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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 50, 99-03-15

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. 50, 15 March 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN HIT-AND-RUN DRIVER SURRENDERS TO POLICE
  • [02] VOTE TO AMEND ARMENIAN ELECTION LAW PROVOKES FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
  • [03] IRAN OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN KARABAKH CONFLICT
  • [04] GEORGIAN GREENS PROTEST PLANNED BLACK SEA GAS PIPELINE
  • [05] TURKMENISTAN, TURKEY SIGN NATURAL GAS DEAL
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S COURTS VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS
  • [07] UZBEKISTAN AGAIN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN
  • [08] SECRET MEETING IN TASHKENT?
  • [09] AFGHAN NEGOTIATIONS IN ASHGABAT YIELD PEACE AGREEMENT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] SERBS CONTINUE OFFENSIVE IN KOSOVA
  • [11] KOSOVA TALKS RESUME
  • [12] VEDRINE SAYS 'NO OPTIMISM'...
  • [13] ...WHILE COOK SAYS 'NO NONSENSE'
  • [14] SERBS, KOSOVARS REMAIN FIRM
  • [15] ALBANIA URGES KOSOVARS TO SIGN PLAN...
  • [16] ...BUT TURNS DOWN GREEK KOSOVA INITIATIVE
  • [17] ALBANIAN ARMY HOLDS MANEUVERS IN THE NORTH
  • [18] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AGREEMENT WITH BOSNIA
  • [19] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS WILL NOT LEAVE COALITION...
  • [20] ...WHILE CHIEF OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR 'DIALOGUE'
  • [21] NEW MOLDOVAN CABINET SWORN IN
  • [22] BULGARIA, MACEDONIA SIGN DEFENSE TREATY
  • [23] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO KEEP KOZLODUY OPERATING

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] COMPETING VISIONS OF NATO'S FUTURE

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN HIT-AND-RUN DRIVER SURRENDERS TO POLICE

    Andranik Markarashian, the driver who killed opposition journalist Tigran Hayrapetian in an accident in Yerevan on the night of 8-9 March, has surrendered to police, Noyan Tapan reported on 12 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10-11 March 1999). Markarashian told police he had barely seen his victim because of darkness. But on 11 March Reporters sans Frontieres addressed a message to Armenian President Robert Kocharian asking him to take a personal interest in clarifying the circumstances of Hayrapetian's death. That appeal claimed that the accident occurred in "a broad and well-lit avenue." LF

    [02] VOTE TO AMEND ARMENIAN ELECTION LAW PROVOKES FRAUD ALLEGATIONS

    Prominent opposition deputy Ara Sahakian of the Hanrapetutyun faction, the second-largest group in the legislature, has accused the parliamentary majority of fraud in the 12 March vote passing 31 proposed minor amendments to Armenia's controversial election law, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The National Assembly's electronic indicator board showed that 100 deputies, which is four more than necessary, voted for Yerkrapah's motion to amend the bill it had pushed through in January. But reporters counted 106 deputies present at the session and said that only 91 of them could have backed the amendments because 15 opposition lawmakers boycotted the vote. Parliamentary speaker Khosrov Harutiunian rejected the charge of fraud. He admitted that two deputies voted for absent colleagues but argued that this did not affect the outcome of the vote. Parliamentary regulations ban deputies from voting on behalf of absent colleagues. LF

    [03] IRAN OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN KARABAKH CONFLICT

    Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told his visiting Azerbaijani counterpart, Tofik Zulfugarov, in Tehran on 13 March that Tehran is prepared to try to mediate a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Kharrazi said the unresolved dispute risks forcing the U.S. or NATO to send troops to the region, which, he added, would pose a huge threat to regional stability. Meeting in Baku on 13 March with former Armenian presidential adviser Zhirair Liparirtian, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev said that Azerbaijan's stance on resolving the conflict remains unchanged, ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev said Baku is prepared to offer the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic broad autonomy after Armenian troops are withdrawn from occupied Azerbaijani territory and displaced persons have returned to their homes. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN GREENS PROTEST PLANNED BLACK SEA GAS PIPELINE

    In a statement issued on 13 March, Georgian "Greens" argued that the planned construction of a 400 kilometer gas pipeline from Russia's Black Sea coast to Turkey is ecologically risky, Caucasus Press reported. They called for the implementation of that project to be suspended until an international commission is created to evaluate the risks involved. Officials from Russia's Gazprom, which intends to sign an agreement shortly with French and Italian companies to build that pipeline, said last month that planning is complete, but no date has been set for the start of construction. LF

    [05] TURKMENISTAN, TURKEY SIGN NATURAL GAS DEAL

    A framework agreement was signed in Ashgabat on 12 March whereby supplies of Turkmen gas are to be shipped to Turkey, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov, Executive Director-General of Botas Nadir Behik Oglu, Turkmen Deputy Prime Ministers Yely Kurbanmuradov and Batyr Sharjayev, Turkish Energy and Natural Resources Minister Ziya Aktash, and President of the U.S. consortium PSG Edward Smith signed the agreement. Turkey will receive 5 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas in the year 2002, when the Transcaspian pipeline is finished. The PSG consortium will build a pipeline to carry the gas along the bed of the Caspian Sea. By 2009, supplies of gas will increase to 16 billion cubic meters annually. The price of the gas deliveries is to be announced when the final agreement is signed on 30 May. BP

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S COURTS VIOLATE HUMAN RIGHTS

    The director of Kazakhstan's Human Rights Bureau, Yevgenii Zhotis, said on 10 March that not a single citizen of Kazakhstan is safeguarded against unlawful arrests, falsification of criminal cases, tortures, beatings, and unjust court proceedings, Interfax reported on 12 March. Zhotis said he has reviewed many of the 1,000 appeals his bureau receives annually and bureau members have attended trials "in which the legal rights of the accused were severely violated." Zhotis noted that without jurors in court, the country's citizens have no opportunity to participate in legal proceedings. "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 March quoted Zhotis as also saying that Kazakhstan's society has no opportunity to take part in political life. BP

    [07] UZBEKISTAN AGAIN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

    Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Boris Silayev said on 12 March that Uzbekistan has suspended supplies of natural gas to northern parts of Kyrgyzstan, including Bishkek, RFE/RL correspondents reported. Silayev said the cut-off of deliveries is due to Kyrgyzstan's debt of $3.3 million for gas supplies. Kyrgyz officials reportedly reached a deal in Uzbekistan to deliver 22,000 tons of flour to that country in payment for those supplies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 March 1999). BP

    [08] SECRET MEETING IN TASHKENT?

    "Kommersant-Daily" on 12 March claimed that Uzbek President Islam Karimov met recently with the president of Ingushetia, Ruslan Aushev, in Tashkent. The daily did not say when the meeting took place, but it noted that the two leaders agreed to coordinate activities in fighting terrorism and the spread of Wahhabism, Islamic adherents of which have been implicated in crimes in both Ingushetia and Uzbekistan. A "source" cited by the daily said "Russia's impotence in the North Caucasus is forcing Uzbekistan to seek its own methods of identifying the training bases and sources of finance for Wahhabite terrorists operating in Uzbekistan." BP

    [09] AFGHAN NEGOTIATIONS IN ASHGABAT YIELD PEACE AGREEMENT

    Representatives of the Taliban movement and the northern alliance, meeting in the Turkmen capital, have reached an agreement whereby the two sides will share power. The two sides agreed to exchange 20 prisoners as soon as possible and schedule another round of talks in Afghanistan in the near future. A statement released by the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan said the two sides have also agreed to "form a shared executive, a shared legislature, and a shared judiciary." The delegates met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 15 March and thanked him for "creating favorable conditions for the talks." BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] SERBS CONTINUE OFFENSIVE IN KOSOVA

    Serbian forces shelled several Kosovar villages in the Vushtrri area in the north of the province on 15 March. Serbian forces "over the past two weeks have begun to implement a 'scorched earth' policy in areas considered to be of strategic importance," "The Daily Telegraph" noted. Senior NATO officials have recently said that Belgrade has as many as eight times the number of army and paramilitary police forces stationed in the province that are permitted under the October 1998 cease-fire agreement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 13 March. Over the weekend, Kosovar and Serbian sources reported incidents of low-level violence in several areas of the province. PM

    [11] KOSOVA TALKS RESUME

    Serbian and Kosovar delegations arrived on 15 March at Paris's Kleber Conference Center for talks that the international Contact Group hopes will lead to a political settlement in Kosova. A Contact Group spokesman said that the negotiations will last "a few days at most." The last round of talks ended inconclusively in Rambouillet on 23 February. Several Kosovar delegates have since said repeatedly that their side intends to sign the Contact Group's 82-page Rambouillet plan, but it has yet to do so. The Serbian side rejects any stationing of NATO troops in the province to enforce the settlement, a point that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic stressed to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in Belgrade last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1999). The Kosovars refuse to accept any plan that does not include the stationing of NATO forces in the province. PM

    [12] VEDRINE SAYS 'NO OPTIMISM'...

    French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said in Paris on 14 March that "there is no optimism" within the Contact Group about reaching a settlement quickly. He added that "we are not going to solve the Balkans' problems overnight." He also compared the complexity of the negotiations on Kosova with those on the Middle East. Vedrine nonetheless noted that Milosevic would be "wrong to think" that there has been a weakening of NATO's readiness to launch air strikes against Serbian targets if Belgrade refuses to accept the settlement. The French minister stressed that "the threat [of air strikes] remains constant." PM

    [13] ...WHILE COOK SAYS 'NO NONSENSE'

    Before leaving London for Paris on 15 March, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, who is co-sponsor of the conference together with Vedrine, said that the two men "will have a very blunt and very frank message and that [message] is that this is not a conference for high rhetoric. This is not a conference for ceremony. There is going to be no grand opening. This is a conference for serious, business-like discussion, hard bargaining, aiming at a rapid conclusion." Cook added that "if Belgrade opposes peace, then Belgrade may have to take the consequences," "The Daily Telegraph" reported. PM

    [14] SERBS, KOSOVARS REMAIN FIRM

    Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Ratko Markovic, who heads the Serbian negotiating team, said in Paris on 14 March that "Serbia will never give up [the province] voluntarily. It's only by force that it can be taken. If NATO enters Serbia without invitation, it will be met as an aggressor, as an enemy." In Prishtina, Hashim Thaci, who is the chief negotiator for the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), claimed that the guerrillas will soon "give a definite answer" regarding the Rambouillet plan. Ibrahim Rugova, who heads the Kosovar shadow-state, said in Paris that the Kosovars have come to the French capital "not for talks, but only to sign" the document. PM

    [15] ALBANIA URGES KOSOVARS TO SIGN PLAN...

    The Albanian government on 14 March issued a statement urging the Kosovar delegation to sign the Rambouillet plan, AP reported. The statement called the plan "the first essential step towards the realization of the national and democratic aspirations of the Albanian people in Kosova." The statement added that the settlement "will open the way to the process of full affirmation of [the Kosovars'] legitimate national rights." The government also expressed "full confidence" that the leaders of the Kosovar delegation will sign, appealing to them to do so in order to show that they have a sound vision of their people's future. FS

    [16] ...BUT TURNS DOWN GREEK KOSOVA INITIATIVE

    Foreign Minister Paskal Milo on 13 March turned down a proposal by his Greek counterpart, Georgios Papandreou, to hold talks with Milosevic in Bucharest on 15 March before the resumption of negotiations in Paris. Milo said during a press conference with his Bulgarian counterpart Nadezhda Mihailova in Tirana that "the day chosen to hold the talks is unsuitable," Reuters reported. He added that "we cannot sit at the same table with Milosevic and...Yugoslav Foreign Minister [Milan Milutinovic], who have not accepted the Rambouillet [accord] and who remain intransigent and do not show any sign of compromise." Mihailova, however, suggested that a conference of Balkan leaders could provide a new impetus for "finding a solid solution" for Kosova. FS

    [17] ALBANIAN ARMY HOLDS MANEUVERS IN THE NORTH

    Prime Minister Pandeli Majko told soldiers during maneuvers near Shkodra on 13 March that "today the Albanian army is sending the message that if someone dares to touch the sovereignty of our country, Albania has the strength to defend itself," AP reported. The following day, he told local officials that the government plans to construct a major north-south road in order to promote the development of the northern regions. He praised the Montenegrin government as "a factor of stability" but expressed doubts about the possibility of reopening the Shkodra-Podgorica border crossing soon. Majko did not rule out developing bilateral trade and communications with Montenegro but said he will not negotiate the issue with Milosevic, ATSH reported. FS

    [18] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AGREEMENT WITH BOSNIA

    The lower house on 12 March approved an agreement signed by Croatian and Bosnian officials in November 1998 after the two countries' Western allies applied considerable pressure on both of them. Bosnian Muslim leaders have balked at ratifying the pact, which they charge gives Croatia too large a say in the affairs of the Croats of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croatian officials argue that Zagreb has a legitimate right to protect the interests of the Croats, who are outnumbered by the Serbs and Muslims alike. PM

    [19] ROMANIAN DEMOCRATS WILL NOT LEAVE COALITION...

    The Steering Council of the Democratic Party announced on 13 March that the party will continue its membership in the ruling coalition, despite misgivings about the pace of reform, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The council elected Alexandru Sassu as the party's deputy chairman to replace Adrian Severin, who was recalled from that post in September and expelled from the party two months later. In related news, the National Council of the Social Democratic Party, the Democrat's allies in the Social Democratic Union, has decided to speed up negotiations on merging with the opposition Alliance for Romania (APR) by May. Welcoming the decision, the APR said it continues to insist that the merged formation be in opposition. MS

    [20] ...WHILE CHIEF OPPOSITION PARTY CALLS FOR 'DIALOGUE'

    Former President Ion Iliescu, addressing the National Council of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) on 12 March, harshly criticized the coalition's economic policies but said it would be "against the interests" of the PDSR to boycott parliamentary debates. Iliescu called for a "dialogue" between political parties aimed at a "compromise" to solve the country's economic and social crisis. President Emil Constantinescu on 14 March welcomed the PDSR's "constructive position" and said he will convene a meeting of representatives of parliamentary parties, trade unions, employers' associations, banking and financial circles, civil society organizations, and the media. MS

    [21] NEW MOLDOVAN CABINET SWORN IN

    President Petru Lucinschi on 12 March swore into office Ion Sturdza's cabinet after the parliament voted confidence in the new government, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The cabinet has 22 members who represent the For a Democratic and Prosperous Moldova Bloc, the Party of Revival and Conciliation, and the Party of Democratic Forces. The opposition Party of Moldovan Communists said it will challenge in the Constitutional Court the legality of the confidence vote, which passed owing to an absentee ballot (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March 1999). MS

    [22] BULGARIA, MACEDONIA SIGN DEFENSE TREATY

    Visiting Macedonian Defense Minister Nikola Kljusev and his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Ananiev, signed in Sofia on 12 March a framework accord on military cooperation. Under the terms of the accord, Macedonia will receive from Bulgaria within the next 20 days the first delivery of decommissioned military equipment, including 150 tanks and 142 artillery pieces. Ananiev told journalists that the accord "prepares the ground for intensive cooperation... in the military sphere." Kljusev said that the agreement "shows we can live in friendship and understanding, overcoming all obstacles." He added that the accord also provides for joint military exercises. MS

    [23] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO KEEP KOZLODUY OPERATING

    The parliament on 12 March voted by 197 to zero with four abstentions to continue operating the four aging nuclear reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power station. Premier Ivan Kostov told the house that 28.5 billion leva ($16 million) will be invested in safety upgrading. The lawmakers authorized the cabinet to renegotiate a 1993 agreement with the EU under which Bulgaria was to have closed the four units last year in exchange for $26 million in financial and maintenance aid. Kostov told the house that it will cost Bulgaria $350 million to close the reactors and another $350 million to construct replacement facilities. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [24] COMPETING VISIONS OF NATO'S FUTURE

    By Paul Goble

    The 12 March celebration of the formal inclusion of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland into NATO highlighted the existence of three very different views among alliance members about the nature of the challenges they face and about the proper role of the Western alliance in meeting them.

    The first view, articulated most strongly by the leaders of the newest members of the alliance, might be called the traditional one. It identifies Russia as the most likely potential threat. And it presents NATO as a guarantee of the independence and security of alliance members precisely because it, unlike any other European institution, involves the power of the U.S. in the defense of the continent.

    The second view, reflected in the speeches of many European leaders, downplays the possibility of a Russian threat and insists that the alliance not expand its mission beyond its traditional one as a defense pact. Some of those who hold this view stress the role of the alliance in maintaining a link with the U.S., while others see it as a security system that will permit the gradual expansion of Europe itself.

    The third view, presented primarily by U.S. officials, shares the assessment of most Europeans that Russia is no longer a threat but argues that other threats to the security of the continent, such as the conflicts in Bosnia and Kosova, mean NATO must assume a new and more active role. And that new role must be undertaken, they argue, even if the alliance has to redefine itself as something other than simply a defensive institution.

    As they have in the past, spokesmen and commentators in alliance countries insisted that these views do not reflect any fundamental divisions in the alliance. Instead, they said, such variations in view are simply matters of differing emphasis on parts of a common agenda.

    But in the absence of a common threat identified by all members, these differences are likely to grow. And to the extent that happens, they are likely to have a profound impact on those who have joined or want to join the alliance, on links between European members of the alliance and the U.S., and on relations between NATO, its individual members, and the Russian Federation.

    The most immediate impact of these divisions within the alliance may be on those countries who have recently become members and on those who want to join as soon as possible. All these countries want to join NATO because they see the Western alliance as the best means of protecting themselves from a potential new Russian threat. If they discover that the alliance now has a different agenda, they may find themselves in some difficulty.

    The governments of these countries have justified the financial costs of NATO membership in terms of the popular perception that the alliance has not undergone any fundamental changes. If it becomes obvious to many people in these countries that the Western alliance has changed, at least some segments of the member states' populations may be less willing to pay those costs.

    And these regimes have counted on the alliance precisely because of its U.S. dimension. If they decide that Europe and the U.S. are moving in different directions on security questions, that, too, may lead some to question the value of alliance membership.

    The impact of these differences on ties between NATO's European members and the U.S., however, is also likely to grow. Not only are Europeans seeking to play a larger role in a grouping long dominated by Washington and are thus prepared to play up divisions that they would have once ignored, but the U.S. also appears to many of them divided over the future role of NATO and thus open to pressure.

    Both Europe and the U.S. downplay any immediate Russian threat. Indeed, both appear to want to include Moscow in ever more alliance councils. But they openly disagree on what Europeans call "out of area" activities and what Americans stress are the major challenges facing the West now: the violence in the Yugoslav successor states.

    But the greatest impact of these differences within the alliance is likely to be on relations between the alliance and its individual members, on the one hand, and Moscow, on the other.

    The Russian leadership not only opposes the expansion of the Western alliance to the east but also believes that NATO, which it describes as a "relic of the Cold War," should cease to exist. Consequently, it is almost certain to seek to exploit these differences in approach in at least three ways.

    First, it is likely to try to avoid any step so overtly threatening as to re-unite the alliance. Second, it is likely to continue to reach out to European countries, such as Germany, that appear most opposed to U.S. efforts to redefine the mission of the alliance.

    And third, Moscow is likely to try to play up the notion of a special relationship with Washington, something that may anger Europeans and restrict U.S. efforts to overcome the divisions within the alliance itself.

    Fifty years ago, one observer commented that NATO existed to "keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." Now, both the divisions within the alliance and the policies of its members could create a situation in which the Russians are increasingly inside Europe, the U.S.'s role there reduced, and the roles of individual European states far larger and more unpredictable.

    15-03-99


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


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