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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 163, 99-08-23

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. 163, 23 August 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN GENEVA
  • [02] ARMENIAN FORMER MINISTER REPORTEDLY BEATEN IN
  • [03] DETAILS EMERGE OF AZERBAIJAN TV STATION MURDER
  • [04] UNKNOWN FIGHTERS AGAIN VIOLATE GEORGIAN
  • [05] KAZAKH OFFICIALS DENY GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT
  • [06] GUERRILLAS IN KYRGYZSTAN TAKE NEW HOSTAGES
  • [07] ONE NEW POLITICAL PARTY REGISTERED IN
  • [08] ...AND ANOTHER FORMED
  • [09] TAJIKISTAN'S PARLIAMENT HIGHLIGHTS PRESS
  • [10] UZBEK PARLIAMENT ENDORSES ELECTION DATES
  • [11] SAUDI GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] OPEN SPLIT IN SERBIAN OPPOSITION RANKS
  • [13] WHAT MAKES DRASKOVIC SO ADAMANT?
  • [14] OPPOSITION ALLIANCE TELLS MILOSEVIC TO GO
  • [15] EIU SAYS YUGOSLAVIA POOREST COUNTRY IN EUROPE
  • [16] VOJVODINA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS SET UP PROVISIONAL
  • [17] DRASKOVIC SAYS WEST SEEKS 'GREATER ALBANIA'
  • [18] SERBS DEMAND OWN ENCLAVES IN KOSOVA
  • [19] KOSOVA ALBANIANS PREVENT RUSSIANS FROM
  • [20] ...AFTER SERBS TURN IN 600 WEAPONS
  • [21] UNMIK TAKES OVER MITROVICA HOSPITAL
  • [22] DEL PONTE: TIME TO ARREST MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS
  • [23] CROATIAN VETERANS PROTEST REOPENING BORDER
  • [24] ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS CHECKS ON HIGH OFFICIALS
  • [25] ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE REBUKES ROMANIAN
  • [26] OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LAUNCHES ANTI-SEMITIC
  • [27] MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS
  • [28] BULGARIANS FAIL TO DEMOLISH DIMITROV MAUSOLEUM

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [29] LONG SHADOW OF AN OLD AGREEMENT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS MEET IN GENEVA

    Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani

    counterpart, Heidar Aliev, met for two hours in a lakeside villa

    near Geneva on 22 August, a correspondent for RFE/RL's

    Armenian Service reported. After an interlude, the talks

    resumed in a relaxed atmosphere in the presence of the two

    countries' foreign ministers, Vartan Oskanian and Tofik

    Zulfugarov, as well as Armenian National Security Minister

    Serzh Sarkisian and Azerbaijani State Foreign Policy Advisor

    Vafa Guluzade. President Aliev told journalists later that he

    and Kocharian agree that the conflict must be resolved

    through a peaceful compromise. He added that the two

    countries' defense ministers will meet shortly to discuss

    measures to strengthen the cease-fire that has been in force

    since May 1994. Both presidents characterized the talks as

    productive and useful. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN FORMER MINISTER REPORTEDLY BEATEN IN

    PRE-TRIAL DETENTION

    Lawyer Karo Karapetian told

    journalists in Yerevan on 20 August that his client, former

    Education Minister Ashot Bleyan, was beaten in pretrial

    detention in Nubarashen jail two days earlier, Noyan Tapan

    reported. Bleyan, who now heads the opposition Nor Ughi

    party, was arrested in May and charged with embezzlement

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March and 14 May 1999). LF

    [03] DETAILS EMERGE OF AZERBAIJAN TV STATION MURDER

    Turan on 20 August reported that Telman Didirov, who was

    murdered three days earlier on the premises of the

    independent DM TV station in Balakan Raion, was a technician,

    not a journalist, as reported earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    20 August 1999). Didirov's brother was fired as president of

    the local TV company on 6 June. LF

    [04] UNKNOWN FIGHTERS AGAIN VIOLATE GEORGIAN

    AIR SPACE

    Two unidentified aircraft crossed the border from

    Daghestan into Georgian airspace on 19 August and circled

    the village of Omalo before heading toward Chechnya,

    Caucasus Press reported the following day. Russian aircraft

    mistakenly crossed from Daghestan into Georgian air space

    earlier this month and dropped mines in the vicinity of Omalo

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 August 1999). LF

    [05] KAZAKH OFFICIALS DENY GOVERNMENT INVOLVEMENT

    IN MIG SALES TO NORTH KOREA

    Meeting in Astana on 20

    August with Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev,

    Japanese Foreign Ministry official Keizo Takemi demanded

    clarification of media reports that Kazakhstan sold the six MiG

    fighter aircraft impounded in Baku in March to North Korea,

    Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24

    March and 13 August 1999). Balghymbaev said the Kazakh

    government "had nothing to do" with the sale of the MiGs. He

    refused to divulge details of the ongoing investigation into

    the scandal. U.S. experts are participating in that

    investigation. Also on 20 August, Kazakhstan's Foreign

    Minister Kasymzhomart Toqaev told ITAR-TASS that

    Kazakhstan did sell a consignment of some 35-40 planes,

    some of which ended up in North Korea. But he stressed that

    the transaction "went out of control of the president and the

    government." LF

    [06] GUERRILLAS IN KYRGYZSTAN TAKE NEW HOSTAGES

    Kyrgyz government troops on 23 August launched an

    operation against two groups of guerrillas from Tajikistan

    who took new hostages in two separate incidents on 22 and

    23 August, RFE/RL's Bishkek correspondent reported on 23

    August quoting presidential spokesman Kanybek Imanaliev. On

    22 August, a band of some 20 guerrillas crossed into

    Kyrgyzstan from Tajikistan and took some 320 villagers

    hostage. The following morning, a second band seized the

    commander of the Kyrgyz Interior Ministry forces, General

    Anarbek Shamkeev, and four Japanese specialists near the

    Altyn-Jailoo goldmine. It is unclear whether either band is the

    one which took four Kyrgyz officials hostage earlier this

    month. Defense Minister Myrzakan Subanov said on 22

    August that the operation to neutralize that group has been

    completed. Presidential administration security and defense

    department head Bolot Januzakov told Reuters on 20 August

    that some of those guerrillas were killed or wounded as a

    result of bombing and artillery raids launched by Kyrgyz

    forces on 19 August. LF

    [07] ONE NEW POLITICAL PARTY REGISTERED IN

    KYRGYZSTAN...

    The Ar-Namys party founded in June by

    former Bishkek Mayor Feliks Kulov has been formally

    registered by Kyrgyzstan's Ministry of Justice, RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau reported on 20 August quoting a party

    spokesman. Kulov resigned as mayor in April, accusing

    President Askar Akaev of condoning actions by his

    subordinates that violate democratic norms and the rule of

    law (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April and 12 July 1999). LF

    [08] ...AND ANOTHER FORMED

    Some 125 delegates from

    throughout Kyrgyzstan attended the founding congress in

    Bishkek on 21 August of a second communist party, RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau reported. The party split from the Party of

    Kyrgyz Communists, headed by Absamat Masaliev, who is a

    former First Secretary of the Central Committee of the then

    Kirghiz Communist Party. LF

    [09] TAJIKISTAN'S PARLIAMENT HIGHLIGHTS PRESS

    SHORTCOMINGS

    The Tajik parliamentary committee for

    international affairs, international relations and culture met

    with editors of a dozen of the country's newspapers on 19

    August to discuss the media situation, Asia Plus-Blitz

    reported the following day. Committee chairman Ibrohim

    Usmonov told the agency that newspapers are "full of

    information on violence, cruelty, and wars" and ignore the

    promotion of "high human values" and "protecting the national

    dignity of the Tajik people." There are currently some 30

    weekly newspapers in Tajikistan, of which 10 are state-

    owned. However, there is no daily newspaper. LF

    [10] UZBEK PARLIAMENT ENDORSES ELECTION DATES

    Deputies on 20 August approved the election timetable

    proposed the previous day by President Islam Karimov,

    Russian agencies reported. Elections to a new 250-seat

    parliament will take place on 5 December, together with

    elections to city and local councils. The presidential poll will

    be held on 9 January. The parliament also voted to amend

    the existing election legislation, abolishing the 5 percent

    threshold for parliamentary representation. Karimov told

    deputies that he anticipates that "a large number of

    alternative candidates" will contest the parliamentary poll. All

    five registered political parties will be entitled to field

    candidates. LF

    [11] SAUDI GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS UZBEKISTAN

    President Karimov on 20 August received a delegation

    headed by Saudi Minister of Trade Osama Jaafar Faquieh,

    Interfax reported. The Saudi delegation is attending the first

    session of the Uzbekistan-Saudi Arabia intergovernmental

    commission for economic cooperation, which opened in

    Tashkent on 18 August. Addressing that gathering, the Saudi

    minister noted an increase in trade between the two

    countries but added that the potential for expanding trade

    ties is not being fully realized. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] OPEN SPLIT IN SERBIAN OPPOSITION RANKS

    Vuk

    Draskovic, who heads the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO),

    said that "there will be [no alliance] of the opposition under

    any circumstances," "The Daily Telegraph" reported on 23

    August. He stressed that any new government must come to

    power through elections, repeating his call for an early vote.

    Draskovic added that he will not recognize any "street

    cabinet elected on the streets" through mass protests. He

    warned that mass demonstrations could lead to civil war.

    Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic, who is Draskovic's

    main rival, again demanded the resignation of Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic as a precondition for holding

    new elections. Djindjic stressed that "politics is not made in

    cabinets any more, but on the streets and squares,"

    according to the London-based daily. PM

    [13] WHAT MAKES DRASKOVIC SO ADAMANT?

    Many members

    of the opposition Alliance for Change believe that Draskovic

    has concluded at least a tacit alliance with Milosevic, the

    "Berliner Zeitung" reported on 21 August. Both men support

    early elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 August 1999). The

    Berlin daily added that Milosevic's secret police may have

    incriminating evidence about corruption among Draskovic's

    supporters in the Belgrade city government. PM

    [14] OPPOSITION ALLIANCE TELLS MILOSEVIC TO GO

    Vladan

    Batic, who is one of the leaders of the Alliance for Change

    coalition, said in Belgrade on 20 August that Milosevic must

    resign by 21 September. If he does not, the opposition will

    hold protests throughout Serbia until he goes. Forms of

    protests will include civil disobedience and a general strike,

    he added. Batic stressed that "there will be no turning back"

    for the alliance. PM

    [15] EIU SAYS YUGOSLAVIA POOREST COUNTRY IN EUROPE

    The London-based Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report

    released on 23 August that the recent conflict in Kosova will

    ultimately cost Yugoslavia some $64 billion. The study added

    that the war inflicted "tremendous damage" on the economy

    and infrastructure. This will cause GDP to shrink by more than

    40 percent in 1999, making Yugoslavia Europe's poorest

    country. The per capita GDP in Yugoslavia for 1999 is

    expected to be $880, compared with $905 in Albania. GDP

    will remain at a level well below that of 1989 for some time to

    come, the report concluded. PM

    [16] VOJVODINA'S ETHNIC HUNGARIANS SET UP PROVISIONAL

    NATIONAL COUNCIL

    Three out of the six political

    organizations representing the region's ethnic Hungarians--

    the Alliance of Vojvodina Hungarians (SVM), the Democratic

    Union of Vojvodina Hungarians, and the Vojvodina and

    Hungarian Civic Movement--have formed the National Council

    of Vojvodina's Hungarians, the BBC reported, citing Tanjug of

    20 August. Subotica Mayor and SVM chairman Jozsef Kasza

    was elected head of the 55-strong council, which is

    composed of federal, republican, and regional ethnic

    Hungarian deputies, as well as municipal councilors

    representing the three organizations. Hungarian Radio said

    that the council will act as a "mini-parliament" of ethnic

    Hungarians living in Yugoslavia. A meeting of the Vojvodina

    branch committee of the Socialist Party of Serbia said the

    setting up of the council is a "political provocation." MS

    [17] DRASKOVIC SAYS WEST SEEKS 'GREATER ALBANIA'

    Draskovic told Belgrade's Studio-B Television on 21 August

    that NATO seeks to set up "a large Albanian Islamic state in

    the Balkans." He added that Western countries intervened

    recently in Kosova "to purge all Serbs from [the province], to

    take part in the biggest crime...to help create a large

    Albanian state in the Balkans. That's what they are doing." He

    did not elaborate. Draskovic also charged that unnamed

    Western countries "even want to mark all Serbian houses in

    [Kosova], saying it would help protect them. But that would

    mean yellow ribbons, like those Nazis imposed on Jews," AP

    reported. Observers note that Serbian paramilitaries

    instructed local Serbs to clearly identify their homes as

    Serbian during the Operation Horseshoe ethnic cleansing

    campaign in the spring of 1999. PM

    [18] SERBS DEMAND OWN ENCLAVES IN KOSOVA

    Kosova

    Serb leader Momcilo Trajkovic said in Prishtina on 21 August

    that Kosova's dwindling Serbian minority is not secure from

    attacks by ethnic Albanians. He concluded that "the multi-

    ethnic [Kosova] has failed. We think that cantonization could

    stop the ongoing tragedy of the Serbian people." UN Special

    Representative Bernard Kouchner said he "will study" the

    proposal, but observers note that the UN is committed to a

    multi-ethnic Kosova. Ethnic Albanian spokesmen rejected

    Trajkovic's demand outright. Observers note that

    "cantonization" was one of the models suggested at various

    times between 1992-1995 as a possible solution for the

    Bosnian conflict. Critics charged that it would make

    permanent the results of ethnic cleansing. PM

    [19] KOSOVA ALBANIANS PREVENT RUSSIANS FROM

    ENTERING RAHOVEC...

    Russian peacekeepers heading for

    Rahovec on 23 August turned back after encountering a

    "huge roadblock" set up by local ethnic Albanians, Reuters

    reported. Dutch troops have been deployed in that town, but

    KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson on 20 August

    ordered them to leave to make room for the Russian

    contingent. An older man who emerged as the ethnic

    Albanians' spokesman told Colonel Andrei Serdukov, who is

    the deputy commander of the Russian contingent, that his

    troops are not welcome. The man argued that Russian

    mercenaries took part in Serbian atrocities in the area earlier

    this year. He added: "We will stay here until someone comes

    to tell us that Russians are not coming to Rahovec." Serdukov

    replied that "no one will come to tell you that because there

    is an international agreement that the Russian army will come"

    to the town. FS

    [20] ...AFTER SERBS TURN IN 600 WEAPONS

    An

    unspecified number of Serbian inhabitants of Rahovec

    had handed over around 600 weapons to KFOR as of 22

    August, Reuters reported. KFOR the previous day put up

    posters throughout the town's Serbian neighborhood

    listing the names of those who had received weapons

    from Serbian forces during the recent conflict. The

    posters ordered them to turn in their weapons or face

    arrest. They also warned that the peacekeepers will

    begin house-to-house searches after the deadline

    expires. KFOR nonetheless extended the deadline,

    arguing that the collection of weapons is proceeding

    successfully but not yet finished. KFOR also arrested

    three Serbian war crimes suspects there on 20 August.

    Meanwhile in Prishtina, KFOR officials declined to confirm

    claims by Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) General Agim

    Ceku that the UCK has met the second disarmament

    deadline, which expired on 19 August. They argued that

    KFOR must draw up a complete inventory before

    confirming compliance (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August

    1999). FS

    [21] UNMIK TAKES OVER MITROVICA HOSPITAL

    A UN

    administration was installed on 22 August in a hospital in

    northern Mitrovica, which will employ ethnic Albanian and

    Serbian medical workers. Kouchner said that the

    hospital--located in the Serbian-dominated part of the

    city--is "a symbol in my eyes and it must be a symbol of

    the future [of Kosova].... It will be a place where

    everyone [will] work in tolerance, a symbol of life

    together." On 20 August, French KFOR troops escorted

    two Albanian families back to their homes in northern

    Mitrovica, while angry Serbs shouted curses at the

    peacekeepers. FS

    [22] DEL PONTE: TIME TO ARREST MAJOR WAR CRIMINALS

    Carla Del Ponte told the "International Herald Tribune" of 21

    August that she intends "to go after [top war criminals]

    aggressively because they should be brought to trial." She

    was referring specifically to Milosevic, paramilitary Zeljko

    "Arkan" Raznatovic, former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan

    Karadzic, and former Bosnian Serb military commander

    General Ratko Mladic. Del Ponte is slated to succeed Louise

    Arbour in September as chief prosecutor for the Hague-

    based war crimes tribunal. PM

    [23] CROATIAN VETERANS PROTEST REOPENING BORDER

    CROSSSING

    Some 500 Dubrovnik-area veterans of Croatia's

    1991-1995 conflict with Serbian forces rallied on 21 August

    to protest the recent reopening of the Ivanica border

    crossing to Serbian-held eastern Herzegovina and the town

    of Trebinje (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 6 August 1999). The

    veterans charged that the international community and

    Croatian government did not take local sensitivities into

    account when they decided to reopen the crossing, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. The veterans and many local

    people want several people living in eastern Herzegovina

    charged with war crimes for their alleged roles in the 1991

    shelling of Dubrovnik. They include Trebinje Mayor Bozidar

    Vucurevic. That town has long been a Serbian nationalist

    stronghold. PM

    [24] ALBANIAN PREMIER ORDERS CHECKS ON HIGH OFFICIALS

    Pandeli Majko on 20 August ordered the Finance Ministry to

    conduct checks on the personal business activities and the

    wealth of high-ranking government, customs, and tax officials,

    dpa reported. Majko also instructed the ministry to report its

    findings to him on a monthly basis. The orders come amid

    persistent press allegations of government personnel's

    involvement in corruption and smuggling. A government

    spokesman said that "the government is concerned that the

    high [level] of corruption may pose a serious threat to its

    efforts to revive the economy and to the future of the

    country in general." He added that unspecified international

    donors have asked "the government...to fight corruption and

    smuggling in order to benefit from the [Balkan stability]

    pact's economic projects." Majko also ordered the National

    Information Service to install hidden cameras at border

    crossing points. FS

    [25] ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE REBUKES ROMANIAN

    FOOTBALL FEDERATION

    Kenneth Jacobson, assistant

    national director of the U.S. Anti-Defamation League, said on

    20 August that the Romanian Football Federation (FRF) is

    "sidestepping the issue" in its response to the International

    Federation of Amateur Football (FIFA) complaint about the

    anti-Semitic activities of FRF Vice President Dumitru Dragomir,

    AP reported. In response to FIFA's request that the FRF

    launch an inquiry into the anti-Semitic articles printed in the

    weekly "Atac la persoana," whose director is Dragomir, FRF

    president Mircea Sandu replied that the Romanian Information

    Service and the Prosecutor-General's Office informed him that

    "there are no anti-Semitic organizations in Romania." Jacobson

    says that the question is whether the Romanian authorities

    "are willing to stand up against racialism and do something

    about it," not whether organizations openly declare that they

    are anti-Semitic. MS

    [26] OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LAUNCHES ANTI-SEMITIC

    ATTACK ON SENATE CHAIRMAN

    Party of Social Democracy

    in Romania (PDSR) deputy Miron Mitrea told a PDSR meeting in

    Focsani that Senate Chairman Petre Roman, who recently

    announced his candidacy for the presidency, should run

    rather "for chief rabbi," "National" reports on 23 August.

    Roman's father, a communist official, was Jewish. In response

    to a query by the daily, Mitrea denied his remarks were anti-

    Semitic, saying that "he who believes that being a Jew is

    shameful must be considered an anti-Semite." He added that

    it is apparently for this reason that Roman hides his

    Jewishness. Roman has said that he is a member of the

    Romanian Orthodox Church and has even published his

    baptism certificate. MS

    [27] MOLDOVAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS

    COMMUNIST PARTY APPEAL

    The Constitutional Court on 20

    August rejected an appeal by the Party of Moldovan

    Communists (PCM) against the parliament's confidence vote in

    Ion Sturza's cabinet in March, Infotag reported. The PCM said

    the vote was invalid because the majority vote resulted from

    the absentee ballot of deputy Ilie Ilascu, who is imprisoned in

    Tiraspol. The court said it is not within its prerogatives to

    rule on the matter, since this would constitute a "breach of

    the principle of division of power" between the three

    branches of government. MS

    [28] BULGARIANS FAIL TO DEMOLISH DIMITROV MAUSOLEUM

    An attempt to demolish the mausoleum of Bulgaria's first

    communist leader ended in failure on 21 August. The building

    did not collapse as planned after engineers set off a remote-

    controlled blast of some 600 kilograms of explosives. The

    building remained standing, although it tilted slightly to the

    left. A second attempt also failed. Reuters quoted an

    onlooker as saying the building was "just as stiff as

    communism," while AP quoted a communist sympathizer as

    commenting that "there is just not enough ammunition to

    destroy our ideas." The mausoleum will now be demolished by

    bulldozers and cranes. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [29] LONG SHADOW OF AN OLD AGREEMENT

    By Paul Goble

    Today marks the 60th anniversary of the Molotov-

    Ribbentrop Pact, the deal between Hitler and Stalin that

    touched off World War II and that continues to cast a shadow

    over Eastern Europe and relations between Moscow and the

    West.

    On 23 August 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim

    von Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart, Vyacheslav

    Molotov, signed a non-aggression pact between Nazi

    Germany and the Soviet Union.

    Because this agreement eliminated the immediate threat

    to Germany of a two-front war, it freed Hitler to launch the

    attack on Poland that began World War II. And because it

    allowed Germany to acquire numerous militarily important

    supplies from the USSR, it helped to power Nazi victories in

    Europe in 1939 and 1940.

    But even more important, this agreement--and especially

    a secret protocol, the existence of which both Berlin and

    Moscow long denied--drew a new line in Eastern Europe

    between a German and a Russian sphere of influence, a line

    that allowed Stalin to put pressure on and then absorb the

    three Baltic countries.

    If much of the importance of the Molotov-Ribbentrop

    Pact was made irrelevant by Hitler's decision to attack the

    Soviet Union in June 1941 and by the eventual defeat of Nazi

    Germany in 1945, the sphere of influence the pact gave to

    Moscow over Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania has had a much

    longer life.

    Virtually all Western governments followed the U.S. in

    refusing to recognize as legitimate Stalin's occupation of

    these three small countries. Most maintained ties with the

    diplomatic representatives of the pre-occupation authorities

    and adopted other measures to show their non-recognition

    of what the Soviet Union had done.

    And that policy, one that Baltic leaders have always said

    encouraged them in their struggle against the occupation,

    continued until August 1991 when Estonia, Latvia, and

    Lithuania successfully achieved the restoration of their state

    sovereignty as full members of the international state

    system.

    But in an important sense, Moscow's sphere of influence

    as defined by this pact continues to play a role in the

    thinking of both Russian and Western leaders.

    Until almost the end of the Soviet period, Moscow

    officials denied the existence of the secret protocol to the

    Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. And when they could no longer

    deny that, they retreated to an insistence that the

    Sovietization of the Baltic States in 1940 had nothing to do

    with that accord.

    However, as Baltic, Russian, and Western historians have

    demonstrated, Stalin occupied Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

    when he did only because of the assurances Hitler had given

    him that these countries lay within Moscow's sphere of

    influence.

    Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the situation has

    changed again, but it is still the case that many in Moscow

    call for Western recognition that the Baltic countries lie within

    a Russian sphere of influence. And they advance as the basis

    for that claim the notion that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

    were part of the Soviet Union.

    In the past, most Western officials were careful to

    speak about the existence of 12 Soviet republics and three

    occupied Baltic states and thus to implicitly reject Moscow's

    pretensions in this regard.

    But more recently, senior Western officials and various

    Western academic experts have made ever more references

    to the supposed existence of "15 former Soviet republics."

    These call into question the West's non-recognition policy.

    Moreover, they are taken by Moscow as an implicit

    recognition that the Soviet borders are still a dividing line in

    Europe.

    That pattern, in turn, has encouraged some in the

    Russian capital to assume that Moscow can deal with the

    Baltic countries in much the same way it has dealt with its

    other neighbors, an assumption that threatens not only the

    security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania but also the stability

    of Europe as a whole.

    As a result and despite all the talk about a Europe

    without new lines of division and about the future inclusion of

    everyone in all international structures, such comments and

    assumptions appear to reinforce just such a line--one drawn

    60 years ago by two of the most evil figures of our time.

    23-08-99


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


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