|Monday, 18 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 99, 98-05-26
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 99, 26 May 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ABKHAZ FIGHTING CONTINUES, DESPITE CEASE-FIRE AGREEMENTGeorgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and his Abkhaz counterpart, Sergei Shamba, signed a protocol in the Abkhaz resort of Gagra on 25 May on a cease-fire between the warring sides and guarantees against the renewed use of force. The UN special envoy to Georgia and the head of the Russian contingent to the CIS peacekeeping forces also signed the protocol, which was drafted by Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba and Georgian Ambassador to Russia Vazha Lortkipanidze. UN observers and officers from the CIS peacekeeping force were to monitor compliance with the cease-fire agreement, which was scheduled to take effect at 6 a.m. local time on 26 May. Caucasus Press, however, reports that hostilities are continuing and that volunteers from the Confederation of Peoples of the Caucasus are fighting on the Abkhaz side. LF
 AZERBAIJAN BANS OPPOSITION DEMONSTRATIONThe Baku City authorities have refused a request by the opposition Movement for Democratic Reforms and Democratic Elections to be allowed to hold a demonstration on Baku's Freedom Square on 28 May, the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, Turan reported on 25 May. The Movement now plans to convene a meeting in a Baku suburb instead. On 24 May, 11 pro-government political parties issued a statement calling for "consolidation" in support of President Heidar Aliev. The statement claims that the opposition knows its candidates have no chance of winning the October presidential elections and are therefore intent on destabilizing the internal political situation. LF
 FORMER AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT SPEAKER REJECTS EMBEZZLEMENT CHARGEIn a statement released on 23 May, Rasul Guliev denied charges by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor-General's office that he misappropriated billions of dollars during his tenure as director of one of Azerbaijan's largest oil refineries, Turan reported two days later. Guliev squarely lays the blame for astronomical financial losses on President Aliev. Speaking at a press conference in Baku on 25 May, Guliev's lawyers said they have not yet had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the criminal charges against Guliev, who is currently in the U.S. LF
 TAJIK OPPOSITION APPEALS TO PEACE GUARANTORS OVER PARTY BANSaid Abdullo Nuri, leader of the United Tajik Opposition, appealed on 25 May for the guarantor nations and organizations of the Tajik peace accord to use their influence to have the law banning religious parties suspended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998), RFE/RL correspondents reported. Iran, one of the guarantor nations, urged both sides to "show self-restraint and avoid actions that would damage the peaceful atmosphere," Reuters reported. Meanwhile, the UTO has issued a statement criticizing the "troika" formed by the Tajik, Russian, and Uzbek governments to combat the spread of "fundamentalism." According to the statement, "such plans...seriously jeopardize the divided Tajik society" and may "prompt retaliation, conflict, and resumption of the armed confrontation." The UTO called on the three governments to "give up the tendency [toward] escalating tension." BP
 EXTREMISTS TO BE EXTRADITED TO UZBEKISTAN?Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov sent a letter to UTO leader Nuri asking that the UTO locate and hand over 45 of its members wanted by the Uzbek government for terrorism, RFE/RL correspondents reported on 25 May. Uzbek President Islam Karimov had requested the extradition of the extremists earlier this month, saying they were ethnic Uzbeks who were involved in the violence in the eastern Uzbek city of Namangan last December. However, some of those on the list are reportedly close to the UTO leadership and are unlikely to be handed over. BP
 TURKMEN PRESIDENT DISMISSES AGRICULTURE MINISTERSaparmurat Niyazov lashed out at the country's agricultural officials on 22 May, RFE/RL correspondents and Interfax reported. Niyazov said he had flown over areas west of the capital and had noted that there is "not a single normal field there." He dismissed Agriculture Minister Ata Nabatov and appointed him chairman of the State Grain Products Enterprise. Niyazov added that if Nabotov's work was satisfactory, he would regain his ministerial post after this year's harvest. Also sacked was the governor of the Kara-Kala district, Amangeldy Rejepov. Niyazov has warned that failure to meet grain quotas could result in the launching of criminal charges. BP
 TURKMENISTAN, EU WANT BETTER RELATIONSThe EU and Turkmenistan on 25 May signed an agreement to improve political and economic relations, ITAR-TASS reported. The agreement gives Turkmenistan most- favored-nation status for trading with EU countries and provides for increased foreign investment in oil and natural gas projects. All the former Soviet republics, except Tajikistan, have now signed a cooperation agreement with the EU. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 'REAL STATE OF WAR' IN KOSOVAThe Democratic League of Kosova on 25 May said Serbian forces are on the attack in the Klina, Gjakova, Decan, and Skenderaj regions and that a "real state of war" exists in those places, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kosovar sources said that numerous villages are in flames and that a growing number of refugees are on the move. The Kosovar sources added that more than 6,000 ethnic Albanians have arrived recently in Gjakova from surrounding villages and from those in the neighboring Decan area. There is no independent confirmation of reports from either side of deaths and injuries because of the Serbian-imposed blockade of the affected regions. PM
 KOSOVAR-SERBIAN TALKS THREATENEDKosovar spokesmen said in Prishtina on 25 May that the continuing Serbian offensive threatens to put a halt to the weekly talks between Kosovar and Serbian delegations (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 1998). The spokesmen called for international involvement to put an end to what they called a "dramatic situation on the ground." In Brussels, EU foreign ministers agreed to drop a proposed ban of foreign investment in Serbia. The international Contact Group agreed on 18 May to suspend the proposed ban in response to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's willingness to launch talks with the Kosovar leadership. PM
 ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS KOSOVA TALKS A SHAMRexhep Meidani told Reuters on 25 May in Tirana that the weekly Kosova talks are "a sham aimed at delaying the solution of the situation, and without a mediator this game will continue and will be in Milosevic's favor." Meidani pointed out that "Milosevic keeps the situation at this level in order to make dialog fruitless," adding that "his main preoccupation is the outcome of the [31 May] elections in Montenegro." Meidani stressed that "holding a dialog while bloodshed continues...is just a facade" and warned that the Kosovar negotiators could lose credibility with their own people if they continue to participate in the talks. Meidani also called for an international military presence in Kosova: "a delayed decision...to send troops will be more expensive [in the long run], and time is running out." FS
 KOSOVAR STUDENTS ARRESTEDThe main student organization at Prishtina University issued a statement on 25 May saying that police arrested seven leaders of the Students' Union at the Prizren Teachers' College two days earlier. The police gave no reason for the arrests, and it is unclear where the seven are being held. PM
 NATO TO HOLD EXERCISE IN MACEDONIAUnits from NATO member countries and unspecified states participating in the Partnership for Peace Program will hold "large maneuvers" in Macedonia in early September, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Brussels on 25 May. The aim of the exercise is to help prepare Macedonia to secure its borders "in case of a dramatic worsening of the situation in Kosova." PM
 KUCAN CALLS FOR COMPREHENSIVE BALKAN SETTLEMENTSlovenian President Milan Kucan told the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of 25 May that the conflict in Kosova could "lead to a new Balkan war." He stressed that international community must realize that "the fate of the Balkans" is currently being decided in that region. Kucan added that empty pronouncements and a "carrot-and-stick [diplomatic approach] will yield no useful results." The Slovenian president stated that Balkan problems cannot be solved piecemeal and that sooner or later a European conference will have to formulate a comprehensive regional settlement. Kucan stressed that Milosevic is responsible for the failure of the Yugoslav successor states to reach a settlement among themselves over the former Yugoslavia's debts and assets. PM
 BIG PROTEST IN BELGRADESeveral thousand persons demonstrated in the center of Serbia's capital on 25 May to protest new laws that will curb university autonomy. Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic said that the government aims to make the universities "branch offices" of state institutions. The protesters also criticized Milosevic's policies against the independent media whereby licenses to 35 out of 38 independent radio or television stations were not renewed. The polices also saddled the remaining three stations with fees ranging up to $15,000 a month, which, spokesmen for the stations said, will bankrupt them. In Podgorica, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said the recent call by federal authorities for changes in the security apparatus is aimed at reducing Montenegro's powers. PM
 NATO INVESTIGATING CHILD PROSTITUTION CHARGESA spokesman for SFOR peacekeepers said in Sarajevo on 25 May that the Atlantic alliance is investigating charges made by the Madrid daily "El Mundo" on 23 May that peacekeepers and Bosnian gangs are regularly supplying prostitutes between 12 and 14 years of age to Italian, Portuguese, and other SFOR soldiers in Bosnia. The newspaper added that the Spanish secret service CESID made a report on the prostitution ring last summer but that it continues to operate. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Barcelona that the report in "El Mundo" is "groundless." SFOR officials in Sarajevo called on the daily to publish evidence to support its claims. PM
 ALBANIAN LAUDS VATICAN TIESAlbanian Prime Minister Fatos Nano told the Holy See's Cardinal Tomko in Shkodra on 25 May that "Albania's relations with the Vatican are very important for its integration into civilized Europe and the Roman Catholic world in general." Nano also thanked Catholic missionaries for the help they have given Albanian citizens since the end of communism. Nano and President Meidani were visiting Shkodra for the inauguration of a reconstructed church, "Zeri i Popullit" reported. In 1967, dictator Enver Hoxha proclaimed Albania "the world's first atheist state." Many religious buildings and properties were subsequently destroyed. FS
 ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LINK OPPOSITION LEGISLATOR TO BOMB ATTACKTirana prosecutors on 25 May submitted the findings of an investigation into Democratic Party deputy Azem Hajdari to parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi. Hajdari is charged with slandering Vlora journalist Zenepe Luka on 10 May, whose house was subsequently bombed by unknown persons (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 1998). He is also accused of obstructing the police during a clash between his supporters and police at a roadblock in Milot in mid- February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 February 1998) and slandering former Interior Minister Neritan Ceka and current Secret Service chief Fatos Klosi. The parliament lifted Hajdari's immunity in March 1998 and will soon decide whether to press formal charges against him, "Koha Jone" reported. FS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN CANADAEmil Constantinescu has met with Canadian Governor General Romeo Leblanc and Prime Minister Jean Chretien at the beginning of a six- day visit, an RFE/RL correspondent in Ottawa reported on 25 May. Among the main issues discussed were Canadian support for Romania's bid to join NATO and financing a second Canadian-built nuclear reactor at the Cernavoda plant on the River Danube. Constantinescu announced after the talks that at Canada's urging, Italy will purchase surplus electricity from Romania, which, he said, will help finance the second Cernavoda reactor. MS
 ROMANIAN PREMIER IN TURKEYSpeaking in Istanbul on 25 May, Radu Vasile thanked Ankara for its efforts to promote Romania's entry into NATO, the "Turkish Daily News" reported. Vasile met with his Turkish counterpart, Mesut Yilmaz, and President Suleyman Demirel to discuss bilateral trade and the various plans for the transit of Caspian Sea oil. Yilmaz noted that the two countries "will be key players in the economic development, peace, and stability of the region." MS/PB
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON NEW CABINET PRIORITIESPetru Lucinschi on 25 May said the first priority of Ion Ciubuc's new cabinet must be to complete the transition to a market economy, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Lucinschi said the pace of the reform was "unsatisfactory" and that annual GDP growth must reach 5 percent, which, he said, can be achieved only by "doing away with the underground [gray] economy." He added that taxes must be reduced in order to encourage investments and create new jobs. MS
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS OPPOSITION MOTIONLawmakers on 22 May rejected a Socialist Party motion criticizing the government for its economic policies. They approved a resolution saying that the cabinet has "successfully fulfilled" its economic program and recommending that the government speed up privatization and land restitution. In other news, Bulgaria has said it will peg its currency to the euro when it is launched on 1 January. MS
[C] END NOTE
 HUNGARY'S POLITICAL ELITE TO FACE MAJOR CHALLENGESby George Schopflin
The outcome of the second round of the Hungarian elections poses major challenges for the country's political elite. The victory of the center and right was clear, but not overwhelming, hence the new coalition's mandate will be predominantly for moderation. Evidently, Hungarian society wanted a change from the previous coalition of the former communist Socialist Party (HSP) and the liberal Free Democrats.
The outgoing coalition was punished for a number of related reasons. In the first place, the 1994 coalition came to power on the promise of professionalism and moderation, as well as greater economic sophistication than its predecessor had offered. While the Hungarian economy is beginning to pick up, the HSP behaved with a degree of arrogance and corruption that cannot have endeared it to voters. Furthermore, the economic transformation process has had its losers, many of whom might have supported the new government if they themselves had experienced a different fate.
The new coalition is currently being formed, but its outlines are clear. FIDESZ, the Young Democrats, gained 41 percent of the vote in alliance with the remnants of the Hungarian Democratic Forum, the dominant party in the 1990-1994 government. FIDESZ will negotiate with the Smallholders, the agrarian radicals, with whom it will have about 54 percent of the seats in the parliament. The preconditions of such a coalition were established during the election, when FIDESZ and the Smallholders withdrew candidates in favor of the other.
The new government faces a number of difficulties, the most important of which is defining its philosophy: What are the principles of moderate conservatism in Hungary (and elsewhere in the post-communist world) when much of the past that a conservative seeks to conserve is a communist past? Without a clear answer to that question, post-communist conservatives run the risk of being held to ransom by populist and nationalist right radicals. This danger is all the more serious because the Smallholders are prone to use right-radical rhetoric and because the extreme right, the Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP), has also entered the new parliament.
The new coalition also faces the problem of its inexperience in government. The running of a bureaucracy requires skills of organization and management as well as knowledge of what can and cannot be expected of an administration. It is crucial that politicians learn that there is always a gap between a political decision and its execution. This is not the result of antagonism on the part of the bureaucracy but, more probably, of administrative inefficiency.
The problem of the cohesiveness of the coalition and the degree of administrative inefficiency will be central to the success or failure of the new government. The pivotal challenge facing Hungary over the next four years is negotiation for accession to the EU. This will demand both high levels of political will and state capacity. As far as the latter is concerned, Hungary (together with the other first- wave states) will have to absorb the "acquis comunautaire," the entire legal regulation of the EU. This is currently estimated to be 35, 000 pages in length and is still growing. Legislative, administrative, and judicial capacity will all be stretched to ensure successful implementation of the "acquis," without which membership is impossible.
Another problem facing the Hungarian political establishment is that left and right behave as if the other had no genuine claim to power, as if the voters were mistaken in returning the other to power. No party in a democracy enjoys losing power, but the loss of power does not normally lead to major collapse. In the present context, the relatively inexperienced center-right government needs the toleration of the opposition or, at any rate, recognition by the elites that dominate the public sphere (press, electronic media) that the center-right has genuine democratic credentials.
It is very much an open question whether the dominant opinion-forming elite will accept the new coalition on these terms: after all, it was absolutely unwilling to accept the democratic legitimacy of the 1990-1994 government. Arguably, it thereby contributed toward its radicalization and thus became the victim of a self-fulfilling prophecy. This dominant elite regards the center-left as the sole guarantor of democracy and tolerance and consequently has found it extremely painful to live with the democratic choice of the majority.
The problem for Hungary is that without the support of the opinion-forming elites, the new government will certainly feel isolated. It will undoubtedly need a higher degree of backing than its predecessor received, both to sustain its self-legitimacy and to enable the process of negotiating with the EU to continue.
The author is Jean Monnet Professor of Political Science and director of the Centre for the Study of Nationalism at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty