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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 98, 97-08-19

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. 98, 19 August 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TAJIK OPERATION AGAINST MUTINEERS ALMOST OVER
  • [02] JAPAN GRANTS LOAN FOR TURKMEN RAILROAD
  • [03] DATE SET FOR ELECTIONS TO KAZAKH SENATE
  • [04] KAZAKHSTAN TO BUILD NEW PIPELINE?
  • [05] AZERBAIJAN REACHES AGREEMENT ON BYPASS PIPELINE...
  • [06] ...WHILE RUSSIA CONSIDERS PIPELINE BYPASSING CHECHNYA
  • [07] CASPIAN OIL ROW CONTINUES
  • [08] DELAY IN CREATING COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES
  • [09] RUSSIA REFUTES ALIEV'S ALLEGATION OVER MILITARY BASES
  • [10] AZERBAIJAN EXPERIENCES PROBLEMS DISTRIBUTING PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS
  • [11] ARMENIA ACCUSES TURKEY OF OBSTRUCTING COOPERATION WITH NATO

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] ANOTHER SIX DEAD IN ALBANIAN GANG WARS
  • [13] KOSOVO UPDATE
  • [14] MONTENEGRIN COURT WARNS BELGRADE
  • [15] PLAVSIC FOES ARREST, THEN FREE HER POLICE CHIEF
  • [16] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA POLICE SPIED ON PLAVSIC
  • [17] OTHER NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA
  • [18] CROATIA READY TO SEND WAR CRIMINAL TO THE HAGUE
  • [19] ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS DEMAND ANTI-HUNGARIAN GUARD...
  • [20] ...PROTEST HUNGARY'S COMPENSATION LAW
  • [21] MOLDOVA TO HOST CIS SUMMIT
  • [22] GAGAUZ LEADERS OPPOSE LAW ON SALE OF LAND
  • [23] BULGARIAN REACTOR IN TROUBLE AGAIN

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TAJIK OPERATION AGAINST MUTINEERS ALMOST OVER

    Forces loyal to rebel Col. Mahmud Khudaberdiyev have lost several battles against government troops, which are currently engaged in mop-up operations in southwestern Tajikistan, according to RFE/RL correspondents. Khudaberdiyev's unit was forced to retreat from Kabodien on 18 August. By the morning of 19 August, they had also withdrawn from the Shaartuz area. Gen. Gafar Mirzoyev, commander of the presidential guard, said the only routes open to the mutineers led to the Uzbek or Afghan borders. Forces loyal to the Tajik government are seeking to prevent members of Khudaberdiyev's troops from heading north. Uzbekistan has promised to hand over to the Tajik government any mutineers who try to cross the Tajik-Uzbek border . A lieutenant from Khudaberdiyev's unit was quoted in the 19 August issue of "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" as saying "[the government] did not understand us. They threw troops of Popular Front units, mostly criminals, against us."

    [02] JAPAN GRANTS LOAN FOR TURKMEN RAILROAD

    Japan's Foreign Economic Cooperation Fund will lend Turkmenistan some $39 million to upgrade its railroad network, Interfax reported on 18 August. The 30-year loan has a 2.7 percent annual interest rate with a 10-year grace period. The Japanese fund will hold a tender in September for companies to take part in upgrading the Turkmen rail system, including the renovation of the Ashgabat depot, providing maintenance equipment for locomotives, and computerizing the traffic control system.

    [03] DATE SET FOR ELECTIONS TO KAZAKH SENATE

    President Nursultan Nazarbayev has signed a decree saying that elections to the Senate (upper house) will be held on 8 October. RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported that 17 candidates have already registered for the vote. The Senate currently has 47 members.

    [04] KAZAKHSTAN TO BUILD NEW PIPELINE?

    Kazakh Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin told two visiting U.S. senators in Almaty on 18 August that his country is assessing unspecified possible alternative oil export pipelines as "one pipeline will in no way suffice for transporting Kazakh oil," Interfax reported on 18 August. Despite the disputed status of the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan plans to proceed with the distribution to Western companies of the rights to exploratory drilling in its sector of the Caspian, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 August.

    [05] AZERBAIJAN REACHES AGREEMENT ON BYPASS PIPELINE...

    Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR has reached agreement with the U.S.- Kazakh joint venture TengizChevroil to build a 46 kilometer bypass pipeline from Dashkil to Ali-Bayramli, Interfax reported on 18 August. The pipeline, which TengizChevroil will finance at an estimated cost of $5-6 million, will run parallel to an existing pipeline leased to Caspian Trans Oil in order to transport oil from Kazakhstan's Tengiz field to Ali-Bayramli, from where it is shipped by rail to Batumi. The new bypass pipeline will transport Azerbaijan's domestically produced oil to Baku for refining.

    [06] ...WHILE RUSSIA CONSIDERS PIPELINE BYPASSING CHECHNYA

    Speaking at a press conference in Moscow on 18 August, Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin reiterated Russian Deputy Fuel and Energy minister Sergei Kirienko's suggestion that a new pipeline be built for transporting Caspian oil that will bypass Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 August, 1997), Interfax reported. Rybkin said that one pipeline is inadequate for exporting Caspian oil, but he did not refer to the planned pipeline from Baku to Supsa on Georgia's Black Sea coast (that is, bypassing Russian territory),scheduled to be completed in late1998. The president of the Chechen state oil company told Interfax on 18 August that there is no need for an additional agreement to be signed by Moscow and Grozny on the transportation of Caspian oil through the Baku-Grozny- Tikhoretsk pipeline.

    [07] CASPIAN OIL ROW CONTINUES

    Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR has released a statement reaffirming its commitment to develop the Kyapaz/Serdar Caspian oil field. The statement also said that SOCAR has not yet received official notification that its Russian partners, Rosneft and LUKoil, have annulled the 4 July memorandum of intent on developing the field, Interfax reported on 18 August. Meanwhile, the Turkmen Embassy in Washington recently issued a letter from President Saparmurat Niyazov inviting tenders for oil and gas fields on its Caspian shelf. "Delovoy mir" pointed out on 15 August that any foreign company that wants to engage in exploration in Turkmenistan's sector of the Caspian will have to enlist the cooperation of either Russia or Azerbaijan, since Turkmenistan has no drilling platforms.

    [08] DELAY IN CREATING COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES

    Russian President Yeltsin has written to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev asking him to name Azerbaijan's representative to the trilateral Russian- Armenian-Azerbaijani commission that is to investigate Russian arms supplies to Armenia and Azerbaijan, Turan reported on 16 August. Yeltsin noted that Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan has already nominated his country's representative. A group of international military officials is to visit Baku from 18-21 August to inspect Azerbaijan's military facilities within the framework of the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.

    [09] RUSSIA REFUTES ALIEV'S ALLEGATION OVER MILITARY BASES

    Yurii Yukalov, Russia's former co-chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, has rejected as an "unfounded provocation" Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's claim that Moscow offered to liberate Armenian-occupied regions of Azerbaijan contiguous to Nagorno- Karabakh in return for the right to maintain military bases in Azerbaijan, Asbarez-on-Line reported on 18 August, citing "Respublika Armeniya" and the Snark News Agency. Aliev made the claim during a recent meeting with three U.S. senators in Baku (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"14 August 1997).

    [10] AZERBAIJAN EXPERIENCES PROBLEMS DISTRIBUTING PRIVATIZATION VOUCHERS

    The distribution of privatization vouchers among the 7.5 million population officially ended on 15 August, "Azadlyg" reported the next day. Distribution had begun on 1 March. The State Privatization Committee may appeal to President Heidar Aliev to extend the distribution period, since some people have not yet received vouchers as a result of "bureaucratic shortcomings." The process has been complicated by the existence of some 780,000 displaced persons who have no registered place of residence. Each inhabitant is to receive four vouchers whose total nominal value is 1 million manats ($250).

    [11] ARMENIA ACCUSES TURKEY OF OBSTRUCTING COOPERATION WITH NATO

    Armenian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met with a NATO delegation headed by Lt.-Gen. Nicholas Kehou, deputy chairman of NATO's military committee, in Yerevan on 15 August. Oskanian said that Turkey's attitude toward the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is "non-constructive," Armenian agencies reported. He also noted that Ankara's attitude is destabilizing the situation in the region and obstructing both the development of Armenian cooperation with NATO and a possible role for NATO in resolving the Karabakh conflict.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] ANOTHER SIX DEAD IN ALBANIAN GANG WARS

    Gang members in the southern town of Perondi, near Berat, ambushed a rival group on 18 August. Six people were killed, bringing the total number of Albanians killed as a result of gang warfare in the past week to 18. The government has set deadlines for the return of illegal weapons, but disarming the gangs may prove a tall order (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). Meanwhile in Bari, Italy, the authorities said they finding it difficult to persuade the 10,000 Albanian refugees there on temporary visas to go home. Some 7,000 Albanians have simply gone underground, and many have turned to crime. Refugees in government shelters told journalists that they do not want to go back to a country where "everything has been burned" and where illegal arms abound.

    [13] KOSOVO UPDATE

    Vuk Draskovic, the Serbian Renewal Movement's candidate in the September Serbian presidential elections, said in Pristina on 18 August that Kosovo should receive back what he called its historical name, Old Serbia. Draskovic stressed that Kosovo is the historical Serbian heartland, but he added that "there is enough room for Albanians and Turks as well as Serbs." Kosovo elects 42 out of 250 seats in the Serbian parliament, but its Albanian majority is boycotting the elections. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told ethnic Albanian shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova on his recent visit to Washington that he should continue his policy of non-violence and that autonomy, not independence, is the only political option for Kosovo acceptable to the international community, Belgrade dailies reported on 19 August. In Pristina, Adem Demaci, the leader of the Parliamentary Party, said that the Kosovo question can be solved only on the basis of national self-determination.

    [14] MONTENEGRIN COURT WARNS BELGRADE

    The Montenegrin Constitutional Court warned its Yugoslav counterpart on 18 August that the Belgrade court will be violating federal law if it intervenes in the ongoing dispute regarding the registration of Montenegrin presidential candidates, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. In Belgrade, representatives of the five parties participating in the September elections each nominated a representative to the central electoral commission that will oversee the vote. In Vienna, Niels Helveg Petersen, chairman of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe, said the body has agreed to the Serbian government's offer for the OSCE to monitor the vote. Vienna and Belgrade had disagreed on the terms under which the monitoring would take place. It is not yet clear what those terms will be.

    [15] PLAVSIC FOES ARREST, THEN FREE HER POLICE CHIEF

    Police loyal to the hard-line Republika Srpska Interior Minister Dragan Kijac in Pale arrested Milan Sutilovic in Banja Luka on 19 August. They freed him after he refused to sign a formal resignation. Embattled President Biljana Plavsic appointed Sutilovic police chief of the northwestern Bosnian town on 17 August. Her sacking of Kijac in June touched off the current power struggle among the Bosnian Serbs. Plavsic's offices in Banja Luka are surrounded by loyal soldiers and police. NATO troops recently prevented a clash between police loyal to Plavsic and those backing Kijac (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997).

    [16] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA POLICE SPIED ON PLAVSIC

    President Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 18 August that evidence her supporters found in the local headquarters of Kijac's police the previous day proves that Kijac's men bugged her telephone, fax machine, and offices, as well as those of other opponents of the Pale leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline." 18 August 1997). UN police also searched the headquarters and seized 200 tapes. One Western official said that Kijac's men had been "running an espionage center." International officials added that they are particularly interested in evidence that Kijac's police intimidated members of the Constitutional Court, which recently ruled against Plavsic. Transcripts of Plavsic's phone calls and faxed documents found at the police headquarters appeared in Belgrade and Sarajevo dailies on 19 August.

    [17] OTHER NEWS FROM FORMER YUGOSLAVIA

    Ivo Saraf, the Croatian mayor of the Bosnian town of Jajce, has limited the number of Muslims scheduled to return to the nearby village of Lendici to 80, a spokeswoman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said on 18 August. She added that Saraf's decision is arbitrary and violates the latest Croatian-Muslim accord on the return of refugees and that the UNHCR will appeal to the Sarajevo authorities to overrule him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). In the Olovo area, Bosnian Serb police released the five Muslims whom they had arrested the previous day. In Vukovar, William Walker, a U.S. diplomat, arrived to take up his duties as the UN's new chief administrator in eastern Slavonia. He said his chief concern will be the safe return of refugees to their homes.

    [18] CROATIA READY TO SEND WAR CRIMINAL TO THE HAGUE

    Spokesmen for the Croatian Justice Ministry said in Zagreb on 19 August that they have arrested Pero Skopljak and are holding him in a Zagreb prison pending his extradition to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Skopljak was police chief in the central Bosnian town of Vitez during the war and is wanted in connection with atrocities against Muslims in 1992 and 1993. Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic told his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, in Frankfurt on 16 August that seven Bosnian Croats are ready to go to The Hague if they can be assured of a speedy trial. It is unclear if he included Dario Kordic, the most wanted Croatian war criminal among the seven (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 August 1997). Croatia is under intense international pressure to observe its obligations under the Dayton agreement and hand over war criminals.

    [19] ROMANIAN NATIONALISTS DEMAND ANTI-HUNGARIAN GUARD...

    In a declaration released on 18 August, the Bucharest branch of the anti- Hungarian Romanian Cradle organization called for establishing a "National Guard" of Romanian ethnics in Transylvania to defend the ethnic majority in the region against the Hungarian minority there, Radio Bucharest reported. The organization also demanded the dismissal of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet, sharply criticizing its decision to allow bilingual signs in localities where ethnic minorities make up at least 20 percent of the population and to amend the education law. The organization also called on President Emil Constantinescu to "analyze" the situation created by those policies and to avoid "a further escalation of 'Hungarianism' in Transylvania."

    [20] ...PROTEST HUNGARY'S COMPENSATION LAW

    The Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) has protested the law recently passed by the Hungarian parliament that provides compensation to Hungarian army veterans who were prisoners in the Soviet Union during World War II and to former Hungarian citizens deported to the Soviet Union, regardless of their current citizenship. PUNR leader Valeriu Tabara said that before paying compensation, Hungary should apologize to states and citizens of countries that suffered as a result of Hungary's wartime policies. Gheorghe Funar, the nationalist mayor of Cluj, said compensation will be given to those Hungarian Transylvanians who are guilty of crimes against Romanians. He also called on the Romanian government to urgently pass a law stipulating that those who were forced to Magyarize their names during Hungarian rule in Transylvania revert to their original names, Mediafax reported.

    [21] MOLDOVA TO HOST CIS SUMMIT

    Moldovan Deputy Foreign Minister Vasile Sova has confirmed that the next CIS summit will be held in Chisinau on 20 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997), RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Foreign Ministry sources, however, said that it is unclear how the summit will be financed, since the Moldovan government lacks the necessary funds and does not have 12 limousines or 12 "presidential apartments." Moreover, Chisinau has not paid its debts to CIS, the sources added.

    [22] GAGAUZ LEADERS OPPOSE LAW ON SALE OF LAND

    Georgii Tabunshchik, the governor of Moldova's autonomous region of Gagauz Yeri, has said that the region's leadership will not allow the law on the sale of land to be implemented in the region, BASA-press reported on 18 August. The Moldovan parliament passed that law on 25 July. Tabunshchik said the sale of small plots would lead to the impoverishment of the population, because ownership of two or three hectares of land is economically unfeasible. In other news from Gagauz Yeri, Infotag reported on 18 August that the authorities banned an opposition rally in the regional capital, Comrat, to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the declaration of independence by the region. Ivan Bejan, a deputy in the Popular Assembly, told Infotag that the independent Gagauz republic ceased to exist in 1994 and therefore it does not make sense to celebrate the declaration of independence.

    [23] BULGARIAN REACTOR IN TROUBLE AGAIN

    Operators at Bulgaria's only nuclear power plant had to switch off an aging reactor on 18 August , after one of its two turbines stopped for unknown reasons, BTA reported. The malfunction occurred at the 23-year-old Unit 1, but no increased radiation was measured. The plant, which generates about 40 percent of Bulgaria's electricity, is located at Kozloduy, some 170 kilometers north of Sofia. The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna has repeatedly expressed concern about safety at Kozloduy, saying the four units of the plant are outdated.

    [C] END NOTE

    [24] FORGET THE FORMER SOVIET UNION

    by Paul Goble

    Six years after a failed coup in Moscow sent the Soviet Union toward its demise, many people around the world continue to search for a single term to describe the group of countries that emerged from the rubble. None of the terms proposed until now has proved entirely successful. And with each passing year, the search for such a term seems increasingly unnecessary, if not counterproductive.

    Among the terms most frequently suggested are the former Soviet Union, the new independent states, and Eurasia. But, like all other suggested terms, they fail to capture some important features of the new landscape and carry some significant political baggage.

    The term "former Soviet Union" is perhaps the most obviously problematic. The Soviet Union ceased to exist in 1991; continuing to refer to it both diminishes the status of the successor states and encourages those in Russia and elsewhere who would like to restore the union. Equally important, it dramatically overstates the similarities among countries whose only real feature in common was Russian and Soviet occupation. While that had a major impact on each, it did not wipe out the differences increasingly on view.

    At first glance, the term "new independent states" appears to be more neutral; but, if anything, it is even more politically charged than the other two. Prior to the demise of the Soviet Union, no government in the world referred to independent countries arising from the ruins of empires as "new independent states." Instead, those countries were quickly viewed as countries much like all others.

    Consequently, the use of this term so long after the end of the USSR implies that the relationship between those countries and Moscow is somehow different. That has led many people in the region to wonder aloud whether their states are less equal than others. Both the citizens of those countries and others are beginning to ask just how long those countries will have to be "independent" before they cease to be "new."

    The term "Eurasia" also has some negative connotations, although they are perhaps less obvious. It indiscriminately lumps together countries that are definitely part of the European cultural world with some that most definitely are not. It also has a history that is anything but encouraging. One group of Russian nationalists popularized the term to suggest that Russia represented an amalgam of European and Asiatic civilizations and that it had a civilizing mission across the region.

    But if none of the terms advanced thus far is adequate, the continued search for one highlights three more fundamental problems.

    First, many people are unwilling to accept what happened in 1991 as an irreversible watershed in world history. When other empires dissolved in this century, few world leaders felt compelled to reiterate support for the independence and territorial integrity of their successors five years after the fact. No one was saying such things about the successors to the Austro- Hungarian, Ottoman, or Russian empires in 1924. But in the post-Soviet case, many leaders have done just that and thus have sent a message to those countries very different from the one they say they intend to send.

    Second, many people are unable to recognize how diverse the countries of the region are and how many now have far greater ties with countries beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union than with countries within those borders. Other than Russian and Soviet occupation, Armenia and Kazakhstan, for example, have little in common in almost any respect. And despite the impact of the past, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are both looking beyond the Soviet borders rather than to the former imperial center.

    Third, the search for a single term reflects an unwillingness on the part of some Westerners to challenge the desire of some Moscow circles to remain the dominant power in the region, regardless of the wishes of people in those countries. Through instruments such as the Commonwealth of Independent States and via statements about the relevance of the borders of the former Soviet Union, the Russian government has advanced a claim to a sphere of influence across the region.

    Such assertions make Western terminological discussions all the more important. To the extent that the West uses terms that imply the territory once occupied by the Soviet Union is a single region, some circles in Moscow will be encouraged to believe that the West has recognized Russian claims. To the extent that the West uses terms that treat the countries of the region as separate and unique states, each of those states will be encouraged to develop along its own lines.


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


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