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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 196, 99-10-07

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. 196, 7 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN MISSILE STRIKE
  • [02] GEORGIA POISED TO JOIN WTO
  • [03] TBILISI, BATUMI AT ODDS OVER AMNESTY
  • [04] GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS QUERY ACCURACY OF ABKHAZ POLL
  • [05] ...AS ABKHAZ OFFICIAL SAYS REPATRIATION SUCCESSFUL
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION WARNS PRO-
  • [07] ...AS DOUBTS EXPRESSED THAT POLL WILL BE FREE AND FAIR
  • [08] KAZAKH FINANCE MINISTER ASSESSES ECONOMIC SITUATION
  • [09] PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY REGISTERED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [10] KYRGYZ MEDIATORS CONTINUE EFFORTS TO SECURE HOSTAGES'
  • [11] TAJIKISTAN PROTESTS UZBEK BOMBING RAIDS
  • [12] TURKMENISTAN WILL EXPORT GAS VIA RUSSIA, IRAN IF TRANS-

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] VOJVODINA MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 'YOGURT REVOLUTION'
  • [14] DRASKOVIC BLASTS MILOSEVIC'S 'EVIL EMPIRE'
  • [15] DJUKANOVIC: 'NO ORDINARY ACCIDENT'
  • [16] DRASKOVIC KEY TO OPPOSITION SUCCESS?
  • [17] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HOPES FOR FUEL DELIVERIES
  • [18] VOLLEBAEK CONDEMNS ETHNIC CLASHES IN MITROVICA...
  • [19] ...AS DOES JACKSON
  • [20] BOSNIAN MILITARY COMMITTEE NAMES REPRESENTATIVES
  • [21] BAN ON HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB PARTY IN THE OFFING?
  • [22] KLEIN PLANS JOINT BORDER POLICE
  • [23] CROATIAN WEEKLY SUES NATIONALIST LEADER
  • [24] ALBANIA'S MAJKO REJECTS CRITICISM BY PREDECESSOR
  • [25] ALBANIA, ITALY PLEDGE BETTER COOPERATION
  • [26] NO FOUNDATION STONE LAID AT 'RECONCILIATION PARK' IN ROMANIA
  • [27] ROMANIA SLAMS ABKHAZIA 'ELECTIONS'
  • [28] ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN FRANCE
  • [29] FORMER BULGARIAN KING DONATES PART OF RETURNED PROPERTY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] A TIME FOR SERGEANTS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AZERBAIJAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN MISSILE STRIKE

    Azerbaijan's

    Foreign Ministry on 6 October protested the Russian denial of

    any responsibility for an explosion in the village of Gymir

    in Azerbaijan's northern Zakatala Raion (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 4 October 1999), Turan and Interfax reported.

    Initial reports claimed that a bomb dropped by a Russian

    aircraft caused the explosion, which damaged several houses,

    but a subsequent Azerbaijan Defense Ministry investigation

    established that the cause was a ground-to-ground missile.

    The Azerbaijani statement called on the Russian Defense

    Ministry to acknowledge responsibility for the attack and

    launch an investigation. LF

    [02] GEORGIA POISED TO JOIN WTO

    A meeting of the World Trade

    Organization General Council in Geneva on 6 October ruled

    that Georgia has fulfilled all requirements for membership in

    that organization, Reuters reported. The Georgian parliament

    must now ratify the terms of entry agreed with the WTO,

    according to AP. LF

    [03] TBILISI, BATUMI AT ODDS OVER AMNESTY

    Georgia's Deputy

    Prosecutor-General Anzor Baluashvili said in Tbilisi on 6

    October that the Prosecutor-General's Office will open

    criminal proceedings against the governors of prisons in

    Batumi, the capital of the Adjar Autonomous republic, if they

    fail to release 28 prisoners pardoned under Georgian

    President Eduard Shevardnadze's 1 October amnesty, Caucasus

    Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 1999). LF

    [04] GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS QUERY ACCURACY OF ABKHAZ POLL

    DATA...

    The Tbilisi-based Information Center of the Abkhaz

    Autonomous Republic, which represents ethnic Georgians who

    fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war, told Caucasus Press

    on 6 October that the Abkhaz authorities overstated the

    number of voters eligible to participate in the 3 October

    presidential elections by including in voter registers the

    names of 2,500 residents of the Russian Federation. The

    center also disputed official poll returns according to which

    turnout in the predominantly Georgian-populated Gali Raion

    was 65 percent. The White Legion Georgian guerrilla

    organization claimed that no more than 13 percent of

    Abkhazia's population participated in the poll. A turnout of

    50 percent was required for the election to be valid.

    Meanwhile the OSCE, the Council of Europe, and the

    Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry have issued statements terming

    the poll illegal, Interfax and ITAR-TASS reported. LF

    [05] ...AS ABKHAZ OFFICIAL SAYS REPATRIATION SUCCESSFUL

    Otar

    Kakalia, who heads the Abkhaz presidential commission

    overseeing the repatriation of ethnic Georgian displaced

    persons to Gali Raion, issued a statement on 6 October

    claiming that the process is now completed, ITAR-TASS

    reported. Kakalia said some 65,000 ethnic Georgians have

    returned to Gali in response to Abkhaz President Vladislav

    Ardzinba's appeal to them to do so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2

    and 8 March 1999). He added that schools have been opened for

    thousands of Georgian children and that water-supplies and

    roads in the district are being repaired. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION WARNS PRO-

    PRESIDENTIAL PARTY...

    The Central Electoral Commission warned

    the Civic Party on 6 October to stop distributing free gifts

    to voters in the runup to the 10 October elections to the

    lower chamber of the Kazakh parliament, Interfax reported,

    quoting commission deputy chairman Kuandyk Turgankulov. He

    added that the Azamat (Citizen) and Communist Parties and an

    OSCE mission have complained about those activities. But

    Kuandykov rejected as untrue claims by the Azamat Party that

    the Civic Party used foreign funds to finance its election

    campaign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 and 30 September 1999).

    LF

    [07] ...AS DOUBTS EXPRESSED THAT POLL WILL BE FREE AND FAIR

    Azamat party leader Petr Svojk, speaking to journalists in

    Almaty on 6 October, said he expects that local

    administrators will falsify the outcome of the 10 October

    polls, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Svojk

    urged that domestic observers be permitted to monitor the

    vote count. An RFE/RL correspondent who accompanied OCSE

    Chairman-In-Office Knut Vollebaek on his recent tour of

    Central Asian capitals quoted ODIHR official Hrair Balian as

    expressing concern that some local Kazakh election officials

    may be either ignorant of the new improved election law or

    may simply choose not to observe those articles of the law

    providing for monitoring of the vote count and tabulation. LF

    [08] KAZAKH FINANCE MINISTER ASSESSES ECONOMIC SITUATION

    Oraz

    Zhandosov told journalists in Almaty on 6 October that the

    IMF believes Kazakhstan is experiencing a deep economic

    crisis and will consider the possibility of further loans and

    credits only after sending a team to the country later this

    month, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. The

    fund and the Kazakh government failed to reach agreement on a

    new loan program two months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11

    August 1999). Zhandosov said that Kazakhstan's current

    deficit is $550 million and that it is unlikely that the

    country can get through the next fiscal year without new

    foreign credits. Zhandosov said no final decision has yet

    been taken on whether to sell part of Kazakhstan's 25 percent

    equity stake in the Tengizchevroil project, but he proposed

    privatizing KazTelecom and the People's Bank as soon as

    possible in order to help bridge the budget deficit.

    Zhandosov estimated Kazakh citizens' combined deposits in

    foreign banks at $3-4 billion. LF

    [09] PRO-PRESIDENTIAL PARTY REGISTERED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    The Adilet

    Party, which supports President Askar Akaev, was registered

    by the Minister of Justice on 22 September, five days after

    holding its founding conference, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported on 6 October. The party already has 33,000 members,

    including oblast and city heads. The party's chairman is

    former Finance Minister Marat Sultanov. LF

    [10] KYRGYZ MEDIATORS CONTINUE EFFORTS TO SECURE HOSTAGES'

    RELEASE

    A prominent Kyrgyz religious leader, International

    Islamic Center Director Sadykzhan Kamalov, has arrived in

    Dushanbe on a private visit to meet with Tajik religious

    leaders in an attempt to secure the release of 13 hostages

    held by ethnic Uzbek militants in southern Kyrgyzstan, ITAR-

    TASS reported on 6 October. Kamalov met in Dushanbe with

    Tajikistan's Minister for the Economy and Foreign Economic

    Relations Davlat Usmon, who last week was nominated as

    presidential candidate for the opposition Islamic Renaissance

    Party. Also on 6 October, Kyrgyz Human Rights Movement

    Chairman Tursunbek Akunov told RFE/RL by telephone that he

    has still failed to make contact in Pakistan with

    representatives of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan who had

    promised to help him travel to Afghanistan to meet with the

    hostage takers' leaders there. LF

    [11] TAJIKISTAN PROTESTS UZBEK BOMBING RAIDS

    The Tajik Foreign

    Ministry on 6 October sent an official note to its Uzbek

    counterpart protesting the air raids by Uzbek aircraft on

    villages in eastern Tajikistan, Reuters and ITAR-TASS

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 October 1999). AP

    quoted Tajik officials as estimating that 80 bombs were

    dropped from 2-4 October. LF

    [12] TURKMENISTAN WILL EXPORT GAS VIA RUSSIA, IRAN IF TRANS-

    CASPIAN PIPELINE DELAYED

    Meeting in Ashgabat on 6 October

    with Turkish Energy Minister Cumhur Ersumer, Turkmenistan's

    President Saparmurat Niyazov said that if construction of the

    Trans-Caspian pipeline to export Turkmen gas to Turkey via

    Azerbaijan and Georgia is not begun within six or seven

    months, then his country will begin exporting gas via Iran

    and Russia, Turan reported. Niyazov held talks in Ashgabat on

    4 October with representatives of the U.S. company PSG, which

    will be the pipeline operator. He also met with

    representatives of Royal Dutch/Shell, which is the upstream

    partner in the project. Construction of the Trans-Caspian

    pipeline is contingent on the signing of a political

    agreement by Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey.

    Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan are at odds over how much

    Azerbaijani gas will be exported via that pipeline. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] VOJVODINA MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF 'YOGURT REVOLUTION'

    As many

    as 8,000 protesters gathered in Novi Sad on 6 October to mark

    the 11th anniversary of the seizure of power in Vojvodina by

    supporters of Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic. In 1988,

    pro-Milosevic demonstrators threw pots of yogurt at

    government buildings, but 11 years later protesters lit

    candles to honor victims of Milosevic's rule. Vojvodina

    opposition leader Nenad Canak told the crowd: "We cannot

    escape from Milosevic because he is not human, he is

    pollution," Reuters reported. Elsewhere, some 5,000 anti-

    Milosevic demonstrators turned out in Belgrade, as did a few

    hundred people in Cacak and Pancevo. PM

    [14] DRASKOVIC BLASTS MILOSEVIC'S 'EVIL EMPIRE'

    The Serbian

    Renewal Movement's (SPO) leader Vuk Draskovic said in

    Belgrade on 6 October that Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic's rule is "an empire of evil, which causes only

    death and has destroyed everything," AP reported. The SPO

    leader spoke at the funeral of three of his aides, who died

    recently in a mysterious traffic accident. Draskovic has

    called the accident an "assassination attempt" against him

    that was organized by the authorities (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    6 October 1999). Elsewhere, SPO officials said the police are

    planning to issue a report saying that the unidentified

    driver of the truck that caused the accident did so in an

    attempt to pass another vehicle. Draskovic has charged that

    the driver deliberately swerved into his lane for no apparent

    reason. Finally, the state-run Tanjug news agency reported

    that police have detained Draskovic aide Vladimir Nikolic in

    custody on charges of "revealing official secrets." Nikolic

    is a former employee of the secret service. PM

    [15] DJUKANOVIC: 'NO ORDINARY ACCIDENT'

    Montenegrin President

    Milo Djukanovic said he does "not want to add to the

    tensions" in Serbia by commenting on Draskovic's accident,

    London's "The Independent" reported on 7 October. He stressed

    nonetheless that it "was no ordinary traffic accident if the

    leader of the most important opposition party...barely

    survives a car crash at this very sensitive political

    moment." PM

    [16] DRASKOVIC KEY TO OPPOSITION SUCCESS?

    Many observers in

    Belgrade believe that opposition protests are unlikely to

    become large enough to threaten Milosevic's hold on power

    unless Draskovic joins them, VOA's Serbian Service reported

    on 7 October. The previous day, Social Democratic leader Vuk

    Obradovic appealed to Draskovic to take part in the protests

    and thereby help transform them into an expression of the

    will "of the entire nation." The SPO leader had previously

    criticized the demonstrations as ineffective. VOA added that

    some observers expect former General Momcilo Perisic, who

    heads the Movement for Democratic Serbia, to soon join the

    opposition's protests (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 10 August

    1999). PM

    [17] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER HOPES FOR FUEL DELIVERIES

    Mladjan

    Dinkic, who is a spokesman for the opposition G-17 group of

    economists, said in Belgrade on 6 October that foreign

    ministers of Finland, France, and Germany support his call

    for winter fuel deliveries to Serbia. The G-17's "energy for

    democracy" program calls for private firms to deliver fuel to

    Serbian cities and towns under independent supervision. The

    program would involve all municipalities, regardless of

    whether they are controlled by the opposition or by

    Milosevic. EU foreign ministers are slated to vote on 11

    October on a Greek and Dutch proposal to provide winter fuel

    to Serbia. PM

    [18] VOLLEBAEK CONDEMNS ETHNIC CLASHES IN MITROVICA...

    OSCE

    Chairman Knut Vollebaek, speaking to students at the Vushtrri

    police academy on 6 October, condemned an incident the

    previous day near Mitrovica in which ethnic Albanians

    attacked Serbs (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 October 1999).

    Vollebaek stressed that "security for each and every citizen

    is basic if we want to rebuild society.... I'm also happy

    that we have some representatives of minorities [in the

    police force]," AP reported. There are about a dozen Serbs

    among the 176 police students. Vollebaek added that he will

    urge ethnic Albanian political leaders "to have a very clear

    stand when it comes to the atrocities now committed against

    Serbs. I think that is unacceptable." At least one Serb was

    killed and 26 people injured in the violence, including 15

    peacekeepers and 11 Serbs. The private Serbian news agency

    Beta noted that three Serbs are still reported missing since

    the incident. FS

    [19] ...AS DOES JACKSON

    KFOR commander General Sir Mike Jackson

    told Reuters on 6 October that the Mitrovica violence "was an

    appalling incident.... As far as I can work out, a group of

    civilians attacked another group of civilians, completely

    unprovoked, which ended in a very ugly scene." He concluded:

    "It does tell me that, I'm afraid, ethnic hatred is still

    just below the surface, which is a shame. But it's a fact."

    Meanwhile, an unidentified man threw a hand grenade into a

    shop in Vitina, injuring two Serbs, according to Beta. And

    KFOR arrested three uniformed members of the Kosova

    Protection Corps on 5 October, who "threatened" unspecified

    people in the Prishtina hospital, AP reported. FS

    [20] BOSNIAN MILITARY COMMITTEE NAMES REPRESENTATIVES

    Members of

    the Standing Committee for Military Questions agreed in

    Sarajevo on 6 October that a Muslim will be Bosnia's military

    attache in Washington. They also decided that a Serb will be

    the chief military representative to NATO and a Croat will

    hold a similar position at the OSCE headquarters in Vienna.

    The committee also agreed to set up an unspecified number of

    working groups to draw up by the end of October concrete

    plans on security and on demilitarization, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service Reported. PM

    [21] BAN ON HARD-LINE BOSNIAN SERB PARTY IN THE OFFING?

    The OSCE

    and the office of the international community's Wolfgang

    Petritsch issued a joint statement in Sarajevo on 6 October

    threatening to bar the Bosnian branch of Vojislav Seselj's

    Serbian Radical Party (SRS) from taking part in local

    elections in 2000. The statement said the ban will come into

    effect unless the SRS drops three prominent hard-liners from

    its leadership. They are Nikola Poplasen, Mirko Blagojevic,

    and Ognjen Tadic. In response, the SRS issued a statement,

    signed by Poplasen, calling the decision "fascist." PM

    [22] KLEIN PLANS JOINT BORDER POLICE

    Jacques Klein, who is the

    UN's chief representative in Bosnia, spoke with Bosnian Serb

    leaders in Banja Luka on 6 October about establishing a joint

    border police force. That body would include police from both

    the Republika Srpska and the mainly Croatian and Muslim

    federation. Its first task would be to take charge of police

    work at Sarajevo airport, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. It is unclear when the force would begin work. PM

    [23] CROATIAN WEEKLY SUES NATIONALIST LEADER

    Ivo Pukanic, who is

    editor-in-chief of the independent weekly "Nacional," told

    Reuters in Zagreb on 6 October that his newspaper is suing

    right-wing politician Anto Djapic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8

    September 1999). Pukanic charged that Djapic has threatened

    his publication and other independent media with physical

    violence. PM

    [24] ALBANIA'S MAJKO REJECTS CRITICISM BY PREDECESSOR

    Prime

    Minister Pandeli Majko, speaking at a Socialist Party

    gathering in Tirana on 5 October, dismissed party leader

    Fatos Nano's recent criticism of his efforts to achieve a

    reconciliation with the opposition. Majko argued that "it was

    necessary to reach out [to the opposition] at a time when the

    Serbs were preparing the massacre [of the Kosovar

    Albanians]," the "Albanian Daily News" reported on 7 October.

    He argued that the Socialists must be open to contacts with

    "a constructive opposition that knows and respects state

    institutions and constitutional laws." And he added that

    Nano's "accusations create a spiral of uncertainty, verbal

    violence, lack of confidence, and suspicion that

    targets...solidarity" within the Socialist Party. Majko will

    challenge Nano for the party leadership at the party's 9

    October congress. FS

    [25] ALBANIA, ITALY PLEDGE BETTER COOPERATION

    Albanian Foreign

    Minister Paskal Milo and his Italian counterpart, Lamberto

    Dini, pledged in Rome on 5 October to launch several joint

    regional projects within the framework of the Balkan

    Stability Pact, the "Albanian Daily News" reported on 7

    October. Both countries will present proposals for those

    projects at an upcoming donors conference in Bari. One key

    proposal will be the construction of an east-west "corridor"

    linking the port of Durres via Macedonia with Bulgarian Black

    Sea ports and Istanbul. The corridor includes improved

    telecommunications, road and railway links, and oil and gas

    pipelines. The ministers also agreed to create a permanent

    working group to coordinate their efforts in promoting

    political, economic, and social development and strengthening

    public order. FS

    [26] NO FOUNDATION STONE LAID AT 'RECONCILIATION PARK' IN ROMANIA

    The 6 October ceremony at which the foundation stone of the

    Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation park was to have been laid

    was cancelled without explanation. The same day, a Hungarian

    delegation headed by Justice Minister Ibolya David attended a

    Mass in memory of the 13 generals executed by Austria in

    1848; later, they laid wreaths at an obelisk commemorating

    the generals. The delegation was heckled by some 100 Greater

    Romania Party sympathizers, who shouted obscenities and

    called for the death of Reformed Bishop Laszlo Toekes, an

    RFE/RL correspondent in Arad reported. Foreign Ministry

    spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said the ministry considers "the

    manipulation of national sentiment for the purpose of

    building political capital irresponsible." She said relations

    between the two countries are "irreversibly good" and must

    not be influenced by "fear of historical shadows or the

    shadows [cast by] statues." MS

    [27] ROMANIA SLAMS ABKHAZIA 'ELECTIONS'

    Foreign Ministry

    spokeswoman Miculescu said on 6 October that Romania is

    "worried" about the recent presdidential elections and

    referendum in "the separatist province of Abkhazia, [which

    is] an integral part of Georgia, a sovereign and independent

    state with which Romania has friendly and good neighborly

    relations," Mediafax reported (see also Part 1). Miculescu

    said Romania is joining "the international community in

    refusing to recognize the independence of the so-called

    Abkhaz Republic." MS

    [28] ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER IN FRANCE

    Victor Babiuc met in

    Paris on 6 October with his French counterpart, Alain

    Richard, and with representatives of the French military

    industries, Mediafax reported. Richard noted that France's

    Thomson company is collaborating with Romania's Aerostar

    aircraft company in the production of military and civilian

    planes and that the Eurocopter firm is interested in the

    privatization of the Brasov-based IAR-Ghimbav aircraft

    company A deal with Bell Helicopter Textron on privatizing

    IAR-Ghimbav was called off earlier this year. Also on 6

    October, Chief of Staff General Constantin Degeratu and

    British Ambassador to Bucharest Richard Ralph signed a

    military agreement for the year 2000, which Degeratu called

    "the most comprehensive military program Romania shares with

    a NATO member country," AP reported. MS

    [29] FORMER BULGARIAN KING DONATES PART OF RETURNED PROPERTY

    Former King Simeon II on 6 October donated a park on the

    outskirts of Sofia to the city's municipality in a "sign of

    appreciation for the [recent] restitution of property

    nationalized by the communists," AP reported, citing BTA. The

    former monarch asked that the park, which includes a small

    castle, be named after his grandfather, King Ferdinand, who

    ruled from 1896 to 1918. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [30] A TIME FOR SERGEANTS

    By Paul Goble

    A new and important figure is appearing in the armies of

    the three Baltic States, one who is likely to prove more

    important for those countries' integration into NATO and the

    West than any of the declarations by political figures east

    or west.

    That figure is the professional non-commissioned

    officer, the well-trained and career sergeant or corporal, on

    whom Western militaries have long depended but who seldom

    existed in the militaries of the former Warsaw Pact.

    And nowhere is the rise of this new class of leaders

    anymore obvious or impressive than at the Rukla Training Area

    of the Lithuanian defense forces.

    Located approximately 100 kilometers west of Vilnius,

    Rukla now serves as the headquarters both for the training of

    new soldiers and for the seasoning of non-commissioned

    officers prepared by the Non-Commissioned Officer School in

    the nearby city of Kaunas.

    Operating in accordance with Western standards in terms

    of facilities and of training and doctrine, the Rukla

    Training Area prepared more than 1,000 new Lithuanian

    soldiers during the past year and is scheduled to expand to

    train up to 4,000 a year in the future.

    No one can visit the site without being struck by the

    quality of the facilities themselves--many of the buildings

    and much of the equipment surpass what is found in countries

    that have been members of NATO for many years.

    But even more important is the shift in attitudes

    between officers and soldiers, a change that commanders there

    and in Vilnius suggest reflect the ever-expanding role of

    sergeants in this training enterprise and throughout the

    Lithuanian army.

    In the view of these commanders, the professional

    sergeants and other non-commissioned officers, many of whom

    are competing for permanent positions and a large percentage

    of whom are women, play three key roles. Each of those roles

    is more important than pay grades might suggest.

    First, they perform many of the jobs that junior

    officers had to do in Soviet-style armies, thereby allowing

    the latter to be leaders rather than operators.

    Second, these sergeants and corporals represent an

    element of continuity, passing on military traditions to

    soldiers even as officers are shifted from one billet to

    another. They thus promote the professionalization of both

    the soldiers under them and the officers under whom they

    serve.

    And third, the sergeants help transform the image of

    soldiers among officers and of officers among soldiers, thus

    serving as a brake against the kind of hazing that was all

    too common in Soviet-era armies. This is almost certainly

    their most important contribution.

    Precisely because they are professionals, well-trained

    and often better paid than some junior officers, the non-

    commissioned officers enjoy remarkable respect from the men

    and women they lead and thus guarantee that officers respect

    not only themselves but the soldiers.

    That shift in attitudes has had a profound impact on the

    nature of the Lithuanian defense forces. In the past, few

    Lithuanians saw the military as a profession to be pursued

    and military rank as a status to be envied.

    Instead, in a hangover from the Soviet period, until

    relatively recently many people saw military service as

    something to be avoided precisely because officers could be

    counted on to make life miserable for conscripts.

    Now these attitudes have changed, less because of

    declarations by senior government officials and military

    commanders than because of the day-to-day work of sergeants

    and corporals.

    Consequently, it may well be the sergeants rather than

    the generals who will improve the prospects for the inclusion

    of Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors not only into the world

    of modern Western militaries but into NATO as well.

    07-10-99


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


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