|Friday, 6 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 24, 01-02-05
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 24, 5 February 2001Unidentified public movements in North Ossetia have appealed to that republic's President, Aleksandr Dzasokhov, and to Lyudvig Chibirov, president of Georgia's unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia, to ensure that the planned Russian-Georgian treaty on friendship and cooperation creates conditions for the Ossetian people to live as a single undivided ethnic group, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported on 2 February. The unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia in 1990. Sporadic negotiations in recent years have failed to yield an agreement between South Ossetia and the central Georgian government on the region's formal status within Georgia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report,"
Vol. 4, No. 4, 26 January 2001). LF
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN GOVERNMENT COMMISSION REVIEWS NEW ANTI-CORRUPTION MEASURESAn ad hoc commission comprising Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and the Armenian interior, national security, justice, finance, and foreign ministers met for the first time on 1 February to discuss new measures aimed at targeting corruption, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported the following day. Commission members agreed to expedite the drafting of new legislation to eradicate bribery and cronyism, to implement a radical reorganization of the state and government apparatus, and to simplify bureaucratic procedures to eliminate red tape. LF
 ARMENIA, WORLD BANK AGREE ON TERMS FOR NEW LOANArmenian Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian and a senior World Bank representative signed a joint memorandum on 2 February whereby the Bank will disburse a $50 million Structural Adjustment Credit that will cover just over half of this year's anticipated budget deficit, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That loan is contingent on privatization within the energy sector, measures to improve the investment climate, and reform of the Armenian state pension system (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 December 2000). LF
 WIFE APPEALS ON BEHALF OF DETAINED ARMENIAN BUSINESSMANYelena Vartanian, whose husband Arkadii was detained last October and charged with calling for the overthrow of the Armenian leadership, told journalists in Yerevan on 2 February that his health is deteriorating daily, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "I believe the Armenian authorities are committing the deliberate, collective murder of my husband," she said. Arkadii Vartanian was transferred from a detention prison to a hospital on 22 January with heart problems. On 31 January, the National Security Ministry asked a Yerevan court to prolong Vartanian's pre-trial detention for another month. LF
 TURKEY CLOSES ITS AIR SPACE TO ARMENIAN AIRCRAFTTurkish officials on 2 February refused an Armenian aircraft permission to enter Turkish air space on a flight from Yerevan to Athens, AFP and ITAR-- TASS reported the following day. No reason was given for the refusal. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT CONDEMNS FRENCH RECOGNITION OF ARMENIAN GENOCIDE...Parliament deputies voted unanimously on 2 February to adopt a statement protesting the French parliament's recognition last month of the 1915 Armenian genocide, Turan reported. The Azerbaijani resolution warned that the French move could "aggravate" the situation in Turkey and the South Caucasus. But the pro-government parliament majority rejected calls by opposition deputies for economic sanctions against France and for convening a debate on whether France should be stripped of its co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group, as Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cen has proposed. That group is engaged in trying to mediate a solution to the Karabakh conflict. Asim Mollazade, deputy chairman of the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, had argued that Germany should succeed France as the third Minsk Group co-chair as the Armenian diaspora in that country is less influential than that in France, and Germany has no oil interests in Azerbaijan, according to the news agency Bilik Dunyasi on 2 February as cited by Groong. LF
 ...WHILE PRESIDENT DOWNPLAYS ITS IMPORTANCEAddressing a youth forum on 2 February, Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev rejected as "dilettantism" the opposition's calls for France to be replaced as Minsk Group co-chairman, Turan reported the following day. Aliev argued that the French parliament's resolution condemning the Armenian genocide has no bearing on that country's role within the Minsk Group, and that President Jacques Chirac personally "controls" France's Minsk Group representative. As for economic sanctions, Aliev said those would inflict greater damage on Azerbaijan than on France. LF
 AZERBAIJAN'S FINANCE MINISTER SAYS HE CANNOT RAISE WAR INVALIDS' PENSIONSSpeaking at a press conference in Baku on 2 February, Finance Minister Avaz Alakbarov said that it is not within his competence to increase the pensions and other allowances due to Karabakh war invalids, Groong reported on 4 February, citing ANS. Several hundred invalids in towns across Azerbaijan declared a hunger-strike on 22 January to demand a 300 percent increase in their pensions and allowances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 January and 2 February 2001). The Baku headquarters of the society representing the invalids is still cordoned off by police, Turan reported on 5 February. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH CHECHEN MINORITYEduard Shevardnadze traveled on 4 February to the Pankisi gorge in northeastern Georgia to meet with representatives of the district's estimated 7,000 strong Chechen minority, ITAR-TASS reported. Several days earlier, Vakhtang Shamiladze, the chairman of the Georgian parliament subcommittee for relations with peoples of the North Caucasus, had advocated repatriating to the Russian Federation some 7,500 Chechen refugees who have taken refuge in the Pankisi gorge over the past 18 months. He reasoned that doing so would stabilize the situation in the region, improve Georgian-Russian relations, and thwart putative plans by the Chechens to declare the Pankisi gorge an autonomous region, according to "Vremya novostei" and "Kommersant-Daily." Chechen ideologue Movladi Udugov immediately denied that any such plans exist. LF
 ADZHAR OBDURACY JEOPARDIZES PLANNED NATO MANEUVERSThe leadership of Georgia's autonomous Republic of Adjaria has refused to host NATO maneuvers scheduled to take place in late June at the Gonio training ground near Batumi, "Segodnya" reported on 1 February. That facility is currently used by the Russian military base in Batumi. The Georgian government is assessing the possibility of holding the manuevers, in which some 4,000 servicemen from the U.S., Turkey, France, Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, Georgia, Sweden, and Azerbaijan will participate, near the Black Sea port of Poti. LF
 ABKHAZ GOVERNMENT-IN-EXILE DENIES ISSUING FAKE DOCUMENTSThe Interior Ministry of the Abkhaz government in exile that represents the Georgian population who fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war has denied issuing false passports or identify cards to those displaced persons, Caucasus Press reported on 2 February. The Georgian Control Chamber had accused the ministry of issuing forged identity cards which had been used to claim the allowances due to displaced persons. The Control Chamber had registered 90 cases of misappropriation of such allowances totaling 850,000 laris ($430,000) between 1996-2000. Criminal proceedings have been initiated against 150 people, of whom 70 are state employees. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT ADDRESSES EDUCATION SECTOR WORKERSSpeaking on 2 February at a congress in Almaty of teachers and university faculty members, Nursultan Nazarbaev said that budget funding for education has been raised from 15 billion tenges ($100 million) in 2000 to 19 million tenges in 2001, Interfax reported. Nazarbaev argued that private and public universities should coexist, and that both should concentrate on training experts for those sectors of the Kazakh economy where they are most needed. Nazarbaev also criticized the low standard of textbooks used in state schools. But rather than import new and better textbooks, he called for creating a system for training personnel to compile such teaching aids, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. LF
 NEW ASIAN SECURITY ORGANIZATION TO MEET IN KAZAKHSTAN THIS FALLThe first summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Asia is to take place this autumn in Kazakhstan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 2 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 1999). Kazakhstan's ambassador has presented an invitation to attend that gathering to Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev. Formed on the initiative of Kazakh President Nazarbaev, the OSCA has 16 members (Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Palestine, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan). A further five countries have observer status. LF
 BP SELLS STAKE IN KAZAKH OIL CONSORTIUMBritish Petroleum has announced that it plans to sell its 9.52 percent stake in the OKIOC consortium to TotalFinaElf, which already has a 14.29 percent stake in that group, dpa reported on 3 February. The two oil companies, together with fellow OKIOC members Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, and Agip, are competing for the rights to manage operations to exploit the vast Kashagan offshore oilfield in the northern Caspian. President Nazarbaev appealed to the consortium members last month to expedite a decision on the project operator (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 January 2001). LF
 MUSLIMS IN ALMATY SEEK TO OUST KAZAKHSTAN'S MUFTIA group of leading clerics in Almaty is calling for the replacement of Absattar Derbisaliev, who was named Mufti of Kazakhstan's Muslims last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 June 2000). Derbisaliev is an Arabist and oriental scholar and a former faculty member at Kazakhstan's State University. His detractors argue that he has never studied theology at an Islamic institute of higher learning, nor was he chosen as mufti by Kazakhstan's Muslims. LF
 KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN'S LAWYERS APPEAL SENTENCELawyers for jailed former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys Party chairman Feliks Kulov lodged a formal appeal with the Bishkek Military Court on 1 February against the seven-year sentence handed down to Kulov last month, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 2 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). LF
 KYRGYZSTAN ADOPTS CODE OF ETHICS FOR GOVERNMENT PERSONNELKyrgyz President Akaev last month endorsed a code of ethics for civil servants and government personnel that forbids them from engaging in business or employing their relatives, "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 30 January. On 31 January, a Kyrgyz Finance Ministry official told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau that Akaev's 25-year-old son Aidar has been appointed an adviser to Finance Minister Temirbek Akmataliev. The government daily "Kyrgyz Tuursu" suggested on 5 January that Aidar Akaev may at some point succeed his father as president. LF
 TAJIK PRESIDENT MEETS WITH IMF REPRESENTATIVEImomali Rakhmonov met in Dushanbe on 2 February with an IMF delegation let by Tapio Saavalainen to review implementation of the three-year $51 million anti-poverty program agreed upon last year, Asia Plus-Blitz reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 October 2000). That program is being jointly funded by the IMF and the World Bank. LF
 ACCIDENT DISRUPTS GAS SUPPLIES TO TURKMEN CAPITAL...Gas supplies to Ashgabat were suspended on 4 February after an accident damaged the Tedzhen-Ashgabat-Buzmein pipeline some 40 kilometers from Ashgabat, ITAR-TASS reported. Repairs to the pipeline, which is 40-50 years old, were expected to be completed on 5 February. LF
 ...AS UZBEKISTAN RESUMES DELIVERIES TO KYRGYZSTANKyrgyzgas General-Director Turgunbek Kalmurzaev announced on 2 February that the damage to the natural gas pipeline that supplies Kyrgyzstan with natural gas from Uzbekistan has been repaired, and that Tashkent has resumed deliveries that were expected to reach Bishkek the following day, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Uzbekistan had suspended deliveries on 25 January (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January 2001). Kulmurzaev said that the pipeline had been ruptured in Uzbekistan's Bukhara Oblast as a result of severe frosts. He added that Kyrgyzstan has paid off $1.6 million of its total $2 million debts to Uzbekistan since 31 December. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 POWELL: U.S. TROOPS TO STAY IN BALKANSSecretary of State Colin Powell said in Washington on 4 February that U.S. troops are likely to remain in the Balkans for some years to come, Reuters reported. "There is no exit date for the whole force either in Bosnia [or] Kosovo. Those will be long-term commitments. Although we would like to see all of the troops come out, ours and others, this is not going to be the case in the immediate future," Powell said. Speculation that the U.S. would greatly reduce or eliminate its Balkan ground forces in the near future led in recent months to expressions of concern among U.S. allies in Western Europe and in the region, as well as to rising expectations in Belgrade and Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 19 December 2000). PM
 SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER SENDS MIXED SIGNALS ON HAGUE IN WASHINGTON...Zoran Djindjic said in Washington after talks with Powell on 2 February that the Serbian government faces a "huge task" in preparing evidence against former President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters reported. "In 12 years he has done many criminal things, and it will be a problem to find a point, " Djinjdic said, at which to stop and say "that is enough" in order to prosecute and try the former dictator. Djindjic added that he hopes to "connect" with the Hague-based war crimes tribunal "in a few months." He also noted that extraditing Milosevic to The Hague "is not a priority" for the government, the BBC reported on 3 February (see "End Note" below). PM
 ...AND IN BELGRADEUpon returning to Belgrade on 4 February, however, Djindjic said that "U.S. delegations in all international institutions -- including the World Bank [and] International Monetary Fund --will vote against our interests" unless Belgrade shows clear evidence of cooperating with The Hague by 31 March. But he suggested that the State Department would be willing to see Milosevic tried in Serbia: "We want all those who committed crimes to be held responsible, we want them to answer before our institutions...to give [a] chance to our courts because they are competent. My impression is that we have secured an understanding in the State Department," AP reported (see "RFE/RL South Slavic Report," 23 and 30 November 2000). Djindjic added that "the new administration does not carry the burden of the mistakes of the previous administration, and it will be much easier to explain our arguments to them." PM
 SERBIA'S MILOSEVIC: 'I WON'T GO TO HAGUE'Milosevic told Rome's "La Stampa" of 3 February that Serbian voters ousted him because they feared that NATO bombing would resume if they did not, Reuters reported. He added that the new government is fabricating "lies" about him and is collaborating with the "immoral and illegal" Hague court against him. Referring to his international isolation, the former dictator said: "Western countries, or rather their governments, supported me for as long as it was in their interest to have stability in the Balkans. When they thought it would be interesting to have instability, I lost their support." PM
 WHY DID POWELL NOT MEET MONTENEGRIN LEADER?As foreign leaders assembled in Washington recently for the National Prayer Breakfast, "The New York Times" wrote on 2 February that Powell chose not to meet with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic in order to signal that Washington is opposed to his independence-oriented course (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001). State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, however, that Powell did not meet with Djukanovic because the secretary "did not want to get involved in upcoming elections" in Montenegro, Reuters reported. Boucher added that the U.S. hopes to see "a democratic Montenegro in a democratic Yugoslavia." Other State Department sources said that Powell did not meet with Djukanovic because "no meeting was planned," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. For his part, Djukanovic told the Paris daily "Le Monde" that it would be "irresponsible" and wrong of the international community not to maintain contacts with the Montenegrin leadership "by using the excuse that [contacts] would [amount to] support for succession." PM
 'BALKAN PARTICLES' THEORY FOR KOSOVAPowell met in Washington on 2 February with Kosovar leaders Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaci, and Veton Surroi, who presented the case for Kosovar independence (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 22 December 2000). Boucher later told a press conference that Washington's policy is to support UN Security Council resolutions on Kosova's status. He added that Powell presented his various southeastern European visitors with a "unified theory of Balkan particles," Reuters reported. "We're talking about democracy, we're talking about integration, we're talking about the broader regional cooperation trends," Boucher added. PM
 KOSOVARS MARK ANNIVERSARY"Thousands" of ethnic Albanians held a peaceful candlelight vigil in central Mitrovica on 3 February to honor nine fellow Albanians killed by Serbs in northern Mitrovica one year earlier, AP reported. There were no speeches, demonstrations, or incidents. PM
 CROATIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS KOSOVARS' RIGHT TO STATEHOODPresident Stipe Mesic told "Der Spiegel" of 5 February that "Belgrade must...recognize that the Yugoslav republics and provinces, which received the right to secede in the constitution of 1974, still have this right -- even if Serbia meanwhile has a new constitution." Mesic added that "Kosovo must get its own government as soon as possible and then decide about its own fate." He dismissed the notion that an independent Kosovo could destabilize the region: "Why do we always [fear] the specter of a greater Albania? Why should there not be two Albanian states? Germany and Austria can exist next to each other -- why not Kosovo and Albania?" FS
 BIG ENERGY PRICE HIKE IN SERBIA?In the face of a continuing power shortage, Yugoslav National Bank Governor Mladjan Dinkic proposed three energy price-hikes of 25 percent each over the course of 2001, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Belgrade on 2 February. PM
 FEW PRESEVO ALBANIAN TAKERS FOR SERBIAN POLICE OFFEROnly six out of 50 ethnic Albanians in the Presevo valley have accepted invitations by the Serbian Interior Ministry to return to their former jobs, Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said in Belgrade. RFE/RL's South Slavic Service carried the report on 3 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 January and 2 February 2001). On 4 February, Zivkovic told Hungarian Radio that Serbian troops and police are "completely prepared" to block "any advance" by ethnic Albanian guerrillas in the Presevo region. Serbian security authorities and media periodically predict "major offensives" by the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac. PM
 POPE CALLS ON ALBANIANS TO STAY HOME, CHANGE SOCIETYPope John Paul II told visiting Roman Catholic clerics from Albania in that "many Albanians...have preserved their faith, despite the harsh oppression" under Ottoman and Communist rule, AP reported on 3 February. The Pope called on the Albanian clergy "to prepare young people to build a better future in their own country, triumphing over the temptation of emigration and the illusion of easy success to be had abroad." He appealed to the priests to fight "against the grave evils that unfortunately affect your country, among them abortion, prostitution, drugs, the spirit of the vendetta, the exploitation of women, and violence." PM
 BOSNIAN COURT UNHAPPY WITH OSCE RULINGOn 3 February, the Bosnian Constitutional Court challenged a recent OSCE ruling that will require members of the Bosnian parliament's House of the Peoples to be elected by all voters and not just by those of their own ethnic group, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The court ruling came in response to a complaint by the Croatian Democratic Community, which sees its own political future directly threatened by the OSCE decision. The court consists of two Serbs, two Croats, two Muslims, and three foreigners. In related news, Snjezana Savic, a Serb, succeeded Muslim judge Kasim Begic as president of the court. PM
 SLOVENIA'S TOURIST YEAR OFF TO BAD STARTA relatively mild winter with comparatively little snowfall for the ski slopes has led to a sharp downturn in Slovenia's usually lucrative winter tourist industry, "Dnevnik" reported on 5 February. Experts say it would be "utopian" to think that the final figures for 2001 will equal those of the 1.5 million visitors who came in 2000. PM
 ROMANIAN MAYORS OPPOSE NEW LAW ON LOCAL PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIONThe mayors of eight large Romanian towns, meeting in Brasov on 3 February, called on the government to amend the recently passed Local Public Administration Law, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The mayors say the law contravenes the constitution and the provisions of the European Charter on Local Autonomy. The mayors oppose the provision in the law granting prefects the prerogative to dismiss those mayors against whom a court case has been launched, and do so even before the court has ruled on the matter. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the cabinet will examine the possibility to abolish this prerogative. The mayors also said they oppose the provision in the new law granting national minorities the right to officially use their language in localities where these minorities make up 20 percent or more of the population. MS
 ROMANIAN NATIONALIST PARTY REBORNLeaders of local branches of the Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), meeting in Brasov on 4 February, decided to formally withdraw from the National Alliance and reregister the PUNR as an independent political party. The National Alliance was set up by the PUNR and the Romanian National Party before the 2000 parliamentary elections but failed to gain representation. Former PUNR chairman Valeriu Tabara will head a nine-member commission that will coordinate party activity until a PUNR National Conference is convoked, Mediafax reported. Meanwhile, National Alliance leader Virgil Magureanu is engaged in contacts with the Democratic Party, which proposes to set up a new alliance called "Alternative 2004." The Democrats also invited Teodor Melescanu's Alliance for Romania to join "Alternative 2004" and Melescanu on 28 January deemed that offer "interesting." MS
 'DIRTY WAR' CONTINUES IN MOLDOVAN ELECTORAL CAMPAIGNThe Central Electoral Commission (CEC) on 2 February rejected the demand of the Party of Rebirth and Conciliation (PRCM) to disqualify the Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) from running in the 25 February electoral contest, Flux reported the next day. The PRCM said the PPCD had used "undeclared funds" to publish a booklet accusing some PRCM members of corruption. PRCM leader Mircea Snegur told the commission the "Black Book of Corruption" carries no indication as to where the booklet was printed and in how many copies, which indicates, he claimed, that the PRCM used other funds apart from those allocated by the state. The commission ruled that the PPCD specified the source of financing but asked the State Financial Inspectorate to inform it by 20 February if the party has utilized financial resources other than those specified. MS
 IMF DELEGATION ENDS MOLDOVAN VISITIn an interview with RFE/RL on 2 February, Richard Haas, head of an IMF delegation that ended a week-long visit to Chisinau, said the delegation will recommend to the fund's executive board to disburse the second $12 million tranche of a $142 million, three-year standby loan agreed on last year to promote economic growth and fight poverty. Haas said the Moldovan government has fulfilled all the conditions agreed on with the IMF. In response to a question, Haas said a communist victory in the forthcoming elections will not influence the IMF position towards Moldova, because the fund makes its decisions on "economic, not political criteria." He said the IMF is more worried by the fact that Moldova fails to attract foreign investors because it projects the image of "an extremely corrupt state." MS
 OSCE PREPARES MEETING ON TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICTWilliam Hill, head of the OSCE permanent mission to Moldova, on 2 February told journalists in Chisinau that the mediators in the Transdniester conflict -- Russia, Ukraine, the OSCE, and Portugal -- had ended a meeting in Kyiv to prepare for a meeting in Bratislava at the end of the month with the sides involved in the conflict. Hill said the mediators discussed the Russian proposals for the conflict's resolution presented by the delegation headed by Yevgenii Primakov. He said those proposals will serve as "a basis for negotiations" in Bratislava, with the sides being able to "freely offer their own suggestions," Infotag reported. Hill said it is "regrettable" that no Russian armaments have been withdrawn from the Transdniester "for almost a year" but added he is sure that Moscow can still meet the 2003 deadline set by the 1999 Istanbul OSCE summit. MS
 BULGARIA CALLS ON NATO TO ADMIT NEW MEMBERSForeign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, speaking at an international meeting on European security in Munich on 3 February, called on NATO to admit new members from southeastern Europe and the Baltics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Mihailova said failure to do so would amount to replacing the old partition of Europe with "a new and unstable system of unequal security between nations." She recalled that many of the aspirant countries had assisted NATO's intervention in Kosova. The appeal was supported by Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu and Slovene Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel. MS
 RULING BULGARIAN PARTY DEPUTY SUBMITS ELECTORAL BILL...Deputy Dimitar Abadzhiev of the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) on 2 February submitted to the parliament a new bill on the elections due to be held later this year, BTA reported. The bill provides for a 4 percent electoral threshold, Abadzhiev told journalists. He said no political party will have a majority on the electoral commission, according to the bill's provisions. On 1 February the parliament approved a new law on political parties. Under the law, parties that would receive at least 1 percent in the 1997 elections will not be required to reregister, but those that failed to do so and formations established since then would have to register within three months to qualify for state subsidies. The bill also sets restrictions on the financing of parties by donations from corporations and individuals. MS
 ...AND ENDORSES STOYANOV FOR SECOND TERMSDS Deputy Chairwoman Ekaterina Mihailova on 4 February told journalists that her party "supports President Petar Stoyanov, and we have repeatedly said we shall back him to run for a second term," AP reported (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001). Mihailova denied rumors that the SDS could support former King Simeon II for the presidential position. Amid speculation that Simeon might run, some 80 lawmakers from all parliamentary parties asked the Constitutional Court to rule whether the former monarch can do so. The constitution requires that candidates must have lived in Bulgaria for five years before running. The lawmakers asked the court to rule whether a temporary residence in the country, as Simeon has, qualifies him for being a candidate. Simeon returned to Bulgaria for the first time in 1996 and was promptly granted Bulgarian citizenship. His permanent residence is in Spain. MS
[C] END NOTE
 'NOT A PRIORITY'By Patrick Moore
Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said on his recent visit to Washington that extraditing former President Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague is "not a priority" for his busy government. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica has repeatedly used this phrase to describe his attitude on extradition, while at the same time questioning the legitimacy of the tribunal.
Hague court chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte recently turned the tables on Kostunica, saying that he is "not a priority" for her--after he used that phrase in reference to a possible meeting with her (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2001). In the end, he did meet with her. All she received, however, was a lecture, a scenario all too familiar to many foreigners with long experience in the region, as Ambassador Richard Holbrooke pointed out in his memoirs of the Dayton peace process.
At first glance, it seems that Belgrade's new leaders are like the proverbial man who was unable to walk and chew gum at the same time. Kostunica, Djindjic, and some others in top positions appear to suggest that they are too busy transforming Serbia to find the time to order the police to put one ex-dictator and a handful of his thugs on a plane bound for Holland.
Djindjic is meanwhile pressing forward with plans to try Milosevic in Serbia, lest voters see him as handing over a Serb to a Western-backed institution. But his own justice minister, Vladan Batic, as well as Ms. Del Ponte, have pointed out that the only place for Milosevic is in The Hague. It is there that he must account for his crimes against Albanians (and perhaps others) and not just for his crimes against Serbian law. The tribunal is a UN-sanctioned body, and Belgrade is under obligation to cooperate with it. Many observers argue that if Belgrade is allowed to write its own ticket and try Milosevic at home, then Croatia and Bosnia will most likely demand the same right, and the entire Hague process will come to a brutal and pathetic end.
Matters have not been helped by the recent statement European Commission President Romano Prodi that Serbia will continue to enjoy EU aid regardless of whether it cooperates with The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 January 2001). Indeed, the international community as a whole has lost potentially valuable leverage over Belgrade by granting the new leaders early recognition before they showed that they were truly going to make a clean break with the past (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 January 2001).
Some observers have suggested that the international community carefully monitor the Belgrade leaders' progress in three key areas before extending further aid and support to them. The first is progress in cooperating with The Hague. At the bare minimum, if Serbia does not make cooperating with the tribunal a priority of sorts, then political, economic, and diplomatic backing for the Serbian leadership should not be a priority for those who take seriously the principles on which the Hague court is based.
The second area involves leaving its neighbors in peace and getting on with pressing needs at home. First and foremost, the Belgrade leadership should remove the Milosevic-era military and political irritants that are responsible for the current tensions in Presevo. It should also be careful not to further exacerbate those tensions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 February 2001). In addition, Serbia should let the people who live in Kosova and Montenegro exercise their rights to self-determination and majority rule if they wish to do so (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 January 2001). If and when they choose to make use of those rights, Belgrade should accept their choice and not seek to make difficulties for the Kosovars or Montenegrins with the international community.
The third area is the one which those observers consider the most important for the lasting peace and stability of the Balkans. This involves what Croatian President Stipe Mesic calls the need for Serbia to experience a "catharsis." By this he means the need to examine and break with the narcissistic, self-pitying nationalism that fueled Milosevic's rise to power in the first place and eventually led to starting and losing four wars (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 17 October and 1 December 2000).
Until that happens, the ideas that provided the political and ideological basis for the Milosevic regime will remain current, waiting for the right circumstances in which either Milosevic or yet another demagogue can exploit them. And then, willy-nilly, the international community may once again find that an aggressive, nationalistic Serbia has become the international community's priority.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty