|Monday, 20 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 47, 99-03-09
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 47, 9 March 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 FUGITIVE ARMENIAN EX-MINISTER REELECTED CHAIRMAN OF FORMER RULING PARTYThe ruling board of the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) on 8 March voted narrowly to reelect former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian as its chairman, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Following three days of heated debates and two rounds of voting, 22 members of the 41-strong HHSh board finally voted for Siradeghian, while 14 others backed his main challenger, former parliamentary speaker Babken Ararktsian. A third candidate, former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian, withdrew after the first round of voting. Siradeghian left Armenia in late January, two weeks before the parliament voted to strip him of his deputy's immunity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 February 1999). He is wanted in connection with several murders. "Oragir" reported on 9 March that former President Levon Ter- Petrossian lobbied energetically for Ararktsian's candidacy. LF
 THREE SMALL ARMENIAN PARTIES TO FORM ELECTION ALLIANCE?The nationalist Union for Constitutional Rights (SIM) has reached a "tentative agreement" with two leftist groups, the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union (GAKM) and the Miabanutyun (Accord) organization, on fielding a joint list of candidates in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 30 May, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 8 March, quoting SIM chairman Hrant Khachatrian. SIM and GAKM are members of the Justice and Unity grouping, which endorsed Robert Kocharian's candidacy in the March 1998 presidential elections. Neither of those parties is believed capable of overcoming the 5 percent barrier to gain entry to the parliament under the proportional system. Armenia's main parties have said they will not form any electoral blocs. But Khachatrian said the alliance will also seek to recruit another two pro-Kocharian parties, the Democratic and Ramkavar Azatakan parties, whose leaders hold senior government posts. LF
 BULGARIA TO BACK ARMENIAN MEMBERSHIP IN COUNCIL OF EUROPEBulgarian parliamentary chairman Yordan Sokolov met with his Armenian counterpart, Khosrov Harutiunian, and other senior officials, including President Robert Kocharian, Prime Minister Armen Darpinian, and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, in Yerevan on 5-6 March. Sokolov said Bulgaria will support Armenia's bid for full membership in the Council of Europe, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Sokolov concurred with the Armenian argument that Yerevan's membership in that organization should not be directly linked to the Karabakh conflict. LF
 GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS END PICKETSeveral hundred displaced persons who on 16 February began blocking the bridge over the River Inguri, which marks the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia, ended their protest action on 8 March after meeting with Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and with the chairman of the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile, Tamaz Nadareishvili, Caucasus Press reported. The fugitives had been demanding a meeting with Lortkipanidze to express their dissatisfaction over Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba's offer to begin repatriation on 1 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 February 1999). Lortkipanidze told the fugitives that the Georgian leadership had tried without success to persuade the UN to mount a "peace enforcement" operation in Abkhazia, which was also one of the displaced persons' demands. He added that peace talks "are not the only way to return the refugees." LF
 GEORGIA HAS MORE THAN 100,000 REGISTERED UNEMPLOYEDGeorgia currently has 101,700 registered unemployed, a 14.5 percent decrease from early 1998, Caucasus Press reported on 8 March, citing the State Statistics Department. More than half those seeking work have higher education, and 25 percent are under 30. ITAR-TASS, which cited a total of 98,000 jobless, said that the real figure is probably three times higher. Some 400,000 people out of a total population of 5 million in 1991 have emigrated since then in search of work. LF
 GEORGIAN INSURGENCY LEADER INTERCEDES FOR EXTRADITED GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERCaucasus Press on 8 March quoted Akaki Eliava, who led the abortive October 1998 uprising in western Georgia, as denying that Valerii Gabelia played any role in that action. Gabelia was extradited to Tbilisi from Moscow where he was detained last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February and 5 March 1999 ). He has been charged with treason and with financing both the February 1998 attempt to assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the mutiny led by Eliava. LF
 NEW PARTY IN KAZAKHSTAN WANTS YOUNG MEMBERSRepresentatives of the People's Republican Party held a press conference in Almaty on 9 March to reveal some of the party's goals, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Amirzhan Kosanov, the spokesman of party leader Akezhan Kazhegeldin, said the party will focus on gaining supporters from among the country's younger generation. He noted that party branches have been established throughout the country, even in remote areas. The party's deputy chairman, Ghaziz Aldamzharov, said the process of choosing candidates to participate in parliamentary elections later this year has already begun. Aldamzharov added that the party currently has 4,000 registered members, although it was officially registered only last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 3 March 1999). Kazhegeldin was not present at the press conference. Kosanov said he was in the U.S. to inform people abroad about the existence of the new party. BP
 UZBEKISTAN TO CUT OFF GAS TO KYRGYZSTAN AGAIN?A Kyrgyz government official who requested anonymity told RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek on 8 March that Uzbekistan has sent a telegram to Kyrgyzstan warning that gas supplies will soon be cut off if the latter does not start paying its $3.3 million debt. Uzbekistan reduced gas supplies in late February and stopped supplies altogether last November. On both occasions, a Kyrgyz delegation traveled to Uzbekistan to negotiate the resumption of deliveries. BP
 KYRGYZ NATIONAL BANK TAKES MEASURES AGAINST TWO COMMERCIAL BANKSKyrgyzstan's National Bank has announced that the Maksata bank will work under a "conservative regime" for the next six months, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 March. Chairman of the National Bank Ulan Sarbanov also said the Insana bank will be placed under a "temporary administration" until June. Sarbanov said these moves are necessary owing to the banks' violations of the law, which, he said, could "lead to a worsening of the country's financial situation." Sarbanov said the measures taken by the National Bank are aimed at "preventing insolvency and will protect the commercial banking system." BP
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 UCK'S GENERAL STAFF REPORTEDLY AGREES TO PEACE ACCORD...The U.S. State Department said on 8 March that the general staff of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) has agreed to the interim peace accord for Kosova, an RFE/RL correspondent reported in Washington. The State Department said U.S. envoy Chris Hill has been assured by the UCK that it will sign the agreement, which would grant the Kosovars autonomy for three years. UCK leaders met with Hill and EU envoy Wolfgang Petritsch outside Prishtina. Petritsch said UCK officials "are absolutely in favor of signing" but that some local commanders are not ready to do so. Ramush Hajredinaj, a UCK commander based in the village of Jablanica, told AP that the UCK will never give up its weapons. Other UCK officials are reportedly uncomfortable with possible Russian participation in the proposed NATO-led peace-keeping force in Kosova. PB
 ...WHILE MILOSEVIC REMAINS OPPOSED...Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer in Belgrade on 8 March that he remains opposed to allowing a peace- keeping force deploy in Kosova on the signing of a peace agreement, Reuters reported. Fischer, who was accompanied by EU Human Rights Commissioner Hans van den Broek, said it will be "hard work" to convince Belgrade to agree to the stationing of troops in Kosova, but he thinks it is possible. Fischer also met with his Yugoslav counterpart, Zivadin Jovanovic, who said Belgrade is ready to resume talks on Kosova. Jovanovic called on Europe to stop supporting the ethnic Albanians and to lift the economic embargo against Yugoslavia. EU envoy Petritsch said he believes "Milosevic is already becoming very reflective, even perplexed, because he has seen...that no compromise is possible on the stationing of troops." PB
 ...AND HOLBROOKE SETS OUT FOR BELGRADEThe U.S. announced on 8 March that diplomat Richard Holbrooke will arrive in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic on 10 March. Holbrooke brokered the October cease-fire for Kosova, which led to the stationing of OSCE "verifiers" in the province. PB
 KOSOVA FIGHTING INTENSIFIES, SERBS KILLED BY MINEFighting was reported in Kosovar Albanian villages near the Macedonian border on 8 March, Reuters reported. OSCE officials said Serbian forces prevented monitors from observing the fighting, although shelling and artillery fire were audible. Tanks were also engaged in fighting reported in Mitrovica, Vucitrn, Bukos, and Pantina, just north of Prishtina. The same day, the Serb-run Pristina Media Center said two Serbian policemen were killed and three others wounded when their car hit an anti-tank mine near Djakovica. PB
 HIGH COMMISSIONER REMAINS FIRM ON POPLASEN SACKING, BRCKO RULINGCarlos Westendorp said on 8 March that the dismissal of hard-line Republika Srpska President Nikola Poplasen was "final and irrevocable," AP reported. Poplasen has refused to step down, saying that his dismissal by Westendorp is unconstitutional. Westendorp said in a statement that he believes Poplasen is "sensible enough" to leave but that if he does not, he will be forcibly removed. As regards the Brcko decision, Westendorp also said he has written to Bosnian Serb parliamentary speaker Petar Djokic "guaranteeing that the territory as shown on the Dayton map will remain continuous." Many Bosnian Serbs fear that the decision to make the Sava River port town of Brcko a neutral district would divide their territory. Westendorp added that he and Brcko international supervisor Robert Farrand are prepared to meet with a commission from the Bosnian Serb parliament to "listen to their views." PB
 DODIK RETHINKS RESIGNATION...Milorad Dodik, prime minister of the Republika Srpska, who offered his resignation last week, said in Banja Luka on 9 March that he may continue in his post once things "cool off," AP reported. Dodik, upset at the decision by an international arbitrator to make Brcko a neutral district, said the move was an "unnecessary experiment." But he added that it would be "counterproductive now to stop cooperating with the international community." Westendorp, who has backed Dodik in his power struggle with Poplasen, noted that the Bosnian Serb parliament has not yet accepted Dodik's resignation. Dodik appears to agree with the decision to sack Poplasen, saying that "it's a good move that he's no longer president." PB
 ...AND RADISIC ALSO CONCILIATORYZivko Radisic, the Serbian chairman of the Bosnian presidency, said the Bosnian Serb parliament's resolution against the Brcko ruling (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999) does not "represent a confrontation with the international community but an attempt to bring the peace agreement back on track," AP reported. Radisic suspended his activities in the presidency on 6 March to protest the Brcko decision. Radisic and Dodik are both members of the Sloga [Unity] coalition, which has strong backing from the West. Westendorp said he hopes the coalition will remain intact, despite the continued infighting between moderates and hard-liners. PB
 CROATIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WANTS NEWS ON TUDJMAN'S HEALTHVlado Gotovac, the leader of Croatia's Liberal Party, accused the government of concealing information about the true state of President Franjo Tudjman's health, AP reported. Tudjman had not been seen in public for 12 days before appearing on television last week looking very frail and with noticeably less hair. The weekly "Nacional" said Tudjman is suffering from a brain tumor and has undergone chemotherapy treatment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1999). His doctor said he was treated for influenza. Gotovac said "considering the deep crisis we are in...the concealment of information regarding the president's health is utterly irresponsible." He added that "only rulers inside the Kremlin continually masked information about their health." PB
 MACEDONIAN OFFICIALS IN TAIWANThe president of the Macedonian parliament, Savo Klimovski, is heading a 32- member delegation that arrived in Taipei on 7 March, AFP reported. Klimovski is to discuss several business deals with Taiwan officials and begin talks on a long-term bilateral economic agreement. The visit comes just one day after Taiwanese Foreign Minister Jason Hu ended a trip to Skopje to sign agreements on diplomatic relations. Beijing has broken off relations with Macedonia and vetoed an extension of the UN peace-keeping force there in retaliation for Skopje's recognition of Taiwan. PB
 OSCE JEEP HIT BY GUNFIRE IN ALBANIAAn OSCE group in a jeep monitoring the Albanian border with Kosova was hit by gunfire on 8 March, AFP reported. The incident took place near Kruma, about 2 kilometers from the Kosova border. No one was hurt in the incident. PB
 ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN DENIES COLLABORATION WITH SECURITATEPetre Roman on 8 March said he will sue for libel retired General Neagu Cosma, who was chief of the counter- espionage service in the 1970s, RFE/RL Bucharest bureau reported. On 5 March Neagu told the private television station Tele 7 abc that Roman was an agent of the former secret police, the Securitate, and was sent to France (where he studied for his Ph.D.) "on a mission." Neagu said the order to send Roman abroad came from former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, who wanted to put an end to a romance between his daughter Zoe and Roman, the daily "National" reported on 8 March. Neagu cited Ceausescu as saying " I already have one Jew in the family and that is more than enough." (Ceausescu's son Valentin was married to the daughter of a communist dignitary whose wife was Jewish. That marriage ended in divorce.) MS
 ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH DENIES INTERFERING IN PAPAL VISITThe Patriarchate of the Romanian Orthodox Church on 8 March rejected allegations that it interfered with the planned itinerary of Pope John Paul II's visit to Romania in May in order to prevent the pontiff from visiting Transylvania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 1999). The Patriarchate said the pontiff's itinerary was drawn up in consultation with the Vatican, which requested that the visit be confined to Bucharest "in view of His Holiness's frail health." In an allusion to the Uniate Church, the Patriarchate said that if the visit fails to take place "in the ecumenical and brotherly spirit cherished by both His Holiness and our Church, responsibility must be borne by those who [strive to] worsen relations between the two Churches." MS
[C] END NOTE
 WORLD BANK CONFIDENT UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT WILL AGREE TO LOANSby Robert Lyle
World Bank officials say they are confident that Ukraine's parliament will reverse itself this week and ratify agreements on two major loans with the World Bank.
The bank's country director for Belarus and Ukraine, Paul Siegelbaum, says the two loans--one to buy a new computer system for the Ukrainian Treasury department, the other to modernize Kyiv's district heating system--were rejected by the Ukrainian parliament last week because the loan approval measures got caught up in the heated political fight over whether Kyiv should join the CIS Parliamentary Assembly.
The parliament voted to make that move and to override a vetoed bill on Ukrainian elections, two controversial measures that pushed a number of items on the parliament's agenda into the abyss.
Siegelbaum, in an interview with RFE/RL in Washington, said the bank's loans to Kyiv got "hit by flying elbows" in bitter political fights that had nothing to do with the World Bank or its programs with Ukraine.
"I don't think that the parliament in Ukraine is fundamentally a body in opposition to the types of things the World Bank and the [European Bank for Reconstruction and Development] want to do," he commented. "In the past, they haven't been our enemies. There is no reason to believe they are now."
Siegelbaum said that while it is not normal for national parliaments to reject World Bank programs, it has happened before, including among countries that were once part of the ex-USSR.
Now, however, Siegelbaum says he is confident that when those two loans -- and two others -- are presented to the Ukrainian parliament this week, they will be approved.
"The total volume of potential lending under those operations is around $600 million, " he said. "Some of them will be taken up quickly, including the treasury systems project that involves computer equipment to improve the treasury process, and another loan to improve the district heating system in Kyiv. Others are going to be taken up in a slightly more extended schedule, including a loan to accelerate the closure of coal mines, and some other things."
More important, according to Siegelbaum , clearing the way for these loans could open up what has been a log-jam at the World Bank in dealing with Ukraine: "We told the Ukrainians that if we could put this problem behind us, we can now begin to accelerate the preparation of a whole bunch of other loans--seven or eight of them--which are at various stages of our processing, but which we've had to hold up because we couldn't rush ahead knowing 'the wall' was there. Because it would make no sense to continue to present loans to the parliament when it was in the mood to reject them."
Siegelbaum said even as the parliament was rejecting the two loans, it did manage--on a second try--to accept a $22 million grant from the bank to finance the modernization of plants that use ozone-depleting substances. That was a real embarrassment for Ukrainian officials, Siegelbaum explained, because it is an outright grant and will cost Kyiv nothing.
Siegelbaum noted that while the loans are extremely important to Ukraine, the help with reforms that goes along with the money is actually far more significant: "The money's the least important part of these loans, it's the reform. Every one of these loans reforms a different part. Whether it's the water system in Odessa or some district heating system in another city or insulating government buildings for energy efficiency, those reforms are going to create value for Ukraine far in excess of the dollars involved in the loan."
He added that he would "love it" if he could give the reforms without the money because, he explains, Ukraine would have a "healthier economy that wasn't in debt to the World Bank." But since that won't work, he said, it's best that Ukraine borrow the money and get the reform help, in effect, thrown in for free.
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Washington.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty