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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 95, 97-08-14

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 95, 14 August 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TAJIK PRESIDENT FIRES MUTINOUS COLONEL
  • [02] SITUATION CALMS IN KURGAN-TEPPE...
  • [03] ...WHILE VIOLENCE FLARES ELSEWHERE
  • [04] PRIMAKOV, ARDZINBA IN TBILISI
  • [05] GEORGIAN FUGITIVES TO DEMAND FINANCIAL COMPENSATION
  • [06] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS RUSSIA'S "LAND FOR BASING RIGHTS" OFFER

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS STORMY PARLIAMENT SESSION
  • [08] MONTENEGRIN COURT RULES AGAINST PRESIDENT
  • [09] SERBS IN MONTENEGRO PROTEST CONCESSION TO ALBANIANS
  • [10] NATO COMMANDER CALLS ON KARADZIC TO SURRENDER
  • [11] ALBRIGHT DENIES SHE OFFERED DEAL ON KARADZIC
  • [12] BRCKO UPDATE
  • [13] TALKS UNDER WAY TO SEND INDICTED BOSNIAN CROAT TO THE HAGUE
  • [14] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, TRADE UNIONS REACH AGREEMENT
  • [15] RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN TRANSDNIESTER CRITICIZES TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP
  • [16] MOLDOVA TO SELL MIG-29S
  • [17] MOLDOVAN PREMIER DENIES INTENTION TO RECOGNIZE BESSARABIAN CHURCH
  • [18] BULGARIAN POLICE SEIZE PIRATED VIDEOS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [19] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN CONTEST OWNERSHIP OF CASPIAN OIL FIELD

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TAJIK PRESIDENT FIRES MUTINOUS COLONEL

    Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov signed a decree on 13 August relieving Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev of his duties as commander of the presidential guards rapid reaction force. Khudaberdiyev has made no official statement, but the Khatlon Defense Council, which was largely created by the mutinous colonel, has rejected the decree. Rakhmonov has appointed Sherali Mirzoyev as commander of the rapid reaction force.

    [02] SITUATION CALMS IN KURGAN-TEPPE...

    The southern Tajik city of Kurgan-Teppe was quiet on 14 August, according to a resident interviewed by RFE/RL's Tajik Service. The resident said that the previous night, gunfire could be heard from the direction of Sarband and the Fakhrabad Pass, which contradicts government claims that the situation was calm there. The Kurgan-Teppe resident also said the process of disarming people had begun but was unable to say who was carrying out that process. The same person noted that "everybody has weapons" and that after darkness no one dares go outside. Similar reports have been filed from the northern sections of Dushanbe.

    [03] ...WHILE VIOLENCE FLARES ELSEWHERE

    Following the defeat of armed groups loyal to Customs Committee Chairman Yakub Salimov, order has broken down in the "liberated" areas west of Dushanbe. RFE/RL correspondents in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan report that the armed forces that drove Salimov and his followers into hiding are now engaging in looting, rape, and murder. One man told RFE/RL that his brother and sister-in-law were taken from their home in the town of Tursunzade and shot dead outside in the street. Other reports say that travelers on the road from Tursunzade to Dushanbe are stopped at check points and that suspected "Uzbeks" or "Leninabadtsy" (people from the Tajikistan's north) are beaten and stripped of their property or are subjected to even worse treatment. The village of Cheptura, inhabited by ethnic Uzbeks and Leninabadtsy, is deserted after rumors of violence prompted people to flee, many to Uzbekistan.

    [04] PRIMAKOV, ARDZINBA IN TBILISI

    Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba flew unexpectedly to Tbilisi on 14 August for one-to-one talks with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze. Ardzinba was accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov, who had been scheduled to travel to Tbilisi on 14 August for talks with Shevardnadze to prepare for a proposed meeting between Shevardnadze, Ardzinba, and Russian President Yeltsin in Moscow. Primakov had met separately with Ardzinba on 9 August in Sochi. In a three-hour interview with Georgian Television on 12 August, Ardzinba rejected Yeltsin's latest proposals for resolving the conflict and argued that Abkhazia is not a constituent part of Georgia. Russian presidential press spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii on 12 August said the Russian leadership disapproves of attempts by the Chechen leadership to mediate a resolution of the Abkhaz conflict, NTV reported. Yastrzhembskii argued that foreign policy issues do not lie within the competence of federation subjects.

    [05] GEORGIAN FUGITIVES TO DEMAND FINANCIAL COMPENSATION

    Boris Kakubava, spokesman for the ethnic Georgians forced to flee their homes in Abkhazia during the 1992-93 war, says the displaced persons will each demand $25,000 in compensation from the Georgian government if the demands made at their 7-9 August conference are not met, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi, citing BS-Press. Those demands include the annulment of the treaty permitting Russia to maintain military bases in Georgia and that Georgia quit the CIS (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1997).

    [06] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS RUSSIA'S "LAND FOR BASING RIGHTS" OFFER

    Meeting with three U.S. senators in Baku on 12 August, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev said that Moscow had repeatedly offered to "liberate" the districts of Azerbaijan currently under control of Karabakh Armenian forces in return for the right to station troops in Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 13 August. Azerbaijan consistently rejected this proposal. Aliev proposed that the U.S. assume the role of guarantor of the independence of the former Soviet republics.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] FORMER ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ATTENDS STORMY PARLIAMENT SESSION

    Sali Berisha and other deputies from his Democratic Party ended their boycott of the new parliament on 13 August. Berisha told the legislature that the Democrats "have not come here to show that this is a legal parliament. We came only because this parliament is the only political solution." Socialist faction leader Pandeli Majko said that Berisha today is "only a shadow" of the leader he was when communism fell in 1990. Majko also slammed the former president for not mentioning in his speech all the people who died in the violence that marked his final months in office. Later, the parliament approved Arben Rakipi of the Socialist Party as attorney-general.

    [08] MONTENEGRIN COURT RULES AGAINST PRESIDENT

    The Constitutional Court on 14 August ruled that only Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic is the legal presidential candidate of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS), an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica. President Momir Bulatovic must run as the candidate of another party or as an independent if he wants to seek reelection in the October vote. The court ruling came after one DPS faction nominated Djukanovic and another selected Bulatovic. The Election Commission accepted both candidacies as legal, even though the law states that each party may nominate only one candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). The court ruling is a clear setback for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and his backers in Montenegro.

    [09] SERBS IN MONTENEGRO PROTEST CONCESSION TO ALBANIANS

    Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic told representatives of the Democratic Union of Albanians in Ulcinj on 13 August that he will restore to Tuzi the status of municipality that it enjoyed until 1961. Municipal status for the mainly Albanian town will mean more jobs for local politicians. The Serbian Party of Montenegro (SSCG) protested the decision as "a cheap political trick" to win the support of the Albanian minority, which makes up 8 percent of the republic's population, and to convey the image abroad that Montenegro deals generously with its Albanians while Serbia does not. The SSCG added that Djukanovic is treating Montenegro's Serbs, who form 10 percent of the population, like an ethnic minority and that the SSCG will appeal to the Supreme Defense Council of Yugoslavia to discuss Djukanovic's actions. Similar appeals to Belgrade from Serbs outside Serbia preceded the wars in Croatia and Bosnia.

    [10] NATO COMMANDER CALLS ON KARADZIC TO SURRENDER

    U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark paid an unannounced visit on 13 August to Pale, the mountain headquarters of Radovan Karadzic and the other Bosnian Serb hard- liners. Clark said that Karadzic is an "indicted war criminal, he needs to turn himself in voluntarily." The general also criticized the use of 3,000 special police as bodyguards for Karadzic. Clark said the police should guard only government officials and their guests and that they should not have a military-type organization. NATO member countries have been putting political, diplomatic, military, economic, and psychological pressure on Karadzic in recent weeks to give himself up or at least to disappear completely from public life.

    [11] ALBRIGHT DENIES SHE OFFERED DEAL ON KARADZIC

    Together with the White House and the State Department, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 13 August denied that she offered Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic a deal to send Karadzic into exile in a third country and stressed that the only place for Karadzic is in The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 August 1997). Albright said that she hopes that Plavsic remembers her obligations under the Dayton agreement better than she remembered the conversation in which Plavsic alleged that Albright had offered her the deal. Also in Washington, the Pentagon denied reports that NATO commandos are training to catch war criminals. News agencies added, however, that Defense Department officials privately confirmed the report.

    [12] BRCKO UPDATE

    Robert Farrand, the international supervisor in the contested northern Bosnian town of Brcko, said on 13 August that the Bosnian Serb authorities continue to refuse to issue identity documents to Muslims and Croats returning to their homes. He said that the refugees' documents from the Croatian-Muslim federation will remain valid until the Serbian authorities change their policy. Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic responded that "technical difficulties" are the reason that the Serbs have not issued the refugees new papers. He accused Farrand of trying to encourage an influx of refugees into the town. The Serbs, Klickovic added, insist that any returns take place "at a normal pace." In Sarajevo, SFOR troops went on heightened alert after receiving what spokesmen called "a security threat."

    [13] TALKS UNDER WAY TO SEND INDICTED BOSNIAN CROAT TO THE HAGUE

    Negotiations are in progress to send one of the most wanted indicted Bosnian war criminals, Dario Kordic, to face the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, the Zagreb weekly "Globus" reported on 14 August. Kresimir Zubak, the Croatian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said: "I think it is possible they will manage to agree and that [Kordic] will go to The Hague on the condition that the trial begins reasonably quickly." Kordic may well go to The Hague as early as within the next 10 days, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has been under strong U.S. pressure to send indicted Bosnian Croats to the court. Gen. Tihomir Blaskic has been in The Hague since April 1996 as a result of negotiations with the tribunal. Both he and Kordic were indicted for crimes connected with the 1993 Croatian-Muslim conflict.

    [14] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, TRADE UNIONS REACH AGREEMENT

    Representatives of the main trade unions met with Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea and members of his cabinet on 13 August and reached an agreement on wages for the period August-December 1997, Romanian media reported. This latest agreement stipulates an increase of 15 percent for August and September and a further 14 percent increase for October through December. The minimum salary will be 225,000 lei (some $30) in August and September and 250,000 lei for the remainder of the year. Also on 13 August, local media reported that most miners at the Deva copper mines have registered to receive government compensation for employees at companies undergoing liquidation, even though the Deva mines are not on the liquidation list.

    [15] RUSSIAN COMMANDER IN TRANSDNIESTER CRITICIZES TIRASPOL LEADERSHIP

    Gen. Valerii Yevnevich, in a statement published on 13 August, says the Transdniester leadership's claims on Russian army assets are "a provocation" and "may wreck the process of a peaceful settlement of the Transdniester conflict," ITAR-TASS reported on 13 August. Representatives of organizations calling themselves "voluntary" and "civic" (such as the United Council of Work Collectives, the Women's Union, and the Union of Cossacks) recently appealed to Yevnevich not to contribute to the Moldovan- Russian maneuvers scheduled for October by providing equipment which, they claimed, belongs to the Transdniester and is "temporarily used by the Russian army." Yevnevich said in his statement that this was a "slanderous campaign" against the Russian troops.

    [16] MOLDOVA TO SELL MIG-29S

    Two high-ranking Moldovan officers said in a televised interview on 12 August that Moldova plans to sell MiG-29 fighters and purchase combat helicopters, BASA-press reported. Gen. Ion Nanii, an adviser to Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat, and Col. Dumitru Braghis, who commands the Decebal aviation brigade, said the government has not yet decided to which country to sell the airplanes. Braghis denied reports that six MiGs have already been sold to Belarus, explaining that the planes had flown to Minsk for repairs and would return to Moldova. The two officers said the number of helicopters to be purchased depends on the amount obtained from the sale of the MiGs. They added that details of the deal are a "state secret."

    [17] MOLDOVAN PREMIER DENIES INTENTION TO RECOGNIZE BESSARABIAN CHURCH

    Ion Ciubuc has said that Gheorghe Armasu, the director of the government office in charge of religious affairs, "misinformed" the Chisinau Court of Appeal when he said the government will recognize the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church on 13 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August 1997), RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 13 August. Ciubuc said the government's agenda for its 13 August meeting had never included the Church's recognition. The Bessarabian Church is subordinated to the Bucharest patriarchate and has been denied recognition for five years. Armasu told the court that the reason for the denial of recognition was that "Bessarabia" (the name of the Romanian province whose bulk makes up today's Moldova) does not exist at all.

    [18] BULGARIAN POLICE SEIZE PIRATED VIDEOS

    Continuing the drive to crackdown on audio-visual piracy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1997), police on 13 August seized some 2,000 illegally produced video cassettes, BTA reported. The raid was carried out in 63 stores and companies that distribute video cassettes in the Bulgarian capital. The confiscated cassettes are valued at some $8,200. The Ministry of Interior released a statement saying that since the beginning of 1997, more than 200,000 illegally produced compact discs, 100,000 audio cassettes, and 30,000 video cassettes have been confiscated.

    [C] END NOTE

    [19] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN CONTEST OWNERSHIP OF CASPIAN OIL FIELD

    by Liz Fuller

    A major diplomatic row was triggered by the 4 July signing of an agreement between the Russian oil companies Rosneft and LUKoil and Azerbaijani's state oil company SOCAR on jointly exploring and developing a Caspian offshore oil field known as Kyapaz. Involved in that row are the Russian Federation, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. Their differences spotlight the ongoing dispute over the legal status of the Caspian Sea and the ownership rights to the millions of tons of hydrocarbons that lie beneath it.

    The five states with a Caspian coastline (Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, and Iran) have been at loggerheads for the past three years over whether that body of water should be legally defined as a sea or a lake. The question arose in September 1994, when Azerbaijan signed a multi- billion dollar contract with a consortium of Western oil companies plus Russia's LUKoil to exploit the Chirag and Azeri fields and the deep-water section of the Gyuneshli field. The Russian Foreign Ministry immediately declared the contract invalid and called for its annulment on the grounds that it contravened a treaty concluded between the USSR and Iran in 1940 on the joint use of the Caspian's resources.

    Russia and Iran continue to insist that the Caspian is a salt-water lake and that therefore, under international law, its various resources -- whether sturgeon or oil and natural gas -- may be exploited only on the basis of an agreement concluded by all littoral states. Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, for their part, argue that the Caspian is a sea and should therefore be divided into national sectors that each country has the right to exploit as it pleases. (Such a right is included in the 1995 Azerbaijani Constitution.)

    Turkmenistan had initially subscribed to the Kazakh-Azerbaijani view but, as of late fall1996, espoused the Russian-Iranian argument. In November 1996, Russia modified its position by proposing that the Caspian be divided into zones. Each littoral state would have the exclusive use of resources within its territorial waters, which would be extended from 10 to 45 miles. Resources beyond that point would be jointly used by all five countries. Iran and Turkmenistan approved that proposal.

    Early this year, however, Turkmenistan again switched tack. In an interview with the "Financial Times" in January, Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov claimed that the Azeri and Chirag fields lie in the Turkmen sector of the Caspian. Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov refuted that claim, saying that in 1970 the USSR Foreign Ministry had divided up the Soviet sector of the Caspian between Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. He also said that maps showing the respective sectors proved that Niyazov's claim to the Azeri and Chirag fields were unjustified. Russian Foreign Ministry officials likewise rejected Niyazov's argument -- but on the grounds that no claims to individual fields could be made until an agreement had been reached on the legal status of the Caspian.

    The Turkmen leadership immediately protested the signing of the Russian- Azerbaijani agreement on Kyapaz. On 5 July, Turkmen Foreign Minister Boris Shikhmuradov issued a statement contesting Azerbaijan's ownership of the field, which is located some 180 kilometers east of Baku and only 100 kilometers from the coast of Turkmenistan, and demanding the annulment of the agreement. Two days later, Shikhmuradov proposed creating an Azerbaijani-Turkmen commission to formalize the dividing line between the two countries' respective national sectors. Russian government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov downplayed the dispute, arguing that the agreement was "purely commercial" and that therefore the Russian government was under no obligation to take any action.

    In late July, however, when Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev was being lionized in Washington, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov met with the Turkmen leadership in Ashgabat. On his return to Moscow, Serov informed Niyazov that the Kyapaz contract would be annulled. The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement confirming the annulment on 5 August. Two days later in the Kremlin, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told Niyazov that the signing of the agreement had been a "mistake" on the part of the Russian oil companies involved. He also said that neither he nor the Russian government had known of the planned deal beforehand. (Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, however, had been present at the negotiations that preceded the signing ceremony.)

    By thwarting the proposed joint venture, Russia not only mollified its potential ally Niyazov but also succeeded in embarrassing Aliev, whom it suspects of conspiring with the U.S. to undercut Russia's influence in the Caspian. Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasi-Zade conceded in early August that his country does not claim "exclusive" ownership of Kyapaz, given that deposit lies on the border between the Azerbaijani and Turkmen sectors. He also proposed that its reserves (estimated at 50 million metric tons) be exploited by both Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan. Ashgabat has not yet commented on that offer.


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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