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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 16, 00-01-24

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. 16, 24 January 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] U.S. DIPLOMATS DISCUSS KARABAKH CONFLICT IN ARMENIA...
  • [02] ...AND AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] GUUAM DEFENSE MINISTERS' MEETING SHELVED
  • [04] GEORGIA, RUSSIA DISCUSS ANTI-TERRORISM MEASURES
  • [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S INTERIOR MINISTER REVIEWS CRIME SITUATION
  • [06] FORMER KAZAKH PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DIES
  • [07] KYRGYZ PROSECUTOR DENIES OPPOSITION LEADER'S ARREST
  • [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTIES TO ALIGN
  • [09] UZBEK PRESIDENT SWORN IN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [10] CROATIANS ELECTING A NEW PRESIDENT
  • [11] SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER QUITS
  • [12] MONTENEGRIN COALITION: NO PARTICIPATION IN YUGOSLAV
  • [13] SESELJ REELECTED PARTY CHIEF
  • [14] SERBIAN PARTY SKEPTICAL OF ARKAN MURDER ARRESTS
  • [15] PERISIC URGES YUGOSLAV ARMY TO ACT AGAINST PARAMILITARIES
  • [16] BREAKTHROUGH IN RELATIONS BETWEEN UN, KOSOVA SERBS?
  • [17] UN FIRM ON NO MILITARY RANKS FOR KOSOVA CORPS
  • [18] CONTINUED THREATS TO ROMAN CATHOLICS IN KOSOVA
  • [19] ALBANIAN OPERA PERFORMERS ON HUNGER STRIKE
  • [20] BALKAN LEADERS CALL FOR MORE EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS AGAINST
  • [21] ...DISCUSS YUGOSLAV PROBLEM...
  • [22] ...AND COMPLAIN ABOUT SLOW IMPLEMENTATION OF STABILITY PACT
  • [23] THOUSANDS OF ROMANIANS ATTEND POLITICIAN'S FUNERAL
  • [24] MOLDOVA FACES DEFAULT?

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [25] Slovak Premier Announces Controversial New Party

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] U.S. DIPLOMATS DISCUSS KARABAKH CONFLICT IN ARMENIA...

    U.S.

    Assistant Secretary of State Steven Sestanovich and the U.S.

    co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group, Carey Cavanaugh, met in

    Yerevan on 21-22 January with President Robert Kocharian,

    Prime Minister Aram Sargsian and other senior officials to

    discuss how to speed up the stalled Karabakh peace process,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He said that to that end,

    the Minsk Group is preparing a new peace proposal, but did

    not divulge details. Sestanovich told journalists in Yerevan

    on 22 January that the unresolved Karabakh conflict remains

    an obstacle to improvement in Armenian-Turkish relations. LF

    [02] ...AND AZERBAIJAN

    On 22 January Sestanovich and Cavanaugh

    flew to Baku for talks with President Heidar Aliev and other

    senior officials, AP and ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev greeted

    the news that the Minsk Group is preparing a new peace

    proposal, and expressed his hope that the conflict will be

    resolved by the end of this year. LF

    [03] GUUAM DEFENSE MINISTERS' MEETING SHELVED

    The meeting planned

    for early this year of the defense ministers of the five

    GUUAM member states (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan

    and Moldova) has been postponed indefinitely, ITAR-TASS

    reported on 21 January, quoting the Georgian Defense

    Ministry. The meeting was originally to have taken place in

    Tbilisi on 28-30 January, but then rescheduled for 24-25

    January on the sidelines of the CIS summit in Moscow. Western

    observers have suggested that the reason for the postponement

    may be the recent rapprochement between Uzbekistan and

    Russia. LF

    [04] GEORGIA, RUSSIA DISCUSS ANTI-TERRORISM MEASURES

    Russian

    Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo held talks in Tbilisi on

    22-23 January with his Georgian counterpart Kakha Targamadze

    and with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, Interfax and

    ITAR-TASS reported. Rushailo told journalists that his talks

    focused on the situation in Chechnya and the North Caucasus,

    on cooperation with Georgia in fighting crime and terrorism,

    and that he had provided Tbilisi with lists of wanted Chechen

    "terrorists." Also on 22 January, the deputy head of the

    Georgian National Security Ministry's Anti-Terrorism

    Department, Giorgi Mandaria, told Caucasus Press that the

    ministry has information that Shevardnadze may be the object

    of a terrorist attack in the immediate future. LF

    [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S INTERIOR MINISTER REVIEWS CRIME SITUATION

    Karibek Sulaimanov told an Interior Ministry session in

    Astana that the crime rate fell by 1.9 percent in Kazakhstan

    in 1999 compared with the previous year, while the incidence

    of serious crime declined by 11.5 percent, Interfax reported.

    He said that more than 360 organized criminal groups were

    neutralized in 1999. But Sulaimanov expressed concern at the

    frequency of weapon thefts by army personnel from Defense

    Ministry depots. He said that such thefts are the main source

    of arms for criminal groups. LF

    [06] FORMER KAZAKH PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DIES

    Marat Ospanov died on

    23 January at the age of 50, two and a half months after

    suffering a brain hemorrhage, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau

    reported. A member of the OTAN party, he had been tipped last

    fall as a possible successor to Prime Minister Nurlan

    Balghymbaev. LF

    [07] KYRGYZ PROSECUTOR DENIES OPPOSITION LEADER'S ARREST

    POLITICALLY MOTIVATED

    Deputy Prosecutor General Japar

    Mukashev told a press conference in Bishkek on 21 January

    that the arrest of El (Bei Bechara) Party Chairman Daniyar

    Usenov was not politically motivated, RFE/RL's bureau in the

    Kyrgyz capital reported. Usenov was placed under arrest in a

    Bishkek hospital late on 19 January for having ignored a

    court summons which he said he never received (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 January 2000). The summons was in connection

    with charges of assault and battery brought against Usenov in

    1996 but shelved after an initial investigation. Also on 21

    January, some 200 Kyrgyz opposition supporters demonstrated

    for the second consecutive day in Bishkek to protest Usenov's

    arrest. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTIES TO ALIGN

    Five opposition political

    parties issued a statement in Bishkek on 22 January

    announcing their intention to join forces in order to protect

    democracy and constitutional rights and freedoms, Interfax

    reported. They claimed that in the runup to the parliamentary

    elections scheduled for 20 February the Kyrgyz authorities

    are harassing opposition parties and their leaders and the

    independent media. The five parties are the People's Party,

    the Republican Party, El (Bei Bechara), the Democratic

    Movement of Kyrgyzstan, and the Ar-Namys party. The latter

    two parties created a bloc earlier this month to contest the

    party list seats in the 20 February poll (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 6 January 2000). LF

    [09] UZBEK PRESIDENT SWORN IN

    Speaking at his inauguration in

    Tashkent on 22 January, Islam Karimov pledged further moves

    towards market liberalization and towards making the

    country's currency fully convertible, Reuters reported.

    Karimov also hinted that the current authoritarian system may

    be relaxed, saying that "we must clearly understand the power

    of a government is not in excessive concentration of

    authority within a state system used as a mechanism of

    suppression and coercion." He also hinted that the leadership

    may agree to dialogue with the opposition. The new Uzbek

    parliament elected on 12 December also held its first session

    on 22 January. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [10] CROATIANS ELECTING A NEW PRESIDENT

    Polls opened across

    Croatia at 7 a.m. on 24 January in the first round of voting

    for a successor to President Franjo Tudjman, who died in

    December. Leading in the polls is Stipe Mesic of the small

    four-party opposition coalition (see "End Note," "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 January 2000). He is followed by Drazen Budisa

    of the larger two-party coalition, which includes Prime

    Minister-designate Ivica Racan's Social Democrats as well as

    Budisa's Social Liberals. The only other candidate with a

    serious chance of being elected is Foreign Minister Mate

    Granic of the Croatian Democratic Community, which governed

    the country from 1990 until its defeat in the 3 January

    parliamentary elections. There are few, if any, substantial

    policy differences between the three leading candidates.

    Interest in the election centers on the prospective future

    power relationship between the government and the presidency.

    A second round of voting will take place on 7 February if, as

    expected, no candidate secures more than 50 percent in the

    first round. PM

    [11] SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER QUITS

    Boris Frlec announced in

    Ljubljana on 21 January that he is leaving office. He cited

    personal reasons as well as repeated attacks in the media

    against him and his policies. In particular, he has been

    criticized for failing to clear up a long-standing series of

    problems with Croatia. Some writers also claim that he gave

    too much ground to the Vatican in recent negotiations for a

    treaty with the Holy See that will return some property to

    the Roman Catholic Church and reinstate religious instruction

    in public schools, AP reported. The Church enjoyed a

    politically powerful position in pre-communist Slovenia, but

    society is now highly secular after 45 years of communist

    rule. PM

    [12] MONTENEGRIN COALITION: NO PARTICIPATION IN YUGOSLAV

    ELECTIONS

    A spokesman for the three-member parties of the

    governing "For a Better Life" coalition told the private Beta

    news agency on 22 January that they will not participate in

    any Yugoslav-wide general elections until Belgrade and

    Podgorica redefine the terms of their relationship. PM

    [13] SESELJ REELECTED PARTY CHIEF

    Delegates to a congress of the

    Serbian Radical Party on 23 January in Belgrade re-elected

    Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj as party chair

    and Tomislav Nikolic as his deputy. In his address, Seselj

    lambasted the opposition as lackeys of the U.S. Guests of the

    congress included Serbian Orthodox Bishop Filaret, former

    Russian Deputy Duma Speaker Sergei Baburin, and a delegation

    from France's National Front. Elsewhere, a bus carrying party

    delegates from Prokuplje to Belgrade went off the road,

    killing one and seriously injuring 15, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [14] SERBIAN PARTY SKEPTICAL OF ARKAN MURDER ARRESTS

    The New

    Democracy party said in a statement in Belgrade on 23 January

    that the arrest by Yugoslav police of three men the day

    before for the recent murder of Zeljko Raznatovic "Arkan"

    leaves more questions open than it answers (see "RFE/RL

    Balkan Report," 18 January 2000). The statement added that

    the three men are most likely only pawns of the individuals

    or groups who really planned the murder, but that the police

    said nothing about those plotters, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. The arrested men are Dobrosav Gavric (23),

    Dejan Pitulic (33), and Vujadin Krstic (36). Gavric and

    Pitulic are former policemen, Reuters reported. A police

    spokesman said that "beyond any doubt, we have those who

    committed the crime," AP reported. He added that Gavric had a

    history of underworld connections even while serving as a

    policeman. PM

    [15] PERISIC URGES YUGOSLAV ARMY TO ACT AGAINST PARAMILITARIES

    Former General Momcilo Perisic, who now heads the opposition

    Movement for a Democratic Serbia, said in Belgrade on 23

    January that the authorities are preparing to use

    paramilitaries against the civilian population in Serbia and

    Montenegro. He did not elaborate. He called on the army to

    prevent the establishment of paramilitary formations,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Elsewhere, Perisic

    repeated his call that the opposition must be prepared to

    fight the regime "both inside and outside political

    institutions," "Blic" reported on 24 January. The former army

    chief-of-staff also urged the opposition to solve Serbia's

    problems itself and not to depend on the West to do so. PM

    [16] BREAKTHROUGH IN RELATIONS BETWEEN UN, KOSOVA SERBS?

    Serbian

    Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is one of the leaders of

    the Kosova Serbs, said in Prishtina that local Serbian

    representatives are discussing possibilities for self-rule

    with the UN civilian administration in the province, "Vesti"

    reported on 23 January. He suggested that Serbs will

    participate in the UN's interim councils if they receive a

    "certain degree of local self-government," but not until

    then. The UN has repeatedly rejected Serbian calls for a

    "cantonization" of the province to enable Serbs and other

    non-Albanians to rule the areas in which they form a

    majority. The next day in Rahovec, UN and NATO officials

    opened an information office in hopes of providing local

    Serbs and Roma a place to go when they have problems.

    Artemije, his assistant Father Sava, and political leader

    Momcilo Trajkovic took the UN's Bernard Kouchner and NATO's

    General Klaus Reinhardt on a tour of Serbian and Romany homes

    in the area. PM

    [17] UN FIRM ON NO MILITARY RANKS FOR KOSOVA CORPS

    On 21 January

    in Prishtina, General Reinhardt swore in 44 former officers

    of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) as officials in the new

    civilian Kosova Protection Corps (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20

    January 2000). Two days later, a KFOR spokesman said that the

    corps' commander, General Agim Ceku, is the only member of

    that body entitled to use a military title. The former UCK

    regional commanders are now to be known as "regional

    directors," the spokesman added. Ceku is a career military

    officer who served in the Yugoslav and especially Croatian

    armies. PM

    [18] CONTINUED THREATS TO ROMAN CATHOLICS IN KOSOVA

    A Jesuit

    spokesman said in Belgrade on 23 January that Roman Catholic

    buildings and individuals are coming under increasing threat

    in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He did not

    elaborate, but said that the unnamed attackers appear to have

    singled out clergy and their families as particular targets

    of violence. Vatican Radio recently blamed "Muslim

    extremists" for the violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13

    January 2000). Some 70,000 Kosovar Albanians are Roman

    Catholic. On the average, they tend to be better educated,

    wealthier, and better connected abroad than many of their

    Muslim neighbors. Many have worked and lived in Croatia and

    also hold Croatian passports. PM

    [19] ALBANIAN OPERA PERFORMERS ON HUNGER STRIKE

    Seven members of

    Tirana's National Ballet and Opera Theater began a hunger

    strike on 21 January to demand the resignation of Culture

    Minister Edi Rama and opera Managing Director Zana Cela. The

    conductor, singer, and five musicians charge the two with

    mismanagement. They also object to government plans to

    privatize the opera. The dispute has split the professional

    musical community, dpa reported. Last week, singers performed

    Bellini's "Norma" accompanied only by a piano. PM

    [20] BALKAN LEADERS CALL FOR MORE EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS AGAINST

    YUGOSLAVIA

    The leaders of seven states bordering Yugoslavia

    on 22 January called for UN sanctions against Belgrade to be

    made more effective at a summit meeting in the Bulgarian town

    of Hissar. The meeting was attended by the leaders of

    Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Bosnia-Herzegovina,

    and Albania as well as high-ranking EU and NATO

    representatives. Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov said

    the sanctions are "hitting ordinary people" while having

    little effect on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. He

    added that the poor states in the region are also being hit

    by the sanctions. VG

    [21] ...DISCUSS YUGOSLAV PROBLEM...

    At the same time, the summit

    leaders stressed the need to promote democracy in Yugoslavia

    and many of them said sanctions against Belgrade are an

    "important political instrument," BTA reported. Bosnia-

    Herzegovina's Haris Silajdzic warned that if the current

    regime stays in power in Belgrade, Yugoslavia will remain a

    "black hole" that the rest of the countries will have to

    skirt. He also emphasized that NATO must remain in his

    country "because Bosnia is a job half done." Macedonian Prime

    Minister Ljubco Georgievski noted that Belgrade is a source

    of instability in the region, saying "the internal problems

    of Serbia have become Macedonian problems." He said he

    supports the idea of helping Montenegro serve as an example

    to Serbia of the benefits of democracy. VG

    [22] ...AND COMPLAIN ABOUT SLOW IMPLEMENTATION OF STABILITY PACT

    The leaders at the summit also complained at the slow

    implementation of the Stability Pact for the Balkan region.

    Kostov said the countries of the region demonstrated a

    "growing impatience over the pace of progress of the

    Stability Pact," BTA reported. Georgievski warned that if the

    upcoming donors' conference in March "fails, the Balkan

    states will be profoundly dissatisfied." The EU's envoy on

    foreign and security policy, Javier Solana, said the EU is

    making "extraordinary efforts" to stabilize the region but

    added that regional stability is a "responsibility we must

    share with the region's states." The summit leaders also

    discussed the upcoming meeting of the Danube Commission and

    efforts to clear the river of debris from the bridges

    destroyed during the NATO bombing campaign last year. VG

    [23] THOUSANDS OF ROMANIANS ATTEND POLITICIAN'S FUNERAL

    Some

    2,500 people attended the funeral of former politician Ion

    Ratiu on 23 January in Turda northwest of Bucharest, AP

    reported. Ratiu was a diplomat before World War II. He left

    Romania in 1940 and settled in Britain. He returned to

    Romania after 1989 and ran unsuccessfully for president the

    following year. Ratiu died last week in London at the age of

    82 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2000). VG

    [24] MOLDOVA FACES DEFAULT?

    The deputy speaker of Moldova's

    parliament, Iurie Rosca, said on 21 January that Moldova may

    default on its debt payments if it does not privatize the

    wine and tobacco industries this year, BASA-Press reported.

    He said the privatization could bring in some $80 million for

    the budget. The communists have expressed opposition to the

    privatization. On 20 January, the World Bank's country

    director for Moldova, Roger Grawe, said Chisinau could

    receive $55-60 million from the bank in 2000 if it meets the

    commitments of the previous Moldovan government, which

    include the privatization of wine and tobacco companies,

    Infotag reported. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [25] Slovak Premier Announces Controversial New Party

    By Jolyon Naegele

    On 16 January, Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda

    held a secret three-hour meeting in his office with several

    government ministers and deputies at which 11 of those

    present signed a declaration on forming a new political

    party--the Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKU).

    Dzurinda announced the declaration the following day. No

    date has been set for the formal establishment of the new

    party.

    Dzurinda says he envisions the party as the eventual

    successor to the ruling Slovak Democratic Coalition (SDK) in

    parliamentary elections in 2002.

    "The new political party will clearly carry on according

    to the ideals of the SDK, regardless of how it was formed,"

    he said. "Its ideals are very clear: first of all to continue

    to integrate democratic forces in the country. It is apparent

    that the next parliamentary elections will decide once and

    for all about Slovak membership in the EU. At the same time,

    it upholds the goal of concluding all reform processes."

    The SDK was formed two years ago by five opposition

    parties: three right-wing parties (the Democratic Party, the

    Democratic Union and the Christian Democratic Movement) and

    two left-of-center parties (the Social Democrats and the

    Greens).

    The formula proved successful in winning parliamentary

    elections in 1998 and ending the populist rule of Prime

    Minister Vladimir Meciar. The vote put the SDK in power with

    three other parties (the post-Communist Party of the

    Democratic Left, the populist Party of Civic Understanding,

    and a coalition of ethnic Hungarian parties). Meciar's

    downfall and Slovakia's return to democratic practices

    resulted in a rapid turnaround in the attitudes of NATO and

    the European Union toward Slovakia. Both bodies now fully

    support Slovakia's integration.

    The 11 signatories say they oppose breaking up the SDK

    right away because that would violate the trust of the

    voters. But they say that, over the longer term, the new SDKU

    will promote the integration of reform forces in Slovakia and

    better serve the needs of voters.

    In addition to Dzurinda, the founding members of the

    SDKU include Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Simko, and the

    ministers of foreign affairs (Eduard Kukan), interior

    (Ladislav Pittner), culture (Milan Knazko), health (Tibor

    Sagat), and transportation, post and telecommunications

    (Jozef Macejko).

    One of those at the founding meeting who did not sign

    the declaration was Jan Figel of the Democratic Party, a

    state secretary at the Foreign Ministry.

    Figel says Slovakia already has too many political

    parties. He says what the country needs are fewer

    functionaries and a greater interest in citizens' needs. He

    told reporters in Bratislava that integrating Slovakia into

    European structures cannot succeed as long as the country is

    splintered and individual and group interests prevail over

    those of society as a whole.

    No one from the Democratic Party has signed the

    declaration. But the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH),

    Dzurinda's original party, is split, with nine of its MPs

    opposing the new party, three having signed the new party's

    declaration, and three expected to support it. KDH Chairman

    and Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky was among the first to

    criticize formation of the new party.

    "It is with regret that the KDH takes note of the

    declaration by Mikulas Dzurinda and the other signatories

    announcing the foundation of a new political party, SDKU,"

    Carnogursky said. "This step further splinters the right in

    Slovakia. For the second time in the 10 years of its

    existence, the KDH is splintered. This declaration

    unilaterally ends the SDK's existence without even informing

    the parent parties in advance. It also unilaterally ends the

    negotiations on reorganizing relations between the SDK and

    its parent parties."

    Nevertheless, Carnogursky did pledge to continue to

    support both the government and Prime Minister Dzurinda. The

    prime minister, for his part, says he intends to resign

    shortly from Carnogursky's party.

    As Carnogursky suggests, the SDK faction in parliament

    appears to be on the verge of an institutional split.

    Deputies loyal to SDK want to draw up an agreement on

    cooperation with those who back SDKU.

    One curious footnote is that the location of the meeting

    where the declaration was drawn up (Dzurinda's office)

    remained secret for two days, apparently due to ethical

    questions over the suitability of the prime minister's office

    as a site for founding a political party.

    For its part, Meciar's Movement for a Democratic

    Slovakia (HZDS) describes the SDKU as signaling SDK's

    disintegration and in HZDS's view "confirming once and for

    all that SDK was a matter of electoral fraud toward the

    citizens, with a single goal: to place parties in parliament

    which the voters had already ruled out."

    The HZDS is reiterating its call for early elections,

    this time on the grounds that as a result of the

    establishment of SDKU, the SDK has lost the legitimacy of its

    mandate in parliament.

    24-01-00


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


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