|Wednesday, 3 June 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 70, 99-04-13
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 70, 13 April 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTEOWN TERMS
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PREMIER SLAMS OPPOSITION IN ENERGY TARIFF DEBATEIn an uncharacteristically politicized and harshly worded address to parliament on 12 April, Armen Darpinian criticized opposition deputies for their ongoing campaign to reverse the increase in electricity charges that took effect in January of this year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Darpinian accused "forces supporting the former authorities" of trying to sabotage his government's policy of economic liberalization to gain political capital. The parliament voted on 15 March to reduce energy tariffs, with deputies from the pro-government Yerkrapah majority group declining to oppose the motion for fear of alienating voters in the runup to the 30 May parliamentary elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 March 1999). At that time, presidential press spokesman Vahe Gabrielian said that President Robert Kocharian will veto the bill if parliament passes it in the second and final reading. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DISCUSSES KOSOVA'S RELEVANCEIn his traditional Monday radio broadcast on 12 April, Eduard Shevardnadze argued that the conflict in Kosova is the direct consequence of indifference to genocide and ethnic cleansing, and demonstrates the dangers inherent in "freezing" conflicts rather than actively seeking to resolve them, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. For that reason, Shevardnadze continued, all those countries engaged in seeking to mediate a solution to the Abkhaz conflict should step up their efforts to do so. Russia in particular, Shevardnadze said, has "a unique chance" to end the deadlock. Shevardnadze added that at the Washington NATO summit later this month he intends to stress the need for new international security guarantees that would preclude a repetition of the war in Yugoslavia, which he attributed to the UN Security Council's failure to resort to peace enforcement mechanisms at an earlier stage. LF
 KAZAKH PRIME MINISTER CONCLUDES VISIT TO IRANNurlan Balghymbaev visited Tehran on 10-11 April in preparation for the meeting between the two countries' presidents scheduled for this fall, ITAR- TASS reported on 12 April. Balghymbaev met with Vice President Hasan Habibi and President Mohammad Khatami, whom he presented with the Kazakh text of the treaty on trade and economic cooperation that is to be signed at the summit. Balghymbaev signed five intergovernmental trade agreements, including one on renewing the suspended export, via Iran, of oil from Kazakhstan. The two sides also discussed their diverging views on the status of the Caspian Sea and the prospects for routing export pipelines for oil from Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan via Iran. LF
 NEW PRIME MINISTER NAMED IN KYRGYZSTANPresident Askar Akaev named the governor of Osh oblast, 52-year-old Amangeldi Muraliev, as premier on 12 April, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Muraliev graduated from the Frunze Polytechnical Institute in 1967 and in the 1980s served as director of several industrial plants in that city, of which he was appointed mayor in 1986. Since 1991, Muraliev has served as state secretary for economics, minister of finance, chairman of the state property fund, and vice prime minister for industry. He was appointed Osh oblast governor three years ago and was named acting premier last week following the death of Djumabek Ibraimov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 April 1999). The upper chamber of parliament must approve Muraliev's appointment at its next session, which begins on 20 April. LF
 TAJIK OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVE DISMISSED FROM GOVERNMENTFollowing a government meeting on 10 April to review implementation of the budget during the first quarter, President Imomali Rakhmonov fired five senior officials including State Customs Committee head Rahim Karimov, Interfax and AP-Blitz reported on 12 April. Karimov is a member of the United Tajik Opposition, which under the 1997 peace agreement was granted the right to nominate 30 percent of senior government personnel. The five were accused of financial laxness, including failure to ensure tax collection. On the same day, Rakhmonov also dismissed the chairmen of the Jabbor-Rasulov and Beshkent regions. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MORE REFUGEES ARRIVE IN MACEDONIAOver 2,000 Kosovars arrived at the makeshift refugee camp at Blace on 13 April. The previous day, Defense Minister Nikola Kljusev said in Skopje that the government is concerned about delays in the evacuation to third countries of refugees already in Macedonia. Sadako Ogata, who is the UN high commissioner for refugees, recently asked Australia, Canada, and the U.S. to postpone plans to take in refugees lest the Kosovars find themselves too far from their homeland. Macedonia is currently home to over 100,000 Kosovars, some 60,000 of whom are staying with families. In Lojane, each house in the village of 2,000 hosts some 10 to 30 Kosovars, Reuters reported. Meanwhile at Radusa, a spokesman for the OSCE's William Walker referred to the local camp as a "concentration camp." Women residents spoke of frequent harassment by Macedonian guards, AP reported. PM
 DANGERS FOR MACEDONIAIn Washington, a study prepared for the House of Representatives warned that a continuing influx of refugees could destabilize Macedonia. The paper added that the small but militant Serbian minority poses a lasting threat to U.S. troops there, Reuters noted on 12 April. Elsewhere, President Kiro Gligorov told the German weekly "Der Spiegel" that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic poses a danger both for Serbia and for the entire Balkan region. Gligorov stressed that Serbia is the only Balkan country that has not begun a process of democratization and economic reform. PM
 SERBS CONTINUE TO DRIVE OUT KOSOVARSMore than 3,000 Kosovar refugees arrived in the Albanian town of Kukes on 13 April, an OSCE official told Reuters. The official said the refugees came from Prishtina and Prizren. It was the biggest influx in three days and brings the total number of refugees in Albania to 310,000. Private families have put up about half of them. With foreign assistance, the Albanian authorities have so far built 24 refugee camps with space for a total of 31,000 people. Another 10 camps with a total capacity of 58,000 are currently under construction. FS
 FIGHTING ALONG ALBANIAN-KOSOVAR BORDER ESCALATESA battle between Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) guerrillas and Serbian forces entered its fourth day near Tropoja on 12 April. The Yugoslav army fired mortars at the village, Reuters reported. Serbian state television claimed that its forces killed 150 UCK fighters. The report could not be independently confirmed. Albanian and French army helicopters evacuated six wounded UCK fighters and one journalist to the Tirana military hospital. Meanwhile, Serbian troops began torching three villages inside Kosova near Prizren on the night of 12 April. The burning appeared to be part of a Serbian campaign to prevent Kosovars from returning. Refugees had earlier described the villages as "ghost towns" after Serbian forces had expelled the population. Some refugees reported seeing corpses sprawled along the roadside in these areas. Elsewhere, "Der Spiegel" summarized dozens of interviews with refugees from throughout Kosova, which suggest that Serbian forces frequently carry out killings, often in a sadistic fashion. FS
 MILO HAILS NATO SUPPORTAlbanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told the BBC on 12 April that "NATO is a guarantee for our sovereignty [and] territorial integrity." He accused Milosevic of trying to "destabilize" Albania. The same day, French and U.S. helicopters and troops arrived in Albania as the first part of NATO's 8,000- strong Allied Harbor mission to help aid agencies cope with the influx of refugees. A French army spokesman told Reuters that "the purpose of Operation Allied Harbor will be to coordinate NATO's military assistance to the government of Albania and to international organizations to help alleviate the suffering" of the refugees. FS
 NATO HITS SERBIAN REFINERIESNATO aircraft hit oil refineries in Pancevo and Novi Sad on 12 April as part of a campaign to slow Milosevic's war machine by denying it oil and gasoline. Serbian authorities said that a passenger train was hit, killing nine and wounding 16. A NATO spokesman said in Brussels that the Atlantic alliance does not deliberately target trains but added that it does hit transportation and communications infrastructure that has military uses. PM
 NATO REAFFIRMS FIVE DEMANDS FOR MILOSEVICForeign ministers of the Atlantic alliance's 19 member states agreed in Brussels on 12 April that air strikes will continue until Milosevic agrees to meet NATO's five demands. These are that he stop the killings and expulsions, withdraw his forces, permit international peacekeepers in the province, allow refugees and displaced persons to go home, and accept the Rambouillet accords, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" wrote. The ministers warned Milosevic against attempting to destabilize Macedonia, Albania, or Montenegro, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The ministers also discussed ways in which Russia might be brought into an eventual peacekeeping force. Britain's Robin Cook said in London on 13 April: "We would hope that together [NATO and Russia] might be able to make progress in getting Belgrade to recognize that the world is not going to let them get away with ethnic cleansing" in Kosova. PM
 ALBRIGHT MEETS WITH REGIONAL MINISTERSU.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright discussed the crisis in Kosova on 12 April in Brussels with her counterparts from Albania, Bosnia- Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Slovenia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. She reaffirmed the international community's interest in regional stability and pledged support for those countries taking in Kosovar refugees. Albright also stressed that she will do "all in her power" to support the "democratic government in Montenegro" and prevent efforts to destabilize it. She turned down a request from the UCK for anti-tank weapons, saying that Washington supports the arms embargo against Yugoslavia. PM
 MONTENEGRO REJECTS UNION WITH RUSSIA, BELARUSDeputy speaker of parliament Predrag Popovic reminded reporters in Podgorica on 12 April that the Montenegrin government does not recognize the legitimacy of the federal authorities in Belgrade. He added that Podgorica accordingly rejects the federal parliament's decision to seek admission to the Union of Belarus and Russia (see stories in Part I and above). Social Democratic leader Zarko Rakcevic said that Milosevic is trying to give "false hope" to Serbs through what he portrays as an alliance with Russia. Rakcevic said that Montenegro is more interested in joining NATO's Partnership for Peace program and the EU than in "linking up with ultranationalists." He stressed that Russia and Montenegro need to base their cooperation on concrete economic and cultural programs rather on "myths and Orthodox fundamentalism," AP reported. Observers note that Montenegrins are traditionally known for their Russophile sentiments. PM
 YUGOSLAV NAVY TOLD TO LEAVE BARPetrasin Kasalica, who is the chief administrator of the Montenegrin port of Bar, told the Yugoslav Navy Command in a letter on 12 April to withdraw its vessels from that port immediately. He stressed that a gunboat recently acted "provocatively" by firing on NATO aircraft. Kasalica called the incident "a clear breach of trust and abuse of our friendship and hospitality." He added that "under the present circumstances, the port of Bar does not need the protection of the Yugoslav Navy," Reuters reported. PM
 WAR CRIMES TRIAL OPENS IN HAGUEThe International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia opened proceedings on 12 April against Croats Dario Kordic and Mario Cerkez for war crimes against Muslims in central Bosnia during the 1993- 1994 internecine war. The two men turned themselves in to the court in 1997. PM
 BOSNIAN ECONOMY HIT BY KOSOVA CRISISBosnian Federal Industry and Mining Minister Mirsad Salkic said in Sarajevo on 12 April that Bosnia has now lost recently restored economic links to Serbian companies. He added that NATO's closure of Bosnian air space to civilian traffic is also costing airports and local carriers dearly, Reuters reported. PM
 ROMANIA, IMF, RENEW NEGOTIATIONSThe IMF's chief negotiator for Romania, Emmanuel Zervoudakis, met in Bucharest on 12 April with Transportation Minister Traian Basescu, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. An IMF team of experts has been in Bucharest since last week. Basescu said the meeting aimed at bringing in line the envisaged standby accord with the IMF with the $300 million World Bank loan agreed to in March. He said the fund will grant a much larger loan if the negotiations are successful. In June, Romania must service some $900 million of its foreign debt and its capability to do so depends on the outcome of the negotiations with the fund. Zervoudakis said after a first round of February-March negotiations in Bucharest that "some progress" had been made but not sufficient to meet IMF conditions for renewing loans. MS
 ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS TALK ON NATO GROUND FORCES 'PREMATURE'Andrei Plesu said in an interview on 12 April with Romanian state radio that it is "premature" to discuss which position Romania will adopt in the event that NATO launches a ground attack on Yugoslavia. Plesu said Romania has not been "even vaguely approached" on the matter by NATO and that the position "in any case rests with the parliament alone." Plesu also said Bucharest will not diverge from its decision to not "become directly involved" in military operations. European Integration Minister Alexandru Herlea on the same day said Milosevic, "just like Ceausescu, embodies [a] political mixture between communism and nazism," Mediafax reported. MS
 UKRAINIAN CARGO PLANE DETAINED IN CHISINAUThe Moldovan customs authorities on 9 April detained in Chisinau a Ukrainian "Air Alliance" AN-26 cargo plane secretly transporting 5,000 Hungarian-made pistols bound for Yemen, via Sofia, Infotag and Reuters reported the same day. The plane, which originated in Budapest, landed in Chisinau due to technical problems. The crew provided documentation claiming the plane was transporting oil exploration equipment. On 12 March, a Ukrainian plane belonging to the "Air City" company was detained in Chisinau on route to Yemen, upon suspicion that it was transporting cartridge- cases. That plane was allowed to take off following the intervention of the Ukrainian embassy. "Air City" said it will sue for damages. MS
[C] END NOTE
 KAZAKH PRESIDENT PLEDGES DEMOCRATIZATION--AT HIS OWN PACE AND ON HIS OWN TERMSBy Liz Fuller
Addressing both chambers of Kazakhstan's parliament on 31 March, President Nursultan Nazarbaev sought to reassure those Western critics who had interpreted the January 1999 pre-term presidential election as a step backwards on the road to democratization.
In that poll, which was not due until December 2000, Nazarbaev was re- elected with 79.8 percent of the vote. The one politician who might have posed a serious challenge to Nazarbaev, former Premier Akezhan Kazhegeldin, was barred from participating on a legal technicality.
The OSCE registered its displeasure at the less than democratic conduct of the election campaign by declining to send a fully-fledged monitoring mission. It subsequently issued a statement describing the election as falling far short of international standards.
In his 31 March address, Nazarbaev acknowledged that "our friends in the West ... are impatient, they want us to speed up the pace of democratization." But he made it clear that he considered a gradual transition to greater political freedom more appropriate.
Nazarbaev told deputies that elections to the lower house of parliament will take place as scheduled in October 1999. Some observers had predicted that the date would be brought forward in order to deprive opposition parties of the opportunity to prepare their respective campaigns.
Nazarbaev added that the parliament will soon adopt a new election law, together with new legislation on the role and duties of the president, the government, and the parliament, and the conduct of referenda. At present, Kazakhstan has no election law. Previous polls, including the 1999 presidential election, were conducted in accordance with procedures set out in presidential decrees, which have the force of law.
Opposition politicians, including Kazhegeldin, Communist Party leader Serikbolsyn Abdildin and Seydakhmet Quttyqadam, the chairman of the Orleu political movement, had addressed an open letter to the parliament in March criticizing those presidential decrees on the conduct of elections as imposing "totalitarian control over the electoral system." They demanded the enacting of a new law that would ensure that both the parliamentary poll and municipal elections due this fall will be "truly democratic."
Nazarbaev indicated that under the new election legislation, the number of seats in the lower house will be increased from 67 to 77, of which ten will be allocated under the proportional system. (He did not stipulate whether political parties would have to poll a minimum percentage of the vote in order to qualify for representation under that system.) Nazarbaev also said that the new election law simplifies the registration process for parties and individual candidates, and cuts by half the registration fee for parliamentary candidates.
But the new election law apparently does not meet one key opposition demand, namely that in the future the governors of Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts should be elected rather than appointed by the president. Nazarbaev objected that such elections could undermine "social and economic stability." That argument is valid insofar as a poll of some 2,000 citizens of Kazakhstan conducted in the summer of 1997 indicated that people are more inclined to blame local administrators for social and economic problems than either the national government or the president. In a free election, voters might therefore reject the present governors, who were selected for their personal loyalty to the president.
But at the same time, Nazarbaev made it clear that he intends to increase the responsibility of the oblast governors for the social and economic well- being of a population that appears to many outsiders to be increasingly embittered and alienated at the continuing deterioration of its standard of living. Nazarbaev warned, for example, that if governors fail to ensure that wages and pensions are paid on time, their own staff will receive their salaries only after a similar delay.
Nazarbaev's cautious approach to democratization is just one aspect of his talent for strategic thinking. In his "Kazakhstan -- 2030. Upswing, Security, and Permanent Prosperity for All Citizens of Kazakhstan" program unveiled in October 1997, Nazarbaev made it clear that he considers preserving domestic political stability and the country's territorial integrity, creating a professional government apparatus and moving to stamp out corruption as necessary preconditions for broad-based economic development that will improve the living standard of the population at large. Democratization did not figure among the seven key priorities outlined in that program.
But Nazarbaev is equally skilled as a tactician. One year later, in October 1998, when the international community was already focusing on the presidential election campaign, he presented an amended list of "Five Keys" to Kazakhstan's prosperity in the 21st century, which included democratization and media freedom.
How far, and how fast, Kazakhstan moves towards democratization will depend to a large extent on the new legislation on the various branches of power, and, assuming that its powers are increased under that legislation, the composition of the new parliament. It is unlikely, however, that Nazarbaev will forfeit his prerogative of suspending the country's cautious progress towards democratization in the interests of preempting social upheaval.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty