|Thursday, 22 October 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 96, 01-05-21
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 96, 21 May 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PREMIER REJECTS CALL FOR PARLIAMENT SHOOTING TRIAL PROBEAndranik Markarian on 18 May condemned as "absurd" and "childish" the demand by the People's Party of Armenia and the Yerkrapah Union of War Veterans for an investigation into the possibility that unidentified government officials are providing "illicit legal counseling" to the five gunmen currently on trial for the October 1999 Armenian parliament shootings, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 17 May 2001). He added that he considers it unnecessary to establish a parliament commission to look into the issue. Speaking at a press conference, Markarian ruled out the possibility that unauthorized persons could have access to the five accused, who are being held in the National Security Ministry prison in Yerevan. LF
 IMPRISONED ARMENIAN EX-MINISTER'S SENTENCE REDUCEDThe Review Court in Yerevan on 18 May upheld the guilty verdict handed down last December on former Education Minister Ashot Bleyan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 December 2000) but reduced his sentence on charges of corruption and embezzlement from seven to five years, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The Review Court also overturned the lower court's decision to confiscate half of Bleyan's property and fine him 3 million drams ($5,450), together with the prosecutor's demand that Bleyan be barred from holding any senior government post in the future. Bleyan, who was arrested in 1999, has consistently denied the charges against him, which he termed as being part of a political vendetta against him on the part of President Robert Kocharian. Bleyan's lawyer Robert Avagian said he will take Bleyan's case to the Court of Appeals. LF
 MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRMEN MEET WITH AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION, DISPLACED PERSONS...The U.S. Russian and French co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group met in Baku on 18 May with Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev to review the progress achieved during the April Key West talks on resolving the Karabakh conflict. Russian co-chairman Nikolai Gribkov cautioned against unrealistic expectations, warning that "what we are saying could give the impression that a peace settlement is within reach, but it is still far away," RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. As he has done on several previous occasions, President Aliev said that responsibility for resolving the conflict lies exclusively with the OSCE, according to AP. "If the two presidents could have found agreement, there would have been peace long ago," Aliev said. The three co-chairmen met on 19 May in Baku with leading members of the opposition Musavat and Azerbaijan National Independence parties and the reformist wing of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party, Turan reported. They also visited a camp in Agjabed that houses some 35,000 displaced persons made homeless during the Karabakh conflict to assess humanitarian conditions there. LF
 ...VISIT NAGORNO-KARABAKH, ARMENIAOn 19 May, the three Minsk Group co-chairmen crossed the Line of Contact that separates Azerbaijani and Karabakh Armenian forces, and traveled to Stepanakert where they discussed with senior members of the leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic how to resolve the conflict, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. No details of those talks were made public. Gribkov told journalists in Stepanakert that the unrecognized republic "is a major factor" and that "no stable or real settlement can be achieved without taking its interests into account," Interfax reported. The co-chairmen then traveled on 20 May by helicopter to Spitak in northern Armenia where they met with Armenians who fled Azerbaijan during the early years of the conflict. AP quoted Cavanaugh as admitting in Spitak that while the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents "appear determined" to reach a settlement of the conflict, the populations of both countries continue to oppose the concessions that are needed in order to do so. LF
 AZERBAIJAN DEMANDS ARMENIA'S SUSPENSION FROM CIS COLLECTIVE SECURITY TREATYSpeaking in Baku on 18 May at a meeting of Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Defense Ministers, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev demanded that Armenia unconditionally withdraw from occupied Azerbaijani territories and be suspended from the CIS Collective Security Treaty, RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. "Armenia is an aggressor state. This state pursues a policy of terrorism and separatism," Abiev told the meeting. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, the chairman of the Council of CIS Defense Ministers, managed to block Abiev's proposal, which he termed "incorrect." LF
 SIX GEORGIAN CONVICTS KILLED BY GRENADESix prisoners died and six more were injured, together with one visitor, when a fellow prisoner opened fire and then exploded a grenade during a quarrel at the Ksani penal colony on 18 May, Caucasus Press reported. Meeting the following day, the National Security Council charged the Prosecutor General's Office with investigating the incident. Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili told journalists that it will take two or three days to determine how the prisoner acquired munitions and whether any of the prison staff bear responsibility for the incident. Also on 19 May, Socialist Party politician Ketevan Zhordania demanded that Saakashvili resign, noting that his predecessor, Djoni Khetsuriani, had stepped down last fall after the escape of 12 prisoners from a Tbilisi security prison (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2000). Saakashvili said he will not step down. LF
 GEORGIAN OFFICIALS AGAIN DENY HARBORING CHECHEN FIGHTERSSpeaking in 18 May in Baku, where he attended the CIS Defense Ministers' meeting, Georgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze said there "is no documentary evidence" to support Russian media claims that Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev is currently ensconced in Georgia's Pankisi gorge. Rumors to that effect have been circulating since last fall, and no sightings of Gelaev in Chechnya have been reported since then. Tevzadze claimed that the situation in Pankisi is stable despite the presence there of an estimated 7,000 refugees from Chechnya, but admitted that it could deteriorate due to unresolved social problems. In Tbilisi, Foreign Ministry spokesman Kakha Sikharulidze issued a similar denial on 18 May that Gelaev or other Chechen field commanders are in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. He also said that the group of OSCE observers currently deployed along the Georgian border with Chechnya will in future also monitor Georgia's borders with Ingushetia and Daghestan. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S INTERNATIONAL CREDIT RATING RAISED, TURKMENISTAN'S DOWNGRADEDStandard and Poor's has raised Kazakhstan's long-term foreign currency credit rating from BB- to BB and its long-term domestic currency rating from BB to BB+, leaving its foreign and domestic short-term credit rating unchanged at B, Interfax reported on 18 May, quoting a Standard and Poor's press release. That release attributed the upgrade to a significant improvement in external liquidity, the fall in net public external debt, and the Kazakh government's adherence to prudent fiscal and monetary policies. But it also noted that the decision-making process remains highly centralized and characterized democracy in Kazakhstan as "weak." Also on 18 May, the international credit-rating agency Fitch downgraded Turkmenistan's long-term foreign currency credit rating from B- to CCC- and its short-term foreign currency rating from B to C, according to Interfax. Fitch said that decision was prompted by "the opaque nature of policy-making" and lack of reliable economic data. LF
 KYRGYZ COURT UPHOLDS SENTENCE ON UIGHURSFollowing a three-day hearing, the Osh Oblast court on 18 May upheld the sentences it handed down in March on five Uighurs accused of perpetrating two terrorist bombings in the city in May and June of 1998, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Two people died and 11 were injured in those blasts. The court sentenced four of the accused to death and the fifth to 25 years imprisonment. LF
 KYRGYZ DEPUTY PARLIAMENT SPEAKER FINED FOR UNSANCTIONED DEMONSTRATIONA Bishkek district court fined deputy parliament speaker Omurbek Tekebaev 2, 000 soms (about $41) on 18 May for taking part in the unsanctioned 13 April demonstration in Bishkek to protest the closure of the opposition newspaper "Akaba," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. LF
 KYRGYZSTAN ENDS VISA REQUIREMENT FOR DONOR STATESForeign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev announced on 19 May that Bishkek will no longer require entry visas from diplomats, businessmen, and tourists from the U.S., Japan, and EU countries, Reuters reported. Those states are the main donors of aid to Kyrgyzstan. LF
 NEW OIL FIELD DISCOVERED IN KYRGYZSTANPrime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev told a news conference in Bishkek on 19 May that the Canadian oil company Cadena Petroleum has discovered an oil field in Djalalabad Oblast in southern Kyrgyzstan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The field contains estimated reserves of 10 million metric tons. Bakiev said the discovery and exploitation of that deposit would enable Kyrgyzstan to reduce fuel imports from Russia, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan, which currently account for some 90 percent of the country's needs, Interfax reported. Kyrgyzstan produces between 70,000 and 100,000 tons of crude at present. The Djalalabad oil refinery in southern Kyrgyzstan has the capacity to process an additional 500,000 tons of crude annually. LF
 U.S. HOLDS TALKS IN KYRGYZSTAN, UZBEKISTAN ON REGIONAL SECURITY THREATSContinuing his tour of Central Asian capitals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 May 2001), U.S. General Tommy Franks assured Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev during talks in Bishkek on 17 May that Washington will continue to supply Kyrgyzstan with military equipment, Interfax reported. Franks encouraged the Kyrgyz leadership to develop cooperation with Russia, China, and Turkey to combat the threat of terrorism. On 18 May, Franks met in Tashkent with Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov, to whom he proposed that the U.S. help train sergeants for the Uzbek army, Interfax and AP reported. Noting that even small well-trained terrorist groups pose a threat to stability in Central Asia, Franks urged the countries of the region to pool efforts to neutralize such threats. Also on 18 May, ITAR-TASS reported that Russia will deliver to Uzbekistan within three months a consignment of 23 Russian- manufactured armored personnel carriers. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 FIGHTING BETWEEN MACEDONIAN FORCES AND REBELS CONTINUES...Macedonian soldiers and ethnic Albanian insurgents fought intermittently from 18-21 May in northern parts of the country as the government said it was exercising restraint in the conflict, AP reported. Most of the fighting took place in and around the villages of Slupcane and Vaksince, north of the capital Skopje. No casualties were reported by either side. Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski -- dressed in a military uniform -- toured the front on 19 May and pledged to end the crisis "both politically and militarily." Shortly after he left, machine-gun fire and heavy artillery detonations could be heard. Interior Minister Ljuben Boskovski said Macedonia "will crush terrorism with the minimum of violence and casualties -- all in accordance with standards of the civilized world." PB
 ...AS RED CROSS AIDS CIVILIANSThe International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on 20 May that it had used various lulls in the fighting between Macedonian troops and the rebels to send in teams of aid workers to help the several thousands of civilians caught in the villages where the fighting is occurring, AP reported. ICRC spokeswoman Amanda Williamson said there is a serious lack of food and water and "that the health situation has deteriorated." The Red Cross estimates that some 6,000 to 10,000 people are still living in villages, many in the cellars of houses, either because they are unable to leave or in order to show support for the ethnic Albanian rebels. The Macedonian Defense Ministry claims there are some 1,000 civilians still in the fighting zone. PB
 U.S., EU COUNTRIES PLEDGE SUPPORTU.S. President George W. Bush sent a letter to Macedonian President Trajkovski on 19 May pledging U.S. support for Skopje in its fight against the ethnic Albanian rebels, AP reported. The letter said "the extremists want nothing more than to provoke the indiscriminate shelling of villages and killing of civilians in order to swell their ranks and bolster their illegitimate claim to represent the ethnic Albanian community." In a joint statement released in Berlin the previous day, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine urged all parties to show "the greatest restraint" and urged the Macedonian government to stick to the unofficial cease-fire. The statement said there is great concern that the violence may escalate again. PB
 OSCE TO TRAIN ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLICEMEN IN MACEDONIA?After the international community criticized the small number of ethnic Albanians and members of other minorities within the Macedonian army and police, the Macedonian Interior Ministry has reportedly agreed to cooperate with the OSCE, the EU, and the U.S. in training members of national minorities in Macedonia for police service. Citing anonymous sources in the ministry, the Skopje daily "Vest" reported on 19 May that both the U.S. and the EU are likely to fund the training activities under the auspices of the OSCE in a program that will be modeled after the UNMIK police force training in Kosova. UB
 REFORMISTS WIN CROATIAN ELECTIONS, BUT HDZ STILL SURPRISES...The reformist coalition led by Prime Minister Ivica Racan's Social Democrats (SDP) looks set to take power in 14 of 21 counties, according to preliminary results from Croatia's 20 May local elections, but the nationalist Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) did better than expected, AP and Reuters reported. Due to the fact that several of the parties in the six-member center-left ruling coalition ran separately to test their support after 16 months in power, the HDZ of former President Franjo Tudjman came out the strongest party in many areas. "HDZ is back as the most serious alternative to the ruling party in the country," said HDZ head Ivo Sanader. In coalition with other right-wing parties, the HDZ looks set to take office in at least four counties, down from the 16 it previously held but better than had been predicted. Three other counties have the reformists and nationalists running even. DW
 ...AS DO SOCIAL LIBERALSAnother surprise was the poor showing by the Social Liberals (HSLS), who failed to pass the 5 percent threshold in Zagreb and were ousted from power in Split, the second largest city. The SDP, on the other hand, won the elections in Zagreb -- where one-quarter of Croatia's population lives -- and Split. Turnout was low, with only 45 percent of eligible voters taking part. The low results for Drazen Budisa's HSLS, which is often seen as a source of instability in the government coalition, may lead to a shake-up of the cabinet. "We need to consider the future of the coalition government and provide precise answers as to what should be changed," Racan said. DW
 BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY TO VISIT BELGRADEBosnia's three-member presidency is to visit the Yugoslav capital on 22 May for the first time since the 1992-1995 war that ravaged the country, Reuters reported on 18 May. "An Interstate Council for Cooperation is expected to be formed just like the one that already exists between Bosnia and Croatia," presidency spokesman Boris Kujundzic said. Bosnia and Yugoslavia established diplomatic relations in December. DW
 SARAJEVO PAPER SURVIVED WAR, CLOSED BY STRIKEThe Sarajevo daily "Oslobodjenje" shut down on 20 May after Editor in Chief Mirko Sagolj stepped down when negotiations with striking staff collapsed, Reuters reported. The paper, founded by communist partisans during World War II, was a symbol of Bosnian resistance during the siege of Sarajevo, when its offices were reduced to rubble but journalists still managed to put out a single page of news. The paper had hoped recent investment could turn around sagging readership, but the strike by staff for unpaid wages and benefits on 17 May led to the resignation of Sagolj's management team. "This may be the end of 'Oslobodjenje'...maybe a new newspaper might come out of this, but I think it won't be the same thing," Sagolj said. DW
 NATO OFFICIALLY APPROVES OF YUGOSLAV MILITARY'S PLANS IN KEY PART OF BUFFER ZONENATO officials said on 20 May that they have finalized permission for the Yugoslav army to deploy forces in the final sector of the buffer zone between the Serbian province of Kosova and the rest of Serbia, dpa reported. A spokesman for KFOR said in Bujanovac that an agreement for the return was signed and that Yugoslav forces will be allowed to deploy heavily armed troops into Sector B of the buffer zone, an area that was being used by ethnic Albanian rebels in the area to store weapons and mount attacks against Serbian forces in the Presevo valley of southern Serbia, where an estimated 20,000 ethnic Albanians live. The Yugoslav soldiers are expected to begin deploying into the area on 24 May. The area covers 400 square kilometers and includes the towns of Bujanovac and Presevo. PB
 ETHNIC ALBANIAN VILLAGES DEMILITARIZINGNATO officials said on 19 May that some 173 ethnic Albanian rebels fighting in the Presevo valley have turned themselves in to NATO-led forces in Kosova over the last three days, Reuters reported. Furthermore, Shawn Sullivan, the head of NATO's office in Yugoslavia, said inspections of the villages of Lucane and Turija near the Kosovar border showed that they had been demilitarized as previously agreed upon. The UNHCR's special envoy to the region, Eric Morris, said "what happened in Lucane...showed that a peaceful process can indeed achieve positive results." Sullivan said that one commander of the ethnic Albanian rebels in Presevo valley, Muhamed Xhemajli, was responsible for some recent violence and that he is not following in step with other rebel leaders in the area. In addition, some other leaders have vowed to continue fighting. PB
 SERBIAN OFFICIAL: CHARGES AGAINST MILOSEVIC MAY INCLUDE WAR CRIMES...Serbian Deputy Premier Zarko Korac said on 18 May in Geneva that the government is working to expand its charges against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to include war crimes, Reuters reported. Korac, speaking at a briefing after attending a conference in France, said that "we want to expand the charges against him. We would like very much to introduce war crimes into the charges." PB
 ...BUT BELGRADE WANTS 'FIRST BITE' OF EX-PRESIDENTKorac added that although Milosevic could very well be extradited to The Hague for trial, the "first bite goes to Serbia," AP reported. Korac said "we want to show that the supposedly great leader of a nation was a thief. After that, I'm pretty sure The Hague tribunal will also have a say." He added that "we don't want to make a martyr of Mr. Milosevic." Korac also called on NATO-led peacekeeping troops in Bosnia-Herzegovina to arrest Bosnian Serb wartime leaders Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadzic, who Korac said are hiding in Bosnia. PB
 MILOSEVIC-ERA MINISTER ARRESTEDSerbian police said on 18 May that they arrested former Finance Minister Borislav Milacic on suspicion of using $2.5 million in state funds to buy equipment for television stations that remained loyal to Yugoslav President Milosevic while he was in power, Reuters reported. Milacic was finance minister from July 1997 until October 2000. Police said former Yugoslav Deputy Premier Nikola Sainovic and the former head of the daily "Politika," Hadzi-Dragan Antic, were also charged in the same investigation. Antic, who is close to Milosevic's daughter, is thought to have fled Yugoslavia. PB
 SERBIAN DEPUTY PREMIER SUGGESTS DIVISION OF KOSOVANebojsa Covic said on 18 May in Belgrade that Kosova should be divided into ethnic Albanian and Serbian entities, AP reported. Covic told a panel of scholars and diplomats that the province could be split into a "Serb entity with most of the Serb historical and cultural monuments...and an ethnic Albanian entity where the majority of the population would be Kosovo Albanians." He declined to give details of any division but said that "the proposal means that both sides would have to give up their maximalistic demands." PB
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT'S PRO-INDEPENDENCE PARTY FAILS TO FORM COALITIONThe ruling Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), led by Milo Djukanovic, said on 20 May in Podgorica that it has failed to form a coalition with the nationalist Liberal Alliance, AP reported. Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic, the vice president of the DPS, said the party could not accept the demands of the alliance for five additional seats in the parliament. He said such a request is "legally impossible" and would require altering the election results. The Liberal Alliance said it is requesting the extra seats because it was "robbed" during the 22 April elections. Slavko Perovic, a leader of the Liberal Alliance, said "any form of post-election coalition is now possible," hinting that his party may hold talks with the Together for Yugoslavia coalition. PB
 ROMANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY REPLACES LEADER...An extraordinary National Convention of the Democratic Party on 18 May replaced party leader Petre Roman with Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu. Basescu was backed by 653 convention delegates (62 percent), with 304 voting for Roman and 64 for the third candidate, deputy Simona Marinescu. After the vote Roman left the convention, saying the evolution of the Democratic Party "from now on depends on me only to little extent." Basescu said the party will preserve unity, even "if a few will now leave." He said he hopes Roman will compete for a seat in the Democrats' leadership team, but "he has to run for that [seat], as presents will [no longer] be given" in the Democratic Party, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
 ...WILL SEEK TO RESTORE SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC IDENTITYThe "Declaration of Bucharest" approved by the convention says, among other things, that the Democratic Party is backing "a market economy, but not a market society." Basescu said the Democrats must "regain" their Social Democratic identity and strive to obtain between 22 and 25 percent in the next parliamentary elections. He said the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) cannot represent genuine social democracy because it is still a party "with Marxist accents." PDSR General Secretary Cozmin Gusa congratulated Basescu and said his formation "continues to remain open to parleys with parties of social democratic persuasion." Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the extremist Greater Romania Party (PRM), said Basescu's election signifies "the suicide" of that party and that many of its members "want to join the PRM." MS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT HOSTS FORMER MONARCHIon Iliescu on 19 May received at the Cotroceni presidential palace in Bucharest former King Michael and his spouse, Anne of Bourbon-Parma. Also attending the occasion were Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and teams of presidential and royal counselors, as well as Princess Margareta and her spouse, Prince Radu von Hohenzollern-Veringen. The dinner offered by Iliescu in the former monarch's honor was a "private event" unattended by the media. Earlier on 19 May, the former monarch visited a school in Bucharest and called on pupils to "love their country and learn its history." On 20 May, King Michael said during a visit to a village in Arges County that he will "gradually" reestablish his residence in Romania. MS
 GREATER ROMANIA PARTY SENATOR DENIES HE LEFT THE PRM -- FOR NOWPRM Senator Vasile Duta said on 18 May that he "will resign from the party if PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor will not take into account my views," Mediafax reported. One day earlier media reports said Duta had resigned from the PRM, joining his other colleagues from the former Party of Democratic Forces. MS
 HUNGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTER EXPLAINS STATUS BILL IN ROMANIAHungarian Education Minister Zoltan Pokorni on 19 May said in Oradea that the "Status Bill" currently under debate in his country's parliament can be viewed as "a special form of help" extended by Budapest to neighboring countries for their integration in the EU. "We want to help Hungarians living in those countries preserve their specific culture, and what is good for Slovak or Romanian Magyars is also good for the countries they live in, " Pokorni said. He spoke at a ceremony marking the inauguration of dormitories of the private Hungarian-language Partium University. Hungarian Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth and Prime Minister Viktor Orban's wife also attended the ceremony, Mediafax reported. MS
 RUSSIAN DUMA COMMISSION 'WELCOMES' MOLDOVAN INTENTION TO JOIN UNIONGeorgii Tikhonov, chairman of the Russian Duma commission on the Transdniester settlement, on 18 May said the commission "welcomes the declarations by Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin and Transdniestrian leader Igor Smirnov that they will examine the possibility of joining the Russia-Belarus Union," Flux reported, citing the official separatist Olivia news agency. Tikhonov said that under its previous administration, "Moldova was looking to Romania and Europe, while Transdniester was looking to Russia. Now they both look East, to Russia and Belarus." He said the commission he heads will draft a resolution on consultations between Russian experts and experts from Chisinau and Tiraspol to speed up the process of "setting up a Russia-Belarus-Moldova Union." MS
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPOINTS NEW PROSECUTOR GENERAL...Communist Deputy Vasile Rusu was appointed on 18 May by the Moldovan parliament as the country's next prosecutor-general, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. He replaces Mircea Iuga, who has been elected as a judge on the Constitutional Court. Rusu's candidacy was supported by the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) and the Braghis Alliance and opposed by the Popular Party Christian Democratic, which protested against the "lack of transparency" in the appointment process. Parliamentary Speaker Evgenia Ostapciuc placed the appointment on the agenda without prior announcement and without circulating any documents attesting to Rusu's qualifications for the job. Rusu was born in 1952, is a native of northern Russia, and has a degree in law, Flux and Infotag reported. MS
 ...AMENDS AUDIO/VISUAL LAW...The parliament on 18 May amended the Audio/visual Law, introducing two new categories of license for broadcasts of foreign radio and television programs. The first category makes it possible for foreign radio and television stations to directly broadcast programs in Moldova, while the second category allows the relay of broadcasts via Moldovan stations. The sponsors of the amendment said the new licenses will bring considerable revenues to Moldova's depleted state budget. For example, a license for direct television broadcasts could bring up to $70 million per year, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Currently, Russian, Ukrainian, and Romanian state television, as well as a number of private radio and television stations, are broadcasting programs in Moldova. MS
 ...AND ADVERTISING LAWThe parliament also approved an amendment to the law regulating advertising, striking out the previous provision that made advertising in the Russian language possible only if it carried a translation into "Moldovan." The amendment allows advertising to be published in any language, without translation. Sixty-two PCM deputies voted in favor of the amendment, although the government said it opposes the move because it contradicts the current constitutional provision that stipulates that the country's official language is "Moldovan," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS
 HUNGARIAN PREMIER URGES BULGARIA TO REFORM INTELLIGENCE SERVICESVisiting Hungarian Prime Minister Orban on 18 May urged Bulgaria to reform its intelligence services, calling on the country's leadership to "sever ties" with spies who once supplied the Soviet Union with information, AP reported. Orban stressed that if Bulgaria wants to join NATO, it must undertake widespread changes of its intelligence services to ensure that intelligence information "will not leak out to foreign states on the basis of old contacts and through old channels." During the visit, Orban emphasized Hungary's support of Bulgaria's Euro-Atlantic integration efforts. MS
 BULGARIA ANNOUNCES ANTI-POLIO CAMPAIGNThe Bulgarian Health Ministry announced plans on 18 May for an immunization campaign, after the discovery of the country's third case of polio within a month, AP reported. But Angel Kunchev, an official of the ministry, said there are currently no anti-polio vaccines available for the immunization, and some 800,000 doses will be imported "within days" with the assistance of the UN Children's Fund. Mira Kozhuharova, a national epidemiology counselor, said some 5 percent of Bulgarian children have never been vaccinated against polio (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 May 2001).
[C] END NOTE
 HOW MACEDONIA'S KUMANOVO HAS AVOIDED INTERETHNIC CONFLICTBy Jolyon Naegele
Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski said on 17 May that the recent cease- fire is producing results by enabling hundreds of ethnic Albanians to leave villages in the conflict zone northwest of the town of Kumanovo. The indefinite extension of the cease-fire, which remains in effect despite occasional outbreaks of violence, will allow additional villagers in the area to seek refuge elsewhere, he said.
The establishment of a broad coalition government on May 13 and the subsequent cease-fire have eased fears that fighting in the villages of the neighboring Lipkovo district would finally engulf Kumanovo, a bustling, multiethnic market center near the border with Serbia.
In contrast to the Lipkovo district, which is 99.5 percent ethnic Albanian, the Kumanovo district is ethnically mixed. Macedonians make up nearly two- thirds of its population of 94,000. Ethnic Albanians make up at least one- fifth of Kumanovo's population, Serbs one-tenth.
The mayor of the Kumanovo district, Slobodan Kovacevski, is an ethnic Macedonian and a member of the Social Democratic Party. Some influential Albanian residents credit him with having done more than anyone else to prevent unrest in the district.
Mayor Kovacevski said that when the troubles started in mountain villages along the border with Kosova more than two months ago, he quickly met with mayors from neighboring districts as well as with representatives of all political parties in his district to condemn the fighting.
"We condemned the actions by armed groups and their incursions [from Kosova] on our territory, as well as their attacks on the lives of our soldiers and police," Kovacevski said. "We also urged the political parties to contact their rank and file, especially young people, so that there would be no incidents between young members of the Albanian and Macedonian population."
Kovacevski said he has also maintained contact with local nongovernmental organizations in an effort to get the word out to the local population to maintain peace and stability among the district's Macedonian, Albanian, and Serbian communities. In addition, he called into session the district assembly's interethnic commission, which warned against any attacks on property and urged Albanians and Macedonians to remain at peace with each other.
Still, after the fighting erupted in the Lipkovo district villages of Vakcince and Slupcane two weeks ago, Albanians in Kumanovo kept their children home from school and have yet to let them return. Similarly, Albanian teachers refused to go to work, on the grounds that schoolchildren were not safe as long Macedonian security forces were attacking Albanian villages just across the valley. Mayor Kovacevski said he has appealed to Albanian parents to end their boycott of district schools.
In addition to keeping the peace in his district, the mayor said he has urged the authorities in Skopje to allow humanitarian organizations to deliver food and medicine to the beleaguered Albanian villagers across the valley in the Lipkovo district. At the same time, he says there is no place in Macedonia for the ethnic Albanian fighters, whom he refers to as "terrorists."
One of Kovacevski's closest aides, present at many of these meetings, is Feriz Dervishi, an ethnic Albanian who chairs the district's interethnic commission. Dervishi also heads the Kumanovo chapter of the ethnic Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity, a former opposition group which joined the new national unity government. Dervishi says that he and Kovacevski persuaded the political parties in the district to refrain from holding gatherings or rallies and to maintain a calm and tolerant atmosphere. He says they also made contact with NGOs, sports associations, and school principals to persuade them to help maintain peace.
Dervishi describes the Albanian school boycott as an expression of baseless panic. Nevertheless, he says, the security situation in the schools should be improved.
Ridvan Jashari is a member of the Kumanovo district assembly and an activist in the Democratic Party of Albanians (PDSh) a member of both the old and new Macedonian coalitions. He said the situation only began to stabilize in Kumanovo after the formation of the national government and the cease-fire that followed. Jashari says Kumanovo residents are now breathing easier than they were one week earlier. But he adds that it is too early to say whether this stability will be long-lasting.
"I am not exactly an optimist. Only if this [new coalition] government seeks to satisfy the demands made by the political parties and the UCK (that is, the ethnic Albanian fighters' National Liberation Army), guaranteeing implementation of all the rights demanded by the Albanians' political parties and by the insurgents. Otherwise, there can be no improvement of the situation of the inhabitants," Jashari said.
On 15 May, the head of PDSh, Arben Xhaferi, for the first time publicly called for the UCK to be included in a dialogue with the ruling parties on resolving the plight of Macedonia's Albanians, Earlier, ethnic Macedonian politicians consistently rejected the idea of talking with the UCK.
But Jashari now thinks Macedonia can only be stabilized and function normally if the government talks with the UCK. He says that Kumanovo's Albanians deeply believe that the UCK fighters launched their uprising with a specific aim in mind. As he puts it, "something drove them to take up weapons."
Jashari describes interethnic relations in Kumanovo as "relatively peaceful," but he says they are not stable. The PDSh activist says that for decades the authorities have regarded the Albanians as "a destabilizing people," when in fact, he insists, the Albanians "are a peace-loving people."
Jashari himself served three years of an eight-year prison sentence for protesting in 1988 against the Yugoslav Macedonian government's attempt to abolish classes in Albanian in middle schools.
Jolyon Naegele is a senior RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty