permanent seats at the diplomatic top table which were acquired ; while they were still world powers. The message of Maastricht is that somewhere down the road a common European seat will become inevitable. The European Commission recently received permission to act for the Twelve at one UN organisation, the World Food Programme in Rome. But unless and until sovereignty has been handed to Brussels, the EC will not be allowed to represent the Twelve at the UN in New York. COUNCIL FACTS ' Byelorussia and Ukraine, 4 already UN members, are considered unlikely to challenge a possible Russian move to take over the Soviet seat on the ,' council. ' ; The council was formed in San Francisco 46 years ago. r The death of the U.S.S.R. runs the risk of prematurely hurrying that process along by bringing unwanted attention to reform of the Security Council. Paris and London are said to be hopeful for an "elegant solution" to the Soviet seat problem. The ideal outcome would be for the Russian Federation to take over the . permanent seat on behalf of the U.S.S.R. Belorussia and Ukraine are already UN members and they are unlikely to challenge such a move. If there is to be an objection it is likely to come from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Islamic states of the U.S.S.R., diplomats say. The foreign minister of Kirgizia is a full member of the Soviet delegation and the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan were recently in New York to attend the General Assembly and they may not want to go quietly if Russia makes moves to grab their seat From Britain's perspective any change among the permanent members runs the risk of opening a Pandora's Box for reform, bringing on board economic giants such as Japan and Germany as well as developing countries with huge populations like India, Nigeria and Brazil The result would be an unwieldy Council incapable of taking resolute action as it did when Iraq invited Kuwait None of the five permanent members of the Council Britain, France, the United States, China and the entity called the U.S.S.R. favors a radical reform of their cosy club which, but for the switch of seats between China and Taiwan, has remained unchanged since its founding in San Francisco 46 years ago. Britain fears surrendering its sovereignty to a Grand European Alliance THERE ARE TWO KINDS of nationalism: fear of losing sovereignty and lust to gain We are seeing both these elemental forces at work in Europe today. In Yugoslavia nationalism is a veritable blood lust; in what was the Soviet Union it is a popular revolution. In a rather dull place called Maastricht in Holland, the 12 members of the European Economic Community have been attempting to overcome the fear of subsuming sovereignty to a common cause. Eleven of them have been prepared to swallow large doses of de-nationalism. But one balked. Britain's objections are rooted in a history that has resisted efforts to tame or conquer an island mentality. Even the Romans and Normans never really succeeded. Contemporary memory rejects the notion that good ideas and advice flow FRANK RUTTER from the country that most recently tried to conquer Britan by force. But the Grand European Alliance is going ahead anyway, though it may not be quite as orderly and cohesive as its keenest advocates, Germany and France, would wish. The meeting at Maastricht was historic for its formalization of a new institution that would restore past glory to the European continent and revive its status as a superpower. But Britain's objections were understandable and in character. It's understandable that Britain doesn't like being lectured by Germans. But joining them might, in the long run, be better than resenting them. This is the thesis of Helmut Schmidt, chancellor of Germany from 1974 to 1982, a time of triumphal economic development In an article published by the New York Times, Schmidt recently asserted that European integration was the best way to prevent a revival of German super-nationalism. It would ensure that his country never again became powerful enough on its own to dominate the contintent. Or, though he didn't go this far, powerful enough to conquer it. That, however, is precisely the fear of many Britons in succumbing to European union that the new political institution will be dominated by Germany. Schmidt argued that if Britain says "to hell with the absurd idea" of replacing the pound with the new European currency it will awaken in 10 years' time to find that sterling is a valueless commodity on the world market. Britain won the concession from the other 11 at Maastricht to decide later on adopting the ungla-morously called Ecu (European Currency Unit). It also secured deletion of that nasty word "federal" from a draft political treaty. But Britain was on much stickier ground in opposing the so-called social charter. Its position is exactly the reverse of that held by many Canadians about joining economic forces with the United States. They feared the loss of social benefits in a free market. The British government fears submission to social benefits standardized for all the members of the common market Thus it put itself in the bizarre position of opposing a maximum 48-hour work week and other elementary labor and health guarantees. This appears to be the legacy of a decade of hard-nosed That-cherism that spurned soft-hearted caring in a return to brass-knuckled Victorian industrialism. If this is the new Britain it isn't very nice. Ironically, only a quarter of a century ago, Britain was knocking at the door of the Economic Community and it was France that was being balky, Gen. Charles de Gaulle who was blocking British membership. Today, France, with Germany, are trying to twist Britain's arm to join. For Britain there is a gamble either way. If it holds out by clutching as much sovereignty as possible, Britain can preserve its , independence, its way of life and be as Thatcherist or as socialist as it chooses. But that way could bring eclipse as an economic and . financial power, and political isolation. If it wholeheartedly joins the new union, it will lose a great deal of its sovereign discretion, but it stands a better chance of economic prosperity and can participate in the grand political alliance, ensuring the preservation of whatever national quirks it can hang on to. Put that way, the choice seemed rather obvious. But slowing down the express train just a little, as Britain has ,. been trying to do, may not be so harmful ' For one thing, it will perhaps guarantee the survival of some of that particular quirkiness so endearing in the British character. It may also force the other 11 to spend more time polishing the terms of political union which, in the long run, is going to have to A take account of the aspirations of a great many other countries at least another dozen, including the western associates of the free trade area, as well as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and who-knows-how-many other newly minted sovereign states.

Get access to Newspapers.com

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 22,700+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the The Vancouver Sun
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free