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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 15, 01-01-23

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. 15, 23 January 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] DETAINED ARMENIAN BUSINESSMAN'S HEALTH DETERIORATING?
  • [02] RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY VISITS ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN, TURKEY TO COORDINATE TACTICS OVER ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RECOGNITION
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN'S WAR INVALIDS LAUNCH HUNGER-STRIKE
  • [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DENY MUTUAL ANIMOSITY
  • [06] GEORGIA PARLIAMENT DELEGATION VISITS MOSCOW
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT ACCEPTS INVITATION TO CASPIAN SUMMIT
  • [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION CONDEMNS KULOV SENTENCE...
  • [09] ...AS ANOTHER SENIOR KYRGYZ OFFICIAL DISTANCES SELF FROM LEADERSHIP
  • [10] KYRGYZSTAN TO ELECT FIRST LOCAL GOVERNMENT HEADS
  • [11] TAJIKISTAN URGED TO ADMIT AFGHAN FUGITIVES
  • [12] JAPAN PROVIDES NEW LOAN FOR UZBEKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] DEL PONTE IN YUGOSLAVIA TO SEEK MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION
  • [14] CROATIAN PRESIDENT: YUGOSLAVIA CAN CHANGE CONSTITUTION
  • [15] EU TELLS MONTENEGRO TO WORK WITH SERBIA
  • [16] MONTENEGRIN LEADER TO EU: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH
  • [17] MONTENEGRIN MINISTER: EU HAS TAKEN SIDES
  • [18] MONTENEGRIN JUDGE BLASTS 'POKER GAME'
  • [19] PRO-BELGRADE MONTENEGRIN PARTY WELCOMES EU STATEMENT
  • [20] SPECIAL GUEST STATUS FOR YUGOSLAVIA IN STRASBOURG
  • [21] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER'S NOMINATION OFFICIAL
  • [22] EU MONITORS TO PRESEVO VALLEY
  • [23] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER URGES BELGRADE TO FREE PRISONERS
  • [24] MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN AGREEMENTS SIGNED
  • [25] NATO SEES FUTURE IN MACEDONIA
  • [26] BOSNIAN SERB PRIME MINISTER SEEKS BREAK WITH PAST...
  • [27] ...WITH ONE MINISTER IN LIMELIGHT
  • [28] NATO OFFICIAL IN BUCHAREST
  • [29] OSCE MISSION HEADS MEET IN BUCHAREST
  • [30] FORMER ROMANIAN COMMUNIST PRISON BOSS CHARGED WITH MURDER
  • [31] ROMANIAN JUDGES ARRESTED FOR BRIBE-TAKING
  • [32] A GAGAUZ-TRANSDNIESTER ALLIANCE?
  • [33] MOLDOVAN PARTY PROTESTS DETENTION OF LEADERSHIP PERSONALITY
  • [34] IMF URGES BULGARIA TO SPEED ENERGY SECTOR REFORM
  • [35] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT OFFERS JOB TO WEBSITE HACKER

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [36] LETTING GO

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] DETAINED ARMENIAN BUSINESSMAN'S HEALTH DETERIORATING?

    Businessman Arkadii Vartanian, who has been held in pre-trial detention in Yerevan since 30 October, is suffering from high blood pressure and may suffer a stroke unless he receives urgent medical attention, his wife Elena told Noyan Tapan on 22 January. Vartanian is accused of having called for the overthrow of the Armenian leadership at a march of his supporters to the presidential palace in Yerevan on 30 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 October and 13 November 2000). LF

    [02] RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY VISITS ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN

    Sergei Ivanov paid a low-profile visit on 21 January to Yerevan where he met separately with Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian to discuss bilateral relations and the situation on the South Caucasus, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Ivanov then flew to Baku for talks on 22 January with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev that reportedly focussed on the results of Russian President Vladimir Putin's 9-10 January visit to Baku and the Karabakh conflict, ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev characterized the visits by Putin and Ivanov as evidence of an improvement in Azerbaijani-Russian relations, according to AFP. "Russia has definitely begun paying more attention to the Caucasus and is trying to be as objective and correct as possible," Aliev said. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN, TURKEY TO COORDINATE TACTICS OVER ARMENIAN GENOCIDE RECOGNITION

    President Aliev and Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev met on 19- 20 January in Baku with visiting Turkish Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Faruk Lologlu (a former Turkish ambassador to Azerbaijan) to discuss drafting a common policy towards Armenia, according to Trend News Agency on 22 January as cited by Groong. That coordinated policy will also include joint actions in response to the resolutions adopted by various national parliaments condemning the genocide of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915. Meanwhile in Yerevan, Armenian Union of Consumers chairman Arsen Kazarian called for an Armenian boycott of Turkish consumer goods in response to Ankara's call for a boycott of French products to protest the French parliament's condemnation of the genocide, Groong quoted Snark as reporting on 22 January. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN'S WAR INVALIDS LAUNCH HUNGER-STRIKE

    Some 40 members of Azerbaijan's Society of Nagorno-Karabakh War Invalids began a hunger-strike on 22 January at the society's Baku headquarters to demand an increase in the pensions they receive, Turan reported. A further 10 war invalids launched a parallel protest in the Djulfa and Sharur districts the same day to demand that their pensions of 70,000 manats ($14) be tripled. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER DENY MUTUAL ANIMOSITY

    Speaking on 22 January in his traditional Monday radio interview, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze denied persistent rumors of tensions between himself and parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania, Caucasus Press reported. Shevardnadze characterized his relations with Zhvania as business-like, warm and friendly, but admitted that from time to time they disagree. Zhvania similarly told journalists the same day that rumors of a "confrontation" between himself and the president are untrue. LF

    [06] GEORGIA PARLIAMENT DELEGATION VISITS MOSCOW

    Georgian parliament deputy speakers Vakhtang Rcheulishvili and Eldar Shengelaia met in Moscow on 22 January with Russian State Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. The three men agreed that the legislatures and foreign ministries of both Russia and Georgia should work towards lifting the visa requirement for Georgian citizens wishing to enter the Russian Federation which Moscow imposed last month. Speaking in Tbilisi the same day, President Shevardnadze said the Russian and Georgian Foreign Ministries have begun drafting a new framework treaty on bilateral relations that, he said, "will enable the two countries to establish absolutely new, friendly and equitable relations," ITAR-TASS reported. LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT ACCEPTS INVITATION TO CASPIAN SUMMIT

    During a telephone conversation on 22 January, Nursultan Nazarbaev accepted his Turkmen counterpart Saparmurat Niyazov's invitation to attend a summit of Caspian littoral states, Russian agencies reported. That forum is to be held in the Turkmen port of Turkmenbashi (former Krasnovodsk) in early March, and will focus on resolving disagreements between the five littoral states on how to divide and use the Caspian Sea's resources. LF

    [08] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION CONDEMNS KULOV SENTENCE...

    Kyrgyz opposition parties on 22 January harshly criticized the seven-year jail sentence handed down earlier that day by the Bishkek City Military Court on former Vice President Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). Kairan-El Party leader Dooronbek Sadyrbaev said that sentence shows that the country is in the grips of an "authoritarian regime," while Communist Party chairwoman Klara Adjybekova said it was "politically motivated." People's Party chairman Melis Eshimkanov said the sentence marks the end of what he termed "the romantic period of democracy" in Kyrgyzstan. Kulov was found guilty on charges of abuse of his official position while serving as National Security Minister in 1997-1998 by illegally promoting an aide, forgery of official documents, and instigation to commit a crime. His entire property has been confiscated, and he has been stripped of his rank of police colonel general. Fellow members of Kulov's Ar-Namys Party had urged him earlier this month to leave the country before sentence was pronounced, but he declined to do so, affirming that he is innocent. LF

    [09] ...AS ANOTHER SENIOR KYRGYZ OFFICIAL DISTANCES SELF FROM LEADERSHIP

    Kamal Bayalinov, who submitted his resignation as public relations advisor to Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev last November, has founded his own information agency named "Asia," he told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 22 January. Bayalinov, who had served as presidential advisor since February 2000, incurred criticism from the head of the presidential administration, Misir Ashyrkulov, for having criticized the work of the Ministry of National Security and calling for it to be disbanded. Bayalinov had also proposed that any state or government official who wanted to sue a journalist or newspaper should first resign from his post. LF

    [10] KYRGYZSTAN TO ELECT FIRST LOCAL GOVERNMENT HEADS

    Minister of Local Government Tolebek Omuraliev said in Bishkek on 22 January that as an experiment, elections will be held in March for village administration heads in one village in each of the country's seven oblasts, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Elections of local administrators in the remaining 30 towns and 450 villages will take place in the autumn. LF

    [11] TAJIKISTAN URGED TO ADMIT AFGHAN FUGITIVES

    The UNHCR issued a statement in Geneva on 22 January calling on the Tajik leadership to allow an estimated 10,000 displaced persons now congregated on the Afghan side of the Afghan-Tajik border to enter Tajikistan, AP reported. The statement noted that over 40 of those displaced persons, including several newly-born children, have died since October, and that the survivors are short of food and drinking water. Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov said earlier this month that the displaced persons, who fled fighting between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, include some armed fighters, and that they will not be permitted to enter Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 January 2001). LF

    [12] JAPAN PROVIDES NEW LOAN FOR UZBEKISTAN

    Under an inter-governmental agreement signed in Tashkent on 22 January, Tokyo will provide a 550 million yen ($5.5 million) interest-free loan to Uzbekistan to finance two programs for increasing food production, ITAR- TASS reported. The money will be used to promote rice-growing in Khorezm and Karakalpakistan. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] DEL PONTE IN YUGOSLAVIA TO SEEK MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION

    The chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia, Carla Del Ponte, arrived in Belgrade on 23 January for an unprecedented three-day visit. Del Ponte is expected to meet Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica on her first day in the Serbian capital. Kostunica recently agreed to see her after first saying he was "too busy" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 19 January 2001). Del Ponte is expected to demand full cooperation from the government, including the arrest and extradition of former President Slobodan Milosevic and other suspects it has indicted. Kostunica has made clear he does not want to extradite Milosevic to The Hague, but has suggested trying him in Yugoslavia. Del Ponte has stressed that he must be tried in The Hague. She also appears willing to deal directly with Serbian Prime Minister-designate Zoran Djindjic if Kostunica does not cooperate. PM

    [14] CROATIAN PRESIDENT: YUGOSLAVIA CAN CHANGE CONSTITUTION

    President Stipe Mesic said in Ilok on 22 January that Belgrade should stop making excuses about constitutional prohibitions on extraditing war criminals to The Hague, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Mesic called such excuses "words for little children." He urged Belgrade to change its constitution and send the indicted war criminals to the tribunal. PM

    [15] EU TELLS MONTENEGRO TO WORK WITH SERBIA

    In a sharp rebuke to Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic and his pro- independence government, EU foreign ministers said in a statement in Brussels on 22 January that Montenegro must seek its future in a federation with Serbia and not take any action unilaterally (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001, and "End Note" below). The ministers said that a solution should be worked out on the basis of Kostunica's proposals. Podgorica's policy is to try to negotiate a settlement with Belgrade as two independent actors and to hold a referendum on independence. Elsewhere, Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's high representative in Bosnia, said that the day is past for solving problems in the former Yugoslavia through partition. He stressed that Montenegrin independence would have an adverse affect on Kosova, Macedonia, and Bosnia, "Vesti" reported on 23 January. PM

    [16] MONTENEGRIN LEADER TO EU: PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

    Dragisa Burzan, who is a pro-independence deputy prime minister, said in Podgorica on 22 January that the EU's statement is "unfounded" and based on faulty information, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He stressed that EU officials should become more acquainted with the facts before making such declarations. He also urged the EU, which includes several countries with relatively small populations or land areas, to apply in the Balkans the same standards as they apply at home. PM

    [17] MONTENEGRIN MINISTER: EU HAS TAKEN SIDES

    Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac said in Podgorica on 22 January that the EU statement is one-sided. "We are surprised the statement refers to proposals and the interests of only one side, thus objectively making the talks more difficult because the EU, as a very important factor, is siding with one party and favoring its proposals," Reuters quoted him as saying. Lukovac added that "we think [that] in the coming phase, the EU should take equally into account all choices, arguments, and stands, both those of Montenegro and of Serbia." Lukovac also appealed to Montenegrins not to be discouraged by the EU statement and to support policies in keeping with Montenegro's own national interest. PM

    [18] MONTENEGRIN JUDGE BLASTS 'POKER GAME'

    Justice Blagota Mitric of the Montenegrin Constitutional Court said in Podgorica on 22 January that EU statement is tantamount to the "opening of a poker game" on the mountainous republic's future. Mitric argued that the statement is "outside all domestic and international rules" of conduct, "Vesti" reported. PM

    [19] PRO-BELGRADE MONTENEGRIN PARTY WELCOMES EU STATEMENT

    The Socialist People's Party, which serves in the Kostunica government and previously backed Milosevic, said in a statement in Podgorica on 22 January that it supports the EU's call in favor of the federation, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [20] SPECIAL GUEST STATUS FOR YUGOSLAVIA IN STRASBOURG

    The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly voted on 22 January to make Belgrade a special guest as a prelude to extending full membership. Several legislators expressed concern about Yugoslavia's failure to extradite Milosevic and other indicted war criminals. The guest status will allow a seven-man delegation from the Belgrade parliament to participate in the assembly's deliberations but not to vote, Reuters reported. PM

    [21] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER'S NOMINATION OFFICIAL

    At the opening session of the Serbian parliament on 22 January, President Milan Milutinovic formally nominated Djindjic as prime minister. Parliamentary speaker will be Dragan Marsicanin of the Democratic Party of Serbia, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [22] EU MONITORS TO PRESEVO VALLEY

    Javier Solana, who is the EU's top foreign and security policy official, said in Brussels on 22 January that "we have taken a very important decision today. [As of] today, European Union monitoring mission people will be deployed in the Presevo valley for reasons of information [gathering]. Today there'll be already two teams, and in the coming days, in negotiations we are about to finish with Serbia...we will have the possibility of deploying more people. ...I would like to [make clear] that it will be only for the purpose of [gathering] information, [and] that [the EU] will be the only organization to be deployed in Presevo valley," RFE/RL reported. PM

    [23] ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER URGES BELGRADE TO FREE PRISONERS

    The Socialist Party of former Prime Minister Fatos Nano said in a statement in Tirana on 23 January that Nano urged Kostunica in Athens the previous week to free the some 700 Kosovars being held in Serbian jails. The statement added: "Mr. Nano urged the new Belgrade authorities to [make a clear]...commitment to release all the Albanian political prisoners in Serbia. The problem of the rights and freedoms of Albanians in the Presevo valley, of co-existence and equality with the other citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, should also be solved through dialogue," Reuters reported. Kostunica and Nano had rooms on the same floor of an Athens hotel, but this was the first public indication that the two had met. PM

    [24] MACEDONIAN-ALBANIAN AGREEMENTS SIGNED

    Albanian Foreign Minister Paskal Milo completed a two-day, high-profile visit to Macedonia on 19 January, Reuters reported. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski's office said in a statement afterward that "we express the belief that cooperation between the two countries will [significantly] improve after signing the three agreements for cooperation in education, free trade, and health." PM

    [25] NATO SEES FUTURE IN MACEDONIA

    Italian Admiral Guido Venturoni, who heads the Atlantic alliance's military committee, told reporters in Skopje after meeting with Defense Minister Ljuben Paunovski that a NATO presence will be necessary to maintain stability in the Balkans for some time to come, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 October 2000). PM

    [26] BOSNIAN SERB PRIME MINISTER SEEKS BREAK WITH PAST...

    Republika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic told Reuters in Banja Luka on 22 January that he hopes that the U.S. and other members of the international community will work with his government following his sacking of a cabinet member from Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). "I think that by this change, the government can fulfill the conditions to be supported," Ivanic said. He added: "I did what I could. We have now a stable government with a stable majority, and I think that the international community has now to judge this government by its steps and not by the symbols." U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia Thomas Miller said that "although there are still problems with regards to the formation of the new government of the Serb republic, I know that the American government is ready to do anything to help Ivanic in his efforts." The ambassador did not elaborate on the "problems." PM

    [27] ...WITH ONE MINISTER IN LIMELIGHT

    Western diplomats in Bosnia are closely watching what several SDS-backed members of Ivanic's cabinet will do in office, Reuters reported from Banja Luka on 22 January. The one coming in for the closest scrutiny is Mico Micic, who is minister in charge of refugee returns. He is from Bijeljina, which, like several other towns in eastern Bosnia, was the scene of particularly ruthless "ethnic cleansing" operations in 1992. Ivanic stressed that "we have to deal really with what this minister will do, what will be his approach, and I really don't think there will be any obstruction in this area." PM

    [28] NATO OFFICIAL IN BUCHAREST

    Admiral James Ellis, Allied Forces Commander South Europe, on 23 January ended a visit to Romania as guest of chief of staff General Mihail Popescu, Romanian Radio reported. During his two-day visit, Ellis met with President Ion Iliescu, Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana. His hosts updated Admiral Ellis on Romanian military reforms and discussed with him participation in the Partnership for Peace program and in the peace-keeping operations in Bosnia and Kosova. MS

    [29] OSCE MISSION HEADS MEET IN BUCHAREST

    A meeting of the heads of the OSCE missions began in Bucharest on 22 January under the chairmanship of rotating OSCE Chairman Geoana, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The Romanian Foreign Minister outlined the organization priorities for 2001 at the gathering. The OSCE "troika," which comprises the Austrian, Portuguese and Romanian foreign ministers, is scheduled to meet on 23 January. MS

    [30] FORMER ROMANIAN COMMUNIST PRISON BOSS CHARGED WITH MURDER

    Former Aiud penitentiary commander Gheorghe Craciun, aged 88, on 22 January denied accusations that he was responsible for the death of 216 political prisoners between 1958 and 1964, AP reported. Craciun, a former Securitate colonel, is the first communist secret police official to stand trial on charges of involvement in such murders. A military judge traveled to Craciun's home to hear his testimony, after he said he is too weak to attend court proceedings. A new hearing is scheduled for 20 February. MS

    [31] ROMANIAN JUDGES ARRESTED FOR BRIBE-TAKING

    Viorel Burzo, chief justice at the Cluj Criminal Court of Appeals, and Cluj Civil Court judge Zoltan Haltek are under detention on suspicion of corruption and bribe-taking, an RFE/RL local correspondent reported on 21 and 22 January. Burzo was arrested on 21 January and charged with attempting to use his influence on prosecutors and judges to sentence a person convicted of corruption only to the minimum prison-term. Haltek has been detained on similar grounds. MS

    [32] A GAGAUZ-TRANSDNIESTER ALLIANCE?

    The moving up of elections in Moldova has prompted officials in Gagauz-Yeri to step up their contacts first with the unrecognized government of the Transdniester and then with Russian officials, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 18 January. On 4 January, Gagauz leader Dumitru Croitor signed an accord with separatist leader Igor Smirnov on expanding cooperation, and in the coming week Croitor is slated to travel to Moscow to seek greater support, according to the Russian newspaper. On 22 January, Smirnov told U.S. envoy Carey Cavanaugh that the talks on a settlement are continuing, not due to Moldova's positive position, but to the mediation efforts of Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE. Smirnov also said the Transdniester is "not bound" by the decisions of the OSCE 1999 Istanbul summit, in which it had not participated. PG

    [33] MOLDOVAN PARTY PROTESTS DETENTION OF LEADERSHIP PERSONALITY

    The leadership of the Edintsvo (Unity) electoral bloc on 22 January said the detention of Nikolai Kirilchuk on 3 January was aimed at "removing him from the political arena for as long as the electoral campaign is ongoing," Infotag reported. Kirilchuk was detained on 3 January and has been charged with "theft in particularly aggravating circumstances." Kirilchuk is Balti county chairman and is placed third on the Edinstvo lists in the February elections. Also on 22 January, the National Liberal Party (PNL) appealed to the Central Electoral Commission to nullify the registration of the Party of Conciliation and Rebirth (PRCM) in the forthcoming ballot. The PNL said PRCM Chairman Mircea Snegur and PRCM Deputy Chairman Nicolae Andronic have infringed on the electoral law, engaging in televised "electoral propaganda" outside the hours specifically allocated for this purpose. MS

    [34] IMF URGES BULGARIA TO SPEED ENERGY SECTOR REFORM

    Yuha Kahkonen, head of the IMF mission to Bulgaria, on 22 January urged Prime Minister Ivan Kostov to submit a draft law to the parliament by March to reduce state regulation of the energy sector, AP reported. The IMF board of directors will assess the new legislation before disbursing the second $70 million tranche of a three-year $840 million loan, he said. The Bulgarian energy sector is still almost entirely state-owned. Kostov's government has promised not to raise electricity and heating tariffs before the general elections scheduled for later this year, but that promise is proving difficult to keep due to rising international oil prices. MS

    [35] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT OFFERS JOB TO WEBSITE HACKER

    President Petar Stoyanov on 22 January said in an interview with the daily "24 Chasa" that he is ready to offer a job "at any time and without any hesitation" to the hacker who last week broke into the official presidential website, leaving there a message of desperation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). "He is obviously very talented, because he broke into the site without damaging any information," Stoyanov said. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [36] LETTING GO

    By Patrick Moore

    No one can doubt the patriotism or sense of national mission and grandeur of French President Charles de Gaulle. One of the ways in which he best demonstrated his visionary commitment to his country's good was to recognize when it was time to end France's colonial enterprise in Algeria and concentrate national energies elsewhere.

    The post-1945 worldwide process of decolonization has not always moved along easily. Indigenous peoples have often had to fight for the recognition of their basic rights of self-determination and majority rule. Colonial powers, spurred on by large and powerful domestic lobbies, have sometimes proven very reluctant to part with one or another of their holdings.

    This is as true of the post-communist collapse of the land empires of Moscow and Belgrade as it is of the post-1945 overseas empires of other countries. True, former Yugoslavia was not a purely Serbian empire in the sense that the USSR was a large, Russian-dominated state operating under a different name. But it was Slobodan Milosevic's attempt to co-opt or hijack the Yugoslav state for his own and for Serbian interests--with strong backing from Serbian voters--that accelerated the process of dissolution.

    Whether the disintegration of Yugoslavia was somehow inevitable will likely preoccupy students of politics and history for many years to come. The important point is that old Yugoslavia is now gone, and that all the will to put Humpty Dumpty back together again--or to hold parts of his torso together--is bound to fail. International pressures and cajoling did not work in 1991 or 1992, and they are unlikely to hold up the further disintegration of Yugoslavia in the coming decade (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 28 November 2000 and 19 January 2001).

    There are nonetheless those in the international community who would seek to hold back the tide. The clearest recent demonstration of this came on 22 January, when the EU foreign ministers made it clear to Montenegro that mighty Brussels wants that small republic to seek its future only "within an overall federal framework," i.e. together with Serbia.

    The ministers' statement also made it clear that Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica is in better graces now with the EU than is Montenegro's Milo Djukanovic. It does not seem to matter that Kostunica regularly displays Balkan "inat," or spiteful defiance, in discussing the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, while Djukanovic has pledged to cooperate with the court (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 2001). Presumably it has been noted in the region that cooperation with The Hague is thus not necessarily of decisive importance for some in the West.

    Why many Westerners maintain their dogged insistence on preserving what is left of Humpty Dumpty's shell is sometimes hard to fathom. Perhaps there is a desire to prove that their diplomatic failures in 1991 and in subsequent years were just an aberration. Perhaps there is a real fear that the peaceful separation of Montenegro and the independence of Kosova would somehow lead to a new Balkan anarchy and the formation of an inherently wicked greater Albania. After all, Milosevic's propaganda machine and numerous Western pundits have been pushing this line for years.

    But the previous wars did not just "happen." They were instigated by a Belgrade dictator who has been consigned to the sidelines, at least for now. For their parts, Djukanovic, Kostunica, and Serbian Prime Minister- designate Zoran Djindjic have all stressed that no force will be used if Montenegro chooses to go its own way, a point also made by army Chief of Staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic.

    As for the Albanians, no leading ethnic Albanian politician or mainstream political party anywhere in the Balkans is campaigning for a greater Albania as a realizable goal at any time in the foreseeable future. Mutual contacts in recent years have helped gently remind Albanians in Albania, Kosova, and Macedonia that they come from three very different societies and political cultures, which would not be easily integrated into a common polity. On a more practical note, union would mean power-sharing---and that is something that does not come easily to politicians anywhere.

    But UN Balkans envoy Carl Bildt, who has been much in the media as of late, told Reuters on 22 January that the EU ministers' statement "very clearly expresses that the international community has no interest in setting up new states in the region."

    Whether the inhabitants of Montenegro or of Kosova will passively accept this "interest" of distant foreigners remains to be seen. Djukanovic wants to obtain a fresh mandate through early parliamentary elections and a referendum on independence in the first half of the year. The Kosovars have already made it clear time and again that they are interested only in independence (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 and 22 December 2000).

    For their part, the top politicians in Belgrade still seem intent on holding the remnants of Humpty Dumpty's torso together. Calls for dialogue have replaced the bluster of the Milosevic era, but the message is the same: Yugoslavia must be preserved if unspeakable evils are to be avoided. But is it too far-fetched to imagine that some day, one of the leading political figures in Belgrade will show the political courage of de Gaulle, part with Serbia's last possessions, and concentrate the country's energies on the immense tasks facing it at home?

    23-01-01


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


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