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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 37, 01-02-22

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. 37, 22 February 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN MAJORITY PARLIAMENT FACTION PLEDGES FAIR TRIAL IN 27 OCTOBER KILLINGS
  • [02] NEW ARMENIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED
  • [03] EU TROIKA CONTINUES TOUR OF SOUTH CAUCASUS
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION WARNS AGAINST 'DEFEATIST' KARABAKH PEACE
  • [05] SEVEN SENTENCED FOR MURDER OF AZERBAIJANI HISTORIAN
  • [06] GEORGIAN CURRENCY'S DOWNWARD SLIDE CONTINUES
  • [07] ABKHAZ REPRESENTATION DENIES REPORTS OF PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION
  • [08] U.S. AMBASSADOR AFFIRMS CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR KAZAKHSTAN
  • [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PAPER HALTS PUBLICATION
  • [10] KYRGYZ ALARMED BY EXTENT OF CORRUPTION
  • [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR MORE INTENSIVE ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] BALKAN SUMMIT OPENS IN MACEDONIA
  • [13] NATO 'ENCOURAGED' BY TALKS IN PRESEVO
  • [14] PRESEVO ALBANIANS READY FOR TALKS
  • [15] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW
  • [16] AGREEMENT ON LINKS BETWEEN SERBIA, BOSNIAN SERBS
  • [17] BELGRADE SAYS SERBIAN ROLE IN IRAQI AIR DEFENSES ENDED
  • [18] SERBIAN PYRAMID-BANKER ARRESTED ON RETURN TO BELGRADE
  • [19] GENERAL MLADIC NO LONGER IN SERBIA?
  • [20] FORMER YUGOSLAV REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN SLOVENIA
  • [21] INDICTED CROATIAN GENERAL UNDER ARREST
  • [22] CROATIAN PRESIDENT INVITES SERBS TO RETURN
  • [23] UN'S KLEIN SLAMS LOCAL CROAT AUTHORITIES
  • [24] HUNGARY PLEASED WITH BUCHAREST'S SUPPORT FOR MINORITY LANGUAGES
  • [25] ROMANIAN PREMIER PLEDGES TO FIND MONEY TO COMPLETE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT
  • [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT GIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR HIGHEST HONOR
  • [27] U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION VISITS MOLDOVA, TRANSDNIESTER
  • [28] RFE/RL EXPANDS BROADCASTS TO MOLDOVA
  • [29] BALKAN AIRLINES HEADING TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY
  • [30] BULGARIAN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE INCREASES
  • [31] TURKISH INTERIOR MINISTER IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN MAJORITY PARLIAMENT FACTION PLEDGES FAIR TRIAL IN 27 OCTOBER KILLINGS

    The Miasnutiun parliament faction issued a statement on 20 February pledging to do all in its power to ensure that the 13 men accused of perpetrating the 27 October parliament shootings receive a fair trial, Noyan Tapan reported. The leaders of Miasnutiun's two constitutent parties, Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsian and parliament speaker Karen Demirchian, died in that attack. LF

    [02] NEW ARMENIAN PROSECUTOR-GENERAL APPOINTED

    President Robert Kocharian on 21 February named Yerevan City Prosecutor Aram Tamazian as prosecutor-general, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Tamazian, who is 49 and has spent his career in the law enforcement sector, succeeds Boris Nazarian, who stepped down earlier this month for reasons that remain unclear (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2001). "Azg" claimed on 22 February that Nazarian did not expect that Kocharian would accept his resignation. The paper expressed approval of Tamazian, saying that he has a "clean professional background." LF

    [03] EU TROIKA CONTINUES TOUR OF SOUTH CAUCASUS

    EU chair and Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, EU Foreign and Security Policy High Representative Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten held talks in Tbilisi on 21 February with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania and Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili. Lindh told journalists the talks focused on stability in the South Caucasus and resolving conflicts in Georgia. She said the EU is ready to help Tbilisi in the search for a solution to the conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia and in implementing reforms. But she warned that it is still too early to speak of the possible accession to the EU of the three South Caucasus states. Solana similarly avoided giving a direct answer when asked to comment on Georgia's chances of joining NATO, ITAR-TASS reported. From Tbilisi, the EU officials flew to Baku for talks the same day with President Heidar Aliev, Russian agencies reported. Aliev affirmed his country's intention of seeking EU membership but did not specify when. He rejected Lindh's proposal, which echoed earlier suggestions by Armenian President Kocharian, that economic cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan could expedite a solution to the Karabakh conflict. As he had done previously, Aliev said a solution to that conflict is a precondition for any such economic cooperation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2000). LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION WARNS AGAINST 'DEFEATIST' KARABAKH PEACE

    At least three Azerbaijani opposition party leaders have rejected the OSCE Minsk Group's draft Karabakh peace proposals, which were published for the first time in the Azerbaijani press on 21 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2001). Their publication has been widely construed in Azerbaijan as indicating that Presidents Aliev and Kocharian will sign a peace agreement at their upcoming meeting in Paris, Turan reported on 21 February. Liberal Party chairwoman Lala-Shovket Gadjieva said all three published Minsk Group proposals require "an unconditional surrender" by Azerbaijan, while Musavat Party chairman Isa Gambar said at least one of those proposals violates the Azerbaijani Constitution. Ali Kerimov, the chairman of the reformist wing of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, said all three drafts run counter to Azerbaijan's national interests. LF

    [05] SEVEN SENTENCED FOR MURDER OF AZERBAIJANI HISTORIAN

    Azerbaijan's Supreme Court on 21 February passed sentence on seven men in connection with the murder of prominent historian Zia Buniatov four years earlier, Turan and Reuters reported. Two men charged with committing the killing were sentenced to life imprisonment, while the remaining five received prison terms ranging from ten to 14 years. The man believed to have masterminded the assassination remains at large. The court affirmed a connection between the accused and the Vilayati Hezbollah-al-Fagikh terrorist organization and claimed that they had undergone training in Iran. Iran's ambassador to Baku has repeatedly denied any Iranian involvement in Buniatov's death (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 October 2000 and 8 February 2001). LF

    [06] GEORGIAN CURRENCY'S DOWNWARD SLIDE CONTINUES

    Georgia's lari lost another 3.8 percent against the U.S. dollar on 21 February, slipping from 2.0825 to 2.165 to the dollar, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 February 2001). Georgian National Bank officials, however, downplayed the lari's downward slide which they attributed to "seasonal factors" and the deterioration in the balance of payments resulting from increased fuel imports. They said the bank will not intervene even if the lari loses further in value, and predicted that the currency will stabilize in two to three weeks. LF

    [07] ABKHAZ REPRESENTATION DENIES REPORTS OF PRESIDENT'S RESIGNATION

    The Abkhaz representation in Moscow has formally denied Georgian media reports that President Vladislav Ardzinba has stepped down and his duties have devolved on Prime Minister Vyacheslav Tsugba, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 22 February. The representation noted that under the Abkhaz Constitution, it is the vice president who takes over the presidential duties should the president resign or become incapacitated. Georgian papers have repeatedly claimed in recent weeks that Ardzinba is suffering from Parkinson's disease. LF

    [08] U.S. AMBASSADOR AFFIRMS CONTINUED SUPPORT FOR KAZAKHSTAN

    Ambassador Richard Jones told journalists in Almaty on 21 February that proceeding from "national interests," the new U.S. administration will continue to give high priority to relations with Astana, Reuters reported. Jones said the U.S. wants to help Kazakhstan develop its energy resources, adding that Washington hopes Astana's choice of pipeline routes for its Caspian oil coincides with U.S. interests. Jones said the OKIOC consortium was within its rights in selecting Italy's AGIP to operate that project (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 February 2001), but admitted that the U.S. had hoped Exxon-Mobil would be chosen for that role. Jones said that the U.S. supports Kazakhstan's planned military reform, noting that stability in Central Asia will facilitate the unimpeded export of hydrocarbons. He added that Washington will provide $4 million in 2001 to help Kazakhstan reinforce its borders, Interfax reported. LF

    [09] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PAPER HALTS PUBLICATION

    The editorial board of the opposition weekly "Res Publika" said on 21 February that publication of the paper has been suspended, Interfax and RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The publishing house Uchkun has been ordered not to print further issues of "Res Publika" until the paper pays a fine of 200,000 soms ($7,000 at the 1999 exchange rate) imposed two years ago for publishing an open letter by employees of State Radio and Television criticizing that body's chairman, Amanbek Karypkulov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 April and 3 May 1999 and 18 January 2000). LF

    [10] KYRGYZ ALARMED BY EXTENT OF CORRUPTION

    According to a poll of 2,100 people conducted by the independent center Vox Populi, which receives some funding from the U. N. Development Program, 90 percent of respondents said they consider the police the most corrupt agency in Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 21 February. Some 40 percent said the country's leadership is powerless to stem corruption, while 15.5 percent said economic reforms in Kyrgyzstan are unlikely to succeed because of widespread corruption. LF

    [11] TAJIK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR MORE INTENSIVE ECONOMIC COOPERATION WITH RUSSIA

    In his 21 February "Nezavisimaya gazeta" interview (see above), Imomali Rakhmonov expressed regret that the level of economic cooperation between his country and Russia has stagnated over the past three-four years. He expressed bewilderment that Russia has shown no interest in the joint development either of Tajikistan's Koni Mansur silver deposit (the world's largest) or of the country's hydropower resources, and noted that the U.K., rather than Russia, has formed a joint venture with Tajikistan to develop the country's Zerafshan gold deposit. Rakhmonov pointed out that Tajikistan is the only CIS member state to have fulfilled 99 percent of the agreements signed by CIS heads of state. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] BALKAN SUMMIT OPENS IN MACEDONIA

    Heads of state or government from Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, and Yugoslavia, as well as a representative from Croatia, are due in Skopje on 22 February for the opening of a two-day summit. The gathering will begin with bilateral talks between some delegations and a meeting of economy ministers. Heads of state and government are due to meet the following day. The security situation in Presevo and Kosova is expected to overshadow the meeting. PM

    [13] NATO 'ENCOURAGED' BY TALKS IN PRESEVO

    A NATO "fact-finding" delegation visited the Presevo Valley on 21 February and held separate talks with Serbian and Albanian leaders. Major General Robert Dierker told Reuters that the Serbs, led by Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic and army chief-of-staff General Nebojsa Pavkovic, "want to not have any more fighting, any more people dying, and they want to solve [the problem] peacefully." The NATO delegation also met with Presevo Mayor Riza Halimi and other local Albanian officials. Shawn Sullivan, who is political adviser to KFOR commander General Carlo Cabigiosu, said in Bujanovac that he is convinced that the two sides will soon hold talks. Representatives of the UN and EU were also present in the NATO delegation. PM

    [14] PRESEVO ALBANIANS READY FOR TALKS

    Halimi said in Presevo on 21 February that the Albanians are "always for dialogue" but do not want "imposed solutions or ultimatums" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2001). He added that talks without representatives of the guerrillas would be "pointless" and that Covic's plan for the region constitutes a "starting point" for negotiations but is not the last word, AP reported. PM

    [15] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW

    Zoran Djindjic arrived in the Russian capital late on 21 February for talks with Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov that are expected to focus on economic ties between the two countries, Reuters reported. ITAR-TASS quoted Djindjic as saying that "Serbia gives extreme importance to economic ties with Russia, which is its fundamental economic partner." Belgrade has huge debts to Moscow, which have led Russia to cut off or reduce deliveries of natural gas. PM

    [16] AGREEMENT ON LINKS BETWEEN SERBIA, BOSNIAN SERBS

    Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica and High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch reached an agreement in Belgrade on 21 February on special links between Yugoslavia and the Republika Srpska as provided for in the 1995 Dayton peace agreements, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The mainly Croatian and Muslim federation similarly has the right to special links to Croatia. Kostunica is a long-time supporter of the Serbian nationalist cause in Bosnia and was once close to its leadership. PM

    [17] BELGRADE SAYS SERBIAN ROLE IN IRAQI AIR DEFENSES ENDED

    London's "The Times" reported on 22 February that Serbian technicians helped improve Iraqi air defenses during the regime of President Slobodan Milosevic but that the new Serbian leaders stopped such assistance immediately after they came to power. The daily added that "the part played by the Serbs in training the Iraqis to mount more effective anti-aircraft attacks on British and American jets flying over southern and northern Iraq was a crucial factor in the sudden increase in more accurate missile and artillery launches over the past six weeks." Of all foreign countries, China allegedly played the most important role in improving Iraqi defenses in violation of UN sanctions. Russia and Belarus also contributed to improving Saddam Hussein's air defenses, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. PM

    [18] SERBIAN PYRAMID-BANKER ARRESTED ON RETURN TO BELGRADE

    Police at Belgrade airport arrested Jezdimir Vasiljevic, who fled the country in 1993 when his Jugoskandik pyramid-scheme bank went bankrupt, AP reported on 22 February. Vasiljevic, who arrived from Cyprus, claims that he has unspecified important "criminal evidence" against Milosevic. Speaking from Cyprus before his return, Vasiljevic said: "I have so much [criminal] evidence against Milosevic that he'll beg to go to The Hague. The Hague would be like a spa for Milosevic," when compared to Yugoslav prisons, Vasiljevic added. PM

    [19] GENERAL MLADIC NO LONGER IN SERBIA?

    Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte recently told top NATO and EU officials that a Yugoslav minister said to her that he had seen indicted Bosnian Serb war criminal General Ratko Mladic in a Belgrade restaurant (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 February 2001). A British daily recently published the Serbian addresses of prominent war criminals, including Mladic. But Serbian Interior Minister Dusan Mihajlovic now says that Mladic has left Serbia and gone into hiding, AP reported on 21 February. Mihajlovic added that "As far as I know, Mr. Mladic was in Belgrade for a while, at a certain address. But he has not been at his address for some time, and we do not have information that he is in Serbia at all." Del Ponte has suggested that the Serbian authorities could quickly extradite Mladic, who is a Bosnian citizen, even if they do not want to sent Milosevic to The Hague. PM

    [20] FORMER YUGOSLAV REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN SLOVENIA

    In the latest round of talks aimed at dividing up the joint assets of the former Yugoslavia, Belgrade's representatives proposed in Ljubljana that the national archives be kept intact in one place and accessible to all, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 22 February. Later in the day, representatives of the chambers of commerce of the successor states will discuss economic cooperation for the first time since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. Slovenia proposed the meeting. PM

    [21] INDICTED CROATIAN GENERAL UNDER ARREST

    Former General Mirko Norac (33) surrendered to police in Zagreb in the evening of 21 February, hours after an announcement by Del Ponte that he will be tried in Croatia and not in The Hague, "Jutarnji list" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2001). It appears that he was in the capital for most of the two weeks that he was on the run from police, the daily added. Police say that Norac will be sent soon to Rijeka, where he was indicted in connection with the killing of dozens of Serbian civilians in Gospic in 1991, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Norac has denied the charges, saying that he did not attack civilians while "defending his homeland." The young ex-general is widely regarded in Croatia as a hero for his role in the defense of Gospic, but President Stipe Mesic cashiered him last year after Norac signed a petition against the government's policy on prosecuting suspected war criminals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 September 2000). PM

    [22] CROATIAN PRESIDENT INVITES SERBS TO RETURN

    Speaking in Vienna on 21 February, Mesic said that the indictment of Norac proves that Croatia is now a state based on the rule of law, "Die Presse" reported. He criticized many of the protesters who have demonstrated on behalf of Norac, charging that they are simply interested in protecting their privileges acquired during the years that the late President Franjo Tudjman was in power. Mesic suggested that a reconciliation with Serbia might be possible if that country undergoes a "catharsis" of its nationalistic political culture. He called on Serbian refugees from Croatia to come back to their former homes, "Jutarnji list" reported. PM

    [23] UN'S KLEIN SLAMS LOCAL CROAT AUTHORITIES

    Jacques Klein, who is the UN's chief representative in Bosnia, said in Banja Luka on 21 February that unnamed local authorities in Croatia have tried to harass returning Serbs and "embarrass" the Croatian government by arresting some 34 Serbian returnees over the past two years, AP reported. Klein suggested that the local authorities in question have ties to the former Tudjman "infrastructure." Klein called on the Croatian government to "send a clear signal to those officials that what they are doing undermines Croatia's credibility in Europe." PM

    [24] HUNGARY PLEASED WITH BUCHAREST'S SUPPORT FOR MINORITY LANGUAGES

    Zsolt Nemeth, the state secretary at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, said after talks with Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana in Romania on 21 February that Budapest is pleased with the Romanian government's support for minority languages, Hungary's Duna TV reported. Nemeth said the new Romanian law on public administration is of "great significance" for Hungarians in Romania and that it is an encouraging sign for building better bilateral relations. PB

    [25] ROMANIAN PREMIER PLEDGES TO FIND MONEY TO COMPLETE NUCLEAR POWER PLANT

    Adrian Nastase said on 21 February that the government will earmark 1 trillion lei ($3.7 million) in this year's budget for continued work on the second reactor of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant being built in southeastern Romania, Romanian Radio reported. Nastase, who made his comment after a visit to the plant site, said that some $700 million is still needed to complete the project. He added that some of that total will be provided by Canada and European countries, and that work will be done by such companies as Siemens and the Italian-based consortium ANSALDO. PB

    [26] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT GIVES U.S. AMBASSADOR HIGHEST HONOR

    Ion Iliescu bestowed the "Star of Romania" award upon departing U.S. Ambassador to Romania James Rosapepe in Bucharest, AP reported on 21 February. Iliescu praised Rosapepe for learning about Romanian culture and promoting foreign investment during his tenure. Rosapepe was active in socieity and initiated a community program to reduce local bureaucracy, awarding prizes to the towns that improved their business climate. PB

    [27] U.S. CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION VISITS MOLDOVA, TRANSDNIESTER

    A congessional delegation led by U.S. Representative Curt Weldon (Republican, Pennsylvania) visited Moldova on 21 February and met with outgoing President Petru Lucinschi and parliamentary representatives, Basa- Press reported. Members of the delegation expressed their support for Moldova's "territorial integrity" and their concern that "no essential progress" has been made by Russia in withdrawing its troops and weapons from Moldovan territory, as it pledged to do by 2002 at the November 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul. DW

    [28] RFE/RL EXPANDS BROADCASTS TO MOLDOVA

    RFE/RL President Thomas A. Dine announced 19 February that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is dramatically increasing its broadcasts to Moldova. Dine said RFE/RL has been the only international broadcaster with a program dedicated to Moldova since the Romanian Service opened a bureau in Chisinau in 1997 and began broadcasting 25 minutes a day of special programming for Moldova. This will now increase to one hour a day, five days a week, and the Romanian Service will now be known as the Romania-Moldova Service. DW

    [29] BALKAN AIRLINES HEADING TOWARDS BANKRUPTCY

    The Sofia city court put the Israeli-owned Balkan Airlines under receivership on 21 February, BTA reported. Balkan Airlines spokesman Victor Melamed said the move -- which puts the company's assets and bank accounts under the control of two people designated by the court -- "is the beginning of bankruptcy proceedings against Balkan." The court's decision was based on an $11 million claim against the airlines by the Bulgarian insurance company Bulstrad. The airlines has been grounded for one week. The Israeli Zeevi Holdings Group bought the airlines in 1999 for $150,000 and pledges to pay off Balkan's $120 million debt and also to invest $100 million in the company over a five-year period. PB

    [30] BULGARIAN UNEMPLOYMENT RATE INCREASES

    The National Employment Office said that unemployment in Bulgaria in January reached 18.54 percent of the workforce, BTA reported on 21 February. This marks a slight increase over the previous month. The highest unemployment rate is in Turgovishte, in the northern part of the country, which has 34.96 percent unemployment. The lowest rate is in Sofia, which has about 4.77 percent. PB

    [31] TURKISH INTERIOR MINISTER IN BULGARIA

    A Turkish delegation led by Saadettin Tantan arrived in Sofia on 21 February on a three-day visit to focus on bilateral efforts to battle illegal drug and human trafficking as well as organized crime, BTA reported. Tantan is scheduled to meet with the chairman of the National Assembly, Yordan Sokolov, and with his Bulgarian counterpart, Emanuil Yordanov. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [32] There is no End Note today.

    22-02-01

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


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