|Monday, 23 November 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 145, 98-07-31
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 145, 31 July 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 TAJIK OFFICIAL DIES FROM INJURIESAli Imomnazrov, the deputy head of the Tajik Customs Committee, died on 31 July from injuries sustained when a bomb planted in his car exploded the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. The Tajik Interior Ministry has so far not commented on the investigation. BP
 TAJIK OPPOSITION RECEIVES GOVERNMENT POSTSPresident Imomali Rakhmonov met with United Tajik Opposition (UTO) leader Said Abdullo Nuri on 30 July to discuss appointments of UTO members to posts in the government, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Rakhmonov approved Shodi Kabirov as minister of agriculture, Salamshah Muhabbatov as chairman of the State Committee for Oil and Gas, Muhammadjon Davlatov as chairman for the State Committee for Precious Stones, Muhammadruzi Iskandarov as chairman of the State Committee on Emergency Situations and Civil Defense, and Dovudkhoja Islomov as chairman of the State Committee for Milk and Meat. However, Rakhmonov rejected the leader of the Islamic Renaissance Party, Muhammadsharif Himmatzoda, as deputy prime minister and UTO field commanders Mirzo Ziyoyev as defense minister and Amirkul Shukurov as chairman of the State Committee of Industry. The rejection of the last three will be discussed again by the two leaders in the near future. BP
 WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN TO TAJIKISTANThe World Bank announced on 30 July that it has approved a $50 million loan to Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS reported. The loan is part of $165 million loan package over three years and is to be used for economic reform. BP
 LORTKIPANIDZE ACCEPTS POST OF GEORGIAN STATE MINISTERVazha Lortkipanidze told journalists in Tbilisi on 30 July that he has accepted the post of minister of state offered him by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 27 July. He said his first priority would be to expedite economic reform. Lortkipanidze rejected the allegations of opposition politicians that he is "pro- Russian." He said both Georgia and Russia need to take steps to elevate bilateral relations to a new level. Lortkipanidze declined to name possible candidates for his new cabinet but did not rule out creating a coalition government, according to Caucasus Press. LF
 UN EXTENDS OBSERVERS' MANDATE IN GEORGIAThe UN Security Council has extended until 31 January 1999 the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, which expires on 31 July, Reuters reported on 30 July. The Security Council also adopted a resolution condemning the "deliberate destruction of houses by Abkhaz forces with the apparent motive of expelling people from their home areas." It stopped short, however, of complying with the Georgian leadership's request that it condemn the punitive measures against ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia's Gali Raion as genocide. LF
 RUSSIA WANTS GEORGIAN DECISION ON CIS PEACEKEEPERSRussia's special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, Lev Mironov, told Interfax on 30 July that Moscow wants the Georgian leadership to state clearly whether or not it wishes the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia to be extended. That mandate expires on 31 July. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba has written to Russian President Yeltsin to request that the peacekeepers' mandate be prolonged. But several prominent Georgian political figures have argued that there is no sense in doing so if the peacekeeping force is unwilling or unable to protect the Georgian population in Gali. LF
 RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT ON CASPIANA statement issued on 30 July summarizing Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Pastukhov's talks with Azerbaijani leaders notes that Moscow and Baku have moved closer to an agreement on dividing the sea bed of the Caspian but continue to differ over dividing the waters and surface area of the sea, ITAR-TASS reported. Pastukhov told journalists before leaving Baku on 29 July that the agreement concluded between Russia and Kazakhstan earlier this month on delineating the northern sector of the sea will take effect only after all five littoral states have signed a convention on the Caspian's status. LF
 AZERBAIJAN PLEDGES TO ABOLISH CENSORSHIPMeeting in Washington on 29 July with National Democratic Institute personnel, Shahin Aliev, a legal adviser to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, announced that within seven to 10 days an official decree will be passed abolishing censorship, Turan reported the next day. LF
 DASHNAK PARTY CRITICIZES ARMENIAN PRESIDENTMeeting with journalists on 30 July, Dashnak Party (HHD) leaders said that the party approves most, but not all aspects of President Robert Kocharian's policy, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Vahan Hovanissian, who also is an aide to Kocharian, and Armen Rustamian criticized Kocharian's personnel policy, with the latter claiming that 22 "discredited" officials who served under the previous leadership still occupy prominent positions. Hovanissian took issue with Kocharian's assertion that there are no longer any political prisoners in Armenia, noting that several persons convicted in two notorious trials in 1996- 1997 remain in prison. The HHD was one of several parties that aligned in the Justice and Unity bloc to support Kocharian's candidacy in the March presidential election. On 27 July, a two-week congress of the HHD's Armenia- based organization concluded with the election of a new nine- member "supreme body." LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SEARCH UNDER WAY FOR REFUGEES IN KOSOVATeams from the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other international relief workers searched remote areas of Kosova for refugees on 30 July. Investigators found one group of 500 Kosovars, including women and children, in the hill country near Malisheva, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Prishtina (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Another large group of civilians took refuge in a railroad tunnel, CNN noted. Wolfgang Ischinger, who is the German member of a EU delegation visiting the region, said that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic promised to help the refugees go home but Ischinger added that Milosevic will first need to implement "additional confidence-building measures." Ischinger said that he and his EU colleagues found a "wasteland" in Kosova and were "shocked" at what they saw. In Geneva, the UNHCR's Sagato Ogata told CNN that the Kosovar refugee situation is quickly becoming "catastrophic." PM
 ANOTHER SREBRENICA IN THE MAKING?The Kosova Helsinki Committee said in a statement issued in Prishtina and Vienna on 31 July that it is concerned about "reports of victims and other casualties of the Serbian offensive and reported massacres of the [ethnic] Albanian civilian population in the towns of Rahovec...[and] Malisheva." The text added that "a wave of reprisals" has already taken place in Rahovec, "with the basic message that [ethnic] Albanian civilians will die wherever UCK guerrilla fighters achieve a foothold." The committee and International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, the statement continued, fear that the ongoing Serbian siege of Junik near the Albanian border could lead to "a Srebrenica-like situation, with massive killings of besieged [ethnic] Albanian civilians." PM
 RUBIN SAYS MILOSEVIC HOLDING UP KOSOVAR TALKS. U.S.State Department Spokesman James Rubin said on 30 July that recent negotiations between U.S. diplomats and representatives of various Kosovar groups have resulted in an agreement that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) will be "directly or indirectly" represented in any future negotiations on the province's future. Rubin added that it is Milosevic's fault that the Kosovars have not yet agreed on the exact composition of their team. "We hold the Serbian authorities responsible for the civilian casualties and the civilian disruptions and murders...resulting from these military operations. And we hold [Milosevic specifically] responsible. And whether he is trying to sabotage the negotiating process [by continuing his armed crackdown] is a question only he can answer." Milosevic said in Belgrade on 30 July that the Serbian offensive is over, but Kosovar and Western news media reported that it is continuing. PM
 KINKEL WARNS UCKGerman Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel told the "Berliner Zeitung" of 31 July that the UCK's continuing military actions could cost the Kosovars the sympathy of the international community that they currently enjoy. He warned the UCK to drop its "three illusions," namely that it can obtain independence, NATO support, and a military victory over the Serbs. The minister added that NATO could help to guarantee any future agreement on Kosovar autonomy because "Milosevic is not in a position to restore peace and order" to Kosova. Kinkel said that NATO is considering a possible "preventive deployment" of forces to Albania within the framework of the Partnership for Peace Program. He did not elaborate. PM
 ANOTHER EXPLOSION IN BOSNIAAn explosive device went off in Muslim-controlled Travnik on 31 July across the street from a joint Muslim and Croatian police station. The blast killed an ethnic Croat policeman and injured a child. Police are investigating. It is the fifth explosion in Bosnia in recent days, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 1998). Meanwhile in Sarajevo, spokesmen for SFOR said that a contingent of 350 troops and 100 vehicles will arrive in the Croatian port of Ploce on 2 August. The new forces will be based in Sarajevo and have been trained in ensuring public order and facilitating the return of refugees. PM
 SERBS RETURN TO CROATIAAn initial group of 26 Serbs returned on 30 July from federal Yugoslavia to the Dvor na Uni region of Croatia near the Bosnian frontier. A Croatian government spokesman said in Sisak that some 300 Serbs have gone home from Yugoslavia recently and that an additional 5,300 have registered with the office of the UNHCR in Yugoslavia to do so. The international community has repeatedly made it clear to Croatia that its future integration into Euro-Atlantic structures will depend on increased democratization and on the ability of refugees to go home. PM
 CROATIA PROTESTS SLOVENIAN POWER CUTIn Zagreb, officials of the state power company said on 30 July that the Croatian economy will not be seriously affected by the Slovenian authorities' move earlier that day to stop electricity supplies to Croatia from the nuclear power facility at Krsko. The Croatian officials called the Slovenian decision "illegal and unauthorized," Croatian media reported. Slovenian officials claim that Croatia owes about $15 million for previous deliveries from Krsko. Under communism, Croatia helped finance the construction of the facility, which is the former Yugoslavia's only nuclear power plant. Slovenia recently recognized Croatia's right to 50 percent co- ownership of Krsko, but tensions over its financing and use have continued. PM
 ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS ACTION AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIMEFatos Nano, at a meeting of the government's National Security Committee on 31 July in Tirana, ordered Interior Minister Perikli Teta to prepare a detailed plan by 20 August for fighting organized crime. Nano stressed that the government must pay special attention to corruption within the police, which he said was in some cases "at the center of organized crime." Nano urged the Ministries of Interior and Defense and the secret service to cooperate more closely in fighting crime, especially in the northeast, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. In particular, the northeastern regions of Tropoja, Bajram Curri, and Kukes have become notorious for lawlessness. Armed gangs, arms smugglers, and soldiers of the UCK operate freely there. FS
 FBI TIRANA OFFICE ROBBEDUnidentified individuals broke into the office of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and stole one passport and more than $2,500 in cash on 29 July, "Shekulli" reported on two days later. A police spokesman said that the FBI uses the office, located in central Tirana's Palace of Congresses, only for translating Albanian newspapers. The FBI also helps train Albanian police and assisted its Albanian counterpart in investigating an influx of forged $100 bills earlier this year. FS
 ROMANIAN EDUCATION MINISTER STILL OPPOSED TO HUNGARIAN UNIVERSITYAndrei Marga said in a press release on 30 July that the debate on setting up a Hungarian-language university in Transylvania has been "regrettably transformed into a state problem." Marga said he is still opposed to the idea and that "multi-culturalism", as promoted by the Babes-Bolyai Cluj university when he was its dean has proved a "viable solution" for meeting the requirements of ethnic minority education. In an apparent response to the Hungarian announcement that Budapest is ready to finance the Hungarian- language university, Marga said that higher education in Romania is in accordance with the decisions of the parliament. He also said that no international institution has stated it favors "educational separatism" in Romania. MS
 MOLDOVAN DISPUTE OVER BULGARIAN NUCLEAR WASTE TRANSITThe Moldovan government says it supports the Bulgarian request to approve the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy plant to Russia via Moldova and Ukraine, but a majority among the parliamentary deputies are opposed to such an arrangement, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 30 July. Deputy Premier Nicolae Andronic said that the nuclear waste accumulated at Kozloduy might "lead to a nuclear disaster" at a site located only some 600 kilometers from Chisinau. Environment Protection Minister Arcadie Capcelea opposes the transit, saying it would be in breach of Moldovan legislation. In other news, the parliament on 30 July approved the resignation of Prosecutor-General Dumitru Postovan, submitted in early July. Parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov submitted the candidacy of Chisinau Prosecutor-General Valeriu Catana, but the proposal met with opposition from the Democratic Convention of Moldova and the Party of Democratic Forces. MS
 BULGARIA OPPOSES KOSOVA INDEPENDENCEPresident Petar Stoyanov on 3O July said in Toronto that an escalation of the conflict in Kosova might negatively impact on Bulgarian reform, AP reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov said the previous day that Bulgaria "shares the views of the international community" about the need to solve the conflict in Kosova, "including the granting of a broad autonomy" to the region. "At the same time," he added, "we agree with the international community that there can be no question of granting independence," BTA reported. Vlaikov said that the Kosova Albanians' demands for independence are "indefensible" from the point of view of international law and a "redrawing of borders is inadmissible." MS
 BULGARIA, IMF REACH LOAN ACCORDThe IMF and the Bulgarian government on 30 July reached a "general agreement" on a three-year loan to Bulgaria, AP reported. The amount has yet to be announced. Chief IMF negotiator Anne McGuirk told journalists she hopes a memorandum of understanding will be signed on 31 July. That memorandum will have to be approved by the IMF board at its meeting in September. In other news, Reuters reported on 30 July that Yordan Sokolov, chairman of a parliamentary commission on crime and corruption, has opened an investigation into Air Sofia. Sokolov said that the investigation was necessary because of numerous accidents in which the company has been involved and accusations that Air Sofia was involved in a cigarette smuggling scandal in April. MS
[C] END NOTE
 KLAUS-ZEMAN PACT COULD END CZECH INSTABILITYby Juergen Herda
The anger in some political circles over the agreement between Milos Zeman's Social Democrats (CSSD) and the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Vaclav Klaus is largely unjustified. Many critics have nobody but themselves to blame that the two rivals closed a deal allowing Zeman to form a government with the toleration of his conservative rival.
As the head of the party that won the most votes in the June elections, Zeman received a mandate from President Vaclav Havel to form a government. The Social Democrat then did everything in his power to try to form a workable coalition with two smaller parties: Josef Lux's Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and the Freedom Union (US) of Jan Ruml and Vladimir Mlynar. When it was clear that Lux would agree to such a coalition, Zeman's hopes of forming a government backed by a majority in the parliament hinged on the Freedom Union. Ruml and Mlynar, however, turned down all his proposals. Zeman had already gone out of his way to accommodate the smaller parties by offering to give the prime minister's job to Lux, four cabinet jobs to the Union , and a veto right on all major issues to each of his two coalition partners.
The reason for the Freedom Union's stance was not-- as the party's leaders claimed--because of the party's conservative ideological principles but rather because of a miscalculation. The Union leadership expected that Zeman would fail to form a government and that Havel would then give Klaus the mandate to do so. That would open the way for a revival of the former Klaus government, albeit with some new faces around the cabinet table. But that did not happen, and the Union leadership missed an opportunity to advance its program through bargaining within a three- party coalition in which Zeman had promised that all policies would be negotiable.
Once Zeman's efforts to cut a deal with the KDU-CSL and the Freedom Union had failed, the leaderships of the CSSD and ODS signed a document on 9 July, called the Agreement on Establishing Stable Political Relationships in the Czech Republic. The pact set down the basic rules for an arrangement in which the CSSD would form a minority government tolerated by the ODS.
The deal gave Klaus's party the chairmanship of both houses of the parliament plus a pledge that the two parties would divide up legislative committee chairmanships among themselves. The CSSD and ODS agreed in the interest of political stability not to support a vote of no confidence in the government and not to change coalition partners.
The centerpiece of the agreement--and its most controversial aspect--was a pledge to introduce constitutional changes within one year. The most important of these would be to replace the current electoral system, which is based on proportional representation, with one based on the principle of first-past-the-post. The leaders of the ODS and CSSD noted that the results of the June vote made it impossible to easily form a government backed by a parliamentary majority and argued that the wrangling over possible coalitions gave undue influence to the smaller parties and to Havel. The changes, the ODS and CSSD leaderships added, would give power only to those who win the most votes.
Lux and Ruml were naturally alarmed by this agreement, which would mean that their parties could be completely shut out of the parliament. And the new cabinet did not meet with universal approval. Critics noted that the average age of its members is rather high and that it contains no women. The two most popular Social Democrats, namely Petra Buzkova and Stanislav Gross, were not included in the government and took prominent jobs in the parliament instead. The president's office, in particular, raised objections to the appointment of Jan Kavan as foreign minister on the grounds that many suspect him of having had contacts with the former Czechoslovak secret service during his years as a political in exile in the U.K. Zeman, for his part, rejected all the criticism and pointed out that there is no evidence against Kavan that could lead to opening a court case against him.
Supporters of the Zeman-Klaus pact, moreover, argue that it will provide stability and hence facilitate the processes of political and economic transformation and the integration of the Czech Republic into Euro-Atlantic structures. With a clear majority in the parliament, the two ideological rivals will be able to join forces to tackle a host of sensitive issues that no one party would want to take on alone.
Once they have instituted the planned constitutional changes, the ODS and CSSD can end their agreement and call new elections. Then the voters will be able to choose between social democratic and conservative alternatives. Pluralism will be served because different interest groups will be able to advance their causes as factions within the large parties, as is the case in the U.S. and other countries with a two-party system. And the key to a healthy democracy lies in a functioning arrangement of checks and balances, not in the number of parties that sit in the parliament.
Translated from the German by Patrick Moore.
The author is an editor of the weekly "Prager Zeitung" and a writer on Central European political affairs.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty