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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 163, 97-11-19

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. 163, 19 November 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NAZARBAYEV MEETS WITH CLINTON...
  • [02] ...PRESIDES OVER SIGNING OF ENERGY DEALS
  • [03] UZBEK PRESIDENT IN TURKEY
  • [04] UZBEK CEMETERY VANDALS CAUGHT
  • [05] FRENCH COUPLE BELIEVED KIDNAPPED IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [06] KARABAKH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES MEDIATION PROCESS
  • [07] ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER IN GEORGIA
  • [08] KOCHARYAN RULES OUT "PEACE FOR PIPELINE" OPTION
  • [09] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT FACTIONS DENIED AIR TIME
  • [10] ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN TALKS MAKE PROGRESS ON PRACTICAL ISSUES
  • [11] AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN SYRIA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS MAKE CORRUPTION CHARGES
  • [13] CROATIAN UNDERWORLD LEADER GOES ON TRIAL
  • [14] RADIO VUKOVAR BACK ON AIR
  • [15] WORLD BANK LOAN FOR CROATIA
  • [16] BANJA LUKA AIRPORT REOPENS
  • [17] PLAVSIC TELLS VOTERS TO CHOOSE "BEST OF THE BEST"
  • [18] GUNMEN ATTACK PRO-MILOSEVIC ALBANIAN
  • [19] SHOOT-OUT NEAR MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN BORDER
  • [20] ALBANIAN NEWSPAPER STRIKE OVER?
  • [21] ALBANIA, ITALY SIGN MIGRANT LABOR PACT
  • [22] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION ON HUNGARIAN COUNTIES
  • [23] ROMANIAN SENATE DEBATES EDUCATION LAW AMENDMENTS
  • [24] FATE OF MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TREATY HANGS IN BALANCE
  • [25] BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS FINANCIAL POLICE
  • [26] BULGARIAN SECRET POLICE FILES OPENED

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] THREATS TO PEACE IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NAZARBAYEV MEETS WITH CLINTON...

    Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev met with his U.S. counterpart Bill Clinton at the White House on 18 November to discuss political and economic reform in Kazakhstan and non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. A joint statement released after their meeting said the "U.S. will support economic reform in Kazakhstan through concrete programs of technical cooperation." Washington also "welcomed Nazarbayev's endorsement of a pipeline route that would bypass Iran," according to AFP. The Russian newspaper "Kommersant-daily" on 18 November commented on what it called the growing U.S. influence in the Caspian region," saying Nazarbayev's visit will not be the first or the last of "pilgrimages by leaders of Transcaucasia and Central Asia to the U.S capital." Both Azerbaijan's Heidar Aliev and Georgia's Eduard Shevardnadze were in Washington in the summer. BP

    [02] ...PRESIDES OVER SIGNING OF ENERGY DEALS

    Nazarbayev and U.S. Vice President Al Gore were present at the 18 November signing of an agreement on production-sharing at Kazakhstan's Karachaganak oil and gas field. The accord was signed by representatives of Texaco (U.S.), Agip (Italy), British Gas, and LUKoil (Russia). Estimates of the field's reserves are 2.4 billion barrels of oil and 16 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. A deal on production sharing at the Kashgan field, in the Caspian Sea, was signed by representatives from Mobil (U.S.), Agip, British Petroleum, Statoil (Norway), Shell (U.S.), British Gas, and Total (France). The U.S. also agreed to donate $10 million to dispose of nuclear material from Kazakhstan's Aktau reactor and improve security at the facility. BP

    [03] UZBEK PRESIDENT IN TURKEY

    Islam Karimov met with his Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, in Ankara on 18 November, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL correspondents reported. The two president signed a friendship agreement and accords on cooperation, tourism, health, science, and technology. Before his trip, Karimov had asked that his opponent in the 1991 presidential elections, Muhammad Salih, be expelled from Turkey. Salih is currently living in self-imposed exile in Turkey. However, he told an RFE/RL correspondent that he would leave voluntarily for a vacation in order not to "spoil" the presidential talks. BP

    [04] UZBEK CEMETERY VANDALS CAUGHT

    Uzbek authorities have taken five people into custody and promise more arrests soon in connection with vandalism at a Russian Orthodox cemetery, Russian media and AFP reported. In early November, monuments were destroyed and 162 graves "violated." at the 19th-century Botkin cemetery in Tashkent. Those arrested say they belong to a group of "Satanists." Uzbek police are seeking six more people in connection with the incident. BP

    [05] FRENCH COUPLE BELIEVED KIDNAPPED IN TAJIKISTAN

    A French couple in Tajikistan are believed to have been kidnapped on 18 November, RFE/RL correspondents in Dushanbe reported. The man works for TACIS. A car belonging to the couple was found some 3 kilometers from their home in Dushanbe. The couple's passports were inside the car. There was no indication of violence. BP

    [06] KARABAKH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES MEDIATION PROCESS

    In an interview published in "Azg" on 18 November, Arkadii Ghukasyan concedes that "really serious" differences exist between Yerevan and Stepanakert on how to resolve the Karabakh conflict, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Armenian capital reported. Ghukasyan added that Stepanakert is under constant pressure from Yerevan to change its approach but will only do so on the basis of a referendum in both Armenia and the unrecognized enclave. He expressed regret that Armenia is ready to accept a solution that makes Karabakh de jure part of Azerbaijan. But he said the main reason for the current deadlock is that the co-chairmen of the Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group "reserve too many rights for themselves." Ghukasyan met on 17 November with Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, but no details of their talks have been released. LF

    [07] ARMENIAN PRIME MINISTER IN GEORGIA

    Robert Kocharyan met with Georgian President Shevardnadze, Minister of State Niko Lekishvili, and Parliamentary Speaker Zurab Zhvania in Tbilisi on 18 November , Armenian and Georgian agencies reported. Following talks on energy, trade, communications, and customs cooperation, Kocharyan and Lekishvili signed an agreement on avoiding dual taxation. Kocharyan emphasized Armenia's interest in using Georgian transportation conduits, especially in the Eurasian transport corridor, which will have ferry connections from Georgian Black Sea ports to Bulgaria and Ukraine. Only 20 percent of the cargo capacity of the existing railway from Armenia to Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti is currently being utilized. LF

    [08] KOCHARYAN RULES OUT "PEACE FOR PIPELINE" OPTION

    Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 18 November, Kocharyan said Armenia is not prepared to discuss the possible routing of an export pipeline for Azerbaijani oil across Armenia because Baku insists on linking this issue to a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Interfax reported. Kocharyan argued that "the Karabakh conflict has its [own] logic and cannot be solved through a bargain." Shevardnadze on 17 November had expressed support for what he described as Kocharyan's "bold, far-sighted, and principled" ideas on how to resolve the Karabakh conflict. However, he did not explain what those ideas entail. In an interview in "Iravunk" on 14 November, Kocharyan said he favors the "package" approach to a settlement. The Armenian leadership has accepted the OSCE's "phased" variant as a basis for further negotiations. LF

    [09] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT FACTIONS DENIED AIR TIME

    By a vote of 52 to 43 with 47 abstentions, the National Assembly on 17 November rejected a proposal by several opposition deputies, including "Hayrenik" faction leader Eduard Yegoryan, to grant parliamentary groups and factions air time on state television, Armenpress reported. Father Husik Lazaryan, representing the Armenian Pan-National Movement--the senior party within the majority Hanrapetutyun bloc--said that it was unclear whether the parliament or state television would have had to bear the costs of such broadcasts. LF

    [10] ABKHAZ-GEORGIAN TALKS MAKE PROGRESS ON PRACTICAL ISSUES

    Unidentified participants in the Abkhaz-Georgian talks that began in Geneva on 17 November say the two sides may agree to sign an interim document, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 November. That document will create a council to coordinate the activities of three working groups that will address security issues (including maintaining the existing cease-fire), assistance to displaced persons, and economic issues. The agreement does not address the unresolved issue of Abkhazia's future status within the state of Georgia. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, who heads the Abkhaz delegation to the talks, told ITAR-TASS that Tbilisi's unwillingness to reach a settlement of the conflict is reflected in Georgian President Shevardnadze's criticism of Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's decision to allow the export of agricultural produce from Abkhazia to Russia. LF

    [11] AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER IN SYRIA

    Hasan Hasanov met in Damascus on 18 November with his Syrian counterpart, Faruq al-Shara, and with President Hafez al-Assad, Turan and AFP reported. Talks focused on expanding bilateral ties, including air transport between the two countries. and the situation in the Middle East. Particular attention was paid to the Caspian Sea. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS MAKE CORRUPTION CHARGES

    The parliamentary Committee for Domestic Affairs and National Security on 18 November discussed corruption charges made by three former members of the intelligence services against the Defense Ministry and other unnamed high government officials. Opposition deputies asked that the closed hearings be made public, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. The three former agents said they will publish their charges on the Internet if the government does not allow them to be discussed openly, "Novi List" reported. PM

    [13] CROATIAN UNDERWORLD LEADER GOES ON TRIAL

    Mladen "Tuta" Naletilic, one of the most prominent criminal figures in Mostar, went on trial in Zagreb on 18 November for abduction, assault and battery, inciting murder, and aiding and abetting crime. Independent media charged, however, that Tuta should also be tried for war crimes against Serbs and Muslims. Opposition spokesmen said that Tuta has strong links to the governing Croatian Democratic Community in Mostar and that he helped enforce the party's anti-Muslim policies. PM

    [14] RADIO VUKOVAR BACK ON AIR

    Croatian Radio Vukovar resumed broadcasting on 18 November for the first time since the eastern Slavonian city fell to Serbian attackers six years earlier. Elsewhere in Vukovar, a UN spokesman noted that the peaceful reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia is well under way. He added, however, that it could take at least 10 years for the region's various nationalities "to learn to live together again." PM

    [15] WORLD BANK LOAN FOR CROATIA

    World Bank officials on 18 November approved a $30 million loan to promote financial reform and to develop the private sector. The Investment Recovery Loan is repayable over 15 years, with a grace period of three to five years. PM

    [16] BANJA LUKA AIRPORT REOPENS

    The only airport in the Republika Srpska able to handle commercial flights reopened to civilian traffic on 18 November after a break of four years. A flight carrying international officials arrived from Sarajevo, but a Yugoslav Airlines promotional flight from Belgrade was canceled, ostensibly for technical reasons. British and U.S. development aid funded the reopening. A joint Bosnian civil aviation authority that includes Serbs, Croats, and Muslims will supervise the facility. A spokesman for Austrian Airlines said that his company may begin international flights to the airport. PM

    [17] PLAVSIC TELLS VOTERS TO CHOOSE "BEST OF THE BEST"

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told supporters in Banja Luka on 18 November that a "wave of democratization" is spreading across Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republika Srpska. She urged voters to elect her Serbian People's League (SNS) in the 22-23 November parliamentary elections and promised clean and accountable government, BETA news agency reported. Hard- line leader Momcilo Krajisnik, for his part, told Serbian Television in Belgrade that Plavsic is a "traitor" who is working to recreate a multi- ethnic Bosnia. And in Sarajevo, international election officials told an RFE/RL correspondent that 28 parties, three coalitions, and 18 independent candidates will be on the ballot. PM

    [18] GUNMEN ATTACK PRO-MILOSEVIC ALBANIAN

    On 18 November near Pristina, gunmen wounded Camil Gashi, an ethnic Albanian who heads Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party branch in the Kosovar town of Glogovac. Gashi is also a member of the Yugoslav parliament and one of the leading ethnic Albanians loyal to the Yugoslav president. Almost one year ago, the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) began a campaign of attacking Kosovars whom it regards as collaborators. PM

    [19] SHOOT-OUT NEAR MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN BORDER

    Macedonian police officials in Skopje said on 18 November that police wounded two Albanians in a fight with a gang of about 30 men near Struga the previous day. Police added that the gang had apparently crossed into Macedonia illegally in order to rob border villages. There have been some 110 incidents involving illegal border crossings since law and order collapsed in Albania in March. PM

    [20] ALBANIAN NEWSPAPER STRIKE OVER?

    Nikolle Lesi, the publisher of "Koha Jone," Albania's largest-circulation daily, has told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana that his paper will resume publication on 20 November. Nine dailies recently began a strike to push for lower taxes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 November 1997). Finance Minister Arben Malaj on 18 November offered to cut import duties on newsprint, ink, and spare parts and to lift duties completely on new printing equipment. Malaj also pledged that newspaper publishers will be exempt from profit tax for at least two years to enable them to invest in new equipment. FS

    [21] ALBANIA, ITALY SIGN MIGRANT LABOR PACT

    Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Piero Fassino signed an agreement in Tirana on 18 November aimed at regulating the flow of migrant labor from Albania to his country. The two governments will fix the exact number of legal migrants at a later date. At least 15,000 Albanians entered Italy as refugees this year. Their residence permits expire at the end of November. PM

    [22] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTION ON HUNGARIAN COUNTIES

    By a vote of 183 to 97, the Chamber of Deputies on 18 November rejected an opposition motion criticizing government policies in the two counties in which Hungarians constitute the majority, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The motion was proposed by the Party of Romanian National Unity and supported by the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, the Greater Romania Party, and the Alliance for Romania Party. Opposition speakers accused the government of backing policies of "ethnic cleansing" of ethnic Romanians in Transylvania. MS

    [23] ROMANIAN SENATE DEBATES EDUCATION LAW AMENDMENTS

    The Senate on 18 November began debating the government regulation amending the education law. Senators from the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic stressed their position that history and geography must be taught in the Romanian language in all schools. Representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, for their part, refrained from threatening to leave the ruling coalition. MS

    [24] FATE OF MOLDOVAN-RUSSIAN TREATY HANGS IN BALANCE

    Aleksei Mitrofanov, the chairman of the Russian State Duma's Committee for Geopolitics, told "Russkii Telegraf" on 18 November that the chances of the Duma's ratifying the basic Moldovan-Russian treaty remain "zero." Mitrofanov, who is one of the leaders of the Russian Liberal Democratic Party, said both his group and the Communist Party faction oppose ratification, adding that two Duma committees have recommended against it. During his visit to Moldova in late October, Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev said the treaty will be ratified in November (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 29 October 1997). The treaty was initialed in 1990. MS

    [25] BULGARIAN PREMIER WANTS FINANCIAL POLICE

    Ivan Kostov on 18 November said a special force of financial police should be set up to fight corruption among politicians, police officers, and other state employees, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Kostov said that the existing police force, tax authorities, and customs agencies are unable to fight corruption within their own ranks and that current law-enforcement structures make it difficult to combat corruption within the Interior Ministry. He said the financial police would monitor officials' behavior and report suspected wrongdoing to the relevant authorities. The financial police could also demand that politicians disclose how they paid for luxury cars and houses, Kostov noted. MS

    [26] BULGARIAN SECRET POLICE FILES OPENED

    Eleven Bulgarians on 18 November became the first persons to read their communist-era secret police files under the law passed by the parliament in October, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. A total of 15,000 people have inquired whether the secret police had files on them. More than 70 percent of the files on police informants and an unknown percentage of victims' files were destroyed by the communist government that deposed Todor Zhivkov, AFP reported, quoting the head of the archive service. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [27] THREATS TO PEACE IN TAJIKISTAN

    by Salimjon Aioubov

    The question troubling many people in Tajikistan is whether the five-year civil war is really over.

    True, a peace accord was signed by the Tajik government and the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) in Moscow in June. That accord was greeted with great enthusiasm by Tajiks, as was Said Abdullo Nuri, the head of National Reconciliation Commission, when he returned to Dushanbe in September. In addition, the cease-fire between government and opposition forces is holding on the ground. So what's wrong?

    Although peace may appear to have been secured, there are still many obstacles to be overcome. A critical factor in the peace equation is the continued existence of independent armed groups. Clashes between former field commanders of the National Front, which brought to power the current elite in 1992, occurred in Dushanbe and in southern Tajikistan's Kurgonteppa area in August. Hostage-taking by Rezvon Sodirov's group has continued in the capital. Many of the numerous explosions in the capital are politically motivated. And faction fighting has recently taken place near the frontier with Uzbekistan, resulting in chilly diplomatic exchanges between Dushanbe and Tashkent.

    At the same time, the government and the opposition have been unable to put aside their mutual mistrust and take a united stand against the armed groups. The government, for its part, has tried to put off a resolution to the main outstanding issue: the timing of the return of charismatic opposition leader Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda.

    The absence of Turajonzoda from Nuri's team could cause a major split inside the opposition's armed forces. Eight opposition field commanders protested Nuri's return in September. Moreover, a group of opposition commanders from the Kofarnihon region, east of Dushanbe, appealed to the National Reconciliation Commission late in October, saying they would not integrate into government forces until Turajonzoda returned and joined in the power sharing.

    A high-ranking UTO representative told an RFE/RL correspondent that Tajik President Imomali Rahmonov and his supporters are strongly against the opposition proposal to appoint Turajonzoda as foreign minister and to give him the post of deputy prime minister as well. The disagreement over Turajonzoda is a key obstacle to agreement on power-sharing between two sides.

    But Gerdt Dietrich Merrem, the head of UN mission in Dushanbe, says the opposition should examine its own motives in the case of Turajonzoda. Following a meeting with Rahmonov on 4 November, Merrem told reporters that both he and the president agreed that the National Reconciliation Commission's plan for implementing the peace accords is ambitious but realistic.

    Turajonzoda has confirmed that his return depends mostly on a decision by opposition leaders. He says they are cautious because of strong Russian pressure in support of Rahmonov and in favor of minimizing nationalistic elements in the National Reconciliation Commission.

    At the beginning of October, Nuri and Amirkul Azimov, secretary of the National Security Council, traveled to the Garm region, ostensibly to estimate war damage in the area. But the main reason was apparently to meet with opposition field commanders to prevent a possible wavering of their loyalty under the impact of the Kofarnihon commanders' stand. Some opposition members fear that they are about to lose the cohesion that sustained them in five years of fighting against the government. And they also fear that, following integration with government forces, Dushanbe will act to limit opposition political activity before new general elections.

    Meanwhile, near the border with Uzbekistan, there have been clashes between government forces and supporters of the mutinous Colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev. There have also been accusations from Dushanbe that Uzbekistan is promoting Khudoiberdiev's group, illustrating the growing strain between the two countries.

    For its part, Uzbekistan is unhappy about a closer relationship between Tajikistan and Russia. Uzbek President Islam Karimov recently urged the Tajik authorities to remember whose tanks they rode upon when they entered Dushanbe to take power in winter 1992. Karimov says he was referring to the Russian tanks, but it is also a reminder of the help Rahmonov received from Uzbekistan.

    Given all those negative factors, it is difficult to pass judgment on whether the Tajik civil war has really ended. Much depends on how fast the government and opposition can combine forces to resist such factors.

    The author is an editor for RFE/RL's Tajik Service

    19-11-97


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


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