|Sunday, 8 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 212, 00-11-01
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 4, No. 212, 1 November 2000
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIA, BELARUS SEEK TO EXPAND TRADEVisiting Belarusian Prime Minister Uladzimir Yarmoshyn and his Armenian counterpart, Andranik Markarian, signed five bilateral agreements in Yerevan on 31 October aimed at boosting bilateral trade and cooperation in taxation, science and tourism, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Bilateral trade turnover stood at $2.7 million in 1999 and is projected to reach $4.5 million this year; the two premiers hope to raise that figure to $8 million in 2001. Yarmoshyn said Belarus is particularly interested in importing pharmaceutical products from Armenia and in selling trucks, tractors, and other heavy machinery in return. Yarmoshyn also said that Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will visit Armenia during the first half of next year. A comprehensive treaty on friendship and cooperation will be signed during that visit. LF
 POPULARITY OF AZERBAIJAN'S RULING PARTY PLUMMETSThe findings of two opinion polls made public on 31 October indicate that, at least in Baku, the opposition Musavat Party is the most popular, Turan reported. Of 500 people questioned between 21-29 October in Baku, 24 percent expressed the hope that the Musavat party will win the 5 November parliamentary poll, while only 20 percent want a victory for the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan Party. A second poll of 817 people who said they will participate in the ballot indicated that 47 percent intend to vote for opposition candidates and only 22 percent for candidates from the ruling party. Some 26 percent said they will vote for Musavat and 21 percent for Yeni Azerbaycan. A second poll conducted by the Meridian analytical group and summarized in the independent daily "Sharq" on 31 October established support for Musavat at 29.8 percent. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIALSStephen Sestanovich, who is advisor on CIS affairs to the U.S. Secretary of State, and U.S. Minsk Group co-chairman Carey Cavanaugh met with Heidar Aliev in Baku on 31 October to discuss U.S.-Azerbaijani relations, regional security and the 5 November parliamentary elections, Turan reported. The two U.S. diplomats also met the same day with Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiev. On 30 October, Aliev told two staffers of the U.S. Senate International Relations Committee that Azerbaijan wants closer cooperation with the U.S. but that some U.S. officials have what he termed a "biased" view of Azerbaijan, Interfax reported. LF
 GEORGIAN PROSECUTOR GENERAL COMMENTS ON ITALIAN JOURNALIST'S MURDERDjamlet Babilashvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 31 October that he, too, believes that Italian journalist Sergio Russo may have been murdered because he had proof that Russian forces are using banned chemical weapons in Chechnya, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Greens chairman Giorgi Gachechiladze had suggested that possibility last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 2000). Babilashvili said that a video believed to corroborate that hypothesis was found to be missing from Russo's belongings after his death. LF
 CHECHEN REFUGEES LEAVE GEORGIA TO RETURN HOMEOf the 7,000 Chechens who fled to Georgia after the beginning of hostilities 13 months ago, at least 2,000 have left Georgia over the past few months, Caucasus Press reported on 31 October, citing the Georgian Border Guard Department. Some 70 percent returned to Chechnya, while approximately 20 percent travelled to Azerbaijan or other countries. LF
 KAZAKH PRESIDENT IMPLICATED IN REPRISALS AGAINST DEMONSTRATORSFormer architecture professor Arken Uaqov has published a book accusing President Nursultan Nazarbaev of playing a key role in crushing the protest demonstrations in Almaty and other cities in December 1986 against the election of ethnic Russian Gennadii Kolbin as First Secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported on 31 October. Uaqov was sentenced to four years in a labor camp for his role in the December 1986 protests but was pardoned in 1994. In 1986 Nazarbaev was chairman of the Kazakh SSR Council of Ministers. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S CABINET ASSESSES ECONOMIC TRENDS...Addressing a cabinet session in Astana on 31 October, Kazakhstan's Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev warned that the impressive economic growth the country is currently registering is not yet irreversible, Interfax reported. He said that Kazakhstan's economy is growing faster and social problems being resolved more quickly than in other CIS states, including Russia. He added that a balanced budget is "within reach." Economic Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev told the session that industrial production increased by 15.4 percent during the first nine months of the year compared with the same period in 1999; output in the mining industry grew by 21.1 percent, in the iron and steel industry by 25 percent, the non-ferrous metals sector by 15.3 percent, and the oil and gas sector by 15.7 percent. Kulekeev predicted that economic growth will slow slightly next year, with GDP expanding by 4-5 percent and industrial output increasing by 8 percent year- on-year. LF
 ...ANTICIPATES INCREASE IN OIL EXTRACTIONKulekeev also told his cabinet colleagues on 31 October that it should be possible to increase oil production in 2001 to 37-40 million metric tons from this year's anticipated 30 million tons, according to Interfax. But he added that that increase is contingent on increasing the throughput capacity of the Atyrau-Samara pipeline to15 million tons per year and on completion of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium pipeline on schedule by the third quarter of next year. LF
 DEFEATED KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER SAYS POLL OUTCOME WAS FALSIFIED...Opposition socialist Ata-Meken Party chairman Omurbek Tekebaev said in Bishkek on 31 October that the results of the 29 October presidential poll in Bishkek were falsified, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Tekebaev claimed that businessman Almaz Atambaev received 33.3 percent of the vote, incumbent Askar Akaev 32.7 percent, Tekebaev 20.3 percent and Kairan-El party candidate Melis Eshimkanov 4.1 percent. Tekebaev said only 13 percent of the city's electorate participated in the vote. AP on 31 October quoted Emil Aliev, a member of Tekebaev's campaign staff, as saying that police had detained three of Tekebaev's campaign supporters in Talas Oblast and that seven more are missing. LF
 ...AS HIS SUPPORTERS LAUNCH PROTESTS...Some 3,000 people blocked the main Bishkek-Osh highway in the town of Bazar- Korgon (Djalalabad Oblast) on 31 October for the second consecutive day to protest the outcome of the 29 October presidential poll, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The protesters claim that the results were falsified and that Tekebaev, who was born in Bazar-Korgon, was elected president. Tekebaev flew to Djalalabad on 31 October to ask the protesters to disperse, but they refused to do so, insisting on their constitutional right to elect a candidate other than Akaev. According to official returns, Akaev was re- elected president with 74 percent of the vote. LF
 ...AS U.S. INSTITUTE DELIVERS ANOTHER NEGATIVE ASSESSMENTThe National Democratic Institute issued a report in Bishkek on 31 October that criticized the conduct of the presidential poll as failing to meet international standards or Kyrgyzstan's commitments to the OSCE, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The report noted the exclusion from the ballot of prominent opposition candidates, pressure on voters to cast their ballot for the incumbent, interference by local authorities in the election process, and propaganda on behalf of the incumbent by most media outlets. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 REFORMISTS WALK OUT OF GOVERNMENT MEETING IN PROTESTReformists walked out of a meeting of Serbia's transitional government on 31 October over a refusal by members of ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialists to dismiss the head of state security, Reuters reported. Nebojsa Covic, a deputy premier from the Democratic Opposition of Serbia, and Spasoje Krunic, a deputy premier from the Serbian Renewal Movement, said they will not resume working with the government until Serbian state security chief Rade Markovic leaves his post. Krunic said Socialist Premier Milomir Minic announced at the meeting that Markovic will not be removed from office because his leaving is not a part of the agreed upon power-sharing deal, forged to create a transitional government until elections can be held. Krunic said Markovic's dismissal is an important part of the deal and that Minic has gone back on his word. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic is scheduled to meet with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica on 1 November to discuss the issue. Meanwhile, Balsa Govedarica, the head of the Serbian Supreme Court, and Dragisa Krsmanovic, Serbia's chief public prosecutor, offered their resignations, as demanded by Kostunica's supporters. PB
 HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP ACCUSES SERBIAN SECURITY SERVICE OF EDITOR'S MURDERThe Belgrade-based Humanitarian Law Center (HLC) on 31 October accused the Serbian state security service of last year's murder of Slavko Curuvija, the owner and editor in chief of the daily "Dnevni Telegraf," Reuters reported. The HLC said it received a document from the state security service revealing that undercover surveillance of Curuvija was being organized by Belgrade state security chief Milan Radonjic. The report, the HLC said, stated that the undercover agents "were withdrawn a few minutes before Curuvija was gunned down by three men." The HLC has filed a criminal complaint against the Serbian and Belgrade state security heads. "Dnevni Telegraf" was banned in 1998 by the government "for spreading fear, panic, and defeatism," but it re-registered itself in Montenegro. PB
 SECURITY COUNCIL RECOMMENDS YUGOSLAV UN MEMBERSHIPThe UN Security Council endorsed Yugoslavia's application to join the UN as a new member, AP reported. The recommendation goes to the General Assembly for formal approval, perhaps as soon as 1 November. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said "this is a great day for democracy in the Balkans, in Europe, and a great day for the UN." Bosnia-Herzegovina's UN ambassador, Muhamed Sacirbey, said his country will be among the co-sponsors of the resolution to admit Belgrade to the world body, where its membership has been suspended since 1992. Sacirbey said: "We believe that this is indeed a momentous occasion. It resolves at least one outstanding [issue] among us." PB
 YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT WILLING TO TALK TO KOSOVAR LEADERSKostunica said on 31 October that he is willing to meet with ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova and other elected leaders from Kosova but warned that calls for the province's indepedence could be "very dangerous" for the Balkans, Reuters reported. Kostunica said in Oslo after a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg that "I am open to all sorts of contacts with [ethnic] Albanian leaders." Asked if he would speak with former rebel leader Hashim Thaci as well as with Rugova, he said he would talk "to whoever it's necessary." Kostunica added, "I think that independence for Kosovo would be very dangerous for stability in the region, " saying it would be problematic not only for Yugoslavia but perhaps for Macedonia. He called the results of the elections "monoethnic" since the huge majority of Serbs boycotted the vote. Norway said it will end all sanctions against Yugoslavia. PB
 GERMANY APPROVES RESTORING TIES TO BELGRADEThe government of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said in a statement on 1 November that it has agreed to restore diplomatic relations with Yugoslavia, dpa reported. The statement said Germany "is supporting the democratic change in Belgrade and signalling future support for Yugoslavia from Germany." No date for the resumption of relations was given. PB
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT PLEADS FOR INDEPENDENCEMilo Djukanovic said on 31 October that a union between Serbia and Montenegro as two internationally recognized and independent states is the best solution to the republics' disagreement on reforming the Yugoslav state, AP reported. Djukanovic, speaking on Montenegrin television, said both republics have a "historical right" to independence and "have functioned as independent states for several years." Djukanovic said that "no one consulted Montenegro when applying for UN membership. The federation of Yugoslavia no longer exists...this is a fact." But he added that Podgorica will not interfere with Belgrade's efforts to join the UN as Yugoslavia. PB
 KOSOVAR ALBANIAN ACTIVIST URGES SERBS TO ACCEPT INDEPENDENT KOSOVAAdem Demaci, a long-time Kosovar Albanian activist, said in Belgrade on 31 October that Serbs must recognize the province's new reality and accept its independence, AP reported. In his first visit to Belgrade in more than a decade, Demaci said "there is no going back" and "any solution that avoids recognition and acceptance of an independent Kosova is doubtful and can only be temporary." Demaci, 64, spent 28 years in Yugoslav prisons. PB
 MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADER PRAISES KOSOVA ELECTIONSArben Xhaferi, the head of Macedonia's largest ethnic Albanian political party, the Democratic Party of Albanians, said on 31 October that the election in Kosova will help normalize the situation in the Balkans, Reuters reported. Xhaferi said "this election is a great contribution to normalization of the political situation in the region and in Kosova." Xhaferi said Ibrahim Rugova's party won the election because "people in Kosova were voting mostly for political icons rather than mayors and Rugova fit the image best." Some 22 percent of Macedonia's citizens are ethnic Albanians. PB
 CROATIA TO JOIN WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION THIS MONTHWTO Director-General Mike Moore said in Geneva on 1 November that Croatia will be admitted to the organization on 30 November as its 140th member, AP reported. The Croatian government ratified the membership agreement on 31 October and membership is granted 30 days thereafter. Lithuania, Russia, China, and Saudi Arabia are among 30 other countries waiting for approval to join the WTO. PB
 GENERAL ACCUSED OF CARRYING OUT MASSACRES AT SREBRENICAUN war crimes prosecutors on 31 October confronted Bosnian Serb General Radislav Krstic on the role he played in the 1995 massacres at Srebrenica, in which thousands of Muslim men and boys were executed, Reuters reported. Krstic said he was busy capturing the nearby town of Zepa while the massacres were taking place. But prosecutor Peter McClosky showed a document from Krstic ordering units to the area around Srebrenica. Krstic, 52, has been charged with genocide for carrying out orders to execute Muslims. He says that he did not take command of the Bosnian Serb Drina Corps until 10 days after it seized Srebrenica and that army chief Ratko Mladic was in control of the Srebrenica operation. PB
 ROMANIAN ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF RESIGNSGeneral Mircea Chelaru resigned on 31 October, Romanian media reported. Four days earlier, Chelaru had said at a press conference that "mafia-type groups" engaged in organized crime are interested in maintaining a weak state. He also referred to the problem of "autonomy and local government" in the southeastern region of Dobrogea and south Oltenia, where he claimed an "enclave" will be formed. He named Interior Ministry and Romanian Information Service officials as sources for that claim, noting that the matter has been discussed by Romania's Supreme Defense Council. But a press release from President Emil Constantinescu's office denied that there is any threat to the country's integrity or security and stated that the Supreme Defense Council has not discussed these problems. Constantinescu has named General Mihail Popescu as Chelaru's successor. ZsM
 SENATE CALLS ON GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE ROMTELECOM PRIVATIZATIONThe Romanian upper house on 31 October adopted a resolution calling on the government to "analyze the fairness and legality" of the privatization of the former Romanian telecommunication company, Romtelecom, Romanian media reported. The Senate asked the government to issue within 30 days an emergency ordinance obligating all companies with monopoly positions to alter their tariffs, but only if those changes are approved by the Competition Council. ZsM
 SWEDEN ASKS ROMANIA FOR ARBITRATION OVER $4 BILLION DEBTRomanian State Minister Mircea Ciumara on 31 October announced that the Swedish government has asked Romania to accept international arbitration over the issue of Romania's debts toward Sweden. Stockholm thereby repeated its claim for $3.8 billion damages for a 1929 loan Romania took from Sweden, interest on that loan, and the value of Swedish properties nationalized by the communist regime. Ciumara has held talks with Romanian parliamentary parties to seek a solution to the problem. ZsM
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT TO SET DATE OF PRESIDENTIAL VOTEFollowing the promulgation of the law on presidential elections, the parliament will set the date for the ballot sometime between 1 December and 15 January, BASA-Press reported on 31 October. President Petru Lucinschi's mandate expires on 15 January. PG
 SOME MOLDOVAN SCHOOLS MAY CLOSE IN WINTERSome 120 of the country's 1,439 secondary schools may be forced to close this winter because of a lack of fuel to warm the rooms or because of a lack of funds to repair the school buildings, BASA-Press reported on 31 October. PG
 HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT BACKS BULGARIAN MEMBERSHIP IN EU, NATOFerenc Madl told Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova in Budapest on 31 October that the rapid entrance of Bulgaria into the EU and NATO is in the best interests of Hungary, BTA reported. His comments came on the sidelines of the 46th annual assembly of the Atlantic Treaty Association in the Hungarian capital. Meanwhile, Josef Gruver, the representative of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Bulgaria, told BTA that Bulgaria should part with its role of Romania's "Siamese twin" in its drive to join Europe. He said that Bulgaria has done much better than Romania in recent years and should not allow itself to be held back by assessments of the other country's progress. PG
 BULGARIAN TRADE INCREASES, BUT FOREIGN INVESTMENT FALLSBulgaria continued to run a trade deficit during the first eight months of 2000, even though its foreign trade increased by some 20 percent over the same period last year, BTA reported. However, direct foreign investment in Bulgaria during the same period fell by 9 percent over the same period a year earlier, totaling $366.4 million. PG
[C] END NOTE
 THE POLITICS OF HONORIFICSBy Paul Goble
A decision by a European academic organization to award Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov an honorary degree for his commitment to democracy calls attention to the ways in which such honorific titles are used and abused on the international scene.
The European Academy of Information Sciences, based in Brussels, last week announced that it will present Niyazov with a grand doctor of philosophy degree for his "significant contribution to the theory and practice of state structures" and his promotion of "democratic regulation of social processes at the turn of the millennium."
The award has raised eyebrows around the world among those who are aware of Niyazov's record as leader of Turkmenistan. Niyazov has banned opposition groups, closed the country's academy of sciences, downsized universities, barred all persons who are not 100 percent pure Turkmen from higher education, and sought to exercise total control over his society. Questions are now being asked about how it is possible that any international organization could give Niyazov such an award or bring itself to describe him as committed to democratic change.
The answer is surprisingly simple. Organizations from universities and non- governmental organizations to international bodies like the UN regularly hand out such awards to foreign leaders. It is the way in which international business gets done.
From the point of view of the organizations that make such awards, this practice gains them broader media coverage than they might otherwise receive and even attracts the attention of those to whom they give awards. Indeed, many organizations may make such awards precisely to be in a position to advance their own agendas with the recipients.
And sometimes that strategy works. Some leaders who receive awards actually have tried to live up to the honor they have received, changing their policies or at least becoming more open to the possibility of such changes.
But many recipients regularly abuse this process. And Niyazov's record suggests that he is very likely to do precisely that. Indeed, when he was named an "intellectual genius" by a UN body earlier this year, he made sure that the media in Turkmenistan devoted significant attention to that epithet.
Moreover, like many of his predecessors, Niyazov appears certain to claim that this award shows that his critics at home and abroad are wrong, that he is in fact the "democratic" leader he regularly proclaims himself to be. And thus he is likely to argue that organizations at home and governments abroad should stop trying to pressure him and his regime to change.
Even more, there is the danger that the Turkmen leader may conclude that he has a free hand and will treat his own population in an even more authoritarian manner. At the very least, he almost certainly will take any future criticism of his actions less seriously than might otherwise have been the case.
But the most significant impact of such awards to those who would not appear to qualify for them lies elsewhere. Such misplaced honors have the effect of draining the meaning of the words like "democracy" and thus increasing public cynicism about such terms and the principles for which they stand.
In Turkmenistan and elsewhere, many people are likely to conclude that democracy has no real meaning if Western institutions are prepared to describe Niyazov in that way. And if Turkmens and others reach that conclusion, they are likely to be significantly less prepared to work for it.
That, in turn, almost certainly will reduce the chances for the spread of human freedom not only in Turkmenistan but elsewhere as well. And it also may have the effect of making those in the societies where such awards are given less confident about what their countries stand for and thus less willing to contribute to the growth of democracy in places that have known little of it up to now.
If that happens, the apparently innocent use of such an honorific will tend to undermine not only the level of human freedom today but make it less likely that there will be more freedom in the future.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty