|Friday, 23 August 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 176, 98-09-11
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 176, 11 September 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 GERMAN KARABAKH NEGOTIATOR IN YEREVANAmbassador Frank Lambach, Germany's representative to the OSCE's Minsk Group, arrived in Yerevan on 10 September, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Following meetings with senior Armenian officials, Lambach said the current situation, "a cease-fire without negotiations," is "not stable." And he noted that representatives of the three Minsk Group co- chairs will arrive in the Caucasus within the next few days to try to push the peace process forward. PG
 ARMENIAN-GREEK-IRANIAN GROUP MEETSThe cooperation group of Armenia, Greece, and Iran met in Tehran on 10 September to discuss how to carry out the planned construction of an Iranian-Armenian gas pipeline and other measures of economic cooperation, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. The three foreign ministers in attendance also discussed the situation in the Balkans, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Afghanistan. The cooperation group, established in Athens in December 1997, will hold its third meeting in September 1999 in Yerevan. PG
 ARMENIA TO PRESS FOR MORE INVESTMENTArmenian presidential adviser Vagram Nersisiants told Interfax on 10 September that Yerevan will press for more private foreign investment in order to increase the rate of economic growth to 6-7 percent a year. He said that Yerevan has concluded that it cannot count on government- to- government assistance over the longer term. PG
 SHEVARDNADZE WELCOMES ASSISTANCE FROM U.S. NAVYGeorgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 10 September told visiting U.S. Vice Admiral Daniel Murphy that he is grateful for American assistance in developing Georgia's naval staff and infrastructure, AP reported. Murphy's flagship, the "USS LaSalle," had stopped at the Georgian port of Poti, bringing with it medical supplies and other forms of humanitarian assistance. In response to Shevardnadze's comments, Murphy said the visit by "USS LaSalle" to Poti, the first by a U.S. naval vessel to that port, has established a bridge for international cooperation. PG
 GEORGIAN OPPOSITION SEEKS SHEVARDNADZE'S IMPEACHMENTGeorgian Socialist Party leader Vakhtang Rcheulishvili told Interfax on 10 September that his party and its allies will press for the impeachment of the Georgian president based on the argument that he cannot serve simultaneously as head of the Georgian Citizens Union and chief of state. But Rcheulishvili acknowledged that the parliament's majority will not go along. As a result, Rcheulishvili said that his group will bring the case before the Constitutional Court. The opposition would like to force Shevardnadze to give up his Union leadership in order to reduce that group's chances in local elections scheduled for 15 November. PG
 SUSPECTS FORMALLY CHARGED IN UN MURDERS IN TAJIKISTANThe Tajik Prosecutor-General's Office has filed formal charges against three men suspected of killing four UN employees in central Tajikistan in late July, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 September. According to the office's chief investigator, Sharif Kurbanov, the three will tried on charges of terrorism. BP
 KYRGYZ OFFICIAL CLARIFIES STATEMENTKyrgyz Deputy Foreign Minister Alibek Jekshenkulov said on 10 September that he has been misquoted by Russia's ITAR- TASS news agency, both Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. ITAR-TASS on 9 September had quoted Jekshenkulov as saying his country "did not exclude" recognizing the Afghanistan's Taliban movement as the legitimate government of that country. Jekshenkulov said that he had commented that the "question is a complex one and demanded consultations with our partners, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Russia." Jekshenkulov also said that Kyrgyzstan has received confirmation from representatives of the Taliban and the coalition opposing it that they will attend an international conference on Afghanistan in the Kyrgyz capital. He added that the conference will be the first in a series of such meetings in various countries. BP
 KYRGYZ PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTY DRAFTS BILL ON REFERENDAKyrgyz parliamentary member and leader of the Ata-Meken Party Omurbek Tekebaev told RFE/RL correspondents on 10 September he has prepared a draft law on referenda. Tekebaev said that according to the draft, a national referendum could not be held until the parliament has approved holding it first. He added that all details of the referendum, such as the exact date, would have to be announced at least one month before the vote. President Askar Akayev on 2 September announced that a referendum on amendments to the constitution would be held in "mid-October." He also called for a public debate on his proposals, but the parliament was informed neither about the proposed amendments nor the referendum itself before the president's announcement. To date, Akayev has not signed a decree on holding the vote. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MILOSEVIC DISPARAGED AT HOME, ABROAD FOR VIOLENCE IN KOSOVAUN Secretary-General Kofi Annan disclosed the contents of a letter he sent to Belgrade blaming Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for indiscriminate violence against ethnic Albanians, the destruction of villages, and the continuing flow of refugees in Kosova, Reuters reported. The letter, sent by Annan on 1 September, asked Milosevic to call an immediate cease-fire. Annan has received no response from the Yugoslav president. The UN Security Council repeated Annan's position on 10 September. State Department spokesman James Rubin said that the problem in Kosova will continue until Milosevic stops Serbian forces from "raining a humanitarian disaster down on the people of Kosova." In Belgrade, opposition leader Zoran Djindjic said the crisis is the result of "the inefficiency of the undemocratic authorities in Serbia." And in Prague, Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told RFE/RL that Milosevic is "the problem" and that the conflict would be resolved sooner without him. PB
 YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS TO BEGIN TRYING KOSOVAR ALBANIANSVukasin Jokanovic, Yugoslav prosecutor-general, said on 10 September that several hundred suspected members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) will go on trial this month, AP reported. Jokanovic, speaking on Radio Belgrade, said that UCK forces have been decisively defeated. Dragoljub Jankovic, the Serbian justice minister, said 716 ethnic Albanians are under investigation in Kosova and will face charges of terrorism and conspiracy against the state. He said about half of those being investigated have been detained. PB
 YUGOSLAV FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS SERBS CONTROL KOSOVAZivadin Jovanovic on 10 September said that Serbian forces control all of Kosova and that Belgrade is willing to hold talks with ethnic Albanians to resolve the crisis, Reuters reported. Speaking in Athens after talks with Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, Jovanovic said the UCK has withdrawn to a very small portion of Kosova, has "no leadership," and controls no territory. He claimed that 60,000 refugees have returned to their homes and that schools are open. He added that "ethnic Albanians do not trust the UCK anymore. They express their loyalty to the Serbian authorities." Pangalos said sanctions against Belgrade "did not help," and he called for Yugoslavia to be reintegrated into the international community. PB
 UCK OFFICIALS BLAST RUGOVA, U.S.The UCK said in a statement on 10 September that support by Kosova "shadow state" President Ibrahim Rugova for a U.S.-backed peace accord with Belgrade will undermine the UCK's fight against Serbian forces, AP reported. Issued by the UCK's political wing and published in the daily "Koha Ditore," the statement said the proposed agreement is aimed at "demobilizing the masses who have joined the liberation war...and destruction of the UCK." It said that proposed peace talks between Rugova and Belgrade are a "cover for the Serb occupiers' terror over the civilian population." PB
 LIBERATION ARMY IN THREE PIECES?The independent news agency Beta reported on 10 September that there are at least three strong factions within the UCK. One faction, thought to be the largest, recognizes Adem Demaci as its political representative and Jakup Krasniqi as its spokesman. It advocates complete independence from Belgrade. Another follows orders from the head of the so-called Kosovar government in exile, Bujar Bukoshi, and calls itself the Armed Force of the Republic of Kosova. It is reportedly strongest along the border with Albania. The third faction is a small number of units that conditionally support Rugova. PB
 CROATIAN OFFICIALS INITIAL AGREEMENT ON PLOCEHrvoje Sarinic, the head of the Croatian president's office, and Economics Minister Nenad Porges signed an agreement on 10 September that will allow Bosnia-Herzegovina free transit to the Croatian port of Ploce, Croatian Radio reported. Deputy High Representative Jacques Klein and U.S. envoy Richard Sklar attended the ceremony. Sarinic said the agreement allows for economic development both of the port of Ploce and of Bosnia. The Croatian parliament must still approve of the agreement, which both sides have been working on since 1994. PB
 INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IN BOSNIA CRITICIZED ON EVE OF POLLSThe Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) says the international community in Bosnia-Herzegovina is using "non-democratic" means to help moderates win in the 12- 13 September elections, AFP reported on 10 September. Christopher Bennett, the director of the International Crisis Group Balkans Project, said "the elections will bring changes, but this will be due to non-democratic measures." Bennett cited the omnipotent power of High Representative Carlos Westendorp in pushing aside hard-line nationalists and the "snatch operations" by NATO led peacekeepers as examples of the international community's running "roughshod" over Bosnia's democratic institutions. Voters are to elect a new interethnic presidency, national parliament, and legislative assemblies in the Muslim-Croat and Serb entities of Bosnia-Herzegovina. PB
 ALBANIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS FORCE AGAINST PREMIERFormer President Sali Berisha, speaking at a rally in Tirana, threatened to use force against the government of Prime Minister Fatos Nano, Reuters reported on 10 September. Berisha accused Nano of abusing the constitution and warned him not to "play with our freedoms." Berisha said "we shall crush you into powder, force will know no bounds." He said if Nano does not leave office he could meet the same fate as Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Berisha has been holding rallies almost every day since six former government officials appointed by him were arrested last month. Some 3,000 people attended the rally. PB
 IMF PRAISES ALBANIAThe IMF on 10 September said that it supports the Albanian government's economic reforms and noted that an IMF team will visit Tirana in mid- October, Reuters reported. Juha Kahkonen, IMF mission chief for Albanian, said in a letter to embattled Finance Minister Arben Malaj that the economic policies continue to "bear fruit." PB
 VAN DEN BROEK IN ROMANIAEuropean Commissioner Hans van den Broek on 10 September said at a joint press conference with President Emil Constantinescu that all candidates for EU membership will eventually join the organization but doing so depends to a large extent on each country's performance. Van den Broek said he has not been "updated" on the EU's performance evaluation of all candidate countries, which was recently leaked to the press, saying that Romania is "last" on the list of candidate states. He urged his hosts "not to lose heart" and to proceed with the faster implementation of reforms, singling out the privatization of large state companies, the banking sector, and the reform of public administration. Constantinescu said that while it is "possible" Romania is now in "a weak position" for integration, the "political will" to continue reforms exists and is backed by the population. MS
 ROMANIAN RULING ALLIANCE DEBATES NEW PROTOCOLIn an attempt to lure back the Movement of Civic Alliance into the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR), CDR leaders on 10 September announced that civic organization members of the convention will have the right to participate "on equal terms" in determining decisions related to the CDR's strategy and program. But it added that they will not have a say in decisions related to CDR election candidates and will be able only to make "moral objections." The National Liberal Party and two smaller parties have proposed that the CDR parties be allowed to run on separate lists in local elections. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Radu Vasile said the elections for mayor of Bucharest might be "inopportune" in the present "austerity conditions" and that a decision on whether to hold them must be reached at the "political level." MS
 IMF DELEGATION REVIEWS MOLDOVAN ECONOMYA five-strong delegation headed by IMF counselor Richard Haas began a visit to Moldova on 10 September to evaluate the progress of economic reform and the possibility of renewing loans to Moldova. An agreement on a three-year, $190 million loan was suspended in fall 1997 because of the stalled reform process. Moldova received only $52.5 million of that loan, but IMF chief representative in Moldova Mark Horton said a $30-35 million tranche could be unfrozen in view of the impact of the Russian crisis on Moldova's economy and the IMF's evaluation of economic priorities included in the draft 1999 budget, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The delegation met on 10 September with Deputy Premier Ion Sturdza, Finance Minister Anatol Arapu, and National Bank Governor Leonid Talmaci. MS
 BULGARIAN PREMIER ON POSSIBLE PRIMAKOV APPOINTMENTIvan Kostov has welcomed the nomination of acting Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov as premier. Kostov told RFE/RL in Prague on 10 September that Primakov has demonstrated he is a "good friend." He said Bulgarian officials have "excellent" relations with Primakov. MS
 BULGARIA TO ACHIEVE BUDGET SURPLUSBulgaria is about to register its first budget surplus since the country began the transition to a market economy in 1990, dpa reported on 10 September, citing BTA. The government said that the 190 billion leva ($110 million) surplus will be spent on improving infrastructure, social welfare services, and the administration's information system. In other news, the parliament on 9 September unanimously ratified the agreement on Bulgaria's accession to the Central European Free Trade Agreement on 1 January. The accession agreement was signed in Sofia in July, BTA reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 THE PROMOTION OF PRIMAKOVby Paul Goble
Boris Yeltsin's decision to nominate Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov as his prime minister is already sending shockwaves through Russia, Russia's neighbors, and the international community.
But while this appointment may give the crisis-ridden Russian regime some room for maneuver, it is unlikely in itself to resolve the underlying problems now confronting the Russian Federation. By turning away from the obviously unpopular and apparently unconfirmable Viktor Chernomyrdin, Yeltsin has once again shown that he maneuvers best precisely when he is under the most intense political pressure.
But if Yeltsin's decision to promote Primakov was somewhat unexpected, it nonetheless reflects three aspects of Yeltsin's general political style.
First, the Russian president again has taken what many are certain to call a dramatic step only after he had denied that he would do it.
Second, he has selected someone who may be able to recoup some of Russia's lost authority and influence in the West, a clear signal that Yeltsin still hopes to gain more Western aid even as he advances someone popular with many Russian nationalists at home.
And third, Yeltsin has chosen someone with little experience in those areas- - economics and domestic affairs--that a Russian prime minister is supposed to direct.
This last fact makes it likely that Primakov will face fewer obstacles to being confirmed. After all, Duma factions, ranging from the communists to the reformers, are likely to believe they will be able to convince Primakov to advance their agendas. But precisely for that reason, Primakov's appointment may not affect the ways in which Moscow now conducts business. To the extent that proves the case, Primakov's appointment ultimately may not matter as much as some hope and others fear.
The most obvious consequences of Primakov's appointment are likely to be in Moscow and the Russian Federation. Russian politicians of various stripes are already viewing Primakov's appointment as a victory for them or at least as a concession by Yeltsin to the growing power of the parliament.
Moreover, his appointment is likely to attract new candidates for the race to succeed Yeltsin both because Primakov is not an obvious successor and because parliamentary deputies and governors undoubtedly feel themselves more important players in Russian politics than they did only a few weeks ago. And ordinary Russians are certain to welcome the appointment of Primakov, a man known for his toughness and staunch defense of Russian national interests.
But even if these developments give Primakov a certain honeymoon in Moscow, they will not do anything to address Russia's economic collapse or the growing political disorder across the country as a whole. To address those problems, Primakov must not only craft a new set of policies but also reinvent the Russian government. Doing one or the other would be difficult for anyone. But having to do both at the same time almost certainly means that Primakov 's approach is likely to be an amalgam of various views, a pattern that has gotten Russia into trouble in the past and may get Primakov into trouble quicker than many expect.
If the exact direction Primakov is likely to take domestically remains unclear, his approach to Russia's neighbors and to the West is certainly far clearer. Although Primakov has been foreign minister at a time when Russian power has declined in the former Soviet republics, he has been a forceful advocate of the view that Moscow must remain the dominant player in these countries. To the extent that he is able, he is certain to continue to advocate a tough approach to the neighbors. But Russia's weakness and Moscow's need to attract Western assistance may combine to force him to moderate his past approach.
Perhaps Primakov's greatest role in the future will be one that he has already starred in: stoutly defending Russian national interests even while befriending Western leaders. Over his long career in the Middle East, as a Moscow think-tank head and as foreign minister, Primakov has pushed for a very forward Russian policy, one designed to take advantage of any Western weakness.
Not surprisingly, many of his speeches and articles in the past have been openly anti-Western and anti-American. But despite this trend, Primakov has been remarkably successful in winning the friendship of Western leaders and gaining their confidence.
Primakov's very public ties with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright are only the most recent example. And such attachments have allowed Primakov to obtain more assistance from the West than his views would seem to justify. Both he and Yeltsin clearly hope that Primakov will once again be able to work his magic, especially given the recent acknowledgment by Russian officials that they had lied about conditions there in order to gain Western aid.
No Western leader wants Russia to fail. And consequently, the West is likely to respond more positively to a charm offensive by Primakov than it would have to any steps by a restored but rather dour Chernomyrdin.
But unless Primakov can turn things around in Russia, an apparently Herculean task, he and his patron are likely to discover that Primakov's ability to woo Western leaders may not matter nearly as much as either man hopes.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty