|Friday, 23 October 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 51, 97-06-12
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 51, 12 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER TENDERS RESIGNATIONBabken Ararktsyan offered his resignation on 11 June after his proposed draft law on military conscription received only 55 votes, Reuters and Armenian agencies reported. Ararktsyan's law retained deferment for students. Deputies voted instead to consider an alternative draft law drawn up by Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian after President Levon Ter-Petrossyan proposed that its provision on abolishing deferment for students go into effect only next year. Ararktsyan said he was resigning because the Defense Ministry had exerted "brutal" pressure on deputies to vote for Sargsian's draft, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The parliament voted by 131 votes to 11 not to accept Ararktsyan's resignation. Also on 11 June, Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan dismissed rumors that Ter-Petrossyan is to receive medical treatment abroad, saying "as far as I know, the president is in good health," Noyan Tapan reported.
 GEORGIAN, ABKHAZ REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN MOSCOWGeorgian Ambassador to Russia Vazha Lortkipanidze and an Abkhaz delegation that included President Vladislav Ardzinba met in Moscow on 11 June to discuss a peace settlement, Interfax reported. Ardzinba told journalists later that a number of bilateral Abkhaz-Georgian agreements, including one on repairing the Inguri hydro-electric power station, are currently being drawn up. Col.-Gen. Andrei Nikolaev, the head of the Russian Federal Border Service, told Interfax on 11 June that an eventual withdrawal from Abkhazia of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed there will not affect the Russian border troops stationed on the frontier between Abkhazia and Russia.
 UTO GIVES ITS VERSION OF RECENT BORDER INCIDENTAli Akbar Turajonzoda, the deputy leader of the United Tajik Opposition, has refuted accounts by Russian border guards of violence that reportedly broke out along the Tajik-Afghan border. Various media sources reported that 30 fighters were killed when a group of 80-100 armed men tried to force their way past Russian border guards (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). According to some sources, the armed men were members of the UTO. But in an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik service, Turajonzoda said no UTO fighters have attempted to cross into Tajikistan. He claimed that, in an act of "pure provocation," Russian border-guard helicopters and artillery fire were directed at the northern Afghan village of Nusahir, where UTO fighters have a base. Turajonzoda also questioned why any UTO fighters would fight their way into Tajikistan when they will be able to enter the country legally after the 27 June signing of the final treaty with the Tajik government.
 CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER IN KAZAKSTANChi Haotian, met with his Kazak counterpart, Mukkhtar Altynbayev, in Almaty on 11 June, and discussed expanding military ties, ITAR-TASS reported. Chi said after the meeting that China will offer boats to Kazakstan for patrolling the Caspian Sea and that some Kazak officers will learn Chinese to facilitate future exchanges and negotiations. Chi is also scheduled to meet with Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbayev. His visit is expected to accelerate the implementation of the troop reduction treaty that Kazakstan signed with China in late April.
 URANIUM SHIPMENT IMPOUNDED IN KAZAKSTANTwo freight cars carrying 60 tons of raw uranium have been impounded by Kazak customs officials, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 June. Customs officers in Aktyubinsk halted the shipment when the proper documentation could not be found for the uranium. It was later discovered that the uranium originated from the Karabaltinskii ore-processing factory in Kyrgyzstan and was sold to the U.S.-based Allies Signal company through the mediation of Russia's Izotop company. The Kyrgyz supplier of the uranium claims it did not know the rules for transporting uranium through Kazakstan. In addition, radiation levels were above admissible norms. The cargo is nonetheless expected to continue after correct documentation has been obtained.
 IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN KYRGYZSTANKyrgyz President Askar Akayev met with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati on 11 June and said he is pleased with his country's relations with Iran, according to RFE/RL correspondents. Akayev noted that trade between the countries was $3.9 million in the first quarter of 1997 and is steadily increasing. An Iranian consulate will soon open in Kyrgyzstan's second-largest city, Osh, while a Kyrgyz consulate will begin operations in Meshhed, Iran. Velayati praised Akayev and Kyrgyzstan for the role played in the Tajik peace process and said he hoped Kyrgyzstan would send a representative to the 27 June signing in Moscow of the final Tajik peace treaty.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ITALIAN, ALBANIAN SHIPS EXCHANGE FIREAn Albanian freighter carrying 700 people fired at an Italian Coast Guard ship near Durres on 11 June. The Italians returned fire and forced the ship to return to port. Albanians on the ship denied that any of them had fired on the Italians. Also on 11 June, five Albanians were robbed and killed near the Greek border by an armed gang after they returned from Greece. In nearby Gjirokaster, the Greek consulate closed temporarily after it was fired on. And in Tirana, Nikolle Lesi, the publisher of the independent daily "Koha Jone," said that President Sali Berisha's bodyguard recently sprayed Lesi's car with machine gun fire and nearly attacked his home. Lesi threatened "blood revenge" if he or any of his family is hurt.
 ALBANIAN ELECTION FACES PROBLEMSAlbanian authorities have not yet set up all polling stations, even though the deadline passed on 31 May, "Dita Informacion" reported from Tirana on 12 June. Many of the district commissions do not have regular meeting places, either. The Central Election Commission wants computers set up in all 115 districts, but it is unclear whether the Institute for Applied Mathematics will be able to do so in time. Meanwhile in London, Brian Pridham, who recently quit as OSCE election coordinator, told reporters that he resigned because his moral and professional standards would not permit him to continue. He said the OSCE is determined to validate the Albanian elections, despite widespread irregularities.
 ALBANIAN SOCIALIST DENIES PLAN TO REPAY PYRAMID LOSSESSocialist Party leader Fatos Nano continued his tour through southern Albania on 11 June, holding meetings in Tepelena, Memaliaj, and Ballsh, "Zeri i Popullit" reported on 12 June. He told the rallies that most Albanian dailies wrongly reported his speech in Vlora the day before (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). He denied that he intends to compensate investors for money lost in the collapse of the pyramid schemes. He made clear, however, that he will try to track down the money and give it back if he can find it. He then left for Athens to meet with representatives of the Greek government and Albanian immigrants.
 MILOSEVIC NOMINATED FOR FEDERAL YUGOSLAV PRESIDENTThe steering committee of the Socialist Party of Serbia has officially nominated Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav presidency, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade on 11 June. Incumbent Zoran Lilic's term runs out on 25 June. But in Podgorica, the steering committee of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) voted to postpone until 23 June any decision on the federal presidency, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The issues at stake are whether the DPS should endorse Milosevic's candidacy as well as his calls for increased federal presidential powers and the direct election of the federal president. Milosevic needs the support of the increasingly independent-minded DPS in the federal parliament to succeed on all three counts.
 KOSOVO SERBS LAUNCH HUNGER STRIKEWomen from 12 Serbian families from Istok on 11 June joined a hunger strike in a park outside the Belgrade offices of Serbian President Milosevic. The men from those families began their hunger strike the previous day. The Serbs demand apartments and other social benefits that they say the authorities promised them in 1991. The government settled the families in Istok after they fled their homes in Slovenia and Croatia. The hunger- strikers told BETA that no top government officials have met with them, despite promises to do so. One woman complained that the authorities have time only for "war criminals [and not for] ordinary people." Meanwhile in Kosovo, a judge in Vucitrn said that a bomb went off in the center of town near a Serbian cafe the previous day but that nobody was injured.
 MORE MASSIVE VOTING FRAUD IN BOSNIAOSCE monitors said in Sarajevo on 11 June that they are closing all four voter registration offices in Brcko because of massive fraud by the Bosnian Serb authorities in registering voters. The monitors added that all voters in the strategic northern town will probably have to register again. Last year, local elections across Bosnia were postponed until September 1997 because of massive fraud in signing up voters, especially by the Serbs. Each of the three sides has registered voters in such a way as to consolidate its hold over key territories. Also in Sarajevo, monitors said on 10 June that a Muslim hospital director in Zenica has been dictating to his staff how to register. The monitors said that every Bosnian must be free to choose whether to register and, if so, where to do so.
 SLAVONIAN MURDER CASE GOES TO THE HAGUEA spokesman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said on 11 June that the court is tightening security measures following leaks of confidential information to the press in the former Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from The Hague. In Zagreb, the attorney for Jadranka Reihl-Kir said on 10 June that his client will ask the tribunal to press charges against Ante Gudelj, her husband's murderer, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Croatian capital. The Croatian authorities recently pardoned Gudelj after he had barely begun serving a 20-year sentence for the 1991 murder of Josip Reihl-Kir. Reihl-Kir was a Slavonian moderate police chief whose murder by Croatian hard-liners was a key development in the run-up to the war between Serbs and Croats.
 CROATIAN OPPOSITION RALLY BANNED?Spokesmen for Social Democratic presidential candidate Zdravko Tomac said on 12 June that the Zagreb city authorities will not give Tomac a permit to hold a rally in central Jelacic Square on 13 June. The spokesmen said they interpret the authorities' decision as tantamount to a ban on the rally, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. President Franjo Tudjman will hold a rally in Jelacic Square on 12 June, while Liberal candidate Vlado Gotovac spoke there the previous night. Polls currently put Tomac in second place behind Tudjman for the 15 June elections. Meanwhile, Development Minister Jure Radic said on 10 June that only 4,353 Serbian refugees have formally applied to return to their homes in Croatia. Radic was responding to claims by U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith and others that tens of thousands of Serbs are waiting to return, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb.
 ROMANIAN PREMIER CLAIMS GERMANY BACKS NATO MEMBERSHIPVictor Ciorbea, addressing a Movement of Civic Alliance meeting in Bucharest on 11 June, confirmed that German Chancellor Helmut Kohl has promised to back Romania's bid for admission to NATO in the first wave of expansion, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The German leader was reported to have made that pledge at a meeting of the European People's Party faction in the European Assembly in Strasbourg the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 June 1997). In response to a question of an RFE/RL correspondent in Berlin, however, the chief of the German Federal Press Office in Bonn said he "could not confirm" the position attributed to Kohl. Meanwhile, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" on 12 June quotes the Chancellor's Office as saying that while in Strasbourg Kohl "expressed sympathy" for Romania's NATO bid but that the Christian Democratic leaders' expression of support cannot be viewed as a decision that only NATO can take.
 ROMANIAN LABOR PROTESTThousands demonstrated on 11 June in Bucharest and nine other towns against the government's economic policies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The demonstrations were organized by the National Syndicate Block (BNS), one of Romania's largest trade unions. BNS leader Dumitru Costin said the previous day that his union is protesting the lack of dialogue between the government and the unions and the slow pace of implementing social protection measures. The BNS is demanding pay rises and indexing salaries to reflect price hikes, as well as cutting value-added tax on basic food products. In other news, Gen. Ion Stan, the commander of Romania's air force, and his co-pilot were killed on 11 June near Timisoara when their two-seater Czech-made L-39 plane crashed while attempting to land. A military commission has been set up to investigate the incident.
 TRANSDNIESTER APPLIES FOR MEMBERSHIP IN CIS PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLYAt the CIS Parliamentary Assembly session in St. Petersburg on 8-9 June, the Transdniester breakaway region applied for membership in that body, Moldovan media reported. Moldovan parliamentary deputy chairman Dumitru Diacov told Infotag that a Transdniester Supreme Soviet delegation attended the meeting because the forum was scheduled to discuss the settlement of the Chisinau-Tiraspol conflict. He said the delegation used this opportunity to apply for membership, adding he was confident no CIS member would "risk" backing the application. Diacov also said the Moldovan delegation refrained from responding because "it was clear that such a request cannot be considered by the assembly," which, he said, can accept only internationally recognized states as members.
 WORLD BANK'S IDA EXPANDS MANAGER TRAINING IN MOLDOVAThe World Bank's International development Association (IDA) on 11 June approved a $9 million credit to Moldova to expand a program for training business managers to work competitive market economies. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington cited the bank as saying the virtual non- existence of a supportive network for small and medium-sized industrial enterprises is a "particularly acute problem in Moldova" because of the small domestic market and traditional agricultural specialization. A similarly-funded IDA loan granted in February helped radically restructure 15 enterprises. The new program will train at least 400 managers from 200 private enterprises. The bank says that unless such training is quickly undertaken, a majority of the country's private enterprises will be forced into bankruptcy in the next few years.
 BULGARIAN PRINCE ADVISES ON ECONOMIC AFFAIRSPrince Cyril of Saxe-Coburg-Gota, the son of exiled king Simeon, was received by President Petar Stoyanov on 11 June and attended a meeting of the presidential Economic Development Council that discussed ways to stabilize the economy, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. The prince, a 33- year-old economist with the Lehman Brothers bank in London, also met with Prime Minster Ivan Kostov and Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Bozhkov. The previous day, Reuters quoted Prince Cyril as saying the international finance community considers Bulgaria's introduction of a restrictive monetary system under the new currency board as an "extremely positive step."
 BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES CHANGES TO INSURANCE LAWThe cabinet on 10 June approved changes to the insurance law in a bid to stop organized crime using insurance companies as a front for racketeering. The U.S.-based "Journal of Commerce" reported on 12 June that the amended law raises the minimum authorized capital for incorporating life insurance companies from 200 million leva (some $127,000) to 2 billion leva. It also bans insurers from running other businesses, such as security services. More than 100 companies registered as insurers are reported to be involved in racketeering. Kostov said no measure against organized crime would be efficient without first fighting the '"pressure insurers." A National Insurance Council is to monitor and supervise the activity of insurance companies.
 BULGARIAN COURT DISMISSES CASE ON PIRATE COMPACT DISCSA court on 11 June acquitted the defendant in the country's first case on alleged piracy of compact discs, Reuters reported. Bulgaria ranks second, behind China, in CD piracy. The prosecution accused Marko Mihailov, manager of a local firm, of organizing the production of CDs in 1995-96 in breach of the country's copyright laws. The discs were sold in Russia, Romania, and the Czech Republic. A representative of a Dutch company said the acquittal was owing to "some serious gaps in the materials presented to the court." She added that the case was nonetheless a "positive indication" that the authorities are fighting CD piracy.
[C] END NOTE
 ENLARGING EASTERN EUROPEby Paul Goble
Growing links between countries on either side of what was once the border of the Soviet Union are the latest evidence of a trend that expands Eastern Europe, reduces the likelihood of conflicts among countries there, and improves the chances that those countries will gradually be absorbed into Western institutions.
The most dramatic and potentially the most important of those new linkages are between the two largest countries in the region, Poland and Ukraine. Last month, Polish President Aleksandr Kwasniewski and his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kuchma, signed a joint declaration intended to overcome the often difficult past relationships of their peoples and lay the foundation for the development of closer economic, political, and security ties.
The product of intensive diplomatic efforts by both sides, this document is one of a series of agreements between Poland and other traditionally East European states, on the one hand, and the Baltic countries and former Soviet republics, on the other. Also likely to have an impact on future developments across this region are the recent rapprochement between Poland and Lithuania and, to an even greater degree, the agreement between Ukraine and Romania defining their common border. Speaking before the signing of the Polish-Ukrainian declaration, Kwasniewski said that he and his fellow leaders in the area want agreements like the one he and Kuchma signed to have an "effect on the region and on Europe as a whole." Those hopes may well be justified. Accords of precisely the kind signed by Kuchma and Kwasniewski may come to play a larger role in the transformation of both Europe and international relations than even the well-publicized NATO-Russia Founding Act.
There are three reasons for this. First, agreements across what was the border between Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union further reduce the importance of that frontier in the thinking of leaders on either side of that line and in the calculations of leaders in countries further afield. Ukrainian, Moldovan, and Baltic leaders increasingly see themselves as part of Eastern Europe, thus expanding the boundaries of that concept. Moreover, leaders of countries beyond this region increasingly view those countries in that way, thereby reducing the relevance of the boundaries of the former USSR for any current or future purpose--regardless of what some Russian nationalists may say.
Second, such agreements also reduce the possibility of new conflicts between countries and peoples that have frequently been at odds in the past. Poles and Ukrainians, for instance, have often been locked in conflict; their leaders have now pledged that they never will be again. To the extent that they are adhered to, such pledges not only integrate Eastern Europe as an entity in its own right but also transform the meaning of that region for Europe as a whole and the rest of the world. For many people in Western Europe and even further afield, Eastern Europe has been almost a synonym for internal divisions and conflict--except when it has been occupied or dominated by some outside power. With accords like the ones signed between Poland and Ukraine and between Ukraine and Romania, East Europeans are demonstrating that these are misconceptions and that Eastern Europe is ready to take its place in a truly united Europe.
Third, the willingness and ability of countries such as Poland and Ukraine to cooperate sends a strong signal to NATO and the European Union that they are now able to engage in precisely the kind of integrative activities that lie at the basis of both those Western institutions. As a result, those countries who reach such agreements may make themselves stronger candidates for inclusion in those Western bodies.
The U.S. and many European countries have made such cooperation among the countries in the region a test and precondition for their inclusion in Western institutions. On occasion, Eastern Europeans have chafed at those requirements, but the leaders who have sought to meet them are likely to be the beneficiaries
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty