|Wednesday, 11 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 153, 97-11-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 153, 5 November 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN FINANCE MINISTER PRESENTS 1998 DRAFT BUDGETArmen Darpinian told journalists in Yerevan on 4 November that the government draft budget projects 5.2 percent GDP growth in 1998 and a 9 percent inflation rate, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Darpinian said that budget expenditures are estimated at 174 billion drams ($350 million), 15 percent higher than in 1997, while the budget deficit is projected at 5.5 percent of GDP. He added that there are no precise figures on estimated revenues as it is unclear how much the Armenian government will receive in foreign loans and from the privatization of state enterprises. Darpinian said tax revenues are expected to increase by 28 percent owing to improved value-added and excise tax collection. lf
 ARMENIA TO BUY IRANIAN GAS?In talks with Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganehi in Tehran on 2 November, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Manasarian said Yerevan wants to purchase an unspecified quantity of natural gas, Reuters reported, citing IRNA. A previous agreement on Armenian purchases of Iranian gas has not been implemented for financial reasons, according to "Hayots ashkhar" on 18 October. In late August, Armenian and Russian officials signed a major agreement on the export of Russian gas to Armenia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 September 1997). lf
 SHOOTING ON ARMENIAN-TURKISH FRONTIERThe Arshat frontier post, which is manned by Russian border guards, was fired on from Turkish territory on 3 November, Russian and Armenian agencies reported. The shots came from a sub-machine gun. No one was injured in the incident. lf
 TEN KILLED IN RENEWED ABKHAZ FIGHTINGTen Abkhaz police officers, including a deputy minister of internal affairs, were killed in a clash with Georgian White Legion guerrillas in Abkhazia's Lata gorge on 1-2 November, CAUCASUS PRESS reported on 5 November. The Abkhaz contingent was reportedly planning to attack Georgian-populated villages in the gorge. lf
 ALIEV DISCUSSES SECURITY ISSUESAzerbaijani President Heidar Aliev told a session of his Security Council on 3 November that the Russian military presence in Armenia and Georgia negatively impacts on relations between CIS states, Turan reported on 4 November. He again called for the annulment of the Russian-Armenian Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, signed in August. He went on to say the stalled investigation into Russian arms supplies to Armenia is an obstacle to implementing the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group's Karabakh peace proposal. Aliev endorsed the program for Azerbaijani participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program drafted by Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov. But Azerbaijan has nonetheless cancelled its participation in the PFP exercises currently under way in Romania for financial reasons, Mediafax reported on 4 November. lf
 ELCHIBEY ADVOCATES SUSPENDING OIL CONTRACTSAddressing the Supreme Council of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front on 3 November, former Azerbaijani President Abulfaz Elchibey argued that the implementation of several oil contracts signed with U.S. firms should be suspended until Washington reviews its approach to resolving the Karabakh conflict, Turan and Interfax reported. Elchibey said the U.S. is pursuing double standards by "demanding that Azerbaijan give up its sovereign right to Karabakh." He added that numerous violations were made in signing the oil contracts. Elchibey reportedly declined an invitation from the U.S. Embassy to meet with the U.S. Secretary of State's special adviser on CIS affairs on 4 November, saying he was "too busy." lf
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 DID NANO, MILOSEVIC STRIKE DEAL OVER KOSOVO?Diplomats told Reuters at the Crete Balkan summit on 4 November that Albanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic agreed Milosevic will grant the Kosovo Albanians basic human rights but not autonomy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 November 1997). Observers note that if the report is true, it means that Tirana's new Socialist-led government has effectively washed its hands of the Kosovo question by accepting that Kosovo is Serbia's internal affair. The previous Albanian government actively campaigned internationally for autonomy for Serbia's mainly ethnic Albanian-inhabited province. pm
 KOSOVARS, BERISHA CHARGE NANO WITH SELL-OUTAdem Demaci, the head of Kosovo's Parliamentary Party, said in Pristina on 4 November that Nano sold out Kosovo's interests by meeting with Milosevic and by what he called consigning the Kosovars to Milosevic's tender mercies. Demaci added that it is particularly disgraceful for Nano to have met with the Serbian leader at a time of increased repression in Kosovo, BETA news agency reported. In Tirana, former Albanian President Sali Berisha said the summit marked the culmination of Greek efforts to make Milosevic internationally respectable. Berisha added that Nano had no business talking to Milosevic without the approval of the Kosovar leadership. pm
 MACEDONIA INVITES ALBANIAN STUDENTS TO GO...At a meeting on Crete on 4 November, Nano failed to convince Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov to give legal status to the banned Albanian- language university in Tetovo (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 1997). Gligorov said Macedonia's ethnic Albanian students should go to Tirana University if they want a higher education in their mother tongue. Macedonian law provides for only basic schooling and a teacher-training college in the Albanian language. Police have repeatedly broken up attempts by faculty and students at the illegal university to hold classes. Just over 20 percent of Macedonia's population is ethnic Albanian. pm
 ...BUT WANTS PEACEKEEPERS TO STAYForeign Minister Blagoje Handziski wrote UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan from Skopje on 4 November that UN peacekeepers should stay on in Macedonia after their mandate runs out on 1 December. Handziski argued that instability in Kosovo makes a continued UN presence in Macedonia imperative. Some 1,000 peacekeepers are stationed in Macedonia. The operation is the first in UN history aimed at preventing the spread of a conflict rather than at separating hostile forces. pm
 BOSNIAN SERBS WARNED OVER BRCKOCarlos Westendorp, the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, has told Momcilo Krajisnik, the Serbian representative on the Bosnian joint presidency, that the Bosnian Serbs will be committing "political suicide" if they continue to prevent a multi-ethnic administration from taking office in the strategic town. The two men met in Pale on 4 November. Muslim and Croatian refugees elected 26 out of 56 members of the town council in the local elections in September. Elsewhere in Bosnia, 34 out of 136 municipal councils took office. International election officials expect 80 more to do so in the course of the week. pm
 LOYALIST SAYS KARADZIC STILL IN CHARGEAleksa Buha, who replaced Radovan Karadzic as head of the Serbian Democratic Party last year, told Banja Luka's "Reporter" of 4 November that Karadzic is still in control in Pale. Buha argued that Karadzic's "work and personality...cannot be annulled by any decree.... The influence [he has] is therefore still indisputable." The 1995 Dayton agreement and a 1996 pact between the international community and the Bosnian Serbs require Karadzic to leave politics. pm
 CROATIAN INDEPENDENT RADIO GETS LICENSEThe Croatian authorities on 4 November granted Zagreb's Radio 101 a five- year license. Government officials had argued that the permit was held up by disputes over claims to the ownership of the station, but Radio 101 spokesmen said that the independent broadcaster was a victim of political harassment, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Some 100,000 people turned out to demonstrate in support of the station's right to a license in November 1996. pm
 YUGOSLAV UNIONS WARN OF HIGH INFLATIONSpokesmen for the League of Independent Unions of Yugoslavia said in Belgrade on 4 November that government policies could prompt a return of hyper-inflation. The unions noted that the authorities have printed large quantities of money in an election year. "Nasa Borba" on 5 November wrote that the rate of exchange on the black market is now more than 4.5 dinars to the German mark. pm
 ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST PYRAMIDVEFA investment company owner Vehbi Alimucaj failed to show up for talks in Tirana on 4 November with Finance Minister Arben Malaj, Justice Minister Thimio Kondi, and pyramid investigator Farudin Arapi, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Arapi said after the meeting that the government will begin bankruptcy proceedings against VEFA and force the company to grant government officials access to its offices immediately. For months, Alimucaj has refused government administrators access to his records and has delayed formal investigations by challenging a pyramid-scheme transparency law in court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 September 1997). A constitutional court decision on the transparency law is still pending. fs
 ALBANIAN SOCIALIST DEPUTIES FIGHT PARTY DISCIPLINESeveral Socialist Party legislators are challenging a proposed code of conduct for their parliamentary group, "Koha Jone" reported on 5 November. The code provides for penalties against individual deputies who vote against the recommendation of the Socialist leadership on any given issue. An unnamed Socialist deputy charged the leadership with trying to introduce a "dictatorship like in the times of [communist dictator] Enver Hoxha." The rebel deputies stress that the proposed code threatens democracy and pluralism in the parliament because the Socialists hold more than two- thirds of the parliamentary seats. Enforcing the code would lead to large, uniform blocs on every vote, they argue. fs
 U.S. PURCHASES MOLDOVAN FIGHTER PLANESU.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen told journalists that the US has purchased 21 Russian-built MiG-29C jets from Moldova in order to keep them out of the hands of "rogue nations." Cohen noted that in October, Iran had tried to purchase the jets, which are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. He said the purchase was made within the framework of the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement, signed with Moldova in June, RFE/RL correspondents in Washington reported. Cohen said Russia was informed in advance of the purchase. "The New York Times" said on 5 November that the costs of the deal are secret but noted that the U.S. has agreed to give Moldova, in addition to a cash payment, surplus military equipment such as trucks and food and relief supplies. ms
 NEW ELECTORAL ALLIANCE IN MOLDOVAThe National Peasant Party, the Liberal Party, and the National Liberal Party have set up a new electoral alliance, Infotag reported on 4 November. They said the alliance, called the Peasant-Liberal Bloc, will be open to other right-wing parties. In other news, Infotag reported on 4 November that 80 percent of the country's population lives below the poverty level. The news agency cited figures released at a recent conference on living standards. ms
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO BE RESHUFFLED IN NOVEMBERMeeting on 4 November, the leaders of the ruling coalition and President Emil Constantinescu agreed that the reorganization of the executive must take place this month. They also agreed that the reshuffle will be "extensive" and will affect mainly the economic ministries, Mediafax reported on 5 November. The agency said a new Ministry of Privatization will be set up, and it quoted Senate Chairman Petre Roman as saying the size of the government may be reduced. ms
 CLUJ MAYOR EXPELLED FROM PARTYThe Standing Bureau of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR) on 4 November expelled Gheorghe Funar from the party. Funar, who was party chairman until 1996, had ignored the bureau's warning two weeks earlier to withdraw law suits against other party members, the prefect of Cluj, and several journalists, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The bureau had cited the negative impact of that legal action on the party's image. Funar responded that the bureau's decision contravenes the party's statutes, adding that he does not recognize the PUNR's "treacherous leadership." ms
 LEGAL PROCEEDINGS LAUNCHED AGAINST ROMANIAN GENERALSThe Military Prosecutors' Office in Timisoara has begun legal proceedings against Generals Victor Stanculescu, Mihai Chitac (both former members of the government set up after dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's ouster), and Stefan Guse, who was chief of the general staff during the 1989 uprising and who subsequently died. All three were sent by Ceausescu to Timisoara and are suspected of overseeing the attempt to put down the uprising. They are to be charged with complicity in and instigation to murder. Also charged is Ceausescu's last prosecutor-general, Gheorghe Diaconescu. A military investigation commission set up in 1990 concluded that charges must be brought against Stanculescu and Chitac. The investigation was nonetheless halted, Romanian media reported on 5 November. ms
 BULGARIA TO RESTORE CITIZENSHIP OF EMIGRESIn a bid to encourage investments, Sofia intends to restore the citizenship of those who fled the country after the communist takeover. Justice Minister Vassil Gotsev on 4 November said the move will be extended to the descendants of those who left Bulgaria, including non-ethnic Bulgarians. Israeli Ambassador to Sofia David Levy said he believes the decision will be welcome in his country, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. ms
[C] END NOTE
 RUSSIAN REGIONS PRESSURE KREMLIN INTO POLICY SHIFTby John Helmer
When Orel Oblast cast a 95 percent vote to re-elect Governor Yegor Stroev in late October, the Kremlin sought to beat State Duma election observers to the punch by claiming victory for President Boris Yeltsin.
Stroev, who is also the powerful chairman of the Federation Council, "personifies stability and common sense," said Deputy Viktor Sheinis, one of the State Duma observers at the Orel poll.
According to Kremlin officials, Stroev's near-total victory--surpassing even the margin of victory in Kemerovo by Governor Aman Tuleev--could not have been won without Yeltsin's personal backing or without institutional and media endorsement. Nor could it have been achieved without cash from the central government to meet regional budget needs.
Although Stroev and Tuleev are still viewed as pro-communist by the Russian Communist Party, they are also claimed as Yeltsin supporters by the Kremlin. Sergei Shapovalov, the deputy head of the president's territorial department, argues that party loyalties no longer have any bearing in regional politics. "Let the opposition count as they will," Shapovalov told RFE/RL. "We know that political colors change radically after a person gets elected."
Regional politicians say that, following Yeltsin's recent concessions to the Duma and to regional treaty negotiators, it is the president who most resembles a chameleon.
In addition to Stroev, representatives of several multi-region associations are to be included in the monthly "roundtable," which Yeltsin promises will now review the most contentious government policies before they are sent to the parliament. This was just one of the points Yeltsin said he accepted as the price for avoiding the Duma vote of no confidence in October. Stroev is also included in the "council of four," an even more influential consultative body Yeltsin is reviving with Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin and Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev.
Yeltsin has also put emphasis on the revenue-sharing and policy provisions of the treaties--37 so far--that he has signed with regional administrations. Those pacts, he asserted in a recent speech, are a "fundamentally new constitutional instrument."
Significantly, presidential officials say, Yeltsin has conceded that the treaties are an alternative source of policy-making power in which several regional leaders are developing the upper hand. Because of his position in the Federation Council, Stroev is one of those leaders, while Tuleev, who controls the vital Kuzbass coal mines, is another. The governors of the big tax-paying regions, and the mayor of Moscow, are also members of this policy-making elite.
This group is strongly opposed to the policies of the government's perceived market reformers, First Deputy Prime Ministers Anatolii Chubais and Boris Nemtsov. Just how big the gap is between them became evident six months ago, when the Federation Council passed a resolution endorsing a report prepared by its own analytical department.
Entitled "On Measures to Perfect State Regulation of the Economy and Correct Economic Reform," the report was drafted by Sergei Glazev, a young economist currently working for Stroev. In September 1993, Glazev was a cabinet minister who turned against the government and has been a scathing critic of its policies ever since. His report blames the government's budget-cutting approach for the collapse of investment and the failure of economic recovery. It recommends a totally different budget strategy from the one being pursued by the government.
A poll of upper house members, carried out by the Russian Academy of Sciences and published in October, suggests that 70 percent or more of Council deputies agree with Glazev. When asked in a similar poll two years ago to say if they favor strengthening state regulation of the economy, 16 percent said "yes." The survey also notes greater blame directed at federal government policy this year, compared with 1995.
Anton Fedorov, overseer of presidential representatives in the regions, says the Kremlin has had to replace 60 percent of those representatives this year because of the suspicion that their loyalty has been co-opted by the regional power elites.
Yeltsin recently described his treaties with the governors as necessary to prevent "a weak rag state in which everyone is out for himself." The view in the Federation Council is that "everyone for himself" is exactly what those treaties mean.
The author is a Moscow-based journalist who regularly contributes to RFE/RL.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty