Visit the Foundation for Hellenic Studies (FHS) Homepage A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Tuesday, 17 September 2019
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 148, 99-08-02

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. 148, 2 August 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA SAYS TIES WITH RUSSIA TO CONTINUE AT 'HIGH LEVEL'
  • [02] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RECONVENING PARLIAMENT
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV STATION CLOSURES
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN GRADUATES FIRST OFFICERS
  • [05] UN EXTENDS ABKHAZ MANDATE, IGNORES TBILISI ON ETHNIC
  • [06] U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF PRAISES GEORGIA
  • [07] GEORGIAN DEPUTIES SEEK CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN BASES
  • [08] GEORGIA CANCELS ROUNDTABLE IN ETHNIC ARMENIAN AREA
  • [09] KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA STILL DISAGREE ON BAIKONUR
  • [10] KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT PUTS OFF SALE OF FARM LAND
  • [11] KAZAKHSTAN INCREASES URANIUM PRODUCTION
  • [12] KYRGYZSTAN TO BUY GAS FROM KAZAKHSTAN
  • [13] BISHKEK MAY RE-REGISTER HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
  • [14] TAJIK OFFICIAL DENOUNCES UZBEK 'CRIMINAL GROUPS'
  • [15] TAJIK OPPOSITION MAY LEAVE ELECTORAL COMMISSION
  • [16] UZBEKISTAN TO RAISE WAGES, PENSIONS
  • [17] ERK SAYS UZBEK PRESIDENT BENEFITED FROM BOMBINGS
  • [18] UZBEK DENOUNCES 'POISONOUS' RUSSIAN IDEOLOGY

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [19] U.S. FORCES PROTECT FLEEING SERBS
  • [20] BOMB ATTACK ON SERBIAN CHURCH
  • [21] BLAIR URGES END TO VIOLENCE
  • [22] KOSOVA'S THACI SLAMS RUSSIANS...
  • [23] ...WHILE RUSSIA CALLS THACI REMARKS 'UNACCEPTABLE'
  • [24] SARAJEVO SUMMIT UNDERSCORES POLICY DIFFERENCES
  • [25] SERBIA'S AVRAMOVIC: MILOSEVIC MUST GO SOON
  • [26] SERBIAN POLICE IN SCUFFLE WITH OPPOSITION
  • [27] SFOR DETAINS BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT
  • [28] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN BLASTS HAGUE TRIBUNAL
  • [29] WESTENDORP IMPOSES BOSNIAN PUBLIC BROADCASTING LEGISLATION
  • [30] HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA
  • [31] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY REACHES COMPROMISE ON LEADERSHIP
  • [32] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW VERSION OF PRIVATIZATION
  • [33] BULGARIAN DEPUTY STRIPPED OF PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [34] IMPLICATIONS OF A ROMANIAN COURT DECISION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA SAYS TIES WITH RUSSIA TO CONTINUE AT 'HIGH LEVEL'

    Armenia's foreign and defense ministers said on 31 July that

    cooperation in the military sphere between Yerevan and Moscow

    will continue "at a high level," ITAR-TASS reported. Foreign

    Minister Vartan Oskanyan said these ties have deep historic

    roots and will grow even stronger in the future. Meanwhile,

    Defense Minister Vagarshak Aratyunyan stressed that this

    cooperation is not directed at any third country, adding that

    officers from the two countries work closely together: "We

    have all come out of the same school. We have served together

    and graduated from the same schools. We have the same

    mentality. And there are no problems in relations." PG

    [02] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION CALLS FOR RECONVENING PARLIAMENT

    Unhappy with amendments introduced on the law on municipal

    elections, the 20 deputies who are members of the Democratic

    Bloc have called for an extraordinary session to debate the

    matter, the Turan news agency reported on 31 July. PG

    [03] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV STATION CLOSURES

    Ruh, the

    independent journalists' organization of Azerbaijan, issued a

    statement on 31 July denouncing official interference that it

    said has led to the closing of four of the eight local

    television stations in the country, the Turan news agency

    reported. Meanwhile, an Azerbaijani court fined the

    opposition newspaper "Sharg" for insulting parliamentary

    speaker Murtuz Aleskerov. And seven members of the

    Azerbaijani People's Front were arrested in Nakhchevan on 30

    July, Turan said. PG

    [04] AZERBAIJAN GRADUATES FIRST OFFICERS

    On 30 July, the

    Azerbaijan Military Academy graduated its first class,

    including 30 officers from the academy itself and another 13

    from its special courses on strategic research and state

    defense management, Turan reported. Defense Minister Safar

    Abiyev told the graduates that he believes they "will play an

    important role in raising the fighting efficiency of the

    country." PG

    [05] UN EXTENDS ABKHAZ MANDATE, IGNORES TBILISI ON ETHNIC

    CLEANSING

    On 30 July, the UN Security Council extended the

    mandate of UN military observers in the Georgian-Abkhaz

    conflict zone until 31 January 2000, Prime News reported. But

    the resolution failed to include a finding that Abkhazia is

    guilty of engaging in ethnic cleansing. Georgia sought such a

    finding, but the Russian Federation indicated it is opposed.

    PG

    [06] U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF PRAISES GEORGIA

    During his visit to

    Tbilisi on 1 August, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen

    praised Georgia for its progress in all areas and said it is

    up to Tbilisi to decide whether to replace Russian bases with

    American ones. Cohen indicated that Georgia could seek NATO

    membership in the future. And he signed agreements to

    increase military cooperation, including supplying

    helicopters to improve security at Georgia's borders, Prime-

    News, Georgian radio, and ITAR-TASS reported. PG

    [07] GEORGIAN DEPUTIES SEEK CLOSURE OF RUSSIAN BASES

    The Georgian

    parliament's Defense and Security Committee on 30 July called

    for the closure of Russian military bases in Gudauta and

    Vaziani, Prime News reported. The committee said the former

    should be closed because it is contributing to a continuation

    of the Abkhaz conflict and the latter because its nearness to

    Tbilisi raises questions as to its purpose, "especially under

    circumstances when there have been instances of illegal arms

    trade and the sheltering of terrorist groups on the territory

    of the base." The committee took no position on the Russian

    bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi. PG

    [08] GEORGIA CANCELS ROUNDTABLE IN ETHNIC ARMENIAN AREA

    Georgian

    authorities on 30 July cancelled a roundtable of academics to

    have been held in the predominantly Armenian area of Javakh,

    Noyan Tapan and Caucasus Press reported. It explained that

    move by saying the forum might exacerbate ethnic tensions

    there. The Georgian authorities suggested that a roundtable

    including the same people be held in Tbilisi in the fall. PG

    [09] KAZAKHSTAN, RUSSIA STILL DISAGREE ON BAIKONUR

    Another round

    of talks between Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation has

    reduced the number of disputed issues related to Moscow's use

    of the Baikonur cosmodrome, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July.

    Among the issues still to be resolved include the weight of

    launch vehicles and the scheduling of launches. PG

    [10] KAZAKHSTAN PRESIDENT PUTS OFF SALE OF FARM LAND

    Following

    protests in several cities across the country, Nursultan

    Nazarbaev said on 30 July responded to one of the protestors'

    demands by saying it is "perhaps premature" to sell

    agricultural land, Kazakhstan television news reported.

    According to RFE/RL's Kazakh Service, the demonstrators also

    are calling for an end to operations at Baikonur, free

    transit for the elderly and handicapped, payment of all back

    wages and pensions, and the resignation of Nazarbaev. PG

    [11] KAZAKHSTAN INCREASES URANIUM PRODUCTION

    Kazakhstan's

    National Atomic Company forecast on 30 July that it will

    produce 37 percent more uranium in 1999 than it did last

    year, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. PG

    [12] KYRGYZSTAN TO BUY GAS FROM KAZAKHSTAN

    Kyrgyzgas announced on

    30 July that it plans to purchase natural gas from Kazakhstan

    at a price lower than it has been paying to Uzbekistan, with

    which Bishkek has had some difficulties, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz

    Service reported. PG

    [13] BISHKEK MAY RE-REGISTER HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

    President

    Askar Akaev has promised Jerzy Wieclaw, the head of the OSCE

    office in the Kyrgyz capital, that his government will re-

    register the Kyrgyz Committee for Human rights in the near

    future, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service Reported. The committee was

    registered in 1996 but stripped of that registration in

    September 1998. Meanwhile, in what may prove to be a related

    development, Akaev vetoed legislation governing non-

    commercial organizations. PG

    [14] TAJIK OFFICIAL DENOUNCES UZBEK 'CRIMINAL GROUPS'

    Deputy

    Prime Minister Abdurakhmon Azimov told Interfax on 1 August

    that some Uzbek citizens living illegally in eastern

    Tajikistan are members of criminal groups and are "armed to

    the teeth." While he gave no figures concerning such groups,

    approximately 500 Uzbek citizens are known to have refused to

    register with the Tajik migrant commission, the news agency

    added. PG

    [15] TAJIK OPPOSITION MAY LEAVE ELECTORAL COMMISSION

    The United

    Tajik Opposition will pull out of the Central Electoral

    Commission unless a UTO representative is appointed deputy

    chairman of that group and at least 25 percent of CEC staff

    in the capital and in the regions, Asia Plus reported on 30

    July. Meanwhile, the UTO said that it is not yet in a

    position to say that it no longer has any armed formations,

    Interfax reported. PG

    [16] UZBEKISTAN TO RAISE WAGES, PENSIONS

    President Islam Karimov

    issued a decree raising wages, pensions, and student stipends

    as of 1 August, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 July. The decree

    sets 1,750 soms (approximately $13 U.S.) per month as the

    minimum wage. This is the second such increase so far this

    year. PG

    [17] ERK SAYS UZBEK PRESIDENT BENEFITED FROM BOMBINGS

    An article

    in the newspaper of the Erk Democratic Party, which has been

    banned in Uzbekistan, says that President Islam Karimov "hit

    the jackpot" as a result of the 16 February bombings, Iran's

    Mashhad radio in Uzbek reported on 28 July. That is because

    the bombings gave him the chance to introduce a "terror

    movement" of "unprecedented oppression." Erk said that "if it

    was not Karimov himself who organized these bombings, then

    most likely he is currently handing out rewards to those who

    did. PG

    [18] UZBEK DENOUNCES 'POISONOUS' RUSSIAN IDEOLOGY

    An Uzbek state

    radio commentator on 27 July said that the Uzbek people must

    be "vigilant" against "pseudo-cultural goods brought from

    Russia" that "are aimed at making the people spiritually

    blind and deaf," BBC monitoring reported on 31 July. The

    speaker said that this "poisonous ideology" is being brought

    in "by colonialists" and has already overwhelmed Kazakhstan.

    PG


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [19] U.S. FORCES PROTECT FLEEING SERBS

    KFOR ground troops and

    helicopters prevented ethnic Albanians from attacking a

    convoy of 450 Serbs in 150 automobiles and tractors on 1

    August. The Serbs had requested protection as they fled north

    from Zitinje, in southeastern Kosova. They told reporters

    that they no longer feel safe in their ethnically mixed

    village. Local ethnic Albanians said that some of the Serbs

    had earlier looted Kosovar homes. The Albanians added that

    they intend to take back their property if they see any Serb

    trying to leave with it, Reuters reported. PM

    [20] BOMB ATTACK ON SERBIAN CHURCH

    Unknown persons set off a bomb

    that damaged the unfinished Prishtina Serbian Orthodox

    Cathedral on 1 August. No one was injured. The UN's Bernard

    Kouchner said that "there are people who want to destroy,

    symbolically, Orthodox churches. I find this behavior

    absolutely unacceptable." Serbian Orthodox Father Sava, who

    favors reconciliation between Serbs and ethnic Albanians,

    added that "Albanian extremists are organizing a systematic

    campaign of destruction of Orthodox churches, with the

    intention to blot out all traces of Serbian existence" in the

    province. Sava added that "we very much wonder why [the

    attack] could not have been prevented," AP reported. Work on

    the cathedral began in 1996. PM

    [21] BLAIR URGES END TO VIOLENCE

    British Prime Minister Tony

    Blair visited Prishtina on 31 July and urged local Albanians

    that "justice must apply to all people whatever their race,

    whatever their religion, whatever their class, whatever their

    background," AP reported. Blair met separately with both the

    Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Hashim Thaci and his main

    rival, Ibrahim Rugova. He also met with local Serbian

    politicians and leaders of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who

    have expressed increasing concern about the revenge attacks

    against Serbs. Father Sava told Blair that Albanian looters

    recently destroyed or damaged 35 medieval Serbian Orthodox

    churches. He stressed that these buildings "survived 500

    years of Turkish occupation but not the 40-something days of

    peace with the international peacekeepers." FS

    [22] KOSOVA'S THACI SLAMS RUSSIANS...

    Thaci sharply criticized

    Russian KFOR soldiers after they briefly detained UCK General

    Agim Ceku on 31 July near Kijeva. Ceku heads the guerrillas'

    general staff. Thaci said that "as [prime minister of the

    UCK-backed] provisional government of Kosova, we condemn this

    act as premeditated, with a political aim.... It shows our

    doubts about Russian troops' participation within KFOR were

    correct," Reuters reported. Thaci warned that "we will defend

    our honor" if such incidents occur again. A KFOR spokesman in

    Prishtina said, however, that the soldiers detained Ceku to

    check his identification and to verify whether he had KFOR's

    permission to wear a UCK uniform. Ceku was traveling with

    four armed bodyguards and was not carrying the card

    authorizing him to do so. FS

    [23] ...WHILE RUSSIA CALLS THACI REMARKS 'UNACCEPTABLE'

    The

    Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 1 August in

    Moscow calling Thaci's complaints "unacceptable and

    impermissible." The statement says that "the impunity of the

    UCK, carrying out illegal violent acts against local Serbs,

    has reached the point where its leaders are already making

    public threats against the international peacekeepers.... Any

    pretence on the part of the UCK that it is somehow in charge

    of the situation in Kosova and controls territory in the

    province directly contradicts UN Security Council resolution

    1244...and other documents describing the status and tasks of

    international peacekeepers." FS

    [24] SARAJEVO SUMMIT UNDERSCORES POLICY DIFFERENCES

    U.S.

    President Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder,

    and several other Western leaders joined many of their Balkan

    colleagues in signing a declaration on Balkan regional

    development in Sarajevo on 30 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30

    July 1999). EU countries issued a separate statement blaming

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for Serbia's isolation.

    Russia had refused to approve any explicit reference to

    Milosevic in the declaration (see Part 1). Elsewhere, unnamed

    U.S. officials called on the EU to follow Washington's lead

    and "lift trade controls on Balkan products." The officials

    stressed that EU countries "must bear the lion's share of the

    burden" in the reconstruction and development of the Balkans.

    After the conference, EU aid coordinator Bodo Hombach denied

    charges by unnamed critics that the summit was only a "media

    spectacle," the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported on

    2 August. Official Belgrade media slammed the gathering as

    "anti-Serbian." PM

    [25] SERBIA'S AVRAMOVIC: MILOSEVIC MUST GO SOON

    Dragoslav

    Avramovic told AP in Belgrade on 1 August that Milosevic must

    resign by late September if Serbia is to receive sufficient

    international aid in time for the winter. He argued that any

    attempt at reform with Milosevic still in power would be

    "like building a house on a landslide." Avramovic is a senior

    banker whom many observers believe will head the first post-

    Milosevic government, PM

    [26] SERBIAN POLICE IN SCUFFLE WITH OPPOSITION

    In Paracin on 1

    August, an unspecified number of police beat several persons.

    Those protesters had sought to prevent the police from

    interfering with efforts by opposition activists to collect

    signatures on a petition calling for Milosevic to resign.

    Following the incident, officials of the opposition

    Democratic Party said they will press legal charges against

    the local chief of police and several of the police involved

    in the scuffle, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In

    Leskovac and Valjevo, several hundred demonstrators demanded

    Milosevic's resignation. In Nis, a hunger strike staged by 14

    army reservists for back wages entered its seventh day. PM

    [27] SFOR DETAINS BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMES SUSPECT

    NATO Secretary-

    General Javier Solana said in Brussels that NATO peacekeepers

    in Bosnia detained indicted war criminal Radomir Kovac on 2

    August. Solana added that NATO officials will soon send Kovac

    to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Kovac is a former

    police official and paramilitary leader whom the court

    indicted in connection with the alleged systematic rape of

    Muslim women in Foca during the 1992-1995 war. PM

    [28] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN BLASTS HAGUE TRIBUNAL

    Speaking in Sarajevo

    on 30 July, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman denied recent

    charges by a Hague tribunal prosecutor that he is responsible

    for Bosnian war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August

    1999). "That accusation...is as much surprising as it is

    completely unfounded. Croatia, and I personally, have done

    everything to defend Bosnia," AP reported. Tudjman also

    charged that "those dilettantes in The Hague" failed to take

    note specific actions he took on Bosnia's behalf. Tudjman

    recalled that he urged local Croats to vote in Bosnia's 1992

    referendum on independence from the former Yugoslavia and

    that Croatia was the first country to recognize independent

    Bosnia. He stressed that "Croatia and Bosnia are so linked

    that they cannot exist one without another." Earlier that

    day, he and Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic signed an

    agreement defining the border between the two states. PM

    [29] WESTENDORP IMPOSES BOSNIAN PUBLIC BROADCASTING LEGISLATION

    In one of his last official acts as the international

    community's chief representative in Bosnia, Carlos Westendorp

    decreed measures establishing a single public broadcasting

    service for the entire country, Reuters reported from

    Sarajevo on 31 July. The service will provide newscasts to

    television stations both in the mainly Muslim and Croatian

    federation and in the Republika Srpska. The new service will

    represent Bosnia in the European Broadcasting Union and

    consequently have the rights in Bosnia to broadcast

    international sporting events. Westendorp's office said in a

    statement that he decreed the legislation "following the

    failure of the relevant local authorities" to agree on a

    number of unspecified issues "vital to the continued

    implementation" of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. Austria's

    Wolfgang Petritsch will shortly take up his post as

    Westendorp's successor, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung"

    reported on 2 August in an interview with him. PM

    [30] HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

    Janos Martonyi on 31

    July and 1 August toured settlements in Transylvania

    inhabited by ethnic Hungarians and met with leaders of the

    Hungarian ethnic minority. On 30 July, he told journalists

    that Hungary does not promote border revision and that such

    fears on the Romanian side are due to "incorrect information"

    or are "fueled by circles with a vested interest." Martonyi

    said he and his Romanian counterpart, Andrei Plesu, agreed

    that a Hungarian consulate will be opened in Miercurea Ciuc

    in 2000. He said there are still "problems" in bilateral

    relations stemming from the discrepancy between declarations

    and their implementation. In this context, he pointed to the

    restitution of Church property and the setting up of a

    Hungarian-language state university. Martonyi also said he

    and Plesu agreed that the planned Budapest-Bucharest highway

    must pass through Transylvania and "serve the interests" of

    its population. MS

    [31] ROMANIAN RULING PARTY REACHES COMPROMISE ON LEADERSHIP

    Prime

    Minister Radu Vasile and National Peasant Party Christian

    Democratic (PNTCD) chairman Ion Diaconescu agreed on 31 July

    to postpone the election of a new party leadership until an

    extraordinary party congress scheduled for 2001. According to

    the party's statutes, the new leadership is to be elected in

    January 2000. Vasile provoked an uproar within the party when

    he said he will not lead the PNTCD during the parliamentary

    elections scheduled for 2000 unless he is appointed party

    chairman. The two PNTCD leaders also agreed that the party

    will decide on coalition partners only after the

    parliamentary elections. Vasile said in an interview with

    Reuters on 29 July that he may opt for a coalition

    partnership with "leftist parties." The declaration was

    criticized by other PNTCD leaders and welcomed by Party of

    Social Democracy in Romania chairman Ion Iliescu. MS

    [32] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES NEW VERSION OF PRIVATIZATION

    BILL

    The parliament on 30 July approved a new version of the

    bill on the privatization of the Moldtelcom company. An

    absolute majority of all deputies voted in favor of the bill,

    after the Constitutional Court declared invalid a bill

    approved earlier. The new version of the bill drops the

    provision granting the winner of Moldtelcom's privatization

    tender the right to operate mobile telephones as well. Also

    on 31 July, parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov, changing

    his previous position on the privatization of the Tirex-

    Petrol company, sent the bill on that company's privatization

    to President Petru Lucinschi for promulgation. The

    legislation provides for a Romanian consortium to take a 51

    percent stake in Tirex-Petrol in exchange for paying part of

    Moldova's electricity delivery debt to Romania (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 23 and 29 July 1999). MS

    [33] BULGARIAN DEPUTY STRIPPED OF PARLIAMENTARY IMMUNITY

    The

    parliament on 31 July voted 190 to seven with 12 abstentions

    to strip Euroleft deputy Tsvetelin Kanchev of his

    parliamentary immunity (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 July 1999).

    The legislature went on to approve by 134 to 81 with six

    abstentions that Kanchev be detained immediately. Prosecutor-

    General Nikola Filchev, in a letter to the parliament, said

    Kalchev is suspected of "serious crimes," including

    racketeering and the "threat of battery and murder," an

    RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [34] IMPLICATIONS OF A ROMANIAN COURT DECISION

    by Michael Shafir

    The Supreme Court's recent decision to sentence Generals

    Victor Athanasie Stanculescu and Mihai Chitac to 15 years in

    prison and the responses to that decision raise several

    questions. The most obvious is why the judiciary waited

    nearly a decade to put the two generals on trial. After all,

    it was an "open secret" that they had been executing the

    orders of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu when they led the

    attempt to quash the December 1989 popular revolt in

    Timisoara, which triggered the toppling of the communist

    regime.

    The answer is that the Romanian judicial system was not

    allowed to pursue the perpetrators of the crimes committed

    during the popular revolution. The Party of Social Democracy

    in Romania (PDSR), the Greater Romania Party and the Party of

    Romanian National Unity--the three opposition parties in the

    parliament are right when they claim that the court's

    decision is a "political one." But it is political only in

    the sense that it reverses their earlier objection to let

    justice be done. As long as they had been in power, the

    investigation into the December 1989 events was never

    completed for alleged "lack of evidence." Romanian democracy,

    whose "birth certificate" was marred by the mock trial of

    Ceausescu and his wife, continued in a judicially ambiguous

    limbo. Even those members of the Ceausescu leadership

    sentenced to prison terms immediately after the overthrow of

    the former regime were freed from jail on health grounds, and

    most remained at liberty till after the 1996 elections.

    One should avoid concluding from this "evidence" that in

    order to legitimize their rule, Romania's post-1989 leaders

    had staged the resistance to the revolution. The jury is

    still out on that question. But it is beyond doubt that

    Stanculescu (who first became minister of industry and later

    defense minister) and Chitac were associated with the post-

    revolutionary regime of Ion Iliescu and Petre Roman. This

    common past must make Iliescu and Roman (despite their having

    since parted political ways) to wonder whether they will not

    be the ultimate targets of an all-out judicial campaign. And

    even if the two former allies were to be pronounced innocent

    by a court of justice, they would be unlikely to survive the

    ordeal politically.

    This may explain PDSR deputy chairman Adrian Nastase's

    denunciation of the sentence as attesting to a "political

    war" in which the two generals are "just the first two

    victims" and Iliescu and Roman the ultimate ones. By the same

    token, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc commented initially

    that the verdict was "not just a legal mistake" and a

    "blunder with strong political bias" but was aimed at

    "discrediting the army as a whole." It would be a mistake,

    however, to suggest that in responding this way, Babiuc was

    putting party interests (as one Roman's deputies in the

    Democratic Party) above professional ones (he is a lawyer by

    training). Babiuc's main objection was to the "institutional

    implications" of the sentence.

    First, as both Babiuc and Chief of Staff General

    Constantin Degeratu pointed out, the verdict questions the

    very principle on which armies are supposed to function--

    namely, carrying out orders. Indeed, the court, rejecting the

    two generals' plea that they had obeyed orders, ruled that

    "military discipline excludes blind subordination and does

    not annul responsibility for a crime." This issue has haunted

    military and military-like structures ever since the

    Nuremberg trials and cuts across party lines.

    For example, Interior Minister Constantin Dudu Ionescu,

    taking a stand very different from that of other National

    Peasant Party Christian Democratic leaders, revived a

    proposal he had first made in 1998. It was the

    "responsibility of the political class," he said at the time,

    to find a way out of the haunting legacy of December 1989 by

    agreeing to amnesty those involved in the events of that

    time. And Ionescu, who was briefly defense minister when the

    Democrats walked out of the coalition in February 1998, had

    become even more convinced of his "solution" when Interior

    Ministry forces sent to stop the miners' march on Bucharest

    in January this year reportedly hesitated about obeying their

    superiors lest they be accused by a PDSR successor government

    of having implemented "criminal orders."

    Second, the court ruled that the Ministry of Defense

    must pay compensation to relatives of those killed or wounded

    in 1989. Babiuc said the ministry will appeal the ruling,

    which, in his opinion, affects the Romanian army's honor,

    transforming it into a collective accomplice to a crime. Some

    observers even argued that the army's budget should not be

    slashed as a result of the compensation ruling, particularly

    at a time when the army is undergoing reform under

    considerable budgetary restraints.

    None of these arguments, of course, carries any real

    weight. Stanculescu and Chitac were brought to justice for

    individual, not collective, deeds. Carrying out the orders of

    a democratically elected government is not, and cannot be

    considered tantamount to implementing the orders of a

    dictator and thus does not undermine hierarchical principles.

    Moreover, it is not the army but the "body politic" that

    assumes responsibility by compensating the victims of 1989,

    and it is certainly not those victims who have to carry the

    mundane burden of budgetary constraints. Democratic justice,

    after all, is also guided by moral responsibilities. Whether

    those responsibilities can triumph in the fast-approaching

    election year in a country where the army rates in opinion

    polls as one of the two state institutions enjoying almost

    unanimous confidence is a matter that the pending appeal of

    the sentence will help clarify.

    02-08-99


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


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Monday, 2 August 1999 - 17:33:37 UTC