|Monday, 14 October 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 10, 98-01-16
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 10, 16 January 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 UTO PULLS OUT OF RECONCILIATION COMMISSIONThe United Tajik Opposition on 15 January carried out its threat to withdraw its representatives from the National Reconciliation Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January 1998). UTO leader and commission chairman Said Abdullo Nuri said the government's failure to hand over 30 percent of government positions to the UTO, the delay on an official amnesty for UTO members taken prisoner during the five-year civil war, delays in assigning permanent bases for UTO troops (now part of the Tajik Army), and the failure to bring back the last of the UTO fighters from Afghanistan all contributed to that decision. At the same time, he stressed the UTO's withdrawal from the commission is temporary only, depending on the government's response. BP
 TAJIK-CHINESE DEFENSE ACCORDTajik Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev and his Chinese counterpart, Chi Haotian, signed an accord on "broader contacts" between their ministries, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 January. Khairulloyev and Chi also discussed regional security, especially the situation in Afghanistan. BP
 DIRECT FOREIGN INVESTMENT IN KAZAKHSTAN IN 1997Kazakh National Bank Chairman Uraz Jandosov has announced that direct foreign investment in Kazakhstan last year totaled $1.7 billion, Interfax reported on 14 January. Jandosov speculated that 1998 would see a drop in direct foreign investment owing to the economic crisis in some Asian countries. He noted that two of Kazakhstan's biggest foreign investors are the South Korean firms Daewoo and Samsung, both of which are heavily affected by the financial problems in Asia. BP
 AZERBAIJANI EX-PARLIAMENT SPEAKER ACCUSED OF PLANNING COUPThe Prosecutor-General's Office and National Security Ministry on 15 January issued a joint statement accusing former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev of conspiring from abroad to overthrow President Heidar Aliev. The statement claimed that while head of Azerbaijan's largest oil refinery, Guliev systematically embezzled millions of dollars with which he funded a series of meetings to discuss ways of destabilizing the present situation in Azerbaijan and training terrorists and assassins. Guliev denied the allegations in a telephone interview with Reuters. Representatives of several opposition parties rejected the charges as "irresponsible" and called on the authorities to provide concrete evidence to substantiate them. Guliev was stripped of his parliamentary deputy's mandate in December 1997 and subsequently announced his intention to contend the presidential election due later this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 1997 and 13 January 1998). LF
 ARMENIA COMMEMORATES BAKU MASSACRESeveral thousand Armenians staged a march in Yerevan on 15 January to commemorate the anniversary of the 1990 pogroms in Baku, in which dozens of ethnic Armenians were killed, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The mass killings, which forced 250,000 Baku Armenians to flee the city, served as a pretext for the Soviet troops' belated intervention during the night of 19- 20 January 1990. Up to 150 Azerbaijanis were killed on that night. Representatives of the Iranian embassy in Yerevan participated in the 15 January march to "pay tribute to innocent victims," Noyan Tapan reported, quoting a senior Iranian diplomat. The march was organized by the opposition Dashnak Party (HHD) and the Organizational Committee to Support Nagorno-Karabakh, which represents various opposition parties. LF
 ABKHAZIA ACCUSES GEORGIA OF "STATE TERRORISM"In a statement released on 15 January, the Abkhaz Foreign Ministry questions the international community's objectivity in evaluating the Abkhaz conflict, Interfax reported. The statement claims that Georgia has conducted "undeclared sabotage and a terrorist war" against Abkhazia since the May 1994 signing of a formal cease-fire agreement, and alleged that this policy of "state terrorism" has the tacit support of the international community. The ministry called for a meeting of Abkhaz, Georgian, Russian, UN, and OSCE representatives to assess the situation. On 14 January, one of the members of a group of Georgian saboteurs belonging to the so-called White Legion was killed by an explosion that destroyed a water tower in the Abkhaz town of Ochamchira, Abkhaz Security Minister Astamur Tarba told ITAR- TASS. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT IN ISRAELDuring his visit to Israel on 14 January, Eduard Shevardnadze met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and signed a "declaration of friendship." Shevardnadze invited Netanyahu and Infrastructure Minister Ariel Sharon to visit Georgia later this year to discuss possible cooperation in the energy sector. Shevardnadze was also presented with an award by the Israeli Institute of Democracy for his contribution to promoting democracy in Georgia. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MONTENEGRO'S DJUKANOVIC WARNS MILOSEVIC...Milo Djukanovic took office as president on 15 January in the former royal palace in Cetinje. In his inaugural speech, he warned Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, who was not present, that Montenegro will resist Milosevic's efforts to strengthen his own powers at the expense of Montenegro: "Without equal rights for both Serbia and Montenegro, there is no Yugoslavia.... Only the people of Montenegro, and no one outside Montenegro, can decide on its status within Yugoslavia." The highest- ranking Belgrade leader present at the inauguration was Yugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic. Serbian opposition leaders Vojislav Seselj, Vesna Pesic, Zoran Djindjic, and Vuk Draskovic, also were present. Army Chief-of- Staff General Momcilo Perisic and Serbian President Milan Milutinovic had been expected to attend but did not. PM
 ...URGES HIM TO RESPECT DAYTON AGREEMENTPresident Djukanovic also said in Cetinje on 15 January that "throughout their history, the Serbian people and Serbia have had no more sincere or sure a friend than Montenegro. It will remain so during my mandate." But he added that Milosevic must honor the international commitments he made when he signed the Dayton agreement just over two years ago. Djukanovic warned that if Milosevic does not, "it is certain that Serbia and Montenegro will regress more and more, with unforeseeable, even tragic consequences." Djukanovic has frequently blamed Milosevic's policies, especially on Bosnia, as being responsible for the continuation of international sanctions against Yugoslavia. Djukanovic argues that Yugoslavia must have the sanctions lifted if Montenegro's key shipping and tourism sectors are to prosper. PM
 U.S. WELCOMES DJUKANOVIC INAUGURATIONA State Department spokesman congratulated Djukanovic on his inauguration. The spokesman repeated earlier U.S. criticism of Milosevic and of his ally, outgoing Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, for the recent riots in Podgorica (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 1998). The spokesman added that Washington expects Milosevic to restrain Bulatovic and his supporters from resorting to violence in the future. PM
 GELBARD TALKS TOUGH TO MILOSEVICRobert Gelbard, the U.S. special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, told Milosevic in Belgrade on 15 January that unless Serbia and its political leaders accept "international standards of behavior and democratic processes..., the outer wall of sanctions will not be lifted." Those sanctions are linked to Belgrade's policy toward Bosnia and Kosovo as well as to progress on democratization in Yugoslavia itself. The Gelbard- Milosevic talks lasted nearly 12 hours and ended without a planned press conference taking place. PM
 PLAVSIC'S PRIME MINISTER CALLS IT QUITSMladen Ivanic has returned to Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic the mandate she had given him in late December to form a government, BETA news agency reported on 16 January. A statement released by Plavsic's office in Banja Luka said that Ivanic was unable to find a majority in the parliament for his proposed national-unity government of technocrats. The ultra-nationalist Serbian Democratic Party and its ally, the Serbian Radical Party, which together hold the largest bloc of seats in the parliament, opposed Ivanic. PM
 EASTERN SLAVONIA RETURNED TO CROATIAWilliam Walker, the chief UN administrator in eastern Slavonia, presented a UN flag on 15 January to Hrvoje Sarinic, an aide to President Franjo Tudjman, in the former front-line village of Borovo Naselje near Vukovar. The ceremony marked the return of eastern Slavonia to full Croatian control. Sarinic said that Croatia's priority is the return of Croatian and other non-Serb refugees to the region, which has had a Serbian majority since the Serbs took control of the area in 1991. Observers noted that the problem is that most of the refugees' homes have been damaged, destroyed, or taken over by Serbs, who have nowhere else to go. The Croatian authorities have been under strong international pressure recently not to further alienate the local Serbs by staging a triumphal celebration in Vukovar. Tudjman instead marked the reincorporation of eastern Slavonia by attending a special concert in Zagreb. PM
 U.S. URGES ZAGREB TO RESPECT MINORITY RIGHTSU.S. special envoy Gelbard brought a letter from President Bill Clinton to Vukovar on 15 January. Clinton noted that Croatia has observed the agreements that it signed on eastern Slavonia and that, in so doing, "Croatia has acknowledged that it could not be whole and united unless it was also tolerant and diverse." Clinton said he expects "Croatia to fulfill its responsibilities to guarantee equal treatment and full protection of the rights of all Croatia's citizens. We look to you to prove that people of different ethnic groups can resolve their differences and live together in peace." PM
 CROATIA SEIZES SLOVENIAN SPY VANOfficials from the Slovenian Defense and Foreign Ministries confirmed on 15 January that Croatian police recently arrested and expelled two Slovenian intelligence agents. The men had crossed into Croatia in a van full of electronic listening devices. The two men admitted that they had crossed the border between Maribor and Varazdin illegally in order to better pick up an unspecified radio signal. Croatian authorities charged the men only with illegally crossing the border, and both sides sought to play down the incident. PM
 ALBANIA'S NANO DISCOURAGES SEPARATISMAlbanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano signed eight cooperation agreements in Skopje on 15 January, "Koha Jone" reported. The agreements provide for reducing customs tariffs, ending double taxation, launching joint investment projects in agriculture and transportation, and promoting cooperation in legal matters. Nano invited Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov to Tirana to sign a mutual friendship and cooperation agreement later this year. In the largely ethnic Albanian city of Tetovo, Nano attempted to discourage separatism by telling local people that the "only future of all citizens in the Balkans, wherever they live...is their integration into a new Europe." Albanian nationalists clashed with police last summer in Tetovo and Gostivar. FS
 ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT SOFTENS LUSTRATION LAWThe parliament on 15 January softened a 1995 lustration law, officially called the genocide law, to allow lower-ranking employees of the communist- era Interior Ministry to apply for jobs in the civil service, "Koha Jone" reported. The law had previously banned all communist-era Interior Ministry staff from state jobs. The lustration law remains in force for informers and others who collaborated with the secret service. It also applies to high-ranking Interior Ministry officials, former Politburo members, and people sentenced by any postcommunist court for criminal offenses. FS
 ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATS ASKED TO RECONSIDER COALITION DECISIONThe Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) on 15 January called on the Democratic Party, its coalition partner, to reconsider its decision to withdraw support for Premier Victor Ciorbea. It said the Democrats have until 19 January to do so. Ciorbea's offer to step down as prime minister in order to resolve the crisis was rejected by the convention. CDR leader Ion Diaconescu said the alliance is not looking for other possible coalition partners and that if the Democrats do not reverse their decision, the outcome is likely to be early elections, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Presidential counselor Petru Breteanu said President Emil Constantinescu will "initiate consultations" with the coalition partners to "do away with the tensions." Constantinescu will speak on television about the crisis on 17 January. MS
 DEMOCRATS HINT THEY MAY COMPROMISEDemocratic Party chairman Petre Roman on 15 January said the CDR's reaction should not be viewed only in its negative light, as the media are inclined to do. He said the CDR's call for a reconsideration is showing that "we are together, we have a joint pledge, and we want to solve the situation," Radio Bucharest reported on 16 January. Earlier, Democratic Party deputy chairman Traian Basescu said no other coalition can offer Romania the "external credibility" it needs. He called on President Constantinescu to mediate in the conflict. National Liberal Party Leader Mircea Ionescu- Quintus said the resignation of Premier Ciorbea would be "a bad thing for the country" but early elections are a "worse alternative, because they harbor a long period of instability." Meanwhile, the Bucharest stock exchange dropped by nearly five percent in response to the crisis. MS
 IMF POSTPONES VISIT TO ROMANIAJohn Hill, the IMF's representative in Bucharest, announced on 15 January that the fund is postponing a planned visit to Bucharest until the political situation there is clarified. The fund was to review the 1998 budget with the government. On 14 January, a delegation of the World Bank led by Kenneth Lay, the bank's chief negotiator for Europe, met with Ciorbea and members of his cabinet, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Lay told journalists that the bank will continue to extend support to Romania for privatization and restructuring. In other news, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 14 January that three Romanian and three U.S. firms have signed a $180 million accord to build and operate a liquefied petroleum gas terminal at the Black Sea port of Constanta (see "End Note" below). MS
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MARKS ONE YEAR IN OFFICEAt a press conference marking his first year in office, Petru Lucinschi on 15 January counted among his main foreign policy achievements the resumption of the dialogue with Tiraspol and the economic agreement reached with the separatists, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi said he has Russian President Boris Yeltsin's "clear promise" to withdraw the forces from the Transdniester whenever Moldova wishes, adding that this was now a matter of "time sequence." The withdrawal of troops before arms would mean that weapons would "be stolen," he argued. "Logically, armament is first withdrawn, and only then the troops," Lucinschi said. He also noted that Ukraine has agreed to the arms transit and that now "all we need is a timetable." MS
 BULGARIAN OPPOSITION TO MOVE NO CONFIDENCE VOTEThe opposition Socialist Party announced on 15 January it will move a no- confidence vote in the government over Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's health policy, BTA reported. The government recently introduced measures requiring patients to pay for out-patient treatment in state clinics, medical check- ups, and hospitalization if they seek treatment outside their area of residence. Medical aid has thus far been free of charge in state hospitals, and the government says the health insurance system can no longer finance the effective functioning of hospitals. In other news, in a 15 January letter to the Bulgarian Energy Commission and Bulgargas, Gazprom warns that it will stop deliveries if a new contract is not signed, ITAR-TASS reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 ROMANIAN-U.S. PROJECT SEEN AS START OF ENERGY HUBby Robert Lyle
A Romanian-U.S. joint venture in liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is expected to have an impact far beyond the relatively modest $180 million investment it will make in Romania over the next four years.
Romanian President Emil Constantinescu says the project will make Romania an energy and raw material hub for Central and East European imports from Central Asia.
The Black Sea LPG joint venture, which was formally signed into existence last week in Bucharest, will jump-start its operations with immediate construction of a new 1 million ton capacity LPG import terminal in the Black Sea port of Constanta.
LPG is a gaseous paraffin hydrocarbon found in crude oil and natural gas. It is made up primarily of propane and butane. It is used as a fuel itself, as an easily transportable source of propane gas for cooking and heating, and as a raw material for chemical synthesis.
Romania has been critically short of natural gas for heating and cooking for several years. Romanian officials have proposed their country as a natural gateway for ships carrying petroleum and natural gas from the newly developing fields in the Caspian Sea. But major oil flows remain a long way off, dependent on the contentious decisions on pipeline routes for the oil out of the land-locked states around the Caspian.
Romania's Black Sea port of Constanta is, however, a natural for receiving LPG from ocean tankers and distributing it within Romania and beyond into the Danube basin region.
The three U.S. companies involved in the Black Sea LPG joint venture--UGI Corporation, the largest U.S. marketer of propane gas, Energy Transportation Group, and North American World Trade--say world demand for LPG is expanding rapidly and that the Romanian venture is at a strategically important area to supply the local needs and to export efficiently and economically using the Danube and the region's extensive transportation network into the rest of East and Central Europe.
The new import terminal will be built at the entrance to the Cernavoda- Constanta Canal, which connects the deep-water port of Constanta to the Danube.
The first phase of the project will be completed by the end of 1998 so that Romania will be able, for the first time in many years, to meet the peak winter demand for gas.
By 2001, the entire project should be finished, including a 210 kilometer LPG pipeline to Bucharest and the construction of propane facilities in the capital and several other cities.
ROMGAZ, Romania's natural gas authority and one of the three Romanian partners, will mix propane from the LPG with air and inject it into Bucharest's gas grid to help satisfy winter peak gas demand. Renel, the state-owned electricity authority and the second Romanian partner, will use the LPG as another source of clean fuel for its generating plants in and around Bucharest.
ROMPETROL, the state-owned oil and gas holding company, is the third Romanian partner and will be involved in building and expanding facilities to use the LPG around Romania.
When completed, the facilities are expected to provide 600,000 tons of LPG to serve 85 million people in the Danube Basin.
ROMGAZ General Director Emil-Constantin Blaga says the import terminal is important because it will help the country diversify its sources of imported fuel. Renel Director-General Aureliu Leca says the electric utility is pleased to be involved because the additional fuel delivery infrastructure will make the privatization of Renel easier.
Brad Hall, the President of UGI Enterprises in the Central-Atlantic U.S. state of Pennsylvania, says his company considers the project is an outright winner. The "geography is compelling and the market potential is large," he says.
The co-chairman of Energy Transportation Group in New York, Kimball Chen, says his company believes that Romania is capable of tremendous economic growth and will be a "key player in the Black Sea region."
The U.S.-Romanian LPG joint venture is not the first to see the potential for Constanta. A recent study by Britain's Ocean Shipping Consultants says Romania is "ideally located to serve as transit gateway for many Central Asian bulk commodities such as crude oil, steel, aluminum, and steam coal."
Japan only last month agreed to lend Romania $194 million to upgrade the port's facilities, including road improvements. Last week, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development approved a $13 million loan for construction of new grain-handling and storage facilities in Constanta.
Financing for the Black Sea LPG joint venture is expected to come from the World Bank and a group of commercial banks.
The author is a Washington-based RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty