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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 146, 98-08-03

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 2, No. 146, 3 August 1998


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES UN ABKHAZ RESOLUTION
  • [02] RADIOACTIVITY DISCOVERED AT FORMER SOVIET MILITARY BASES IN GEORGIA
  • [03] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES EX- PRESIDENT'S RESIDENCE ATTACKED
  • [04] U.S. REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE...
  • [05] ...AS DOES TURKEY
  • [06] AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP, OPPOSITION SIGNAL READINESS FOR DIALOGUE
  • [07] WIDOW OF TAJIK CUSTOMS OFFICIAL KILLED IN CEMETERY
  • [08] TREASON TRIAL OPENS IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [09] UZBEKISTAN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] SERBS KEEP UP OFFENSIVE
  • [11] PLIGHT OF REFUGEES WORSENS
  • [12] NUMBER OF REFUGEES GROWS
  • [13] SERBIAN, MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET
  • [14] RELIEF WORKER CLAIMS ABUSE
  • [15] DRNOVSEK PLEDGES EFFORTS ON KOSOVA
  • [16] MONTENEGRO CUTS BACK TIES TO BELGRADE
  • [17] FIRE HITS ALBANIA'S SECOND LARGEST HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT
  • [18] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LEGISLATOR CLAIMS VIOLATION OF PRIVILEGE
  • [19] ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER CRITICIZES WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR
  • [20] MOLDOVAN COALITION CRISIS IN OFFING?
  • [21] BULGARIA TO RECEIVE $800 MILLION IMF LOAN
  • [22] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TURKISH- LANGUAGE BROADCASTS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ASSESSES UN ABKHAZ RESOLUTION

    In his weekly radio broadcast on 3 August, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze termed the 30 July UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia "another success of Georgian diplomacy," Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze said the tone of the latest resolution is "more firm and categorical" in its condemnation of Abkhaz reprisals against the ethnic Georgian population of Abkhazia's Gali Raion. But the deputy chairman of the Abkhaz parliament in exile, Gia Gvazava, expressed disappointment that the resolution does not condemn the Abkhaz reprisals as ethnic cleansing, in accordance with Tbilisi's request. In Moscow on 31 July, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin said the resolution is a "clear message" to both Georgia and Abkhazia to abide by their commitments under the 25 May cease-fire protocol, according to Interfax. That document provides for maintaining a cease-fire and preventing terrorist activities against the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the border zone between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia. LF

    [02] RADIOACTIVITY DISCOVERED AT FORMER SOVIET MILITARY BASES IN GEORGIA

    Environmental Minister Nino Chkhobadze told journalists on 1 August that radioactivity has been detected near two former Soviet army bases in Khoni and Terdjola Raions, western Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. She said that cleanup operations have already been completed at the Terdjola site and are continuing in Khoni, where the radioactivity level was 230 roentgen. Several Georgian servicemen were hospitalized with radiation sickness in October 1997, after being exposed to radioactive equipment at a former training base for Soviet border guards base near Tbilisi (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1997). LF

    [03] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES EX- PRESIDENT'S RESIDENCE ATTACKED

    The Ministry of Internal Affairs and National Security issued a statement on 2 August denying media reports of automatic rifle fire close to the Yerevan residence of former President Levon Ter-Petrossian at 2:00 a.m. local time the previous day, ITAR-TASS reported. He described those reports as based on "unfounded rumors." The daily "Aravot" reported the shooting on 1 August, adding that police and Ter- Petrossian's bodyguards were immediately alerted but could find no trace of the attackers, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. LF

    [04] U.S. REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR BAKU-CEYHAN PIPELINE...

    U.S. special envoy for Caspian affairs Richard Morningstar told journalists in Baku on 30 July that both Washington and Ankara support plans for construction of an oil export pipeline from Baku to the Turkish Mediterranean terminal at Ceyhan and for a Trans-Caspian gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan, Interfax reported. But Morningstar also conceded that pending an agreement among all five Caspian littoral states on the sea's status, Iran and Russia have a "sovereign right" to protest the planned Trans-Caspian gas pipeline. LF

    [05] ...AS DOES TURKEY

    Turkish Foreign Ministry official Yaman Bashkut, who accompanied Morningstar to Baku, told journalists on 31 July that "there will be no problems" in raising the estimated $3 billion needed for construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline. He said that "the U.S. in the person of EximBank, the World Bank, and other financial organizations" will provide the funds, according to Turan. Bashkut rejected the argument that falling world oil prices mean that the Baku-Ceyhan route is no longer economically viable. He also warned again that Ankara will not permit the lion's share of Caspian oil to be exported by tanker via the Turkish straits. LF

    [06] AZERBAIJANI LEADERSHIP, OPPOSITION SIGNAL READINESS FOR DIALOGUE

    Presidential administration official Ali Hasanov has said there are no obstacles to meetings between opposition leaders and himself, presidential administration head Ramiz Mehtiev, or even President Heidar Aliev to discuss the conditions under which the opposition leaders are prepared to participate in the October presidential elections, Turan reported on 31 July. Azerbaijan Popular Front Party chairman Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party leader Isa Gambar, both of whom have announced their intention to boycott the poll, similarly announced their readiness to participate in such a dialogue. The head of the pro-government Center for Democratic Elections, Motherland Party chairman Fazail Agamali, has offered to mediate that dialogue. But presidential legal adviser Shahin Aliev repeated in Washington on 31 July that the Azerbaijani leadership will not grant the opposition's demand for the right to nominate half the members of the Central Electoral Commission. LF

    [07] WIDOW OF TAJIK CUSTOMS OFFICIAL KILLED IN CEMETERY

    The widow of deputy customs head Ali Imomnazarov was shot and killed on 2 August, ITAR-TASS and Reuters reported. Saida Imomnazarova was killed by two masked gunmen while visiting the cemetery where her husband had been buried the previous day. Ali Imomnazarov died on 31 July from wounds he received from a bomb planted in his car. BP

    [08] TREASON TRIAL OPENS IN TAJIKISTAN

    The Prosecutor-General's office has completed its investigation of four men involved in mutinous activities in July and August 1997 and has charged the men with treason, attempting to overthrow the government, and other "grave" crimes against the country, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. Kosim Boboyev, the former governor of Khatlon Oblast, Toshtemir Odinamadov, Sherali Mirzoyev, and Sulton Kurbonov allegedly cooperated with former Popular Front field commanders led by Colonel Mahmud Khudaberdiyev in order to establish a defense council for Khatlon Oblast. That council was against allowing fighters from the United Tajik Opposition to return to the region in accordance with the June 1997 peace accord. Armed units under Khudaberdiyev subsequently advanced on Dushanbe but were defeated by forces of the presidential guard. Khudaberdiyev, who has been in hiding for nearly a year, is also wanted by the prosecutor- general. BP

    [09] UZBEKISTAN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

    The director-general of the Kyrgyz state gas company, Shalkhar Jaysanbayev, said on 3 August that Uzbekistan has cut off supplies of natural gas to Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-TASS reported. The reason for that move is unpaid bills totaling $2.5 million. Jaysanbayev said the Kyrgyz government has already begun talks with Uzbekistan on the resumption of supplies and has provided written guarantees for payment of those supplies. He added that in order to pay Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan will increase the price of gas for consumers during August by 25 percent. BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] SERBS KEEP UP OFFENSIVE

    Yugoslav troops and Serbian paramilitary police attacked positions of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and civilian villages in the central Drenica region and along the Albanian border around the besieged village of Junik throughout the weekend of 31 July-2 August. AP reported on 3 August that the Serbian forces throughout the combat zone burned homes and shelled villages in a "campaign to drive [ethnic] Albanian civilians from their homes [in a way] reminiscent of the tactic of 'ethnic cleansing'...in Bosnia and Croatia earlier this decade." A correspondent for Deutsche Welle's German service reported from Prishtina on 3 August that the Serbian authorities are keeping journalists out of the conflict area so that they do not witness "the plundering of villages and mistreatment of civilians." The London "Daily Telegraph" wrote on 3 August that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's statement to foreign diplomats the on 30 July that the offensive has ended is a "lie." PM

    [11] PLIGHT OF REFUGEES WORSENS

    The Yugoslav news agency Tanjug reported from Prishtina on 2 August that the "efficient action" of Serbian forces has "almost entirely broken [up] terrorist gangs" of the UCK. Elsewhere, Western and Kosovar sources noted over the weekend of 31 July-2 August that the continuing Serbian offensive has uprooted "thousands" of civilians and forced additional thousands of refugees from previous attacks to flee again. Many, including women and young children, slept in the forests and on hillsides in the midst of a heat wave and with few provisions. Meanwhile on 1 August, representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees delivered to homeless civilians in the Malisheva area food parcels designed to supply up to 1,000 people for three weeks. Officials said the area is "simply filled with people...living rough," Reuters reported. PM

    [12] NUMBER OF REFUGEES GROWS

    A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 3 August that the total number of displaced people from Kosova in 1998 is about 180,000, both inside and outside the province. This includes 30,000 forced to flee during the current Serbian offensive, which began just over a week ago. The spokesman added that Serbian police have generally made it difficult for the UNHCR to obtain accurate figures by making on-the-spot tallies within Kosova. He noted that some 25,000 refugees have gone to Montenegro, at least 10,000 to Albania, and smaller numbers to Serbia. Albanian sources put the number in that country closer to 20,000. It is unclear how many Kosovars have fled to Macedonia, where many have close personal ties dating from when both Kosova and Macedonia were part of the former Yugoslavia. PM

    [13] SERBIAN, MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET

    Macedonia's Blagoj Handziski visited Zivadin Jovanovic, his Serbian counterpart, in Bujanovac in southern Serbia on 2 August. Tanjug issued a brief report quoting Jovanovic as saying that his country seeks a peaceful and constructive solution to the Kosovar problem. Handziski stressed that Macedonia insists that the solution in Kosova be peaceful. Reuters noted the previous day that Tanjug has recently quoted statements by some Macedonian opposition parties criticizing the present government for continuing to include cabinet ministers from ethnic Albanian parties, which the opposition calls "separatist." Macedonia's population is about one-quarter ethnic Albanian. PM

    [14] RELIEF WORKER CLAIMS ABUSE

    Serbian authorities released British humanitarian aid worker Sally Becker from prison in Prishtina on 1 August. She later told the BBC that her captors denied her sleep and that "more than 100 policemen" were allowed to spit on her. "I have never known such hatred," she added (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1998). Meanwhile in The Hague, Milan Kovacevic, who is a Bosnian Serb facing charges of genocide, died of a heart attack. The next day, the authorities of the war crimes tribunal promised a full investigation. Kovacevic is the second war crimes suspect to die in detention in just over a month, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [15] DRNOVSEK PLEDGES EFFORTS ON KOSOVA

    Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek told a press conference at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague on 1 August that "Slovenia will try to have a very active role and to intensify activities to find a solution" to the Kosovar problem. The same day, Slovenia assumed the rotating presidency of the UN Security Council in New York. PM

    [16] MONTENEGRO CUTS BACK TIES TO BELGRADE

    The Montenegrin government issued a statement in Podgorica on 31 July saying that it will no longer maintain relations with the Yugoslav federal authorities at the ministerial level. Podgorica added that it will restore full ties only when the composition of the federal government changes. By this, the Montenegrin government presumably meant that Federal Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is the arch-rival of Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic, must step down first. In the meantime, Podgorica will limit its contacts to Belgrade only to lower levels and only when Montenegro deems it in its interest to do so, the independent BETA news agency reported. PM

    [17] FIRE HITS ALBANIA'S SECOND LARGEST HYDROELECTRIC POWER PLANT

    One of four 150- megawatt generators at the hydroelectric power plant in the northern city of Fierza caught fire on 1 August. Fire- fighters, supported by Italian fire-fighting experts, had the fire under control after five hours. A spokesman for the Electric Energy Company told "Koha Jone" in Tirana the same day that the repair work will take at least one month and that the company will have to reduce supplies to customers in the meantime. Albania's power grid has been strained by a sharp increase in consumption since the end of communism in 1991. A prolonged lack of rainfall this summer has already forced the company to make power cuts. FS

    [18] ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LEGISLATOR CLAIMS VIOLATION OF PRIVILEGE

    Democratic Party legislator Shaban Memia said on 31 July that customs officials and police in Durres violated his rights as a member of the parliament the same day by stopping him and examining goods he brought with him from a trip to Italy, "Rilindja Demokratike" reported. Customs officials accused him of "smuggling" photo and video equipment worth $14, 000. Memia declared that the equipment was a personal gift from friends in Italy and is tax-exempt. Later at a checkpoint in Ndroq on the road to Tirana, police found a document in Memia's baggage saying that the equipment was a gift to the party. Customs officials told "Shekulli" that the equipment must be taxed and that they will ask the parliament to lift Memia's immunity so that they can bring charges against him for smuggling. FS

    [19] ROMANIAN FINANCE MINISTER CRITICIZES WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR

    Daniel Daianu on 1 August said it is "immoral" for the U.S. executive branch to "promote" the sale of the Bell helicopters to "a country whose economic situation is difficult." He was responding to an interview given by White House presidential counselor Steve Flangan to VOA three days earlier, Rompres reported. On 31 July, Prime Minister Radu Vasile met in Bucharest with Bell Helicopter Textron chairman Webb Joiner. At the start of his four-day visit to Israel on 2 August, Vasile said the deal with Bell helicopters is "not final", AP reported. Accompanied by Daianu and Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, Vasile visited the Israel Aircraft Industries and confirmed that Bucharest is examining the possibility of modernizing Cobra helicopters in Israel instead of pursuing the deal with Bell Textron. MS

    [20] MOLDOVAN COALITION CRISIS IN OFFING?

    The parliament on 31 July approved the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy plant to Russia. It also appointed Valeriu Catana as the country's new prosecutor- general. Both resolutions were proposed by the ruling For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldovan Bloc (PMPD) and supported by the opposition Party of Moldovan Communists. The Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) and the Party of Democratic Forces, both of which are the PMPD's allies in the Alliance for Democratic Reforms (APRD), opposed the resolutions. Mircea Snegur, CDM co- chairman, said that the PMPD has broken an agreement to postpone the vote and that this may lead to the break-up of the APRD, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

    [21] BULGARIA TO RECEIVE $800 MILLION IMF LOAN

    Chief IMF negotiator for Bulgaria, Anne McGuirk, said on 1 August that Bulgaria will receive a $800 million three-year loan, subject to its approval by the IMF board in September, Reuters reported. McGuirk said that overall foreign funding for that period will total $1.6 billion, half of which will come from the IMF. Finance Minister Muravei Radev said the other lenders include the World Bank, the EU, and various countries. The amount is roughly equivalent to Bulgaria's foreign debt obligations for the same period, according to Reuters. In other news, Kostov on 31 July said that some $30 million will be invested in the country's defense industry by the end of 2001 and that the government's program provides for joint military production with Russia, China, and Ukraine. MS

    [22] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES TURKISH- LANGUAGE BROADCASTS

    The parliament on 30 July added a provision to the new media law allowing for broadcasts in foreign languages aired for "Bulgarian citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian," Reuters reported. Miroslava Belcheva, spokeswoman for the ruling Union of Democratic Forces, which initiated the bill, said the main purpose of the provision is to "allow broadcasts in Turkish in regions populated by ethnic Turks." Osman Otkai, a prominent member of the ethnic Turkish Movement of Rights and Freedoms, welcomed the decision, saying it demonstrates that "delicate problems of the minorities can be solved without drama." MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [23] PRIMAKOV'S 19TH CENTURY MODEL

    by Paul Goble

    Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov has identified his 19th century predecessor Aleksandr Gorchakov as a model for Moscow's approach following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a speech on the 200th anniversary of Gorchakov's birth, published in the current issue of the Russian foreign- policy journal "International Affairs," Primakov notes that Gorchakov was able to rebuild Russia's power and influence after its defeat in the Crimean War.

    When Gorchakov assumed office after that defeat, in 1856, many people "thought that they were present at a funeral for the Russian Empire or at any rate witnessing its turning into a second-rate power," Primakov argues. Such a conclusion seemed reasonable, according to the current foreign minister. The Crimean War had demonstrated a variety of internal weaknesses in the Russian Empire. Most of the important powers were "rallied against Russia." And the North Caucasian leader Shamil was able to stage a daring raid into Russia itself.

    Given these obstacles, Primakov points out, many in the Russian Empire argued that it had to turn inward, "resign its great power status," and accept the leadership of others. That had been the policy of Gorchakov's predecessor, Count Nesselrode, who went so far as to propose abolishing the Foreign Ministry altogether. But Gorchakov urged "a different course of action." Primakov not only approves of that course but argues it should be a model for Russian actions in the future.

    According to Primakov, Gorchakov believed that "a vigorous foreign policy" was essential for creating the conditions that would allow Russia to renew itself at home and regain influence abroad. Over the next 30 years, Primakov says, Gorchakov did just that, far more successfully than many of his contemporaries assumed he could.

    Primakov draws five lessons from Gorchakov's approach. Those lessons, he argues, should guide Moscow's actions today.

    First, Primakov says, Gorchakov demonstrated that Russia, even when weakened by defeat, can pursue an active foreign policy. Indeed, Primakov insists that his predecessor showed that it has no other choice.

    Second, Gorchakov insisted that Russian foreign policy must not be limited to a single direction or area of concern. Instead, it must seek to be active in all areas.

    Third, as Primakov notes with approval, Gorchakov had no doubt that Russia at all times has "enough strength" to play a leading role in the world.

    Fourth, Gorchakov understood that Russia could always exploit the resentment many smaller powers inevitably feel vis-a-vis larger ones. In this way, Russia can rebuild and then expand its own influence.

    Fifth, Gorchakov's actions provide one negative lesson. According to Primakov, Gorchakov's maneuvering among the great powers of Europe is now "out of date." Instead, Primakov notes, Moscow must seek constructive partnerships with all countries rather than seeking some "mobile" or permanent coalition.

    Together, these five principles show that Gorchakov understood what Primakov argues is the fundamental basis of Russian foreign policy: "There are no constant enemies, but there are constant national interests." According to Primakov, that principle means that Russian foreign policy must adopt a balanced approach--neither advancing "excessive claims" that fail to recognize what has happened in the last decade nor setting "deliberately low standards" that ignore Moscow's continuing possibilities. And it also means, Primakov continues, that Russia will not seek improved relations with "the 'civilized West' at any cost."

    In his concluding remarks, Primakov focuses on one foreign-policy area where Gorchakov's approach seems not to apply but in fact does. As Primakov points out, his 19th century predecessor was "striving to consolidate the Russian Empire's territorial integrity." Now, Primakov acknowledges, the situation has changed: Both the Empire and the Soviet Union are "gone" and he argues that "the present reality is such that sovereignty of the ex-USSR republics should not be subject to any doubt."

    But at the same time, Primakov concludes, Moscow must do everything it can to bring "the states formed on the territory of the former Soviet Union" closer together through economic integration and "the creation of a single economic area." Many people, in both these countries and the West, are likely to see such a proposal as anything but reassuring, particularly since Primakov advances it even as he praises one of 19th-century Russia's most passionate defenders of empire.

    03-08-98


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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