|Tuesday, 1 December 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 128, 98-07-07
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 128, 7 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 RUSSIA, KAZAKHSTAN SIGN KEY ACCORDSMeeting in Moscow on 6 July, Russian President Yeltsin and his Kazakh counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, signed a declaration of eternal friendship and alliance, Russian media reported. That accord, similar to the Russian-Armenian treaty of August 1997, provides for mutual military assistance in the event of aggression by a third party. The two presidents also finally signed an agreement concluded in April on the division of the northern sector of the Caspian Sea bed, but not of its waters. Nazarbayev told journalists later that the agreement will benefit future generations and exclude "the Balkanization of the North Caspian," arguing that political stability in the region is a precondition for the exploitation of Caspian hydrocarbon reserves. Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov told Interfax that the Russian-Kazakh agreement on the Caspian is "a significant step" toward the division of the entire sea into national sectors, as advocated by the U.S. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN, CHINA SIGN BORDER AGREEMENTNazarbayev and visiting Chinese President Jiang Zemin signed an agreement in Astana on 4 July. According to Nazarbayev, the accord "finally and irrevocably" resolves the outstanding disputes over their 1,700 km frontier, Interfax reported. The two presidents also instructed their respective governments to draw up an economic cooperation program for the next 15 years. That program will focus primarily on the oil and gas sectors, telecommunications, Kazakh deliveries of electricity to China, and Chinese investment in Kazakhstan's new capital. China reaffirmed its commitment to the agreement concluded last summer on constructing an oil pipeline from Kazakhstan to China. Feasibility studies on that project are already under way. Nazarbayev said that a gas pipeline will be built to run parallel to the oil export pipeline. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION REAFFIRMS ELECTION BOYCOTTFive leading Azerbaijani opposition politicians have repeated their intention not to contend the 11 October presidential elections, RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported on 4 July. The previous day, Gerald Stoudmann, director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, told an RFE/RL correspondent that he has appealed to the opposition to abandon their proposed boycott and submit nominations to the Central Electoral Commission in order to expedite the process of democracy in Azerbaijan. Stoudmann expressed satisfaction that some of his office's proposals have been incorporated into the final version of the election law, but he recommended that the Azerbaijani authorities adopt additional measures to enable non-partisan domestic observers to monitor the poll and to prevent interference in the voting by security forces. The 1995 parliamentary elections were marred by massive procedural violations. LF
 THREE AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS SENTENCEDThe Military Collegium of the Azerbaijani Supreme Court on 2 July sentenced Party of National Independence of Azerbaijan branch chairman Tahmasib Novruzov and Democratic Party of Azerbaijan members Gurban Mamedov and Jamaleddin Ahmedov on charges of falsely testifying that Security Minister Namig Abbasov was preparing a coup against President Heidar Aliev, Turan reported the following day. They received three, five, and nine years in jail, respectively The Democratic Party of Azerbaijan issued a statement on 2 July protesting the sentences as being politically motivated rather than based on hard evidence. It expresses concern that juridical power in Azerbaijan is being used as an instrument of repression against the opposition. LF
 GEORGIAN RULING PARTY DOES NOT RULE OUT COALITION GOVERNMENTGeorgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania and Giorgi Baramidze, leader of the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) parliamentary group, have told journalists that the SMK is already conducting talks with other political parties on the possibility of forming a coalition government, Caucasus Press reported on 4 and 7 July. Opposition politicians, in particular Socialist Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili, have in recent months accused the SMK of corruption and falsification of the results of a recent by-election to ensure the victory of the SMK candidate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 June 1998). Baramidze rejected the charges as fabricated and suggested that Rcheulishvili is mentally unbalanced. LF
 ABKHAZIA BEGINS COASTAL PATROLSAbkhaz presidential press spokesman Astamur Tania has said that Abkhazia began naval patrols of its Black Sea coast on 1 July, Interfax reported on 6 July. That move coincides with preparations for the implementation of the bilateral agreement whereby Georgia takes over from Russia responsibility for patrolling its sea borders. Echoing a warning issued last week by Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1998), Tania said that if Georgian border guards attempt to assume control over Abkhazia's sea borders, hostilities are inevitable. LF
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT IN YEREVANDuring his official visit to Armenia on 3-4 July, Emil Constantinescu held talks with his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on strengthening bilateral relations and on regional cooperation, Armenian agencies reported. Constantinescu expressed support for Armenian participation in the Silk Road transportation project, which Kocharian argued can succeed only if it is not directed against the interests of any state in the region. Constantinescu also suggested that regional organizations could contribute to mediating a solution to the Karabakh conflict. The two presidents signed a joint statement on partnership and cooperation. LF
 FRANCE MAY JOIN RUSSIAN-ARMENIAN GAS JOINT VENTUREVisiting Yerevan with a French Senate delegation, a representative of Gaz de France told journalists on 3 July that his company is interested in participating in the Hayrusgazart joint venture, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That company, which was established last December, is to manage Russian gas exports to Armenia and their re-export to third countries. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 TIRANA SAYS YUGOSLAV SOLDIERS ENTERED ALBANIAA spokesman for the Albanian Interior Ministry said on 6 July that between 20 and 40 armed Yugoslav soldiers penetrated 100 meters into Albanian territory in the mountainous Has district earlier that day, "Koha Jone" reported. He called the incident the most serious border violation since Belgrade launched its crackdown in Kosova in February. The spokesman added that the Foreign Ministry has lodged a formal complaint with the Yugoslav authorities and demanded a meeting to discuss the "provocative" incident. FS
 MONITORS ARRIVE IN KOSOVATen diplomats accredited in Belgrade visited Serbian-controlled areas in the Drenica region on 6 July. Their trip is the beginning of an international monitoring mission whose members will also visit regions controlled by the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). Forty foreign military experts and 25 EU monitors will arrive in Kosova soon, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on 7 July. The EU representatives will be based in Prishtina, Peja, Mitrovica, and Prizren. All monitors will travel in pairs and have orders not to take unnecessary risks or to undertake missions without the approval of both the Serbian and Kosovar authorities. The observers will be able to report on what they see but have no authority to intervene. PM
 SHUTTLE DIPLOMACY WITHOUT RESULTSU.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Nikolai Afanasevskii shuttled together between Belgrade and Prishtina from 4 to 6 July to discuss the situation in Kosova with the Yugoslav and Kosovar leaderships, respectively. In Prishtina on 5 July, Holbrooke said the two diplomats made little progress in persuading the Kosovar factions "to get their act together" and speak with one voice. The next day, Afanasevskii noted in Belgrade that the failure of the Kosovars to adopt a unified position among themselves on the future of the province is hindering progress toward a negotiated settlement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Holbrooke added that diplomatic efforts aimed at ending the crisis will continue as part of what he called an ongoing process. PM
 HILL SETS DEADLINE FOR KOSOVAU.S. Ambassador to Macedonia Christopher Hill said in Ohrid on 6 July that there is no way that Kosova "can shoot its way out of Serbia, but Belgrade cannot maintain...the status quo" either. Hill stressed that the crisis must be ended within the next 14 days, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He did not specify what will happen if it does not. Hill added that the UCK enjoys widespread support from the population of Kosova and cannot be considered "a group of extremists." In Skopje, a spokesman for the Defense Ministry said two smugglers were wounded the previous day in separate attempts to bring in arms and ammunition from Albania, which were destined for Kosova. In New York, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report on 6 July that Kosova has become "a key issue for the overall stability of the Balkan region." He warned that the fighting could spill over the province's frontiers if it does not stop soon. PM
 BOSNIAN-TYPE DESTRUCTION IN KOSOVAU.S. special envoy Robert Gelbard, speaking in Banja Luka on 6 July, urged Bosnian Serbs not to become involved in the fighting in Kosova. He expressed concern about unspecified reports that some Bosnian Serbs are preparing to volunteer to fight on the Yugoslav side. In Geneva on 3 July, a UN spokesman charged that Serbian paramilitaries have been systematically destroying Kosovar villages recently according to a pattern established during the Bosnian war of 1992-1995. The spokesman said that paramilitaries plunder a village, transport away any valuables that can be moved, kill the livestock, and set fire to the houses. He added that the existence of the pattern has been confirmed by the accounts of numerous refugees and foreign journalists, the Prague daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported. PM
 MINISTER CALLS KOSOVAR WOMEN 'CHILD-BEARING MACHINES'Outspoken Serbian Family Affairs Minister Rada Trajkovic said in Belgrade on 6 July that the Kosovar birth rate, which is the highest in Europe, is a "demographic bomb" for Serbia. She added that Kosovar men often practice bigamy and have up to three wives. Kosovar women, she continued, are "child- bearing machines" who have no rights and cannot speak without their husbands' permission. Trajkovic argued that the women have so many children that they cannot keep track of the children's illnesses or even of their names, Tanjug reported. She said that her views are the result of her experience working as a doctor in Prishtina. PM
 BOSNIAN GENOCIDE TRIAL OPENSThe trial of Milan Kovacevic, a Bosnian Serb, opened at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 6 July. Kovacevic is charged with genocide in connection with his activities at the Omarska, Keraterm and Trnopolje concentration camps in the Prijedor area in 1992. It is the first trial for genocide to begin at the tribunal. Meanwhile in Zagreb, Ephraim Zuroff of the Vienna-based Simon Wiesenthal Center gave Foreign Minister Mate Granic and Deputy Justice Minister Snjezana Bagic documents related to the cases of Dinko Sakic and his wife, alleged to have committed crimes against humanity during World War II, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998). PM
 ONE DEAD IN SOCCER-RELATED VIOLENCEA young Muslim woman in Mostar was killed by a stray bullet fired during celebrations following Croatia's World Cup quarter- final victory in Lyon on 4 July. An elderly Muslim man was injured when he was hit in the head by a bullet, and some 200 people in nearby Stolac attacked the home of a recently returned Muslim refugee. Martin Garrod, who is the international community's local representative in Mostar, condemned what he called "criminal behavior" and demanded an end to the frequent use of firearms in Herzegovina. PM
 ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LAUNCH PROBE INTO CUSTOMS EVASIONProsecutor-General Farudin Arapi on 6 July launched an investigation into some 60 cases of alleged customs evasion, "Koha Jone" reported. Among the 90 people under investigation is Director-General of Customs Gezim Bleta, Arapi's spokesman said. The probe follows a recent report by President Rexhep Meidani's office saying that the government has already lost some $80 million in customs revenues in 1998 alone owing to evasion (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1998). FS
 NO INFORMERS IN ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, DEFENSE COUNCILPrime Minister Radu Vasile on 6 July said all ministers have submitted written declarations saying that they had no links with the former Securitate. The only exception is Finance Minister Daniel Daianu, who admitted a few years ago to have worked for the Securitate's Foreign Intelligence Directorate, from which he resigned. President Emil Constantinescu on the same day said the investigation requested by the Supreme Defense Council shows none of its members worked for the former secret police. In other news, the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania on 3 July elected Senator Hajdu Gabor to replace Francis Baranyi as health minister. Premier Vasile has approved Gabor's appointment. Baranyi resigned after admitting he was forced to sign a pledge to act as a Securitate informer. He stressed, however, that he never informed on anyone. MS
 ROMANIAN LIBERALS MERGE AGAINThe National Council of the governing National Liberal Party (PNL) on 4 July approved the formation's merger with the Liberal Party. Liberal Party leaders Dinu Patriciu and Horia Rusu are to be PNL deputy chairmen. The Liberal Party recently split, and the wing led by Nicolae Cerveni has set up the Liberal Federation, together with other fringe liberal formations. The PNL council also recommended that the constitution be amended to replace the present proportional electoral system with a majority system. It also wants to raise the electoral threshold from 3 percent to 5 percent, establish different functions for the Senate from those of the Chamber of Deputies, and allow for parliamentary immunity to be lifted by a vote of 51 percent instead of 66 percent at present. MS
 ETHNIC BULGARIAN KIDNAPPED IN KOSOVAForeign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov told BTA on 4 July that Bulgaria is concerned about the fate of Stamen Genov, an ethnic Bulgarian from Bosilegrad who was taken hostage, along with three Serbs, by the Kosova Liberation Army on 2 July. Vlaikov said that Genov is a military doctor at a hospital in Djakovica in Kosova. He added that Bulgaria has contacted the International Red Cross, the OSCE, and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to ask for help in tracing Genov. In other news, representatives of CEFTA countries attending a conference in Prague on 3 July announced those states will sign an agreement on Bulgaria's accession "as soon as possible," Hungary's MTI agency reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 WHEN COMMERCE AND CULTURE CONFLICTby Paul Goble
Expanded international trade brings many benefits to everyone involved, but its impact on national cultures is more complicated, benefiting some and undermining others.
Trade can benefit national cultures in three ways. It can give a country the resources necessary to defend its own cultural traditions. It can extend the cultural influence of the exporting country across the world. And it can open the culture of the importer to new possibilities.
But trade can also threaten national cultures as well. It can promote an international culture that may overwhelm national ones. It can undermine efforts by national elites to promote national loyalty. And it can exacerbate tensions in culturally divided countries.
Not surprisingly, those who feel their cultures threatened often look for ways to limit the impact of international trade on their traditions, while those who benefit from such commerce tend to view any discussion of culture as an unwarranted effort to limit free trade.
This debate broke out again last week at a meeting of 19 countries in the Canadian capital of Ottawa. Cultural officials from the Americas and Europe explored ways to limit the cultural impact of trade on their societies. They suggested that countries must have some ability to limit trade in those areas, such as film and television, that directly threaten their national cultures by holding up powerful alternative models from abroad.
No representative from the U.S. was initially invited to the meeting, however. The Canadian organizers said they did not do so because the U.S. does not have a cultural minister. But under pressure from U.S. officials, they later backed down and allowed the U.S. embassy to send observers.
The real reason for the initial decision, one that not all participants supported, appears to be long-standing Canadian concern that U.S. culture is overwhelming its Canadian counterpart through television broadcasts, book publishing, and Canadian imports of many U.S. products.
In the past, Canadians have adopted measures to increase Canadian content in the media and thus to restrict U.S. content. The U.S., for its part, has denounced those measures as violating international agreements on free trade.
Most of the media coverage of the Ottawa meeting implied that the dispute between Canada and the U.S. was either unique or simply part of a more generalized concern in many countries about the "Americanization" of their popular cultures.. And it suggested that Canada was engaging in a somewhat silly and inevitably hopeless defense against the inevitable.
But the Ottawa meeting, which is scheduled to be followed by sessions in Mexico City and Athens, draws attention to a much more widespread problem, one familiar to many smaller countries living next to a larger one.
One region where this problem threatens to break out in an even more dramatic fashion is in the countries of the former Soviet space, between the Russian Federation and its much smaller neighbors. And because of three specific features of this region, the conflict there could be even more intense than the one highlighted at the Ottawa meeting.
First, by virtue of its size and economic possibilities, the Russian Federation is likely to loom even larger in the lives of the peoples of the former Soviet republics than does the U.S. in the lives of Canadians.
Second, because of their past experience with Moscow's rule and because of their desire to strengthen their own national identities, the non-Russians are likely to be even more sensitive to the impact of Russian culture on their own national cultures.
And third, because of the unique pattern of language knowledge in the non- Russian countries, they are likely to see the impact of trade on culture as particularly threatening.
Many observers describe the non-Russian countries as bilingual, but that is simply not true, at least in the sense that is usually meant. In most of those states, the non- Russians speak their own language as well as Russian, while most ethnic Russians there speak only Russian.
As a result, expanded trade with its attendant cultural influence may tend to solidify the cultural and political divisions in these societies rather than help overcome them. And that in turn is likely to have a profound impact on the policies of the non-Russian governments.
To the extent that they seek to restrict the cultural impact of trade with Russia, these countries may have to give up some economic advantages and some political support from other large countries that are suspicious of any cultural arguments.
But to the extent that they do not seek to take such measures, they may find themselves in a position like the Canadians and others where their national cultures will be transformed beyond recognition and beyond their control.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty