|Monday, 18 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 62, 97-06-27
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 62, 27 June 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 TAJIK PEACE AGREEMENT SIGNED...Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri signed the Peace and National Reconciliation Accord in Moscow on 27 June in the presence of representatives from observer nations and organizations, RFE/RL correspondents in Moscow reported. Russian President Yeltsin, who also attended the signing ceremony, said the accord was a "bright, memorable page" in Tajik history. In addition to officially ending the five-year conflict, the accord provides for the return of opposition supporters and refugees to Tajikistan, legalizes the political parties that make up the UTO, and calls for the integration of the armed forces of both the government and UTO. It also grants the UTO 30% of government posts and establishes a 26-member reconciliation commission made up of an equal number of representatives of the current government and the UTO.
 ...FOLLOWING ELEVENTH-HOUR NEGOTIATIONSShortly before the agreement was signed, chief UTO negotiator Ali Akbar Turajonzoda threatened the UTO would not put its signature to the document, citing the failure to carry out prisoner exchanges and the lack of clarity over which seats in the Tajik government would be turned over to the UTO, RFE/RL correspondents in Moscow reported. Closed-door talks and a late- night meeting between Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov and UTO leader Said Abdullo Nuri followed. As a result, a new protocol was drawn up whereby 50 prisoners from each side would be set free by 15 July. Also, the reconciliation commission is scheduled to meet for the first time on 7 July in Moscow to decide which Tajik government positions will be allocated to the UTO (see also "End Note" below).
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 POLITICAL VIOLENCE INCREASES ON EVE OF ALBANIAN ELECTIONSEleven people were injured in a shoot-out at a Democratic Party rally in Lushnja on 26 June at which President Sali Berisha was present, "Dita Informacion" reported. It remains unclear how the shooting started and who was behind it, an eyewitness told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana. In Vlora, a gunman fired wildly at a meeting of about 500 supporters of the United Right of Albania coalition. National Front leader Abaz Ermenji was present at the rally, at which one person was killed and two injured, "Koha Jone" reported. "Indipendent," however, says the incident was a fight between gang-leader and independent parliamentary candidate Zani Caushi and the members of another gang. Journalists and international observers were forced to remain in their hotel all day. It remains unclear if the situation has improved.
 VRANITZKY WANTS ALBANIAN POLLS TO CLOSE EARLYOrganization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) mediator Franz Vranitzky met with Albanian President Sali Berisha in Tirana on 26 June and urged him to change the closing time of the polling stations from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m on 29 June. Berisha had argued that only the Constitutional Court could make such a decision, but Vranitzky told a press conference that he believes that the Central Election Commission could request that the court grant it the authority to make that decision, "Indipendent" reported. The court is expected to announce a decision on 27 June. The opposition wants an earlier closing time to reduce the chance of fraud under the cover of darkness. Meanwhile in Saranda, two ethnic Greek politicians were kidnapped in separate incidents on 26 June. Control of Saranda and the rest of the far south is in the hands of armed gangs.
 THREE ALBANIAN PARTIES SAY THEY'D FORM COALITION GOVERNMENTThe party leaders of the Socialists, Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance have pledged to form a coalition government should they win a majority in the parliament, "Dita Informacion" reported on 27 June. The Social Democrats and the Socialists have already nominated joint candidates to increase their chances of receiving direct seats, but the Democratic Alliance has not joined them. The three parties also cooperated in drafting a joint proposal for a new constitution, which has been a controversial issue in Albania since 1994.
 KOSOVAR ALBANIANS CRITICIZE MILOSEVIC'S VISITThe Albanian-language media in Serbia's Kosovo province reacted angrily to President Slobodan Milosevic's visit to the area on 25 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). The independent "Koha Ditore" called Milosevic's appearance a "return to the scene of the crime," a reference to his emotional political rallies in Kosovo during his rise to power in the late 1980s. "Bujku," which is close to the leading Democratic League of Kosovo, said the visit was "an obvious demonstration of force...designed to give new life to Serb nationalist extremism." Belgrade papers noted that few Albanians were in the audience for Milosevic's speeches, and "Koha Ditore" added that even local Serbs were unenthusiastic about their guest.
 MILOSEVIC'S PARTY BACKS DOWN ON CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGESRadmilo Bogdanovic, the vice president of the upper house of the federal Yugoslav parliament, said in Belgrade on 26 June that his Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) will not try to push through constitutional changes aimed at increasing Milosevic's power (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). Bogdanovic said that the SPS decided to back down because of its Montenegrin allies' opposition to the amendments. He added that elections in Serbia will take place sometime between October and December and that the SPS expects to win the presidential vote again.
 UN SECRETARY-GENERAL CRITICIZES CROATIAN TREATMENT OF SERBSKofi Annan told the UN Security Council on 26 June that Croatia has not done enough to win the confidence of eastern Slavonia's Serbs. Annan said he is concerned that the area's return to Croatian control in mid-July could prompt large numbers of refugees to flee to Serbia and Montenegro. Such an exodus, he added, could have a destabilizing effect on the entire region. Annan earlier called for the UN to delay its withdrawal until it is clear that the Serbs will be well-treated (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1997). Belgrade and the local Serbs also want the UN to stay on. In Luxembourg on 26 June, EU foreign ministers endorsed Annan's proposed delayed withdrawal. And in Zagreb, Milorad Pupovac, a leader of the Serbian minority, said that there are now 250,000 Serbs in Croatia, down from 700, 000 before 1991.
 CROATIA SAYS IT DOES NOT NEED LOANPrime Minister Zlatko Matesa told a closed-door government session on 26 June that Croatia can do without a $30 million loan from the World Bank, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Washington is trying to delay the credit in order to force Croatia to better observe the Dayton agreement (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1997). The government later issued a statement accusing the Hague-based war crimes tribunal of treating Croatia unfairly and of favoring the Muslims. President Franjo Tudjman, however, said again that Croatia will faithfully implement the Dayton agreement. Meanwhile in Dalmatia, the authorities shut down one independent television station and three privately-owned radios. Officials claimed that the four broadcasters had not paid for their licenses. A spokesman for the station denied the charge.
 OSCE DISQUALIFIES FOUR CROATIAN CANDIDATES IN BOSNIAN VOTEInternational officials supervising the September local elections said in Sarajevo on 26 June that they have dropped four ethnic Croats from the ballot. The four members of the Croatian Democratic Community were allegedly involved in fraud in registering voters in Zepce and Capljina. The OSCE has already banned from the ballot 25 members of the Serbian Democratic Party for similar reasons, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Meanwhile in Brussels, NATO officials agreed to send 3, 000 additional peacekeepers to Bosnia for the elections. The soldiers will come from the countries that currently contribute troops to the 31,000- strong SFOR.
 ROMANIAN LOWER HOUSE RATIFIES TREATY WITH UKRAINEThe Chamber of Deputies on 26 June approved by 165 to 92 votes the basic treaty with Ukraine, signed by Presidents Emil Constantinescu and Leonid Kuchma on 2 June. The three opposition parties voted against ratification. The treaty must now be approved by the Senate, Radio Bucharest reported. The same day, the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM) organized a demonstration against the treaty in front of the presidential palace in Bucharest. President Constantinescu told the protesters will raise the problems of the Romanian minority in Ukraine when he meets President Leonid Kuchma in Izmail, Ukraine, on 3 July.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER RECEIVES ADVISE FROM SLOVAK PREMIERSlovak Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar says former President Ion Iliescu must regain power because both Romania and Slovakia "should be governed by patriotic forces." In a letter to Iliescu published on 26 June by the daily "Romania libera," Meciar has volunteered to "contact the Russian leadership, based on our old contacts" (which he does not, however, specify). Meciar says that, "for the sake of our joint efforts to obtain security guarantees for that part of Central Europe...that will remain without protection after the NATO enlargement," he is also ready to use other "contacts I have in Moscow." He advises Iliescu to refrain from exploiting growing social unrest over reforms. He notes he has been informed about that unrest by the extreme nationalist Romanian politicians Corneliu Vadim Tudor and Gheorghe Funar.
 MEDIATORS IN TRANSDNIESTRIAN CONFLICT SUBMIT DRAFT AGREEMENTThe mediators in the conflict between Moldova and the Transdniester breakaway region have submitted a draft proposal for a settlement, BASA- press reported on 26 June. The Russian, Ukrainian, and OSCE mediators expressed the hope that the draft will serve as the basis for a "speedy and successful" outcome of the negotiations. No details were released on the contents of the document. In other news, Vasile Tarateanu, the president of the Federation of Romanian Communities in Ukraine, handed Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi a memorandum on the situation of Romanians in Ukraine and asked him to intervene on their behalf. Radio Bucharest reported on 26 June that the memorandum describes the problems faced by Romanians living in the Odessa and Chernivici regions. Lucinschi promised Tarateanu to discuss the matter at the meeting of the three countries' presidents in Izmail next week.
 TIRASPOL KGB TRIES TO ABDUCT MOLDOVAN COMMUNIST LEADERThe security forces in the town of Bendery-Tighina, which is under the control of the Transdniestrian authorities, recently tried but failed to abduct Moldovan Communist Party leader Vladimir Voronin, Infotag reported on 26 June. Voronin confirmed the incident to the news agency but refused to provide any information. According to Infotag, Voronin was in Bendery- Tighina at the time to attend a meeting of local Communists. It cites "local observers" as saying the breakaway region's leadership "utterly dislikes" Voronin's activities in the Transdniester. A growing number of local communist organizations have pronounced themselves in favor of unification with the Moldovan Communist Party. The Tiraspol authorities view this possibility as an "encroachment on Transdniester statehood," Infotag reported.
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REDUCES CUSTOMS TARIFFSThe parliament on 26 June approved a bill abolishing custom tariffs on imports of mineral fuels, crude oil and its by-products, and a number of other items. Other import tariffs were reduced from 20% to 5%. Reducing tariffs on imported goods is one of the conditions set by the IMF for the release of a $25 million loan, Infotag reported. In other news, the agency reported that the Romanian private television company Pro-TV will launch a channel in Moldova by the end of 1997. The channel, to be called Media-Pro, will being operating with a $1 million investment by the U.S. Central European Media Enterprises, which owns a majority of shares in Pro-TV.
 HEROIN ADDICTION GROWING IN BULGARIAFilip Lazarov, head of the National Council on Drug Addiction, told Reuters on 26 June that the country is facing a sharp increase in the number of heroine addicts. "Every day 30 to 50 young people in the big cities are becoming dependent on heroin," he said. Interior Ministry spokesman Razum Daskalov said his ministry has evidence that more than 2,000 drug addicts are involved in criminal activities. Daskalov told a news conference in Sofia that Bulgaria's crisis-ridden economy faces difficulty in fighting drug addiction and related crime. In other news, one of the miners injured in the explosion at the Bobovdol coal mine (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1997) has died from burns and methane gas poisoning, Reuters reported. Three other miners are in critical condition.
[C] END NOTE
 Peace in Tajikistan or a New Stage in the Conflict?Umed Babakhanov and Bruce Pannier
Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition leaders signed a long-awaited peace agreement in the Kremlin on 27 June. Witnessed by ranking officials from the UN and observer countries as well as President Boris Yeltsin, the signing could bring an end to five years of internal unrest. On the other hand, it could merely mean a new stage in that conflict.
Several factors made the signing possible. Among the most important is war-weariness on the part of the public and the warring sides. The apparent determination of Russia and Iran to stabilize Tajikistan in the face of the fundamentalist Taliban threat in Afghanistan is also another major factor.
But while the parties involved seem intent on consolidating peace in Tajikistan, it is likely that the signing ceremony in the Kremlin will be followed by all manner of political intrigues. The country's new battlefields are likely to become the lobbies of the government buildings in Dushanbe, as both sides begin to tackle the question of question of dividing power.
Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov faces the extremely difficult task of selecting 30% of the leading government posts and handing them over to his enemies of yesterday. That selection process is bound to incite tension within the presidential camp. And the question remains whether Rakhmonov will be able to accomplish that task. Even minor Dushanbe officials have their own "protection" in the form of small military units with which government institutions neither want nor are able to compete.
Another bone of contention will be the redistribution of property. Under pressure from international financial organizations, the government has proceeded with property privatization over the past few years. But, numerous members of the opposition and the thousands of Tajiks who fled to other countries to avoid the fighting were unable to participate in that process. Opposition leaders, their supporters and many citizens are likely to want a share of the pie, and it will be up to the government to make sure they get it.
There is also the likelihood that isolated events will spark local armed confrontations. A strong and stable central government is needed to try to prevent such conflicts and to deal with them if and when they arise. But it is debatable whether such a government can be formed when, under the peace agreement, government institutions are to be composed of members of the forces loyal to Rakhmonov, on the one hand, and the opposition, on the other.
Finally, there remains the need to take into account a wide range of political, regional, financial, and others interests. Recent experience in Tajikistan suggests that ignoring those interests will foster tension and separatist tendencies, which, in turn, could provoke armed conflicts. Such a scenario could turn Tajikistan into another Afghanistan.
Umed Babakhanov is a journalist for Tajikistan's Asia Plus news agency based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty