|Monday, 30 November 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 47, 97-06-06
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 47, 6 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY DENIES PLANS TO INVADE ABKHAZIAThe Defense Ministry has issued a statement denying press reports that Georgian forces are preparing for a military attack on Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 June. The press reports claimed that the reason for First Deputy Defense Minister Dzhoni Pirtskhalaishvili's resignation was not personal friction between himself and Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze but Pirtskhaliashvili's opposition to the planned offensive. Addressing troops on 26 May, the anniversary of the 1918 proclamation of Georgia's independence, Nadibaidze had said that their primary obligation was to restore Georgia's territorial integrity, if necessary by force.
 ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN KYRGYZSTANMore than 500 people assembled outside the government building on 5 June and presented a list of demands to the government, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. The protest was organized by Kyrgyzstan's Committee to Protect Journalists and was joined by a group representing the homeless in the capital. The protesters demanded the release of all journalists currently detained or jailed in Kyrgyzstan and an investigation into the 3 June beating by Kyrgyz militia of four people who had staged a hunger strike outside the government building. They also want the resignation of Bishkek Mayor Boris Silayev and his administration and increased efforts to help Bishkek's homeless. Deputy Prime Minister Mira Jangaracheva went out to talk to the demonstrators but they said they would only speak to Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov.
 FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN KAZAKSTANKenneth Derr, the president of the U.S. company Chevron, told an investment conference in Almaty on 5 June that his firm has already invested $800 million in Kazakstan and plans to invest $20 billion in the Tengiz oil field project over the next 40 years, Interfax reported. The Tengizchevroil joint venture is already producing 160,000 barrels of oil per day and hopes to increase this to 700,000 barrels per day by 2010. President Nursultan Nazarbayev told the conference that foreign companies to date have committed themselves to investing more than $60 billion in the coming years. He noted that direct investment now totals $6 billion. and that by 2003, Kazakstan will be producing 100 million tons of oil annually. Nazarbayev also said the recoverable mineral resources in his country are estimated at $8.7 trillion.
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT IN ASHGABATLevon Ter-Petrossyan arrived in Ashgabat on 5 June for a two-day official visit, ITAR-TASS and Noyan Tapan reported. Ter-Petrossyan and his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurat Niyazov, signed an agreement on avoiding dual taxation and a memorandum on expanding bilateral cooperation. They also signed a protocol whereby Armenia will provide Turkmenistan with manufactured goods and gold in payment of its $35 million debt for Turkmen natural gas supplied in 1994-1995.
 FREAK STORMS STRIKE TURKMENISTANHeavy rains fell in southern Turkmenistan from 2-4 June, causing damage in and around the capital, Ashgabat, ITAR-TASS reported. The level of the Atrek and Firuzinka Rivers rose as much as 3 meters and brought stones and wood into villages located on their banks. One plane at Ashgabat's airport slipped off the runway as it was landing and fell on its side. No casualties were reported. The rain fall is the heaviest recorded for June since 1929.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 FINO CALLS FOR ALBANIAN ELECTION PACTPrime Minister Bashkim Fino has invited all political parties to sign an agreement on the fair conduct of the election campaign. He said in Tirana on 5 June that the apparent assassination attempt on President Sali Berisha the previous day was a "dangerous precedent" (see RFE/RL Newsline, 5 June 1997). Politically polarized Albania has a tradition of political violence and is awash with weapons, but the attack on Berisha was the first such incident involving a major political figure in the current campaign. Also in Tirana, ATA reports that a bomb went off in a school yard but that police have arrested the culprits. In Vlora, Italian peacekeepers broke up a shoot-out involving 18 Albanians near the Italians' headquarters.
 MILOSEVIC TO RUN FOR YUGOSLAV PRESIDENCY, BUT MONTENEGRO BALKSTop officials of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia said in Podgorica on 5 June that Milosevic will run for the federal presidency later this year, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. Montenegro's Democratic Socialist Party, however, has said it will decide later whether to endorse Milosevic. It added that it rejects Milosevic's plans to strengthen the federal presidency or to elect the president by direct vote. Current Federal President and Milosevic- loyalist Zoran Lilic's term expires later this month. Milosevic cannot legally seek a new term as Serbian president, and the opposition has said it will take to the streets again if he tries to bend the law to be able to run again. His alternative means of holding onto power would be to run for a strengthened federal presidency.
 SERBIAN OPPOSITION AGREES ON ELECTION PACTRepresentatives of some 12 opposition parties met in Belgrade on 4 June and agreed on a set of minimum conditions that the government must meet before the parties will participate in the Serbian elections due later this year. Key points include ensuring access to electronic and other media and providing funding for the parties. If their demands are not met, the parties said they may actively obstruct the elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade. Meanwhile in Athens, the Greek telecommunications company OTE announced it will join Italy's Stet in taking a 49% share of Telecom Serbia. The London-based Financial Times wrote on 5 June that the deal "reflects a flourishing political relationship between Greece and Serbia, including the Bosnian Serbs."
 CROATIAN OPPOSITION PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE BEATENVlado Gotovac, the Liberal and opposition coalition candidate in the 15 June presidential elections, was assaulted by a man wearing a military uniform in Pula on 5 June. Gotovac fell to the ground and briefly lost consciousness. He then returned to address his followers in the Istrian port city. Croatian authorities have promised to issue a statement on the incident on 6 June, Hina reported. Tomac's party spokesman told reporters in Zagreb that he was flown back to the capital where he is undergoing medical tests. The spokesman added that Gotovac is suffering from a concussion and is in shock. Police arrested the assailant. Meanwhile in Osijek, the authorities have pardoned Ante Gudelj after he had just begun serving a 20-year sentence for the murder of Josip Reihl-Kir. Reihl-Kir was a local moderate police chief whose murder was a key development in the run- up to the war between Serbs and Croats in eastern Slavonia.
 WESTENDORP TO GIVE PRIORITY TO CATCHING BOSNIAN WAR CRIMINALSCarlos Westendorp, the international community's new high representative in Bosnia, said in Madrid on 5 June that he will give priority to catching war criminals. He said he will try to persuade local leaders to hand over their war criminals and added that if they do not comply, he will consider what he called "pressure." Westendorp echoed recent statements by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stressing that the international community will help those who observe the Dayton accords and isolate those who do not. In Banja Luka, Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic discussed refugee return and economic cooperation with her federal opposite number, Vladimir Soljic. And in Pale, the Bosnian Serb government approved a trade agreement with federal Yugoslavia that in effect eliminates administrative restrictions on trade between Belgrade and Pale, BETA reported.
 SLOVENIA HOSTS CENTRAL EUROPEAN PRESIDENTSA conference of eight presidents opens in Portoroz and Piran on the Slovenian Adriatic coast on 6 June. President Milan Kucan is hosting his counterparts from Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Italy, and Hungary. The gathering is especially important to Slovenia because it is counting on support from Germany and Italy, in particular, in its drive to join NATO and the EU. The main problem is that Rome could continue to block Ljubljana's EU candidacy unless Slovenia changes its laws to allow foreigners to own property. Many Slovenes are worried that Italians with family roots in Slovenia could buy up land and houses. Kucan told the Prague daily Pravo on 5 June that his country sees its future in Central Europe, not in the Balkans.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION MOVES SECOND NO-CONFIDENCE MOTIONA motion of no confidence in Victor Ciorbea's cabinet was moved on 5 June by 143 deputies from the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania and the Party of Romanian National Unity, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The motion will be debated on 9 June. The signatories say the reform package that the premier recently submitted to the parliament (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997) is not in line with the government program approved by the parliament last year. The legislature is scheduled to debate on 6 June another no confidence motion proposed earlier by the opposition.
 RIFT WIDENS IN ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTYMircea Cosea, deputy prime minister in charge of economic reform in the former cabinet headed by Nicolae Vacaroiu, has openly joined the camp of those calling for the restructuring of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997). Cosea was interviewed on national television on 5 June, together with Iosif Boda, the main critic of the current party leadership. The two men said they do not intend to bring about a split in the party at its upcoming national conference. But they noted that their political future will depend on whether the PDSR is able to restructure itself and to allow a free democratic debate on the party's future course (see also "End Note" below).
 MOLDOVA'S GAS DEBT TO RUSSIA TO BE PAID IN INSTALLMENTS?President Petru Lucinschi on 5 June phoned his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov asking them to help find a formula to repay Moldova's debt to Gazprom in installments. Infotag and BASA-press reported that Lucinschi told the Russian leaders he had received a telegram from Gazprom threatening to cut off supplies if the debt were not cleared. According to the Moldovan presidential office, Yeltsin and Nemtsov agreed to negotiate a mechanism for the repayment of the debt without cutting supplies. Moldova owes Gazprom some $570 million, of which $300 million is the debt of the Transdniester breakaway region
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON CURRENCY BOARDThe parliament on 5 June approved the law establishing the country's currency board within the National Bank. The law prevents the National Bank from fueling inflation, tying local money supply to foreign-currency reserves, and covering state budget deficits by printing money. The same day,. Ivan Kostov's government nominated former Finance Minister Svetoslav Gavriiski to replace Lyubomir Filipov as National Bank governor. Meanwhile, a team of FBI agents that will advise Bulgarian authorities on fighting organized crime met with Justice Minister Vassil Gotsev (see RFE/RL Newsline, 4 June 1997), RFE/RL Sofia correspondents reported. The team will also advise the government on drafting anti-crime legislation.
 BULGARIAN PRIME MINISTER SUMS UP BRUSSELS VISITAt a press conference in Brussels on 6 June at the end of his three-day visit, Kostov stressed that Bulgaria's quest to join NATO and the EU by no means diminishes the importance of its relations with Russia. During his visit, Kostov met with EU, NATO, and Belgian officials. ITAR-TASS quoted Kostov as saying that at his meetings at NATO headquarters on 5 June, he received assurances that the aim of the alliance's July Madrid summit is not only to establish which new members will be admitted to the organization but also to set up a "mechanism of open doors" providing for further NATO expansion in the future.
[C] END NOTE
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY IN TURMOILby Michael Shafir
The Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) is scheduled to hold its annual national conference in June, its first major gathering since having been voted out of power last fall. The question is whether the party will be able to redefine its course of action and produce a leadership capable of finding a political formula that will win back voters disillusioned with its seven-year rule following the fall of communism. Presumably, the first thing it must do is present a united front and prove itself capable of pursuing a clear ideological line and doing away with what the electorate deems either obsolete or repugnant.
Few political analysts would dispute that the remnants of communist ideology, which guided many of the PDSR leaders before 1989, are obsolete and the party's political clientelism--which is unavoidably linked with corruption and which Vladimir Tismaneanu, a U.S. political scientist of Romanian origin, diagnosed as early as 1990 as "kleptocracy"--is repugnant.
Yet, the possibility of a united leadership capable of dealing with such issues seems even more remote than ever. In fact, the upper echelons of the PDSR seem increasingly engaged in a "war of all against all" as the national conference draws nearer. Nothing illustrates this better than the recent public duel between PDSR deputy Iosif Boda, on the one hand, and Ion Iliescu, Romania's former president and PDSR chairman, and one of his deputies, Adrian Nastase, on the other hand. Boda, who was the manager of Iliescu's ill-fated presidential campaign in 1996, accused Nastase of leading the party to a dead-end and demanded his resignation. The former campaign manager was harshly criticized by Iliescu, who demanded that Boda leave the party. For the time being, Boda, a former ambassador to Switzerland, has received only a warning from the party. But, according to sources in the PDSR, his expulsion cannot be ruled out.
That Iliescu would act in a manner reminiscent of how he himself was treated by his presidential predecessor, Nicolae Ceausescu, is not surprising, given his personal history and the fact that Boda destroyed what Ceausescu would have called "the party-unity monolith." But the conflict is a lot more complicated than that.
There are two possible ways to approach analyzing the rifts in the PDSR. A "Kremlinological" approach would search for alliances, acts of treason, and realignments within the party and would not overlook the fact that Boda has demanded Nastase's replacement by another PDSR deputy chairman, former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu. Earlier, at a Sibiu branch PDSR regional conference, some delegates called for Iliescu's replacement as party chairman by Melescanu--a call reiterated at least at one other gathering of a PDSR branch. Until then, Iliescu was generally considered opposed to Nastase, who, justifiably or not, is perceived as embodying all the defects that helped the PDSR loose power, including corruption. The "Kremlinologists" would also emphasize that the "enemies of my enemy" are "my friends" and that Nastase is therefore Iliescu's buddy once again. To strengthen that argument, the "Kremlinologists" would also point to an ongoing ideological dispute. Boda and Melescanu are known to belong to a group that wants to forge a Western- style, social-democratic identity for the PDSR (one of its members, the Iasi deputy Mugurel Vintila, even called it the Social Democratic Movement of Romania). The group is said to be opposed by another that wants the PDSR to form an alliance with the leftist-nationalist opposition represented in the parliament. The trouble is that the "players" in this game of ideological musical chairs seem to keep changing camps, leaving it unclear where either Iliescu or Nastase stands. On the other hand, it only goes to show that a second approach--one that is closer to political sociology than to "Kremlinology"--may be more appropriate in analyzing developments within the PDSR. As a "clientelist" party, the PDSR has been left in a most precarious position. Not only is it no longer able to "distribute goods" to prospective allies, but its members have been brusquely removed from influential positions in state structures and leading economic institutions. The "war of all against all" within the PDSR is perhaps no more than a struggle over diminished resources. Be that as it may, the "Boda affair" does not bode well for Iliescu's party.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty