|Thursday, 14 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 42, 97-05-30
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 42, 30 May 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GEORGIA LOSES OUT OVER BLACK SEA FLEET DIVISIONThe 28 May agreement on the division of the Black Sea Fleet between Russia and Ukraine did not meet Tbilisi's demand for 32 naval vessels formerly stationed at Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti. Ukraine had supported that demand. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told a news conference in the capital on 28 May that Georgia has contributed to the creation and upkeep of the fleet and therefore has the same rights to a share in it as Russia and Ukraine, according to RIA Novosti. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov said on 29 May that Georgia has no right to claim part of the fleet, Interfax reported. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin said the original agreement on dividing the fleet was taken at a meeting of CIS heads of state in January 1992. Georgia was not a member of the CIS at that time.
 RUSSIA REJECTS GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS STATEMENT ON BILATERAL RELATIONSNesterushkin also criticized Shevardnadze's 27 May statement linking the future development of Georgian-Russian relations to Moscow's assistance in resolving the Abkhaz conflict and to Tbilisi's receiving a share in the Black Sea fleet, RIA Novosti reported. Georgia's ratification of a 1994 treaty on friendship and cooperation with Russia and an agreement allowing Russia to maintain military bases in Georgia is contingent on Russia's assisting in the restoration of Georgia's territorial integrity. Nesterushkin argued that Russia "bears no responsibility" for the conflict between Abkhazia and the central government in Tbilisi. Meanwhile, on 29 May, security forces defused a time bomb hidden outside the Sukhumi headquarters of the CIS peacekeeping force, Interfax reported. One man was killed when a bomb exploded elsewhere in Sukhumi later the same day.
 LARGE DEMONSTRATION IN ALMATYRFE/RL correspondents in the Kazak capital report that a large demonstration was held on 30 May in defiance of government orders against such a meeting. Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the parliament building, and some carried placards reading "Oust the Parliament and President" and "False Leader of Kazak Nation [President] Nursultan Nazarbayev to be blamed by Generations to Come." They demanded payment of back wages and pensions and the rescinding of recent price hikes for heat, electricity, water, and rent. The demonstrators attempted to rally in front of the mayor's office, but security forces prevented them from doing so. It was the largest demonstration in Kazakstan since that country gained its independence in 1991.
 KAZAK PRIME MINISTER SAYS RENT TOO HIGHAkezhan Kazhegeldin says he is refusing to pay the rent for his flat in Almaty because the rent is too high, Izvestiya and ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. Kazhegeldin questioned why rents in the Kazak capital were so outrageous, but deputies in the lower house of the parliament laid the blame at Kazhegeldin's door, saying the prime minister had not moved to break up the housing monopoly in Almaty. Rents in Almaty have increased as much as ten times in recent months and can be the equivalent of $50 a month in a country where the average monthly salary is about $30-40. Deputies noted electricity and heating costs are additional.
 KAZAK POPULATION DECREASINGThe Kazak population has shrunk from some 17 million to below 16 million, according to ITAR-TASS. The National Statistics Agency released the figures, saying they can be attributed to the migration abroad of ethnic Germans as well as Slavs. The ethnic German population has plummeted from 1 million in 1991 to 300,000. The number of ethnic Kazaks has increased by 1.5 million in the last seven years. They now account for 51% of the country's population, while Russians make up 32%.
 MORE EMIGRES BECAUSE OF LESS RUSSIAN PROGRAMMING IN KYRGYZSTAN?Fewer Russian radio and TV broadcasts are cited by an ethnic Russian association in Kyrgyzstan as the reason for ethnic Russians there to emigrate, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. The Soglasiye association has sent a letter to President Askar Akayev requesting he do everything possible to resolve this problem before the June visit of Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin. Russia's Radio Mayak broadcasts have been cut, as have Russian Public TV programs. And the Russian TV is in danger of going off the air in Kyrgyzstan because of its debts to Kyrgyz relay stations.
 TURKMENISTAN'S CASPIAN POLICY UNCHANGEDTurkmenistan's leadership continues to maintain that pending a new decision between the littoral states on dividing the Caspian Sea into sectors, the existing delimitation should remain in force, Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov told Nezavisimaya gazeta on 30 May. He argued that according to this delimitation, the entire Azeri and part of the Chirag fields, which are to be exploited by an international consortium that includes Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR, lie in Turkmenistan's sector. In January, a leading consortium official told Segodnya that Turkmenistan was not claiming the Azeri and Chirag fields. A new Turkmen state commission has been created to organize a tender for oil exploration rights in Turkmenistan's sector of the Caspian with assistance from the EU TACIS program.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIAN PARTY THREATENS TO LEAVE GOVERNMENTDemocratic Alliance Party leader Neritan Ceka on 29 May threatened to withdraw from the coalition government unless the state of emergency is lifted by the next day. Talking to the Albanian Daily News in Tirana, Ceka also accused Prime Minister Bashkim Fino of "playing [President Sali] Berisha's game" by not insisting strongly enough that the president meet the opposition's list of demands aimed at ensuring a fair election. Ceka added that the government has failed to reorganize the police and the secret service.
 ALBANIAN ELECTION UPDATEIn Tirana, the Socialist and Democratic Parties announced their candidates for the largest municipalities on 29 May. Socialist Party leader Fatos Nano will run in Vlora, while his Democratic Party counterpart, Tritan Shehu, will run in Kavaja, Dita Informacion reported . Meanwhile, the newly-formed United Albanian Right--a coalition made up of the Republicans, the National Front, the Party of the Democratic Right, and other small rightist parties-- has named World War II anti-communist National Front leader Abaz Ermenji as its leader. The formation of the coalition has frustrated Berisha's attempt to unite all conservative parties behind the Democrats.
 ALBANIAN LEK STABILIZESThe lek recovered some of its value on 29 May after the central bank intervened against the previous day's rapid fall by selling some of its hard currency reserves. The lek sold on Tirana money markets for as high as 195 to the dollar on 28 May but firmed up at 170 after the bank's move, Dita Informacion reported. Meanwhile, the statistical office at the Agriculture Ministry said that food prices rose by 17% during May. In other news, armed gunmen near Gjirokaster blocked the way of an OSCE election team on 29 May and forced the mainly Italian group to go back to that southern town. In Berat, two people were killed and seven wounded on 28 May in a fight between rival gangs. And in Sauk, near Tirana, unidentified assailants shot three people.
 CLINTON PLEDGES HARD WORK ON BOSNIAU.S. President Bill Clinton said in London on 29 May that the international community will have to "work like crazy for the next 13 months" to bring stability to Bosnia-Herzegovina. He added that the only important issue in Bosnia is implementing the Dayton agreement immediately. Clinton's remarks were the latest in a series of statements by high U.S. officials on the need to enforce the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement. Press reaction in Europe has generally been skeptical, and many editorials say that Washington has offered no new concrete ideas.
 NATO MINISTERS ALSO CALL FOR ACTION ON BOSNIAThe foreign ministers of the Atlantic alliance, meeting in Sintra, Portugal, on 29 May, said that violations of the Dayton agreement will not be tolerated. U.S. Secretary of State Albright said the goal is to establish a lasting peace that will not depend on the presence of foreign troops. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook stressed the need to catch war criminals and bring them to justice. Diplomats said that NATO ministers will bring fresh pressure to bear on all three Bosnian sides on 30 May, when the ministers meet with the three members of the joint presidency-- Alija Izetbegovic, Kresimir Zubak, and Momcilo Krajisnik.
 ITALY WANTS "INFORMED" PERSON TO REPLACE BILDTAlso in Sintra, Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini stated on 29 May that his country opposes the candidacy of Spanish diplomat Carlos Westendorp to succeed the international community's Carl Bildt in Bosnia. Dini charged that the U.S. and France monopolized the widely reported decision to pick Westendorp and argued that the new high representative should instead be someone with a considerable knowledge of Bosnian affairs. In Sarajevo, U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard announced on 29 May that the three members of the presidency finally agreed on a draft law to establish a central bank and common currency. The breakthrough came when the Croats and Muslims granted the Serbs the right to continue to use the Yugoslav dinar on their own territory. The Council of Ministers, for their part, approved a group of economic measures known as the Quick Start Package.
 MILOSEVIC NOT TO SEEK RE-ELECTION?Mirjana Markovic said on a visit to Salonika, Greece, on 29 May that her husband will not run for a third term as Serbian president. She added, however, that it is "too early" to discuss whether Slobodan Milosevic will seek the federal Yugoslav Presidency. A spokesman for Milosevic's Socialists said Serbia will not hand over any indicted war criminals to the Hague-based tribunal but will try them in Yugoslavia. The federal government, for its part, issued a statement that "Croatia is showing insufficient cooperation and readiness for consistent implementation of the Dayton-Paris agreement." And in The Hague, chief prosecutor Louise Arbour met with representatives of the Montenegrin Prosecutor's Office and Foreign Ministry, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from that Dutch city.
 NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIASlovenian railroad workers decided in Ljubljana on 30 May to extend a strike that was originally slated to end the previous day. In Belgrade, over 5,000 retired people protested on 29 May to demand the payment of back pensions. In Zagreb, opposition coalition presidential candidate Vlado Gotovac called for a televised debate between himself, President Franjo Tudjman, and Social Democrat Zdravko Tomac, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital.
 BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ON NATO MEMBERSHIPIvan Kostov's government says Bulgaria should be invited to join an enlarged NATO in the first wave because this would add to the organization's "geographic balance." It also says Bulgaria can provide "real support" for the consolidation of "regional and Euro-Atlantic security," AFP and Reuters reported on 29 May. The declaration said the NATO-Russian pact cleared the way for the alliance's eastward expansion and improved Bulgaria's prospects for joining. The Kostov government says it views Bulgaria's membership in NATO as being of "paramount national interest."
 USAID PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR BULGARIAN REFORMSBrian Atwood, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), told RFE/RL during his visit to Sofia that the U.S. supports Bulgaria's privatization program, which he characterized as "aggressive and ambitious." Atwood on 29 May discussed the development of the market economy and private business with Premier Kostov. He also met with Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov, who is in charge of the privatization program. Atwood said the US. is encouraged by Bulgaria's new emphasis on market reform and stamping out crime and corruption. Speaking of Eastern and Central Europe in general, Atwood promised U.S. support for the development of democracy and free markets in the region.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOVES NO-CONFIDENCE MOTIONThe first no-confidence motion in Victor Ciorbea's government was moved on 29 May. It was initiated by the main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania and is supported by the Party of Romanian National Unity and the Greater Romania Party. The motion's 140 signatories say the coalition has proved unable to govern and has generated "economic chaos" as well as a deterioration of living standards. According to regulations, the motion must be debated within three days after it has been moved. Under normal circumstances, the constitution prevents a deputy or a senator from backing more than one no-confidence motion in a single, six-monthly legislative session. However, for the first time in the last 60 years, the executive has also asked the legislature for a vote of confidence. This means that the opposition can move an additional no-confidence motion if it so wishes.
 DISPUTE CONTINUES OVER EARLY PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN MOLDOVADumitru Diacov, the leader of the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova and a deputy chairman of the parliament, has again called for early parliamentary elections (see RFE/RL Newsline, 28 May 1997). Speaking at a press conference in Chisinau on 29 May, Diacov said the bulk of deputies are "hostile" to President Petru Lucinschi and deliberately postpone the passage of reform laws, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported. Meanwhile, parliamentary chairman Dumitru Motpan said he is opposed to early elections. Opposition was also expressed by the Socialist Unity-Edinstvo faction, which called for Diacov's dismissal as deputy chairman of the legislature, and by the Moldovan Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 29-30 May.
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT ACCUSES MINISTERS OF POWER ABUSEIn a resolution passed on 29 May, the parliament accused Minister of Privatization and State Property Administration Ceslav Ciobanu of having illegally privatized the Legkovik sanatorium, which was sold to the private Humanitarian University. Ciobanu's wife is one of the founders of the university. The resolution says that Ciobanu should be dismissed. It also calls for measures to be taken against Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economics and Reform Ion Gutu for having approved the deal, Infotag and BASA-press reported the same day. The Prosecutor-General's Office opened an official investigation against Ciobanu on 28 May. Meanwhile, Gheorghe Cucu, a former first deputy mayor of Chisinau, was appointed by President Petru Lucinschi minister of industry and trade. He replaces Grigore Triboi, who resigned two weeks ago.
 CORRECTIONThe Russian contingent in the Transdniester has been cut by 1,900 troops and not to 1,900 troops, as incorrectly reported by RFE/RL Newsline on 29 May 1997.
[C] END NOTE
 CROATIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN KICKS OFFby Patrick Moore
President Franjo Tudjman is widely expected to easily win a third term in the 15 June elections. The campaign and the vote might nonetheless provide signs of change in the political landscape.
The State Election Commission announced on 27 May in Zagreb that only three candidates had managed to collect the necessary 10,000 signatures to win a place on the presidential ballot. They are Tudjman of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), Zdravko Tomac of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and Vlado Gotovac of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS). Gotovac also has the backing of at least eight other opposition parties or groupings. All three successful candidates kicked off their respective campaigns in Zagreb on 28 May.
Tudjman has held office since 1990 and favors paternalistic, authoritarian rule. He tends to identify his own interests and policies with those of the state and country and keeps a tight grip on the media. Tudjman recently celebrated his 75th birthday by attending a gala at the Croatian National Theater, the theme of which was Tudjman's life and ideas as the culmination of all Croatian political history.
Few Croats would deny his merits in leading the movement for national independence. But his authoritarianism, together with what many observers see as the corruption and ossification of the HDZ itself, has irritated many voters. Still, the HDZ easily remains the strongest party, and it trounced the opposition handily in the 13 April elections for local governments and the upper house of the parliament.
Part of the reason for the HDZ's continued strength is the weakness of the opposition. Gotovac is a former communist-era dissident who heads a party torn by in-fighting. Both Tomac and his party are tainted in the eyes of many Croats by their communist past. The opposition as a whole is divided and has failed to develop a clear ideological alternative to the center-right HDZ. Nor has it been able to find a presidential candidate who could begin to challenge the charismatic Tudjman.
This lack of balance on the political scene may be changing, however. The unexpected strong showing in the April elections of the formerly marginal SDP suggests that the main concern of average Croats continues to be making ends meet and that a party that addresses social issues can win votes. Gotovac seems to have registered this point when he recently defined his campaign as "resistance against Croatia's undemocratic development, totalitarianism and degradation of public morality." He went on to say that, "We want to reverse the direction of Croatia's social and economic life and return to Croatia what was promised to it at the very beginning" of independence in 1991.
Tomac struck a similar chord. The leader of the reformed communists said: "Croatia should not have an elite that lives in high style.... Social Democrats want to preserve private property and free enterprise, but we [also] want to create a country that will protect the worker and his dignity, a country that will not allow a reign of furious capitalism." He added that he would reduce the power of the presidency and called on Gotovac to join forces with him against Tudjman if the ballot goes into a second round.
The president, for his part, launched his campaign with an address to newly graduated air force pilots that was broadcast at peak time on national television. This reflects his and the HDZ's now standard practice of seeking maximum political advantage from the prerogatives of office and from the government's hold on the electronic media. The theme of his campaign is continuity of the policies that he says have proven successful since the first free elections in 1990. But even he acknowledged the need to reduce bureaucracy and improve the standard of living.
His main issues, however, are nationalist ones. During the election campaign, Tudjman can be expected to portray himself as the defender of Croatian interests in the face of increasing criticism from the U.S. Gotovac told RFE/RL in Zagreb on 28 May that Tudjman is exploiting current tensions with Croatia's Western allies, just as Tito sought to rally his people behind him in the face of Soviet pressures in 1948. Tomac, for his part, suggested to RFE/RL that the West is insisting on the immediate return of Serbian refugees but is less interested in the fate of displaced Croats.
Several well-known Croatian political observers told RFE/RL correspondents that the election underlines the need for some more fundamental changes. One is for less emphasis on personalities and more on political programs. A second is that Croatia requires a new generation of political leaders who are not so rooted in the past. Finally, the analysts said, the system itself must become more democratic and less linked to one man and one party.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty