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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 24, 99-02-04

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. 24, 4 February 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] RUSSIA, ARMENIA REJECT CRITICISM OF DEFENSE COOPERATION
  • [02] WILL PRESIDENT DISSOLVE ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT?
  • [03] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER RESIGNS
  • [04] SPOKESMAN DENIES SPLIT IN AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY
  • [05] TOP U.S. OFFICIAL VISITS TBILISI
  • [06] RUSSIA LAMENTS UZBEK DECISION ON SECURITY TREATY
  • [07] ISLAMIC GROUP POSES THEAT TO UZBEKISTAN
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S GOVERNMENT PROPOSES SPENDING CUTS
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN RATIFIES BORDER AGREEMENT WITH CHINA
  • [10] KYRGYZ ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE CUTS ALSO
  • [11] CENTRAZBAT TO BE HELD IN U.S. THIS YEAR

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] MILOSEVIC'S PARTY BACKS PEACE CONFERENCE
  • [13] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH WANTS ROLE IN TALKS
  • [14] UCK NAMES DELEGATION
  • [15] U.S. GROUND TROOPS FOR KOSOVA?
  • [16] ALBRIGHT GIVES BACKING TO MAJKO...
  • [17] ...AND TO GEORGIEVSKI
  • [18] POPLASEN NAMES THIRD CANDIDATE TO HEAD GOVERNMENT
  • [19] CROATIA WANTS TO OPEN ROAD TO REPUBLIKA SRPSKA
  • [20] CROATIA DENIES REPORTS OF JOINT TANK PRODUCTION
  • [21] INVESTIGATION INTO FORMER ALBANIAN LEGISLATOR CLOSED
  • [22] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT OUTLINES PLAN TO MODERNIZE INFRASTRUCTURE
  • [23] MINERS' LEADER SAYS HE WILL SNUB JUSTICE
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PARTY THREATENS TO LEAVE RULING COALITION
  • [25] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] WHEN THE WORLD TURNS AWAY

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] RUSSIA, ARMENIA REJECT CRITICISM OF DEFENSE COOPERATION

    The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 3 February rejecting Azerbaijani charges that the stationing of Russian arms in Armenia poses a threat to Azerbaijan's security, Russian agencies reported. The statement noted that the weaponry in question, which includes S-300 air-defense missile systems and MiG-29 fighter aircraft, is not being handed over to the Armenian armed forces but deployed at the Russian military base in Armenia. Armenian presidential spokesman Vahe Gabrielian told journalists on3 February that Russian-Armenian cooperation is regulated by the treaty on friendship, cooperation, and mutual assistance signed by the two countries' presidents in August 1997. Gabrielian stressed that the number of military personnel and arms deployed at the Russian military base in Armenia does not exceed the limits stipulated by the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. LF

    [02] WILL PRESIDENT DISSOLVE ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT?

    Eduard Yegorian, leader of the opposition Hayrenik parliamentary faction, told deputies on 3 February that he believes President Kocharian is planning to dissolve the parliament after the final reading of the new election law, scheduled for 5 February, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Yegorian claimed that Kocharian wants to call pre-term elections in order to undercut the chances of the center-right opposition. The present parliament's term expires in June. Presidential spokesmen declined to comment on Yegorian's predictions. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER RESIGNS

    President Robert Kocharian has granted Self-Determination Union chairman Paruyr Hairikian's request to step down as presidential adviser on human rights issues, Interfax reported on 3 February. Hairikian told parliamentary deputies on 26 January that he tendered his resignation in order to be able to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections "as a free citizen," according to Noyan Tapan. Hairikian stressed that he is not withdrawing his cooperation with the Armenian leadership and will continue to serve on commissions of which he is a member. On 28 January, Hairikian predicted that his party will be among the four with the largest representation in the next parliament. LF

    [04] SPOKESMAN DENIES SPLIT IN AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY

    Siyavush Novruzov, a senior official of the Yeni Azerbaycan party loyal to Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev, has said that the party's statutes do not allow the creation of factions and therefore claims by party member Einulla Fatullaev to head a faction named Adolat [Justice] are unfounded, TURAN reported on 3 February. Novruzov denied that Fatullaev has already been expelled from the party but did not rule out that possibility. The independent newspaper "Azadlyg" reported on 3 February that some 60 party members have joined Fatullaev's Adolat faction, which aims to foster democracy within the party. "Azadlyg" also claimed that Information Minister Siruz Tebrizli intervened to quash an attempt to expel Fatullaev from Yeni Azerbaycan. LF

    [05] TOP U.S. OFFICIAL VISITS TBILISI

    U.S. special adviser for Caspian issues Richard Morningstar held talks in Tbilisi on 3 February with senior Georgian officials, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. The talks, which Morningstar told journalists were "fruitful," focused on the transportation of Caspian oil and gas to international markets via Georgian territory. Morningstar said intensive discussions are under way with the Turkish government on how to make the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline "economically lucrative." He categorically rejected the alternative route via Iran, adding that the oil companies engaged in exploiting Azerbaijan's Caspian oil "had to face up to harsh economic realities," RFE/RL's Tbilisi bureau reported. Morningstar said he hopes that conflicts will not jeopardize the exploitation of the oil pipeline from Baku to the Georgian Black Sea terminal at Supsa. Morningstar also said that the U.S. "is not considering" a military presence in Azerbaijan. LF

    [06] RUSSIA LAMENTS UZBEK DECISION ON SECURITY TREATY

    An official at the Russian Foreign Ministry on 3 February said his country regrets Uzbekistan's decision to withdraw from the CIS Collective Security Treaty, Interfax reported. Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov responded to accusations by Uzbek officials that Russia is increasing its military presence in the CIS countries by arguing that "Russia is pursuing a restrained policy and is curbing military activity particularly in CIS countries." He charged that "individual members of the CIS are increasing the number of military exercises [involving] the participation of NATO units, particularly near the Russian borders." Ivashov added that the collective security treaty is more important than ever as "the U.S. has opted for an open use-of-force policy and NATO is demonstrating aggressiveness and is trying to enlarge its sphere of influence." BP

    [07] ISLAMIC GROUP POSES THEAT TO UZBEKISTAN

    In an interview published in "Xalq Sozi" on 3 February, President Islam Karimov said members of an Islamic group called Hezbi Tahriri Islomiya are active in his country and represent a threat to security. Karimov said the group intends to eliminate all administrative boundaries between Islamic countries and form an "Islamic Caliphate." He noted that the group has substantial financial backing and is already "poisoning the minds" of young and inexperienced people. The Uzbek president called on the government to respect "real Islam" and not allow such forces to act on Uzbek territory. BP

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S GOVERNMENT PROPOSES SPENDING CUTS

    Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nurlan Balgimbayev announced on 3 February that the government plans to cut 1999 budget expenditures by 10 percent, Russian news agencies and Reuters reported. The cuts will amount to 31 billion tenge ($335 million). Balgimbayev said they are necessary because of the drop in the world-market prices of the country's major exports, oil and metals. In the last quarter of 1998, Kazakhstan lost 40 billion tenge in revenues because of those falling prices. The premier said "excessive benefits and pensions" are the areas first to be trimmed, but he stressed that the government will maintain state funds for those most in need and local budgets will continue to provide part of the funding. Balgimbayev also said there will be reductions in the Finance, Interior, and Defense Ministries of 27, 15, and 30 percent, respectively. BP

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN RATIFIES BORDER AGREEMENT WITH CHINA

    Kazakhstan's parliament on 3 February ratified an agreement with China demarcating a disputed section of their common border, ITAR-TASS reported. Kazakhstan receives 56.9 percent of the contested 34,000 square kilometers. BP

    [10] KYRGYZ ADMINISTRATION TO MAKE CUTS ALSO

    Kyrgyz Prime Minister Jumabek Ibraimov on 3 February gave instructions to the government to cut spending, Interfax reported. Ibraimov said government expenditures on transportation, equipment, services, and communications exceeded its budget by 5 million som ($167,000). Ibraimov placed the responsibility for implementing the cuts on the heads of departments. Ministries, state agencies, and local governments were similarly instructed to cut spending. Limits were also imposed on the use of phones. BP

    [11] CENTRAZBAT TO BE HELD IN U.S. THIS YEAR

    RFE/RL correspondents in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan report that this year's Centrazbat military exercises will be held in the U.S. of Louisiana on 19- 20 May. The exercises took place in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in 1997 and in both those countries as well as in Kyrgyzstan last year. They are part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] MILOSEVIC'S PARTY BACKS PEACE CONFERENCE

    Gorica Gajevic, who is secretary-general of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, told the parliament on 4 February that the party "thinks that we should show that we are fighting for peace and to defend" Serbia's claim to Kosova wherever the future of the province is discussed, AP reported. The legislature is expected to vote later in the day on whether to attend the Rambouillet talks, which are to begin on 6 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 February 1999). In New York, the UN Security Council on 3 February discussed the situation in Kosova but did not take up Belgrade's appeal for the UN to stop NATO from launching air strikes against Serbian targets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 1999). PM

    [13] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH WANTS ROLE IN TALKS

    Patriarch Pavle appealed to the French government on 3 February to include the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Rambouillet negotiations as an observer. Bishop Artemije of Raska and Prizren and his spokesman Father Sava would represent the Church, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Artemije stressed that the Serbs of Kosova do not trust Milosevic to represent their interests (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 January 1999). PM

    [14] UCK NAMES DELEGATION

    The General Staff of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has named Rama Buja, Jakup Krasniqi, Hashim Thaci, Azem Syla, and Xhavit Haliti to represent it at Rambouillet, Krasniqi told the VOA's Albanian Service on 3 February. The moderate shadow state will be represented by Ibrahim Rugova, Fehmi Agani, Bujar Bukoshi, Idriz Aeti, and Edita Tahiri, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Mark Krasniqi, Veton Surroi, and Blerim Shala will attend as independents. PM

    [15] U.S. GROUND TROOPS FOR KOSOVA?

    Secretary of Defense William Cohen told Congress on 3 February that the U.S. may send a "relatively small" ground force to Kosova in order to reassure other NATO participants in that force that "they would not be attacked" by Serbian army or paramilitary police units. He stressed that there must first be "a real agreement" on the political future of the province before the Pentagon will send an armed force there. Cohen suggested that the troops might stay up to five years. General Henry Shelton, who heads the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that a maximum of 2,000- 4,000 U.S. troops might be required if NATO decides on an overall force of 20,000-30,000. He added that the Atlantic alliance is still discussing the number of troops it might send to Kosova. The Pentagon has previously been opposed to sending any U.S. ground troops to Kosova. PM

    [16] ALBRIGHT GIVES BACKING TO MAJKO...

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko on 3 February that the U.S. supports Albania's territorial integrity. Asked by Reuters if "this meant that the U.S. would not let Albania's borders be breached, he replied: 'Yes, this was the bottom line.'" Majko said that he is confident that the Kosovar leaders are patriots who will sink their differences and present a united front at the upcoming negotiations at Rambouillet. He added of the Kosovars: "They are not terrorists." Majko stressed that "those bloody massacres in Kosova" must end. Other top State Department officials pledged financial aid for the Albanian army and customs service, "Shekulli" reported. At the World Bank, Majko signed an agreement on a $9 million loan to improve infrastructure. He told Reuters he will soon sign an agreement with the U.S. firm New World Telecom, which will invest $325 million to modernize Albania's antiquated telecommunications system. PM/FS

    [17] ...AND TO GEORGIEVSKI

    In a separate meeting, Albright told Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski that the U.S. supports his efforts at promoting a free-market economy, a "Western orientation," and improved inter-ethnic relations. Her spokesman, James Rubin, added that Albright "reiterated our appreciation of the [Macedonian] government's firm support of our efforts to bring stability [to Kosova], including the agreement to host the NATO extraction force." Rubin stressed that the U.S. will oppose any attempt by China to link Macedonia's recognition of Taiwan with extending the mandate of the UN peace-keeping force in Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 February 1999). It is unclear whether Majko and Georgievski met or spoke with U.S. officials together. Macedonia and Albania will play key roles in any settlement in Kosova. PM

    [18] POPLASEN NAMES THIRD CANDIDATE TO HEAD GOVERNMENT

    Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen on 3 February nominated parliamentary speaker Petar Djokic to head the government. It is unclear whether Djokic, whose Socialist Party is not allied to the nationalist Poplasen, will accept, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Poplasen's two previous nominees were unable to command a majority in the parliament, where Poplasen's supporters are in a minority. Meanwhile in Sarajevo, the joint parliament elected Svetozar Mihajlovic, who is a Serb, and re-elected Haris Silajdzic, who is a Muslim, as co-prime ministers. PM

    [19] CROATIA WANTS TO OPEN ROAD TO REPUBLIKA SRPSKA

    Deputy Foreign Minister Josko Paro said that Croatia has been waiting for a month for the Bosnian joint authorities to respond to Zagreb's offer to re- open the road linking Dubrovnik with Trebinje, in eastern Herzegovina, "Vecernji list" reported on 4 February. Paro added that he finds it difficult to understand the lack of a reply, because the opening of the frontier would benefit the Bosnian Serbs more than it would Croatia. PM

    [20] CROATIA DENIES REPORTS OF JOINT TANK PRODUCTION

    Defense Minister Pavao Miljac said his country will not jointly produce M- 84 tanks with Serbia, Bosnia, or Slovenia, "Vecernji list" reported on 4 February. There has been repeated speculation in the media since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991 that the successor states might continue to produce arms jointly in order to earn hard currency. Miljac confirmed that Croatia will purchase Mi-8 helicopters from Russia and that Israeli experts will help modernize Croatia's aging MiG 21s. PM

    [21] INVESTIGATION INTO FORMER ALBANIAN LEGISLATOR CLOSED

    Spokesmen for the Prosecutor-General 's Office announced in Tirana on 3 February that the investigation into former Democratic Alliance Deputy Ridvan Peshkepia, who allegedly organized a drug smuggling network to Italy between 1993-1996, has been closed, "Shekulli" reported. The investigators concluded that another person ran the network and used Peshkepia's diplomatic passport, which he lost in 1992. Journalists who asked not to be identified told an RFE/RL correspondent that the ring-leader is a well- known personality and the brother of a prominent politician. They did not elaborate. FS

    [22] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT OUTLINES PLAN TO MODERNIZE INFRASTRUCTURE

    Addressing a conference on upgrading the country's infrastructure, Emil Constantinescu on 3 February said Romania should prepare to act as an economic corridor between Central Asia and Europe, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported. He pleaded in favor of modernizing roads and communication networks, building new oil pipelines, and expanding the country's oil refining capacities. Constantinescu's optimism, however, was in stark contrast to the country's latest economic performance. The same day, the National Bank fixed the exchange rate for the dollar at slightly more than 12,000 lei. The national currency thus overstepped a new "psychological threshold," after crossing the 10,000 lei barrier on 24 November 1998 and the 11,000 one on 4 January 1999. Since the beginning of this year, the leu has lost almost 10 percent of its value. DI

    [23] MINERS' LEADER SAYS HE WILL SNUB JUSTICE

    Miron Cozma, the controversial leader of the Jiu Valley miners, who has led several miners' marches on Bucharest since 1990, told a press conference on 3 February that he will not present himself at any court or submit himself to any criminal investigation as long as justice continues to be "politically manipulated by Bucharest." Cozma noted that several cases have been opened against him following the 18-22 January march, which came to a halt after an agreement had been reached with Premier Radu Vasile at the Cozia monastery. Meanwhile, General Gheorghe Lupu has denied any responsibility for the failure of the police to stop the miners' latest protest action. He blamed the deputy prefect of Gorj County for having ordered the withdrawal of officers from the Jiu Valley. DI

    [24] MOLDOVAN PARTY THREATENS TO LEAVE RULING COALITION

    The chairman of the Party for Revival and Conciliation in Moldova, Mircea Snegur, said on 3 February that his party will leave the Democratic Convention of Moldova (CDM) if the latter continues to refuse to designate Nicolae Andronic as the country's future premier, an RFE correspondent in Chisinau reported. But the next day, however, Snegur softened that stance, expressing optimism about the future of the CDM and the ruling coalition, known as the Alliance for Democracy and Reforms. The same day, President Petru Lucinschi continued separate consultations with parliamentary leaders over nominating a new premier. DI

    [25] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BULGARIA

    During his visit to Sofia on 2-3 February, Igor Ivanov met with his Bulgarian counterpart, Nadezhda Mihailova, Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, parliamentary chairman Yordan Sokolov, and President Petar Stoyanov, whom he gave personal messages from President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov's talks with Mihailova focused on bilateral relations, economic issues, including the repayment of mutual debts, the situation in the Balkans, and Kosova. Ivanov told journalists on 3 February that Moscow has decided to extend customs concessions to Bulgaria, noting the need to overcome the downturn in bilateral relations in recent years. Ivanov denied that the issue of NATO membership, to which Bulgaria aspires, was discussed. LF

    [C] END NOTE

    [26] WHEN THE WORLD TURNS AWAY

    by Paul Goble

    When the whole world is watching, even the most authoritarian regimes try to put on a democratic face. But when the world turns away, these same governments and their supporters often revert to the repressive practices and ideas that undercut their propaganda efforts.

    Following its recent special presidential election, Kazakhstan became the latest in a long line of post-communist countries to follow this pattern, one that seems likely to present increasingly serious challenges to the country's authorities, the people under their control, and the international community as a whole.

    Before the 10 January poll, in which President Nursultan Nazarbayev was easily reelected, Nazarbayev, his government, and his supporters did everything they could to present Kazakhstan as a country committed to democratic and free market values. They blanketed Western publications with advertisements extolling Kazakhstan's commitments in these areas, while the press in Kazakhstan was full of articles talking about the many linkages between the values of the West and those of Kazakhstan.

    The authorities hosted international observers. And when they violated democratic norms during the election--such as excluding former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin from running against Nazarbayev--they sought to cover themselves with at least the veneer of legality.

    But once the vote and the international attention it had attracted were safely behind them, these same people dropped many of the democratic pretenses they had adopted during the campaign, having failed to convince any of the international observers that the election had been genuinely fair and free.

    One particularly egregious example of this shift in tone and direction is an article by Kerim Elemes published in the Kazakh- language newspaper "Qazaq Adebiyeti" on 28 January. Because the text of this commentary is unlikely to appear in Kazakhstan- supported advertising abroad, portions of it call for fuller quotation.

    In a sweeping attack on U.S. interests and intentions in Central Asia, the article asserts that Washington wants "to dissolve Kazakhstan" and to replace Nazarbayev with someone "who does not speak his native language and has no idea about real Kazakhness, that is, a kind of person they want to rule us."

    The article goes on to asks "What do Americans know about democracy? Their history is a bloody conquest of the new territories not belonging to them.... Kazakhs have never conquered anyone.... Kazakhs know much more about democracy. If Americans are real democrats, why are blacks still slaves in America, why do American Indians still not have equal rights with their conquerors?"

    Such an article would not have appeared a month ago, just before the election. Not only would it have undercut the message that the Kazakhstan authorities wanted to send; it would also have attracted a great deal of international attention. Now, however, it is unlikely to have that effect.

    But the appearance of such an article now calls attention to the dilemmas presented by the broader oscillation between democratic propaganda and authoritarian politics.

    For the authorities in Kazakhstan, this shifting of gears appears likely to reduce rather than increase their legitimacy in the eyes of the population. In the absence of significant economic growth, that could force the regime to rely ever more heavily on repression to remain in power.

    For the population of Kazakhstan, the move from authoritarianism to democracy and back again seems certain to have two contradictory effects. On the one hand, it almost certainly will contribute to a trivialization of democratic terminology in the minds of many people, as they see democratic terms misused. On the other, it may create greater demands for genuine, as opposed to propaganda, democracy.

    And for the international community interested in promoting democracy in Kazakhstan and other former communist states, this change of vocabulary inevitably raises some serious questions about how this community can best advance the cause of democracy without generating the kind of instability that might make a democratic transition extraordinarily difficult.

    Should the international community make a greater and more constant investment in monitoring developments in places such as Kazakhstan rather than going there virtually only when an election takes place? Or would such a policy backfire, infuriating potential supporters by suggesting a continuing tutelage?

    There are no easy answers to such questions. But the "Qazaq Adebiyeti" article suggests that ever more people will pose such questions, while the various answers given will define not only the fate of democracy in Kazakhstan and other countries similarly situated but many other things as well.

    04-02-99


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


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