Head of OSCE says 1989-style changes now spreading further east

Dimitrij Rupel and Czech Foreign minister Cyril Svoboda, photo: CTK

Migration is one of the major issues of our age, as millions of people every year attempt to escape poverty and conflict, and build a better future for their children. Migration is also one of the main themes of a conference of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe taking place all this week in Prague. The OSCE's current chairman-in-office is Slovenia's foreign minister, Dimitrij Rupel. He says that today it is devoting a lot of attention to former Soviet republics, where he sees a parallel with events further west following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Dimitrij Rupel and Czech Foreign minister Cyril Svoboda,  photo: CTK
"The movement which started in central and eastern Europe is spreading, the movement is going eastwards. And whatever happened ten years ago, 15 years ago in central and eastern Europe now is happening in the Caucuses, is happening in Ukraine, is happening in central Asia.

"I have hope that through these more or less gentle repercussions conditions can mature that will make migration a...free enterprise."

One issue that's a big concern in countries like the Czech Republic and Slovakia is human trafficking, because these countries are used as transit countries. Could you tell us a little bit please about the OSCE's strategy against human trafficking?

"Human trafficking is a very serious problem. Also on our borders, on the borders of the Czech Republic, on the borders of Slovenia, you are faced with these problems.

"Human trafficking stems from poverty and distress and a lack of civilisation, wellbeing, industry, technology - economy practically. If you cannot sell products you sell people.

"This is a terrible situation that we can try to stop with administrative means, but I think that more should be done in another way, with economic development."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,  photo: CTK
Last week the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder was in Prague and he insists that the seven-year transition period for the free movement of labour will have to stand, that Czechs and Slovenians and so on won't be able to work in Germany until 2011. Many Czechs resent the fact that they can't work in most EU countries - how is that issue perceived in Slovenia?

"If I tried to be funny I would say that we hope to have a different government in Germany. But of course this is a more serious matter. I hope that the seven-year transition period will not stand, there is no need for that. And as we have heard today from the German politician Rita Sussmuth the so-called modern, developed Europe needs assistance from other countries.

"It is treating the new members of the European Union as secondary citizens, and certainly in Slovenia this has not been well received. We still have to explain to our citizens that this is something that will pass.

"In fact our people do not have tremendous problems in finding employment if they want in Italy or Austria, our neighbouring countries. But still, in principle it's wrong."