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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 3, 99-01-07

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. 3, No. 3, 7 January 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NAZARBAYEV REVEALS MORE 'KEYS TO PROSPERITY'
  • [02] STROEV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN NEXT TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION
  • [03] NEW PARTY HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [04] TURKMEN PRESIDENT TO HEAD NEW HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
  • [05] TAJIK PRESIDENT WANTS IMPROVED EFFORTS AT COMBATTING DRUG- TRAFFICKING
  • [06] GAS RATIONED IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [07] CHASE IN TASHKENT ENDS IN EXPLOSION
  • [08] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY PROTESTS OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT
  • [09] GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS PREVENTED FROM MARKING ANNIVERSARY OF HIS OUSTER
  • [10] GEORGIAN CURRENCY LOSES VALUE AGAIN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] NATO READIES 'THREE-TIER' EVACUATION FORCE FOR KOSOVA
  • [12] DISCORD BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND PARIS?
  • [13] SHORTAGE OF OSCE MONITORS FOR KOSOVA
  • [14] TIGHT SECURITY IN PRISHTINA FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS
  • [15] U.S. BLOCKS $20 MILLION FOR SERBIAN BANKS
  • [16] INDEPENDENT SERBIAN MEDIA OPPOSE 'EXTREMISTS'
  • [17] MILOSEVIC FAILS TO BLOCK INTERNET
  • [18] WASHINGTON PROTESTS ATTACK ON SERBIAN STUDENT
  • [19] ARBOUR BLASTS ZAGREB
  • [20] UNAUTHORIZED SENATE DELEGATION MEETS WITH STRIKING MINERS
  • [21] DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS LOW SPENDING ON MILITARY HINDERS NATO CHANCES
  • [22] EX-BULGARIAN KING VISITS COAL MINE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] WHERE REFORMS TRUMP RESOURCES

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NAZARBAYEV REVEALS MORE 'KEYS TO PROSPERITY'

    Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at a meeting of his supporters in Astana on 6 January, revealed more of his goals should he be re-elected on 10 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Nazarbayev had earlier said he holds the keys to prosperity and that one of them is taking measures to avoid a financial crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1999). He went on to explain on 6 January that the second "key" is preserving social stability by achieving inter-ethnic harmony. The third is the democratization of society in stages and the fight against crime and corruption, while the fourth is an "effective and reasonable" social policy that includes paying wages and pensions on time, providing employment opportunities, regular heating and electricity supplies, and universal access to health care and education. The fifth key, he said, is further integration with other CIS states. "Only together will the Commonwealth [of Independent States] be able to overcome crisis misfortunes," he commented. BP

    [02] STROEV SAYS KAZAKHSTAN NEXT TO JOIN RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION

    Speaker of the Russian Federation Council Yegor Stroev said he is sure Kazakhstan will be the next country to join the Russia-Belarus union, Interfax reported on 5 January. Stroev said "necessity will push Kazakhstan into our union,' adding that Ukraine will "follow in Kazakhstan's footsteps." Kazakhstan's President Nazarbayev is a staunch advocate of further integration within the CIS and one of the driving forces behind the establishment of the CIS Customs Union, which comprises Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan is expected to become a full member of that union in the near future. BP

    [03] NEW PARTY HOLDS FOUNDING CONGRESS IN KAZAKHSTAN

    The Agrarian Party of Kazakhstan held its founding congress in Astana on 6 January, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The meeting was attended by 131 people representing 12 regions. The goal of the party is to support farmers and push for the introduction of private land ownership. BP

    [04] TURKMEN PRESIDENT TO HEAD NEW HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

    Saparmurat Niyazov signed a decree on 6 January establishing a human rights commission that he will head, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported. The commission, which is to be subordinated to the Supreme Court and the Institute for Democracy and Human Rights, will oversee the work of law enforcement agencies, the military, and the judiciary. Its members will include representatives of the National Security Committee, the Interior Ministry, and the Prosecutor-General's Office as well as the heads of local and regional administrations. The same day, Niyazov announced that a moratorium on the death penalty has gone into effect (see "RFE/RL Newsline, "4 December 1998). According to Interfax, Turkmen courts passed 700 death sentences last year, most of which were for drug-related offenses. It is unknown how many of those sentences were carried out. BP

    [05] TAJIK PRESIDENT WANTS IMPROVED EFFORTS AT COMBATTING DRUG- TRAFFICKING

    Imomali Rakhmonov called a special cabinet meeting on 6 January to demand improved efforts in combating drug- trafficking, ITAR-TASS reported. The meeting followed the arrest at Moscow's Domodedyevo airport of a Tajik citizen seeking to smuggle 6 kilograms of heroin into the country. Rakhmonov said the incident did "great moral damage to the republic's authority in the international arena." He ordered tighter controls at the country's airports, on its railway network, and at roadside checkpoints. According to an ITAR-TASS report on 5 January, the Tajik State Commission for Drug Control reported that Tajik law enforcement representatives seized more than 2 tons of narcotics, a large part of which was heroin, last year. Russian border guards along the Tajik-Afghan border seized more than 1 ton of narcotics in 1998. BP

    [06] GAS RATIONED IN TAJIKISTAN

    Gas in Tajikistan is being rationed owing to insufficient funds to pay neighboring Uzbekistan for supplies, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 January. The agency responsible for providing the country with gas, Tajikcomservice, said the population has paid only 5-10 percent of their bills and that their debt to the country exceeds 10 billion Tajik rubles (some $10 million). BP

    [07] CHASE IN TASHKENT ENDS IN EXPLOSION

    Police in Tashkent on 5 January were pursuing a man in the capital's Chilonzar District when a hand grenade the man was carrying blew up, RFE/RL correspondents reported. The man is believed to be one of three who recently attacked police and border guards along the Turkmen- Uzbek border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 1999). Six people died in that incident. After negotiating with the police, the man was attempting to flee in a car when the hand grenade accidentally went off. BP

    [08] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY PROTESTS OFFICIAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST IT

    The Azerbaijan Democratic Party issued a statement on 6 January condemning rallies convened by the leadership of Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, Turan reported. Participants at those rallies called for the arrest of the party's secretary-general, Sardar Djalaloglu, for having allegedly made insulting comments about the exclave's population. They also demanded the closure of the party's newspaper and of the independent newspaper "Yeni Musavat." LF

    [09] GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS PREVENTED FROM MARKING ANNIVERSARY OF HIS OUSTER

    Police in Tbilisi used force to prevent supporters of deceased President Zviad Gamsakhurdia from staging a demonstration in central Tbilisi on 6 January, the seventh anniversary of Gamskahurdia's ouster by warlords Tengiz Kitovani and Djaba Ioseliani, Caucasus Press reported. Tbilisi police chief Soso Alavidze said that the would-be demonstrators were guilty of disturbing public order. LF

    [10] GEORGIAN CURRENCY LOSES VALUE AGAIN

    Having recovered slightly from its early December fall against the dollar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 December 1998), the lari lost 20 percent of its value against the U.S. currency on 5-6 January, falling to 2.18 to the dollar, Caucasus Press reported. On 5 January, the Central Bank had set an exchange rate of 2.3246 lari to the euro, according to Reuters. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] NATO READIES 'THREE-TIER' EVACUATION FORCE FOR KOSOVA

    An unnamed NATO spokesman told Reuters in Brussels on 6 January that the Atlantic alliance's rapid reaction force to evacuate endangered OSCE civilian monitors from Kosova is expected to become "fully operational" on 8 January. The "first tier" of the force is a 1,900-strong French-led contingent based in Macedonia. It includes troops from the U.K., Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, and Canada as well as from France. A second tier consists of British-led special forces to deal with emergency situations, such as the taking of monitors as hostages. The commandos will be based in their home countries, but it is unclear which countries are supplying troops for the second or third tiers. The third tier is 3,000-strong and will also be based outside Macedonia. Its mission will be to provide support in case the entire monitoring mission has to be evacuated at once. PM

    [12] DISCORD BETWEEN WASHINGTON AND PARIS?

    Also in Brussels on 6 January, the NATO Council agreed that both the Serbian forces and the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) are to blame for current tensions in the province, independent BETA news agency reported. In an interview with Reuters, an unnamed NATO spokesman played down reports of differences between the U.S. and France over Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 1999). The spokesman stressed that the two allies are making "convergent political efforts" to help end the crisis in Serbia's southern province. In his memoirs of the Dayton peace talks, U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke wrote that Paris was highly suspicious and resentful of Washington's role in the Balkans. PM

    [13] SHORTAGE OF OSCE MONITORS FOR KOSOVA

    Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, whose country holds the OSCE rotating chair for 1999, said in Oslo on 6 January that only 600 instead of the planned 2,000 civilian monitors will be in place in Kosova by mid-January. Vollebaek added that 1,200 will be on the ground by the middle of the month, and that the final total probably will not exceed 1,500. He said that the shortfall is due to the fact that there are not enough "qualified people" willing to take on such a risky assignment, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [14] TIGHT SECURITY IN PRISHTINA FOR ORTHODOX CHRISTMAS

    Police maintained tight security near Prishtina's St. Nicholas Serbian Orthodox Church on 6 January. The strong police presence was aimed at preventing an incident similar to the recent grenade attack on a Serbian café in central Prishtina, independent Belgrade Radio B-92 reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 1999). One local Serb told B-92 that after the incident, "every normal person [in Prishtina] is afraid for his lifeŠ. [If I am attacked] I will fire back without warning." The broadcast added that a recent poll showed that 66 percent of Serbs describe themselves as "religious" and that 10 percent go to church regularly. PM

    [15] U.S. BLOCKS $20 MILLION FOR SERBIAN BANKS

    President Bill Clinton said in Washington on 6 January that the U.S. authorities have prevented some $20 million worth of transactions involving Serbian banks since mid-1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 May 1998), RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Washington and its major Western allies agreed to freeze Serbian assets abroad in response to Belgrade's crackdown in Kosova. Clinton added that Washington will keep in place the so-called "outer wall" of sanctions against Serbia, which bar it from membership in international financial institutions. Meanwhile in Belgrade, a recent survey shows that 65 percent of the Yugoslav population "lives in poverty," Radio B-92 reported. Living conditions are somewhat better in Montenegro than in Serbia. PM

    [16] INDEPENDENT SERBIAN MEDIA OPPOSE 'EXTREMISTS'

    ANEM, which is the organization of independent electronic media in Serbia, said in a statement in Belgrade on 6 January that the "existence and work of any media that promote ethnic conflicts and hatred are not desirable." The statement added that Yugoslavia needs more multiethnic broadcasting institutions and periodicals because only such media can help "create basic conditions for talks, understanding, and reconciliation of all ethnic groups and bring about the defeat of extremists of all kinds." The statement comes in response to a decision by the UCK to set up its own radio station and news agency in the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 January 1999). Meanwhile in Nis, Mayor Zoran Zivkovic of the Democratic Party blamed Milosevic's policies for the groundswell of support among Kosovars for the UCK. PM

    [17] MILOSEVIC FAILS TO BLOCK INTERNET

    Drazen Pantic, who founded Serbia's first Internet service provider, told a symposium sponsored by the United States Institute of Peace on 6 January that Milosevic has not been able to prevent the free flow of news and information through the Internet, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington. Pantic noted that the independent media have made use of the Internet since the winter of 1996-1997, when Radio B-92 set up its own web site following Milosevic's shutdown of the station's transmitter. Pantic added that attempts by the government to control Internet access by imposing taxes on users or by placing filters on anti-Milosevic web sites have failed. He also noted that some 30,000 subscribers receive B-92's daily newscasts via e-mail. PM

    [18] WASHINGTON PROTESTS ATTACK ON SERBIAN STUDENT

    State Department spokesman James Rubin said on 6 January that Washington condemns the recent beating up of Belgrade student leader Boris Karajcic shortly after his return to Serbia. Rubin did not specify who attacked Karajcic. The student leader had been on a lecture tour in the U.S., where he discussed the Belgrade government's attempts to exercise tight control over institutions of higher learning, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [19] ARBOUR BLASTS ZAGREB

    Louise Arbour, who is the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, criticized Croatia's state-run media for their "very aggressive rhetoric" and "pathetic inaccuracies" in writing about the court. She added that the government's record on cooperation with The Hague is limited chiefly to "gestures" and leaves much to be desired. Arbour noted that Croatia does not allow the court's prosecutors to collect evidence in that country. Her remarks came in the wake of statements critical of the court by President Franjo Tudjman and his chief aide, Ivic Pasalic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 1998). Her comments were the strongest she has ever made in public regarding Croatia, AP noted. PM

    [20] UNAUTHORIZED SENATE DELEGATION MEETS WITH STRIKING MINERS

    A delegation of Romanian senators, led by Senate Economic Commission chairman Viorel Catarama, traveled to the Jiu Valley on 6 January to meet with striking miners, Romanian Radio reported. A government spokesman said Catarama is not authorized to negotiate with the miners. Petre Roman, the president of the Senate, said the delegation can only obtain information on the situation, and he added that he hopes Catarama will not overstep his authority. Many of the miners reacted angrily when they learned that Catarama will not negotiate for the government. The government has rejected miners' demands that ministers travel to the mining region in southern Romania to hold talks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 January 1999). PB

    [21] DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS LOW SPENDING ON MILITARY HINDERS NATO CHANCES

    Victor Babiuc said in Bucharest on 6 January that a further decrease in this year's defense budget is imperiling any chance the country has of joining NATO in the near future, Rompres reported. Babiuc said the Defense Ministry budget of just 1.98 percent of estimated GDP for 1999 is the lowest over the last four years. He said such a small budget will paralyze army training, prevent reform, and threaten operational capabilities. Babiuc added that reduced spending on defense will be cited by NATO leaders as a reason for not inviting Bucharest to join the alliance. PB

    [22] EX-BULGARIAN KING VISITS COAL MINE

    Former King Simeon II, visiting a mine in Pernik, some 30 kilometers southwest of Sofia, told miners that Bulgaria can revive itself economically only if a consensus is achieved among its social classes and ethnic groups. "One of the reasons for our lack of unity," Simeon said, "is a typical Bulgarian feature that makes everyone want to be the [only] leader," AP reported. Last month, the government asked the Constitutional Court to invalidate a 1946 referendum--widely thought to have been rigged-- that abolished the monarchy. Simeon ruled Bulgaria under regencies for three years starting in 1943, when he was 6 years old. MS/PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [23] WHERE REFORMS TRUMP RESOURCES

    by Paul Goble

    In the post-Soviet states, political and economic reforms are proving to be more important than location and natural resources in creating favorable conditions for both local businessmen and outside investors.

    Those countries and regions that have carried out such reforms have outperformed those that have not--even when the latter have the edge in resources and other traditional foundations for economic growth. And this gap between the reformers and the non-reformers seems likely to grow in the years ahead.

    This conclusion, reflected in a series of reports released at the turn of the year, is likely to encourage those both inside and outside the region who have been pressing for reform and who believe that political reform is just as important as economic change for business to grow.

    But it is also likely to raise new questions about outside investment in countries and regions blessed with extensive natural resource holdings or favorable geographic location but so far lacking the commitment to complete the transition from the communist past to democracy and the free market.

    The most dramatic example of the impact of reform on economic performance is provided by an Economist Intelligence Unit survey of business conditions in Russian cities outside Moscow that was published in December.

    The EIU survey concludes that the six best cities for business in Russia -- Nizhnii Novgorod, Samara, Saratov, Yekaterinburg, Perm, and Velikii Novgorod -- have two things in common: one, their leaders are committed to economic and political reform, and two, they lack the natural resources that many, both inside and outside the region, had expected would be "Russia's saving grace."

    But as the survey notes, Russian regions that enjoy such resources and have far better geographic locations often allow the "easy money" they have received in the short term to become an excuse for not making the kind of changes that will allow them to earn their way in the future.

    In short, the EIU says, "politics, not petroleum" appear likely to determine where Russian businesses will thrive and where they will not.

    The link between politics and petroleum also informs some recent studies of the economic prospects of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, three oil- and gas-rich countries that had expected to outperform other post- Soviet states lacking such resources. To date, that has not happened, and recent assessments by Western scholars and journalists recently summarized in "The New York Times" suggest that these optimistic expectations may not be realized anytime soon.

    As most of the studies acknowledge, a major reason for the lack of progress in these three states is geography. None is in a position to ensure that its enormous petroleum reserves can ever reach world markets. And it is thus not surprising that most of the discussion in the West about these countries until now has focused on pipeline routes rather than on the internal political and economic situations of these states.

    But that is beginning to change, with ever more analysts focusing on the countries' economic and political situations. This attention has highlighted three sets of problems that may make it more difficult for these countries to create the climate they need for future business development.

    First, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan still face the problems inherent in a transition from surviving Soviet-era leaders, who many argue have run roughshod over democratic principles to remain in power and who by their own design appear to lack a class of obvious political successors.

    Second, all three are confronted with large and, in some cases, growing problems of corruption and overinvolvement of government officials in economic activities. While this is a legacy of the Soviet past, it is one that all three regimes have done little to fight.

    And third, all three paradoxically face the problems of an embarrassment of riches: precisely because of the natural wealth they control, these leaders have attracted the kinds of preliminary investment that has encouraged them not to take the steps toward reform that they otherwise might have made.

    For all these reasons, these three have performed much less well than several other post-Soviet countries, such as the Baltic States, that appeared to have fewer prospects but have in fact done better.

    In the past, many analysts suggested that things would get better in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan once the petroleum began to flow to Western markets. But now, ever more people, both inside these countries and beyond, are beginning to question their earlier optimism.

    And they are beginning to focus on the need today for the kind of reforms that until now they had been willing to put off. That sets the stage for additional political and economic turmoil. But it may also help to create the kind of business climate that will allow these countries to enjoy the benefits reformist states already have.

    07-01-99


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


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