|Thursday, 12 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 18, 97-04-24
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 18, 24 April 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN BAKUAskar Akayev and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation in Baku yesterday, ITAR-TASS and Turan reported. Akayev reiterated his interest in using the Transcaucasian transport corridor, for which his country has been granted a 50% reduction in tariffs, and noted that Kyrgyzstan wants to purchase crude oil and petrochemicals from Azerbaijan. A dozen or so intergovernmental agreements on economic, financial, and legal cooperation were also signed.
 FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRIME MINISTER CHARGEDGazi Mamedov, the lawyer of former Azerbaijani Prime Minister Suret Huseinov, told journalists in Baku yesterday that his client has been charged with large-scale embezzlement and with "exceeding his authority," Turan reported. The Azerbaijani leadership has accused Huseinov of planning a coup against President Heidar Aliev in October 1994 and of drug smuggling. Criminal charges, however, have not yet been brought against him. Last month, Huseinov was extradited to Baku from the Russian Federation where he had been living since late 1994.
 GEORGIA'S SOCIAL DEMOCRATS PROPOSE FRONTIER CHANGESThe Social Democratic Party wants President Eduard Shevardnadze to take advantage of Georgia's harmonious relations with Azerbaijan by asking President Aliev to return Saingilo to Georgia, BS-Press reported yesterday. The Saingilo region comprises three raions on Azerbaijan's northern frontier that were part of the former kingdom of eastern Georgia. During the 1980s, Saingilo's Georgian population compiled samizdat documentation protesting discrimination by the Azerbaijani authorities.
 MAJOR OVERHAUL OF KAZAK CIVIL SERVICEErjan Outiembayev, chairman of the Kazak National Strategic Planning Agency, announced yesterday that the number of civil servants will be cut by half before year's end, AFP reported. Outiembayev noted that Kazakstan has a population of 16.5 million and 1 million civil servants, which he called "too many." Meanwhile, a presidential decree has incorporated Taldy Korgan Oblast into Almaty Oblast and divided Torgay Oblast into two. One half has merged with Akmola Oblast and the other with Kostanay Oblast, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. The moves are part of the government's bid to streamline administration.
 TURKMEN UPDATETurkmenistan's Foreign Economic Bank has signed a credit agreement with the Islamic Development Bank to build an oil tanker, ITAR-TASS reported yesterday. The tanker has a water displacement of 5,000 tons and will cost some $11 million.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 BULGARIA'S ODS NOMINATES KOSTOV AS PREMIERThe Union of Democratic Forces (ODS) today nominated party leader Ivan Kostov as prime minister, Bulgarian Radio reported. The nomination must be approved by the new parliament, which is expected to convene on 5 May. Meanwhile, the final returns of the 19 April parliamentary elections show the ODS won 52.2% of the vote and will have 137 seats in the 240-seat legislature, RFE/RL's Bulgarian service reported yesterday. It is followed by the former ruling Socialist Party with 22% (58 seats); the Union for National Salvation, whose largest member is the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with 7.6% (19 seats); the Euroleft party, which includes many Socialist dissidents, with 5.6% (14 seats), and the populist Bulgarian Business Bloc with 4.9% (12 seats).
 BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ADDRESSES COUNCIL OF EUROPE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLYAddressing the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg yesterday, Petar Stoyanov said Bulgaria has made an "irrevocable choice" in favor of reforms and democracy and put an end to the previous "tactics of imitation of reforms." Stoyanov said that in the past few months, a "new social contract" has emerged between the people and the government. He pledged to be the "guarantor of the human rights of all Bulgarian citizens" and to fight "any forms of racial intolerance, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism." Stoyanov also told the assembly that "democracy cannot be established once and for all" and needs to be "mastered and rediscovered by every generation."
 INTERNATIONAL FORCE SHUNS CONTACT WITH ALBANIAN REBELSGen. Luciano Forlani, the commander of the Italian-led multinational troops, said in Tirana yesterday that the 6,000-strong force is expected to be entirely in place within 10 days. Forlani added that the troops have secured Tirana airport and the key ports of Durres and Vlora. He also said his forces will not have contacts with the rebel committees that control much of southern Albania. President Sali Berisha wants the committees dissolved as a precondition for elections and strongly objects to foreigners or the Albanian government treating those bodies as legitimate negotiating partners. The rebels say that anyone who ignores the committees is, in effect, supporting Berisha. Meanwhile, Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, visits Vlora today. It is unclear whether he will have direct talks with the rebel committees.
 CROATIA TRIES YUGOSLAV GENERAL FOR WAR CRIMESThe Zadar county court on 22 April resumed the trial in absentia of federal Yugoslav army commander Gen. Momcilo Perisic and 18 other officers on charges of war crimes in the Zadar area during fall 1991, when at least 30 civilians died and 120 cultural monuments were destroyed. At the time, Perisic was in command of an artillery unit in the historical coastal town. The prosecution says he personally directed the attack and explicitly ordered the shelling of civilian targets, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zadar.
 CROATIAN ELECTION UPDATEElection officials said in Zagreb yesterday that President Franjo Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) received the largest number of votes of any single party or coalition in the race for the city council. The HDZ edged out an opposition coalition for first place by just half a percentage point. The HDZ will have 24 seats, the opposition coalition 23, and the Croatian Peasants' Party three. Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court ruled that the election for the Pakrac council, in western Slavonia, will have to be repeated within two weeks. The Independent Democratic Serbian Party asked for another vote because the names of its council candidates did not appear on the original ballot, Nasa Borba reported today.
 UN'S OGATA CALLS FOR SOLUTION TO BOSNIAN REFUGEE PROBLEMSadako Ogata, the UN high commissioner for refugees, said in Geneva yesterday that foreign governments must find a "durable solution" to the situation of the 8l5,000 Bosnian refugees. She said that 90,000 Bosnians went home last year and that another 410,000 have permanent residence in other countries. But she said the future is uncertain for those who are still refugees but added that 200,000 may go back to Bosnia this year. Ogata also pointed out that at least half of the refugees cannot return to their homes because they are located in areas under the control of another ethnic group.
 IS BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADERSHIP CONSIDERING PARTITION?The Sarajevo magazine Dani suggests in its ?? April issue that the Muslim leadership has given up on the idea of a unified state and is considering a three-way division of the country. The maps shown in Dani and some other Sarajevo newspapers indicate that Muslim leaders might seek additional territories from the Croats and especially from the Serbs. Muslims would like to receive land west of Brcko currently controlled by the Serbs. The main Serbian and Croatian parties favor an ethnic division, but each has its own terms for such an option. Any demands for a significant revision of the territorial provisions of the Dayton agreement could lead to a new war.
 BILDT REJECTS IZETBEGOVIC'S CHARGES ON DAYTON AGREEMENTThe office of High Representative Carl Bildt announced in Sarajevo yesterday that the international community is not responsible for the delays and other problems in carrying out the Dayton agreement, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Bildt's statement came in response to charges by Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim chairman of the joint presidency, that Bosnia is falling apart and that the international community is to blame (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 April 1997). Also in Sarajevo, the "shadow government," which consists of 10 opposition parties drawn from both entities, warned yesterday that social and economic problems are assuming dangerous dimensions.
 SERBIAN OPPOSITION MAY TAKE TO STREETS AGAINVuk Draskovic, the presidential candidate of the Zajedno coalition, said in Belgrade on 22 April that the opposition will call for street protests if the governing Socialists to not agree by 28 June to pass a new election law and to give the opposition access to state media. Also in Belgrade, former Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic is about to announce his membership in Zajedno, according to Nasa Borba today. Meanwhile in Novi Sad, the opposition Vojvodina coalition says it cannot support Draskovic for the Serbian presidency. Coalition spokesmen called him a Serbian nationalist who is using the presidential campaign to promote plans to restore the former Karadjordjevic dynasty.
 ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH UKRAINEAdrian Severin says he hopes the Romanian- Ukrainian treaty will be signed on 3 May, the independent Mediafax news agency reported yesterday. Severin, who is currently in the U.S. to promote Romania's early entry into NATO, said he has received an invitation from his Ukrainian counterpart, Hennadii Udovenko, to visit Kyiv. It is widely believed that the conclusion of the treaty with Ukraine will boost Romania's chances of early admission into NATO.
 ROMANIAN PREMIER ON IMF LOANVictor Ciorbea says the IMF stand-by loan to Romania is a "green light" to foreign investors, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported yesterday. Ciorbea told journalists in the Romanian capital that the loan, which was granted on 22 April, proves his government has a "credible program." He noted that Romania cannot meet the costs of reforms by itself and needs the support of international financial organizations. Meanwhile, foreign investments in Romania grew by 35% in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period last year, and now total $ 2.3 billion, according to figures released by the Romanian National Agency for Development.
 TRANSDNIESTER LEADER THREATENS TO POSTPONE SIGNING OF MEMORANDUMIgor Smirnov says the signing of the memorandum between Chisinau and Tiraspol may have to be postponed, BASA-press reported. The document, which was agreed on under Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's mediation earlier this month, is due to be signed on 8 May in Moscow. Smirnov said yesterday that he may postpone signing because "Ukraine intends to introduce changes in the document." He added that Chisinau and OSCE officials are also demanding amendments to the document. Ukraine, which is a guarantor of the memorandum, says it has reservations about some of its provisions (see RFE/RL Newsline, 23 April 1997).
[C] END NOTE
 Albania Prepares For Electionsby Fabian Schmidt
With elections scheduled for late June, Albania's political parties are getting ready for the ballot. The recent crisis has rapidly changed the country's political landscape, making it difficult to predict the ballot's outcome. Most voters in previous elections supported either the Democrats or the Socialists, but the electorate may now look for other options. Leka Zogu, claimant to the throne and son of Albania's last king, is one such option.
When Sali Berisha was voted president in 1992, the political scene was divided into two main camps. The Socialist Party, reformed heirs to the communist Party of Labor, was the largest opposition party. Berisha's ruling Democratic Party brought together politicians of all stripes, with many of its members coming from the student movement that helped bring about the end of communism. But since then, the Democrats have evolved into a conservative party with a strong anti-communist platform and a clear identification with Berisha. Several former high-ranking Democrats have left the party, criticizing Berisha for his authoritarian rule.
Today, Albania's political scene is much more diversified. There are a large number of small conservative parties, but they have failed to formulate a common policy and join forces. The Republican Party, a former coalition partner of the Democrats, offers a nationalist platform calling for minimal state influence over the private sector. The tiny Christian Democratic Party has support mainly among the North's Catholic communities and in Shkoder. In the middle of the political spectrum, the Social Democrats and the Democratic Alliance have formed the Center Pole coalition.
An important factor in the upcoming elections will be the election law. The current legislation provides for direct rather than proportional representation, which puts the smaller parties at a disadvantage. The Democrats won more than 80% of parliamentary seats in last year's elections, even though they received only just over half of the votes nationwide. Much thus depends on whether a new election law goes into force before the June ballot.
Another major factor will be the impact of the recent crisis. Since many Albanians are deeply disappointed with Berisha, the Democrats can expect heavy losses and the Socialists significant gains. The Socialists have a strong traditional base, and Socialist leader Fatos Nano has remolded the party into a Western- oriented, social-democratic formation. Moreover, Socialist Bashkim Fino's appointment as interim premier has given the reform-minded Socialists positive publicity and the chance to present themselves in a better light.
But there are many disenchanted former Democratic Party supporters who, under no circumstances, would back the Socialists. They are more likely to opt for the Center Pole coalition, which puts stress on civil liberties and on a constitution providing for a strong parliament to replace the current presidential system. Some may also vote for the conservative parties.
In the south of the country, which is still largely controlled by rebel committees, the election results are even more difficult to predict. Last year's ballot gave the Democrats solid majorities there. But the Socialist Party has traditionally had its support base in the south, and Fino, who is a southerner, and other Socialists are on good terms with some rebel committees.
Given that many conservative voters throughout the country are likely to be looking for other options, Leka Zogu, who recently returned to the country, has a unique opportunity to push ahead with his idea of re-establishing the monarchy. Even though his Legality party has failed to gain entry to the parliament in the past, Zogu may now have realistic chances of winning the planned referendum on the future form of government--monarchy, presidential republic, or parliamentary republic--which may take place at the same time as the elections.
Seeking to capitalize on the current crisis, Zogu has recently been touring the country, calling for national reconciliation and peace. He is promoting himself as a padrone who safeguards local and national interests. Moreover, he can project the image not only of a future monarch but also of a savvy, experienced international businessman.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty