|Thursday, 21 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 85, 98-05-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 85, 5 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 TAJIK PRESIDENT BLAMES OPPOSITION FOR RECENT FIGHTINGImomali Rakhmonov on 4 May told UN special envoy to Tajikistan Paolo Lembo that the recent fighting in and near Dushanbe was planned in advance by the opposition, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Rakhmonov said that not only forces loyal to field commander Rahmon "Hitler" Sanginov took part in attacks on government troops but also units of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO) stationed on the eastern outskirts of Dushanbe. Lembo expressed his approval of Rakhmonov's handling of the situation, noting Rakhmonov consulted with the government and opposition before ordering a counter- attack on 1 May. At the same time, the UN envoy noted the contribution of UTO deputy leader and Deputy Prime Minister Khoja Akbar Turajonzoda in mediating the dispute. BP
 MOST ARRESTED UYGHURS FREED IN KYRGYZSTANOfficials at the Kyrgyz Security Ministry told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service on 4 May that all but one of the 20 Uyghurs taken into custody last month were freed within three to four days of their arrests. The remaining detainee is a Chinese citizen, who was also in possession of Kyrgyz and Turkish passports when taken into custody. An official from the "Ittipaq Uyghur Ethnic Association" in Bishkek told RFE/RL correspondents in the Kyrgyz capital that none of those arrested were Kyrgyz citizens. The Kyrgyz daily newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" and ITAR-TASS reported on 1 May that 20 Uyghur terrorists had been arrested (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1998). BP
 UZBEKISTAN NOT TO REPAY DEBTS TO RUSSIAThe parliament has voted not to repay loans granted by Russia from 1992-93, Interfax reported on 1 May. Nurijon Ismailov, the chairman of an ad hoc commission, said treaties with Russia did not respect Uzbekistan's national interests, while the terms of Russian loans left Uzbek enterprises at a disadvantage. Uzbekistan owes Russia a total of 237 billion old rubles dating from 1992-1993. But the Russian newspaper "Vek" reported in its latest edition that during Uzbek President Islam Karimov's 5-7 May visit to Moscow, Uzbekistan's debt to Russia will be discussed. BP
 ARMENIA RETURNS CULTURAL TREASURES TO GERMANYOn the first day of an official three-day visit to Germany, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met in Bonn with his German counterpart Klaus Kinkel, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Oskanian handed over a collection of several hundred books and manuscripts confiscated by Soviet troops at the end of World War II and subsequently transferred to libraries in the then Armenian SSR. The two ministers signed a joint declaration on bilateral relations, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Oskanian also discussed the Karabakh conflict with Kinkel and Frank Lambach, the German representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group. Oskanian said that negotiations on resolving the conflict should resume without preconditions and focus on a "package" solution. He added that any subordination of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to Azerbaijan is unacceptable. LF
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS FOREIGN POLICY ADVISERRobert Kocharian on 1 May appointed Democratic Party of Armenia chairman and defeated presidential candidate Aram Sargsian as his advisor on foreign policy, Noyan Tapan reported. Interviewed by "RFE/RL Newsline" in March, Sargsian accused the international community of double standards in recognizing Bosnia but not Nagorno-Karabakh. He argued that Armenia has to align itself with Russia and Iran in order to defend its national interests. LF
 AZERBAIJAN RESUMES RETRANSMISSION OF RFE/RL BROADCASTSCommunications Minister Nadir Ahmedov on 4 May order the resumption of rebroadcasting RFE/RL's Azerbaijani-language programs on medium wave. Retransmission was halted last month because RFE/RL lacked the required license. The U.S. State Department twice expressed concern at the ban, and Azerbaijani opposition youth organizations began a protest hunger strike last week. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION MAY BOYCOTT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONSThe supreme council of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front voted on 4 May to boycott the October presidential elections if the draft law on the elections is passed in its present form, Turan reported. Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said that the law as currently drafted renders democratic elections "impossible." In New York, former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev, who would face arrest if he returned to Azerbaijan to contend those elections, said the law "legitimizes dictatorship." The elections are invalid unless contended by at least two candidates. LF
 AZERBAIJANI DELEGATION CANCELS VISIT TO ANKARAAn Azerbaijani delegation has canceled a 5-6 May visit to Ankara to discuss the planned Baku-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian oil, the "Turkish Daily News" reported on 5 May, citing a Turkish Energy Ministry statement. A spokesman for the ministry denied that problems have arisen between Baku and Ankara over the project. LF
 MORE SHOOTINGS IN ABKHAZIATwo Abkhaz soldiers were killed on 3 May and a third abducted by members of Georgia's White Legion guerrilla formation in Abkhazia's southern-most Gali Raion, Russian agencies reported. At least 15 people have been killed in a series of shootings in the district since early April. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 STANDOFF OVER IN KOSOVA?Some 200 armed ethnic Albanians broke through a police cordon in the town of Ponoshec on 5 May, independent Belgrade Radio B-92 reported. Police said the previous day that they had surrounded members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) there. The broadcast also quoted police officials as saying they have successfully blocked arms smuggling from Albania into Kosova. On 4 May, the leading Democratic League of Kosova issued a statement in Prishtina charging that "Serbian aggression is aimed at stepping up the ethnic cleansing of Kosova." At Junik, to the north of Ponoshec, police refused to allow some foreign observers to enter the area, from which the foreigners could hear gun and mortar fire, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 ANNAN TO CHECK ARMS FLOWUN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in New York on 4 May that he wants "a comprehensive monitoring" of the arms embargo against President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia. Annan added that he is "concerned about the deteriorating situation in Kosova and the absence of progress in negotiations between the parties concerned." He also cited "alarming reports about incidents on the border with Albania." In Sofia, Trade Minister Valentin Vasilev said that Bulgaria will scrupulously observe the embargo. PM
 KINKEL AGAINST AIRLINE CURBSGerman Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said in Frankfurt on 3 May that he opposes reimposing a ban on landing rights for Yugoslav Airlines (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 February 1998). Kinkel said that Yugoslavia would retaliate against any ban on JAT by denying landing rights to Lufthansa, in which case it would be impossible for Germany "to continue our weekly deportations" of Kosovar refugees who have been denied asylum. Kinkel added that there are 150,000 such people in Germany, which would also become the target of a new influx of refugees should the fighting worsen, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The daily also quoted Engelbert Nelle, who heads the Bundestag's Sports Committee, as saying that he opposes a ban on Yugoslav participation in soccer's World Cup because of Kosova. Nelle said such a ban would constitute "interference in the internal affairs" of that country. PM
 OGATA URGES HALT TO DEPORTATIONSUN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata has urged European states to stop deportations of Kosovars. She said in Geneva on 4 May that "the return of rejected asylum seekers at this time would pose security risks for those sent back and could also tip the scales towards further violence." Germany and Switzerland, in particular, have large communities of Kosovars. PM
 5,000 KOSOVA REFUGEES IN MONTENEGROUNHCR officials said on 4 May in Podgorica that more than 5,000 refugees from Kosova have found shelter with families and friends in Montenegro since the latest crisis began, "Koha Jone" reported. The refugees include ethnic Albanians, Serbs, Montenegrins, and Muslim Slavs. Montenegrin Interior Ministry officials said that over the previous four days alone, more than 800 residents of Kosova arrived in the mountainous republic. Many ethnic Albanian refugees have found shelter in Ulcinj on the Adriatic, which has an ethnic Albanian majority. Local refugee commissioner Rifat Hajdinaga said that 492 people are registered as refugees there, the majority of whom are children and pensioners. FS
 WAR CRIMES SUSPECT ON TRIAL IN MONTENEGRONebojsa Ranisavljevic went on trial in Bijelo Polje on 4 May for the abduction and murder of 19 mainly Muslim travelers from the Belgrade-Bar train near Visegrad in February 1993. Ranisavljevic denied that he was in the area at the time of the crime. He also withdrew his previous confession, which he said he made under police pressure, "Nasa Borba" wrote. Meanwhile in Podgorica, a court began the trial of Emil Labudovic for the attempted murder of a policeman during the political violence in January. Labudovic is a supporter of former President Momir Bulatovic and a former editor of Montenegrin television. Bulatovic's party has nominated Labudovic for a parliamentary seat in the upcoming elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 MONTENEGRO CALLS FOR OPEN BORDERMontenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic told his Yugoslav counterpart, Radoje Kontic, on 4 May that the Debeli Brijeg border crossing with Croatia must be reopened, Vujanovic's spokesman said in Podgorica. The Montenegrin leader wants the border reopened even though Zagreb and Belgrade have yet to agree on the final status of the Prevlaka peninsula, which belongs to Croatia but controls access to Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base. The reform-minded Montenegrin leadership actively follows a policy of openness to the outside world in hopes of revitalizing the economy, in which tourism and shipping play key roles. PM
 KRAJISNIK QUESTIONS REFUGEE RETURNSMomcilo Krajisnik, the hard-line Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, said in Pale on 4 May that he does not acknowledge the permanent loss of some Bosnian cities and towns once inhabited by Serbs but now controlled by Muslims or Croats. He added, however, that he sees no purpose in making great efforts to enable Serbs to return to their homes there only to make way for Muslims and Croats to enter Serb-controlled areas. Also in Pale, the first issue went on sale of the new ultra- nationalist daily "Srpsko Oslobodjenje." An editorial said that most Bosnian Serb newspapers now do the bidding of Western mediators and that there is need for a daily that will "write the truth." The newspaper is published in Belgrade and includes on its editorial board Aleksa Buha, the chairman of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party. PM
 INTERIOR MINISTER CLAIMS PLOT AGAINST ROMANIAGavril Dejeu said on 4 May that an "anti-Romanian lobby" is trying to thwart democracy and the country's international relations, AFP reported. Dejeu made his comments after a series of arrests in a growing cigarette smuggling scandal in the military. Some opposition politicians claim there are links between the scandal and President Emil Constantinescu's office. He did not say who was involved in the "lobby" but said it had links to the mafia. Colonel Gheorghe Trutulescu, arrested the previous day for his involvement in the smuggling operation, said the racket was organized by the state and that profits were siphoned to political party coffers. Constantinescu's aide, Zoe Petre, said the president was the victim of a plot to discredit him and added on national television on 3 May that "Watergate would have looked like a joke compared with this scandal." PB
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW STATE SECURITY CHIEFConstantinescu has named General Anghel Stefan Andreescu as the head of the state security service, RFE/RL's Romanian Service reported on 4 May. Andreescu, a professor at a police academy, replaces Nicu Anghel, who resigned last week after reports alleging his involvement in the cigarette smuggling scandal. Constantinescu has given Andreescu 15 days to overhaul the agency. PB
 BULGARIA CRACKS DOWN ON CORRUPTION...Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov has fired Deputy Interior Minister Liutscan Liutscanov, who was in charge of border control, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sofia on 5 May. The sacking occurred on the same day that all customs officers were fired at the Oriakhovo border crossing, where cigarette smuggling was reportedly running rampant with the complicity of the officers. Police also reported the seizure of smuggled cigarettes on a freighter at the port of Burgas. PB
 ...BUT FACES TRADE SANCTIONS OVER PIRATED GOODSIn Washington, U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky said Bulgaria must show much greater progress in eliminating pirated compact disks, computer software, and movies by September or it will face trade sanctions, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. Barshefsky said Sofia had progressed in its fight against pirated intellectual property. She said Bulgaria was singled out for an ultimatum because it needs to find a long- term solution to the problem. Bulgaria was listed alongside Russia, Turkey, and Greece, among others, as "priority watch" countries. PB
 PARVANOV REELECTED SOCIALIST PARTY LEADERAt its party congress on 4 May, the beleaguered Bulgarian Socialist Party voted to keep Georgi Parvanov as leader, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. Parvanov, who received 55 percent of the votes, attacked the government for its pro-Western stance and derided its austerity program. PB
[C] END NOTE
 EXPANDING NATO, LIMITING NATOby Paul Goble
Sometimes a defeat can define the future far more precisely than a victory does.
That may have been the case last week when the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve NATO membership for Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. But at the same time, that body more narrowly defeated an amendment that would have called for a three-year pause before considering any more new members of the alliance.
By contrast, the number of senators voting for the failed amendment exceeded the one-third of the Senate that would be needed to prevent ratification of any future treaties. Consequently, this vote may guide the evolution of the alliance even more than will the approval the Senate gave for the three new members.
And that is especially likely given statements in the Senate debate itself and follow-up commentaries that have suggested the alliance's primary task now should be developing relations with Moscow rather than considering further applicants for membership anytime soon.
On 30 April, the U.S. Senate voted 80 to 19 to approve treaties that would make Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic members of the alliance. The U.S. thus became the fifth of the 16 current NATO member states that have formally ratified plans to take in the three East European countries. (While most of the other 11 are expected to ratify the expansion without difficulty, there may be problems in a few . Reports from Ankara last week, for example, suggest that the Turkish parliament would not vote for expansion at the present time. And under alliance rules, any one member country can block expansion from taking place.)
Prior to that vote, the senators defeated a series of amendments that would have had the effect of changing or limiting the alliance in one way or another. The most significant of those proposed amendments came from Senator John Warner, a Republican from Virginia. Sometimes identified in the press as the "pause" amendment, that proposal called for adding to the instrument of ratification of the inclusion of the three new members a provision that would put the U.S. on record as opposed to any further expansion of the alliance for at least three years.
The proposed amendment was rejected by a vote of 59 to 41. But that rejection may mean less than a superficial consideration of the numbers suggests.
On the one hand, the vote showed that 12 senators who later voted to include the first three new applicants appear to be against any further expansion soon. On the other, the 41 votes this amendment garnered are seven more than the 34 votes needed to defeat any proposal for expanding the alliance further to the East over the next several years. And consequently while the amendment lost and does not have the force of law, the number of votes it attracted is likely to have an enormous political impact on NATO itself, the Russian Federation, and the countries lying between the two.
For the alliance, the U.S. Senate vote suggests there is likely to be even less interest in the future than there has been in the past for a second or third round of NATO expansion anytime soon. If, as seems likely in the wake of the Senate vote, the U.S. does not appear inclined to ratify any new expansion, other member states are going to be less likely to push for it.
That could, of course, change if Russian policy toward the region changes or if Western evaluations of Russian policy in Eastern Europe and elsewhere shift.
What is intriguing is that this vote may have precisely that effect. For the Russian Federation, this vote is virtually an invitation to increase pressure on NATO to make even more concessions to the insult and injury that some in Russia and more in the West say Moscow is feeling from the first round of expansion. It is also likely to be read in the Russian capital as an implicit acknowledgment that the Western alliance is prepared to go so far and no further, regardless of what its political and military leaders say. That could lead some in Moscow to push for an even tougher approach with regard to Russia's immediate neighbors.
Finally, for the countries situated between the expanded alliance and the Russian Federation, this vote appears likely to have the most serious political consequences. Many leaders there may read the vote on the Warner amendment in the same way that Moscow is likely to. In such an event, some are likely to conclude that they have no choice but to make additional concessions to Moscow. Others may retreat into a hyperbolic nationalism that will only further exacerbate the situation. Still another group is likely to seek additional expressions of Western support, short of NATO membership but beyond what it feels it has today.
And all those likely responses will come from a vote on a measure that did not pass rather than from a vote for a measure that did.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty