|Wednesday, 21 October 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 91, 01-05-14
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 91, 14 May 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER DOWNPLAYS PROTESTS OVER TV INTERVIEW...Vartan Oskanian told RFE/RL's Armenian Service on 11 May in Strasbourg that his use in an interview with an independent Armenian TV station two days earlier of the term "occupied territories" to describe regions of Azerbaijan adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh that are currently under the control of Armenian forces does not presage the signing of a Karabakh peace accord in which Armenia will be constrained to make major concessions to Azerbaijan (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 18, 14 May 2001). Opposition Armenian politicians, however, continued to criticize Oskanian's formulation. National Accord Front Chairman Ashot Manucharian told some 1, 000 supporters at a rally in central Yerevan on 11 May that Oskanian says what he is ordered to say by President Robert Kocharian. Aram Sarkisian's Democratic Party of Armenia issued a statement condemning the Armenian leadership's moves to conclude a Karabakh peace agreement, while Babken Ararktsian, who served as parliament speaker under former President Levon Ter-Petrossian, told Noyan Tapan that the accord the Armenian leadership is currently under pressure to sign encompasses far greater concessions than those advocated by Ter-Petrossian, who was forced to resign in February 1998. LF
 ...AS PRESIDENT SAYS KARABAKH ACCORD UNLIKELY TO BE SIGNED IN GENEVAPresident Kocharian told AP in New York on 11 May that although agreement was reached during the OSCE-mediated talks last month in Key West on the broad outline of a Karabakh peace accord, it is not likely that a final peace agreement will be signed during his talks in Geneva in mid-June with his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev. Kocharian pointed out that even once agreement is reached on the content of a peace agreement, between six and 12 months will be needed for its approval by the Armenian parliament and subsequent implementation. LF
 WORLD BANK CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR MORE INVESTMENT IN ARMENIASpeaking in New York on 10 May at a conference to highlight foreign investment opportunities in Armenia, World Bank Chairman James Wolfensohn said the Armenian leadership is committed to free-market economics, and predicted that Armenia could become a "technological hub" in the South Caucasus, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported from New York. The International Finance Corporation, which is the World Bank's private investment arm, and the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation on 11 May approved $3.6 million and $18 million respectively in loans and investments for the renovation of the Hotel Armenia, which is Yerevan's largest. LF
 POLICE BREAK UP UNSANCTIONED RALLY IN AZERBAIJANUp to 1,000 police used violence on 12 May to break up an unsanctioned march in Baku organized by the Democratic Party of Azerbaijan (ADP), Reuters and Turan reported. Between 12-15 of the estimated 150 participants in the protest, who also included representatives of the Liberal Party of Azerbaijan, were arrested. Several journalists were manhandled and one was knocked unconscious, according to Turan. The protesters were demanding the release of political prisoners, respect for human rights, and the creation of conditions that would permit political emigres to return to Azerbaijan. ADP Chairman Rasul Guliev has lived in the U.S. since resigning under pressure from his post as parliament speaker in the late summer of 1996. Police in Nakhichevan suppressed a similar protest by some 40 members of the local branch of the ADP on 12 May, Turan reported. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER DEPUTY EDITOR SENTENCED, AMNESTIEDAfter a four-week trial, a Baku court sentenced Shayin Djafarli, deputy editor of the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat," to one year of corrective labor on 11 May on charges of hooliganism, Turan reported. But Djafarli was freed immediately under the terms of an amnesty. Djafarli was taken into custody in November 2000 after a scuffle in the paper's editorial office with residents of the village of Mashtaga, who were protesting the coverage in "Yeni Musavat" of political developments in Azerbaijan. LF
 AZERBAIJANI OFFICIAL RULES OUT PARDON FOR IMPRISONED FORMER MINISTERSFuad Alekperov, who heads the department for law enforcement within the Azerbaijani presidential administration, told a press conference in Baku on 11 May that President Aliev will pardon neither former Prime Minister Suret Huseinov nor former Interior Minister Iskander Hamidov, Turan reported. Alekperov said that Huseinov attempted a coup d'etat (in late 1994). He denied any political motives behind the trial and sentencing of Hamidov. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT OUTLINES PROPOSED RELATIONS BETWEEN BRANCHES OF POWER...In his belated annual state of the nation speech, delivered to parliament on 12 May, Eduard Shevardnadze described his preferred model of relations between the president, the cabinet, and the parliament, Russian agencies reported. Under that model, the president will nominate a candidate for prime minister whose candidacy the parliament must approve. The prime minister then forms a cabinet which the parliament must similarly approve. The president has the right to disband parliament if legislators reject his candidate for premier. Parliament in turn has the right to vote no- confidence in the government, but if it does, the president is then empowered to dismiss the government and to disband parliament. The constitution does not, however, allow the president to disband parliament during the final six months of his term, during a state of emergency or martial law, or after it has launched impeachment proceedings against him. Shevardnadze said the model of "a strong president, a strong parliament, and an authoritative government" will further the process of democratization, Interfax reported. LF
 ...DISCUSSES OPTIMUM RELATIONS WITH RUSSIAShevardnadze also assured Georgian citizens in his 12 May address that the Georgian leadership is ready to deepen and develop relations with Russia, taking into account that country's interests in Georgia and the Caucasus in general, ITAR-TASS reported. But he added that bilateral relations must be based on the principle of mutually beneficial cooperation and on mutual rather than unilateral compromise. In an interview published in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" the previous day, former Georgian Economy Minister Vladimir Papava characterized Russia as Georgia's most important economic partner. Papava said he hopes that despite the current tensions resulting from Russian's imposition of a visa requirement for Georgian citizens, Russia and Georgia will remain "strategic partners." LF
 GEORGIAN HOSTAGES RELEASEDGeorgian parliament deputy Petre Tsiskarishvili and his fiancee, who were abducted by unknown persons in eastern Georgia on 7 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2001), were released on 13 May following several days of negotiations between Georgian police and security officials and their kidnappers and have returned to Tbilisi, ITAR-TASS reported. According to Glasnost-North Caucasus, "influential Chechen intermediaries" secured their release. LF
 DETAINED GEORGIAN GUERRILLAS' LINKS WITH INTERIOR MINISTRY CLARIFIEDGeorgian Interior Ministry Troops commander Giorgi Shervashidze told Caucasus Press on 12 May that the three Georgian guerrillas apprehended in Abkhazia on 7 April and released on 11 May were recently dismissed from the Interior Ministry Forces' Tkibuli battalion because they had organized a protest against wage delays. The Abkhaz side had inferred from the Georgian Interior Ministry documentation the men were carrying that, as many suspect, the Georgian authorities secretly support the guerrilla bands (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 2001). Shervashidze said that the guerrillas were severely beaten in captivity and are so demoralized that they refuse to meet with their relatives. He said they have been taken by convoy to the Interior Ministry hospital in Tbilisi. LF
 NEW KAZAKH SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN OUTLINES PRIORITIESFormer Security Council Secretary Marat Tazhin, whom President Nursultan Nazarbaev named on 4 May to head the Committee for National Security, told the upper chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament on 11 May that his agency must tackle "new tasks," in particular terrorism and drug abuse, Interfax reported. With regard to the former, he said his committee should expand international cooperation with the objective of determining Kazakhstan's role in the regional security system. Tazhin also said that Nazarbaev has ordered the committee to expand its foreign intelligence operations. LF
 FORMER SOVIET PRESIDENT IN KAZAKHSTANVisiting Almaty on 11 May at the personal invitation of President Nazarbaev, Mikhail Gorbachev argued that the former Soviet republics should align in a new alliance, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Gorbachev was scheduled to meet with Nazarbaev on 12 May. LF
 TENSIONS EMERGE WITHIN COMMUNIST PARTY OF KAZAKHSTANThe former first secretary of the Almaty Oblast Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, Arsentii Apolimov, told a press conference in the former capital on 11 May that the party's chairman, Serikbolsyn Abdildin, frequently violates party statutes and resorts to abusive and vulgar language, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Apolimov argued that such behavior testifies to Abdildin's inability to discuss constructively the problems besetting the party. Abdildin dismissed Apolimov as obkom first secretary earlier this month, shortly after Apolimov called for preterm elections in Kazakhstan that he predicted would return the communists to power (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2001). LF
 KYRGYZSTAN'S FOREIGN DEBT NOW EQUAL TO GDPNational Bank Chairman Ulan Sarbanov told journalists in Bishkek on 11 May that the country's foreign debt now stands at $1.207 billion, which is equal to 98 percent of GDP, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The previous day, Sarbanov noted on the eighth anniversary of the introduction of Kyrgyzstan's national currency that the som has fallen in value from four to the U.S. dollar in 1993 to 49.24 to the dollar. LF
 TAJIK PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO INDIADuring a three-day official visit to India on 9-11 May, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov held talks with his Indian counterpart Kocheril Raman Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Russian agencies and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. Tajik presidential press secretary Zafar Saidov told Interfax on 11 May that Rakhmonov's talks with Vajpayee focussed on economic cooperation including the possibility of establishing joint ventures in the mining and construction sectors. They also pledged to cooperate to counter terrorism and drug-trafficking and preserve regional stability. The two men discussed the situation in Afghanistan and released a joint statement calling on unnamed third countries to desist from interference in that country's internal affairs. An agreement was signed whereby India will allocate a $5 million grant to Tajikistan. LF
 TWO SENTENCED TO DEATH IN TAJIKISTAN FOR ATTACK ON DUSHANBE MAYORTajikistan's Supreme Court on 11 May handed down the death penalty to two brothers, Sherali and Dovud Nazriev, in connection with a bomb attack in February 2000 in which Dushanbe Mayor Mahmudsaid Ubaidullaev was seriously injured, Russian agencies reported. Deputy Security Minister Shamasullo Dzhabirov died in that attack (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2000). LF
 UZBEK PRESIDENT ENUMERATES SECURITY CONCERNS...Islam Karimov told journalists in Tashkent on 11 May that the primary reason for Uzbekistan's decision to join the Shanghai Forum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001) is the need to preserve stability and security in Central Asia, Interfax reported. He said that defense spending has been increased to 8 percent of all budget allocations, but that this is not excessive given the cost of modern weapons systems. He said the army will be streamlined and should be "mobile and combat ready," but that "we do not propose to fight outside the country. We must detect threats to our security and effectively protect the country from them." Karimov said that the Tajik government is unable to control parts of its territory that have become "a training ground for terrorists." The Tajik Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 12 May dismissing that claim as groundless and again denying that there are any Islamic guerrilla bases in Tajikistan, Interfax reported. LF
 ...COMMENTS ON PROPOSED EXCHANGE OF TERRITORY WITH KYRGYZSTANKarimov on 11 May described as "not a demand but a friendly offer" the proposed exchange of territories between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, a memorandum of intent concerning which was signed in February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 April 2001), Interfax reported. Noting that the present border between the two countries, which was drawn in 1924, is unsatisfactory, he confirmed that Tashkent asked Bishkek for a corridor to connect the Uzbek enclave of Sokh with the rest of Uzbekistan. Karimov added that the existence of Kyrgyz enclaves on Uzbek territory "worries us and creates problems." LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MACEDONIA FINALLY GETS A GOVERNMENTThe parliament voted 104-1 on 13 May to approve a broad-based coalition government of national unity (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," and "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001). Despite previous telephone calls by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to party leaders to conclude the agreement, it was not clear until shortly before the vote that the ethnic Albanian opposition Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD) would enter the government. PPD leaders first objected to the fact that the army's cease-fire proved short- lived. They then objected to certain passages in a speech by Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, who referred to ethnic Albanian fighters of the National Liberation Army (UCK) as people "from outside Macedonia with the sole goal of destroying the country." He added that the UCK is waging a campaign "of terror and chaos under the veil of some demands for human and minority rights," dpa reported. The new foreign minister is Ilinka Mitreva, a Social Democrat. Her predecessor, Srdjan Kerim, becomes ambassador to the UN. The new defense minister is Social Democrat Vlado Buckovski. PM
 GEORGIEVSKI OUTLINES MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT'S TASKSGeorgievski told the parliament on 13 May that the government takes office under "most difficult" circumstances, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. He said that this is a last chance to avoid a civil war and outlined four tasks. The first is to fight "terrorism" and set up special military units to do so. The second item on the agenda is to continue the interparty dialogue under the leadership of President Boris Trajkovski, as recommended by the U.S. and EU. The third task is to organize early legislative elections for the beginning of 2002. The final item on his agenda is to carry out basic reforms. Several leaders of other parties made it clear that they regard the government as the product of urgent political necessity and not of any enthusiasm. The UCK, with which the ethnic Macedonian parties refuse to speak, considers the government "irrelevant." PM
 MACEDONIAN GUNS SILENTThe Macedonian army shelled UCK positions in the Kumanovo area on 12 May and to a lesser extent on 13 May, Reuters reported. Guerrilla leaders denied army claims that the UCK had taken heavy casualties, saying "we haven't had a scratch... Although they have heavy weapons, they haven't managed to come even close to our positions." The army's guns remained silent on 14 May following parliament's approval of the government. UN refugee officials said in Skopje on 13 May that some 9,000 ethnic Albanians had fled to Kosova since the previous Monday, AP reported. Reuters noted that Gezim Ostreni, who is a former Yugoslav army officer from Debar and a veteran of the Kosova war's UCK, is now the Macedonian UCK's military commander. He had been serving with the civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), when he requested leave to go home to Macedonia "on family business." PM
 NATO MEETS TO DISCUSS SERBIAN READMISSION TO ZONE...NATO officials in Brussels were to consider on 14 May whether to readmit Serbian forces to Sector B of the demilitarized ground safety zone (GSZ) along the Presevo valley's border with Kosova, Reuters reported. It is the only segment of the GSZ to which the Atlantic alliance has not allowed Serbian forces to return in recent weeks. PM
 ...AS TENSIONS MOUNT IN PRESEVOEthnic Albanian leaders on both sides of the border have warned of trouble if the Serbs reenter the GSZ, which has been a safe haven for local Albanian guerrillas. The Albanian leaders note that some of the top commanders of the Serbian forces are men who led the ethnic-cleansing campaign in Kosova in 1999. A NATO spokesman said on 13 May, however, that "it's not a question of if [the Serbs return] but when. We will not be held hostage by threats of violence," Reuters reported. AP quoted unnamed Presevo Albanians as saying on 14 May that one guerrilla and one civilian were killed and two civilians injured in recent fighting with Serbian paramilitary police near the border of the GSZ. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said that the Albanians want to stir up trouble on the eve of NATO's decision. PM
 HUNGARY ARRESTS YUGOSLAV PILOT ON 1992 CHARGEHungarian police arrested Major Emir Sisic as he crossed into Hungary from Serbia at Roszke on 12 May, "Vesti" reported. Croatia had issued an arrest warrant for Sisic through Interpol, of which he was not aware. A Croatian court had sentenced the former Yugoslav military pilot to 20 years in prison for shooting down a helicopter containing five EC monitors near Zagreb in January 1992. All five were killed. Following Sisic's arrest, General Nebojsa Pavkovic, the Yugoslav army's chief of staff, demanded his release. PM
 MONEY THE MOTIVE IN SERBIAN KILLINGBelgrade police have arrested Nikola Zivkovic in conjunction with the recent killing of Klara Mandic, an influential woman close to the regime of former President Slobodan Milosevic, "Vesti" reported on 14 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001). Police ruled out any political motive for the killing. Zivkovic is deeply in debt from his business dealings and apparently killed Mandic for her fur coat and other valuables. PM
 MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT TO MEETThe newly elected legislature will meet at the end of the week, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 13 May. President Milo Djukanovic's "Victory Belongs to Montenegro" coalition will have 36 seats against 33 for the pro-Belgrade "For Yugoslavia" coalition. The Liberal Alliance, which is expected to enter a coalition with Djukanovic, has six seats, while the Democratic Union of the Albanians and Democratic League in Montenegro have one each. In Belgrade, Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic told "Blic" of 14 May that there are no differences between him and Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica on the subject of Montenegro. Djindjic added that Djukanovic is an "anachronism" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 April and 1 May 2001). PM
 BOSNIAN SERB PRIME MINISTER: MOSQUES WILL BE REBUILTRepublika Srpska Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said in Banja Luka on 12 May that the recent anti-Muslim demonstrations will "not be repeated" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 May 2001, and "End Note" below). He added that destroyed mosques will be rebuilt in Banja Luka and elsewhere, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Ivanic stressed, however, that he also wants to see Serbian Orthodox churches rebuilt in the Muslim-Croat federation, adding that "so far I have not noticed any great interest by the representatives of international institutions" for such a project. PM
 ROMANIAN PREMIER HEADS DELEGATION TO NATO TALKS...A large Romanian delegation headed by Adrian Nastase left Bucharest on 14 May to participate in Brussels at the annual "19+1" evaluation of the progress made by countries toward their implementation of the 1999 Membership Action Plan for NATO candidates, Romanian radio reported. On 12 May, Nastase said after the Bratislava summit (see above) that the chances for NATO to decide at its Prague 2002 summit to expand further are "about 70 percent," Mediafax reported. He predicted that each candidate country will be backed by a different regional "pressure group," saying that the Baltic states are most likely to be supported by the northern NATO members, and "Slovakia, perhaps also Slovenia" by the Visegrad Four. Nastase said Romania "counts very much on Germany" but also on the NATO southern tier, a group into which he counted France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey. MS
 ...SAYS HUNGARIAN 'STATUS BILL' NEEDS ROMANIAN APPROVALThe "Status Bill" under consideration by the Hungarian parliament cannot apply on Romanian territory "as long as the Romanian authorities are not consulted and do not explicitly agree to it," Nastase said on 12 May. He said he has discussed the bill in Bratislava with his Slovak counterpart Mikulas Dzurinda. Nastase said that implementation of laws passed by foreign countries is possible only "on the basis of mutual agreements, or commonly accepted international standards," and "must respect [the provisions of the] constitution and the current internal legislation." In a reference to his Hungarian counterpart, Nastase said: "I believe Mr. Orban is aware of these facts." Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said in reaction that he is "somewhat surprised" by Nastase's statement, since Hungary "has continuously informed Romania and the EU" [on the bill] and Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana has been personally briefed on it by his Hungarian counterpart Janos Martonyi. MS
 ROMANIAN INTELLECTUALS PROTEST AGAINST CNSASA group of Romanian intellectuals residing in France and Germany launched a protest on 12 May against the National Council for the Study of the Securitate Archives (CNSAS), accusing it of distortedly implementing the provisions of the 1999 law that established the council. The 12 signatories say the CNSAS does not function as an independent structure but as one "under the political control of the Securitate, now called the Romanian Intelligence Service." They say the "cleansing" by the council of the "notorious links" of President Ion Iliescu and Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor with the communist secret police are an illustration of this lack of independence. The signatories also denounced procrastination on publishing the names of former collaborators among the Romanian Orthodox Church hierarchy and magistrates and the dismissal of a CNSAS staff member who made public documents on Patriarch Teoctist's alleged links to the Securitate. MS
 DANUBE BRIDGE TO BE READY BY 2003Romanian Transportation Minister Miron Mitrea on 12 May said after meeting his Bulgarian counterpart Antoni Slavinski that the new bridge over the Danube River between Giurgiu and Vidin will be completed by 2003, Romanian radio reported. MS
 SEPARATISTS BAR MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT'S ENTRY TO TRANSDNIESTERBorder guards in Bendery-Tighina, acting on orders from Tiraspol, on 13 May barred Vladimir Voronin from entering the Transdniester, AP, AFP, and ITAR- TASS reported. Voronin intended to visit the Noul Neamt monastery in Chitcani, where monks are protesting the appointment by the Tiraspol authorities of Tiraspol Archbishop Iustinian as rector of the monastery's theological seminary. Following the outbreak of the protest, the separatists sent police to the monastery to verify the monks' identity papers. Voronin ignored an earlier warning from Tiraspol not to go to the monastery, saying he was going there "as a Christian and as president." He said in reaction that the move is intended to "sabotage" his negotiations with separatist leader Igor Smirnov scheduled for 16 May, and added that he will still go to Tiraspol. MS
 ILASCU: PUTIN ORDERED AND SMIRNOV COMPLIED...In an interview with the Flux agency on 11 May, Ilie Ilascu, who was freed from his Tiraspol detention earlier this month, said his liberation was due to the fact that "[Russian President Vladimir] Putin ordered, and [separatist leader Igor] Smirnov complied," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He added that Putin "would not have moved a finger" if Romania had not taken up his case at international fora. He said Moldova's two previous presidents, Mircea Snegur and Petru Lucinschi, had not been interested in bringing about his liberation. Ilascu also said he has no intention to withdraw his complaint before the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg, but acknowledged that the court might decide that hearing the case has "lost relevance" following his liberation. MS
 ...EXPECTS LIBERATION OF MEMBERS OF HIS GROUPAlso on 11 May, Ilascu said in Bucharest that "bargaining" is underway between Chisinau and Tiraspol on the liberation of his three comrades still detained by the separatists and that, according to the information he has, they will be set free when Moldovan President Voronin comes to Tiraspol for negotiations with Smirnov on 16 May. MS
 BULGARIAN COURT REJECTS COMPLAINTS AGAINST FORMER KING'S MOVEMENTThe Supreme Administrative Court in Sofia on 11 May rejected two complaints against the legality of the earlier registration of the National Movement Simeon II by the Central Electoral Commission as a party running in the elections scheduled for June, AP reported. The complaints had been launched by the small Bulgarian Communist Party, a group of die-hard Stalinists, and by the fringe Rodolyubie 2000. After having been previously banned from running on its own, the National Movement Simeon II formed an electoral alliance with the Bulgarian Women's Party and the National Revival Party, and the Central Electoral Commission eventually approved the coalition's running under the name of the former king's movement. MS
 BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER CRITICIZES BALKAN STABILITY PACTNadezhda Mihailova said on 11 May that the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe has failed to end the recurring Balkan crises, AP reported. "Bulgaria's government has repeatedly expressed its concern that not all commitments that the Stability Pact made for the Balkans were kept, and the evidence for that is the [current] destabilization of Macedonia," she said. Mihailova spoke in Veliko Tarnovo, some 250 kilometers east of Sofia. "We expected that the pact would provide European...guarantees, which would safeguard the Balkans" but "we see a war threat close to our western border and this worries us a lot," Mihailova concluded. MS
 LIBYA AGAIN POSTPONES TRIAL OF BULGARIAN MEDICSA Libyan court on 13 May postponed for the 12th time the trial of the six Bulgarian medics accused of willfully infecting children with the HIV virus in a Benghazi hospital, AP reported, citing Bulgarian radio. The court postponed the trial for 2 June to enable questioning of witnesses that are now missing. Defense lawyer Vladimir Sheitanov said the adjournment is a "positive sign" for the defendants and that the defense will now be able to gather witnesses it wants to question, but declined to name those witnesses. MS
[C] END NOTE
 WHICH WAY FOR BOSNIA?By Patrick Moore
Some recent developments in Bosnia could serve as a wake-up call to the international community. The time may be approaching to decide whether to implement the Dayton agreements with more gusto or consider revising them.
Two recent sets of developments suggest that the tranquility of Bosnia is more apparent than real. They may tend to give credence to those observers who argue that the 1995 Dayton agreements served only to stop the fighting but did not do much more than that. Nationalists, the critics stress, are as firmly in the saddle as ever.
The first developments are those in which SFOR troops and international officials took control of offices of the Hercegovacka Banka in an effort to break the political, economic, and perhaps criminal power of the hard-line Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ). The performance was less than stellar, and some reports suggest that the foreigners returned some of the crucial documents obtained in the raid after being confronted by belligerent hard- liners. Perhaps even more importantly, shutting down the bank meant that retirees and others could not get access to their pensions and savings, thereby prompting many hundreds of angry Croats to identify with the HDZ, which the foreigners are ostensibly trying to marginalize.
The second set of incidents took place on Bosnian Serb territory. At the end of April, there were demonstrations in the Sarajevo suburb of Dobrinja to protest an Irish judge's decision to assign some contested apartment blocs to the control of the Muslim-Croat federation. In early May, there followed some ugly and violent protests in Trebinje and Banja Luka aimed at preventing the reconstruction of two mosques destroyed by Serbian nationalists during the 1992-1995 war, one of which is the UNESCO- registered Ferhadija mosque. Several international and Muslim officials charged that Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) was behind the violence in all three places.
What the actions of the HDZ and SDS have in common is that they showed that the nationalists could quickly mobilize a large number of militant supporters and use them against Western officials. Moreover, police were unwilling or unable to control the violence, while SFOR troops responded with "great passivity," as one Bosnian journalist in Trebinje put it. Daniel Ruiz, a Spanish representative of the international community in Trebinje who was injured in the violence there, spoke of the "return of fascism" to Bosnia. Bosnian Foreign Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija, who was injured in Banja Luka, said that the Republika Srpska and its capital are returning to their bleak wartime reputation, when Banja Luka was known as the "heart of darkness."
But are things quite so bleak? Admirers of High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch argue that he has been effective in taking some key decisions aimed at making Bosnia a viable state, including sacking obstructionist nationalist officials. Last November's parliamentary elections, moreover, took place under special OSCE rules designed to give an advantage to smaller, non-nationalist parties at the expense of the HDZ, SDS, and the Muslim Party of Democratic Action (SDA), which have held sway among their respective electorates for over a decade. Observers who feel that Bosnia is making progress at a steady if slow pace therefore argue that the recent protests are no more than a last hurrah on the part of the nationalists.
Others are not so sure. Such critics, including some insiders, believe that the international presence is chaotic, expensive, and leading to an untenable colonial situation in which many Bosnians expect the foreigners to decide things and keep the money coming in. The critics believe that the latest violence could have happened at any time since Dayton and could be the beginning of even worse things to come.
These critics maintain that the foreigners responsible for good government and law and order in Bosnia do not have a well thought-out agenda, except for identifying general goals such as stopping corruption, strengthening central institutions, breaking the power of the nationalists, launching economic reform, and promoting the return of refugees and displaced persons. The skeptics argue that the international community lacks contingency plans for dealing with worst-case scenarios and could be easily caught off guard by a Herzegovinian bombing campaign against SFOR installations and vehicles, for example.
Perhaps now is the time for the international community to take stock of what it wants in Bosnia, many observers believe. If it is indeed willing and prepared to realize the goals of Dayton, then might not a more robust approach be in order? If the foreigners intend to promote democratic ideals while at the same time weakening the role of the three parties that most voters support, then the international community should be prepared to defend its actions in a convincing manner. If it really wants to ban the nationalist parties outright, then perhaps it should do so rather than take occasional half-measures. After all, Germany and some other democratic countries have laws enabling the government to ban parties that are opposed to the democratic and constitutional order.
But if the international community is not willing to become more decisive and assertive, critics argue, then it should perhaps consider the alternatives to Dayton. The most obvious of these is a partition along ethnic lines. Bosnian supporters of this alternative argue that it is the only democratic alternative, because that is what most voters seem to want. Some foreign backers of this view maintain that there will be more wars unless the three ethnic groups are politically and physically separated once and for all.
There are several arguments against this approach. One is that it would finalize the results of ethnic cleansing and suggest that robbery and murder do indeed pay. A second is that a partition would create a weak and volatile Muslim state that could become a European bridgehead for various political forces from elsewhere in the Islamic world. A third point is that partition has not led to peace in the Middle East or on the Indian subcontinent, and is unlikely to bring stability to the Balkans, either.
None of these issues and arguments is, of course, new; they have all been on the table for the better part of a decade. The point is, however, that something seems to be going very wrong in Bosnia these days. Unless the issues are looked at anew by the major players in the international community and the region, might not there be a risk that the overall tranquility of Bosnia could prove as illusory as did Macedonia's once- famous stability?
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty