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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 10, 01-01-16

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. 5, No. 10, 16 January 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN ARMENIA
  • [02] ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN EXCHANGE POWS
  • [03] TWO AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES EXPLAIN RATIONALE FOR PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENT
  • [04] ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HAILS NEW IMF LOAN...
  • [06] ...AS 'ZERO OPTION' DEBATE CONTINUES
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN POSTS SOLID RISE IN INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT
  • [08] NEW KYRGYZ FINANCE MINISTER SOLICITS SUGGESTIONS FOR ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM
  • [09] TAJIK COURT SENTENCES EIGHT ISLAMISTS
  • [10] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT HAS 'NO TIME' FOR DEL PONTE
  • [12] DEL PONTE HAS 'SEALED INDICTMENTS' FOR YUGOSLAV LEADER
  • [13] BATIC WARNS YUGOSLAV LEADER AGAINST 'SPITE'
  • [14] YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS KOSTUNICA-MILOSEVIC MEETING
  • [15] DEL PONTE 'CLEARS UP MISUNDERSTANDINGS' IN CROATIA
  • [16] MILOSEVIC MINISTER BEATEN IN SERBIAN CAPITAL
  • [17] OPEN FILES IN SERBIA?
  • [18] MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION REJECTS PLAN FOR ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM
  • [19] YUGOSLAV, MACEDONIAN EXPERTS EXAMINE BORDER ISSUES
  • [20] CONCERN IN EU OVER U.S. BALKAN POLICY
  • [21] UN CRIME FIGHTING FORCE IN KOSOVA
  • [22] NON-NATIONALISTS TAKE KEY POSTS IN BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT
  • [23] BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER BANS MINISTERS FROM POLITICS
  • [24] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES RESTITUTION LAW
  • [25] ROMANIA REPLIES TO EU ON VISA LIFTING REQUIREMENTS
  • [26] WORLD BANK MISSION VISITS ROMANIA
  • [27] FORMER ROMANIAN COURT POET CHANGED PARTIES, NOT POLITICS
  • [28] INFORMATION MINISTER RESPONDS TO PREDECESSOR'S CRITICISM
  • [29] MOLDOVAN INTERIOR MINISTER RUNS ON COMMUNIST LISTS
  • [30] SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN BULGARIA
  • [31] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO DISCUSS WATER SUPPLY PROGRAM

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] There is no end note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL ARRIVES IN ARMENIA

    Lord George Robertson arrived in Yerevan late on 15 January for talks with the Armenian leadership on further expanding the country's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Armenia stepped up its participation in that program last year, increasing the number of activities in which it participated to more than 30, compared with 11 in 1997. Robertson told journalists that he will also discuss regional security in the South Caucasus at what he termed "this critical time." He declined to comment on the aspirations of neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan to join the Alliance, noting that no South Caucasus state has yet formally applied for NATO membership. Robertson met on 15 January with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and is scheduled to hold talks on 16 January with President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian before leaving for Baku. LF

    [02] ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN EXCHANGE POWS

    Meeting on 14 January on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border, representatives of the two countries' armed forces exchanged one captured Armenian serviceman for three Azerbaijani prisoners, Turan and Noyan Tapan reported the following day. Both sides linked the exchange to agreements reached during the meeting last month between the Armenian and Azerbaijani defense ministers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 2000). LF

    [03] TWO AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION PARTIES EXPLAIN RATIONALE FOR PARTICIPATION IN PARLIAMENT

    Following a seven-hour discussion in Baku on 14 January, the Supreme Council of the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party (AHCP) voted 61 to five in favor of the participation of the group's six deputies in the work of the recently-elected parliament -- but only to campaign for that legislature's dissolution and the holding of new elections, Turan reported. The Civic Solidarity Party, which is aligned with the reformist wing of the AHCP and has three deputies in the new legislature, voted the same day to do likewise. Those two parties, together with several other influential opposition parties, had signed an agreement on 14 November abjuring participation in the new parliament on the grounds that the poll outcome was rigged and therefore invalid (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 November 2000). Opposition Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said the decision of the AHCP and Civic Solidarity to participate in parliament proceedings renders "problematic" any future cooperation between those parties and Musavat. LF

    [04] ISRAELI DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    Navaf Masalhu held talks in Baku on 15 January with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev, Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, and Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev, Turan reported. Those talks focused on the prospects for developing bilateral economic and cultural ties and on the situation in the Middle East. It was noted that Aliev has an open invitation to visit Israel. Aliev had announced in April 2000 his intention of doing so before the end of the year, but no date has yet been set for that visit. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HAILS NEW IMF LOAN...

    In his traditional Monday radio broadcast, Eduard Shevardnadze expressed satisfaction on 15 January at the IMF directors' approval, announced three days earlier, of a new $141 million, three-year anti-poverty loan for Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze said the Fund's decision "means Georgia is a normal country with long-term prospects of development, " according to AP. He added that the first $12.5 million tranche will be disbursed "within days." Announcing the Fund's decision, Deputy Managing Director Shigemitsu Sugisaki said Fund directors urge Georgia to reach agreements with creditors on rescheduling its large foreign debts, particularly those for energy. LF

    [06] ...AS 'ZERO OPTION' DEBATE CONTINUES

    Georgian Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili told journalists in Tbilisi on 16 January that by relinquishing any further claim on the assets of the former USSR, as the IMF has urged it to do, Georgia would gain the possibility of having its energy debts to Russia written off, according to Caucasus Press. Moscow has offered the so-called "zero option," whereby Georgia abandons its claims on Soviet assets in return for the restructuring of its debts to Russia. Arsenishvili called on the Georgian parliament to ratify the "zero option." Meanwhile, on 12 January, Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman Avtandil Napetvaridze denied that Ukraine, which like Georgia has not yet relinquished its claim on a share of Soviet assets, had asked the Georgian leadership not to ratify the "zero option." Parliament deputy Koba Davitashvili had said on 11 January that the Ukrainian embassy in Tbilisi had made such a request to the Georgian leadership (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 January 2001). LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN POSTS SOLID RISE IN INDUSTRIAL OUTPUT

    Kazakhstan's industrial output in 2000 grew by 14.6 percent compared with the previous year, Interfax reported on 15 January, quoting the National Statistics Agency. Output in the mining sector rose by 21.5 percent, while processing industries registered 15.6 percent growth. Refined gold and silver production grew by 20 percent and 39 percent, respectively, to reach 11,515 kilograms and 895,077 kilograms. LF

    [08] NEW KYRGYZ FINANCE MINISTER SOLICITS SUGGESTIONS FOR ANTI-POVERTY PROGRAM

    Newly-appointed Finance Minister Temirbek Akmataliev, whom "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 13 January predicted will ultimately succeed Kurmanbek Bakiev as premier, convened a meeting in Bishkek on 15 January to discuss proposals for a three-year national anti-poverty program, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Lidiya Fomova, the chairwoman of the Public Association for the Social Protection of the People, again proposed increasing the minimum monthly pension of 120 soms ($2.5). In his re- election campaign last fall, President Askar Akaev promised that pensions would be adjusted quarterly beginning in 2001, but this year's budget failed to include funds for such an increase (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 December 2000). LF

    [09] TAJIK COURT SENTENCES EIGHT ISLAMISTS

    Tajikistan's Supreme Court on 15 January handed down prison terms of between one and six years on eight members of the banned Hizb-ut-Tahrir organization, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The men are employees of a state farm near Dushanbe who joined Hizb-ut-Tahrir in late 1999 and had distributed literature calling for the overthrow of the country's leadership and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate. They were, however, found guilty only of inciting racial and religious hatred, but not of membership in a criminal group or calling for the overthrow of the regime. LF

    [10] TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH WORLD BANK REPRESENTATIVE

    Imomali Rakhmonov held talks in Dushanbe on 15 January with the World Bank director for Central Asia, Kiyeshi Kodera, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Those talks focused on implementation of projects sponsored by the World Bank, Tajikistan's draft anti-poverty program, and on the terms for release of the second tranche of a loan for structural reforms. Rakhmonov had discussed the latter issue last fall with the Bank's vice president for Europe and Central Asia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2000). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT HAS 'NO TIME' FOR DEL PONTE

    Aleksandar Popovic, who is deputy head of President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, said in Belgrade on 15 January that his chief has no time to meet Carla Del Ponte, the chief prosecutor of the Hague- based war crimes tribunal. She is slated to visit Belgrade on 23 January. Popovic said: "Mr. Kostunica can receive presidents or prime ministers, and Madame Del Ponte is neither one nor the other. She is not even a foreign minister of a country, or an ambassador who brings accreditations. ...Mr. Kostunica's day has 24 hours, and Madame Del Ponte is not high enough in some hierarchy for Mr. Kostunica to receive her." When a reporter asked Popovic why Kostunica can find time for film director Emir Kusturica, Popovic replied: "He's more important for us than is Carla Del Ponte," "Danas" reported. PM

    [12] DEL PONTE HAS 'SEALED INDICTMENTS' FOR YUGOSLAV LEADER

    Del Ponte said in Zagreb on 15 January that "I hope that President Kostunica...will find some time to meet me. He is meeting a lot of people. I don't think that he won't find time to meet the prosecutor of the ICTY (International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia)," Reuters reported. She told Brussels' "Le Soir" that she wants to give Kostunica an unspecified number of secret indictments, Reuters reported. "I'll say these individuals are indicted by the tribunal. Here are the indictments, here are the arrest orders. Do your duty. I will hand over everything, even the sealed indictments. A great many of these people are refugees in Serbia. President Kostunica has the means to cooperate. It's a question of will," she added. PM

    [13] BATIC WARNS YUGOSLAV LEADER AGAINST 'SPITE'

    In Belgrade on 15 January, Serbian Justice Minister-designate Vladan Batic called Kostunica's decision "politically harmful," AP reported. He told Radio B-92 that the tribunal is a "fact of life" that cannot be ignored. He warned official Belgrade to stop acting "in spite" toward The Hague. Kostunica has previously met with foreign ministers, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke, and aides to top foreign leaders, as well as with heads of state and government. One person he "did not have time" for was U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 November 2000). Serbia's macho culture often has difficulties dealing with powerful, strong-willed women. In any event, the international community has lost potential leverage over Kostunica by extending early recognition and aid to his government before getting firm commitments regarding Belgrade's cooperation with the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 1 December 2000). PM

    [14] YUGOSLAV OPPOSITION LEADER SLAMS KOSTUNICA-MILOSEVIC MEETING

    Momcilo Perisic, who is a leading member of Kostunica's political coalition and a former head of the General Staff, said in Belgrade that Kostunica should have arrested President Slobodan Milosevic instead of meeting with him recently, "Vesti" reported on 16 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2001). Predrag Markovic of the G-17 Plus group of economists said that Kostunica should have asked Milosevic what he did with all the money he stole instead of talking politics with him. But coalition member Dusan Mihajlovic (see below) said that he "trusts" Kostunica even if it is not yet clear why he agreed to meet the former dictator. Mihajlovic added that Milosevic should, in any event, follow the example of former Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic and turn himself in to the tribunal rather than engage in politics. PM

    [15] DEL PONTE 'CLEARS UP MISUNDERSTANDINGS' IN CROATIA

    Speaking in Zagreb on 15 January, Del Ponte said that she has "withdrawn the invitation" for General Petar Stipetic, who heads the General Staff, to testify before the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 2000). She added, however, that Stipetic has "offered" to "be interviewed" by the court, Reuters reported. Del Ponte concluded that "we think now we have found a solution to all our problems, and from tomorrow our cooperation [between Zagreb and the tribunal] will be of the best." "Jutarnji list" quoted her as adding that she brought no new indictments of suspected Croatian war criminals. She stressed that the court wants to try individual war criminals and is not seeking a blanket condemnation of the Croatian army's 1995 offensives against Serbian rebels. Many Croats suspect the tribunal of taking a much tougher stand toward Croatia than toward Serbia or the Serbian rebels. PM

    [16] MILOSEVIC MINISTER BEATEN IN SERBIAN CAPITAL

    Unidentified persons attacked and beat Bratislava Buba Morina in Belgrade on 15 January, "Glas Javnosti" reported. Her party -- the United Yugoslav Left (JUL) of Mira Markovic -- called the assault "organized" and suggested that there was a political motive. Morina was minister for refugee affairs under the Milosevic regime. JUL is extremely unpopular and did not even win 1 percent of the votes in the recent elections. Many refugees from Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosova regarded Morina and the regime as cynical and insensitive toward their plight. PM

    [17] OPEN FILES IN SERBIA?

    Dusan Mihajlovic, who is slated to head the police in the new Serbian government, told "Blic" of 16 January that he wants to open the archives of the security services. He called such a move "very important." PM

    [18] MONTENEGRIN OPPOSITION REJECTS PLAN FOR ELECTIONS, REFERENDUM

    Meeting in Podgorica on 15 January, the steering committee of the opposition Socialist People's Party (SNP) rejected President Milo Djukanovic's Democratic Party of Socialists' (DPS) call for early elections, to be followed by a referendum on independence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 January 2001). The SNP leaders said that they want elections to be held in May, after which the new parliament would pass a law on the referendum, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Elsewhere, the steering committee of the Social Democratic Party agreed to the DPS' proposal on the condition that all parties agree in writing to hold the referendum by the end of June. PM

    [19] YUGOSLAV, MACEDONIAN EXPERTS EXAMINE BORDER ISSUES

    Representatives of the Yugoslav and Macedonian governments are slated to begin four days of closed-door talks on 16 January, Beta reported from Skopje. The experts will seek to clear up outstanding issues in defining the two countries' common frontier. Borders between republics were often poorly defined in former Yugoslavia. Following the split-up of that country, the Milosevic regime took advantage of Macedonia's military weakness to occupy several strategic positions on the Serbian-Macedonian frontier. PM

    [20] CONCERN IN EU OVER U.S. BALKAN POLICY

    Speaking on condition of anonymity, an EU diplomat told dpa in Brussels on 15 January that "we are concerned about the [recent] statement [by President-elect George W. Bush] that the U.S. may withdraw from its peacekeeping operations in Kosovo." The diplomat stressed that, "for military success in the Balkans, a U.S. presence in both Kosovo and Bosnia is necessary" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 January 2001). Bush told "The New York Times" of 14 January that "we'd like for [the European allies] to be the peacekeepers. And they know that." He added that "I'll honor the agreements that [the Clinton administration] has made. And we've got an agreement to be in the Balkans. And it's going to take a while [to reduce the U.S. presence], and I understand that." PM

    [21] UN CRIME FIGHTING FORCE IN KOSOVA

    UN police spokesman Dimitri Kaportsev said in Prishtina on 15 January that they have set up a 30-member intelligence unit to deal with the growing problem of organized crime on a province-wide level, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 12 January 2001). PM

    [22] NON-NATIONALISTS TAKE KEY POSTS IN BOSNIAN PARLIAMENT

    The new parliament of the mainly Muslim and Croatian federation held its constituent meeting in Sarajevo on 15 January, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. For the first time in a post-communist Bosnian legislative body, the key offices have gone to members of non-nationalist parties, namely to members of the 10-party Alliance for Change. The new speaker is Enver Kreso, and his deputy is Ivan Brigic. The secretary- general of the House of Representatives is Slavica Gebert. Members of the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) walked out and called a party meeting for the following day. HDZ leaders argue that their party received some 90 percent of the ethnic Croatian votes. They demand a separate Croatian political entity, which the international community has previously rejected as a violation of the Dayton agreement. Brigic and Gebert are non-nationalist Croats. PM

    [23] BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER BANS MINISTERS FROM POLITICS

    Mladen Ivanic said in Banja Luka on 15 January that cabinet members will not be allowed to engage in partisan political activities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He added that he is trying to find a "solution" to the international community's objections to the inclusion of a member of the hard-line nationalist Serbian Democratic party in his cabinet (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January 2001). PM

    [24] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES RESTITUTION LAW

    The Chamber of Deputies on 16 January approved a law for the restitution of dwellings nationalized by the communist regime, Mediafax reported. The vote was 222 in favor and 73 against, with one deputy abstaining. The law was opposed by the Greater Romania Party. The chamber voted to accept the version of the law approved last year by a mediation commission of the two houses of the parliament, after they had separately voted on different versions. Since the Senate has already approved the mediation commission's version, the law can be promulgated by President Ion Iliescu, unless an appeal is launched at the Constitutional Court within five days. MS

    [25] ROMANIA REPLIES TO EU ON VISA LIFTING REQUIREMENTS

    Prime Minister Adrian Nastase on 15 January sent a letter to European Commission Chairman Romano Prodi and the government separately replied to the questionnaire sent by the commission in connection with the 18 December decision to lift visa requirements on Romanian nationals when Romania meets the conditions for this decision. Both letters detail the measures Romania will undertake to secure its borders against illegal immigration, bring asylum-granting legislation in line with that of the EU, and introduce standard EU-type passports, as well as provide a precise calendar for the fulfillment of these EU-imposed conditions, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [26] WORLD BANK MISSION VISITS ROMANIA

    Andrew Vorkink, World Bank director for Central and Eastern Europe, on 15 January met with Finance Minister Mihai Tanasescu, reviewing the new cabinet's plans and the extent to which they fit into previous agreements with the bank on lending to Romania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Vorkink will continue meetings with Romanian officials until 20 January. An IMF delegation is also expected to review later this month the provisions of the budget that the Nastase cabinet intends to submit to the parliament. Nastase has several time said that he wants to negotiate with the IMF a larger deficit than that provided in the accords signed with Romania by the previous coalition. MS

    [27] FORMER ROMANIAN COURT POET CHANGED PARTIES, NOT POLITICS

    Adrian Paunescu, who has been elected a senator on the lists of the Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), on 15 January demanded that PDSR parliamentary group chairman Ioan Solcanu provide "clarification" on the agreement reached by the PDSR with the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) on the appointment of UDMR deputy prefects in several counties, Mediafax reported. Paunescu, a former Ceausescu court poet, represented the Socialist Labor Party in the Senate between 1992 and 1996 and has now been reappointed chairman of the Senate's Culture Commission. Solcanu said the agreement covers Harghita, Covasna, Salaj, Satu-Mare, and Mures counties. MS

    [28] INFORMATION MINISTER RESPONDS TO PREDECESSOR'S CRITICISM

    Responding to criticism by Peter Eckstein Kovacs, former minister in charge of national minorities, Public Information Minister Vasile Dancu said "the cabinet as a whole," rather than a single minister, is representing the interests of national minorities in the Nastase cabinet. Eckstein Kovacs on 14 January criticized the decision to subordinate the former Department for the Protection of National Minorities to the Public Information Ministry. That department is now called the Department for Inter-Ethnic Relations, Mediafax reported. The agency also reported that the PDSR and the UDMR have agreed to support in the Chamber of Deputies the same version of the Public Administration Law that has already been approved by the Senate. Among other things, the law allows bilingual signs in localities where 20 percent or more are members of national minorities and the use of minority languages in contact with the authorities in those localities MS

    [29] MOLDOVAN INTERIOR MINISTER RUNS ON COMMUNIST LISTS

    Interior Minister Vladimir Turcan on 15 January told journalists that he is running on the lists of the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) in the early elections scheduled for February, Flux and Infotag reported. Turcan said his decision to do so does not stem from "ideological considerations." He explained that: "I have accepted [PCM leader Vladimir] Voronin's offer...because I share the Communists' viewpoint on the need to strengthen the law enforcement bodies and impose on the country a dictatorship of the law." MS

    [30] SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN BULGARIA

    Visiting Slovak parliamentary chairman Josef Migas on 15 January met with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova and told her Bulgaria's NATO membership would contribute to stability in southeastern Europe, TASK and CTK reported. Migas also held talks with his Bulgarian counterpart, Yordan Sokolov, on the two countries' efforts to gain EU membership. Migas praised the EU decision to abolish visa requirements for Bulgarian citizens. He added that it is "paradoxical" that visa requirements for Slovak citizens have been introduced at a time when Slovakia is nearing EU membership. He said that Slovakia's "Romany issue" is one reflecting "difficult historic and social problems" that required close cooperation among all EU members and associated members and the assistance of the EU as a whole. MS

    [31] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT TO DISCUSS WATER SUPPLY PROGRAM

    The government will discuss this week a program aimed at coping with Bulgaria's increasingly difficult problem of water supplies, Environment and Water Minister Evdokia Maneva said on Bulgarian Radio on 14 January. On 11 January, officials from the ministry said Premier Ivan Kostov's cabinet is planning to limit daily water consumption to cope with expected shortages due to the 2000 drought and to chronic leakage problems, AP reported. The cabinet is planning to revamp the water supply system through a $2.3 billion investment program. The authorities intend to limit daily water consumption to 200 liters per person. Due to leakage, per capita consumption in Sofia now equals some 600 liters, compared to about 150 liters per person in large West European cities. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [32] There is no end note today.

    16-01-01

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


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