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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 225, 99-11-18

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. 225, 18 November 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS MEET
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN WILL NOT PUSH FOR LARGER CFE QUOTA
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT PARDONS FOUR ISLAMISTS
  • [04] GEORGIA'S LABOR PARTY TO APPEAL ELECTION RESULTS IN
  • [05] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SESSION ADJOURNED
  • [06] EU CRITICIZES TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION...
  • [07] ...AS PREPARATIONS ON TRACK FOR PARLIAMENTARY POLL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITIONISTS PREDICT OPPOSITION GOVERNMENT WILL BE
  • [09] SERBIAN OPPOSITION GROUP CUTTING BACK ON RALLIES
  • [10] YUGOSLAV ARMY RESERVISTS CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES, ESPIONAGE
  • [11] LOSING CANDIDATE CRIES FOUL AS FINAL RESULTS OF MACEDONIAN
  • [12] THOUSANDS MOURN MASS GRAVE VICTIMS IN BOSNIA
  • [13] BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADER MISSES OSCE SUMMIT
  • [14] OSCE HEAD CALLS ON KOSOVAR ALBANIANS TO END VIOLENCE
  • [15] DONORS EARMARK MORE THAN $1 BILLION FOR KOSOVA
  • [16] UN TAKES STEP TOWARD CENTRAL BANK FOR KOSOVA
  • [17] CROATIAN PREMIER VISITS TUDJMAN
  • [18] ALBANIAN SAYS CRIMINALS FLED TO KOSOVA
  • [19] ROMANIAN PREMIER AGREES TO REASSESS SALE OF PETROTUB
  • [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY HEADING IN RIGHT DIRECTION
  • [21] MOST ROMANIANS BELIEVE 'REVOLUTION HAS SUCCEEDED'
  • [22] BALKAN CRIME FIGHTING CENTER OPENS IN BUCHAREST
  • [23] LEADER OF MOLDOVAN GREENS EXPELLED FROM DEMOCRATIC
  • [24] STOYANOV: BULGARIA'S TOP PRIORITY IS EU ACCESSION TALKS
  • [25] PRIVATIZATION OF INDUSTRY IN BULGARIA TO END IN MID-2000

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] UKRAINE'S VOTE OF WEARINESS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN, TURKISH PRESIDENTS MEET

    Turkish President Suleyman

    Demirel and his Armenian counterpart, Robert Kocharian, met

    for 30 minutes in Istanbul on 17 November, on the eve of the

    OSCE summit a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service

    reported. Demirel said after the talks that the establishment

    of formal diplomatic relations between the two countries is

    contingent on resolving the Karabakh conflict. He added that

    reaching such a settlement depends not only on Armenia but

    also on Azerbaijan. Turkey will do its best to bring about

    such a settlement, he noted. Demirel also said that at

    present Turkey is not considering routing an oil pipeline via

    Armenian territory, but he did not exclude that possibility

    in the future. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN WILL NOT PUSH FOR LARGER CFE QUOTA

    President

    Heidar Aliev said in Baku on 17 November before departing for

    the OSCE summit in Istanbul that Azerbaijan will not demand

    an increase in the quota of arms it is permitted under the

    revised CFE treaty, according to Reuters. Aliev said that if

    Baku were to do so, "it would mean a corresponding increase

    in Russia's quota in the Caucasus region." The previous day,

    Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayet Guliev had argued that

    as individual countries' quotas are proportional to the size

    of their territory and population, Azerbaijan should be

    entitled to almost double Armenia's quota, according to

    Interfax. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT PARDONS FOUR ISLAMISTS

    President

    Aliev on 17 November issued a decree pardoning four leading

    members of the Islamic Party of Azerbaijan who had been

    convicted in April 1997 of espionage on behalf of Iran,

    Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 April 1997). In

    May 1998 Aliev had rejected a plea for clemency for three of

    those four men on the grounds that they "pose a threat to

    society." LF

    [04] GEORGIA'S LABOR PARTY TO APPEAL ELECTION RESULTS IN

    INTERNATIONAL COURT

    Georgia's Supreme Court on 18 November

    rejected an appeal by the Labor Party to review the official

    returns from the 31 October parliamentary elections,

    according to which that party failed to garner the 7 percent

    minimum of the vote required for parliamentary

    representation, Caucasus Press reported. Natelashvili said

    that verdict indicates that the court is not objective. He

    had earlier claimed that the ruling Union of Citizens of

    Georgia had "appropriated" 700,000 votes cast for his party.

    He predicted that "the injustice will drive people out on the

    street to demand President Shevardnadze's resignation,"

    adding that he will take his case to the International Court

    in The Hague. LF

    [05] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT SESSION ADJOURNED

    After parliamentary

    deputies once again rejected as unrealistic the government's

    draft budget for 2000, the lower house of the parliament

    adjourned on 17 November until next month, RFE/RL's Bishkek

    bureau reported. Some deputies argued that the envisaged

    increase in tax revenues could throttle the development of

    the country's industry, according to Interfax. Deputies had

    rejected the budget in the first reading on 15 November (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 November 1999). LF

    [06] EU CRITICIZES TAJIK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION...

    In a statement

    issued in Helsinki on 17 November, the EU termed the 6

    November presidential poll "not compatible with democratic

    principles and values," Reuters reported. "The EU does not

    see any progress in the democratic development of Tajikistan

    if basic rules of civil society are not respected but even

    violated," the statement continued. Incumbent President

    Imomali Rakhmonov received 96 percent of the vote in that

    poll against opposition candidate Davlat Usmon. Usmon denied

    his registration as a candidate was legal as he had failed to

    collect the required 145,000 signatures in his support. The

    EU statement called for unspecified measures to ensure that

    the upcoming parliamentary poll is free and fair. LF

    [07] ...AS PREPARATIONS ON TRACK FOR PARLIAMENTARY POLL

    "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 18 November quoted Tajik

    presidential adviser Khalifabobo Khamidov as saying that the

    Commission for National Reconciliation is trying to reconcile

    recommendations from both the government and the opposition

    concerning the country's future electoral system. Khamidov

    said that the commission hopes to resolve the remaining

    disagreements over 12 articles of the draft election law by

    20 November. That deadline was specified in a protocol signed

    on the eve of the presidential poll by Rakhmonov and United

    Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 November 1999). The government proposes that the

    upper house have 35 deputies and the lower chamber 55,

    whereas the opposition advocates 45 and 91, respectively,

    according to Asia Plus-Blitz on 18 November. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITIONISTS PREDICT OPPOSITION GOVERNMENT WILL BE

    RECOGNIZED

    SZP coordinator Vladan Batic said on 17 November

    that the group's "transition government," led by former World

    Bank official Dragoslav Avramovic, will soon become the de

    facto representatives of Yugoslavia in international affairs,

    AP reported. Batic said he made that statement based on

    "assurances we have received from the U.S. and the EU, the

    transitional government will be gaining official

    verification." Batic said the current government under

    Milosevic is "incompetent and unable to perform its duties of

    representing the country." In other news, Dragan Veselinov,

    the leader of the Vojvodina Coalition, said in the Banja Luka

    weekly "Nezavisne novine" that Montenegro "has to leave"

    Yugoslavia and that Vojvodina "will go its own way." He said

    Belgrade was "pushing Vojvodina into separatism." PB

    [09] SERBIAN OPPOSITION GROUP CUTTING BACK ON RALLIES

    The

    opposition movement Alliance of Change (SZP) said on 17

    November that it will end its daily street protests and

    organize a weekly Saturday rally, Reuters reported. The SZP-

    led rallies calling for the resignation of Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic took place for 59 straight days but had

    recently been attracting only a few hundred participants. At

    the rallies' peak, tens of thousands of people joined in the

    demonstrations. Vladan Batic, the coordinator of the SZP,

    said the first Saturday rally will take place on 20 November.

    Batic said rallies will continue to be held in other Serbian

    cities, however. PB

    [10] YUGOSLAV ARMY RESERVISTS CHARGED WITH WAR CRIMES, ESPIONAGE

    Five Yugoslav Army reservists have been charged with crimes

    against civilians in Kosova and spying for a NATO country,

    Beta news agency reported, citing the daily "Blic." The daily

    said the five, who are all Serbs, were arrested on 11

    November and brought before a Belgrade judge three days

    later. The Serbian State Security Service has reportedly

    filed charges against the accused. The daily said the main

    defendant is a captain who commanded an army unit in Kosova

    during the air campaign against Yugoslavia. PB

    [11] LOSING CANDIDATE CRIES FOUL AS FINAL RESULTS OF MACEDONIAN

    POLL RELEASED

    Macedonia's electoral commission announced on

    17 November that Boris Trajkovski won 52.85 percent of the

    vote in the 14 November election, compared with 45.94 percent

    for his rival, Tito Petkovski, Reuters reported. Turnout was

    69.9 percent. The commission has to rule on some 249 official

    complaints of irregularities and fraud by 18 November. If

    Petkovski's Socialist Democratic Alliance (SDSM) disagrees

    with the commission's verdict, it can appeal to the Supreme

    Court. The SDSM has asked for the results to be annulled,

    alleging that Trajkovski's party and one of the main ethnic

    Albanian parties committed fraud by tampering with the vote

    count. International observers have said there were some

    irregularities but have stopped short of proclaiming they

    were widespread or changed the result of the election. Mark

    Almond of the British Helsinki Committee for Human Rights,

    told the daily "Utrinksi Vesnik" that election rules "were

    badly violated" in Tetovo and Gostivar. PB

    [12] THOUSANDS MOURN MASS GRAVE VICTIMS IN BOSNIA

    Several

    thousand people attended an emotional funeral in the

    northeastern Bosnian town of Kalesija on 17 November for 264

    Muslims exhumed from the largest mass grave yet uncovered in

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, Reuters reported. The remains were

    discovered in October 1998 at a village near Glumina, close

    to the Yugoslav border. Forensic experts say most of the

    victims were male civilians from Zvornik and had been shot by

    Serbian forces early in the 1992-1995 war. Nearly one-third

    of the bodies have not been identified. PB

    [13] BOSNIAN MUSLIM LEADER MISSES OSCE SUMMIT

    The office of the

    presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina said on 17 November that

    Alija Izetbegovic, the Muslim member of the presidency, will

    not attend the OSCE summit in Istanbul, SRNA reported. The

    office said Izetbegovic will attend to "work-related

    commitments" and that his failure to attend is not related to

    his visit to the Walter Reed military hospital in Washington

    late last week. Haris Silajdzic, the co-chairman of Bosnia's

    Council of Ministers, will be present, along with Croat Ante

    Jelavic and Serb Zivko Radisic of the presidency. In other

    news, Jelavic said a decision to ban Erotel TV by the

    International Media Commission (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17

    November 1999) is "unacceptable" and "its timing misjudged."

    PB

    [14] OSCE HEAD CALLS ON KOSOVAR ALBANIANS TO END VIOLENCE

    Knut

    Vollebaek, the chairman of the OSCE, urged ethnic Albanians

    on 18 November to end the escalation of violence in the

    Serbian province, Reuters reported. in the opening address to

    the OSCE summit in Istanbul, Vollebaek said the goal of a

    stable multiethnic Kosova is not close to being realized. UN

    Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his opening address that

    building a safe, pluralistic Kosova has been "an appallingly

    difficult task." Vollebaek added that he hopes Yugoslavia

    will begin democratic reforms and will end its self-imposed

    international isolation. PB

    [15] DONORS EARMARK MORE THAN $1 BILLION FOR KOSOVA

    International

    donors on 17 November pledged to give more than $1 billion in

    aid for Kosova over the next year, AP reported. The money was

    donated at a conference in Brussels sponsored by the EU and

    the World Bank. A bank official said the total was "in excess

    of the expectations that we had." The pledges include $970

    million for reconstruction and $47 million for projects to

    support free media and local elections, and $18 million in

    humanitarian aid. PB

    [16] UN TAKES STEP TOWARD CENTRAL BANK FOR KOSOVA

    The UN

    administration in Kosova took steps on 17 November toward

    setting up a banking system for the province by establishing

    the Banking and Payments Authority of Kosova (BPK), Reuters

    reported. The institution will act as a banker to the UN

    administration and will supervise the banking sector in

    Kosova. Nick Brentnall, the managing director of the bank,

    said the BPK will be a "banking system in which the people of

    Kosovo can place their trust." The bank is expected to be

    operational by the end of the year. PB

    [17] CROATIAN PREMIER VISITS TUDJMAN

    Zlatko Matesa said that he

    visited ailing President Franjo Tudjman in hospital on 17

    November, Reuters reported. Matesa said doctors told him

    Tudjman's condition is stable. The premier said he saw

    Tudjman "and wished him a speedy recovery." Matesa did not

    say if Tudjman responded. He gave no further details of his

    visit. PB

    [18] ALBANIAN SAYS CRIMINALS FLED TO KOSOVA

    Albanian police said

    on 17 November that some 40 alleged criminals from Albania

    are hiding in Kosova, dpa reported. A police spokesman said

    police have identified "all persons who have committed crimes

    in Albania and have fled to Kosova." He added that most are

    wanted for serious crimes, including murder and bank robbery.

    Some are alleged to have taken part in violent attacks

    against government and public buildings during street riots

    in spring 1997 and September 1998. Albanian newspapers

    reported the same day that Jaho Salihi, a policeman suspected

    of involvement in the murder of opposition deputy Azem

    Hajdari recently fled to Kosova. PB

    [19] ROMANIAN PREMIER AGREES TO REASSESS SALE OF PETROTUB

    Prime

    Minister Radu Vasile announced on 17 November that he will

    appoint a committee to reassess the sale of a 70 percent

    stake in the Petrotub steel pipe manufacturer to a Gibraltar-

    based company, Mediafax reported. Petrotub's employees have

    been protesting the sale of the company to Tubman

    International Ltd. for the past week (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    15 November 1999). VG

    [20] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT SAYS COUNTRY HEADING IN RIGHT DIRECTION

    Emil Constantinescu on 17 November said the current wave of

    discontent in the country has nothing to do with the

    political and economic direction in which Romania is heading

    but rather with the speed of its evolution, Romanian radio

    reported. A series of protests by workers, students, and

    other groups has taken place across the country in recent

    weeks. Constantinescu said the population's discontent is

    "correct and real" since prices have been rising faster than

    incomes. He said his greatest shortcoming in his three years

    as president was his failure to communicate adequately with

    the Romanian people. He called for the development of a

    culture of fighting against corruption. VG

    [21] MOST ROMANIANS BELIEVE 'REVOLUTION HAS SUCCEEDED'

    A total of

    62 percent of Romanians say the revolution of 1989 has

    succeeded so far, while 27 percent believe it has failed,

    according to a poll cited by Mediafax on 17 November.

    However, respondents to the poll, which was conducted by the

    Center for Urban and Regional Sociology, were divided on how

    to describe what happened in 1989 in Romania. While 41

    percent describe it as a "revolution," 36 percent say it was

    a coup and 19 percent say they don't know. VG

    [22] BALKAN CRIME FIGHTING CENTER OPENS IN BUCHAREST

    The

    Southeast European Cooperation Initiative (SECI) formally

    opened its headquarters in Bucharest on 16 November, Reuters

    reported. The center will coordinate information from its 10

    member states to facilitate the regional fight against

    organized crime. The U.S.-sponsored SECI comprises Albania,

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary,

    Macedonia, Moldova, Turkey, and Romania. SECI President

    Richard Schifter said the U.S. will contribute $400,000 to

    equip the new center. VG

    [23] LEADER OF MOLDOVAN GREENS EXPELLED FROM DEMOCRATIC

    CONVENTION

    The Democratic Convention of Moldova (DCM)

    parliamentary faction expelled Green Alliance leader Ion

    Dediu from its ranks on 16 November for "inadequate

    behavior," BASA-Press reported. Dediu said he was expelled

    for supporting the Communists and the Christian Democratic

    Popular Front in a vote to establish an environment ministry.

    In other news, union leader Serafim Turcanu said on 17

    November that some 850 teachers in 20 schools across Moldova

    have gone on strike to demand wage arrears dating back one

    year. VG

    [24] STOYANOV: BULGARIA'S TOP PRIORITY IS EU ACCESSION TALKS

    Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov on 17 November said his

    country's top priority is currently securing an invitation at

    the EU's December summit in Helsinki to start accession

    talks, BTA reported. He said he will focus on this issue at

    the 18-19 November OSCE summit in Istanbul. Both Stoyanov and

    Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mikhailova, who returned from a

    visit to Brussels on 16 November, said the two conditions

    recently stipulated by the EU for membership talks to begin

    will not necessarily prevent the country from being invited

    to accession talks next month. The two conditions are the

    closure of four reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant

    and further progress in economic reforms. VG

    [25] PRIVATIZATION OF INDUSTRY IN BULGARIA TO END IN MID-2000

    The

    parliamentary Economic Committee on 17 November approved the

    government's privatization program for the year 2000, BTA

    reported. The director of the Privatization Agency, Zakhari

    Zhelyazkov, said privatization in industry will be completed

    in mid-2000. A total of 673 privatization projects are

    expected to be wrapped up next year. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] UKRAINE'S VOTE OF WEARINESS

    by Jan Maksymiuk

    Leonid Kuchma won a seemingly easy victory in the 14

    November presidential runoff, gaining more than 56 percent of

    the vote, while his communist rival, Petro Symonenko,

    received some 38 percent backing. Kuchma commented the

    following day that nobody in Ukraine expected the incumbent

    to win by such a wide margin. And he suggested that his re-

    election means Ukrainians have chosen a "democratic way to

    build their country based on a market economy." Few observers

    of the Ukrainian political scene are likely to agree in full

    with Kuchma's interpretation of the ballot.

    One reason for objecting to such an interpretation is

    that during his five years in office, Kuchma has shown

    himself to be neither a truly democratic head of state nor a

    true advocate of market economy. Both at home and abroad, he

    has been described as a half-hearted democrat and a half-

    hearted reformer.

    Another reason is the large number of violations of

    voting and campaigning procedures that were pointed out not

    only by the incumbent's rivals in the race or his political

    foes but also by international observers. The executive's

    almost total control over the electronic media and its

    involvement in the incumbent's re-election campaign appear to

    have been the most instrumental in determining the final

    election outcome.

    Despite these violations, no international body will

    question Kuchma's re-election. The OSCE--whose opinion on

    elections in post-communist Europe seems to play a leading

    role in determining their legitimacy--reported that 31

    October first round of voting was fair. With regard to the

    second round, the OSCE reported many irregularities but did

    not suggest that they had a decisive affect on the outcome.

    "Serious violations"--including the executive's stifling the

    media and public officials' campaigning for Kuchma--were

    noted during the election campaign, but, again, the European

    election watchdog indicated no immediate link between them

    and the final result.

    Still, the scent of foul play remains in the air. "The

    runoff result is not [the Communists'] defeat but the defeat

    of democracy in Ukraine," Symonenko commented. That opinion

    is clearly exaggerated, but it nevertheless underscores the

    fact that Kuchma did not give the Communists in Ukraine a

    fair chance.

    Instead, the president's election team modeled his duel

    with Symonenko on Russia's 1996 runoff between Boris Yeltsin

    and Gennadii Zyuganov, scaring the electorate with the

    prospect of a Communist comeback and "red revenge." Between

    the first and second rounds, Ukraine's television fed voters

    with documentaries and films about Soviet-era repression and

    terror. The issue of building the country "based on a market

    economy" was present, if at all, only in the deepest

    background of the media campaign.

    Under these circumstances, Ukrainians voted on 14

    November for what appeared the more secure option--namely,

    for the country's fragile socio-economic status quo under

    Kuchma--and against any radical changes in the country's

    course that were linked with Symonenko (or with his media

    image).

    In 1991, Leonid Kravchuk's installment as the head of

    state took place on a nationwide wave of enthusiasm for an

    independent Ukraine. The 1994 election of Leonid Kuchma was

    an equally emotional event, marking a considerable ebb in

    national enthusiasm. Independent Ukraine's third presidential

    election--though bustling and enthusiastically fought by the

    presidential hopefuls--was a vote of weariness on the part of

    the electorate. Rather than enthusiasm for Kuchma's reformist

    effort, voters displayed skepticism about the ability of

    politicians to improve the economic situation by systemic

    change.

    By the same token, Symonenko's not unimpressive

    electoral showing should not be interpreted as a sign that 10

    million politically active Ukrainians want the return of

    communism. By casting their votes for Symonenko, many

    Ukrainians were in fact protesting their country's current

    economic plight, which is widely associated with Ukraine's

    failed attempts (under both Kravchuk and Kuchma) to follow a

    "Western path."

    As expected, the presidential elections showed once

    again that Ukraine remains politically split into a Western,

    "nationalist" part and an Eastern, "socialist" one. This

    time, Kuchma received overwhelming support in western

    Ukraine. The dividing lines between east and west in Ukraine

    are somewhat blurred by Kuchma's fairly strong showing in

    such eastern regions as Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Sumy, or

    Kharkiv (where he beat Symonenko), but the overall "two-

    nations-in-one" pattern has not changed. It seems that only a

    definite improvement in Ukraine's economy can heal the

    political, social, and--as Samuel Huntington put it--

    "civilizational" cleft between these two parts of one

    country.

    However, even if the full message of the Ukrainian

    presidential ballot is not easily identifiable, there is

    nonetheless strong ground for optimism, at least among

    Democrats. The re-election of Kuchma--a proponent of

    Ukraine's rapprochement with the West--is a good omen for all

    those in the post-Soviet area (notably in Russia and Belarus)

    who oppose the Communist-sponsored idea of restoring some

    kind of USSR in the form of a "Slavic union." Without

    Ukraine, such a union makes no sense, either politically or

    economically. And it appears that Kuchma is bent on

    continuing to strongly oppose that restoration effort.

    18-11-99


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


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