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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 78, 00-04-19

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. 78, 19 April 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT, ITERA AT ODDS
  • [02] TURKEY ALLOCATES FURTHER GRANT FOR GEORGIAN MILITARY
  • [03] RUSSIA TO STEP UP SECURITY ON BORDER WITH KAZAKHSTAN?
  • [04] KAZAKHSTAN WANTS TO LURE ITS ETHNIC GERMANS BACK
  • [05] WORKER PROTEST IN SOUTHERN KAZAKHSTAN ENTERS SECOND WEEK
  • [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION DEMANDS KULOV'S RELEASE
  • [07] CRIME BOSS SHOT DEAD IN TAJIKISTAN
  • [08] UZBEK PRESIDENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OVER HUMAN RIGHTS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON PRIME MINISTER
  • [10] FONTAINE: SLOVENIA TO EU IN FIRST GROUP
  • [11] FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS SIGN ITALIAN COMMERCIAL PACT
  • [12] WAR CRIMES TRIALS TO TAKE PLACE IN CROATIA?
  • [13] BANKING SCANDALS WEIGH HEAVILY ON CROATIA'S BUDGET
  • [14] RACAN: TUDJMAN, AIDES INVOLVED IN 'ROBBERY'
  • [15] GRANIC ALSO IN THE DOCK?
  • [16] UN SLAMS SERBIA OVER HUMAN RIGHTS
  • [17] SERBIAN COURT FINES BETA
  • [18] DJINDJIC: SERBIA HEADING FOR GENERAL STRIKE
  • [19] MILOSEVIC BACKERS IN MONTENEGRO CLOSE RANKS
  • [20] HUGE GOLD DEPOSIT FOUND IN ROMANIA
  • [21] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT RAISES PENSIONS
  • [22] CHISINAU STUDENTS WIN ROUND...
  • [23] ...AND RENEW DEMONSTRATIONS
  • [24] STOYANOV SAYS BULGARIA VICTIM OF YUGOSLAV CONFLICTS
  • [25] UN RESOLUTION ON ANGOLA MAY AFFECT BULGARIA
  • [26] IOM LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST WOMEN SEX SLAVERY IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] GETTING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT IN CROATIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT, ITERA AT ODDS

    Deputy Energy Minister

    Karen Galstian told journalists in Yerevan on 18 April that

    the Gazprom subsidiary ITERA has been excluded from the

    short-list of five foreign companies whose tenders for four

    Armenian energy distribution networks are currently under

    consideration, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Galstian

    explained that ITERA does not qualify because its partner in

    the bid, Rosatomenergo, failed to submit the findings of a

    compulsory international audit clarifying its financial

    situation. Four international companies, from France, Spain,

    the U.S., and a Swedish-Swiss group, remain in the running.

    One day earlier, ITERA announced that it had cut gas

    deliveries to Armenia by half because of nonpayment of bills

    for previous deliveries. The director of the Armrosgaz joint

    venture, Roland Adonts, told ITAR-TASS that non-payment of

    debts totalling millions of dollars incurred by Armenian

    power plants and private consumers preclude his

    organization's paying its own debts to ITERA. LF

    [02] TURKEY ALLOCATES FURTHER GRANT FOR GEORGIAN MILITARY

    Major-

    General Sherafeddin Teliasan, who heads the Financial

    Department of the Turkish Armed Forces General Staff, and

    Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Katamadze signed an

    agreement in Tbilisi on 19 April under which Ankara will

    provide a further $4 million for the Georgian armed forces,

    Caucasus Press reported. Katamadze told journalists that most

    of that sum is earmarked for reorganizing the 11th brigade of

    the Georgian army, for measures to raise standards to comply

    with NATO requirements, and to finance the opening of a NATO

    office in Georgia. Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze has

    said on several occasions that Georgia will make a formal bid

    no later than 2005 for membership in the alliance. Turkey

    allocated $5.5 million for the Georgian armed forces in 1998

    and an additional $3.8 million in 1999. LF

    [03] RUSSIA TO STEP UP SECURITY ON BORDER WITH KAZAKHSTAN?

    RFE/RL

    correspondents in Kazakhstan on 19 April cited the KODA news

    agency as reporting that Moscow will deploy troops and

    Cossack units to guard its border with Kazakhstan beginning

    next month. Both the Kazakh Foreign Ministry and the Russian

    Embassy in Kazakhstan have refused to comment on that report.

    "Nezavisimaya gazeta-regiony" reported in issue No. 6 of this

    year that the Volgograd authorities have asked Moscow to

    establish a frontier zone encompassing six raions of

    Volgograd Oblast to put a halt to purchases of land in those

    districts by residents of Kazakhstan and to an upsurge in

    smuggling and other cross-border crime. LF

    [04] KAZAKHSTAN WANTS TO LURE ITS ETHNIC GERMANS BACK

    Following a

    meeting between Kazakhstan's deputy premier, Erzhan Utembaev,

    and a German government representative, it was announced that

    Kazakhstan will launch a campaign to persuade ethnic Germans

    who emigrated from Kazakhstan to return, "Inostranets"

    reported in issue No. 14. Kazakhstan will offer financial aid

    to those who wish to do so. Over the past 11 years

    Kazakhstan's ethnic-German population has shrunk from almost

    1 million to 350,000. LF

    [05] WORKER PROTEST IN SOUTHERN KAZAKHSTAN ENTERS SECOND WEEK

    Hundreds of current and former employees of the Taraz

    Phosphorous Plant in Kazakhstan's southern Zhambyl Oblast are

    continuing the protest they began on 11 April to demand

    payment of overdue salaries and pensions, RFE/RL's Kazakh

    Service reported on 18 April. An unknown number of protesters

    are on hunger strike, of whom five have been hospitalized. As

    of 13 April, 20 protesters had been arrested. LF

    [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION DEMANDS KULOV'S RELEASE

    Some 200

    opposition representatives staged a march in central Bishkek

    on 18 April to demand the release from pre-trial detention of

    opposition Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov, Interfax

    reported. Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan leader Jipar

    Jeksheev said that the protest was intended to reassure the

    public that the authorities cannot "destroy democracy." LF

    [07] CRIME BOSS SHOT DEAD IN TAJIKISTAN

    Tajik law enforcement

    officials killed Nurullo Isaev, whom they identified as head

    of a major criminal gang, in a shootout east of Dushanbe on

    17 April, Reuters reported the following day. One police

    officer was also killed in the exchange of fire. Isaev's gang

    was reportedly responsible for the murder in 1999 of the head

    of the Tajik Interior Ministry's department for the struggle

    against organized crime. LF

    [08] UZBEK PRESIDENT REJECTS U.S. CRITICISM OVER HUMAN RIGHTS

    U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told journalists

    in Tashkent on 18 April after her talks with Uzbek President

    Islam Karimov that the latter categorically rejected U.S.

    criticism of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, AP and

    Reuters reported. Albright also noted that Uzbekistan is

    delaying serious market reform, in particular in making its

    currency fully convertible. But she stressed that the U.S.

    regards Uzbekistan as a friend, and is prepared to assist

    Tashkent in combatting any spillover of Islamic extremism

    from Afghanistan or elsewhere in Central Asia. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] SLOVENIAN PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON PRIME MINISTER

    The

    parliament begins discussions on the afternoon of 19 April on

    the candidacy of center-right opposition candidate Andrej

    Bajuk to succeed Janez Drnovsek as prime minister (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2000). The ballot is expected on

    20 April at the latest. If Bajuk does not win the necessary

    46 out of 90 votes, President Milan Kucan and the various

    political parties have three more days to nominate other

    candidates or to renominate Bajuk. If the legislature fails

    to elect a new prime minister by 8 May, Kucan must bring

    elections forward from the fall to June or July. Bajuk is

    expected to obtain not more than 44 votes, Reuters reported.

    Political power in Slovenia is centered in the parliament.

    Several parties other than Drnovsek's Liberals want new

    election legislation based on proportional representation. PM

    [10] FONTAINE: SLOVENIA TO EU IN FIRST GROUP

    Nicole Fontaine, who

    is president of the European Parliament, said in Ljubljana on

    18 April that she does not expect the current Slovenian

    government crisis to delay the Alpine republic's admission to

    the EU (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 April 2000). She added that

    she expects Slovenia to be among the next group of new

    members admitted. "I believe Slovenia could be among

    countries that will participate in the 2004 election to the

    European Parliament," Reuters quoted her as saying. PM

    [11] FORMER YUGOSLAV REPUBLICS SIGN ITALIAN COMMERCIAL PACT

    Representatives of the five former Yugoslav republics signed

    a multilateral agreement in Trieste to promote economic

    contacts between each other and with Italy, "Jutarnji list"

    reported on 19 April. This is the first such agreement since

    the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia began in 1991 and is

    sponsored by Confcommercio, or the Italian Chamber of

    Commerce. The agreement contains few concrete pledges but

    paves the way for cooperation between firms in the various

    former Yugoslav republics with the backing of Italian money.

    PM

    [12] WAR CRIMES TRIALS TO TAKE PLACE IN CROATIA?

    Forensics experts

    from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal discovered an

    unspecified quantity of human bones at a suspected mass grave

    at Obradovic Varos near Gospic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported on 18 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2000).

    Deputy Justice Minister Ranko Marijan suggested that suspects

    might eventually be tried in Croatia rather than in The

    Netherlands. He added: "Under our constitutional law, the

    [Hague-based] tribunal should have jurisdiction, but given

    the recent talks between the government and the chief

    prosecutor, [Carla Del Ponte,] it is not unlikely that the

    war crimes cases will be tried in Croatia," Reuters reported.

    "It is in the vital interest of Croatia and its citizens that

    the suspects stand trial here," Marijan added. If any trials

    do take place in Croatia, it would be the first time that the

    tribunal has agreed to hold trials outside The Netherlands.

    PM

    [13] BANKING SCANDALS WEIGH HEAVILY ON CROATIA'S BUDGET

    Central

    Bank Governor Marko Skreb said in Zagreb on 18 April that the

    costs of resolving problems stemming from some 25 bank

    failures will amount to $5.5 billion, or two-thirds of the

    1999 state budget. Some of the costs will be covered by

    selling off the banks' assets and the rest from the state

    budget, AP reported. Critics have charged that Skreb, who

    until recently was a member of late President Franjo

    Tudjman's Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), took too long

    to investigate the bank failures. Many Croats believe that

    bad loans to HDZ loyalists lie at the root of most of the

    bank failures. PM

    [14] RACAN: TUDJMAN, AIDES INVOLVED IN 'ROBBERY'

    Croatian Prime

    Minister Ivica Racan said in Zagreb on 18 April that

    recordings of conversations between Tudjman and some of his

    aides indicate that they were involved in "robbery" in the

    sale of the mass-circulation daily "Vecernji list," "Jutarnji

    list" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2000). Deputy

    Prime Minister Zeljka Antunovic added that this was not the

    only privatization of a firm to be directed by the

    president's office. Parliamentary speaker Zlatko Tomcic is

    expected to make further recommendations in the case in the

    course of 19 April. Rijeka's "Novi List" called the scandal

    "Croatia's Watergate affair." The independent daily also

    speculated as to whether Ivic Pasalic, who heads the

    Herzegovinian lobby and was Tudjman's top domestic advisor,

    will wind up in jail once the case goes to court. He

    currently enjoys parliamentary immunity. Speculation has

    centered on the possibility that Pasalic and one of Tudjman's

    sons actually controlled "Vecernji list." PM

    [15] GRANIC ALSO IN THE DOCK?

    The Croatian Interior Ministry is

    preparing criminal charges against Mate Granic, who is a

    former foreign minister and HDZ presidential candidate,

    "Jutarnji list" reported on 19 April. Granic allegedly

    illegally transferred some $1.75 million over an unspecified

    period of time to foreign bank accounts. The money then

    returned to Croatia to finance the construction of Granic's

    house and other projects. He called the charges an example of

    politically-motivated "revenge-seeking." Granic recently left

    the HDZ to form the more moderate Democratic Center, which

    leads the HDZ in popularity polls. PM

    [16] UN SLAMS SERBIA OVER HUMAN RIGHTS

    Members of the UN's Human

    Rights Commission voted 44-1 to condemn Belgrade for

    repression of the independent media and political opposition,

    as well as for the misuse of justice for political purposes.

    Russia cast the sole vote against. The measure also noted

    that in Kosova there had been "systematic targeting and

    terrorization of the civilian population...by Serbian forces,

    mass forced displacement, expulsion, group massacres, and

    summary executions, torture, arbitrary detention," as well as

    rape, widespread destruction of homes, and the repression of

    the expression of political views, AP reported. PM

    [17] SERBIAN COURT FINES BETA

    A Belgrade court on 18 April fined

    the private news agency Beta $6,900 at the black market rate

    in a libel suit filed by Yugoslav Information Minister Goran

    Matic. A similar suit was dismissed against the daily "Blic"

    on the grounds that it had simply reprinted a Beta story

    linking Matic to the 1999 murder of independent journalist

    Slavko Curuvija rather than report the charge on its own.

    Beta Director Radomir Diklic told Reuters that he expects to

    lose the case. "They will fine us for certain, because the

    [media] law exists so that they can collect their bounty," he

    added. PM

    [18] DJINDJIC: SERBIA HEADING FOR GENERAL STRIKE

    Democratic Party

    leader Zoran Djindjic said that the "final scenario" in the

    political action begun with the 14 April Belgrade protest

    meeting will be for two million citizens to turn out in a

    "kind of general strike," "Danas" reported on 19 April (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 April 2000). He added that Yugoslav

    Prime Minister Slobodan Milosevic is now frightened of

    defections from the ranks of his supporters. PM

    [19] MILOSEVIC BACKERS IN MONTENEGRO CLOSE RANKS

    The Montenegrin

    branches of the Serbian People's Party and Vojislav Seselj's

    Radicals have joined an electoral coalition recently formed

    by Milosevic's supporters in that republic, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported on 18 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    17 April 2000). PM

    [20] HUGE GOLD DEPOSIT FOUND IN ROMANIA

    A huge gold deposit,

    believed to be the biggest in Europe, has been found in

    central Romania, according to a report published on 18 April

    by the U.S. Pinock Allen and Holt Company, AFP reported. The

    deposit is near the town of Rosia Montana and is believed to

    contain over 250 tons of gold and 1,370 tons of silver spread

    over 20 square kilometers. Frank Timis, head of the Canadian

    mining company Gabriel Resources, which holds a 65 percent

    stake in the joint venture behind the find, said his company

    has spent $20 million on feasibility studies for the find and

    plans to invest up to $250 million in the project, convinced

    that "we will be able to extract 85-90 percent" of the

    precious metals. The project will employ some 2,000 workers

    in a region hit hard by unemployment. MS

    [21] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT RAISES PENSIONS

    The government on 18

    April decided to gradually raise pensions beginning on 1 May.

    The smallest pensions will be raised by as much as 50

    percent. The cabinet said the move was made possible by its

    decision to tax economic activities that previously went

    untaxed. The cabinet also decided to restructure the state-

    owned ROMGAZ company, breaking the monopoly into five

    independent companies. MS

    [22] CHISINAU STUDENTS WIN ROUND...

    Chisinau Mayor Serafim

    Urechean on 18 April told some 20,000 students demonstrating

    in the Moldovan capital that the mayoralty has decided to

    annul its decision depriving them of the right to free travel

    on public transportation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April

    2000). Urechean also said that the students detained one day

    earlier after clashes with the police had been freed. But he

    added that the decision on free public transportation may be

    revised, depending on government subsidies. After his

    announcement, most demonstrators withdrew but several

    thousand gathered on one of the town's main streets where

    skirmishes with police forces reoccurred. They blocked

    traffic, but dispersed after further parleys with the police,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Moldovan capital reported.

    Parliamentary Chairman Dumitru Diacov said "provocateurs"

    identified to be President Petru Lucinschi supporters had

    been spotted among the demonstrators. MS

    [23] ...AND RENEW DEMONSTRATIONS

    Some 7,000 students gathered on

    19 April in Grand National Assembly Square to protest against

    their peers having been beaten up by police in a student

    hostel the previous night. The students claim policemen

    locked up students in a hostel, beat them and said they

    should stop participating in the protests. A police spokesman

    said an investigation has been launched. MS

    [24] STOYANOV SAYS BULGARIA VICTIM OF YUGOSLAV CONFLICTS

    President Petar Stoyanov, currently visiting Germany, said on

    18 April in an interview with the daily "Sueddeutsche

    Zeitung" that the Yugoslav conflicts over the past nine years

    "caused Bulgaria great losses" and deprived it of being "a

    transit country for west European goods to southeastern

    Europe." Stoyanov said investors have also been scared off

    and the wars in general have threatened the success of

    Bulgaria's economic reforms. He said that the Bosnia war of

    1992-1995 cost Bulgaria "at least $5-6 billion" and the

    Kosova war also "caused damages in the billions." Further

    losses are now produced by the blocking of navigation on the

    Danube River as the result of the NATO air strikes, he said.

    MS

    [25] UN RESOLUTION ON ANGOLA MAY AFFECT BULGARIA

    The UN Security

    Council on 19 April approved a resolution warning that it

    will consider imposing penalties against countries found to

    have 89iolated an arms embargo and economic sanctions against

    Angolan rebels. The council set a six-month period to further

    investigate how the UNITA rebels were able to fuel their war

    and said it will decide in November whether to take action

    against violators. An independent panel of experts earlier

    said Bulgaria had been the main supplier of arms to the

    rebels, though a number of African countries and Belgium were

    also involved. Bulgaria has called the report "distorted,"

    Reuters reported. MS

    [26] IOM LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN AGAINST WOMEN SEX SLAVERY IN BULGARIA

    The International Organization for Migration (IOM) on 18

    April launched a campaign aimed at preventing the export of

    women as sex slaves, AP reported. A similar campaign was

    launched, also on 18 April, in Slovakia. The IOM says some

    10,000 Bulgarian women, mostly under 18, have fallen prey to

    the sex trade, being lured into going abroad by promises of

    jobs as models and dancers, and even marriages to Westerners.

    Village girls as young as 14 have also been kidnapped and

    smuggled over the border. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [27] GETTING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT IN CROATIA

    Real politics have come to Croatia this year. No more

    leaden statements by officials of the Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ) alternating with pathetic cries from a

    seemingly helpless opposition. The HDZ has split and its

    remaining leaders feud in public. It is true that HDZ-backed

    newspapers like "Vecernji list," "Slobodna Dalmacija," and

    "Vjesnik" have lost their government insider's edge and

    furthermore face an uncertain future. But the independent

    "Jutarnji list" and the independent weeklies make for

    exciting reading as HDZ leaders fight each other and scandals

    from the previous 10 years emerge on an almost daily basis.

    But that is not the only excitement in the Croatian

    press these days. Something else that crops up almost every

    day are verbal pot-shots exchanged between President Stipe

    Mesic and members of the government, usually Prime Minister

    Ivica Racan or Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic. It is to

    be expected that the two sides do not see eye-to-eye about

    the issues surrounding the reduction of the president's

    constitutional powers. Opinion polls, moreover, suggest that

    most voters are pleased with both the president and the

    government, and that they find the ongoing tension between

    them normal and healthy. In fact, Mesic is the country's most

    popular politician, and right behind him comes Racan.

    But one area of seemingly constant sparring is more an

    embarrassment than anything else, namely how they deal with

    The Ghost of Franjo Tudjman. This does not refer to the

    question of cutting the president's constitutional powers.

    The issue is the pains to which politicians go to show

    themselves as breaking with Tudjman's fondness for official

    pomp and circumstance.

    If Tudjman's strutting about flanked by young men in

    "historical" comic-opera uniforms was unintentionally funny,

    the same might be said of the current sparring over the

    legacy of government-by-show. Specifically, "issues" have

    arisen regarding the home of the president and other

    officials, and the proper protocol to be shown at airports.

    Last month, Mesic was furious that the government

    offered him a "luxury villa" as his official residence. He

    refused the house, calling the offer a ploy to make him look

    extravagant in the eyes of average Croats. It appears that

    many people were indeed angry that their president would live

    in the lap of luxury, but a look at the photos of the home

    suggested that it was anything but of international

    presidential quality. The author knows any number of U.S.

    professors or German businessmen who live in much more

    comfortable or spacious surroundings, and the list need not

    stop there.

    In the end, Mesic did not take the house. (Whether the

    building's pre-1941 owners will get it back is another

    matter.) For good measure, it might be noted that the prime

    minister lives in an ordinary flat, with guards outside his

    apartment block on a parking lot shared by several other

    modern buildings.

    This self-enforced modesty recalls tales of the blue-

    blooded former British Labour minister who shunned his

    aristocratic title and allegedly painted rust spots on his

    car to give himself a more close-to-the-people image. But not

    all modesty is a matter of personal choice. Mesic and Granic

    openly sparred in the press over the degree of protocol to be

    shown to the president when he leaves on or returns from an

    official visit, such as the one Mesic made to Bosnia-

    Herzegovina in March. Mesic argued that his demands are far

    from Tudjman's pomp and in keeping with the practices of such

    democracies as Slovenia and Bulgaria. He felt that the Racan

    government virtually ignored his visit and that such behavior

    amounted to an insult.

    But Granic was not to be budged in his role as the

    defender of modesty in government. He recently sought not to

    have to ride in the same car from the airport as a visiting

    Thai princess, in contradiction to protocol. Questions of

    protocol also arose over the issue of the presence of a

    military band--de rigeur under Tudjman--to greet her. In the

    end, Racan and the government went along with internationally

    accepted standards of protocol in receiving the visiting

    dignitary. But this is unlikely to be the end of the matter.

    Croatia certainly has more substantial problems than the

    legacy of pomp and circumstance. It will take a while before

    a truly functioning democracy takes root, including the

    establishment of really independent media. The government

    certainly cannot afford to forget that a main reason that it

    attracted voter support in January was popular anger over the

    HDZ's corruption and misuse of the privatization process, but

    this will take long years to set right. Issues of housing,

    unemployment, and the cost of living require immediate

    attention, although here, too, there are no easy answers.

    Perhaps more profoundly, there is a general social malaise

    and ethical vacuum that one finds in many post-communist

    societies. How these aspects of life will be brought up to

    "European norms" is anybody's guess.

    In short, Croatia has its tasks more than cut out for

    it. The example of Slovakia shows that even a determined

    opposition with its own agenda can squabble and falter after

    it comes to power, making a return of the old regime a very

    real possibility. In such circumstances, one does not know

    whether to laugh or cry when Croatia's top elected officials

    fight publicly over issues such as the size of the

    president's work room or the color of a carpet at an airport.

    19-04-00


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


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