|Wednesday, 29 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 37, 99-02-24
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 37, 24 February 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS DISTANCE FROM ELECTION LAW CONTROVERSYRobert Kocharian was unaware when he signed the election law on 18 February that the text had been amended since the parliament had passed the bill in the final reading three days earlier, presidential spokesman Vahe Gabrielian told journalists on 23 February. Gabrielian said Kocharian had neither vetoed nor raised any objections to the law because of the relatively short period remaining in which to organize the poll, but the spokesman said that the president does not exclude subsequent amendments to it, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Kocharian intends to hold talks with leading political figures in the near future on the conduct of the elections, according to ITAR-TASS. Opposition parliamentary deputies continue to protest the changes introduced into the text by the bill's author, Viktor Dallakian, after the final reading (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 February 1999). LF
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN FLOATS REGIONAL COOPERATION INITIATIVEKhosrov Harutiunian has written to his Azerbaijani counterpart, Murtuz Alesqerov, to solicit the latter's support for Harutiunian's proposal to convene a meeting of Transcaucasus parliamentary chairmen under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Noyan Tapan reported on 23 February. The letter stresses the importance of peaceful dialogue in seeking a solution to the region's problems. It also proposes conducting seminars on regional cooperation under PACE auspices. A spokesman for the Azerbaijani parliament told Turan on 23 February that Alesqerov has not yet received the missive, which Armenia's ambassador in Moscow was to deliver to his Azerbaijani counterpart (Armenia and Azerbaijan have no diplomatic relations). LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT CALLS FOR 'RESOLUTE ACTION' ON KARABAKH CONFLICTIn a letter addressed to the French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, Heidar Aliev urged those officials to "act resolutely" to find a solution to the Karabakh conflict, Interfax reported on 23 February. Aliev said that his country's position is "constructive," but he repeated that Azerbaijan "flatly rejects" the most recent peace plan proposed by the Minsk Group. He said that plan, which advocates a "common state" comprising Azerbaijan and the unrecognized Nagorno- Karabakh Republic, "pushes the peace process back and reduces the chance of a settlement." But the Russian co-chairman, Yurii Yukalov, has denied that the Minsk Group will deviate from its most recent peace proposal, Turan reported on 23 February, citing Snark. LF
 PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY FOR OSCE CHAIRMAN'S KARABAKH MEDIATION TRIPMeanwhile, a Norwegian Foreign Ministry delegation held talks with senior officials in Stepanakert and Yerevan on 21-22 February in preparation for the planned visit to the Transcaucasus in April of Norwegian Foreign Minister Knut Vollebaek, who is currently the OSCE chairman-in-office, Noyan Tapan and Turan reported. Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian told the delegation that he hopes Vollebaek's visit will give new impetus to the peace process. Ghukasian stressed the Karabakh Armenians' desire for a "strong peace" based on mutual concessions and dialogue. The Norwegian delegation will arrive in Baku on 24 February. LF
 AZERBAIJANI BY-ELECTION TURNOUT FALSIFIED?A spokesman for Azerbaijan's Central Electoral Commission told Turan on 22 February that by-elections held the previous day in two districts of Baku were valid, with more than 60 percent of registered voters participating. The spokesman said the CEC has received no complaints about violations of voting procedure. But on 23 February, Nureddin Mamedli, chairman of the committee for the defense of the rights of former parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev, said that in the Khatai district, which Guliev represented in the parliament until being stripped of his mandate (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 December 1997), only between 2,000 and 3,000 of the 47,000 eligible voters actually went to the polls. Candidates from the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party have been declared elected in both districts. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT CLARIFIES POSITION ON CIS SECURITY TREATYEduard Shevardnadze's press service issued a statement on 23 February denying that Shevardnadze stated unequivocally that Georgia will not renew its membership in the CIS Security Treaty after that treaty expires in April, ITAR-TASS reported. The statement quoted Shevardnadze as having said the previous day that the treaty has not benefited Georgia and that he intends to coordinate with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov his position on whether to recommit Georgia to membership. Karimov has said his country will not renew its membership in the treaty. Shevardnadze said on 8 February that Georgia would renew its membership in the treaty "if our interests are taken into consideration" with regard to the Abkhaz conflict and the continued presence of Russian military bases in Georgia. LF
 FORMER GEORGIAN SECURITY CHIEF'S WHEREABOUTS STILL UNCLEARThe Georgian embassy in Egypt and the Russian embassy in Damascus have both said they can neither confirm nor deny British press reports that Igor Giorgadze has been granted asylum in Syria, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 February. The Georgian authorities say former Security Minister Giorgadze helped to organize the failed August 1995 car bomb attack on Shevardnadze at Moscow's instigation. The Georgian press last month quoted a French publication as claiming that Syrian President Hafez Assad granted Giorgadze asylum in October 1998 at the request of the Russian Federal Security Service (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 1999). LF
 KURDISH PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SEVERAL CIS STATESEthnic Kurds in several CIS states continue to protest the arrest of Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan and to demand his release. Some 30 Kurds, including an 11-year-old girl, are continuing a hunger strike outside the UN building in Yerevan, which they began on 19 February, Noyan Tapan reported on 23 February. In Tbilisi, several hundred Kurds staged a protest march, bringing traffic in the city center to a standstill, and then demonstrated outside the Turkish embassy to demand a fair trial for Ocalan, AP and "Rezonansi" reported. In Kazakhstan, some 200 ethnic Kurds began a hunger strike in the city of Taraz on 23 February, Interfax reported. LF/BP
 TAJIK PRESIDENT WARNS OF NEW THREAT FROM AFGHANISTANImomali Rakhmonov, speaking on 23 February at a ceremony marking Defenders of Fatherland Day, warned that he had information about a threat from terrorists training in Afghanistan, RFE/RL correspondents in Dushanbe reported. Rakhmonov said there are some 400 people undergoing sabotage training in various areas of Afghanistan, with the goal of "creating chaos" in parts of Tajikistan. He did not elaborate. BP
 UN CALLS FOR SPEEDIER PROGRESS IN TAJIKISTANThe UN Security Council, in a statement issued on 23 February, called on the Tajik government and United Tajik Opposition (UTO) to intensify their efforts at implementing all the terms of the June 1997 Tajik National Peace Accord, signed in June 1997. The council noted that progress toward holding a constitutional referendum and presidential and parliamentary elections has been slow during the last three months. (All three votes are planned for this year.) The council also expressed concern about security in some parts of the country, reminding Tajik officials that international aid is dependent on a stable environment. And it repeated calls for a full investigation into the murders of four UN employees last July in central Tajikistan, requesting that the UTO "contribute more effectively to the investigation." BP
 IRAN, RUSSIA NEED TO PLAY 'KEY ROLE' IN TAJIKISTANUN special envoy to Tajikistan Jan Kubis told journalists in Tehran on 23 February that Iran and Russia have been active participants in establishing peace in Tajikistan. He called on both countries now to play a "key role" in speeding up the peace process there. And he thanked Iranian officials for their help in seeking a "full and final normalization of the situation in Tajikistan," ITAR- TASS reported. BP
 KARIMOV REVEALS MORE DETAILS OF LAST WEEK'S BOMBINGSUzbek President Islam Karimov, addressing diplomats and journalists in Tashkent on 23 February, revealed more details of the 16 February terrorist bombings. One of the primary suspects, Ulughbek Babajanov, had visited government headquarters six times before the bombings, he said. Babajanov, who is still at large, obtained permission to enter the building from a deputy prime minister who Karimov did not name. That official was guilty of negligence and poor judgment rather than complicity in the attack, the president argued. Karimov also said that not only Wahhabis but members of Hezbollah were involved in planning the attack. According to AP, Karimov said the attacks were planned in a foreign country, but he did not name which one. BP
 LOCAL UZBEK OFFICIALS ASKED TO HELP IN INVESTIGATIONITAR-TASS reported on 22 February that passport control in Uzbekistan has been tightened and the government has asked local officials and committees to help in the investigation of last week's bombings. The news outlet quotes a "high official in the country's passport agency" as saying these local officials and committees are, in effect, carrying out a census in order to identify suspicious individuals. Crime has reportedly decreased dramatically in Uzbekistan since the attacks, and while no curfew has been imposed, the streets of Tashkent are reportedly almost deserted after 9:00 p.m. local time. BP
 KYRGYZ AGRICULTURAL MINISTRY REVIEWS LAST YEAR'S RESULTSThe Agricultural Ministry on 23 February announced that last year's agricultural output totaled 19.6 billion som ($654 million), RFE/RL correspondents reported. Prime Minister Jumabek Ibraimov noted that most of the money from foreign loans for agriculture has been embezzled, and he advised more stringent control over such funds. He added that agriculture is the only sphere of the Kyrgyz economy that can ensure "real growth" of GDP in 1999-2000, Interfax reported. BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 KOSOVA TALKS ADJOURNEDThe Kosova peace conference in Rambouillet, France, ended on 23 February without an agreement, AP reported. The U.S., French, and British co-hosts of the 17-day talks decided to suspend the talks until 15 March to give the Albanians two weeks for "consultations" with their constituencies. Both Albanians and Serbs have committed themselves to participating in the follow-up conference. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said "we do not have the signatures" either on political part of the peace accord or the military annex that the six-country Contact Group argues is necessary to enforce it. He added that "we will use the next three weeks to convince the Serbs andŠAlbanians that the agreement is a good bargain for both sides." The Albanian delegation continues to insist on a referendum on independence after three years, while the Serbs still reject a NATO peacekeeping force. FS
 CONTACT GROUP PRAISES 'CONSENSUS'...Notwithstanding the lack of an agreement, the Contact Group issued a statement after the conference saying that "the important efforts of the parties and the unstinting commitment of our negotiatorsŠhave led to a consensus on substantial autonomy for Kosova, including on mechanisms for free and fair elections to democratic institutions for the governance of Kosova, for the protection of human rights and the rights of members of national communities, and for the establishment of a fair judicial system." The statement stressed that the envisaged autonomy will respect "the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia." It added that "a political framework is now in placeŠand the groundwork has thereby been laid for finalizing the implementation Chapters of the Agreement, including the modalities of the invited international civilian and military presence" in Kosova. FS
 ...WARNS PARTIES TO RESPECT CEASE-FIREThe Contact Group's statement went on to say that "the parties must abstain from any action which would undermine the achievements of Rambouillet" and "honor fully and immediately the cease-fire" in Kosova as well as "abstain from all provocative actions." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stressed that NATO's threat of air strikes remains in place in the event that Serbs resume attacks in Kosova. She said that "the marriage of force and policy still exists," adding that NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana "holds the ring." She stressed, however, that it is up to the Albanians to "create this black and white situation" by fully accepting an accord themselves, Reuters reported. FS
 UN, EU, U.S. URGE 'CONSTRUCTIVE SPIRIT'The UN Security Council and Secretary-General Kofi Annan have urged Serbs and Albanians to "work constructively" to implement agreements when talks resume on 15 March. Annan expressed the hope that the conference "will result in a comprehensive interim agreement" and "provide genuine autonomy for the long-suffering people of Kosova." U.S. President Bill Clinton called the talks " a significant step forward in the search for a fair and lasting peace" and urged both sides to sign the Contact Group's draft agreement next month. He noted that NATO remains poised to use military force if necessary. The German Foreign Ministry, in the name of the EU presidency, issued a statement saying that the EU is determined to play a "substantial role" in reconstructing the Serbian province and in helping to implement any peace deal. FS
 SERBIAN PRESIDENT SAYS TALKS WERE UNSUCCESSFULMilan Milutinovic said in Rambouillet after the talks that "the [Contact Group's] conclusions are a camouflage for the lack of success at this conference," adding that "there has been no Rambouillet accord." He blamed organizers for allowing only "minimal contact" between the Serbs and the Kosova Albanians during the talks, adding that there was prejudice against the Serbs throughout, AP reported. Milutinovic demanded "a new method of working to allow us to reach a quicker and better solution," including more face-to-face talks. He again ruled out the possibility of any NATO troops on Serbian soil or a combination of NATO and Russian troops. Meanwhile in Belgrade, Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic accused international mediators of playing "games behind the scenes" and altering the draft peace plan at the last minute to include a formula for an eventual referendum on independence. FS
 UCK PLEDGES TO CONTINUE 'LIBERATION WAR'...A spokesman for the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) political representative Adem Demaci said in Prishtina on 23 February that talks cannot bring peace and the guerrillas will wage their "liberation war" to the end. Meanwhile, the head of the Albanian delegation in Rambouillet, UCK representative Hashim Thaci, told Albanian Television that the Kosovars "should not expect much" from the next round of negotiations. He urged them to unite behind the UCK. FS
 ...WHILE FIGHTING CONTINUESRFE/RL's South Slavic Service, citing the Serbian Media Center, reported on 23 February that five Serbian policemen were wounded in the village of Bukoshi, near Vushtrri, during a shootout with the UCK. An AP photographer was also injured in the fighting. The shadow-state Kosova Information Center, meanwhile, reported that Serbian troops continue bombarding several villages in the area with tanks and heavy artillery. Elsewhere, UNHCR spokesman Chris Janowski put the total number of people who fled their homes within the last three days alone at around 10,000. FS
 YUGOSLAV ARMY MINES BRIDGEUnnamed diplomats and international peace monitors told Reuters that Yugoslav army engineers have placed explosives on a key bridge at the main highway connecting Prishtina with the Macedonian border. A diplomat said that "the Yugoslav army is serious and professional. They wouldn't be a match for NATO if it came to it but they would use every means to frustrate an attack, including blowing up the bridges and tunnels that NATO ground forces would want to use." FS
 ALBANIA WANTS NATO TO ENSURE PEACEThe Albanian government issued a statement on 23 February in Tirana saying that "the talks [are] onlyŠthe first stage in reaching an agreement and that the draft political accord agreed on in Rambouillet will be "implemented only by the military and political enforcing instruments of NATO and the OSCE." Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told Albanian Television that the agreement might not have been the best possible for the ethnic Albanians but that it is the best base from which to proceed. Milo predicted that the Kosovars' attitude will not alter in the two weeks before the next conference, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Albania's Defense Ministry has put troops on high alert in its northern regions, after Serbian troops and equipment began to be reinforced along the border, an army spokesman told Reuters on 23 February. FS
 CHINA OPPOSES EXTENSION OF MACEDONIAN UN MANDATEA spokesman for China's UN mission in New York told Reuters on 23 February that China opposes extending the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Macedonia. He did not say, however, whether China will use its veto in the Security Council. The council is scheduled to vote this week on whether to renew the mandate, which expires on 27 February. China severed diplomatic relations with Macedonia on 9 February because of its new ties to Taiwan. Meanwhile, unnamed diplomats say the U.S. is considering a new status for the peacekeepers, either as part of NATO or as a separate border force paid for by Washington and other contributors. FS
 BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY SEEKS CUTS IN MILITARY SPENDINGBosnia's collective presidency on 23 February launched an initiative aimed at reducing military spending, Mirza Hajric, an adviser to Bosnian Muslim Presidency member Alija Izetbegovic, told Reuters. Hajric said he believes the idea could "easily fly" in the federation and that he hopes the Republika Srpska will also accept it. Hajric said the idea is to reduce such spending by one-third to free up money for reconstruction of the country. He stressed, however, that "we would have to get an agreement with Yugoslavia and Croatia." FS
 NATO BOOSTS PRESENCE IN HARDLINE BOSNIAN-SERB TOWNSFOR spokesman Glenn Chamberlain told Reuters on 23 February that SFOR has "sharply increased" its presence in Foca. That town is believed to harbor several Serbian indicted war criminals. Chamberlain said SFOR will set up random checkpoints, noting that "this is recognition of a pattern of illegal activity in that town over a considerable period of time." However, he gave no other details about the nature of the operation. FS
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO ASK PARLIAMENT FOR ENDORSEMENTPrime Minister Radu Vasile on 23 February said on Romanian Television that his government will "assume responsibility" in the parliament for its economic program. According to this process, the legislature is considered to have approved the program unless a no confidence motion is submitted. Vasile said the program will include a new privatization law envisaging the sale in installments of state-owned companies to Romanian investors, a law on property restitution, and legislation defining public administration accountability. In other news, the miners in the Jiu Valley and the valley's state-owned mining company have reached agreement on a new collective contract for 1999 that provides for an average wage hike of 17 percent. MS
 ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY THREATENS PARLIAMENTARY BOYCOTTOvidiu Musatescu, executive secretary of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), said on 23 February that the PDSR will discuss the possibility of boycotting parliamentary debates till the next elections to protest the ruling National Peasant Party Christian Democratic's (PNTCD) campaign against PDSR leader Ion Iliescu. PNTCD chairman Ion Diaconescu and his deputy, Remus Opris, told journalists on 22 February that the former president cannot run for what they said would be a third presidential term, adding that "it will soon transpire who is truly responsible" for the miners' rampages in Bucharest in 1990-1991. Musatescu said the PDSR will "use all possible forms of protest" to defend its chairman. MS
 SMIRNOV CALLS FOR STRENGTHENING MILITARYTransdniester separatist leader Igor Smirnov, marking the Defense of the Fatherland Day on 23 February, said Transdniester must build up its military potential, adding that the country "needs a strong and well- trained army to defend its sovereignty and independence at any moment," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The same day, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Chisinau said a Tiraspol delegation's recent participation in debates in the Russian State Duma on the Transdniester was "a gesture incompatible with the traditional Russia-Moldovan dialogue." Oleg Serebrian said the Duma is "free to discuss any problem related to Russia's national interests but must [neither] affect the national interests of other sovereign nations" nor allow "any infringement of other countries' territorial integrity," Infotag reported. MS
 BULGARIA, ROMANIA DISAGREE OVER DANUBE TUNNELA Romanian project to build a tunnel under the Danube River between Giurgiu and Russe has met with sharp criticism in Bulgaria, dpa reports, citing the daily "Trud." Giurgiu and Russe are already linked by a bridge. The daily says the Romanian plan is aimed at preventing the construction of a second bridge over the river. The two governments have long disagreed over the construction of a second bridge: Bulgaria insists that it span the river between Vidin and Calafat, while Bucharest wants the bridge to be built further east. Bulgarian experts say Romanian opposition to the Vidin- Calafat project stems from non-economic, political motives and that Bucharest wants to prevent an economic boom in Transylvania, where Romania's ethnic Hungarian minority is concentrated. MS
[C] END NOTE
 LOOKING BACK TO THE FUTUREBy Paul Goble
A 19th-century Russian foreign minister has again been held up as a model for Moscow's foreign policy because of his ability to use "the force of the word" to prevent other powers from exploiting Russia's time of relative weakness.
Writing in the latest issue of the Russian Foreign Ministry's journal "International Affairs," Viktor Lopatnikov follows on from the celebration begun by Yevgenii Primakov last year of Aleksandr Gorchakov, Russia's foreign minister for nearly a generation after the country's defeat in the Crimean War.
Lopatnikov, who represents the Foreign Ministry in Saint Petersburg, argues that Gorchakov's approach to dealing with the outside world remains "amazingly topical today." And he suggests that Russian officials study three aspects of Gorchakov's approach in order to learn how to act in the future.
First, Lopatnikov says, Gorchakov's immense dignity in the face of the indignities Russia suffered following its defeat in Crimea not only helped restore Russian national pride but had the effect of demonstrating to foreigners that Russia is, in the poet Fyodor Tyutchev's words, "a country that cannot be measured by an ordinary yardstick."
To the extent that foreign powers recognize that fact, Lopatnikov argues, they did not in the 19th century and will not be interested in the future in exploiting Russia when it is "concentrating" on its domestic affairs.
These powers, he continues, will thus find themselves once again caught between their own recognition that Russia is a country unlike any other and their acceptance of Russian demands that Russia be treated as an equal. Being thus trapped, they will be forced to give more deference to Russia than its position might otherwise justify.
Second, Lopatnikov argues, Gorchakov understood that Russia simultaneously must be extremely selective in deciding where it will actually get involved. It must also insist on its right to deploy its diplomatic and political muscle wherever it deems necessary.
On the one hand, as Gorchakov showed, that stance will keep other powers off balance and thus allow Russia to use diplomacy rather than force to prevent any combination from arising against its interests. And on the other, it will allow Russia to focus on the recovery of its domestic economy, the ultimate source of its power.
As Primakov argued last spring on the 200th anniversary of Gorchakov's birth, this domestic focus both provides an anchor for stabilizing Russia's foreign policy and guarantees that Russian advances internationally can always be justified in terms that other powers are likely to find acceptable rather than aggressive.
And third, Lopatnikov suggests, Gorchakov recognized that the chief focus of Russian foreign policy must be along its own borders. The 20th-century diplomat notes the praise his 19th- century predecessor received for doing just that.
In 1864, Aleksandr II formally congratulated Gorchakov for his use of "the force of the word" to disarm the enemies of Russia, an action the tsar said guaranteed that Gorchakov's name would be entered in "the future chronicle of the Fatherland."
Lopatnikov does not provide the text of Gorchakov's message that won Aleksandr's approval. But most of his readers are likely to recall with precision just what policy the 19th-century foreign minister was advancing.
On 21 November 1864, Gorchakov issued a dispatch justifying the Russian imperial advance into Central Asia. He argued in terms that many of his European counterparts would have found difficult to answer: "The position of Russia in Central Asia is that of all civilized states which come into contact with half- savage, nomadic populations who possess no fixed social organization."
In such cases, Gorchakov said, "the more civilized state is forced, in the interests of security and commerce, to exercise a certain ascendancy over those whose turbulent and unsettled character makes them most undesirable neighbors."
Presumably, Lopatnikov would not endorse these specific terms for the present and future. But his and Primakov's enthusiasm for Gorchakov who uttered them may confuse some Russian diplomats and create problems for others.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty