|Friday, 22 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 132, 98-07-13
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 132, 13 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN, GEORGIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS IN MOSCOWVartan Oskanian met with his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, in Moscow on 9 July to discuss bilateral relations and the Karabakh peace process, Noyan Tapan reported the following day. Both ministers stressed the need for the speediest possible resumption of talks on Karabakh. In an interview published by Turan on 10 June, Oskanian similarly called for the resumption of talks within either the "3+3" format (Armenia, Azerbaijan and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic plus the three Minsk Group co-chairmen) or the "1+1" variant (Baku and Stepanakert). Oskanian said that question would not arise if Azerbaijan was serious about seeking to resolve the conflict. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili was in Moscow on 12 July to discuss the Abkhaz situation with Primakov, according to ITAR-TASS. LF
 FIVE RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS KILLED IN ABKHAZIAFive members of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia were killed and another five injured when their vehicle hit a land mine in Abkhazia's Gali Raion on 12 July, ITAR-TASS reported. More than 60 Russian peacekeepers have been killed in Abkhazia over the past four years. The commander of the Russian force, General Sergei Korobko, blamed Georgian guerrillas of the White Legion for the incident, according to Interfax. Two days earlier, the commander of the UN observer mission in western Georgia had complained that inadequate security precautions were preventing his men from carrying out their duties, according to Caucasus Press. LF
 GEORGIAN FUGITIVES RELUCTANT TO RETURN TO ABKHAZIARepresentatives of the Russian peacekeepers and the Abkhaz authorities met in Tsalendjikha on 11 July with ethnic Georgians who fled Gali during the fighting in May. However, they failed to persuade the fugitives to return to their homes, Caucasus Press reported. The Georgians suspect that the Abkhaz overture was intended to prevent charges of ethnic cleansing from being leveled against the Abkhaz leadership at the 15 July UN Security Council meeting, at which the Abkhaz conflict is to be discussed. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION DISSATISFIED WITH CONCESSIONS ON ELECTION LAWThe Azerbaijani parliament on 10 July endorsed two amendments to the election law that were proposed by President Heidar Aliev in response to opposition demands, Turan reported. That law was passed last month. The amendments reduce the minimum required turnout from 50 percent plus one vote to 25 percent and allow voters to endorse the registration application of more than one potential presidential candidate. But the third opposition demand--for parity in the composition of electoral commissions--was rejected. Opposition spokesmen termed the modifications to the law " a great victory" but said they will not abandon their plans to boycott the poll unless their third demand is met. LF
 GERMANY GRANTS AZERBAIJAN DM 17 MILLIONGermany has granted Azerbaijan a loan worth DM 10 million ($5.5 million) to support economic reform, as well as a DM 7 million a loan for scientific and technical assistance, ITAR- TASS reported on 10 July. The credits are to support the privatization of agriculture and the development of small and medium-sized businesses. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Tofik Zulfugarov's official visit to Germany, originally planned for May, has been rescheduled for mid-October, according to Turan. LF
 NAZARBAYEV DEMANDS WAR AGAINST CORRUPTION...Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, addressing first the parliament and then the nation on 10 July, said that corruption is "one of the most dangerous phenomena today," Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. He added that fighting corruption is necessary to regain "trust in the state power structures," according to Reuters. The Western news agency also reported that "Nazarbayev, whose son-in-law heads the tax inspector's office and whose daughter runs the main television channel, said he would eradicate misuse of personal connections." The chairman of the National Security Committee, Alnur Musayev, told the parliament that the more than 300 corruption cases currently being investigated include judges, governors, public prosecutors, and policemen. BP
 ...PROMPTING VIOLENCE NEXT DAYOne day after Nazarbayev's comments about corruption, fighting broke out in Almaty between members of Kazakhstan's National Security Committee and police, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 July. In response to a complaint filed by a private individual, members of the committee went to a police station to arrest officials suspected of extortion. However, they met with insults and were forced out of the station by police. No injuries were reported. The committee has promised that legal action will be brought against the policemen. BP
 DEATH TOLL RISES AFTER FERGANA FLOODUzbek President Islam Karimov on 12 July said that relief workers have found the bodies of 92 people killed as a result of the 8 July flood in the Fergana Valley, eastern Uzbekistan, ITAR-TASS reported. However, RFE/RL correspondents on 12 July quoted Aleksei Yermolov, the spokesman for Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Emergencies, as saying the Kyrgyz authorities have found the bodies of 44 people on the Kyrgyz side of the border, 43 of whom were Uzbek citizens and were not included in the Uzbek government's casualty figures. BP
 AKAEV ELIGIBLE TO RUN FOR PRESIDENCY IN 2000The Kyrgyz Constitutional Court ruled on 13 July that incumbent President Askar Akaev, is eligible to run in the presidential elections scheduled for 2000, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. Akaev was elected president by the Kirghiz SSR Supreme Soviet in 1990 and elected in a popular vote the following year and again in 1995. The court ruled that Akaev can run again since he has been elected only once since Kyrgyzstan adopted a new constitution in 1993. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 UCK DOES NOT RECOGNIZE RUGOVA AS LEADERKosova Liberation Army (UCK) spokesman Jakup Krasniqi told the Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore" of 11 July that his organization does not "recognize shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova as the UCK's commander because [Rugova] did not create it." Krasniqi called on all political parties "to unite in a broad national front and recognize the UCK as Kosova's legitimate army. He added that the UCK fights for "the liberation of all occupied Albanian territories and for their unification with Albania" and that "we have not taken up arms just to gain autonomy." Krasniqi noted that the UCK is ready for talks with Belgrade, but he stressed that the Serbian authorities must first "free all political prisoners and hostages and withdraw their forces from Kosova." The spokesman added that foreign powers, "preferably the U.S.," must establish "control" over the province. And he pledged that the UCK will be in Prishtina "soon." FS
 DAYTON-TYPE CONFERENCE FOR KOSOVA?German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel failed to secure the agreement of his Russian counterpart, Yevgenii Primakov, in Moscow on 11 July for international military intervention to end the crisis in Kosova, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. Primakov informed his guest that Russia insists Kosova become autonomous within the frontiers of Yugoslavia. Kinkel told reporters that the international community must seek "creative [diplomatic] solutions." He told the Berlin daily "Tagesspiegel" of 12 July that one possibility would be to hold an international conference on the model of the Dayton meeting that ended the Bosnian conflict in 1995. The German minister concluded that the first order of business for the international community in Kosova is to secure a cease-fire. Meanwhile in Paris on 10 July, French Foreign Ministry officials said France and the U.K. have submitted to the UN Security Council a joint resolution on Kosova. PM
 TURKEY SAYS READY FOR NATO ACTION OVER KOSOVAPresident Suleyman Demirel told the Tirana daily "Koha Jone" of 12 July that Turkey is "ready to be part of any mission [in Kosova] that has the mandate of the international community." Demirel stressed that Turkey will not support independence for Kosova unless Belgrade and Prishtina agree to it. He criticized the EU's Balkan policy as "based on the lowest common denominator." Demirel argued that the EU "does not have a vision [for the region] and underestimates the role that it can play in developing a new international order." Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ismet Sezgin said before meeting his Albanian counterpart, Luan Hajdaraga, in Ankara on 10 July that military intervention may be necessary in Kosova if the international community does not find a diplomatic solution. FS
 FIGHTING CONTINUES IN WESTERN KOSOVASerbian and Kosovar sources reported fighting in the Peja, Gjakova, and Decan areas from 10-12 July. The Kosovar news agency KIC added on 11 July that the Serbian forces used ground- to ground missiles near Peja. The "International Herald Tribune" reported on 13 July that the UCK is steadily acquiring more and better weapons and that Serbian forces are increasingly reluctant to enter UCK-controlled territory. The Tirana daily "Shekulli" reported the previous day that seven UCK fighters are receiving treatment in the Albanian capital's military hospital. PM/FS
 OSCE FEARS NEW WAVE OF REFUGEESAn OSCE spokesman told Albanian State Television on 11 July that monitors on the Kosovar-Albanian border have observed extensive fighting in the area around Gjakova. He added that the fighting could trigger a new influx of tens of thousands of refugees into northern Albania. Official statistics currently put Albania's Kosovar refugee population at 12,000, but refugee workers estimate that there are another 5,000 or so unregistered people there. Meanwhile on 11 July, the U.S. humanitarian organization AmeriCares flew five tons of medicine, blankets, and other supplies into Tirana. FS
 MACEDONIAN BORDER GUARDS STOP ARMS SMUGGLERSMacedonia border guards on 11 July fired on some 30 suspected arms smugglers about 60 miles southwest of Skopje. The smugglers escaped after an exchange of gunfire, but nobody was injured. Interior Ministry officials did not say whether the border guards seized any arms during the incident. Meanwhile in an interview published in the Skopje daily "Dnevnik" on 11 July, President Kiro Gligorov said that NATO cannot use his country as a base for possible armed intervention in Kosova. He nonetheless welcomed NATO support to help stop arms smuggling by the UCK. FS
 SREBRENICA SURVIVORS, IZETBEGOVIC TRADE CHARGESMore than 3,000 Muslims from Srebrenica staged a protest in Tuzla on 11 July to mark the third anniversary of the town's fall to Bosnian Serb forces. The demonstrators, who were mainly women, children, and elderly, demanded information regarding the fate of their 10,000 missing relatives, most of whom are males presumed to have been massacred by the Serbs. Speakers blamed the international community, but especially the Bosnian political and military leadership, for what happened. Alija Izetbegovic, who is the Muslim member of the joint presidency and who was Bosnian president in 1995, denied the charges. He stressed in an interview with state-run television that the government and the army did all they could to prevent the fall of Srebrenica. Izetbegovic said that the international community is responsible for what happened to Srebrenica and its people, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 CROATIAN OPPOSITION CALLS OFFICIALS' PAY 'SCANDALOUS'The Istrian Democratic Assembly, a regional opposition party, passed a resolution on 12 July that sharply criticized a measure on officials' salaries passed by the parliament two days earlier, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Zagreb. Parliament set the president's salary at $8,000 per month and pegged the pay of top officials at 33-50 percent of that figure. Members of the parliament and the government must publicly declare all their property from the time they were elected. The Istrian party charged that the governing Croatian Democratic Community should pay some of the officials' salaries out of its own coffers. The government recently claimed that it is too poor to pay pensioners back benefits to which a court recently ruled they are entitled. The average monthly income in Croatia is $400. On 10 July, postal and telecommunications workers staged a warning strike for better pay. PM
 EU DISAPPOINTED BY ROMANIAN ECONOMYGunther Burghardt, head of the foreign relations department of the European Committee, said on 10 July that he is worried by the slow pace of economic reforms in Romania, AP reported. Burghardt said that Romania has the worst economic performance of any EU applicant over the past year. He said reforms have been stalled by political infighting, corruption, and too much bureaucracy. PB
 ROMANIAN, BULGARIAN, TURKISH PREMIERS AGREE TO BOOST TRADERadu Vasile, Ivan Kostov, and Mesut Yilmaz agreed in Sofia on 11 July on measures to increase trade in an effort to offset possible losses resulting from sanctions against Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Yilmaz also stressed Turkey's unconditional support for Sofia and Bucharest's attempts to join NATO. Bulgaria's Kostov and Turkey's Yilmaz agreed to phase out tariffs on 60 percent of Bulgarian exports and 40 percent of Turkish exports beginning on 1 January. They expect the agreement to increase bilateral trade fivefold. The three premiers and Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov also discussed construction of a second bridge over the River Danube near Serbia to increase access to the West. PB
 FOUR LIBERAL BULGARIAN PARTIES FORM ALLIANCEThe Movement for Rights and Freedoms, the New Choice Liberal Alliance, the Liberal Democratic Alternative, and the Free Radical Democratic Party on 10 July announced the formation of the Liberal Democratic Alliance, Bulgarian Radio reported. Former Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev was named the alliance's honorary president. The parties will be allowed to act independently in matters outside the scope of agreements made by the alliance. PB
[C] END NOTE
 RUSSIA PRESSED TO WITHDRAW TROOPS FROM MOLDOVAby Roland Eggleston
The U.S. and other delegations to the OSCE have told Russia to honor its promise to withdraw all troops and ammunition from Moldova's breakaway region of Transdniester.
At two meetings in Vienna last week, Moscow was accused of ignoring the commitments made by former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin at the OSCE summit in Lisbon in December 1996. Russia was also accused of ignoring repeated requests to allow OSCE monitors to check the levels of troops, equipment, and arms still deployed in Transdniester.
The charges were made by Moldova's deputy foreign minister, Iurie Leanca, and were backed by the U.S., France, Canada, and the EU. Romania and Azerbaijan also became involved in the debate. France said that "absolutely no progress has been made" in resolving the problem. And the EU delegate, Jutta Stefan-Bastl, said the OSCE has no real information on how many troops are still there.
In 1994, Russia said that it had 8,500 troops stationed there. Last November, the OSCE said it believed there were still more than 3,000 in place. Russia responded that it was not deliberately trying to maintain a military presence in the region but that there were many difficulties-- including political ones--in fulfilling the commitment. Russian delegates said that the promises would be kept but gave no deadline for doing so.
At a meeting of the OSCE permanent council, the U.S. responded by proposing a number of concrete steps that it wants Russia to take before the end of the year.
Moldova demanded the withdrawal of the Russian troops when it declared independence in 1992, but the operation was complicated by domestic problems. The Transdniester region, largely-populated by ethnic Russians, declared separation from Moldova. The move led to heavy fighting in which scores of people died. The Russian 14th Army, then led by General Aleksandr Lebed, remained in the Transdniester. Moscow described it as a "peacekeeping" force but Moldova considered it to be a foreign army to be illegally based on its territory.
In October 1994, Russia and Moldova agreed on the withdrawal of the troops, but they nonetheless stayed in place. Russian commanders said that hundreds of their men were locals who wanted to remain in Transdniester.
In an OSCE summit meeting in Lisbon in December 1996, Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin joined other government leaders in a statement calling for the "early, orderly, and complete withdrawal of Russian troops." The statement forms part of the final document issued by the summit meeting.
Delegates to last week's meetings in Vienna were told that some troops and military materiel were indeed withdrawn last year. But the withdrawal stopped and, as far as is known, no more troops have moved this year. The EU described this as "deplorable" behavior.
Speaking on behalf of the EU, the Austrian delegate Jutta Stefan-Bastl, said that "the EU would very much welcome a decision by the Russian side to provide detailed information on the number of troops, equipment, and arms still present in Transdniester." She added that Russia should allow international observers to inspect the situation. And she commented that "we deplore that our repeated requests for access to weapons depots have never been taken into consideration by Russia."
The U.S., the EU, and other countries said they regard the continued storage of arms in Transdniester as a "serious factor of instability and a risk for the preservation of stability in the whole region." They asked Russia to provide detailed information on how many weapons and other equipment were still in Transdniester.
Russia responded that it is ready to begin the destruction of munitions by the end of this month. Romania, for its part, commented that it is ready to assist in the destruction if required.
The U. S. delegate, David Johnson, said that Russia should establish a number of targets to be fulfilled before the OSCE foreign ministers meet in Oslo at the end of the year. "They should include the actual departure of several trainloads of equipment back to Russia and the conclusion of a comprehensive schedule for the complete withdrawal of Russian forces and equipment," Johnson said.
He welcomed Russia's statement that the destruction of munitions would begin this month. Johnson also proposed that Russia allow the OSCE mission in the region to monitor the withdrawal and the destruction of weapons.
The U.S.--backed by several other countries-- proposed that another meeting on the problem be held in Vienna in October. It would assess how much progress Russia has made in meeting those proposals and draw up a report for the OSCE foreign ministers conference in December.
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty