Eurofile: Dominoes or house of cards?

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The Independent Online
THE Nordic domino theory will be tested this autumn when the Finns, Norwegians and Swedes go to the polls over European Union membership and the Swedes and Danes vote in general elections beginning this weekend.

When the Swedes go to the polls on Sunday, the Social Democrats expect a return to power after a three-year absence. The general election in Denmark three days later is expected to result in the re- election of the Social Democrats, according to the polls.

Referendums on EU membership are planned in Finland on 16 October, in Sweden on 13 November and in Norway on 28 November. All three governments support membership. They chose the dates so that the country with the strongest support for EU membership, Finland, would vote first. It is expected that Norway, the most sceptical of the three, will then vote in favour.

But there are signs that all may not go according to plan. A Finnish poll yesterday, five weeks before the referendum, showed the number of undecided voters had shot up to 31 per cent, indicating a revival of opposition to EU membership. Thirty eight per cent said they approved of EU membership while 31 per cent opposed it. A survey last week showed that 40 per cent approved of EU membership, 37 per cent were against and 23 per cent were unsure.

THE long dormant Breton separatist movement is stirring once again and working closely with Basque separatists, according to the French authorities.

Two Breton militants were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting members of the Eta Basque terrorist movement yesterday. The two were indicted on charges of 'association with criminals, helping them to stay (in France) illegally and offences related to a terrorist enterprise', according to the police.

They were named as Guirec Conan and Raymonde Le Gallic and their spouses, who were also charged, were later released on bail. The arrests are not the first among Breton militants for this type of offence. Last week seven people were arrested in Brittany on the orders of Laurence Le Vert, an anti-terrorist judge.

Mr Le Vert commented that 'the housing in Brittany of Basque separatists, members of the military arm of Eta, has helped the organization in its attacks carried out this year'. Over the last two years about 100 people have been arrested among the Breton militant community, which seeks autonomy from Paris.

'THEY sent me a little greeting and fired a little rocket into my room,' said Hans Koschnick, the avuncular German EU administrator of Mostar. He narrowly escaped assassination at the weekend when an anti-tank shell slammed into his hotel room. Mr Koschnick was dining late in the restaurant of the Hotel Eros when it came under attack from the Croatian side of the divided city.

Why an attempt should have been made on his life is not known. It seems clear that after an eight-month seige, during which Croats failed to take the city, Mr Kochnick was in the way. His death would have caused problems in Germany, where there is controversy about getting involved in conflict zones. The Social Democrats are the most jittery about sending forces abroad. As a compromise gesture they agreed that Mr Koschnick, a Social Democrat official, should be appointed to this strictly civilian role.

ITALY has intervened in the worsening crisis between Greece and Albania, at the risk of annoying its EU partner, long suspicious of Italian motives in the Balkans.

'The crisis between Greece and Albania seems to me a deplorable fact and we have to do whatever possible to overcome this situation,' said Antonio Martino, the Italian Foreign Minister, in Tirana after meeting his Albanian counterpart, Alfred Serreqi. 'We must do all we can in order to help overcome the crisis,' he added.

Greek diplomats complain that Italy's only motive for getting involved in Albania's affairs is to gain influence over its former colony. EU foreign ministers appealed in vain to Greece at the weekend to cool tensions with Albania after the conviction by Tirana of five ethnic Greeks. They were sentenced to between six and eight years jail for spying for Athens and possession of arms.