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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 118, 97-09-16

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. 118, 16 September 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TAJIK RECONCILIATION COMMISSION CONVENES
  • [02] ANTI-NUCLEAR FORUM OPENS IN TASHKENT
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN'S "YEREVANGATE" TEAM IN MOSCOW
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN THREATENS SANCTIONS OVER DISPUTED OIL FIELD
  • [05] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER RESIGNS
  • [06] LEBANESE PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PROPOSES KARABAKH REFERENDUM
  • [07] GEORGIA, GREECE SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY
  • [08] ABKHAZ POLICE ABDUCT SIX GEORGIANS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] EU BANS ENTRY VISAS TO BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS
  • [10] U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS FOR NONCOMPLIANCE WITH BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS
  • [11] BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS BLAST LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [12] CROATIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SMALLER GOVERNMENT ROLE IN ECONOMY
  • [13] SLOVENIA, CROATIA TO SEEK ARBITRATION OVER BORDER
  • [14] CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA SIGN AGREEMENTS
  • [15] KOSOVARS FEAR MORE REPRESSION
  • [16] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENT QUARREL OVER APPOINTMENTS
  • [17] FORMER ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS HE FEARED ARREST
  • [18] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REOPENS UKRAINIAN SCHOOL
  • [19] MOLDOVA, UKRAINE DISCUSS PLANNED CUSTOMS UNION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [20] INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS IN TRANSYLVANIA: RHETORIC AND REALITY (PART 1)

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TAJIK RECONCILIATION COMMISSION CONVENES

    The National Reconciliation Commission held its first session in the Tajik capital on 15 September, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Said Abdullo Nuri, chairman of the commission and leader of the United Tajik Opposition, had arrived in Dushanbe four days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 1997). Opening the meeting, President Imomali Rakhmonov called on guarantor states of the peace process to continue their work and asked international donor organizations to help in the reconstruction of the country. Four sub- committees were formed to deal with legal, military, political, and refugee issues. Also on 15 September, the Russian Federal Border Guard Service announced that 800 Tajik refugees had returned to Tajikistan from Afghanistan within the previous 48 hours. Nearly 6,000 refugees have been repatriated since the process began on 17 July.

    [02] ANTI-NUCLEAR FORUM OPENS IN TASHKENT

    A conference whose aim is to officially declare Central Asia a nuclear-free zone opened in the Uzbek capital on 15 September, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Representatives from more than 60 countries and organizations are attending the meeting. Uzbek President Islam Karimov said that declaring Central Asia a nuclear free zone would help to "ensure the security and peace of the people who live here [as well as] the prosperity of the region." Karimov pointed out that the people of Central Asia still feel the effects of testing carried out in the 1950s and the 1960s in northern Kazakhstan and more recently in western China. He also said there are countries in the region that are trying to acquire the technology to make their own nuclear weapons. He urged that a control mechanism be developed to "avert the spread of nuclear weapons."

    [03] AZERBAIJAN'S "YEREVANGATE" TEAM IN MOSCOW

    First Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov arrived in Moscow on 15 August to attend a session of the trilateral government commission charged with investigating Russia's arms supplies to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has repeatedly protested the alleged shipment to Armenia from 1992-1994 of weaponry worth $1 billion. The Azerbaijani Security Council discussed the issue on 14 September, according to Interfax. Meeting with Georgian Ambassador Gia Chanturia, President Heidar Aliev expressed concern that much of the weaponry in question has been transported to Armenia via Georgia, Turan reported.

    [04] AZERBAIJAN THREATENS SANCTIONS OVER DISPUTED OIL FIELD

    Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR issued a statement on 11 September threatening unspecified reprisals against Western oil companies that participate in the tender for the disputed Kyapaz Caspian oil field, Russian media reported. Kyapaz is included in 11 Caspian sectors for which the Turkmen government opened tenders at the beginning of September. SOCAR Vice President Khoshbakht Yusif-Zade told journalists in Baku on 15 September that Azerbaijani and Kazakh government experts are close to coordinating their position on dividing the Caspian into "equally-distanced national sectors," Interfax reported.

    [05] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER RESIGNS

    Jirair Libaridian, senior adviser to President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, told journalists on 15 September that he is resigning in order to rejoin his family in the U.S., RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Libaridian, a Beirut- born naturalized U.S. citizen, has worked in Yerevan since 1991. He concentrated on foreign-policy issues, conducting talks on the Karabakh conflict with his Azerbaijani counterpart and maintaining contacts with Turkey (with which Armenia has no formal diplomatic relations). Libaridian said he rejected the offer to become Armenia's representative to the UN but will retain the post of presidential ambassador-at-large. Ter-Petrossyan publicly thanked Libaridian for his service to Armenia. His successor has not yet been named.

    [06] LEBANESE PARLIAMENT SPEAKER PROPOSES KARABAKH REFERENDUM

    Nabih Berri told journalists in Yerevan on 14 September that Lebanon will recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent state if the population votes for independence in a UN sponsored referendum, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The enclave unilaterally declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 but has not been recognized by any country. During his three-day visit, Berri held talks with his Armenian counterpart, Babken Ararktsyan, and with President Ter-Petrossyan. No formal bilateral agreements were signed, but Ter-Petrossyan said the visit "marks a new stage" in bilateral relations. He noted that Lebanon could become Armenia's door to the Middle East and described Armenians' attitude to both Lebanon and Syria (where he was born) as "special," Interfax reported.

    [07] GEORGIA, GREECE SIGN FRIENDSHIP TREATY

    Georgian President Eduard Shevadnadze and his Greek counterpart, Constantinos Simitis, signed a treaty on friendship and cooperation on 15 September, the first day of Shevardnadze's three-day official visit to Greece. The two presidents discussed regional conflicts, including Cyprus, and Greek-Turkish relations. Simitis noted the readiness of the Greek business community to invest in Georgia and commented that Greek foreign policy in the Black Sea and Caucasus should be more active. Georgia and Greece are both members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.

    [08] ABKHAZ POLICE ABDUCT SIX GEORGIANS

    Abkhaz police seized six ethnic Georgians in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi on 14 September and took them to a police station in neighboring Gali Raion, in Abkhazia, AFP reported. The reason for the kidnapping is unclear. The Georgian government has lodged an official protest with the Abkhaz leadership and with the UN observer and Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in the region.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] EU BANS ENTRY VISAS TO BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS

    EU foreign ministers voted in Brussels on 15 September to deny entry visas to Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency. Bosnian Co-Premier Boro Bosic, Minister of Communications Spasoje Albijanic, and Deputy Prime Minister Gavro Bogic are also banned from traveling to EU member states. Carlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, asked for the ban to punish the Serbs for holding up the signing of agreements involving all three nationalities, including an accord on a common citizenship and passport. Westendorp said he wanted to punish the Serbian leaders but not ordinary Serbs. Westendorp also urged the EU to consider resuming aid to the Republika Srpska in an effort to bolster the position of President Biljana Plavsic. Also in Brussels, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook called on the U.S. to maintain a military presence in Bosnia beyond the June 1998 deadline.

    [10] U.S. THREATENS SANCTIONS FOR NONCOMPLIANCE WITH BOSNIAN ELECTION RESULTS

    A U.S. State Department spokesman on 15 September said that Washington and other members of the international community will impose economic, travel, and possibly other restrictions on those in Bosnia who fail to respect the outcome of the municipal elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1997). The U.S. and its allies are concerned that current authorities formed largely by one ethnic group will try to prevent newly elected councils dominated by another nationality from taking office.

    [11] BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS BLAST LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Republika Srpska Foreign Minister Aleksa Buha said in Belgrade on 15 September that President Plavsic and international elections organizers conspired to prevent 70,000 Serbs in Bosnia and 65,000 Bosnian Serb refugees in Yugoslavia from voting. He did not elaborate but also said that Muslim and Croatian refugees should not have been allowed to vote for town councils in areas that are now under Serbian control. On 13 September, Krajisnik said the international organizers went back on their promise to return the names of 3,000 Serbs to the voting rolls in Brcko. International election monitors struck the names of several thousand Serbs from the voting list on the grounds that the individuals had no legal right to vote in the strategically located town (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 1997).

    [12] CROATIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR SMALLER GOVERNMENT ROLE IN ECONOMY

    Franjo Tudjman said at the Zagreb Trade Fair on 15 September that the government must limit its role in the economy to setting long-term priorities. He added that all industries except those vital to state security should be privatized. Tudjman warned that Croatia needs to reduce the role of state bureaucracy in the economy if it is to be competitive internationally and overcome the legacy of its communist past. Tudjman's critics charge, however, that his nationalist policies are the main reason for Croatia's international marginalization and that only persons with close links to his Croatian Democratic Community benefit from major privatization deals. Also in Zagreb, the State Prosecutor's Office said that two top officials in the Economics Ministry have been arrested and charged with abuse of office.

    [13] SLOVENIA, CROATIA TO SEEK ARBITRATION OVER BORDER

    Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa and his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Drnovsek, have agreed to seek international arbitration of their disputed border in the Gulf of Piran, the government daily "Vjesnik" reported on 16 September. Slovenia and Croatia may also seek arbitration in the disputes over deposits by Croats in Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka and over the Krsko nuclear power plant in Slovenia, which Croatia helped fund during communist rule. Meanwhile in Ljubljana, parliamentary speaker Janez Podobnik announced on 15 September that he has withdrawn his candidacy for the 23 November presidential race. He failed to attract the support of a key opposition party, according to the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung."

    [14] CROATIA, YUGOSLAVIA SIGN AGREEMENTS

    Croatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic and his Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, signed six agreements in Belgrade on 15 September. The documents deal with transportation, border regions, social insurance, and legal aid. The ministers said that talks will begin soon to discuss economic links and cooperation in fighting crime and terrorism. Observers said the six agreements constitute the most significant step toward normalizing relations between the two countries since the breakup of former Yugoslavia in 1991. Meanwhile in Kragujevac, police and opposition demonstrators clashed for several hours, BETA reported.

    [15] KOSOVARS FEAR MORE REPRESSION

    Hidajet Hiseni and Fehmi Agani, the two vice presidents of the Democratic League of Kosovo, charged in Pristina on 15 September that most Serbian parties have played on anti-Albanian sentiments in an effort to win nationalist votes, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Kosovar capital. The two said that they fear that repression against the provinces' ethnic Albanian majority could become worse after the elections. The Albanian parties are boycotting the vote, saying that none of the Serbian parties has anything to offer Albanians.

    [16] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT, PRESIDENT QUARREL OVER APPOINTMENTS

    President Rexhep Meidani has refused to approve a list of ambassadors presented to him some 10 days ago by Prime Minister Fatos Nano (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 5 September). According to "Gazeta Shqiptare" on 16 September, Meidani objects to the appointment of "Zeri i Popullit" editor-in-chief Luan Rama to Paris and of Bashkim Zeneli, the head of the parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, to Bonn. The newspaper adds that two unnamed high-ranking Foreign Ministry officials also oppose the appointments. It is unclear why Meidani or the officials object to the nominations. Meanwhile, Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova has arrived for his first official visit to Tirana since the new government took office, state television reported on 15 September.

    [17] FORMER ALBANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS HE FEARED ARREST

    Safet Zhulali told a roundtable broadcast by state television on 14 September that he left the country in March because he feared arrest after the daily "Albania" had attacked him. He noted that "Albania," which was former President Sali Berisha's mouthpiece, had slammed him for not sending the army against rebels in the south of the country. Perikli Teta, Zhulali's former deputy, told the roundtable that Zhulali was a traitor for leaving his post. Zhulali went on to deny charges by a former pilot that the Defense Ministry in early March ordered pilots to bomb southern cities. Pilot Ardian Elezi, who fled with his plane to Italy on 4 March and has since received political asylum there, told the roundtable that he fled with a colleague after receiving orders while airborne to bomb southern positions. Zhulali called Elezi a "deserter."

    [18] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REOPENS UKRAINIAN SCHOOL

    Emil Constantinescu on 15 September reopened a high school in the northern town of Sighetu Marmatiei, two kilometers from the Romanian-Ukrainian frontier, for Romania's 300,000-strong ethnic Ukrainian community, Reuters reported. The school, named after Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko, was opened in 1945 and closed by Romanian authorities in 1968 on the grounds that there were too few pupils. Some 200 students have enrolled for the current academic year. Constantinescu said the reopening marked Romania's respect for its ethnic Ukrainian minority.

    [19] MOLDOVA, UKRAINE DISCUSS PLANNED CUSTOMS UNION

    A Ukrainian government delegation spent two days in Chisinau to discuss the creation of a proposed customs union between the two countries, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 16 September. Viktor Gladush, Ukrainian first deputy minister for foreign economic relations and trade, and Moldovan Deputy Minister for the Economy Dumitru Bragis signed a protocol on setting up the planned union. They also agreed on the composition of working groups to achieve that goal.

    [C] END NOTE

    [20] INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS IN TRANSYLVANIA: RHETORIC AND REALITY (PART 1)

    by George Schopflin

    The centrality of inter-ethnic relations in Transylvania is beyond dispute. But the complexity of these relations is regularly clouded by politicians' rhetoric. The reality is that neither the Romanian majority nor the Hungarian minority is homogeneous and this factor influences attitudes, political responses, and behavior.

    The total population of Transylvania is more than 7 million and of these fewer than 2 million are Hungarian. But the roughly 5 million Romanians are divided in their sociological make-up. The principal cleavage is between those who have lived in the region for generations and those who migrated there after the 1960s.

    This cleavage is the classical one between old-established inhabitants and newcomers. Essentially, the traditional Romanian inhabitants of Transylvania have worked out a modus vivendi with the multi-ethnic character of the area. This does not necessarily mean that they are particularly pro-Hungarian or even necessarily sympathetic to the minority, but they are generally prepared to accept that the Hungarian presence does not challenge their ideas of what is "normal and natural." They constitute both the absolute and relative majority of the region. At the same time, there is a small minority of the old established Romanians that remains strongly anti-Hungarian.

    Broadly, they have learned to live with the multi-cultural, multi-lingual nature of Transylvania even if they do not speak Hungarian. For the elite, it is not unusual to send their children to German-language schools, partly because the teaching is good and they have access to another language.

    However, this Transylvanian Romanian elite has never been particularly influential in Bucharest and its political skills, including those of dealing with multi-ethnicity, have not been very effective, given that their cultural norms differ from those of the Regatean majority. In this sense, there is a mild cultural boundary between them and the Romanians of the Regat. They are both Romanians but understand this identity differently. On the other hand, they will certainly not make common cause with the Hungarians over issues like territorial autonomy, which the Hungarians have demanded from time to time for fear that autonomy would lead to separation.

    For the roughly 1 million migrants, who were drawn to Transylvania during the rapid industrial expansion of the 1970s and 1980s by offers of jobs and housing, the Hungarians are a near inexplicable and alien element. Sociologically, many of the migrants are from poor rural backgrounds and have had to cross several social and cultural boundaries: from village to town, from agricultural to industrial working, from the Regat to Transylvania.

    Many of them, when they arrived there from the Regat, were shocked to discover that a significant section of the population was not only not Romanian but insisted on speaking an alien language and had very alien ways of doing things. This exacerbated the alienation that all immigrants experience and gave it an anti-Hungarian focus. The anti-Magyar rhetoric of the Ceausescu period found considerable resonance among them.

    These migrants or, by now, former migrants have a particular burden to carry. Their existence in Transylvania depended on the center and especially on the heavy subsidies that Bucharest paid to maintain the often uneconomic industries in which they worked. They were an unintegrated element, sufficiently numerous to continue with their own traditions, values and aspirations. Hence the old established Transylvanian Romanians have not been able to integrate them because of their dependence on the center and the different sociological make-up.

    The 1989 collapse of communism has been a severe blow to the migrants. Their most dependable source of support--the communist state--has evaporated as the subsidies have dried up. They lack the skills to make their way in a market-oriented world. And, crucially, they lack the links with the countryside that would allow them to add to their incomes and give them access to foodstuffs, given that their villages are in the distant Regat. Hence the return of the land to the peasantry has brought them few benefits.

    There is another disadvantage in their position. The ethnic Hungarians have evolved a strategy of working in the gray economy in Hungary. Given the much higher income levels there, they can make enough from four months' construction work, say, to live more than adequately in Romania. This option is generally not open to Romanians and especially not to the Regateans, for whom the idea of working in Hungary is foreign and threatening.

    Since 1989, the top Regatean managers and bureaucrats have either left to return to the Regat or have the skills and know-how to make their way in the market economy, though their formerly privileged positions have been eroded. But that leaves the great bulk of Regatean migrants in a very exposed position. They are the constituency for nationalist mobilization and for the anti-reform line associated with former President Ion Iliescu, who was defeated last year. A minority is attracted to the much more virulent nationalism of Corneliu Vadim Tudor's Party of National Unity. Gheorghe Funar's Greater Romania Party receives its support from the anti- Hungarians among the old established Romanian population. The remainder, the great majority, voted solidly for the coalition now in power.

    The author lectures at the London School of Economics. Part Two of this article will appear in tomorrow's "RFE/RL Newsline."


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


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