|Tuesday, 19 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 31, 97-05-15
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 31, 15 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER COMMENTS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIESVazgen Sarkisyan has admitted that Armenia received arms from Russia but insists that "we only received our share, [which was} less than we should have gotten. We did not do anything clandestine or illegal." In an interview published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 14 May, Sarkisyan said Azerbaijan appropriated "enviable" amounts of military hardware when the Soviet Union collapsed. He added "it is not our fault" that Azerbaijan subsequently abandoned such large quantities in Nagorno- Karabakh that the Karabakh armed forces "could now continue fighting for another few years if anyone decided to resume hostilities." Sarkisyan termed the Russian press revelations of alleged clandestine armed shipments to Armenia as a "preventive ideological blow by Azerbaijan."
 ECO SUMMIT ENDS...Leaders from the 10 member nations of the Economic Cooperation Organization ended their "extraordinary" meeting in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, by signing a declaration on developing transportation and communications networks and several tentative agreements on fuel pipeline routes. Heads of state from Iran, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Kazakstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan met with the prime ministers of Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. Afghanistan's ousted President Burhanuddin Rabanni also attended. The presidents of Iran, Pakistan, and Turkmenistan signed a memorandum on constructing a pipeline from Turkmenistan to Europe via Iran and Turkey. ITAR-TASS reported that the Turkmen president, the Pakistani prime minister, and heads of the U.S. Unocal company and Saudi Arabia's Delta Corp. signed a protocol on the Turkmen-Afghan-Pakistani pipeline.
 ...FOLLOWING DISCUSSIONS ON AFHGANISTANThe Taliban sent a message to the participants in which they complained about not receiving an invitation to the summit and accused both Iran and Tajikistan of interfering in Afghanistan's internal affairs, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Ashgabat. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sought support for the Muslims of India, and Uzbek President Islam Karimov asked him to publicly state that Islamabad will no longer support the Taliban. Later at a press conference, Karimov said the problems in Afghanistan will not cease until outside interference "by a number of foreign governments" stops. When asked which governments he meant, Karimov said "the prime minister of Pakistan...should answer that question."
 STORMS WREAK HAVOC ON UZBEK COTTON CROPRecent storms in Uzbekistan have damaged more than 60% of this year's cotton crop, RFE/RL correspondents in Tashkent report. Of the 1.5 million hectares sown, 982,000 have been damaged in storms that over ten days dumped as much as double the annual average rainfall. Nearly 300,000 hectares will have to be replanted, but officials remain optimistic that Uzbekistan will reach its target of 4 million tons of cotton this year. Cotton accounted for 40% of Uzbek exports last year.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIAN POLITICIANS STEP BACK FROM BRINKThe presidential spokeswoman said in Tirana yesterday that Sali Berisha will hold off signing the decree on new elections and the dissolution of the parliament until he holds talks with the opposition. Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino is seeking to persuade anti-Berisha members of the government and the parliament not to resign until it is clear whether a deal to change Berisha's new election law is indeed in the offing (see RFE/RL Newsline, 14 May 1997). The opposition says it will boycott the 29 June vote unless Berisha agrees to key changes in the law. Meanwhile, Franz Vranitzky, the OSCE's special envoy for Albania, arrived in Tirana today.
 OTHER NEWS ON ALBANIAGreek authorities briefly closed the main border crossing to Albania at Kakavia yesterday following a shoot-out on the Albanian side that left three wounded. The Public Order Ministry in Athens demanded that foreign troops patrol the Albanian side. In Rome, the Italian government called an international conference on aiding Albania for 18 June. In Vlora, a Greek man became the first foreigner killed in the current chaos. Earlier, the city's police chief resigned, saying "the police are no longer able to ensure order." Armed gangs are out of control in Vlora and have attacked the police station. And in Tirana, the parliament passed a law allowing for commercial radio and television stations. But it is unclear whether this will lead to the loosening of state controls on the electronic media, since a government commission will decide who gets licenses.
 ALBRIGHT TO STRESS DAYTON IMPLEMENTATION TO CROATS...U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns says that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will discuss implementing the Dayton accords today with visiting Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington yesterday. Burns added that Albright will also raise with Granic reports that Croatian authorities are putting Bosnian and Kosovar Croats into the homes of Serbs in the Krajina region. He said the U.S. is concerned that Zagreb has not taken the steps necessary to facilitate the return of ethnic Serb refugees.
 ...WHILE CROATIA REACTS DEFENSIVELYIn Zagreb, the government announced that its new plan for the return of refugees will effectively annul an earlier law that stripped Serbian refugees of their property. The spokesman gave no details. Meanwhile, Croatian pro-government media and Croatian-U.S. organizations have complained recently that articles on Croatian fascism, Serbian refugees' property, and related topics in the New York Times are part of an alleged U.S. campaign to discredit President Franjo Tudjman's government.
 GALA CELEBRATION FOR TUDJMAN'S BIRTHDAYSome 750 guests took part in festivities in the Croatian National Theater in Zagreb last night to mark Tudjman's 75th birthday. Speakers especially extolled what they called Tudjman's great role in Croatian history. This latest stage in the personality cult surrounding Tudjman comes just weeks before presidential elections, which he is expected to win handily. In other news, the World Bank announced in Washington yesterday that it will give Croatia a $95 million loan to improve banking and speed up privatization.
 BOSNIAN UPDATECroatian deputies belonging to the Croatian Democratic Community walked out of the federal parliament in Sarajevo yesterday after a disagreement with Muslims over redrawing district boundaries, Oslobodjenje reports today. Also in the Bosnian capital, U.S. diplomats announced a project to restore train service from Sarajevo via Brcko to Budapest by September, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Elsewhere in that city, federal and Republika Srpska negotiators concluded the first part of an agreement on commercial exchanges. The final accord is due on 21 May. In Mostar, Western diplomats expressed concern about the public use of fascist slogans by local Croat military officials. The diplomats also objected to plans by Croat officials to dig up the common graves of Muslims and Croats who died together fighting the Serbs in 1992. And in Brcko, OSCE officials said the elections there will go ahead despite the threat of a Croatian and Muslim boycott.
 NEWS FROM FEDERAL YUGOSLAVIAStriking medical workers agreed in Belgrade yesterday to continue their protest over back pay. They accused the government of not negotiating "seriously," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. In Podgorica, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic announced that the republic's presidential elections will be held later this year at the same time as the vote in Serbia. His Democratic Socialist Party launched an initiative to nominate Bulatovic for another term. The president himself sounded very much like a politician on the stump when he went to Pljevlja and appealed to world financial organizations to restore federal Yugoslavia's full rights and memberships, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Sandzak town.
 CLUJ LOCAL COUNCIL CRITICIZES MAYORA majority on the Cluj municipal council has criticized nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar for demanding the cancellation of Hungarian President Arpad Goencz's planned visit to the city (see RFE/RL Newsline, 13 May 1997). In a statement published in the local press, the councilors say they will not grant permission for the mayor to organize demonstrations against the visit. The council also says that Funar has received false information from "dubious historians" since a book he attributes to Goencz and calls "irredentist" was only translated by the Hungarian president and was, in fact, written before World War II. Meanwhile, Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi, said Funar's protest was an "isolated case" and that the majority of Romanian political parties, as well as the population, back the "positive trends" in the two countries' relations, MTI reported.
 ROMANIA'S ROMA DEMAND RESTITUTIONThe Roma community in Romania is demanding the restitution of goods confiscated by the fascist and communist regimes. The Ion Budai Deleanu Foundation and Roma leader Iulian Radulescu, who calls himself Emperor Iulian I, say in a letter addressed to the parliament, the president's office, and the Council of Europe yesterday that the regime of Marshal Ion Antonescu and the Communists confiscated goods estimated at 12,500 billion lei (some $178 million) from the Roma community. Mediafax reported that the letter also demands a census be conducted to establish the real number of Roma living today in Romania (the 1992 census put the number at less than half a million, but estimates speak of 3 million and more).
 UPDATE ON TIRASPOL LEADER'S READING OF MEMORANDUM WITH CHISINAUIgor Smirnov says people living in the breakaway Transdniester region will not be allowed to participate in the Moldovan parliamentary elections scheduled for this year. Addressing a press conference in Tiraspol earlier this week, Smirnov said the 8 May memorandum envisaging a common state "does not mean that either [signatory] will renounce its statehood and participate in the other's elections." He said Chisinau was likely to exploit the signing of the memorandum to achieve the ratification of the 1992 Russian-Moldovan basic treaty. But he added that "one should not forget that the [Russian] State Duma has recognized the Transdniester as a zone of Russian strategic interest," Infotag reported on 14 May.
 DETAILS ON NEW BULGARIAN CABINETPremier- designate Ivan Kostov says he will present his cabinet to President Petar Stoyanov on 19 May and that many members of the caretaker cabinet will belong to the new executive. RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported that Kostov wants Industry Minister Alexander Bozhkov and Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev to keep their posts. Labor Minister Ivan Neikov is also likely to remain in office. Nadezhda Mihailova, the deputy leader of the United Democratic Forces (ODS), is likely to be the next foreign minister, while ODS members Muravei Radev and Valentin Vassilev seem set to become finance and trade ministers, respectively.
[C] END NOTE
 "A Big Victory for Reason"by Paul Goble
Like the 1975 Helsinki Final Act to which it is already being compared, the new Russia-NATO "founding act" is likely to prove to be both less and more than its signatories now claim and expect.
On the one hand, comments about the agreement by Russian and NATO leaders show that the two sides have not resolved all their differences and do not even agree on the meaning of certain key provisions in the agreement which the two sides have signed. These differences will inevitably spark new disputes and make future rounds of negotiations every bit as difficult as the one that produced this accord.
But on the other hand, this "founding act" -- just like the Helsinki accords -- is far more significant than the sum of the provisions it includes. The existence of such an agreement transforms the existing geopolitical landscape by generating expectations with which both sides will have to cope even as they seek to advance their own very different positions. This combination of expectations and institutions almost certainly will have an impact on both Russia and NATO in ways that perhaps neither now intends or expects.
On 14 May, NATO Secretary General Javier Solana and Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov announced in Moscow that they had reached agreement on a Russia- NATO accord, a step that Primakov described as "a big victory for reason" and "a big victory for Russia." Called a "founding act" rather than a binding treaty, as Moscow had earlier insisted, the accord creates a Russia- NATO joint council that is to meet twice a year in Brussels to discuss common concerns. It calls for the strengthening of the OSCE and additional revisions in the CFE treaty, both provisions Moscow had sought. And it also contains a pledge, but not a guarantee, from NATO that the Western alliance will not place nuclear weapons on the territory of any new member states.
As such, the accord is a series of important compromises, with each side being able to claim some kind of victory. But the statements of Russian President Boris Yeltsin and U.S. President Bill Clinton suggest that the two sides remain much further apart than either would like to admit.
Acknowledging that Moscow had been unable to block the eastern expansion of the Western alliance, Yeltsin argued on Wednesday that the agreement will at least "minimize the risk for Russia" of a step NATO has long been pledged to take. But the Russian president then made a claim that the accord gives Russia an effective veto over NATO's actions through its participation in the new joint council, something NATO countries -- both individually and collectively --have repeatedly pledged not to do. "Decisions there can be taken only by consensus. If Russia is against some decision, it means this decision will not go through," Yeltsin commented.
President Clinton, however, made it very clear in his remarks welcoming the accord that Russia would not have that kind of power: "Russia will work closely with NATO but not in NATO, giving Russia a voice but not a veto." Paradoxically, both leaders may prove correct. President Clinton is certainly right in asserting that Russia will not have a veto over NATO decisions. Even if Moscow has a voice in the new joint council, it will not have a voice, much less a veto, over most NATO decisions taken elsewhere.
But President Yeltsin may also prove to be correct in asserting that Russia will have some kind of veto, even if not the absolute one he claims. The creation of the new council means that all NATO members will be thinking about the implications there of any decisions they make in other venues. And such reflections will inevitably have an impact on alliance decision-making.
When the Helsinki Final Act was signed in 1975, few could see the way in which its provisions, especially those concerning human rights, would transform the world, helping to bring down communism and the Soviet system. Now, 22 years later, another accord has been signed between East and West, one that Yeltsin has already compared to Helsinki. It would be foolish to assume that this breakthrough agreement will not have consequences far beyond its specific language, even if some of its provisions are never implemented.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty