|Saturday, 8 August 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 7, 99-01-13
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 7, 13 January 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 DEFEATED COMMUNIST CANDIDATE TO PROTEST KAZAKHSTAN ELECTION OUTCOMESerikbolsyn Abdildin told a press conference in Almaty on 12 January that the results of the 10 January presidential election were systematically falsified, Russian media reported. Abdildin said that at many precincts, officials did not even bother to count the ballot papers but simply entered on the protocols figures predetermined by the country's authorities. According to official returns, incumbent president Nursultan Nazarbayev polled some 82 percent and Abdildin 12.08 percent. But ITAR- TASS quoted Abdildin as saying that "it is difficult to give an overall figure, but our observers confirm we won no fewer votes than Nazarbayev." Abdildin said the alleged voter turnout of 86 percent is "unrealistic" and that election monitors witnessed instances of multiple voting at almost 70 percent of local electoral precincts, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 13 January. He said he will appeal to international organizations not to recognize the poll results as valid. LF
 JAPAN EXTENDS AID TO KYRGYZSTANThe Japanese government has granted Kyrgyzstan some 300 million yen (approximately $2.7 million) to underpin the country's structural reforms and help overcome the repercussions of the 1998 Russian financial crisis, Russian agencies reported. The grant is the fourth that Japan has extended to Kyrgyzstan. LF
 TAJIK SECURITY COUNCIL ASSESSES NOVEMBER INSURRECTIONThe Tajik Security and Interior Ministers and several local administrators have been reprimanded by the Security Council for their failure to prevent the uprising in Leninabad in November 1998, presidential press spokesman Zafar Saidov told ITAR-TASS on 12 January. The government has also assumed control over the Uzbek-language newspaper "Halk ovozi" in order to ensure its "appropriate coverage of questions of the state's domestic and foreign policy," according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" of 13 January. The population of Leninabad is predominantly ethnic Uzbek. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov has accused neighboring Uzbekistan of direct involvement in the November insurrection, which was led by Colonel Mahmud Khudoberdiev and former Premier Abdumalik Abdullodjonov. LF
 TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZES RENEGADE FIELD COMMANDERAt a meeting of the National Reconciliation Commission on 11 January, United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri condemned an incident in Sagirdasht, east of Dushanbe, on the night of 5-6 January in which opposition fighters led by field commander Rustan Zinnatov killed four civilians while attempting to steal cattle, Asia-Plus reported from Dushanbe on 13 January. Zinnatov has since been arrested. LF
 ARMENIA'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION CHAIRMAN CRITICIZES NEW ELECTION LAWThe new election law, which the parliament is expected to pass later this month, is flawed and needs serious amendments, Khachatur Bezirjian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 12 January. Bezirjian said the bill does not outline "mechanisms" for election officials to deal with what he called "technical issues" related to voting and ballot counting. He deplored the fact that provincial commissions, rather than the lower-level communal commissions, are charged with counting the so-called "coupons" attached to ballots. Those coupons are intended to expose any discrepancies between the number of people who vote and the number of ballots cast. Bezirjian argued that provincial commissions will be unable to cope with the huge number of coupons and that counting them will delay the final results. He also objected to a clause allowing political parties to change their representatives on commissions as many times as they want. LF
 RUSSIA DENIES DEPLOYING S-300s IN ARMENIASpeaking at a news conference in Yerevan on 12 January, Russian ambassador to Armenia Anatolii Dryukov denied claims by senior Azerbaijani officials that Moscow has deployed S-300 air defense missiles in Armenia, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital reported. But Dryukov said that Moscow does plan to upgrade the weaponry of its forces based in Armenia, including anti-aircraft defense systems. Also on 12 January, Dryukov met with Prime Minister Armen Darpinian to discuss cooperation in science, technology, power engineering, metallurgy and the chemical industry, according to ITAR- TASS and Noyan Tapan. LF
 GEORGIA LUKEWARM ON ABKHAZ REPATRIATION OFFERGeorgian presidential adviser Levan Aleksidze has dismissed as "sheer populism" Abkhaz President Vladislav Arzdinba's offer to permit Georgian displaced persons to return to Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion beginning 1 March, Interfax reported on 12 January. Aleksidze said that the offer may have been motivated by the Abkhaz leadership's need for economic aid. Aleksidze said that the Georgian leadership insists that all ethnic Georgians who return to Gali be permitted to participate in the work of local councils and police, but he claimed that the Abkhaz will not allow them to do so. The Abkhaz have said they will allow some Georgian repatriates to work for those bodies, but the criteria for determining who is eligible are unclear. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 VOLLEBAEK ANNOUNCES PRISONER RELEASE IN KOSOVANorwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who holds the rotating OSCE chair, said in Prishtina on 12 January that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has agreed to release soon and unconditionally the eight Yugoslav soldiers it is holding as prisoners (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999). He gave no further details. Yugoslav army spokesmen have repeatedly insisted that all men be released as soon as possible and without conditions, saying that otherwise the military will try to free them. UCK spokesmen have stressed that the men will be released only a few at a time until the Serbian authorities free nine Kosovars whom they recently captured near the Albanian border. Observers noted that the army is under strong pressure from the soldiers' parents and colleagues to show that it is doing all it can to free the men. The observers added that the UCK, for its part, is under pressure from its backers to remain firm. PM
 KOSOVARS BURY PROMINENT JOURNALISTSome 1,000 Kosovars attended the funeral in Bradash of Enver Maloku, who was recently killed by unidentified gunmen (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999). Armed members of the UCK in uniform provided both security and a guard of honor at the burial. A spokesman for shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova said that the "killing is proof of what the Serbian regime may do to us if we are journalists." Many prominent Kosovar political and cultural leaders attended a gathering in Prishtina to honor Maloku. Several speakers said his death was a blow to the freedom of the press. PM
 WHO KILLED MALOKU?Fehmi Agani, who heads Rugova's negotiating team, said in Prishtina on 12 January that he is not certain who killed Maloku. He added that he suspects the Serbian authorities murdered him in the hope that the moderates would blame the UCK and thereby widen divisions within Albanian ranks. Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the EU's special envoy for Kosova, said that the murder "was the work of professional killers." He did not say whether he thinks that those persons were Serbs or Kosovars but added that he "does not exclude the possibility that rivalries among the Kosovars were the reason for the killing," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 EFFORTS CONTINUE TOWARD POLITICAL SOLUTION TO KOSOVA CRISISVollebaek and Rugova, meeting in Prishtina on 12 January, discussed the possibilities for a political solution to the Kosova crisis. The Norwegian minister did not give any details of the outcome of his talks but told reporters that he has repeatedly urged Rugova and Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to work together to obtain a lasting political settlement. PM
 RUSSIA, FRANCE SEEK EXPANDED ROLE FOR CONTACT GROUPRussian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told a press conference in Moscow that he and his visiting French counterpart, Hubert Vedrine, agree that the international contact group must play a greater role in ending the conflict in Kosova. Ivanov described the French and Russian positions on Kosova as "similar or identical," Interfax reported. Vedrine told reporters that U.S. shuttle diplomacy in the Balkans has not led to a resolution of the conflict and that time has come for the Contact Group, which France currently chairs, to take a more active role. Observers noted that both Paris and Moscow have long been resentful of U.S. diplomatic prominence in the former Yugoslavia. PM
 SERBIAN MINISTERS BLAST 'CIA INTERFERENCE'Deputy Prime Ministers Ratko Markovic, Vojislav Seselj, and Milovan Bojic told a press conference in Belgrade on 12 January that they possess what they called "a CIA document" allegedly showing that U.S. aid for promoting democracy in Serbia is aimed at bringing down the Milosevic regime. The ministers charged that the U.S. has increased spending aimed at the democratization of Serbia from $15 million to $35 million, but they did not substantiate that claim. The three men criticized opposition parties, student organizations, independent media, and labor unions for accepting assistance from the U.S. The VOA's Serbian Service quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying that Washington's support for democracy in Serbia "is no secret." RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported that information on U.S. aid aimed at democratization in Serbia is available on the internet. PM
 ITALIAN DEFENSE MINISTER RULES OUT NATO INTERVENTION IN KOSOVACarlo Scognamiglio told AP in Tirana on 12 January that he does not think "NATO intervention is the right step to take." He added that "we should try all political measures to find a solution to this critical situation." Scognamiglio stressed, however, that "irresponsible acts could lead to an escalation of this conflict." He also warned that the strife "could spread through the region. Such a situation would be really difficult to control." Scognamiglio discussed with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and Defense Minister Luan Hajdaraga the situation in Kosova. He said that Italy will provide Albania's army with vehicles and other equipment. Majko told his cabinet earlier that day that NATO intervention is necessary to avert renewed fighting in Kosova. FS
 BILDT WANTS NATO TO SEAL BORDER TO PRESURE UCKCarl Bildt, who in 1996 was appointed the international community's first high representative for Bosnia, told the "Financial Times" of 12 January that "the reluctance of NATO to deploy forces in northern Albania has impaired efforts to work towards a settlement" in Kosova. He proposed that NATO troops seal the Albanian-Kosovar border, arguing that "NATO has made clear that it is ready to use its air power against Serbia. But [without troops in the area] it has little leverage over Kosova's ethnic Albanian separatists." Those separatists are trained in camps in northern Albania. Bildt also warned that the lack of leverage over the UCK "seriously undermines the possibility of political progress." And he noted that "as long as military pressure is not exerted on all sides to the conflict, it will scarcely be possible to move the political process forward." FS
 UCK SEEKS DONATIONS FROM ALBANIANS ABROADIn a statement broadcast by Albanian Television on 12 January, the UCK's general staff called on ethnic Albanians everywhere to donate money to the guerrillas. The statement said that ethnic Albanians should not "wait and watch but instead directly support the realization of the will of the people" to achieve Kosova's independence. The statement suggested that such donations are a "permanent obligation" of all Albanians in Europe and the U.S. Observers noted that Rugova's shadow state has long relied on regular contributions from Kosovars in Western Europe and elsewhere. FS
 PLAVSIC SAYS POPLASEN DESTABILIZES REPUBLIKA SRPSKAFormer Bosnian Serb President Biljana Plavsic said in Banja Luka on 12 January that Nikola Poplasen, her hard-line successor, has "destabilized the Republika Srpska" by failing to nominate a prime minister who can command a majority in the parliament and the support of the international community, "Danas" reported. PM
 CROATIA, SLOVENIA FAIL TO AGREE ON KEY ISSUESCroatian Foreign Minister Mate Granic said in Bezanec on 12 January that he and his Slovenian counterpart, Boris Frlec, failed to agree on their countries' frontier in the Gulf of Piran, which has bedeviled bilateral relations since the two countries seceded from Yugoslavia in 1991. Granic said that the two men will try again to find a solution on 14 February. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service says that Croatia will not allow Slovenia to have a 200-meter access to the open sea unless Ljubljana makes concessions to Zagreb on other issues, including the management of the jointly owned nuclear plant at Krsko and the disposal of nuclear waste. Slovenia wants Croatia to dispose of the waste until at least 2008, "Vecernji list" reported. PM
 TENSIONS CONTINUE TO GROW OVER ROMANIAN MINERS' THREATSThe leader of the striking miners in the Jiu Valley, Miron Cozma, has called on President Emil Constantinescu to mediate in the conflict and has repeated the threat that the miners will travel to Bucharest if neither Constantinescu nor Premier Radu Vasile visits the valley on 13 January. Cozma said miners will be asked to sign a declaration that they are going to Bucharest voluntarily. That move, he said, would be aimed at dispelling "rumors" that the miners are being manipulated. Cozma and the Greater Romania Party (PRM) also announced that Cozma's membership in the PRM has been "temporarily suspended" in order to preclude such rumors. President Constantinescu said that he will not mediate "for the time being" because the possibilities of a "dialogue" between the miners and the government "have not yet been exhausted." Romanian Television said anti- riot troops have been deployed on the main road near Petrosani. MS
 ROMANIA'S 'MONICAGATE' SCANDAL CONTINUESA prosecutor has invited PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor to present proof concerning his allegations about President Emil Constantinescu and other politicians and about the "diary" of actress Rona Hartner, which Tudor recently presented on nationwide television (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 1999). Hartner has filed a complaint against Tudor, whom she accuses of calumny. She is asking for a graphological examination of the alleged diary, which suggests that Constantinescu had an extra-marital affair with her. Hartner is also suing Tudor's close associate Laurean Taifas, who she says threatened her to acknowledge the diary's authenticity. MS
 BRITISH DEFENSE SECRETARY IN ROMANIAGeorge Robertson on 12 January met with Premier Radu Vasile, Minister of Defense Victor Babiuc and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu. Robertson said Romania has made progress on reforming its military and that Britain backs its bid to join NATO. He said Romania could become a NATO member in a second wave of expansion but added that this does not mean a decision on a second wave will be taken at the upcoming Washington summit. Robertson also expressed concern over developments in Kosova. He and Plesu said the two countries are worried about Serbian opposition to Romania's participation in the OSCE mission in Kosova, AP reported.
 BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK REVOKES CREDIT BANK'S LICENSEThe National Bank on 12 January revoked the license of Credit Bank PLC and filed a bankruptcy petition against it, BTA reported, quoting National Bank Governor Svetoslav Gavriiski and the bank's supervision department head, Emilia Milanova. The court must rule on the petition within 14 days. The decision was prompted by the bank's failure to make payments for more than seven days. The controversial Multigroup company owns a majority stake of 62 percent in Credit Bank. Also on 12 January, Deputy Industry Minister Marin Marinov told journalists that loss-making state enterprises that have assets of up to 1 billion leva (nearly $592,000) and were not sold by 1 January 1999 will either be liquidated or declared bankrupt. MS
[C] END NOTE
 EU CANDIDATES BRACE FOR TOUGHER NEGOTIATIONSby Breffni O'Rourke
The five East European countries in the lead for EU membership are now preparing for a fresh round of negotiations on the terms of their accession.
Chief negotiators for the five--Poland, Hungary, Estonia, the Czech Republic, and Slovenia--have agreed among themselves to submit their countries' negotiating positions to the EU Executive Commission by the end of this month. At stake will be another eight chapters of the "acquis communautaire," the body of EU rules and regulations to which the candidate members must conform as part of their commitment to membership. This will be the second round of substantive negotiations between Brussels and the candidates. The first took place in a festive atmosphere last November, when five chapters of the acquis considered relatively easy were tackled.
The eight chapters slated for discussion will contain some of the more complex issues, including the free movement of goods, consumer and health protection, fisheries, and customs union. A senior official with the EU's Expansion Task Force, Michael Leigh, told RFE/RL that, "It is certainly true that some of the [issues] which are on the table now, such as the free movement of goods, are particularly complex. That heading is not the most difficult in terms of negotiations necessarily--that remains to be seen-- but one of the most complex, touching a wide variety of industrial fields and a great deal of community legislation."
Leigh also noted that the topic of customs union will be especially complex in negotiations with the Czech Republic, because the Czechs have a customs union with Slovakia, which they want to keep. But Slovakia, though a candidate for EU membership, is not among the front-running applicants, making it likely that Bratislava will join the EU at a later date than Prague. The question thus arises of how the Czechs are to be fully integrated into the EU's internal market while preserving this eastward link.
The five eastern candidates, along with the sixth front- runner, Cyprus, are now busy preparing their negotiating positions. The chief negotiators of the six, meeting in Budapest last month, decided that they would follow a common timetable for submission of their position to the EU--namely, at the end of this month. Bilateral negotiations between the EU and the individual delegations will begin in April and May at the level of senior officials, followed by a foreign ministers' meeting in June.
Leigh says that the success of the second round of negotiations depends largely on the energy and preparedness of the candidate countries, but he cautions that things could take time: "I am optimistic that all problems can be overcome with the necessary work and preparation and desire to find solutions, and I am sure that during the course of negotiations all these problems can be overcome, but it is hard to predict when."
There is now regular coordination among the six front- running candidates in the accession process. The heads of the national negotiating teams have agreed to meet regularly, with their next talks scheduled in Cyprus in April. They see this coordination as useful both for their own countries and for the EU because it creates a certain harmony of approach in the negotiating process.
A senior official in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry's accession team, Zoltan Becsey, told RFE/RL that cooperation among the six front-runners is amicable. At the same time, he notes that it is mostly limited to standardizing ways of approaching the EU: "We discuss many things, but mainly the procedure, not the content, so we do not discuss the content of our position papers in advance. After the presentation of our position papers to the EU, of course, we inform the other candidates about our views, but there is no concrete obligation for consultation among us on the content of our positions."
The other five East European candidate countries--Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria--have not yet reached the stage of substantive negotiations with the EU. In that second group, Latvia has received particular encouragement from the European Commission. According to that body, if Riga keeps up its present level of progress, it should be ready to open negotiations before the end of this year.
The author is an RFE/RL senior editor based in Prague.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty