|Wednesday, 20 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 140, 98-07-24
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 140, 24 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 TENSION REMAINS HIGH OVER ABKHAZIALiviu Bota, the UN secretary-general's special representative for Georgia, told a meeting of Georgian, Abkhaz, and Russian officials in Geneva on 23 July that "the potential for a new outbreak of hostilities is real," AP reported. Meanwhile, the Georgian Foreign Ministry condemned Abkhazia for the hostage-taking of five people in the Zugdidi region, an action that the Abkhaz officials have denied being involved in, ITAR-TASS reported. And in the wake of the 22 July mine explosion in which nine Russian soldiers were wounded, the Russian Defense Ministry warned Georgia against supporting anyone who attacks Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, the Russian agency said. The local commander of CIS peacekeeping forces, General Sergei Korobko, said that unless conditions improved, he will seek additional forces from other CIS countries to control the situation. PG
 TALBOTT PLEDGES U.S. SUPPORT FOR GEORGIADeputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott told Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and other senior officials in Tbilisi on 23 July that Washington seeks to support the development of a democratic, prosperous, and independent Georgia, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Georgian parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, Talbott also said the U.S. will provide special assistance to help Georgia protect its borders and support refugees from Abkhazia. PG
 ALIEV SIGNS NEW OIL AGREEMENTS IN LONDONAzerbaijani President Heidar Aliev completed his five-day visit to London on 23 July by signing three new agreements on the exploitation of Caspian basin oil, Interfax reported. PG
 UN MOURNS EMPLOYEES KILLED IN TAJIKISTANA ceremony was held at the UN compound in Dushanbe on 24 July in honor of the three UN employees who, along with their driver, were killed by unknown assailants on 20 July, ITAR-TASS reported. The bodies of military observers Richard Shevchek (Poland) and Adolfo Sherpegi (Uruguay) as well as civilian affairs observer Yukata Akino lay in state outside the compound's main building. Their Tajik driver/translator Jurajon Mahramov was buried in accordance with Islamic tradition on 22 July. Meanwhile, field commanders from the United Tajik Opposition based in the Pripamirye area, where the UN workers were killed, have joined efforts to locate the perpetrators of the crime. BP
 EBRD EXTENDS LOAN TO KAZAKHSTANThe European Bank for Reconstruction and Development on 23 July announced it will grant Kazakhstan a $40 million loan, Interfax reported. The loan will be released in two tranches of $20 million and used to finance medium- and long-term transportation, construction, industrial, and public sector projects. The EBRD has the option of using funds from the first tranche to buy shares in the Kazakh bank to which it releases the money. BP
 LOOMING CRISIS IN KAZAKH OIL SECTOR?Kazakh Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev told a meeting of senior officials of the country's oil industry on 22 July that the situation in the oil sector is "very serious," Interfax reported. Balgimbayev said that "production is not competitive" and that refineries in Pavlodar and Chimkent are "on the verge of grinding to a halt." A government commission, headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Uraz Jandosov, has been charged with helping the country out of "its pre-crisis situation." BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 KOSOVAR PARLIAMENT SAYS PEACE STILL POSSIBLERepresentatives of the underground Kosovar legislature issued a declaration in Prishtina on 22 July saying that "the possibilities for dialogue and a peaceful solution, although greatly reduced, have not been exhausted. Therefore, while not giving up vigilance and self-defense, let us try to use them. Let us cooperate more and coordinate our efforts with all those who can help us, with the Republic of Albania, with [other Albanians in the Balkans], and with the diaspora." The statement did not include any concrete suggestions regarding a solution. The legislature also recognized the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) as a legitimate Kosovar organization. Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova added that "we should have done this long ago." Until earlier this year, Rugova and most civilian leaders referred to the UCK fighters as "frustrated individuals" or denied that the UCK was anything more than a creation of Serbian propaganda. PM
 RUGOVA'S PARTY APPEALS TO HAGUE COURTThe Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) said in a statement in Prishtina on 23 July that Serbian forces are carrying out a policy of "genocide against the ethnic Albanians" in the province. The LDK called on the Hague-based war crimes tribunal to prosecute those who ordered as well as those who carried out "these war crimes." Meanwhile in Paris, the Assembly of the Western European Union adopted a resolution stating that chances for a peaceful resolution of the Kosovar crisis are "minimal" because the international community did not "intervene" at the beginning of the conflict, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The text also noted that Serbian forces are carrying out a strategic "cleansing" of the border area with Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 July 1998). PM
 UCK CONTROLS SERBIAN MONASTERYFather Sava, who is the spokesman for Serbian Orthodox Bishop Artemije, said in Decan on 23 July that UCK forces have taken control of a monastery near Zociste south of Rahovec. Sava noted that the monastery does not have police protection, the Belgrade daily "Danas" reported. The monk added that the guerrillas did not allow the clergy to take either their personal belongings or Church artifacts with them when they left. "The Independent" reported that Sava and his fellow monks at Decan are active both on the ground and on the Internet to promote reconciliation between Serbs and ethnic Albanians. PM
 LARGE UCK PRESENCE REPORTED IN TROPOJAA Reuters correspondent visiting Tropoja in northeastern Albania on 23 July reported that UCK fighters have transformed the town into "a virtual military base." He reported that UCK soldiers openly train without interference from the Albanian police and that there is an open-air weapons market in the town center. OSCE Field Officer Christopher Dwan said, however, that the presence of Serbian troops along the border "makes it difficult for UCK fighters to cross into Kosova." Tropoja and other northeastern towns have traditionally been lawless and difficult for the Tirana authorities to control. FS
 U.S. ENVOY CALLS FOR MILITARY AID TO ALBANIAChristopher Hill, who is U.S. ambassador to Macedonia, told NATO officials in Ohrid on 23 July that Albania needs urgent help to strengthen its army and its political and economic institutions, unidentified diplomatic sources told Reuters. Hill stressed that the Albanian government is unable to assert itself in the "wild" northern borderlands and that if nothing is done quickly, Albanian territory may become firmly established as a support base for the UCK. Such a development could provoke a military response from Serbia and lead to an expansion of the conflict, they added. NATO Secretary- General Javier Solana said the alliance has no plans to use Macedonian territory for any military intervention in Kosova. NATO will hold exercises involving 25 countries in Macedonia in September as part of the Partnership for Peace program. FS
 TURKISH LEGISLATORS APPROVE ALBANIAN DEPLOYMENTThe Turkish parliament on 23 July authorized the stationing of soldiers in Albania. The decision is designed to show support for Albania in the Kosova crisis. It also gives the government the right to decide about the size, place, and time of any deployment. Turkey currently has only a small contingent of soldiers in Albania, who train troops and help reconstruct the naval base at Pasha Liman, near Vlora. FS
 ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT CRACKS DOWN ON DRAFT DODGERSMinister for Local Government Bashkim Fino on 23 July ordered all prefects to increase their efforts to recruit young men for the army because of the increase of tensions along the Kosovar border. Fino said that his aim is to double the number of soldiers by the end of September. To help achieve that goal, he told the prefects to take "harsh measures" against draft evaders. He added that the local government and the army must work together to update draft lists and apprehend draft dodgers. FS
 ALBANIAN RADIO, TELEVISION GETS NEW HEADThe Council of Directors of Albanian Radio and Television (RTSH) has appointed Ardian Klosi as director-general. A professor of philosophy at Munich University in recent years, Klosi replaces film director Albert Minga. Journalists in Tirana told an RFE/RL correspondent that they expect Klosi to speed up the transformation of RTSH into a public broadcasting institution along West European lines. They added that Klosi is likely to be more determined than Minga in introducing reforms and in resisting attempts by politicians to interfere with broadcasters' autonomy. FS
 NATO TROOPS ARREST WRONG SERBIAN TWINSA spokeswoman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said at the court on 23 July that two Bosnian Serb brothers seized by British SAS forces in Prijedor earlier that day and taken to the Netherlands are not the indicted Banovic twins Nenad and Predrag (see "RFE/RL Situation Report," 23 July 1998). "These two persons are not the Banovic brothers. They are people who have nothing to do with this," she added. The spokeswoman did not reveal the identity of the two men, except to note that they have the same birthday as the Banovices, the London daily "Guardian" wrote. Meanwhile in Banja Luka, Serbian authorities refused to allow the funeral of Imam Ibrahim Halilovic to take place at the site of the destroyed 16th century Ferhadija mosque, where he had worked for years. Halilovic will be buried in Sarajevo instead, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 TUDJMAN BACKING DOWN ON PAY HIKES?Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa and cabinet members on Brijuni on 23 July that they should "take another look" at their recent decision to raise their pay and that of other government officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 July 1998). The decision put Tudjman's own salary at more than $8,000 per month in a country where the average monthly wages are $400 and where many pensioners have to make do with much less than even that. The pay hikes have proven a political bonanza for opposition parties. PM
 ROMANIAN PREMIER CRITICIZES FINANCE, PRIVATIZATION MINISTRIESAt a cabinet meeting on 23 July, Radu Vasile criticized the performance of the Finance and Privatization Ministries and asked their heads to take immediate steps to collect anticipated budget revenues. Vasile said the Privatization Ministry has failed to meet the planned pace of privatization and that this negatively affects the country's image among foreign investors. He also said the State Property Fund, which is subordinated to the ministry, is "a bureaucratic, oversized, and slow- moving" body. He accused the Finance Ministry of being responsible for "inefficient tax collection" and "heavy bureaucracy." The government the same day announced stakes will be sold in the Romanian Bank for Development and Postbank. Meanwhile a spokesman for the ruling Democratic Party said a government reshuffle may take place in fall, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
 FUNAR TO JOIN GREATER ROMANIA PARTYA Bucharest court on 23 July rejected Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar's appeal against the refusal of the Bucharest Municipal Tribunal to register his Party of Romanian Unity Alliance. That party was formed after Funar's exclusion from the Party of Romanian National Unity. Funar said he and his supporters will now join the extremist Greater Romania Party, which has offered him the post of executive chairman. Also on 23 July, a court in Bucharest has issued a ruling on the Romanian National Party's appeal against the refusal of the tribunal to register it under that name. The court returned the dossier to the court, asking it to re- examine the case. MS
 MOLDOVAN DEPUTIES OPPOSE TRANSIT OF NUCLEAR WASTEAlecu Renita, chairman of the parliament's Ecological Sub-Committee, is demanding that Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc explain to the house why Minister of State Nicolae Cernomaz approved a license for the transportation of nuclear waste from Bulgaria's Kozloduy nuclear plant to Russia, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 23 July. Moldovan legislation prohibits the transit of nuclear waste. Cernomaz, for his part, claims that the license permits only the transportation of nuclear fuel from Russia to Bulgaria under "perfectly safe conditions" and that such transports have been carried out for the "last decades." Renita says the Bulgarian ambassador to Chisinau has asked the sub-committee to amend the law so as to allow for the transportation of nuclear waste to Russia. MS
 BULGARIA ANNOUNCES ANTI-CRIME STRATEGYThe government publicized a package of measures to fight conventional, organized, and cross-border crime, Reuters reported. The document was approved last week. Details released on 23 July say the struggle against organized crime "is a key element in the government's plan to secure normal conditions for economic reforms." MS
[C] END NOTE
 U.S.-UKRAINIAN RELATIONS AFTER GORE'S TRIP TO KYIVby Sherman W. Garnett
U.S. Vice President Al Gore's trip to Kyiv this week ended with his resisting Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma's calls for public U.S endorsement of an IMF bail- out package. Kuchma sought such an endorsement to strengthen both his bargaining position with an IMF delegation arriving this weekend and his political standing as he seeks re-election next year. He had counted on US help on both accounts.
Yet, there are good reasons why Gore hesitated. First, although no one doubts the seriousness of Ukraine's economic crisis, as early as next month the government may not be able to meet its debt service obligations. There are widespread doubts about the Ukrainian government's commitment to reforms as well as its ability to implement them if adopted.
Second, bad economic policy is not the only source of this crisis. Bad politics are at work as well. The Ukrainian political establishment does not see political and economic reforms as an urgent matter. The most intense struggles in Ukrainian politics take place, not between parties, ideologies, or branches of government but among the political and economic leadership, in both Kyiv and the regions. Various coalitions of leading politicians, bankers, new- and old-style business leaders and government bureaucrats struggle for control over the state's wealth and especially for the positions of state power that control it (and that make the rules for its privatization). As long as Ukrainian politics is dominated by this still unfinished competition for power and property, there will be little energy left for sound economic policy. Third, the US is right to be wary of appearing to back a candidate in the Ukrainian presidential race given the absence of real progress toward ending the country's political and economic stagnation. For Kuchma, the bail-out is a crucial element in his re- election campaign. The presidential contest has influenced most of the decisions taken in Kyiv during the last six months and will likely influence all decisions in the next 15. Yet the U.S. wants an independent and stable Ukraine. Kuchma has real accomplishments to his credit, especially in foreign policy and in launching the first set of economic reforms in 1994. But he is presiding over a country heading backward. In such circumstances, the U.S. must be pro-reform, not pro- Kuchma.
Vice President Gore heard from Kuchma and his senior advisers another impassioned argument for U.S. and Western assistance to Ukraine and to Kuchma personally: the fiscal crisis and the resulting economic and political damage that will come in its wake, threatening the "survival of the state itself."
Yet it is precisely Ukraine's survival that is not an issue. Even the staunchest left-wing politicians in eastern Ukraine dismiss the collapse of the Ukrainian state and its re-integration with Russia as an impossible scenario.
Rather, the question is now what kind of state Ukraine will become. The broad alternatives can be stated starkly as a choice between gradually becoming a part of Europe or remaining relegated to Europe's periphery. A European Ukraine requires bold choices and actions that have so far been beyond the ability of this or any other Ukrainian government. A peripheral Ukraine comes by default: the leadership need only follow the political rules of the game already deeply ingrained in the country.
If this is the state of Ukrainian politics, why should the West care? If Ukraine has successfully muddled through so far., why not let it continue down this road? Perhaps the West should simply let the Ukrainian leadership steer the country toward stagnation and obscurity on Europe's periphery. As tempting as such a conclusion is, Ukraine's choice between Europe and Europe's periphery matters to the continent as a whole.
A choice in favor of the status quo does not merely perpetuate today's Ukraine. It undermines the foundations that have made the current situation bearable inside the country and less dangerous for Ukraine's neighbors. It would certainly put in danger the policies that have dramatically lowered inflation and brought Ukraine a stable currency. It would exacerbate economic deprivation in the country as a whole, particularly along crucial ethnic and regional fault lines. A peripheral Ukraine would increase the danger that enlarging European institutions like NATO and the EU would find themselves on a much more unpredictable and unstable frontier.
These strategic realities give visits like Gore's additional importance. Senior U.S. and Western officials cannot force the Ukrainian leadership to act against its immediate political interests. They cannot impose economic reforms on an unwilling country. Yet they must be a strong stimulus for these reforms by reminding Ukraine of the choice it faces and the consequences of failing to act. They must also sketch out--as they did so successfully to a Ukraine unsure of whether it should proceed with nuclear disarmament--the support Kyiv can count on if it recognizes the seriousness of the situation and makes the hard reform decisions needed for the country to move forward.
The author is a senior associate with the Carnegie Endowment Russian- Eurasian Program.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty