|Saturday, 19 September 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 57, 97-06-20
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 57, 20 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 UZBEK PRESIDENT ON RESOLVING NAGORNO-KARABAKH ISSUEIslam Karimov on 19 June said at a joint news conference with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev that there cannot be "two Armenian states in the Caucasus," Interfax reported. Karimov described Baku's position on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as correct and fair. Azerbaijan is demanding restoration of its sovereignty over the disputed enclave. Aliev, who was wrapping up an official visit to Tashkent, said Azerbaijani- Uzbek relationships have reached "new heights" and that the two presidents share views on "numerous" international issues. A total of 19 bilateral agreements were singed during his visit.
 TURKMEN PRODUCTION IN DECLINEThe State Statistics Committee has released data showing that in the first five months of 1997, industrial production dropped by 32.7% compared with the same period last year, according to the Russian daily "Delovoi Mir" on 19 June. While the gas and gas refining industries registered an increase of 1.8% and 100%, respectively, this was insufficient to offset declines in output in the electricity sector (19.6%) , the chemical and petrochemical industries (25.1%), and cotton (25%). Reduction in supplies of natural gas to several CIS states that have not yet paid their debts account for a 44% decrease in natural gas output. Gasoline and diesel fuel production also dropped 29.7% and 12.4%, respectively.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 GREEK PEACEKEEPERS KILL ALBANIANGreek troops killed an armed Albanian drug dealer in Elbasan on 18 June. It was the first time that foreign troops fatally wounded a local civilian. A total of about 1,600 Albanians have died in violent incidents since the country slid into anarchy early this year. In Gjirokaster, Romanian soldiers rescued 11 foreign election monitors from a restaurant where they were trapped by rival gangs. It was the first serious incident involving OSCE workers. Also on 18 June, armed workers of an oil refinery in Mallakaster barred director Afrim Jupi from entering the company premises. They also blocked fuel-trucks from transporting fuel away, even though the drivers had an order from Jupi. The employees argued that Jupi failed to explain the whereabouts of 5,000 tons of oil that were previously transported away but are now unaccounted for, "Republika" reported.
 ALBANIAN MULTI-PARTY ROUND-TABLE HAMSTRUNGPrime Minister Bashkim Fino walked out of a meeting of the multi-party round-table on 19 June in Tirana after a row over some aspects of the upcoming elections. The Republican Party demanded that Fino ensure freedom of movement during the campaign and provide better security at rallies. Some round-table participants accused the Central Election Commission of numerous mistakes and irregularities, "Koha Jone" reports. The CEC was appointed in late May and lacks even the most basic equipment. It has missed various deadlines in the runup to the election, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Its biggest shortcoming is its failure to resolve disputes over proportional representation and over the closing time of polling stations.
 ALBANIAN ELECTION DATE STILL IN DOUBTOSCE Election Observation Coordinator Anthony Welch said on 19 June that only 67 of 115 candidates' lists have arrived at the OSCE and that the elections may have to be postponed, "Koha Jone" reported on 20 June. No ballot papers can be printed before the lists are complete, and there are only nine days left for both printing and distribution. Welch, however, said that the election preparations are going ahead, even though the security situation also remains uncertain. In Gjirokaster, the Democrats held their first rally in the southern rebel stronghold. Only local candidates took part, and there were no incidents. The Democrats and President Sali Berisha have their power base in the north and have been threatened by southern rebels. Meanwhile in New York, the Security Council voted to extend the mandate of the Italian-led Operation Alba by 45 days into mid-August.
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY IN "SERIOUS CRISIS."Momir Bulatovic addressed the parliament in Podgorica on 19 June in the latest stage of the ongoing crisis gripping both the government and the ruling Democratic Socialist Party. Bulatovic denied that the tensions between him and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic are the cause of the difficulties, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. He said that the feud is rather an outgrowth of basic political differences between the two men. Bulatovic accused the government of favoring the south at the expense of the north. He also charged that the security services behave as a law unto themselves and are engaged in massive corruption.
 SERBIAN ROUNDUPFederal Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic met in Rome on 19 June with his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, for a briefing on the EU's recent Amsterdam summit. Dini told Milutinovic that the EU expects Yugoslavia to live up to its obligations under the Dayton agreement and to respect the recommendations on democratization made last year by Spain's former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales. In Novi Sad, Dusan Mijic, the owner of the independent daily "Nasa Borba," says that his paper will not pay the massive fines for alleged back taxes that the government is trying to impose. In Belgrade, war veterans resumed their hunger strike to demand a clarification of their status and benefits after talks with the authorities broke down. And federal President Zoran Lilic has formally endorsed Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to succeed him in the federal job.
 KOSOVO OFFICIALS SHOT ATUnidentified men fired an automatic weapon at a car carrying persons from the Serbian Interior Ministry on the road between Pristina and Podujevo on 19 June. No one was injured or claimed responsibility for the incident. In Belgrade, Refugee Minister Bratislava Morina refused to meet with women from a delegation of Serbs from Istok in Kosovo. The Serbs, whom the authorities resettled in the mainly Albanian-populated province, are demonstrating in central Belgrade for housing and other benefits they say were originally promised to them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997).
 BOSNIAN SERB ARMOR SEIZEDCzech SFOR soldiers found and confiscated a tank, two armored personnel carriers, and two artillery pieces that the Bosnian Serbs were holding in contravention of the Dayton agreement. The incident took place on 19 June near Omarska, which was the site of one of the most notorious concentration camps in the Bosnian war. And in Sarajevo, an RFE/RL correspondent reports that two frequently-postponed meetings have been put off again. One is a gathering of international aid donors to Bosnia, which is now slated for mid-July. The other is a meeting of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman and his Bosnian counterpart Alija Izetbegovic, which could take place in late June at the earliest if a dispute over Mostar is solved.
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, GOVERNMENT DISCUSS MINERS' STRIKEPresident Emil Constantinescu on 19 June met with members of the coalition government and called on them to make public "in the shortest possible time" the government's program for restructuring the mining industries and the "social rehabilitation" of the Jiu valley region. Constantinescu is due to meet with representatives of the largest trade unions and of the opposition parliamentary parties on 20 June, Radio Bucharest reports. Meanwhile, the government has announced it will send a delegation to Hunedoara for negotiations with the striking miners. The miners yesterday gave a 24-hour ultimatum to the executive to restart negotiations. Most of the mining industries unions have expressed solidarity with the strikers. In Bucharest, some 7,000 workers in the lumber industry protested against the government's economic policies.
 UPDATE ON ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER'S U.S. VISITVictor Ciorbea on 19 June had an "unscheduled meeting" with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Radio Bucharest reported. He also met with World Bank president James Wolfensohn and discussed the bank's possible increased support for Romania's social protection programs and the development of the Jiu valley. Meanwhile, State Department spokesman John Dinger said that at the first meeting with Ciorbea on 18 June, Albright had emphasized the importance to the U.S .of its relations with Romania and Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott had expressed "full support" for Romania's goal of integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. Dinger stressed, however, that this did not mean that the U.S. has already decided to back Romania in a second round of NATO expansion.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION RIFT DEEPENSMugurel Vintila and Marian Enache, members of the reformist group in the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, resigned from the party on the eve of its annual congress, scheduled for 21-22 June. They say Chairman Ion Iliescu is oblivious to calls for the restructuring of the party. In a letter to the former Romanian president on 19 June, the leader of the group, Teodor Melescanu, said he will not run for any position in the party leadership at the congress. Melescanu says he made the decision after learning that the incumbent leadership has already fixed the results of the contest for the leading party positions. Another reason for the decision, he said, is to refute the claim that the struggle for reforming the party is in fact only a struggle for power, as Iliescu had claimed.
 MOLDOVA TO POSTPONE LANGUAGE TEST?The Russian-language daily "Nezavisimaya Moldova" reported on 19 June that under a decree drafted by the Moldovan government, the requirement for public office-holders to pass a Romanian-language test would not go into effect until 2005. The decision to introduce such a test was adopted in 1989, when Moldova was still part of the former Soviet Union. Its implementation was postponed until 1 January 1997 by a decision of the parliament and of the former government headed by Andrei Sangheli, an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau reported.
 MOLDOVAN RIGHT-WING PARTIES SET UP ALLIANCEThe Party of Revival and Accord of Moldova and the Popular Christian Democratic Front on 19 June announced they have set up an alliance of right- wing political parties. The leaders of the two formations, former President Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, said in a joint declaration, that the alliance will be called the Democratic Convention of Moldova and will be open to other formations with a similar political outlook, Radio Bucharest reported.
 MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ AUTONOMY CRITICIZED BY TIRASPOLThe authorities in Moldova's Gagauz autonomous region are "enraged" by the showing in Tiraspol movie theaters of a documentary criticizing the situation in the region, BASA-Press reported on 19 June. They say the documentary, "The Gagauz Deadlock," was produced on the order of "destructive political forces in Tiraspol" and aims at discrediting autonomy as a form of government at a time when Tiraspol and Chisinau are about to resume talks on a final status for the breakaway region. Chisinau offers Tiraspol an autonomous status similar to that enjoyed by the Gagauz region. The Gagauz authorities say the documentary "distorts the real situation in the region" and is "tendentious." Earlier, Gagauz region governor Georgii Tabunshchik complained that "certain forces in Transdniester are trying to destabilize the situation" in the autonomous region.
 BULGARIA TO IMPROVE RELATIONS WITH MUSLIM WORLDDuring a three-day visit to Kuwait that ended on 18 June, Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov secured support for normalizing Sofia's strained relations with Muslim and Arab countries, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 19 June. Stoyanov will ask Turkey to withdraw complaints filed with the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in the 1980s, during communist leader Todor Zhivkov's anti-Turkish minority campaign. In return, Stoyanov has agreed to allow OIC observers to monitor the conditions of Muslims and ethnic Turks in Bulgaria. On his return to Sofia, he said Bulgaria and Kuwait agreed to start regular consultation at Foreign Ministry expert level. Agreements were signed to encourage mutual investments and to avoid double taxation. In addition, a state-owned Kuwaiti company has agreed to loan $40 million to help develop Sofia international airport.
 BULGARIAN MILITARY REFORMCol. Gen. Miho Mihov, the new army chief of staff, told reporters on 19 June that Bulgaria will replace its conscript army with a professional one and reduce its personnel by 10 %. Mihov said the army will start offering three-year contracts for professional soldiers beginning 1 September. For the time being, the army will remain a mix of professional soldiers and conscripts serving for 12 to 18 months, BTA reported.
 BULGARIAN BUSINESS EXECUTIVE MISSINGThe Ministry of Interior on 19 June said a search is under way for Penko Dimitrov, the deputy executive director of the country's state gas monopoly company Bulgargas, Reuters reported. The statement said Dimitrov had not been seen since earlier in the day, when guards at the company's headquarters in Sofia. informed him they had seen a strange car parked nearby. They had offered to accompany him, but he declined their offer. Recently, the ministry had announced that special steps had been taken to protect Bulgargas executive director Vassil Filipov after he had received threats.
[C] END NOTE
 ELECTION CAMPAIGN KICKS OFF IN POLANDby Jan de Weydenthal
Speaking on nationwide television on 18 June, Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski announced that parliamentary elections will take place on 21 September. He also said he had signed a law requiring all candidates for elective public office and senior positions in the government, judiciary, or state-run media to reveal whether they worked for or cooperated with intelligence services during communist era.
Kwasniewski said the elections will provide the public with an opportunity to express their view on Poland's efforts to join European institutions. "The next elections must bring a clear answer," Kwasniewski said, "not only about what each politician [does] but also about what each of us expects from Europe [as well as] about what and when one wants to give to this Europe." Kwasniewski's speech marked the formal opening of the election campaign, although Poland's diverse political groups had already started widespread preparations for the contest.
Most public opinion polls have consistently found that the former Communists--currently reorganized into the Social- Democratic Party, which is a senior partner in the coalition government-- are running neck-and-neck with a host of right-wing groups clustered around the Solidarity labor union. Each side has consistently attracted about 25% of support from nationwide samples. They are followed by the centrist Freedom Union, the leftist Labor Union, and the Peasant Party, which is a junior member of the current coalition government. Support for each of those groups hovers around 10%.
The ruling Social Democrats launched their campaign on 16 June with a press conference featuring Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who set the tone by claiming credit for Poland's economic successes during the last four years. "Changes took place for the better in all spheres of social life," Cimoszewicz said, adding that "one has to be blind not to see them." The party is well organized and disciplined. It is backed by numerous labor and youth groups and enjoys a relatively strong standing in the country's business community. Its slogan - - "We have kept our word" -- is designed to focus on specific issues, such as economic progress, unemployment, and inflation, that demonstrate success and to divert attention from the more general, still-unresolved problems of historical and moral justice.
It is precisely those general problems that provide the foundation for the right-wing political campaign. That campaign uses patriotic slogans and religious appeals, but its main thrust is removing all vestiges of communist past. In the opinion of many right-wing politicians and activists, involvement in communist institutions and operations before 1989 disqualifies the Social Democrats and their supporters from politics.
The Solidarity-led Electoral Action (AWS) consists of some 45 separate groups that have very different political programs and policy interests. It has been held together until now by the simple realization that none would be able to enter parliament and/or participate in government on its own.
But signs of potential internal conflict within AWS have recently emerged, with several groups vocally complaining about the centrally drafted lists of candidates. Some have complained that Solidarity is taking a disproportionate share of positions on the ballots. The union has denied this but says that since it is the strongest component of the AWS, it is entitled to a major share.
Several prominent centrist politicians, such as the popular former foreign and finance minister Andrzej Olechowski, have recently announced their departure from the AWS, openly disagreeing about its program and the style of its political campaign. Olechowski said described the umbrella organization as excessively populist and nationalistic.
Others complain about the AWS's close identification with, and uncritical support for, the Catholic Church. The AWS has championed the ban on abortion, for example, and its leader, Marian Krzaklewski, recently declared his support for a complete and unconditional ban on abortions.
The election campaign is certain to intensify in the coming weeks. But there are already serious concerns that it may focus too much on infighting between those considered to have lingering links to the communist regime and those advocating a final break with the past. There are also fears that this type of campaign may merely exacerbate Poland's current social and economic problems by deepening, rather than narrowing, the long-existing cleavages. Kwasniewski's reminder about the need to concentrate on political choices for Poland's future appears intended to put stress on other, more pertinent issues. But it is far from certain whether this advice will be heeded by the public, not to mention the politicians.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty