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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 157, 99-08-13

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. 157, 13 August 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR EMERGENCY PARLIAMENT SESSION
  • [02] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. DELEGATION
  • [03] FORMER GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON TRIAL
  • [04] DID KAZAKHSTAN SELL MIGS TO NORTH KOREA?
  • [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT SPEAKER CRITICIZES NEW MEDIA LAW
  • [06] GUERRILLAS RELEASE ONE KYRGYZ HOSTAGE, TAKE ANOTHER
  • [07] TAJIKISTAN DENIES ITS NATIONALS FIGHTING IN DAGHESTAN
  • [08] TURKMENISTAN THREATENS TO TAKE UKRAINE TO COURT
  • [09] U.S. EXPERTS INSPECT UZBEK FORMER CHEMICAL WEAPONS PLANT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] THACI PROPOSES APPOINTING PROVISIONAL LEGISLATURE
  • [11] KOSOVAR ALBANIANS HOLD MORE PROTESTS AGAINST RUSSIAN
  • [12] BRITISH KFOR INJURE TWO ALBANIAN CRIMINALS AFTER CAR
  • [13] KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADER HELD IN SERBIAN PRISON
  • [14] MILOSEVIC RESHUFFLES YUGOSLAV CABINET
  • [15] HARD-LINERS CONSOLIDATE POSITION IN BELGRADE
  • [16] DEMOCRATIC PARTY SLAMS YUGOSLAV CABINET
  • [17] GENERAL PERISIC SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST GO
  • [18] SERBIAN PENSIONERS STAGE PROTEST
  • [19] VOJVODINA'S HUNGARIANS TO SET UP PROVISIONAL COUNCIL
  • [20] CROATIAN SERBIAN LEADER BLASTS 'LYNCHING'
  • [21] UNHCR PAYS MACEDONIA $4.4 MILLION FOR REFUGEE ACCOMMODATION
  • [22] FIRST MODERN MOVIE HOUSE OPENS IN ALBANIA
  • [23] ALBANIAN LEGISLATIVE REFORM MINISTER RESIGNS
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PRISONER IN TRANSDNIESTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT
  • [25] BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER ROBBED BY BODYGUARD

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] DEPENDING ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR EMERGENCY PARLIAMENT SESSION

    The government on 12 August requested that President Robert

    Kocharian convene an emergency parliament session on 23

    August to debate its proposed budget cuts, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. In late July, Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian

    had proposed measures to overcome the 33 billion dram ($61

    million) budget shortfall incurred during the first six

    months of 1999. Those measures included cracking down on tax

    evasion and increasing duties on gasoline and cigarettes (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 July 1999). The parliament, which is

    loyal to Sargsian, is likely to endorse those proposed

    measures. Also on 12 August, the government announced the

    firing of 15 town and village council heads for allegedly

    failing to ensure the planned level of local budgets.

    Minister for Local Government Khosrov Harutiunian said that

    the dismissed local officials had also failed to cooperate

    with tax authorities. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. DELEGATION

    Heidar

    Aliev held talks in Baku on 12 August with a visiting

    delegation of five U.S. Congressmen who had previously

    visited Yerevan and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic, Interfax and Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    10 and 11 August 1999). Aliev noted that bilateral relations

    are expanding but complained at Congress's failure to repeal

    Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which bars direct

    U.S. economic and military aid to Azerbaijan as long as the

    blockade of Armenia and Karabakh remains in force. The

    Congressmen called for the continued observance of the

    existing cease-fire and for further direct contacts between

    the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to find a

    political solution to the Karabakh conflict. LF

    [03] FORMER GEORGIAN FINANCE MINISTER ON TRIAL

    The trial of Guram

    Absandze, who served as finance minister in 1991-1992 under

    the late President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, opened in Georgia's

    Supreme Court on 12 August, Caucasus Press reported.

    Absandze, along with 12 others, is accused of planning the

    attempt to assassinate Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze

    on 9 February 1998. Three people, including two of

    Shevardnadze's bodyguards, died in a mortar attack on the

    presidential motorcade. Absandze has rejected almost all the

    charges against him as politically motivated, according to

    Interfax. LF

    [04] DID KAZAKHSTAN SELL MIGS TO NORTH KOREA?

    Kazakhstan's

    National Security Committee on 12 August opened a criminal

    investigation into the circumstances of the abortive sale of

    six obsolete MiG fighters, an RFE/RL corespondent in Almaty

    reported. The same day, South Korea's Foreign Minister Hong

    Soon-Young summoned the Kazakh ambassador in Seoul and

    expressed "serious concern" that the ultimate destination of

    the MiGs, which Kazakh officials say were bound for the Czech

    Republic, was North Korea, according to AP. A Russian

    transport aircraft carrying the disassembled fighters was

    impounded at Baku's Bina airport in March. The Azerbaijani

    authorities later returned them to Kazakhstan (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 24 March and 21 April 1999). On 11 August, the

    U.S. similarly expressed "serious concern" that Kazakhstan

    may have exported dozens of MiG-21 fighters to North Korea.

    Meanwhile, U.S. Vice President Al Gore telephoned

    Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev on 12 August to

    discuss bilateral relations and regional and international

    security issues, according to ITAR-TASS. LF

    [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT SPEAKER CRITICIZES NEW MEDIA LAW

    Addressing an international conference on the media in Almaty

    on 12 August, Marat Ospanov said he thinks the new media law

    passed by Kazakhstan's parliament last month contains "many

    undemocratic norms," adding that he would welcome the

    postponement of its adoption, according to Interfax.

    Conference participants agreed on the wording of an appeal

    addressed to President Nazarbaev, which points to

    restrictions on media openness and freedom of speech in

    Kazakhstan, especially with regard to journalists' attempts

    to spotlight corruption. It also calls on the president to

    suspend the law so that it can be reformulated to "ensure the

    observance of the constitutionally guaranteed principles of

    openness and the ban on censorship." LF

    [06] GUERRILLAS RELEASE ONE KYRGYZ HOSTAGE, TAKE ANOTHER

    The

    militants from Tajikistan who took four Kyrgyz officials

    hostage last week in the Batken district of southern

    Kyrgyzstan seized a fifth hostage on 12 August, Interfax and

    ITAR-TASS reported. They later released one of the original

    four hostages, who told the Kyrgyz authorities that the band

    is demanding a large sum of money. Speaking at a press

    conference in Tashkent on 12 August, Uzbekistan's Foreign

    Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov confirmed earlier reports that

    some of the militants are Uzbek citizens and members of the

    armed military formation of Djuma Namangani. Kamilov said

    that the situation in Kyrgyzstan is the internal affair of

    that country, but at the same time he expressed the hope that

    the Kyrgyz authorities will not allow the guerrillas to enter

    Uzbekistan until they have been disarmed. LF

    [07] TAJIKISTAN DENIES ITS NATIONALS FIGHTING IN DAGHESTAN

    Tajikistan's Security Council secretary Amirkul Azimov told

    ITAR-TASS on 12 August that there is no truth to Russian

    media reports that some Tajik nationals are fighting on the

    side of the Islamic militants in Daghestan. He added that the

    Tajik people, having themselves experienced civil war, "will

    never take part in any unfavorable actions against friendly

    Russia." LF

    [08] TURKMENISTAN THREATENS TO TAKE UKRAINE TO COURT

    Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry released a statement on 12

    August warning that it will take Ukraine to an international

    arbitration court if that country fails to pay its debts for

    this year's supplies of Turkmen natural gas soon, ITAR-TASS

    reported. As of 12 August, Ukraine had paid for only some 10

    percent of the 8.76 billion cubic meters of gas supplies

    between 1 January and 21 May, when gas transports were

    suspended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 August 1999). LF

    [09] U.S. EXPERTS INSPECT UZBEK FORMER CHEMICAL WEAPONS PLANT

    A

    team from the U.S. Defense Ministry on 12 August toured the

    Nukus chemical plant in northwestern Uzbekistan, which until

    1993 served as a testing ground for Soviet and Russian

    chemical weapons, AP and Interfax reported. The U.S. team

    will decontaminate the test laboratories and then set about

    trying to locate and neutralize hundreds of tons of germ-

    warfare cultures, including pulmonary anthrax, which are

    buried on an island in the Aral Sea, according to the

    "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" of 11 August. Those measures

    are foreseen in a U.S.-Uzbek agreement signed in May 1999

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1999). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] THACI PROPOSES APPOINTING PROVISIONAL LEGISLATURE

    Kosova

    Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci told Vienna's "Die

    Presse" of 13 August that Kosova must have laws that meet

    international standards before elections can take place. He

    argued that a "consultative and executive" body for all

    Kosovars could function as a provisional legislature to pass

    the laws, but he did not elaborate. Thaci added that a future

    elected parliament will have to approve legislation passed by

    that body for those laws to remain valid. He again criticized

    the UN civil courts for using the Yugoslav and Serbian penal

    and civil codes, which he had earlier called "undemocratic

    laws." FS

    [11] KOSOVAR ALBANIANS HOLD MORE PROTESTS AGAINST RUSSIAN

    PEACEKEEPERS

    About 2,000 ethnic Albanians demonstrated

    against Russian peacekeepers in Kamenica on 12 August.

    The protesters jeered at and beat on vehicles of Russian

    KFOR soldiers. No other incidents were reported. A

    Russian soldier told Reuters that "we just try to endure

    it, turn our head away sometimes. We've got used to

    this. It happens every day. It's mostly kids, not many

    adults." Organizers denied they were from the UCK and

    identified themselves as members of a local "council of

    civic-minded Albanians." FS

    [12] BRITISH KFOR INJURE TWO ALBANIAN CRIMINALS AFTER CAR

    CHASE

    British soldiers arrested four ethnic Albanians

    and injured two of them in a shoot-out following a car

    chase near Vernica on 12 August. A fifth escaped. The

    four are suspected of having intimidated local Serbs.

    The soldiers said that they had advance warning that

    ethnic Albanians would launch an attack on local Serbs

    that day. FS

    [13] KOSOVAR STUDENT LEADER HELD IN SERBIAN PRISON

    The Serbian

    authorities continue to hold some 2,270 ethnic Albanians in

    several prisons in Serbia, the Institute for War and Peace

    Reporting's "Balkan Crisis Report" noted on 10 August.

    Another 1,500 Kosovars are missing and presumed imprisoned.

    Among the imprisoned are Albin Kurti, a well-known Prishtina

    University student leader and pacifist. He became radicalized

    during the Serbian crackdown of 1998 and served as press

    spokesman for senior nationalist politician Adem Demaci, who

    was the UCK's political representative. Also imprisoned is

    human rights activist Flora Brovina. Her son told "Balkan

    Crisis Report" that she has become partly paralyzed while in

    detention. Officials of the International Committee of the

    Red Cross have frequently expressed regret that the June

    peace agreement did not oblige Serbian authorities to release

    or provide information about Kosovars held in Serbian jails.

    PM

    [14] MILOSEVIC RESHUFFLES YUGOSLAV CABINET

    Prime Minister Momir

    Bulatovic on 12 August removed Deputy Prime Minister Zoran

    Lilic and seven ministers from the cabinet. Bulatovic

    announced the appointment of two new deputy prime ministers

    and 11 ministers. Vojislav Seselj's xenophobic Serbian

    Radical Party has five of the new posts. Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists received three, as did his

    wife's hard-line United Yugoslav Left (JUL). The small

    Serbian People's Party of Montenegro was given one of the new

    posts. Cedomir Mirkovic, who is a minister without portfolio,

    belongs to a small party called New Democracy (ND). A party

    spokesman said that the ND has called for Milosevic to resign

    and that Mirkovic has "excluded himself" from the party by

    accepting a cabinet post, "Danas" reported. PM

    [15] HARD-LINERS CONSOLIDATE POSITION IN BELGRADE

    All members of

    the incoming and outgoing Yugoslav governments are on a

    Western list of 308 top officials barred from receiving

    Western visas, Reuters reported on 12 August. Ever since

    Milosevic lost Kosova in June, observers have expected a

    cabinet reshuffle aimed at reinforcing the position of the

    hard-liners. This is the first time that the Radicals have

    served in the Yugoslav cabinet. Goran Matic, who is the new

    information secretary, belongs to JUL and is known for his

    outspoken criticism of the non-state media. The ousted Lilic

    recently called for Serbia to learn to "speak the language"

    of the international community (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report,"

    10 August 1999). He now becomes an adviser to Milosevic on

    foreign economic relations. PM

    [16] DEMOCRATIC PARTY SLAMS YUGOSLAV CABINET

    The opposition

    Democrats said in a statement in Belgrade on 12 August that

    the new cabinet represents "nothing new and nothing good....

    With this move, the regime has sent several messages. To the

    world it is saying 'forget about any cooperation with

    Yugoslavia,' and to its citizens it is saying that they will

    face a difficult winter and further impoverishment, without

    heating and electricity," Reuters reported. Milosevic, for

    his part, told the new government that "our aim is to

    continue successfully with the process of current reforms,

    contribute to an accelerated pace of economic development and

    increase productivity and living standards." PM

    [17] GENERAL PERISIC SAYS MILOSEVIC MUST GO

    Former General

    Momcilo Perisic told a Belgrade press conference on 12 August

    that the first goal of his new Movement for a Democratic

    Serbia is to oust Milosevic (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10

    August 1999). He stressed that Milosevic "has made Serbia's

    territory shrink and its people die." The current leadership

    has "no more right whatsoever to represent us and lead us,"

    Perisic added. He argued that the opposition has "not done

    much to change things." For that reason, he continued, he

    founded his own "political movement" instead of joining an

    existing one. When a reporter asked the former general about

    his role in the shelling of the Croatian port of Zadar in

    1991, Perisic responded that he was "defending a still

    existing country against rebels." A Croatian court has

    sentenced him to 20 years in prison in conjunction with the

    shelling. Many Bosnians regard him as a war criminal for his

    role in the shelling of Mostar in the 1992-1995 war. PM

    [18] SERBIAN PENSIONERS STAGE PROTEST

    Some 1,000 retired persons

    demonstrated in Belgrade on 12 August to protest their low

    living standards and to demand Milosevic's resignation. A

    spokesman for the group called on pensioners to join the

    opposition's anti-Milosevic gathering in Belgrade on 19

    August, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [19] VOJVODINA'S HUNGARIANS TO SET UP PROVISIONAL COUNCIL

    A

    Provisional Council of Hungarians in Vojvodina will be formed

    on 20 August, Hungarian media reported on 13 August. The

    council is to be set up on the basis of the three-pronged

    autonomy concept drawn up by six of the region's Hungarian

    organizations, according to Laszlo Jozsa, deputy chairman of

    the Vojvodina Hungarian Federation (VMSZ). It will have 54

    members representing the federal, republican, and provincial

    parliaments and one-fifth of its members will be local

    council representatives. The VMSZ has informed Hungarian

    Foreign Minister Janos Martonyi of its intentions, but the

    Hungarian cabinet has not responded to the announcement,

    Jozsa said. MS

    [20] CROATIAN SERBIAN LEADER BLASTS 'LYNCHING'

    Milorad Pupovac,

    who is a key leader of Croatia's Serbian minority, said in

    Zagreb on 12 August that the recent killing of Djuro Mutic

    was deliberate and ethnically motivated, "Novi List" reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1999). Pupovac noted that

    no Croatian authority ever accused Mutic of crimes against

    Croats during the 1991-1995 conflict. The Serbian leader

    stressed that "everyone in Croatia should be concerned" if

    Mutic's "lynching" was part of a campaign to expel Serbs from

    Croatia. He did not elaborate, except to say that the killing

    was probably the work of more than a few people. PM

    [21] UNHCR PAYS MACEDONIA $4.4 MILLION FOR REFUGEE ACCOMMODATION

    UNHCR and Macedonian government officials signed an agreement

    on 12 August whereby the UNHCR will pay Macedonia $4.4

    million for expenses the country incurred during this year's

    refugee crisis. The Macedonian government will receive $1.2

    million immediately and the rest in installments. Additional

    UNHCR assistance to Macedonia includes 13 jeeps and

    unspecified quantities of radio and fire-fighting equipment.

    A UNHCR spokesman stressed that the UNHCR usually does not

    compensate host countries but makes exceptions in some cases.

    Macedonia took in a total of 360,000 refugees from Kosova. FS

    [22] FIRST MODERN MOVIE HOUSE OPENS IN ALBANIA

    Culture Minister

    Edi Rama opened the first modern movie house in Albania on 12

    August, dpa reported. Rama stressed that the opening of the

    movie house, jointly financed by a private investor and the

    government, "is a very important event in the cultural and

    social life of the country." An unclear privatization policy

    and the absence of government support led to the closure of

    more than 300 communist-era movie houses throughout Albania

    since 1991. Many became bingo halls, and only one cinema

    remained in the capital, showing primarily pornography. FS

    [23] ALBANIAN LEGISLATIVE REFORM MINISTER RESIGNS

    Arben

    Imami resigned on 12 August "for personal reasons," dpa

    reported. According to earlier press reports, Imami

    plans to study law in the U.S. He played a leading role

    in drafting Albania's post-communist constitution. FS

    [24] MOLDOVAN PRISONER IN TRANSDNIESTER ACCUSES PRESIDENT

    LUCINSCHI

    Andrei Ivantoc, a member of the "Ilascu group"

    imprisoned in the Transdniester since 1992, has accused

    President Petru Lucinschi and Ion Sturza's cabinet of

    neglecting the fate of the group. In a 29 July letter that

    only recently reached Chisinau, Ivantoc said he has been on

    a hunger strike for 77 days, has lost half of his body

    weight, and is convinced he will die, RFE/RL's Chisinau

    bureau reported. He explained that he went on a hunger

    strike to protest the Tiraspol authorities' "systematic

    mistreatment" of the group. Ivantoc added that Lucinschi

    "cynically used" the Ilascu group's ordeals in his 1996

    electoral campaign and later wrote to Ilascu saying he

    hopes to see him in Chisinau "by Christmas 2001." Ivantoc

    argued that Lucinschi "would probably like to use [the

    group] once more in his 2000 presidential campaign." MS

    [25] BULGARIAN DEPUTY PREMIER ROBBED BY BODYGUARD

    Bulgarian

    police on 12 August said they have arrested Chief Sergeant

    Kiril Alexandrov of the National Bodyguard Service for

    theft, AP reported. Alexandrov admitted stealing the

    equivalent of $120 from the apartment of Deputy Premier

    Evgeni Bakardzhiev, to whom he had been assigned. That

    amount equals the average monthly salary in Bulgaria. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] DEPENDING ON FOREIGN INVESTMENT

    By Paul Goble

    Post-communist countries that have relied on foreign

    investment to power their economic recovery frequently find

    themselves in difficulty when investors turn away. More

    serious, those that have been able to show relatively high

    rates of growth in the past as a result of such investment

    sometimes have allowed that achievement to justify avoiding

    the hard choices necessary to make growth self-sustaining on

    the basis of domestic production.

    That is what appears to be happening in Estonia, a

    country whose economic performance over the last eight years

    has been among the best of the post-communist world but one

    that now faces declining rates of growth and rising

    unemployment.

    Last week, Kersti Kaljulaid, economics adviser to the

    country's prime minister, said Estonia needs dramatically

    higher rates of foreign investment if it is to escape from a

    mounting economic crisis. That is because its domestic

    economy is still too weak to power a recovery, she said. But

    more important, as Kaljulaid herself acknowledged, "foreign

    investment has been this economy's main motor for years....

    Even though the economy went into a standstill last year, we

    still saw record levels" of outside investment.

    Now, however, outside investment may be about to fall as

    well. The IMF recently refused to back additional investment

    there and other investors may follow suit. If that happens,

    Estonia, which has been on the fast track toward EU

    membership, could find itself in both economic and political

    difficulties.

    Because of Estonia's favorable geographic location and

    its business-friendly government, foreign investment earlier

    flowed into the country at impressive rates. A few years ago,

    for example, foreign investment in Estonia was equal to or

    even greater than that in the Russian Federation, a country

    that has a population 100 times larger.

    That pattern allowed Estonia to post economic figures

    far better than most post-Soviet states. But it also lulled

    some in the Estonian government to conclude that the good

    times, powered by outside investment, would continue without

    interruption.

    Some Estonian leaders, however, had called attention to

    such overreliance on foreign investment. In a speech earlier

    this year, for example, President Lennart Meri pointedly

    asked "Where is Estonia's Nokia?" in a reference to the

    Finnish electronics firm that has contributed so much to

    Estonia's economic expansion. Meri's speech sparked a debate

    in Estonia's media over whether and when Estonia could

    develop an industrial base that would drive its economy

    forward even when foreign investment slowed.

    Some participants in that discussion suggested that

    Estonia should rely on its geographic position to become a

    bridge between Russia and the West and earn its way as a

    trading center. But other Estonians objected that such a

    strategy would leave Tallinn at the mercy of the vagaries of

    Moscow politics.

    Others suggested that Estonia should develop its

    traditional industries, including fishing and food

    processing. But their arguments brought the response that

    such industries would not be sufficient to support high rates

    of growth for long.

    And still others said that Estonia should exploit its

    remarkably extensive computer network to become an

    information center for northern Europe. But again there were

    replies that such a strategy would not be sufficient, given

    the lead that West Europeans now have in that area.

    As a result, this debate petered out with no answer to

    Meri's question or a broader discussion on the needs for

    domestic entrepreneurism. However, the current economic

    crisis, which was brought on by levels of foreign investment

    that are no longer sufficient to power growth, seems certain

    to reopen these discussions.

    Whether Estonia can find an answer--its own Nokia, in

    other words--remains very much an open question. But unless

    it does, Estonia and Estonians are likely to find themselves

    far more dependent on the international economy than they

    would like and thus far less independent as a state than they

    clearly want.

    13-08-99


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


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