|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 93, 98-05-18
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 93, 18 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN CONTINUE TALKSThe co- chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group met with Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Yerevan on 15 May. Kocharian again called for direct talks between the Karabakh and Azerbaijani leaderships and ruled out any direct subordination of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. He also advocated establishing a "sub- regional security system" to create a balance of forces in the region. The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arkadii Ghukasyan, said on 15 May that he believes the conflict can be resolved if all sides demonstrate the necessary political will, Interfax reported. Ghukasyan said that the Minsk Group co-chairmen showed "understanding" for the Karabakh Armenian position. Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev told the co-chairmen in Baku on 16 May that he hopes for a swift solution to the conflict. He also reaffirmed his commitment to the cease-fire agreement signed in May 1994. LF
 UN SPECIAL ENVOY ASSESSES ABKHAZ SITUATIONSpeaking in Sukhumi on 16 May, Liviu Bota expressed concern at the increased incidence of what he termed professionally planned and executed terrorist activities in Abkhazia, ITAR-TASS reported. Bota said that neither Abkhazia nor Georgia appears to want peace and that the withdrawal of peacekeeping forces from the region would render the situation potentially explosive. Bota also rejected Georgian calls for a stricter economic blockade of Abkhazia, saying he does not believe the embargo is conducive to resolving the conflict. The Georgian leadership wants the blockade to remain in force until ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 fighting have been repatriated. But Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba on 15 May told representatives of the CIS Inter- Parliamentary Assembly that the beginning of repatriation should be contingent on lifting the embargo. LF
 ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT, PRESIDENT REJECT CIS PROPOSALSThe Abkhaz parliament on 15 May adopted a resolution rejecting the "Additional Measures on resolving the Abkhaz conflict" adopted at last month's CIS summit, Caucasus Press reported. The resolution said those measures are a concerted effort to exert pressure on Abkhazia by the Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministries. It called on Ardzinba to propose that the CIS peacekeeping force's mandate be revoked and to reject further Russian mediation. Ardzinba, for his part, rejected the proposals contained in the "Additional Measures" to extend the security zone in which the CIS peacekeepers are deployed and to create joint Abkhaz-Georgian local government bodies in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion. Ethnic Georgian displaced persons are to be repatriated to that area. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION AGAIN PROTESTS ELECTION LEGISLATIONMusavat Party chairman Isa Gambar and Azerbaijan Popular Front chairman Abulfaz Elchibey said that the parliament's adoption in the third and final reading of a new law on the creation of the Central Electoral Commission is "an erroneous step by the authorities," Turan reported on 15 May. Under that law, half of the 24 members of the Central Electoral Commission are to be appointed by the president and the other half by the ruling New Azerbaijan party. Elchibey hinted that opposition parties may boycott the October presidential poll to protest the law. By the same token, Gambar said that his party may boycott the elections if changes are not made in the draft law on the presidential elections to remove the minimum 50 percent plus one turnout. LF
 UTO COMPLAINS ABOUT 'TROIKA' AGREEMENTThe leader of the United Tajik Opposition, Said Abdullo Nuri said the decision to form a "troika" of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan to combat the threat of fundamentalism in Central Asian endangers the Tajik peace process, ITAR- TASS reported on 15 May. Nuri called the threat "an invention" of "certain circles" and said "fundamentalism does not exist in Tajikistan." The next day, ITAR-TASS quoted Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov as a saying fundamentalism is a real threat in the region and claiming that religious radicals are already disseminating fundamentalist propaganda in Tajikistan. BP
 AKAYEV TO RUN FOR ANOTHER TERM AS KYRGYZ PRESIDENT?Kyrgyz Prime Minister Kubanychbek Jumaliev on 14 May said that current President Askar Akayev is eligible to run in the 2000 presidential elections, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Akayev was elected by the Supreme Soviet as president of the Kirghiz Soviet Socialist Republic in 1990, and he was twice voted Kyrgyz president in direct elections, in 1991 and 1995. The Kyrgyz Constitution stipulates that a president may stay in office for only two terms, but Jumaliev said the constitution was adopted in 1993 and therefore covers only the last presidential election. There are also reports that parliamentary deputies are drawing up an amendment to make possible a third term in office for the president. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBIA BLOCKADES KOSOVAThe Serbian authorities closed the border crossings into Kosova to all private vehicles on 15 May, regardless of whether drivers are Serbian or ethnic Albanian. Police have since allowed only vehicles belonging to state- owned corporations to pass. Serbian authorities gave no official explanation for stopping the private vehicles. One unnamed official told Reuters that all vehicles periodically require a safety check and that Kosovar drivers can "afford the delay" because "the Albanians are all smugglers and they are very rich as a result." Other observers have suggested that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic has placed restrictions on economic activity in Kosova in retaliation for the latest international sanctions against his country. PM
 THREE KOSOVARS KILLEDThree ethnic Albanians died near Klina on the Prishtina-Peja road on 17 May. The Kosova Information Center reported that the deaths occurred when police attacked a village in the area. KIC added that several homes were "burned, others were demolished, and [still] others pillaged." Serbian sources stated that armed Kosovars attacked a paramilitary police patrol and that one policeman was wounded. There was no independent report on the incident because Serbian authorities have barred the road to foreign journalists for more than one week. PM
 SERBIAN POLICE EVICT SERBIAN STUDENTSSerbian police on 18 May ordered several hundred Serbian students to leave the premises of the Technical Faculty of Prishtina University, which are slated to revert to the control of Kosovar faculty and students later in the day. The Serbs began their protest on 17 May against the latest stage in the implementation of the education agreement that representatives of Milosevic and Rugova signed in March. The pact restores Albanian-language education in government school buildings in stages between 31 March and 30 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April 1998). A Kosovar spokesman recently told "RFE/RL Newsline" in Thessaloniki that the implementation of the education agreement has become a low priority for the Kosovar leadership since the end of February, when the Serbian crackdown began. PM
 NO RESULTS FROM MILOSEVIC-RUGOVA MEETINGMilosevic told Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova during two hours of talks in Belgrade on 15 May that Kosova must remain part of Serbia and that the Kosova question is an internal Serbian affair. Rugova said that Kosova must become independent, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported, citing sources close to the Kosovar leader. Four top advisers from his 15-strong negotiating team accompanied Rugova, but two members of the so-called G- 15 resigned from that body to protest Rugova's decision, which he made under U.S. pressure, to meet Milosevic without a foreign intermediary present. Later this week, the G-15 and its Serbian counterpart will begin holding weekly meetings that will alternate between Prishtina and Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 May 1998). PM
 ALBANIA STILL WANTS NATO PRESENCEPrime Minister Fatos Nano said in a statement on 16 May that the Milosevic- Rugova talks represent a "positive preliminary result.... This gives hope for a peaceful solution of the Kosova problem, for a quiet future of the region in general and especially for the lowering of armed tension on our state border." Nano added: "We stick by our request for the intensification of cooperation with NATO and the undertaking of a series of stabilizing measures" along Albania's border with Kosova. Tirana has repeatedly called for the stationing of NATO troops to bolster security in the region, as UN peacekeepers have helped do in Macedonia. NATO has twice turned down the request (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1998). AFP reported from Brussels on 15 May that NATO has sent "a reconnaissance mission" to northern Albania to study the terrain in preparation for a possible deployment. PM
 HERZEGOVINIANS REBUKE TUDJMAN, WESTENDORPMembers of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) of Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is a branch organization of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's party, elected hard- liner Ante Jelavic as party chairman at the HDZ's annual convention in Mostar on 16 May. Tudjman, through his personal emissary Ivic Pasalic, backed the candidacy of the more moderate Bozo Ljubica. It is unclear how Tudjman will respond to the delegates' decision, the Zagreb daily "Jutarnji list" wrote on 18 May. In a letter to the convention on 16 May, Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, told the delegates that the Herzegovinian Croats must abandon efforts to create their own mini-state within the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation. Jelavic told the delegates that the HDZ will continue with its current policies and stressed that the Croats must have their own army. PM
 HEBRANG APPOINTED CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTERTudjman appointed outgoing Health Minister Andrija Hebrang to succeed the late Gojko Susak as defense minister in Zagreb on 14 May. Hebrang said following his appointment that the Croatian army should "be adjusted to all the principles of...NATO [but] also remain the main protector of Croatian people and state's interests." PM
 SERBIAN BROADCASTERS DEFY GOVERNMENTParticipants in a meeting of the Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM) agreed in Belgrade on 17 May to "continue their broadcasts regardless to the decision of the Yugoslav Ministry of Telecommunications on the allocation of temporary frequencies" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998), Radio B-92 reported. The independent broadcasters argue that the new monthly fee of $35,000 is prohibitively high for private broadcasters in Yugoslavia. ANEM members charge that the government is using the high fees to drive them off the air. PM
 SLOVENIAN TRUCKERS CUT OFF LJUBLJANASeveral hundred truckers blocked roads leading into the Slovenian capital on 18 May to protest the introduction of a new road use tax. The drivers also want the authorities to relax new traffic regulations, which, among other things, include tougher punishments for motorists driving under the influence of alcohol. In other news, Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek faces a vote of confidence later this week stemming from the disclosure last winter of the existence of a secret defense pact between Slovenia and Israel. Drnovsek needs the support of the Slovenian People's Party (SLS), which is a member of his governing coalition, to survive the vote. Observers say that Drnovsek's party may not be willing to pay the high political price that the SLS is demanding in order to secure its support. PM
 TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIAIsmail Cem and his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, on 15 May welcomed the beginning of a dialogue between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosova Albanian minority leader Ibrahim Rugova. At the same time, they said that if the dialogue fails, their countries are "ready to contemplate other measures" to help resolve the conflict. Among other things, they discussed the setting up of the multinational military force for south- eastern Europe but disagreed on where its headquarters should be. Turkey has proposed the Bulgarian city of Plodviv, while Romania prefers Constanta, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cem also held talks on improving bilateral economic ties with President Emil Constantinescu, Premier Radu Vasile, and parliamentary chairman Petre Roman. MS
 WORLD BANK TO RENEGOTIATE ROMANIAN LOANSKenneth Lay, the World Bank official responsible for Romania, said on 15 May after talks with Romanian officials that the bank will negotiate with Bucharest three accords to replace the FESAL agreements, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Those agreements were canceled after Romania failed to abide by their provisions. Lay said the new accords will be used for the privatization of the banking sector and state owned-enterprises, adding that further aid is entirely dependent on the success of Romania's privatization program. The FESAL agreements were signed in 1994 and canceled on 30 April. MS
 DEADLOCK IN MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT PARLEYS?Mircea Snegur and Iurie Rosca, the co-chairmen of the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM), on 15 May told journalists in Chisinau that the CDM will not agree to any further compromises in talks with Premier-designate Ion Ciubuc on the distribution of portfolios in the new government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Snegur said Ciubuc has accepted only two of the CDM's seven proposals for cabinet ministers, whereas the CDM has agreed to the re-appointment of Nicolae Tabacaru as foreign minister and Tudor Botnaru as minister for state security, both at the insistence of President Petru Lucinschi. The same day, Lucinschi said the coalition must take into consideration the views of the premier- designate. MS
 BULGARIAN PREMIER DENIES BREAKING ARMS EMBARGO"Demokratsiya" on 16 May quoted Ivan Kostov as denying that Bulgaria is involved in breaking the UN embargo on arms deliveries to Sierra Leone. He said that Bulgaria is "strictly observing" the embargo and that no Bulgarian company has done business with the British Sandline International company. According to a recent report published in the "Sunday Times," Sandline International has delivered Bulgarian-made arms to Sierra Leone. Kostov said that if Bulgarian arms reached Sierra Leone via another African country, Sofia "bears no responsibility" for that development. Meanwhile, Romanian media reported on 15-16 May that a transport of Bulgarian-made machineguns destined for Slovakia was turned back at the Calafat border checkpoint because the transit had not been cleared with the Romanian authorities. MS
[C] END NOTE
 STILL STRANGERS IN THEIR OWN HOMELANDby Mubeyyin Batu Altan
On 18 May, Crimean Tatars mark the 54th anniversary of their mass deportation from Crimea by the Soviet authorities. Although that was one of the saddest days in the history of the Crimean Tatar people, they are by no means the only ones who have to live with such a heritage. Among the other nations deported by Stalin were the Koreans, Chechens, Ingush, Karachais, Volga Germans, and Kalmyks, to name just a few. Why then do we, the Crimean Tatar community, consider 18 May so important?
The reason is simple: the "Surgun," as the mass deportation is called in Crimean Tatar, has not yet ended. More than half of the Crimean Tatars deported 54 years ago have so far been unable to return, even though most other deported groups are now back in their historical homelands. Along with the Ahiska (Meskhetian) Turks, the Crimean Tatars stand out as the nation that continues to experience the direct effects of deportation and not just the resulting dislocation.
If the Crimean Tatars had been helped to return to their homeland, had received an apology from those responsible, and had been compensated for their losses, 18 May would not have the significance it is currently accorded. It would, of course, be commemorated as a time of mourning. But the next day, Crimean Tatars would return to normal life.
Unfortunately, they do not have that option. And as a result, the Crimean Tatars have no choice but to make a big fuss about their deportation and thus keep the memory of 18 May 1944 alive. Their nation remains divided; many still have relatives in Uzbekistan or other parts of the former Soviet Union who cannot yet return to Crimea . Indeed, many continue to search for relatives lost during the "Surgun," as a glance at Crimean Tatar newspapers shows. Advertisements in those papers reveal that even now, many Crimean Tatars have been unable to find out whether their loved ones are alive or dead.
Moreover, it appears that many Crimean Tatars are losing ground in their peaceful struggle to return and resettle in their Crimean homeland. Some 90.000 Crimean Tatars were denied the right to cast their ballots in the March 1998 Ukrainian elections because Kyiv does not consider them citizens of Ukraine--despite the fact that they were forcibly and unjustly uprooted from their homeland and did not become Uzbek citizens by choice. As a result, the Crimean Tatars have almost no representation in the current Crimean parliament--in sharp contrast to the situation before the March ballot, when they had 14 representatives in the legislature. Mustafa Jemilev and Refat Chubarov, the two Crimean Tatar representatives in the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv, are bound to find it extremely difficult to shoulder the responsibility for an entire people, even with the support of the Ukrainian government. And unfortunately, it appears that there are many in Kyiv who will seek to block their efforts to help the Crimean Tatars.
On 17 May, Crimean Tatars living in the U.S. once again peacefully gathered to commemorate the "Surgun." At a special ceremony in Corum, New York, they dedicated the first Crimean Tatar monument in honor of all Crimean Tatars who were killed or died during the "Surgun" and its aftermath. And, in particular, they remembered those whose bodies were thrown off the trains carrying the Crimean Tatars from their homeland to Uzbekistan.
But for the Crimean Tatars in Crimea and for those still living in exile, everyday is another "18 May." This will remain the case until all the Crimean Tatars are able to return and settle in their ancestral homeland, until they are allowed to live there in peace and harmony with other nationalities just as they did before the "Surgun." But as they continue their struggle, it is both their hope and ours that there will be no more martyrs to add to the long list of those who have already died for the Crimean Tatar national cause.
The author is editor of "Crimean Review," a U.S.-based, English-language publication dedicated to recording the history and current status of the Crimean Tatars.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty