|Saturday, 8 August 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 91, 98-05-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 91, 14 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN IN YEREVANThe three co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group met in Yerevan on 13 May with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, who outlined Armenia's new approach to resolving the Karabakh conflict. Yerevan rejects the "phased" peace plan, which was proposed by the Minsk Group last year and which Azerbaijan has accepted. Instead, it insists on a "package" solution that resolves all contentious issues within one framework document. Armenia also wants direct, unconditional talks between Baku and the leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. The co-chairmen declined to comment on those demands, but Azerbaijani Presidential adviser Vafa Gulu-Zade has made direct talks with the Karabakh leadership contingent on the latter's acceptance of autonomy for Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan, Noyan Tapan reported. Oskanian told journalists that the co-chairmen made no new proposals. LF
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES GOVERNMENT PROGRAMSpeaker Khosrov Harutiunian on 13 May declared the parliament's approval of the program presented to lawmakers the previous day by Prime Minister Armen Darpinian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The parliament had lodged no formal objections to that program. Harutiunian congratulated the premier on what he termed a "vote of confidence" in the government. Darpinian, for his part, acknowledged informal criticisms by several parliament factions that the program is not specific enough, Noyan Tapan reported. LF
 GEORGIAN, NORTH OSSETIAN PRESIDENTS MEETAleksandr Dzasokhov was in Tbilisi on 13 May for talks with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, on resolving the South Ossetian and other Caucasian conflicts. Dzasokhov argued that it is important to achieve a breakthrough in resolving one of those conflicts in order to create a precedent. He endorsed Shevardnadze's proposal that Georgia become a federal state, urging the Georgian leadership to be "generous" in deciding the degree of autonomy South Ossetia should receive. Dzasokhov warned that unless such federations are created in the Caucasus, the region risks "global disintegration into nation states," Interfax reported. Shevardnadze called for expediting the repatriation to South Ossetia of both Ossetian and Georgian refugees and displaced persons. He also praised the "positive" role of the Russian peacekeeping force in South Ossetia. LF
 ANNAN WANTS BETTER PROTECTION FOR OBSERVERS IN GEORGIAUN Secretary-General Annan has proposed deploying a 294-man UN force to protect the unarmed UN observer mission in western Georgia, Reuters reported on 13 May. Four members of that mission were abducted in February; three were subsequently released and one escaped. Annan said the Georgian government has approved his proposal, while the Abkhaz leadership has expressed reservations. LF
 AZERBAIJANI LIBERAL PARTY PROTESTS HARASSMENTThe leadership of the Azerbaijan Liberal Party has called on the prosecutor- general to take action against police officers who forced entry into the party's headquarters on 8 May, Turan reported on 13 May. The officers temporarily detained two of the party's members. LF
 KYRGYZ PRESIDENT OVERSEES BATTLE WITH "EXTREMISTS"Presidential spokesman Kanybek Imanaliyev told a press briefing on 13 May that Askar Akayev is personally supervising the battle against religious extremism, ITAR-TASS reported. Imanaliyev said the president is concerned about the "appearance of Wahhabi missionaries." Kyrgyzstan, like neighboring Uzbekistan, has ordered all mosques to be registered. And according to Reuters, it will "keep track of who preaches there, where they are from. If they do not meet our standards they must account for themselves." However, Emil Kaptagaev, the chairman of the government Committee on Religious Affairs, told journalists his committee has found no evidence of Wahhabi activity in Kyrgyzstan. But Adylbek Kadyrbekov, the chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Defense and Security, was also at the briefing and contradicted Kaptagaev's statement. BP
 WORLD BANK GRANTS LOAN TO KYRGYZSTANThe Kyrgyz presidential press service announced on 13 May that the World Bank has approved a loan for the country worth $50 million, Interfax reported. The loan is intended for agricultural programs, in particular improving irrigation techniques. BP
 KAZAKH PARLIAMENT REJECTS POLYGAMY PROPOSALThe lower house of the parliament on 13 May voted down a proposal to re- introduce polygamy, in accordance with Islamic law, ITAR-TASS reported. "We want to be a civilized country not only of an Asian but also of a European type," a parliament statement said. BP
 TRANSNATIONAL COMPANY SUES KAZAKH GOVERNMENTA transnational corporation is suing the Kazakh government for breach of contract, ITAR-TASS reported on 14 May. The Toronto-based World Wide Minerals corporation--which is also registered in the U.S., where it has filed suit--signed a contract to mine and process uranium ore in the Stepnogorsk region. The corporation assumed the debts of the previous owner, a Kazakh company, and paid wage arrears and pensions to workers. World Wide Minerals planned to sell the uranium to the U.S. company Consumers Energy but claims it has lost $220 million because the Kazakh government has failed to grant it an export license. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 CLINTON PRAISES MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA AGREEMENTU.S. President Bill Clinton said in Berlin on 13 May that the decision by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova to meet in Belgrade on 15 May is a "sober first step" toward a resolution of the Kosova question (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). In Washington, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright praised Milosevic's "personal engagement" and Rugova's "flexibility" in agreeing to the talks. In Moscow, Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov called the agreement "a significant achievement for which Russian, U.S., French, and German diplomats and the entire Contact Group have worked," Interfax reported. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel stressed that Germany has a "special interest" in obtaining a quick end to the crisis because it is host to 150,000 Kosovar asylum seekers, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The Foreign Ministries of the U.K., France, Italy, and Albania issued statements welcoming the two leaders' decision to meet. PM
 KOSOVARS COOL TO RUGOVA'S CHOICEFehmi Agani, who is a close adviser to Rugova and the head of the Kosovars' Group of 15 negotiators, praised Rugova's decision to meet Milosevic without any foreign mediators present. He added that "no miracles" should be expected from the meeting. Also in Prishtina on 13 May, Adem Demaci, the head of the opposition Parliamentary Party of Kosova, said that Rugova's move was "a capitulation." Demaci added that Rugova had abandoned the Kosovar demands for independence in favor of "cultural autonomy," the Kosova Information Agency (KIC) reported. Social Democratic leader Luljeta Pula-Beqiri called Rugova's decision "scandalous" and added that "the people are against it," "Nasa Borba" wrote. The VOA's Albanian Service reported that "The discontent of all the [G-15] members was apparent. They did not feel like commenting on the...meeting." Also in Prishtina, Rugova failed to show up for a scheduled session of the executive board of his Democratic League of Kosova. PM
 MORE DEATHS IN KOSOVA"The Guardian" on 13 May quoted an unnamed representative of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) as saying that "I don't trust [U.S. special envoy Richard] Holbrooke" and that "the UCK will free the people...[including] the Albanians in Montenegro and Macedonia." In the main crisis regions of Kosova, some 18 people died in the past two days as a result of continued violence, KIC reported. In one incident alone, 10 Kosovars died when they entered a mine field near Ponoshec in order to circumvent a Serbian police patrol. PM
 CONTACT GROUP TO MEETU.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard said in Belgrade on 13 May that at the 15 May summit in Birmingham, England, he will brief the G-8 nations on Kosova. He said that "we also are seeking an urgent meeting of the Contact Group at the beginning of next week to review the situation and measures the Contact Group has taken in previous meetings in view of new developments." Gelbard noted that the U.S. is also engaged in urgent consultations with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, including with Spanish former Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, whom the OSCE has designated as its representative in the Kosova crisis. Gelbard added that "the United States continues to feel that it is extremely important for the Gonzalez mission to get under way so as to formulate the appropriate means by which [Milosevic's Yugoslavia] will enter the OSCE." PM
 NATO TO PREPARE OPTIONS ON KOSOVAAn unnamed NATO spokesman told Reuters in Brussels on 13 May that the ambassadors of the member states of the Atlantic alliance welcome the announcement of the Milosevic- Rugova meeting and the fact that Milosevic has accepted "personal responsibility" for resolving the Kosova question. The spokesman added that the ambassadors asked expert committees to prepare a wide range of contingency plans for dealing with the crisis. Issues under consideration include ways of helping Albanian and Macedonia, which the spokesman called "front-line states." PM
 DJUKANOVIC TO THWART MILOSEVIC'S MOVE AGAINST HIMMilica Pejanovic-Djurisic, who heads Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Socialist Party (DSS), said in Podgorica on 13 May that the DSS has asked the speaker of the Montenegrin parliament to call a special session to rule on how to defend Montenegro's interests within the Yugoslav federation, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Her move is aimed at recalling Montenegrin members of the federal legislature in Belgrade back to Podgorica for the special session so that there will be no quorum in the federal upper house on 18 May. On that date, the federal legislators are slated to vote on unseating Prime Minister Radoje Kontic and replacing him with a Milosevic supporter (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). PM
 ARREST WARRANT FOR BOSNIAN SERB EX-LEADERSpokesmen for the Interior Ministry of the Republika Srpska announced in Banja Luka on 13 May that the ministry has issued a warrant for the arrest of Gojko Klickovic, a former prime minister and a loyalist of Radovan Karadzic. Klickovic is wanted for embezzlement and abuse of office. Unspecified decisions by Prime Minister Klickovic led to the disappearance of some $4 million from the state budget. Serbian press reports suggest that Klickovic is in Yugoslavia. PM
 NANO'S STOLEN CAR TURNS UP IN MONTENEGROPolice spokesmen said in Tirana on 13 May that two men have been arrested in conjunction with the recent hijacking of Prime Minister Fatos Nano's car (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1998). Tirana dailies added that the armored Mercedes limousine, which is readily identifiable by its license plates, was taken to Montenegro. The press reports noted that gangs have stolen "hundreds" of Mercedes cars in recent months and smuggled them into Montenegro. PM
 ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BUDGETA joint session of the two chambers of the parliament began debating the 1998 budget on 13 May, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Prime Minister Radu Vasile said the budget aims at reducing inflation to 45 percent (151.4 percent in 1997). It forecasts a deficit of 3.6 percent of GDP, which is expected to register zero growth (minus 6.6 percent in 1997). Unemployment is expected to rise to 11.2 percent, from 9.5 percent last year. The opposition parties, with the exception of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), have announced they will vote against the budget. The PUNR says it will vote in favor only if its proposed amendments are accepted, which is unlikely. MS
 FOREIGN DIPLOMATS INVOLVED IN CIGARETTE SMUGGLING AFFAIRNicolae Alexandru, chairman of the Senate's Defense Committee, on 13 May said foreign diplomats accredited in Bucharest are involved in the "cigarette smuggling affair" (which the Romanian media is now calling "Otopeni-gate" in reference to Bucharest airport). Alexandru, a member of the Democratic Party, added that people close to the "sphere of power" are also involved in the affair. He provided no other details but said that most of the foreigners involved in the scandal come from "the Arab world." Meanwhile, the Bucharest Military Tribunal has ordered the release from detention of General Gheorghe Florica, former chief of the Financial Guard, for "lack of evidence" on his alleged involvement in the affair. The Prosecutor-General's Office has appealed that decision. MS
 AGREEMENT REACHED ON MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT REFORMPremier-designate Ion Ciubuc and the governing Alliance for Democracy and Reform have reached agreement on reforming the government, BASA-press and Infotag reported on 13 May. The new government will have 13 ministers, three of whom will be deputy premiers. The portfolios will be divided according to the "2+2+1 formula" agreed on last month by the three members of the coalition alliance. According to that formula, the Party of Democratic Forces will have one minister for every two cabinet members who belong to the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and to the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc. Several ministries will be merged. Also on 13 May, CDM co-chairman Mircea Snegur said the alliance can "under no circumstances" agree to President Petru Lucinschi's and Ciubuc's intention to offer government posts to members of Ciubuc's outgoing cabinet. MS
 KOSTOV OPPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST YUGOSLAVIAPrime Minister Ivan Kostov, in an interview with Reuters on 13 May, said the sanctions imposed earlier on Yugoslavia helped turn Bulgaria into what he described as a "country of corporate and oligarchic interests." Kostov said the embargo created the background against which huge illegal fortunes could be made through arms, oil, and other trade with Serbia. The reintroduction of those sanctions would benefit only those Bulgarian forces against which his government has "won its great battle" in the struggle to combat corruption. MS
 WORLD BANK APPROVES BULGARIAN LOANThe World Bank has approved a $16 million loan to Bulgaria for a pilot project to clean up a copper refining plant, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The MDK copper smelter plant, located in the vicinity of Plodviv and Zlatitsa, has been pouring tons of toxic waste from its acid plant into a lagoon for many years. It is now leaking and threatening to overflow or break a dam. In such a case, waste would enter the Topolnitsa reservoir, which is the main source of drinking water for Plodviv. MS
[C] END NOTE
 THE COMING GENERATIONAL SHIFTby Paul Goble
Many post-Soviet states are now confronting a problem that some of their leaders thought they could put off dealing with or even avoid: how to transfer power from one generation to another in a way that does not compromise stability, independence, and national aspirations.
Both the problem and the different ways national leaders are addressing it have been thrown into relief by two recent events: Russian President Boris Yeltsin's renewal of his government last month and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev's 75th birthday celebrations on 10 May.
In the Russian Federation, Yeltsin sacked his longtime prime minister, Viktor Chernomyrdin, a man of his own generation and hence of longtime Soviet experience. In his place, Yeltsin installed Sergei Kirienko, someone a generation younger who came of age in the post-Soviet world. And the Russian president has advanced the careers of a number of other young reformers.
Many in Russia and abroad have greeted this move. Not only does it suggest that Yeltsin is prepared to push further and faster on reform than Chernomyrdin was doing, but it also allows a new group of officials to gain the kinds of experience that will make them credible as candidates for more senior positions, including eventually the one that Yeltsin now occupies.
But others in both places have been more skeptical. On the one hand, Yeltsin is likely to have far more influence over Kirienko than he sometimes had over Chernomyrdin. And because Yeltsin has proved so changeable over time, his influence may push Kirienko's government in very different directions than some now hope and others fear.
And on the other, the sacking of Chernomyrdin may have cleared the way for Yeltsin to run for yet another term as president if his health holds up. While in office, Chernomyrdin had gained the kind of experience that made him plausible as a successor to Yeltsin. Kirienko does not yet have that experience and consequently does not appear a likely candidate.
There thus appear to be two possibilities: either Yeltsin runs again, despite an apparent constitutional prohibition against a third term, or the candidates for that office will likely have little or no experience in the post- Soviet Russian central government, a situation that could adversely affect future developments there.
In Azerbaijan, by contrast, Aliev has not yet begun this process of renewing elites, even though it is quite obvious that the issue of transferring power to a younger group of leaders while maintaining the stability and independence of his country is now very much on his mind.
But because of his age, Aliev's failure to push this process further could call into question the very achievements he is most interested in guaranteeing: removing Russian troops from his country, attracting sizable Western investment, and helping build the economic and political bridge between Central Asia, Georgia, Ukraine, and the West.
Indeed, even as leaders from around the region and the world greeted him on his 75th birthday, Aliev appeared particularly unwilling to explore ways in which he could renew his own regime and guarantee that his achievements will survive their creator.
Last month, Aliev proposed new legislation to regulate the October presidential elections. Because of its restrictive provisions which appear to give the incumbent unfair advantages, five leading members of the opposition issued a joint declaration that they would refuse to run if the law were adopted.
Even more problematic than this declaration of the five, Azerbaijani police dispersed a demonstration of some 400 people protesting the legislation in Baku late last week and arrested more than 100. Among those taking part and possibly among the arrested were former government officials and opposition activists.
The lack of any bridge between Aliev and these people or of a means of including at least some of the social forces they represent in the government suggests that the transition after Aliev could be a very rocky one.
Despite the steps he has taken, Yeltsin has not yet solved this problem. Indeed, if he uses Kirienko's lack of experience to keep himself in office, Yeltsin may make matters worse. But Aliev's approach until now is a reminder that failing to address the problem head on is not a solution but rather a guarantee that the problem itself will become even more pressing.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty