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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 15, 00-01-21

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. 15, 21 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN RULING PARTY CHOOSES SHEVARDNADZE AS PRESIDENTIAL
  • [02] RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN WANT EQUAL REPRESENTATION
  • [03] DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST ARREST OF KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY
  • [04] ...AS OTHER KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIANS THREATENED WITH
  • [05] KYRGYZ OFFICIAL DENIES GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION IMMINENT
  • [06] KYRGYZSTAN, TAJIKISTAN DISCUSS EXPANDING ECONOMIC
  • [07] PARTY LIST CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR TAJIK ELECTION
  • [08] SON OF DETAINED TURKMEN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN FACES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTIES REACH AGREEMENT
  • [10] PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION STRAINING COALITION?
  • [11] GRANIC: LEARN FROM HDZ'S MISTAKES
  • [12] HDZ TRYING TO SQUEEZE THROUGH PROMOTIONS?
  • [13] MULTI-ETHNIC POLICE START WORK IN BRCKO
  • [14] BOSNIAN JOINT MILITARY COMMITTEE OK'S PEACEKEEPERS
  • [15] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT BLOCKS ELECTION LAW
  • [16] CROATS CHARGE DISCRIMINATION IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
  • [17] THOUSANDS ATTEND ARKAN'S FUNERAL
  • [18] U.S. EMBASSY IN TIRANA PARTLY REOPENED
  • [19] ITALIANS ARRESTED IN ALBANIAN AID SCANDAL
  • [20] ROMANIAN PARTIES INTERESTED IN TIMING OF LOCAL ELECTIONS
  • [21] GAGAUZ-YERI TO OPPOSE MOLDOVAN PRIVATIZATION?
  • [22] BULGARIAN-TURKISH TRADE DROPS
  • [23] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS ACCORDS IN ISRAEL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] Croatia Votes On Monday

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN RULING PARTY CHOOSES SHEVARDNADZE AS PRESIDENTIAL

    CANDIDATE

    The Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK), the

    largest faction in the Georgian parliament, on 20 January

    officially notified the Central Electoral Commission that

    it has chosen incumbent President Eduard Shevardnadze as

    its candidate in the 9 April presidential poll, Caucasus

    Press reported. The SMK must now collect 50,000 signatures

    in support of Shevardnadze's candidacy by 19 February 2000.

    LF

    [02] RUSSIANS IN KAZAKHSTAN WANT EQUAL REPRESENTATION

    Addressing a meeting in Almaty on 20 January of

    organizations representing Kazakhstan's ethnic Russian

    community, "Russkaya obshchina" leader Yurii Bunakov

    appealed to local Russians not to leave Kazakhstan for

    Russia in view of the social and economic problems that

    country is experiencing, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent

    reported. But Bunakov admitted that Russians in Kazakhstan

    feel they have been treated as "step-children" since the

    demise of the USSR. He argued that all Kazakhstan's ethnic

    groups should be equally represented in the country's power

    structures. LF

    [03] DEMONSTRATORS PROTEST ARREST OF KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY

    LEADER...

    Some 200 people, including several parliament

    deputies, congregated outside the government building in

    Bishkek on 20 January to protest the arrest the previous

    night of opposition El (Bei-Bechara) Party leader and

    parliament deputy Daniyar Usenov, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    Kyrgyz capital reported. Usenov was forcibly taken by

    police from a Bishkek hospital, where he was being treated

    for a heart condition. He is accused of failing to comply

    with a summons to appear in court on 14 January in

    connection with a case brought against him in 1996 and

    subsequently closed. Usenov told RFE/RL by telephone on 20

    January that neither he nor his lawyer received any court

    summons. Usenov theoretically has double immunity from

    arrest by virtue of being a deputy to the present

    parliament and a registered candidate to contest a single-

    mandate constituency in the 20 February parliamentary poll.

    LF

    [04] ...AS OTHER KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIANS THREATENED WITH

    ARREST

    An official of the Ar-Namys Party told RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau on 20 January that the party's founder,

    former Bishkek mayor Feliks Kulov, also faces imminent

    arrest (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 2000). And a

    parliament official told RFE/RL the same day that

    parliament deputy Ishenbai Kadyrbekov faces arrest on

    charges of assaulting and injuring a fellow parliament

    deputy. Kulov and Kadyrbekov, one of the founders in 1993

    of the Social-Democratic Party, are also registered as

    election candidates. LF

    [05] KYRGYZ OFFICIAL DENIES GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION IMMINENT

    Secretary of State Naken Kasiev told journalists on 20

    January that there is no truth to the rumors circulating in

    the Kyrgyz capital the previous day that the government was

    about to resign, Interfax reported. He said that Prime

    Minister Amangeldi Muraliev's cabinet "will work long and

    steadily." An unnamed government official had told RFE/RL's

    Bishkek bureau on 18 January that Muraliev had submitted

    his resignation to President Askar Akaev, but that the

    latter had not yet accepted it. LF

    [06] KYRGYZSTAN, TAJIKISTAN DISCUSS EXPANDING ECONOMIC

    COOPERATION

    Tajik Premier Akil Akilov traveled to Bishkek

    on 19 January for talks with President Akaev and with his

    Kyrgyz counterpart, Amangeldi Muraliev, Interfax and Asia

    Plus-Blitz reported. Akilov's talks with Muraliev focussed

    primarily on economic cooperation. The two premiers signed

    agreements on free trade and on the mutual protection of

    investments. They also agreed to establish a bilateral

    commission to resolve border issues, noting the desire of

    both sides to develop coal, gas, and mineral resources

    located in the immediate vicinity of their common border.

    Akilov also told journalists that the two countries will

    prepare a joint appeal to the World Bank for a credit to

    finance the reconstruction of cross-border highways as a

    way to encourage cross-border trade. LF

    [07] PARTY LIST CANDIDATES REGISTERED FOR TAJIK ELECTION

    The

    Central Commission for Elections and Referenda on 20

    January completed the process of registering the party

    lists submitted by the six political parties contesting the

    27 February elections to the lower house of the Tajik

    parliament, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The commission said

    that none of the parties managed to submit the necessary

    documentation to secure the registration of all 22

    candidates it proposed on time. So far, none of the parties

    has lodged a complaint. The ruling People's Democratic

    Party of Tajikistan registered 21 candidates, the Communist

    Party 20, the Democratic Party 19, the Socialist Party 18,

    and the Islamic Renaissance Party and Adolatkhoh 15 each.

    LF

    [08] SON OF DETAINED TURKMEN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN FACES

    CRIMINAL CHARGES

    Murat Nurmamedov has been placed under

    house arrest and faces criminal charges of armed

    hooliganism, RFE/RL's Turkmen Service reported on 20

    January quoting OSCE and Western embassy officials in

    Dushanbe. Mamedov's father, Nurberdy, who heads the

    unregistered Agzybirlik opposition party, was arrested in

    Ashgabat earlier this month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10

    January 2000). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTIES REACH AGREEMENT

    Prime Minister

    designate Ivica Racan announced in Zagreb on 20 January

    that his two-party coalition and the coalition of four

    smaller parties concluded a 15-point agreement on the

    functioning of the new government (see "End Note," below).

    Racan's Social Democrats will hold half of the positions,

    and his allies, the Social Liberals, will have 25 percent.

    The remaining 25 percent will go to the four smaller

    parties. The government will seek to reach its decisions by

    consensus, but, if that fails, the two largest parties will

    have the last word. The government will include a deputy

    prime minister, two sub-deputies, and 19 ministers. The

    ministerial portfolios will be redesigned from those of the

    current cabinet in order to stress European integration and

    economic reform. Racan said that no names have been decided

    for the cabinet, although "Jutarnji list" of 21 January

    identifies what it says are several of the key new

    ministers. PM

    [10] PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION STRAINING COALITION?

    Racan said in

    Zagreb on 20 January that the new government consists of

    six parties and that its stability will not be affected by

    the upcoming presidential election that pits Drazen Budisa

    of the two-party coalition against Stipe Mesic of the four-

    party grouping. A spokesman for Mesic, who is the front

    runner, told Reuters that Mesic will work closely with

    Racan "to achieve political and economic stability for

    Croatia." Nonetheless, Budisa and his deputy Goran Granic

    accused Mesic in separate newspaper interviews of being as

    potentially autocratic as the late President Franjo

    Tudjman. Budisa accused the more extroverted Mesic of

    "theatrics" in his campaign and stressed that the political

    situation is too volatile to enable anyone to predict the

    outcome. PM

    [11] GRANIC: LEARN FROM HDZ'S MISTAKES

    Foreign Minister Mate

    Granic, who is the candidate of Tudjman's defeated Croatian

    Democratic Community (HDZ), appealed to voters to support

    him in order to prevent the two governing coalitions from

    controlling all top state posts. He told Deutsche Welle on

    20 January that many problems arose during the HDZ's 10-

    year rule because it had a monopoly on power. No party or

    coalition, he added, should be allowed to acquire a

    monopoly again. Granic told "Vecernji list" of 21 January

    that the HDZ must become a modern, European, Christian-

    democratic party. He added that he is confident that he

    will be elected president in the second round. Recent

    polls, however, put him a distant third behind Mesic and

    Budisa. PM

    [12] HDZ TRYING TO SQUEEZE THROUGH PROMOTIONS?

    "Jutarnji list"

    reported on 21 January that outgoing Defense Minister Pavao

    Miljavac tried to persuade acting President Vlatko Pavletic

    to approve 950 promotions in the military before the new

    government takes office. Tudjman was slated to approve the

    promotions in late 1999, but he did not manage to do so

    before falling ill. According to the independent Zagreb

    daily, Pavletic said that he turned down Miljavac's request

    because he does not have enough time left in office to

    study each of the requests for promotion. He added that

    Racan has made it clear to him that the new government will

    quickly consider the requests on their merits and without

    regard to political criteria. PM

    [13] MULTI-ETHNIC POLICE START WORK IN BRCKO

    Some 320 police

    officers -- including Muslims, Serbs, and Croats --

    officially took up their duties in the Brcko district of

    Bosnia on 20 January, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. International arbitrators ruled last year that

    Brcko is to be a neutral district and not part of either

    the Republika Srpska or of the mainly Croat and Muslim

    federation. PM

    [14] BOSNIAN JOINT MILITARY COMMITTEE OK'S PEACEKEEPERS

    Members

    of the joint Permanent Military Committee of Bosnia-

    Herzegovina formally approved plans in Sarajevo on 20

    January for Bosnian contingents to take part in

    international peacekeeping operations. The participants

    noted that the size of local military forces was reduced by

    15 percent in 1999 and that the international community

    expects similar cuts in 2000. PM

    [15] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT BLOCKS ELECTION LAW

    Speaking in

    Sarajevo on 20 January, a spokeswoman for the international

    community's Wolfgang Petritsch criticized the joint

    parliament for failing to approve the new local election

    law despite appeals by the Council of Europe for it to do

    so (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 2000). The law is

    designed to break the major nationalist parties' grip on

    power and enable moderates and non-nationalists to win

    offices. Elsewhere, the OSCE, which will supervise the

    local elections in April, announced that it has

    disqualified nine candidates for failing to move out of

    apartments belonging to other people. A major problem

    hampering refugee return across Bosnia is the presence of

    squatters in the refugees' flats. The squatters are usually

    members of the ethnic group in control of the given region,

    while the would-be returnees tend to belong to other

    nationalities. PM

    [16] CROATS CHARGE DISCRIMINATION IN BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

    Ante

    Jelavic, who is the Croatian representative on the Bosnian

    joint presidency, issued a document on 20 January in which

    he charged that ethnic Croats are being systematically

    deprived of equal legal status with the larger Muslim and

    Serbian communities. Jelavic argued that the 1995 Dayton

    peace agreement allows the Croats to maintain special ties

    with Croatia but that unspecified "processes" are underway

    to eliminate that right. Jelavic's spokesman added that the

    Croats reserve the right to decide how to protect their

    interests if they feel threatened, Hina reported.

    Elsewhere, Jelavic told "Jutarnji list" of 21 January that

    Budisa is a man deserving of respect and that nobody in

    Bosnia, regardless of nationality, would oppose his

    becoming president of Croatia. Jelavic dismissed some of

    Mesic's critical statements about the Herzegovinian Croats

    as "campaign rhetoric," adding that "if Mesic wins, we'll

    sit down and talk." PM

    [17] THOUSANDS ATTEND ARKAN'S FUNERAL

    Several thousand people

    from Serbia, Montenegro, and the Republika Srpska attended

    the funeral of Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan" in Belgrade on 20

    January (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 18 January 2000).

    Elsewhere, Ivica Dacic, who is the spokesman for Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia,

    said that "Arkan was no doubt a patriot, regardless of his

    contradictory biography," Reuters reported. Serbian Deputy

    Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj said that "one thing is for

    sure: Arkan was a true Serbian patriot, and all the

    political misunderstandings and conflicts we had should now

    be forgotten." PM

    [18] U.S. EMBASSY IN TIRANA PARTLY REOPENED

    U.S. Ambassador to

    Albania Joseph Limprecht, Albanian President Rexhep

    Meidani, and Foreign Minister Pascal Milo attended a

    ceremony in Tirana on 20 January to mark the partial

    resumption of consular services at the embassy. Students

    and government travelers will now be able to receive visas

    in the Albanian capital, but private and business travelers

    will still have to go to Athens for them, dpa reported. The

    State Department closed down most functions at the embassy

    in August 1998 owing to worries about possible terrorist

    attacks by Islamic fundamentalists. PM

    [19] ITALIANS ARRESTED IN ALBANIAN AID SCANDAL

    A police

    spokesman said in Rome on 20 January that the director of a

    1999 Italian aid mission in Vlora and three other

    individuals have been arrested for corruption and abuse of

    office. The four are suspected of having allowed gangs and

    black marketeers to operate with impunity in the Kosova

    refugee camp under their supervision. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN PARTIES INTERESTED IN TIMING OF LOCAL ELECTIONS

    Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) deputy Dan

    Matei Agaton on 20 January said his party wants parliament

    to place priority on debating the electoral laws for the

    local and general elections this year, Mediafax reported.

    Agaton said the PDSR believes the ruling coalition is

    procrastinating on the law for local elections so that it

    can then postpone the general and presidential ballots. He

    said the PDSR wants the local elections to be held in May.

    The Democratic Party chairman Petre Roman told Prime

    Minister Mugur Isarescu that his party also wants local

    elections to be held in May. Roman said the constitution

    allows the general elections to be delayed by three months,

    but it does not allow for such a delay in the case of the

    presidential vote. Alliance for Romania leader Teodor

    Melescanu said his party wants the local elections to be

    held in May or June, and the parliamentary and presidential

    votes in October or November. MS

    [21] GAGAUZ-YERI TO OPPOSE MOLDOVAN PRIVATIZATION?

    Dimitrii

    Croitor, the governor of the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous

    republic, on 19 January told a meeting of regional

    intelligentsia that the autonomous region "must be the

    manager" of all properties on its territory. He said the

    republic's Popular Assembly had "recently" adopted a

    decision to that effect. Croitor said this does not imply

    that Gagauz-Yeri is "appropriating" Moldovan property but

    rather "transferring" such property to its own

    "management." He added that the decision is in line with

    the region's constitution. Croitor said several enterprises

    located on the autonomous republic's territory were

    privatized "too cheaply" and have brought no income to

    local authorities. Victor Cecan, chairman of a

    parliamentary Control and Petitions Committee, said he has

    not read the Popular Assembly's decision but added that

    "laws adopted by the assembly must not contradict Moldovan

    legislation." MS

    [22] BULGARIAN-TURKISH TRADE DROPS

    A free trade agreement

    signed last year between Bulgaria and Turkey has failed to

    produce the expected results, and 1999 trade between the

    two Balkan countries has fell by 27 percent compared with

    the previous year, AP reported on 20 January, citing Faruk

    Erkoc, the Turkish co-chairman of the Bulgarian-Turkish

    business council. The free trade agreement enacted on 1

    January 1999 calls for trade in industrial goods to be

    fully liberalized by the end of 2001. It also reduced

    tariff quotas for agricultural products. MS

    [23] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT SIGNS ACCORDS IN ISRAEL

    Bulgarian and

    Israeli officials on 18 January signed in Tel Aviv an

    agreement on avoiding double taxation and an accord on

    agricultural cooperation, BTA reported the next day.

    Meeting with Israeli businessman on 19 January, President

    Petar Stoyanov said Bulgaria wants to develop "mutually

    beneficial cooperation with Israel" and is not asking for

    "one-sided assistance." He said Bulgaria's cheap labor

    force can be combined with Israeli know-how in the high

    technology, agriculture, and the defense industries. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [24] Croatia Votes On Monday

    By Patrick Moore

    Croatian voters go to the polls on 24 January to choose a

    successor to the late President Franjo Tudjman. The two

    leading candidates--Stipe Mesic and Drazen Budisa --are

    both from the ranks of the opposition, which won the 3

    January parliamentary elections. The question is what

    effect the presidential vote will have on the new

    government.

    Monday's election is likely to be only the first

    round of balloting in the race to fill Croatia's highest

    office. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the

    votes this time, a second round will come two weeks later.

    The stakes are high because the constitution--

    which many observers believe was written for the autocratic

    Tudjman--gives the president at least 24 crucial powers.

    These include key decision-making functions in military and

    security policy.

    All mainstream political parties agree that those

    powers must be curtailed or reassigned to the government or

    other bodies. No party wants another imperial Tudjman

    presidency. In order to stress that his era has ended, the

    leading candidates have said they do not intend even to

    live in the official residence Tudjman used. But the job

    still remains the highest in the country, and will

    doubtless play a key role even after its powers are scaled

    back.

    The outcome of the presidential election is

    unlikely to make much difference in terms of policies on

    this or other issues, since there is a broad agreement

    between the two leading candidates as to what has to be

    done. These priorities include improving the economy and

    standard of living, speeding up privatization, attracting

    foreign investment, and accelerating Croatia's entry into

    Euro-Atlantic institutions. Brussels and Washington are

    particularly interested in seeing if the new government

    institutes democratic reforms, enables Serbian refugees to

    come home, respects the independence and sovereignty of

    Bosnia-Herzegovina, and cooperates with the Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal.

    Both leading candidates have promised quick

    action on Euro-Atlantic issues. This is largely because it

    will be easier to attain clear foreign policy goals than to

    restructure a faulty economy that served the interests of

    the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), which ruled since

    1990 amid charges of corruption and cronyism.

    But, then, what is the center of attention in

    this election if not policy? The issue is what the outcome

    of the vote will mean for the power relationship between

    the large two-party coalition led by Prime Minister-

    designate Ivica Racan and Budisa and its smaller four-party

    ally, which backs Mesic. The two coalitions teamed up to

    defeat the HDZ in the parliamentary vote and have since

    agreed in broad terms on power-sharing in the new cabinet.

    But rivalries still persist between them. Racan

    and Budisa maintain that the coalitions must share power

    between them on the basis of the relative number of votes

    they received in the parliamentary elections. Racan has

    told reporters that this interpretation is embodied in the

    power-sharing agreement. The smaller coalition, however,

    would still like to control more seats than the size of its

    electorate would warrant, and it would prefer that the

    cabinet reach decisions by consensus rather than by

    majority vote.

    Racan is likely to carry the day on both issues

    if Budisa holds the presidency. If Mesic becomes president,

    however, the smaller coalition may feel emboldened to

    challenge Racan on these and other issues. Mesic may also

    use some of his presidential powers to pressure Racan to be

    more mindful of his smaller partner's interests.

    A second problem involves the relations within

    the two-party coalition if Budisa loses the presidency.

    Should that happen, the Social Democrats will still have

    the prime minister's job, but there will be no

    corresponding "plum" for the Social Liberals. Is it

    possible that Budisa's party might seek compensation from

    Racan for Budisa's loss by demanding either additional

    cabinet seats or even that the prime minister's position

    rotate between the two coalition partners?

    Nor are these the only issues likely to come to a

    head as a result of the presidential election. The HDZ will

    have to face serious questions regarding its own future if,

    as expected, Foreign Minister Mate Granic--the HDZ's

    candidate--comes in third behind Mesic and Budisa in the

    first round. The once formidable party has already begun to

    implode at breathtaking speed, and its chief faction

    leaders regularly exchange insults in public. Granic

    himself quit his party offices in disgust and in a

    desperate attempt to rid himself of the albatross of his

    party. But he continued to slip in the polls, which led him

    to tell reporters that he would have been better off had he

    run as an independent.

    It was only a few weeks ago that Granic was

    leading Budisa in the polls, with Mesic trailing in third

    place. Mesic is best known abroad as the Croat who was

    blocked by Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic from assuming

    the rotating Yugoslav presidency in 1991. Many Croats had

    regarded him as a man of the past. But the feuding within

    the HDZ appears to have destroyed the candidacy of the

    otherwise popular foreign minister, putting Granic out of

    the running and apparently skyrocketing Mesic into a new

    career.

    Meanwhile, the dapper and outgoing Mesic has been

    marketing himself well against the bookish Budisa. His

    message is simple and apparently quite effective: A vote

    for Mesic is a vote to ensure that no single party (or

    coalition) will again control all the top positions of

    power.

    21-01-00


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


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