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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 8, 00-01-12

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. 8, 12 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] KURDS IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN DEMONSTRATE IN
  • [02] RUSSIA REJECTS GEORGIAN ACCUSATIONS OF ARMS
  • [03] ...AS GEORGIAN TELEVISION SHOWS FILM FOOTAGE
  • [04] DEFENDANT IN KAZAKH MIG SALE TRIAL HOSPITALIZED
  • [05] KAZAKH NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN SUMS UP 1999
  • [06] KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT CREATES COMMISSION TO DEAL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] PRAISE FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION DECLARATION
  • [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY TO SUE MINISTER...
  • [09] ...WHILE SOLDIERS' FAMILIES TO SUE ARMY...
  • [10] ...AND OTHERS PROTEST AGAINST SERBIAN REGIME
  • [11] NOVI SAD TO DEFY MILOSEVIC
  • [12] POWER CUTS IN KOSOVA
  • [13] PRISHTINA AIRPORT REOPENED
  • [14] ROW OVER PRIVATIZATION IN ALBANIA
  • [15] ALBANIAN POLICE ARRESTED FOR TRANSPORTING
  • [16] CALL FOR JOINT POLICE FORCE IN BOSNIA
  • [17] CROATIAN LEGISLATURE TO MEET ON 1 FEBRUARY?
  • [18] MORE PUBLIC IN-FIGHTING IN DEFEATED CROATIAN
  • [19] HDZ'S GRANIC NOT TO MAKE SECOND ROUND?
  • [20] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS IT WILL ABOLISH
  • [21] ROMANIAN INFLATION RATE FAR EXCEEDS OFFICIAL
  • [22] MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REBUKES RUSSIA
  • [23] GAGAUZ-YERI PARLIAMENT WITHDRAWS 'DIPLOMATIC
  • [24] BULGARIAN ANNUAL INFLATION OVER SIX PERCENT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] CROATIA'S RACAN SETS PRIORITIES

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] KURDS IN ARMENIA, KAZAKHSTAN DEMONSTRATE IN

    SUPPORT OF OCALAN

    Members of Armenia's Kurdish

    minority staged a demonstration on 10 January outside the

    UN office in Yerevan to protest the failure of the Turkish

    Supreme Court to revoke the death sentence passed on

    Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan, Noyan

    Tapan reported the following day. In Almaty, some 20-25

    Kurds staged a demonstration on 11 January to protest the

    death sentence on Ocalan, RFE/RL's bureau in the former

    capital reported. LF

    [02] RUSSIA REJECTS GEORGIAN ACCUSATIONS OF ARMS

    SMUGGLING TO CHECHNYA...

    Senior officers of the Group of

    Russian Forces in the Caucasus on 11 January said Georgian

    parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania's claims that Georgian

    security officials intercepted a consignment of arms being

    transported from a Russian military base in Georgia to

    Chechnya are "unsubstantiated" and "deliberate

    disinformation," Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 11 January 2000). Federal Security Service

    spokesman Aleksandr Zdanovich told Interfax he was

    unaware of the interception and condemned Zhvania's claims

    as damaging bilateral relations. Characterizing Zhvania's

    accusations as "rather serious," an unnamed Russian Defense

    Ministry spokesman declined either to confirm or deny them.

    LF

    [03] ...AS GEORGIAN TELEVISION SHOWS FILM FOOTAGE

    Meanwhile, Georgian National Television on 11 January aired

    footage of weapons being unloaded from a truck in the South

    Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, Caucasus Press reported. The

    truck driver told journalists that the arms had been loaded at

    the Russian military base at Vaziani, near Tbilisi. The identity

    of the smugglers is unclear: Caucasus Press quoted Zhvania

    as saying that Russian soldiers and one Chechen were

    involved, while Interfax quoted him as describing the arms

    smugglers as "people from the Caucasus who are not

    Georgians or Georgian nationals." LF

    [04] DEFENDANT IN KAZAKH MIG SALE TRIAL HOSPITALIZED

    The court proceedings against Kazakh Chief of General Staff

    Bakhytzhan Ertaev and businessman Aleksandr Petrenko have

    again been suspended after Ertaev reportedly suffered a

    minor heart attack in the courtroom on 11 January, RFE/RL's

    Almaty bureau reported. He was subsequently taken to the

    Almaty military hospital. The two men are accused of

    arranging the illicit sale to North Korea of 40 obsolete MiG

    fighters. Ertaev admitted the same day that on orders from

    his superiors he signed a contract on behalf of the Kazakh

    Defense Ministry to deliver the aircraft to Agroplast of the

    Czech Republic, which was to transport the aircraft to North

    Korea. Former Defense Minister Mukhtar Altynbaev told the

    court the same day that the sale was sanctioned by the

    Kazakh government but that he could not recall details,

    according to Interfax. Altynbaev refused to answer any

    questions posed by RFE/RL's correspondent. LF

    [05] KAZAKH NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN SUMS UP 1999

    Grigorii Marchenko told journalists on 11 January that

    Kazakhstan's currency, the tenge, declined by more than 60

    percent in value last year to 138.25 to the U.S. dollar,

    Interfax reported. The steepest drop in value was in April,

    after the tenge was allowed to float freely against the U.S.

    dollar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 7 April 1999). Marchenko

    estimated the annual inflation rate for 1999 at 18 percent. LF

    [06] KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT CREATES COMMISSION TO DEAL

    WITH UNEMPLOYMENT

    A permanent government

    commission headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Boris

    Silaev has been set up to combat unemployment, RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau reported on 11 January, citing the

    government press service. Minister of Labor and Social

    Affairs Imankadyr Rysaliev said in October 1999 that 56,000

    people are officially registered as unemployed but that the

    true figure is closer to 95,000. Local experts say, however,

    that some 1 million of the country's 4.8 million population are

    engaged in shuttle trade and have no permanent job. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] PRAISE FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITION DECLARATION

    Spokesmen for the U.S. and EU on 11 January hailed the joint

    statement issued the previous day by 17 Serbian opposition

    parties or coalitions (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 11 January

    2000). Serbian Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is a

    leader of the Kosova Serbs, said that the opposition has not

    united in support of any one party but rather in support of

    one goal: to oust Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

    Opposition politician and former General Vuk Obradovic

    predicted that the Serbian regime will soon face a worse

    defeat than the governing Croatian Democratic Community

    (HDZ) did in the recent parliamentary elections in that

    country, "Vesti" reported on 12 January. Vladan Batic, who is

    a spokesman of the opposition Alliance for Change, said the

    signatories to the joint declaration will soon visit Kosova,

    "Danas" noted. PM

    [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTY TO SUE MINISTER...

    The small

    Christian Democratic Party has filed charges against Yugoslav

    Information Minister Goran Matic for "spreading false news,"

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Belgrade on 11

    January. Party officials called on the authorities to arrest and

    detain him pending his trial. The officials added that the

    outspoken minister's frequent anti-opposition statements

    unnecessarily upset people. The party decided to file

    charges following a recent accusation by Matic that the

    opposition is preparing for civil war. Lawyers for the

    opposition Serbian Renewal Movement said Matic will have a

    hard time defending his accusations in a court of law, "Vesti"

    reported on 11 January. Matic has frequently threatened the

    private media with lawsuits "for spreading false news" under

    the 1998 media law. PM

    [09] ...WHILE SOLDIERS' FAMILIES TO SUE ARMY...

    The families

    of seven Serbian soldiers who died in the 1999 Kosova

    conflict plan to sue the Yugoslav military for the deaths of

    their sons, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 11

    January. The first court case will begin in Nis on 4 February,

    when Snezana and Dusan Vukovic will present their

    arguments against the army. Dusan Vukovic attracted public

    attention in December, when he refused a posthumous medal

    from Milosevic for his son (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16

    December 1999). PM

    [10] ...AND OTHERS PROTEST AGAINST SERBIAN REGIME

    Painter Bogoljub Arsenijevic, who is in prison for staging

    violent anti-regime protests in Valjevo in 1999, said in a

    statement that he does not want Milosevic to pardon him.

    Arsenijevic told his supporters: "I do not want to be

    pardoned by the Balkan butcher [Slobodan] Milosevic and his

    vassal Serbian President [Milan] Milutinovic, because I despise

    them and I do not recognize their authority.... In spite of [bad

    health and separation from my children], I would rather die in

    Milosevic's jail than live in shame on the account of his

    demonic mercy." Private Radio B2-92 carried the report from

    Belgrade on 11 January. Also in the Serbian capital, the

    pacifist group Women in Black have called a protest for 12

    January because of the regime's "continuing warmongering

    policies," "Danas" reported. PM

    [11] NOVI SAD TO DEFY MILOSEVIC

    City authorities in Novi Sad

    announced on 11 January that will begin clearing destroyed

    bridges from the River Danube in approximately one month.

    The city government will cover costs. Milosevic has refused

    to clear the wrecks of the bridges, which make international

    shipping impossible, unless NATO countries first agree to pay

    the bill. PM

    [12] POWER CUTS IN KOSOVA

    UN authorities in Prishtina

    announced power cuts in Kosova on 11 January following a

    fire at the Obilic power plant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11

    January 2000). PM

    [13] PRISHTINA AIRPORT REOPENED

    NATO authorities reopened

    Prishtina airport to civilian traffic on 11 January. The facility

    had been closed since 21 November, following an airplane

    crash that left 24 passengers dead. PM

    [14] ROW OVER PRIVATIZATION IN ALBANIA

    Prime Minister Ilir

    Meta on 11 January sacked Privatization Minister Zef Preci

    and State Minister Prec Zogaj. Meta charged Preci with

    irregularities in awarding oil industry contracts and Zogaj with

    being "uncooperative." Preci replied that unidentified persons

    close to Meta wanted him fired because they supported

    applicants for oil contracts whom Preci had turned down.

    Zogaj said that Meta fired him for backing Preci, Reuters

    reported. Preci is an independent economist who has written

    a study on corruption in Albania for the World Bank. President

    Rexhep Meidani must approve the sackings before they can

    take effect. Zogaj is a former adviser to Meidani. PM

    [15] ALBANIAN POLICE ARRESTED FOR TRANSPORTING

    MARIJUANA

    The Interior Ministry said in a statement on 11

    January that two policemen and one member of the secret

    police (SHISH) are under arrest for attempting to smuggle

    400 kilograms of cannabis to Greece. Police conducting a

    routine check along a road near Librazhd discovered the

    marijuana in the three men's van on 9 January. Cannabis is

    widely grown in Albania and in some other poor regions of

    the Balkans, such as Herzegovina, as a source of much-

    needed income. The Albanian government's attempts to

    crack down on marijuana cultivation have proven

    unsuccessful, dpa reported. PM

    [16] CALL FOR JOINT POLICE FORCE IN BOSNIA

    Alexandra

    Stiglmayer, who is spokeswoman for the international

    community's Wolfgang Petritsch, said in Sarajevo on 11

    January that she hopes Serbian and Croatian hard-liners will

    end their opposition to setting up a joint multi-ethnic border

    police force to patrol Bosnia's frontiers. Serbian and Croatian

    deputies in the joint parliament have repeatedly blocked

    passage of a bill setting up the force, which would be able to

    operate up to 10 kilometers inside the frontiers as well as on

    the borders. PM

    [17] CROATIAN LEGISLATURE TO MEET ON 1 FEBRUARY?

    Acting President Vlatko Pavletic said in Zagreb that he is

    continuing talks with representatives of parties that received

    more than 5 percent of the vote in the 3 January elections

    and will be represented in the new parliament. He added that

    he expects the opening session of the legislature will be on

    1 February, "Jutarnji list" reported on 12 January (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2000). PM

    [18] MORE PUBLIC IN-FIGHTING IN DEFEATED CROATIAN

    RULING PARTY

    Stjepan Tudjman, who is a son of the late

    President Franjo Tudjman, charged in a letter to the HDZ

    leadership that Ivic Pasalic, who heads the party's

    Herzegovinian faction, approved licenses for regional

    television stations without Franjo Tudjman's approval,

    "Jutarnji list" reported on 12 January. Elsewhere, mutual

    recriminations continue between HDZ parliamentary leader

    Vladimir Seks and party spokesman Ivica Ropus, who recently

    resigned because of differences with Seks. Pasalic, who is a

    bitter rival of Seks, wants the party leadership to vote on

    whether Ropus should go (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 21

    December 1999). PM

    [19] HDZ'S GRANIC NOT TO MAKE SECOND ROUND?

    Split's

    "Slobodna Dalmacija," which usually represents views close to

    the HDZ, published the results of an opinion poll on 12

    January regarding the 24 January presidential elections. The

    poll gives 30.4 percent support to Drazen Budisa, who

    represents the main opposition coalition. For the first time in

    a major Croatian poll, second place went to Stipe Mesic, who

    is the candidate of the smaller opposition coalition. The HDZ's

    Mate Granic came in third with 21.4 percent, just behind

    Mesic's 22 percent. No other candidate was able to muster

    even 3 percent. Some 21 percent of the respondents said

    they are undecided. If no candidate wins more than 50

    percent on 24 January, a second round will take place two

    weeks later. Previous polls published in the press suggested

    that the second round would be between Budisa and Granic.

    PM

    [20] ROMANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY SAYS IT WILL ABOLISH

    LAND RESTITUTION LAW

    Ioan Mircea Pascu, deputy

    chairman of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR),

    said on 11 January that when it returns to power, the PDSR

    will abolish the land restitution law recently passed by the

    parliament. Although the Constitutional Court ruled that the

    law does not contravene the basic document, Pascu said this

    is not the case because all the amendments proposed by his

    party were ignored by the ruling coalition. Pascu also

    criticized President Emil Constantinescu for having

    promulgated the law on television, saying this was a "sound-

    and-light" show aimed at discrediting his formation. He added

    that the alliance envisaged by right-wing parties to stop the

    PDSR's return to power is "undemocratic," RFE/RL's Bucharest

    bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 January 2000).

    MS

    [21] ROMANIAN INFLATION RATE FAR EXCEEDS OFFICIAL

    PROGNOSIS

    Inflation in 1999 reached 55 percent, far

    exceeding the 25-30 percent predicted by Radu Vasile's

    cabinet, Romanian Television reported on 11 January. MS

    [22] MOLDOVAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REBUKES RUSSIA

    The

    Foreign Ministry on 11 January said that a Russian Foreign

    Ministry statement of 21 December 1999 is distorting the

    decisions adopted at the November 1999 OSCE summit in

    Istanbul. The Russian statement called for synchronizing the

    Russian troops' withdrawal from the Transdniester and a

    resolution to the dispute over the special status of the

    Transdniester within Moldova. Foreign Ministry spokesman

    Iurie Vition said that in Istanbul, Russia undertook to withdraw

    or destroy its arsenal in the region by the end of 2001 and

    to withdraw all its troops by the end of 2002. Moscow is thus

    distorting the OSCE summit decisions when it speaks of a

    "synchronization" of those two processes, Vition said,

    according to Flux. MS

    [23] GAGAUZ-YERI PARLIAMENT WITHDRAWS 'DIPLOMATIC

    REPRESENTATION' FROM TRANSDNIESTER

    The Popular

    Assembly of the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region announced

    on 11 January that it is withdrawing its recently established

    representation on the territory of the Transdniester. In

    August, the assembly's chairman, Mikhail Kendigelean,

    appointed Ivan Burgujy as representative to the breakaway

    region, with the task of promoting economic cooperation.

    Burgujy then introduced himself as the "Gagauz ambassador"

    and handed forged credentials to Transdniester separatist

    leader Igor Smirnov, leading to tension between the

    authorities in Chisinau and the Gagauz-Yeri leadership, Infotag

    reported. MS

    [24] BULGARIAN ANNUAL INFLATION OVER SIX PERCENT

    Annual inflation in 1999 reached 6.2 percent, BTA reported

    on 10 January. The steepest increases were registered in

    the prices of housing, water, electricity, and gas (an average

    of 29.8 percent). Prices of food, non-alcoholic drinks,

    clothing, and footwear dropped by an average of 4.7 percent

    and those for household articles and kitchen appliances by

    1.4 percent. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] CROATIA'S RACAN SETS PRIORITIES

    By Patrick Moore

    Croatian Prime Minister-designate Ivica Racan has lost no

    time giving numerous interviews in which he makes clear what

    his immediate tasks will be. Like his predecessors from the

    Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), the Social Democrat

    stresses that his policies will serve national interests. His

    understanding of those interests, however, is very different

    from that of the HDZ.

    Echoing statements he made during the election

    campaign, Racan made it clear to the "Berliner Zeitung" of 7

    January that his top priority is to straighten out the domestic

    economic mess. He said that it will be necessary to find out

    exactly how bad the government's financial situation is

    because he suspects that it is worse than the HDZ was

    willing to admit. Once that is clarified, he noted, everyone will

    be expected to do his part to set things right, which will

    mean pay cuts for virtually all state employees. Racan added

    that he will use "economic, tax, and fiscal" incentives to

    create new jobs and end a policy of state subsidies for loss-

    makers.

    Turning to foreign relations, he stressed that he will

    defend national interests by ending Croatia's isolation. He will

    promote national sovereignty by ensuring that Croatia is

    represented in international bodies. "Our sovereignty is our

    place at the table where decisions are made," he said.

    Racan noted in particular that Zagreb must gain access

    to the EU. Croatian voters, he argued, showed in the 3

    January legislative elections that they have a clear

    understanding of democracy even though the HDZ exercised

    control over the electronic media. This understanding of

    democracy will enable Croatia to gain membership in the EU

    more quickly than many may have thought possible, he

    continued.

    Racan, like virtually all Croatian politicians, said his

    country will not form any new "Balkan or neo-Yugoslav" state

    unit with its neighbors. But unlike the HDZ, he stressed that

    Zagreb will be open to regional cooperation. Late President

    Franjo Tudjman always argued that Croatia was not a Balkan

    country and hence would have little to do with the EU's

    Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. The new prime

    minister, however, feels that "we are at one and the same

    time a Mediterranean, a Central European, and a Balkan

    country.... We will not try to 'escape' from this region."

    What he did say about shedding Balkan ties was that he

    wants to "drive Balkan elements out of our political life." By

    this he presumably means ending the corruption, back-room

    deals, and interest-peddling that characterized much of the

    HDZ's rule. That party acquired a reputation for massive

    economic corruption at home and a deep involvement with

    often criminal elements among the Croats of Herzegovina.

    Racan has repeatedly made it clear that those days are over.

    He also addressed two other issues that have clouded

    Zagreb's relations with Washington and Brussels: the return

    of Serbian refugees and Croatia's cooperation with the

    Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Racan stressed that the

    Serbs are welcome to come home but added that all other

    refugees must have that right, too. He specifically referred

    to Croats from eastern Slavonia and from Bosnia.

    With regard to The Hague, Racan pledged to improve

    cooperation. He noted, moreover, that one reason for the

    problems between Zagreb and the court was that Croatia has

    not been a state based on the rule of law. The new prime

    minister pledged to change that and prosecute those Croats

    who have committed crimes. He added that "anyone who

    conceals crimes committed in our struggle for liberation

    thereby tarnishes the image of that struggle."

    12-01-00


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


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