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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 232, 99-12-01

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. 232, 1 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TRIAL OF FORMER ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTER AGAIN ADJOURNED...
  • [02] ...AS DOUBTS EXPRESSSED OVER HIS WARNING TO MURDERED PREMIER
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT IN TURKEY, UKRAINE
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN OIL OFFICIAL RULES OUT NATO GUARD FOR PIPELINE
  • [05] GEORGIA'S MILITARY PROSECUTOR SAYS FUNDS EMBEZZLED
  • [06] U.S. COMPANY BEGINS EXTRACTING OIL IN GEORGIA
  • [07] FOUR POLITICAL PARTIES BARRED FROM CONTENDING KYRGYZ POLL
  • [08] KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN REACH AGREEMENT ON GAS SUPPLIES
  • [09] UZBEK OFFICIALS DESCRIBE ISLAMIC THREAT
  • [10] UZBEKISTAN REJECTS OSCE CRITICISM OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] MACEDONIAN GOVERNING COALITION BREAKING UP...
  • [12] ...AMID MUTUAL RECRIMINATIONS
  • [13] CROATIAN PRESIDENT'S CONDITION BLEAK
  • [14] CROATIAN PARTY DISTANCING SELF FROM OWN POLICIES?
  • [15] HUNGER STRIKE OVER SERBIAN OIL DELIVERIES
  • [16] U.S. INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE KOSOVA AID FRAUD
  • [17] UN LAUNCHES KOSOVA CAR REGISTRATION PROGRAM
  • [18] MESSAGES OF SUPPORT FOR BOSNIAN SACKINGS
  • [19] U.S., BALKAN MILITARY CHIEFS SET UP NEW STRUCTURES IN
  • [20] ROMANIAN FASCISTS MARK LEADER'S ASSASSINATION
  • [21] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CLEARS LAW ON ACCESS TO
  • [22] COMMUNIST LEADER APPOINTED MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE
  • [23] EU WELCOMES BULGARIA'S DECISION ON KOZLODUY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] EAST EUROPEAN STATES WELL REPRESENTED IN WTO

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TRIAL OF FORMER ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTER AGAIN ADJOURNED...

    Vano Siradeghian was taken under police escort to a Yerevan

    court on 30 November, one day after having failed to appear

    to answer charges of ordering a series of contract killings

    from 1993-1996, Noyan Tapan reported. Siradegian, who claims

    the charges against him are politically motivated, told the

    court he is engaging a new defense lawyer (his seventh) and

    demanded an adjournment to allow that attorney to familiarize

    himself with the case. The presiding judge adjourned the

    trial until 9 January 2000. LF

    [02] ...AS DOUBTS EXPRESSSED OVER HIS WARNING TO MURDERED PREMIER

    Meanwhile the Armenian prosecutor-general has ordered an

    investigation into the authenticity of what is claimed to be

    a letter sent by Siradeghian to Prime Minister Vazgen

    Sargsian in November 1998, Noyan Tapan reported. The letter

    was published in the Dashnak-funded daily "Haykakan zhamanak"

    on 25 November. In that letter, which was said to have been

    discovered among Sargsian's papers after his murder in

    October, Siradeghian warned Sargsian, who was then defense

    minister, of a possible move by President Robert Kocharian to

    curb his political influence or even to liquidate him.

    Several commentators have suggested that letter was written

    after the 27 October parliament shootings in an attempt to

    compromise Kocharian. "Azg" on 26 November quoted Military

    Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian as saying that no such letter

    was found among Sargsian's personal papers after his death.

    LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT IN TURKEY, UKRAINE

    Heidar Aliev flew

    to Kyiv on 30 November to attend the inauguration of recently

    re-elected President Leonid Kuchma, according to Turan on 1

    December. He also met with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir

    Putin to discuss the future course of bilateral relations. On

    27-28 November, Aliev visited Ankara at the invitation of his

    Turkish counterpart, Suleyman Demirel, where he participated

    in a seminar on soil erosion and other environmental issues,

    Turan reported. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN OIL OFFICIAL RULES OUT NATO GUARD FOR PIPELINE

    Ilham Aliev, Heidar's son and the vice president of the state

    oil company SOCAR, told Interfax on 30 November that the

    Azerbaijani leadership has not asked for NATO help in

    protecting the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export pipeline

    against possible terrorist attacks. Aliev said Azerbaijan

    believes it has the resources to protect the pipeline on its

    own. He added that discussion of Azerbaijan's possible NATO

    membership is "an illusion," given the aspirations of former

    East bloc countries to join the alliance. LF

    [05] GEORGIA'S MILITARY PROSECUTOR SAYS FUNDS EMBEZZLED

    Military

    Prosecutor Davit Bitsadze has accused unnamed senior military

    officials of misappropriating budget funds, Caucasus Press

    reported on 30 November. He claimed that the incidence of

    such thefts is currently greater than under former Defense

    Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze. Defense Minister David Tevzadze

    blames his ministry's chronic financial problems on the non-

    receipt of budget funds. Tevzadze also told journalists on 30

    November that it will be impossible for the Georgian armed

    forces to comply with NATO standards unless a 5-10 year

    development plan is drafted. Such a plan is not feasible if

    budget funds are allocated only on an annual basis, Tevzadze

    argued. On 17 November a ministry official told Caucasus

    Press that army personnel have not been paid for six months.

    He said the 2000 budget allocates only 42 million lari ($20

    million) for the armed forces instead of the necessary

    minimum of 98 million lari. LF

    [06] U.S. COMPANY BEGINS EXTRACTING OIL IN GEORGIA

    Georgian

    President Eduard Shevardnadze attended a ceremony at

    Dedoplistskaro in eastern Georgia on 30 November to mark the

    beginning of drilling of an oil well built by the U.S.

    company Frontera Resources, AP and Caucasus Press reported.

    The well is expected to yield some 150 tons of crude per day,

    which will be refined for domestic needs. LF

    [07] FOUR POLITICAL PARTIES BARRED FROM CONTENDING KYRGYZ POLL

    Kyrgyzstan's Minister of Justice Erkin Mamyrov told an RFE/RL

    correspondent in Bishkek on 30 November that four political

    parties have been banned from contending the parliamentary

    poll scheduled for 20 February 2000 because of irregularities

    in the documents they submitted. The parties in question are

    the Manas-El Party, the El (Bei-Bechara) Party, the Party of

    Bishkek Residents, and the Labor-Popular Party. Fifteen other

    parties have been registered to participate in the election.

    LF

    [08] KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN REACH AGREEMENT ON GAS SUPPLIES

    Latypjan Sagynbaev, who is director of the state Kyrgyzgaz

    company, told journalists in Bishkek on 30 November that gas

    deliveries from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan will be resumed

    "soon," according to an RFE/RL correspondent in the Kyrgyz

    capital. Uzbekistan halted supplies two weeks ago in

    retaliation for Kyrgyzstan's failure to pay for earlier

    supplies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 1999).

    Kyrgyzstan has since paid about 75 percent of its estimated

    $4 million debt. LF

    [09] UZBEK OFFICIALS DESCRIBE ISLAMIC THREAT

    Speaking in

    Washington on 30 November, Uzbekistan's Mufti Abdulrashid

    Kory Bakhromov and Tashkent's Ambassador to the U.S. Sodyq

    Safaev said that hundreds of young Uzbeks are being recruited

    and trained as terrorists in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and

    Pakistan by radical Islamic organizations, an RFE/RL

    correspondent in Washington reported. A spokesman for the

    Pakistani embassy denied that allegation. Safaev said that

    radical Islamists are hindering the development of democracy

    in Uzbekistan. He called for cooperation to thwart their aim

    of "spreading Islamic fundamentalism throughout Central

    Asia," according to AP. LF

    [10] UZBEKISTAN REJECTS OSCE CRITICISM OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN

    Khazhmiddin Kamilov, who is a spokesman for Uzbekistan's

    Central Electoral Commission, on 30 November rejected as

    unsubstantiated criticism by the OSCE's Office for Democratic

    Institutions and Human Rights of preparations for the 5

    December parliamentary elections, Interfax reported. ODIHR

    had charged that the Uzbek election law does not guarantee

    free and fair elections and that the country's authorities

    are interfering in the election campaign (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 23 November 1999). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] MACEDONIAN GOVERNING COALITION BREAKING UP...

    Democratic

    Alternative (DA) leader Vasil Tupurkovski said in Skopje on

    30 November that his party will leave the governing coalition

    soon because "our participation in the government is not

    sustainable any longer," Reuters reported. The DA has eight

    of the 28 seats in the cabinet, which also consists of the

    Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE)

    and the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH). Relations

    between the DA and VMRO-DPMNE have been strained for some

    time following the latter's refusal to back Tupurkovski in

    the recent presidential elections. The departure of the DA

    from the coalition will leave the government with 61 out of

    120 votes in the parliament. The DA ministers are expected to

    announce their resignations from the government in the next

    few days. PM

    [12] ...AMID MUTUAL RECRIMINATIONS

    Tupurkovski's statement on 30

    November was triggered by the other coalition partners'

    refusal to grant the DA additional seats in the government,

    AP reported. It was also prompted by Prime Minister Ljubco

    Georgievski's (VMRO-DPMNE) demand that Justice Minister Vlado

    Kambovski (DA) resign. VMRO-DPMNE officials have charged that

    Kambovski encouraged the Supreme Court to make its recent

    decision to re-run the presidential election in 221 precincts

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 1999). Most of those

    precincts are in western Macedonia, where PDSH supporters

    voted en masse for the VMRO-DPMNE's Boris Trajkovski in the

    second round of the presidential election on 14 November. PM

    [13] CROATIAN PRESIDENT'S CONDITION BLEAK

    "Vecernji list," which

    is close to the governing Croatian Democratic Community

    (HDZ), reported on 1 December that President Franjo Tudjman's

    "doctors are having more and more difficulties in finding

    ways to preserve his life." They continue to monitor his

    heartbeat, but his digestive system, kidneys, and liver have

    ceased to function. The president is able to breathe thanks

    only to a respirator, the daily added. "Jutarnji list" noted

    that officials have already begun preparations for Tudjman's

    funeral and burial site. PM

    [14] CROATIAN PARTY DISTANCING SELF FROM OWN POLICIES?

    Deputy

    speaker of the parliament and leading hard-line HDZ

    politician Vladimir Seks told Vienna's "Die Presse" of 30

    November that his party will seek to curb the powers of the

    president after the 3 January legislative elections. The

    constitution gives extensive powers to the president and the

    opposition wants most of those prerogatives transferred to

    the parliament. Elsewhere, Ivic Pasalic, who leads the

    Herzegovinian faction within the HDZ, told the state-run

    daily "Vjesnik" of 1 December that his party made economic

    mistakes because it followed "neo-liberal" advice from

    "international financial institutions." Observers note that

    many Croats feel that the HDZ has enabled many of its

    loyalists to amass great wealth at a time when most people

    have difficulty making ends meet. In other news, Vlatko

    Pavletic, who is acting president, said after talks with

    Defense Minister Pavao Miljavac that the army will respect

    the results of the elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. PM

    [15] HUNGER STRIKE OVER SERBIAN OIL DELIVERIES

    Mayor Tomislav

    Panajotovic of Pirot said that he and the town council will

    soon go on a hunger strike if the central authorities do not

    allow EU heating oil shipments to cross from Macedonia into

    Serbia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 30 November

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 November 1999). In Nis, Mayor

    Zoran Zivkovic said he will call on citizens to "seek out the

    guilty ones in Belgrade and Dedinje" (where Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic lives) if the authorities do not

    allow EU oil to reach his town. In Brussels, the EU's Chris

    Patten said that the Energy for Democracy program will

    continue regardless of whether the Serbian authorities allow

    the current oil shipment to cross the border. Elsewhere, a

    shipment of heating oil bought by the city government of Novi

    Sad has arrived from Hungary, Montenegrin Television reported

    on 1 December. PM

    [16] U.S. INVESTIGATING POSSIBLE KOSOVA AID FRAUD

    U.S. disaster

    relief officials are looking into reports that an unnamed

    employee of the U.S.-based International Rescue Committee in

    Macedonia diverted up to $1 million to a fictitious company

    for building materials that were never delivered, AP reported

    from Prishtina on 30 November. The employee, who was also one

    of the owners of the company, has meanwhile "disappeared." A

    spokeswoman for USAID in Washington stressed that officials

    launched the investigation as soon as they suspected

    irregularities. Aid agencies face the huge task of rebuilding

    or repairing 125,000 homes in Kosova amid winter weather

    conditions. PM

    [17] UN LAUNCHES KOSOVA CAR REGISTRATION PROGRAM

    Officials of the

    UN-led civilian administration in Kosova began distributing

    new green-and-white automobile registration plates in

    Prishtina on 30 November. The UN's Bernard Kouchner hailed

    the introduction of the license plates as a "most visible

    sign of law and order" in the troubled province, Reuters

    reported. Police hope that the license plates will help them

    to crack down on organized crime and auto smuggling, much of

    which is in the hands of criminals from Albania. Serbian

    forces often removed license plates from ethnic Albanians'

    cars during the ethnic cleansing campaign in the spring of

    1999. UN officials acknowledged that introducing the license

    plates is "a bit unorthodox" but hailed it as "a public

    necessity." The Serbian authorities see the move as a

    violation of Serbian sovereignty. PM

    [18] MESSAGES OF SUPPORT FOR BOSNIAN SACKINGS

    A spokesman for the

    international community's Wolfgang Petritsch said in Sarajevo

    on 30 November that his office has received numerous

    messages, telephone calls, and e-mails from ordinary citizens

    of Bosnia expressing support for the recent sacking of 22

    nationalist officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November

    1999). The spokesman stressed that the firings are intended

    to "kick-start" the return of refugees and displaced persons

    whose homes are now controlled by a different ethnic group

    from their own. Officials of several leading nationalist

    parties criticized the firings, Reuters reported. PM

    [19] U.S., BALKAN MILITARY CHIEFS SET UP NEW STRUCTURES IN

    BUCHAREST

    U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen, meeting in

    Bucharest on 30 November with defense ministers from several

    Balkan countries and Italy, signed agreements on establishing

    a military intelligence network to control and prevent crises

    and on setting up an engineering task force to build road

    infrastructure across the region. The Balkan signatories to

    the agreement are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia,

    Romania, Slovenia, and Turkey. Cohen told participants to the

    meeting that Yugoslavia will not be accepted as a partner as

    long as President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power. In

    meetings with Romanian leaders, Cohen praised Romania's

    progress in military and economic reforms and pledged that

    Washington will continue helping Bucharest climb "the steep

    steps" toward gaining NATO membership, RFE/RL's Bucharest

    bureau reported. MS

    [20] ROMANIAN FASCISTS MARK LEADER'S ASSASSINATION

    Some 100

    members of the Iron Guard gathered at the Tancabesti forest

    near Bucharest on 30 November to mark the anniversary of the

    1938 assassination of their leader, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu,

    on King Carol II's orders, AP reported. They raised their

    hand in the Guard's Nazi-like salute and sang Guardist hymns

    and songs. MS

    [21] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT CLEARS LAW ON ACCESS TO

    SECURITATE FILES

    The Constitutional Court on 29 November

    ruled that the recently passed law on access to Communist-era

    secret police files is constitutional. Last month the Supreme

    Court asked the Constitutional Court to review the

    stipulation that only the files of the heads of postcommunist

    secret services can be accessed, Mediafax reported. MS

    [22] COMMUNIST LEADER APPOINTED MOLDOVAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE

    President Petru Lucinschi on 1 December appointed Vladimir

    Voronin, leader of the Party of Moldovan Communists, as

    premier-designate, Infotag reported. Addressing the

    parliament, Lucinschi said Voronin's "wish to shoulder the

    responsibility for improving the country's situation should

    only be welcomed." He called on legislators to speedily

    approve the nomination, saying that if they do not, he might

    be compelled to dissolve the parliament and call early

    elections. Speaking on Moldovan Television one day earlier,

    Lucinschi said it was the "usual practice in many countries"

    to appoint as premier the leader of the largest parliamentary

    group in the legislature. The Communists, he said, "have 40

    seats in our parliament, more than any other political

    force." To appoint their leader to that position would be "an

    absolutely democratic and civilized act." MS

    [23] EU WELCOMES BULGARIA'S DECISION ON KOZLODUY

    The EU on 30

    November welcomed Bulgaria's commitment to shut down the two

    aging reactors at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant and said

    it expects the other two reactors to be shut down by 2006. It

    also said that in addition to Bulgaria, it has now secured

    commitments from Slovakia and Lithuania to close unsafe

    reactors as a precondition for launching accession

    negotiations. Commission spokesman Jean-Christophe Fiori told

    journalists in Brussels that Bulgaria will receive some $200

    million in aid to help alleviate the effects of the closure,

    Reuters reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] EAST EUROPEAN STATES WELL REPRESENTED IN WTO

    By Andrew F. Tully

    Several states from Central and Eastern Europe will be

    among the full members of the World Trade Organization

    sending representatives to the organization's meetings in

    Seattle this week.

    Estonia became the 135th country in the organization

    when it officially joined last month. Also among the full

    members are Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary,

    Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

    Most of the other states from the region have observer

    status and have applied for full membership. They are

    Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia-Herzegovina,

    Croatia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Macedonia, Moldova,

    Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

    U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky recently

    made the argument that countries in the region have benefited

    from membership. In testimony before the U.S. Senate, she

    cited the cases of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.

    Attaining membership forces countries in transition from

    communism to make the reforms necessary for a free-market

    economy, Barshefsky argued, noting that this in turn helps to

    bring about long-term growth.

    But concerns have been raised in both the region's full

    WTO member states and in candidate states about some of the

    consequences of participation in the world trade body.

    Latvia became a full member early this year, even though

    farmers had raised concerns that the step would undermine

    their ability to compete with agricultural imports. They

    worry in part because duties on grain imports are to be cut

    from 75 percent to 50 percent next year.

    Others in Latvia, including makers of pharmaceuticals,

    have complained that WTO membership has forced legal changes

    that are too rapid. However, Latvia's timber industry is

    expected to benefit from new trading terms with other WTO

    states.

    With Estonia also now a member, Lithuania is alone among

    the Baltic States in remaining outside the WTO. Earlier this

    year, then Lithuanian Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius

    complained that reforms demanded by the WTO did not conform

    with demands made by the EU on its candidate states.

    Kyrgyzstan remains the only CIS state to have won full

    WTO membership, something it accomplished a year ago. Some

    Western observers at the time said membership demonstrated

    the country's progress in establishing the rule of law and

    transparency in economic matters.

    But membership has also complicated Kyrgyzstan's

    relations with some of its neighbors. First Russia and then

    Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan imposed new tariffs.

    Frederick Starr, chairman of the Central Asia-Caucasus

    Institute at John Hopkins University in Washington, told

    RFE/RL earlier this year that he believes Moscow engineered

    the tariff hikes to send a message to Bishkek. He said

    Russian officials wanted to punish Kyrgyzstan for seeking

    closer ties with the West while drifting away from Moscow's

    economic and political control. Starr added that another

    reason may have been that in going so far in meeting WTO

    standards, Kyrgyzstan, as a fellow CIS member, may have

    undermined Russia's hopes of winning entry on less demanding

    terms.

    Despite such incidents, many states from Eastern Europe

    and the former Soviet Union are likely to use the meetings in

    Seattle to press ahead with their efforts to win full WTO

    membership. Their delegates are expected to be joined in

    Seattle by thousands of anti-WTO demonstrators, who are

    pressing for an end to child labor, for environmental

    safeguards, and for a number of other causes.

    RFE/RL asked representatives of two of the region's

    observer states whether they are concerned the protests might

    detract from their membership efforts.

    Nijole Zambaite is minister counselor at the Lithuanian

    Embassy to the U.S. She said she believes that her country's

    accession will proceed "according to our merits and

    negotiations. And I don't think it will be stalled by the

    demonstrations."

    Elmar Mamedyarov, the charge d'affaires at the

    Azerbaijani Embassy in Washington, is not concerned either

    that the demonstrations will interfere with the WTO's work.

    In fact, he welcomes the protests: "From one point of view,

    it's good because sometimes demonstrations are raising the

    issues--which is also very important--and give a fresh

    approach to the issues which maybe sometimes can be skipped."

    Only a few states from Central and Eastern Europe are as

    of yet neither full members of nor observers at the WTO. They

    are Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Yugoslavia.

    Among states of the Middle East, neither Iran nor Iraq

    is either a member or observers. The region's full members

    include Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Israel, and Kuwait.

    Observers from the region include Jordan, Lebanon, Oman,

    Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. All but Yemen have applied for full

    membership.

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

    01-12-99


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


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