|Monday, 11 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 30, 97-05-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 30, 14 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 MORE CLASHES ON ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI BORDERArmenia and Azerbaijan on 12 May, the third anniversary of the cease-fire agreement in Nagorno-Karabakh, accused each other again of cease-fire violations along the common border. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said Azerbaijani positions in Tauz Raion were shelled from Armenia, according to Interfax. An Armenian Defense Ministry official told RFE/RL that Armenian troops killed 17 Azerbaijani soldiers who were attacking Armenian positions. Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev yesterday described the recent outbreak of hostilities as "accidental incidents" that should not be considered a breach of the 1994 cease-fire agreement. He said the fact that the truce has largely held without the participation of international forces testifies to the "sincere desire" of the warring sides to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute peacefully.
 RUSSIAN OIL COMPANY TO BOOST COOPERATION WITH AZERBAIJANAleksandr Putilov, the board chairman of Russia's Rosneft oil company, and Natik Aliev, the president of the Azerbaijan State Oil Company, say they will soon sign an accord on "strategic partnership," Russian agencies reported yesterday. Putilov, who was in Azerbaijan earlier this week, proposed to Azerbaijani President Aliev that a consortium of Russian and Azerbaijani oil companies be established to develop an unspecified oil shelf in the Caspian Sea. Putilov said the consortium might include LUKoil, which is the only Russian company so far involved (through its membership in Western consortia) in multibillion-dollar contracts with Azerbaijan. Putilov added that his proposals had the backing of Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Aliev said Baku is "interested" in cooperating with the Russian oil industry.
 FURTHER ARRESTS IN NORTHERN TAJIKISTANThe Leninabad branch of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan yesterday appealed to international organizations to put pressure on the government to stop the wave of arrests that have followed the 30 April assassination attempt on President Imomali Rakhmonov. According to RFE/RL correspondents in northern Tajikistan, the appeal says the Interior Ministry has taken many people into custody and sent them to Dushanbe for interrogation. It acknowledges that some of those detained may be connected with the attack, which killed 2 people and wounded more than 70. But it also says that many innocent people are being arrested, including participants in rallies in northern Tajikistan in May 1996. The appeal also asks the government not to repeat mistakes made during the Tajik civil war in 1992- 93, when many people were detained or even lost their lives on dubious charges.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIA FACES NEW POLITICAL CRISISThe future of both the broad-based coalition government and the 29 June elections is unclear today as the Socialists and other opponents of President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party (PD) meet to discuss their course of action. Some media reports from Tirana suggest that at least the Socialists have already decided to boycott the vote. Berisha, for his part, announced this morning that the election will go ahead as scheduled. The crisis follows the parliament's passage yesterday of the PD's draft election law without consulting other parties or international mediators. Details of the law have not been made public, but observers say the text is unlikely to meet opposition demands for proportional representation, free access to the media, and changes in a law barring former communists and police informers from office. The Socialists and other opposition parties had earlier threatened to boycott the elections unless those points are included in a new law.
 U.S., OSCE BLAST ALBANIAN ELECTION LAWState Department spokesman Nicholas Burns slammed the law, saying its passage violates the principle of consensus on which the current Albanian government is based. Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's chief mediator for Albania, said the Democrats "introduced into the parliament [their own] election bill without consulting the other Albanian parties and the OSCE." He added that the PD thereby violated an earlier agreement on maintaining a consensus. Meanwhile, Berisha praised the new law, saying that it meets European norms. He also chided the opposition over their threats to boycott the vote.
 CROATIA MOVES TO MEND FENCES WITH U.S., BOSNIAPresident Franjo Tudjman's office announced in Zagreb yesterday that Foreign Minister Mate Granic and Development Minister Jure Radic will lead a delegation to Washington tomorrow. The Croats will review bilateral relations with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. The move follows a meeting of Tudjman's Council for Defense and National Security to discuss President Bill Clinton's recent tough letter to his Croatian counterpart (see RFE/RL Newsline, 13 May 1997). Also yesterday, Tudjman sent his special envoy Franjo Greguric to Sarajevo to discuss implementing the Dayton agreement with presidency members Alija Izetbegovic and Kresimir Zubak.
 MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER WINS A ROUND AGAINST MILOSEVIC...The steering committee of governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) has unanimously re-elected Milo Djukanovic as party vice president, Nasa Borba reported yesterday. State President Momir Bulatovic and other backers of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic have been trying to undercut the prime minister, who favors more autonomy for Montenegro. Many observers think that Djukanovic's faction within the Montenegrin leadership may block Milosevic from assuming the federal presidency later this year. Djukanovic built up his wealth and power through sanctions-busting during the international community's blockade of federal Yugoslavia in the course of the Croatian and Bosnian wars.
 ...BUT BULATOVIC WANTS LAST WORDPresident Bulatovic told Montenegrin TV last night, however, that Milosevic will have Montenegro's backing should he seek the federal presidency. The Montenegrin president added that the DPS will in any event back the presidential candidate of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. The show of support for Djukanovic within the DPS and Bulatovic's latest statement suggest tensions will continue within the party and the parliament.
 NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIAThe trial opens in Zagreb today of Croatian employees of George Soros's Open Society Foundation on charges of tax evasion and violation of currency laws. Soros' organization in New York called yesterday for international condemnation of Croatia. In Skopje, Macedonian officials said that two Albanians were killed and two Macedonian border guards wounded when 100 Albanian refugees tried to enter Macedonia near Gostivar. And in the Serbian capital, Nasa Borba reports today that a strike of medical and social personnel seeking unpaid wages has entered its third day and is spreading throughout the country.
 KOSTOV NAMED BULGARIAN PREMIERPresident Petar Stoyanov today officially asked Ivan Kostov, the leader of the United Democratic Forces alliance, to form the next government. Kostov is scheduled later today to fly to Germany. He will be accompanied by interim Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev. Outgoing caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski, who began a visit to Germany yesterday, is discussing projects that include rebuilding Sofia airport and constructing new hotels and roads. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported that Sofiyanski will also confer with Deutsche Telekom about the privatization of Bulgaria's state- owned telecommunications company.
 ROMANIA AMENDS LAND OWNERSHIP BILLThe government yesterday approved a draft law amending the land ownership bill to provide for the restoration of ownership of nationalized agricultural land incorporated into State Agricultural Enterprises (IAS) by the Communists. The previous version of the bill, passed under former President Ion Iliescu, provided for the restitution of land incorporated into agricultural cooperatives but excluded land incorporated into IASs. Under the amended bill, ownership cannot exceed 10 hectares and restitution applies only to original owners and their first-generation inheritors. Romanian citizens residing abroad are eligible to claim back property. The parliament has yet to approve the bill.
 ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTIONThe Chamber of Deputies yesterday rejected an opposition motion criticizing the Ministry of Transportation's intention to impose a road-use tax on all vehicles. At a press conference, Adrian Nastase, the deputy chairman of the main opposition formation, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, accused the cabinet of "improvising" and "lacking a clear strategy" in implementing economic reform. Nastase also protested the intention of the ruling coalition to change the procedure for lifting parliamentary immunity, saying it showed the government wanted to "politically cleanse" the legislature.
 OBSTACLE TO ROMANIAN LIBERAL PARTIES' PLANS TO UNIFYIon Diaconescu, the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), says the planned unification of three liberal (centrist) parties cannot go ahead without the approval of the CDR. A wing of the National Liberal Party-Democratic Convention (PNL-CD) led by Nicolae Cerveni, the Liberal Party '93, and the National Liberal Party-Campeanu announced last weekend their intention to merge in June. The two last-named parties are not members of the CDR alliance, while the PNL-CD has split over the planned unification. The anti-Cerveni wing, led by PNL-CD senator Alexandru Popovici, has the unofficial backing of the CDR leadership. Diaconescu warned that no CDR member party can merge with parties outside the CDR without endangering its membership in the alliance.
 TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEADER WANTS RELATIONS WITH CHISINAU BASED ON RUSSIAN- BELARUSIAN TIESIgor Smirnov says relations between the breakaway Transdniester region and Chisinau should be based on the example of "the emerging union between Russia and Belarus." Smirnov told a news conference in Tiraspol yesterday that the Chisinau-Tiraspol memorandum signed last week in Moscow views Moldova and the Transdniester as "two independent states that must build a common entity" without either side forfeiting "any rights." He said each side must have its own "armed forces, currency, and state symbols," Infotag reported. Smirnov said the Transdniester will have its own constitution and "the right to maintain international relations in scientific, cultural, technological, and other fields." Above all, he said, the Transdniester will be able to maintain separate economic ties with other states.
 MOLDOVAN REACTIONS TO CHISINAU-TIRASPOL MEMORANDUMLeft-wing forces in Moldova have welcomed the signing of the memorandum, while right-wing groups criticize the move, Infotag and BASA-press reported yesterday. The Movement for Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, which supports President Petru Lucinschi, says the document preserves the country's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and unity. The Party of Moldovan Communists views the signing of the memorandum as a "victory of common sense over hostility, offense, and mistrust." At the other end of the political spectrum, the Moldovan National Peasant Party says the document infringes on the country's independence, constitution, and efforts toward European integration. It argues that the driving force behind the memorandum is a group promoting "the country's colonization by Russia." Other right-wing parties have similarly criticized the memorandum.
[C] END NOTE
 EASTERN EUROPE'S HEALTH IN CRISISby Kitty McKinsey
An epidemic is sweeping Eastern Europe. Citizens of the former communist countries--especially middle-aged men--are dying in staggering numbers from cardiovascular diseases, lung cancer, and cirrhosis of the liver. In most of these countries, life expectancy is dropping sharply because of the rise of diseases that are largely preventable and mostly self-induced.
A few figures illustrate the catastrophic situation in Eastern Europe. According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, in Hungary the prevalence of cancer in males is the highest ever recorded in the world. Also in Hungary, where every fifth male is considered to be an alcoholic, the rate of cirrhosis of the liver is 14 times that of Sweden, which also has a reputation for heavy drinking. In Poland, lung cancer kills half of all Polish men who die before reaching 65. In both Bulgaria and Romania, life expectancy at birth has been declining since 1989.
The trend began some years ago but has become more pronounced in most of these countries since the collapse of communism in 1989 and the transition to market economies. In fact, the marked decline in life expectancy, especially in countries like Hungary and Russia, caused the British magazine The Economist to ask in an article last year, "Is capitalism lethal?"
On the contrary, say experts on health in the region. They argue that the epidemic of chronic diseases is a legacy of the communist system, which made huge strides in controlling infectious diseases like tuberculosis but failed to address the more recent causes of killer diseases, namely, individual lifestyles. Bad habits--such as excessive smoking, drinking, and unhealthy diet--persist in most countries of the region.
Experts point out that the former communist countries face a double burden of having to fight an explosion of disease with less money. The public health establishment in former communist countries is still struggling to recover from the collapse of the command economy and the switch to the market. The public health systems and the medical establishments can no longer count on government subsidies, and some countries -- like Bulgaria -- are facing gaps in basic medical services.
The root of the problem lies in the approach of the communist system to health care. As in many other fields, the communists stressed quantity over quality. Emphasis was placed on providing ever more hospital beds and training ever more doctors. Little regard was paid to the overall state of health of the population. The surviving old system is largely ineffective in combating modern diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles. The challenge now for the former communist countries is to treat the huge numbers of sick people with funds that are no longer increasing or, in many cases, are decreasing.
Most of the countries in Eastern Europe have come to understand that they can no longer afford the large health system that they have had. However, so far, little has been done in most Eastern European countries toward effective restructuring of the system or toward making the switch from preferring quality over quantity in the provision of health care.
Observers say that Eastern European countries must take major steps toward disease prevention and health education--banning cigarette smoking, getting people to exercise more, encouraging healthier diets--with money saved by cutting hospital beds and laying off some doctors. But such a program has proven difficult to sell to the public and especially to doctors who would lose their jobs. Experts agree that the reform of the region's health-care systems is likely to a very long process.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty