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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 39, 97-05-27

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 39, 27 May 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] CIS COUNTRIES MEET TO DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN
  • [02] TAJIK AGREEMENT INITIALED...
  • [03] ...BUT OPPOSITION ACCUSES, ADVISES GOVERNMENT
  • [04] UN COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES IN CENTRAL ASIA
  • [05] GEORGIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY
  • [06] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT DENIES IMPOSING STATE OF EMERGENCY
  • [07] UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN ARMENIA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES ELECTION COMMITTEE LINEUP
  • [09] OPPOSITION STILL CONSIDERS ALBANIAN ELECTION BOYCOTT
  • [10] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATES POLICE ATTACK ON HOSPITAL
  • [11] SERBIAN PRESIDENT REBUFFS U.S. DIPLOMAT
  • [12] SERBIAN OPPOSITION COALITION BEYOND REPAIR?
  • [13] NEWS FROM AROUND SERBIA
  • [14] TENSIONS CONTINUE IN MACEDONIA
  • [15] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR CONFIDENCE VOTE
  • [16] HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CONTINUES ROMANIAN VISIT
  • [17] CE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEETINGS IN BUCHAREST
  • [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RUSSIA-BELARUS TREATY...
  • [19] ...AND ON MOLDOVA'S PRIVATIZATION DRIVE
  • [20] BULGARIAN SECURITY SERVICE CALLED TO BATTLE CLANDESTINE FINANCIAL GROUPS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] CIS COUNTRIES MEET TO DISCUSS AFGHANISTAN

    Representatives of nine CIS states meet in Moscow today to suggest options should the problems in Afghanistan spill across the border into the CIS, AFP reported. All countries represented signed the CIS collective security pact, which calls for concerted actions if one member comes under attack. The countries represented at today's meeting are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Border force commander Gen. Andrei Nikolayev said on 26 May that forces along the border with Afghanistan are sufficient to repel any attack by Taliban forces. In related news, Saudi Arabia on 26 May, became the second country to recognize the Taliban government (see "End Note" below).

    [02] TAJIK AGREEMENT INITIALED...

    Representatives of the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition, meeting in Tehran on 26 May, initialed a protocol for implementing the accord on peace and national reconciliation agreed to in August 1995, Russian press reported. The protocol is scheduled to be signed in the Iranian capital on 28 May. Afterward, the work of the reconciliation council will begin. The council is charged with amending the Tajik Constitution so that new elections can be held next year.

    [03] ...BUT OPPOSITION ACCUSES, ADVISES GOVERNMENT

    The United Tajik Opposition has released a statement on the recent arrests of demonstrators in the northern Tajik city of Khojand. The statement, sent to Interfax on 25 May, claims that the Tajik government is using the 30 April assassination attempt against President Imomali Rakhmonov as grounds for persecuting those involved in the 1996-97 demonstrations in Khojand, particularly members of the UTO and National Revival Movement. The brother of Abdumalik Abdullajonov, the National Revival Movement's leader, was arrested on 23 May. In a second UTO statement, released on 26 May and obtained by RFE/RL's Tajik service, the Tajik government is urged to remember there are still many Tajik refugees living in camps in northern Afghanistan. Provocative action on the part of Dushanbe toward the Taliban could lead to the worsening of conditions for those refugees, the statement warned.

    [04] UN COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES IN CENTRAL ASIA

    Sadato Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, is touring the CIS Central Asian states, according to ITAR-TASS. Ogata's first stop was Kazakstan, where she said the situation was not particularly alarming for the UNHCR. From Almaty, Ogata travels to Kyrgyzstan, where there are currently an estimated 40,000-45,000 refugees from Tajikistan. Kyrgyz border guards are preparing for more refugees in the wake of the Taliban's taking control of the northern regions of Afghanistan, near the Tajik border. Ogata is scheduled to visit Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan on her 10-day tour of the region.

    [05] GEORGIA CELEBRATES INDEPENDENCE ANNIVERSARY

    Some 4,000 troops from all branches of the armed forces and power ministries--escorted by 100 tanks, seven warplanes, and five military helicopters--participated in a parade in central Tbilisi on 26 May to mark the anniversary of the formation of the first independent Georgian Republic in 1918, Russian and western agencies reported. In a clear warning to the leadership of the breakaway Abkhaz republic, Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze, according to Reuters, told troops that their first obligation was to restore the country's territorial integrity, by force if necessary. President Eduard Shevardnadze affirmed that the only acceptable solution to the Abkhaz conflict is by peaceful means. One person was hospitalized after police intervened to break up an unsanctioned demonstration by several dozen supporters of deceased President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, BS-press reported.

    [06] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT DENIES IMPOSING STATE OF EMERGENCY

    Vladislav Ardzinba told journalists on 26 May that Russian media reports of a state of emergency throughout the region to prevent clan warfare were untrue, ITAR-TASS reported (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May 1997). Ardzinba said that "the situation in Abkhazia is now calm as never before." The news agency reported on 25 May that a curfew had been introduced.

    [07] UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT DELEGATION IN ARMENIA

    A Ukrainian parliament delegation headed by speaker Aleksandr Moroz arrived in Yerevan on 26 May on a two-day visit, Armenian agencies reported. Addressing the Armenian National Assembly, Moroz said that a "certain stagnation" in bilateral relations has been overcome and that Ukraine is ready to maximize the potential for cooperation between the two countries, especially in the economic sphere. In an allusion to Armenian perceptions that the emerging Baku-Tbilisi-Kyiv axis could pose a threat to Armenia, Moroz said Ukraine rejects the concept of a "friendship with somebody aimed against a third party" and affirmed that Ukraine is ready to discuss any draft agreement proposed by Armenia, according to ITAR-TASS. Ukraine's ambassador in Yerevan, Aleksandr Bozhko, told Respublika Armeniya that bilateral trade in 1996 more than doubled to reach $30 million.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES ELECTION COMMITTEE LINEUP

    Sali Berisha on 26 May announced in Tirana the composition of the 17-member Central Election Committee. The chairman will be Kristaq Kume, a member of the president's Democratic Party and the deputy chairman Fatos Klosi, a Socialist. They will share responsibilities and validate election returns jointly. The secretary will be Democrat Thimio Kondi, the Interior Ministry's state secretary for local government. Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino's government will challenge that appointment, since Fino nominated someone else. The Democratic Party and the Socialists have four seats each. Eight other parties share the remaining seats, the daily Indipendent reported on 27 May.

    [09] OPPOSITION STILL CONSIDERS ALBANIAN ELECTION BOYCOTT

    Following a meeting with Fino in Tirana on 26 May, eight parties in the broad-based coalition government announced they want the lifting of the state of emergency, strict international monitoring of the elections, and government control over the secret service. The parties said they still may boycott the ballot if Berisha does not meet their demands, Koha Jone reported. Meanwhile at a conference on Albania in Rome, Italian Prime Minister Lamberto Dini warned Albanians that future international aid to their country will depend on whether free and fair elections take place. OSCE special envoy Franz Vranitzky said that Operation Alba's mandate will have to be extended beyond the June elections (see RFE/RL Newsline, 23 May 1997).

    [10] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT INVESTIGATES POLICE ATTACK ON HOSPITAL

    The government on 26 May launched an investigation into the previous night's attack by members of Berisha's elite National Guard on the Tirana military hospital (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May 1997). Hospital doctors threatened to walk off the job unless Berisha identifies the attackers. Defense Minister Shaqir Vukaj pledged "not to tolerate such banditry anymore." A spokesman for the National Guard also condemned the attack. Elsewhere, armed insurgents blocked a convoy of special police forces from entering Gjirokaster on 26 May, before a visit by Berisha. Several days earlier, on 23 May, shots were fired at the car of Leka Zogu, the claimant to the throne, near Tropoja, Koha Jone reported on 27 May.

    [11] SERBIAN PRESIDENT REBUFFS U.S. DIPLOMAT

    Slobodan Milosevic on 26 May told Robert Gelbard, the new U.S. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, that Belgrade will not hand over indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal. Gelbard had earlier told Milosevic that federal Yugoslavia's relations with the U.S., Western Europe, and international financial institutions will depend on Belgrade's cooperation with the court and on its willingness to solve the Kosovo question. Milosevic is obliged by the Dayton agreement to work with the tribunal. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported from London on 27 May that Britain's new Labor government will release its secret service documents on Bosnian war crimes, which many observers expect to cast light on Milosevic's own involvement in the atrocitiies.

    [12] SERBIAN OPPOSITION COALITION BEYOND REPAIR?

    Serbian Renewal Movement leader Vuk Draskovic and Serbian Radical Party chief Vojislav Seselj have called for the replacement of Belgrade Mayor Zoran Djindjic, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital on 26 May. Draskovic and Djindjic are partners in the opposition Zajedno coalition but have been feuding in public for weeks. Many moderates regard Seselj as a war criminal and as Milosevic's political stalking horse. It is unlikely that such people will back Draskovic as Zajedno's presidential candidate now that he has made common cause with Seselj. Belgrade press reports say that former Yugoslav Prime Minister Milan Panic is hoping to emerge from the imbroglio as the eventual joint opposition Serbian presidential candidate.

    [13] NEWS FROM AROUND SERBIA

    Federal Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovc returned from a four- day visit to Kuwait on 26 May and announced in Belgrade that Kuwait will buy $50 million-worth of Yugoslav military equipment. Across Serbia, 106 schools remain closed because of a teachers' strike, Nasa Borba reported. In Kosovska Mitrovica, an ethnic Albanian couple was found murdered in their home. The man was a retired employee of the Interior Ministry, BETA wrote. In Novi Pazar, Serbian government Minister without Portfolio Milun Babic warned the governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) that "this is the first time in the history of the new Yugoslavia that a nationally-based party holds total power." He told the SDA that "it must show how democratic it is." The Serbian parliament is currently debating a bill that will guarantee Serbs and Montenegrins a power role in regions where they are in the minority.

    [14] TENSIONS CONTINUE IN MACEDONIA

    In the ongoing controversy in Macedonia's Gostivar over hoisting Albanian and Turkish flags at the town hall, police on 26 May moved in to break up armed clashes between Macedonians, on the one hand, and ethnic Albanians and Turks, on the other. In Debar, there was another violent incident near the Macedonian-Albanian border, BETA wrote. No details are yet available.

    [15] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT ASKS FOR CONFIDENCE VOTE

    Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea, in a letter to the chairmen of Romania's bi- cameral parliament, asked for a vote of confidence in his government, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 26 May. The parliament will vote on 3 June in a joint session of the two chambers. The government is asking the legislature to approve its entire reform program, including accords with international financial bodies. Under the procedure used for this purpose, known as "government assumption of responsibility," the opposition must move a vote of no-confidence within three days. If it fails to do so, the government's program is regarded as having been approved. The leader of the main opposition party, former president Ion Iliescu, on 26 May accused the government of failing to implement its electoral promises. His Party of Social Democracy in Romania will move a no-confidence motion this week.

    [16] HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT CONTINUES ROMANIAN VISIT

    Arpad Goencz and Romanian counterpart Emil Constantinescu on 26 May unveiled a monument commemorating Hungary's executed premier, Imre Nagy, in Snagov, near Bucharest. Goencz told a joint session of the Romanian parliament the same day that his country viewed Romania's joining an enlarged NATO as "vital" for its own interests. He said he hoped the Romanian parliament will approve draft legislation submitted by the government, which meets many of the Hungarian minority's demands, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Earlier, the two highest officials of the Council of Europe--Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys and Parliamentary Assembly President Leni Fischer, who are attending meetings of the council in Bucharest--held talks with the two presidents. They noted that Goencz's visit is an important step toward democratic stability in Europe.

    [17] CE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEETINGS IN BUCHAREST

    Walter Schwimmer, vice-chairman of the judicial and human rights committee in the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, says Romania must further improve its human rights record. Schwimmer spoke on 26 May in Bucharest, where the assembly's committees are holding their summer meetings. He said the Penal Code's provisions on punishment for homosexual acts must be changed. He also said detention conditions must be improved in Romania's prisons, the passage of legislation on the return of property confiscated by the communists should be accelerated, and the government should launch a resolute campaign against racism, xenophobia, and intolerance, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The committee's chairman, Gunnar Jansson, said Romania has made progress in the treatment of ethnic minorities, but problems remain with the Roma minority. These, he said, are "all-European rather than specifically Romanian" problems.

    [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON RUSSIA-BELARUS TREATY...

    Petru Lucinschi says it is up to Russia and Belarus to decide how far they will go toward integration. In an interview with RFE/RL on 26 May, Lucinschi reiterated that Moldova was a "neutral state" and had no intention to change its status or pursue the Russian-Belarus model. He added that Chisinau must nonetheless collaborate with other members of the CIS. The Moldovan president emphasized that the CIS was not an organization aimed at reconstructing the former Soviet Union but a "totally new organization aimed at achieving a new kind of regional community of interests." Lucinschi shrugged off a question concerning his image as "Moscow's man," saying it "would not be the first time in history that a foreigner had been called on to lead another country." He said what counted was to faithfully represent the interests of one's own country.

    [19] ...AND ON MOLDOVA'S PRIVATIZATION DRIVE

    Lucinschi is urging the parliament to pass as quickly as possible the privatization program for 1997-1998. At a government meeting, Lucinschi also said a national agency aimed at attracting foreign investors should be set up, BASA-press reported on 26 May. One of the conditions of a recent agreement with the World Bankfor a $100 million loan (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 May 1997) is the speeding up of privatization.

    [20] BULGARIAN SECURITY SERVICE CALLED TO BATTLE CLANDESTINE FINANCIAL GROUPS

    Bulgarian Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev on 26 May called upon the National Security Service to investigate clandestine financial groups that he says are trying to undermine Sofia's new economic policies. Bonev said some groups, "especially among banking circles," are trying to place obstacles in the way of the proposed currency board before it is set up in July. The board is to link the Bulgarian lev to hard currency reserves in the National Bank. Bonev said that the currency board is being attacked by groups that are trying to siphon money from institutions like the State Savings Bank (DSK). Bistra Dimitrova, who was appointed head of the DSK by the previous Socialist-dominated parliament, resigned on 23 May under pressure from Prime Minister Ivan Kostov (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 May 1997). Bonev said Dimitrova's activities at the bank are under investigation.

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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