|Wednesday, 22 May 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 177, 98-09-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 177, 14 September 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJANI POLICE, DEMONSTRATORS CLASH IN BAKUPolice armed with batons used force to prevent several thousand opposition supporters from congregating on Baku's central Freedom Square on 12 September. The demonstrators were demanding the postponement of the 11 October presidential elections and equal representation for the opposition on electoral commissions. Police then attacked a group of demonstrators gathered outside the nearby headquarters of the opposition Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and tried unsuccessfully to storm the building. Ten police and between 70 and100 demonstrators were injured, some seriously. Police claim they arrested 15 people, but opposition spokesmen estimate that between 50 and 200 were detained. German Ambassador to Azerbaijan Christian Siebeck said he considers the police action unwarranted and a violation of citizens' democratic rights, according to Reuters. LF
 ARMENIAN, CYPRIOT FOREIGN MINISTERS SIGN COOPERATION AGREEMENTSMeeting in Yerevan on 12 September, Vartan Oskanian and his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Cassoulides, signed cooperation agreements on economics, air transport, agriculture, science, and culture, ITAR-TASS reported. Oskanian characterized bilateral relations as "not just friendly, [but] fraternal." Cassoulides also agreed to support a resolution condemning the genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, which Armenia will propose to the OSCE and the UN General Assembly, according to AP. Oskanian said Turkey "applies double standards" to both the Cyprus and Karabakh issues. LF
 ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO RESIGNIn a statement adopted at its 11 September conference, the National Democratic Union (AZhM) affirmed that only the immediate resignation of the present government and pre-term parliamentary elections can reverse Armenia's "drift away from democracy," RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The statement accused the present leadership of corruption and of falsifying the results of the March 1998 presidential elections. AZhM chairman Vazgen Manukian criticized the Dashnak party, which supported Robert Kocharian's presidential candidacy, for not condemning the falsification of the vote. Also on 11 September, "Hayk," the newspaper of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement, reported that Manukian has been asked to head a new government but has said he will do so only on condition that Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian and Interior and National Security Minister Serzh Sargsian vacate their posts. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ADVOCATES NEW MEASURES FOR DISPLACED PERSONSEduard Shevardnadze has proposed that until a political solution to the Abkhaz conflict is reached , the displaced persons who fled that conflict should receive the same rights and privileges as those to which refugees are entitled under the 1951 UN Convention, Russian and Georgian agencies reported. He stressed that the abandoned homes of displaced persons should be declared inviolable. He also advocated the systematic monitoring of the implementation of rulings by the UN High Commission for Refugees. Some 200, 000 ethnic Georgians were expelled from Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war. Some subsequently returned to their abandoned homes but were forced to flee again in May of this year when renewed fighting destroyed their homes. LF
 UN MURDER SUSPECTS CONFESSThree men detained by Tajik law enforcement authorities have confessed to killing four UN employees in late July, ITAR-TASS reported on 13 September. The men reportedly confessed after they were confronted with "irrefutable evidence." All three are members of the United Tajik Opposition, while one is said to have admitted that he received training in terrorist activities in Afghanistan in 1994. The Tajik Interior Ministry refused to comment on the motive for the murders. But a press spokesman for the ministry said that "interesting facts were brought to light" and that personal or criminal motives have been ruled out. BP
 RUSSIA OFFERS TO TRANSPORT TURKMEN OILRussian First Deputy Minister of Transportation and head of the Russian Merchant Marine Aleksandr Lugovets said his country is offering to ship Turkmen oil to the ports of Makhachkala and Tuapse, from where it would transported to Europe, Interfax reported on 13 September. Lugovets said 2 million tons of oil can be transported annually under existing conditions but that improvements at port facilities on the western bank of the Caspian Sea could make possible shipments of up to 12 million tons annually. Lugovets also said Turkmen interests would be taken into account when selecting trans-shipment ports. He stressed that while other projects may be attractive to Turkmenistan, "Russia today has real and inexpensive routes of oil transportation," including for Turkmen oil. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 GUNMEN KILL ALBANIAN OPPOSITION LEGISLATORUnidentified gunmen shot and killed Democratic Party legislator Azem Hajdari and his bodyguard in front of the party's Tirana headquarters on 12 September. Interior Minister Perikli Teta told state television the next day that the authorities consider the killing to be either a political assassination or connected with a blood feud. The government posted a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest of the killers. The BBC reported that the murder may have been linked to Hajdari's possible involvement in arms trafficking to Kosova. On 3 June, Hajdari escaped an assassination attempt in his hometown of Bajram Curri, which is near the border with Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 1998). FS
 OPPOSITION DEMANDS GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATIONDemocratic Party leader Sali Berisha in Tirana on 13 September blamed Hajdari's killing on Prime Minister Fatos Nano and gave the government an ultimatum to resign within 24 hours or face "catastrophic consequences." Berisha said Nano "committed a historical mistake by organizing such a murder," adding that "this is a direct criminal act of the government." Former parliamentary speaker Pjeter Arbnori called for the government to be overthrown, saying "dumping Nano would be the best revenge for the assassination of Hajdari." The government issued a statement denouncing the killing and saying Hajdari's murder is "a great loss for democracy." It called on all political parties to refrain from violence. FS
 PROTESTERS SET PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE ABLAZESome 2,000 Democratic Party supporters stormed the government's offices in Tirana on 13 September and set fire to the ground floor and nearby cars. Nano and several other ministers fled their offices amid a hail of gunfire. One protester was killed and four guards were wounded in the shoot-out. After the riots, Berisha appealed for calm in the runup to the funeral of Hajdari the following day. Some 2,000 Democrats held a peaceful mourning ceremony in central Skanderbeg Square at which the bodies of Hajdari and his bodyguard were displayed. Near the Democratic stronghold of Kavaja, protesters blocked Albania's main north- south road and stormed the local police station. FS
 SITUATION IN TIRANA SPINS 'OUT OF CONTROL'Nano appealed to Albanians in a state television interview on 14 September to reject "attempts [by the Democrats] to seize power by force." Later that morning, shooting broke out between protesters outside Nano's offices and persons inside after the protesters had tried to bring Hajdari's coffin into the building. Guards sent Democratic supporters fleeing amid a hail of bullets, wounding at least three demonstrators. Protesters then threw several grenades into the building, causing explosions. Democratic supporters seized a tank and drove it toward Skanderbeg Square. AP wrote that the situation in Tirana is "spinning out of control." A local journalist told RFE/RL that opposition forces have seized the state television building. FS
 INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY CALLS FOR CALMOSCE Ambassador to Albania Daan Everts called Hajdari's killing "atrocious" but added that "there is no excuse to react with violence." Everts stressed that "the government should be allowed to pursue the case with vigor," adding that Berisha "cannot make ultimatums, this is [a] democracy." The U.S. embassy in Tirana, the EU Presidency, and the Italian government issued separate statements urging Albanians to cease threatening violence and calling on the authorities to bring Hajdari's killers to justice. FS
 UN APPEALS TO MONTENEGRO NOT TO DEPORT YUGOSLAV FELLOW CITIZENSA spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Geneva on 14 September that the UNHCR has "appealed to Montenegro to keep its borders open" lest the refugee problem become worse, AP reported. The previous day, Montenegrin authorities deported to Albania some 3,200 Kosovars who had arrived in the Plav area on 11 September. Montenegrin authorities said in Podgorica on 12 September that the republic cannot afford to take in additional refugees from Kosova, who already make up more than 11 percent of Montenegro's population, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 13 September that an additional 3,000 Kosovars are waiting near the Montenegrin border to cross into that republic but that the Montenegrins have closed the frontier. On 11 September, Serbian troops and paramilitary police dispersed some 40,000 Kosovars from their makeshift camp near Decan. PM
 NATO LAUNCHES MANEUVERS IN MACEDONIATroops from 26 countries began exercises under NATO leadership in Macedonia on 12 September. U.S. General Wesley Clark, who is the Atlantic alliance's supreme commander in Europe, said in Krivolak, Macedonia, that the purpose of the maneuvers is to "demonstrate NATO's capabilities" by simulating the evacuation of Western diplomats and civilians under wartime conditions. Clark added: "The whole world is watching [the developments in Kosova] and it is inevitable that some conclusions can be made, but this exercise has nothing to do" with the crisis in Kosova. Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski said that the maneuvers "demonstrate [NATO's] clear interest in maintaining peace in a region that is of extreme interest today." PM
 BOSNIA VOTES WITHOUT SERIOUS INCIDENTS...More than 70 percent of Bosnia-Herzegovina's registered voters cast their ballots on 12-13 September at polling stations in the Republika Srpska, the mainly Croatian and Muslim federation, and at special refugee voting centers in Croatia and federal Yugoslavia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The OSCE, which supervised the election, also allowed Bosnian refugees in other countries to cast absentee votes by mail. Some polling stations in Bosnia failed to open on time on 12 September owing to computer problems or because complete voting lists had not arrived. The OSCE and local authorities quickly overcame the problems, and voting proceeded smoothly the following day. In contrast to the 1996 general elections, voting took place without any reports of violence. Inconclusive first results have begun to trickle in. OSCE officials expect the final tally to be available around 23 September. PM
 ...AMID PRAISE FROM INTERNATIONAL C0MMUNITYIn Banja Luka on 13 September, Bosnian Serb authorities detained a Sarajevo- based television crew for two hours for filming the office of Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic without permission. Robert Barry, who is the OSCE's chief official supervising the vote, called the detention of the journalists "outrageous" and promised to investigate the incident, AP reported. Barry added, however, that the voting was "the most successful" election in Bosnia since the Dayton agreement was signed at the end of 1995. Carlos Westendorp, who is the international community's chief representative in Bosnia, called the election "a great day for democracy." Robert Gelbard, who is President Bill Clinton's special envoy to the former Yugoslavia, said that the voting was "free and fair," adding that "no election process is perfect." He expressed concern, however, that posters depicting indicted war criminals appeared in some Croatian or Serbian areas, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 CROATIA SUSPENDS POLICE OFFICIALSInterior Minister Ivan Penic said in Zagreb on 11 September that he has suspended Sibenik's chief of police and two deputy chiefs following the death of an Italian tourist in that Adriatic city on 6 September. Seven policemen, who have since been arrested, had badly beaten the tourist, whom they said "disturbed the peace and interfered with traffic." AP wrote on 11 September that the incident was "the worst case of police violence" in Croatia in recent memory. Foreign Minister Mate Granic telephoned his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, to discuss the incident. PM
 RADICAL WING OF HUNGARIAN ETHNIC PARTY DEMANDS 'DUAL CITIZENSHIP'...The Szeklers' Forum, convened in Cernatul de Jos on 12 September by Laszlo Tokes, honorary chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), criticized the performance of the UDMR leadership and demanded the right to "dual citizenship" for members of the Hungarian ethnic minority. The forum also passed a resolution that the Romanian-language media described as a demand for the territorial autonomy of the Szekler counties. The resolution, however, makes no mention of those counties and speaks of autonomy in line with "the subsidiary principles" of "Western practice on local autonomy and self-government." The forum also demanded the return to the Hungarian community of confiscated Church property and the "reinstitution" of a Hungarian state university in Cluj. And it protested attempts to "militarize" counties inhabited by ethnic Hungarians and "change their population structure." MS
 ...AS UDMR LEADER DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM RESOLUTIONSUDMR chairman Marko Bela has said that the Cernatul de Jos gathering was " not statutory" and that the relatively low attendance shows that the bulk of UDMR members do not identify with criticism by Tokes's wing. Marko said it is "up to the Hungarian government" to discuss the "dual citizenship" proposal, adding that he himself would not ask for that status. He added that some of the forum's demands already figure in the UDMR's program and Tokes's wing must "show how to implement them more specifically." On 11 September, European Commissioner Hans van den Broek, said in a statement that he has "encouraged" the Romanian government to find "alternative means" to satisfy the Hungarians' demands. He also denied that he views "muliculturalism" as the only way to meet those demands. MS
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT URGES QUICKER PACE OF REFORMThe parliament on 12 September passed a resolution saying that the speeding up of reforms in the economic sector and in public administration is "the only way out" of the present economic and social crisis. The resolution added that Moldova abides by "democratic values" and that its objective is to "achieve integration into European and international structures." The legislature empowered the government to take measures in coordination with the National Bank to ensure the country's "financial and economic stability." It also said that the government must speed up the privatization of state enterprises and of the energy sector, balance the budget by "renouncing the harmful practice of increasing the public debt," and restructure the state administration. On 11 September, Deputy Premier Ion Sturdza told the legislature that the budget can no longer withstand the effects the Russian economic crisis, estimating lost revenues at 300 million lei ($60 million). MS
[C] END NOTE
 THE PASSING OF A GIANTby Paul Goble
Estonian Ambassador Ernst Jaakson will be buried in New York today in a ceremony certain to be like the man himself: modest, dignified, and symbolic of issues larger than any individual.
Following his death on 5 September, Mr. Jaakson--as he was universally known--garnered tributes from around the world focusing on his remarkable diplomatic career, which extended from 1919 until his death.
That record of unbroken service--first as a translator for Estonia's ambassador in Riga, then as an Estonian consul in the U.S. before and during the Soviet occupation, and finally as Estonian ambassador to Washington and the United Nations--will never be equaled.
But in many ways, Mr. Jaakson's length of service--some 79 years--is far less significant than the way in which he filled it. A man of genuine modesty, Mr. Jaakson never confused himself with the cause he represented, nor did he place his own interests above those of his country.
Indeed, when he published his memoirs a few years ago, many readers were disappointed that he had included so few details about himself, focusing instead on the great events through which he lived.
But as Mr. Jaakson would have told them, that was precisely the point of his life. He represented Estonia when it was a small country far away from the United States. He represented it during the long years when it was occupied by the Soviet Union and when few thought it would ever be free again. And Mr. Jaakson lived to represent it once Estonia recovered its independence in 1991.
Consequently, for many in both Estonia and the West, to an important degree Mr. Jaakson was Estonia precisely because he invariably subordinated himself to its cause.
A man of enormous dignity, Mr. Jaakson performed all the duties he was given with integrity, good manners, and charm. During the long years of the Soviet occupation when Baltic representatives in the West were often the object of curiosity or humorous dismissal, Mr. Jaakson commanded universal respect. And he did so not peremptorily but by his personal authority.
Even those inclined to dismiss the Baltic cause often went away from meetings with him convinced that indeed Estonia and her Baltic neighbors would be free again. And when Estonia and her neighbors were working together to recover their independence, Mr. Jaakson's personal authority was such that presidents, prime ministers, and secretaries of state always listened to him.
Compared with his two Baltic colleagues in Washington, Mr. Jaakson said relatively little in public or private. But when he spoke, often after all the others, his interlocutors knew that they had heard the voice of someone special.
Mr. Jaakson helped guide the Estonian people and their leaders toward regaining independence, and he helped to provide them--always gently but firmly--in learning how to interact with the rest of the world once they achieved it. Finally, Mr. Jaakson was a symbol. Throughout his career and especially during the darkest days of Soviet occupation, he was called Mr. Estonia. More recently, as Estonia moved to recover its independence, many referred to him as "the conscience of Estonia," the man who kept the Estonian dream alive at a time when so many gave up.
Indeed, and in recognition of this special status, he is the only Estonian official other than the pre-war presidents to have a bust in the Estonian presidential palace at Kadriorg. And most recently, he has been characterized as the "legendary" diplomat because of his unparalleled length of service.
But Mr. Jaakson was more than that.
He was a symbol of another age, a time when personal integrity was paramount, when self-sacrifice to a greater cause was the ideal, and when diplomats made their mark by long years of work, rather than by flashy media plays.
As all those who knew him will confirm, Mr. Jaakson was a giant not only among diplomats or among Estonians. He was a giant among human beings.
Those who knew him were privileged; they know how rare a man Mr. Jaakson was.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty