|Wednesday, 13 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 27, 97-05-09
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 27, 9 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ATTEMPT TO ASSASSINATE GEORGIAN LEADERS THWARTED?Georgian security services yesterday defused two anti-personnel land mines planted on the road from Tbilisi to the village of Tskhneta, where Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania have summer homes, Russian agencies reported. Several thousand displaced persons from Abkhazia are also quartered in the village. Zhvania termed the placing of the explosives a further attempt on Shevardnadze's life, saying it was comparable to the failed bomb attack of August 1995.
 ALIEV ACCUSES TURKEY OF INSUFFICIENT SUPPORT...Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has accused Turkey of inadequate financial support for Azerbaijan, Interfax and Asbarez reported, citing the Armenian-language Turkish newspaper Marmara. Addressing the Turkish parliament on 6 May, Aliev complained that Turkey's EximBank was demanding Azerbaijan pay interest on a $70 million credit drawn by the previous Azerbaijani leadership. He added that Ankara has refused a request for $117 million in aid and that Turkish companies are investing in Central Asia but not in Azerbaijan. Aliev called on Turkey not to expand trade with Armenia. He also implicated unnamed Turkish political figures in the so- called coup attempt of 17 March 1995. Democratic Left Party leader Bulent Ecevit responded by calling for an official investigation, the Turkish Daily News reported yesterday.
 ...AND THREATENS FORCE TO REGAIN OCCUPIED TERRITORYAliev told a meeting in Izmir on 7 May that if a peaceful settlement to the Karabakh conflict is not reached, "we will definitely take back our lands under occupation, whatever this will cost," AFP reported. (The Azerbaijani- Turkish agreement on military cooperation signed on 5 May does not provide for one side to assist the other during hostilities.) Several Azerbaijani troops were wounded in border clashes with Armenian troops near the town of Kazakh in northwestern Azerbaijan on 6-7 May, according to Turan. Also on 7 May, the director of an Armenian organization for the protection of prisoners of war told journalists in Yerevan that all of the eighteen Armenian prisoners released by Azerbaijan in recent weeks were maltreated or tortured, ARMENPRESS reported.
 ABKHAZ ROUNDUPThe UN Security Council has approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal that, together with Russia, the UN should expand its role in mediating a political settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, ITAR-TASS and dpa reported yesterday. But Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba told Interfax on 7 May that further talks with the Georgian leadership are "impossible" at the present time. Speaking to journalists in Tbilisi the same day, Georgian First Deputy Security Minister Avtandil Ioseliani denied reports that Ardzinba has visited Tbilisi to discuss dividing control of Abkhazia between the central government in Tbilisi and the separatist government in Sukhumi. Also on 7 May, the Georgian army held unannounced military exercises in Senaki Raion, which borders on Abkhazia.
 ANOTHER HOSTAGE-TAKING IN TAJIKISTANThree men sent to negotiate with an armed group operating east of Dushanbe were taken hostage on 7 May, UN sources told RFE/RL’s Tajik service today. Two of the men were members of the Joint Commission monitoring the cease- fire in Tajikistan and the third was from the Tajik Security Council. They went to the village of Rokhati, nine kilometers east of Dushanbe, to discuss re-establishing militia posts there with the armed group's leader, who subsequently took them hostage. Two were released hours after their capture and a third was freed today after UN mediation. The United Tajik Opposition’s leadership ordered the release of the final captive, according to UTO deputy leader Ali Akbar Turajonzoda.
 DECISION UPHELD AGAINST KYRGYZ NEWSPAPERA Bishkek appeals court reviewing the case against Kriminal has stood by the original verdict to suspend the newspaper’s publication, RFE/RL correspondents in Kyrgyzstan reported. The paper was accused of insulting government officials in its only two issues, which appeared at the beginning of this year. The Kyrgyz Justice Ministry filed suit against the newspaper, whose editor says he intends to appeal to the Supreme Court. The trial took place only days after Amnesty International released a report on Kyrgyzstan criticizing the use of Kyrgyz courts to silence political opposition. U.S.-based Freedom House on 3 May changed Kyrgyzstan’s media status from “partially free” to “not free.”
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN MEMORANDUM IN MOSCOWMoldovan President Petru Lucinschi and Igor Smirnov, the leader of the breakaway region of Transdniester, met yesterday in Moscow to sign the memorandum on ways to settle the conflict in Moldova. Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and Niels Helveg Petersen, the acting chief of the OSCE mission to Moldova, also signed the memorandum as guarantors. The document states that the two sides will develop ties within a single state existing inside Moldova's January 1990 borders. A document providing for a special status of the Transdniester region has still to be negotiated.
 REACTIONS TO SIGNING OF MEMORANDUMLucinschi told a press conference after the signing ceremony that the two sides have agreed that Ukrainian peace-keeping forces will join Russian troops in Transdniester, BASA- Press reported. He added that Moldovan and Transdniestrian forces would be left facing each other if the Russians withdrew now. Yeltsin was quoted by Interfax as saying Russia is ready to withdraw its troops but the go-ahead must come from Moldovan and Transdniester leaders. Observers note this means the troops will, in fact, not be withdrawn because Tiraspol bitterly opposes the step. Yeltsin added that although the memorandum was an important "step forward", its conclusion had not solved all problems. Smirnov hailed the fact that "two large countries--Russia and Ukraine-- have become our guarantors."
 INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE SEEKS TO BREAK ALBANIAN ELECTION DEADL0CKAlbanian Prime Minister Bashkim Fino is off to Rome this weekend to meet with Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini and other top officials. The Albanian delegation will then go on to Washington. Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's top envoy to Albania, held talks in Tirana yesterday with President Sali Berisha. The diplomatic activity is aimed at encouraging Berisha's Democratic Party and the Socialist-led opposition coalition to agree on rules for the early elections, tentatively slated for 29 June (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). Italian Defense Minister Beniamino Andreatta said in Rome on 7 May that Italian troops will leave Albania if the June vote does not take place.
 ALBANIAN PREMIER WANTS BIGGER ROLE FOR FOREIGN TROOPSFino said in Tirana today, however, that he regrets "statements calling for the departure of the foreign troops. Their presence is a necessity for Albania." Fino stressed that Operation Alba has had a major psychological effect in restoring calm and order after weeks of anarchy. He added that he still wants the foreigners to extend their mandate to include guarding arms dumps and frontier crossings. Fino also argued that the troops can play a key role in the elections because "the whole population is armed, and [the authorities] are concerned about security at polling stations."
 RUGOVA PUTS OFF KOSOVO ELECTIONSKosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova announced in Pristina yesterday that elections for the parliament will take place but only by late December. He also extended by six months the current legislature's mandate, which runs out later this month. His move comes in the wake of pressure from Washington not to hold elections. U.S. and other foreign diplomats have told the Kosovars to forget about independence and to take part in the democratization of Serbian politics instead (see RFE/RL Newsline, 7 May 1997). Various Kosovar politicians and parties are increasingly objecting to the domination of the shadow-state by Rugova and his Democratic League of Kosovo.
 BOSNIAN UPDATEMuslim political leaders threatened in Sarajevo yesterday to boycott the September local elections in the disputed town of Brcko. Earlier that day the OSCE had ruled that the Brcko vote will include only central, Serb-held districts and not the outlying areas controlled by the Croatian-Muslim federation, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. Also in Sarajevo, the joint cabinet representing all three nationalities adopted a state budget after months of haggling. The vote removes a major obstacle to holding the frequently- postponed international aid donors' conference. In Kljuc, Bosnian authorities exhumed the bodies of 38 Muslims burned alive in a Serbian offensive in 1992.
 ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIAViktor Ivancic, the editor of the satirical weekly Feral Tribune, went on trial for libel in Split yesterday, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Dalmatian city. In Trepca earlier this week, Serbian mining company officials signed a five-year agreement worth $517 million with a Greek company. In Skopje, the Macedonian Constitutional Court gave the green light for the university's Pedagogical Faculty to run teachers' training courses in Albanian, Macedonian media reported yesterday. And in Bitola, the Macedonian authorities began examining the books of the failed TAT pyramid scheme.
 GREECE TO TAKE PART IN EXERCISES IN MACEDONIAGreek officials announced in Athens yesterday that Greece will join Albania, Bulgaria, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey, and Romania in exercises in Macedonia from 11 to 17 May. The project is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace and will simulate providing aid following an earthquake in southern Macedonia. The Greeks agreed to join only after the other participants said they will refer to the host country only as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece objects to the name Macedonia, which, Athens argues, implies territorial claims on the northern Greek region of the same name. The government in Skopje denies the Greek charges.
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES "NATIONAL SALVATION" DECLARATIONBulgaria's parliament yesterday adopted a "National Salvation" declaration on domestic and foreign policy priorities, RFE/RL's Sofia Bureau reported. Each of the document's seven sections was voted on separately. The document calls for the establishment of a currency board that ties local money supply to foreign currency reserves, the opening of communist secret police files on officials and judges, and the full privatization of agricultural land. The section on joining the EU received unanimous endorsement. The opposition Socialist Party voted for most parts of the declaration but did not support the section calling for NATO membership. President Petar Stoyanov will meet today with leaders of the United Democratic Forces to officially begin the process of forming the government.
 RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO BULGARIA PROTESTS MONUMENT DESECRATIONLeonid Kerestedzhiyants has warned the mayor of Plodviv that there may be "negative consequences" if the city authorities fail to remove Nazi swastika signs from a monument to Russian soldiers. The warning was issued on the eve of Victory Day celebrations on 8 May, ITAR-TASS reported. The ambassador said the Plodviv local authorities in the past had triggered angry responses from Russia when they announced plans to pull down the monument.
 BELGIAN PREMIER IN ROMANIAJean-Luc Dehaene met with Premier Victor Ciorbea and members of his cabinet in Bucharest yesterday, RFE/RL's bureau in the Romanian capital reported. Dehaene told his host that Belgium supports Romania's bid to join an enlarged NATO. He said Romania's integration in the EU would primarily depend on the country's ability to fulfill the "technical, rather than political, criteria" imposed on all states wanting to join the union. He urged Romania to concentrate on implementing economic reform. Dehaene is also scheduled to meet with Senate chairman Petre Roman and President Emil Constantinescu.
 ROMANIA ACKNOWLEDGES HOLOCAUST CRIMESFor the first time ever, a Romanian official has acknowledged the crimes committed by his countrymen against Jews in the 1940s. The daily USA Today reported on 8 May that President Constantinescu sent a message to participants in a ceremony marking Holocaust Day at Bucharest's main synagogue saying that some Romanians assisted Jews but others committed crimes against them. He said the "sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of Jews...weighs heavily on all our hearts. The killing of innocent people can neither be forgiven, nor corrected, nor forgotten."
 ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY IN TURMOILAt a meeting of the Sibiu branch of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), delegates urged Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu to agree to replace Ion Iliescu as party chairman. Mediafax reported that Iliescu has been accused of failing to remove party members "with a dubious public image." In an interview with Radio Bucharest Melescanu said he was "honored" by the trust placed in him. Iliescu said the proposal was "natural" in a democratic party and demonstrated the "sympathy" within the party toward Melescanu. Meanwhile, Adrian Nastase, another PDSR deputy chairman, announced yesterday he will collaborate with the Prosecutor- General's office following press reports that the office is considering opening an investigation against him for suspected fraud.
[C] END NOTE
 THE PROBLEMATIC UKRAINIAN-ROMANIAN BASIC TREATYby Michael Shafir
Predictably, the Ukrainian-Romanian basic treaty and its annexes have been almost unanimously welcomed in Kyiv but have met with opposition from many quarters in Bucharest. The reason for this is simple. Initialed on 3 May in Kyiv by Foreign Ministers Hennadii Udovenko and Adrian Severin, the treaty puts an end to Romanian hopes that a condemnation of the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov pact could be squeezed out of Kyiv. The secret appendix to that document paved the way for the 1940 annexation by the Soviet Union of territories that today are part of either Ukraine or the independent Moldovan Republic.
Since 1993, when unofficial talks began on the basic treaty, Kyiv had made clear it would never accept any clause or formulation that questioned its current borders. In April of that year, former Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk told Adrian Nastase, then chairman of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies, that Ukraine was ready to discuss "anything but its human rights policies or questions related to its current borders." Kravchuk's successor, Leonid Kuchma, adhered to the same line on the border issue but was somewhat more amenable on "human rights."
As a result, Ukraine agreed to include in the treaty a large section that includes many references to the rights of the national minorities in either country. References are made to international legislation on minority rights and even to Recommendation 1201 of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. In view of these developments, Severin's position that the treaty is "a compromise" is largely accurate.
Ironically, in reaching agreement with Kyiv over the basic treaty, Romania found itself in the same position as Hungary when Budapest concluded a bilateral treaty with Romania in September 1996. The Hungarian daily Nepszabadsag pointed out on 7 May that Budapest last year and Bucharest last week agreed to the recognition of "border inviolability" as enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act because they both want to be accepted into an enlarged NATO. The U.S. had made clear to Budapest that its chances of NATO admission would be virtually nil if Hungary's inclusion meant that border conflicts were imported into the alliance. Consequently, Budapest agreed to recognize the Hungarian-Romanian border as inviolable in exchange for mention of Recommendation 1201 in the bilateral treaty. Now, with an eye directed toward the NATO Madrid summit this summer, Bucharest has agreed to recognize the inviolability of its border with Ukraine in exchange for major concessions on minority rights.
As was to be expected, the two extreme nationalist parties in Romania's parliament denounced the renunciation of what Romanians view as their historical territories of northern Bukovina and southern Bessarabia. The Greater Romania Party called the treaty an "act of treason," while the Party of Romanian National Unity demanded a referendum on the document. But, as Severin has pointed out, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania's (PDSR) response was "less than genuine." The PDSR, the former ruling party and now the main opposition formation, wants the Soviet-Nazi pact to be denounced in the treaty's annexes. But in 1990, Ion Iliescu, the former president and the current PDSR leader, had been ready to sign a treaty with the Soviet Union that made no mention of the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. Gorbachev's Moscow was doubtless more legitimate an "inheritor" of the Soviet legacy than is Kuchma's Kyiv.
By no means are all problems between the two countries resolved in the treaty. But in the annexes to the treaty (scheduled to be exchanged in the form of letters when the accord is signed), the two sides did agree to continue negotiations on demarcating the continental shelf around Serpents Island in the Black Sea, which was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946 and is now a military fortress. The shelf surrounding the island is believed to be rich in oil reserves. While not agreeing to return the island, Ukraine pledged to deploy no "offensive weapons" on it and agreed to consider it "uninhabited," which, under international maritime legislation, means that Kyiv cannot claim an exclusive economic zone around it. The two sides agreed to take the issue to the Hague International Court of Justice if they fail to reach a compromise within two years.
Finally, although Ukraine did not give into Romania's demands that the joint border on the Chilia branch of the Danube River delta be moved to the middle of the river--in accordance with international practice--Kyiv did agreed to allow free navigation of Romanian vessels on that branch of the river.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty