|Saturday, 26 September 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 46, 97-06-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 46, 5 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ABKHAZ FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOWAfter meeting in Moscow on 4 June with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov, Sergei Shamba said Abkhazia wants an extension of the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, Russian agencies reported. Shamba said their withdrawal would hinder a political solution to the conflict and that Abkhaz troops would immediately take their place, possibly supported by units from the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus. In Tbilisi, parliamentary chairman Zurab Zhvania rejected Russian presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii's charge that the 30 May Georgian parliament resolution setting conditions for the peacekeepers' continued presence constituted "blackmail." Georgian presidential press spokesman Vakhtang Abashidze said that Eduard Shevardnadze has again appealed to the Russian leadership to implement the decision taken at the March summit of the CIS heads of state to broaden the peacekeepers' mandate.
 GEORGIA BACKS CHECHEN PROPOSAL FOR CAUCASIAN OSCEParliamentary chairman Zhvania expressed support on 4 June for the creation of a Caucasian inter-parliamentary assembly modeled on the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, ITAR-TASS reported. This idea has been discussed intermittently in recent years and was again raised on 31 May by Chechen delegates to a conference of North Caucasus leaders in Kislovodsk (see RFE/RL Newsline, 2 June 1997). Segodnya on 4 June reported that the creation of a Caucasian equivalent of the OSCE with international status was discussed during talks the previous day between Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Movladi Udugov and Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin. This suggests that Russia aspires to leadership of the proposed organization. Some Georgian parliamentary deputies have argued that Russia should not be granted membership.
 ANNAN FAVORS EXTENDING OBSERVERS MANDATE IN TAJIKISTANUN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on 4 June he favored extending the mandate of the UN Mission of Observers in Tajikistan, which expires on 15 June, RFE/RL's Tajik Bureau reported. Annan also said that following the formal signing of the Tajik peace accord, the UNMOT mandate will have to be adjusted and its numbers revised. Currently, there are some 70 UN personnel in Tajikistan. The signing was scheduled to take place on 13 June but has been postponed due to the Tajik opposition's insistence that prisoner exchanges begin beforehand and that a building be found in Dushanbe in which the proposed reconciliation council can convene.
 OPPOSITION CALLS FOR OUSTER OF KAZAK LEADERSHIPThe opposition labor movement issued a statement on 4 June demanding that President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the government, and the parliament step down, Interfax reported. According to the statement, the government is not serving the "lawful interests of the country" and neglects the will of the people, who "have been driven to poverty and are starving." Members of the movement participated in the 30 May demonstration outside the government building in Almaty, and several of the movement's leaders were put in jail for 15 days for their part in the unsanctioned rally. The movement plans to picket the government building again soon.
 CHINESE COMPANY WINS KAZAK TENDERChina National Petroleum Corporation beat out American companies Texaco and Amoco and the Russian company Yuzhny Most for a 60% stake in the Aktyubinsk oil field, ITAR-TASS and the Financial Times reported. The 4 June announcement added that the Chinese company will invest $4.3 billion in the project and will also construct a 3,000 km pipeline from the western Kazak oil field to China's Xinjiang Province. The Chinese company will contribute $3.5 billion to the pipeline project.
 KYRGYZ GOLD COMPANY AHEAD OF SCHEDULEThe Kumtor Gold Company, a joint venture of the Kyrgyz state gold company Kyrgyzaltyn and Canada's Cameco, announced on 4 June that it extracted more gold in the first five months of 1997 than planned, Interfax reported. The company intended to extract 3.8 tons of gold between January and May, but Kumtor head Len Homeniuk said the figure for that period was 4.2 tons. The projected output for 1997 is 12.75 tons, but Homeniuk noted the total may exceed 13 tons.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ATTACK ON BERISHA PUTS ALBANIAN VOTE IN DOUBTAll political parties have condemned an apparent assassination attempt on President Sali Berisha on 4 June inear Durres. Twenty-five-year-old Ilir Ceta, whom the president's office called "an extremist,." has been identified as the attempted assassin. It is unclear whether Ceta managed to throw a grenade that did not go off or whether a presidential bodyguard grabbed the explosive before Ceta could toss it. The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation, and Prime Minister Bashkim Fino has announced additional security measures for candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Berisha said it was a terrorist act aimed at destabilizing Albania. Meanwhile, some opposition journalists suggested that Berisha's supporters might have staged the whole incident.
 WARNING ABOUT ALBANIAN ELECTIONSThe Vienna-based International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights issued a press release on 4 June calling for more foreign troops to be sent to Albania. The group says additional soldiers are necessary because of what the statement called the recent "politically motivated bombings in Tirana" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 3 and 4 June 1997). The statement said the authorities are using those explosions as an excuse to justify the state of emergency, which the opposition wants lifted in order to ensure a fair election campaign. The Helsinki group said that, in any event, the prospects for the June vote appear "dim," given what it called "the legal barriers to running in the elections, the lack of a free media, and the fact that half of Albania is controlled by heavily armed gangs, some of which are run by the Democratic Party." The statement did not mention, however, that the armed gangs controlling much of the south oppose the Democrats.
 ITALY WILL SEND MORE TROOPS TO ALBANIAForeign Minister Lamberto Dini said in Palermo on 4 June that his country is planning to increase its military presence in Albania in the two weeks leading up to the elections. Its goal is "to guarantee safety in all areas where voting takes place. After the elections, which we want to be free, fair and honest, the military presence will be ended swiftly," the minister said. Dini had no immediate details of how many more soldiers would be sent or whether other countries taking part in the force would deploy additional troops. Italy has contributed some 2,500 soldiers to Operation Alba, which began deploying in April.
 DEADLOCK CONTINUES OVER EX-YUGOSLAV ASSETSRepresentatives of the five successor states to the former Yugoslavia ended three days of meetings in Brussels on 4 June. They failed once again to agree on the division of Yugoslavia's properties and other assets, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Belgian capital. Belgrade wants to keep the bulk of the wealth and argues that the others should get less because they voluntarily left Yugoslavia. The others, for their part, want the assets divided on the basis of the republics' pre-1991 payments to the federal budget, to which Slovenia and Croatia were the principal contributors.
 ARKAN SLAMS CNN DOCUMENTARYZeljko Raznatovic, better known as Arkan, held a press conference in Belgrade on 4 June to criticize CNN's program "Wanted," which was broadcast worldwide this week. Arkan charged that the half-hour broadcast was full of mistakes, and he threatened to sue CNN, Belgrade media report. Arkan said: "I have been charged, tried, and sentenced by CNN. Does CNN have a jail of its own?" The program presented alleged evidence of Arkan's involvement in war crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and described his close links to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. It asked rhetorically why the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has not indicted him, even though Croatia and Bosnia have both called for his arrest and trial. Interpol has issued an arrest warrant against Arkan for various criminal activities predating the Yugoslav conflict. On 5 June, CNN said it stands by its story and noted that Arkan has refused to be interviewed by the network.
 KOSOVO UPDATEIn Pristina, the trial continues of 15 ethnic Albanians on terrorism charges. Some of the defendants admitted on 4 June to possessing arms illegally. Also in Pristina, Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci warned Kosovars against holding too many political meetings in the runup to the shadow-state's December elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Demaci said that too much talking could undermine the unity of the ethnic Albanians. He pledged to set up a National Council of all Kosovars should his party win the elections. Meanwhile in Belgrade, 12 Serbian families from eastern Kosovo staged a protest against what they said was abusive treatment by Serbian officials in Kosovo. The families came originally from Slovenia and elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia and resettled in Kosovo when the country split up, the BETA news agency reported.
 CROATIAN OPPOSITION WARNS OF VOTE FRAUDOpposition parties on 4 June announced the formation of a committee to monitor the presidential elections later this month, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The committee held its first session immediately and warned that better controls are needed to make sure there is no tampering with ballot papers. The number of papers already printed for this year's election exceeds by some 1.5 million the total printed in 1995, according to the committee. Meanwhile, Social Democratic candidate Zdravko Tomac said in Zagreb that a big turnout is needed on 15 June to deny President Franjo Tudjman an outright victory and to force him into a runoff. In Rijeka, the Liberals' Vlado Gotovac charged the governing Croatian Democratic Community with turning political life into an empty ritual.
 DIVISIONS WITHIN ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTYIon Iliescu, former president and chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, on 3 June sharply criticized deputy Iosif Boda, who had earlier demanded the resignation of PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase, RFE/RL Bucharest's bureau reported. Boda ran the 1996 election campaign of Iliescu, who said he intended to apologize to the PDSR for having imposed Boda on its lists for last year's elections. Boda promptly received a warning from the party. Iliescu acknowledged that the party is divided into several groups that are "fighting one another for the leadership." Deputy Chairman Teodor Melescanu, who was proposed as a possible replacement for Iliescu last month (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 May 1997), defended Boda, saying that "everybody is entitled to a personal opinion."
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES FURTHER REFORM LEGISLATIONThe government on 4 June approved an ordinance for the privatization of all state-owned companies within three months and of firms owned by local governments within half a year. The mechanism of ordinances enables the government to implement legislation without the parliament's prior approval, though the legislature eventually has to approve it. The government also approved an ordinance on the Law of Foreign Investment providing for considerable advantages for investors from abroad, including low taxes on capital-gains repatriation. Also on 4 June, Poul Thompsen, the IMF chief negotiator for Romania, began a three-day visit to Romania, which was described as "routine." He met with Premier Victor Ciorbea and the ministers in charge of the economic sector.
 CHISINAU, TIRASPOL EXPERTS RENEW NEGOTIATIONSExperts representing the two sides involved in the Transdniestrian conflict resumed negotiations in Chisinau on 4 June, Infotag reported. The meeting was the first held since the signing in Moscow on 8 May of the memorandum on ways to settle the Moldovan conflict. The two sides discussed setting the agenda for future talks. Work will now begin on the document stipulating the breakaway region's special status. Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators who are members of the Joint Control Commission also attended the meeting.
 BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION CHIEF WANTS SANCTIONS IMPOSED ON OBSTRUCTERSAsen Diulgerov, the new head of the Privatization Agency, says he wants to see heavy fines imposed on regional governors and managers of state-owned companies who interfere with the privatization process. Diulgerov told reporters in Sofia on 4 June that the agency has proposed fines of up to 5 million leva ($5,300) and that the proposal will soon be considered by the parliament. International financial institutions have accused local administrators and state managers with ties to the Bulgarian Socialist Party of obstructing privatization. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent said the Socialists still control local administration in many towns because they did well in the local elections held in 1995. Also on 4 June, the parliament approved the pegging of the lev to the German mark.
[C] END NOTE
 ARMENIA'S SHIFTING POLITICAL LANDSCAPEby Liz Fuller and Harry Tamrazian
For more than six years, Armenia's ruling Pan-National Movement [HHSh] has dominated politics in that country. But in recent months, splits within the movement have become increasingly apparent, prompting leaders of the movement to concede it no longer qualifies as a ruling party.
The HHSh was created in 1989 from the Karabakh Committee, set up by a handful of Armenian academics the previous year, to coordinate Armenian support for the drive by the predominantly ethnic Armenian population of Azerbaijan's Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast to achieve unification with Armenia. The movement obtained a majority in the post-communist Supreme Soviet elected in the summer of 1990, and its leader, Levon Ter-Petrossyan, was elected president the fall of the following year.
Although popular support for the Armenian leadership plummeted between 1992 and 1994 as a result of economic collapse, successive attempts by opposition parties--including the Union for National Self-Determination, headed by veteran dissident Paruir Hairikyan, and former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukyan's National Democratic Union--to create a lasting opposition coalition failed. The only serious threat to the HHSh was the Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutyun (ARFD). Banned by Ter-Petrossyan in December1994 for alleged involvement in terrorist activities, the ARFD was unable to field candidates in the July1995 parliamentary elections.
The Republic bloc, comprising the HHSh and four smaller parties, won 114 of the 190 seats in the new parliament. But the ban on the ARFD, in conjunction with violations of voting procedure, led some opposition politicians to question the legality of the poll. Ruben Mirzakhanyan, chairman of the Ramgavar party, argued that the HHSh's hold on power rested on an elaborate network of patron-client relationships permeating the national and local governments as well as the police. In December, 1995, Ter-Petrossyan appeared to be distancing himself from the HHSh, which, he said, should form the nucleus of a broader right-wing party.
The disputed presidential poll of September 1996, in which Ter-Petrossyan was narrowly re-elected with 51.75% of the vote, served to split the HHSh into two camps: the "bureaucrats" grouped around former Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan, former national security adviser Davit Shahnazaryan, and parliamentary legal affairs committee chairman Eduard Yegoryan; and powerful shadow economic interest groups backed by former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghyan (now mayor of Yerevan) and Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsyan.
Two months ago, political forces began to realign after it became apparent that the president might consider dissolving the current parliament and holding early parliamentary elections. In early April, Ter-Petrossyan initiated talks with ARFD representatives, which observers in Yerevan predict will culminate in that party's re-legalization. If that happens, the Dashnaks could once again emerge as the strongest opposition party.
In late May, Hairikyan announced that he no longer recognizes Vazgen Manukyan as leader of the opposition National Alliance created in September 1996 to support Manukyan's presidential candidacy. Also in late May, Bagratyan, whose aggressive free- market policies earned him the nickname of the "Armenian Gaidar," launched his own liberal political party, Azatutyun. Several ranking members of the HHSh have already defected to that party, while Hairikyan and other opposition leaders have also indicated they are willing to cooperate with the liberals.
On 30 May, the Yerevan branch of the HHSh met to prepare for the movement's congress to be held in June. Some members may break away at that meeting to align themselves either with the liberals or conceivably even with Manukyan. Many of the movement's leaders have expressed concern that the HHSh has lost its political clout and can no longer be considered the ruling party. Some have suggested that they may seek a vote of no confidence in the government of Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, the former president of Nagorno-Karabakh, who is not a HHSh member. Such a move would bring the HHSh into open conflict with Ter-Petrossyan.
In an implicit challenge to the president to choose to side with either the HHSh or the prime minister, parliament deputy speaker and ranking HHSh member Ara Sahakyan told the HHSh's newspaper Haik on 3 June that the chairman of the ruling party should be Ter-Petrossyan. Observers in Yerevan suggest that a conflict between the HHSh and Kocharyan is inevitable, particularly since the latter's campaign to wipe out tax evasion is likely to impact on the economic interests of many HHSh members. But the strong backing Kocharyan enjoys both from the president and from the ARFD makes him the probable victor. And since Ter-Petrossyan has stressed he will not seek a third term as president, Kocharyan is well placed to succeed him in the 2001 elections.
Harry Tamrazian is deputy director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty