|Wednesday, 27 May 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 82, 99-04-29
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 3, No. 82, 29 April 1999
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPEEmil Constantinescu said on 28 April that a massive reconstruction of southeastern Europe should be carried out after the Yugoslav conflict ends, Reuters reported. Constantinescu, in a television interview, said the West should have learned from the "negative" Bosnia experience that any reconstruction of a country must involve that country's neighbors. Constantinescu and other Balkan leaders urged a mass reconstruction effort for the region at the recent NATO summit in Washington and in talks with IMF and World Bank officials. The EU said a preliminary estimate for such a project was $30 billion. PB
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ENDORSES RUSSIAN LOANLegislators on 28 April approved a $20.6 million Russian loan for the Medzamor nuclear power plant, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Most of that sum, to be released in several installments by the end of next year, will be spent on purchases of Russian nuclear fuel, on which Medzamor is dependent. An agreement on the loan was signed last December by the Russian and Armenian governments. The debt will be repaid over five years beginning in 2003. Medzamor was shut down under public pressure in 1989 but reopened in 1995 with Russian assistance to make up for severe energy shortages in Armenia, despite widespread safety concerns in the West. The Armenian government has pledged to close the plant in 2004, even though its management said last week that it could operate for another 16 years. Medzamor currently generates some 35 percent of Armenia's electricity. LF
 ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT UNVEILS MEASURES TO SAVE LAKE SEVANEnvironment Minister Gevorg Vartanian outlined to journalists on 28 April a new program to save Lake Sevan from an ecological disaster, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Under that program, the water level of the lake, which has been steadily declining for several decades and fell by 23 centimeters in 1998 alone, will be raised by 5 meters over the next decade. Vartanian said that the use of water from the lake for irrigation purposes will be cut by 20 percent this year, and it is hoped eventually to cease using water from the lake for hydro-electricity. In addition, the completion next year of the Vorotan tunnel to divert a nearby river into the lake should help raise the water level. Vartanian noted that a government ban on all forms of fishing will go into force on 15 June with the aim of replenishing the lake's fish stocks. LF
 GEORGIAN HUNGER-STRIKERS ATTACKEDThe six members of the Free Georgia--Future Generation organization, who began a hunger-strike in Tbilisi on 26 April to demand the release of persons they consider political prisoners, were attacked by a group of 20- 25 men in civilian clothes during the night of 27-28 April, Caucasus Press reported. The organization's leader, Koba Bukia, accused the Georgian authorities of instigating the attack. LF
 GEORGIAN CUSTOMS INTERCEPT RELIGIOUS LITERATURECustoms officials in southern Georgia have thwarted an attempt to smuggle into Georgia some six tons of religious literature and video cassettes produced by the Jehovah's Witnesses, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported on 27 and 28 April. The Turkish driver of the lorry transporting the materials was arrested. The 20 million religious tracts and video cassettes were said to be of high quality, but it is unclear what language(s) they were in. LF
 FORMER KAZAKH PREMIER DENIES TAX-DODGING CHARGESSpeaking to journalists in Washington, Akezhan Kazhegeldin denied the recent accusations of tax evasion leveled against him by government officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 April 1999), Interfax reported. He added that he has documentary proof that he paid all his taxes in 1997. Kazhegeldin said the charges are intended to compromise him "as a person and as a politician." "A tragedy" is how he described the inability of Kazakhstan's authorities to find a common language with the opposition. And he argued that the country's leadership is "neither united nor a monolith" but composed of disparate factions pursuing their own "clan and corporate interests." LF
 TAJIK POLICE OFFICERS HELD HOSTAGESome 40 members of an armed opposition group headed by Mansur Muakalov abducted six Tajik police officers in eastern Tajikistan during the night of 27-28 April. The kidnappers are demanding the release of five men charged with more than 80 crimes, including 10 murders, Interfax reported on 28 April, quoting an Interior Ministry press spokesman. LF
 UZBEKISTAN RESTORES GAS SUPPLIES TO KAZAKHSTANUzbekistan has resumed supplies of natural gas to three oblasts of southern Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 29 April. Those supplies were cut earlier this month because of non-payment of debts, and Kazakhstan responded by halting rail traffic from Uzbekistan and pointing to Uzbekistan's unpaid debts (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 1999). The two sides subsequently agreed to resume both natural gas deliveries and rail transit, but they have so far made little progress on clearing mutual debts. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MORE EVIDENCE OF MEJ MASSACRE EMERGESKris Janowski, who is a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told RFE/RL in Geneva on 28 April that recent refugee reports about large-scale killings of male Kosovars at the village of Mej near Gjakova are "very alarming" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1999). Other refugees subsequently told the UNHCR that they have personally seen heaps of bodies of dead males executed by Serbian forces near Mej. Reuters quoted refugees as saying that Serbian forces rounded up and shot young men. The refugees also said that Serbian forces took jewelry and money from them. Janowski added that refugees who arrived from Lipjan have given the UNHCR similar reports about the expulsion of Kosovars and the separating of men and women. They said that Serbian forces killed at least 50 people in Lipjan. Janowski added that the UNHCR cannot confirm these reports independently. FS
 NUMBER OF REFUGEES ARRIVING IN ALBANIA ON THE RISEMore than 3,000 refugees entered Kukes on 28 April, Reuters reported. Serbian forces shelled the villages of Vlahen and Cahan in the Has Mountains, along the frontier with Kosova, an OSCE spokesman said in Tirana. Meanwhile, 300 French soldiers equipped with 133 vehicles landed in Durres bound for Elbasan to improve a local refugee camp there. In Paris, Albanian President Rexhep Meidani estimated that the refugee relief is costing his country $33 million a month, calculating that each refugee costs $3 a day. Meidani added that "if the refugees stay until the end of December, we'll need $600 million, to which $255 million more must be added to balance the budget deficit." Meanwhile, United Arab Emirates forces have begun repairing an airstrip near Kukes. FS
 REFUGEES WAIT TO ENTER MACEDONIA"Several thousand" refugees from Kosova are waiting on the border to enter Macedonia, BBC Television reported on 29 April. The previous day, some 4,000 Kosovars crossed into Macedonia at Blace. An unknown number of ethnic Albanians from Serbia proper crossed into Macedonian mountain villages via dirt trails. Aid workers expressed concern that ever more refugees are arriving and there is no space in existing camps for them (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 1999). The relief workers are also worried that the refugees entering via mountain trails have no access even to basic relief aid or medical attention. A spokesman for the UNHCR said the Serbian authorities may be making "a final push" to drive ethnic Albanians out of Kosova and Serbia proper. He added that "the consequences are scaryÖ. We are looking a major problem right in the eye." Reuters wrote that efforts to resettle refugees outside Macedonia have proven only "a drop in the ocean." PM
 SERBS STARVING REFUGEES OUT?A spokeswoman for the UN's World Food Program told AP in Blace on 28 April that "people are being literally starved out" of Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1999). She noted that Serbian shops either do not sell food to Kosovars or do so only at greatly inflated prices. In Kumanovo, male refugees told reporters that the Yugoslav military has recently sent induction notices to many ethnic Albanian males. One refugee added that this means that those receiving notices have a choice either to flee or to be used as human shields by the Serbian forces. A spokesman for the UNHCR said some refugees report that Serbian forces assemble people from several villages in one village and then make them "pay bribes to get out and they only let a certain number out." PM
 GEORGIEVSKI STRESSES LINKS TO NATO, EUMacedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said in Skopje on 28 April that the current crisis has strengthened links between his country on the one hand and NATO and the EU on the other. He stressed that "Macedonia has no alternative in its foreign policy" than to seek integration into the most important Euro- Atlantic structures. Observers suggested that Georgievski was indirectly criticizing his rival President Kiro Gligorov, who has expressed disappointment with Western support for Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 1999). PM
 NATO AIRCRAFT HIT MONTENEGROMissiles hit Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's home town of Pozarevac and targets around the Montenegrin capital of Podgorica on 29 April, the 37th consecutive day of NATO air strikes on Yugoslavia. The previous day, a laser-guided missile went off course and hit civilians in Surdulica in southern Serbia. State- run media reported that 20 people were killed and 50 houses destroyed in the incident. There has been no independent confirmation of those figures. PM
 MONTENEGRIN GOVERNMENT APPEALS TO NATOThe government in Podgorica appealed to the Atlantic alliance to stop bombing Montenegro lest NATO give Milosevic an excuse to intervene militarily against the reformist government there, the "Financial Times" reported on 29 April. Economics Minister Vojin Djukanovic said that bombing "is not the correct reward for the reformist policies this government is following." Nikola Dragomanovic, who heads the oil company Jugopetrol, said that a NATO blockade of Montenegro "would completely paralyze life and cause a humanitarian catastrophe." He suggested that instead of launching a blockade, "all interested [parties] control both the delivery and distribution of oil products." He stressed that very little oil has entered Montenegrin ports in recent weeks. PM
 DJUKANOVIC CALLS DRASKOVIC'S SACKING 'A SIGN'Yugoslav Prime Minister Momir Bulatovic, who is an ally of Milosevic and rival of the Montenegrin leadership, fired Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic on 28 April for making "public statements in contradiction to the positions of the federal government" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 April 1999). In Podgorica, Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that the sacking "is a sign for people in Serbia to listen to voices of democracy and reason." He added that the firing "reflects a lack of discipline in the Belgrade leadership [and] lends hope that the war will end" soon. He refused to speculate as to whether the incident reflects deep political divisions in Belgrade, AP noted. After his sacking, Draskovic told reporters that any differences within the leadership are not over policy but "only over means," the "Washington Post" reported. PM
 STEINER: MILOSEVIC IS NO PEACE PARTNERMichael Steiner, who is German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's chief diplomatic adviser and a senior diplomat for Balkan issues, told the "New York Times" of 29 April that an eventual indictment of Milosevic will make it impossible for Western governments to negotiate with him. Steiner stressed that "if Milosevic is indicted, he cannot be the signatory to any accord. That is already a factor we have to take into consideration." He added that "we don't need Milosevic for a solution." Steiner pointed out that the international community needed Milosevic for a signature during the Rambouillet negotiations but concluded that "we now need certain things to happenÖ[including] Serbian troops out of [Kosova], and the Kosovar refugees back, but we are not necessarily in a signature game anymore." FS
 RUGOVA AGAIN MAKES PROPAGANDA APPEARANCEThe Serbian authorities on 28 April brought Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova, who is under house arrest in Prishtina, to Belgrade to sign a declaration with Serbian President Milan Milutinovic on Kosova's political future. Adnan Merovci, who is Rugova's bodyguard, said upon his recent arrival in Macedonia that Rugova made his several public appearances in Belgrade in April only under duress (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999). Isa Zymberi, who represents Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova in London, told the BBC on 29 April that the Serbian authorities should let Rugova travel abroad to clarify what his views really are. Since late March, when Serbian police occupied part of his house, the Kosovar leader has received numerous invitations from foreign governments and institutions to go abroad with his family. PM
 UCK PLEDGES TO ORGANIZE KOSOVA GOVERNMENTThe self-proclaimed government of Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci issued a statement in the Tirana-based, Kosovar exile daily "Rilindja" on 28 April saying that it "assumes responsibility to lead Kosova and its people until conditions are created for free elections," dpa reported. The statement is apparently directed against the rival "government" of Bujar Bukoshi, which was appointed in 1990 by the last Kosovar parliament and does not recognize the cabinet that Thaci set up in early April. FS
 BOSNIAN SERB POLITICAL CRISIS ON HOLD UNTIL BOMBING STOPSThe international community's Carlos Westendorp said in Banja Luka on 28 April that Republika Srpska Vice President Mirko Sarovic will not make a decision on whether to replace Nikola Poplasen as president until after NATO stops its bombing of Serbian targets. Westendorp added that "decisions made in tense and difficult situations are not the best decisions." Westendorp fired Poplasen on 5 March for preventing the formation of a new Bosnian Serb government, but Poplasen refused to step down. PM
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR 'RECONSTRUCTION' OF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE Emil Constantinescu said on 28 April that a massive reconstruction of southeastern Europe should be carried out after the Yugoslav conflict ends, Reuters reported. Constantinescu, in a television interview, said the West should have learned from the "negative" Bosnia experience that any reconstruction of a country must involve that country's neighbors. Constantinescu and other Balkan leaders urged a mass reconstruction effort for the region at the recent NATO summit in Washington and in talks with IMF and World Bank officials. The EU said a preliminary estimate for such a project was $30 billion. PB
 MOLDOVAN-ROMANIAN TREATY TO BE SIGNED SOON?The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said on 28 April that Chisinau and Bucharest will sign a basic treaty in the near future, ITAR- TASS reported. Moldovan Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Serebryanu said the treaty could be signed when Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi and his Romanian counterpart, Emil Constantinescu, meet again sometime later this year. The two sides are arguing over the mention in the treaty of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, under which territory from Romania was ceded to Moldova. Serebryanu said the differences on this issue were resolved during meetings in Chisinau on 24 April, but he offered no more details. PB
 MISSILE DESTROYS HOME IN SOFIA SUBURB...President Petar Stoyanov said on 29 April that he has asked NATO if it is responsible for the missile that crashed through the roof of a home in Gorna Banya, a Sofia suburb 5 kilometers from the capital's center, Reuters reported. Stoyanov, who rushed to the scene in the middle of the night along with Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, said the rocket did not explode and there were no injuries. Colonel Tomirko Tomanov, a weapons specialist for the Bulgarian military, said at a news conference that the missile was "an air-to-surface type" that could be carried by NATO's F-16 fighters. Members of the opposition Socialist Party walked out of the parliament on 29 April to protest the legislature's refusal to summon Premier Ivan Kostov to explain the incident. PB
 ...AS SOFIA, BRUSSELS WORK ON AGREEMENT GRANTING NATO AIR SPACEThe Bulgarian government said on 28 April that it has exchanged formal notes with NATO on the alliance's use of a limited air corridor in Bulgaria, Reuters reported. The two sides have been working on the finalization of an accord that would allow NATO to overfly a band of Bulgarian air space in return for security guarantees for Bulgaria in the event of an attack by Yugoslavia. A parliamentary vote on the accord is expected as early as 30 April. A poll published in the weekly "Kapital" showed that 74 percent of respondents oppose granting the NATO air space request. PB
[C] END NOTE
 HAS TRANSITION FAILED IN FORMER USSR?By Robert Lyle
According to the World Bank, most of the countries of the former Soviet Union have seen nothing but decline and deterioration since the transition began 10 years ago.
World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz says the bank's annual World Development report shows that despite significant gains in development around the world, the gap between rich and poor is widening and in many countries income distributions are worsening, increasing the social pain of economic failure:
Stiglitz told a Washington press conference last week that "nowhere are these problems more evident than in the states of the former Soviet Union, where the numbers living in poverty increased from 14 million in 1989 to 147 million by the middle of the decade, a ten-fold increase."
The reason was not just because Russia experienced a crisis last year, according to Stiglitz. "More broadly, a decade after the beginning of the transition to a market economy, most of the countries of the former Soviet Union have a lower per capita income, worse social conditions, and higher levels of poverty than they did a decade ago."
So does this mean the transition to market economies has failed? The World Bank official admits it's a question that his institution is now pondering a lot.
"Most economists said the problem in the former Soviet Union was that they had central planning, no property rights and therefore inefficiencies and distorted prices," he argued. "You were going to change all that and it was supposed to release a burst of energy of entrepreneurship and output was supposed to increase. Instead output has fallen markedly and poverty has increased markedly and I think the lesson we've learned is that market economies are far more complicated than text book models often describe them. And that issues of governance, issues of legal infrastructures, issues of institutions are absolutely central."
The leader of the team that assembled the development report, World Bank senior economist Eric Swanson, said one interesting anomaly in Russia is that private personal consumption has remained quite strong. "What's really disappeared is investment and public consumption, government consumption," he said. "I guess if you're not collecting taxes, it keeps down your public consumption as well. Essentially we see an economy that's in chaos right now and it's very hard to measure what's going on there."
The bank's chief economist, Stiglitz, says another strange occurrence in Russia is that the inequality of incomes has increased while economic growth has decreased: "In a sense, the economies in transition have repealed a standard law on economics, which says there is a trade-off between inequality and growth. What they showed is that you have negative growth and increasing inequality, so they've gotten the worst of both worlds. And that is one of the things we'll have to ponder as we go forward."
The bank's report warns that if present trends persist, there is a danger that the poor may become a permanent underclass far less able to respond to opportunities when things do turn around.
People are obviously feeling the pressure, too, said the bank, noting that stress reveals itself in declining life expectancy and sharply worsening adult mortality. It noted that the probability of a 15-year-old Ukrainian male surviving until his 60th birthday is a mere 65 percent, down from 72 percent in 1980.
The bank's report shows that while the former Soviet countries have been sinking for a decade, another former Communist giant--China -- is moving strongly ahead in a transition that is working. "One of the remarkable contrasts is the success of [China's] transition as measured by most indicators including increases in GDP, living standards, and reductions in poverty, Stiglitz noted. "The contrast between that and what has happened in the former Soviet Union [is] the result of quite different economic policies being pursued."
The key to economic success, according to Stiglitz, is adopting the reforms and policies necessary for a functioning market-based economy, including strong social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable. In the end, he said, it is not international institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF that will save these countries but their own determination.
The author is a Washington-based RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty