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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 45, 97-06-04

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. 45, 4 June 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ANOTHER RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN ABKHAZIA
  • [02] MORE DETAILS ON NEW KARABAKH PROPOSALS
  • [03] LEZGINS CLAIM AZERBAIJAN IS PERSECUTING ETHNIC MINORITIES
  • [04] SIGNING OF TAJIK PEACE AGREEMENT POSTPONED
  • [05] DEMONSTRATORS BEATEN IN BISHKEK

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] MORE BOMB SCARES IN TIRANA
  • [07] GREECE WARNS ALBANIANS AGAINST "COLLECTIVE SUICIDE"
  • [08] ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FAILS TO RULE ON ELECTION LAW
  • [09] U.S. PRAISES ZAGREB, SLAMS BELGRADE, PALE
  • [10] MORE BODIES FOUND NEAR VUKOVAR
  • [11] GENSCHER BACKS TUDJMAN OPPONENT IN CROATIA
  • [12] ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
  • [13] ROMANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE
  • [14] WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS FOR ROMANIA
  • [15] BANKERS JAILED FOR CORRUPTION IN ROMANIA
  • [16] BULGARIA PEGS LEV TO GERMAN MARK
  • [17] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH EU OFFICIALS
  • [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [19] The Revival of Fascism

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ANOTHER RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN ABKHAZIA

    One Russian officer was killed and two servicemen injured on 2 June when their armored vehicle hit a mine in Georgia's Gali Raion, Russian and Western agencies reported. Abkhaz Security Minister Astamur Tarba blamed the incident on Georgian saboteurs. An unnamed Russian Defense Ministry official told Interfax on 3 June that his ministry is already making plans for the withdrawal of the peacekeeping force when its mandate expires on 31 July. The Georgian parliament has demanded its withdrawal after that date if the peacekeepers' mandate is not broadened to redeploy them throughout Gali Raion. Nezavisimaya gazeta on 4 June quoted Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze as saying that after the peacekeepers' withdrawal, Georgian and Abkhaz police could maintain order in Gali and protect ethnic Georgian repatriates from reprisals by Abkhaz militants.

    [02] MORE DETAILS ON NEW KARABAKH PROPOSALS

    The new plan for a settlement of the Karabakh conflict is based on several compromises, according to Asbarez-on-line of 3 June. Armenian forces must be withdrawn from seven Azerbaijani raions beyond the internal borders of Karabakh (including Lachin) and from the Karabakh town of Shusha. OSCE peacekeeping forces from the U.S., Russia, and Europe will be deployed in those raions, oversee the repatriation of displaced persons, and ensure road communications through the Lachin corridor, which links Karabakh with Armenia. Baku and Stepanakert will begin negotiations on the future status of Nagorno-Karabakh, which will be allowed to keep its well-trained armed forces until agreement is reached on its status. The Karabakh army will then be downsized to a military police force. However, an inventory will be made of Karabakh's armaments, which are to be considered part of Armenia's CFE quota.

    [03] LEZGINS CLAIM AZERBAIJAN IS PERSECUTING ETHNIC MINORITIES

    The Russian State Duma's Committee on Nationality Affairs has recently held hearings on the plight of the Lezgins, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 3 June. The Lezgins are a Caucasian ethnic group whose traditional homeland straddles the frontier between the Russian Federation and Azerbaijan. Shamil Murtuzaliev, chairman of the Union of Muslims of South Dagestan, claims that the Azerbaijani leadership has launched a harsh campaign of repression against the 1.2 million Lezgins in Azerbaijan and other ethnic minorities, including the Avars and Kurds. He also claims that Baku has banned the Lezgin National Movement, Sadval. Azerbaijan's Lezgins are lobbying for the transfer of the raions where they live to Russia and for dual (Azerbaijani and Russian) citizenship to facilitate communication within families whose members live on either side of the frontier.

    [04] SIGNING OF TAJIK PEACE AGREEMENT POSTPONED

    The signing of the final agreement between the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition, scheduled to take place on 13 June in Moscow, has been postponed for "organizational and technical reasons," according to Interfax on 3 June. RFE/RL correspondents in Tajikistan say the reason for the delay is the opposition's insistence that prisoner exchanges begin prior to the signing ceremony. The official signing is to take place after 20 June.

    [05] DEMONSTRATORS BEATEN IN BISHKEK

    Four people taking part in a demonstration in the central square of Bishkek were beaten in the early hours of 4 June by members of the Kyrgyz militia, according to RFE/RL correspondents in the capital city. One of the four had to be hospitalized. They had taken part in a demonstration outside the government building the previous day to protest a 23 May court decision to imprison two journalists and bar two others from practicing journalism for 18 months (see RFE/RL Newsline, 26 May and 3 June 1997). The four demonstrators had remained in the square after beginning a hunger strike. They were beaten by militiamen when they refused to leave.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] MORE BOMB SCARES IN TIRANA

    Bomb scares forced the closure of a high school, an elementary school, and a bar in Tirana on 3 June, Dita Informacion reported (see RFE/RL Newsline, 3 June 1997). Another bomb threat was directed toward the president's office, but police found no explosives there. Albanian Daily News added that a bomb exploded after curfew near the university on 2 June, but nobody was injured. An exchange of fire, however, reportedly followed the blast. Meanwhile, Rilindja Demokratike, the organ of President Sali Berisha's Democratic Party, on 4 June accused "left wing extremists" of planting the bombs. The London-based Independent, however, said that "Berisha is resorting to violence to remain in power." Lush Perpali, the Socialist owner of the restaurant that was blown up on 2 June, demanded the arrest of the journalist who wrote in the pro-Berisha Albania on 1 June that Perpali had received a bomb threat. Perpali concluded that the daily knew about the attack in advance and told its journalists on 3 June that they were working for a "terrorist newspaper."

    [07] GREECE WARNS ALBANIANS AGAINST "COLLECTIVE SUICIDE"

    Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos said in Tirana on 3 June that Albanians will be committing "collective suicide" if the 29 June elections do not take place "in the best acceptable way." He also announced that the 300,000 Albanian immigrants in Greece will be able to go home to vote and return to Greece without applying for new visas. Pangalos urged the Albanian government and President Berisha to lift the state of emergency and pledged Greek support in organizing and monitoring the vote. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino asked Pangalos to support an extension of the multinational forces' mandate and to send a large number of observers.

    [08] ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FAILS TO RULE ON ELECTION LAW

    Constitutional Court Judge Rustem Gjata on 3 June postponed a decision on the controversial election law. He did not, however, set another date for a final court session, Koha Jone reported. Justice Minister Spartak Ngjela had gone to court to challenge the process by which the 40 parliamentary seats will be allocated on the basis of proportional representation. According to the law, ten of the seats will be divided between the two largest parties, while the remaining 30 will go to the smaller parties. Many observers feel that granting the smaller parties more influence in the parliament is the only way to overcome the current nationwide polarization between the Democrats and the Socialists.

    [09] U.S. PRAISES ZAGREB, SLAMS BELGRADE, PALE

    U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told ABC TV in Washington on 3 June that her recent tough talk had "some effect" on Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. She added, however, that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic "is in denial" and "lives in a dream world." Albright said that Milosevic is taking his country "down a rat hole." Meanwhile, the Croatian state prosecutor's office in Petrinja brought charges against 12 Croats in connection with attacks on returning Serbian refugees last month. In Washington, State Department Spokesman Nicholas Burns praised the move as "a step in the right direction," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the U.S. capital. Burns stressed that the State Department is "absolutely determined" that all refugees be able to go home. He warned both Serbia and the Bosnian Serbs that they will lose much international assistance unless they begin to implement all aspects of the Dayton peace accords. Burns rejected Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic's argument that the Bosnian Serb constitution prohibits the extradition of indicted war criminals. He said that the Dayton agreement "supersedes anything in the Bosnian Serb constitution."

    [10] MORE BODIES FOUND NEAR VUKOVAR

    UN experts on 2 and 3 June exhumed some 20 bodies from a mass grave that may eventually yield at least 60 corpses. The bodies are those of Croats from the village of Lovas, which the Serbs captured in June 1991, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the area. The investigators have already removed another 200 bodies from a nearby site, and the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has indicted three Yugoslav army officers in conjunction with that massacre. In Backa Palanka, UN officials announced that the future border between Serbia and Croatia will follow the middle of the Danube River and run through the middle of the bridge connecting Backa Palanka in Serbia with Croatia's Ilok. In Vukovar, UN officials said that 4 June is the first day for motorists to begin the switch to Croatian license plates. And in Zagreb, U.S. and Croatian officials signed an agreement providing for $650,000 in assistance to repair railroad connections between Croatia's Vinkovci and Brcko in Bosnia.

    [11] GENSCHER BACKS TUDJMAN OPPONENT IN CROATIA

    Former German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher attended an election meeting in Zagreb on 3 June on behalf of Liberal presidential candidate Vlado Gotovac. Otto Graf Lambsdorff, who, like Genscher, is a prominent elder statesman in Germany's Free Democratic Party, also addressed the symposium. Asked whether he endorsed Gotovac, Genscher replied: "We are bonded by the same ideals." Lambsdorff wished Gotovac "all the best in the upcoming election." Genscher was foreign minister at the time of Croatian independence in 1991 and is easily one of the most widely admired foreigners in Croatia.

    [12] ROUNDUP FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

    In Novo Mesto in Slovenia, union leaders at the Renault plant announced on 4 June that management has not agreed to a wage increase, despite the threat of a strike slated for the same day. The unions said that conditions at the plant have become "unbearable" since Renault recently announced the closure of another plant in Belgium. In Belgrade, doctors decided to continue their strike until the government pays their back wages. In Podgorica, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic visited an area in the Sandzak region from which paramilitaries drove Muslims in 1992 and 1993, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A government spokesman told the daily Pobjeda that those expulsions were the main topic of the discussions a Montenegrin delegation recently held with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal.

    [13] ROMANIAN POLITICAL UPDATE

    On 3 June, a motion of no confidence was officially moved by 141 legislators representing the three opposition parties in the parliament. The legislature is to vote on the motion on 6 June. In a separate development, Victor Ciorbea addressed a joint session of the parliament's two chambers about reforms introduced so far and the government's future reform plans, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The procedure used for this purpose is known as "government assumption of responsibility" and is tantamount to a vote of confidence, unless the opposition moves a no- confidence vote within three days.

    [14] WORLD BANK APPROVES LOANS FOR ROMANIA

    The World Bank on 3 June approved three loans agreed on in principle during bank president James Wolfensohn's recent visit to Bucharest (see RFE/RL Newsline, 13 May 1997). An RFE/RL Washington correspondent reported that the loans, totaling $550 million, are to support what bank officials call Romania's "bold reform initiatives." A $50 million loan is earmarked for a social protection program to increase child allowances and to expand food programs for the poor. A $350 million loan is aimed at helping agricultural reform and accelerating privatization. The third loan, worth $150 million, is to help improve road infrastructure.

    [15] BANKERS JAILED FOR CORRUPTION IN ROMANIA

    Three former senior bank officials and a businessman were sentenced to prison on 3 June on charges of fraud and forgery, AFP reported. The former director of Credit Bank, Marcel Ivan, was sentenced to six years in prison. The bank's former economic director and chief accountant both received less severe sentences, while businessman Jirair Giulbenghian was jailed for four years. The Credit Bank's license was withdrawn by the National Bank in April.

    [16] BULGARIA PEGS LEV TO GERMAN MARK

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 3 June announced that the Bulgarian currency is to be pegged to the German mark at an exchange rate of 1,000 leva to DM1. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the IMF has approved the plan, which must still be endorsed by the parliament and is due to take effect on 1 July, at the same time as the new currency board begins its work, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Meanwhile, Justice Minister Vasil Gotsev said a new law drafted by the government will provide for the confiscation of illegally obtained income and stiff sentences for those who fail to declare assets, Radio Sofia reported. Slavcho Bosilkov, the head of Bulgaria's police forces, said five officers from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation will help with investigations into tax evasion and the misappropriation of funds.

    [17] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS WITH EU OFFICIALS

    Ivan Kostov, at the start of a three-day visit to Brussels, was told by the European Commissioner Hans van der Broek on 3 June that his country is taking the right steps "leading to EU membership." Van der Broek said both the EU and the Bulgarian people have been waiting for a government in Sofia to "seriously approach" economic reforms. Kostov said he was "gratified" by promises of EU support, which, he said, will allow Bulgaria "to leave no challenge unaddressed" during the reform process. This is Kostov's first visit abroad as premier.

    [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT

    Petru Lucinschi says that the breakaway Transdniester region will eventually "return to the fold" but that "patience is necessary" in view of the recent "difficult armed conflict." Lucinschi told a visiting delegation of Bucharest city councilors that the 1997 presidential poll has helped solve "many problems," Rompres reported on 3 June. Meanwhile, Dumitru Diacov, the leader of the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova (MPMPD), says Lucinschi played no part in the party's initiative to promote early parliamentary elections (see RFE/RL Newsline, 28 and 30 May 1997). Diacov told Infotag on 3 June that the MPMPD has "only informed" Lucinschi of its initiative, "but he has not yet reacted to it."

    [C] END NOTE

    [19] The Revival of Fascism

    by James Hooper

    The revival of fascism is a greater threat than most observers realize. In its various guises--ultra-nationalism, neo-fascism, post-fascism, proto fascism, or some other form -- it now endangers democracy in many countries. Unless recognized and checked in time, the rise of fascism will undermine hopes for democratic expansion and improved security in the post-Cold War international order.

    Extreme nationalist parties have scored unprecedented post-war success in Western Europe. Some have attracted broader constituencies through sophisticated propaganda that downplays their extreme nationalist roots and exploits mainstream concerns about immigration and corruption. But the goal shared by all European extreme nationalist leaders is political legitimization as responsible, democratic politicians. The public-policy issue for the U.S. is to determine the standard to be met by such leaders before deciding whether to accept them as legitimate democratic partners.

    The Balkans provide a grim reminder that the hard-knuckled fascism of the 1990s can induce political psychosis in societies where it takes hold and historical amnesia in leaders who have the capacity and responsibility to resist it. Serbian President Milosevic used classic fascist means to define and pursue national aims: dictatorship, aggression, seizure of territory by force, destruction of pluralism and democracy, concentration camps, genocide, and reliance on diplomacy as bluff, gamble, and institutionalized duplicity. By modeling a violent and intolerant style of politics for a new generation of European political activists, he projects the power and discipline the fascist myth can invoke.

    Russian ultra-nationalists benefit from Serbian fascism. While extreme nationalist groups have not gained executive power in Moscow, they have seized and distorted the democratic political agenda. If fascism moves from agenda setting to office holding, the U.S. and Europe will be faced with a threat more dangerous than Soviet communism. The issue for Western policy-makers is to determine whether concessions to self- professed Russian democrats on important matters of principle and policy contain or embolden the ultra-nationalists.

    In Asia, Japanese ultra- nationalism is an incipient but containable threat. China is a different matter. As noted in Bernstein and Munro's book The Coming Conflict With China, "early twentieth-century fascism," rather than democracy, is one possible outcome of China's political transition. The inability of China's repressed democrats to play an active role in the transition significantly weakens the democratic cause there and shifts the burden of responsibility to advocates of democracy abroad who have a stake in influencing the outcome.

    What is to be done? The first step is to recognize that democracy is imperiled when the aim of politics becomes the process of defining enemies, especially when the enemy is pluralism. For example, to forestall additional defections by their own supporters, some otherwise democratic parties have begun to advocate firmer measures to trim the numbers of and social services provided to immigrants and refugees. In this way, the agenda of fascists begins to shift the policies of democrats.

    The irony of fascism is that its recognized hostility to multiculturalism gives it a genuinely cross-cultural appeal. Fascism is equally accessible to Chinese leaders seeking an integrative nationalist ideology in the waning days of communism, to Hutu leaders pursuing tribal dominance, to Russian and Hindu ultra-nationalists to Iraqi Baathists, to Austrian neo-fascists; and to U.S. militiamen, skinheads, and racists.

    The most pressing need at the moment is to acknowledge the global nature of the problem and ensure that policy-makers are properly informed about it. This will stimulate debate that takes account of the regional diversity and differing implications of the challenges fascism poses. And from this will come a better perspective for framing practical public-policy decisions that reflect the U.S.'s strategic interests, democratic values, humanitarian concerns, and commercial goals.

    The author is director of the Program for the Study of Contemporary Fascism and Democracy at the Balkan Institute, Washington D.C.


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


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