|Tuesday, 12 November 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 143, 98-07-28
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 143, 28 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GEORGIAN AMBASSADOR TO MOSCOW OFFERED POST OF STATE MINISTERGeorgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has asked Vazha Lortkipanidze to succeed Niko Lekishvili, who resigned as minister of state on 26 July, Caucasus Press reported on 28 July. Lortkipanidze, 48, has asked for two days to decide whether to accept that post. He began his political career in the Georgian Komsomol, serving as first secretary from 1983-1986, when Shevardnadze was Georgian Communist Party first secretary. He then served as first secretary of the Kalinin (Tbilisi) Raion Party Committee of the Georgian Communist Party. After Shevardnadze returned to Georgia in March 1992, Lortkipanidze served first as deputy prime minister and then as head of the head of state's administration. He was named ambassador to Russia in early 1995. LF
 MOST GEORGIAN MINISTERS RESIGNAlmost the entire cabinet of ministers submitted their resignations on 27 July, with the exception of Agriculture Minister Bakur Gulua and Communications Minister Pridon Indjia, Caucasus Press reported the following day. Indjia is under attack for allegedly misappropriating a $4 million credit. Reuters reported on 27 July that the defense, national security, and interior ministers would be exempt from the cabinet reshuffle. LF
 RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS AGAIN FALL VICTIM TO LAND MINEAn armored personnel carrier belonging to the Russian peacekeeping contingent deployed in Abkhazia under CIS auspices was blown up by a land mine on 27 July in Abkhazia's Gali Raion. Abkhaz Deputy Interior Minister Konstantin Adleiba told Interfax that two Russian servicemen had been killed and three injured in the explosion, but a Russian military spokesman said that three peacekeepers were injured, one of whom subsequently died. Zurab Samushia, head of the "White Legion" Georgian guerrilla organization, disclaimed any responsibility for mining roads in Gali, Interfax reported. A spokesman for the Georgian National Security Minister, which the Russian Foreign Ministry has accused of abetting the White Legion, similarly denied that Georgia was to blame for the incident. LF
 TRUBNIKOV IN YEREVANRussian Foreign Intelligence Service Director Vyacheslav Trubnikov held talks in Yerevan on 27 July with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and National Security and Interior Minister Serzh Sarkisian, Russian agencies reported. The presidential press service told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau that it has no information on Trubnikov's itinerary or the agenda of his talks with Kocharian, but Interfax quoted a counselor at the Russian embassy in Yerevan as saying that they discussed cooperation in combating drug trafficking and organized crime. LF
 RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS EXPELLED FROM TAJIKISTANNTV's Yelena Masyuk has been declared "persona non grata" by the Tajik authorities in Tajikistan, Interfax and ITAR- TASS reported on 27 July. The head of the Tajik Foreign Ministry's Information Department, Igor Sattarov, said Masyuk's reports were damaging to the country's leadership and the peace process. Sattarov singled out a recent NTV report on Tajik-Uzbek relations, which Sattarov said was aimed at "breaking up the fraternal ties between the two countries." "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 28 July that Masyuk had engaged in other activities that displeased the Tajik government, such as traveling to the site where four UN employees were murdered on 20 July without informing the authorities of her plans. According to Russian daily, if Masyuk were to apologize, Dushanbe would be "prepared to forgive." But "if NTV blows this issue out of proportion," the Tajik authorities will close down the NTV office in Dushanbe. BP
 KAZAKH OIL WORKERS APPEAL TO PRESIDENTKazakhstan's Union of Oil and Gas Workers has sent a letter to President Nursultan Nazarbayev urging that he seek to stabilize the situation in the Mangistau oil field, Interfax reported on 27 July. Workers there say that they have not been paid since May and that this is the third consecutive year in which payments have been delayed. Some have been requested by the management to take three months' leave, while others have been laid off. Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev said last week that falling oil prices on world markets have already led Kazakhstan into a "pre-crisis" situation. President Nazarbayev is unlikely to respond to the letter until mid-August, when he returns from vacation in Switzerland, where he is writing a book. BP
 MAJOR INCREASE IN HEROIN BUSTS IN KYRGYZSTANSo far this year, law enforcement agencies in Kyrgyzstan have confiscated more than 24 kilograms of heroin, compared with 4.5 kilograms for all of 1997, Interfax reported on 26 July. The Kyrgyz Interior Ministry blames the large increase on new laboratories in northeastern Afghanistan. Previously, most narcotics confiscated were raw opium, but those laboratories are now producing the finished product. A special government commission concluded that only 5 percent of the heroin transiting Kyrgyzstan is intercepted by law enforcement agencies. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBS MAKE BIG GAINS IN KOSOVAYugoslav army forces and Serbian paramilitary police have driven the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) from large stretches of the Prishtina-Pec highway, including the Llapushnik area, in an offensive that began on 24 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998). Reuters reported on 27 July that the Serbs "left [behind] a combat zone landscape resembling central Bosnia, with burnt-out houses, shot-up vehicles, abandoned trenches, roads littered with spent bullet casings, wandering farm animals and the ever- present danger of sniper fire." It is unclear how many persons died or how many fled. The army and police have meanwhile cut off the UCK stronghold of Junik and called on its defenders to surrender. In Prishtina, the Democratic League of Kosova said in a statement that the Serbian goal is "ethnic cleansing and a Kosova without Albanians." PM
 KOSOVARS CHARGE SELL-OUTThe Prishtina daily "Bujku" wrote on 27 July that "the crime, which is assuming dimensions of genocide and large-scale ethnic cleansing, is being committed with the [tacit] approval of the European Union and the U.S. administration.... Milosevic was given a green light to carry on with ethnic cleansing in Kosova... The fact that the world has not criticized the Serbian government's [recent] decision to extend to five kilometers the security zone along the [Kosova-Albania] border is also evidence that the Balkan criminals are being pampered.... In the wake of the crime they have condoned, the EU and the U.S. will see to it that the parties come to the negotiating table: Albanians as victims, Serbs as victors." PM
 ALBANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS BELGRADE CONDUCTING 'ETHNIC CLEANSING'Speaking in Tirana on 27 July, Paskal Milo accused the federal Yugoslav government with carrying out "ethnic cleansing operations" in Kosova. He also condemned the recent mining by Serbian forces of areas along the border with Kosova as "violations of international law." He said that move was intended to "prevent Kosovar refugees from crossing into Albania." Milo also sent a strong protest letter to the Yugoslav embassy over a series of recent border incidents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 1998). Meanwhile, an Interior Ministry spokesman said that a Serbian shell landed on Albanian territory near Tropoja that day. FS
 U.S. 'DEEPLY CONCERNED' ABOUT KOSOVAState Department spokesman James Rubin said on 27 July that the U.S. is "deeply concerned about the increased fighting that has taken place... over the weekend. We are concerned in particular about the increased involvement in the fighting by the Serb army. We are especially concerned about the large number of displaced persons this new fighting has caused, and they are currently inaccessible to humanitarian assistance because of the fighting. We urge both sides, in the strongest possible terms, to cease the fighting and work towards a negotiated settlement." PM
 RUSSIA, GREECE URGE NEGOTIATED SETTLEMENTRussian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov said on 28 July at the ASEAN summit in Manila, the Philippines, that "the main task is to resume, without preconditions, the interrupted negotiating process between Belgrade and the leaders" of the Kosovars. He added that the problem of Kosova's status "could be solved through granting the province a broad autonomy. We oppose any solution which would lead to secession...as well as any outside intervention with the use of force." Primakov stressed that Russia is "actively contributing to the efforts to overcome the crisis while stressing the need for a balanced pressure on both sides." In Athens, Greek Foreign Ministry spokesmen said that Prime Minister Kostas Simitis sent a letter to Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic the previous day calling for a peaceful solution to the Kosovar crisis and an increase in the number of Western observers allowed to monitor developments there. PM
 GLIGOROV WARNS CRISIS COULD SPREADMacedonian President Kiro Gligorov said in Skopje that the Kosovar conflict could spread to Macedonia, which has a 23 percent ethnic Albanian minority, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 27 July. He added that the expanded war "could lead to changes in the ethnic map of Macedonia," which in turn could prove "dangerous" for neighboring countries. He did not elaborate. Also in Skopje, Defense Minister Lazar Kitanovski and Victor Babiuc, his Romanian counterpart, signed an agreement on military cooperation. Kitanovski turned down Babiuc's offer to contribute Romanian troops to the UN's peacekeeping mission in Macedonia, UNPREDEP, Radio Bucharest reported. Kitanovski told Babiuc that Macedonia prefers to limit UNPREDEP to U.S. and Scandinavian forces "in order to avoid problems." He did not elaborate. Babiuc noted that the UN has not responded to Romania's offer of 300 soldiers for the mission. PM
 BOSNIAN SERBS SACK MEDIA CHIEFSRepublika Srpska Information Minister Rajko Vasic said in Banja Luka on 27 July that the government has replaced the directors and editorial staffs of 11 radio and five television local stations. Vasic added that those fired were hard-line nationalists who were "frequently a source of misinformation and inflammatory reports...[and] prevented the truth from reaching the residents of the Republika Srpska." Spokesmen for the Serbian Democratic Party of Radovan Karadzic said in response to the sackings that the Banja Luka authorities are "terrorizing their political opponents," Reuters wrote. General elections are slated for 12-13 September. PM
 EVIDENCE LACKING AGAINST TOP ALBANIAN GANGSTERProsecutor-General Arben Rakipi told "Shekulli" on 27 July that he does not have enough evidence to launch legal proceedings against imprisoned gang leader Myrteza "Zani" Caushi. Rakipi added that eyewitness testimony alone is insufficient to start a trial. He added that he is legally obliged to release Caushi on 28 September, which will be one year after his arrest, if sufficient evidence is not submitted by that date. Caushi led dozens of armed bandits in Vlora during the March 1997 uprising and is widely suspected of having killed four people and kidnapped six, including one child. In other news, unidentified gunmen shot and killed the head of the local Socialist Party in Sukth, west of Tirana, on 27 July. FS
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES CRITICIZE ORBAN STATEMENTThe main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 27 July called on Premier Radu Vasile to condemn publicly Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban's recent "ultimatum." Orban had urged support for the setting up of a Hungarian language university in Transylvania and had said that if the university is not set up "there is nothing more to talk about" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1998). The PDSR said "the process of instituting joint sovereignty in Transylvania" must be immediately stopped. The chauvinist Greater Romania Party demanded that Orban be declared persona non grata in Romania. Meanwhile, the nationalist Party of Romanian National Unity accused President Emil Constantinescu and the government of displaying an "ambiguous positions" towards the Hungarian demands. MS
 MOLDOVAN DEPUTY PREMIER ON LAND PRIVATIZATIONValentin Dolganiuc on 27 July told an RFE/RL correspondent in Chisinau that the parliament must amend the 1992 land privatization law, as well as its amended 1995 version to allow for "real" land privatization to take place. Dolganiuc said that only some 10 percent of those entitled to receive land have done so, owing to "procrastination" by local authorities. He said that the government has already approved a new draft law on land privatization and that he hopes reforms will be carried out by spring 1999. MS
 BULGARIAN PRESIDENT OPPOSES EMBARGO ON YUGOSLAVIAPresident Petar Stoyanov told Leni Fischer, chairwoman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in Sofia on 23 July that if the international community decides to tighten sanctions against Belgrade, "we will be loyal." But he stressed that a new embargo on Yugoslavia will have a negative impact on Bulgaria's efforts at reforming its economy, ITAR- TASS reported. Fischer stressed the need to settle the Kosova conflict by taking into account the interests of both Yugoslavia and Albania, as well as those of neighboring countries. MS
[C] END NOTE
 NO PROGRESS ON CROSS-BORDER COOPERATION WITHOUT FIXED BORDERby Wim van Meurs and Iris Kempe
Negotiations on an Estonian-Russian border treaty began in 1994, three years after then Russian Federation President Boris Yeltsin recognized Estonian independence. Both the Estonian and the Russian parties have changed their positions and amended their arguments since then. In early 1996, some progress was made on the maritime border, but the 1920 Tartu Peace Treaty remained a stumbling block to the land frontier. Estonia insisted on the validity of that treaty without--as Estonian diplomats claimed-- any "territorial strings" attached. Moscow, for its part, rejected that stance and linked the signing of the treaty to the treatment of the Russian minority in Estonia.
Estonian Prime Minister Mart Siimann finally opted for a treaty containing no reference to Tartu, but in early 1998, the Russian side pushed for negotiations to be reopened. Several inconclusive meetings followed, and talks are scheduled to continue after the summer recess.
Under the Tartu treaty, Soviet Russia recognized Estonian independence and accepted a border demarcation somewhat east of the frontier between the former tsarist provinces. In the north, Narva had joined Estonia by referendum in late 1917, and the treaty added several villages on the left bank of the Narva River. In the south, the region around Petseri, previously part of Pskov Oblast, was incorporated into the Estonian state. When Stalin occupied Estonia in fall 1944, he restored the tsarist border, this time as a demarcation between the Estonian SSR and Leningrad Oblast to the north and Pskov Oblast to the south.
Evidently, the current conflict is about national symbols rather than minor Russian-inhabited territories (totaling 2,322 square kilometers)--above all, the continuity of the Estonian nation-state within its 1920 borders. No nationalist conservative politician in Tallinn expects Russia to cede any piece of Russian territory, which in any case would only increase the size of the Russian minority in Estonia. Nevertheless, with the perception of statehood continuity acting as such a potent legitimizing symbol in contemporary Estonian politics, Siimann's decision to formally cede territories was surprising, more so than conservative politicians' insistence on historical rights.
The consequences of the delay in signing the Estonian- Russian border treaty are threefold. First, the conflict has a European dimension. It was definitely no coincidence that Siimann made his compromise on the eve of the NATO and EU enlargement decisions. And Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov's recent demand that Estonia guarantee that Tartu will not be mentioned in connection with the Estonian parliament's ratification of the treaty can be understood only as an attempt to mobilize national conservative forces within Estonia against the treaty. With parliamentary elections due in Estonia next spring, more of the same can be expected from Moscow.
While keeping its relations with Estonia in a state of limbo, Moscow overlooks negative consequences at the local and regional levels. Surprisingly, the same applies to Tallinn: the Estonian government, for example, seems to worry more about the Setu, an Estonian-speaking, Russian- Orthodox minority in the Petseri region, than about the socio-economic situation in the backward Estonian border regions: In 1997, the government allocated a total of 60 million kroons (some $4 million) for regional policies and no less than 10 million kroons for the Setu community across the border.
Second, there are also economic and administrative consequences at the local or regional level. As a result of the 1991 border, the northeastern part of Estonia, with its derelict industrial complexes and its 90 percent Russian population, faces the same economic collapse as the agrarian, Estonian-populated southeastern. So far, initiatives for improving cross- border infrastructure, trade, and administrative regulations have come from regional authorities and the business community. Among those initiatives are the introduction of a ferry line between Mustvee and Pskov, Estonian participation at trade fairs in Pskov, and the 1997 cooperation between three Latvian and three Estonian provinces as well as three border raions of Pskov Oblast.
Third, the unsolved border issue has practical consequences in the immediate frontier area. Inhabitants of Narva-Ivangorod regularly demonstrate against the visa payment still needed to visit family members or one's dacha across the border. Social and cultural cross-border contacts in the south have also been seriously hampered by the border issue, in particular for the small Setu minority living on both sides of the frontier. It appears that setting up a special border regime for locals of the immediate border region depends on the signing of the border treaty.
In sum, the border treaty is a football in Russian- Estonian relations at the state level. For Moscow, it is an effective instrument to destabilize Estonian national politics and hamper the EU integration process. Tallinn seems to be more troubled by the possible consequences in foreign policy (EU accession) and in party politics (the symbol of Tartu) than by the practical implications at a regional and local level. Indeed, problems at the future EU border not solved on a bilateral or regional level might become European problems.
Thus, the "direct neighborhood" between the future EU member state and Russia also ought to include regional and local cross-border cooperation, which might help sustainable socio-economic development on both sides and reduce existing asymmetries and enmities. The drive for such cooperation exists at a regional level, in Tartu and Pskov. But what is missing is a signed border treaty between Tallinn and Moscow. After all, there can be no progress on cross-border cooperation without a fixed border.
The authors are senior analysts at the Direct Neighborhood program at the Center for Applied Policy Research, Munich.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty