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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 10, 00-01-14

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 10, 14 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CITES SUCCESSES IN 1999...
  • [02] ...ANTICIPATES TURNING POINT ON KARABAKH
  • [03] RUSSIAN COMMUNITY IN KAZAKHSTAN APPEALS ON BEHALF OF
  • [04] ...BUT RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS CONCERN UNFOUNDED
  • [05] TENSIONS RISE ON KAZAKH-UZBEK BORDER
  • [06] INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER RESUMES PUBLICATION IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [07] OSCE SAYS UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL POLL WAS UNDEMOCRATIC

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] HAGUE COURT SENTENCES FIVE BOSNIAN CROATS
  • [09] CROATIA'S GRANIC QUITS PARTY OFFICES...
  • [10] ...AS HDZ'S TROUBLES CONTINUE
  • [11] SEPAROVIC OFFERS HIMSELF TO HDZ
  • [12] CROATIAN RIGHTIST LOSES ACADEMIC TITLE
  • [13] UN EXTENDS PREVLAKA MANDATE
  • [14] PRO-MILOSEVIC RALLY IN MONTENEGRIN CAPITAL
  • [15] SERBIAN PROSECUTOR CHARGES 144 KOSOVARS WITH 'TERRORISM'
  • [16] ARE UN POLICE MAKING TROUBLE FOR KOSOVA'S THACI?
  • [17] EU LEADERS TELL ROMANIA IT'S 'UP TO YOU'
  • [18] INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS INTERESTED IN BULGARIAN PIPELINE PROJECT

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [19] ROW OVER ALBANIAN ELECTION COMMISSION

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CITES SUCCESSES IN 1999...

    Vartan Oskanian

    told journalists in Yerevan on 13 January that the main focus of

    Armenia's foreign policy in 1999 were regional issues and Armenia's

    relations with neighboring states, Armenpress reported. He said

    bilateral relations with Iran and Georgia are developing

    successfully but no progress has been registered in relations with

    Turkey, despite U.S. efforts to bring about a rapprochement,

    according to AP. Ankara continues to make the establishment of

    formal diplomatic relations contingent on a solution to the Karabakh

    conflict and the withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied

    Azerbaijani territory. Oskanian characterized Armenia's partnership

    with Russia as "strategic" but added that Yerevan is simultaneously

    seeking to develop its relations with the West and with the GUUAM

    grouping (comprising Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and

    Moldova). LF

    [02] ...ANTICIPATES TURNING POINT ON KARABAKH

    Oskanian also said that

    the upcoming meeting on the sidelines of the 25 January CIS summit

    between Armenian President Robert Kocharian and his Azerbaijani

    counterpart, Heidar Aliev, will demonstrate whether it is possible

    to revive the Karabakh peace process, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau

    reported. Oskanian conceded that the peace process has stalled

    following the 27 October Armenian parliament shootings. He said the

    most recent peace proposal by the OSCE Minsk Group remains in force.

    Oskanian also disclosed that the Minsk Group co-chairmen last year

    floated the idea of an exchange of territory between Armenia and

    Azerbaijan as a way of establishing a lasting peace in the region.

    He did not say what that exchange would have entailed. LF

    [03] RUSSIAN COMMUNITY IN KAZAKHSTAN APPEALS ON BEHALF OF

    'SEPARATISTS'...

    A regional branch of LAD, which represents

    Kazakhstan's ethnic Russian population, issued a statement on 11

    January in the town of Oskemen in East Kazakhstan Oblast calling for

    Moscow to send officials to assist in the ongoing investigation into

    22 ethnic Russians accused of planning to establish by force an

    independent Altai Republic on Kazakh territory, RFE/RL's Almaty

    bureau reported on 13 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 24

    November 1999). The statement accused the Russian authorities of

    "ignoring" the fate of the alleged separatists. LF

    [04] ...BUT RUSSIAN OFFICIAL SAYS CONCERN UNFOUNDED

    Meanwhile, Russian

    Consul Vladimir Nestoyanov rejected that charge in a 13 January

    statement, noting that he had met with the accused in jail and that

    the investigation is being conducted in accordance with

    international standards. In its 30 November-6 December 1999 issue,

    "Moskovskie novosti" suggested that the arrests may have been staged

    by the Kazakh National Security Committee in order to demonstrate

    its efficiency. The newspaper noted that the arrested men did not

    have enough weapons and ammunition to commit either the murders or

    the terrorist acts of which they are accused. LF

    [05] TENSIONS RISE ON KAZAKH-UZBEK BORDER

    A citizen of Kazakhstan was

    shot and wounded by Uzbek border guards when trying to cross the

    frontier between Uzbekistan and southern Kazakhstan last week,

    RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on 13 January. He had been given no

    warning that the guards were prepared to open fire. An ethnic Kazakh

    from the Bostandyq district of Uzbekistan, which had belonged to

    Kazakhstan until 1954, was shot dead at the border in December. The

    Kazakh population of that district is experiencing increasing

    problems in visiting relatives in Kazakhstan. LF

    [06] INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER RESUMES PUBLICATION IN KAZAKHSTAN

    "XXI vek"

    published its first issue for 2000 on 12 January, five weeks after

    suspending publication because no publishing house in Kazakhstan

    would agree to print it, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported on13

    January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 1999). It is unclear

    where and by whom the most recent issue of the paper was printed. LF

    [07] OSCE SAYS UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL POLL WAS UNDEMOCRATIC

    The OSCE on 13

    January issued a statement saying that there was no "democratic

    competition" evident in the 9 January Uzbek presidential poll, in

    which incumbent Islam Karimov was re-elected with a landslide

    majority, Interfax reported. The statement said the poll provided

    "no evidence" that the Uzbek authorities adhere to democratic

    values. The OSCE offered to assist the Uzbek government in rendering

    the election system more democratic. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] HAGUE COURT SENTENCES FIVE BOSNIAN CROATS

    The International

    Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia on 14 January handed

    down prison sentences ranging from six to 25 years to five ethnic

    Croats. The defendants were tried for their role in the 1993 slaying

    of 103 Muslim villagers in Ahmici in the central Lasva Valley. The

    25-year sentence went to police commander Vladimir Santic. The court

    acquitted a sixth defendant, Dragan Papic, because it could not

    prove his guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt," AP reported. Presiding

    Judge Antonio Cassese said he regrets that the tribunal has "not

    tried the major culprits...those who ordered and planned, and those

    who carried out the very worst of the atrocities." The trial of the

    six lasted 16 months and involved testimony from 158 witnesses. The

    Lasva Valley massacres were part of a deliberate and particularly

    grisly campaign to kill or expel the region's Muslim population. PM

    [09] CROATIA'S GRANIC QUITS PARTY OFFICES...

    Mate Granic, who is the

    Croatian Democratic Community's (HDZ) candidate in the 24 January

    presidential election, said in Zagreb on 13 January that he has

    resigned all his party offices. He added that he no longer considers

    himself bound by the party program. Granic promised to give up his

    party membership if elected president in order to "be the president

    of all Croatian citizens." Reuters described the move as a "cheap

    stunt by Granic to arrest his decline in opinion polls, where he has

    slipped to third place" behind Drazen Budisa of the opposition two-

    party coalition and Stipe Mesic of the smaller four-party coalition

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 2000). Granic has charged that

    several prominent HDZ leaders are harming his candidacy by carrying

    out acrimonious feuds in public (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January

    2000). PM

    [10] ...AS HDZ'S TROUBLES CONTINUE

    Ivic Pasalic, who leads the

    Herzegovinian faction of the HDZ, said in Zagreb on 13 January that

    he has resigned his post in the party presidency to show solidarity

    with Granic. Pasalic has been one of the major protagonists in the

    public feuding that has badly weakened Granic and the HDZ.

    Elsewhere, the HDZ issued an announcement banning all party

    meetings, "including those called by acting HDZ President Vladimir

    Seks," until after the election in order to discourage feuding. Seks

    has been a second major player in the in-fighting. The independent

    "Jutarnji list" wrote on 14 January that the HDZ has already begun

    to fall apart. The newspaper says that blame lies with the late

    President Franjo Tudjman, who had not prepared for his succession.

    The daily adds that Tudjman failed to do so because he refused to

    believe his doctors when they told him that his illness was

    terminal. PM

    [11] SEPAROVIC OFFERS HIMSELF TO HDZ

    In Dubrovnik on 13 January,

    independent presidential candidate Zvonimir Separovic called on the

    HDZ to support his candidacy "in the interests of party unity,"

    "Jutarnji list" reported. He is a member of the party's central

    committee and a former justice minister known for his hard-line

    views. PM

    [12] CROATIAN RIGHTIST LOSES ACADEMIC TITLE

    Members of the Law Faculty

    at the University of Split voted on 13 January to revoke the masters

    degree of Ante Djapic on the grounds that he plagiarized some two-

    thirds of his thesis. Djapic heads the right-wing Croatian Party of

    [Historic] Rights and is its presidential candidate. PM

    [13] UN EXTENDS PREVLAKA MANDATE

    The Security Council voted on 13

    January to extend until 15 July the mandate of UN peacekeepers on

    Croatia's Prevlaka peninsula (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 January

    2000). In its resolution, the council welcomed the trend toward

    "stabilizing and demilitarizing" the territory but called for a

    resumption of negotiations between Croatia and Yugoslavia. The

    resolution also noted that both sides continue to violate agreements

    relating to Prevlaka by keeping special police forces in the area,

    operating illegal border crossings, and allowing civilians to enter

    what is supposed to be a no-go zone on the border, AP reported. PM

    [14] PRO-MILOSEVIC RALLY IN MONTENEGRIN CAPITAL

    Several thousand people

    gathered in central Podgorica on 13 January to mark Serbian Orthodox

    New Year and express their support for continued unity between

    Serbia and Montenegro, Reuters reported. Contingents of police and

    riot police stood by, but there were no serious incidents. Zorica

    Taic-Rabrenovic, who represented Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia, told the crowd that the fate

    of the Serbs is similar to that of Jesus Christ. "As He was

    crucified and tormented, so we have been crucified and tormented all

    these years. They couldn't do anything to Him. And they can't do

    anything to us." PM

    [15] SERBIAN PROSECUTOR CHARGES 144 KOSOVARS WITH 'TERRORISM'

    On 13

    January, a public prosecutor in Leskovac charged 144 former fighters

    of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) with "terrorism" during the 1999

    conflict in the province. Serbian forces captured the men from

    Gjakova in May as they tried to cross the border into Albania. In

    Pozarevac, a judge freed 10 former UCK men from Rahovec because of a

    lack of evidence that they took part in attacks against Serbian

    police. The 10 have been in prison for 18 months. Hundreds of

    Kosovars remain in Serbian jails under uncertain conditions,

    including student leader Albin Kurti. PM

    [16] ARE UN POLICE MAKING TROUBLE FOR KOSOVA'S THACI?

    Hashim Thaci, who

    is the former leader of the UCK and now a prominent politician, said

    that UN police recently attempted to enter his home, his office, and

    the headquarters of his political party, Reuters reported on 13

    January. The UN's Bernard Kouchner and KFOR's General Klaus

    Reinhardt issued a statement saying that "if any incorrect behavior

    by international security authorities is discovered, appropriate

    measures will be taken." Thaci told reporters that he does not blame

    the UN or KFOR for the alleged incidents, but he stressed that

    "people out of control" among the UN police are harassing him. In

    what police say are unrelated incidents, officers recently searched

    the home of Thaci's brother and arrested one of his bodyguards.

    Reuters noted that some observers suggest that Thaci and his party

    have charged harassment in order to win sympathy from voters. Other

    observers say that the UN police may be "infiltrated" by people

    seeking to discredit Thaci and the former UCK leadership. PM

    [17] EU LEADERS TELL ROMANIA IT'S 'UP TO YOU'

    Visiting EU Commission

    President Romano Prodi and EU enlargement commissioner Guenter

    Verheugen said on 13 January that they are impressed and encouraged

    by the consensus among Romania's political forces to work toward

    European integration. They stressed that the process will be a long

    one and its outcome will depend primarily on Romania's progress

    toward meeting union standards. Verheugen said that the 650 million

    euro ($669.5 million) set aside for helping Romania's integration

    process will be disbursed only if the country shows progress, in

    particularly meeting the dead-line for finalizing its medium-term

    accession plan. Verheugen received assurances from Foreign Minister

    Petre Roman that the plan will be finalized by mid-March "or even

    earlier." MS

    [18] INTERNATIONAL INVESTORS INTERESTED IN BULGARIAN PIPELINE PROJECT

    Several large oil companies, such as Agip, LUKoil, British

    Petroleum, Chevron, and Epson as well as the U.S. Eximbank, the

    European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the World Bank

    are interested in participating in a Trans-Balkan oil pipeline from

    the Bulgarian Black Sea port of Bourgas, via Macedonia and Albania,

    to Western Europe, BTA reported on 13 January. At a meeting one day

    earlier between Regional Development and Public Works Minister

    Evgeni Chachev and Ted Ferguson, executive director of AMBO

    (Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian Oil) Corporation, the two sides

    decided to carry out a feasibility study, the results of which are

    to be discussed in March. The $980,000 costs of the study will be

    party covered by the U.S. government, which is to grant $588,000. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [19] ROW OVER ALBANIAN ELECTION COMMISSION

    By Fabian Schmidt

    The polarization that has plagued Albanian politics since the

    fall of communism has again made for fresh controversies. This time

    the issue is the composition of the main election commission. The

    rightist opposition fears it will be shut out of a Socialist-run

    body. Not so, says the governing coalition.

    Albanian opposition politicians and their counterparts from

    the governing coalition have clashed over the composition of the

    Central Election Commission (KQZ), "Shekulli" reported on 10

    January. This comes about ten months before local elections

    scheduled for October.

    The dispute started when officials from the two main

    opposition coalitions--the Union for Democracy, and the United

    Right--criticized the current legislation on 9 January, arguing that

    the opposition has no guarantees of being able to send its own

    representatives to the KQZ. The composition of that commission is

    specified by the constitution, which stipulates that the president

    and the parliament appoint two KQZ members each. The High Council of

    Justice--a body elected by an assembly of judges and lawyers from

    throughout Albania--appoints another three members to the

    commission.

    (The Union for Democracy, which is dominated by the Democratic

    Party of former President Sali Berisha, boycotted a referendum on

    the constitution in November 1998, but the United Right then called

    on its voters to vote in favor of the draft.)

    With the presidency and the parliamentary majority in the

    hands of the governing Socialists, Berisha warned that the KQZ will

    become "a political instrument that will undermine the possibilities

    of a free vote." He demanded instead that the KQZ be composed

    equally of representatives of the governing coalition and of the

    opposition, following the example of a political compromise reached

    before the 1997 parliamentary elections under OSCE mediation. Then,

    the governing coalition and the opposition agreed to apply that key

    for equal representation to all other election commissions down to

    the level of the polling stations. The chair of each commission was

    also shared between the government and the opposition.

    Berisha argues that with the new constitution, the governing

    coalition "abandoned the consensus that it reached [in 1997] with

    the opposition." He added that "without reaching a new consensus,

    this is an immoral thing to do."

    Fatmir Mediu, the chairman of the Republican Party--the

    largest party within the United Right--pointed out that "the

    opposition forces have discussed [the possibility] that they may not

    participate in the elections." He stressed, however, that the

    "opposition is ready to enter the electoral process...[if the

    governing coalition agrees to] build a commission that can guarantee

    a free vote, based on the...consensus that [membership in the]

    commissions will be shared."

    Mediu added that the current legislation is not clear enough.

    He argued that the constitution only specifies that the president

    can name two members of the KQZ, but it fails to address the

    question who has the right to propose the candidates. He stressed

    that representatives of the smaller parties within the governing

    coalition have also raised concern over the current legislation.

    Mediu suggested that parliament should address the issue by either

    adopting a new law regulating the composition of the electoral

    commission, or by amending the constitution, or by referendum.

    The first of these options is the most likely. Parliamentary

    Speaker Skender Gjinushi--from the small Social Democratic Party--

    rejected a change of the constitution outright. He stressed that the

    three High Council of Justice representatives within the KQZ are

    likely to protect the interests of the opposition. Gjinushi argued

    that the majority of judges in Albania were appointed during the

    rule of the Democratic Party, because they were "friends of Mr. Sali

    [Berisha]." He also noted that the governing coalition has agreed to

    allow the opposition to nominate one of the two KQZ members to be

    elected by parliament, and that the president will make his choice

    independently of political party interests.

    Gjinushi stressed that "there is no larger consensus than a

    constitution. We can not build a state by politicizing the

    constitution.... [The opposition] demands that the constitution be

    changed every time the balance of political power changes or every

    time that the political parties choose to. But this constitution has

    been adopted by popular referendum and consequently all changes to

    it will require another referendum."

    But Gjinushi also offered a possible compromise: "I believe that the

    demands of Mediu and Berisha will be met within the framework of an

    electoral law that will be in line with the constitution.... The KQZ

    must not become a body composed of representatives of political

    parties but a permanent institution made up of experts....In

    addition, the electoral law will have to stipulate that a commission

    of monitors will be attached to the KQZ, which will be composed of

    party representatives."

    14-01-00


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


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