|Friday, 5 June 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 71, 99-04-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 71, 14 April 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS IN BID TO LOWER ENERGY TARIFSOpposition deputies failed on 13 April to pass in the second and final reading a bill that would have reduced energy tariffs by 25 percent to their 1998 level, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Only 89 of the parliament's 190 deputies voted in favor of the bill, while the Armenian Constitution requires that an absolute majority must vote in favor to pass legislation amending government expenditures or revenues. Eduard Yegorian of the Hayrenik faction, who drafted the bill, insisted that the bill's passage was legal, and said he will appeal to the Constitutional Court if President Robert Kocharian fails to sign it into law. Many of the pro- government Yerkrapah deputies boycotted the session rather than risk jeopardizing voter support in the 30 May parliamentary poll. LF
 AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON FOREIGN POLICYIn a telephone interview with Turan on 13 April, Ayaz Mutalibov expressed approval of the Azerbaijani leadership's decision not to renew the country's membership in the CIS Collective Security Treaty. But Mutalibov attributed to "despair" recent proposals by Azerbaijani officials that the country should host either a NATO or U.S. military base, warning that the West is unlikely to agree to such a move and that it would inevitably exacerbate Azerbaijan's already strained relations with Russia. He said he thinks it unlikely that any state, even Turkey, would risk a war with Russia over Azerbaijan. Mutalibov said he considers the proposal that Azerbaijan should form a confederation with Turkey "inexpedient" as it would entail the loss of Azerbaijan's independence. LF
 EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA RUSSIA RESUMESChechnya recommenced the pumping of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil through its sector of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline on 12 April, two weeks after halting it because of Russia's failure to pay back debts for security of that pipeline, Interfax and Turan reported on 13 April. The Azerbaijan International Operating Company, the sole western consortium currently exporting oil from Azerbaijan, has again upped production from the Chirag field which was cut by half as a result of the closure of the northern pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). LF
 AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTRY ISSUES BAN ON BODYGUARDSInterior Minister Ramil Usubov has issued a ruling that leaders of Azerbaijani political parties may no longer be accompanied by bodyguards, Turan reported on 12 April. The ruling follows an incident on 9 April in which a police official is reported to have rammed the car of National Independence Party of Azerbaijan chairman Etibar Mamedov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 1999). It is not clear what measures the ministry plans to take to enforce the ruling. LF
 ABKHAZ READY TO RELEASE MEMBER OF DETAINED FISHING CREW?Georgian Intelligence Service chief Avtandil Ioseliani and his Abkhaz counterpart, Astamur Tarba, have reached agreement on the release of a woman crew member of the Georgian fishing vessel intercepted in Abkhaz territorial waters on 3 April, Caucasus Press reported on 14 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). Negotiations are continuing on exchanging her nine fellow crew members for four Abkhaz believed to be held by Georgian guerrillas. LF
 GEORGIAN EX-PRESIDENT'S SON WANTED IN SHOOTING INCIDENTGeorgian police want to question Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, the elder of the late president's two sons, in connection with an incident in Tbilisi on 12 April in which he shot and wounded a member of the Georgian water polo team, ITAR- TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Gamsakhurdia is believed to be in Batumi where he is employed as an assistant to the city mayor. LF
 TRANSCAUCASUS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEETThe defense ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Vazgen Sargsian and Safar Abiev, accepted an invitation from their Georgian counterpart, David Tevzadze, to a meeting in the Georgian government residence at Tsinandali on 12 April, Caucasus Press reported two days later quoting Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Katamadze. Katamadze did not divulge details of the talks other than to say that the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict was not discussed. He added that the three defense ministers plan to meet again in Georgia in early May. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN BRIEFS PRESIDENTKadyrzhan Damitov told President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Almaty on 13 April that the tenge is stabilizing after dropping sharply in value last week, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The exchange rate of the tenge to the U.S. dollar was fixed at 113.45 on 13 April, up from 117.5 on 9 April. But in eastern Kazakhstan, traders were demanding 138 tenge to the dollar, and some exchange offices in Astana remain closed because of a shortage of hard currency, according to RFE/RL correspondents. LF
 HUNGER STRIKES IN KAZAKHSTANHundreds of employees of an oil and gas research facility in Mangyastau, western Kazakhstan, are in the fifteenth day of a hunger strike to demand that the government and the state oil company KAZAKOIL pay their wage arrears for the past two years, RFE/RL correspondents in the region reported on 14 April. And in the oblast center of Qyzyl-Orda, seven local women have embarked on a hunger strike to demand their salaries for the last 18 months. The leader of that initiative told RFE/RL's Almaty bureau that several families in the oblast have recently died of hunger. LF
 KYRGYZSTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS STATE VISIT TO INDIAAskar Akaev met in New Delhi on 13 April with leading Indian officials, including President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Topics discussed included bilateral relations and cooperation in agriculture, electronics, civil aviation, and tourism. LF
 KYRGYZ OPPOSITION, MEDIA CRITICIZE NEW PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTSIn an editorial on 14 April, the independent Kyrgyz weekly "Aalam" said that the appointment of Amangeldi Muraliev as prime minister will only strengthen the tensions between the southern and northern regions of the country, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 13 April. The paper characterized Muraliev as "too gentle" to conduct a ruthless crackdown on corruption, while the opposition "Res Publica" weekly on 13 April described him as "indecisive" and not capable of standing up to the president. Meanwhile, parliament deputies Dosbol Nur Uulu and Abasamat Masaliev criticized President Akaev's appointment of 31-year-old Temirbek Akmataliev to succeed Muraliev as governor of Osh oblast, the country's largest. An agronomist by training, Akmataliev had previously served in the presidential administration and, since early 1998, as governor of the small Talas oblast. The deputies argued that Akmataliev is too inexperienced to discharge his new duties competently. They accused Akaev of entrusting senior posts only to politicians who, like himself, come from the Kemin district of Chu oblast. LF
 TAJIK GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS TASHKENTTajik Prime Minister Yakhye Azimov flew to Tashkent on 13 April to discuss the implementation of agreements reached by Presidents Islam Karimov and Imomali Rakhmonov during their 90-minute talk on the sidelines of the 8-9 April Central Asian summit in Ashgabat, AP-Blitz reported on 14 April. Azimov and his Uzbek counterpart, Utkur Sultanov, discussed cooperation in the spheres of customs, border and land, passenger and cargo transit, and the supply and transit of natural gas to Tajikistan. "Vremya MN" on 13 April quoted Karimov as characterizing his talks with Rakhmonov as "an honest and frank exchange of opinions," in which Rakhmonov said "mutual understanding" was reached and "all problems were resolved." Karimov underscored that economic ties between the two countries did not suffer from the cooling in relations that followed Rakhmonov's charges that Uzbekistan had abetted the insurgency launched in November 1998 by rebel colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1998). LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBS AGAIN USING SYSTEMATIC RAPE?British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London on 13 April that numerous independent accounts by Kosovar women indicate that the Serbian forces are using systematic rape as an instrument of policy as they did in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Many women said that they were forced to have sex with Serbian soldiers in full view of their own families. Cook noted that "this completes the pattern of brutality of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's forces in Bosnia," the BBC reported. Milosevic's Tanjug news agency dismissed the charges of systematic rape as "propaganda." Observers note that Kosovar and Bosnian Muslim societies are very conservative and that extramarital sex by women can lead to lasting shame for them and their families. The Hamburg-based weekly "Der Spiegel" noted on 12 April that Serbian forces regularly humiliate and physically abuse their victims as part of the ethnic cleansing campaign. PM
 NATO INVESTIGATES REPORTS OF 'RAPE CAMP'A spokesman for the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 13 April that NATO is investigating reports that Serbian forces have set up a camp in Gjakova where Kosovar women are raped and killed. Another spokesman added that refugees' reports of systematic rape and other war crimes "are taking on the proportions of an encyclopedia." He concluded that "it is difficult to believe that something bad isn't happening. I fear that when this crisis ends and the international organizations--in particular the war crimes tribunal--are able to go into [Kosova], our worst fears are going to be confirmed." In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said that the reports of systematic rape constitute "a very eerie and disturbing echo of documented instances of rape and killing of women in Bosnia during the Bosnia war." PM
 MORE EVIDENCE OF ATROCITIES?NATO is investigating reports of what may be a fresh mass grave at Velika Krusa between Prizren and Gjakova, the VOA's Croatian Service reported on 14 April. At Kacanik near the Macedonian border, the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Kosova Press agency reported the previous day that Serbian forces "massacred" some 45 ethnic Albanians on 9 April. The UCK claimed that only 12 of the 45 were fighters and that the rest were civilians. The report has not been independently confirmed. Elsewhere, Mirjana Markovic, who is a prominent Serbian communist and the wife of Milosevic, told a leading Italian talk show that "the [Kosovar] Albanians shouldn't fear anyone, especially not the Serbs," AP reported. PM
 NATO BOMBS BELGRADE AS LUKASHENKA VISITSThe Atlantic alliance "launched a very powerful attack" on the Serbian capital in the morning of 14 April, AFP reported. The bombing took place as Milosevic met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A Serbian spokesman called the attack "a rude gesture to demonstrate NATO's military might," AP reported. The previous day in Washington, President Bill Clinton said that "now we are taking our allied air campaign to the next level with more aircraft in the region, with a British carrier joining our 'USS Roosevelt' and a French carrier in the area." In the Pentagon, a spokesman added that there will soon be "a very significant increase in [the number of] aircraft" available for strikes against Serbian targets. In Brussels, General Wesley Clark, who is NATO's top military commander, said he wants 300 additional U.S. aircraft, which would bring the total to some 1, 000 planes. PM
 SERBIAN FORCES ENTER ALBANIAAround 100 Serbian troops crossed into Albania on 13 April, seized control of the border village of Kamenica and fought a running battle with border police and regular army troops for several hours, Information Minister Musa Ulqini told AP. The Serbian troops withdrew later in the day after destroying several houses. OSCE monitors confirmed the report. A Serbian General Staff spokesman called the account a "loathsome lie" and accused the OSCE monitors of bias. Elsewhere, two rockets exploded near Kruma in the Has Mountains on 13 April. It is not clear who fired the rockets, but observers speculated that Yugoslav troops targeted a nearby UCK training camp. Witnesses told Reuters that the rockets released a carpet of small mines in the area, some of which exploded on impact. No one was injured. FS
 ALBANIAN PRESIDENT WARNS YUGOSLAVIA...Rexhep Meidani told France Info Radio in Paris on 13 April that "there will be a tough military response...by the Albanian army and the Albanian people, " to further incursions by Serbian troops. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping in Bonn that "life for [Kosovar] Albanians and Serbs under a joint institutional structure will be unacceptable after their recent experiences," Reuters reported. Milo stressed, however, that Tirana has no intention of seeking to incorporate Kosova into its territory. FS
 ...AS DOES NATOIn a statement to parliament on 13 April, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said NATO remains committed to respond to any challenges to Albania's or Macedonia's security. In Washington, a White House spokesman warned Milosevic that he will face "the most serious consequences" if reports of the incursion prove to be accurate. FS
 BONN UNVEILS PEACE PLANA Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 14 April that Germany has prepared a six-point peace plan that it wants the G-8 countries to implement, dpa reported. Observers suggest that, at first glance, it appears similar to NATO's five demands on Milosevic, except that the peacekeeping force will have a UN mandate and the interim government in Kosova will also be authorized by the world body (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 1999). NATO will "permanently suspend" air strikes once Serbian forces leave the province. In Strasbourg, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that "the terrible developments in [Kosova] are not solely a domestic policy issue for Yugoslavia itself...Europe's voice has to remain resolute" to enable the refugees to go home, AP noted. PM
 GERMANY LINKS EU MEMBERSHIP, REFUGEE ISSUE FOR MACEDONIAOn 14 April, some 1,000 Kosovar refugees arrived at the Macedonian border crossing Blace. The previous day, German Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Verheugen said in Skopje that "the way Macedonia treats the refugees will have an influence on its request to become an associate member of the EU," Reuters reported. He urged government and opposition leaders to promote political stability as the key to improved relations with the international community. PM
 YUGOSLAV NAVY REFUSES TO LEAVE MONTENEGRIN PORTAdmiral Milan Zec said in Belgrade on 13 April that the Navy rejects the demand of Petrasin Kasalica, who is the chief administrator of Bar, to leave that port (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 1999). Zec called the demand "dangerous and unacceptable" and said Kasalica's statement had given NATO information about the location and name of a Yugoslav warship. PM
 TAMED RADIO B-92 ON THE AIRThe formerly independent Radio B-92 went back on the air on 13 April, three weeks after the authorities banned it. The station is now under new, pro-Milosevic management. Its broadcasting fare includes news from official sources and Serbian music. PM
 BOSNIAN SERB SENTENCED FOR WAR CRIMESA Sarajevo court sentenced Goran Vasic to ten years in prison on 13 April for war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war during the 1992-1995 conflict. The court acquitted him of killing Deputy Prime Minister Hakija Turajlic in 1993 for lack of evidence. The prosecutor said he will appeal and seek a harsher sentence. In Koblenz, Germany, the authorities are holding an unnamed 25 year-old Serb- Canadian for allegedly holding a Czech and a Canadian officer as human shields during 1995 NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions. PM
 BOSNIAN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AGREEMENT WITH CROATIAThe lower house of the mainly Muslim and Croatian federal legislature approved on 13 April a treaty outlining special relations with Croatia. Many Muslims opposed the pact on the grounds that it would give Zagreb too much say in the affairs of the Croatian population of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia's Western allies support the measure in order to promote both countries' postwar recovery. Zagreb says that the pact is necessary to prevent the Croats of Bosnia- Herzegovina from becoming second-class citizens in a state with a Muslim majority. PM
 REFUGEES CONTINUE TO ARRIVE IN BOSNIAMore than 38,000 refugees from Kosova and Sandzak are currently in Bosnia- Herzegovina, "Dnevni avaz" wrote on 14 April. Some 30,000 are in the federation, 2,200 of whom are Serbs. An additional 8,000 refugees are staying in the Republika Srpska. PM
 ROMANIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO YUGOSLAV 'UNION' WITH RUSSIA- BELARUS...National Peasant Party Christian Democratic chairman Ion Diaconescu on 13 April said that the intended joining of the Union of Belarus and Russia by Yugoslavia is "an attempt to block NATO's way into the Balkans and restore Russian influence there," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He added that the decision of the parliament in Belgrade was "inoperative" because "Russia can no longer influence events in the Balkans." APR leader Melescanu said the decision was "dangerous" for Romania, which is "likely to find itself between two new rival alliances," and that Romanian diplomacy must "intelligently speculate" on it to promote accession to NATO. Iliescu said the decision reflected "Yugoslav desperation" in face of "NATO aggression" and will have "no impact whatsoever on Romania." MS
 ...WHICH IS DISCUSSED WITH FOREIGN GUESTS AS WELLVisiting Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev on 13 April told journalists that Yugoslavia's accession to the union was "just a declaration of intentions" that met with no response from Russia and Belarus. His host, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, called it "an attempt to implicate Russia and Belarus in the conflict with NATO," which cannot succeed. Attending a meeting between the visiting U.S. Department of Defense's director for Europe and NATO, General Henry Kievenaar, and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu, the Romanian chief of staff, General Constantin Degeratu, said Yugoslav accession to the union is "raising legitimate security problems that cannot be ignored by Romania. " Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said on 14 April that even if the union is "finalized," its coming into being must not affect the main Romanian foreign policy objectives, which are "integration into European and Euro- Atlantic structures," Mediafax reported. MS
 MOLDOVA DENIES CIS PRESSURE OVER ITS POSITION ON YUGOSLAVIA...Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Serebrian, in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 13 April, said that the CIS members had not exerted any pressure on Moldova to change its position towards the conflict in Kosova. Serebrian said that Moldova's geographical position "imposes a policy of neutrality and prudence" in relations with NATO and Russia and that Chisinau "hopes that the animosities between Moscow and Brussels will not lead to the bipolarization of the international political system." MS
 ...OR PLANNING TO APPLY 'YUGOSLAV MODEL' TO TRANSDNIESTERBriefing journalists on the same day in Chisinau, Serebrian rejected statements made in Tiraspol that Moldova intends to apply "the Yugoslav scenario" in the separatist region. He said that Chisinau intends to solve the conflict "exclusively by peaceful means" and that "seven long years of negotiations are proof of this." The "events of 1991- 92," he said," will never repeat themselves," Infotag reported. MS
 BULGARIA, AUSTRIA SUPPORT BALKAN STABILIZATION PLANVisiting Austrian President Thomas Klestil and his Bulgarian host, Petar Stoyanov, told journalists on 13 April that they back recent European Union plans aimed at the stabilization of southeastern Europe, dpa and Reuters reported. Klestil said that the region's problems related to human rights and ethnic minorities must be discussed at a special Balkan conference. He added that Russia must be part of the process of negotiations for a settlement in Kosova. Stoyanov said that it is "necessary to design a kind of Marshall plan for the post-war reconstruction of the Balkan region." He said that "ethnic and regional conflicts will disappear as the Balkan states improve their living standards and start feeling a part of the European family." MS
[C] END NOTE
 Basic Agreement Reached On New European Arms AccordBy Roland Eggleston
German officials and officials with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say that after years of negotiations, agreement has been reached on the basic elements of a new treaty restricting conventional weaponry in Europe.
German diplomats and OSCE officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that the basic agreement was reached last week in Vienna, where the negotiations have been based.
The treaty would place limits on the number of artillery, tanks, armored troop carriers, war planes, and attack helicopters which can be held by any individual nation. Another part restricts the number of reinforcements which can be brought in from other countries.
NATO had earlier said the agreement would be "the cornerstone" of a new security regime in Europe. The aim is to ensure that in the future, no single country will be able to maintain military forces at levels which would allow it to hold a dominating position on the European continent.
German and OSCE officials say that the basic agreement concluded in Vienna last week has been accepted by 30 states, including Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and all other members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Confirmation from other capitals was not immediately available.
The officials said the agreed treaty will be presented at this month's NATO Summit meeting in Washington and the final text is expected to be signed at a summit meeting of the OSCE in Istanbul in November.
The new treaty will replace the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty limiting conventional forces on the continent, and several amendments since then.
The German and OSCE officials said it was achieved only after difficult negotiations in which all parties had to give way on some cherished positions.
They said that as an example, both Russia and NATO had to give way on some measures involving the new members of NATO--Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. They said Russia also gave way on some of its positions about its forces in the Caucasus.
The original 1990 CFE treaty was based on the total holdings of two blocs of military power--NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The new treaty would treat every country individually. Each would be allowed a maximum number of conventional forces of its own and each is allowed to deploy only a certain number of foreign forces on its territory to make an overall limit.
German officials said, for example, that Germany will be allowed a maximum of 3,444 main battle tanks of its own. Other countries may station tanks in Germany, but the overall total of both German and foreign tanks cannot exceed 4,704. It is the same with artillery systems. Germany is to be allowed 2,255 of its own but foreign countries can only deploy about half that number on German soil.
German diplomats told RFE/RL that the expansion of NATO with the inclusion of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary created problems which were solved only after months of argument. Russia argued that the admission of these states brought NATO's frontline closer to its borders and it was entitled to special privileges to protect itself.
One argument focused on the maximum limits allowed each country. The officials said it was defused only through a concession by the new member states of NATO. They agreed that they would cut their forces to below the levels originally proposed. The deadline for making these cuts is 2003. As an example, Poland will reduce the number of its main battle tanks from 1,730 to 1,577 by then.
The officials say that in another move to ease Moscow's concerns, several states close to Russia's borders have agreed to limit the number of foreign forces deployed on their territory. In return, Russia agreed to concessions regarding the deployment of forces in Kaliningrad and Pskov.
German diplomats said the purpose of these and other agreements was to decrease tensions in the sensitive border areas between Russia and NATO.
Another problem which was resolved only after long negotiations was the rapid deployment of forces in a crisis situation. Strict adherence to the limits would have meant that only a certain number of foreign forces could be sent to another country involved in a crisis. The United States, in particular, insisted on more flexibility. Finally, Russia agreed with NATO that in these exceptional circumstances two divisions of battle tanks, armored troop carriers, and artillery systems could be temporarily based in the affected country.
The officials said that the so-called 'Flank Areas' covering Russia's St. Petersburg military district and the Caucasus created other problems. Originally, Russia wanted to lift all restrictions on its deployment of troops in these regions. There were objections from Turkey, Georgia, Norway, and some other countries. They argued that, in theory, this could allow Moscow to station its entire armed forces on the borders in the south or the north. Finally, Russia agreed to a system limiting the number of forces it can move in and out of these regions according to the situation.
The document now agreed upon in Vienna is more than 100 pages long.
Diplomats describe it as a "basic structure." More months of negotiation will be needed to refine the rough text and re-examine some of the details, which could lead to new arguments. But the experts are confident it will be ready for signing by the heads of state and government at the OSCE Summit meeting in Istanbul in November.
Roland Eggleston is a senior RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty