|Saturday, 14 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 86, 97-08-01
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 86, 1 August 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT VIOLATES CONFIDENTIALITY OF PEACE TALKSIn an address at Georgetown University on 30 July, Heidar Aliev gave details of the Karabakh peace proposals that the U.S., French, and Russian co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group submitted to the conflict parties in May 1997, Turan and Interfax reported. A first stage would entail the withdrawal of Armenian forces from six Azerbaijani raions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh and the deployment of OSCE peacekeeping troops along the enclave's borders. During the second stage, Armenian forces would be withdrawn from the Lachin corridor and the strategically located town of Shusha and talks would be held on Nagorno-Karabakh's status within Azerbaijan. Aliev said Baku accepts some points of the peace plan and wants others to be revised. Armenian presidential adviser Zhirair Liparitian recently condemned Azerbaijani officials for disclosing details of the proposals. Under an agreement between the co-chairmen and the leaderships in Baku, Yerevan, and Stepanakert, those proposals are to remain confidential.
 ARMENIA ACCUSES AZERBAIJAN OF VIOLATING CFE TREATYAt a news conference in Yerevan on 31 July, a Foreign Ministry spokesman cited statistics published in Azerbaijan's Annual Exchange of Military Information that demonstrate Azerbaijan is violating the arms ceiling imposed by the1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, Armenian agencies reported. Baku is exceeding its entitlement by 50 tanks, 337 armored vehicles, and 16 artillery systems. The spokesman claimed that in 1993-1994, Azerbaijan received 947 armored vehicles, 436 tanks, and 388 artillery units from Ukraine. He also noted that 50 percent of Azerbaijan's weaponry is concentrated in the exclave of Nakhichevan, which borders Armenia.
 ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPERS' FUTURE UNCLEARGeorgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze flew to Moscow on 31 July to discuss with his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev, the future of the CIS peacekeeping troops in Abkhazia, Interfax reported. A Russian military spokesman told Reuters that it is unlikely the peacekeepers will be withdrawn, even though their mandate expired on 31 July. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Lev Mironov said a decision will be taken at the CIS heads of state summit scheduled for late October, according to ITAR-TASS. Another Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gennadii Tarasov, said it is "illusory" to believe that peace can be preserved in Abkhazia if the peacekeepers leave, Interfax reported. Georgian presidential spokesman Levan Aleksidze said, however, that new fighting is not inevitable. Also on 31 July, the UN Security Council extended for a further six months the mandate of its observer mission in Abkhazia, Reuters reported.
 CHECHNYA OFFERS TO MEDIATEChechen Deputy Prime minister Akhmed Zakaev told journalists in Tbilisi on 31 July that Chechnya "is ready to act as a mediator in the Abkhaz conflict, " ITAR-TASS reported. Zakaev met twice with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to discuss a possible meeting between Shevardnadze and Aslan Maskhadov. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 1 August quoted Shevardnadze's press spokesman as saying that Shevardnadze wants to win the support of North Caucasian leaders in order "to prevent any complications" in Abkhazia. The daily also published the text of the draft protocol on preliminary measures to resolve the Abkhaz conflict, which was accepted by the Abkhaz leadership in June but rejected by Tbilisi. The newspaper commented that Georgian hopes of a UN or NATO peacekeeping force for Abkhazia are "utopian," warning that the "arrival of Turkish troops in the Caucasus, under whatever aegis and in whatever capacity, can only inflame the situation."
 RUSSIA ANNULS KYAPAZ CONTRACTRussian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov informed Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov by telephone on 1 August that an official statement will shortly be issued confirming that Russia has annulled the contract to exploit the Kyapaz Caspian oil field, ITAR-TASS reported. The contract was signed on 4 July by the heads of the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR, Rosneft, and LUKoil. The Turkmen Foreign Ministry immediately protested that the Kyapaz deposit is located in Turkmenistan's sector of the Caspian. Meeting with Niyazov in Ashgabat on 28 July, Serov said that the Russian government assumed Azerbaijan had coordinated its actions with Ashgabat. He conceded that Russia's position was legally untenable and said the contract would be annulled, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 30 July. A spokesman for Rosneft president Yurii Bespalov told Interfax the next day that Rosneft would withdraw from the contract.
 TURKMENISTAN EXPRESSES APPRECIATION OF U.S. DECISION ON PIPELINEThe Turkmen Foreign Ministry released a statement on 31 July saying that Ashgabat "highly appreciates" the recent decision by the U.S. not to apply the 1996 act imposing sanctions on Libya and Iran to the proposed Turkmen- Iran-Turkey gas pipeline, ITAR-TASS reported. The pipeline has been under discussion for five years and would transport annually 30 billion cubic meters of gas to Turkey and Europe. Washington announced in late July that since the project benefits Turkmenistan, Turkey, and Europe more than Iran, it will not object to the participation of U.S. companies (see also "End Note" in "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 July 1997).
 TAJIK PARLIAMENT APPROVES GENERAL AMNESTYThe Tajik parliament on 1 August approved an amnesty law allowing members of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to return to Tajikistan, according to ITAR-TASS and AFP. Presidential adviser Khalifibobo Khamidov said "all criminal cases are closed and no new ones will be opened" against those who fought on the side of the UTO during nearly five years of civil conflict in Tajikistan. The amnesty does not cover those who engaged in "terrorism, banditry, drug-trafficking, large-scale theft, premeditated murder, or rape." Of the 157 deputies attending the session, 140 voted in favor of the law.
 UYGHUR DEMONSTRATION IN ALMATYBetween 40 and 50 Uyghurs attempted on 31 July to deliver a note to the Chinese Embassy in Almaty protesting Beijing's policy in Xinjiang Province, RFE/RL correspondents in the Kazakh capital reported. They were turned away by Kazakh security guards but went on to stage a demonstration in a nearby park. They carried placards that read "Freedom for Uyghuristan" and "Down With Chinese Colonists." The president of the Uyghur Association in Kazakhstan said the Uyghurs do not want trouble with the Kazakh authorities but want to show they are opposed to China's alleged repressive policy in Xinjiang Province, where Uyghurs form the majority. China announced on 28 July that several Uyghurs had been executed on 22 July for their alleged participation in riots in Yining and Urumqi early this year.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 INTERNATIONAL MEETING AGREES TO HELP ALBANIA HELP ITSELFRepresentatives of more than 30 countries and international organizations agreed with Albanian government leaders in Rome on 31 July to hold two more international aid conferences once the Albanian government finalizes its own program. Franz Vranitzky, who is the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's chief envoy to Albania, and the conference's final statement both stressed that the Albanians must quickly restore security and implement democratic practices. The statement said that "all the Albanian parties must admit that the stabilization of the situation rests in their hands first and that international assistance will depend on the degree of cooperation they show towards the international community. Law and order must be re-established in Albania, human rights and democratic rules must be respected." Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini said some Italian troops will remain after 12 August to train security forces.
 ALBANIAN POLICE TO BEGIN ROUNDING UP GUNSPashk Tusha, the police chief of Tirana, said on 31 July that his forces will soon start rounding up the illegal weapons that proliferate in the capital. Tusha added that the project will begin in the suburbs. He stated that citizens in Tirana are tired of the nightly firing of weapons and that "Tirana is more quiet that the rest of the country, so we are able to start the operations immediately." A Greek ship arrived in Durres on 31 July with bullet-proof vests and other equipment to help police in their work. There are an estimated 1 million illegal weapons across Albania, which claim several lives daily. Albanian military sources as say, however, that thefts of large weapons, such as anti-aircraft guns and missiles, have increased recently. Such stolen goods are usually sold abroad.
 ALBANIAN JUDGES DEFY MINISTRYA group of judges said in Tirana on 31 July that an order from Justice Minister Thimio Kondi to close the courts during August and urge lawyers to go on vacation was "illegal." Kondi's office claims that many court buildings have been damaged, which, he argues, prohibits the courts from functioning. The judges say that the ministry has no right to tell them what to do and that they suspect that Kondi is trying to curb their independence. Under the previous government, the court system was purged of all Socialists and Democratic Party loyalists appointed to replace them.
 MORE ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLICE FOR MONTENEGRORepresentatives of the Democratic Union of Albanians political party and Montenegrin Interior Minister Filip Vujanovic agreed in Ulcinj on 31 July to increase the number of ethnic Albanian police. More Albanians will be stationed in areas with large Albanian populations, especially in Ulcinj, BETA reported from that town. A local Albanian leader said there are now only four Albanian policemen in Ulcinj, although ethnic Albanians make up 85 percent of the local population.
 DJUKANOVIC GOVERNING PARTY CANDIDATE FOR MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENCYThe Republican Election Commission in Podgorica on 31 July registered Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic as the sole official candidate from the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) for the October elections. Djukanovic said at a campaign kick-off rally that Montenegro wants to continue to be a part of federal Yugoslavia, but only as Serbia's fully equal partner. It seems likely that incumbent President Momir Bulatovic will form a splinter party to challenge Djukanovic. The DPS recently voted Bulatovic out of the party presidency, but he and his allies in Belgrade refuse to recognize that decision. Also in Podgorica, a representative of the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour has accepted the Montenegrin prosecutor's invitation to visit Podgorica, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital.
 SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESIGNSZoran Thaler submitted his resignation as foreign minister in Ljubljana on 31 July. Thaler said in a statement that some Slovenian politicians for purely political reasons have been undercutting his efforts to integrate Slovenia in Western and European institutions and that he cannot continue under those circumstances. Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek has asked him to reconsider his decision. Some deputies in the parliament strongly opposed constitutional amendments necessary for Slovenia to secure associate membership in the EU. The changes, which allow foreigners to own property, were finally approved on 15 July. Many Slovenes fear that Italians whose families fled Slovenia at the end of World War II will now buy up scarce land.
 SANDZAK MUSLIM LEADER BLASTS SERBIAN "COLONIALISM.Sulejman Ugljanin, a political leader of Sandzak's Muslims, told a Belgrade radio station on 31 July that the latest trial against him proves "there is no democracy in Serbia and the authorities have a colonial attitude to the Sandzak region." The Serbian authorities have recently removed the legally elected Muslim government of Novi Pazar, stripped Ugljanin of his parliamentary immunity, and put him on trial. Meanwhile in Brussels, the EU appealed to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to permit international observers to monitor the Serbian presidential and legislative elections slated for 21 September. The EU also upbraided Belgrade for not implementing earlier OSCE recommendations on electoral reform and media freedom.
 WESTENDORP SAYS NO IMMUNITY FOR BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMINALSA spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the chief international negotiator in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo that anyone who has been indicted by the Hague- based war crimes tribunal is liable to arrest. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, had cited "security concerns" as his reason for not attending a recent meeting with NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana on Bosnian government territory. Westendorp's spokesman replied to Krajisnik's remarks: "If Mr. Krajisnik feels that he's on a list somewhere, that's for him and his conscience. We welcome the process of sealed indictments, we think it's good, and if its strikes terror into the hearts of those that should be frightened then we're all for it."
 MORE INTER-ETHNIC INCIDENTS NEAR TUZLAAngry crowds of Serbs turned back between 40 and 50 Muslims who were trying to return to their village of Svjetlica on 30 July. Some of the Muslims were soldiers, and one Muslim was injured in a fist-fight with the Serbs. A few days earlier, Muslims beat up Serbs near the village of Ratkovici. On 31 July, up to 300 Muslims blocked a road to protest that their village is to be included in a Croatian municipality. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, OSCE representatives slammed Bosnian Serb Television for engaging in propaganda in "gross violation" of the rules set down in the Dayton agreement. Some recent broadcasts have used racist epithets against UN personnel, and others have claimed that NATO planes were dropping poisons and vermin onto the Republika Srpska. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and U.S. Senator Carl Levin have called on NATO to jam the broadcasts.
 ROMANIAN TRADE UNIONS WALK OUT OF MEETING WITH PREMIERRepresentatives of Romania's largest trade unions on 31 July walked out of a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea after the premier did not appear on time. They accused the government of failing to provide documentation for the meeting on the discussions under way with the IMF and of changing the meeting's agenda. They also said that various ministers were providing contradictory information on privatization plans. One of the unions' leaders commented that there are only two possible solutions: the resignation of the government as a whole or an immediate reshuffle. The trade unions said that they will not return to the negotiating table unless President Emil Constantinescu takes part in the talks, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Premier Ciorbea blamed the discord in the government on the "lack of communication" among ministers.
 ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER RESPONDS TO CLUJ MAYORAdrian Severin on 31 July accused Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar of pursuing "separatist" and "segregationist" policies in Cluj, Radio Bucharest reported. He said Funar's recent statements are likely to create "tension and confusion" and to "seriously harm" Romania's interests. Severin also said Hungary has expressed concern about the mayor's actions opposing the hoisting of the Hungarian flag at the Cluj consulate. But he added that Budapest does not view those developments as endangering bilateral relations or as in any way reflecting "Romanian state policy or the feelings of the Romanian people." Also on 31 July, Funar addressed another open letter to Severin reiterating claims that hoisting the flag was illegal and that the Hungarian national emblem represents "Greater Hungary" since one of its six symbols is the Hungarian crest of Transylvania.
 WORLD BANK WORRIED ABOUT MOLDOVAN REFORMSRoger Grawe, the new chief of the World Bank's department for Moldova, expressed concern about the slow pace of Moldovan reforms at a meeting in Chisinau on 31 July with Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc. He said the bank will monitor Moldovan developments in August and then make a decision on whether to approve a credit for structural reforms, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Grawe said the World Bank was concerned that the Moldovan parliament will slow down the passage of legislation on reforms ahead of the elections scheduled for early 1998.
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW COAT OF ARMSThe parliament on 31 July approved a new coat of arms to replace the one abolished in 1991, Reuters reported. The new crest replaces a red star above a lion with the crown of the 14th century monarch Ivan Shishman above the lion. The dispute over the new coat of arms had divided the legislature for seven years. During the communist era, the Saxe-Coburg crown on the country's emblem was replaced by a red star. After 1989, the Socialist Party remained opposed to reintroducing the crown because it wanted no symbols of the monarchy on the crest. In July 1996, the then Socialist- dominated parliament approved an uncrowned lion as the country's official post-communist emblem, but former President Zhelyu Zhelev vetoed that decision. The coat of arms approved on 31 July is a compromise since the crown of the former Saxe-Coburg dynasty was replaced by that of Ivan Shishman.
[C] END NOTE
 WALKING THE MOLDOVAN TIGHTROPEby Michael Shafir
More than a few eyebrows must have been raised when Moldovan Foreign Minister Valeriu Pasat paid a two-day visit to Romania on 24-25 July and agreed with his Romanian counterpart, Victor Babiuc, to set up a "joint peacekeeping unit."
That agreement follows a recent pattern triggered in part by the efforts of would-be NATO members to "prove" to the West that their militaries can be "providers of security, not merely security consumers" (as Romanian officials recently put it) and to demonstrate that territorial disputes with neighbors are being resolved. While reaching an agreement to set up joint peacekeeping units has evidently become a rite of passage for NATO candidacy, it has seldom been followed up in practice. A Hungarian-Romanian peacekeeping unit has been in the offing for more than half a year, and there has also been talk about setting up Romanian-Ukrainian and Romanian- Polish units. More recently, Bulgaria followed suit when it decided to set up a joint peace-keeping unit with neighboring Turkey.
But while the Romanians are clearly still hoping to gain entry to NATO in a second wave of expansion, the question to be asked is why the Moldovans would be keen on such a unit. President Petru Lucinschi has repeatedly emphasized that Moldova intends to keep its neutrality and that NATO membership can be considered only sometime in the distant future, following Moldova's integration into the EU (which is clearly far from being imminent). The question is all the more relevant given that Transdniester separatists cite the "danger" of Moldova's reunification with Romania as the main reason for pursuing independence. Why should Chisinau, then, wish to provide Tiraspol with additional ammunition? While it is true that both Babiuc and Pasat stressed that the envisaged unit will not be deployed in the Transdniester, such statements are unlikely to convince Igor Smirnov's supporters.
Viewed from this angle, Pasat's expressed interest in the purchase of PUMA helicopters produced in Romania under U.S. license seems to have verged on irresponsibility. It was also unclear why such intentions were made public. Furthermore, the 24 July agreement states that Moldovan officers would receive instruction at Romanian military establishments. Moldovan Chief of Staff Gen. Vladimir Dontu, who accompanied Pasat to the Romanian capital, explained that the Moldovan officer corps could not be trained in Russia because Moscow conditioned such collaboration on participation in the CIS collective security system, to which Moldova does not belong. He added, however, that problems may arise with the plan to have officers trained in Romania because Moldovans do not have sufficient command of Romanian.
The Moldovans' seemingly strange behavior was soon explained, however. Shortly after Pasat's visit, it transpired that the "Bucharest show" was a smoke screen designed to pre-empt criticism of a real policy departure being prepared by the Chisinau government and likely to enrage the pro- unification opposition. No sooner had Pasat returned from Bucharest than he left on another visit, this time to Moscow. And it was "not a coincidence" (as "Pravda" used to write) that he reached there two agreements (one of which is still to be signed at deputy premier level) that seemed carbon- copies of those concluded in Bucharest.
There was one significant difference, however: Russian, not Romanian, troops are stationed on Moldova's territory. Nothing was said about the significance of the agreements for Moldova's non-integration in the CIS collective-security structures. But while Pasat was still in Moscow, an announcement was made in Chisinau that a CIS summit in the Moldovan capital in early fall was "under consideration." That nothing Pasat and Dontu did or said in Bucharest was "coincidental" was demonstrated at the end of the visit to Moscow, when it was revealed that Moldova was studying the possibility of purchasing Russian-made helicopters.
The agreements reached in Moscow provide for the instruction of Moldovan officers at Russian military establishments (where they apparently will have no communication problems) and for joint military maneuvers of "peacekeeping forces." The first such maneuvers are to be held in Moldova in October. The location has not yet been specified, but it is a safe bet that it will not be in the Transdniester. To hold maneuvers on that territory would infringe on what Tiraspol regards as its "sovereignty," which, such as it is, would not exist without the continued presence of the Russian troops.
While in Moscow, Pasat discussed with Premier Viktor Chernomyrdin the withdrawal of the Russian troops and the ratification by Russia of the basic treaty with Chisinau. The agreement on the withdrawal dates back to 1994 and that on the basic treaty to 1992. This, in itself, says volumes about Chisinau's recent show of tightrope-walking. While such a feat may be taken for skillful diplomacy, the origins of the metaphor should not be forgotten -- namely, the circus.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty