|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 155, 97-11-07
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 155, 7 November 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 NAGORNO-KARABAKH PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE OSCE PEACE PLANThe parliamentary presidium of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has decided to debate the most recent draft peace plan proposed by the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent reported on 6 November. The group of deputies who called for the debate oppose the plan's provisions' for a "phased" rather than a "package" settlement. Also on 6 November, the Nagorno-Karabakh Foreign Ministry accused Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan of misrepresenting Karabakh's position by saying in a 1 November newspaper article that Karabakh first rejected the "package" and then the "phased" approach. The statement explained that Karabakh supports the package approach in principle but rejected the OSCE draft package plan because that document "predetermined" Karabakh's status within Azerbaijan. LF
 ARMENIAN PREMIER ALSO VOICES DISSENTRobert Kocharyan told the parliament on 5 November that he opposes the proposed "phased" solution of the Karabakh conflict but added he does not think the mediation process is in a "critical" state, ARMENPRESS and Interfax reported. Kocharyan was prime minister and then president of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic from August 1994 until his appointment as Armenian premier in March 1997. He noted that responsibility for Armenian foreign policy lies with the president and the Foreign Ministry. Meeting in Baku on 6 November with the three Minsk Group co-chairmen, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed approval of Ter-Petrossyan's most recent statements, Turan reported. Aliev noted that "no real progress" in resolving the conflict has been made so far in 1997, but he added he hopes there will be "real results" by the end of the year. LF
 ARMENIAN COMMUNISTS STILL WANT TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNIONCommunist Party chairman Sergei Badalyanon 6 November urged Armenia to hurry to join the Russia-Belarus union before Azerbaijan and Ukraine, which, he predicted, will do so "sooner or later," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Badalyanon said accession to the union constitutes a security "guarantee" for Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. He also demanded that the Armenian authorities heed "the people's will," pointing to the 900,000 signatures the Communist Party has collected in support of accession. Meanwhile, a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union in Kaliningrad on 4 November granted the Armenian National Initiative observer status, ARMENPRESS reported. In April, the National Initiative launched a campaign to lobby for Armenian membership in the Union. LF
 GEORGIAN FUGITIVES FROM ABKHAZIA DIVIDED OVER TACTICSBoris Kakubava, a leader of the Abkhazeti faction in the Georgian parliament, told Interfax on 6 November that representatives of the more than 200,000 ethnic Georgians forced to flee their homes in Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 hostilities will demand Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's dismissal at their congress on 10-11 November. Kakubava accused Shevardnadze of "pursuing a pro-Russian policy" and the Abkhaz parliament in exile (all of whose deputies are Georgian fugitives from Abkhazia) of ignoring the interests of the Georgian displaced persons. Tamaz Nadareishvili, the chairman of parliament in exile, said its deputies will not participate in the planned congress, which, he said, is intended to destabilize the internal political situation in Georgia. The Georgian Interior Ministry plans to prevent displaced persons converging on Tbilisi to attend the meeting. LF
 AZERBAIJANI COMPANY BEGINS EXPORTING TURKMEN OILThe private company Transchart has begun transporting oil from Turkmenistan by tanker across the Caspian for rail shipment to Batumi, Interfax reported on 6 November. Transchart President Fuad Rasulov said his company will ship 30,000 metric tons of Turkmen crude in November and increase its exports from Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to 600,000-700,000 metric tons per year. Also on 6 November, Azerbaijan's parliament ratified a $2.5 billion agreement between SOCAR and Russia's LUKoil to develop Azerbaijan's Yalama Caspian oil field, AFP reported. LF
 RFE/RL TURKMEN STRINGER DETAINEDYovshan Annakurbanov remains in a Turkmen prison, despite appeals from human rights and journalists' protection organizations, RFE/RL's Turkmen service reported on 7 November. Annakurbanov was arrested by police in Ashgabat on 30 October as he attempted to board a flight to Prague to attend a journalists' training program. Amnesty International, the Glasnost Foundation, and International PEN have all issued appeals for his release. Those organizations note that while police have alleged that Annakurbanov was carrying a computer disc with material from Turkmen opposition parties, no mention was made of the disc at the time of his arrest. The appeals also refer to Annakurbanov's claim that members of the Turkmen Committee of National Security threatened in June 1997 that something might happen to him or his children if he continued to work for RFE/RL. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBIAN WAR CRIMINAL ARRESTEDPolice in Vranje, southern Serbia, on 6 November arrested Slobodan Misic, who had given local media graphic accounts of his activities as a paramilitary volunteer in Croatia and Bosnia. He had said he killed as many as 80 Bosnian civilians, including women and children, as part of an organized "ethnic cleansing" campaign. Misic also gave evidence of links between the paramilitaries and the Yugoslav military. Police arrested him at the offices of a newspaper and confiscated tapes and texts in which he discussed his war crimes. In The Hague, a spokesman for the war crimes tribunal said that the court is seeking information on the case from the Serbian authorities. PM
 OPPOSITION PARTIES BACK SERBIA'S DRASKOVICRepresentatives of nine small opposition parties agreed in Belgrade on 6 November to support Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement in the December Serbian presidential vote. The Democratic Party, the Serbian Democratic Party, and the Civic League of Serbia, however, say they will boycott the vote because conditions for free and fair elections do not exist. Many opponents of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic hope the opposition will rally behind a common candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October 1997). PM
 SERBIA NOT TO DEVALUE DINARSerbian Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic said in Belgrade on 6 November that there will be no devaluation of the Yugoslav currency, which has recently lost value against the German mark on the black market (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). Marjanovic added that the government and the National Bank will take steps to bring the black market exchange rate back to under four dinars to the mark. Current rates are approaching five to the mark. PM
 PENSIONERS MARCH IN BELGRADESeveral hundred pensioners demonstrated in front of the Serbian government's offices on 6 November to demand payment of pension arrears. The pensioners want an increase in their payments and charge that the government is trying to cheat them out of their legal entitlements, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Serbian capital. Many pensioners in much of the former Yugoslavia live near or below the poverty level. PM
 ALBRIGHT WARNS MILOSEVIC, TUDJMANSecretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 5 November that the Serbian authorities "treat criminals like privileged citizens while they treat citizens like criminals." She added that Croatia has recently improved its cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal but still limits freedom of expression. Albright awarded the National Democratic Institute's Averell Harriman Prize to Serbian opposition leader Vesna Pesic, Tuzla Mayor Selim Beslagic, and Osijek Mayor Zlatko Kramaric. PM
 CROATIA DENIES TUDJMAN'S ISRAEL TRIP OFFPresident Franjo Tudjman's office said in a statement on 6 November that his planned visit to Israel will go ahead despite protests by two Israeli legislators (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 November 1997). The statement charged that the two deputies have tried on earlier occasions to cause problems in relations between the two countries. PM
 SARAJEVO CAUTIOUS ON ZAGREB'S PROPOSALA spokesman for the governing Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA) said in Sarajevo on 6 November that the SDA is still studying Tudjman's proposal for closer economic and security links between the two countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 1997). The spokesman warned that the SDA will not agree to any limitations on Bosnia's sovereignty or to any special relationship between Croatia and the mainly Croat areas of Bosnia. Several non-nationalist opposition parties took a similar view, "Oslobodjenje" reported. PM
 RAILWAY STRIKE PARALYZES MACEDONIALocomotive drivers launched a strike on 5 November to demand prompt payment of wages and the authorization of per diem allowances for time the drivers spend in Serbia. The strike brought domestic and international rail traffic to a halt. PM
 ALBANIAN PYRAMID DENIES BANKRUPTCYAt a press conference in Tirana on 6 November, VEFA owner Vehbi Alimucaj said his company would be able to pay investors if it were allowed to continue operating. VEFA owns several businesses in Albania, including supermarkets and a ferry-line. Earlier that day, Alimucaj allowed government officials to enter VEFA's offices in order to carry out an audit, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Pyramid scheme investigator Farudin Arapi responded by dropping an indictment against Alimucaj for obstructing the work of civil servants (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). FS
 ALBANIAN REPUBLICAN LEADER QUITSSabri Godo unexpectedly resigned on 6 November at the Republican Party's congress in Tirana, "Republika" reported. Godo said that his duties as a member of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee and the commission drafting constitution do not allow him much time for party affairs. He will, however, hold a high party position. Deputy party leader Fatmir Mediu was elected as his successor. Godo noted that Mediu , who is only 32 years old, could give the party a new and younger image. The Republicans want to replace the Democrats as the largest right-of-center party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). FS
 ROMANIAN REFORM MINISTER OFFERS TO RESIGNUlm Spineanu has offered to hand in his resignation, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 6 November. According to media reports, Spineanu is likely to be a victim of the planned reshuffle. Premier Victor Ciorbea said it is "premature" to discuss the reshuffle but noted that one possibility is to set up a Ministry of Privatization that would merge the State Property Fund (FPS) and the Ministry of Reform. Another possibility is that ministerial rank will be given to the head of the FPS, the premier said. Spineanu and FPS head Sorin Dimitriu are reportedly in conflict over the pace and method of privatization. Spineanu said he doubted that merging the fund and the Reform Ministry would be constitutional. He added that he refuses to become a scapegoat for failures that he is not responsible for. MS
 ROMANIAN SENATE REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTIONBy 77 votes to 50, the Senate on 6 November rejected an opposition motion accusing the government of mishandling agricultural policies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The same day, the three opposition parties submitted a motion to the Chamber of Deputies criticizing the cabinet's policies in the industrial sector. That motion is scheduled to be discussed on 11 November. MS
 BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT RULES AGAINST GOVERNMENTThe Constitutional Court on 6 November ruled that the July appointment of the national radio and television chiefs by the parliament was unconstitutional. The court was responding to a complaint filed by the opposition Socialist Party. It said that under existing law, the two heads should have been appointed by a media council and not by the legislature. An RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia said the ruling creates a "legal vacuum" since such a council has not yet been appointed by the government. The Union of Democratic Forces is currently drafting amendments to the media law. MS
 BULGARIA'S RIVAL SYNODS WANT SECRET POLICE FILES OPENEDThe two Bulgarian Orthodox Synods on 6 November said they want the files of the communist-era secret police on the clergy to be open to the public, Reuters reported. A spokesman for the synod headed by Patriarch Pymen said the opening of the files would "make informers such as [rival Patriarch] Maxim and his gangs of cops step down and be replaced by real Christians, not slaves of the socialists." Officials from the synod headed by Patriarch Maxim, whom Todor Zhivkov's government appointed in 1971, said they have nothing to fear. They added that they are in favor of opening the files "to put an end to speculations." MS
[C] END NOTE
 RETURNING TO THE BALTICSby Paul Goble
A group of senior Russian politicians, academics, and businessmen has urged President Boris Yeltsin to adopt a more active, differentiated, and sophisticated policy toward the three Baltic states. In a policy paper recently published in "Nezavisimaya Gazeta," the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy argued that such an approach would promote Russian interests both by keeping the Baltic governments off balance and by limiting their ability to draw on Western support.
The report is attracting particular attention now because it comes on the heels of Yeltsin's latest proposal that Moscow take responsibility for the security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania--an idea all three governments have rejected. Moreover, it appears just as the United States and its three Baltic partners are putting the finishing touches to a U.S.-Baltic Charter. Its authors--who include State Duma international affairs committee chairman Vladimir Lukin, deputy director of the Institute of Europe Sergei Karaganov, and industrialist leader Arkadii Volskii--have frequently been bellwethers of Russian policy.
The report itself begins with a stinging indictment of Russia's approach to the Baltic countries since 1991. Not only has Russian policy been reactive, the report suggests, it has been clumsy, often alarming the West and preventing Moscow from achieving its goals. Such an approach is unforgivable on two counts, according to the report. On the one hand, Russia has fundamental interests in those countries. On the other, it has significant leverage there both on its own and because of the attitudes of the West.
But the most intriguing part of the report is its assessments of Russia's opportunities for increasing its influence in the region, which, it claims, have increased in recent times because of the attitude of Western countries. Not only have the three Baltic countries virtually fallen off the West's "radar screen," the report suggests, but Western governments have made it clear to the Baltic governments that they can join the West only if they have normal relations with Russia. That situation, the authors maintain, helps define the limits within which Russian policy toward the Baltic countries should proceed: avoiding threats that might raise the profile of the Baltic States but exploiting Western "conditions" to advance Russian interests.
The report then outlines how Moscow should do just that in three major areas. First, it suggests that Moscow should demonstrate a genuine interest in the fate of ethnic Russians in all three countries and take a hard line on border accords. In the past, the report states, Moscow did less for Russians in those countries than did the West, leaving itself open to the charge of hypocrisy. And it failed to acknowledge that the status of ethnic Russians in the Baltic States is "incomparably better" than in many CIS countries.
The report urges that the Russian government and Russian businesses spend more money on ethnic Russians there in order to show that those Russians are not a "'fifth column'" but rather "a weighty instrument of political and economic rapprochement of peoples." This formulation may not please the Baltic governments but it is likely to prove more acceptable in both Russia and the West. According to the report, Moscow should use the West's concerns about border agreements as another reason to press Russia's case.
Second, the report argues that Moscow must use its economic leverage to play off one Baltic state against the other. Because all three have an interest in gaining transit fees, Moscow can have a role in deciding through which Russian goods will pass. The authors of the report claim that Estonia, which they identify as the least friendly toward Russia, currently loses something like $500 million a year in transit because of its attitude. At the same time, they acknowledge some new limitations on Moscow's ability to conduct such a policy. The Russian government would indeed like to reward Lithuania, but Lithuania's tariff policies are not as favorable as those of Latvia. As a result, Russian businessmen will almost certainly use the Latvian route rather than the Lithuanian one, the report maintains.
Third, the report urges Moscow to adopt a "carrots and sticks" policy both to the Baltic countries as a group and to individual regimes, offering concessions with one hand even as it applies pressure with the other. It argues, for example, that Russia should welcome the inclusion of all the Baltic countries into the EU while opposing NATO membership for them.
Such a differentiated approach would likely serve Russian interests. At the very least, it would pose a challenge to both the Baltic countries and the West, neither of which until now has had to cope with such a sophisticated Russian policy toward the region.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty