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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 47, 99-03-10

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. 47, 10 March 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] SPLITS IN FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY?
  • [02] ARMENIAN JOURNALIST KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN ACCIDENT
  • [03] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CYPRUS
  • [04] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS TBILISI
  • [05] KARABAKH SPOKESMAN DENIES PRESIDENT MET WITH AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONISTS
  • [06] CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE ON DEFENDING AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DETAINED
  • [07] GEORGIA, ABKHAZIA TRADE ACCUSATIONS OVER REPATRIATION
  • [08] GEORGIAN, UZBEK PRESIDENTS MEET...
  • [09] ...COMMENT ON BEREZOVSKII'S DISMISSAL
  • [10] UZBEK PRESIDENT SAYS INVESTIGATION INTO BOMBINGS SOON COMPLETED...
  • [11] ...CONNECTS POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO BOMBINGS
  • [12] KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN REACH NEW AGREEMENT ON GAS SUPPLIES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] BEFORE TALKS WITH MILOSEVIC, HOLBROOKE WARNS OF TRAGEDY
  • [14] WEST STILL BETTING ON KOSOVAR ALBANIAN ACCEPTANCE...
  • [15] ...ALTHOUGH UCK STILL LEAVES ROOM FOR DOUBT
  • [16] SERBIAN OFFICIALS ISSUE MORE ARREST WARRANTS...
  • [17] ...STEP UP FIGHTING ALONG BORDER
  • [18] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT REMAINS DEFIANT
  • [19] TUDJMAN, ACCUSED WAR CRIMES SUSPECT REPORTED ON THE MEND
  • [20] SLOVENE FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES STALEMATE IN TALKS WITH CROATIA
  • [21] ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS JANUARY CLASHES CONSITUTE FAILED COUP D'ETAT
  • [22] VATICAN DENIES PAPAL ITINERARY ESTABLISHED
  • [23] LUCINSCHI RE-NAMES STURDZA AS PREMIER
  • [24] BULGARIA TO SEEK REVISION OF KOZLODUY AGREEMENT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] BOSNIA'S TWO-ENTITY ECONOMY GROWING BUT STILL WEAK

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] SPLITS IN FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY?

    Two members announced their resignation from the board of the Armenian Pan- National Movement on 9 March to protest the re-election of fugitive former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian as board chairman, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Former deputy parliamentary speaker Karapet Rubinian said that he opposes Siradeghian's ideology, describing him as neither a liberal nor a democrat. Samvel Gevorgian said that the defeated candidate for the post, former parliamentary speaker Babken Ararktsian, would have been "more useful to the party," which a third HHSh member predicted may now spilt. Siradeghian was re-elected in absentia as board chairman on 8 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 March 1999). LF

    [02] ARMENIAN JOURNALIST KILLED IN HIT-AND-RUN ACCIDENT

    Tigran Hayrapetian, editor of "Nor Ughi," which is published by the eponymous opposition party, died in hospital in Yerevan early on 9 March after being run over by a car in the capital, Noyan Tapan and ITAR-TASS reported. Hayrapetian, who was 35, managed Nor Ughi chairman Ashot Bleyan's unsuccessful presidential election campaign in 1998. He contributed to several opposition publications. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CYPRUS

    Visiting Cyprus on 8-10 March, Vartan Oskanian held talks with his Cypriot counterpart, Ioannis Cassoulides, Nicosia Mayor Lellos Demetriades, and Cypriot parliamentary deputy president Nicos Anastasiades on expanding bilateral relations and cooperation, dpa and Noyan Tapan reported. Discussing with Cassoulides the situation in the Caucasus and the Middle East, Oskanian expressed the hope that Turkey's relations with its neighbors will improve following the parliamentary elections next month. Oskanian also met with President Glafcos Clerides on 9 March. LF

    [04] ARMENIAN DEFENSE MINISTER VISITS TBILISI

    Vazgen Sargsian met with his Georgian counterpart, David Tevzadze, and parliamentary chairman Zurab Zhvania in Tbilisi on 8 March to discuss defense cooperation between Armenia and Georgia and creating a legal framework for such cooperation, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. The next day, Sargsian met with Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze. Sargsian assured the Georgian officials of Armenia's unswerving support for Georgia's territorial integrity. LF

    [05] KARABAKH SPOKESMAN DENIES PRESIDENT MET WITH AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITIONISTS

    A spokesman for Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno- Karabakh Republic, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service on 9 March that an Azerbaijani press report claiming Ghukasian met with two prominent Azerbaijani opposition figures in the U.S. on 5 March is untrue. "Yeni Azerbaijan," the official Azerbaijani government daily, reported on 6 March that Ghukasian met with Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar and former Azerbaijani parliamentary speaker Rasul Guliev to discuss proposing to Western oil companies that the planned Baku-Ceyhan pipeline for Azerbaijan's Caspian oil be routed not via Georgia but via Stepanakert and Armenia. Gambar similarly denied the meeting with Ghukasian but admitted he had met with Guliev to discuss the political situation in Azerbaijan, Turan's Washington correspondent reported on 9 March. Ghukasian met in Washington on 8 March with Donald Kaiser, the U.S. co- chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, according to Noyan Tapan. LF

    [06] CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEE ON DEFENDING AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DETAINED

    Natik Jabiev, who heads the youth committee to defend Rasul Guliev's rights, was sentenced by a Baku district court on 9 March to 12 days in prison "for resisting the police," Turan reported. Jabiev was detained on 5 March. On 20 February, two other members of the committee were sentenced to 15 days in prison. LF

    [07] GEORGIA, ABKHAZIA TRADE ACCUSATIONS OVER REPATRIATION

    Georgian Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze, meeting with Russian and UN special envoys for Abkhazia Lev Mironov and Liviu Bota in Tbilisi on 9 March, accused the Abkhaz leadership of backtracking on an earlier offer to recruit into the police force of the region's southernmost Gali raion Georgian displaced persons who return to their homes in Abkhazia. Lortkipanidze said the move was aimed at limiting Georgian representation in the force, Caucasus Press reported. In Sukhumi, Abkhaz Prime Minister Sergei Bagapsh told journalists on 9 March that unspecified Georgian leaders are trying to prevent displaced persons from returning, according to Interfax. He said 350 have managed to do so since 1 March, adding that of an estimated 30,000 who returned spontaneously earlier, 22,000 have already registered with the Abkhaz authorities. LF

    [08] GEORGIAN, UZBEK PRESIDENTS MEET...

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze met with his Uzbek counterpart, Islam Karimov, in Tashkent, on 9 March, Russian and western press reported. Karimov called their discussions "rich in content and constructive." Shevardnadze said they focused on problems on of regional and international security as well as bilateral economic cooperation. Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov met with Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili the same day to discuss shipping more Uzbek cargo via the "Trans- Caucasus transportation corridor," according to Interfax. Sultanov said his country could supply aircraft, cars, trucks, buses, and agricultural equipment to Georgia. Trade between the two countries has jumped from $600, 000 in 1994 to $15.2 million in 1998, according to news agencies. BP

    [09] ...COMMENT ON BEREZOVSKII'S DISMISSAL

    At a press conference following their meeting, both presidents criticized the decision to replace Boris Berezovskii from the post of executive secretary of the CIS. Shevardnadze said it was "inappropriate" for the Russian State Duma to issue an appeal for Berezovskii's dismissal, saying it was "not within [its] authority" to do so. He added that "the decision on Berezovskii's appointment was made jointly (among CIS countries) but that the decision on his dismissal" was made unilaterally. Both presidents agreed that it would have been better if President Yeltsin had requested that Berezovskii step down. BP

    [10] UZBEK PRESIDENT SAYS INVESTIGATION INTO BOMBINGS SOON COMPLETED...

    At the same press conference, Karimov said the investigation into the terrorist bombings in Tashkent last month will soon be completed. Karimov repeated claims that Islamic groups were responsible, but he contradicted earlier remarks by saying "we do not assume that Chechens have something to do with the criminals who committed that act of vandalism" (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 26 February and 5 March 1999). Karimov noted that unlike Chechnya, "we will never embark on creating an Islamic, Sharia State [since such a state] is opposed by all Uzbekistan's 24 million people." BP

    [11] ...CONNECTS POLITICAL OPPOSITION TO BOMBINGS

    Karimov linked opposition political groups to the bombings, particularly leaders of the Erk Democratic Party, whom Karimov called "beggars living outside the country." "Realizing they have no other way and relying on money provided by extremist Islamic centers," these forces would rather see "an Islamic state than a civilized democracy," Karimov said. He vowed that those responsible for the bombings will receive "an open and just trial, in line with the letter and spirit of the law, without forgiveness or pity." BP

    [12] KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN REACH NEW AGREEMENT ON GAS SUPPLIES

    The Kyrgyz government's press service announced on 9 March that a new plan to pay for gas supplies from Uzbekistan has been worked out by the two countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 March 1999), RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. Kyrgyzstan will supply 22,000 tons of wheat to pay off the $3.3 million it owes Uzbekistan for gas supplies. BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] BEFORE TALKS WITH MILOSEVIC, HOLBROOKE WARNS OF TRAGEDY

    U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke, speaking before his meeting with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic on 10 March, said that Belgrade is on a "collision course" with the West if it does not agree to the Kosova autonomy deal, AFP reported. Holbrooke, who was accompanied to the meeting by U.S. envoy Chris Hill, said "we are only a few days away from a tragedy of even greater dimensions," referring to NATO threats to bomb Yugoslavia if the latter fails to agree to the Kosova peace plan, which was forged at Rambouillet, France. Talks are due to resume there on 15 March. Holbrooke added that the "threat of greater war is ever present." Holbrooke met with other Western envoys and ambassadors of the six-country Contact Group before leaving for Milosevic's presidential palace. PB

    [14] WEST STILL BETTING ON KOSOVAR ALBANIAN ACCEPTANCE...

    EU envoy Wolfgang Petritsch reassured Holbrooke on 10 March that Kosova's ethnic Albanians will soon agree to the peace accord, AP reported. Petritsch said they are "very, very close to signing..., up to 95 percent is a done deal and they want to make sure that their last commander is on board." Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said the previous day in Tirana that it is "very important that the leaders of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) sign the agreement as soon as possible...today or tomorrow." Milo was speaking after meeting with his German counterpart, Joschka Fischer, and EU Human Rights Commissioner Hans van den Broek. Fischer said the ethnic Albanians committed a "big" mistake by not signing the accord at Rambouillet. Fischer said it will be "impossible to put pressure" on Belgrade if the Kosovar Albanians do not sign the agreement. PB

    [15] ...ALTHOUGH UCK STILL LEAVES ROOM FOR DOUBT

    Jakup Krasniqi, the UCK spokesman, told the Albanian-language newspaper "Kosova Sot" that the chances of the UCK leadership signing the peace agreement are "50-50," AP reported. He said the details of the agreement are still being discussed. Krasniqi also said that only the head of the ethnic Albanian delegation at the Rambouillet talks, Hashim Thaqi, can sign the accord. Thaqi was last seen in Albania (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999), and his current whereabouts are unknown. Serbian officials have issued an arrest warrant for him. Thaqi is also the prime minister- designate of the Kosova interim government. PB

    [16] SERBIAN OFFICIALS ISSUE MORE ARREST WARRANTS...

    Serbian police have issued arrest warrants for eight UCK members, including three who are on the Kosovar Albanian peace negotiating team, AFP reported on 9 March. The three--Thaqi, Krasniqi, and Ram Buja--are described as "terrorists" and are said to be "armed and inclined to use arms," the Serbian Interior Ministry said in a statement. Six of the eight have already been sentenced to prison terms of up to 20 years after being tried in absentia. In other news, the Serbian Prosecutor-General's Office said on 10 March that no charges will be filed against police officers involved in an alleged massacre of 45 Kosovar Albanians at Recak. The office said the Albanians were killed in combat. PB

    [17] ...STEP UP FIGHTING ALONG BORDER

    Tank-backed Yugoslav forces continued to battle UCK fighters in both the north and south of the province on 9 March, according to AP. Reporters said the village of Ivaja, near the Macedonian border, was in ruins after sustaining artillery attacks. Dead animals littered the streets, houses had been torched, and a mosque destroyed. The 400 or so citizens of the town were rounded up and the men separated from the women and children. On the morning of 10 March, aid workers said about 35 men are still being held. Fighting is also reported in Trpeza and near Vucitrn, north of Prishtina, as well as in several other villages nearby. Hundreds of people have fled the fighting. PB

    [18] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA PRESIDENT REMAINS DEFIANT

    Nikola Poplasen said on 9 March in Banja Luka that the decision to sack him was a "senseless and unfounded" move and that he will remain in office, Reuters reported. Poplasen said that "not only do I feel like the president, I act like one." Poplasen was dismissed from his post last week by Carlos Westendorp, the international community's high representative (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 1999). Westendorp's spokesman said Poplasen "is finished" and that the "international community does not recognize him [as president]." Westendorp has said that Poplasen will be removed from office by force if necessary. Poplasen also lashed out at Milorad Dodik, the Bosnian Serb premier, saying he is working for "the destruction of the Serb Republic." PB

    [19] TUDJMAN, ACCUSED WAR CRIMES SUSPECT REPORTED ON THE MEND

    The weekly "Nacional" reported on 9 March that President Franjo Tudjman was recovering well following the removal of a cancerous brain tumor, AP reported. "Nacional" has close ties to the government and said sources within the ruling party disclosed the information. Tudjman and his doctors have denied that he has ever had cancer. Meanwhile, the prison doctor of Dinko Sakic, who has been accused of war crimes, reported on 10 March that Sakic is feeling better and may be able to attend his trial, which was postponed last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 March 1999) and rescheduled for 15 March. PB

    [20] SLOVENE FOREIGN MINISTER DENIES STALEMATE IN TALKS WITH CROATIA

    Boris Frlec denied on 9 March that talks with Croatian officials on border issues have broken down, Slovene radio reported. Frlec said the talks have been ongoing for more than two years and that great progress has been made. He said the sides are working on four "difficult" issues, the most difficult one being the status of Piran Bay. PB

    [21] ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTER SAYS JANUARY CLASHES CONSITUTE FAILED COUP D'ETAT

    Constantin Dudu Ionescu on 9 March said he can "more or less" confirm that the clashes between the police and striking miners in January constituted part of a failed coup d'Čtat. Ionescu said the conclusion was reached by an investigation carried out by the ministry and was based on "informative briefs" of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The daily "Evenimentul zilei," citing those "briefs," reported on 9 March that the miners aimed at overthrowing both the government and President Emil Constantinescu and at replacing them with administration led by the Greater Romania Party, which was promised the support of the Chinese Communist Party if the attempt succeeded. The Chinese Embassy in Bucharest denied the allegation. The SRI said that the "briefs" were cited "out of context" and that the daily's report is "exaggerated in places." MS

    [22] VATICAN DENIES PAPAL ITINERARY ESTABLISHED

    A spokesman for the Vatican said the itinerary of Pope John Paul II's visit to Romania has not been finalized and that a special papal envoy will travel to Bucharest for this purpose next week, AFP reported on 9 March. The same day, the Romanian Catholic Bishops' Conference called on the Orthodox Church to enable "Catholic clergy and believers" to "rejoice in seeing the pope all over the country," Mediafax reported. MS

    [23] LUCINSCHI RE-NAMES STURDZA AS PREMIER

    President Petru Lucinschi on 9 March re-named Ion Sturdza as premier- designate, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Sturdza has 15 days in which to form a government. Lucinschi urged the parliament to approve the new government by the end of the week, warning that if the legislature again fails to vote confidence in the cabinet, he will have to dissolve the parliament. Lucinschi also noted that early elections would plunge Moldova into a situation where it will have "neither a parliament nor a government" for three months. MS

    [24] BULGARIA TO SEEK REVISION OF KOZLODUY AGREEMENT

    Deputy Premier Evgeni Bakardzhiev told journalists on 9 March that Bulgaria will seek to have its 1993 agreement with the EU revised. Under that agreement, Sofia was to close down by 1998 four old reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear plant. Bulgaria wants the reactors to continue operating until the end of their operational life: 2005-2006 for two reactors and 2010 for the other two. Bakardzhiev said the negotiations must aim at meeting "both the European requirements and standards, as well as Bulgaria's national interest," Reuters reported. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [25] BOSNIA'S TWO-ENTITY ECONOMY GROWING BUT STILL WEAK

    by Michael Wyzan

    The economy of Bosnia-Herzegovina is a unique case among transition countries, its most striking feature being its division into the economy of the Croatian and Muslim- dominated Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina and that of the Republika Srpska.

    There has been slow progress on trying to integrate the economies of the two entities. The Central Bank of Bosnia- Herzegovina, which functions as a currency board and is headed by IMF-appointed Peter Nicholl, put the convertible mark (KM) into circulation on 22 June 1998, supposedly for use in both entities.

    However, in mid-January, Nicholl observed that "four currencies [the KM, the Deutsche mark, the Yugoslav dinar, and the Croatian kuna] are still in use here. The KM is developing well and is used all over all the country, but its use is still uneven and we have a long way to go in Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska before the KM can be described as the dominant currency of the whole country."

    The economies of the two entities display different trends, with the Republika Srpska generally performing worse. However, the two entities share the feature that economic growth has slowed from the rapid rates displayed beginning in 1995, as the immediate reconstruction tasks have been completed. Industrial production in the federation rose by 25.6 percent during January-September 1998, compared with the same period in 1997.

    This figure is less impressive when one takes into consideration the extent of the country's economic collapse in the early 1990s and the fact that such production grew by 341 percent in 1995 and 30 percent in 1997. Industrial production in the Republika Srpska grew by 26.3 percent during January-September compared with the same period in 1997, down from 34 percent in all 1997. However, Republika Srpska has not experienced as rapid an industrial recovery as the federation.

    In 1994, the monetary authorities in both entities agreed to avoid using central bank credit to finance budget imbalances. This policy, along with the successful pegging of the federation's former currency, the Bosnia- Herzegovina dinar (since replaced by the KM), to the Deutsche mark and increased imports of consumer goods financed by foreign credits, have brought inflation down, especially in the Federation.

    Inflation is running faster in the Republika Srpska than in the Federation. Retail prices in January-September 1998 were 5.9 percent higher in the Federation than on average in 1997, compared with 13.4 percent in 1997 (December-to- December). The equivalent figures for the Republika Srpska were 26.1 percent for January-September 1998 and 12.8 for 1997, so inflation is accelerating there, in keeping with developments in the Federal Yugoslavia, whose currency is still used heavily in the Republika Srpska.

    The labor market is more depressed in the Republika Srpska than in the Federation, where employment has risen from 244,488 in December 1996 to 289, 922 in September 1998. The numbers "waiting," that is, workers who are not working but for whom social contributions are made, have fallen over this period from 94,168 to 71,598. Fully 246,341 individuals were seeking work in September, although the IMF estimates that the unemployment rate has fallen from 70-80 percent to 30-40 percent since the end of hostilities. The unemployment rate is higher in Republika Srpska.

    Net monthly wages are larger in the Federation, although they are rising faster in the Republika Srpska. Those wages came to DM 339 ($200) in the Federation in September 1998, compared with DM 206 a year earlier and DM 14 in November 1994. The equivalent figures for the Republika Srpska are DM 180 in September 1998, DM 64 in September 1997 and DM 49 in November 1994.

    Foreign trade has been highly unbalanced, with trade and current account deficits financed by multilateral and bilateral inflows. Inflows have been large enough that the Central Bank's foreign reserves have been growing, reaching DM 280 million on 15 January, up from DM 144 million at the end of 1997.

    During January-September 1998, the Federation exported goods worth just $73 million (up from $63 million in the same period of 1997), while its imports came to $674 million (down from $1.1 billion). Thus, the trade deficit last year was likely far smaller than the $1.2 billion racked up in both 1996 and 1997, but this is hardly good news, since it results almost entirely from an import collapse.

    Imports and exports were down by about the same amount in the Republika Srpska during January-September 1998 compared with a year earlier, yielding deficits of about $280 million during each period. This suggests that the entity's international borrowing ability is constrained to a relatively small fixed amount each year.

    While economic growth rates may remain impressive by the usual standards in both entities, genuine recovery must await economic reintegration between the two entities and with at least some other parts of the former Yugoslavia as well.

    The author is a research scholar at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria.

    10-03-99


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


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