|Friday, 24 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 11, 99-01-19
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 11, 19 January 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 AZERBAIJAN SUGGESTS HOSTING U.S. MILITARY BASEIn an interview with Turan on 18 January, Azerbaijani presidential adviser Vafa Guluzade reasoned that since Armenia allows Russian military bases on its territory, Azerbaijan should strengthen its military cooperation with the West. He suggested that the first step should be to relocate the U.S. military base at Incirlik, in southern Turkey, to the Apsheron Peninsula. That base, he said, would serve U.S. strategic interests in the Caucasus. Guluzade added that Baku "would take any actions" to liberate its territories currently occupied by Armenian forces. LF
 MORE DEATHS IN ABKHAZIAThree Abkhaz civilians were killed and four injured when their horse-drawn cart hit a landmine in Abkhazia's Gali Raion on the night of 17-18 January, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. On 18 January, the bodies of three more Abkhaz who had been abducted in Gali in December were discovered, according to ITAR-TASS. In his weekly radio broadcast on 18 January, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze commented on Abkhaz President Vladidslav Ardzinba's proposal that Georgian displaced persons start returning to Gali as of 1 March. Shevardnadze said that Georgia must participate in organizing the repatriation process and that international guarantees of the repatriates' security are essential. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN ANNOUNCES PUBLIC HOLIDAY TO MARK PRESIDENT'S INAUGURATIONKazakhstan has declared 20 January, the day of Nursultan Nazarbayev's inauguration as president, a national holiday, Reuters reported on 19 January. However, the 18 and 19 January, the first two days of the three- day Oraza-Aiyt religious festival, which marks the end of the month of Ramadan, were normal working days, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau noted. In neighboring Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, the Islamic holiday of Oraza-Ayit is being marked officially. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN SEEKS TO UPGRADE POWER GRIDKazakhstan's Electricity Supply Agency President Aset Nauryzbayev told journalists in Almaty on 18 January that the agency is negotiating a $266 million loan from the World Bank in order to upgrade the country's power supply network, Interfax and RFE/RL 's Almaty bureau reported. Nauryzbayev said that Kazakhstans electricity network is almost totally self- sufficient and that only Aqtobe Oblast, in the northwest of the country, still receives electricity from Russia. Nauryzbayev failed to mention that the agency owes its employees more than 34 million tenges ($400,000) in wage arrears. LF
 TOP KYRGYZ OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN FRAUD, MURDERPresident Askar Akayev has dismissed Shalkar Jaisanbayev from his post as director-general of the Kyrgyzgazmunaizat state joint-stock oil and gas company, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 18 January. A criminal case has been brought against Jaisanbayev for serious financial crimes. According to Bolot Januzakov, a department head in the presidential administration, Kyrgyzgazmunaizat owes the state budget 163 million som (some $5.5 million) for state and foreign loans as well as 132 million som in customs duties. In addition, Jaisanbayev owes $18 million to various commercial banks. Also on 18 January, Chinara Kolbaeva, widow of prominent businessman Yusup Kolbaev, told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau that Jaisanbayev was involved in her husband's murder in March 1997. Jaisanbayev's present whereabouts are unknown. LF
 TAJIK PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER MEETDuring talks on 16 January, Imomali Rakhmonov and United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri, who heads the National Reconciliation Commission, reaffirmed their commitment to the ongoing peace process, Interfax reported. The talks focused on the allocation to the opposition of 30 percent of posts in both the cabinet and local government, the possibility of an amnesty of imprisoned opposition politicians., and the proposed referendum on changes to the country's constitution. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 BELGRADE EXPELS WALKERThe Yugoslav government issued a statement on 18 January declaring William Walker, who heads the OSCE monitoring mission in Kosova, to be "persona non grata" and giving him 48 hours to leave the country. The statement added that Walker's unspecified activities were in "flagrant contradiction with the arrangements" between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and the OSCE. Walker recently said that the Serbian security forces massacred some 45 Kosovar civilians in Recak on 15 January. The Serbian authorities maintain that the villagers died in combat (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 1999). Meanwhile in the Shtima area, Serbian forces continued on 19 January to shell several ethnic Albanian villages, the KIC news agency reported. PM
 KOSOVARS SLAM EXPULSION ORDERLeading Kosovar political figures on 19 January expressed strong objections to the decision to expel Walker, AP reported. Shadow-state parliamentary Speaker Iliaz Kurteshi called the move "an act without precedent" and a "hard blow against peace efforts in Kosova." Shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova's spokesman said "this decision shows clear arrogance toward Kosova's Albanians and also toward the international community." Christian Democratic leader Mark Krasniqi argued that "Walker only told the world of the harrowing scenes he saw in Recak village." "Casting Walker out will not help the regime hide the horrible truth about what happened here," noted Qerim Ujkani, leader of the Albanian National Democrats. The independent daily "Koha Ditore" charged that the Serbian authorities "tampered with the evidence" of the massacre when they brought the corpses from Recak to Prishtina on 18 January. PM
 U.S. SAYS MILOSEVIC 'PLAYING WITH FIRE'State Department Spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 18 January that Milosevic is "playing with fire" by expelling Walker. Rubin urged the Serbian leader to reconsider the "spurious and unworthy" decision. The spokesman called the decision "a transparent attempt to divert attention from the tragic massacre." Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Milosevic is making a "grave mistake" if he does not observe the agreement he reached with U.S. special envoy Richard Holbrooke in October, under which the monitoring mission was set up. She called the Recak massacre "unacceptable." VOA's Serbian Service quoted an unnamed "senior American official" as calling the expulsion "outrageous." Holbrooke told CNN that "the situation is as serious now--perhaps more serious--than it was last October." He added that he is sure that Milosevic understands this. PM
 OSCE TO RECONSIDER MONITORING MISSIONNorwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who currently holds the rotating OSCE chair, will discuss the future of the monitoring mission in Kosova with his Polish and Austrian counterparts, who are the other two members of the OSCE's troika, in Vienna on 20 January. Vollebaek said on 18 January that Milosevic "has challenged the whole international community" by expelling Walker. The Norwegian minister added that the result of Milosevic's decision may be an increase in violence in Kosova. In Paris, President Jacques Chirac said that France must reconsider its policy regarding Kosova in the aftermath of the Recak massacre, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 BELGRADE BARS ARBOURThe Yugoslav authorities on 18 January refused an entry visa to Louise Arbour, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief prosecutor. She arrived at the Kosovar frontier with Macedonia to investigate the massacre at Recak. The Yugoslav government issued a statement saying that the court has no authority in Kosova because "the issue there is not one of armed conflict but of [combating] terrorism." PM
 CLARK SAYS NATO FORCES 'POISED AND READY'General Wesley Clark, who is the Atlantic alliance's supreme commander in Europe, left Brussels for Belgrade on 19 January to meet with Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 1999). Before departing, Clark told the BBC that NATO contingency plans for launching air strikes against Serbia are "very much alive" and that the alliance's forces "are poised and ready should they be called on today." Clark added that "Milosevic and the Yugoslav government should be under no illusions: NATO is engaged [and] very serious." NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said the previous day that "the temperature [regarding the Kosova crisis] may rise and we have to do something more dramatic." He did not elaborate. In Rome, Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema said that Italy will support any NATO decision to intervene in Kosova and will make its military facilities available to the alliance. PM
 GERMANY WARNS AGAINST 'MUSCLE-FLEXING'German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer told dpa in Bonn on 19 January that the "situation [in Kosova] is far too serious for muscle-flexing." He noted that the West needs to "keep a cool head" in dealing with Milosevic. Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping told the "Frankfurter Rundschau" that a diplomatic solution must be found and that he is "astonished how quickly some people [came to] think about a military option" for Kosova. In New York, the UN Security Council issued a statement condemning the Recak massacre and called for an investigation but did not say who is responsible for the killings. PM
 ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT CALLS FOR NATO INTERVENTION...Legislators from Albania's two main rival political parties, the Socialists and Democrats, have passed a joint resolution urging NATO to intervene in Kosova, Reuters reported on 18 January. They appealed to all Albanians to show solidarity with the Kosovars and stressed that "only [urgent] armed intervention by NATO will end the bloodshed and create conditions for the start of dialogue." In a separate resolution, the legislators declared that Albania "will never abandon the Kosovars to the mercy of Serbia." The text added that "our salvation should come primarily by our own hands." The session was the first in which Democratic Party legislators have participated since September. As part of the display of unity over Kosova, opposition leader Sali Berisha met with Prime Minister Pandeli Majko for two hours and subsequently called on all "Albanian political forces" to take a common stand on Kosova. FS
 ...WHILE PARTIES ADOPT JOINT DECLARATION ON KOSOVARepresentatives of the 10 largest political parties in Albania have agreed on a common platform vis-à-vis Kosova. In a joint declaration, the parties say they are "committed to ensuring that all Albanian political forces support [ethnic Albanian] political and military forces in the Republic of Kosova," dpa reported on 19 January. The document adds that "the parties support the efforts of Kosova Albanians for survival, existence, and self- defense as well as their political efforts for self- determination." The parties urge NATO to use force in order to "make Milosevic take reasonable stands" and call "on all citizens of Albania and Albanians wherever they are in the world to show their solidarity with Kosova Albanians on the basis of the principle 'One Nation, One Stand'" (a slogan coined earlier by Berisha). The resolution is a rare display of unity among politicians who are well known for their feuds (see also "End Note" below). FS
 ROMANIAN MINERS REMOVE LAST BARRICADE ON ROAD TO BUCHARESTMiners in the Jiu Valley used heavy equipment on 19 January to remove the last of several barricades erected by police on the road between Petrosani and Targu Jiu, Romanian Radio reported. In a failed attempt to stop the miners' progressing to Targu Jiu (some 250 kilometers from Bucharest) on their way to Bucharest, police deployed tear gas from helicopters. Six people were hospitalized with broken bones and/or sicknesses induced by tear gas. Prime Minister Radu Vasile on 18 January said for the first time that he is ready to negotiate with the striking miners in order to avoid further conflict, provided that they agree to resume work immediately. The miners, however, have opted to continue their march on the capital, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. MS
 MOLDOVAN UNIONS RESUME PROTESTSSeveral thousand teachers, university staff, and library employees protested in front of the government's headquarters in Chisinau on 18 January over wage arrears and the government's failure to fulfill the obligations it undertook following the protests last December, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS
 SECOND OIL SLICK FOUND ON DANUBE IN BULGARIAA 5-kilometer-long slick of oil was discovered on 18 January on River Danube near the northwestern Bulgarian city of Vidin, dpa and Reuters reported. The slick is the second to be discovered on the river in the last five days. Bulgarian environmental officials have ruled out the possibility that Bulgarian industrial complexes are the source of the pollution. Minister of the Environment Evdokia Maneva has sent a letter to her Serbian counterpart requesting clarification of the incidents. Experts determined that the earlier oil slick originated in Serbia. MS
[C] END NOTE
 CAN ALBANIA'S GOVERNMENT FORGE UNITY IN AND BEYOND KOSOVA?by Fabian Schmidt
Albania's Socialist-led coalition government launched a campaign in early January to bring several rival Kosovar political representatives to the negotiating table in Tirana. Prime Minister Pandeli Majko hopes that the participants in the meeting, which is scheduled for the second half of January, will be able to agree on a joint political strategy for negotiations on the region's future. The plan appears ambitious, given the deep divisions among the Kosovars. The main gap that Majko will have to bridge is the one separating the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) and moderate, shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. If he succeeds in doing so, he may also bring Albania's Socialists and opposition Democrats closer together.
Paradoxically, the declared political aims of the UCK and Rugova are not substantially different. Both have made clear that they want independence from Serbia and will not accept any political status for the region that involves less self-rule than the Republika Srpska obtained in the Dayton agreement. But the rivalry between the two intensified when the UCK sidelined the pacifist Rugova during the bloody battles with Serbian security forces in 1998. The UCK began to exercise growing influence over the political agenda in the region and undermined Rugova's strategy of peaceful resistance. Guerrilla spokesmen accused the shadow-state president of conducting a policy of "passivism" rather than "pacifism."
Despite the cease-fire mediated by U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke in October and the subsequent deployment of OSCE verifiers in the region, the UCK has stressed that it will pursue its goal of independence, if needs be by continuing its armed struggle. It is currently unclear who on the Kosovar side has the real political authority to negotiate any settlement with the Serbs. The UCK has so far remained outside the negotiating process, while its political representative, Adem Demaci, has repeatedly warned that no long-term settlement will be possible without the involvement of the UCK. Furthermore, the UCK has called upon Kosovars living abroad to donate money to "our people and its army" and not to "serve the political interests of certain clans and their petty interests." Observers see this as a reference to Rugova's shadow state, which imposes a 3 percent income tax on all Kosovars to finance the shadow state's health and school systems.
Majko's task is to convince the Kosovars that it is in their interests to find a common language among themselves, one that would enable them to appoint a negotiating team representing the broad majority of Kosovars. But at the same time, his role as a broker is burdened by Albania's official position toward Kosova, which is in conflict with that of both Rugova and the UCK. Tirana has made clear repeatedly that it would not support the separation of Kosova from Yugoslavia but would opt for a status within the federal Yugoslavia that would make Kosova a federal republic with a status equal to that of Serbia and Montenegro.
Majko's initiative is thus also aimed at reconciling the position of Tirana with that of the Kosovars. It is to his advantage that he has the broad support of the parliament, including parts of the opposition. Indeed, the legislature's Foreign Relations Committee has urged the government to work toward such reconciliation. Whether the dialogue that Majko has initiated succeeds or fails will directly affect his domestic political position.
The opposition Democratic Party and former President Sali Berisha have long given vocal support to the Kosovar cause. The Democrats harshly criticized Majko's Socialist predecessor, Fatos Nano, who tried to take a conciliatory approach toward Yugoslavia in late 1997 by offering regional cooperation. The Democrats charged Nano with treason, arguing that he had abandoned the Kosovars and was negotiating behind their back. Most Kosovars agreed with the Democrats' criticism.
Rugova even declined to visit Tirana after Nano met with Milosevic on Crete in late 1997 and has yet to travel to the Albanian capital. Nonetheless, the official position of the previous Democratic Party government toward Kosova did not significantly differ from that of the Socialists. No Albanian government can economically or politically afford to alienate the international community, which is opposed to independence for Kosova.
Majko will have not much room for maneuvering, but he has the support of Western envoys, who hope that a unified Kosovar and Albanian position will make negotiations with Belgrade easier. So far he has met in Tirana with Demaci, shadow-state Prime Minister Bujar Bukoshi, and the nationalist academic Rexhep Qosja, who is a prominent leader of Kosova's United Democratic Movement. All of those politicians have criticized Rugova's approach but expressed their willingness to engage in a discussion.
Majko is now trying to convince Rugova to come to the negotiating table in Tirana. Success will give a big boost to his prestige both in Albania and abroad. But failure will weaken his domestic position and give the opposition an opportunity to push for new elections.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty