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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 27, 99-02-09

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. 27, 9 February 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES EMERGENCY DEBATE OVER ARMENTEL
  • [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S TRIAL AGAIN ADJOURNED
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI RULING PARTY WANTS ALIEV'S SON TO SUCCEED HIM...
  • [04] ...EXPELS WOULD-BE REFORMER
  • [05] KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER MAKES ACCUSATIONS...
  • [06] ...AND REVELATIONS
  • [07] INVESTIGATION INTO SLAYING OF UN WORKERS CONCLUDED
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S JUSTICE MINISTRY DELAYING REGISTRATION OF PARTIES
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN'S PROSECUTOR-GENERAL COMPLAINS ABOUT GOVERNMENT
  • [10] TAJIK PRESIDENT DECLARES WAR ON TERRORISM, ORGANIZED CRIME

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] FOREIGN MINISTERS RETURN TO RAMBOUILLET
  • [12] U.S. SAYS GROUND TROOPS NECESSARY...
  • [13] ...BUT MAINLY FROM EUROPE
  • [14] WHAT MANDATE DOES MILOSEVIC'S DELEGATION HAVE?
  • [15] TIRANA IN TOUCH WITH RAMBOUILLET?
  • [16] ALBRIGHT REASSURES GLIGOROV
  • [17] SOUTH AFRICA DENIES KOSOVA LINK TO ARREST OF LEKA
  • [18] ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LINK TWO COUP ATTEMPTS
  • [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REDUCES BUDGET DEFICIT
  • [20] MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE BEGINS TALKS ON FORMING CABINET
  • [21] MOLDOVAN DELEGATION TO MOSCOW DELAYED BY BOMB THREAT
  • [22] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS NEW REGIONAL GOVERNORS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] MAKING PEACE BEFORE THE WAR BEGINS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT CONVENES EMERGENCY DEBATE OVER ARMENTEL

    Deputies on 8 February began debating an opposition demand that the law on telecommunications be amended in order to strip the ArmenTel telecommunications company of the 15-year exclusive rights it acquired one year ago, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Constitutional Court ruled in January that the relevant article of the telecommunications law violates the constitutional ban on state and natural monopolies but need not necessarily be amended in the next five years (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 January 1999). A U.S. former employee fired from ArmenTel last year claimed on 5 February that corruption within the company is endemic, and that Armenian officials have accepted millions of dollars in bribes from Trans World Telecom, which previously owned a 49 percent stake in ArmenTel. LF

    [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT'S TRIAL AGAIN ADJOURNED

    The trial of Abulfaz Elchibey on charges of slandering the honor of President Heidar Aliev, which was scheduled to resume at a Baku district court on 8 February, has again been postponed, this time until 11 February, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 January and 3 February 1999). No explanation was offered for the delay. "Avrasiya" on 8 February quoted Elchibey's lawyer as arguing that the case should be closed as there is no evidence to substantiate the charge. In November 1998, Elchibey claimed that Aliev was instrumental in creating the Kurdistan Workers' Party. Elchibey subsequently told journalists that he will produce documentation in court to substantiate that allegation. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI RULING PARTY WANTS ALIEV'S SON TO SUCCEED HIM...

    "Yeni Azerbaycan," the newspaper of the eponymous ruling party, argued on 5 February that "public opinion" supports the candidacy of Aliev's son Ilham to succeed him as president, Turan reported. The newspaper added that Ilham "is the bearer of the genetic code of Heidar Aliev" and that "this genetic code does not belong to an ordinary person, but to a national patriarch and leader of the state." Sayad Aran, head of the Yeni Azerbaycan party's ideological department, told Turan three days later that the party supports Ilham Aliev's candidacy. But Abulfaz Elchibey and Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar dismissed the argument that Ilham is genetically the most suitable successor to the presidency as "dilettantism." LF

    [04] ...EXPELS WOULD-BE REFORMER

    Eynulla Fatullaev, who reportedly tried to create a faction within the Yeni Azerbaycan party to promote democratization, has been expelled from the party's ranks, Turan reported on 6 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 1999). The independent newspaper "Azadlyq" quoted Fatullaev on 6 February as saying that he will continue to struggle for "political purity" within the party. LF

    [05] KYRGYZ PRIME MINISTER MAKES ACCUSATIONS...

    Jumabek Ibraimov, speaking at a press conference in Bishkek on 8 February, said three leading officials are to be dismissed, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Former Finance Minister Taalaibek Koichumanov, who is currently head of the government's financial and investment department, chairwoman of the National Social Fund Roza Uchkempirova, and Salmor Alykulov, director- general of the Kyrgyztelekom joint-stock company, will all be sacked for embezzlement. Ibraimov did not say whether they will be formally charged. Such a decision must be approved by President Askar Akayev. BP

    [06] ...AND REVELATIONS

    Ibraimov also said that in the past, high ranking posts in the government have been "sold" to individuals. Ibraimov said that since he became prime minister, his relatives have been offered bribes in exchange for receiving positions in the government or in leading companies. He also said someone had offered him a $200,000 bribe to privatize a state industry and another a $50,000 bribe to become head of the Kyrgyzalco joint- stock company. The premier declined to name any particular individual but stressed the need to fight economic crime and corruption. He said the IMF and World Bank are prepared to help Kyrgyzstan to achieve this. BP

    [07] INVESTIGATION INTO SLAYING OF UN WORKERS CONCLUDED

    The office of the Tajik Prosecutor-General has completed its investigation into the killing of four UN employees last July and sent the case to the Supreme Court, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 February. The three men from the United Tajik Opposition will appear in court soon. All three were handed over by the UTO to law enforcement authorities. BP

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN'S JUSTICE MINISTRY DELAYING REGISTRATION OF PARTIES

    Viktor Voronov, the chairman of the ZAN Corporation, held a press conference in Almaty on 8 February to complain about Justice Ministry delays in registering political parties, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Voronov said the ministry is "biased" in its treatment of certain parties and movements, noting that the For Free Elections movement attempted to register in October and has still received no reply. According to Kazakhstan's law, the registration process must be completed within 15 days of submitting necessary forms. Voronov also pointed out that OTAN, a party organized by supporters of incumbent President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was registered quickly. BP

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN'S PROSECUTOR-GENERAL COMPLAINS ABOUT GOVERNMENT

    Yurii Khitrin told a meeting of the finance committee of the parliament's lower house on 8 February that the government is responsible for the "deliberate destruction" of agencies subordinated to the prosecutor's office, ITAR-TASS reported. Khitrin said since he came to office in 1997, the government has cut personnel three times and that following the latest cut in late January, only 1,335 people remain working in his office. Khitrin also complained about the plans to cut financing for his office by 390 million tenge ($4.5 million) and to lower the budgetary status of the office, which, he noted, will result in even more personnel cuts. BP

    [10] TAJIK PRESIDENT DECLARES WAR ON TERRORISM, ORGANIZED CRIME

    Imomali Rakhmonov, addressing the country's power structures and law enforcement agencies on 9 February, declared 1999 the year of combating terrorism and organized crime, ITAR-TASS reported. Rakhmonov said the battle must begin with "self-cleansing" within the power structures and law enforcement agencies as they "all too often break the laws, are involved in crimes, and are connected with the narcotics business." Rakhmonov said that illegally-owned weapons must be confiscated and order must be enforced within military units. He ordered an inventory of all national armed forces and military formations of the UTO, to be completed by 1 March. BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] FOREIGN MINISTERS RETURN TO RAMBOUILLET

    French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine and his British counterpart, Robin Cook, returned to the Kosova peace talks at Rambouillet on 9 February in order to encourage the rival delegations to negotiate seriously and "move the talks forward," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the French town. U.S. mediator Chris Hill told reporters that the negotiating process "is not easy. Frankly, it's not a lot of fun. But we are making progress, we're moving ahead through some very difficult territory." Vedrine and Cook opened the negotiations, but U.S., EU, and Russian mediators have since shuttled between the Serbian and Kosovar delegations to the proximity talks. PM

    [12] U.S. SAYS GROUND TROOPS NECESSARY...

    State Department spokesman James Rubin said in Washington on 8 February that "the work at Rambouillet is progressing. It's going at a constructive and business-like pace. We thought the fact [the two delegations] expressed their regret and indignation over the bombing in Prishtina was an encouraging sign" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 February 1999). He stressed that foreign ground troops will be have to be present in Kosova to help enforce any agreement to emerge from the talks. "Some peace implementation force will be necessary if we are going to get this agreement to stick and create a secure environment in which the [governmental] institutions of the Kosovar Albanians can take root and their level of self-government increase. So we don't agree that you can have a solution right now in the absence of some force," he concluded. Moscow and Belgrade oppose the sending of foreign troops to Kosova. PM

    [13] ...BUT MAINLY FROM EUROPE

    Secretary of Defense William Cohen said in Bonn on 8 February that the Clinton administration intends to include U.S. ground troops in any NATO force sent to preserve a peace settlement in Kosova, AP reported. Cohen stressed, however, that "we will be there to keep a peace, not to make a peace. There must be an agreement that is real, which is agreed to by all parties, which is not simply some sort of tactical move or temporizing on the part of any of them. President [Bill] Clinton has indicated that under those circumstances, should NATO decide to commit land forces to keep that peace, that we would participate, but that the majority of the burden should be borne by the European countries," the secretary concluded (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1999). PM

    [14] WHAT MANDATE DOES MILOSEVIC'S DELEGATION HAVE?

    Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic said in Belgrade on 8 February "the mandate of the Yugoslav delegation to Rambouillet gives it the right to conduct negotiations...but the ultimate decision will be made not there, but in the only possible place--Belgrade." Observers have noted that the delegation sent by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic does not include any members of the top leadership or representatives of the Kosovar Serbs. The delegation contains several persons without any political influence who are the nominal representatives of tiny ethnic or political minorities. Observers add that Belgrade's choice of delegates suggests that it regards the talks at least in part as a propaganda exercise. PM

    [15] TIRANA IN TOUCH WITH RAMBOUILLET?

    An unnamed official of the Albanian Foreign Ministry told "Gazeta Shqiptare" of 9 February that the ministry is in contact via cellular telephone with the Kosovar delegation in Rambouillet. The official added that the Kosovars have chosen UCK representative Hashim Thaci to head their delegation and that his deputies are shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova and nationalist leader Rexhep Qosja. Journalist Veton Surroi is spokesman. According to the rules of the conference, the mediators have a daily press conference, but in general the participants are not supposed to talk to persons on the outside. Leaks to the press have nonetheless already become commonplace because conference organizers did not take away the participants' mobile telephones. FS/TJ

    [16] ALBRIGHT REASSURES GLIGOROV

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov in a telephone conversation on 6 February that the current focus on Kosova does not give Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic a "free hand to cause problems" elsewhere in the Balkans, Reuters reported on 8 February. She stressed that the U.S. wants the UN to renew the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 February 1999). Albright also "applauded the Macedonian government's efforts to improve inter-ethnic relations and ties with neighboring countries and urged continued attention to economic reform," her spokesman said. Gligorov is close to the Social Democratic opposition and has been at odds with the government over its decision to recognize Taiwan and to grant an amnesty that includes many ethnic Albanians. PM

    [17] SOUTH AFRICA DENIES KOSOVA LINK TO ARREST OF LEKA

    A police spokesman said in Johannesburg on 8 February that Leka Zogu, who is the claimant to the Albanian throne, appeared in court on arms possession charges and returned to prison while the court considers his request for bail, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 February 1999). Leka's bail hearing will take place on 15 February, the spokesman added. Foreign Minister Alfred Nzo told reporters in Cape Town that no extradition request has arrived and that Leka will face the "full weight of our law." Other Foreign Affairs Department officials denied that the arrest of Leka, who is an arms dealer, is related to the conflict in Kosova. Observers suggested that some members of the international community might prefer that Leka, who faces coup charges in Albania and is regarded by many there as a destabilizing influence, were not at liberty to engage in Balkan politics. PM

    [18] ALBANIAN PROSECUTORS LINK TWO COUP ATTEMPTS

    An unnamed high- ranking official of the Prosecutor-General's office told "Koha Jone" of 9 February that his investigations have identified 10 key individuals who took part in two coup attempts, one in 1997, the other in 1998. The daily also reported that three persons arrested in conjunction with the 1998 coup attempt have concluded a plea-bargaining deal with investigators and will testify in court. On 3 July 1997, Leka led a crowd of heavily armed supporters in a march on the offices of the Central Election Commission following the Socialist victory in the general elections. On 14 September 1998, armed supporters of the opposition Democratic Party attacked the offices of Prime Minister Fatos Nano and captured two tanks. FS

    [19] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT REDUCES BUDGET DEFICIT

    The parliament on 8 February approved reducing the budget deficit from 2.4 percent of GDP, as originally envisaged, to 2 percent, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Heeding Finance Minister Decebal Train Remes's warnings about defaulting on foreign debt servicing, the legislature also approved the government's proposal to suspend tax breaks for domestic and foreign investors. The breaks were approved last December. MS

    [20] MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE BEGINS TALKS ON FORMING CABINET

    Serafim Urecheanu on 8 February began negotiations on forming a new government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Urecheanu said after talks with leaders of the ruling Alliance for Democracy and Reform (APDR) that he is still aiming at setting up a cabinet of experts not necessarily reflecting parliamentary representation and that he wants his government to be able to rule by decree. For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc leader Dumitru Diacov expressed confidence after meeting with Urecheanu that a "compromise" will be found. He said that another meeting of APDR leaders with Urecheanu will take place within two or three days. MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN DELEGATION TO MOSCOW DELAYED BY BOMB THREAT

    A Moldovan delegation's departure for Moscow was delayed on 8 February after a hoax call claimed a bomb had been planted on the plane, Infotag reported. Head of the delegation was Diacov in his capacity as parliamentary chairman. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported on 8 February that the Gazprom management, in a letter to President Petru Lucinschi, has warned that it will cut off gas supplies altogether if Moldova does not pay $23 million for gas deliveries in January. Supplies for this month have already been halved owing to Moldova's failure to clear its total debt of $439 million, of which $304 million is owed by the Transdniester. MS

    [22] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS NEW REGIONAL GOVERNORS

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 7 February told the 28 new regional governors appointed three days earlier that they have three tasks ahead of them: to work to speed up land restitution and complete agricultural reforms, to establish law and order while stepping up the fight against corruption, and to develop programs for the regions. Kostov said the governors must solve local problems democratically and at the same time implement government directives, BTA reported. He added that governors failing in these tasks will be fired, regardless of which coalition party advanced their candidacy. Under the new local administration system, the country is divided into 28, instead of the former nine, regions. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [23] MAKING PEACE BEFORE THE WAR BEGINS

    by Tim Judah

    On the eve of the peace talks in Rambouillet, France, the pessimists had the upper hand. The Serbs had found excuses to prevent members of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) from leaving the southern Serbian province to attend the talks. At the same time, Ratko Markovic, one of the three leading members of the Serbian delegation, arrived in Paris saying that his team had no intention of talking to "kidnappers and murderers."

    Twenty-four hours later, Markovic and the full Serbian delegation were sitting just yards away from the ethnic Albanian team, including the UCK group.

    On the face of it, there should be no room for optimism about the peace talks that have started in the 14th century chateau in Rambouillet. Although the delegations have been convened to discuss only a three-year interim deal, the ethnic Albanians are demanding a referendum on independence at the end of that period, something the Serbs reject out-of- hand. Chris Hill, the chief U.S. negotiator, calls this "reconciling the irreconcilable."

    But all the indications are that, barring the unexpected (another massacre, for example), the negotiators may well be able to clinch a deal. And if even if they do not quite succeed within the two-week timeframe set by the Contact Group for former Yugoslavia, they may make enough progress to reconvene soon afterward to finish the job.

    Put simply, both sides have an interest in reaching an agreement. First, they have to weigh up the costs of failure. The diplomats are telling the Serbs that if they are seen to scupper the agreement, then Yugoslav military targets will be bombed. Slobodan Milosevic and his generals have no wish whatsoever to have their air defenses pulverized. This means that in the end, they must take this threat seriously.

    The ethnic Albanians are also being threatened. For them the fear is not so much that NATO will cut off arms supply routes to the UCK. It is rather that if they are seen to block progress, then the West will do little or nothing if Serbian forces rampage across the province using their full military might against the lightly armed guerrillas and unarmed civilians.

    On a more positive note, the UCK--and the other Albanians in the negotiating team--believe that once a deal is done and a full-scale NATO- led peace keeping force is established in the province, then Kosova will be well on the way to independence. The vast majority of official posts will be in the hands of the Albanians. More to the point, though, while some UCK forces will be confined to barracks, others will be disbanded--only to promptly reappear as the major part of a new local police force.

    In public, the UCK and the remainder of the Kosova Albanian delegation are saying that a referendum is a sine qua non of any deal. In fact, their fall back position is that they will give up this demand as long as no option is foreclosed at the end of three years. This is clearly on the table, as British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told the delegates that the proposed draft agreement meant that both sides should seek to make progress "without surrendering any of their views as to what should be the long term future for Kosova after three years."

    In contrast to the ethnic Albanians, the Serbs are far less optimistic that a deal will be struck in Rambouillet. Still, they do not expect the meeting to be a complete failure either. They predict that enough progress will be made at Rambouillet for a new round of talks to begin soon afterward.

    According to Serbian sources, Milosevic has already accepted the inevitability of some sort of foreign peacekeeping force for Kosova. Whether it will be NATO-led or come under some other guise has still to be negotiated. Milosevic also wants to see what his negotiators can get in return for any deal--that is, the lifting of all remaining sanctions.

    For the Serbs, the fact that all options are left open at the end of the three-year period can be presented as a plus, because the province will remain both in the interim and possibly after that--as one diplomat puts it- -"implicitly" within Serbia. Independence is therefore not inevitable.

    The diplomats, meanwhile, are hoping that the three-year interim period will see more than a calming of passions and the end of the war. They hope that by the end of that period, Milosevic will have fallen. It is unclear, however, whether any new democratically elected Serbian or Yugoslav leader would find it any easier to deal with the poisoned chalice of the Kosova issue.

    Pessimists believe that the difference between the Dayton conference, which ended the war in Bosnian in November 1995 and Rambouillet is that at the former, all sides were exhausted, had fought one another to a virtual standstill, and wanted a deal. This, they say, is not yet the case in Kosova. Indeed, in the words of one diplomat: "We are trying to get them to agree to a peace deal before the war has really begun."

    Tim Judah is the author of: "The Serbs: History, Myth and the Destruction of Europe (Yale University Press: New Haven/London, 1998).

    09-02-99


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


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