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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 210, 99-10-27

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. 210, 27 October 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] COUNCIL OF EUROPE SAYS ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS 'FREE AND
  • [02] U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] NEW AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER NAMED
  • [04] ANOTHER WESTERN OIL COMPANY PULLS OUT OF AZERBAIJAN
  • [05] RUSSIA CRITICIZES GEORGIA'S ASPIRATIONS TO NATO MEMBERSHIP...
  • [06] ...AS GEORGIA DENOUNCES RUSSIAN OFFICER'S ELECTION COMMENTS
  • [07] COMPOSITION OF NEW KAZAKH PARLIAMENT BECOMES CLEARER
  • [08] TURKMEN PRESIDENT SAYS 'ANYONE' MAY RUN FOR PARLIAMENT,

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] ALBANIA'S MAJKO SAYS HE QUIT TO END TENSIONS
  • [10] SECURITY TIGHTENED IN TIRANA
  • [11] DJINDJIC CALLS FOR DEAL ON SANCTIONS
  • [12] BELGRADE PUBLISHERS FINED $9,000...
  • [13] ...WHILE OPPOSITION EDITOR ALSO FACES LAWSUIT
  • [14] BELGRADE COMMUTERS PROTEST TRANSPORT DELAYS
  • [15] TALKS BETWEEN SERBIAN, MONTENEGRIN PARTIES END
  • [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION, CROWN PRINCE TO RALLY DIASPORA
  • [17] NATO TO MOVE KOSOVA LOGISTICS CENTER TO SLOVENIA?
  • [18] HAGUE COURT: MILOSEVIC TO FACE FRESH WAR CRIMES CHARGES
  • [19] WORKERS STAGE PROTEST IN BOSNIA
  • [20] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION LAW
  • [21] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT COMPLAINS ABOUT ORPHANAGE REPORTS
  • [22] MOLDOVAN PARTY MAKES ITS PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT
  • [23] BULGARIAN, TURKISH PREMIERS INAUGURATE CONSTRUCTION OF

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] BETWEEN THE RUSSIAN AND BELARUSIAN SCENARIOS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] COUNCIL OF EUROPE SAYS ARMENIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS 'FREE AND

    FAIR'

    In a statement issued in Yerevan on 26 October, a

    delegation from the Council of Europe Local and Regional

    Authorities of Europe described the Armenian local elections

    two days earlier as free, fair, and a significant improvement

    on the 1996 local ballot, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. The delegation, whose members visited 88

    polling stations, said the vote was well organized and that

    voting and the vote count were conducted in conformity with

    the election law. This positive assessment is likely to

    expedite Armenia's full membership in the Council of Europe.

    LF

    [02] U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    Visiting

    Baku on 26 October, Strobe Talbott assured Azerbaijan's

    President Heidar Aliev that the U.S. appreciates and will do

    its best to support Aliev's efforts to resolve the Karabakh

    conflict, Reuters and ITAR-TASS reported. Talbott is to

    travel to Yerevan on 27 October and then to Moscow (see

    above). The U.S. hopes to persuade Aliev and his Armenian

    counterpart, Robert Kocharian, to sign a formal settlement of

    the conflict at the OSCE summit in Istanbul in November, but

    Kocharian has said he considers the venue inappropriate (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October 1999). Talbott and Aliev also

    discussed the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline. Turkey

    and Azerbaijan are to sign four legal and political

    agreements that constitute the framework for that project at

    the Istanbul summit. LF

    [03] NEW AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER NAMED

    President Aliev on 26

    October named parliamentary deputy and Democratic

    Independence Party co-chairman Vilayat Guliev as foreign

    minister, Reuters and Turan reported. Guliev, who is 48, is a

    philologist who speaks English and Persian. He has never

    worked in foreign policy or held any diplomatic post,

    according to Turan. Guliev replaces Tofik Zulfugarov, who

    submitted his resignation on 24 October to protest Aliev's

    policy on resolving the Karabakh conflict. LF

    [04] ANOTHER WESTERN OIL COMPANY PULLS OUT OF AZERBAIJAN

    The

    Houston-based oil company Conoco has announced the closure of

    its Baku office, following its failure after three years of

    talks to reach agreement with the Azerbaijan state oil

    company SOCAR on reviving the shallow-water sector of the

    Gyuneshli oil field, Business Wire and Interfax reported on

    21 and 26 October, respectively. Meanwhile a SOCAR spokesman

    told Interfax on 21 October that he opposes the over-hasty

    implementation of plans for the company's partial

    privatization. Under those plans, which President Aliev has

    not yet approved, the state would retain a 15 percent stake

    in SOCAR and in the Azerkhimiya, Azerigaz and Azerenergiya

    companies. Thirty percent of the shares would be sold at a

    cash auction and the remaining 55 percent for vouchers. LF

    [05] RUSSIA CRITICIZES GEORGIA'S ASPIRATIONS TO NATO MEMBERSHIP...

    In an indirect response to a remark made the previous day by

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze to the "Financial

    Times," the Russian Foreign Ministry on 26 October issued a

    statement warning that NATO enlargement "does not help to

    strengthen stability in the Euro-Atlantic region," ITAR-TASS

    reported. Shevardnadze had told the London-based daily that

    if he is re-elected president next year, Georgia will

    campaign vigorously for NATO membership. The Russian Foreign

    Ministry statement said that doing so "is not the way to

    solve the problem of the security of one's own country or on

    the whole continent." In a separate development, an unnamed

    Russian Foreign Ministry official told Interfax on 26 October

    that Russia is interested in the strengthening of peace and

    stability in Georgia and in continuing its policy of pursuing

    friendly relations with that country. Also on 26 October,

    Shevardnadze and Russian President Yeltsin held a telephone

    conversation, no details of which have been disclosed. LF

    [06] ...AS GEORGIA DENOUNCES RUSSIAN OFFICER'S ELECTION COMMENTS

    The Georgian Foreign Ministry on 26 October officially

    protested as "provocative and irresponsible" a remark made by

    Major General Vyacheslav Borisov, commander of the Russian

    military base in Batumi, to the independent Rustavi-2 TV

    station two days earlier, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press

    reported. Borisov had said that the majority of troops at the

    base support the election alliance headed by Adjar Supreme

    Council chairman Aslan Abashidze. He said if that bloc wins

    the 31 October parliamentary elections, the new parliament

    will ratify the 1994 agreement allowing Russia to maintain

    military bases in Georgia for 25-30 years. The Georgian

    protest note said Borisov's statement constitutes

    interference into Georgia's internal affairs. LF

    [07] COMPOSITION OF NEW KAZAKH PARLIAMENT BECOMES CLEARER

    The

    Otan Party, which supports Kazakhstan's President Nursultan

    Nazarbaev, will be the largest faction in the lower chamber

    of Kazakhstan's new parliament. It won 15 of the 47 seats

    contested in the second round of voting on 24 October, giving

    it a total of 23, Interfax reported on 26 October, quoting

    Central Electoral Commission member Tatyana Okhlopkova. The

    Civic Party, which also supports the Kazakh leadership, won

    three additional seats, giving it 12 in all. The Communist

    Party has three seats, the Agrarian Party two, and the

    Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan one. It is unclear

    how many of the remaining deputies are nominally independent

    but support the present government. LF

    [08] TURKMEN PRESIDENT SAYS 'ANYONE' MAY RUN FOR PARLIAMENT,

    PRESIDENT

    In a 27 October speech marking the anniversary of

    Turkmenistan's 1991 declaration of independence, Saparmurat

    Niyazov promised that the 12 December parliamentary elections

    will be free and democratic and that anyone may run as a

    candidate, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported. He added that

    all candidates will be granted access to state television to

    publicize their election programs. Niyazov similarly said

    that "anyone" is free to contest the presidential elections

    due in 2002. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] ALBANIA'S MAJKO SAYS HE QUIT TO END TENSIONS

    Former Prime

    Minister Pandeli Majko said in Tirana on 26 October that he

    decided to resign because political tensions within his own

    Socialist Party prevented him from doing his job (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 26 October 1999). Majko's move came just two weeks

    after he lost a battle for the party leadership with former

    Prime Minister Fatos Nano. The Socialists are expected to

    nominate Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta for Majko's job on

    27 October. Nano and Foreign Minister Paskal Milo stressed

    that there will be continuity between the old and new

    government. Meta is known as a close associate of Majko's. AP

    reported that the controversial Nano came under strong

    pressure from Albania's Western allies not to take the

    premiership himself. PM

    [10] SECURITY TIGHTENED IN TIRANA

    Police increased security in

    the capital on 26 October, apparently fearing a fresh

    outbreak of the gunshots and violence that often accompany

    political changes in Albania. Police stopped cars with

    license plates from outside Tirana and checked drivers'

    documents. Majko said: "Yesterday after news of my

    resignation broke, there were no gunshots in Tirana. Friends

    and adversaries, thanks for your respect and silence,"

    Reuters reported. Firing guns into the air is a traditional

    sign of celebration in many parts of the Balkans. PM

    [11] DJINDJIC CALLS FOR DEAL ON SANCTIONS

    Democratic Party leader

    Zoran Djindjic said in Belgrade on 26 October that Western

    countries should lift sanctions against Serbia in return for

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's agreeing to early

    elections. "Sanctions are both outdated and ineffective, and

    the idea is to 'trade' them for early elections, regardless

    of the results.... If the opposition wins, there is no reason

    for sanctions any more. If the majority of people votes for

    Milosevic, then [the effects of Milosevic's rule are] the

    problem of those people. What's the point of saying: 'You

    either get rid of Milosevic or you will be ruined as a

    nation?'" Djindjic concluded, according to Reuters. The

    opposition leader added that he recently "passed on" his idea

    to U.S. special envoy James Dobbins, who found it

    "interesting" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 1999). PM

    [12] BELGRADE PUBLISHERS FINED $9,000...

    A Belgrade court ruled on

    26 October that the publishers of the private daily "Danas"

    must pay $9,000 for having violated Serbia's draconian 1998

    media law. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj sued

    the daily for having published an interview with Montenegro's

    outspoken Deputy Prime Minister Novak Kilibarda. In that

    text, Kilibarda said that Seselj planned to expel

    Montenegrins from Serbia or make them wear "yellow badges" if

    Podgorica declares its independence from Belgrade. The

    Serbian regime has made frequent use of the press law to put

    financial pressure on private media. PM

    [13] ...WHILE OPPOSITION EDITOR ALSO FACES LAWSUIT

    Cedomir

    Jovanovic, who is editor of the opposition Alliance for

    Change's publication "Promene," said in Belgrade on 27

    October that he has received a subpoena from a local court.

    He is charged with unspecified violations of the media law.

    "It seems that the trial will be held within 24 hours,"

    Jovanovic said, adding he will not appear personally before

    the court. He charged that "the lawsuit is just another

    pressure on us and the Alliance for Change," AP reported. PM

    [14] BELGRADE COMMUTERS PROTEST TRANSPORT DELAYS

    Hundreds of

    angry commuters staged a spontaneous protest in the Serbian

    capital on 26 October, Reuters reported. Demonstrators told

    reporters that they are tired of having to wait up to two to

    three hours to get home each evening. Serbia's public

    transport system has greatly deteriorated over the past 10

    years because of a lack of fuel and spare parts. PM

    [15] TALKS BETWEEN SERBIAN, MONTENEGRIN PARTIES END

    Spokesmen for

    the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) and Montenegro's

    Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) said in Belgrade on 26

    October that talks on the future relations between the two

    republics ended without agreement. The discussions will

    resume at an unspecified time. The DPS spokesman said that

    the next round of talks will be between "governments,

    parties, and experts." The SPS official, however, said that

    the discussion will take place "between parties and in the

    parliament," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999). PM

    [16] SERBIAN OPPOSITION, CROWN PRINCE TO RALLY DIASPORA

    Vladan

    Batic, who heads the Alliance for Change, said in Belgrade on

    26 October that a meeting will "soon" be held of Serbs living

    abroad "to involve the diaspora in ending the current crisis

    in Serbia." Batic added that the initiative for the meeting

    came from Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, who is the

    claimant to the throne. Aleksandar is a London-based

    businessman who has frequently said that he is "willing to

    serve his people" if asked. Observers note that the

    monarchist tradition is strong among Serbs. PM

    [17] NATO TO MOVE KOSOVA LOGISTICS CENTER TO SLOVENIA?

    The

    Atlantic alliance and Slovenia have agreed that NATO will

    move the "logistics center" of its supply operation for

    Kosova from Thessaloniki to Koper, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported on 26 October. NATO supplies will then

    proceed to Kosova via the Montenegrin port of Bar. A

    spokesman for the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said that the

    agreement is a business deal and does not mean that Slovenia

    has granted NATO a base. The pact will come into effect once

    Montenegrin authorities agree. Earlier this year, Greece

    insisted that NATO make Thessaloniki the headquarters for

    most of its Kosova operations. That arrangement has, however,

    been widely criticized in other NATO countries and in Kosova

    as impractical and expensive. PM

    [18] HAGUE COURT: MILOSEVIC TO FACE FRESH WAR CRIMES CHARGES

    A

    spokeswoman for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal said in

    Prishtina on 26 October that Milosevic may soon face

    additional indictments for war crimes committed by his forces

    in Kosova. In May, the court indicted him and four of his top

    aides for atrocities committed in Kosova in 1999. The new

    charges will involve war crimes from 1998, she added. The

    spokeswoman noted that on 31 October, international forensics

    experts will suspend for the winter their work in exhuming

    mass graves in Kosova. In related news, forensics experts on

    26 October exhumed a mass grave of 14 Muslims in Jelec, near

    the Bosnian capital of Sarajevo. Some 24,000 persons are

    still listed as missing from the 1992-1995 conflict in

    Bosnia. PM

    [19] WORKERS STAGE PROTEST IN BOSNIA

    Some 3,000 workers from the

    textile and rubber industries demonstrated in Sarajevo on 27

    October for better pay and job security. Speakers made

    remarks such as "Starvation and idleness are killing us," and

    "Politicians and ministers shouldn't be surprised if we ask

    for their removal in the near future," AP reported. This is

    the latest in a series of labor protests in the Muslim-

    controlled areas (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 1999). PM

    [20] CROATIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES CONTROVERSIAL ELECTION LAW

    The

    upper house of the parliament adopted a new electoral law,

    which the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ)

    recently proposed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 1999).

    The controversial measure guarantees representation for the

    generally pro-HDZ diaspora. The exact number of seats for the

    HDZ will depend on the number of Croats living abroad who

    cast their votes. The law reduces the number of seats

    reserved for members of the dwindling Serbian minority from

    three to one. The lower house is expected to approve the

    measure on 29 October. The EU, the U.S., and the Croatian

    opposition have repeatedly warned Zagreb to remove electoral

    legislation that gives an unfair advantage to the HDZ. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT COMPLAINS ABOUT ORPHANAGE REPORTS

    Emil

    Constantinescu on 26 October complained about recent reports

    in the international media about the "shocking conditions" in

    the country's orphanages. Constantinescu said Romania "does

    not need such help" from the foreign media, saying the

    orphanage problems were "inherited from the Communist

    regime." According to official statistics, there are 33,000

    orphans and 98,000 disabled children living in Romanian

    institutions. The number of institutionalized children has

    reportedly risen by a fifth since 1989. Constantinescu also

    said Romania has managed to keep up with its debt repayment

    scheduled thanks to the "great sacrifices" of its people. VG

    [22] MOLDOVAN PARTY MAKES ITS PARTICIPATION IN GOVERNMENT

    CONDITIONAL

    Party of Democratic Forces leader Valeriu Matei

    on 26 October said his party will remain in the governing

    coalition provided its partners fulfill certain conditions,

    BASA-Press reported. Matei said one of those conditions is

    support for the legalization of the Bessarabian Metropolitan

    Church. He said it is "too early" to reveal the other

    conditions. VG

    [23] BULGARIAN, TURKISH PREMIERS INAUGURATE CONSTRUCTION OF

    HYDROELECTRIC PROJECT

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov

    and his Turkish counterpart, Bulent Ecevit, participated in a

    ceremony inaugurating the construction of the joint Gorna

    Arda hydroelectric system, BTA reported. The system will

    consist of three dams on the Gorna Arda River in Bulgaria and

    three hydroelectric plants. Bulgaria and Turkey will share

    the estimated $220 million costs of the project. The project

    is expected to create about 3,000 jobs in southern Bulgaria,

    where some 800,000 ethnic Turks live. Ecevit said he is

    grateful that Bulgaria has guaranteed its ethnic Turkish

    minority equal rights. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] BETWEEN THE RUSSIAN AND BELARUSIAN SCENARIOS

    by Jan Maksymiuk

    Regardless of who wins this year's presidential

    elections in Ukraine, no one should expect the country's dire

    economic situation to improve soon. That is the only

    certainty with regard to Ukraine at the present time.

    Ukraine's foreign debt stands at $12 billion, of which

    $3.1 billion is due to be paid next year, while the National

    Bank's reserves total $1.3 billion. The country is thus

    facing a default on its foreign debt.

    Meanwhile, the government's "domestic" debt, in unpaid

    wages, pensions, and social benefits, totals 10 billion

    hryvni ($2.5 billion). Some 80 percent of the population

    lives below the poverty line, and real unemployment stands at

    25 percent. Some 17 percent of Ukraine's labor force is

    occupied in the shadow economy, which accounts for more than

    50 percent of the country's economic activity. Corruption is

    pervasive. And one-third of the population wants to leave the

    country because of economic woes.

    Even if these data--taken from the newspaper "Den,"

    which supports Yevhen Marchuk's presidential bid and is very

    hostile to incumbent President Leonid Kuchma--are

    exaggerated, the true picture of Ukraine's socio-economic

    condition is unlikely to be much rosier.

    All observers of the Ukrainian political scene agree

    that none of the presidential hopefuls will obtain more than

    50 percent of the vote on 31 October, meaning there will be a

    runoff on 14 November. Observers also tend to agree that

    Kuchma will be one of the two participants in that second

    round. However, it is anybody's guess whom the incumbent will

    be running against.

    Ukrainian opinion polls suggest that the most likely

    candidates to reach the runoff with Kuchma are Natalya

    Vitrenko, Petro Symonenko, Oleksandr Moroz, and Yevhen

    Marchuk. However, many hopefuls, as well as political

    analysts, have repeatedly cast doubt on the objectivity of

    polls in Ukraine, claiming they are biased.

    Of the front-runners, Petro Symonenko, the uncharismatic

    leader of the Communist Party, appears the rival against whom

    Kuchma would prefer to compete on 14 November. Many analysts

    argue that in such a case, Kuchma's election team could

    successfully apply Boris Yeltsin's campaign tactics of 1995,

    when the Russian president faced Communist Gennadii Zyuganov

    in the run-off and, with the concerted help of Russian

    electronic media, effectively instilled the fear of a "red

    revenge" into the electorate. Those analysts assert that

    Kuchma could successfully use the same strategy against

    Symonenko. They also point out that Kuchma's campaign is

    already closely following the "Russian scenario": the

    Ukrainian incumbent, like his Russian counterpart four years

    ago, is employing the services of a host of pop stars and

    celebrities to promote him in the provinces.

    Kuchma's potential duel with Progressive Socialist

    leader Natalya Vitrenko would be more difficult and its

    outcome less easy to predict. That scenario could be called

    the "Belarusian" one because of Vitrenko's extremely populist

    election ticket, which strongly recalls Alyaksandr

    Lukashenka's in the 1994 Belarusian presidential vote. The 2

    October attempt on Vitrenko's life has most likely boosted

    her surprisingly high popularity. The unpredictability of a

    possible Vitrenko challenge to Kuchma lies in the fact that

    her electorate cannot be defined in terms of its social or

    economic status. Vitrenko's populism finds its appeal among

    different social layers of the Ukrainian population, whose

    only common denominator may be disappointment with Kuchma's

    rule. It is easy to make mistakes in trying to neutralize the

    populist appeal in the post-Soviet area, as the case of

    Belarus five years ago amply demonstrated.

    Many would argue that Socialist Party leader Oleksandr

    Moroz's possible runoff could be the worst scenario for

    Kuchma. Despite his fierce and not always fair criticism of

    the incumbent, Moroz is seen as a moderate leftist and, in

    contrast to Symonenko, a likeable one. In the second round,

    Moroz might be able to enlist the support of both Symonenko's

    and parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko's electorate--a

    goal he failed to achieve while campaigning within the so-

    called Kaniv Four election alliance of Marchuk, Tkachenko,

    and Volodymyr Oliynyk. However, the failure to arrive at a

    political compromise even with Tkachenko (who is now

    supporting Symonenko) means that Moroz is less likely to

    appear in the runoff than either Symonenko or Vitrenko.

    Marchuk's chances of reaching the second round seem even

    more remote than Moroz's. In fact, Marchuk is seeking support

    among the same electorate as Kuchma--that is, among those

    supporting both Ukraine's pro-market reform and strong

    statehood. Voters may rather prefer Kuchma, who has already

    proven himself to be a reformer, if only a half-hearted one,

    and a staunch supporter of an independent Ukraine.

    Ukraine's presidential election campaign has so far been

    less than exemplary, to say the least. It has been

    characterized by language that is invariably harsh, very

    often offensive, and sometimes vulgar. The administration

    keeps the electronic media--both state-controlled and

    commercial--on a tight rein, not allowing those media to give

    more air time to Kuchma's rivals than was prescribed by the

    Central Electoral Commission. At the same time, Kuchma

    receives extensive coverage in the state media as the

    incumbent head of state.

    It appears, however, that neither Ukrainian citizens nor

    the international community would protest very much if Kuchma

    were elected for another five years. For many inside and

    outside Ukraine, such an outcome would mean continuation and

    stability, even if embarrassingly low political and economic

    standards continue to prevail.

    27-10-99


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


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