|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 54, 97-06-17
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 54, 17 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL DIVULGES DETAILS OF NEW KARABAKH PEACE PLANAzerbaijani State Adviser Vafa Guluzade has summarized the draft peace plan that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group submitted to the leaderships of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the self- proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in late May, Noyan Tapan reported on 16 June, quoting Azerbaijani media. The plan gives Nagorno-Karabakh autonomous status within Azerbaijan and the right to its own constitution but stipulates the downsizing of the Karabakh armed forces. It calls for the withdrawal of Karabakh Armenian forces from five raions in Azerbaijan, the town of Shusha, and the Lachin corridor, which would be leased and policed by the OSCE. In addition, Nagorno-Karabakh would be granted the status of a free economic zone. Interfax reported on 16 June that the Minsk Group co-chairmen may submit a report on Karabakh to the G-7 summit in Denver.
 MODEST PROGRESS IN ABKHAZ TALKS?In his weekly radio address, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said on 16 June that the ongoing talks in Moscow between Russian, Abkhaz, and Georgian representatives are no longer at a "standstill" and that his Abkhaz counterpart, Vladislav Ardzinba, is "seeking compromise solutions," Interfax reported. Shevardnadze reaffirmed his readiness to meet personally with Ardzinba. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 June similarly quoted Russian Foreign Ministry special envoy Gennadii Ilichev as saying a "certain" progress has been made. Russia rejects the Abkhaz argument that economic difficulties preclude the repatriation to Abkhazia of ethnic Georgians who fled the region in 1992-3. But it supports the Abkhaz refusal to condone the deployment of CIS peacekeepers throughout Gali Raion to which the Georgians wish to return.
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENTARY CRISIS DEFUSEDBabken Ararktsyan resumed his duties as parliamentary speaker on 16 June after lengthy discussions with President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, and Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian, Armenian agencies reported. On 11 June, Ararktsyan had offered his resignation to protest the rejection of a draft law he had proposed that would allow students to continue to defer conscription (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997). The parliament, however, voted not to accept his resignation. Discussion of an alternative draft law, which abolishes the deferment provision, is to be postponed until the fall. If adopted, that bill will take effect only in 1998. Eduard Yegoryan, the chairman of the parliamentary Commission on State and Legal Affairs, condemned the mentality whereby the "first thought that comes to parents when a son is born is how to exempt him from military service," Noyan Tapan reported.
 CONSORTIUM ASSESSES EXPORT PIPELINESRepresentatives of the Azerbaijan International Operating Company [AIOC] told journalists in Baku that the choice of the export pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil will be decided on economic rather than political grounds, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 17 June. AIOC vice president Gregory Rich said the Baku-Ceyhan route favored by Turkey is the most expensive and would be economically disadvantageous to Azerbaijan. He added that the export of Azerbaijan's oil via Ukraine, although technically feasible, may be economically disadvantageous since the AIOC plans to sell the oil in question to southern European countries. Rich said he doubted that either Turkey or Ukraine could afford to pay world prices for Azerbaijan's oil for domestic consumption. On 13 June, Azerbaijan's parliament ratified an agreement between the state oil company SOCAR and a consortium of European and Iranian companies to develop the Lenkoran-Deniz and Talysh-Deniz deposits, Interfax reported.
 TAJIK ARMY LEADER ON TROOP MOVEMENTCol. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, the commander of the Tajik Army's First Brigade, told "ASIA PLUS" that units from his brigade moved from their base in Kurgan-Teppe to the Yavon district as part of military maneuvers scheduled to finish on 18 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 1997). Khudaberdiyev denied he would seek to prevent fighters of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) from returning to Kurgan-Teppe following the signing of the Peace and National Accord Treaty on 27 June in Moscow. But he added that they must be disarmed when they arrive, saying he would not tolerate people who would "destabilize" the area. Khudaberdiyev also noted there are 48,000 refugees in Kurgan-Teppe and that all of them have been given jobs.
 CHANGES IN KAZAK GOVERNMENTPresident Nursultan Nazarbayev has appointed Deputy Prime Minister Dyusenbay Duysenov as minister of energy and natural resources, according to RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty. Duysenov replaces Viktor Khrapunov, who now becomes mayor of Almaty. Shalbay Kulmakhanov, until now mayor of Almaty, becomes the head of the State Committee for Emergency Situations, replacing Nikolai Makiyevskii.
 BELGIAN COMPANY AWARDED CONCESSION FOR KAZAK GAS NETWORKThe Belgian company Tractabel has been awarded a 15-year concession for natural gas transport networks in western and southern Kazakstan, Interfax reported on 16 June. Tractabel will pay Kazakstan $30 million for the network and will invest $600 into it. Tariffs and transportation rates will be set by Kazakstan's anti-monopoly committee. Last year, Tractabel was awarded a contract to develop a power grid for Almaty.
 KAZAK MINERS DEMONSTRATESome 500 miners in the northern Karaganda region held a one-hour rally on 16 June to protest the country's pension system, according to RFE/RL corespondents and ITAR-TASS. They also drew up a petition to President Nazarbayev asking him to reconsider changes made to that system last year, when the eligible age to receive pensions was raised from 60 to 63 for men and 55 to 58 for women. The miners point out that the career expectancy of a miner is 20-25 years.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADERUnidentified assailants attacked Socialist Party Secretary-General Rexhep Mejdani as he was on his way to attend a rally in Puke on 16 June, "Dita Informacion" reported. Some 30 attackers ambushed Mejdani at Qafe e Celes in northern Albania with machine-guns and grenades. Mejdani, who had an escort of special police forces, was not injured, even though five bullets hit his car. The rally in Puke was canceled. Mejdani described the incident as an "act of political terrorism."
 FAMILY MEMBERS DENY VLORA KILLING WAS POLITICAL VIOLENCEFamily members say that Greta Grabova, the sister-in-law of Vlora's Democratic Party leader Argent Grabova, was killed in crossfire in a gang fight on 14 June, not in political violence as earlier reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 1997). They said that the media misrepresented the incident, and local police chief Haxhi Demiri agreed, "Indipendent" reported. One other person was killed and six injured in the shoot-out. Meanwhile, the local salvation committee was quoted by "Indipendent" as having declared on 16 June that President Sali Berisha would be "shot at with all available arms, if he comes to Vlora."
 CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER ALBANIAN ELECTIONSOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe spokesman Mark Smith told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 17 June that the multinational body is aware that "there will be irregularities" during the elections on 29 June. He also said the OSCE is not going to announce any findings of its monitoring mission before the final report goes to the European Parliament. According to Smith, there will be between 400 and 450 OSCE observers. They will be protected by multinational forces when traveling to areas outside Tirana. But U.S. experts from the National Democratic Institute said in Tirana on 16 June that there is such chaos in Albanian that the vote may have to be postponed in some areas. One U.S. diplomat agreed, calling Albania "a third- world country having a melt-down."
 OSCE, U.S. CALL CROATIAN VOTE "FREE BUT NOT FAIR" OSCE monitoring chief Paul Simon, a former U.S. senator, charged in his official report in Zagreb on 16 June that the presidential vote the previous day was "fundamentally flawed." Simon said that incumbent Franjo Tudjman, who easily won the election , enjoyed unfair advantages over his opponents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1997). He singled out the state- run electronic media for having displayed particular bias in Tudjman's favor. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright expressed similar views in Washington, noting that the opposition did not have a fair chance to get its message across to the voters. Albright added that the flawed election will not help Croatia's case for a $30 million World Bank loan due to be decided in June.
 WORLD BANK PUTS FUTURE BOSNIAN AID IN DOUBTRepresentatives of the World Bank said in Sarajevo on 16 June that the bank will approve no more aid projects for Bosnia if the republic does not pay $8 million to the bank within 45 days. The bank will drop all contact with Bosnia if the $8 million, which is part of Bosnia's $620 million share of the old Yugoslav debt, is not paid within 60 days. The mainly Muslim- Croatian federation has agreed to pay its share, but the Serbs say they have no money, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Also in Sarajevo, Turkish President Suleyman Demirel said that NATO forces should stay on beyond June 1998 in order to ensure peace. And in Berlin, a similar message came from Michael Steiner, the outgoing international deputy high representative for Bosnia.
 SERBIAN LEFTISTS SAY MILOSEVIC REFLECTS PEOPLE'S WILLThe steering committee of the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) endorsed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav presidency in Belgrade on 16 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. The leaders of JUL said that Milosevic's candidacy "is an expression of the citizens' broadest consensus and trust." The committee also backed Milosevic's call for the federal president to be elected directly. JUL consists mainly of elderly hard-line communists and is headed by Mirjana Markovic, who is also Milosevic's wife. The president is currently elected by the parliament, in which increasingly independent-minded Montenegro has a strong voice. In a direct one-man, one-vote election, Serbs would outnumber Montenegrins 10 to one.
 POLITICAL FIREWORKS IN MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATUREThe opposition Popular Concord coalition introduced a motion in the parliament in Podgorica on 16 June to oppose Milosevic's plans to elect the federal president directly. The draft resolution said the proposed constitutional changes would destroy the equal status of Serbia and Montenegro under law. The text added that Milosevic's candidacy is detrimental to political and economic reform in federal Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. In another development, deputies from the governing Socialists agreed that editors in the state-run media are responsible only to the administrative bodies of their own organizations. There had been calls from the Socialists and Popular Concord for the parliament to sack top officials at state-run TV.
 UPDATE ON ROMANIAN MINERS' STRIKEA miners' delegation failed to reach agreement with representatives of the government in talks in Bucharest on 16 June, Radio Bucharest reported. The miners are demanding that Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara come to the valley for further negotiations. Vlad Rosca, who is in charge of relations with the trade unions, said agreement was reached on nearly all demands made by the miners but that the government cannot agree to increase wages by 45%. He also said the executive cannot interfere with the judicial procedure and release miners' leader Miron Cozma from detention. Meanwhile, unrest has spread to other mining areas. Miners in the Filipestii de Padure mining area near Ploiesti joined the sanctions and roads were blocked in several counties.
 ROMANIA TO HOST ISRAELI-SYRIAN PEACE TALKS?Adrian Severin, on a two-day visit to Israel, told his Israeli counterpart, David Levy, that Romania is willing to host Israeli-Syrian peace talks, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 16 June. Israeli diplomatic sources said Jerusalem views the initiative positively . Severin also asked Israel to back Romania's bid for NATO admission in the first wave, according to the same sources. Israeli officials said they back Romania's candidacy and consider the country to be a "factor of stability in the Balkans." The previous day, Severin and Levy signed an accord on avoiding double taxation. Severin also met with Premier Benjamin Netanyahu, President Ezer Weitzman, and opposition leaders Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres. On the last day of his visit, he held talks in Bethlehem with Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority.
 UPDATE ON MOLDOVAN AGRARIAN PARTY CONGRESSAddressing the congress of the Agrarian Democratic Party of Moldova (PDAM) on 14 June, Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc called on PDAM parliamentary deputies to rally behind the government's reform program, Infotag reported on 16 June. He said the program cannot work if those who should be personally responsible for its success do not take responsibility for the program. PDAM leader Dumitru Motpan, however, stressed that the party cannot agree to the law on agrarian reform proposed by the executive. He said the PDAM was not opposed in principle to making land purchasable but that it wants the peasantry to be transformed into "genuine land owners" and will not allow "land concentration in the hands of financial tycoons." Motpan also insisted that the PDAM must continue defending "Moldovanism" as a definition of national identity, BASA-Press reported on 16 June.
 MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER ON RIGHT-WING ALLIANCEValeriu Matei, the chairman of the opposition Party of Democratic Forces, says he is in favor of establishing an alliance of right-wing forces before the parliamentary elections but that the step should be made only after careful preparations. Matei told Infotag on 16 June that "there is no need to hurry" when the precise date of the elections, due to be held in 1998, is not yet known. He said that "haste may lead to the formation of a shaky, non-lasting alliance." Earlier, former President Mircea Snegur called for setting up a coalition of right-wing parties on 23 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 June 1997), a call endorsed also by Popular Christian Democratic Front leader Iurie Rosca. An RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau said that the leaders of the other right-wing parties consider Matei's position to be a "subtle attempt" to postpone setting up the coalition.
 BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTONResponding to an appeal by Nadezhda Mihailova to publicly name the countries that might be invited to join NATO in a second wave of enlargement, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said it is "not the inclination" of the administration to do so. The two leaders spoke at a press conference on 16 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Mihailova said her country's "immediate national interest" is to join NATO. Later, U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns said the administration believes a prudent approach is required, adding that the progress recently made by Sofia "is very important and a good sign about the direction in which Bulgaria is going."
 BULGARIAN PRESIDENT IN KUWAITPetar Stoyanov said at the beginning of a three-day visit to Kuwait that his country has opened its doors to foreign investors, the official Kuwaiti KUNA agency reported on 16 June. He invited Kuwaiti and Gulf investors to avail themselves of the opportunity to invest in Bulgaria. Stoyanov held talks with Emir Sheik Jaber al-Ahmad al-Sabah and with interim Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheik Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, AFP reported.
 EU OFFICIAL IN BULGARIAMartin Bangemann, the EU commissioner for industrial affairs, information technologies, and telecommunications, has met with members of the parliamentary Committee for Foreign and Integration Policies to discuss steps aimed at accelerating Bulgaria's integration into the EU, BTA reported on 16 June. Committee chairman Assen Agov said they also discussed possible Bulgarian-EU projects related to infrastructure development.
[C] END NOTE
 THE LAST WORD ON NATO EXPANSION?by Paul Goble
Washington's decision to support invitations for only three countries in the first round of NATO expansion is almost certainly definitive. But European support for inviting as many as five new members at the July summit in Madrid may provide an opportunity for some countries not included in either plan to receive a public timetable for their inclusion in future rounds of expansion. That possibility is likely to drive much of the diplomatic activity in Eastern Europe over the next few weeks.
On 12 June, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued a statement indicating that Washington would support issuing invitations to Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic in the first round of expansion of the Western alliance. Clinton's statement came in the week of suggestions by nine European NATO members that Slovenia and Romania should also be invited now. It appears to have ended the discussion, even though it clearly angered many Europeans both inside and outside the alliance.
The following day, Neris Germanas, the foreign policy adviser to Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas, told journalists that the U.S. declaration, while likely definitive, is not an end to the matter. Germanas suggested that the differences between the U.S. and some of its NATO allies on whether the number of new members should be three or five might give Lithuania, its Baltic neighbors and other East European states a chance to extract a promise for the future. What Vilnius is looking for, he went on to suggest, is a commitment by the alliance to include the Baltic countries as members in the second or, at worst, third round.
Germanas' suggestion is nothing new. During the past two years, Lithuanian officials have urged the Western alliance to identify all the countries that will be invited eventually and then indicate when any particular one will be included. Such a strategy-- called by some the "first who, then when" approach--would give a kind of surrogate security to countries not included in an early round and would prevent the emergence of an insecure gray zone between the alliance and Russia.
What makes the Lithuanian suggestion especially interesting is that Vilnius has been very much opposed to the proposals of some European countries to take in five, as opposed to three. Like some Europeans and many Americans, Lithuanians have been very frank in expressing their view that inviting five new members now would almost certainly delay a second round, if not rule out any possibility of future growth altogether. That is because many in the West would see such a step as somehow final owing to the reactions it would produce both at home and in Russia and owing to the difficulties and expense current members would face in absorbing five rather than three.
Germanas's comment indicates that the Lithuanian government is clearly calculating that differences between Washington and some of its European allies open the door to negotiations. Vilnius is thus likely to step up its campaign for a declaration that a second round will take place at a precisely defined time and that the alliance is prepared to declare that Lithuania will be invited to join at that time.
Whether that strategy will work or whether the Lithuanians are taking this step because they do not know what else to do remains to be seen. But their approach means that the 12 June U.S declaration may be the last word on the first round of NATO expansion. But it almost certainly will not be the last one on the question of the future growth of the Western defense alliance.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty