UPA

Full text of Utania's Provisional President E. R. Hope interview on May 28th, 300 AP.

©300. All rights reserved, Utanian Press Agency.
The Utanian magazine, Zeit, invited international journalist, David Saltus, for an interview with the President of the newly independent nation of Utania. President Edward Roahn Hope was the Governor of Lasanne, a semi-autonomous territory within UNV "Point South". But now, with the signing of UNV Order 277/300, the President has automatically resigned his position to take up the Presidency of the now united territories. On Thursday, the provisional Parliament will become the official Parliament, and are expected to vote to keep Hope as their President. This remains so until the first elections, predicted as August, where the newly elected Parliament will recast their vote for the President. Thereafter, President Hope will face the people in early 301 AP.

Hope is a tall man, of slightly wirey build, his face showing the age of a man many years senior of his fifty-six. But, his voice is filled with conviction, and his manner unmistakably directorial. The former Chief Executive under the Tsarist Guwimith regime joined the Conservative Liberation Movement, the forerunner to the current Conservative Party, in 291 AP, some say a late arrival to liberation politics. The CLM did not insist on autonomy for the dependencies, but on liberalisation of trade and removal of restrictive business practises on the dependencies. Caught up in the windstorm that brought full independence, Hope, CLM Governor of Lasanne since 295, and was appointed provisional President in September, 299.

Below is the text of the interview that was broadcast nationally on TV1, the Utanian government's main channel:


President, firstly congratulations from the world's media on the successful vote...-

  Why, thank you. Thank you immensely for your support, David.

...And thank you for the opportunity of this interview.

Initial Objectives

President, Utania now stands as an independent nation of some forty million people, many of whom live in abject poverty. The nation's infrastructure is in tatters, the public service is run by the UNV, and the economy is only now starting to grow. How do you intend to govern the nation?


  Well, for one, David, I reject the notion that the country is living in poverty. We are not some backwater desert tribe that just happened to fall into building huts recently. We have three dozen cities that thrive with business activity booming economically. We have economic growth that is unparalleled in the world, and a decent enough infrastructure to build from.

So, you reject the notion that... and I quote the UNV report here, that "39% of the country are living in sub-standard conditions in Utani B'yan and Savana"?

  I told the UNV delegates then, and I will tell you now: If forty percent of our population want to live like natives in the hills in the country's centre, or in subsistence farming in the west, it is not the government's role to tell them to develop their real potential and get out of poverty.

So, poverty is a lifestyle choice?

  No! I don't think these people ARE poor. You cannot come in here and demand that everybody has the same living standards if they don't know what a telephone is. They live in the hills away from the more productive aspects of Utanian society, but they certainly don't see themselves as poor, and nor should the UNV.

The Utan-Saedaj and Peoples parties, in particular, are calling for sweeping land reform to return lands to the rural poor, particularly the regional tribal groups. Where will your administration stand on the issue of Land Reform?

  It is all very well for the People's Party and the Utani nationalists to run about declaring sweeping land reform is absolutely necessary, when the country is currently unable to fund such initiatives. I also reject the notion that just because someone is of Guwimith decent that they should have their lands, that their families have occupied for two hundred years, taken from them without compensation.
However, I am in favour of the distribution of lands abandoned by the Isolationist Guwimithians who abandoned their homes never to return, and for lands owned by the Tsar, and we shall certainly set about redistributing these lands.

Do you have a system in mind for the redistribution?

  At this early stage, no. (laughs) Com'n, we have only just won our freedom. We certainly should not be expected to have all of the solutions worked out already!

Administration's Direction

Okay. Bringing you back to the original question, what will the government's direction be?

  Well, I cannot speak for the Paliamentary "Government", but I can speak for for my administration.
Clearly our first few months will be heavily flavoured by establishing the federal government. We have a public service that is unstructured. This will require some attention. There are several infrastructure projects that are continuing and will require funding, for which we shall need to raise taxes. We shall also target certain areas for new infrastructure projects. There is an election to orchestrate, and democratisation of certain instrumentalities that may need to be corporatised. There will be much work in short-term goals to achieve in the first few months to keep us busy enough, without even considering the Government's real platform in the longer term.

Will your administration be considering sell-offs, privatisation, of government organisations?

  Yes, absolutely. Our first target will be the telecommunication and other infrastructure instrumentalities. These require significant capital input, and the government will not be in a position to raise the necessary funds within the budget. So, the obvious solution is to encourage external capital to provide these services.

What of talk by the Democrats within the Government coalition that they oppose quote "Willy-nilly privatisation"?

  Of course I support the Democrats in this. We shall not throw these organisations on the street! There will be careful planning and sufficient controls implemented that shall ensure that the standards of service only improve, not decrease.

And the Social Services, such as health and education. Will your administration consider these for privatisation?

  There are some limits to privatisation, obviously, but in the longer term, we believe that health and perhaps even education should be considered for some private funding. Certainly liberalisation of the rules for education and health facilities to allow private ventures to provide the same services will be part of this administration's agenda.

And popular opposition to such moves?

  I think the people of Utania are not fools. They will soon see that we are not selling the farm, handing over the business of government to companies. This is not Otago. Consequently, when the people stop listening to fools like the Yannists and Peoples Party, they will soon understand that this is indeed the better way forward for our country.

Style of Government

What, Mr President, do you personally consider as the right "style" of government?

  Hands-off. I believe that the Government should be as small as is practical. I would not follow the Cruis-Democrats in demanding a 10% flat tax, because I would not want to restrict the government's options like that, but with the CDP I do agree that smaller is better. Now, in terms of this administration's position, we are only in formative discussions with the parliament, so no firm agenda has been agreed.

And social security? You are on record as saying that this will be kept to a minimum.

  And I stand by that comment, even though I made it, in '97, in the context of running Lasanne under the former government of Guwimith. I do not believe in hand-outs for no good reason. I do believe that we should provide some fundamental anti-starvation policies, but nothing substantial, nothing too large that will ultimately cripple our government.

Liberationist Politics

President, there remain many people opposed to your Presidency, citing your lack of commitment to Liberation politics... (Hope begins to chuckle)... How do you respond to these accusations?

  And who raised the accusations - some Peoples Party hack? Or was it the communists?
Listen, there will never be leadership in this country without opposition, and I welcome it. They accuse me of not being "Liberationist" enough. Yes, I admit that I was opposed to the communist guerrilla-style attacks on the oil pipelines that brought about the Tsarist collapse, but I never disagreed with the freedom that it has now brought us.
People confuse the role of the CLM*, now the Conservative Party, in the liberation of Utania. We were Liberationists, hence the "L" in CLM. It is because of our sensible leadership that the country HAS its independence! If the Yannists or the Peoples Party had gained control of the country, the UNV would still be in control, because they had no faith that these idiots could pull off self-government.
Make no mistake, we were and are Liberationists. But, we were very strongly opposed to the violent uprising that the communists and other opposition movements were actively or tacitly supporting.

* CLM - Conservative Liberation Movement, a conservative front of mostly businessmen and land owners who supported significant reform, particularly liberalisation of dependency economies and trade, not necessarily independence from Guwimith

You are referring to your claims that the Peoples Party supported the communists during the revolt?

  I do not claim to know the whole truth in these matters, but it appears very strange to me that the PP were not condemning the explosions that killed so many innocent men. It seems strange to me that the radical Utani Cruis Church was silent on the matter of priests hiding guerrillas in the mountains.

The events of March/April 299

Do you believe the isolationists were right in attacking the pipeline in March last year, the event that brought about Utanian independence?

  No, I do not.

Do you believe that Whitlam and Eastern Zartania were right in invading Guwimith to save a handful of captives from their nations from guerrillas guerrillas, events that ultimately brought about Utanian independence?

  Now, David, that is very hard to say. It is clear that the Tsar (of Guwimith) was unwilling to combat the situation himself. He was a weak-willed man, attacked from both sides for either his isolationist stance or his opening the country up. The administrators in the various provinces, such as Lasanne, then called Guwimith Wide Shore, no longer had direction from the top. In truth, while GWS was not in any such danger, I know that certain provinces were in danger of collapse into chaos, into civil unrest, even civil war.
What the governments of Eastern Zartania and Whitlam did, in invading Guwimith, was stabilise the disintegrating nation.

So, you disagree with arguments that both countries were invading for personal gain?

  I've given my answer on this - No. They were jealously guarding the lives of their own people, captives of rebels here, something that any government is obliged to do. Now, when they saw that the government of Guwimith was unable to assist them, that the government of Guwimith was indeed imploding, they took the necessary decisive action.

So, given the same situation, with Utanian citizens held hostage in a collapsing, say, Northern Gronk, you would not hesitate to invade NG as well?

  What I am saying is that I don't think that is a decision that Eastern Zartania or Whitlam took easily. I think they made a decision that they considered best for them at that time.

But, in the scenario above, would you have repeated their actions?

  David, I have given you my answer.
(Pause)
Alright then, I guess I would have to seriously consider such an action if Utanian citizens were in danger, yes. I would probably move to rescue our citizens first, through means of specialist forces, as our armed forces at this time, and probably in the future will never be significant enough to invade the whole of North... of a state under collapse. We cannot allow international terrorism to take the lives of our own citizens.
Can we please move on from this?

Uta-Decashi

Certainly. There is reference to you as an "Uta-Decashi". What does this mean?

  It is an old custom, mostly used by the Utani tribes. It means, in the Utani language, "Member of the Tenth Tribe". There is nine Utani tribes, so the tenth tribe are immigrants without a tribal affiliation. It is not an insult, as such, but in my case, it is applied to me because my opponents believe I am the "outsider" running the country for my "outsider" friends. This couldn't be further from the truth. Aside from being one-eighth Ujam, therefore of the Ujam tribe, I am also 100% committed to Utania, to OUR future, to OUR well-being. I am Utanian, through and through.

Political Poll Bans

President, the UNV had banned political polling during its administration, and certain newspapers have claimed that this was on your insistance. Is there any truth to this, and if not, where do you stand on the issue now?

  I don't know where they got that from.
(Hope looks blankly. Long pause)

Alright, then where do you stand on the subject now?

  I think the UNV initiative to ban political polling was in light of... was to prevent an unnecessary amount of contemplation of future politics and democracy. It is necessary that the country focuses on development of our resources and potential rather than arguing political gains and losses. This is a trait of other democracies in Vexillium that we need not follow.
Clearly, however, with an election approaching, there will be a need for certain regulated polling to occur to provide the papers some means of promoting the parties' policies to the wider community. They put forward the poll, then follow it with a description of new policies of the Government or Opposition parties.

International Relations

There has been much talk recently over Garnor Aratusu's, of the People's Party, push for Utania to join the ANNV, the Alliance of Neutral Nations of Vexillium. Despite the growing popular support for such a notion, you have publicly opposed it. Why will Utania not join the ANNV "on your watch"?

  Ah, you quote me. I think the simple answer is that we do not live in a peaceful world. The break-up of nations is occurring month-by-month and new nations are born every day. In such a climate, it is impossible for us to guarantee that we will never be required to use force against another nation. It is as simple as that. And membership of the ANNV precludes military action against another nation. How can we possibly be expected to guarantee world peace with such "touchy-feely" concepts of international justice?

What will your administration's policies be regarding international relations?

  We will maintain a peaceful and sensible approach with all nations. Our policies shall be promotion of trade and business opportunities first and foremost, resolving our difficulties with other nations, should there ever be any, with negotiation and talks. It will be through sensible and mature communication that we shall bring ourselves into Vexillium.

What of talk that there will be a three-tier structure to your international relations, with some nations receiving more attention than others in a preferential system?

  Yes, you refer to the Liberal Nationalist parties stated three-tier policy? Well, this is not yet government policy, nor this administration's policy yet. However, this administration, and, I expect, the Government, will be seriously considering such a policy. It is simply impossible for us to maintain a high level of diplomatic contact with so many nations, many of whom do not want to have a particularly strong relationship with Utania.

Communism

What of comments made by Salucius Kemble (of the LNP) that "it is impossible for Utania to maintain a trustful relationship with nations that openly declare themselves to be communist" then advocating that they receive "Tier-three treatment"?

  (Smirks)
I think that this has been blown-up all out of proportion, but I think the foundation of his comment remains true: It will be difficult to maintain good relations with governments that openly oppose capitalism.
What can we offer eachother? They will oppose Utanian businesses setting up in their country, and restrict our trade citing ridicul...- citing claims of slave labour and "exploitation of the workers". Consequently, without trade, our relationship will clearly be less significant.
Having said this, we will certainly NOT reject any mutual embassy establishment, and we will certainly NOT reject diplomatic relations with these countries, as some papers have claimed. We are and shall, God-willing, maintain favourable relations with these countries.

Yannist Guerrillas

What will be your administration's approach toward the Yannist guerillas, given particularly that there will be a Yannist party contesting forthcoming elections?

  The Yannists are anti-government rebels funded by communist sympathisers internally and abroad. Their original roots lie in the isolationist movement of the mountain kingdom of Savana, which opposed any opening up of Guwimith. Guwimith is now opened, and the time for forceful opposition is over. We welcome their interaction in the election, but we wholeheartedly oppose their use of force to oppose the people of Utania. Consequent to this, we shall put down any such rebellions or revolts against the authority of this government.

You will "put down" by forceful means?

  Yes, David, if necessary, we will use overwhelming force to make them see their way MUST be the path of democracy. In addition, if coercion fails to provide the required results, we shall see to it that the Yannist party is banned from elections.

Space Exploration

President, the Prime Minister, Mr Kemp, is quoted as having said that space exploration is on the agenda for this administration. Is this true, and if so, does it not seems a little unusual for a nation without adequate funding for more necessary projects, such as infrastructure?

  Look, I think Thomas (Kemp) has been through enough over this. What he said was that we would look into the topic of a launching facility to provide us and our allies a means to launch communication or exploration sattelites. At no time, did the Prime Minister state that we would be sending out our own probes and men into space. Perhaps in the future we can consider such things, but you are right to assert that at this time, we are in no position to dream such dreams.

The Future

Finally, Mr President, what are your dreams for Utania at this point?

  I have a great hope, no pun intended, for the nation, that we can be prosperous and self-sufficient, and establish ourselves within Vexillium as a unique cultural and business focal point for the region we are in. I imagine a day when thousands or millions, even, of tourists from overseas visit Utania to establish business opportunities and to visit our wonderful natural environment and our cultural traditions, so rich are we on both counts. That we could become a focal point, an Arasete, "meeting place", for the people of this world.
And I truly believe that this can come to pass, that we can establish ourselves within the world in this way. But I also recognise that there will be sacrifices along the way to this prosperity, that there will be hardships to endure in the meantime that may seem overwhelming. Yet, I believe the Utani people to be strong, to have the necessary fortitude to withstand and build upon their hardships, not to take the easy road out, and to truly establish a solid foundation for the future generations of Utanians.

President, I would like to thank you for your time.

  No, thank you, David.


©UPA, 300 AP.

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©Mike Ham, 2000. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)