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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 76, 00-04-17

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. 76, 17 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KARABAKH
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY DEMANDS RETURN OF HEADQUARTERS
  • [03] OSCE TO INCREASE MONITORING OF GEORGIAN-CHECHEN BORDER
  • [04] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF ELECTIONS
  • [05] OPINION POLL INDICATES KYRGYZ SEE LITTLE HOPE FOR DEMOCRACY
  • [06] ANOTHER RADICAL ISLAMIST ARRESTED IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] DEL PONTE WANTS 'ALL FUGITIVES' SENT TO HAGUE
  • [08] SERBIAN REGIME DETAINS FOREIGNERS
  • [09] BELGRADE AUTHORITIES NERVOUS ON EVE OF RALLY
  • [10] SERBIAN DEMONSTRATORS WARN REGIME, OPPOSITION
  • [11] BELGRADE PROTEST LEADERS URGE CALM, ORDER
  • [12] PRINCE ALEKSANDAR URGES SERBS TO ATTEND RALLY
  • [13] KOUCHNER DOES NOT WANT TOO MANY REFUGEE RETURNS
  • [14] MONTENEGRO, ALBANIA COOPERATE AGAINST CRIME
  • [15] SLOVENIAN MINISTER HOPES TO KEEP ON EU SCHEDULE
  • [16] DID THE 1991 CROATIAN GOVERNMENT KNOW OF MASSACRES?
  • [17] SERBIAN POLITICIAN SAYS 'YES'
  • [18] LATEST BOSNIAN VOTE TALLY
  • [19] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES KEY LAW
  • [20] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'FLEXIBILITY' IN RUSSIAN
  • [21] ...WHILE SHOWING LACK OF FLEXIBILITY TOWARD HUNGARY
  • [22] TRANSYLVANIA MAKES HEADLINES IN ROMANIA AGAIN
  • [23] BULGARIAN-ROMANIAN BLACK SEA MILITARY EXERCISE ENDS
  • [24] MOLDOVAN LEADERS FAIL TO CONVINCE COMMUNISTS TO SUPPORT KEY
  • [25] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO JUDICIARY LAW
  • [26] BULGARIAN PREMIER EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN ECONOMY

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] ARMENIA SEEKS TO ACCOMMODATE RUSSIAN, U.S. INTERESTS IN SOUTH

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KARABAKH

    Robert Kocharian traveled

    to Stepanakert on 13 April, where he met amid tight security

    with senior members of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh

    Republic's leadership, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    Unconfirmed reports say Kocharian was accompanied by Armenian

    Defense Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian. Kocharian also met

    with units of the Karabakh Defense Army, whose former

    commander, Samvel Babayan, is currently in detention charged

    with masterminding the 22 March assassination attempt on the

    enclave's president, Arkadii Ghukasian. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN OPPOSITION PARTY DEMANDS RETURN OF HEADQUARTERS

    Only 50 or so people participated in a sanctioned picket

    outside the Baku mayor's office on 13 April, Turan reported.

    The picketers were demanding the return of the Azerbaijan

    Popular Front headquarters, from which the party was evicted

    in early 1994. Members of Mayor Rafael Allakhverdiev's staff

    advised the picketers to address their request to the

    Ministry for State Property. LF

    [03] OSCE TO INCREASE MONITORING OF GEORGIAN-CHECHEN BORDER

    Meeting in Vienna on 13 April, the OSCE Standing Council

    decided to increase to 42 the number of its observers

    deployed along the border between Georgia and Chechnya, ITAR-

    TASS reported. The observers' mandate was extended until 15

    November. The following day, ITAR-TASS quoted Georgian Border

    Guard Service spokesman Gela Khutsishvili as saying that

    Tbilisi "views with understanding" Moscow's decision to plant

    landmines on the most easily accessible paths leading to the

    Chechen-Georgian border. On 11 April, a senior official of

    the Russian Border Guards Service had admitted in Moscow that

    Russian border guards cannot control the entire length of

    that border. LF

    [04] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OF ELECTIONS

    Twenty-three newly-elected deputies to the Kyrgyz parliament

    have addressed an open letter to the U.S. Helsinki

    Commission, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 13 April. The

    deputies reject as untrue statements "by foreign radio

    stations and local opposition newspapers" claiming that the

    parliamentary poll was undemocratic and its outcome

    falsified. The deputies affirm that the poll was democratic

    and that they "will not depart from the democratic path." The

    letter rejects the commission's criticism of the conduct of

    the election in Kara-Buura, where opposition Ar-Namys party

    chairman Feliks Kulov was apparently defeated in the 12 March

    runoff. It also denies that Kulov's arrest last month was

    politically motivated. The open letter was published in the

    state-run Russian-language newspaper "Slovo Kyrgyzstana" on

    13 April. LF

    [05] OPINION POLL INDICATES KYRGYZ SEE LITTLE HOPE FOR DEMOCRACY

    A recent survey conducted in Kyrgyzstan by an independent

    research group indicates that only 13 percent of an

    unspecified number of respondents consider that a democratic

    society has emerged in Kyrgyzstan, and 26 percent believe

    that in present conditions the creation of a democratic

    society is impossible, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 13

    April. Sixty-five percent of respondents said they are not

    happy with the way the country is currently ruled, and 47.8

    percent said they believe that decisions are taken by a small

    group of bureaucrats who have little contact with the

    population at large. LF

    [06] ANOTHER RADICAL ISLAMIST ARRESTED IN TAJIKISTAN

    A second

    member of the banned Islamist organization Hizb-ut-Tahrir has

    been detained in Leninabad Oblast, Asia Plus-Blitz reported

    on 14 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 2000). Both

    detainees have been charged with disseminating subversive

    literature and planning to overthrow the Tajik government. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] DEL PONTE WANTS 'ALL FUGITIVES' SENT TO HAGUE

    Carla Del

    Ponte, who is the Hague-based war crimes tribunal's chief

    prosecutor, told NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson on 13

    April that she wants NATO's help in arresting all indicted

    war criminals in the former Yugoslavia. She said: "Thanks for

    the arrests [of Bosnian Serb leader Momcilo Krajisnik and

    other war crimes suspects], but it's not enough. I'm asking

    for the arrest of all fugitives. How long is it going to

    take?" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 4 April 2000.) Robertson

    replied that the indicted war criminals will be arrested "as

    soon as possible," Reuters reported. He called on them to

    "come to The Hague rather than face the rough justice of the

    Balkans," recalling the Belgrade murder in January of Zeljko

    "Arkan" Raznatovic. Robertson noted that arresting war crimes

    suspects will be a dangerous task. "There are risks because

    these people are violent. The forces of SFOR and KFOR are

    willing to take those risks.... There is a lot of creativity

    involved," Robertson added. PM

    [08] SERBIAN REGIME DETAINS FOREIGNERS

    Serbian officials detained

    six foreign journalists and three Spanish trade union

    officials at Belgrade airport on 13 April. The foreigners had

    come to attend a rally to support early general elections the

    following day. A spokesman for the independent Serbian trade

    union Nezavisnost (Independence) called the detentions a

    "primitive act of revenge" by the regime of Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic, AP reported. PM

    [09] BELGRADE AUTHORITIES NERVOUS ON EVE OF RALLY

    Speaking in

    Belgrade on 13 April, indicted war criminal and Yugoslav

    Deputy Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic said that the

    opposition is responsible for making sure that the rally

    passes without incident. He added that he fears that the

    meeting's organizers may "carry out terrorist acts," RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. He did not elaborate.

    Milosevic's Socialist Party said in a statement that holding

    a rally "is just another attempt at dragging citizens into

    carrying out the task of destabilizing Serbia," AP reported.

    Elsewhere, a Belgrade court handed down a ruling against the

    Serbian Renewal Movement in a slander case stemming from

    1994. The party was fined $100,000 in the long-dormant case.

    A party spokesman called the ruling a "monstrous witch-hunt,"

    Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Milosevic-run TV Politika

    announced plans to show "The Matrix" and other current

    Hollywood hit films at the same time as the rally is taking

    place. PM

    [10] SERBIAN DEMONSTRATORS WARN REGIME, OPPOSITION

    Some 200 young

    protesters left Novi Sad on foot for Belgrade on 13 April. A

    spokesman for the student organization Otpor (Resistance)

    told Reuters that the young people's message is "good-bye"

    both to Milosevic and his regime and to the fractious

    opposition leaders. A second protester added that "we are

    going to show everybody that only united can we succeed."

    Belgrade University Professor Gordana Naunovic said of the

    opposition leaders: "Friday will be a big test for them. I

    think this is their last chance" to show that they are worthy

    of citizens' trust. PM

    [11] BELGRADE PROTEST LEADERS URGE CALM, ORDER

    Speaking in

    Belgrade on 13 April, Alliance for Change leaders Milan

    Protic, Vladan Batic, and Goran Svilanovic called on all

    citizens of the capital to come to the rally in Republic

    Square. Batic said that he expects the meeting to take place

    "without incident," adding that his main fear is that the

    authorities will try to intimidate people into not attending,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [12] PRINCE ALEKSANDAR URGES SERBS TO ATTEND RALLY

    In London on

    13 April, Crown Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjevic, who is the

    claimant to the Serbian throne, said in a message that "all

    Serbs and citizens of Yugoslavia [should] come together and

    establish a broad mass movement for democracy and change.

    This will bring the nation a rebirth, order, and progress."

    He added that "this is the moment when the fate of the nation

    will be decided." PM

    [13] KOUCHNER DOES NOT WANT TOO MANY REFUGEE RETURNS

    Bernard

    Kouchner, who is the UN's chief civilian administrator in

    Kosova, urged countries hosting refugees from there not to

    send back too many people too soon. Speaking in Prishtina on

    13 April, he stressed that there are infrastructure and

    security problems in the province (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13

    April 2000). Kouchner said: "The returns are just starting,

    and we already have problems with too many [people] arriving

    simultaneously and with a lack of regard for the dangers to

    ethnic minorities. It is crucial that we put things right

    quickly. Otherwise, the tens of thousands of returnees

    expected this year will swamp the capacity to absorb them."

    He urged unnamed countries to minimize forced returns of

    Serbs, Roma, and other minorities, as well as to help the

    authorities in Kosova integrate returnees, Reuters reported.

    PM

    [14] MONTENEGRO, ALBANIA COOPERATE AGAINST CRIME

    In yet another

    move by Montenegro to strengthen ties to neighboring

    countries despite Belgrade's objections, regional police

    chiefs from Montenegro and Albania met in Podgorica on 13

    April. They agreed on measures to exchange information on

    criminals and to fight prostitution and smuggling, Reuters

    reported. Shkoder police chief Bilbil Mema noted that this

    was the first time "in 50 years" that police from the two

    countries agreed to cooperate. He stressed that the agreement

    "means that people who commit crimes in Albania and seek

    refuge in Montenegro to cover their tracks will be identified

    by Montenegrin police and vice versa." PM

    [15] SLOVENIAN MINISTER HOPES TO KEEP ON EU SCHEDULE

    European

    Affairs Minister Igor Bavcar said in Ljubljana on 13 April

    that he believes that the parliament will pass the necessary

    legislation to meet EU deadlines despite the current

    political crisis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 April 2000). He

    noted that European issues enjoy a broad consensus among

    parties, Reuters reported. PM

    [16] DID THE 1991 CROATIAN GOVERNMENT KNOW OF MASSACRES?

    Franjo

    Greguric, who was prime minister of Croatia's 1991-1992

    wartime government of national unity, said in Zagreb that

    there were neither concentration camps nor "liquidations" on

    the Croatian side during that time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13

    April 2000). He added that there was no "official

    information" within the government about executions of

    Serbian civilians, "Jutarnji list" reported on 14 April.

    Greguric stressed that his cabinet even had one Serb in it

    and that one should recall that it operated under wartime

    conditions. Urging "more understanding and objectivity," he

    argued that charges of atrocities against Serbs call into

    question whether it was necessary to establish an independent

    Croatia. One should always remember that Croatia had no

    choice but to leave Milosevic's Yugoslavia, Greguric

    concluded. PM

    [17] SERBIAN POLITICIAN SAYS 'YES'

    Elsewhere in Zagreb, Milan

    Djukic of the Serbian People's Party argued that Greguric,

    President Franjo Tudjman, and other top leaders did indeed

    know of the 1991 killings in Gospic. Among the others Djukic

    mentioned who are still active in politics: Stipe Mesic,

    Drazen Budisa, Zdravko Tomac, Mate Granic, and Josip Manolic,

    "Novi List" reported on 14 April. PM

    [18] LATEST BOSNIAN VOTE TALLY

    Preliminary results in all 145

    municipalities confirm the sweep of nationalist parties in

    the 8 April local elections. Thousands of absentee ballots

    remain to be counted, but "Oslobodjenje" of 14 April gives

    the following vote totals to date: the Serbian Democratic

    Party leads in 52 districts, the Croatian Democratic

    Community in 28, the Muslim Party of Democratic Action in 24,

    and the civic-based Social Democratic Party in 18. PM

    [19] BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES KEY LAW

    The Council of Nations of

    the joint parliament passed legislation on 13 April that

    expands the size and powers of the joint Council of

    Ministers. Serbian, Croatian, and Muslim ministers will

    rotate on an eight-month basis. In addition to the previous

    ministries of foreign affairs, foreign trade, and civilian

    affairs and communications, three new posts will be added.

    They deal with refugees and human rights, European

    integration, and joint government finances, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR 'FLEXIBILITY' IN RUSSIAN

    TREATY TALKS...

    Petre Roman on 13 April said his country is

    prepared to show "flexibility" in talks with Moscow on the

    pending basic treaty and "expects a similar approach" from

    the Russian side, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Roman

    said a condemnation in the treaty of the Ribbentrop-Molotov

    pact of 1939 is less important than the restitution of the

    Romanian state treasury held in Moscow since World War I. And

    he added that "compromise" could be reached on the

    condemnation, based on a resolution passed in 1991 by the

    Congress of People's Deputies of the former Soviet Union in

    1991, which also condemned the pact. MS

    [21] ...WHILE SHOWING LACK OF FLEXIBILITY TOWARD HUNGARY

    Roman

    also said that the opening of a Hungarian consulate in the

    Transylvanian town of Miercurea Ciuc would be "unsuitable in

    the present political context" but that Romania would

    "welcome" the opening of a Hungarian consulate in Constanta,

    "a town with large economic perspectives." Observers note

    that while Miercurea Ciuc is in the heart of an area with a

    large ethnic-Hungarian population, the Black Sea port of

    Constanta has only a small Hungarian minority. Romanian Radio

    cited Hungarian Radio as reporting on 14 April that the two

    countries' premiers had agreed in Budapest last month that

    consulates would be opened in both towns. Hungarian Prime

    Minister Viktor Orban begins a visit to Bucharest on 14 April

    and is expected to discuss, among other things, the Hungarian

    proposal to open the two new consulates. MS

    [22] TRANSYLVANIA MAKES HEADLINES IN ROMANIA AGAIN

    Some 1,000

    ethnic Romanians demonstrated in the Transylvanian town of

    Sfintul Gheorghe on 13 April against what they called the

    local council's discriminatory policies against the Romanian

    minority and against discrimination of Romanians in the

    heavily Magyar-populated counties of Harghita and Covasna,

    Mediafax reported. The demonstrators were received by Sfintul

    Gheorghe Hungarian Mayor Albert Almos, who rejected

    accusations that his policies are anti-Romanian. In Targu

    Mures, Hungarian Mayor Imre Fodor was questioned at the local

    prosecutor's office on suspicion of abusing his office. Elod

    Kincses, chairman of the local branch of the Hungarian

    Democratic Federation of Romania, said Fodor's interrogation

    was part of a plan to prevent him from running in the

    upcoming local elections. The opposition Party of Social

    Democracy in Romania said it is "worried" about the

    infringement of Romanians' "natural rights" in Harghita and

    Covasna. MS

    [23] BULGARIAN-ROMANIAN BLACK SEA MILITARY EXERCISE ENDS

    The

    Bulgarian-Romanian Storm 2000 joint naval exercise on the

    Black Sea came to an end on 13 April, BTA reported. Bulgarian

    Naval Chief of Staff Petar Petrov praised the exercise and

    described it as important for "mutual trust and stability in

    the Black Sea region." VG

    [24] MOLDOVAN LEADERS FAIL TO CONVINCE COMMUNISTS TO SUPPORT KEY

    PRIVATIZATION

    President Petru Lucinschi and Prime Minister

    Dumitru Braghis failed on 13 April to convince the Communist

    faction in parliament to support a bill on the privatization

    of the country's wine and tobacco industries, BASA-Press

    reported. After a closed-door meeting which Lucinschi and

    Braghis attended, the Communists announced that they would

    not support the bill. The privatization of the two industries

    is one of the key conditions set by the IMF for the approval

    of more credits to Moldova. At present, only the Christian

    Democrats have offered unconditional support to the

    privatization bill. In other news, the parliament on 13 April

    adopted the social insurance budget with revenues and

    expenditures of 1.227 billion lei ($97.5 million), Flux

    reported. Passage of the budget is another of the conditions

    set by the IMF. VG

    [25] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AMENDMENTS TO JUDICIARY LAW

    The Bulgarian legislature approved an amendment to the law on

    the judiciary that will strip the Supreme Judicial Council of

    its power to initiate disciplinary proceedings against

    judges, prosecutors and investigators, BTA reported. The

    presidents of the Supreme Cassation and Supreme

    Administration courts as well as the prosecutor-general will

    retain those powers in their respective areas. The justice

    minister will also retain the right to launch disciplinary

    proceedings against any magistrate. VG

    [26] BULGARIAN PREMIER EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN ECONOMY

    Ivan

    Kostov said on 13 April that the indicators of the Bulgarian

    economy "are good, irrespective of some negative tendencies,"

    BTA reported. Kostov was responding to preliminary figures

    released by the National Statistics Office, which indicate

    that the country's foreign trade deficit in 1999 exceeded $1

    billion. However, exports have increased 20 percent in

    January and February and the trade deficit fell by 43 percent

    from December 1999 to January 2000, AFP reported. Official

    statistics also indicate that the unemployment rate is now at

    18.2 percent and that some 40 percent of Bulgarians live

    below the poverty line. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [27] ARMENIA SEEKS TO ACCOMMODATE RUSSIAN, U.S. INTERESTS IN SOUTH

    CAUCASUS

    By Harry Tamrazian

    Over the past few years, Armenia has abandoned its

    primarily Russia-centric foreign and security policy in favor

    of a more balanced and multifaceted approach. One of the

    fundamental principles of its new foreign policy, as

    expounded by the country's top diplomats, is that of

    "complementarity." That same principle was introduced in the

    EU's Maastricht Treaty of 1992 to denote coordination and

    cooperation between member states and the union's executive

    body.

    In Armenia's foreign policy, complementarity means

    cooperating and maintaining good relations with all countries

    that are willing to establish and maintain friendly and

    mutually beneficial relations with Yerevan. Thus while

    remaining a close ally of Russia and a trading partner of

    Iran, Armenia has nonetheless managed to maintain strong

    relations with the U.S. Yerevan also wants to establish

    diplomatic ties and start economic cooperation with its

    traditional foe, Turkey, which is vying with Russia and Iran

    for influence in the South Caucasus.

    With regard to Armenia's immediate neighbors in the

    South Caucasus, complementarity has two dimensions: non-

    interference in those countries' foreign relations and

    promoting the maximum degree of economic and security

    cooperation on a regional level.

    "We are not playing on the differences and rivalries

    between major regional powers in Caucasus. Armenia should not

    be a place where the interests of major powers collide, but

    rather a country where the interests can be balanced,

    complemented," Armenian diplomats say in their press

    briefings.

    So far, Armenia has been quite successful in keeping a

    delicate foreign-policy balance. In a bold move last year,

    when NATO warplanes were bombing Serbia and Russia was

    threatening to cut ties with the West, Armenian President

    Robert Kocharian joined fellow South Caucasus Presidents

    Eduard Shevardnadze and Heidar Aliev in travelling to

    Washington to celebrate NATO's 50th anniversary with Western

    leaders.

    But that was then. Today, there are new questions to

    consider. Specifically, will Vladimir Putin's victory in last

    month's Russian presidential election herald a fundamental

    change in Russia's behavior toward the South Caucasus? Will

    Moscow be more assertive towards rival and friends alike?

    What will happen if, for example, Russia pressures Armenia to

    join its union with Belarus?

    Armenian diplomats believe they can resist any such

    tough calls from the Kremlin. In an interview with RFE/RL two

    weeks ago, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Armen

    Martirossian said President-elect Putin will observe the

    status quo in the South Caucasus because he was hand-picked

    as a successor by former President Boris Yeltsin himself.

    But if Yerevan takes its policy of complementarity too

    far, it may risk precipitating a cooling of relations with

    Moscow. Armenian President Robert Kocharian's recent proposal

    to create a security system in South Caucasus with the

    participation of Russia, Turkey, and Iran and with the

    support of the US and the EU--which is a prime example of the

    complementarity that Armenia wants to introduce in the

    region--has already engendered negative comment from some

    Russian leaders.

    And Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey each have a

    different idea of how to make the South Caucasus a more

    secure place. The leaders of those countries have their own

    security projects in which Russia does not play a major role.

    During his visit to Tbilisi in March, for example, Turkish

    President Suleyman Demirel unveiled his security project for

    the South Caucasus. Russia was invited to participate in

    Demirel's Security project as one of several neighboring

    countries.

    The principle of complementarity is a workable

    diplomatic concept if the two major players in the region,

    the U.S. and Russia, are not in a confrontational mood and at

    least formally remain partners within the OSCE and other

    international organizations engaged in peace-making missions

    in the South Caucasus.

    Armenian diplomats believe that U.S. President Bill

    Clinton was right when he suggested Putin will seek to

    cooperate with the West at least in the spheres of nuclear

    disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation, and other global

    issues. That approach would make it possible for Armenia to

    continue its policy of complementarity. But will Russia try

    to extend that cooperation with the West in the unstable

    South Caucasus?

    Many senior officials and experts in the region are

    skeptical. In an interview last week with the Azerbaijani

    newspaper "Zaman," former Azerbaijani state adviser Vafa

    Guluzade warned that Russia is preparing for a war in South

    Caucasus. But not everyone agrees with that doomsday

    scenario. Some analysts even suggest that Russia might change

    its priorities and expand the list of its friends in the

    South Caucasus to include Azerbaijan.

    The author is deputy director of RFE/RL's Armenian Service.

    17-04-00


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


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