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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 83, 01-04-30

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. 83, 30 April 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARTIES SET CONDITIONS FOR KARABAKH PEACE
  • [02] ANOTHER RUSSIAN BASE TO OPEN IN ARMENIA
  • [03] PAPER SAYS AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT SOON TO NAME SON AS SUCCESSOR
  • [04] AZERI POLITICAL PRISON LIST TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE
  • [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ANGERED BY RUSSIAN STAND ON ABKHAZIA
  • [06] TURKEY GIVES GEORGIA $2.5 MILLION FOR DEFENSE FORCES
  • [07] TWO GEORGIANS IN THREE SUPPORT CABINET GOVERNMENT
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN MOVES AGAINST U.S.
  • [09] TURKEY GIVES KAZAKH ARMY $700,000 IN EQUIPMENT
  • [10] KYRGYZ-UZBEK BORDER TENSIONS INCREASE
  • [11] TAJIK PARLIAMENT REPLACES SOVIET-ERA NAMES
  • [12] TAJIK ISLAMIC LEADER DENIES COOPERATING WITH UZBEK ISLAMISTS
  • [13] TURKMEN, AZERI PRESIDENTS TO RESOLVE CASPIAN DISPUTE
  • [14] RUSSIAN GENERAL IN TASHKENT FOR DEFENSE PLANNING

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] EIGHT MACEDONIAN SECURITY MEN KILLED IN AMBUSH
  • [16] MACEDONIAN AUTHORITIES TAKE ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE BROADCAST OFF THE AIR
  • [17] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADER SLAMS AMBUSH
  • [18] U.S. CONDEMNS AMBUSH IN MACEDONIA
  • [19] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS U.S. BACKING
  • [20] ALBANIA CONDEMNS AMBUSH, CALLS FOR DIALOGUE
  • [21] EU, NATO SLAM ATTACK ON MACEDONIAN FORCES
  • [22] PRESEVO ALBANIANS DEMAND INCLUSION IN DECISIONS
  • [23] SERBIA'S COVIC SAYS SERBIAN POLICE VANDALIZED ALBANIAN HOMES
  • [24] MONTENEGRO TO POSTPONE REFERENDUM?
  • [25] NATO STARTS EXERCISES IN BOSNIA
  • [26] BOSNIAN SERB PARTIES AGREE TO EQUALITY OF THREE NATIONS
  • [27] BOSNIA TO GET CURSE-REMOVAL CLINIC
  • [28] BUCHAREST HOSTS REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT
  • [29] ROMANIAN, BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS ON BILATERAL COOPERATION
  • [30] NEW MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT HOLDS FIRST MEETING
  • [31] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DENIES ALLEGED 'ROMANOPHOBIA'
  • [32] VORONIN: MOLDOVA NOT TO INTERFERE IN RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWALS FROM TRANSDNIESTER
  • [33] OSCE DELEGATION ASKS FOR THE RELEASE OF THE 'ILASCU GROUP'
  • [34] BULGARIAN HIGH COURT UPHOLDS DECISION TO BAR KING'S PARTY FROM ELECTIONS...
  • [35] ...AS SIMEON SAYS HIS PARTY WILL STILL BE REPRESENTED IN ELECTIONS
  • [36] BULGARIA STOPS UKRAINIAN PLANE LOADED WITH ARMS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [37] THREE APPEALS FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE BALKANS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARTIES SET CONDITIONS FOR KARABAKH PEACE

    All 11 parties and factions of the Armenian parliament issued a joint statement on 27 April saying they will consider unacceptable any settlement that would affect Armenia's territorial integrity, put Karabakh under the control of Baku, or does not set the stage for the region's "re- unification" with Armenia or "independence," RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. President Robert Kocharian on the same day welcomed this statement as "timely and even-minded," the Snark news agency reported the same day. PG

    [02] ANOTHER RUSSIAN BASE TO OPEN IN ARMENIA

    A spokesman for Russian air force commander Aleksandr Drobyshevskii told ITAR-TASS on 29 April that another Russian military base will open in Armenia in the near future. Meanwhile, on 27 April, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian said that the planned joint Armenian-Russian military command will be commanded by an Armenian, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. PG

    [03] PAPER SAYS AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT SOON TO NAME SON AS SUCCESSOR

    An article in the April 27 "Zerkalo" said that Heidar Aliev plans to name his son Ilham Aliev as his successor sometime in the near future. It said that Ilham Aliev's actions on the international scene and also recent government reforms all point in that direction. President Aliev on the same day said he is pleased with the results of the Turkic summit in Istanbul, Turan reported. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani news outlets said that U.S. President George W. Bush's failure to call the deaths of ethnic Armenians in the Ottoman Empire in 1915 a "genocide" represents a victory of Azeri- Turkish diplomacy. PG

    [04] AZERI POLITICAL PRISON LIST TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE

    Azerbaijan's Peace and Democracy Institute has submitted a list of 262 prisoners of state and conscience in Azerbaijan to the Council of Europe, "Azadliq" reported on 28 April. Meanwhile, Suleyman Mamadli, the editor of "Hurriyat," has sued the deputy chief of Baku's police department for allegedly beating him up during a 21 April rally, "Hurriyat" reported on 28 April. PG

    [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ANGERED BY RUSSIAN STAND ON ABKHAZIA

    Eduard Shevardnadze on 28 April said that he plans to question Moscow's blocking of a UN Security Council resolution on Abkhazia at the next CIS summit, Caucasus Press reported. A day earlier, however, Tbilisi indicated that it will support the extension of the mandate for Russian-led CIS peacekeepers in that breakaway republic, the news service said. And on 28 April, the agency reported that Georgian and Abkhaz negotiators continue to discuss an exchange of prisoners of war. PG

    [06] TURKEY GIVES GEORGIA $2.5 MILLION FOR DEFENSE FORCES

    Turkey will provide Georgia with a 2.8 billion lira ($2.5 million) grant for its defense forces, Caucasus Press reported on 27 April. PG

    [07] TWO GEORGIANS IN THREE SUPPORT CABINET GOVERNMENT

    A poll conducted by the Georgian State Chancellery has found that 68 percent of Georgians support the creation of a cabinet government, "Rezonansi" reported on 28 April. Meanwhile, Avtandil Demetrashvili, the chairman of Georgia's Constitutional Court, told "Akhali Taoba" the same day that introducing a cabinet form of government now could harm the stability of the country. PG

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN MOVES AGAINST U.S.

    FIRMS. Even as it seeks U.S. recognition as a "market economy," Kazakhstan has taken steps likely to exacerbate bilateral economic ties. Khabar television reported on 27 April that a Kazakh regional prosecutor has found gross violations in the activities of the Kazakh-U.S. joint venture Tengizchevroil, and that the Kazakh Supreme Court has cancelled the sale of a power plant to a U.S. firm. PG

    [09] TURKEY GIVES KAZAKH ARMY $700,000 IN EQUIPMENT

    Ankara has handed over $700,000 in military equipment to the defense forces of Kazakhstan, the Panorama website reported on 27 April. PG

    [10] KYRGYZ-UZBEK BORDER TENSIONS INCREASE

    Batken Regional Governor Mamat Aybalaev on 29 April demanded that Tashkent withdraw its forces from the Sokh enclave and compensate Kyrgyzstan for the damages they have inflicted, Kyrgyz radio reported. His demand follows a call by Kyrgyzstan's parliamentarians that the government annul a territorial memorandum with Uzbekistan, Kabar news reported on 27 April. The parliamentarians said that accord as well as one with China have harmed the territorial integrity of Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported on 27 April. PG

    [11] TAJIK PARLIAMENT REPLACES SOVIET-ERA NAMES

    The National Assembly on 29 April renamed a number of residential areas, districts and villages to better correspond to "our present life," Tajik radio reported. PG

    [12] TAJIK ISLAMIC LEADER DENIES COOPERATING WITH UZBEK ISLAMISTS

    Sayed Abdullo Nuri, the chairman of Tajikistan's Islamic Rebirth Party, told visiting OSCE Secretary-General Jan Kubis that his organization does not cooperate with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Mashhad reported on 27 April. PG

    [13] TURKMEN, AZERI PRESIDENTS TO RESOLVE CASPIAN DISPUTE

    A source in the Turkmenistan delegation to the Turkic Summit in Istanbul told Turkmenistan.ru on 27 April that Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov and his Azerbaijani counterpart Aliev have agreed to resolve their dispute over the legal status of the Caspian Sea by this fall. Meanwhile, on the same day, Turkmen TV reported that Niyazov had actively pushed his gas exports policy at the Istanbul session. PG

    [14] RUSSIAN GENERAL IN TASHKENT FOR DEFENSE PLANNING

    General Anatoliii Kvasnin, the chief of the Russian Staff, went to Tashkent last week in order to help Uzbekistan plan for its defense against an expected onslaught of Islamist fighters this summer, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 27 April. PG

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] EIGHT MACEDONIAN SECURITY MEN KILLED IN AMBUSH

    Up to 30 ethnic Albanian rebels ambushed a 16-strong Macedonian army and police patrol near Vejce between Tetovo and the border with Kosova on 28 April, AP reported. The attack left eight Macedonians dead and at least six wounded. It was the largest single violent incident since the conflict began two months ago between Macedonian security forces and the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK). Five of the dead were members of the elite special forces, known as the Wolves. After a meeting of the government and of the National Security Council, President Boris Trajkovski said in Skopje on 29 April that the security situation has grown worse, BBC's Serbian Service reported. He pledged "no mercy" in the fight against "terrorism." Trajkovski called on KFOR to better control the border between Kosova and Macedonia and on the international community to declare the UCK a "terrorist organization." For their part, guerrilla spokesmen said they acted in self-defense, Reuters reported. The guerrillas say that the authorities are looking for an excuse to launch a crackdown. PM

    [16] MACEDONIAN AUTHORITIES TAKE ALBANIAN-LANGUAGE BROADCAST OFF THE AIR

    Ljupce Jakimovski, who heads Macedonian state-run television, said on 30 April that he has "suspended" a late-night Albanian-language news program, dpa reported. Jakimovski added that he was "unable to control the program...that has incited ethnic intolerance and encouraged Albanian militant extremists since the crisis began." He stressed that the broadcast "worked against the interests of the Macedonian state." PM

    [17] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN LEADER SLAMS AMBUSH

    Arben Xhaferi, whose Democratic Party of the Albanians is part of the governing coalition, said that the ambush "will endanger the progress of [multiparty] negotiations and will deepen the polarization between Macedonians and Albanians," London's "The Guardian" reported from Skopje on 30 April. The daily quoted unnamed "Western military experts" in the Macedonian capital as saying that the ambush is part of an attempt to "make no-go areas. [The guerrillas] want territory and not institutional change... It's what the Macedonians have feared." PM

    [18] U.S. CONDEMNS AMBUSH IN MACEDONIA

    State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said in a statement on 28 April that "the United States condemns the attack by armed ethnic Albanian extremists [on 28 April] on Macedonian security forces, which resulted in the death of eight Macedonian soldiers. We extend our condolences to the families of those who died," dpa reported. He added: "The United States calls upon all political parties and groups in Macedonia to join in condemning the senseless act of violence and to continue the process of political dialogue in which they are engaged." PM

    [19] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT SEEKS U.S. BACKING

    President Boris Trajkovski said in Skopje on 29 April that he will depart on a planned visit to the U.S. and seek "strong support of the American administration for a complete and lasting defeat of the terrorist groups in Macedonia," AP reported. He added that there are "some structures" within the U.S. government that do not unambiguously support Skopje in its fight against "terrorism," the BBC's Serbian Service reported. He did not elaborate. PM

    [20] ALBANIA CONDEMNS AMBUSH, CALLS FOR DIALOGUE

    Prime Minister Ilir Meta said in Tirana on 30 April that "such actions undermine the process of dialogue [needed] to solve the [Macedonian] Albanians' problems," Reuters reported. He added that "the only way to combat extremism and to isolate extremist groups and to strengthen the stability of Macedonia and of our region is the continuance and deepening of the dialogue that has started" between all the political parties represented in the parliament. In Belgrade the day before, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said that the ambush proves that the Balkans remain threatened by Albanian "terrorism." PM

    [21] EU, NATO SLAM ATTACK ON MACEDONIAN FORCES

    EU foreign and security policy coordinator Javier Solana said in Brussels on 29 April that "I want to appeal to the citizens and the political leadership of [Macedonia] to pursue and intensify all efforts to promote interethnic understanding... The first positive steps taken in the context of the enhanced dialogue under the leadership of President Trajkovski show the way ahead. By remaining steadfastly on the course of dialogue and reform, the responsible political leaders can effectively counter the threat of extremist nationalism and help their country advance on the road to full participation in a prosperous and stable Europe," Reuters reported. EU foreign affairs commissioner Chris Patten said that the ambush was clearly intended to derail attempts to rectify legitimate minority grievances through interparty dialogue. The attack "must not be allowed to succeed," he added. NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson also condemned the attack, adding that KFOR is "doing all it can" to secure the frontier between Kosova and Macedonia. PM

    [22] PRESEVO ALBANIANS DEMAND INCLUSION IN DECISIONS

    Some 12 important civilian and military leaders of the Presevo valley's ethnic Albanian community signed a declaration in Presevo on 29 April in which they demand to be included in any talks regarding the region's future. They stressed that any agreements made without them are invalid, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The leaders called for an immediate end to the continued deployment of Serbian forces in the demilitarized security zone along the frontier with Kosova. PM

    [23] SERBIA'S COVIC SAYS SERBIAN POLICE VANDALIZED ALBANIAN HOMES

    Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who is the Serbian government's point man for Presevo, said in Belgrade on 27 April that Serbian police occupying ethnic Albanian homes in Lucane "plundered and destroyed" a number of those homes recently. He stressed that "such behavior by the police will not be tolerated," AP reported. He added that "the homes of the Albanians are in an intolerable state. The police are meant to protect all citizens from vandalism, not engage in such acts themselves." Covic also noted that some of the police "stank of alcohol and were drunk." PM

    [24] MONTENEGRO TO POSTPONE REFERENDUM?

    Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac told the German weekly "Focus" of 29 April that plans for a referendum on independence by 13 July are "unrealistic." He added that "we need more time to do our homework, to find more supporters, and also more time for negotiations with Serbia," AP reported from Berlin. Lukovac suggested that the earliest date for a vote would be in the fall. Meanwhile, in Belgrade, Serbian parliamentary speaker Dragan Marsicanin said that Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic has no authority to negotiate with Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic without coordinating his moves with the rest of the governing coalition, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 2001). Kostunica said that any serious negotiations will take place on a "firmer institutional basis" than a chat between two individuals. PM

    [25] NATO STARTS EXERCISES IN BOSNIA

    SFOR began exercises in Bosnia on 27 April that will run until 10 May. Participants in Adventure Express/Dynamic Response 2001 are: Albania, Argentina, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, and the U.S., dpa reported. PM

    [26] BOSNIAN SERB PARTIES AGREE TO EQUALITY OF THREE NATIONS

    Representatives of the parties represented in the legislature of the Republika Srpska agreed in Banja Luka on 27 April on the text of a constitutional amendment to make the Muslims and Croats legally equal to the Serbs in the Serbian entity, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Bosnian Constitutional Court previously ordered the governments of both entities to introduce such legislation. The amendment also specifies that the "Croatian and Bosnian languages" will share an equal status with "Serbian." The Latin and Cyrillic alphabets will also share equal status. PM

    [27] BOSNIA TO GET CURSE-REMOVAL CLINIC

    Dervish Mesud Hadzimejlic said in Sarajevo that he will soon begin work on the Balkans' first alternative medicine clinic in central Bosnia- Herzegovina, dpa reported on 30 April, citing "Dnevni avaz." Hadzimejlic specializes in removing curses and spells through spiritual healing techniques from the Koran. He believes that alcoholism, drug addiction, and other serious ailments can be cured through his methods because the ailments themselves are often the result of a curse or spell. PM

    [28] BUCHAREST HOSTS REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT

    The Romanian Capital hosted a regional environment and sustainable development summit of Carpathian Mountains and Danube region countries on 29-30 April, Romanian media reported. In the first day of the meeting, environment ministers from the 15 participating countries asked for financial aid to reduce pollution in the Danube basin and the region of the Carpathians. Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the Danube could become the backbone of the pan-European transport system and an economic bridge between Eastern Europe and the European Union. The summit was organized under the patronage of Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Prince Philip, duke of Edinburgh, the honorary chairman of the World Wildlife Fund. ZsM

    [29] ROMANIAN, BULGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS ON BILATERAL COOPERATION

    Meeting in the southern Romanian city of Giurgiu on 29 April, Romanian Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu and his Bulgarian counterpart Boiko Noev discussed cooperation possibilities, Romanian media reported. Noev said that in the process of integrating both countries in NATO the keyword should be "cooperation -- the word competition should be excluded." Pascu added that every candidate country "is in competition with itself." Both ministers rejected the conclusions of a Rand Corporation study that gave their countries the smallest chances of joining NATO. In related news, Romanian air force Chief of Staff General Gheorghe Bucse and his Bulgarian counterpart General Stefan Popov signed a cooperation agreement in Giurgiu on 27 April, Mediafax reported. ZsM

    [30] NEW MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT HOLDS FIRST MEETING

    The new Moldovan government led by Vasile Tarlev held its first meeting on 28 April, Flux reported. The cabinet decided to draft a short-term government program setting priorities for the first 100 days of activity. The cabinet also set up the government's Presidium, made up of the prime minister, the three deputy prime ministers, and the justice minister. The meeting also addressed administrative problems, and the naming of deputy ministers and department directors. ZsM

    [31] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT DENIES ALLEGED 'ROMANOPHOBIA'

    In an interview with Romanian Radio, Vladimir Voronin denied accusations that his Party of Moldovan Communists is guided by anti-Romanian sentiments, Flux reported on 27 April. He accused the former right-wing governments of actually "harming the purely human and social-economic" relations with Romania. He added that the new government will leave behind the "words of friendship" and will engage into "concrete actions" in Moldovan-Romanian relations. Voronin also said that the introduction of Russian as the official language is actually his obligation as president, as a Soviet-era language law set Russian as an "interethnic cooperation language." Since 35 percent of Moldovan citizens are Russian-speakers, he must ensure "interethnic stability," he concluded. ZsM

    [32] VORONIN: MOLDOVA NOT TO INTERFERE IN RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWALS FROM TRANSDNIESTER

    Interviewed by the Romanian Radio, President Voronin said on 27 April that the issue of the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway Transdniester region can be solved only by Tiraspol and Moscow, as Moldova does not control that region, Flux reported. Voronin added that finding a solution to the Transdniester conflict is a first priority for the new Chisinau administration and that Moldovan authorities will also accept compromises in order to find the right solution, but the integrity and sovereignty of Moldova must be respected. In related news, an OSCE delegation visiting the Transdniester region on 26 April met with local authorities and the commandant of the Russian troops stationed there, Flux reported. Delegation chief Joao de Lima Pimental said there is a real chance for solving the Transdniestrian conflict, adding that the international community is interested in the final resolution of problem. ZsM

    [33] OSCE DELEGATION ASKS FOR THE RELEASE OF THE 'ILASCU GROUP'

    An OSCE delegation visiting the Transdniester region on 26 April met with Ilie Ilascu, Flux reported. William Hill, OSCE mission chief in Chisinau, said that during meetings with Tiraspol authorities the delegation called for the release of Ilascu and three other detainees on humanitarian grounds. In related news, Romanian Radio on 27 April reported that the European Court for Human Rights in Strasbourg will hold a public hearing on 6 June on a request to examine the Ilascu case. Ilascu, a Romanian deputy, is also a member of the Romanian parliament's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Romanian delegate Ion Olteanu asked the court to examine why Ilascu cannot fulfil his duty as delegate. ZsM

    [34] BULGARIAN HIGH COURT UPHOLDS DECISION TO BAR KING'S PARTY FROM ELECTIONS...

    Bulgaria's Supreme Court of Appeals ruled on 28 April that it supports a decision by the Sofia City Court to refuse to register the National Movement for King Simeon II for the 17 June general elections, Reuters reported. The chairman of the Supreme Court, Ivan Grigorov, made the announcement to a court packed with King Simeon II supporters chanting "We Want Simeon!" The reason given by the City Court for the refusal was that the registration papers were not in order. PB

    [35] ...AS SIMEON SAYS HIS PARTY WILL STILL BE REPRESENTED IN ELECTIONS

    Former King Simeon said on the same day of the Supreme Court decision that he has made an agreement with two small parties to register themselves under the name National Movement for King Simeon II, Reuters reported. Simeon said: "the court's decision is not in a position to stop the continuing growth of the movement backed by thousands of Bulgarians. The National Movement for Simeon II is an irreversible process." He added that his movement "is forced to rely on existing political registrations. I will take part in the election through the Party of Bulgarian Women and the Movement for National Revival Oborishte." An adviser to the king, Georgi Petkanov, said the two parties signed a coalition agreement to register the King Simeon II movement for the election. He said the papers have been submitted to the Central Election Commission and that a ruling was expected on 30 April. A recently released opinion poll by the MBMD agency showed that Simeon has the highest personal approval rating of any politician in Bulgaria, at some 63 percent. Premier Ivan Kostov was eighth with 22 percent. PB

    [36] BULGARIA STOPS UKRAINIAN PLANE LOADED WITH ARMS

    Bulgarian officials are holding a Ukrainian jumbo airplane carrying 30 tons of arms bound for the east African country of Eritrea, which is under a UN embargo on military supplies, AFP reported. The plane, which was flying from an unnamed airport in the Czech Republic, landed in the eastern Bulgarian city of Burgas to refuel. It reportedly is loaded with Kalashnikov submachine guns and other ammunition and weapons. The plane is reportedly owned by the Ukrainian company Volare. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [37] THREE APPEALS FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE BALKANS

    By Patrick Moore

    Many in the international community seem to have developed a sort of phobia regarding the continuing unraveling of Tito's former Yugoslavia and the ongoing decolonization process in the western Balkans. Three articles have recently appeared that argue that such an attitude ignores the democratic aspirations of the people in the region and is likely to lead to more trouble, not less.

    One need not look too far lately to find statements by prominent Western leaders and other observers to the effect that independence for Montenegro would set off a chain reaction leading to an independent Kosova, the breakup of Macedonia, the dissolution of Bosnia, the emergence of a "Greater Albania" out of the ruins of several neighboring states, and perhaps even a general Balkan conflagration involving Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

    Nor are these views confined to Washington or Brussels. There are people in the region with an interest in preserving the status quo. Such people have tried their best to frighten Western leaders, Macedonian politicians, Montenegrin voters, and others into thinking that any change in the political map will lead to a modern-day Balkan Armageddon.

    The three articles under review argue that such thinking is also likely to lead to further tensions in the region because it ignores the democratic aspirations of the people involved. Like the fabled King Canute, some political leaders and observers seem to want to hold back an inevitable tide of change manifested democratically at the ballot box.

    This attitude is perplexing to some, including Alush Gashi, who is an adviser to moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova. In an article published by Reuters, he said in Washington on 26 April that "we will do our best to be a good neighbor but there is no way we can be forced to accept Belgrade's rule any more." Gashi stressed that independence is the only alternative: "Even if [the UN's Hans Haekkerup says] no, we don't take no for no. We have to push through a democratic process to change all existing no's on a referendum... We have to have, first of all, a timetable for [Kosova's] final status... We will offer arguments on a daily basis until we achieve our democratic goal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 February 2001). Gashi added: "We are a little bit surprised that democratic countries are reluctant to accept the will of the people, so we will continue to work on this issue."

    In the second article under consideration, the "Financial Times" of 27 April reviewed a new study by the International Crisis Group (ICG) entitled "After Milosevic." The article summarizes the study as saying that "attempts to freeze the status quo risk provoking more tensions because they ignore local conditions."

    Presenting the report, Gareth Evans, who is ICG president and former Australian foreign minister, said: "Arguing that there are already too many states in the Balkans is not an appropriate response to the situation in Kosovo and Montenegro," the "Financial Times" noted.

    The study goes on to say: "Hopes that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia can be reconstituted -- on a transitional or permanent basis -- as a loose federation or confederation with little or no power vested in central authorities, appear painfully detached from political reality." Fears that Montenegrin independence would lead to conflicts elsewhere in a domino fashion "have all been overstated." The study recommends talks between Podgorica and Belgrade as the best way of defusing the tensions.

    Turning to Kosova, the ICG argues that foot-dragging over settling the province's final status is in itself a cause of instability and tension. The study proposes autonomy for Kosova, followed by a negotiated from of "conditional independence" during which the UN will continue to exercise limited control over Kosova's sovereignty.

    It might be added that, in that process, the Kosovars will gain valuable skills in self-government. They will also have the opportunity to prove that they are indeed capable of controlling crime and violence and of treating their minorities fairly. In any event, it is worth recalling that Haekkerup was is no hurry to hold elections in Kosova when he took over from Bernard Kouchner just a few months ago. Within a short time, however, he realized the importance of holding elections in 2001, just as Kouchner had.

    The third and final article appeared in London's "The Guardian" on 27 April. In it, veteran correspondent Jonathan Steele argues that the process of unraveling the former Yugoslavia continues, and that attempts to halt or reverse that development are futile.

    Looking at Montenegro, Steele argues that Western officials and observers are wrong in focusing on the domino theory. He suggests that the West remain neutral in the debate among Montenegrins about their country's future and let the Montenegrins decide things themselves. The danger that Steele sees is not one of a conflict between Belgrade and Podgorica but the risk of "violence within Montenegro itself, which could be provoked from either side: by a pro-independence majority which feels unfairly denied, just as much as by a pro-Yugoslav minority which wants to hang on to the status quo. The danger of bloodshed is small, but Western policy would do better to concentrate on this rather than the false strategic problems for the region which it claims to see."

    Steele is somewhat more optimistic about Western policy toward Kosova, noting that Haekkerup and others have come to see the need for elections. Steele adds that "Haekkerup or his UN successor will have the final say in the most sensitive areas of policy, just as his internationally appointed counterpart [Wolfgang Petritsch] does in Bosnia, even though Bosnia is a nominally independent state. These two Balkan protectorates are doomed to last for a long time."

    The Kosovar Albanians, Steele notes, will not have independence handed to them outright. "But Kosovo will get the symbols of sovereignty, and these matter as an incentive to responsible self-government. They also imply that the territory can never be part of Serbia again -- a de facto guarantee of what every Kosovo Albanian wants."

    30-04-01


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


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