|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 56, 97-06-19
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 56, 19 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 NAGORNO-KARABAKH TO HOLD EARLY PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONSThe parliament of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has announced early presidential elections will be held in September, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 18 June. The disputed region's presidency has been vacant since March 1997, when Robert Kocharyan left that post to become Armenian prime minister. The November 1996 presidential elections in Nagorno-Karabakh -- the first to be held there -- were condemned by the international community.
 ALIEV TO DISCUSS OIL TRANSIT PROBLEMS IN MOSCOWAzerbaijani President Heydar Aliev has suggested that he and Russian leaders will resolve all "problems" related to the transit of early Azerbaijani oil when they meet in Moscow on 3 July. Aliev, however, added that there is no need to sign a new agreement on the pipeline from Azerbaijan to Russia's Black Sea port of Novorossiisk because Moscow did not implement the previous one, signed in 1996. The 153-km sector of the pipeline runs through Chechnya. Aliev argued that "we cannot transport our oil along that route, given the current relations between Russia and Chechnya," according to Interfax. Russian and Chechen leaders recently signed a memorandum paving the way for the export of Azerbaijani oil (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 1997). But despite Moscow's opposition, Grozny insists that a similar three-party agreement be signed by Azerbaijan, Chechnya, and Russia.
 GEORGIA'S SECURITY MINISTRY ACCUSED OF PHONE-TAPPINGIrina Sarishvili, the leader of the National Democratic Party, has accused the State Security Ministry of tapping telephone conversations of Nodar Grigalashvili, editor-in-chief of the opposition newspaper "Sakartvelo," Interfax reported on 18 June. Sarishvili submitted to a Georgian parliamentary committee what she called transcripts of the editor's telephone conversations, signed by State Security Minister Shota Kviraya. Grigalashvili confirmed that the "transcripts" were authentic. Earlier, Sarishvili had accused Kviraya of collaborating with the Russian security services.
 TAJIK UPDATEOne soldier from the Defense Ministry was killed on 18 June near the Fakhrabad Pass, 30 kilometers south of Dushanbe, according to RFE/RL's Tajik service and Interfax. Forces of the Tajik Army's First Brigade, commanded by Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, are reported to have abducted two Tajik army officers and taken them to the First Brigade's headquarters in Kurgan-Teppe. However, Kasym Boboyev, the deputy governor of Khatlon Oblast, said soldiers manning checkpoints have voluntarily gone over to Khudaberdiyev's side. He also denied that a coup has taken place in the Yavon area or in Kurgan-Teppe. The Tajik government has reportedly sent officials to negotiate with Khudaberdiyev but has still not issued a statement on the situation in the country.
 KAZAK CURRENCY TO BE DEVALUEDThe government has announced it will readjust budget indicators for June and allow the exchange rate of the tenge to drop from 73 to 77.4 to the dollar, Interfax Kazakstan reported. Deputy Finance Minister Zhanat Yertlesova said on 18 June that this decision was based on a revised forecast that puts inflation at 17.5% by year's end. Yertlesova added that the payment of pension arrears is not expected to fuel inflation in the second half of the year.
 PAKISTANI FOREIGN MINISTER BEGINS CENTRAL ASIAN TOURGohar Ayub Khan arrived in Almaty on 18 June on the first leg of a tour of four Central Asian states, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Khan met with his Kazak counterpart, Kazimjomart Tokayev, to discuss bilateral economic and political relations. Afghanistan was also high on the agenda of their talks. Tokayev said his country favors a coalition government in Afghanistan. Khan is scheduled to travel to Kyrgyzstan on 19 June. He will also visit Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
 CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTER IN KYRGYZSTANChi Haotian received support on a number of issues during his 16-18 June visit to Bishkek, according to RFE/RL correspondents and AFP. Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov said his country supports the Chinese position on reunification with Taiwan . A spokesman for the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry noted that Kyrgyzstan's "positions against separatism and religious extremism are identical" to China's. Kazakstan had given Chi similar assurances during his visit there before arriving in Kyrgyzstan. Uyghur exile groups in Kazakstan have responded by saying they can no longer count on Almaty and Bishkek for "support in the fight for the independence of Xinjiang." On 16 June, it was announced that Bishkek's Lenin Avenue will be renamed after Deng Xiao Peng.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 OSCE WANTS ALBANIAN ELECTIONS TO GO AHEAD AS SCHEDULEDThe presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged that elections go ahead, as scheduled, on 29 June, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile, 5 million cardboard ballot boxes arrived in Albania under the protection of international forces. The printing of ballot papers is slated to begin soon in Italy. Candidates lists from most of the 115 electoral districts are now complete. One list comes from the rebel stronghold of Vlora and was published only on 18 June, which is six days later than scheduled. Rebel leader Myrteza Caushi, better known as Zani, will run as an independent candidate against another rebel leader, Albert Shyti, who is a candidate of the Social Democrats, "Indipendent" reported on 19 June. In Lezha, "Koha Jone" editor-in-chief and independent candidate Nikolle Lesi now has the endorsement of the Socialists and a large number of smaller parties, Lesi told an RFE/RL correspondent.
 ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER BARRED FROM ADDRESSING RALLYA group of armed men stopped a Socialist Party convoy on the way to the north-central town of Rreshen on 18 June and did not allow Party leader Fatos Nano to hold a rally there. The Socialists finally held a meeting but without Nano, who later charged President Sali Berisha and his "discredited clan" with having organized the incident, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile in Tirana, the Osservatorio di Pavia, an Italian institution specializing in TV monitoring, published its analysis of last week's Albanian TV broadcasts. The report says that public TV adheres strictly to the rules outlined in the election law and provides air time for all parties, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. A multi-party round table met until late in the night to discuss possible last-minute changes in the election law. "Gazeta Shqiptare" says that no details are available.
 FINAL RESULTS OF CROATIAN ELECTIONSCroatian Radio reported on 19 June that the final tally for the 15 June presidential vote gives President Franjo Tudjman 61.41% The Social Democrats' Zdravko Tomac follows with 21.03% and the opposition coalition candidate Vlado Gotovac of the Liberals with 17.56%. Some 57.68% of voters in Croatia turned out, as did 23.49% of those living abroad. Also in Zagreb, the governing Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) and the Liberals reached a cooperation agreement on 18 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the capital. The HDZ-dominated city council subsequently elected the Liberals' Dorica Nikolic as deputy mayor. Gotovac and others in the Liberal leadership opposed to cooperation with the HDZ blasted the deal. Liberal Deputy Chairman Zlatko Kramaric said the party will probably formally split soon over the issue of links to the HDZ.
 WESTENDORP TAKES UP DUTIES IN BOSNIARepublika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 18 June that the Bosnian Serbs must not place any obstacles in the way of an upcoming international donors' conference. Earlier, Bosnian Serb representatives had balked at forming joint delegations with the Croats and Muslims in contravention of the international community's rules. She said such stubbornness would be "a luxury the Serbs cannot afford," since they have gotten very little international redevelopment aid to date. She met with the international community's new high representative, Carlos Westendorp. The former Spanish foreign minister, for his part, said that in his new capacity, he will place emphasis on bringing indicted war criminals to justice. Meanwhile in Brcko, the re-registration of voters has begun following the discovery of massive fraud on the part of the Bosnian Serbs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997).
 INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE ON BELGRADEThe U.S. administration on 18 June proposed to Congress that future ties between Washington and Belgrade be contingent on federal Yugoslavia's holding free and fair elections, ensuring media freedom, cooperating with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, and granting broad autonomy to Kosovo, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the U.S. capital. The document calls for the U.S. and the OSCE to bring pressure on Serbia to meet the conditions. Meanwhile, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Belgrade that Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic wants "to find out at first hand" what the recent EU summit in Amsterdam means for Yugoslavia. The EU called on Belgrade to respect the 1996 report on democracy in Serbia by former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales and to grant autonomy to Kosovo.
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT, PRIME MINISTER ADDRESS PARLIAMENTPrime Minister Milo Djukanovic addressed the parliament in Podgorica on 18 June, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. He slammed what he called "insinuations" about his wealth, which many Montenegrins believe came from sanctions-busting during the Croatian and Bosnian wars. President Momir Bulatovic is slated to address the legislature on 19 June in response to opposition demands that he and Djukanovic explain the development of the feud between them, which threatens to split the governing Democratic Socialist Party.
 UPDATE ON MACEDONIA, KOSOVOIn New York, representatives of Macedonia, Greece, and the UN met on 18 June to launch new efforts to find a permanent name for Macedonia. Greece has so far insisted that it be called "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM, because Athens says that the name "Macedonia" alone implies territorial claims on the Greek province of the same name. Skopje says the Greek claims are baseless. Meanwhile, EU spokesmen in the Hague expressed alarm at reports that 20 of the Kosovars recently convicted of terrorism had been tortured in Serbian custody. The Dutch government, which holds the EU presidency, blasted what it called Serbia's "non-respect for the rule of law."
 ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER MEETS WITH AL GOREVictor Ciorbea says he and U.S. Vice President Al Gore agreed on 18 June to set up a "special strategic partnership" between their countries. Ciorbea, who met with Gore at the start of a three-day visit to the U.S, told an RFE/RL correspondent that the partnership is to "start immediately" but its details will be worked out at meetings between the presidents of the two states later this year. Ciorbea said he received explanations from Gore on the U.S. decision to limit admittance to NATO in the first wave to three countries. He said Gore reiterated the intention to have a second wave "from which Romania will not be absent if it pursues the road on which it has started." Ciorbea said Romania is still hoping to be admitted in the first wave. French European Affairs Minister Pierre Moscovici told Senate Chairman Petre Roman in Paris on 18 June that Romania should be admitted to NATO immediately, AFP reported.
 STRIKING ROMANIAN MINERS APPEAL TO PRESIDENTThe striking miners in the Jiu valley on 18 June appealed to Emil Constantinescu to mediate in their conflict with the authorities. The miners say they did not demand a 45% increase in wages but a retroactive 30% indexation, as implemented at other state-owned enterprises in March. They say they are ready to negotiate on the remaining 15%. Also on 18 June, representatives of miners from other parts of the country came to Petrosani to show solidarity with the strikers. Extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM) leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, whom the miners have invited to go to the valley, told an RFE/RL correspondent that he was "honored" by the invitation and was ready to go there with a PRM task force "including five generals and ten parliamentarians."
 ROMANIA'S MAIN OPPOSITION PARTY TO SPLIT?In a 18 June declaration, the reformist wing of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) says the party must work out a program combining "social-democratic with social-liberal" principles. The group headed by Teodor Melescanu calls on the party to "clearly dissociate itself" from those involved in "notorious acts of corruption" and to expel them. One of the group's leaders, Viorel Salagean, told an RFE/RL correspondent that the PDSR may split if the group's demands are rejected. But PDSR chairman Ion Iliescu says there is no danger of a split, adding that those who may envisage it are politically "suicidal." The former Romanian president also rejected the call for a more center-oriented program. The PDSR is to hold its annual congress 20-21 June.
 MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN BORDER CONTROL COOPERATION AGREEMENTAn accord on cooperation between Moldovan and Russian border troops was initialed on 18 June at the end of a two-day visit to Chisinau by the commander of Russian border troops, Gen. Andrei Nikolaev. The documents must now be endorsed by Presidents Petru Lucinschi and Boris Yeltsin, BASA- Press reported. The accord provides for cooperation in information exchange, the search for suspected criminals, and mutual technical assistance. Nikolaev told a press conference that although the two countries have no common border, they must cooperate in fighting illegal migration, smuggling, and particularly arms and drug trafficking. During his visit, he met with President Lucinschi, Premier Ion Ciubuc, Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, and Security Minister Tudor Botnaru.
 BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON NATO MEMBERSHIP PROSPECTSNadezhda Mihailova says she is optimistic about Bulgaria's prospects of eventual membership in NATO. She told reporters in Washington on 18 June that her optimism is based on what she has heard recently from U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Mihailova said Bulgaria's record of stability and its key position in the Balkans make it a "solid choice" for future NATO membership. In other news, Dimitar Ganchev, deputy head of the Foreign Ministry's European Integration Department, told Reuters on 18 June that the Amsterdam European Union summit of this week was "an encouraging sign" for Bulgaria, since it gives the country "more time to prepare to meet admission conditions."
[C] END NOTE
 THE INTERNET IN ARMENIAby Julie Moffett
Armenia is making slow but consistent progress along the information superhighway, owing largely to the enthusiastic efforts of Armenian scientists, researchers, and computer experts as well as the technical and financial assistance of foreign organizations. It established a permanent Internet link in March 1994 and has had non-permanent, dial-up Internet access since 1992. However, the country faces several daunting tasks in improving its Internet connectivity, primarily because the telecommunications infrastructure in the country is so poor.
There are currently no digital lines (designed to quickly exchange data), and all of the telephone lines are analog (designed to support voice). Moreover, many of the telephone lines currently in use are substandard and antiquated . There is also an insufficient number of telephone lines for residential use and inadequate connections to rural locations. The situation is so dire that according to Armen Gyulkhasyan, deputy director of the Yerevan Physics Institute and an Internet expert, it is "almost impossible to call next door" in Armenia.
Recognizing the importance of improving the telecommunication infrastructure in the country, the Armenian government is taking steps to make substantial changes. It has formed a new telecommunications company called Armentel, which is a joint venture between the Ministry of Communications of Armenia and Transworld Corporation of the U.S. The company is installing a modern fiber optic cable and modern phone switches in Yerevan. According to Gregor Saghyan, technical director of Arminco -- a commercial Internet service provider in Armenia -- Armentel will operate as a monopoly, owning all of the long distance lines into and out of Armenia. The new system is expected to be fully operational by September 1997.
In addition to government efforts, Armenian scientists and computer experts are also taking an active role in improving Internet connectivity in the country. For example, Gyulkhasyan was instrumental role in staging a NATO advanced networking conference in Yerevan in May. The conference, titled "Internet Development in Armenia and Region: Means, Aims, and Prospects," covered Internet technology, information services, network management, Internet in education, and Internet security. According to Gyulkhasyan, the purpose of the conference was to facilitate the transfer of knowledge and to exchange experience between qualified network mangers from different environments and backgrounds. Attendees included representatives from Armenia, Russia, Georgia, Turkey, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S.
Also playing a major role in promoting Internet use in Armenia is the Armenian Internet Users' Group (AmIUG), a public organization that unites major Internet users around the country. With the assistance of two Internet experts -- Igor Mkrtoumian, the director of computer services at the American University of Armenia, and Edgar Der-Danieliantz, who is responsible for installing and running Armenia's first permanent Internet link -- AmIUG established the Armenian Network Information Center (AmNIC), the country's official network information center. AmNIC collects and stores all information on domain names, Internet addresses, name servers, contact persons, and network providers in Armenia in its database. Mkrtoumian and Der-Danieliantz have also been quite active in contributing to a greater international understanding of Internet capabilities and needs in Armenia. In an article titled "Internet in Armenia, 1996" (published in the AmIUG Bulletin, a local electronic publication of the Armenian Internet Users' Group), Mkrtoumian and Der-Danieliantz outlined the current technical capabilities and shortcomings of the Internet in Armenia. They also provided useful information on the cost of using the Internet and electronic mail in Armenia and listed Armenian Internet domain names and World Wide Web servers.
Among foreign organizations providing financial assistance to Armenia to improve Internet connectivity is the Eurasia Foundation. The Foundation is a U.S.-based, privately-managed grantmaking organization that began its activities in Armenia in 1995. Since then, it has made several important Internet-related grants.
Some of the more notable grants includes a $23,400 award to an Armenian business called the Gandzasar Center in part to support a web version of a bi-monthly informational bulletin on Armenian computer hardware and software companies. A $12,800 grant to the Information-Analytical Center will support the development of a regularly updated web site that will contain information on wholesale and retail prices of foodstuffs, fuel, real estate, construction materials, hotel and tourism, taxes and custom tariffs in Armenia. And the Armenian Internet Users' Group has received $19,500 in support of a linkage and sustainability program involving the creation of a home page on the Internet to provide specifics on Eurasia Foundation awards and invite organizations worldwide to establish contacts and pursue Internet-related collaboration with Armenia.
However, there are still several major obstacles in the way of improved Internet connectivity in Armenia:. These include poor telecommunications infrastructure; expensive telephone lines; the high cost of computer equipment relative to an average worker's salary; political unrest in some regions of the country, which impedes infrastructure reform and intimidates potential sponsors and donors, and a heavy dependence on international funding, making long-range planning difficult.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty