|Friday, 15 December 2017|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 193, 01-10-11
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 193, 11 October 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PRESIDENT APPEALS TO U.S. COUNTERPARTPresident Robert Kocharian has written to U.S. President George W. Bush expressing "deep concern" at efforts by some U.S. congressmen to secure the repeal of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act, which bans U.S. government assistance to Azerbaijan as long as that country continues to blockade Armenia and the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Noyan Tapan and Interfax reported. Kocharian argued that repeal of Section 907 would be perceived as "rewarding" Azerbaijan and as an acknowledgement that Azerbaijan has made a greater contribution than has Armenia to the international antiterrorism campaign. Referring to media reports linking Azerbaijan with Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden, Kocharian said that the repeal of Section 907 would also be interpreted as rewarding "a country which in fact harbors terrorists." It would also, Kocharian added, negatively impact ongoing efforts by the OSCE Minsk Group to mediate a settlement of the Karabakh conflict. LF
 NATIONWIDE CENSUS BEGINS IN ARMENIAThe first nationwide census to be conducted in Armenia since the last Soviet census in January 1989 began on 10 October and will last for 10 days, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and AP reported. Western donors agreed earlier this year to provide the lion's share of the 1.7 billion drams ($3 million) the undertaking will cost after it appeared the census would be postponed for lack of resources (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January and 13 February 2001). In 1989, Armenia's population was 3.8 million, and in January 1999, despite the emigration of at least 600,000 people since 1992, it was 3.79 million. LF
 OSCE OFFICIAL, U.S. DIPLOMAT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER HARASSMENT OF JOURNALISTS IN AZERBAIJAN...Speaking at a session of the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna on 4 October, OSCE representative for media freedom Freimut Duve calculated that "it appears more journalists are in prison" now in Azerbaijan than at any time since that country declared its independence 10 years ago, Turan reported on 10 October. Duve said the situation has deteriorated "dramatically" since mid-September and that "we have seen an unprecedented rise in the number of journalists who have been targets of the government's most recent crackdown." At the same session, the U.S. ambassador to the OSCE, David T. Johnson, endorsed Duve's assessment of the situation and said the U.S. "will continue to stress to the government of Azerbaijan... the vital importance of respecting the freedom and independence of nongovernmental print and electronic media." LF
 ... WHILE POLICE IN BAKU DISPERSE JOURNALISTS' PROTESTOn 10 October, police in Baku used force to disperse an unsanctioned demonstration by some 40 journalists against government pressure on the media, Turan reported. The same day, the Azerbaijani Council of Editors, which is made up of the heads of leading media outlets, addressed an appeal to Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev to release imprisoned journalists on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan's independence. Meanwhile, the independent newspaper "Azadlyg" on 10 October quoted Eldar Ibragimov, a parliament deputy representing the ruling Yeni Azerbaycan party, as saying that both "Azadlyg" and the opposition newspaper "Yeni Musavat" should be closed down. LF
 OFFICIAL SAYS STRIKES AGAINST AFGHANISTAN HAVE NO IMPACT ON RELIGIOUS SITUATION IN AZERBAIJANRafik Aliev, who was named in June to head Azerbaijan's new State Council for Relations with Religious Organizations (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report,"
Vol. 4, No. 30, 17 August 2001), said in Baku on 10 October that theantiterrorism operation in Afghanistan has not affected the stability of the religious situation in Azerbaijan, Turan reported. Two days earlier, the Baku-based Religious Board of Muslims of the Caucasus issued a statement saying Azerbaijan's Muslims are praying for a swift end to the military operation against Afghanistan and for international terrorists to be handed over to an international court to preclude further innocent victims, Russian agencies reported. LF
 ACTIVISTS DETAINED DURING NAKHICHEVAN DEMONSTRATION RELEASEDNineteen people detained by police in the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhichevan during a demonstration on 29 September were released on 10 October, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 October 2001). LF
 GEORGIA SENDS TROOPS TO KODORIGeorgian Defense Minister David Tevzadze announced on 11 October that an unspecified number of government troops are being sent to the Kodori gorge, the scene of ongoing clashes between Abkhaz troops and a band said to be composed primarily of Chechen fighters and Georgian guerrillas, "in order to protect the local [Georgian] population," dpa reported. On 10 October, Georgian Intelligence Service head Avtandil Ioseliani said Tbilisi will not use force in Abkhazia unless a threat arises to the Georgian population of the Kodori gorge, according to Interfax. Also on 10 October, an Abkhaz Defense Ministry spokesman said a second group of between 500-700 fighters, believed to include some Georgian police, has entered Kodori from the eastern, Georgian side, presumably to reinforce the original group now pinned down in the vicinity of Sugar-Loaf mountain, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. But Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze denied the same day that any Georgian police are participating in the fighting, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba said on 11 October that the fighters in the Kodori gorge include President Eduard Shevardnadze's representative to the region, Emzar Kvitsiani, Caucasus Press reported. LF
 GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS DISCUSS CRISIS...The Georgian Foreign Ministry delivered a note to its Russian counterpart on 10 October protesting the previous day's bombing of Georgian villages in the Kodori gorge and insisting on a joint-Georgian-Russian investigation into the bombing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 10 October 2001). The Russian Foreign Ministry responded by summoning Georgia's Ambassador to Russia Zurab Abashidze, and informing him that Tbilisi's attempts to blame Russia for the bombing are "groundless" and claiming that the aircraft in question "flew to Abkhazia from Georgia." The Russian side warned of the dangers inherent in a further escalation of the conflict, Interfax reported. Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili subsequently spoke by telephone with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov and the two agreed both to conduct the joint investigation Tbilisi has called for and on other unspecified measures to defuse tensions in Abkhazia. LF
 ... AS GEORGIAN SECURITY MINISTRY CLAIMS TO HAVE PROOF OF RUSSIAN BOMBINGGeorgian Security Minister Vakhtang Kutateladze told journalists in Tbilisi on 10 October that his ministry has proof, including tape-recordings of intercepted radio communications, that the planes and helicopters that bombed four Georgian villages in the Kodori gorge early the previous day were Russian, Caucasus Press reported. He said that in a second such incident, two aircraft entered Georgian airspace over the Kodori gorge from the direction of Sukhum on 10 October and then flew back in that direction, Interfax reported. LF
 DEFENSE MINISTRY, PARLIAMENT SPEAKER REJECT RUSSIAN CHARGES GEORGIA CANNOT CONTROL ITS TERRITORYIn a statement released in Tbilisi on 10 October, the Georgian Defense Ministry rejected as "groundless" the 9 October statement by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov that the Georgian leadership either does not control the territory of the country or is manipulating Chechen fighters to achieve its own aims (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). The Georgian response claimed that "the situation in the part of the Kodori gorge that is controlled by the central Georgian authorities is on the whole stable and there are no illegal armed groups there," according to ITAR-TASS. The statement added that "the Georgian authorities cannot assume responsibility for events that are taking place in the part of Abkhazia they do not control." Parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania similarly said on 10 October that Ivanov's "unprecedented" allegation that Georgia cannot control its territory "does not correspond with reality," Caucasus Press reported. LF
 ADJAR LEADER OFFERS TO MEDIATE IN ABKHAZ CRISISThe chairman of the Supreme Council of Georgia's Adjar Republic, Aslan Abashidze, is prepared to mediate talks in Adjaria between Abkhaz and Georgian representatives in a bid to defuse tensions, Aslan Smirba, a member of Abashidze's Union for Georgian Revival, told the independent Georgian TV station Rustavi-2 on 10 October, according to Caucasus Press. Abashidze traveled to Sukhum in the fall of 1993 in a similar bid to mediate between Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba and Shevardnadze, but Shevardnadze rejected his offer. LF
 UN OFFICIAL MEETS WITH ABKHAZ PREMIER, CALLS FOR RESUMPTION OF TALKSDieter Boden, the UN special envoy for the Abkhaz conflict, met in Sukhum on 10 October with Abkhaz Prime Minister Anri Djergenia, Caucasus Press reported. Boden appealed to the Abkhaz and Georgian leaderships to resume talks on resolving the conflict, which they had been scheduled to do on 9 October. That meeting of the UN-sponsored Coordinating Council was cancelled after the attacks last week on Abkhaz villages. Boden also said that the agreement reached on 27 September during talks between Djergenia and Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze that the armed band in Abkhazia would leave (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 October 2001) has clearly not been implemented. Also on 10 October, a Russian Orthodox monk claimed to have witnessed the shooting down on 8 October of a helicopter belonging to the UN Observer Mission in Georgia, Caucasus Press and Interfax reported. Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba has sent a message of condolence to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in connection with the deaths of five UN observers in that incident. The Abkhaz government has formed a special commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vyacheslav Eshba to investigate the circumstances in which the helicopter was downed, Interfax reported on 10 October. LF
 CHECHEN OFFICIAL DENIES INVOLVEMENT IN ABKHAZ FIGHTINGChechen Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed Zakaev has denied any Chechen involvement in the current fighting in Abkhazia, Caucasus Press reported on 10 October. He characterized Russian media reports that the fighters in the Kodori gorge include a Chechen detachment headed by field commander Ruslan Gelaev as a provocation intended to drive a wedge between the various Chechen military leaders. LF
 RUSSIA BEEFS UP SECURITY ON BORDER WITH GEORGIARussian Defense Minister Ivanov told the Federation Council on 10 October that an unspecified number of Russian troops will be sent to man the entire length of Russia's border with Georgia, including the border with Abkhazia, Reuters reported. He added that the situation in Abkhazia is "of great concern" to the Russian government. Interfax reported the same day, citing a spokesman for the headquarters of the North Caucasus Military District, that mountain paths leading from Georgia to Ingushetia and Chechnya are being mined to prevent them from being used by Chechen fighters seeking to leave Georgia. LF
 PARLIAMENT DEPUTY WARNS KAZAKH PRESIDENT HIS SON-IN-LAW HAS ACQUIRED TOO MUCH POWERTolen Toqtasynov, a deputy to the Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's bicameral parliament) on 10 October made public the text of an open letter he has addressed to President Nursultan Nazarbaev requesting that he "rein in" his son-in-law Rakhat Aliyev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Aliyev is first deputy chairman of the National Security Committee (the former KGB). He and his wife Dariga Nazarbaeva reportedly control most of Kazakhstan's media outlets, both print and electronic. Toqtasynov also said that the National Security Committee is currently engaged primarily in monitoring the activities of opposition political parties rather than taking measures to increase the country's security. LF
 KAZAKH OFFICIALS UPBEAT ON ECONOMIC SITUATIONDeputy Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov told a satellite press conference in Astana on 10 October that thanks to the leadership of President Nazarbaev, Kazakhstan's macroeconomic situation is extremely favorable, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. Akhmetov said GDP grew by 12.3 percent and industrial production by 14 percent during the first nine months of 2001 compared with the previous year, while foreign trade turnover increased by 17.7 percent over the same nine-month period. He said any fall in world oil prices will not negatively affect the country's economy in view of the special fund created to cushion the impact of such price fluctuations. Also on 10 October, Kazakhstan's National Bank Chairman Georgii Marchenko told a press conference in Almaty that the tenge has lost 1.65 percent of its value against the U.S. dollar since the beginning of 2001, Interfax reported. But he said that the U.S.-led antiterrorist operation in Afghanistan is unlikely to destabilize the Kazakh economy. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN TO JOIN WTO SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH RUSSIADeputy Prime Minister Akhmetov also said during his 10 October press conference that because of the "strong" mutual interdependence of the economies of Russia and Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan plans to join the WTO at the same time as Russia and other unnamed CIS states, Interfax reported. Two months ago, Kazakhstan's Economy and Trade Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev was less optimistic, terming the ongoing talks on Kazakhstan's prospective WTO membership "difficult" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 2001). LF
 RUSSIAN SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY MEETS WITH KYRGYZ PRESIDENTVladimir Rushailo flew from Dushanbe to Bishkek late on 9 October and met the following day with Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev to discuss the possible repercussions on the security situation in Central Asia of the ongoing U.S.- led strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Ukrainian Security Council Secretary Yevhen Marchuk also attended that meeting. Rushailo told journalists after the talks that if the security situation in Central Asia deteriorates, more troops from the CIS rapid reaction force should be sent to the region. He also said that he and Akaev have succeeded in resolving the problems connected with financing the Bishkek branch of the CIS antiterrorist center. The center's current most important task, Rushailo said, is to monitor the situation in Afghanistan. LF
 TAJIK, AFGHAN PRESIDENTS MEETAfghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani met for two hours in Dushanbe on 10 October with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov at the latter's invitation to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and Central Asia as a whole, and measures to counter international terrorism, Asia Plus-Blitz and ITAR-TASS reported. Rabbani told journalists after those talks that he is grateful to the international community, the CIS states, and Tajikistan in particular for the humanitarian assistance provided to the people of Afghanistan. LF
 UZBEK PRESIDENT SAYS NO RISK INVOLVED IN AIDING U.S. ANTITERROR EFFORTIn an interview with the state news agency published in the official Uzbek language daily newspaper "Khalq suzi" on 10 October, Uzbek President Islam Karimov dismissed as unfounded fears that Uzbekistan's willingness to facilitate the U.S. strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan could trigger reprisals by the Taliban, Reuters and Interfax reported. At the same time, Karimov called for increased vigilance on the part of the population, noting that "inactivity, apathy, and the spreading of rumors and reactionary news can help extremist elements." Also on 10 October, Interfax reported that a poll conducted by the government-controlled Uzbek public opinion center found that 95.6 percent of respondents voiced approval for Karimov's decision to make one of the country's airbases available to the U.S. for use during antiterrorist strikes against Afghanistan. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 DISAGREEMENTS OVER MACEDONIAN REBEL AMNESTY CONTINUEReactions to the amnesty proposed by President Boris Trajkovski and approved by most members of the multiethnic government on 9 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001) continued to differ widely, AP reported on 10 October. "We certainly welcome this declaration," said Harald Schenker of the OSCE, adding that it is now up to the Macedonian courts to work out the details. A Western envoy in Skopje, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the amnesty declaration is "completely acceptable in this form" while expectations that it become specific legislation are "unreasonable... since the [ethnic] Macedonian-dominated parliament is unlikely to agree on such an issue." But another anonymous Western envoy said the wording of the declaration showed "considerable difference" from what had been agreed upon under the Western-brokered Ohrid agreement and is "subject to broad legal interpretation." DW
 NATO DESTROYS WEAPONS CACHE IN MACEDONIAN VILLAGEA de-mining team from the 1,000-strong NATO force in Macedonia destroyed a weapons cache in the village of Otlja, 18 kilometers northeast of Skopje, on 10 October, AP reported. A local resident alerted NATO to the cache in an abandoned house comprising about 2,000 kilograms of ammunition, explosives, and antitank mines. "These weapons presented a danger for all, it was in the spirit of our mission to destroy them," said Colonel Peer Schwan, chief of the mission code-named Amber Fox. DW
 DEL PONTE EXPECTS PLAVSIC, OTHERS TO TESTIFY AGAINST MILOSEVICUN chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte said on 10 October that she expects former Bosnian Serb leader and war crimes suspect Biljana Plavsic to be one of a number of high-profile witnesses who will testify against former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, Reuters reported. She also said she hopes to have a third indictment against Milosevic, for Bosnia, ready in a few weeks to add to the indictments for Kosova and Croatia, and that it will contain the most serious charge of genocide. Del Ponte said she thinks Plavsic will testify, but there will be no plea bargain. "No deal. It's not my way of working," she said. DW
 STRUGGLE ERUPTS OVER BELGRADE APPOINTMENTS TO NOVI SAD TELEVISIONThe speaker of the Vojvodina Assembly, Nenad Canak, who also leads the forces calling for greater autonomy for the Serbian province, sparked a storm of controversy with his reaction on 9 October to the appointment by the central Radio-TV Serbia (RTS) of a director for the local branch in Novi Sad, AP and local media reported. Canak's argument that local authorities should appoint the station's director was followed by a visit to the station, where he smashed a sign with the RTS logo and declared he will "no longer permit Belgrade to trample on Vojvodina." The Vojvodina Coalition in the Serbian parliament said in a statement that Canak's "primitive and hooligan-like behavior" does not contribute to the efforts to peacefully restore Vojvodina's judicial and executive authority, but that it agrees that the local authorities should appoint the TV's director. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia, however, described Canak's actions as "an attempt to carry out some kind of a coup and impose will by force and illegal means." DW
 SERBIAN MINERS BACK TO WORK, STRIKES ELSEWHERE TO FOLLOW?Workers at the Kolubara mine returned to work after a week-long strike (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 October 2001) on 10 October after the government partially met their demands for better wages and working conditions, AP reported. Serbian radio also reported on 11 October that workers at the Bor mine ended their strike after the government agreed to pay them back wages from April. Meanwhile, Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic said on 10 October that there will be no wage increase in the electricity sector to avert a strike threatened for that day. But he admitted that the government decree freezing state wages was a blunt instrument that had resulted in an absurd situation, as the unions claimed, and the decree can be modified, Tanjug reported. DW
 RUGOVA: KOSOVA ELECTIONS' OBJECTIVE INDEPENDENCE...Moderate Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova said on 10 October that the 17 November general elections are an opportunity to work for the province's independence from Yugoslavia, AP reported the same day. "The national objective of our program is to work toward the formal recognition of Kosova's independence," he said in a speech marking the opening of the Democratic League of Kosova's election campaign in the capital, Prishtina. He also promised that if his party wins it "will guarantee and protect the minorities and integrate them in the institutions of Kosova's democratic state." DW
 ... WHICH SERBIAN MINISTER SAYS IS ILLEGALDeputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said in Belgrade on 10 October that all the ethnic Albanian parties campaigning for Kosova's elections are breaching UN Security Council Resolution 1244 by calling for independence, Radio B-92 reported the next day. He also said that the Serbian government's Coordination Center for Kosovo, which he heads, is not "some parallel institution of power" but the highest state body for the province, established under and in compliance with Resolution 1244, and he called on the UN administration in the province to stop talking about parallel institutions. DW
 ENVOY TO BOSNIA ACCUSES BOSNIAN SERB LEGISLATORS OF 'HOLDING HOSTAGE' KEY LAWSThe international community's high representative to Bosnia, Wolfgang Petritsch, has warned of obstructionist tactics by some of the Republika Srpska's (RS) delegates to state institutions in a letter to the speaker of the RS National Assembly, the Onasa website reported on 10 October. The report cited a statement from the Office of the High Representative to Bosnia-Herzegovina outlining the contents of a letter sent to Speaker Dragan Kalinic. "Many laws that are vital for the economic well-being and security of Bosnia-Herzegovina in general, and for the RS in particular, have been passed by the Council of Ministers... [but] are unfortunately held hostages for all intents and purposes by RS delegates in the state parliament," the website quoted Petritsch as saying in the letter. Petritsch praised the work of a group of legal experts set up recently to facilitate communication and minimize misunderstandings over the legal basis for state-level legislation. He also reminded Kalinic that "while the RS People's Assembly is free to discuss any issue within its competence, it clearly cannot adopt conclusions binding at the state level," the site reported. AH
 CROATIA PROBES ALLEGED CRIMES BY WWII-ERA PARTISANSThe Croatian judiciary is investigating partisan crimes allegedly committed against civilians and prisoners of war in May 1945 near Slovenia's current border with Austria and in some parts of central Croatia, dpa reported on 10 October, citing the weekly "Globus." But at the same time, Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic cautioned that "it is not realistic that each and every crime will be punished," dpa reported. Last month, Croatia's state- run news agency HINA quoted an unnamed government official as saying that so far only the crimes of the Ustashe, the forces of the Nazi puppet state during the war, "had been punished." AH
 DUBROVNIK CONFERENCE URGES RESPECT FOR RIGHTS, FREEDOMS IN FIGHT AGAINST TERRORISMThe delegates to a three-day international conference on human rights and democratization closed on 10 October with the adoption of the "Dubrovnik Conclusions," condemning terrorism while demanding respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in combating it, Hina reported. Representatives condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States, labeling them a crime against humanity, and urged all countries to implement relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the agency said. The document also calls for bolstering the role of civil society in democratization and the promotion of human rights in Europe, Central Asia, and the Transcaucasus. Participants called on the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Union, and UN subregional agencies to develop more efficient cooperation in protecting and promoting human rights in the region, Hina reported. AH
 MILOSEVIC ARRAIGNMENT FOR CROATIA WAR CRIMES SET FOR END OF OCTOBERFormer Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic will be arraigned for war crimes in Croatia by The Hague war crimes tribunal on 29 October, a tribunal spokesman said on 10 October, according to Hina. The 32-count indictment charges Milosevic with crimes against humanity, grave breaches of the Geneva conventions, and violations of the laws or customs of war in 1991-92. It holds him responsible for the persecution of 170,000 Croats and other minorities in Serb-occupied areas. Aside from the former Yugoslav Federal Army, the indictment charges that members of Serbia's Interior Ministry, state security service, and volunteer units also took part in the crimes in Croatia. AH
 ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTER INDULGES IN CONSPIRACY THEORIES...Defense Minister Ioan Mircea Pascu on 10 October said that the great number of illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Romanian border could be due to "a plan to discredit Romania," Mediafax reported. Pascu said that this large number of refugees "harms Romania's efforts at integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures and this may be precisely why some people would like to organize such things from within Romania itself, in the hope of hindering the integration." MS
 ... BACKS WOMEN'S MILITARY CAREERSSpeaking at a forum on women and military careers in Bucharest on 10 October, Pascu said his ministry favors the promotion of women in the army, emphasizing that today physical force is "less important than intelligence." He said the Romanian military will make it possible for women to develop a career "suitable to their valor and competence." He added that the promotion of women will demonstrate that "Romania and its military are highly interested in promoting democratic values... and eliminating any discrimination on sexual, religious, or racial grounds." MS
 ROMANIA BRINGS UP STATUS LAW AGAIN IN YUGOSLAV TALKSSenate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu on 10 October said after talks with visiting Yugoslav Premier Dragisa Pesic that the views of the two sides on the Hungarian Status Law are "close," Mediafax reported. The same day, Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko criticized Prime Minister Adrian Nastase for having brought up the law in discussions with Pesic the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). Marko said Nastase and members of the Romanian cabinet should discuss that law with Hungarian, rather than with Yugoslav, government members, Romanian radio reported. MS
 ROMANIAN TOWN PLANS GHETTOIZATION OF ROMASeveral dozens Roma protested on 10 October in the northern Romanian town of Piatra-Neamt against the intention of Mayor Ioan Rotaru to move them to an enclosed area that is now under construction, Mediafax reported. Rotaru said that "90 percent" of those about to be moved have no source of income, refuse to work, and refuse to learn how to properly maintain their flats, which had rapidly deteriorated. The UDMR and the National Liberal Party (PNL), in separate statements, protested against Rotaru's plans. The PNL said the mayor intends to "isolate the Roma in the new area behind a fence guarded by police" and warned Premier Nastase that this would seriously harm Romania's international image. UDMR Chairman Marko said the idea "scares him" and that the UDMR favors "integration, not separation." MS
 ROMANIAN PARTIES REFUSE TO BE SEEN IN DISREPUTABLE COMPANYSenate Chairman Vacaroiu asked the Greater Romania Party (PRM) on 10 October to designate another person as its representative in a Senate delegation of senators that will pay a visit to Japan, South Korea, and the Philippines next month, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The PRM had designated its chairman, Corneliu Vadim Tudor, but the PNL, the UDMR, and the Democratic Party announced they will not participate in any international delegation of which Tudor is a member, saying he discredits Romania's reputation. Vacaroiu said it would be beyond his prerogatives to force a change in these parties' positions and added that if the PRM persists in its refusal to nominate another senator, the delegation will leave without a PRM representative. MS
 MOLDOVAN PREMIER SAYS PREPARATIONS FOR ROMANIAN COUNTERPART'S VISIT CONTINUEPrime Minister Vasile Tarlev said on 10 October that his government has never received an "official confirmation" from Bucharest that Premier Nastase has canceled his participation on 18 October in the planned trilateral meeting with Tarlev and Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh, and that consequently Moldova is continuing with its preparations for the visit, Romanian radio reported. Tarlev also said it would be "unproductive" to move the focus of Moldovan-Romanian relations from the economic to the political realm. Also on 10 October, Greater Romania Party Senator Ilie Ilascu said in Chisinau that he disagrees with the Romanian government's position and "invectives." Ilascu said that "in previous years, the Moldovan authorities made no less ridiculous statements, but Bucharest never responded to them as toughly as this time around." He commented: "I guess that the [Moldovan] Communist, pro-Moscow leadership, simply set out a bait, and Bucharest swallowed it," Infotag reported. MS
 MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT SEES 'NO POINT IN JOINING RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION NOW'President Vladimir Voronin, in an interview with the Kyiv daily "Fakty," on 10 October said that "for now" he can see no point in joining the Russia- Belarus Union, Infotag reported. Voronin said the union is "more words than deeds." He added that Moldova "will be where it is to its advantage to be" and said Chisinau is willing to join the CIS Customs Union provided Ukraine also does so. Moldova, Voronin said, has "historically always looked East." Voronin said that his main aim since his election as president has been to dispel fears that his Party of Moldovan Communists intend to restore the previous political system. "I have met with the presidents of 24 European and Asian countries [since my election], and everybody saw that Voronin has neither a tail, nor hooves," he commented. MS
 TRANSDNIESTER PLANS TO HAND OVER TO RUSSIA CONTROL OVER ENTERPRISESGrigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the Transdniester Supreme Soviet, on 10 October said in Moscow that the separatists intend to transfer to Russia controlling blocks of shares in their largest enterprises free of charge, on the condition that these "operate in accordance with Russian legislation, " ITAR-TASS reported. He explained that as a result, the enterprises would pay Russia lower tariffs for electricity, production costs would be lowered, more jobs would be created, and revenues to the Transdniester budget would increase. Observers in Chisinau say the move is designated to circumvent the Moldovan decision to withdraw from Transdniester the right to use Moldovan custom seals, because products of Russian-controlled enterprises could be considered to be Russian rather than "Moldovan." MS
 BULGARIAN PRESIDENT, CHIEF MUFTI SAY TERROR IS NOT SAME AS ISLAMPresident Petar Stoyanov and Chief Mufti Selim Mehmed said on 10 October in Sofia that Bulgaria's support of the antiterrorist struggle "cannot justify any intolerance or aggressive attitudes against Muslims in Bulgaria or the world at large," BTA reported. Stoyanov and Mehmed said they want to "categorically emphasize" that "acts of terror cannot be identified with Islam, which, like all great world religions, preaches love." They said that "any act of intolerance toward compatriots who practice Islam will damage not only Bulgaria's good reputation, but, above all, the centuries- old Bulgarian tradition of justice and tolerance." In response to a journalist's question, Selim said there have been "only a few isolated incidents" of intolerance toward Bulgarian Muslims since the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States. MS
[C] END NOTE
 WEAPONS-COLLECTION PROGRAM HAS MIXED RESULTS IN ALBANIABy Jolyon Naegele
It has been four years since political infighting plunged Albania into violent anarchy and crowds looted the country's arms depots of more than half a million light weapons.
The United Nations estimates that civilians took 550,000 weapons, 1,500 million rounds of ammunition, and 3.5 million hand grenades from the depots.
Since then, Albanian police have managed to retrieve 180,000 of the looted small arms and light weapons. Legislation was passed allowing the public to return the weapons voluntarily. But the majority of the collection took place over the last 2 1/2 years with the help of the UN Development Program, or UNDP.
Although many of the looted arms -- chiefly Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles -- found their way to neighboring Kosova and Macedonia, a number of the weapons remained in Albania, hidden in countless homes across the country. Grenades became a favored instrument for fishing, and the number of accidental shooting deaths increased.
UNDP launched its weapons-collection program in Albania after meeting with success in its first such effort, disarming child soldiers and ex- combatants in the West African state of Mali. Since starting the disarmament project in Albania in December 1998, UNDP has launched similar weapons-collection projects in the South Pacific's Solomon Islands as well as in Somalia and the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).
Initially, the UNDP's Albanian pilot program was set in motion in some 100 villages in the central Gramsh district, with the goal of collecting approximately 10,000 weapons -- an estimated one weapon per family.
However, Alfred Moisiu, a former Albanian defense minister and current head of the pro-NATO Albanian Atlantic Association, said that "most people are not agreeing to hand over the arms, the weapons, because the situation is still not secure here in our country... . [And even if they did hand over the weapons] it is not a problem for the criminals for crime, because the criminals are able to find the weapons anyway."
UNDP workers, accompanied by Albanian police officers, went into the Gramsh villages and tried to raise public awareness among target groups -- such as women and young people -- of the dangers the weapons posed to family life, the local community, and society as a whole.
"Trust is also created by international assistance. When we are with the police, the people have more trust in the output of this project and [understand] that this is not just an action of the police and that the weapons will [not] be destroyed, or hidden, or used by other parties," said Johan Buwalda, a program manager for UNDP's Weapons in Exchange for Development Program in Albania. "So the involvement of UNDP in the collection itself is a very important issue. At the same time, we give the police more authority by providing equipment, vehicles, communications, and materials, so that at least [the public] sees that UNDP is behind them and is assisting the Ministry of Public Order for creating law and order in this country."
Nevertheless, Buwalda said the Albanian police force is "very poorly equipped" and lacks vehicles, suitable storage facilities, security regulations, and registration books for whatever weapons are being collected.
UNDP's public awareness information officer, Nora Kushti, said no real development can take place in Albania as long as large numbers of weapons remain in circulation. But persuasion remains a difficult task, according to Kushti, "It takes time to change a person's mentality, and to disarm a person's mind."
She describes the Gramsh pilot program as being based on public awareness of both the benefits of handing over weapons and the economic incentives being offered.
Kushti said some $1 million were invested in Gramsh's roads, bridges, street lighting, and telephone lines. Residents were given a choice of the type of development -- road improvement, street lighting, or telephone lines -- that they wanted in exchange for handing over weapons.
Despite such incentives, however, UNDP and Albanian security forces failed to reach their goal of collecting 10,000 weapons in the Gramsh district. When the project ended in 2000, they had amassed just 6,000 weapons and 137 tons of ammunition.
UNDP then launched two additional pilot projects in Elbasan and Diber, where program manager Buwalda notes that police had already begun collecting some weapons on their own. "Of course the security issue is a main criteria [for going] to a particular area," Buwalda said. "We have decided to extend our weapons collection and we have asked the government which areas they'd like us to go to. At the same time, we formulate the criteria where we want to work and how we can work and what is actually needed to work."
Collections in the Elbasan and Diber districts totaled 6,500 weapons. The industrial area of Elbasan turned over weapons in quantities similar to Gramsh. But the Diber district proved more difficult. That district is isolated from the rest of the country by high mountains and bad roads, and is cut off from its historic administrative center and market, Debar (Diber), which lies just across the border in Macedonia. Such isolation -- paired with possible weapons smuggling to Albanian insurgents in Macedonia - - meant relatively few arms were collected in the district.
"At least when we compare now we can say that Diber was not very fruitful in this way, in that the number of weapons we have collected is not a high amount of weapons," Buwalda said. In the beginning we were actually told, 'Look, we are poor. If we have a weapon we'd like to sell it.'"
But rather than paying for weapons -- which UN officials say would have motivated people to steal -- UNDP instead offered Diber assistance in building local infrastructure, much as it had in Gramsh and Elbasan.
But according to Buwalda, although the Albanian government claims all the weapons in the Diber area have been collected, local residents tell UNDP there are still weapons at large. "We all know that weapons are not always at the same place. They are trafficked in different areas and in different directions," Buwalda said. "The Kosovo crisis has benefited from a number of weapons [from Albania]. The Macedonian crisis has benefited from them. We know that weapons have gone to Greece, to Italy. But you don't know how much has been returned and what was already [at large] within this civil population before the 550,000 weapons [were looted]. So it is still [a matter of] guessing."
Most of the collected weapons are destroyed at a designated site in Elbasan. The Albanian Defense Ministry, however, has reserved the right to keep any weapons it chooses. Museum-quality antique weapons, many predating World War I -- such as numerous British Lee-Enfield rifles -- are also set aside.
UNDP plans to expand the weapons-collection program nationwide in November. Buwalda said the new program will be considerably broader in scope than the pilot projects. "It is not only weapons collection. It is also weapons control," Buwalda said. "So we will assist the police in setting up a database, storing these data, managing the data, and we will exchange our experience and learn from the neighboring countries what their problems are and how we can serve them."
In a bid to expand its disarmament activities in the Balkans, UNDP plans to hold a regional workshop on arms collection in January 2002 with representatives from Albania and the former Yugoslav republics.
Jolyon Naegele is an RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty