|Tuesday, 22 October 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 12, 98-01-20
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 12, 20 January 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 KARABAKH PRESIDENT AGAIN REJECTS OSCE PEACE PLANOn 19 January, Arkadii Ghukasyan again rejected the most recent peace proposals by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent responded. Ghukasyan said those proposals would only serve to "freeze" the Karabakh conflict and restore the status quo that existed prior to February 1988. He added that "simple common sense" prevented the Karabakh population from agreeing to "unilateral concessions." Ghukasyan also criticized those responsible for spreading rumors about the possible resignation of Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, saying they "are playing a dangerous game." Ghukasyan said that Kocharyan, his predecessor as president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, is "a man who has done a great deal for the consolidation of the Armenian people." LF
 SHOTS FIRED AT ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL SECURITY CHIEFMajor- General Romik Ghazarian, the head of the presidential security service, escaped unhurt on the night of 18 January when gunmen opened fire on his jeep. Kazarian was returning from Armavir to Yerevan. An investigation has been opened into the incident. LF
 KAZAKH WORKERS DEMAND LAST TWO YEARS' WAGESThe number of striking workers from the Janatas Phosphorus plant has grown to 3,000 since their protest began in mid-December, RFE/RL correspondents in Kazakhstan reported on 20 January. The workers are demanding the payment of back wages for 1996 and 1997 totaling some $5 million. Some 50 workers set out for Akmola to meet with the president, but militia barred them from entering the capital. The strike has the support of the Federation of Kazakh Trade Unions. According to ITAR-TASS on 19 January, the prosecutor- general has opened a case against the federation for using "financial support from abroad" and exploiting the protests to destabilize the country. BP
 KYRGYZSTAN STILL SUFFERS POWER SHORTAGESThe upper house of the parliament on 19 January reviewed the country's energy situation, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. First Deputy Prime Minister Kamelbek Nanayev said there are still shortages in gas supplies from Uzbekistan. Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan reached agreement on the level of supplies earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 1998). The same day, Bakirdin Sartkaziev, the president of Kyrgyzenergoholding, told a press conference that low levels in the Tokhtogul reservoir are contributing to the "critical" energy situation. The reservoir usually contains 11 million cubic meters of water at this time of year but currently has only 9.5 million cubic meters. Sartkaziev also said Kazakhstan has not fulfilled its part of an agreement on coal deliveries to Kyrgyzstan. So far, nothing has been received, Sartkaziev noted. BP
 PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY FOR NEXT "CENTRAZBAT"The next military exercises in Central Asia under the NATO Partnership for Peace program will be held in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Interfax reported on 19 January. According to Uzbek Deputy Defense Minister Kakhramon Abdullayev, one part of the exercises will be held Kyrgyzstan's Osh region, while Uzbekistan has not decided yet whether the other part will be conducted in the Fergana or Tashkent region. Abdullayev said troops from Kazakhstan and other countries in the NATO program will also take part. Last year, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, along with other countries, held the "Centrazbat" exercises on Kazakh and Uzbek territory. It is has not yet been revealed when this year's exercises will take place. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 DODIK PLEDGES "TOTAL CONTROL" IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKAMilorad Dodik, the new prime minister of the Republika Srpska, told his first cabinet meeting in Banja Luka on 19 January that he intends to make that city the capital of the Bosnian Serb entity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1998). Dodik added that Pale, the current capital and the power base of ultra-nationalists loyal to Radovan Karadzic, will remain the headquarters for Bosnian Serb officials participating in joint Bosnian institutions. The new government set a 48-hour deadline for outgoing Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic to formally transfer his powers and a similar 72- hour deadline for Klickovic's ministers. It also blocked the former government's access to state accounts "in order to prevent misuse of funds." Dodik added that he will review all decisions made by the outgoing government since 3 July 1997, when Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic dissolved the Pale-based parliament. PM
 KARADZIC BACKERS DEFIANTThe Steering Committee of Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS), meeting in Pale on the night of 19-20 January, appealed to all SDS supporters to avoid violence in expressing their opposition to Dodik's election by the parliament on 17 January. The committee slammed Dodik's "phantom election," calling it "undemocratic, illegal, unconstitutional, and unpatriotic." In an apparent allusion to Dodik's having been elected by Muslims and Croats as well as by moderate Serbs, the committee said the ballot would lead to the reintegration of the Republika Srpska into a unitary Bosnian state and betray all that the Serbs had fought for during the war. It called on local government councils to "take a stand on the new political situation." PM
 BELGRADE HAILS DODIK GOVERNMENTYugoslav Prime Minister Radoje Kontic sent a message to Dodik on 19 January wishing the new premier and his government "every success" in promoting the "well-being of the Republika Srpska and all its citizens." In Washington, a State Department spokesman praised Dodik as a "moderate and principled" politician. The spokesman added that Dodik's election marks a "major step forward in the Dayton peace process." He noted that Dodik intends to fight corruption and raise the Bosnian Serbs' standard of living. In London, the EU presidency, currently held by Britain, issued a statement welcoming Dodik's election and expressing confidence that he intends to support the Dayton agreements. PM
 VUJANOVIC PROPOSED AS MONTENEGRIN PREMIERMontenegrin President Milo Djukanovic on 19 January proposed Filip Vujanovic (43) to head the interim government until parliamentary elections take place in the spring (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 1998). The Belgrade-born lawyer has lived in Montenegro since 1981 and served first as justice minister and later as interior minister under then Prime Minister Djukanovic. Vujanovic is widely regarded as a staunch supporter of Djukanovic. The parliament must confirm the nomination. Also in Podgorica, the Interior Ministry announced on 19 January that it has arrested seven more individuals in recent days in connection with the violence leading up to Djukanovic's inauguration on 15 January, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. PM
 MILOSEVIC, TUDJMAN MAKE PLEDGE ON MISSING PERSONSYugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic promised former U.S. Senator Bob Dole in Belgrade on 19 January that the Belgrade authorities will make available files regarding some 400 people missing from Vukovar following the Serbian conquest of that Croatian town in 1991. Later on 19 January in Zagreb, Dole said that Croatian "President [Franjo] Tudjman offered complete support" to Dole's investigations to clarify the fate of persons missing since the war began. Dole added that "every [former Yugoslav] leader we talked to has promised his cooperation." PM
 CROATIAN SERB FACES HAGUE COURTSlavko Dokmanovic went on trial in The Hague on 19 January for his alleged role in atrocities against Croatian civilians and wounded soldiers in Vukovar in 1991. Dokmanovic, who was installed as mayor of Vukovar following the Serbian conquest, is charged with overseeing the removal of some 200 people from the Vukovar hospital to nearby places where they were badly beaten and then killed. In related news, Croatian investigators on 19 January began digging up newly discovered mass graves where they expect to find the remains of at least 100 persons killed when the Yugoslav army entered border villages in 1991 and launched "ethnic cleansing operations." PM
 OIL EXPLORATION CONTRACTS FOR ALBANIAAlbanian officials signed a several oil exploration agreements in Tirana on 19 January with the U.S. firm Occidental and with a consortium led by the Austrian company OMV. Albania has long produced oil, but none of the foreign companies exploring for new fields in the past seven years has made a major find. The new agreements represent a major boost to the sluggish industry, Albanian officials said. PM
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT PRESENTS REFORM LEGISLATION STRATEGYGovernment spokesman Eugen Serbanescu has announced that the executive will tie the 21 January vote of confidence in the parliament to a bill on the privatization of state-owned commercial enterprises (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 19 December 1997), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Serbanescu also said that 10 other bills already submitted to the legislature and constituting a comprehensive privatization program will be debated at the extraordinary three-day session beginning on 21 January. The package includes draft laws on the statutes of the National Bank, the privatization of state-owned banks, the transformation of state-run monopolies into commercial companies, and local-government financing. He also announced that value-added tax is to be raised to 22 percent from the current 18 percent but only by 11 percent on staple foods. MS
 DEMOCRATIC PARTY NOT TO SUPPORT GOVERNMENT IN PARLIAMENT?Democratic Party chairman Petre Roman on 19 January said that President Emil Constantinescu's decision to convene the parliament in an emergency session is unconstitutional. He argued that the president can convene emergency sessions only in order to address a message to the parliament. That argument is disputed by government secretary Remus Opris. Bogdan Niculescu Duvaz, the Democratic Party minister in charge of relations with the parliament, said the cabinet members representing his party oppose discussion of the privatization law in the parliament on 21 January because the law has already been in effect since 24 December, when it was issued as a government regulation. But that claim is untenable since regulations must also be approved by the parliament. MS
 FORMER ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER WINS FIRST ROUND IN COURTThe Supreme Court of Justice on 19 January returned the case of Victor Stanculescu to the Prosecutor-General's Office for re-examination, Romanian media reported. Stanculescu has been charged with embezzlement in connection with the import of high-tech telephones for the military in 1990 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1997). He argues that the prosecutor- general's investigation into his case was illegal since it was conducted without the approval of the parliament or the president, as required by the constitution in the absence of a law on ministerial responsibilities. MS
 LUCINSCHI ON UPCOMING PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONSPresident Petru Lucinschi on 17 January told a gathering of the pro- presidential "For a Prosperous and Democratic Moldova" movement in Chisinau that Moldova is likely to make no progress if a majority of forces "that conceive social development in terms of revolutions and political revenge" are returned to the parliament in the March elections, BASA-press reported. Lucinschi said the main task of the new parliament must be to "correct the imbalance of the constitutional system," referring to his demand that the parliamentary system be changed to a presidential one. MS
[C] END NOTE
 FROM THE UNTHINKABLE TO THE INEVITABLEby Paul Goble
Two developments many world leaders had long thought impossible--eventual Baltic membership in NATO and the transformation of that defense alliance into a collective security organization--increasingly appear not only likely but even inevitable.
That movement from the unthinkable to the virtually inevitable has taken place as a result of the convergence of two very different patterns of political development: the West's tradition of and insistence on step-by- step change, and the East's experience with and expectations of sudden, dramatic shifts.
Both of those patterns and their increasingly certain impact on NATO and Europe were very much in evidence on 16 January when U.S. President Bill Clinton, Estonian President Lennart Meri, Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis, and Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas signed the U.S.-Baltic charter at a White House ceremony in Washington.
In his speech, President Clinton stressed the U.S. commitment to ensuring that every country in Europe has the right to choose its own security arrangements, regardless of its geographic location, and to guaranteeing that the Baltic States would eventually be able to enter NATO.
In his response, President Meri spoke for all three Baltic States when he repeated their desire to join the Western alliance as soon as possible and when he suggested that inclusion in NATO of those countries would be the next big test for the alliance.
Because both Clinton and the charter itself largely repeated promises the U.S. and NATO have made in the past and because the Baltic States appeared once again to be unsuccessful supplicants, many observers in the U.S., Europe, and the Russian Federation have tended to dismiss the charter as either an element in American domestic politics or a "consolation prize" for the Balts.
Such conclusions could not be more wrong, albeit for very different reasons than many of those celebrating the signing of the charter have offered so far.
What was striking about both the signing ceremony and the charter itself was the extent to which both were broadly accepted as nothing out of the ordinary.
As President Clinton noted at the start of his speech, the signing ceremony attracted an unusually large number of ambassadors, including Yulii Vorontsov, the ambassador of the Russian Federation, to mark what the U.S. leader called an historic and positive development for all concerned.
And as the commentators who dismissed the charter themselves acknowledged, the document and the speeches given on 16 January seemed unimportant because virtually everything in them had been said before and was now more or less common ground.
But that last observation is precisely the key: it is now common ground that eventually the Baltic states will get into NATO some day. And it is also common ground that the organization of which they are to become members will not be the NATO of the Cold War but a new regional security group that will cooperate with rather than contend against Russia.
Neither of those ideas was common ground until recently. But because of the pattern of developments in Eastern Europe since 1989, the very acceptance of such ideas may lead to the inclusion of the Baltic States in NATO. Moreover, the transformation of that alliance may take place much faster than anyone had expected up to now.
Even those in NATO who accept that the Baltic States will eventually join and that the alliance itself will change in the process have generally been reluctant to include the three countries on a short list for candidates for invitations in 1999. But it is a measure of just how fast things may now be moving that an unnamed senior U.S. State Department official explicitly rejected a media recent report in the Baltic states that NATO will not invite the three at that time.
Along with the increasing willingness of the international community to accept as inevitable what had been seen as impossible, that rejection seems likely to encourage the three Baltic governments to push even harder toward their goal over the next 18 months in the hope that they will receive invitations in the next round of alliance expansion.
A year ago, such an initiative would have seemed the most improbable of developments, just as five years ago few thought that Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic would be taken into the Western alliance and just as 10 years ago even fewer thought that the Soviet Union would disappear from the map.
Now, in the aftermath of the signing of the U.S.-Baltic charter, those who thought Baltic membership in NATO was utopian may discover that it is going to take place far sooner than they had thought possible.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty