|Saturday, 17 November 2018|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 115, 01-06-15
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 115, 15 June 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 INCUMBENT REJECTS PROPOSED CURBS ON ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S POWERS...Armenia cannot at present risk the transformation into a parliamentary republic because it needs a powerful head of state to successfully complete the transition to democracy and a market economy, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau quoted Robert Kocharian as telling journalists in Yerevan on 14 June. A presidential commission established in 1998 to draft proposals on constitutional reform, including reducing the powers of the presidency, submitted its conclusions to President Kocharian in March 2001. Those recommendations have not yet been made public. LF
 ...AS NEW OPPOSITION GROUP CALLS ON HIM TO RESIGNSpeaking at what Noyan Tapan described as a "poorly attended" meeting in Yerevan on 14 June, leaders of the opposition pro-Russian National Accord Front created earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 13, 30 March 2001) argued that Kocharian and the government bear responsibility for the "social, economic, moral, and psychological crisis" in Armenia's regions and should therefore step down. The meeting was the first in a series of rallies the organization intends to convene throughout Armenia this summer. LF
 GEORGIAN DEFENSE OFFICIALS DENY PLANS TO INVADE ABKHAZIAGeorgian Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze and one of his deputies, Gela Bezhuashvili, on 13 June both rejected as a fabrication the claim published in "Izvestiya" that the joint naval and land maneuvers with NATO that began on Georgia's Black Sea coast on 12 June constitute the preliminary to a military attack on Abkhazia, Georgian media reported. Also on 13 June, Abkhaz Premier Anri Djergenia met separately in Sukhum with the head of the UN Observer Force in Georgia and with the commander of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed along the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia and asked them both to monitor the ongoing maneuvers carefully. CIS peacekeeping forces commander Major General Nikolai Sidorovich said on 14 June that with 2,000 men, his force is strong enough to repulse any incursion by the combined NATO and Georgian forces into the Abkhaz conflict zone, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN BEGINS LEGALIZING SHADOW CAPITALThe law passed earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2001) permitting the repatriation with impunity of funds illegally transferred to foreign bank accounts went into effect on 14 June, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Over a period of 20 days, 16 banks will accept payment into accounts with them of unlimited sums that will not be subject to tax or penalties. Nor will the provenance of those funds be checked. Financial experts estimate that between $500 million and $3 billion may be repatriated. LF
 KAZAKH MOTHERS AGAIN DEMAND ALLOWANCESA group of 22 women from South Kazakhstan Oblast convened a press conference in Almaty on 14 June to report on their five-month campaign to compel the oblast leadership to pay them their overdue social allowances, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 April 2001 and "RFE/RL Kazakh Report," 20 April 2001). Some women have had their passports confiscated, while local officials have denied in conversation with others that they are entitled to any allowances. In Astana on 14 June, Labor and Social Protection Minister Alikhan Baimenov and South Kazakhstan Oblast Governor Berdibek Saparbaev incurred criticism from parliament deputies after delivering a report on the social situation in the oblast. LF
 KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT CLARIFIES POSITION ON CHINESE BORDER ACCORDSThe parliamentary press service issued a statement on 14 June denying that at the previous day's session of the Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of Kyrgyzstan's parliament) deputies appealed to President Askar Akaev to disavow the 1996 and 1999 border delimitation agreements with China, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001). Nor did the assembly formally request the Prosecutor General's Office to open legal proceedings against those government officials responsible for drafting those accords, the press service said. LF
 KYRGYZSTAN MOVES TO REDUCE BUREAUCRACYGovernment department head Azimbek Isabekov told a government meeting in Bishkek on 14 June that the process of slimming down the country's bureaucracy is underway, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. He said 1,200 jobs in the national government have already been abolished and a further 2, 000 posts will be cut soon. Local district administrations will be cut from 150 to 80 persons. According to the EBRD, Kyrgyzstan's civil service employs some 250,000 people, or one if four of all persons currently employed. LF
 TURKMEN PRESIDENT SACKS MILITARY OFFICIALSaparmurat Niyazov announced to a Security Council session on 14 June the dismissal of Colonel General Annamurad Soltanov, commander of the Balkan military district, for having sold armaments abroad in 1993-1994, ITAR-TASS reported. At that time Soltanov was deputy defense minister in charge of armaments. LF
 TURKMENISTAN TO TRADE GAS FOR ARMAMENTSSergei Chemezov, the first deputy general director of the state arms export monopoly Rosoboroneksport, told journalists in Ashgabat on 14 June that during talks with President Niyazov and other senior officials earlier that day agreement was reached on a five-year cooperation program, Interfax reported. Under that program, Turkmenistan will supply Russia with unspecified amounts of natural gas in exchange for upgrading its existing Soviet-era weaponry and for supplies of advanced military hardware including coastal patrol boots. LF
 UN ENVOY DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TURKMEN PRESIDENTUN envoy for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell told President Niyazov during talks in Ashgabat on 14 June that he anticipates protracted heavy fighting this summer between the warring factions in Afghanistan, ITAR-TASS reported. He said he does not believe a dialogue on ending the conflict is currently possible. Ashgabat earlier hosted unofficial talks between the two warring Afghan factions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 December 2000). LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN GUERRILLAS EXTEND CEASE-FIREThe fighters of the National Liberation Army (UCK) said in a statement signed by their leader, Ali Ahmeti, on 15 June that they are extending their cease-fire for an additional 12 days "in order to create conditions for dialogue," Reuters reported from Skopje. The UCK added that they are "following with particular interest all developments in the international front and those in Macedonia concerning the stopping of fighting." The previous day, President Boris Trajkovski began two days of talks with the leaders of parties represented in the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001). PM
 NATO OFFERS MORAL SUPPORT BUT NOT PEACEKEEPERS TO MACEDONIANATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Skopje on 14 June that the Atlantic alliance "warns the extremists [of the UCK] against any action they may contemplate over this weekend while the political dialogue is ongoing... We call on the armed extremists to withdraw from the occupied villages and to disarm and decommission their weapons," dpa reported. He rejected, however, a call by the UCK for peacekeepers to be deployed throughout Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001). He was noncommittal on Trajkovski's request for help in disarming the rebels. Robertson added: "Trajkovski's plan is the blueprint for the way ahead. We will provide all we can." Javier Solana, the EU's chief security official, stressed that "violence must not be allowed to disrupt the political process." He warned the UCK that "no political goals can be reached through violence." Solana also urged the Macedonian government to seek progress on a political settlement and to show military restraint. PM
 CIVILIANS FLEE MACEDONIAOfficials of the UNHCR said in Prishtina on 14 June that there are currently 42,600 refugees from Macedonia in Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The UNHCR said in Skopje that some 23,000 displaced persons from the areas where fighting is taking place have taken refuge in other parts of Macedonia. Unnamed Bulgarian officials said in Sofia that they are prepared to provide shelter for some 5,000 refugees. PM
 MACEDONIA TO BUY AIRCRAFT FROM UKRAINEThe government is going ahead with plans to buy four Sukhoi-25 jets and four additional MI-24 helicopters, dpa reported from Skopje on 15 June, citing "Dnevnik" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 8 June 2001). The daily added that pilots have already gone to Ukraine for training. PM
 UN POLICE MAKE BIG ARMS HAUL IN KOSOVAA UN spokesman said in Prishtina on 15 June that police confiscated 318 Kalashnikov rifles, 1,008 rocket-propelled grenades, 512 hand grenades, and an unspecified quantity of ammunition the previous day when they searched a parked truck filled with wood, Reuters reported. The spokesman added that the truck probably came from Bosnia via Montenegro. The driver left it near a customs checkpoint near Pec. The spokesman suggested that the driver "smelled something and ran away." PM
 SERB GETS 20 YEARS FOR WAR CRIMES IN KOSOVAAn international panel of judges sentenced Cedomir Jovanovic to 20 years in prison for his role in the death of 60 ethnic Albanians in three separate incidents on 25 March 1999, Reuters reported from Prishtina on 14 June. Jovanovic was a paramilitary who wore a police uniform. PM
 SERBIAN GENERAL DENIES COVER-UPGeneral Vladimir Lazarevic confirmed in Belgrade on 14 June that he signed an order during the Kosova conflict to "clean up" combat areas but denied that he was involved in mass killings or attempts to cover them up, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 June 2001). PM
 SERBIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER SLAMS ARMY CHIEFNebojsa Covic said in Belgrade on 14 June that he is "full of bitterness" over a move by General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who heads the General Staff, to replace General Ninoslav Krstic as commander of the joint army and police forces in southern Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 2001). "It was a perfidious move. I have no problem with the army but I do have a problem with Pavkovic," Reuters reported Covic as saying. Pavkovic's order was countersigned by President Vojislav Kostunica, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Covic, who has special responsibility for southern Serbia, has previously exchanged barbs with Pavkovic, an appointee of former President Slobodan Milosevic who commanded the army in Kosova during the 1999 conflict. PM
 YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT BLASTS WESTERN 'OBSESSIVENESS' ON MILOSEVIC...The Yugoslav government on 14 June approved legislation described as facilitating cooperation with the international war crimes tribunal based in The Hague (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 15 May 2001). Kostunica blamed Western demands for serious cooperation with The Hague for the delay: "Things would develop much faster here if it were not for all the conditions and pressures from the outside," AP reported. He slammed the international community's "irrational expectations and obsessiveness" about Milosevic. Kostunica's coalition partner, the formerly pro-Milosevic Socialist People's Party (SNP), still refuses to endorse legislation that could lead to Milosevic or other indicted war criminals being sent to the Netherlands. The SNP and Milosevic's legislators can still obstruct passage of the law in parliament, which is necessary before it can take effect. Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said that the country faces "ruin" unless it agrees to cooperate with The Hague, "Vesti" reported. Kostunica regards the tribunal as an anti-Serbian instrument of U.S. foreign policy and gives only grudging support to legislation on cooperation. PM
 ...PREPARES TO WELCOME PUTINA spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin told ITAR-TASS in Moscow on 15 June that the Russian leader "will pay a short working visit to Yugoslavia on June 16-17 at the invitation of Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica." The news agency added that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will accompany Putin (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 March 2001) PM
 CROAT TAKES UP BOSNIAN ROTATING PRESIDENCYModerate Croat Jozo Krizanovic assumed the chair of the joint presidency in Sarajevo on 14 June, Reuters reported. He told an assembly of diplomats and journalists: "Building Bosnia as a country uniting all its constituent peoples and citizens is a test of our maturity and responsibility. We should never forget that Bosnia is a complex state, just as we should not let anybody use its rich ethnic and religious diversity as a shield for autocracy, crime, corruption, and the violation of the rights of others." He added that "the creation of our state is a difficult task and our joint responsibility... Whenever we face some complex dilemma, we should ask ourselves what is the best for Bosnia and we will not make a mistake." PM
 SLOVENIAN STUDENTS DEMONSTRATEAs the government's plans move along to host the U.S.-Russian summit on 16 June, several thousand students demonstrated in Ljubljana and Maribor on 14 June to protest reports that the government plans to end free education for college and university students, "Delo" reported. The government named Labor Minister Vlado Dimovski to head a committee of government officials and student leaders to discuss the matter. At their protests, members of the student movement Dovolj (Enough) set up a collection box to collect money for the government to help fund students. PM
 ROMANIA WANTS TO 'CATCH UP WITH NATO'The Romanian government on 14 June adopted a strategy aimed at boosting the country's NATO accession bid, Romanian media reported. Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said the strategy, called "Romania catches up with NATO," is based on the Romanian plan for NATO accession and on his country's obligations for joining the alliance. Besides fulfilling admission criteria, the strategy also provides for promotion activities in several NATO member countries and the presentation of a list of projects and initiatives in support of the country's NATO membership. Geoana said the campaign will not be "loud or hysterical," but "robust and firm" and is based on the fact that Romania is the largest candidate country. ZsM
 CHIRAC IS OPTIMISTIC REGARDING ROMANIA'S NATO ACCESSION CHANCESInterviewed by Bucharest-based "Adevarul," French President Jacques Chirac on 14 June in Brussels said Romania has the "right" to join NATO at the alliance's Prague 2002 summit. He added that Romania is "naturally" among the first countries that should join NATO. He also said the U.S. administration and President George W. Bush are "more open" to this new wave of enlargement. In spite of France's support, Romania was not admitted to NATO at its 1997 summit. In related news, Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 14 June said that if Romania is not accepted by NATO it "will not make the world disappear." He added that Romania's rejection should not be a reason for "exasperation and despair." Iliescu was responding to Czech President Vaclav Havel's recent declaration that Romania and Bulgaria are last on the list of NATO candidate countries. ZsM
 SMIRNOV ACCUSES MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT OF DEMAGOGYIn response to Vladimir Voronin's 12 June comments accusing him of "incorrect behavior" (see "RFE/RL's Newsline," 13 June 2001), Transdniester breakaway region leader Igor Smirnov the next day replied that Voronin's declarations were "demagogical," Flux reported. Voronin was angered by Tiraspol's decision to issue separate passports. Smirnov presented the 16 May agreement signed by the two leaders on mutually recognizing documents issued by the other side. He argued that the agreement also includes the recognition of passports. Voronin earlier said that at their 20 June meeting he intends to annul the agreement. In other news, Smirnov on 13 June said he intends to run for the post of "President of the Moldovan Dniester Republic," Flux reported on 14 June. He added that he wants to keep that position until "the republic is recognized." ZsM
 FORMER KING'S PARTY HOLDS LEAD ON EVE OF BULGARIAN ELECTIONSFinal opinion polls ahead of the 17 June parliamentary elections in Bulgaria give the National Movement Simeon II (SNM) between 38 and 42 percent support, Reuters reported on 14 June. The polls give the ruling Union of Democratic Forces (SDS) between 17 and 21 percent, and about 16 percent for the Socialists. Premier Ivan Kostov was upbeat on 15 June, saying that "all rational arguments" are in the SDS's favor. Finance Minister Mouravei Radev continued SDS's verbal attacks on the SNM by claiming that the SDS's platform is "free of populism and offers only projects with secure financing," alluding to economic promises by Simeon that some view as unrealistic. Simeon has spoken of a possible coalition with the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) as well as the SDS, but cautioned that such an agreement with the SDS will be more difficult to attain after the attacks on his party and him personally over the past few days. It is also not clear if the MRF will reach the 4 percent threshold needed to enter parliament. The daily "Sega" reported that despite the impending electoral loss, both Kostov and Georgi Purvanov, the leaders of the SDS and the Socialists, respectively, will retain their posts. PB
 BULGARIA PREPARED FOR REFUGEES FROM MACEDONIAMinister without portfolio Aleksandar Pramatarski said on 14 June that Bulgaria is planning for the possibility of an influx of Macedonians seeking refuge in the country, "Novinar" reported. In an article titled "Refugee Camps Along the Border With Macedonia," Pramatarski said Bulgaria would be able to accommodate up to 5,000 refugees. He said the costs of taking care of so many people would be 1 million leva (about $440,000) a month and that Bulgaria would ask international humanitarian organizations for help in such a situation. Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov said earlier this week that he does not expect a wave of refugees from Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 June 2001). PB
[C] END NOTE
 PEACE AND SECURITY FOR THE BALKANSBy Patrick Moore
The Atlantic alliance has played a key role in establishing and maintaining peace in the former Yugoslavia. The continued cohesion of the alliance is essential for the tranquility and progress of the still- troubled region.
The NATO Brussels summit ended on 13 June with a decision to shelve any plans for intervention in Macedonia. But some French, British, and Greek leaders have made it clear that they feel that NATO will have to become involved in that troubled republic sooner rather than later. NATO advance teams are reportedly already in the area, and Britain has said it will "look favorably" on a request by Skopje for help in setting up a counterinsurgency unit.
The calls for NATO involvement reflect the hard-earned knowledge that the international community is effective in bringing an end to Balkan troubles only when the EU and U.S. speak with one voice and act with determination and credibility through NATO. That alliance has, moreover, proven itself for over half a century as what one top Reagan administration official once called "the greatest peace movement of all time."
But much of the political commentary on the eve of President George W. Bush's visit to Europe makes it clear that not all is well in the alliance, which, in turn, has presumably been noticed by those wishing to make trouble in the Balkans. Several observers writing in a wide array of publications on both sides of the Atlantic have nonetheless offered suggestions as to how NATO can put itself on a better footing and hence remain a factor for peace and security in the Balkans and elsewhere.
The first point, these observers note, is that serious issues deserve serious treatment. Emotions should be kept out of the discussions, as should the use of negative national stereotypes best left for the barroom or what the Germans call the Stammtisch. These serve no constructive purpose and only poison the atmosphere.
Similarly, it is perhaps less than wise to treat the various alliance partners in discussions as mutually alien monoliths. One is dealing with complex societies in which governments and laws have been determined through a democratic process. There are shared values of free speech, a free press, a democratic electoral system, and a market economy. Terms such as "the Europeans" or "the French" or "the Americans" tell us little of use. Is one referring to the government of Sweden or the government of Italy? Does one mean the president of France or the prime minister of France? Which society and political culture are at issue: those of California, Mississippi, or Vermont?
The second point, as many observers have pointed out, is that a bit of goodwill and mutual trust are in order within an alliance that has preserved the peace for over 50 years. It seems odd that some voices on both sides of the Atlantic grumble or scream that the partner of yesterday could become the devil of tomorrow. This is particularly so in an increasingly globalized world in which traditional concepts of nation- states, national frontiers, and national or regional interests could become increasingly irrelevant.
Several commentators have pointed out in recent days that a strong and enlarged NATO, together with a strong and enlarged EU, offer the best hope for peace and prosperity. The commentators added that these goals can be achieved only when the partners on both sides of the Atlantic work together. Zbigniew Brzezinski made this clear in "The Wall Street Journal Europe" on 12 June. Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger also pointed out in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" the next day that vital interests require that the two remain "partners, not rivals."
One might do well to recall a bit of history in this regard, namely George F. Kennan's 1979 book "The Decline of Bismarck's European Order." In it he described how irresponsible politicians and demagogic publicists in Germany and Russia contributed to destroying the alliance between the two empires in the late 19th century. The alliance had been crafted years before by cool-headed statesmen in order to preserve peace and stability as well as to defend the vital interests of Berlin and St. Petersburg alike.
In the end, once the politicians and publicists had done their work, the two empires found themselves in rival alliance systems. When a young man -- who was a patriot to some but a terrorist and separatist to others -- shot an archduke in Sarajevo, the former partners went to war against each other. When it was over, both had been destroyed.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty