|Wednesday, 27 May 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 76, 99-04-21
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 76, 21 April 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 DATE SET FOR POPE'S ARMENIA VISITPope John Paul II will travel to Armenia from 2-4 July, Reuters reported on 20 April, citing the Armenian Foreign Ministry. Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Catholicos Karekin I had extended an invitation to the pontiff during their visit to the Vatican in March. John Paul will visit Armenia as part of the celebrations to mark the 1700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's state religion (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 26 March 1999). LF
 KARABAKH OFFICIALS DENY TALKS ON WITHDRAWAL FROM OCCUPIED AZERBAIJANI TERRITORIESThe Foreign Ministry of the self- proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic has echoed Armenian denials of a Russian media report that Baku and Yerevan are conducting talks on conditions for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from five occupied districts of Azerbaijan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999). A spokesman for the unrecognized republic's Defense Ministry similarly told RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent on 20 April that Karabakh Armenian forces will withdraw from those districts only "in the full context of the conflict's settlement, along with [determination of] Nagorno- Karabakh's status." LF
 AZERBAIJAN RETURNS IMPOUNDED MIGS TO KAZAKHSTANAzerbaijan's Transport Prosecutor Chingiz Mamedov announced on 20 April that the six MiG-21 fighters impounded at Baku's Bina airport in mid-March were sent back to Kazakhstan the previous day. The Russian transport aircraft carrying the MiGs was prohibited from continuing its journey on 19 March pending an investigation into the final destination of the MiGs. The flight documents had listed that destination as Liberec, Czech Republic, but crew members had said they were en route for North Korea (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 March 1999). Kazakhstan's Office of the Prosecutor-General will continue the investigation into the case, Turan reported. LF
 GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN MOSCOWZurab Zhvania and Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov discussed economic cooperation and the Abkhaz conflict on 20 April, ITAR-TASS reported quoting Primakov's press secretary Tatyana Aristarkhova. Zhvania also met with Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, who called for a "clear concept" for Russian policy in the South Caucasus, warning that "Russia must not lose Georgia as a good neighbor." LF
 FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER FACES NEW CRIMINAL CHARGESProsecutor- General Yurii Khitrin and the chairman of the State Commission for the Struggle against Corruption and Organized Crime, Oralbay Abdikarimov, have announced that charges of tax evasion have been brought against former Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin and his wife, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 21 April. Kazhegeldin's lawyer, Vitalii Voronov, told journalists on 20 April that the charges are politically motivated. Also on 21 April, National Security Committee Chairman Nurtay Abyqaev told RFE/RL that members of unnamed political parties have been interrogated or arrested in connection with the appearance on walls in Astana of slogans backing Kazhegeldin and denouncing President Nursultan Nazarbaev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 March 1999). LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S COSSACK COMMUNITY UNDER PRESSURE, MAY EMIGRATESpeaking at a news conference in Almaty on 20 April, Vladimir Ovsyannikov, who is the leader of the Semirechie Cossacks, accused the Kazakhstan government of suppressing the culture and traditions of the Cossack community, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. He warned that the entire Cossack community may emigrate to Russia if that policy is not changed. Ovsyannikov's home and those of his deputies were searched for unregistered weapons late last month, RFE/RL correspondents reported on 1 April. Estimates of the number of Cossacks in southern Kazakhstan range from 20, 000 to 30,000. LF
 KYRGYZ PRESIDENT ASSESSES AGRICULTURAL SECTORIn his annual address to the nation, delivered to both chambers of the parliament on 20 April, Askar Akaev noted the beneficial role of Kyrgyzstan's agricultural sector in mitigating the impact on the country of last year's financial crisis in Russia, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Akaev said the October 1998 referendum in which more than 90 percent of voters endorsed private ownership of agricultural land showed the correctness of Kyrgyzstan's policy in that sphere. But he noted that a market for land has still to emerge and demand remains low, according to Interfax. Akaev also expressed concern that Kyrgyzstan continues to import many foods that it could produce domestically. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ALBRIGHT: NO TALKS WITH MILOSEVICSecretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington on 20 April that NATO will not negotiate with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, the VOA's Serbian Service reported. She added that Yugoslavia needs a democratic government and that only a democratic government can expect Western assistance once the current conflict ends. Albright stressed that "President Milosevic is responsible for the ethnic cleansing and all the depravations that are taking place, and we have questioned how he is going to continue...while the [Hague-based] war crimes tribunal keeps working." She noted that the purpose of NATO's air strikes is not, however, to overthrow Milosevic but to enable the refugees to go home. PM
 BLAIR WARNS MILOSEVIC ON ALBANIAIn response to a question by an RFE/RL correspondent, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said in Brussels on 20 April: "We have made very clear indeed...that any attempt to cause difficulty or damage to Albania we will do everything possible to prevent, and [we will] make sure we give [Albania] proper protection. And I would like to pay tribute to Albania for the unstinting work that it has done in circumstances of very great difficulty to make sure the refugees are properly looked after. And one of the purposes of this action we are taking is to make sure that this entire military machine of the Serbs and Milosevic is degraded so he is not able to threaten his neighbors." PM
 ALBANIAN, YUGOSLAV ARMIES CLASH AT KOSOVA BORDERYugoslav and Albanian soldiers exchanged fire for six hours near Qafe e Prushit in the Has Mountains on 20 April. It was the most serious clash between the two armies since the start of the Kosova crisis, Reuters reported. An OSCE spokesman said in Tirana that one Albanian soldier was injured in the fight. Previous clashes with Serbian troops involved chiefly the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK). The Albanian army generally restrained from interfering. UCK and Yugoslav forces also clashed near Junik, inside Kosova close to the border, on 20 April. At least two UCK fighters were killed in the battle and 15 injured, RFE/RL's Albanian broadcasters reported. Kosovapress added that there were an unspecified but large number of victims on the Yugoslav side. FS
 APACHE HELICOPTERS ARRIVE IN ALBANIAThe first of 24 U.S. Apache helicopters arrived in Albania on 20 April, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The deployment of the "terrain- hugging" aircraft had been delayed due to torrential rains in Albania in recent days. The Apaches will be used mostly against tanks, armored vehicles, and artillery in Kosova. About 700 U.S. parachute troops arrived in Albania the same day to give ground support to the helicopters. In Warsaw, the Polish government decided on 20 April to send 140 mountain troops to northern Albania to help guard the NATO bases there, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. FS
 REFUGEE INFLUX FROM MONTENEGRO INCREASESNearly 2,500 Kosovar refugees arrived in northwestern Albania via Montenegro on 20 April, Reuters reported. It was the biggest single influx so far at the western part of the Albanian- Yugoslav border. Most of the refugees came from the region around Peja. At the Morina border crossing near Kukes, OSCE observers reported only a handful of refugees arriving. FS
 MONTENEGRO CHARGES YUGOSLAV ARMY WITH 'WAR CRIMES'Montenegrin Deputy Prime Minister Dragisa Burzan said on a visit to the Rozaje area on 20 April that the recent killing of at least five Kosovar refugees and a Montenegrin citizen by Yugoslav troops there is "a war crime, a crime against humanity," "Newsday" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999). In Podgorica, Interior Minister Vukasin Maras said that General Milorad Obradovic, who commands the troops in Montenegro, must explain the killings, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Milosevic's Tanjug news agency reported that the army was pursuing UCK fighters in the area. Burzan visited three villages, from which soldiers had driven the ethnic Albanian and Muslim inhabitants. In Brussels, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said that the Yugoslav army has begun "ethnic cleansing" in Montenegro. PM
 SERBIAN PARAMILITARIES IN MONTENEGROAn unspecified number of Serbian paramilitary troops has entered Montenegro near the border with Kosova, the BBC reported on 21 April. Kosovar refugees in the area said that they were "terrified" to learn that the paramilitaries were nearby. PM
 DJUKANOVIC REFUSES TO SUBORDINATE POLICE TO ARMYMontenegrin President Milo Djukanovic called "unacceptable" and "out of the question" a demand by the Yugoslav army that the Montenegrin Interior Ministry place the pro-Djukanovic police under army command, the "Financial Times" reported on 21 April. Djukanovic added that the army must explain to the Montenegrin authorities the killings in the Rozaje area. PM
 CROATIA PROTESTS YUGOSLAV ARMY INCURSION INTO MONTENEGRIN BORDER ZONECroatian Ambassador to the UN Ivan Simonovic sent a letter to the Security Council on 20 April calling on Belgrade to withdraw the 300 troops who entered the demilitarized zone in Montenegro, which borders Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula. Simonovic wrote that he hopes for a diplomatic solution but added that "Croatia must be ready to use other means if necessary." The next day, however, an unnamed Croatian diplomat told Reuters that "everything that's happening is outside our borders. No damage has been done to us and Croatia is absolutely safe." The diplomat added that "this is a strictly internal Yugoslav matter. They have been very anxious to cut Montenegro off and now they have. This really puts the stranglehold on Montenegro." PM
 YUGOSLAV TROOPS CLOSE MONTENEGRO'S BORDER WITH CROATIAA UN monitor in the Prevlaka area told Reuters on 20 April that the situation there is "delicate, sensitive and extremely tense." Earlier, Yugoslav troops took control over and closed the border crossing of Debeli Brijeg between Montenegro and Croatia near Prevlaka. Prevlaka is Croatian territory, but Belgrade wants it because it controls access to Yugoslavia's only deep-water naval base. Prevlaka and an adjoining strip of Montenegrin territory around Sutorina are demilitarized and under the control of a 28- member UN monitoring mission. PM
 OSCE REPORTS 'SYSTEMATIC ABUSE' OF KOSOVARSA NATO spokesman said in Brussels on 20 April that Serbian forces are conducting a "safari operation" in Kosova to expel virtually the entire ethnic Albanian population. In Skopje, members of the OSCE's monitoring mission in Kosova issued a report based on interviews with 250 refugees. The monitors concluded that "total lawlessness" reigns in the province. Uniform accounts by refugees indicated that "large groups" of Yugoslav soldiers, paramilitary police, and irregulars carry out "a pattern of intimidation and harassment, combined with assaults, pillage, shelling, killingsÖ, and executions..., after which people flee or are simply told to leave." The study noted that "the number of reports on sexual assaults-- including rape of groups of women--is increasing. Other reports include torture, ill-treatment, harassment, intimidation, and use of groups of people as human shields," the monitors' statement continued. The monitors also noted that some interviewees were able to identify their tormentors. PM
 GLIGOROV CALLS FOR 'STATE OF EMERGENCY'Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov said in a television broadcast on 20 April that he wants the Supreme Defense Council to declare a state of emergency. He said that the current situation is "one of the most dangerous" since 1991, when Macedonia declared independence. He stressed that "dangers for Macedonia are growing" and that preserving "internal stability and external security" are top priorities for the authorities. He noted that some 4,000 NATO troops will arrive in Macedonia soon. Some 16, 500 soldiers from the Atlantic alliance are already there. PM
 UNHCR DECLARES MACEDONIAN CAMPS FULLA spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said in Skopje on 20 April that all camps in that country are filled to capacity. The UNHCR had to leave up to 3,000 refugees without shelter in the no-man's land at the border. Another 3,000 arrived at a mountain hamlet, where the UN had no facilities for them, either. Members of both groups said that "thousands" more refugees are en route, AP reported. Inside Macedonia, some camps have three times more inhabitants than UNHCR standards allow. There are 25,000 people in the Brazda camp alone. Recent arrivals stay in tents outside the camp and are subject to harassment by local Macedonians resentful of the influx of ethnic Albanians. PM
 NATO HITS MILOSEVIC'S PARTY OFFICESAircraft from the Atlantic alliance attacked a high-rise office building in Belgrade on 21 April, causing considerable damage, the BBC reported. The building houses offices of Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, his wife's Yugoslav United Left, and his daughter's radio station. Some of the targets of recent air strikes include factories and refineries controlled by his family or political allies. In Brussels, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that the bombing campaign is likely to last for some time. In Washington, Secretary Albright expressed the same view. PM
 UN POLICE MONITOR BOSNIAN-MONTENEGRIN BORDERUN police stepped up monitoring patrols along Bosnia's frontier with Montenegro on 20 April. The move came following reports by Kosovar and Sandzak Muslim refugees that Bosnian Serb police robbed and intimidated them en route from Montenegro to Sarajevo. In New York, Elisabeth Rehn, who is the UN's special envoy to Bosnia, said that many of the refugees are young males seeking to avoid the Yugoslav army draft. PM
 CROATIA ARREST WAR CRIMES SUSPECTCroatian police arrested Dragisa Cancarevic in Vukovar on 20 April. He is the head of the local police in Borovo Naselje. The ethnic Serbian police officer is suspected of committing war crimes in Vukovar during the 1991- 1995 war. PM
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, DEFENSE COUNCIL APPROVES NATO AIR CORRIDOR REQUESTThe Romanian government and the Supreme Defense Council on 20 April approved a NATO request to use Romanian air space for attacks on Yugoslavia, Reuters reported. Premier Radu Vasile said the decision does not "question Romania's sovereignty over its own air space." Approval by the four-party ruling coalition makes passage in the parliament likely, as only the opposition Socialist Party and some nationalist parties have objected to the request. Also on 20 April, a group of prominent Romanian intellectuals urged Romanians to back the government's decision. The deputy chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Ralston, said in Bucharest the same day that Romania can count on NATO to defend it in the event of a threat from Yugoslavia. PB
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CONSULTS BULGARIAN COUNTERPART OVER NATO REQUESTEmil Constantinescu telephoned with Petar Stoyanov on 20 April to discuss the NATO request that both countries give the alliance unlimited access to their air space, Rompres reported. Officials said Stoyanov has suggested that the two countries coordinate their stances toward the NATO request. PB
 BULGARIAN PARLIAMENTARY VOTE ON NATO REQUEST LOOMS AMID PROTESTSThousands of people rallied in downtown Sofia on 20 April to urge the parliament to reject a request by NATO to allow the alliance full usage of Bulgaria's air space, AP reported. Protesters chanted "NATO out of the Balkans" and other anti-NATO slogans. Thousands of people also demonstrated in the Black Sea port of Varna. Officials said the parliament may vote on the request on 21 April. PB
[C] END NOTE
 EBRD TAKES TOUGH NEW STANCE ON INVESTMENTS, LOANSby Ron Synovitz
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is taking a new tougher approach to lending and investing in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet republics.
The approach, a reaction to Russia's financial collapse in August, became apparent at the EBRD's board meeting in London even before plenary sessions began on 19 April.
The EBRD was set up in 1991 to aid the market transition of the former communist states of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It has already adopted a conservative lending strategy, and bank funds are being used as leverage to influence government policies.
But EBRD governors meeting in London this week are sharpening the strategy. They say they hope to instill financial discipline, better corporate governance, and long- overdue banking reforms in the 25 countries in which the EBRD operates.
Leading the new strategy is EBRD President Horst Koehler, a former private- sector banker and state secretary in the German Finance Ministry.
Koehler took the top post at the EBRD in September--just weeks after Russia devalued its currency, defaulted on domestic government debt, and declared a moratorium on debt servicing to foreigners.
The Russian crisis caused the EBRD last year to declare its first loss in six years--more than $225 million. More important, Koehler says, it taught the EBRD that its investments cannot be effective without macroeconomic stability, together with a reasonable legal and regulatory environment.
On a country-to-country basis, that means governments must move their reform programs forward or forget about receiving money from the EBRD--one of the last remaining institutions willing to invest across the crisis- plagued region.
Ukraine is a case in point. Koehler met with President Leonid Kuchma and other senior officials in Kyiv late last year to present the Bank's complaints about slow reforms there.
At stake are four EBRD projects, worth nearly $200 million, that have been stalled in the Ukrainian parliament for more than a year. The EBRD also says it will not approve Ukrainian railroad and water management investments, worth another $70 million, until the bureaucratic barriers to the earlier projects are cleared.
Lars Larsson, the director of the EBRD-administered Nuclear Safety Account, also is taking a tougher stance on aid recipients. Larsson says disbursements will go only to projects that expedite the closure of hazardous reactors in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.
Lithuanian Finance Minister Algirdas Semeta admitted there is increased pressure from the EBRD on the closure of the Ignalina nuclear plant. But Semeta, who opposes a shutdown without massive Western financial support, attributes Larsson's harder line to what he called "political pressure" from the EU
"I don't think the EBRD, as such, is the decision-making authority concerning the Ignalina power station," he commented. "Actually, the owners of the [Nuclear Safety] Account itself, and other European Union countries, are the major political forces which dictate policies concerning Ignalina."
In the telecommunications sector, the EBRD is trying to coax several governments to create the proper regulatory framework within which privatized firms can operate.
Legal assistance was provided last year to Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Lithuania, and Poland. A contract for regulatory assistance has been finalized with Albania, and similar assistance is moving forward in Armenia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and Georgia.
EBRD projects that develop capital markets and improve corporate governance have been approved for the Czech and Slovak republics.
Plans also have been finalized to work with the Russian Federal Commission for the Securities Market. That project will focus on developing capital market regulations and company laws. The aim is to increase the transparency of markets and improve corporate governance. Meanwhile, the EBRD is still trying to resolve a dispute over the privatization of the Slovnaft oil and gas monopoly in Slovakia. That dispute arose in 1995 when Slovnaft's state managers bought shares of the firm at a fraction of the price paid by the EBRD and other investors.
EBRD officials cite Slovnaft as a classic example of how insider deals and the lack of transparency can damage the confidence of global investors in an emerging market economy.
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty