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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 94, 98-05-19

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 2, No. 94, 19 May 1998


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER ROW ENDS
  • [02] MORE GUERRILLA CLASHES IN ABKHAZIA
  • [03] BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE TO BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE
  • [04] TURKEY, AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA AFFIRM SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE
  • [05] TURKMEN PRESIDENT ON CASPIAN PIPELINES, CIS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT OUSTS PRIME MINISTER...
  • [07] ...BRINGS ON CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
  • [08] EU BACKS DJUKANOVIC
  • [09] RUGOVA FACES KOSOVAR CRITICS
  • [10] SANCTIONS ON SERBIA EASED
  • [11] CROATIA TO TAKE IN REFUGEES
  • [12] DEFENDANTS BOYCOTT 'FERAL' TRIAL
  • [13] MORE NATIONALIST OBSTRUCTION IN BOSNIA
  • [14] ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA
  • [15] FUNAR PROMISES MORE MEMORIAL PLAQUES
  • [16] IMF RELEASES TRANCHES TO BULGARIA
  • [17] BULGARIAN SKINHEADS KILL ROMANY BOY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [18] CIVIC EDUCATION FOR KOSOVA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN NEWSPAPER ROW ENDS

    The staff of the Russian-language daily newspaper "Respublika Armeniya," which is funded by the parliament, has ended its standoff with parliamentary speaker Khosrov Harutiunian and agreed to his appointee as the newspaper's new editor, Ramkavar-Azatakan Party member Shamiram Aghabekian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 18 May. The newspaper's staff had protested that Aghabekian's appointment was illegal, and some launched a strike to demand that acting chief editor Ashot Gazazian be appointed permanently to that post. Gazazian and four other journalists have resigned, however, rather than work under Aghabekian. LF

    [02] MORE GUERRILLA CLASHES IN ABKHAZIA

    Georgian guerrillas killed 17 Abkhaz policemen in a surprise attack in the village of Repi in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion on 18 May, according to an RFE/RL correspondent in Tbilisi. Also on 18 May, the Russian-Georgian Inter-Parliamentary Commission met in Sochi to discuss means of resolving the Abkhaz conflict. Two Abkhaz parliamentary deputies also attended the session. Kakha Chitaia, chairman of the Georgian parliamentary Commission on International Affairs, stressed Georgia's readiness to achieve a peace settlement based on compromise. LF

    [03] BAKU-SUPSA PIPELINE TO BE COMPLETED ON SCHEDULE

    Meeting in Baku on 18 May with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania said that reconstruction of the oil export pipeline from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea port of Supsa and construction of terminals at Supsa and Poti will be completed by October 1998, Interfax and Turan reported. He said he is confident that the financial problems connected to the pipeline repairs can be overcome. Estimates of the cost of those repairs were recently raised, triggering disagreements between the Azerbaijani International Operating Company exploiting three offshore Caspian oil fields and Azerbaijan's state oil company SOCAR (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 20 April 1998) over how the repairs will be funded. LF

    [04] TURKEY, AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA AFFIRM SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE

    Following three days of talks, Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer and senior Georgian and Azerbaijani oil sector officials signed a memorandum of intent in Istanbul on 15 May, Caucasus Press reported on18 May. That document affirms their support for the Baku-Ceyhan route for the main export pipeline for Caspian oil. The presidents of the three countries are to sign an agreement to this effect in September, 1998. LF

    [05] TURKMEN PRESIDENT ON CASPIAN PIPELINES, CIS

    In a speech to foreign diplomats in Ashgabat on 16 May, Saparmurat Niyazov affirmed his opposition to the Russian and Kazakh demand that the Caspian seabed, but not its waters, be divided into national sectors, Interfax reported. Niyazov said that the proposed Trans-Caspian pipeline is contingent on resolving the dispute between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan over the delineation of their respective sectors of the Caspian. He added that the Trans-Caspian pipeline is not an alternative to planned Trans- Iranian pipelines for exporting Turkmen gas to Europe and the Persian Gulf. He also invited Russian participation in the construction of pipelines and the exploitation of Turkmenistan's hydrocarbon resources. And he repeated his objection to the creation of supranational regulating agencies within the CIS, expressing skepticism that the planned CIS interstate conference will yield solutions to the problems facing the organization. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENT OUSTS PRIME MINISTER...

    Serbian and Montenegrin federal legislators loyal to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic have endorsed a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Radoje Kontic. Milosevic said immediately after the vote that he will meet with leaders of the parties represented in the parliament on 19 May to discuss possible successors to Kontic. During the debate before the vote, Kontic rejected accusations by Milosevic loyalists that he is incompetent and argued that economic performance was better under his leadership in 1997 than it had been in years. Milosevic wants to oust Kontic, who is a Montenegrin with ties to the reform-minded leadership of President Milo Djukanovic, in favor of someone who would declare a state of emergency in Montenegro and remove Djukanovic and his allies from office (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 May 1998). PM

    [07] ...BRINGS ON CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

    Immediately after Kontic's ouster on 18 May, Montenegrin parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic called a special session of the Montenegrin legislature for the following day. Speaking in Podgorica after the Belgrade vote, President Djukanovic said there can be no joint state of Serbs and Montenegrins if there is no equality between the two republics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The president added that the vote to oust Kontic means the destruction of the foundations of the joint state. Top pro-Djukanovic politicians both in Podgorica and in Belgrade said that Montenegro will not recognize Kontic's ouster and that federal Yugoslavia is entering a major constitutional crisis. Stefan Susic, who heads the federal parliament's Judicial Committee, charged that Milosevic has begun the "dissolution of Yugoslavia" by ousting Kontic, the Belgrade daily "Danas" wrote. PM

    [08] EU BACKS DJUKANOVIC

    Hans van den Broek, who heads the EU's Foreign Affairs Commission, and Montenegrin Labor and Social Affairs Minister Miomir Mogusa signed an agreement in Brussels providing for EU aid to Montenegro worth $3.3 million. The money will help Podgorica to pay invalids' and veterans' benefits, to make payments for needy children and families, and to improve the health service. The Djukanovic leadership says that Milosevic's policies are preventing the revival of Montenegro's key shipping and tourism industries and hence of its economy. The EU and the U.S. provide political and economic support for Djukanovic. PM

    [09] RUGOVA FACES KOSOVAR CRITICS

    Kosovar shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova told the leadership of his Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) on 18 May in Prishtina that he insisted on Kosovar independence during his talks with Milosevic on 15 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 1998). Several members of the party's governing body criticized Rugova's decision to meet Milosevic without foreign intermediaries and accused Rugova of failing to consult his colleagues. Some speakers said that Rugova has completely sidelined the LDK in his efforts to manage the current crisis. Many top politicians both within the LDK and Rugova's group of 15 key advisers have recently charged him with becoming increasingly authoritarian, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote on 15 May. Rugova's political position in Kosova has become weaker in recent weeks, while that of the Kosova Liberation Army is on the rise, "Nasa Borba" reported on 19 May. PM

    [10] SANCTIONS ON SERBIA EASED

    The British Foreign Office said in a statement on 18 May that the international Contact Group on the former Yugoslavia agreed to suspend the group's recently proposed ban on foreign investments in Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 1998). The statement added that the freeze on the investment ban comes in response to Milosevic's agreement to hold talks with Rugova. In Prishtina, Veton Surroi, who is Kosova's leading journalist and a member of Rugova's team of 15 advisers, said that ending sanctions reduces the chances that Milosevic will negotiate seriously. In Tirana, the Albanian Foreign Ministry urged the Contact Group to maintain the sanctions as long as there is fighting in Kosova. PM

    [11] CROATIA TO TAKE IN REFUGEES

    Parliamentary speaker Vlatko Pavletic told a delegation from the German Bundestag in Zagreb on 18 May that Croatia will soon formally tell Germany that it is ready to accept 80,000 Croatian refugees, who are mainly from Bosnia- Herzegovina, back from Germany. Pavletic added that Croatia wants the refugees to return to Croatia before the end of 1998. Germany took in more refugees from the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995 than did any other country other than the Yugoslav successor states. Many German politicians are under considerable pressure during this election year to send the refugees home as soon as possible. PM

    [12] DEFENDANTS BOYCOTT 'FERAL' TRIAL

    Viktor Ivancic, the former chief editor of the independent weekly "Feral Tribune," and journalist Marinko Culic did not appear at their trial in Zagreb on 18 May to answer charges that they slandered President Franjo Tudjman. The two defendants said in a statement that do not intend to take part in what they called a political trial. In an article published in April 1996, the two journalists compared Tudjman to the Spanish head of state, Francisco Franco. In their latest statement, the two defendants noted that Tudjman has publicly compared himself to Franco, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [13] MORE NATIONALIST OBSTRUCTION IN BOSNIA

    The joint parliament failed on 18 May to agree on any of the three designs for a new coat-of-arms that international mediators proposed. Muslim deputies endorsed one design, Serbs rejected all three, and the Croats abstained, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sarajevo. Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, will soon impose a solution. Meanwhile in Mostar, Herzegovinian Croat officials again refused to issue joint Bosnian identity documents and license plates. A Herzegovinian Croat spokesman said that the documents, which are written in both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets, are illegal because laws in Mostar permit only the Latin script. Sir Martin Garrod, who is Westendorp's representative in Mostar, warned the Croats that persons without the new documents and cars without the joint license plates will be unable to leave the country after 1 June. PM

    [14] ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

    Paskal Milo met with his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, on 18 May and discussed the conflict in Kosova and bilateral relations, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The two ministers agreed that the conflict must be resolved through peaceful means. Milo said his country supports the setting up of a Kosova republic within the Yugoslav federation. He added that Kosova is "not merely an Albanian issue," since the ramifications of the conflict are "regional, and even international." Plesu said Romania is ready to mediate in the conflict, but "for the time being," the Yugoslav side has "some reservations" about international mediation. The two ministers also agreed that Romania can offer Albania "expertise in the setting up of democratic institutions." MS

    [15] FUNAR PROMISES MORE MEMORIAL PLAQUES

    The extreme nationalist mayor of Cluj, Gheorghe Funar, said on 15 May that he has "postponed" unveiling the controversial memorial plaque that claims Hungarian national poet Sandor Petofi was a Serb forced to "Magyarize" his name. Funar said he postponed the unveiling of the plaque after the prefect of Cluj had ordered police to prevent the anti- Hungarian "provocation." The mayor said the plaque, which is to be hung on a house where Petofi stayed from 21-24 June 1847, will nonetheless be unveiled. He also promised that by the end of this year, he will hang another 10 memorial inscriptions on buildings in Cluj, including one on the town's Roman Catholic cathedral, an important landmark of Hungary's historical presence there. MS

    [16] IMF RELEASES TRANCHES TO BULGARIA

    The IMF has released the last two tranches, totaling $167 million, of a $502 million standby loan to Bulgaria, an RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. The IMF Executive Board said, however, that the challenge of turning Bulgaria into a growing competitive economy is still daunting and the country must move ahead with a long-term reform program, including the completion of privatization, liberalization in the agricultural sector, and legal and administrative reforms. In other news, a survey conducted by Gallup shows that Ivan Kostov's cabinet is the most popular since the collapse of Communism, with 68.5 percent support, AFP reported. MS

    [17] BULGARIAN SKINHEADS KILL ROMANY BOY

    Bulgarian skinheads killed a 15-year-old Romany boy and beat several others the following day, AFP reported, citing police sources. The skinheads attacked the teenage Roma in an abandoned house in the center of Sofia and threw him out of the window. The young Roma died instantly, while the skinheads fled before police arrived on the scene. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [18] CIVIC EDUCATION FOR KOSOVA

    by Michael J. Jordan

    It's a scene familiar to Eastern Europe since Communism collapsed nine years ago: well-intentioned Western missionaries of democracy spreading the gospel to peoples with little or no tradition of democracy.

    Recently, the focus was Kosova, the simmering Serbian province on the brink of interethnic war between Albanians and Serbs. The three-day seminar in tranquil Budapest--some 500 miles away--centered on integrating "civic education" into the Kosovar Albanian "shadow" schools, which operate outside the Serbian system. Yet with Kosova increasingly radicalized and the death toll climbing almost daily, the seminar begged the question: is it ever too early to preach civic values like pluralism, rule of law, and respect for human rights?

    Participants and sponsors alike were scratching their heads. "We could just sit and wait for a political solution, or we could do something in small steps that may help indirectly," said Agon Demjaha, a Kosovar Albanian representative of one seminar co-sponsor, the New York- based Open Society Foundation. "This is how I excuse all of this, otherwise it might seem silly."

    Yet the seminar illuminated the magnitude of difficulties for those in the Balkans and former Soviet Union who hope to transform authoritarian political cultures into kinder, gentler societies. These rigid mores took root over centuries, long before Communism. On top of that, there are myriad current political and economic obstacles.

    At least today, Western governmental and non- governmental organizations are more realistic about the prospects for success. Their revised strategies for "conflict resolution" and the like are now presented more accurately as a painstaking, step-by-step process. It will take years - if not generations - to undo these traditions and nurture a society where the polarizing values of ethnic groups are subordinated to the civic values shared by the whole community.

    Enlightenment, if it comes at all, comes one person at a time. After all, does anyone break old habits easily? In light of this, Westerners generally take a two-pronged approach. The first is to ferret out moderates and progressives from both sides, then promote dialogue as a means for easing ethnic tension. The second, more effective tactic targets the youth, before behavior and attitude are set in stone. In the process, much of the older generation is written off, but the groundwork is laid for a future democratic infrastructure.

    For Kosovar schoolchildren, this means compulsory "civic education," though none of their teachers knows exactly what it is or how to teach it. "Kosova has such a large young population, we have to worry about how they're going to view their future and express themselves," said Joseph Julian, chairman of Syracuse University's Joint Eastern Europe Center for Democratic Education and Governance, another co-sponsor of the Budapest seminar. "Let the politicians do their work, but the people themselves need to learn to work together as citizens."

    However, even as these children learn about human rights, some of their fathers and uncles are taking up arms against the Serbs. "The people arguing for peace are losing their arguments," said Shkelzen Maliqi, who attended the seminar and is both director of the Kosova Education Enrichment Program and a member of the Kosovar team negotiating with the Serbian leadership. Indeed, bloody clashes are reported daily between Serb police and Kosovar villagers, and Yugoslav border patrols and volunteers from neighboring Albania.

    Slobodan Milosevic, now the Yugoslav president, seems as intransigent as ever, despite the threat of renewed sanctions. He also enjoys the support of belligerent Serbs in Kosova. Serbian faculty and students at Pristina University, in the Kosovo capital of Prishtina, resisted a new government directive that orders the re- admission of Albanian students by 15 May.. Serbian students threatened a hunger strike in protest and reportedly threw stones at their would-be Albanian classmates on the first attempted return to the university.

    At the Budapest seminar, meanwhile, the dozen or so participants--including one Kosova Serb--spoke dreamily of Albanian-Serb summer camps, soccer matches and cultural events. This despite the fact most Serbs are suspicious of foreign-financed projects (the U.S. is enemy No. 1); on the Kosovar side, many fear death from the Kosova Liberation Army for appearing to "collaborate" with Serbs.

    So community activists have their work cut out for them. Although war could wipe out even the smallest of their gains, they look no farther than next- door Bosnia for motivation. Laid bare is the nightmare of trying to encourage co-existence in the aftermath of wartime killings and rapes. The point, say Kosova reformers, is to do something. Anything. "Sure, you can wait five years. But then you've lost five years," said Ellie Keen, project officer for the London-based Citizenship Foundation. "Education is a long process anyway."

    The author is a Budapest-based free-lance correspondent (e-mail: michaeljjordan@compuserve.com).

    19-05-98


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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