|Friday, 22 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 34, 97-05-20
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 34, 20 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 KAZAK PRESIDENT ON PRIVATIZATIONNursultan Nazarbayev, in an interview published in today's Komsomolskaya Pravda., has defended his country's privatization process. He admitted that 50 enterprises had been sold to foreign firms but noted that Kazakstan is second only to Hungary in terms of foreign investment among the former east bloc countries and republics of the Soviet Union. He pointed out that Kazakstan has invited Russian companies to take part in tenders for Kazak enterprises but "without success." He also criticized Russian industrialists and ministries that are attempting to "bring [Kazakstan] to its knees" in their dealings. In this connection, he mentioned the Karachaganskoye natural gas field, which, he said, sent its product to Orenburg to be refined but received only 13%-17% of the profits "thanks to [Gazprom Director] Rem Vyakhirev."
 YASTRZHEMBSKII COUNTERS ON RUSSIAN MILITARY BASES IN CISPresident Yeltsin's press secretary Sergei Yastrzhembskii has responded to comments by Nazarbayev about Russia's military presence in CIS countries, Interfax and Nezavisimaya Gazeta report. The Kazak president made the comments at the Russian journalists conference in Almaty at the weekend (see RFE/RL Newsline, 19 May 1997). Yastrzhembskii, who also attended the conference, said Russian troops were in Armenia and Georgia as part of bilateral agreements between those states and Russia. He also said Russian troops will be removed from the Transdniester, adding that "nobody sees the stationing of Russian troops [there] as a long-term factor." Yastrzhembskii called Tajikistan a "special case" and noted that the decision to have Russian troops there came from the top CIS leadership.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIAN POLITICAL SITUATION WORSENSSocialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino issued a statement in Tirana today saying he has failed to hammer out an agreement on the 29 June elections among the 10 parties in the broad coalition government. The statement said that although the debate continued all yesterday, it failed "not only to bring compromise or come near to compromise but, on the contrary, took Albania to the edge of a deeper crisis with unforeseeable consequences" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 19 May 1997). President Sali Berisha's spokesman said the key issue remains proportional representation. News agencies report from the Albanian capital that the OSCE's Franz Vranitzky may return soon for a sixth mediation mission, but the OSCE has not confirmed those reports.
 ALBANIAN UPDATEGerman Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told Fino in a telephone conversation on 18 May that it is in Albanians' own interest to find a way out of the impasse. Various foreign officials have repeatedly said in recent weeks that the elections must go ahead smoothly if Albania wants foreign help. Meanwhile in Vlora, gunmen killed two men yesterday. Many parents kept their children home from school, despite the presence of Italian military vehicles along the main street. The slayings brought the total killed across the country over the past few days to at least 10, police spokesmen in Tirana said.
 TUDJMAN'S PARTY TAKES CONTROL OF ZAGREBTwo councilors from the Croatian Peasants' Party joined their colleagues from the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) yesterday to elect the HDZ's Marina Matulovic-Dropulic as mayor of Zagreb and Zlatko Canjuga as council president. The vote comes in the wake of last month's elections and ends an 18-month stalemate during which President Franjo Tudjman vetoed several opposition candidates for mayor. Tudjman argued he could not turn over control of the capital to "enemies of state interests," even though the opposition had a majority on the council. The opposition suspected that the HDZ's real concern was that an opposition mayor would investigate corruption among previous HDZ administrations. Even HDZ members have accused Matulovic-Dropulic of corruption.
 CROATIA'S KUNA INTRODUCED IN EASTERN SLAVONIARichard Klein, the UN's chief administrator for eastern Slavonia, announced in Vukovar yesterday that the Croatian currency entered into circulation throughout the region as scheduled. The federal Yugoslav dinar will continue to be legal tender until 19 July, and Croatian citizens can turn in up to 2,000 dinars for kunas. In the first 18 hours, some 133,500 dinars were exchanged for Croatian money throughout the region, Vjesnik wrote today.
 RUSSIAN DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIAIgor Ivanov held talks in Belgrade yesterday with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic on the first leg of a trip that will also include Bosnia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Ivanov told his Serbian hosts that federal Yugoslavia's membership in international institutions must be restored and noted that Russia is Yugoslavia's largest trading partner, BETA wrote. He said that democratization is Yugoslavia's "internal affair" but added that Russia is nonetheless interested that it develop. Ivanov also met with Serbian opposition leaders Vuk Draskovic, Vesna Pesic, and Zoran Djindjic. Draskovic and Pesic soon leave for Moscow, from where Djindjic and former Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic recently returned.
 KARADZIC UPDATEBosnian Serb police stepped up patrols around the home of former political leader and indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic in Pale over the weekend. AFP yesterday quoted Serb sources as saying that the move came in response to increased Italian SFOR patrols in the area, but SFOR stated that its movements were routine. Meanwhile in Belgrade yesterday, the pro- Bosnian Serb news weekly Argument wrote that Karadzic wants to go to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague to clear his name. The report says that he has amassed a large collection of documents to take to the tribunal.
 ROUNDUP FROM BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINAOSCE officials in Sarajevo yesterday warned the Bosnian Serbs against manipulating voter registration for the September local elections. In Banja Luka, a Bosnian Serb opposition leader said that the governing Serbian Democratic Party is using refugee registration to win votes for itself, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from there. In Mostar, leading Croatian representatives from around the republic discussed transforming their "Croatian Republic of Herceg- Bosna" into what they called a cultural organization. Herceg-Bosna was supposed to have disappeared long ago according to the Dayton peace treaty.
 ROMANIA'S NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY ELECTS LEADERSHIPAt its congress in Bucharest at the weekend, the centrist National Liberal Party--a member of the ruling coalition--re-elected 80-year-old Mircea Ionescu-Quintus as chairman, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica, aged 44, was elected to the newly created post of first deputy chairman. He ran unopposed after his main rival for the position, Viorel Catarama, withdrew from the race. Catarama, who is accused of implication in the collapse of an investment fund and other irregular business deals, has been the target of criticism both within and outside the party. He was re-elected, however, as one of the party's four deputy chairmen.
 U.S. TO EXPEL NAZI CAMP GUARD TO ROMANIAU.S. officials said yesterday they have taken steps to expel to Romania Nikolaus Schiffer, a former German concentration camp guard. AFP reports that Schiffer, a Philadelphian retiree, was stripped of his U.S. citizenship in 1995, after the Justice Department uncovered evidence that he served as a guard at the Sachsenhausen and Hersbruck camps, in Germany, and at Majdanek, in Poland. Schiffer, whose parents were Romanian nationals, was "an active participant in the persecution occurring at these camps in that he prevented inmates from escaping," the Justice Department said.
 THREE KILLED IN ROMANIAN COAL MINE EXPLOSIONThree miners were killed and 14 injured in an explosion at the Dalja coal mine in the Jiu valley, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported yesterday. The blast was due to the ignition of leaking methane gas. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea set up a commission to investigate the accident and said the families of those killed and injured will receive compensation.
 MOLDOVAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS RUSSIAN TROOPS IN TRANSDNIESTERValeriu Pasat on 18 May visited Russian troops stationed in the Transdniester breakaway region, BASA-press reported. He discussed with local commanders the future of Russia's military assets after the promised, but long-postponed departure of Russian troops from the region. In other developments, legislators from Chisinau and Tiraspol yesterday met in the Moldovan capital to discuss aspects linked to the drafting of a document on the special status of the Transdniester. The delegations were headed by the respective parliamentary chairmen, Dumitru Motpan and Grigori Markutsa.
 PREMIER-DESIGNATE PRESENTS CABINET TO BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIvan Kostov yesterday presented his cabinet to President Petar Stoyanov. Parliament is to vote on the new government tomorrow, an RFE/RL Sofia bureau correspondent reported. The proposed new cabinet retains five ministers from the caretaker government, including Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev. Alexander Bozhkov remains as deputy premier and industry minister. Nadezhda Mihailova has been named foreign minister. Kostov also submitted to the president his program for the next four years. Among other things, it provides for the restoration of confidence in Bulgaria abroad, a decisive fight against crime and corruption, and administrative reform. Kostov said he would not call his program "shock therapy" but noted parts of it would be "difficult" to fulfill. Stoyanov said that like everyone else in Bulgaria, he was "keeping his fingers crossed" for the success of the new government.
 PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE EXERCISE ENDS IN BULGARIASome 200 senior staff officers from four NATO and four eastern European countries will end tomorrow a four-day joint military exercise. BTA reported that the exercise includes staff officers from the U.S., Greece, Italy, and Turkey was well as from Albania, Macedonia, Romania, and Bulgaria. The exercise, called Peaceful Eagle 97, is taking place under the joint command of Bulgarian Maj. General Petko Dragoev and U.S. Maj. General Ed Smith. The focus of the maneuvers were peace-keeping operations.
[C] END NOTE
 A BIZARRE MEDIA CAMPAIGN IN CROATIAby Patrick Moore
The state-controlled media launched a campaign on 9 May to depict one of Croatia's best-known politicians as a traitor. Stipe Mesic is accused of defaming both President Franjo Tudjman and Croatia in his alleged testimony to the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. The campaign, however, reveals more about the regime and its fears than about Mesic or historical truth.
According to dailies such as Vjesnik, Slobodna Dalmacija, and Vecernji list, the 62-year- old dapper politician from Slavonska Orahovica recently supplied the court with 10 pages of testimony. The text, the papers say, blames Tudjman and the top Croatian leadership for the conflict in Bosnia-Herzegovina and for the war crimes there. Mesic allegedly charged that Tudjman met many times with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to discuss the partition of Bosnia. The regime dailies stress that Mesic's testimony has shamed his country and its leadership in a "morally scandalous" fashion.
The charges left Mesic baffled. That same evening, he told RFE/RL in a telephone interview that there is some truth in the media reports but that they also omit some key facts. First, he never was a witness in The Hague but simply gave an interview to court representatives last year. Second, the bulk of his testimony did not center on Tudjman or Croatia but on Milosevic's role in the destruction of the former Yugoslavia. Mesic was the last president of the Yugoslav presidency and was thus in a unique position to observe the destruction of the multi- ethnic state in 1991.
Third, nothing he allegedly told the court was new. Mesic pointed out that Hrvoje Sarinic, a prominent pro- Tudjman politician, has admitted that the two presidents held many more private meetings after 1990 than either side has officially admitted. And Tudjman himself has often publicly expressed doubts about the viability of Bosnia as a state. He once even drew a map on a napkin for a British politician to show how Bosnia could best be partitioned.
Mesic, in any event, has no idea who is behind what he calls his "political lynching" in the state-run media. But he knows it must be people very high up in the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). He charges that those Croatian leaders who conducted Bosnian policies that he opposed appear to be trying to shift some of the blame or embarrassment onto him. He fears, moreover, that the press campaign could lead to physical violence against him.
Mesic might have added that there is yet another strange aspect to the campaign--namely that it is aimed at a man whose days of power and influence seem to be behind him. When Croatia became independent in 1991, he was already a leading member of the HDZ and was elected speaker of the parliament. In 1994, however, he joined the opposition and lost the post of speaker. Despite great efforts in the meantime, he never managed to regain his old prominence. Polls suggest that many regard him as a man of the past.
The question remains as to why the HDZ ever bothered to launch the attacks. The most obvious answer is that presidential elections will take place in June and that the charges against Mesic are simply part of an ongoing campaign to identify Tudjman and the HDZ with Croatian state interests. One analyst in Zagreb told RFE/RL that the regime may be trying to divert popular attention from Tudjman's own failings in foreign policy and his growing isolation from the West. The analyst added that the articles may also reflect the leadership's fear of the tribunal at a time when Washington and other major capitals are putting pressure on Zagreb to cooperate with the court and to support the unity of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Another question is how the text of Mesic's remarks found its way from the tribunal into the Croatian press. Mesic told RFE/RL that he suspects it was leaked by someone in The Hague to embarrass Croatia. Court officials, however, told an RFE/RL correspondent in The Hague that the tribunal rigorously protects the identity of all those who supply it with information. In any event, the Zagreb- based analyst said he thinks it is heartening to note that the court might indeed be collecting testimony on the likes of Tudjman and Milosevic.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty