|Friday, 6 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 103, 97-08-26
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 103, 26 August 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 NAGORNO-KARABAKH REJECTS LATEST PEACE PLANArkadii Ghukasyan, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and one of three candidates contesting the1 September presidential elections, said on 22 August that the enclave's leadership has rejected the peace plan submitted in late May by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, Noyan Tapan reported. That plan envisages the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani territory and from the town of Shusha in the south of the NKR. It also proposes the deployment of international troops along the Lachin corridor, which links the NKR and Armenia, and the downsizing of the Karabakh armed forces. Armenia and Azerbaijan have accepted the proposals "as a basis for peace," according to Ghukasyan. He said that peace negotiations will resume under the aegis of the OSCE after the NKR presidential elections.
 CZECH SENATE SPEAKER AFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONCzech Senate Chairman Petr Pithart has congratulated Azerbaijani former President Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat party chairman Isa Gambar on their election as co-chairmen of the opposition Democratic Congress. The text of Pithart's letters to both men were made available to "RFE/RL Newsline." The Czech leader assured them of his moral support "in your fight against all forms of totalitarianism". He also expressed the hope that the Democratic Congress will soon assume a decisive role in Azerbaijan's political life. The Democratic Congress unites seven right-wing, pro-Western opposition parties. Elchibey and Gambar were elected its co-chairmen in late April. Elchibey announced in June that he plans to return to Baku from Nakhichevan, where he fled four years earlier. Since the beginning of August, he has been subject to intensive surveillance by Interior Ministry troops.
 AZERBAIJAN, CHECHNYA DISCUSS EXPORT PIPELINEMeeting in Baku on 25 August with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Chechen Vice President Vakha Arsanov complained that Russia has not yet made available the necessary funds for repairs to the Baku-Grozny- Tikhoretsk oil pipeline, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev expressed concern that the delay in repairing the pipeline could postpone yet again the export of the first so-called "early oil" from the Chirag Caspian field, currently scheduled to begin 1 October. Azerbaijani and Chechen oil company representatives and Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Boris Nemtsov signed in July an agreement on repairing the 153 kilometer Chechen sector of the pipeline. A Chechen official estimated this would take 30-40 days. Russia undertook to provide the funding for the repairs, and Chechnya to protect the pipeline from attack.
 TURKMENISTAN, IRAN, RUSSIA TO DEVELOP KYAPAZ?Turkmenistan plans to exploit the disputed Kyapaz (Serdar in Turkmen) Caspian oil field together with the National Iranian Oil Company and an unnamed Russian company, Reuters reported, citing an unidentified Turkmen government spokesman. Azerbaijan, which claims that the field lies within its national sector of the Caspian, will also be invited to participate, the spokesman said.
 GERMAN ECONOMICS MINISTER IN TURKMENISTANGunter Rexrodt met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 25 August and asked him to "end barriers to trade and investment," dpa and ITAR-TASS reported. Among the German delegation accompanying Rexrodt were representatives of 40 German companies looking to invest in Turkmen oil and natural gas. According to dpa, German trade with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan amounted to $1.08 billion in 1996 but only $94 million was with Turkmenistan. President Niyazov is scheduled to arrive in Germany on 27 August for a four-day visit. The German delegation is scheduled to proceed to Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
 TATAR PRESIDENT IN KAZAKHSTANMintimer Shaimiev concluded a two-day visit to Kazakhstan on 26 August, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. He met with his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin to discuss improving economic relations. Both presidents agreed that the total volume of trade ($60 million) between the Russian region and the Central Asian state was too low. The Tatar delegation expressed interest in participating in the development of Kazakh petroleum fields. Representatives of the two countries discussed Kazakhstan exporting to Tatarstan metals and petroleum and importing grain, rice, and wheat as well as automotive parts from the KamAZ factory. They also considered the possibility of opening a KamAZ assembly plant in Kazakhstan. An agreement was signed to open a permanent Tatar mission in Kazakhstan.
 GERMAN BANKS EXTEND CREDIT TO KAZAKHSTANThe Kazgermunai Society and a consortium of German banks concluded a deal on 25 August extending a $200 million credit to Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The money is intended to develop the Akzhabulak oil field in southeastern Kazakhstan, including the construction of a pipeline, a refinery, and housing for workers at the site.
 UZBEKISTAN RECALLS STUDENTS FROM TURKEYUzbek President Islam Karimov has recalled some 2,000 Uzbek students studying in Turkey, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 August. Karimov made the move after learning that under the former government of Necmettin Erbakan, Islamic clerics who belong to fundamentalist sects had tried to recruit those students.
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBRIGHT URGES MILOSEVIC TO BACK PLAVSICU.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic by telephone on 25 August that he should stop being neutral in his public statements on the Bosnian Serb power struggle. She urged him instead to unambiguously support Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic. A State Department spokesman added that U.S. envoy Robert Gelbard will soon make the same points to Milosevic in person in Belgrade. Most observers feel that Milosevic still has enough political influence among the Bosnian Serbs to settle their dispute, even though he has been feuding in public with both Plavsic and Radovan Karadzic since 1993. There are still strong political, economic, and military links between Milosevic and Karadzic's backers, who are led by Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency. But either Bosnian Serb faction could embarrass Milosevic by publicly disclosing information about his role in the war.
 PLAVSIC TELLS BOSNIAN SERB ARMY TO STAY OUT OF POLITICSPresident Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 25 August that the Bosnian Serb army (VRS) should not take sides in the ongoing power struggle and that its duty is to defend the entire people, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the northwestern Bosnian city. She added that she expects the general staff to acknowledge her constitutional authority as president when she meets with top VRS leaders on 26 August. Plavsic can probably count on the backing of the Banja Luka-based First Krajina Army Corps, but the general staff appears to be politically closer to the hard-liners in Pale than to her.
 MORE BOSNIAN SERB POLITICIANS ENDORSE PLAVSICRepublika Srpska Vice President Dragoljub Mirjanic on 25 August ended his support for Pale and publicly endorsed Plavsic as well as her decision to dissolve the parliament and call early elections. Several members of the parliament, including three deputies of the governing Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), also said they recognize her decision and will not take part in the legislative session that her rivals have called for 26 August, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka. The Muslim members of the parliament have already said they will not attend the meeting. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, has threatened to ban international travel for Serbian members of joint institutions unless they stop obstructing legislation on joint citizenship and passports.
 BOMB ATTACK ON KOSOVO POLICE STATIONUnidentified persons threw a bomb at and opened fire on a police station near Decani on 25 August. The police returned fire but the attackers escaped. It was the fourth attack on the station in four years, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. In the village of Zub, near the Albanian border, local Albanians blamed armed gangs from across the frontier for the death of one Kosovar and the wounding of another on 24 August, BETA reported from Pristina. Spokesmen for local people urged the Albanian authorities to bring the gangs under control. Meanwhile in Podgorica, representatives of six Montenegrin opposition parties, including the Democratic Union of Albanians, said they will not participate in the presidential elections slated for 5 October. Spokesmen said that conditions will not ensure a fair vote, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Podgorica.
 MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT SAYS ALBANIANS WANT TO SECEDEKiro Gligorov told the 25 August issue of the Belgrade weekly "Ekonomska politika" that all the ethnic Albanian parties in Macedonia want to secede from that state. He added that, as first step on the road to secession, they want to rewrite the constitution to establish a special status for western Macedonia, where most of Macedonia's Albanians live. He denounced calls by ethnic Albanian leaders for local governments in western Macedonia to use the Albanian flag. Gligorov nonetheless distanced himself from a recent court decision against displaying the Albanian flag from public buildings and disclaimed responsibility for a police crackdown on Albanians in Gostivar and Tetovo following the court ruling. Gligorov also pointed out that Albanian politicians are assured of a role in any Macedonian government, because non-Albanian parties cannot form a working majority without the Albanians.
 ALBANIA'S BERISHA WANTS GUARANTEED AIR TIMEFormer President Sali Berisha demanded on 25 August that state television devote one-third of its political programming to the views of the opposition parties. When Berisha was president, state television presented mainly the views of his Democratic Party. Meanwhile, the health of former parliamentary speaker and Democratic Party member Pjeter Arbnori is deteriorating as he enters the seventh day of a hunger strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1997). He also wants state television to give the opposition one-third of air-time, "Albania" reported on 26 August.
 SPLIT IN ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY DEEPENSThe number of Democratic Party members who have signed a petition calling for the resignation of party leader and former President Sali Berisha has risen to 230. Arben Mece, one of the initiators of the drive, said he had received support from other smaller conservative parties, "Dita Informacion" reported on 26 August. One such party, the Movement of Democracy Party, said in a declaration that it will consider uniting with the Democratic Party once Berisha is sacked.
 ALBANIAN PROSECUTOR ISSUES WARRANT FOR ZOGUThe Prosecutor-General's Office on 25 August issued an international arrest warrant for claimant to the throne Leka Zogu and his aide Abedin Mulosmani. The move comes in connection with a rally in Tirana on 3 July, at which a shoot-out took place and at which Zogu and others were armed, "Dita Informacion" reported. Meanwhile, the government's deadline for Democratic Party members to return weapons that police gave them in the spring ran out at midnight on 26 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 August 1997). Only about two-thirds of the weapons issued in Tirana have been returned, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Meanwhile in Vlora, both the prison and the Prosecutor's Office have resumed work, "Koha Jone" wrote. And in Tirana, the trial of 11 members of the Vlora-based Zani Caushi gang started on 25 August, "Dita Informacion" reported.
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION FAILS IN BID FOR SPECIAL PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONThe Standing Bureaus of Romania's two chambers of the parliament on 25 August separately discussed and rejected an opposition demand for a special parliamentary session to discuss the memorandum signed with the IMF, the closure of 16 loss-making state enterprises, and the amended education and local government laws, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The local government law allows bilingual signs in localities where national minorities make up at least 20 percent of the population (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 August 1997). In related news, the Bucharest Appeals Court rejected an appeal by the Party of Romanian National Unity against amendments to both laws. The court said a political party is not entitled to contest before the court decisions taken by the government.
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DISMISSES PROSECUTOR-GENERALEmil Constantinescu on 25 August dismissed Nicolae Cochinescu at the recommendation of Justice Minister Valeriu Stoica, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cochinescu, who had been appointed by former President Ion Iliescu in September 1996, opposed a law on the reorganization of the judicial system passed by the parliament in early July. He also said he would resign if the law was approved. The new law came into force on 25 August, and a few days earlier Cochinescu retracted his intention to resign. His mandate would have run out in September 2000. Stoica said that Cochinescu blocked investigations into the December 1989 shooting at anti- communist demonstrators and the miners' rampages in Bucharest in 1990 and 1991. He also accused Cochinescu of appealing court decisions on property restitution and of hindering investigations of the illegal adoption of children by foreigners.
 MOLDOVAN HOLY SYNOD WARNS AGAINST RECOGNITION OF BESSARABIAN CHURCHIn a 25 August declaration, the Holy Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church warned the government not to register the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church. The previous week, the Chisinau Court of Appeals had ruled that the Church be registered (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 20 and 21 August 1995). The synod reiterated Metropolitan Vladimir's warning against a schism in the Orthodox Church in Moldova. It added that if the Bessarabian Church were recognized, there would be a split between Romanian and non-Romanian Orthodox believers and further splits along national affiliations. The synod also said the dispute should be solved in parleys between the Romanian and the Russian Orthodox Churches, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. On 26 August, some 100 priests demonstrated in Chisinau against the recognition of the Bessarabian Church. A delegation representing them was received by President Petru Lucinschi, Radio Bucharest reported.
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON FUTURE OF ARMED FORCESLucinschi has said that Moldova must have a "small, well-equipped, and mobile army whose tasks are defensive." The president was speaking on 24 August following a visit to several military units, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi said armament that is not needed by the armed forces must be sold, particularly MiG-29 fighters, which are expensive to maintain and unnecessary for the country's defensive strategy. He said they should be replaced by helicopters, which can be used also for non-military purposes.
 BULGARIA CUTS MILITARY SPENDINGDefense Minister Georgi Ananiev announced on 25 August that the cabinet has approved amendments to the Defense and Armed Forces Law to cut conscript military service from 18 to 12 months beginning 1 January 1998, Reuters reported. Conscription for university graduates will be reduced from 12 to nine months. The amendments have still to be approved by the parliament. The amended legislation also envisages the gradual transformation of the conscript army into a professional force by 2010.
[C] END NOTE
 Catching War Criminalsby Patrick Moore
Scarcely a day seems to pass without some story appearing in the news to suggest that NATO troops in Bosnia may soon try to catch Radovan Karadzic or other prominent war criminals and bring them to justice in The Hague. The latest round of stories began on 10 July, when British SFOR troops went after two prominent Bosnian Serb war criminals in the Prijedor region. One of the two was killed when he resisted arrest, but the other is now in The Hague.
Since that raid, prominent officials -- notably U.S. envoys Richard Holbrooke and Robert Gelbard -- have made frequent statements suggesting that additional war criminals are about to be caught. There have been, moreover, calculated leaks to Western media that NATO commandos are training to go after Karadzic or that a recent SFOR exercise near Pale was actually a "dress rehearsal" for a planned operation to arrest Karadzic.
Some observers have suggested that such statements are simply a bluff designed to intimidate Karadzic and that the Western powers have no more intention of risking casualties now than they had in the 18 months since the signing of the Dayton agreement, during which they avoided contact with armed war criminals. Other observers point out that it would cost NATO credibility throughout the former Yugoslavia and perhaps elsewhere, too, to raise expectations but do nothing.
The issue of bringing indicted war criminals to justice is, in any event, central to the civilian provisions of the Dayton agreement. But whereas NATO has fairly rigorously enforced the military aspects of that treaty, most of the civilian provisions -- including the rights of freedom of movement and of refugees to go home -- remain a dead letter. The treaty further calls for the establishment of joint Bosnian institutions in what is supposed to be one state consisting of the Republika Srpska and the mainly Croatian and Muslim Federation. The civilian provisions also include trials for war criminals.
The reason for bringing such people to justice is the one given by the Allies at the end of World War II, namely that the crimes of guilty individuals must be brought to light and those persons duly tried and sentenced if societies as a whole are to make a new beginning and put the war behind them. In other words, Karadzic, Gen. Ratko Mladic, and several dozen other individuals must go to The Hague lest the Serbs as a people continue to be demonized by many in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere for war crimes.
One reason for the timing of the latest talk about catching war criminals is that the Clinton administration has realized that time is running out on the Dayton agreement: SFOR's mandate is valid for less than one more year. Another reason is that, with the 14 September local elections approaching , the international community is anxious to reduce the political influence of Karadzic and the other key war criminals on all sides.
Accordingly, Holbrooke and other diplomats have put pressure on Croatian President Franjo Tudjman to hand over indicted Croats to The Hague. Top Croatian officials have said that at least one prominent war criminal might be put on a plane to Holland within days, but so far none has gone. It is unclear to what extent Holbrooke and the other diplomats have sought to have possible Muslim war criminals arrested, but Serbs and Croats alike charge that the court has not indicted a sufficient number of Muslims.
But it would be wrong to say that the arrest and trial of Karadzic would solve Bosnia's problems, as some press accounts suggest. It is also unlikely, given his record for lying to foreigners, that the court would ever extract the whole truth from him. The trial of Karadzic would nonetheless be an important step toward clarifying the historical record and establishing justice.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty