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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 13, 97-04-17

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. 13, 17 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] MORE FALLOUT FROM "YEREVANGATE" ARMS SCANDAL.
  • [02] ABKHAZIA CUTS POWER SUPPLIES TO GEORGIA.
  • [03] ARMENIA, TURKMENISTAN, IRAN SIGN MORE COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.
  • [04] KAZAKSTAN WANTS COSSACKS AWAY FROM ITS BORDER.
  • [05] TAJIK SECURITY FORCES STORM PRISON.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] OSCE MEDIATOR NOT TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN REBELS.
  • [07] PROBLEMS THREATEN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [08] MORE AUTHORITY FOR HAGUE COURT?
  • [09] OSCE ON CROATIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [10] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT BUT ON OWN TERMS.
  • [11] SLOVENIA STARTS TO RATIFY EU AGREEMENT.
  • [12] ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON TREATY WITH UKRAINE.
  • [13] ROMANIAN POLICE LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO BUSINESS TYCOON.
  • [14] MOLDOVA CUTS NATURAL GAS SUPPLIES TO TRANSDNIESTER.
  • [15] RUSSIAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON TROOP CUTS IN TRANSDNIESTER.
  • [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE FAVORS REFERENDUM ON MONARCHY.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] MORE FALLOUT FROM "YEREVANGATE" ARMS SCANDAL.

    Zahid Garalov, head of an Azerbaijani parliamentary delegation in Tibilisi to discuss Russian arms shipments to Armenia via Georgian territory, told a press conference yesterday that the arms transfers were sanctioned by Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, a close associate of former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev. The Armenian news agency Turan quoted Garalov as saying the weaponry included "tactical missiles of the P-17 complex," which can carry chemical or nuclear warheads. Nadibaidze, for his part, told the Azerbaijani ambassador in Tbilisi that he shared Azerbaijan's concern, Nezavisimaya gazeta reports today. Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma has approved a resolution demanding more stringent state control over arms sales abroad, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday.

    [02] ABKHAZIA CUTS POWER SUPPLIES TO GEORGIA.

    Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba on 15 April ordered power supplies to Georgia to be cut off in retaliation for Tbilisi's decision the previous day to re-route all telephone communications from Abkhazia to Russia via Tbilisi, ITAR- TASS reported. Georgian Minister of Communications Pridon Indjia said his country's decision was in accordance with international agreements. An Abkhaz government statement denied this was the case, saying the move was a violation of human rights and could jeopardize further peace talks.

    [03] ARMENIA, TURKMENISTAN, IRAN SIGN MORE COOPERATION AGREEMENTS.

    The foreign ministers of Armenia, Turkmenistan, and Iran have signed memoranda on cooperation in trade, transport, banking, and energy and gas supplies and on tourism, ITAR-TASS reported. The three leaders met yesterday in Yerevan. It was the sixth such meeting in two years on expanding trade and economic cooperation between the three countries. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velatyati said "the doors to this cooperation are open to other countries." The Chinese Ambassador to Armenia also attended the meeting, Noyan Tapan reported.

    [04] KAZAKSTAN WANTS COSSACKS AWAY FROM ITS BORDER.

    Kazakstan has lodged an official protest with Moscow over the inclusion of Cossacks in Russian formations guarding the countries' common border, Reuters reported yesterday. Kazakstan's Foreign Ministry expressed "serious concern" about what it called the "experiment" by the Russian Federal Border Guards. A spokesman for the border guards said the formations were made up of volunteers and that not all those volunteers are Cossacks. He added that while the formations are currently unarmed, that may soon change because of "irregularities" in the region, particularly drug smuggling.

    [05] TAJIK SECURITY FORCES STORM PRISON.

    Tajik security forces have stormed a prison in the northern city of Khujand where more than 100 inmates seized control earlier this week, RFE/RL correspondents in the area report today. Initial reports indicate as many as 40 people have died in the security force attack, although officials in Dushanbe are saying no blood has been shed. Some 800 people are currently being held in the prison, which is intended to accommodate only 300. On 15 April, the rebel inmates took four guards hostage to demand trials for those not yet sentenced and hospitalization for those seriously ill. They are also opposed to any prisoners being moved to the southern part of Tajikistan, where prison conditions are reported even worse. Rumors that some inmates would be moved to the south sparked the revolt.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] OSCE MEDIATOR NOT TO MEET WITH ALBANIAN REBELS.

    Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's mediator for Albania, is remaining in Tirana today, after canceling plans to travel to the northern city of Shkoder and to meet with rebel leaders in Vlora. One of the rebels said Vranitzky's move is the result of interference by Albanian President Sali Berisha, who maintains the rebels are hindering progress toward elections and refuses to negotiate with them. Vranitzky said yesterday he believes it is useful to listen to rebel leaders but that he will deal only with the Albanian government. Vranitzky also argued that the June elections are being jeopardized by deep differences among political parties on how best to deal with the rebels.

    [07] PROBLEMS THREATEN ALBANIAN ELECTIONS.

    Berisha says he does not want OSCE monitors present during the June elections. Speaking in Tirana yesterday, he noted there were "terrible problems" when OSCE monitors were on hand during the May 1996 parliamentary elections. Berisha said he prefers the Council of Europe to do the monitoring. The OSCE and many other foreign observers claimed the 1996 vote was flawed, but the Council of Europe was less critical. Berisha also suggested that holding the elections should be linked to the conclusion of an all-party agreement on ending the debate over the collapse of pyramid schemes, which wiped out the savings of hundreds of thousands of Albanians. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Spartak Ngjela told Vranitzky that it will not be possible to disarm civilians by election day.

    [08] MORE AUTHORITY FOR HAGUE COURT?

    Discussions have begun at the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia that could make or break the court's authority, an RFE/RL correspondent reported yesterday. At issue is whether the tribunal can call for measures to be taken against states that refuse to comply with its requests for cooperation. If the court gets the necessary international backing, it will be able to demand the arrest of key individuals or invoke sanctions against the offending state. The debate was triggered by the failure of the Croatian and Bosnian federal defense ministers to hand over evidence in the case of Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic, who is in custody in The Hague. Court officials insist that their work will not be a deterrent against future war crimes unless the tribunal is able to punish those who do not cooperate with it.

    [09] OSCE ON CROATIAN ELECTIONS.

    The OSCE says the 13 April Croatian elections were largely free and fair but that problems did occur. In a report issued yesterday in Zagreb, the organization noted problems in the Serbian enclave of Eastern Slavonia continued even after the UN --which organized the ballot there--extended voting to a second day. Those problems included an absence of ballot papers and ballot boxes, misprinted ballots, and incomplete voting lists. The OSCE commended the UN, however, for correcting the problems. UN officials are expected to decide later this week whether to declare the Slavonian elections valid. The OSCE said voting in the rest of Croatia was an "improvement" over the 1995 parliamentary elections but that problems remain. It said opposition parties lacked proper access to state-run media and that voting secrecy was not guaranteed at many polling stations.

    [10] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER TO CHANGE GOVERNMENT BUT ON OWN TERMS.

    At the start of his visit to Greece, Milo Djukanovic has received pledges for credits worth $90 million from bankers in Athens, Nasa Borba reports today. Before leaving home, he said at a stormy meeting of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) that he will reorganize the government within 60 days. He insisted, however, that he will not make the changes "immediately or on anyone's orders," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica yesterday. Djukanovic is under pressure from President Momir Bulatovic to fire three ministers who have been critical of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

    [11] SLOVENIA STARTS TO RATIFY EU AGREEMENT.

    Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek said in Ljubljana yesterday that the parliament will start procedures today to ratify Slovenia's association agreement with the EU. He added that his party will also press for changes in Slovenian law in keeping with that agreement. The main issue is changing the constitution to allow foreigners to own property. Fears remain among the public that such changes will enable Austrians and especially former Italian residents of Slovenia to buy up real estate. Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav republic to have an association agreement with the EU.

    [12] ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON TREATY WITH UKRAINE.

    Victor Babiuc says talks with Ukraine on the pending basic treaty are deadlocked over the demarcation of the countries' common border in the Danube delta, ownership of the continental shelf around Serpents Island in the Black Sea, and the situation of the Romanian minority in the Ukraine. In an interview with RFE/RL's Romanian service yesterday, Babiuc said that contrary to international practice, Ukraine wants the common border traced on the Romanian side of the Danube's Chilia branch instead of in the middle of the waterway. Kyiv is also demanding ownership of the continental shelf around Serpents Island, while Bucharest wants the Hague International Tribunal to rule on the matter if negotiations are still stalled after two years. Finally, Bucharest is demanding that the Romanian minority in Ukraine be granted rights recognized by the Council of Europe.

    [13] ROMANIAN POLICE LAUNCH INVESTIGATION INTO BUSINESS TYCOON.

    George Constantin Paunescu, the business tycoon known for his close ties with Romania's previous government, has been officially placed under investigation for forgery, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reports. Colonel Pavel Abraham, chief of the police general inspectorate, told a press conference yesterday that Paunescu is suspected of using a $10 million loan from abroad for purposes other than those officially declared. Crin Halaicu, former mayor of Bucharest, is also under investigation for fraud.

    [14] MOLDOVA CUTS NATURAL GAS SUPPLIES TO TRANSDNIESTER.

    Moldova has cut off or substantially reduced natural gas supplies to several towns in its breakaway Transdniester region, Infotag reported. Yesterday's move is linked to the announcement earlier this week that Russia will sever supplies to Moldova if its debts to Gazprom are not settled within 30 days (see RFE/RL Newsline, 16 April 1997). More than half of the $570 million debt is owed by Tiraspol. Vladimir Atamaniuk, deputy chairman of the Transdniester Supreme Soviet, said that if Tiraspol is asked to pay separately for its gas deliveries, it should also "receive its legitimate share of the assets of the former Soviet Union." He accused Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi of applying "massive economic and political pressure" on the Transdniester.

    [15] RUSSIAN DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER ON TROOP CUTS IN TRANSDNIESTER.

    Gen. Vladimir Toporov says the Russian military contingents stationed in the Transdniester will be reduced to the "most propitious level," BASA- press reported. Toporov, who met yesterday in Chisinau with Moldovan Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, said the "very large" infrastructure of Russia's Transdniester-based troops "imposes huge expenses." He said the reorganization of the contingent has already started and will continue, adding that no decision has yet been taken on "what [Russian military equipment] can be destroyed, what will be withdrawn, and what will remain." He did not specify a deadline for the withdrawal, nor did he confirm Russian Defense Council Secretary Yurii Baturin's February statement that of the 6,000 or so troops stationed in the region, only 2,500 will remain after the reorganization.

    [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE FAVORS REFERENDUM ON MONARCHY.

    Petar Stoyanov says that if the new parliament elected this weekend decides to hold a referendum on reintroducing the monarchy, he would "accept the decision with satisfaction and immediately set a date for it," RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Stoyanov was speaking yesterday after meeting with Bulgaria's former monarch, Simeon II. The president pointed out that the Tirnovo constitution, which provided for a constitutional monarchy, was abolished when the country was "under the occupation of a foreign military power."

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


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