|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 40, 97-05-28
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 40, 28 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 FINAL TAJIK PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNEDRepresentatives of the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition have signed a protocol ending hostilities after five years, Interfax reported. The agreement gives the UTO 30% of the posts in the executive and 25% of the posts in the Central Election Commission. It calls for Tajikistan to disarm and disband UTO military units and to reform the country's power structures. It also allows the voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons, provides amnesty for those who took part in the civil conflict, and removes bans on opposition mass media and political parties that belong to the UTO. The agreement was also signed by "guarantor" countries and organizations: Iran, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakstan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, the OSCE, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
 PREPARATIONS BUT NO REFUGEES YET IN KYRGYZSTANUN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata spoke with the governor of the city of Osh, in southern Kyrgyzstan, on 27 May about preparations for a possible influx of refugees from Afghanistan, RFE/RL correspondents and Interfax reported. Temporary accommodation is under construction to house up to 20,000 refugees in areas near the Kyrgyz border with Tajikistan. But at the UNHCR headquarters in Tajikistan, workers said they have no reports of refugees gathering near the Tajik border in northern Afghanistan. A scheduled repatriation of refugees is to take place on 28 May, and workers predict more refugees will cross into Tajikistan than previously expected. The UN estimates there are 20,000 Tajik refugees in Afghanistan.
 UZBEK PRESIDENT SEEKS U.S. HELP IN SOLVING AFGHAN, TAJIK PROBLEMSUzbek President Islam Karimov met with visiting U.S. congressmen on 26 May and requested the U.S. take an "active role" in settling the problems in both Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Interfax reported. Karimov told the congressmen there was still much room for "closer cooperation" between his country and the U.S.
 BOOKS IN LATIN ALPHABET FOR TURKMEN SCHOOLSThe first shipment of schoolbooks printed in the Latin rather than Cyrillic alphabet will soon arrive in Turkmenistan, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 May. The 3 million books are being printed in Turkey and are to be delivered in time for the beginning of the next school year.
 MORE KARABAKH DIPLOMACYU.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, together with ranking Russian and French diplomats, will visit Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno- Karabakh from 30 May to 1 June in an attempt to restart the deadlocked negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to a correspondent for RFE/RL. Writing in Nezavisimaya gazeta on 24 May, Armenian presidential adviser Jirair Liparitian argued that the principle of territorial integrity applies only to international conflicts between two recognized states and that the international community should therefor not expect Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh to respect it. Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov told the newspaper on 28 May that Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan's proposal that Armenia should consider incorporating Karabakh as an autonomous territorial unit proved "Armenia is waging a war against Azerbaijan". Hasanov warned that his country will use any means to defend its territorial integrity.
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT REJECTS ABKHAZ PEACE PROPOSALAddressing the Georgian parliament on 27 May, Eduard Shevardnadze rejected the recent proposal by Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba that Georgia should conclude a peace agreement with his breakaway region modeled on the Russian-Chechen treaty signed on 12 May, ITAR-TASS and BS-Press reported. Shevardnadze argued that Chechnya wanted to break away from Russia whereas Abkhazia wants to join the Russian Federation. This, however, is incorrect: Ardzinba wants either international recognition for Abkhazia as an independent state or equal status with Georgia within a confederation. Shevardnadze called for an international conference on resolving the conflict under UN auspices with the participation of the OSCE, the U.S., France, Germany, the U.K., and North Caucasus leaders.
 GEORGIA, UKRAINE SIGN AGREEMENTS ON MILITARY COOPERATIONGeorgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze and his Ukrainian counterpart, Aleksandr Kuzmuk, signed six agreements in Tbilisi on 27 May ITAR-TASS and BS-Press reported. The accords cover cooperation between the two countries' air forces and air defense systems and the training of Georgian military personnel in Ukraine. Kuzmuk reiterated that Ukraine supports Georgia's claim to part of the Black Sea Fleet.
 GEORGIA TO HOST COSSACK GATHERINGThe Council of Atamans of Cossack Forces of Russia and Abroad will convene in Tbilisi in July to coordinate its position on the settlement of conflicts in the former USSR, according to Nezavisimaya gazeta on 28 May. Ranking Russian Cossack leaders discussed preparations for the congress in Tbilisi with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the leader of the Georgian Cossack Force, Vasilii Kadenets. The convention is clearly part of Shevardnadze's "Peaceful Caucasus" initiative and aims to promote cooperation between Georgia and Russia's North Caucasus republics.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIAN PARTIES FAIL TO AGREE THAT ELECTIONS ARE BINDINGRepresentatives of 10 political parties met in Tirana on 27 May but failed to agree that the 29 June election results will be binding for all sides. Six parties, including the Socialists, repeated their demands that President Sali Berisha lift the state of emergency. Socialist delegate Ethem Ruka argued that "under the state of emergency, [Democratic Party] Interior Minister [Belul Cela]...could have more power than the [coalition] government," Albanian media reported on 28 May. The state of emergency could also be used to ban rallies of political parties, since it allows for the dissolving of any public meeting of more than three people. In Tirana, however, the Socialist Party held its first election rally on 27 May, attended by at least 10,000 people.
 OSCE BEGINS DEPLOYING ADVISERS ACROSS ALBANIAThe OSCE sent out 14 election adviser teams to Elbasan, Durres, Kavaja, and Kruja on 27 May. Soldiers from Operation Alba accompanied them on their first day in the field. A total of more than 50 advisers will take up positions throughout Albania soon. In late June, an additional 400 monitors will join them for the final days of the campaign and for voting. Meanwhile, in Vlora there is still no civil administration in place after police abandoned the city last week, Dita Informacion reports on 28 May.
 OTHER NEWS FROM ALBANIADemocratic Party members in Berat demanded that former party chairman Eduard Selami run in their district, adding they will not vote for a candidate proposed by the party's national leadership in Tirana. The national leaders sacked Selami in early 1996 after he disagreed with Berisha over the question of a new constitution. Meanwhile, only 60% of the personnel of Tirana's military hospital had returned to work by 27 May, despite pledges from the Defense Ministry to fully investigate the recent attack on the hospital by elite troops, Dita Informacion reported on 28 May. And on Tirana's money markets, the lek was devalued by 8% on 27 May.
 REPORT SAYS UN TO DELAY RETURN OF EASTERN SLAVONIA TO CROATIA...The International Herald Tribune on 28 May quotes an unnamed Western ambassador in Zagreb as saying that UN troops will stay on in Croatia's last Serb-held enclave until 15 January, which is six months longer than planned. The report says the Security Council will approve the measure soon. The article adds that "Washington and its European allies [are] angered by the stubborn refusal of the Croatian government to permit 350, 000 exiled ethnic Serbs to return to their homes" and have decided to postpone the return of eastern Slavonia as punishment. The reported decision follows repeated warnings from Washington and other capitals that Croatia must let Serbs who want to go home do so. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said recently that it would be "unreasonable" to expect his country to take so many people back. He has likened the situation of Croatia's Serbs now to that of Czechoslovakia's Germans after World War II. The return of eastern Slavonia and the town of Vukovar is a highly emotional issue in Croatia, but it is unclear whether a decision by foreigners to postpone the return would hurt Tudjman politically or play into his hands.
 ...BUT SLAVONIA'S INTEGRATION INTO CROATIA GOES AHEADOn 27 May, the first train in almost six years ran from Croatia's Vinkovci to Serb-held Vukovar, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Vukovar. The local Serbian political leader, Vojislav Stanimirovic, returned from talks with Tudjman in Zagreb and said that the Croatian president will take his re-election campaign to Vukovar in early June. Stanimirovic added that he invited Tudjman to Beli Manastir as well and that he hopes that the president's visit will be constructive and not humiliate the Serbs by displays of Croatian nationalism. On 26 May, eastern Slavonian Serbian and Croatian political leaders met in Osijek to lay the ground rules for new local government bodies, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Osijek.
 MORE INFLUENCE FOR HARD-LINERS IN MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENTPrime Minister Branko Crvenkovski announced key changes in his cabinet in Skopje on 27 May. Among those fired were Construction Minister Jorgo Sundovski, whom public prosecutors have linked to the collapsed TAT pyramid scheme. Also out are two prominent reformists, namely Deputy Prime Minister Jane Miljovski and Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frckoski. The foreign affairs portfolio goes to former Defense Minister Blagoj Handziski. Foreign diplomats told news agencies that the reshuffle favors neo-communists at the expense of reformists.
 ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER ON ECONOMYVictor Ciorbea told the press on 27 May that the rate of inflation has considerably slowed down but will still reach 110% by the end of 1997. He said the rate for the first four months was 90%. The present situation is "difficult," Ciorbea said, but if reform is not pursued, it will be "unbearable." He also forecast that unemployment, estimated at 10.3% for 1997, will drop to 8.7% by 2,000 and that the budget deficit will decrease from its present 4.5% of GDP to 2.5% in 1998-2000, Radio Bucharest reported. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Deputies on 27 May rejected an opposition motion (the third in this legislature) criticizing reductions of personnel in the education, health, justice and agriculture ministries.
 HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT ENDS ROMANIAN VISITArpad Goencz on 26-27 May visited the Transylvanian towns of Cluj and Targu Mures, both of which have large Magyar populations. He was given a warm welcome, and the visit ended without incidents. The nationalist mayor of Cluj, who earlier had called for demonstrations against Goencz, urged Romanians in the city to refrain from demonstrating and not to fall victim to the alleged "provocations" of "hundreds of Hungarian agents disguised as tourists," an RFE/RL Cluj correspondent reported. Both Goencz and President Emil Constantinescu vowed to prevent extreme nationalists from undermining the historical reconciliation between their countries, Reuters reported.
 ROMANIA TO HAVE MEMORIAL FOR VICTIMS OF COMMUNISMThe Senate on 27 May passed a law providing for a memorial to the victims of communism to be erected in the former Sighet prison in north-western Romania, where many of the country's politicians and other elites were imprisoned and perished in the 1950s. The house rejected an amendment moved by two members of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, who wanted the memorial to be dedicated also to the victims of the 1938-1944 dictatorships of King Carol II and Marshal Ion Antonescu as well as to those who perished at the hands of the Fascist Iron Guard movement, Mediafax reported on 27 May. The Chamber of Deputies approved the initiative in April.
 MOLDOVAN PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY WANTS EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONSA statement released by the movement For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (MPMPD), the main political group backing President Petru Lucinschi, calls for early parliamentary elections, BASA-press reported on 27 May. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for spring 1998, but the MPMPD, which is not represented in the legislature, said the current composition of the parliament hinders the necessary rapid reforms and "cardinal problems remain unsolved." It added that "certain irresponsible forces" are refusing to tackle priority issues, creating a "danger of destablizing the political situation." The main faction represented in the parliament, the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova, rejected the idea, as did parties belonging to the right wing of the political spectrum. The latter are involved in an attempt to create a unified right-wing block but have so far failed in this quest, the agency said.
 BULGARIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICE INVESTIGATES STATE SAVINGS BANKVladimir Manolov, acting chief of Bulgaria's National Security Service, says the service is investigating the State Savings Bank (DKS), which is suspected of mishandling funds and granting illegal loans to state and commercial banks, an RFE/RL Sofia correspondent reported on 27 May. Meanwhile, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported the same day that contrary to previous reports, Bistra Dimitrova, the head of the DKS, is now refusing to resign. She recently promised to quit following a demand by Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. She was appointed by the previous Socialist-dominated parliament (see RFE/RL Newsline, 22 and 27 May 1997).
 MEETING OF BULGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERSBulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev says his country and Romania are not rivals in the quest to join NATO. He said "sooner or later" the two countries will occupy "their rightful place" in the alliance. Ananiev spoke on 27 May in the northern Bulgarian town of Russe after meeting with his Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Babiuc said the good neighborly relations between the two states contribute to the region's political stability. The two ministers agreed to intensify bilateral military cooperation, including an exchange of information on the reform of the military under way in both countries.
[C] END NOTE
 Yeltsin Draws a Line in Europeby Paul Goble
Even as NATO moves to overcome divisions in Europe, Boris Yeltsin continues to assert there is one line in Europe that the Western alliance must not cross -- the borders of the former Soviet Union.
Prior to signing the NATO-Russian Founding Act, the Russian president warned that a NATO decision to offer membership in the alliance to any former Soviet republic would "fully undermine" Moscow's relationship with NATO. His press secretary added that such a step would force Russia, against its will, to turn to the East for allies.
Many in the West are likely to view Yeltsin's comment as strictly for Russian domestic consumption. Many others will probably dismiss it as an outburst of hard-line rhetoric just prior to what they regard as a major Russian concession -- Moscow's acceptance of NATO's eastward expansion, an alliance of which it is not a member.
But there are three important reasons why Yeltsin's remarks should not be ignored. First, they reflect the unfortunate tendency of the Russian government to ignore the provisions of agreements that Moscow has signed or to unilaterally revise them for its own benefit. The Russia-NATO accord signed on 27 May explicitly states that neither NATO nor Russia has "a veto over the actions of the other." The document also specifies that it does not give either side the right to take actions to the detriment of the security of third countries.
Yeltsin has agreed to all of this on paper, but he is continuing to insist that those words do not mean what they say and that, in effect, Russia has a veto on both the actions of NATO and the efforts of other countries to advance their own security. The recent history of the modification of the Conventional Forces in Europe accord provides a model for how the Russian government may behave on this point as well. Moscow used the fact that Russia would be in violation of the CFE accord to pressure the West to agree to changes. And the West agreed to many of Moscow's demands largely in order to preserve the accord.
Second, Yeltsin's words are cleverly designed to prompt the West to accept such a new dividing line in Europe, at a time when Western leaders are proclaiming that they have achieved a Europe without such divisions. Many Western leaders are already congratulating themselves for securing Russia's agreement to the inclusion of three or four East European countries. And consequently, at least some of them appear to be willing to grant Russia something in return.
Yeltsin is clearly hoping that the West will -- at least implicitly --give him the recognition of Russia's sphere of influence that he seeks. But if that happens, the former Soviet republics and the Baltic States -- which were never legitimately part of Moscow's empire -- are certain to conclude that the West has indeed retreated from its own commitments and betrayed its own principles. Such conclusions -- to the extent they are justified -- will not be lost either on the many other countries around the world that depend on the West for protection against stronger neighbors or on those stronger countries that may seek to take advantage of the weakness of others.
Third, Yeltsin's words suggest a Russian agenda with respect to its neighbors that not only threatens their security but that of Europe and the West as a whole. To the extent that the West appears to accept that Russia has a sphere of influence over the territory of the former Soviet Union and the Baltic States, those countries will find themselves increasingly isolated and likely subject to ever greater pressures of various kinds from Moscow as Russia recovers from its present weakness.
Those pressures, in turn, will have a significant impact not only on the domestic development of these states but also on their relations with one other and the world as a whole. Internally, such increased pressure is likely to divide many of these countries politically, thus weakening and isolating them still further. Externally, such responses may lead to precisely the kind of conflicts that everyone wishes to avoid and no one wants to be drawn into.
Western countries are right to seek a Europe without new lines, but it would be a tragedy for everyone if they allowed Yeltsin to resurrect an old one -- the border of a country that no longer exists.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty