|Friday, 24 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 182, 98-09-21
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 2, No. 182, 21 September 1998
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 OPPOSITIONISTS MARCH IN BAKUOpposition supporters staged a march in Baku on 20 September to demand the postponement of the presidential elections scheduled for 11 October and the resignation of President Heidar Aliev. Opposition supporters put the number of participants at between 25,000 and 50,000, whereas Reuters estimated that some 10,000 people took part. After negotiations with opposition representatives, the Baku municipal authorities on 18 September agreed an a compromise route for the march. Police did not intervene. At an opposition march on 12 September, police had clashed with would-be demonstrators (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 September 1998). LF
 ALIEV DOES NOT EXCLUDE NEW WAR OVER KARABAKHAddressing some 20,000 supporters at a rally on the outskirts of Baku on 19 September, President Aliev pledged his continued commitment to democracy and to ensuring that the presidential poll is free and democratic, AP reported. He claimed the credit for numerous construction projects in Azerbaijan in the 1970s and 1980s, including roads, schools, and hospitals, but conceded unspecified mistakes and failings during the past five years. He pledged to rectify those faults. Aliev also warned that if it proves impossible to resolve the Karabakh conflict by peaceful means, then "we will use our own powers to restore our territorial integrity," according to Reuters. LF
 AZERBAIJAN APPEALS TO DESERTERS TO RETURNAzerbaijani Military Prosecutor Major-General Ramiz Rzaev has called on all Azerbaijanis who fled the country after deserting from the armed forces during the Karabakh war in 1992-1993 to return home, according to "Izvestiya" on 19 September. Rzaev stressed that all deserters have been amnestied under a recent presidential decree. LF
 FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER'S AIDE DETAINEDAkezhan Kazhegeldin on 20 September demanded the release of his aide Mikhail Vasilichenko, who was arrested two days earlier in the Kazakh capital, Astana, AP reported. Vasilichenko was to have handed over to President Nursultan Nazarbayev and government officials proposals for amending the country's constitution and election laws. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 September that printing of the Kazakh edition of a book by Kazhegeldin analyzing the current situation in Kazakhstan has been halted and all copies of the Russian-language edition confiscated. LF
 TAJIK FOREIGN MINISTRY REJECTS OPPOSITION CRITICISMThe Tajik Foreign Ministry has issued a statement condemning as "a deliberate attempt to disinform the world community" claims by Tajik opposition spokesmen that the Tajik government is deliberately delaying implementation of the peace agreement that ended the civil war, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 19 September. Four days earlier, United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri accused the Tajik leadership of failing to deliver on its commitment to reform the government and amend the constitution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September 1998). LF
 TAJIK INSURGENTS' TRIAL BEGINSThe closed trial of four men accused of attempting to overthrow the Tajik government in August 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11-12 August 1997) began in Dushanbe on 20 September, ITAR-TASS reported. The four men, who include former parliamentary deputy Sherali Mirzoev, are said to be associates of rebel Colonel Makhmud Khudoiberdiev, who had launched two previous unsuccessful coup attempts. LF
 UZBEK AIRLINE SIGNS COOPERATION AGREEMENTS WITH AEROFLOTThe national airlines of Uzbekistan and Russia signed an agreement on 18 September establishing joint flights between Moscow and the Uzbek cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Urgench, and Bukhara. They also signed accords on cargo airlifting on the Moscow-Tashkent- New Delhi route and on introducing special tariffs for flights from Uzbekistan to European and Baltic cities via Moscow, ITAR- TASS reported. Uzbek Airlines director Aslan Ruznetov told journalists at the signing ceremony that the current Russian economic crisis will not impact on cooperation between the two airlines. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 EUROPEAN OFFICIALS BLAME BERISHA FOR CRISISPolish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek, in his capacity as chairman of the OSCE, held talks with Albanian officials and opposition leader Sali Berisha in Tirana on 19 September, Reuters reported. After meeting separately with President Rexhep Mejdani, Premier Fatos Nano, and Berisha, Geremek said the OSCE fully supports Mejdani in his efforts "to find a political solution" to the crisis. Geremek urged Berisha to participate in those efforts. Nano said he will "not cooperate with crime and its promoters." Greek Foreign Ministry official George Papandreou, representing the Council of Europe, told Berisha that his actions have "undermined democratic institutions." He warned Berisha that he could be internationally isolated. French President Jacques Chirac said any effort to oust Nano by force is "unacceptable." PB
 BERISHA'S CRUSADE CONTINUES...Berisha said on 20 September that his Democratic Party (DP) is severing all contacts with the Socialists, including those at the local level, dpa reported. Berisha also said the DP is setting up a National Front for the Rejection of the Communist Neodictatorship in Albania. He said it will include all organizations and individuals "willing to oppose the government with non-violent means." A few thousand DP supporters attended a memorial service on 19 September for slain DP deputy Azem Hajdari, whose death triggered the recent crisis. The government announced that a $200,000 reward is being offered for information resulting in the arrest of Hajdari's killers. The government also ordered a purge of any government officials that assisted in the failed putsch. PB
 ...AS HIS IMMUNITY IS LIFTEDThe Albanian parliament on 18 September voted overwhelmingly to remove opposition leader Berisha's immunity as a deputy, dpa reported. With Democratic Party members boycotting the vote, the 108 remaining deputies all voted for the measure. Western officials have warned the government that arresting Berisha could escalate the crisis. Berisha seemed unfazed by the vote and said he is not "scared of being arrested" and will continue his fight "from whichever cell" they put him in. Meanwhile, in a gesture to the DP, justice officials released four of the six DP officials arrested last month for their alleged roles in the country's turmoil last year. They are being held under house arrest. PB
 HUMAN RIGHTS ENVOY CALLS FOR END TO SERBIAN ATTACKS IN KOSOVAJiri Dienstbier, the UN's special envoy for human rights, has called on Yugoslav officials to immediately end the violence in Kosova, AFP reported. Dienstbier, who is in Kosova for talks with Serbian and ethnic Albanian leaders, said he understands the fight against armed rebellion but said destroying villages is an "overreaction." Serbian forces reportedly refocused their attacks on central Kosova after a week of attacks on northeastern Kosova. In Frankfurt, German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel said talks with Russian officials have brought "slight progress" in mollifying Moscow's objections to a UN resolution on Kosova. PB
 KOSOVAR ALBANIANS MAKE PROPOSALS TO PEACE AGREEMENTEthnic Albanian leaders in Kosova released details of their counterproposal to a U.S.-backed draft agreement to end the violence in the province, AP reported on 20 September. Published in the Albanian-language daily "Koha Ditore," the proposal calls for a three-year period in which Kosova would be an independent entity equal to Serbia and Montenegro. The document says that if Belgrade and Kosovar Albanian authorities cannot agree on a permanent political status for Kosova, the people of Kosova will hold a referendum to decide its final status. Belgrade rejects a referendum outright. The proposal, floated last week and drafted by U.S. envoy Christopher Hill, says that Kosova will stay part of Serbia. The Belgrade daily "Dnevni Telegraf" said on 20 September that Yugoslav officials will submit their own proposals at an extraordinary meeting of the parliament on 28 September. PB
 SERBIAN OFFICIALS SAY NO HUMANITARIAN CRISIS IN KOSOVAZoran Andjelkovic, Serbian minister without portfolio, said on 18 September that the term "humanitarian disaster" is being used to put pressure on Belgrade in the Kosova crisis, Tanjug reported. Andjelkovic, speaking in Prishtina, said that ethnic Albanians have returned to their homes en masse and no more are left without shelter. Vuk Draskovic, leader of the Serbian Renewal Movement, said the following day in Prishtina that although the situation is "far from normal," ethnic Albanians in Kosova do not face a "humanitarian catastrophe," Beta reported. He said that refugees could return to their homes but do not want to. In Geneva, Kris Janowski, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, said that the humanitarian crisis is "worsening by the day." He estimates that some 260,000 ethnic Albanians have been made homeless by the Serbian destruction of their homes. PB
 BOSNIA SEEKS RESOLVE FROM UNMuhamed Sacirbey, Bosnia- Herzegovina's ambassador to the UN, said on 18 September that it is time for the UN Security Council to get tough with indicted war criminals living in Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Sacirbey said he would not have signed the Dayton agreement if he had known that war criminals would not be arrested. In a letter to the Council, Sacirbey wrote that Belgrade has displayed "contempt for the Security Council." PB
 MODERATES SAID TO BE FARING WELL IN BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT RACESSimon Haselock, a spokesman for high representative Carlos Westendorp, said on 18 September that moderate parties are doing well in elections for the Republika Srpska Assembly, AP reported. Haselock said the trend "is generally away from nationalist parties." He also concurred with statements by hard-liners that nationalist Momcilo Krajisnik is trailing Zivko Radisic for the Serbian position on the Bosnian presidency. Western diplomats are hoping a strong showing by moderates in the assembly will offset the expected election of ultranationalist Nikola Poplasen as president of the Republika Srpska. Observers say the move away from nationalist parties might also be realized in the results for the Bosnian joint parliament. U.S. Balkan envoy Robert Gelbard, who was in Banja Luka for talks with Bosnian officials, said Washington will cut off support to any leaders that do not back Dayton. PB
 ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATS RECALL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SEVERIN...The National Coordination Council of the Democratic Party has voted by 201-189 to recall Adrian Severin from the position of deputy chairman, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 19 September. In recent months, former Foreign Minister Severin has repeatedly criticized the party leadership. Party chairman Petre Roman said the decision "does not amount to sanctioning" Severin. The next day, Severin said the vote was unstatutory and fell short of the 266 votes stipulated by regulations. He added that he continues to regard himself as deputy chairman of the party. Also on 19 September, the council named Alexandru Sassu as its candidate for the Bucharest mayoral race in October. Sassu said that if elected, he will resign both from the legislature and as minister in charge of relations with the parliament. MS
 ...AS LIBERAL DEPUTY CHAIRMAN SUSPENDS HIMSELFNational Liberal Party (PNL) chairman Mircea Ionescu-Quintus on 18 September confirmed media reports that PNL deputy chairman Viorel Catarama has sent him a letter announcing he is "suspending himself" from that post "for an unlimited period." PNL spokesman Paul Pacuraru said the next day that Catarama's decision stems from his "dissatisfaction" with the fact that the government, of which the PNL is a member, "promotes few liberal policies" in the economy. Pacuraru also pointed to Catarama's failure to win PNL backing in May 1997 for the position of finance minister. MS
 MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS APPEAL AGAINST NUCLEAR TRANSITThe Constitutional Court on 18 September rejected an appeal by deputies from the Democratic Convention of Moldova against the parliament's decision to allow the transit of nuclear waste from the Bulgarian Kozloduy reactor, the RFE/RL Chisinau bureau reported. The court said the appeal "lacked legal grounds." The same day, BASA press reported that the management of the Moldovan Railroad Company and the Department for Civil Protection and Emergencies are refusing to reveal details on the transit "for safety reasons." MS
 BULGARIAN PARTIES AGREE ON RATIFYING MINORITIES CONVENTIONPresident Petar Stoyanov told journalists on 18 September that all Bulgarian political parties have agreed to ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly is due to discuss Bulgaria at its fall session, which begins on 21 September. Council officials told an RFE/RL correspondent that the assembly is likely to continue monitoring whether Bulgaria is honoring the obligations it undertook when it joined the council. On 19 September, before departing for Washington for talks with President Bill Clinton, Stoyanov told journalists that he expects the discussion on Bulgaria's NATO membership aspirations to be "realistic, rather than optimistic." MS
[C] END NOTE
 RUSSIA'S INTERNAL CRISIS IMPERILS COOPERATION WITH WESTBy Christopher Walker
Russia's domestic chaos has entered a new and more precarious stage, one that may distinctly alter the country's direction for the foreseeable future. In the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia has gone through periodic spasms of economic and political crisis and is currently suffering what is widely described as an "economic meltdown. " It seems that the outside world is learning a great deal more about Russia's desperate state of affairs than it would prefer. But while Russia's internal crisis is making headlines now, another issue of vital importance will preoccupy the Western community when the dust settles: namely, the impact of Russia's volatile domestic affairs on its foreign policy.
One likely result of the latest protracted crisis is the hardening of a Russian foreign policy that has already been drifting away from Western interests for some time. In fact, with the collapse of the Russian economy and the consequent growth in influence of communist and nationalist political forces, there is a grave danger that Russia's foreign policy will become more rigidly anti-Western--anti-American, in particular--than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
Anti-Americanism is already on the rise in Russia. This is in no small measure due to the Russians' linkage of failed Western-inspired economic reform with current social and economic pain. Much of Russia has concluded that the Western prescription for domestic reform is ill-suited to their country. They may similarly conclude that cooperation on a range of international matters is not in Russia's interests either.
The recent installment of Yevgenii Primakov as prime minister may be providing a sense of relief to the immediate political crisis in Russia, but there is real doubt whether his experience is suited to bringing about an improvement in Russia's economy. Primakov's strength is in the foreign arena. A tough professional diplomat and former head of Russia's External Intelligence Service, he has extensive foreign policy experience and has been a strong proponent of an assertive posture for Russia in world affairs. Primakov's compromise candidacy resulted from President Boris Yeltsin's inability to gain adequate support for his own first choice, Viktor Chernomyrdin. That inability revealed Yeltsin's acute political weakness. While dogged and at times valiant, Yeltsin's leadership has finally succumbed to the overwhelming forces massed against it: a chronically ailing economy, widespread corruption, rampant crime, and a disaffected population.
The Communists and nationalists in the Duma--whose influence has steadily increased since gains in the 1993 and 1995 parliamentary elections--are now suggesting Cold War-era solutions for today's pressing domestic emergencies. Those proposals include economic isolation and renationalization of major industries and banks. Although Yeltsin's reform team became mired in the corruption that has colored Russia's recent past, their program was fundamentally integrationalist, predicated on modernizing the country's economy and bringing Russia into the global economic system.
With regard to international matters, the Russian foreign policy elite, much of which has not accepted its Cold War defeat, still harbors ambitions of more actively using Russian power abroad. As Yeltsin has weakened politically, this same elite-- which includes Primakov--has come out against Western interests in a number of critical areas: supporting the sale of sophisticated arms to Iran; maintaining close relations with a number of outlaw states, including Syria; undermining the weapons' inspection process in Iraq; assuming an often obstructionist role in former Yugoslavia during the Bosnian and Croatian wars; and at times playing a similarly uncooperative role in Kosova.
A more nationalist and aggressively anti-Western Russian foreign policy could mean greater antagonism toward the Baltic states and increased meddling in former Soviet republics in the south Caucasus and Central Asia. Russia's own weak economic condition may limit the degree to which it can exert such influence, but it is nonetheless likely to pursue anti-Western policies with increased vigor.
Some observers now speculate that Primakov will use his credibility with the Communists and his ties to the Russian foreign policy elite to curb the impulse of these hard-liners toward an even more aggressive foreign posture. But even if he were inclined to do so, he will find it difficult to withstand pressure from the very forces instrumental in his becoming prime minister. Enjoying an increased share of power, the hard-liners doubtless have their sights on more fully orienting Russia's foreign policy in a direction not consistent with Western interests.
Playing on the anxieties of an impoverished and demoralized population, the anti-Western elements on Russia's political scene may well consolidate their gains and thereby delay the establishment of a global security order. This will present the U.S. and the Western community as a whole with a new set of foreign policy challenges, not to mention a dose of nostalgia that few are eager to relive.
The author is manager of programs at the European Journalism Network.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty