|Saturday, 8 August 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 157, 97-11-11
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 1, No. 157, 11 November 1997
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES TRY TO PREVENT FUGITIVES' CONGRESSSeveral thousand police were deployed around the Philharmonia building in Tbilisi on 11 November to prevent a congress of representatives of the ethnic Georgians forced to flee Abkhazia and South Ossetia during the fighting in both regions from 1990-1993, CAUCASUS PRESS reported. Two of the congress's organizers were detained by police, while the meeting has convened in other, smaller premises. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze had on 10 November criticized the congress, whose delegates want to protest the Georgian leadership's failure to achieve political settlements of either conflict that would allow them to return home. They also intend to demand Shevardnadze's resignation. LF
 ARMENIAN RULING PARTY BACKS PRESIDENT'S KARABAKH POLICYVano Siradeghyan, the chairman of the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh), told an RFE/RL correspondent in Yerevan on 10 November that the movement has pledged its support for President Levon Ter-Petrossyan's strategy for resolving the Karabakh conflict. Ter-Petrossyan met behind closed doors on 8 November to discuss the peace process with the movement's board and the leaders of the five smaller parties aligned with the HHSh in the ruling Hanrapetutyun coalition. Siradeghyan said the Armenian leadership's decision not to reveal details of the latest peace plan proposed by the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk group "plays into the hands of the opposition. " But he added that it is "premature" to disclose particulars. LF
 ARMENIAN SECURITY MINISTER OPPOSES UNILATERAL CONCESSIONSInterior and Security Minister Serzh Sarkisyan told journalists in Yerevan on 10 November that he favors an "honorable peace" with Azerbaijan that is not based on unilateral concessions, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sarkisyan, who was born in Nagorno-Karabakh, downplayed suggestions of a rift between the president and the power ministers over how best to resolve the conflict. Sarkisyan also said President Ter-Petrossyan's decision in November1996 to merge the Interior and Security Ministries has contributed to a reduction of the shadow economy's activities and a substantial increase in tax collection, according to ARMENPRESS. LF
 ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT REVISES ECONOMIC FORECASTThe Armenian Finance and Economics Ministry has revised its forecast for 1997 following the government's failure to meet macroeconomic targets in the first ten months, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. GDP growth has been revised downward from 5.7 percent to 3.3 percent. Annual inflation is now expected to reach 21 percent, while a 10 percent rate was originally forecast. The ministry has also proposed that the government cut budget expenditures by 11 percent or 17 billion drams ($34 million) since the volume of international loans is lower than expected. The proposed cutbacks will largely affect government investments and expenditures other than social entitlements. LF
 BULGARIA WANTS TO BUY, RE-EXPORT AZERBAIJANI OILVisiting Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova signed a protocol on regular consultations with her Azerbaijani counterpart Hasan Hasanov, Turan reported on 10 November. Mikhailova discussed with both Hasanov and President Heidar Aliev the possibility of Bulgaria's purchasing Azerbaijani oil and the transportation of Caspian oil to Europe via Bulgaria. Hasanov agreed that some Azerbaijani oil exported via the Western pipeline to the Georgian port of Supsa could be shipped by tanker to Bulgaria, according to CAUCASUS PRESS. Mikhailova also said Bulgaria wants to accede to the transport agreement concluded by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Ukraine within the framework of the TRASECA project. LF
 KARIMOV SAYS UZBEKISTAN FOLLOWS ITS OWN PATHUzbek President Islam Karimov said in an interview published in "Izvestiya" on 11 November that Uzbekistan is not following any particular model of development but rather is discovering "its own potential." He said his policies are leading to a gradual change in the mind-set of the people, which will eventually allow greater social freedoms. Currently, "order and free elections" are most important, he noted. With regard to Uzbekistan's estrangement from Russia, Karimov denied that development was "by design." He noted that Russia usually conducts trade by barter but that Uzbekistan is interested in cash. BP
 KYRGYZSTAN SETS UP INVESTMENT AGENCYKyrgyzstan has established an Agency for Foreign Investments, Interfax reported on 10 November. The new agency is aimed at managing "important sectors of the national economy" and is a condition for receiving a $44 million loan from the Asian Development Bank. In other news, Prime Minister Apas Jumagulov criticized the delays in adopting the 1998 budget, saying it will have a "negative effect on the economic situation in the country." The budget foresees a deficit of 4.2 percent, compared with a projected 1997 deficit of 5.6 percent. The budget will be increased by 253 million som ($15 million) to total 7.84 billion som, half of which is targeted for the public sector. The parliament recently rejected the first draft of the budget. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 BOSNIA'S IZETBEGOVIC REJECTS CROATIAN OFFERAlija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said on 10 November that Croatia's proposals for closer political and economic ties would compromise Bosnian sovereignty and hence are unacceptable (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 7 November 1997). State-run Radio Bosnia added that Sarajevo will draw up a counter proposal and present it to Zagreb. Muslim leaders earlier suggested that Croatia's proposals for a customs and monetary union are problematic. Western diplomats suggested to Reuters that Croatia's draft is aimed at diverting international and Muslim attention from stalled talks on Bosnia's access to Croatia's port of Ploce. PM
 SFOR TAKES OVER BOSNIAN SERB POLICE HEADQUARTERSInternational peacekeepers took control of a hard-line Bosnian Serb elite police base in Doboj on 10 November and confiscated weapons. The peacekeepers declared the unit of paramilitaries and bodyguards dissolved and said any police officers wanting to keep their jobs would have to enlist in a new program drawn up by UN police monitors. Observers suggested that SFOR wanted to publicly humiliate the hard-liners as the 22-23 November legislative elections draw near. Meanwhile in Plavsic's stronghold of Banja Luka, Canadian police officials announced a gift of $70,000 toward training for pro-Plavsic police. PM
 BRUSSELS BLEAK ON BOSNIAEU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on 10 November issued a statement saying progress toward democracy in Bosnia is "extremely slow," especially in the Republika Srpska. The text noted an improvement in Croatia's cooperation with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal but slammed Zagreb's and Belgrade's poor records in facilitating the return of refugees. The ministers charged that Yugoslavia is not living up to its obligations under the Dayton agreement to promote human and minority rights, particularly in Kosovo. The document added that of the countries under review, Macedonia alone has made progress in protecting human and minority rights. PM
 MUSLIMS KILLED NEAR FRONT LINEA UN police spokesman said in Sarajevo on 10 November that two Muslim males were killed and two more assaulted the previous day near the former front line at Jelovo Brdo in the Tuzla area. Police want to question Milan Becarevic, a Serbian former policeman, in conjunction with the incidents. PM
 TURKEY HELPS RESTORE MOSTAR BRIDGETurkish and Bosnian officials signed an agreement in Ankara on 10 November whereby Turkey pledged $1 million to help reconstruct the Mostar bridge over the Neretva River. Hungarian engineers have begun rebuilding the four- centuries-old structure and have found large pieces of the original bridge still intact on the riverbed. The UNESCO-registered bridge was a symbol of the multiethnic character of Bosnia-Herzegovina until Croatian gunners destroyed it at the end of 1993. PM
 SLAVONIAN SERBS BOYCOTT SCHOOLSSerbian parents prevented their children from attending 18 out of 22 primary and secondary schools in eastern Slavonia on 10 November to protest the introduction of Croatian textbooks as part of the gradual reintegration of the Serb-held enclave into Croatia. Croatian Education Minister Liljana Vokic met with Serbian representatives and agreed that teachers could use the Cyrillic alphabet and the Serbian variant of Serbo-Croatian in their teaching. She also pledged to respect a previously agreed five-year moratorium on the teaching of the history of the former Yugoslavia since 1990, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Vukovar. PM
 TUDJMAN'S PUTS OFF ISRAELI VISITPresident Franjo Tudjman's planned trip to Israel in December has been postponed indefinitely, the Vienna daily "Die Presse" reported, citing Zvi Rav-Ner of the Israeli Foreign Ministry. Two Israeli legislators criticized the planned visit, saying that some of Tudjman's writings and statements are anti-Semitic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 1997). Both Zagreb and Jerusalem agreed to the postponement after the debate in the legislature. Tudjman has put off a trip to Israel on two previous occasions. PM
 CROATIAN REGIME CRITIC SACKED AS PROFESSORSlobodan Prosperov Novak, the president of Croatia's PEN Club and a professor at Zagreb University, has lost his teaching job, Croatian dailies reported on 10 November. Novak charged that the authorities sacked him because of his outspoken criticism of President Tudjman. Dean Stipe Botica, for his part, said Novak was let go because he neglected his teaching obligations during his frequent speaking tours abroad. PM
 BELGRADE WILL NOT PAY REPARATIONSKosta Mihajlovic, Belgrade's representative at the talks between former Yugoslav republics on dividing the former federation's assets and debts, said on 10 November that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia did not wage war on Croatia or Bosnia and will not pay reparations to them. Outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith suggested that Zagreb and Sarajevo sue Belgrade for billions of dollars in damages (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November 1997). PM
 KOSOVAR LEADER WANTS "ACTIVE RESISTANCE"Parliamentary Party leader Adem Demaci said in Pristina on 10 November that Kosovar policies of passive resistance have failed. He called for the formation of a joint organization of all Kosovar political parties and for the launching of a new strategy of "active citizens' resistance," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Pristina. He did not elaborate, however (see also "End Note," "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 1997). PM
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH RULING COALITIONRepresentatives of the ruling coalition on 10 November told Emil Constantinescu that they support a rapid reshuffle of the government and streamlining the cabinet in order to accelerate the privatization process, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. National Peasant Party Christian Democratic leader Ion Diaconescu said his party will co-opt Premier Victor Ciorbea in its leadership body in order to strengthen his authority. Former President Ion Iliescu handed to Constantinescu an open letter accusing the government of "non-democratic behavior" and "arrogance," saying his party may refuse to participate in such consultations in the future if there is no change of behavior. Constantinescu also met with the leaders of the Greater Romania Party and the Party of Romanian National Unity. MS
 FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON TRIALThe trial of General Victor Stanculescu and seven other defendants accused of fraud began in a Bucharest military court on 10 November, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Stanculescu is accused of having embezzled $8 million in connection with the import of high-tech telephones for the military in 1990, at which time he was defense minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 1997). The defense asked the court to stop the proceedings because the crimes attributed to Stanculescu were committed before the current constitution was passed in 1991. MS
 INFLATION SOARS IN ROMANIAThe National Statistics Commission on 10 November said inflation in October reached 6.5 percent, nearly double the rate registered the previous month (3.3 percent). The annual inflation rate in October was 169.2 percent, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
 CHISINAU, TIRASPOL SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTMoldovan Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and Transdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov met in Chisinau on 10 November to sign an agreement "on the organizational principles of social and economic cooperation," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Experts from the two sides will devise joint "mechanisms, forms, and methods" for implementing cooperation in those areas, a statement released by the Moldovan cabinet said. Smirnov said it is "too bad" the two sides cannot agree so easily on political matters, where, he said, differences "remain significant." A spokesman for Smirnov told BASA-press that Tiraspol will "discuss political issues with President Lucinschi and economic problems with Premier Ciubuc." MS
 COURT RULES MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT'S MANDATE ENDS IN FEBRUARYThe Constitutional Court on 10 November ruled that the legislature's mandate ends on 27 February 1998. The ruling came following a request by deputy Vladimir Slonari for clarification of Article 16 of the basic law, which stipulates elections must be held within three months of the expiration of the parliament's mandate. Some deputies interpreted the article to mean that the legislature's mandate runs out on 29 March, four years after the present parliament's first session, rather than 27 February, four years after the elections. In other news, the Agrarian Democratic Party has expelled 15 deputies who joined the pro-presidential Movement for a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova, Infotag reported. MS
 BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON ORGANIZED CRIMEPetar Stoyanov said in a televised interview on 10 November Bulgaria's number one problem is organized crime, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Stoyanov called on Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev and Prosecutor General Ivan Tatartchev to put aside personal differences and unite in crime fighting. Bonev argues that corruption is widespread among top prosecutors and judges, while Tatartchev maintains Bonev has launched a populist, unjustified campaign against prosecutors and judges. MS
[C] END NOTE
 OBSTACLES TO RESOLVING KARABAKH CONFLICTby Liz Fuller
Since the spring of 1992, the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group has sought to mediate a political solution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Azerbaijan has accepted the most recent peace plan drafted by the Minsk Group co-chairmen and presented to the three conflict parties in September. Armenia has accepted it as a basis for further talks but has expressed reservations, while Nagorno-Karabakh has rejected it. Those stances throw into doubt U.S. diplomats' optimistic predictions that a formal accord ending the conflict may be signed by the end of 1997.
There are five obstacles to a solution of the conflict, two of which are political and three procedural or logistic. The first is Nagorno-Karabakh's future political status vis-a-vis the Azerbaijani government. Arkadii Ghukasyan, the unrecognized republic's president, has said repeatedly he will never agree to any status that subordinates Karabakh to Baku. He advocates "horizontal ties" between the two territories, without specifying precisely what he means by that. A confederative arrangement, for example, would preserve Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, which the OSCE insists must be enshrined in any settlement document. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev has proposed the "broadest possible autonomy" for Karabakh, but the very concept of "autonomy" is discredited throughout the former USSR as bestowing only minimal rights and benefits.
The second political obstacle is resistance in both Armenia and Azerbaijan to any substantive concessions. In response to President Levon Ter- Petrossyan's relentlessly pragmatic arguments in favor of a compromise that would entail less than outright independence for Karabakh, Armenia's opposition parties branded him a traitor to national interests and demanding his resignation. Azerbaijan's Round Table opposition coalition similarly rejected the most recent Minsk Group peace proposal, which it perceives as aimed at forcing concessions from Baku that could result in "loss of control over Nagorno-Karabakh." And Ter-Petrossyan's proposal to submit any peace agreement for public endorsement before it is signed could derail a settlement at the final stage.
The first procedural or logistic obstacle is Azerbaijan's insistence that the conflict is international, rather than internal, and resulted from Armenia's "aggression" against Azerbaijan. Claiming that Yerevan is the aggressor and therefore the logical negotiating partner, Baku has consequently refused to engage in direct talks with the Karabakh Armenian leadership.
The second logistic obstacle is the timetable for resolving the conflict. The most recent draft peace plan proposed by the OSCE is based on the "phased" or "step-by-step" approach. In other words, it envisages a series of measures that would begin with the withdrawal of Armenian forces from six occupied districts of Azerbaijan, the repatriation of the enclave's Azerbaijani population, and the deployment of an international peacekeeping force to prevent a resumption of hostilities. Formal negotiations on Karabakh's future status would begin only after those and other measures have been implemented.
The "phased" approach has been endorsed by Baku but rejected by the Karabakh Armenians. They argue that it obliges them to cede their only bargaining chip--the occupied territories -- and offers them no firm guarantee of receiving anything in return. They reason that once they withdraw from the districts in question, Baku may refuse to begin negotiations. Instead, the Karabakh Armenians favor a "package" solution to the conflict whereby all contentious issues (troop withdrawal, repatriation, deployment of international peacekeepers, Karabakh's future status) are simultaneously resolved within one framework document.
Closely linked to the choice between the "packet" and "phased" approaches is the need to guarantee Karabakh's security against the possibility of a renewed Azerbaijani attack. Ghukasyan and Armenian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian both argue that the international community should give Armenia--and possibly other states--an official mandate to act as guarantors of Karabakh's security. (Ghukasyan mentioned Russia, France, the U.S., "and possibly Iran" in this context.) The OSCE recently sent a group of military officers to tour the region and assess the needs of an OSCE peacekeeping force. Ghukasyan doubts, however, that the organization's member states would agree to provide more than a "purely symbolic" military force, which would be deployed for a limited period and which might withdraw in the event of a mass assault by Azerbaijani troops.
Finally, an additional obstacle to a settlement is Iran. By virtue of its geographical position and its harmonious relations with Armenia, Tehran is keenly interested in resolving the conflict. But since it is not an OSCE member, there is no forum within which it may formally participate in the peace process. (Part of the rationale for enlisting the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, the OSCE's predecessor, to help resolve the Karabakh conflict was to exclude Iran. In February and March1992, the Iranian authorities succeeded in mediating two separate cease-fire agreements, both of which collapsed almost immediately.) Specifically, Tehran says the deployment of military forces as part of a settlement of the conflict would be potentially destabilizing, according to Armenian Democratic Party leader Aram Sargsian. It is therefore doubtful whether any peace agreement that does not have Tehran's imprimatur could bring lasting stability to the region.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty