|Saturday, 7 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 43, 97-06-02
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 43, 2 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 VIOLATION OF TAJIK PEACE ACCORDThe first violation of the Tajik peace agreement in 1997 occurred at a bus station in the city of Kofarnikhon on 31 May, according to RFE/RL correspondents. An armed band led by Abdul Vose took hostage several members of the militia as well as two presidential guards and demanded the release of two of his band members held by the Tajik militia on rape charges. Vose also refused to permit buses to depart from the station. The two sides resolved the situation by exchanging prisoners. Representatives from the joint commission monitoring the cease-fire have been dispatched to investigate the incident.
 HUMANITARIAN AID FOR AFGHANISTANIranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati held phone conversations with his Kyrgyz and Kazak counterparts on 31 May, according to IRNA. The three ministers agreed foreign intervention was the worst-possible course of action but pledged to provide humanitarian aid to northern Afghanistan. Fighting in Afghanistan has moved southward, and some clashes are only 60 km north of Kabul. Radio Kabul reports that "thousands" more Taliban fighters have arrived in the capital, and the Afghan Islamic Press in Islamabad reported bombing raids by Taliban forces on the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif on 31 May. Meanwhile, ousted President Burhanuddin Rabbani returned to Afghanistan on 30 May.
 TURKMENISTAN BECOMES MEMBER OF IFCTurkmenistan was officially admitted as a member of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) on 29 May, according to RFE/RL Washington correspondents. Membership gives Turkmenistan a chance to engage in project financing, equity investments, and technical assistance for the private sector. Turkmenistan is the 172nd member of the IFC and the last former Soviet republic to be admitted.
 GEORGIA CONTINUES TO DEMAND SHARE OF BLACK SEA FLEETNational Security adviser Archil Gegeshidze, presidential spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze, and Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili continued on 30-31 May to insist that Georgia has a rightful claim to part of the Black Sea Fleet, Russian agencies reported. Gegeshidze told Interfax that Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov's statement on 29 May that Georgia received vessels from Ukraine's share of the fleet was incorrect. He added that Kyiv's transfer of one patrol boat to Georgia in April was merely a "goodwill gesture." Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii told journalists on 30 May that Russia does not recognize Georgia's claims, ITAR-TASS reported.
 GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT ISSUES ULTIMATUM OVER PEACEKEEPERSThe parliament on 30 May passed a resolution calling for the withdrawal of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia if the decision to broaden its mandate is not implemented by 31 July, Russian agencies reported. The Abkhaz leadership has rejected the decision taken at the CIS heads of state summit in March to redeploy the force throughout Abkhazia's Gali Raion, arguing that the force's original mandate can be amended only with the consent of the Abkhaz side. The Georgian parliamentary resolution said that Georgia may reconsider its CIS membership if that body proves incapable of implementing its own decisions. The parliament also adopted an appeal to the Abkhaz population stating that the Georgian leadership will do its best to prevent a resumption of hostilities if the peacekeeping force is withdrawn, according to Interfax.
 HIGH-LEVEL TALKS ON KARABAKHU.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and the Russian and French co- chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group made new proposals on a solution of the Karabakh conflict during separate meetings from 31 May-1 June with the leaders of Armenia, the Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan, Russian agencies reported. RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau quoted sources close to the Armenian Foreign Ministry as saying that the proposals leave Karabakh within Azerbaijan but with wide-ranging autonomy. Interfax quoted French diplomat Jacques Blot as stating that the suggestions are intended as a basis for further negotiations. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev told ITAR-TASS on 1 June after meeting with the negotiators that conditions for reaching a settlement have never been as auspicious as they are now.
 ARMENIAN LEADERSHIP CRITICIZED FROM ALL SIDESOn 29 May, some 250 delegates attended the inaugural congress in Yerevan of former Armenian prime minister Hrant Bagratyan's new right-wing liberal political party, Azatutyun [Liberty], Armenian agencies reported. Addressing the congress, Bagratyan harshly criticized the policies of the present leadership. He argued that domestic politics could not be artificially separated from socio-economic conditions. He added that the power of the state must be circumscribed and elections laws revised in the wake of last year's disputed presidential elections. At a public rally on 29 May attended by some 3,000 people, representatives of opposition parties aligned in the National Alliance called for pre-term parliamentary elections. Also on 29 May, representatives of four groups, including the Union of Industrialists and Businessmen, issued a statement criticizing the leadership's economic policies and stating their intention to draft an alternative economic development program.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SECURITY SITUATION IN ALBANIA STILL TENSEAn explosion rocked downtown Tirana near Socialist Party headquarters. No details are yet available. Rebels in Vlora shot at an Italian helicopter on 30 May as it was taking an injured child to an Italian hospital, Gazeta Shqiptare reported . The rebels were reported to have thought that Berisha had sent the helicopter to attack them. A spokesman of Vlora's insurgent committee told a press conference in Tirana that election preparations are proceeding apace and all parties are participating, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Albanian capital. But another committee representative told Dita Informacion on 1 June that "a blood bath" could result if Berisha tries to campaign in Vlora. And in Gjirokaster, the local insurgent committee rejected charges that it was responsible for blocking the car of a team from the European Community Monitoring Mission in the area last week, Koha Jone wrote on 1 June. Finally, the government in Tirana protested to the Macedonian ambassador on 30 May about an incident on 25 May during which Macedonian troops allegedly fired into an Albanian village on the two countries' tense border.
 ALBANIA GETS NEW SECRET POLICE CHIEFPresident Sali Berisha named Arben Karkini from the Republican Party as the new head of SHIK on 30 May in Tirana. The coalition government also nominated the Socialist Arben Rakipi to be Karkini's deputy, but Berisha has not agreed. Namik Dokle, a top Socialist politician, charged Berisha with delaying Rakipi's appointment for political reasons, Dita Informacion wrote. Democratic Alliance leader Meritan Ceka said Karkini will not make any difference in the structure of SHIK, which the opposition and the independent media regard as a tool of Berisha. Karkini is currently prosecutor in Kavaja.
 ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS OFFER BALLOT PLACES TO SMALLER PARTIESThe Socialist Party offered in Tirana on 30 May to nominate joint candidates from smaller parties and organizations in over 25 of the 115 electoral districts. The move came at a meeting of the Forum for Democracy, which is an umbrella organization composed of several small political groups. Forum leader Fatos Lubonja nonetheless refused such a ballot place for himself, Koha Jone reported on 1 June. Meanwhile, Democratic Party spokesman Vili Minarolli said in Tirana that his party is willing to continue the coalition government after the elections, Indipendent wrote on 1 June. The Socialists did not respond to his offer.
 ALBRIGHT IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIAU.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Zagreb, Belgrade, Sarajevo, Brcko, and Banja Luka over the weekend. In all those places, she delivered a tough message: war criminals must be brought to justice, refugees must be able to go home, and the Dayton agreement must be enforced. The U.S., she stressed, is eager to work with those parties to Dayton who want to put the treaty into practice. But those who do not meet their obligations, she warned, will find themselves isolated. Albright and Croatian President Franjo Tudjman differed openly over the return of Serbian refugees. She publicly told Croatian Development Minister Jure Radic that he was "lying" and that he "should be ashamed of himself" because of the destruction of Croatian Serbs' property. Her spokesman said that her meeting with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic was the toughest one she has had with a foreign leader since becoming secretary of state early this year. Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, by contrast, stressed her willingness to cooperate with the U.S.. Albright promised Plavsic generous housing reconstruction aid if the Republika Srpska allows Muslim and Croat refugees to go back to their homes on Bosnian Serb territory.
 MONTENEGRO UNDERSCORES DIFFERENCES WITH BELGRADEBlagota Mitric, the president of Montenegro's Constitutional Court, said on 1 June that federal Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic's recent remarks against the Kosovo Albanians were "unconstitutional." Lilic had said that if the Kosovars want their own state, they could go to Albania. Mitric replied that it is unheard of for a head of state to tell his fellow citizens to leave the country, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. Also in Podgorica, the Montenegrin Helsinki Committee for Human Rights said the Montenegrin government's recent dispatch of a delegation to the Hague-based tribunal was "significant and positive" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 30 May 1997).
 KLEIN WARNS CROATS OVER VUKOVAR POWER PLAYJacques Klein, the UN's chief administrator for eastern Slavonia, said in Vukovar on 1 June that Croatia will "pay a high price" for the governing Croatian Democratic Community's recent attempt to set up a municipal government in Vukovar without the participation of the Serbs or of the UN (see RFE/RL Newsline, 29 May 1997). He nonetheless denied Croatian and international press reports that the UN plans to prolong its mandate in eastern Slavonia, BETA news agency reported. In other news from the former Yugoslavia, trains are running again in Slovenia, but union leaders said in Ljubljana on 31 May that the strike will resume on 5 June if pay demands are not met. And in Pristina, a court sentenced 20 ethnic Albanians on 30 May to sentences totaling up to 106 years on charges of terrorism.
 WESTENDORP TO REPLACE BILDT IN BOSNIAInternational diplomats voted in Sintra, Portugal, on 30 May to name Spain's former Foreign Minister Carlos Westendorp to succeed Sweden's Carl Bildt as the international community's high representative in Bosnia. Westendorp told the Sarajevo paper Dnevni Avaz in New York that he fears that fighting might resume in Bosnia if the security situation worsens. He also said that he would like to keep Bildt's deputy, Michael Steiner, as his deputy as long as Steiner chooses to stay. The Muslim media had wanted Steiner to replace Bildt. Critics in Bosnia and abroad charged that Westendorp knows little about the complex region and called instead for the appointment of a prominent politician like former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
 EXTREME NATIONALISTS MAKE THREAT ON ROMANIAN PRESIDENT'S LIFEPrime Minister Victor Ciorbea said in an interview with RFE/RL on 1 June that if necessary, the "relevant authorities" will take "all appropriate measures" against threats on the life of Romanian President Emil Constantinescu. The threats were made in connection with the signing on 31 May of the Romanian-Ukrainian basic treaty. The extreme nationalist Greater Romania Party's weekly Politica on 24 May published a letter, signed by the Association of Romanian Nationalists in the Diaspora, saying Constantinescu, Ciorbea, and other officials will be "assassinated" because they are guilty of "high treason." The letter also says Romania will not be admitted to an expanded NATO because its main enemy is "international Jewry headed by the freemason Bill Clinton, whose foreign minister is the Jewess Iana [sic] Miriam Korbel, known under the pseudonym of Madeleine Albright."
 ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS WITH ALBRIGHTForeign Minister Adrian Nastase told U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Sintra, Portugal, on 30 May that his country meets all the criteria for joining NATO. He asked Albright to send a special envoy to Romania to examine the situation at first hand. After the meeting, he told reporters he could see "no rigid attitude" on Albright's part. He quoted the secretary of state as saying the media had "exaggerated" in reporting her position, adding that Albright was only trying to emphasize that enlargement should strengthen, rather than weaken, the alliance. Severin said he told Albright that limiting expansion to only a few states may lead to weakening the alliance, Radio Bucharest reported. Severin also said the Romanian-Hungarian-Austrian "trilateral group" has "officially been launched" following meetings in Sintra with his Hungarian and Austrian counterparts.
 UNREST IN ROMANIAN RULING COALITIONAt a meeting of the Democratic Party (PD) caucus in Pitesti on 31 May, Foreign Minister Severin accused the government of "blocking" reform. He was supported by other participants, who said the pace of reform was too slow. Some speakers said that while the PD was trying to press for reform measures, even if those steps were unpopular, other members of the coalition were still "adopting an electoral campaign-like attitude." The meeting was attended by PD ministers, deputies, prefects, and mayors. But PD leader Petre Roman said there is no substantial friction in the coalition and added that his party will back the government in the vote of confidence scheduled for 3 June.
 CHISINAU COMPLAINS ABOUT ROMANIA'S TREATMENT OF MOLDOVAN CITIZENSDuring a meeting at the Ungheni border crossing on 31 May, Deputy Foreign Minister Aurelian Danila told his Romanian counterpart, Dumitru Ciausu, that Moldovan citizens are mistreated at Romanian-Moldovan border- crossings. Radio Bucharest quoted Danila as saying that while Romania talks about "special relations" with Moldova, it is "compromising" that concept by raising "artificial barriers." He said border-crossing procedures must be simplified. Danila also complained about "Medieval practices" of the Romanian custom services. Ciausu said he did not think the situation was "that unsatisfactory." Officials from the two countries' internal affairs, transportation, and industry ministries also took part in the meeting. Agreement was reached to increase efforts to simplify border-crossing procedures for both merchandise and people.
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT REPLACES STATE SAVINGS BANK HEADThe parliament on 30 May dismissed Bistra Dimitrova as head of the State Savings Bank (DKS) and replaced her with Spas Dimitrov, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Dimitrov, who is a lawyer by training, told reporters he intends to put an end to the use of the bank for political manipulation. Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev had earlier accused Dimitrova, who was appointed DKS head by the previous, Socialist-dominated parliament, of being responsible for money illegally lent to state and commercial banks linked to the former ruling party.
 MONEY-LOSING BULGARIAN STATE FIRMS TO BE FINED FOR RAISING SALARIESDeputy Prime Minister Evgeny Bakardzhiev says the directors of state-owned companies will be fined large sums for raising salaries at a time when companies are losing money. Bakardzhiev made the announcement in Sofia on 1 June, after a meeting with the leaders of the largest trade unions. He said the cabinet will decide on 2 June about the exact size of the fines. The announcement is in line with government efforts to cut spending to meet International Monetary Fund requirements. On 30 May, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told managers of the state-owned Neftochim oil refinery that they should lower wages. He admonished them for having raised wages threefold since the end of February.
[C] END NOTE
 XINJIANG AND CENTRAL ASIAby Paul Goble
China's crackdown on Uyghur activism in Xinjiang is likely to cast a larger shadow on the countries of Central Asia than will the Afghan fighting that has attracted so much attention both in that region and beyond.
And that is so despite the statements and reporting attending the arrival in Central Asia of Sadako Ogata, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
According to her aides, Ogata is there in anticipation of a flood of refugees from Afghanistan into Central Asia as the result of the Taliban advance into the northern part of that country. But the Taliban advance has stalled, and the fears that brought Ogata to Central Asia have somewhat ebbed for the time being, even though her press officer suggested last Tuesday that a refugee flood "could still happen." The Chinese crackdown, on the other hand, is very much in full swing. Its latest manifestation came on Thursday when the Chinese authorities in Urumqi executed eight and sentenced four others for a series of bus bombings there earlier this year.
The authorities imposed these sentences less to punish specific actions than to send a message to the increasingly restive Uyghur minority that China will not tolerate any further separatist or Islamic activism.
Over the past year, the Muslim Uyghurs have protested in various ways against Beijing's dispatch of ever more Han Chinese to the region, an influx that has reduced the Uyghur share of the region's population to only 47 percent.
Beijing reported the latest executions not in the domestic Chinese press but only in news services directed at foreign audiences, the English- language China Daily and the Xinhua news service. By not distributing the news at home, the Beijing authorities appear to be hoping both to continue to present their own society as one without significant problems and also to contain the nationalism of the Han Chinese.
The second of these may becoming a serious problem: Han Chinese officials in Xinjiang already sound more like Chinese nationalists than communist party stalwarts. And their attitudes may only exacerbate the feelings of Uyghurs and the Han Chinese there.
And by distributing the news about the executions abroad, the Beijing authorities appear to be hoping to send a powerful signal to China's Central Asian neighbors that China will not tolerate any interference in what it defines as its own internal affairs.
The governments of Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have deferred to China on this point already.
They have promised not to provide any support or sanctuary for the Uyghurs. And this latest report will give them yet another reason to continue that policy.
But Beijing's message may have a very different and unintended impact on the peoples of these countries, whose populations include Uyghurs and other groups who see themselves as closely linked to the Islamic one just over the border in China.
Many of these people are likely to be infuriated with the Chinese authorities for their new efforts to wipe out a movement that seeks no more than the Central Asians themselves have achieved.
Even more important, at least some of these people are likely to be angry at their own governments for going along with the Chinese crackdown.
While most of the Central Asian regimes are far from perfect democracies, their leaders may decide to defer to the anger of their own populations lest that anger power political movements against themselves. And to the extent that were to happen, it could trigger a fundamental shift in the geopolitics of inner Asia, a shift that might give the Uyghur national movement a greater chance than it has had at any time since the Chinese communists seized power.
And that in turn would affect both the domestic development and foreign policy outlook of the Central Asian countries far more than would any likely refugee flow into the region from Afghanistan.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty