|Friday, 24 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 2, 99-01-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 2, 5 January 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 NAZARBAYEV SAYS HE HAS KEYS TO PROSPERITY...President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev told a 4 January meeting of his supporters in Almaty that if re-elected, he will "continue to pursue the creation of an independent, democratic, and economically developed state," Interfax and RFE/RL correspondents reported. Nazarbayev said there are several "keys" to prosperity, one of which is taking measures to avoid an economic crisis and encourage growth. He also noted that the country's gold and hard currency reserves remained stable at $2 billion at the end of 1998 and that inflation was only 2 percent last year, instead of the estimated 9-10 percent. He added that the tenge dropped only slightly against the dollar last year, from 75 to $1 in January to 84 to $1 at year's end. BP
 ...PROMISES TO OPEN MORE LOCKS WITH THEMNazarbayev went on to say that if he is re-elected, the government will spend $100 million this year to support domestic manufacturing and a campaign will be launched urging consumers to buy products made in Kazakhstan. Nazarbayev vowed tighter controls over the banking system and repeated earlier promises to promote political stability, ethnic harmony, and gradual measures toward democratization. He added that he is in favor of further measures against corruption and crime, an effective social policy, and better ties with other CIS countries. With regard to the economy, Nazarbayev said "there will be no collapse," noting that the IMF will extend $217 million and the World Bank $75 million in loans. According to president, "Nobody has been able to receive such an amount of money at a time of crisis." Kazakh writer Sherkhan Mutaza, attending the 4 January, called Nazarbayev "the Kazakh Mustafa Kemal Ataturk." BP
 OPPOSITION CAMPAIGNS, COMPLAINSAlso on 4 January, presidential candidate Gani Kasymov visited Almaty's Tastak market telling vendors he will liberalize import regulations for shuttle traders, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Another candidate, Serikbolsyn Abdildin of the Communist Party, appealed to Nazarbayev, speaker of the lower house of the parliament Marat Ospanov, the Central Election Commission, and the OSCE about bias in the campaign. Abdildin claimed it is unfair that popular Russian actors and musicians are appearing in advertising spots for the incumbent Nazarbayev. Abdildin also said that Nazarbayev has greater access to the media than other candidates. He called for the elections to be postponed, threatening that otherwise he will renounce his candidacy. Meanwhile, Reuters reported that in a 4 January televised address, Nazarbayev said his opponents' programs are "surprisingly similar" and that some of their policies would "lead Kazakhstan down the disastrous financial path followed by Russia." BP
 GALE-FORCE WINDS WREAK HAVOC IN NORTHERN TAJIKISTANGale-force winds and blizzards on 31 December and 1 January caused more than $1million worth of damage in Tajikistan's northern Leninabad Region, ITAR-TASS reported. The storm left more than 1,500 people homeless, tore down power lines, and damaged road. The Tajik government expects the damage estimate to increase as relief workers reach remote areas of the region. BP
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT LISTS PRIORITIES FOR 1999In his weekly radio address on 4 January, Eduard Shevardnadze said Georgia's most important task for the coming year is to overcome the repercussions of the 1998 financial crisis, Caucasus Press reported. He warned against a continuation of the lax fiscal measures that contributed to last year's budget deficit and assured listeners that all wage and pensions arrears will be paid in full before the end of January. Georgia still has no budget for 1999: the parliament returned the draft budget to the government on 23 December for revision and postponed resuming the budget debate until February. Shevardnadze also divulged details of his income and property, describing himself as "not the poorest man in Georgia." He denied owning property either in Tbilisi or Moscow but said he has a share in his family's home in the west Georgian village where he was born. LF
 HOW SERIOUS IS CRIME IN ABKHAZIA?Prosecutor-General Anri Djergenia told Caucasus Press on 3 January that the crime situation in Abkhazia is gradually improving, with the exception of the southern-most Gali Raion, where he claimed Georgian law enforcement officials are obstructing a crackdown on terrorism. But Djergenia's deputy, Tariel Parulua, has admitted that up to 100 criminal cases have been brought against members of the Abkhaz police force, and Georgia's "Dilis gazeti" on 29 December quoted Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba as threatening to resign if armed robberies on public means of transportation continue. Abkhazia's economy is virtually paralyzed as a result of restrictions on exports to the Russian Federation. On 3 January, the region's parliament raised the minimum pension to 10 Russian rubles (some 50 cents), according to Caucasus Press. LF
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S BROTHER KILLED IN AIR CRASHValerii Kocharian died on 4 January when his glider crashed during what was described as a routine practice flight from an airfield near Yerevan, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported. Valerii Kocharian had been decorated for valor during the Karabakh war, in which he was seriously wounded. In recent years, he had engaged in business. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 DJUKANOVIC CALLS FOR MILOSEVIC'S 'ISOLATION'...Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told the Hamburg-based weekly "Der Spiegel" of 4 January that the international community must "isolate" Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and cease giving him "domestic political legitimacy" by treating him as a legitimate negotiating partner. The Montenegrin president said that Washington's recent acknowledgement that Milosevic is the main problem in the Balkans "has come far too late. The international community has been fooled by his tricks for yearsŠ. [He is] one of the people responsible for the problem in Bosnia." Djukanovic promised to pull Montenegrin troops out of the Yugoslav army if Milosevic uses the military against NATO's rapid reaction force in Kosova. The Montenegrin leader added, however, that he believes Milosevic is "bluffing" when he threatens action against the force. But he warned that Milosevic may soon incite violence in Montenegro because he "needs [the republic] as a new trouble spot. He governs by stirring up conflicts." PM
 ...SEEKS 'DEMOCRATIZATION' FOR YUGOSLAVIAPresident Djukanovic stressed that the Yugoslav federation "is not working" but added that the solution is democratization and not Montenegro's or Kosova's succession from the federation. He noted that neither the Montenegrin people nor the international community favor Montenegrin independence or "any additional dramaŠin the Balkans." Djukanovic added that Podgorica nonetheless will "defend its own interestsŠby conducting its own financial policy" if Milosevic "sets off inflation by illegally printing dinars." Referring to Kosova, the Montenegrin leader called for "wide- ranging autonomy linked to the Yugoslav federation for the Albanian minority in SerbiaŠunder international mediation and guarantee." He opposed any "new state territories" in Kosova and added, "I am a firm opponent of any form of secession. That would cause new regional problems. What would happen if states were set up in the Balkans on the basis of ethnicity [alone]?" PM
 UCK AGREES TO MEETING ON JOINT PLATFORMAdem Demaci, who is the chief political representative for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), told Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko in Tirana on 4 January that UCK representatives agree to meet with unnamed other Kosovar leaders to work out a joint strategy for negotiations with the international community and the Serbs. Majko urged his guest to ensure that the Kosovars "finally speak with a single voice" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 December 1998). The Albanian government issued a statement on 5 January noting that a joint platform "is the first necessary step to unite Kosova's political potential. Time is running out for Kosova to show one face to the international community and to eliminate unnecessary competition among political factions." PM
 IS UCK OPEN TO COMPROMISE?The guerrillas published a statement in the Prishtina daily "Koha Ditore" on 4 January saying that "Kosova should have a position of an undisputed territorial entityŠfully independent from the jurisdiction of Serbia and Yugoslavia." The text added that the current U.S. draft proposal for an interim political settlement is unacceptable because it "offers the [ethnic] Albanians much less than was given to the Serbs in Bosnia" under the Dayton agreement. Observers suggested that this formulation could indicate that the UCK is willing to discuss what some regional media call the "Republika Srpska model" as an interim solution for Kosova. According to this model, the Kosovars would have as much control over their affairs as the Bosnian Serbs do over theirs. Yugoslavia would thus formally remain a single, unified country--as does Bosnia--but the Kosovars would maintain with Belgrade only the limited ties that the Bosnian Serbs have with the joint government in Sarajevo. PM
 U.S. WARNS THAT 'TIME IS RUNNING OUT'Referring to the situation in Kosova, State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 4 January: "We think both sides need to understand that there is not that much time left for a negotiated solution which can give the legitimate rights to the peopleŠand protect the national interests of the Serbs before we face the prospect of renewed and very dangerous conflict this spring." Rubin added that "the current security environment" in Kosova is "of concern" but not sufficiently dangerous to prompt NATO to consider evacuating the unarmed OSCE civilian monitors in the province. PM
 HAGUE GIVES SARAJEVO GREEN LIGHT TO TRY ABDICA spokesman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said on 4 January that the court agrees that evidence supplied by the Sarajevo authorities is sufficient "to justify the arrest [of Bihac pocket kingpin Fikret Abdic] and the case proceeding further." A spokesman for Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, who is a long-standing political rival of the controversial Abdic, said that Abdic committed "grave breaches of international law through the inhumane treatment of civilians and war prisoners and through the forced mobilizations" of civilians during the 1992-1995 conflict. Abdic, who maintained good relations with the Serbian and Croatian armies during the conflict, is widely believed to be living under government protection in Croatia. Under a 1996 international agreement, authorities in Bosnia may proceed with war crimes cases only with the approval of The Hague. PM
 TUDJMAN DEFENDS HIS WEALTHCroatian President Franjo Tudjman said in Zagreb on 31 December that some $140,000 held by his wife in Zagrebacka Banka are his "life savings" and income from "50 years of work and 30 published books" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 24 November 1998). He added that unspecified "claims that I or my family possess billions and billions are pure lies..[and] attempts to compromise Croatia's freedom and democracy." He shrugged off recent opinion polls that suggest his Croatian Democratic Community is rapidly losing electoral support. He called the surveys "something made up at someone's desk." Tudjman added that Croatia is "still better off than all former communist countries except Slovenia," Reuters quoted him as saying. PM
 ALBANIAN INSTITUTE WARNS OF 'BRAIN LOSS'The Tirana-based Center for Economic and Social Studies published a study on 31 December showing that 31.5 percent of all university teachers and researchers working in Albania in 1990 have permanently left the country since then. Meanwhile, a poll among 251 academics showed that 63.35 percent are likewise planning to leave. Ilir Gedeshi, who heads the center, warned that "teachers, engineers, scholars, artists all seem to have lost hope of leading a normal life in Albania," dpa reported. Since 1991, 23 percent of academic emigrants have gone to the U.S., 19 percent to Greece, and 18 percent to Italy. Smaller numbers went to France, Germany, or Austria. Most scholars left for countries in which they had previously done post-graduate work. Gedeshi said that most emigrants do not find work in their professions, adding that in Albania "we do not have a brain drain, but a brain loss." FS
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT REJECTS MINERS' DEMANDS...Government spokesman Razvan Popescu on 4 January said that the cabinet "rejects the politics of force" of the Jiu Valley miners and will not "conduct a dialogue" with them in view of their "ultimatum." Popescu also said that the striking miners will not receive wages for the days on which they strike. Trade and Industry Minister Radu Berceanu said he will not come to Petrosani, as demanded by the miners, but is ready to receive a nine-member delegation, on condition that Jiu Valley miners' leader Miron Cozma is not part of that group, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Berceanu added that meeting the demands of the striking miners would cost $500 million, while the losses of the Jiu Valley mining company in the last eight years amount to some $2 billion. MS
 ...AS MINERS CONTINUE STRIKESome 2,500 striking miners demonstrated in Petrosani on 4 January, shouting anti-government slogans. Cozma said Berceanu's estimation of the cost of meeting the miners' demands is a "lie" and proves he must be dismissed. Berceanu's dismissal is included on the list of demands that a delegation representing all miners' unions handed to him on 4 January. Cozma added that if the authorities refuse to let the miners travel to Bucharest by train, they will do so by bus or march on the capital from the valley. The Ministry of Interior announced it will "categorically oppose" the miners' intention to descend on Bucharest if Premier Radu Vasile or Berceanu do not travel to Petrosani by 5 January. The ministry said it "will not tolerate any act posing a threat to order and peace." MS
 BULGARIAN POLICE FIGHT ANTIQUITIES THEFTColonel Kiril Radev, chief of the police department fighting organized crime, (CSBOP), says antiquities worth nearly $1 billion were prevented from being smuggled to the West last year, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. A source familiar with the activity of the CSBOP (who requested anonymity) told RFE/RL that since 1985, some 25,000 antiquities have been discovered at the border. The source said that according to estimates, this is only about 30 percent of the antiquities that were intended for smuggling to the West, where they are sold to private collectors and to museums. On 4 January, Hungarian customs officials seized hundreds of ancient coins while searching the car of a Bulgarian seeking to enter Austria, MTI reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 A REVOLUTION OF FALLING EXPECTATIONSBy Paul Goble
Buffeted by the difficulties they experienced in 1998, ever fewer people in the post-Soviet states expect their situation to be significantly better in 1999. Indeed, polls taken across the region suggest that many there would now agree with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma who said last week that there is no reason to think that 1999 will be any easier for his country than 1998 was.
This shift from optimism to pessimism is now so widespread that it constitutes a veritable revolution of falling expectations, one that may have just as many serious political and economic consequences as the more familiar revolution of rising expectations has had elsewhere.
Revolutions of rising expectations occur when people begin to expect more owing to improvements in their lives. And such optimistic attitudes sometimes lead them to make demands that neither the economic nor the political system is able to meet. That frequently results in a crisis that can lead either to the transformation of these systems or to the demobilization of the groups making such demands. But in either case, optimism that goes beyond the capacity of the country to cope can create instability.
A revolution of falling expectations--such as the one that appears to be starting in some post-Soviet states--can be equally destabilizing but in very different and unexpected ways. Some observers have suggested that declining expectations by leaders and peoples in the post-Soviet states not only represent a new form of realism on the part of both but also give elites in these countries new opportunities to move toward democracy and the free market.
Certainly, popular and political recognition of the difficulties involved in the transition from communism is a more realistic stance than the often starry-eyed optimism that characterized the immediate post-communist period and that Western governments in fact promoted. And it is obviously true that leaders have more room to maneuver when they are not under pressure from populations that expect and even demand that tomorrow be better than today.
At the same time, there are three compelling reasons why such a view of what has been called "the new realism" in these countries is likely too rosy and why the revolution of falling expectations taking place there may have some potentially frightening consequences.
First, populations that believe that tomorrow will not be better than today and may even be worse have few reasons to seek leadership from political or economic elites. Not only does that make it more difficult for such elites to generate the kind of authority they need to make changes for the better, but it also means that these elites may be tempted to defend their own interests by force or at the expense of those of the population as a whole.
Second, when senior political leaders come to share the pessimism of the population, they are unlikely to be willing or able to take the risks necessary to help their countries escape from current difficulties. And that unwillingness is likely in many cases to reinforce the pessimism of the population and the other problems such pessimism entails.
And third, when both populations and their leaders become so pessimistic, the former are likely to be ever more willing to listen to those who would blame someone for their problems, and the latter are likely to be ever more willing to participate in such scapegoating. That helps explain the rise of anti-Semitism and growing antagonism toward those viewed as outsiders -- such as the North Caucasians in Russia -- in several of these countries. It also helps explain why ever more people and governments in these states are becoming more hostile to the West.
Such attitudes and the actions prompted by them will make it more difficult for these countries to move toward democracy and the free market or to integrate into the international community.
But while revolutions of rising expectations do not last forever, neither do revolutions of falling expectations. Both can end either when conditions finally begin to improve or, more often, when leaders seek to spread their own optimism to the population of their countries.
The role of leaders may be particularly important. To paraphrase U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who came to office in the depths of the Great Depression, the only thing to be pessimistic about in this region is the spread of pessimism to so many.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty