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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 6, 97-04-08

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 6, 8 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NO PROGRESS, BUT NEW IMPETUS IN KARABAKH TALKS.
  • [02] AZERI, CRIMEAN TATAR REACTION TO TURKES'S DEATH.
  • [03] KAZAKSTAN ORDERS OIL COMPANIES TO SEND FUEL FOR FARMS.
  • [04] RUSSIA, PAKISTAN DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS REFUSE TO DISCUSS CONSTITUTION WITH BERISHA.
  • [06] POLITICS PLAGUE "OPERATION ALBA."
  • [07] ALBANIA'S MARITIME CHAMBER OF HORRORS.
  • [08] KOSOVO TALKS BEGIN IN NEW YORK.
  • [09] IZETBEGOVIC PLEDGES MORE SECURITY FOR PAPAL VISIT.
  • [10] GERMANY TO KEEP SENDING BOSNIANS HOME.
  • [11] IS KARADZIC MILKING REPUBLIKA SRPSKA?
  • [12] CONCERN OVER NEW SERBIAN REFUGEE EXODUS.
  • [13] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS DRAFT LAW ON BANK PRIVATIZATION.
  • [14] COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS END TO MONITORING OF ROMANIA.
  • [15] SMIRNOV WANTS TRANSDNIESTER TO JOIN UKRAINE.
  • [16] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS WITHDRAW SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT.
  • [17] BULGARIAN ELECTION NEWS.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NO PROGRESS, BUT NEW IMPETUS IN KARABAKH TALKS.

    The Minsk Group talks in Moscow last week on a settlement of the Karabakh conflict made no progress toward agreement on any key points, Interfax reported yesterday. But the Nagorno- Karabakh delegation did agree "in principle" to the repatriation of Azerbaijanis who fled during the fighting. A Western diplomat involved in the talks told RFE/RL that although Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to occupy "maximalist" positions, the meeting gave new impetus to the talks, which had been deadlocked since November 1996. The talks were attended by co-chairmen from Russia, the U.S., and France and delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno- Karabakh. The three co-chairmen warned that all sides in the conflict "must make an effort to achieve movement toward a real settlement."

    [02] AZERI, CRIMEAN TATAR REACTION TO TURKES'S DEATH.

    Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Musavat Party Chairman Isa Gambar, and Azerbaijan Popular Front Chairman Abulfaz Elchibey, and Crimean-Tatar Council Chairman Mustafa Abdulcemil have all expressed condolences on the death of right-wing Nationalist Movement Party Alparslan Turkes, Turkiye and Zaman reported. Aliev postponed a planned trip to Turkey in order to avoid being in Ankara today when Turkes's funeral took place.

    [03] KAZAKSTAN ORDERS OIL COMPANIES TO SEND FUEL FOR FARMS.

    Western oil companies working in Kazakstan have been ordered by presidential decree to send unspecified quantities of crude oil to local refineries for Kazakstan's farms, Reuters reported yesterday. An official from the Kazak Agricultural Ministry said 350,000 tons of diesel and 100, 000 tons of gasoline were urgently needed for spring planting. The two biggest Western oil companies in Kazakstan are the U.S.'s Chevron and Mobil concerns, both of which are working in the western Tengiz field. Some Western companies said the decree violated existing contracts, while others argued it could drive away potential investors. Fuel will be purchased with futures contracts based on this year's harvest.

    [04] RUSSIA, PAKISTAN DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN.

    Officials in Islamabad say Pakistan has opened dialogue with Russia over the problems in Afghanistan, AFP reported yesterday. Pakistan will send a senior ministry official to Moscow later this week. The Pakistani daily The News reports the Russians are not against the Taliban but believe "all ethnic groups" should be represented in any future government. Russia--like Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan--has warned of the dire consequences if the Taliban captures Afghanistan's northern provinces. Meanwhile, the Taliban are engaging warlord Gen. Rashid Dostum's forces, the last buffer protecting the CIS's southern border.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS REFUSE TO DISCUSS CONSTITUTION WITH BERISHA.

    Leaders of the Socialist Party yesterday rejected calls by President Sali Berisha to discuss a new constitution. Socialist spokesman Pandeli Majko argued that "it seems absurd to discuss the constitution with tanks in the streets." Another Socialist leader, Rexhep Mejdani, called Berisha's suggestion "absurd." Albania is still using its communist-era constitution, together with a package of post-communist laws. Tensions are running high between Berisha and the opposition following the attack on the weekend against Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino, which some Socialists blame on Berisha's backers.

    [06] POLITICS PLAGUE "OPERATION ALBA."

    Greek government officials say Italy plans to assign Greek troops to a remote area once the planned intervention force enters Albania, Reuters reported last weekend. Rome wants the Greek contingent to go to the northern town of Lezha, while Athens wants its troops deployed in Tirana and Vlora. The Greeks charge the Italians with setting up "zones of influence" on their own. The Greek contingent of 700 troops will be the third largest in Operation Alba, after the 2,000-strong Italian and 1,000- strong French contingents. Italian domestic political squabbles also could hold up the mission, but the French and Spanish troops are set to go. Greece's traditional interests have been in southern Albania, where a Greek minority and a large Albanian Orthodox population live.

    [07] ALBANIA'S MARITIME CHAMBER OF HORRORS.

    Some 200 people have died and 700 have been injured since looters began taking tens of thousands of weapons from government facilities across Albania last month. Navy officials now warn that ship hijackers dumped some 25,000 37mm shells, 50 torpedoes, and 70 mines off Pasha Liman near Vlora. Albanian fishermen often kill their prey by tossing hand grenades into the water, and the navy fears a major disaster if such grenades impact on the underwater explosives.

    [08] KOSOVO TALKS BEGIN IN NEW YORK.

    A three-day meeting of Serbian and ethnic Albanian political leaders opened yesterday under the sponsorship of the Princeton-based Project on Ethnic Relations. Foreign NGOs have often hosted such "dialogues of the deaf" in recent years, but this time the session takes place with opposition to President Slobodan Milosevic clearly growing. Milosevic's Socialists say Kosovo is an internal Serbian issue and are boycotting the session, but the New Democracy group is on hand to represent the regime. Opposition leaders Vuk Draskovic and Vesna Pesic are taking part, as are leading Albanian politicians Adem Demaci, Fehmi Agani, and Mahmut Bakalli, Nasa Borba reports.

    [09] IZETBEGOVIC PLEDGES MORE SECURITY FOR PAPAL VISIT.

    Alija Izetbegovic, current chairman of the joint Bosnian presidency, says he will step up security for Pope John Paul II during his visit this weekend. Izetbegovic's remarks came yesterday after the latest in a series of unexplained attacks on Roman Catholic and Muslim religious buildings. A UN police spokesman called current protection for such buildings poor and said security must improve for the pope's visit, RFE/RL reported. In other news, the UN police spokesman said donors have pledged only $6.5 million for mine-clearing programs, although $38 million is needed. He also cited an incident yesterday in which two armed men hijacked a bus on the Sarajevo-Gorazde route through Bosnian Serb territory and robbed and abused the Muslim passengers.

    [10] GERMANY TO KEEP SENDING BOSNIANS HOME.

    Officials of the Bavarian and Berlin states told an RFE/RL correspondent over the weekend that they will continue to deport Bosnian refugees as a way of encouraging other Bosnians to go home voluntarily. Critics at home and abroad have blasted the deportations as cruel, saying there is neither housing nor employment for most refugees back in Bosnia. Berlin Interior Minister Jorg Schoenbohm rejected these arguments, saying that those who stayed in Bosnia braved greater dangers during the war than the deportees face now. He added that the refugees have a duty to help rebuild their country. During the Yugoslav wars, Germany took in more refugees than any other country outside the former Yugoslavia. But domestic political pressures are now mounting to reduce the number of foreigners in Germany.

    [11] IS KARADZIC MILKING REPUBLIKA SRPSKA?

    Former Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic has a monopoly on supplying gasoline, cigarettes, and other goods on Bosnian Serb territory, the International Herald Tribune reported yesterday. Both he and Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serb member of the Bosnian presidency, have gotten rich by running two key companies behind the scenes, the newspaper claims. The monopoly costs consumers dearly and cheats the state out of huge amounts of revenue. The government cannot enforce tax laws against the companies because the police are also on the take. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic says the lawlessness threatens the future of the Bosnian Serb entity. Originally a protˇgˇ of Karadzic, she is now locked in a power struggle with Krajisnik.

    [12] CONCERN OVER NEW SERBIAN REFUGEE EXODUS.

    Elisabeth Rehn, the UN's chief envoy for human rights in the former Yugoslavia, urged Croatia yesterday to better protect the rights of its ethnic Serb minority. She worries that a series of incidents could prompt Serbs in eastern Slavonia to flee when the area rejoins Croatia in July. The UN has gone to great pains to convince the eastern Slavonian Serbs to stay, and Croatia has promised them a package of rights that the UN and U.S. call generous. There is also concern in federal Yugoslavia about a new influx of refugees joining the 600,000 from Croatia and Bosnia already there. President Slobodan Milosevic's government denies them citizenship and hence the prospect of fully integrating. Reuters reports that, in any event, almost 3 million Serbs cannot meet their own minimum needs for food.

    [13] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ADOPTS DRAFT LAW ON BANK PRIVATIZATION.

    The government has adopted a draft law on the privatization of state-owned banks, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The move coincided with the arrival in the Romanian capital yesterday of Chief IMF negotiator for Romania Poul Thomsen. The draft, which will be submitted to the parliament for urgent consideration, stipulates that no person can hold more than 5% of shares in a privatized bank without the approval of the National Bank. Companies can acquire up to 20%, but some 100 banks of "world repute" are to be exempt from this ceiling. The state will hold 10% of shares in each bank. Thomsen yesterday met with Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara. He is scheduled to meet with Premier Victor Ciorbea and other officials to discuss Romania's progress on fulfilling IMF conditions for the release of a stand- by loan agreed on during his January visit.

    [14] COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMITTEE RECOMMENDS END TO MONITORING OF ROMANIA.

    The Judicial Committee of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly yesterday approved rapporteur Gunnar Jansson's recommendation to cease monitoring Romania's implementation of human rights, Romanian TV reported. The move is conditional on the amendment of several laws, including Penal Code provisions on homosexual offenses, and the passage of new legislation dealing with xenophobia and intolerance and providing for the return of confiscated Church property. Should Romania fail to pass such legislation, monitoring will be resumed within a year. The Assembly is likely to approve the recommendation later this month. Romania will then cease to be monitored separately and, like all other CE members, will be overseen by a new committee set up in January.

    [15] SMIRNOV WANTS TRANSDNIESTER TO JOIN UKRAINE.

    Igor Smirnov, the leader of Moldova's breakaway region, says he would have "no objection" to the Transdniester's joining Ukraine. "If Ukraine shifts its border to the Dniester [River], I will not intervene," Smirnov said in an interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Kievskiye Vedomosti last week. He emphasized that 250,000 of the Transdniester's inhabitants are Ukrainian, which, he said, "cannot be simply overlooked." In other news, Interfax reported that Smirnov flew to Moscow yesterday to try to persuade Russian Foreign Minister Primakov to include Tiraspol during his scheduled visit to Moldova on 10 April. The agenda provides for a meeting with Smirnov in Chisinau.

    [16] BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS WITHDRAW SUPPORT FROM GOVERNMENT.

    The Socialist Party is withdrawing its support for the caretaker cabinet of Stefan Sofiyanski. In an open letter to President Petar Stoyanov published in the Bulgarian press yesterday, Socialist leader Georgi Parvanov said the cabinet is not respecting last month's agreement that put an end to street protests and made possible the establishment of the caretaker government. He complains that pro-Socialist managers of state firms are being sacked for political reasons and says his party has not yet received the text of the accord between the cabinet and the IMF on new stand-by credits. He also warns against price hikes, saying social tensions may lead to the country's "Albanization." In other news, the tiny Communist Party threatens to sue the former Socialist leadership for bringing the country to the verge of collapse.

    [17] BULGARIAN ELECTION NEWS.

    The United Democratic Forces (ODS) and the Initiative Committee for Renewal, a wing of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedom (DPS), have agreed to run jointly in the 19 April elections and participate in the formation of the new government, RFE/RL's correspondent in Haskovo reported. DPS member Giuner Tahir recently formed the Initiative Committee, which opposes the decision of DPS leader Ahmed Dogan not to join the ODS and to run instead with the Alliance for National Salvation. The Initiative Committee is active in northeastern Bulgaria, but it is unlikely that DSP members in the southeast parts of the country will join the committee, the correspondent observed.

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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