|Monday, 18 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 94, 97-08-13
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 94, 13 August 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 TAJIK MUTINEERS REGAIN LOST GROUND...The Tajik Army's First Brigade, under the command of Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev, retook the Fakhrabad Pass 25 kilometers south of Dushanbe after a counter-offensive against government troops on 12 August. Khudaberdiyev's unit retreated from the strategic pass when troops loyal to the government began what the Russian press described as a "large offensive" supported by planes and helicopters. In an interview with RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Kosym Boboyev, the deputy governor of Khatlon Oblast, denied that government troops were engaged in fighting with Khudaberdiyev's troops in the Kurgan-Teppe and Sarband region but confirmed that the area had been bombed by "unidentified planes." Khudaberdiyev's forces shot down one military helicopter. Boboyev also said there were casualties among the population but did not give any figures.
 ...PROMPTING GOVERNMENT TO NEGOTIATEThe Tajik government and Col. Khudaberdiyev have agreed to hold talks on 13 August aimed at finding a peaceful settlement to the fighting between the First Brigade and forces loyal to the government, according to RFE/RL corespondents in Tajikistan. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov is scheduled to travel to the Kurgan-Teppe area to meet with Khudaberdiyev at the headquarters of the Russian Army's 191st Regiment, which is mediating in the conflict.
 IRAN OPPOSES DEPLOYMENT OF PEACEKEEPERS IN NAGORNO-KARABAKHThe Iranian leadership believes that the "intrusion of a military contingent," even a peacekeeping force, in the region of the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict will only destabilize the situation, according to Aram Sargssian, the chairman of the opposition Democratic Party of Armenia. Sargssian briefed journalists in Yerevan on 12 August on his recent 10-day visit to Tehran at the invitation of the Iranian Foreign Ministry, Armenian agencies reported.
 AZERBAIJAN WANTS CLOSER COOPERATION WITH NATOPresident Heidar Aliev and Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov held talks in Baku on 12 August with Nicholas Kehou, the deputy chairman of NATO's Military Committee for International relations, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Hasanov argued that NATO should not regard the Transcaucasus as a single entity but should adopt a differentiated approach to the three Transcaucasus states that takes into account the presence of Russian troops in Armenia. Kehou gave a positive assessment of Azerbaijan's participation in the Partnership for Peace program and promised NATO's assistance in improving relations between countries of the region embroiled in conflicts, according to ITAR-TASS. During his recent visit to the U.S., Aliev signed an agreement with a joint statement on military relations with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen that provides for U.S. assistance in the training of the Azerbaijani armed forces, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 6 August.
 GEORGIAN COMMUNISTS AT ODDS OVER REBURYING STALINGeorgia's two rival communist parties espouse diametrically opposing views over Stalin's final, or possibly next, resting place, according to "Moskovskii komsomolets" on 7 August. Grigol Oniani, the head of the Stalinist Communist Party of Georgia, has begun collecting contributions from the inhabitants of Stalin's home town, Gori, in order to finance the transportation there from Moscow of Stalin's remains should the Russian leadership decide it is time to remove Stalin from the Kremlin wall and Lenin from his mausoleum on Red Square. Oniani has the support of Stalin's daughter Svetlana. But Gen. Panteleimon Giorgadze, the head of the United Communist Party of Georgia, argues that both Lenin and Stalin should remain where they are.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBANIAN DEMOCRATS END BOYCOTT OF PARLIAMENTDemocratic Party Vice President Genc Pollo said in Tirana on 12 August that his party will return to the parliament on 13 August. The Democrats have until now refused to attend sessions of the new legislature to protest what they called unfair elections. They claimed that they were not able to campaign in much of the south and that violence and irregularities elsewhere in the country hurt their electoral chances. Foreign observers said the vote was not perfect but was basically acceptable under the circumstances. The Democrats were routed in the elections and have only a handful of seats in the new parliament.
 ALBANIAN GANG LEADER VOWS REVENGESecurity forces on 12 August continued their crackdown on criminal gangs in Vlora, Gjirokaster, Saranda, and Tepelena (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1997). An Interior Ministry spokesman said in Tirana that the "police forces are determined to act with firmness against eventual resistance by armed gangs." But in Vlora, gang leader Zani Caushi said he and his men will fight on, despite the arrest of three of their group. "We have some 40, 000 people with more than 25,000 guns, bombs, and grenades.... We will fight until former President Sali Berisha is hanged in Vlora's main square, " he told "Koha Jone." Vlora's police chief Haxhi Demiri called Caushi the most wanted man in town.
 MONTENEGRIN COURT TO RULE ON PRESIDENCYThe reformist wing of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) appealed to the Constitutional Court in Podgorica on 12 August to overturn the Electoral Commission's ruling the previous day on the presidential election. The commission said that President Momir Bulatovic can run for reelection as a DPS candidate, even though the commission had earlier recognized the reformists' nominee, Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, as the DPS candidate. Montenegrin law allows for only one candidate per party. The commission said it recognized both men's right to run for the office because the DPS is now, in effect, two parties, even though it has not formally split. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Yugoslav Information Secretary Goran Matic said on 11 August that the authorities will soon set up a Yugoslav- wide television station. The most likely aim of the project is to influence the upcoming Montenegrin vote.
 DID U.S. OFFER KARADZIC SAFE HAVEN?Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told the 13 August "Financial Times" that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offered Radovan Karadzic safe passage to a third country if he leaves Bosnian Serb territory. Plavsic said that Albright made the offer during her visit to the former Yugoslavia in late May but that U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke did not repeat the proposal on his recent trip to the region. Plavsic told the London daily that Albright said to her "that within two weeks [the U.S.] expected me to tell the media that Radovan Karadzic had left the Republika Srpska and that I didn't know where he was." Plavsic said she regrets that Karadzic rejected this "last chance" offer and treated her "with animosity" when she brought him Albright's message. The U.S. embassy in Sarajevo told the newspaper that it knows nothing about the offer.
 ARE NATO COMMANDOS TRAINING TO CATCH KARADZIC, MLADIC?ABC TV News reported from Washington on 12 August that U.S., British, and French commandos are training in Europe with the help of some other countries to capture top indicted war criminals. The broadcast said that no decision has been made to use the commandos but that they may well go into action in the fall. Meanwhile in Bosnia, SFOR troops began inspecting paramilitary police forces and demanding that tanks and other weapons larger than side-arms be stored under rules set down by the Dayton agreement. Any police units that have not registered with SFOR by 31 August will be considered illegal. In Banja Luka, Plavsic agreed with SFOR commander Eric Shinseki on reforms for the Bosnian Serb police.
 BOSNIAN OPPOSITION SLAMS ANTI-CORRUPTION BODYAssociated List 97, a five-party non-nationalist opposition coalition, filed a formal protest in Sarajevo on 12 August against President Alija Izetbegovic's new anti-corruption commission. The coalition charged that the commission represents only Izetbegovic's party and the Muslims, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Bosnian capital. Associated List 97 demands an official inquiry into corruption dating from the beginning of the war and that guilty persons be put on trial.
 WESTENDORP WARNS BOSNIAN SERB COURTA spokesman for Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 12 August that the international community considers Plavsic's recent dissolution of the Bosnian Serb parliament to be legal. The Bosnian Serb Constitutional Court is about to rule on her move. Westendorp's spokesman did not say what the international community will do if the court overturns Plavsic's decision. In Banja Luka, Plavsic said that she fears that her opponents are putting political pressure on the court, which will be unable to reach an objective decision. In Pale, the anti-Plavsic government objected to her request for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to monitor the parliamentary elections she has called for October.
 CROATS, MUSLIMS SAY REFUGEES CAN GO HOMEInternational mediators reached an agreement with Croatian and Muslim representatives in Jajce and Travnik on 12 August to enable Muslim refugees to return to Croat-held villages near Jajce by 25 August. A UN spokesman in Sarajevo added that the Croatian government guarantees the Muslims' security. He said, however, that he expects few Muslims to go home until it is clear that there will be no repetition of the recent attacks on the refugees by Croatian mobs. Meanwhile in Mostar, a spokesman for the UN police force said he is pleased with the progress made in setting up Croatian-Muslim police patrols, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Herzegovina's main town.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION WANTS SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONA spokesman for the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 12 August said his formation will support the initiative of the Party of Romanian National Unity to hold a special parliamentary session to debate the two government ordinances amending the education law and allowing bilingual signs in localities where minorities make up 20 percent or more of the population. PDSR spokesman Ovidiu Musetescu said that his party also wants the session to debate the recent government decision to liquidate 17 non-profitable enterprises, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Also on 12 August, Iuliu Pacurariu, a deputy of the Democratic Party, which is a member of the ruling coalition, said the parliament should change the minimum percentage required for bilingual signs to "more than 22.7 percent" to prevent the use of such signs in Cluj, Mediafax reported.
 TIRASPOL WORRIED ABOUT PLANNED MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN JOINT MILITARY EXERCISEThe leadership of the breakaway Transdniester region is concerned about the Moldovan-Russian military maneuvers scheduled for October on territory controlled by Moldova, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 12 August. According to the media in the Transdniester, the separatist leader Igor Smirnov recently discussed the exercise with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev in a telephone conversation and proposed that Transdniestrian "peace-keeping" forces participate in the scheduled maneuvers. He also told Sergeev that "voluntary forces" from the Transdniester are threatening to prevent the Russian military from leaving their barracks in order to obstruct the exercise, which Tirapsol has called a "smoke screen" for transferring Russian military technology to the Moldovan forces. Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, the commander of the Russian contingent in the Transdniester, said the threats "do not come from an uncontrollable mob" but are "inspired" by the Tiraspol leadership.
 BULGARIA ASKS AUSTRIA TO EXTRADITE FORMER COMMUNIST OFFICIALBulgaria on 12 August asked Austria to extradite Ognyan Doinov, a former member of the Politburo. A Sofia prosecutor said Doinov is charged with selling his villa for a second time in 1990, having already sold it one year earlier. Austria rejected an earlier Bulgarian request to extradite Doinov on charges of channeling state funds to third-world communist parties while in power. Doinov was ambassador to Norway when the communist regime collapsed in 1989 and refused to return to Bulgaria.
 WHEAT HARVEST IN BULGARIA DOUBLESThe government on 12 August said the country's wheat harvest for 1997 will be almost double that of last year, BTA reported. More than 3 million tons of wheat have been harvested this year, compared with 1.7 million tons in 1996.
[C] END NOTE
 A NEW DANGER OF MORAL EQUIVALENCYby Paul Goble
The old notion that the Soviet and U.S. systems are somehow morally equivalent has resurfaced in an unexpected place, one where its widespread acceptance could have even more serious consequences than it has had in the West.
In an essay published in Tallinn on 8 August, Estonian commentator Jaan Kaplinski argues that there was no fundamental difference in the moral standing of the two systems represented by the former Soviet Union and the United States. He suggests that both systems sought to impose their will on others, despoiling the environment at home and dominating satellite states abroad. Moreover, he suggests that both systems are inevitably doomed by their hubris and overreaching. Because of this, he continues, Estonians should not view one of those systems as superior to the other or use the values derived from one to judge the other. Instead, they should develop their own ideas drawing from both sides.
This superficially attractive proposition revives a concept known in the West as the moral equivalence of the two systems. The concept was widely advanced by a variety of political figures and analysts during the last years of the Soviet Union and on occasion since that time. Most Westerners making that argument suggested that since their own countries were less than perfect, they should refrain from any demand that Moscow and its system be judged according to Western standards. Whenever anyone pointed to an outrage in the Soviet Union, such people would insist that some U.S. actions were as bad or even worse.
While such ideas may have contributed to a certain modesty, they also lead supporters of the idea of moral equivalency to argue that nothing should be done to promote Western values in the Soviet bloc as somehow superior and worthy of emulation. That attitude, in turn, often meant that not only was the West afraid to defend its own values but also that many in the communist bloc lost some of the faith they had in those Western ideals.
The collapse of communism in Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union have largely discredited this view in the West. Few Westerners are willing to insist on moral equivalency between a system that had failed and their own, which is still very much live.
But now the idea of moral equivalence between the two systems has reappeared in a country where one might least expect it, a country that has had experience with both systems and thus should be able to make comparisons. If many Estonians were to accept the ideas advanced by Kaplinski in his article, that in itself could mean that Estonia and other countries in the region would be exposed to three dangers potentially far greater than when the notion worked to restrain Western criticism of Soviet acts.
First, such acceptance could call into question for many people the value of the still unfinished and quite difficult task of reestablishing democracy in a country that saw that political and social system destroyed by the Soviet invasion in 1940. Second, it could serve as a cover for the return of non-democratic forces to power. To the extent that Estonians are encouraged to think that there is no difference between systems, they would be more inclined to accept leaders whose commitment to democracy is anything but secure. And third, the acceptance of this idea could easily contribute to a more general moral relativism that would make the recovery from the impact of the Soviet invasion far more difficult.
Consequently, all those concerned about the growth of democracy need to be worried when such ideas surface and remain uncontested. To paraphrase the great Russian memoirist Nadezhda Mandelshtam, unhappy is that country in which the despicable is not despised.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty