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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 201, 99-10-14

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. 201, 14 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] FRONTRUNNER IN ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS VOTE DENIES GOVERNMENT
  • [02] ARMENIA RECEIVES NEW IMF LOAN TRANCHE
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV STATION CLOSURE
  • [04] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS TRY TO NEGOTIATE UN HOSTAGES' RELEASE
  • [05] POLLSTERS PREDICT COMMUNIST WIN IN KAZAKH ELECTIONS...
  • [06] ...AS CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION REJECTS COMPLAINTS
  • [07] KAZAKH PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER
  • [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES GOALS
  • [09] INFLATION SOARS IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [10] RUSSIAN MILITARY TO LEAVE TURKMENISTAN
  • [11] TURKMENISTAN UNVEILS DRAFT OIL AND GAS PROGRAM

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] THUGS ATTACK PROTESTERS IN BELGRADE
  • [13] BELGRADE POLICE 'CHECK OUT' ALBANIANS
  • [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION READY WITH ELECTION PROPOSAL
  • [15] NIS MAYOR SAYS MILOSEVIC CANNOT STOP OIL DELIVERIES
  • [16] CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA
  • [17] ROBERTSON DEFENDS OIL DELIVERIES
  • [18] BELGRADE PROVOKING EU?
  • [19] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR KOSOVA 'TRUTH COMMISSION'
  • [20] MORE THAN 400 MASS GRAVES IDENTIFIED IN KOSOVA
  • [21] CARDINAL BLASTS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT 'INTERFERENCE'
  • [22] SERBIAN LEGISLATORS APPEAL TO TUDJMAN
  • [23] DUBROVNIK HOTELS ON THE BLOCK
  • [24] ROMANIAN COALITION PATCHES UP DISAGREEMENTS--FOR NOW

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] EU UNVEILS NEW APPROACH TO EASTWARD ENLARGEMENT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] FRONTRUNNER IN ARMENIAN CATHOLICOS VOTE DENIES GOVERNMENT

    BACKING

    Archbishop Garegin Nersisian, the most likely

    candidate for the leadership of the Armenian Apostolic

    Church, has rejected allegations by rival clerics that the

    Armenian authorities are actively lobbying for his victory in

    the upcoming ecclesiastical election, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported on 13 October. Nersisian said those allegations

    negatively affect preparations for the election. He also

    noted that President Robert Kocharian recently assured

    bishops that the state will not interfere in the election

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 and 11 October 1999). Nersisian

    rejected criticism of the decision to include in the Ararat

    diocese delegation to the election the Yerevan mayor and the

    Ararat police chief, saying that "Our Church does not

    differentiate between its faithful and does not separate them

    by position and circumstances." LF

    [02] ARMENIA RECEIVES NEW IMF LOAN TRANCHE

    The IMF has released

    the final tranche, worth $29 million, of a three-year ESAF

    loan, Interfax reported on 13 October. The fund and the

    Armenian government reached agreement on the terms for

    disbursement last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 September

    1999). The release of the tranche, originally expected in

    June, was delayed until the Armenian government unveiled its

    proposals for covering the budget deficit, which was higher

    than anticipated. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI JOURNALISTS PROTEST TV STATION CLOSURE

    Some 50

    journalists staged an unsanctioned picket outside the

    Ministry of Justice in Baku on 13 October to protest the

    closure of the independent Sara TV station, Turan reported.

    The stations was closed on 9 October after broadcasting an

    appeal by opposition party leaders to participate in a

    demonstration that day against the Azerbaijani leadership's

    Karabakh policy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 October 1999). The

    Geirat, Vahdat, and Independent Azerbaijan Parties as well as

    the Party of Democratic Entrepreneurs have followed the

    example of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party and the

    Azerbaijan National Independence Party and issued statements

    condemning the closure. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN OFFICIALS TRY TO NEGOTIATE UN HOSTAGES' RELEASE

    Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze on 13 October cut

    short his visit to Ukraine and returned to Tbilisi. The

    following day, he traveled to the Kodori gorge in western

    Georgia where unidentified gunmen seized seven hostages the

    previous day, Caucasus Press reported. Five of the hostages

    are members of the UN observer mission and are citizens of

    Uruguay, Switzerland, Sweden, Greece, and the Czech Republic.

    The others are an interpreter and a German doctor. Georgian

    Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze told journalists in

    Tbilisi on 13 October that the Georgian authorities are

    negotiating with the kidnappers, who are demanding a $200,000

    ransom for the hostages, Interfax reported. Both he and

    Tevzadze said the Georgian army will launch an operation to

    free the hostages if those negotiations fail. The Russian

    Foreign Ministry offered the assistance of the Russian

    peacekeeping force deployed in western Georgia in securing

    the hostages' release, Interfax reported. LF

    [05] POLLSTERS PREDICT COMMUNIST WIN IN KAZAKH ELECTIONS...

    Bakhytzhamal Bekturganova, who is president of the Almaty

    Association of Sociologists and Political Scientists, told

    journalists in the former capital on 13 October that a survey

    conducted by the association suggests that the Communist

    Party won the 10 October elections to the lower house of

    parliament, Interfax reported. Bukturganova said exit polls

    conducted in 16 cities and encompassing one -third of all

    constituencies suggested that the Communist Party garnered

    27.7 percent of the vote, the pro-presidential Otan party 16

    percent, and the Civic Party 12.3 percent. She added that

    under the association's methodology, the survey results are

    likely to differ from official returns by no more than 15

    percentage points and that a discrepancy of more than 10

    percentage points would suggest vote falsification. LF

    [06] ...AS CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMISSION REJECTS COMPLAINTS

    "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 14 October that

    Kazakhstan's Central Electoral Commission has investigated

    more than a dozen complaints of violations of voting

    procedure on polling day. The commission rejected all of

    them, saying the violations in question could not have

    affected the outcome of the poll. LF

    [07] KAZAKH PRESIDENT APPOINTS NEW DEFENSE MINISTER

    Nursultan

    Nazarbaev on 13 October named Lieutenant General Sat

    Tokpakbaev as head of the Defense Ministry, replacing Mukhtar

    Altynbaev, who was fired in August following revelations of

    the unsanctioned sale of MiG-21 fighters to North Korea,

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

    Tokpakbaev, who is 60, previously headed the National

    Security Council and the presidential bodyguards. Nazarbaev

    also issued a decree on renaming or merging several

    government ministries. The Agency for Economic Planning is

    upgraded to the status of Ministry of the Economy, and the

    financial and economic functions of the former Agency for

    Strategic Planning and Reforms are transferred to it. The

    remaining departments of that agency are subordinated

    directly to the president. The Atomic Energy and Space

    Ministries are removed from the Ministry of Energy, Trade,

    and Industry and subordinated to a new Ministry for Education

    and Science. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES GOALS

    In an interview with

    "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 October, former Bishkek Mayor

    Feliks Kulov said the primary objectives of his recently

    formed Ar-Namys party are establishing constitutional order

    in a democratic society and removing the five-year moratorium

    imposed on the private ownership of land, which the

    electorate approved in a referendum one year ago.

    Characterizing the present political situation as "closer to

    anarchy than democracy," Kulov advocated improving the

    administrative system by initially combining the posts of

    president and premier, on the grounds that the president is

    not responsible for the economy and the prime minister does

    not have the powers to influence economic processes. In the

    second stage of reform, Kulov argued, the parliament should

    be elected on a party list system and should then form a

    government and elect a head of state. LF

    [09] INFLATION SOARS IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Inflation in Kyrgyzstan during

    the first nine months of 1999 reached 32.5 percent, compared

    with 5.6 percent for the same period in 1998, Interfax

    reported on 12 October. Food prices rose by 39.7 percent,

    while consumer goods by 6.8 percent and gasoline by 2.1

    percent. LF

    [10] RUSSIAN MILITARY TO LEAVE TURKMENISTAN

    Russian First Deputy

    Defense Minister Vasilii Mikhailov told Interfax that the 50

    Russian officers who have been stationed in Turkmenistan

    since 1994 will leave, as their help in creating a new

    Turkmen army is no longer needed. He was speaking after talks

    with Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov in Ashgabat

    on 13 October. He added that a new bilateral commission for

    military-technical cooperation will be formed and that Moscow

    has offered to help upgrade Turkmen military hardware,

    especially aircraft, in order to prevent other countries from

    carrying out that task. Turkmen Defense Minister Batyr

    Sardjaev will visit Moscow early next year, Mikhailov said.

    LF

    [11] TURKMENISTAN UNVEILS DRAFT OIL AND GAS PROGRAM

    Turkmenistan's Ministry for the Oil and Gas Industry on 13

    October published a new program for the period 2000-2010,

    which is to be endorsed at the next session of the People's

    Council in December. The program envisages increasing oil

    production to 28 million tons in 2005 and to 48 million tons

    in 2010, with crude oil exports rising to 16 million tons and

    33 million tons, respectively. The 10-year draft economic

    program approved by President Niyazov in July projected that

    oil output would reach 30 million tons in 2010 (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 28 July 1999). Gas production is to increase by

    220 percent over the next decade, to 85 billion cubic meters

    in 2005 and 120 billion cubic meters in 2010. Investments in

    the oil and gas sector are expected to increase by more than

    250 percent. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] THUGS ATTACK PROTESTERS IN BELGRADE

    Goran Svilanovic, who

    heads the Civic Alliance of Serbia, told RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service on 13 October that "some 20 criminals who work

    for the police" injured at least five anti-government

    protesters in Belgrade. The thugs arrived at the scene in

    cars and attacked the demonstrators with sticks. The violence

    was not as "serious" as that used by police against

    protesters two weeks earlier, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 1 October 1999). Nonetheless, the opposition

    Alliance for Change decided on security grounds to cancel

    protests slated for the following day in the Novi Beograd and

    Slavija districts of the capital. PM

    [13] BELGRADE POLICE 'CHECK OUT' ALBANIANS

    An unnamed official in

    the large Novi Beograd district, which is controlled by

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists, said that

    local officials will "check in detail all [ethnic] Albanian

    residents and tenants in apartment blocs there." AP quoted

    him on 13 October as saying that "the reason is to prevent

    bombing attacks such as the recent ones in Moscow, where

    explosive devices were planted in apartment buildings. We

    thought that perhaps our Albanian neighbors, under orders

    from the [former Kosova Liberation Army], could begin such

    attacks." He added that "many" local ethnic Albanian males

    were absent from their Belgrade flats during the NATO air

    strikes in the spring. "I do not wish to speculate whether

    they were then trained in terrorist or subversive activities.

    [But] it is our goal to remove everything undesirable," he

    concluded. PM

    [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION READY WITH ELECTION PROPOSAL

    Opposition

    parties have concluded their agreement on conditions for

    early elections and will announce those conditions on 14

    October, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti" reported

    the same day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 October 1999).

    Democratic Party spokesman Zoran Sami said that in future

    talks with the government, the opposition will insist on a

    maximum of eight electoral districts. He added that the

    opposition has worked out a formula for electing legislators

    from Kosova, but he did not elaborate. Sami noted that the

    number of legislators elected in each district in Serbia will

    depend on the number of voters casting their ballots there.

    The long-standing opposition demands for changes in electoral

    and media laws, for revising electoral lists, and for a

    rigorous monitoring system remain unchanged, he added. PM

    [15] NIS MAYOR SAYS MILOSEVIC CANNOT STOP OIL DELIVERIES

    Zoran

    Zivkovic, who is the mayor of Nis, said that "there is no

    legal way for anyone, not even...Milosevic, to prevent" the

    EU's planned deliveries of $5 million worth of fuel oil to

    opposition-controlled Nis and Pirot (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    12 October 1999). He insisted that the opposition has

    "created a system to prevent even a single litre of oil from

    falling into [government or criminal] hands," Reuters

    reported. PM

    [16] CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS OIL DELIVERIES TO SERBIA

    Several

    Serbian opposition politicians have criticized the EU's

    decision to deliver oil to only Nis and Pirot as "politically

    motivated," Reuters reported on 13 October. Cacak Mayor

    Velimir Ilic said that his town was unfairly excluded from

    the program. The Belgrade regime has denounced the shipments

    as interference in Serbia's internal affairs. The U.S. State

    Department has warned that the oil could easily fall into the

    wrong hands. An EU spokesman said in Brussels on 13 October

    that the program has a "political element," but he did not

    elaborate. In Belgrade, Alliance for Change leader Veran

    Batic argued that the opposition's relations with the EU are

    "excellent." He referred to some opposition leaders' recent

    boycott of an EU foreign ministers' meeting as a "minor

    glitch." PM

    [17] ROBERTSON DEFENDS OIL DELIVERIES

    NATO Secretary-General

    George Robertson said in Brussels on 14 October that Western

    countries are justified in using fuel oil deliveries for

    political purposes. He stressed that it is necessary to show

    Serbs that "there is a welcome for them in this European

    family of democratic nations, and there are benefits for them

    individually and collectively as well as benefits for the

    whole region, if they reject the regime of Milosevic."

    Robertson added that "the majority of the people in that

    country are good and decent people.... We have got to use

    every means at our disposal to get that message over. The

    Federal Republic of Yugoslavia is not Milosevic, Milosevic is

    not Yugoslavia," Reuters reported. PM

    [18] BELGRADE PROVOKING EU?

    The Yugoslav government on 13 October

    named Sinisa Zaric as consul in Milan, Italy. Zaric is one of

    308 prominent Yugoslav officials banned by the EU from

    receiving an entry visa. He is currently the director of the

    Belgrade Trade Fair. PM

    [19] GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR KOSOVA 'TRUTH COMMISSION'

    Joschka Fischer said in Copenhagen on 13 October that Kosova

    will need a "truth commission" on the South African model to

    promote inter-ethnic reconciliation. He noted that "there is

    a complete segregation between [ethnic] Albanians and Serbs"

    in the province. And he argued that it is difficult to

    envision the two peoples living together again. In Prishtina,

    NATO commander General Klaus Reinhardt told the private news

    agency Beta that the Serbs and Albanians should do as the

    Germans did after World War II and orient themselves toward a

    new life and the future. PM

    [20] MORE THAN 400 MASS GRAVES IDENTIFIED IN KOSOVA

    A spokesman

    for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said in that Dutch

    city on 13 October that international forensics experts have

    found more than 400 mass graves in the province. Some 68

    experts are currently working there in five groups. They hope

    to have completed investigations of 150 sites by the end of

    October. PM

    [21] CARDINAL BLASTS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT 'INTERFERENCE'

    Bosnian

    Cardinal Vinko Puljic, who is the only serving ethnic

    Croatian cardinal in the Balkans, called "unacceptable" a

    recent attempt by Croatian government representative Vice

    Vukojevic to decide who could participate in a commemorative

    Mass for a Croatian emigre in Paris. Puljic made the remarks

    at the European Bishops' Synod meeting in Rome,

    "Oslobodjenje" reported on 14 October. The 10 October Mass

    was in connection with the reburial in Croatia of an anti-

    communist journalist. PM

    [22] SERBIAN LEGISLATORS APPEAL TO TUDJMAN

    The three ethnic

    Serbian legislators in the Croatian parliament wrote

    President Franjo Tudjman on 13 October to ask him to block

    legislation that would reduce from three to one the number of

    legislative seats reserved for Serbs. Jovan Bamburac,

    Vojislav Stanimirovic, and Milorad Pupovac wrote that it is

    "illogical" to reduce the number of seats for Serbs in the

    wake of the successful reintegration of Serbian-held eastern

    Slavonia and the beginning of the return of ethnic Serbian

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

    [23] DUBROVNIK HOTELS ON THE BLOCK

    The Croatian government will

    soon begin taking bids from interested buyers around the

    world for 19 Dubrovnik hotels that belonged to the defunct

    Dubrovacka Banka, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on

    13 October. Andronico Luksic, who is a Chilean of Croatian

    origin, has already obtained a 71 percent stake in the Hotel

    Argentina in the Dalmatian resort town. He previously took

    control of the Atlas tourist agency. PM

    [24] ROMANIAN COALITION PATCHES UP DISAGREEMENTS--FOR NOW

    Meeting

    on 13 October, the leaders of the governing coalition said

    they have managed to "clarify malfunctions" in the way the

    alliance works, and they expressed full support for the

    economic reforms envisaged by the cabinet. The coalition

    leaders said the special Senate commissions (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline, 12 October 1999) will hear testimony not only from

    the heads of the ministries they are investigating but also

    from "other ministers." Thereafter, a decision will to be

    taken on whether the investigation is still "warranted." The

    Democratic Party stressed at the meeting that its members are

    not opposed to the law on land restitution sponsored by the

    National Peasant Party Christian Democratic and currently

    under debate in the Senate, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau

    reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] EU UNVEILS NEW APPROACH TO EASTWARD ENLARGEMENT

    By Breffni O'Rourke

    The EU on 13 October announced a radically new approach

    to the process of enlargement into Central and Eastern

    Europe.

    At the core of the new strategy is the decision to

    recommend the start of negotiations next year with another

    six countries: Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, and

    Bulgaria as well as Malta. These countries, regarded as the

    group of less advanced candidates for membership, will

    therefore join the six so-called first wave countries--

    Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Slovenia, and

    Cyprus--which have already opened negotiations with Brussels.

    In this way, the union will no longer distinguish between

    first-wave and other candidate countries.

    Turkey is now also acknowledged as a formal candidate

    but is not yet admitted to negotiations, on the grounds that

    key criteria are not yet met.

    In the new negotiations, each country will progress

    toward meeting membership requirements at its own individual

    pace, a principle called "differentiation."

    The new accession strategy bears the stamp of the EU's

    first commissioner for enlargement, Guenter Verheugen of

    Germany. Verheugen says the strategy is aimed at balancing

    two potentially conflicting objectives: namely speed of

    accession and quality of preparation. He says speed is

    essential because of the expectations of the candidates,

    while quality is vital because the EU does not want "partial

    members" but new members with full rights and

    responsibilities.

    Verheugen also brought more clarity to the vexed

    question of when new members will be admitted. The report

    welcomes the fact that some applicants have already set their

    own target dates and says that the EU Commission will

    recommend that the EU summit in Helsinki in December commit

    the EU to be ready to decide from 2002 about the accession of

    candidates that fulfil the necessary criteria.

    Among the individual countries that were not included in

    the first wave, the progress report names Slovakia as having

    made good progress during the year, both in terms of

    democratization and economic reform. However, it says that

    Slovakia does not yet have a fully functioning market

    mechanism and in addition needs to do more to implement

    policy decisions and legislation on administration and the

    judiciary.

    The head of the EU integration section of the Slovak

    Foreign Ministry, Jan Kuderjavy, told RFE/RL that "this kind

    of relatively positive evaluation was badly needed [in

    Slovakia] and now I think everybody can see that the effort

    that was employed throughout the whole year, since our

    [reform] government was established last autumn, is bringing

    already first fruits."

    Lithuania, like Slovakia, is not yet regarded as having

    a full market economy, and in addition is seen as sluggish in

    adapting its legislation to fit EU norms. Fellow Baltic State

    Latvia needs to devote serious attention to general public

    administration and judicial reform but has made good economic

    progress in the last year. Estonia, which is also doing well

    economically and is one of the first-wave countries, needs to

    ensure that its language legislation is implemented in such a

    way as to comply with international standards.

    Turning to Bulgaria and Romania, the report finds that

    neither country met economic criteria. Bulgaria continues to

    make significant progress and shows sustained effort but

    started from a very low level. Romania has, at best,

    stabilized as compared with last year, the report argues. In

    the case of both those countries, the EU Commission has set

    conditions before membership negotiations can begin.

    For Bulgaria, those conditions stipulate that it must

    continue to make economic reform progress and must decide by

    the end of this year on an acceptable closure date for the

    risky nuclear reactors at Kozloduy. For Romania, the terms

    are that it, too, must make continued economic progress, and

    in view of the large number of orphans in the country it must

    implement reform of child-care institutions.

    The deputy head of Romania's diplomatic mission in

    Brussels, Viorel Ardeleanu, told RFE/RL that his country will

    work hard to meet the conditions so that negotiations can

    begin. He praised the EU's new approach, saying that "the

    main thing is that all six countries are invited to start

    negotiations in 2000.... This is an extraordinary signal for

    the political class and in general for the whole society in

    Romania."

    Turkey, with its long-strained relations with the EU, is

    a special case. The report recommends that Turkey be made a

    formal candidate, thereby giving it the prospect of eventual

    EU membership. But at the same time, the EU declines to open

    negotiations with Turkey and in this context points to

    failings of democratization in that country.

    The commission urges Ankara to undertake specific steps.

    These include enhancing domestic political dialogue, with

    particular reference to improving human rights, revising the

    way it handles EU financial assistance, and developing a

    national program for adjusting its legislation to EU norms.

    As for the west Balkans, the EU report recommends that

    EU leaders confirm the prospect of eventual membership for

    the former Yugoslav states and Albania. But it says that in

    addition to meeting the usual criteria, those countries will

    have to recognize one another's borders, settle all issues

    relating to national minorities, and pursue economic

    integration in a regional framework.

    Looking further afield, the report notes that relations

    with Russia, Ukraine, the Caucasus states and the Maghreb

    countries of North Africa are of strategic importance to the

    EU. They should go beyond trade and assistance programs and

    include issues such as the fight against organized crime,

    drug trafficking, and migration and environmental policies.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Prague.

    14-10-99


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


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