|Wednesday, 20 February 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 108, 01-06-07
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 108, 7 June 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL...On the second day of an official visit to Belgium, Robert Kocharian met on 6 June with NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson to discuss the Karabakh peace process and recent CIS security initiatives, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Belgian capital reported. Robertson said that NATO is keenly interested in stability in the South Caucasus even though it does not play a "lead role" in the search for a solution to the Karabakh conflict. He expressed the hope that Kocharian and Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev will succeed in finding a solution to the conflict that is acceptable both to their respective populations and to the international community. Robertson also said that at present NATO is not considering opening information centers in the South Caucasus states, according to Snark, as cited by Groong. LF
 ...AND WITH EC PRESIDENTEuropean Commission President Romano Prodi told reporters in Brussels on 6 June after meeting with Kocharian that he thinks the process of normalizing relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan should begin with economic cooperation, RFE/RL's Brussels correspondent reported. "It was always a European-style habit to use economic cooperation as the first stage of more intensive political cooperation," Prodi said. Azerbaijan's President Aliev has repeatedly said that economic ties between Armenia and Azerbaijan are contingent on a political settlement of the Karabakh conflict. LF
 ARMENIAN PRIVATIZATION MINISTER BARRED FROM INSPECTING PLANTAngry employees of the Ararat cement factory, whose general director is former Prime Minister Aram Sargsian, forcibly prevented Privatization Minister Davit Vartanian and representatives of a Swiss company interested in buying the plant from entering the premises on 5 June, government officials told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau the following day. The plant is one of 14 large state-owned enterprises due to be privatized this year. Sargsian, who is not currently in Armenia, opposes the planned sell-off. No one was injured in the standoff, and Vartanian succeeded in inspecting the plant the following day. LF
 ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CALLS FOR PARTLY PLANNED ECONOMYArshak Sadoyan, who last month formally quit the opposition National Democratic Union to found his own National Democratic Bloc (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 April 2001), told journalists in Yerevan on 6 June that the state should play a more prominent role in controlling economic development because the economic programs implemented to date are unable to extricate the country from its protracted economic crisis, according to Snark, as cited by Groong. He said economic experts from his party are drafting a program that provides for the continued existence of a market economy, but provides for the state to retain a 51 percent stake in strategic facilities including the energy system. Sadoyan also criticized the refusal by the pro- government newspaper "Hayaastani Hanrapetutiun" to publish the main points of his party's economic program. LF
 AZERBAIJANI AUTHORITIES CLOSE TWO INDEPENDENT TV STATIONSPolice and Communications Ministry officials on 6 June formally ordered the closure of the Gutb and Hayal TV companies, both based in the town of Guba north of Baku, Turan reported. The reason cited for the order was that neither company has official permission to broadcast, although both are formally registered with the Justice Ministry and have applied to the State Committee for TV and Radio to be allotted a frequency. LF
 SOUTH OSSETIAN PREMIER RESIGNSMerab Chigoev, prime minister of Georgia's breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, has submitted his resignation which President Lyudvig Chibirov has accepted, Caucasus Press reported on 6 June, quoting the Tbilisi-based daily "Rezonansi." Commentators in Tbilisi attribute the timing of that move, which came shortly after the resignation of the government of Georgia's unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2001), to Russian pressure on the leaders of both unrecognized territories. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT CRITICIZES REFORM OF LEGAL SYSTEM...Addressing the third national congress of judges in Astana on 6 June, President Nursultan Nazarbaev complained that the reform of the country's legal system has failed to meet its primary objective of convincing the population of the impartiality of justice, Interfax reported. Nazarbaev said the number of unfair verdicts handed down is too high and is increasing, that prominent criminals are enabled to avoid sentence, that court proceedings drag on far longer than necessary, and that such malpractice and red tape deter foreign investment in the country's economy. He hinted that the recently introduced practice of appointing judges for life may be revoked. LF
 ...CALLS FOR TOUGHER SENTENCES FOR DRUG-RELATED CRIMESDescribing the spread of drug addiction in Kazakhstan as "a disaster," Nazarbaev also criticized what he termed unduly lenient sentences handed down to persons found guilty of drug-related offenses, saying that they should be punished with "maximum severity," Interfax reported. He charged that in some cases the country's law-enforcement agencies are hindering the fight against drug-trafficking and abuse. LF
 SLAVS IN NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN COMPLAIN OF OFFICIAL REPRESSIONRepresentatives in Kazakhstan's northeastern Ust-Kamenogorsk Oblast of "Lad, " the organization that aims to protect the interests of Kazakhstan's sizeable Slav minority, are being subjected to repeated official harassment and reprisals, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 6 June. LF
 OSCE CHAIRMAN VISITS KAZAKHSTAN...Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana, the current OSCE chairman, met in Astana on 5 June with President Nazarbaev and other senior officials, and later that day in Almaty with representatives of both pro-government and opposition parties, Interfax and RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. In Almaty, Geoana announced, and expressed his approval of, the Kazakh government's decision to abolish as of 1 July the exit visa requirement for citizens of Kazakhstan wishing to travel to foreign states outside the CIS. Geoana expressed the hope that democratic and economic reforms in Kazakhstan and other Central Asian states will continue, and said the OSCE is particularly concerned lest the security situation in the region deteriorate. "We must do all we can to prevent Central Asia turning into a second Balkans" he said. LF
 ...AND KYRGYZSTANGeoana traveled from Almaty to Bishkek where he held closed-door talks on 6 June with President Askar Akaev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. He also met with Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev and the speakers of both parliament chambers, telling the latter that there can be no true democracy in Kyrgyzstan without a strong opposition and an independent judiciary. Geoana also met with representatives of political parties and NGOs. He told journalists after those meetings that he advised the Kyrgyz leadership that in order to improve the country's tarnished democratic image, the legislature should adopt new laws on the ombudsman, the media, religious freedom, and the status of refugees. LF
 BOTH KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT CHAMBERS REJECT DRAFT LAW ON ENERGY PRIVATIZATIONThe People's Assembly (the upper chamber of parliament) on 6 June ruled against the planned privatization of hydroelectric power stations and power lines, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. They argued that privatization would lead to a huge increase in electricity prices. Prime Minister Kurmanbek Bakiev signed a decree last week on the sale of 6.28 percent of the shares in the energy giant Kyrgyzenergo; the state is to retain the remaining 93.72 percent stake. On 1 June, the Legislative Assembly (the lower parliament chamber) rejected the draft law on privatization of the energy sector, and on 4 June, government representatives walked out of a meeting of the joint parliament-government commission established by President Akaev in 1999 to plan and implement the privatization of Kyrgyzenergo. LF
 TAJIK RAILWAY OFFICIALS SEEK TO RESOLVE DISPUTE WITH KAZAKHSTANSenior Tajik railway officials traveled to Astana on 6 June in an attempt to clarify the reasons for the Kazakh government's decision to suspend rail transit from Tajikistan via Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation as of 10 June, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. The Russian Communications Ministry has expressed concern at the imminent disruption of that service, which Astana says is due to Tajikistan's unpaid debts. Kazakhstan suspended rail transit from Tajikistan last year because of unpaid debts, unsanitary conditions on Tajik trains, and the number of passengers traveling without valid tickets (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 October and 16 November 2000). LF
 UZBEK ISLAMIST DENIES PLANS FOR REGIONAL HEGEMONYIn an interview with RFE/RL's Uzbek Service on 2 June, Zubair ibn Abdulrahim, a leading member of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), denied recent reports in the Russian, Kazakh, and Pakistani media that the organizations has changed its name to the Islamic Movement of Turkestan. Nor, he said, does the IMU aim to establish an Islamic state extending from western China to the Caspian Sea as those media reports claimed. He said that as before, the IMU's main adversary is the Uzbek regime of President Islam Karimov, and that the movement "has no problems" with neighboring countries. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT PLEDGES 'STATE OF WAR' IN RESPONSE TO UCKA Macedonian government spokesman told a news conference in Skopje on 6 June that the government will not tolerate continued attacks by the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK) against its soldiers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2001, and "End Note," below). He said: "It's clear that the attacks by Albanian terrorists constitute aggression against the Republic of Macedonia. It is clear that the fighting is continuing. But the question is whether the Republic of Macedonia expects to defend itself from these attacks which threaten the lives of our soldiers," RFE/RL reported. He argued that "the terrorists are still coming from Kosovo and are regrouping." The spokesman added that Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski will soon "officially introduce a state of war and mobilization...because it is not possible to respond otherwise to the threats against Macedonia's security and sovereignty," AP reported. "The Independent" wrote, however, that it is not clear whether Georgievski can muster the two-thirds vote in the parliament necessary to pass the measure. PM
 U.S., EU CRITICIZE MACEDONIAN 'WAR' PROPOSALU.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said in Washington on 6 June that the Bush administration does not see how introducing a state of war -- which would allow the government to call up young men across the country -- would facilitate achieving a political solution to the crisis. "We reiterate the importance of the measured response that the government has taken, showing maximum concern for the safety of civilians and pressing forth with this dialogue," Reuters reported. EU security chief Javier Solana said in Brussels that a declaration of war "would be playing into the hands of extremists," AP reported. In Berlin the next day, Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said that "an escalation of violence and the deepening of mistrust between the groups must be absolutely avoided." PM
 MACEDONIAN REBELS SEE NO CHANGEUCK spokesman Musa Xhaferri said in Brussels on 7 June that "de facto we have a state of war already," AP reported. He added that "we have the right to defend ourselves against such actions." He noted, however, that he doubts that Georgievski's proposal will pass parliament once the international community makes its objections known. Xhaferri called for internationally mediated, "meaningful talks [aimed at reaching] a peaceful solution," including constitutional changes. He stressed that the UCK does not want to declare independence or change borders. PM
 ATTACK ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENTUnidentified gunmen fired two shots at President Boris Trajkovski's office in Skopje in the evening of 6 June, AP reported. They hit but did not penetrate the bulletproof windows. No one was injured. PM
 ALBANIAN-OWNED SHOPS IN MACEDONIAN TOWN ATTACKEDIn the early evening hours of 6 June, a group of ethnic Macedonian rioters defied a curfew and set over 50 Albanian-owned shops alight in the southern Macedonian city of Bitola, MIA and dpa reported. It was the second such incident in recent weeks (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 5 June 2001). The rioters also torched the house of Macedonian Deputy Health Minister Muharem Nexhipi, which they had spared in the previous rampage. Police said about 100 houses were damaged and a mosque was set on fire in violence that went on into the morning of the next day, AP reported. Reuters quoted one young ethnic Albanian as saying that "the police were in the street, but they did nothing." A local policeman told the news agency that there were too many attackers for them to respond. UB/PM
 SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER SAYS MILOSEVIC WILL GO TO HAGUE WITH OR WITHOUT NEW LAWZoran Djindjic said in Belgrade on 6 June that attempts by sympathizers of former President Slobodan Milosevic in the Socialist People's Party (SNP) to hold up legislation providing for extraditing Yugoslav citizens are simply hastening the date that he will be sent to The Hague, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 6 June 2001). Djindjic argued that "if there is no law, it is highly likely that Milosevic will be extradited. I do not know under what circumstances this could happen, I do not know how, [but it's either that] or we face total isolation." Djindjic added that "SNP policy will lead us to a point when the rest of the world will say either you give us Milosevic right away or we cut all relations right away. In 10 to 15 days this might happen... Without this law all the countries are losing patience and saying, 'You're not serious. Give us proof of your seriousness.'" The SNP is seeking talks with Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica aimed at reaching "a joint solution" to end the impasse. PM
 PETRITSCH REAFFIRMS REPUBLIKA SRPSKA'S RIGHT TO TIES TO BELGRADEHigh Representative Wolfgang Petritsch said in a statement in Sarajevo on 6 June that that the March agreement he helped negotiate between Banja Luka and Belgrade "does not constitute a threat to the vital interests of any of the constituent peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina." Some Muslim and Croat leaders had complained about the pact. The Dayton agreement provides for special links between the Republika Srpska and Yugoslavia on the one hand and between the federation and Croatia on the other. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan recently said that time has come to end such provisions, which only serve to underscore the divisions within Bosnia. PM
 CROATIAN AUTHORITIES INDICT BOSNIAN KINGPINThe authorities in Rijeka have issued a indictment for war crimes against Fikret Abdic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 6 June. He is charged with atrocities against civilians and prisoners of war. The indictment was issued on the legal basis of an agreement between Zagreb and Sarajevo, which has withdrawn its earlier request for his indictment (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 2001). PM
 EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY CHAIRMAN IN BUCHARESTEuropean Parliament Deputy Chairman Guido Podesta told journalists on 6 June after meetings with Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase and President Ion Iliescu that the draft report on Romania proposed by the parliament's rapporteur, Baroness Emma Nicholson, "may undergo some modifications" before it is submitted to the parliament's plenum. Podesta said the plenum will debate the report in September, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2001). Podesta said that aside from the problem of abandoned children, Romania faces "other complex problems" that must also be reflected in the report. MS
 FORMER ROMANIAN STATE PROPERTY FUND CHIEF UNDER INVESTIGATIONPolice opened an investigation on 6 June into alleged frauds committed by former State Privatization Fund Chairman Radu Sarbu and summoned him for hearings, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. No decision has yet been made on whether to launch criminal procedures against Sarbu. MS
 ROMANIAN SHIPYARD MANAGERIAL STAFF UNDER 'PREVENTIVE DETENTION'Three managerial staff members at the Constanta shipyards were placed under "preventive detention" on 7 June under suspicion that they ordered subordinates to weld the hull of the Maltese tanker "Adrianopolis" even though they were aware that routine safety measures were not being respected, Mediafax reported. More detentions are not being ruled out. A 5 June explosion on board the tanker left 10 people dead (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2001). Some 500 angry workers protested on 6 June against the shipyard's management, blaming it for the deaths. MS
 ULTRANATIONALIST CLUJ MAYOR DEMANDS DISMISSAL OF PREFECTIn an open letter to Premier Nastase, Cluj extreme nationalist Mayor Gheorghe Funar on 6 June demanded that Nastase fire Cluj County Prefect Vasile Soporan for the alleged infringement of the recent Local Public Administration Law, Romanian media reported. Funar also announced he has launched criminal procedures against Soporan, who refuses to abide by the mayor's demand to disband the local council and hold new elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2001). MS
 STRASBOURG COURT HOLDS PRELIMINARY HEARING ON 'ILASCU GROUP' COMPLAINT...The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 6 June held a preliminary hearing on the complaint against Moldova and the Russian Federation launched by the families of Ilie Ilascu and the three members of his group still detained in Tiraspol, Moldovan and international media reported. Ilascu, who was liberated in early May, attended the hearing and addressed the court. The plaintiffs said their human rights were violated in being convicted by a court that had no jurisdiction and in "unfair proceedings." They also say their detention breached their rights to liberty and personal security, that Ilascu's death sentence violated the right to life, and that the prison conditions violated the prohibition on inhuman or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life. MS
 ...AS MOLDOVA, RUSSIA DENY RESPONSIBILITY FOR GROUP'S DETENTIONThe plaintiffs said the Moldovan authorities are responsible for any violations because they did nothing to prevent their continuation and that Russia also shares responsibility, as it is the power that de facto controls the Transdniester territory, Moldovan and international media reported. The lawyer representing Chisinau told the judges that Moldova cannot be held responsible because it does not control the territory under the separatists' control. Layers representing the Russian Federation dismissed as "lies" the plaintiff's claim that Russian forces control the Transdniester or that they participated in the conflict at its outbreak. Ilascu and lawyers representing those still detained described in detail their treatment in prison, The court is now to deliberate and rule whether the case is admissible. MS
 MYSTERIOUS WEAPONS-LOADED PLANE ALLOWED TO LEAVE BULGARIAThe Ukrainian plane detained since April at Burgas airport in Bulgaria (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 2001) was allowed to take off on 6 June, after a Bulgarian prosecutor ruled that "no evidence of crime has been established, " CTK and AP reported. The plane, which was carrying Czech-made weapons, was detained under suspicion that its destination was Eritrea rather than Georgia as the cargo papers indicated. Eritrea had been under a UN arms embargo, which was lifted on 15 May. The plane landed in western Georgia the same day with a consignment of six howitzers and spare parts, Caucasus Press reported. MS
[C] END NOTE
 RENEWED MACEDONIA VIOLENCE PROVOKES CALL FOR STATE OF WARBy Jolyon Naegele
For the second time in a month, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski is calling for a state of war, this time in response to the killings of five Macedonian servicemen in a firefight during the night of 5- 6 June with the ethnic Albanian guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (UCK). Seven servicemen were also injured in the battle, which took place in the Sar Planina region above Tetovo.
Georgievski's spokesman, Antonio Milososki, told reporters in Skopje on 6 June that a strong military response is the only way to achieve peace.
"It's clear that the attacks by Albanian terrorists constitute aggression against the Republic of Macedonia. It is clear that the fighting is continuing. But the question is whether the Republic of Macedonia expects to defend itself from these attacks, which threaten the lives of our soldiers," Milososki said.
He added that if parliament were to muster the minimum two-thirds majority vote required and declare a state of war, the military could call up all able-bodied men to fight. He called on both Albanian parties in the government to state which side they are on.
Macedonian politicians called for a state of war in early May after a rebel attack killed eight members of the security forces on April 28. However, EU and NATO leaders persuaded Macedonian leaders to drop the idea on the grounds that it would only escalate the conflict and further alienate the Albanian community living in Macedonia.
The violence on the night of 5-6 June in the Sar Planina region between the villages of Gajre and Sipkovica resulted in five deaths and seven injuries. It was the heaviest casualty toll suffered by the security forces since the April 28 attack.
Milososki said this week's killings began with a UCK attack between Gajre and Sipkovica on a vehicle bringing food to security forces. One Macedonian soldier was killed and three injured in that incident. The insurgents then attacked an ambulance under military escort that was on its way to rescue those injured in the first attack, and killed four more soldiers.
One of the dead soldiers was an ethnic Albanian army sergeant and another was a Macedonian from the southeastern town of Strumica. But the other three dead are reported to have been ethnic Macedonian reservists from the city of Bitola, the hometown of four policemen who were killed in late April. The funerals of those policemen unleashed two waves of anti-Albanian violence on 1 May in which gangs of Macedonians torched over 50 Albanian- owned shops, cafes, and kiosks.
Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski on 5 June called for speedy action to end the insurgency. In his words, "we must act to find a solution because they (the rebels) don't understand the language of dialogue."
And in an interview with RFE/RL, Defense Ministry spokesman Gjeorgji Trendafilov said Macedonia has no choice but to arm itself as fast as possible.
"We are confronted with attempted aggression, attempted occupation of a part of Macedonia's territory. We have to defend our country and ourselves, " Trendafilov said. "We have an alien military force on our territory that has to be destroyed efficiently in any way."
Asked to comment on news reports that Macedonia is purchasing 12 Russian and U.S. combat helicopters and four Su-25 fighter jets, Trendafilov said he would only announce details once the aircraft are delivered to Macedonia.
Macedonian forces, after two weeks of fighting in late March, retook Gajre, Sipkovica, and some eight other villages and hamlets west and north of Tetovo. But rather than establishing itself in each of the communities, all of which are ethnically Albanian and most of which have been heavily depopulated since the fighting, the army based itself at a ski resort on Mount Popova Sapka and sent patrols into the areas.
Most UCK fighters are believed to have left the Sar Planina region by late March and moved east to the (Skopska Crna Gora/Karadak) hills west of Kumanovo, where fighting erupted in early May. Nevertheless, a few UCK guerillas have remained in the Sar Planina region and the mayor of Sipkovica recently told RFE/RL that hardly a day has gone by without the sound of gunfire or mortar shells.
Virtually all the residents of several of the most remote mountain villages, such as Vejce and Brodec, fled to Kosova in March. Residents of larger villages closer to Tetovo have been blocked by security forces for more than a month from traveling to schools, jobs, and shops in Tetovo.
There was also heavy fighting in the night of 5-6 June northeast of Skopje in Lipkovo district near Kumanovo, mainly around the villages of Matejce, Otja, Slupcane, and Orizare, where clashes erupted on 3 May and have continued almost daily ever since.
Macedonian news media said on 6 June that the city of Kumanovo has run out of drinking water because the rebels have allegedly damaged the supply lines from the hills to the west.
Jolyon Naegele is a senior RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty