|Monday, 24 January 2022|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 206, 01-10-30
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 206, 30 October 2001Yan Sergunin, whom Kadyrov appointed on 18 October to head the newly formed administration staff (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 36, 29 October 2001), escaped uninjured on 29 October when unknown gunmen opened fire on his car on the outskirts of Argun, Interfax reported. LF
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 ARMENIAN PREMIER RETURNS TO WORKAndranik Markarian returned to Yerevan on 28 October from Paris, where he underwent medical treatment last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 25 October 2001), and met on 29 October with World Bank resident representative Oweis Saadat, according to RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau and Armenian TV, as cited by Groong. A government spokeswoman described Markarian's condition as "good." LF
 ARMENIAN OPPOSITION CLAIMS GROWING SUPPORT FOR PRESIDENT'S IMPEACHMENTSome 600,000 people have already signed a petition drafted by Armenia's three main opposition parties calling for the impeachment of President Robert Kocharian, National Unity Party Chairman Artashes Geghamian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 29 October. The opposition accuses the president of corruption, issuing decrees that were unconstitutional, and obstructing the investigation into the October 1999 parliament shootings. But Geghamian declined to specify how many of the 131 parliament deputies are prepared to back a call for the president's impeachment. The constitution stipulates that the support of at least 44 deputies is necessary for a debate on impeachment to take place. LF
 ARMENIAN ANTHRAX SCARE PROVES A HOAXThe letter with white powder received on 19 October by the Armenian Ministry of Culture, Youth Affairs, and Sport (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 October 2001) did not contain anthrax or any other life-threatening substance, Noyan Tapan reported on 29 October, quoting the Armenian Health Ministry. LF
 OSCE PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY CHAIRMAN PROPOSES TASK FORCE FOR NAGORNO- KARABAKHMeeting in Yerevan on 26 October with Armenian parliament Chairman Armen Khachatrian, Adrian Severin proposed that the OSCE create a working group that would try to promote a political atmosphere conducive to reaching a settlement of the Karabakh conflict, Noyan Tapan reported. He stressed that such a body would not duplicate the work of the OSCE Minsk Group. Severin held talks the following day with President Kocharian and with Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian, then traveled on 28 October to Stepanakert where he told the leadership of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic that the attitude of the international community toward the enclave will depend largely on the success of their efforts to build a free and democratic society, ITAR-TASS and Prime News reported. Upon his return to Yerevan, Severin told journalists on 29 October that both Armenia and Azerbaijan should refrain from bellicose statements that hinder a negotiated solution to the conflict. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT BLAMES IRAN FOR POSTPONEMENT OF HIS VISITMeeting on 27 October with Iranian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Akhad Gazai, Heidar Aliev blamed Tehran for the most recent delay in his official visit to Iran, Turan reported. Originally planned for late 1999, that visit was to have taken place on 17-19 September, but was reportedly postponed at the last minute by mutual consent following a telephone conversation between Aliev and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Khatami to allow for further work on the draft documents to be signed during the visit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 September 2001). Aliev on 27 October said the postponement was due to the Iranian side's "unwillingness" to sign an agreement on friendship and cooperation and a joint statement by the two presidents, the texts of which Baku had submitted in advance. On 16 September, Tehran rejected the draft agreement and proposed a significantly different joint statement. Aliev said he will not travel to Tehran until the texts of both documents are agreed upon. LF
 GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HOPES FOR MEETING WITH RUSSIAN COUNTERPARTGeorgian parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania briefed parliament deputies on 29 October on his visit last week to Moscow, where he discussed bilateral relations with Russian State Duma speaker Gennadii Seleznev and other senior Russian officials. Zhvania and Seleznev agreed that the current state of bilateral relations is deplorable and should be improved in line with what they termed the centuries-old tradition of friendship between the Russian and Georgian peoples. One of the issues touched upon was Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's desire to meet with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Shevardnadze told journalists in Tbilisi on 29 October that he has not yet received a response to that request, noting that he cannot force Putin to agree to such a meeting, Caucasus Press reported. Meanwhile, on 24 October, the Georgian newspaper "Alia" quoted Irakli Pagava, chairman of the parliament subcommittee on CIS affairs, as saying that Moscow has amended the proposed draft of a new framework agreement on friendship and cooperation between Georgia and Russia, removing from the title the word "friendship." LF
 UN SECRETARY-GENERAL URGES RESUMPTION OF GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKSIn a 15-page report to the UN Security Council released on 29 October, Secretary-General Kofi Annan termed the shooting down on 8 October of a helicopter chartered by the UN Observer Mission in Georgia "an outrage" that underscores the failure by both Abkhazia and Georgia to take appropriate measures to protect UN personnel, Reuters reported. Annan noted that the situation in Abkhazia has deteriorated over the past two months, largely as a result of the fighting in the Kodori gorge between Georgian armed irregulars and Chechen fighters and Abkhaz forces. He criticized the Georgian authorities for failing to restrain the activities of the Georgian guerrilla force. Annan called on the Abkhaz and Georgian leaderships to resume talks on Abkhazia's political status, noting that their failure to do so could jeopardize the entire peace process. LF
 RUSSIA DENIES RESPONSIBILITY FOR GEORGIAN BOMBING RAIDThe Georgian Foreign Ministry summoned Russian Ambassador to Georgia Vladimir Gudev on 29 October to protest the bombing the previous day of villages in the Georgian sector of the Kodori gorge, for which Tbilisi has blamed Russia, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001). Also on 29 October, the Russian Defense Ministry and the North Caucasus Military District both denied that Russian warplanes had flown airstrikes over Georgian territory the previous day, Russian agencies reported. LF
 KAZAKH CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION REJECTS OSCE CRITICISMIn a statement released on 29 October, Kazakhstan's Central Election Commission rejected as based on a superficial examination of relevant documentation the criticism expressed by the Kazakhstan Office of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the 20 October elections of regional administrators in Kazakhstan's 14 oblasts, Interfax reported. The OSCE concluded in its report on that ballot that the voting procedures were flawed and that the vote did not meet international standards. The OSCE similarly criticized as neither free nor fair the presidential and parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan in 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 September and 12 October 1999). LF
 KYRGYZ OPPOSITION MARKS JAILED LEADER'S BIRTHDAYSome 40 supporters of jailed Ar-Namys party chairman and former Vice President Feliks Kulov congregated in Bishkek on 29 October and held a protest march to demand Kulov's release from prison, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov was sentenced in January to seven years imprisonment on charges of abuse of his official position (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 January 2001). LF
 FIVE ISLAMISTS SENTENCED IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTANA district court in Kyrgyzstan's southern Djalalabad Oblast on 29 October handed down jail terms ranging from three to 17 years on five members of the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir party, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. The party calls for the nonviolent overthrow of the existing Central Asian leaderships and the establishment of a Central Asian caliphate. A police official in Djalalabad told RFE/RL on 13 October that 67 Hizb ut-Tahrir activists have been arrested in the oblast since the beginning of 2001, of whom 43 were sentenced to prison terms on charges of inciting religious hatred. LF
 TAJIK ECONOMIC UPSWING CONTINUESIndustrial production in Tajikistan grew by 16 percent during the first nine months of 2001 compared with the same period the previous year, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 30 October, quoting Economy and Trade Ministry spokesman Ghafur Rasulov. Agricultural output over the same time period increased by 13.1 percent year-on-year despite the ongoing severe drought. GDP for the first nine months of the year totaled 1.648 billion somonis ($687 million). Last year's GDP amounted to 1.8 billion somonis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 January 2001). LF
 UZBEKISTAN AMENDS CRIMINAL CODEUzbekistan has amended its Criminal Code to narrow the range of crimes that are punishable by the death penalty from eight to four, including first- degree murder and terrorism; reduce prison terms; and increase the number of offenses punishable by fines rather than prison sentences, presidential administration official Nuridindjon Ismoilov told Interfax on 29 October. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 AUSTRIAN MINISTER CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL INVOLVEMENT IN BALKANSForeign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner said in Luxembourg on 29 October that the EU and the rest of the international community must not neglect the Balkans at a time of crisis elsewhere in the world, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. She warned that unnamed Balkan "political extremists" are hoping that the foreigners will neglect that region and provide the extremists with the golden opportunity they have been waiting for (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 18 September 2001). She added that the Serbs of Kosova will be able to enjoy their full constitutional rights there only if they take part in the 17 November general elections (see below). PM
 WHAT FUTURE FOR EU'S BALKAN STABILITY PACT?In Luxembourg on 29 October, EU foreign ministers discussed the future form of the Balkan Stability Pact once Bodo Hombach, who currently heads the project, leaves, the "Financial Times" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 2001). Germany, Austria, and Greece want the pact left as it is, while Britain wants it brought closer to EU foreign affairs Commissioner Chris Patten's commission, even though much of its money is American. Some people want the pact's scope expanded to include smuggling and drugs, while others want it wound up. It currently serves as a clearinghouse for development and stabilization projects. Possible candidates to succeed Hombach include Austria's Erhard Busek, who has long sought such a position, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" reported. Former Italian Foreign Minister Gianni De Michaelis would like the job, but many regard him as unsuited following his recent prison term on corruption charges. France wants the post but is unlikely to get it because the new EU envoy for Macedonia is French. German opposition politician Volker Ruehe has also been suggested, but it is not clear if he is interested. PM
 CROATIA SIGNS MILESTONE AGREEMENT WITH EUCroatian Prime Minister Ivica Racan signed a cooperation and association agreement with Patten in Luxembourg on 29 October, AP reported. Racan said that the pact "represents a milestone on the road to Europe." Patten noted that "this agreement shows that their country is moving forward at an impressive pace." Racan said in Zagreb that the government will now prepare to formally apply for EU membership, although one should not "idealize" the EU. He added: "No one says that it's going to be easy and that we will see positive results already tomorrow. But we must be aware that the only alternative to the united Europe is isolation and decline." PM
 CROATIAN PRESIDENT VISITS ISRAELIn what international media widely describe as a landmark visit, Stipe Mesic arrived in Israel on 28 October for two days of sightseeing, followed by an official program that was to begin with a meeting with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on 30 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Mesic is scheduled to meet the following day with President Moshe Katsav. The visit marks a success for the Croatian leadership that took office in early 2000, following the death of President Franjo Tudjman the previous December. Tudjman was widely regarded as anti-Semitic, and the Israeli authorities generally shunned his diplomatic overtures. Some Israeli firms have, however, received contracts from the Croatian military over the years. PM
 SKINHEADS SMASH UP CLUB IN CROATIAN CAPITALSome 80 right-wing extremists demolished the interior of a dance club in Zagreb where the owner had shown a documentary film about Milko Djurovski, who played soccer for Belgrade's Red Star club, dpa reported on 30 October. PM
 PUTIN STRESSES NORMALIZATION IN MACEDONIA...After meeting with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski in Moscow on 29 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that changes for the better are taking place in Macedonia "with the assistance of Moscow and the international community. The disarmament of rebels and other actions aimed at normalization in the Balkans are positive factors," Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001). PM
 ...WHILE IVANOV SLAMS 'TERRORISM'Speaking in Moscow on 29 October, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov repeated his support for Macedonian hard-liners by equating the Albanian guerrillas with "terrorists" and blaming the region's problems on Albanians, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 July and 28 September 2001). He said that "the international community should render all necessary assistance to the Macedonian administration in its efforts to counteract international terrorism... The threat to the region comes from Kosovo, the extremists who are trying to destabilize the Balkan situation." He added that "there is a need for joint coordinated efforts to prevent the further strengthening of extremist forces in the Balkans" as part of "antiterrorist" efforts. PM
 MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT HAILS RUSSIAN STANCE ON SKOPJE'S NATO MEMBERSHIPTrajkovski said in Moscow on 29 October that he is pleased with "Russia's constructive position on Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic plans," Interfax reported. He added that he hopes that Russia's own position on NATO expansion will meet with greater understanding abroad. Trajkovski argued that Macedonia's plans to join NATO "determine the country's strategic role in the world arena. But this does not mean that Macedonia will be closed to Russia. On the contrary, we expect Russia to increase its presence in the region jointly with the U.S. and the European Union. The position of Macedonia and Russia on the basic problems of regional security are consistent and have very much in common." Trajkovski noted that Russia is "Macedonia's strategic economic partner, above all in developing its energy and water supply systems." PM
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT INVOKES 'MESSAGE' OF NJEGOSMilo Djukanovic told a conference in Podgorica on 29 October that Montenegrins today should heed the message of their great leaders of the past and recognize that no people can be free unless it has its own state, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The international conference is dedicated to the life and work of 19th-century Montenegrin ruler and writer Petar II Petrovic Njegos. But in Luxembourg, EU Commissioner Patten stressed that the EU wants Montenegro to remain within Yugoslavia. PM
 SPLITS AMONG SERBS OF KOSOVAThe local branch of the Serbian National Council in Mitrovica passed a resolution of no-confidence in its chairman, Oliver Ivanovic, on 29 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The resolution accused him of "political arrogance" and a lack of principles. PM
 KOSOVAR LEADER URGES SERBS TO VOTEKosovar political leader and former guerrilla chief Hashim Thaci told Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service on 30 October that the Serbs of Kosova should take part in the 17 November general elections. He cautioned them against being "manipulated" by the politicians in Belgrade. Thaci said the Serbs should join in Kosova's political life and forget ideas about setting up their own enclaves, which would only face isolation. PM
 BOSNIAN POLICE MONITORING 17 ON SUSPICION OF TERRORISMTomislav Limov, the Bosnian federation's deputy interior minister, said in Sarajevo on 29 October that police are monitoring 17 individuals suspected of possible involvement in terrorist activities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 October 2001). None are native Bosnians, but some have obtained Bosnian citizenship. PM
 SERBIAN MINISTER DENIES DEL PONTE CHARGEYugoslav Justice Minister Savo Markovic said in Belgrade on 29 October that Hague chief prosecutor Carla Del Ponte is wrong when she says that his government is not cooperating with the tribunal, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 October 2001). He said: "We are cooperating, perhaps this cooperation could be better, but we are cooperating." He said that no government could give the tribunal some of the files she asked for because they contained "things directly connected with the defense of the country." PM
 SERBIAN EX-STRONGMAN LIKENS TRIBUNAL TO 'RETARDED CHILD'Continuing to manage his own defense and refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of the tribunal, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic dismissed all charges against him, Reuters reported from The Hague on 30 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001). He said: "Please go and read out the judgments you are instructed to read and don't make me listen for hours on end to texts which are at the intellectual level of a seven- year-old child, or rather -- let me correct myself -- a retarded seven-year- old child." He said that the tribunal is NATO's instrument of "terrorism" against the Serbs, adding that "I would never commit suicide because I must struggle here to topple this tribunal and this farce of a trial and the masterminds who are using it against the people who are fighting for freedom in the world." Both of Milosevic's parents committed suicide. PM
 ROMANIAN PREMIER IN CANADAOn his way to Washington, Adrian Nastase met in Ottawa on 29 October with his Canadian counterpart Jean Chretien, Romanian radio reported the next day. The discussions focused on Romania's quest to become a NATO member, Canada's participation in the construction of a second nuclear reactor at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, and in the future construction of a third reactor. The talks also addressed possible Canadian investment in infrastructure and telecommunications projects in Romania. Nastase said after the meeting that Canada fully supports Romania's efforts to join NATO, and that the Canadian premier will soon initiate in the parliament changes in legislation that currently prohibits the export of nuclear technology on environmental protection grounds. MS
 ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT 'TAKES NOTE' OF HUNGARIAN REJECTION OF NASTASE'S PROPOSALSIn a press release issued on 29 October, the government said it has "taken note" of Hungary's rejection of Premier Nastase's proposal that Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania party cards be used for registering in Hungary those eligible for Hungarian minority ID cards for Status Law purposes, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The government said Romania is "dissatisfied" with Hungary's continued insistence on maintaining legislation "granting socioeconomic rights on the basis of ethnic criteria, " emphasizing that this contravenes the recommendations of the Venice Commission. It said Romania continues to believe that the Status Law must be amended, failing which "it is necessary to suspend its implementation until the consent of neighboring states is obtained and until conditions are created for amending it. " MS
 ROMANIAN, HUNGARIAN JUSTICE MINISTERS CLASH OVER STATUS LAW...Visiting Hungarian Justice Minister Ibolya David and her Romanian counterpart Rodica Stanoiu met on 29 October in Cluj to discuss judicial cooperation between their countries, but the encounter ended with both sides expressing disagreement over the Status Law, Romanian radio reported. David said she was "surprised" by the recent statement made by Interior Minister Ioan Rus (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001), and said a country that is badly in need of foreign investment should abstain from making "war declarations" against those willing to invest. Stanoiu said the "Social Democratic Program for Transylvania" presented by Rus is an initiative of the local Social Democratic Party branch, and not part of the government's program. She added, however, that the initiative is "grounded in a specific [Transylvanian] reality, with which the initiative's authors are well acquainted." MS
 ...AND MAVERICK CLUJ MAYOR COMES UP WITH OWN 'SOLUTION'Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar held a press conference on 29 October to show journalists samples of a "Romanian ID Card," similar to those the Hungarian authorities intend to distribute to members of Magyar minorities in neighboring countries, Mediafax reported. He said the ID cards will be distributed by the Cluj mayoralty to members of the Hungarian minority in that town "to help them remember they are Romanian citizens." Funar said that, just as the Hungarian government envisages, his "Romanian IDs" will be issued "with the help of nongovernmental organizations," but will also bear the constitutional article stipulating that all Romanian citizens must respect the constitutional and legal provisions of the country in which they live. MS
 ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINSTER TO SUBSTITUTE FOR NASTASE IN BRASOVInterior Minister Rus will travel to Brasov to discuss with the trade unions at the Roman truckmaker their complaints addressed to Premier Nastase, Mediafax reported on 29 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2001). Nastase delegated Rus to visit the plant due to his absence from the country. A government press release said solutions proposed by participants in the meeting "must take into consideration separating those activities that can be rendered efficient from those that face no such prospect in the short- and medium-term." Nastase also directed officials from the Privatization Authority to meet with management of the Roman truckmaker as well as the trade unions there. MS
 MOLDOVAN POLITICIAN SAYS SON-IN-LAW IS VICTIM OF 'PROVOCATION'Dumitru Diacov, the chairman of the extraparliamentary Democratic Party and former speaker of the parliament, said on 29 October that the accusations against Mahmud Ahmad Hammud, whose citizenship has been revoked by President Vladimir Voronin, are "a provocation of the Intelligence and Security Service," Romanian radio reported. Diacov said Hammud should be allowed to contest Voronin's decision before a court of law. He also said the aim of the "provocation" is to "indirectly discredit the Democratic Party." Hammud, who is married to Diacov's daughter, is suspected of being a leading figure in the Hizballah terrorist movement (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 29 October 2001). MS
 SAXECOBURGGOTSKI'S POPULARITY PLUNGINGAfter his first 100 days in office, the popularity of Bulgarian Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski has fallen sharply, AFP reported on 30 October. The former monarch, who has a popular-support rating of 60 percent according to polls conducted by Alpha Research and NCIOM, is still popular but considerably less so than when he took office, when he measured 80 percent support. AFP said this drop is due to the cabinet's having to face the "hard reality" that it will be unable to fulfill many of its electoral promises. Bulgaria has been forced by the IMF to reduce its economic growth forecasts for 2002 from 4.5 to 4 percent, and to scrap a number of more radical plans to boost the country's economy. The fund has recommended more prudent fiscal policies. Electricity and heating prices went up 10 percent as of 1 October, and welfare benefits have been scrapped for all but the poorest households. Promises to boost pensions have not been met, and beginning in 2002 a 20 percent VAT will be introduced for medical and legal fees. MS
 BULGARIAN POLL PREDICTS PARVANOV MAY NOT MAKE IT TO RUNOFFA public opinion poll conducted by the MBMD polling institute shows President Petar Stoyanov leading the field ahead of the 11 November elections with 38 percent support, while former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev has 11 percent, BTA reported. Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov is only slightly ahead of Bonev, with support of 13 percent. In an interview with the daily "Trud," Bonev said that if he wins the presidential race, he will be "president of a republic, not of a monarchy." MS
[C] END NOTE
 RUSSIA CONTINUES TO HOLD UP BORDER DEMARCATION WITH UKRAINEBy Taras Kuzio
Four and a half years after Ukraine and Russia signed a treaty in Kyiv and 2 1/2 years after both houses of the Russian parliament ratified that treaty, the border question continues to bedevil both countries. While Russia agrees to the delimitation on maps of the former Soviet internal administrative frontier between itself and Ukraine, 97 percent of which is done, it continues its decade-long opposition to its demarcation.
Ukraine and Russia continue to hold opposing views as to how the border should be defined. The Ukrainian side believes that the border should be the same as any other international border where delimitation on maps is followed by physical demarcation by natural objects or signs arranged at regular intervals. Such an arrangement would be very different to that which continues to exist on Ukraine's Western border, where Kyiv inherited Soviet-style watchtowers and barbed wire.
Russia, in contrast, continues to insist that borders within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) should be divided into "internal" and "external" ones. CIS "internal" frontiers are in effect the same as those that existed in the USSR, except that they may be now delimited on maps for greater clarity. "External" frontiers represent former Soviet external borders.
These opposing views on borders reflect different understandings of nation- building and identity within Russia and Ukraine. Since the Declaration of Sovereignty in July 1990, nation-building in Ukraine has always been understood to consider borders -- wherever they might be -- as integral to a country's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and as a national symbol. Ukraine has therefore not signed the majority of border agreements adopted by CIS structures.
Russia has always remained confused as to whether it is building a nation- state, which would lead to Moscow having similar views on borders to Ukraine, or whether it understands the CIS to be the successor to the USSR so that the CIS, like the USSR, would have no need for demarcated borders between "fraternal" republics. Such a view is accepted by Russophile states within the CIS, such as Belarus and Kazakhstan. This view of borders within the CIS follows from Russia's view of the CIS as a "Near Abroad," whose members enjoy greater sovereignty than they did as soviet socialist republics, but less independence than the states of the "Far Abroad."
The Ukrainian position became confused itself on July 17 when Oleksandr Kupchyshyn, the director of the Treaty and Legal Department of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, stated that demarcation would not be necessary because this would violate the "historic traditions of living together and coexistence of our countries and nations." This sounded suspiciously similar to that of the Russian Foreign Ministry position outlined exactly a month later that rejected demarcation because the Russian-Ukrainian border "should be one of friendship, accord, and communication, uniting rather than separating our two nations."
The Ukrainian media reported that Kupchyshyn was officially reprimanded for his statement. Support for demarcation into a fully fledged international border with Russia was again restated as the official view by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatoliy Zlenko and State Secretary Yuriy Serheyev. Serheyev, the president's representative in the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that Ukraine's approach to borders remains delimitation through protocols and separate agreements on maps, followed by demarcation with special signs or boundary posts, and finally, agreeing to a border regime. Explaining this position to Russia, Serheyev said it "coincides with our constitution," conforms to the "national will," and "fully corresponds to the standards of international law."
In a recent opinion poll among foreign policy elites by the Center for Peace, Conversion, and Foreign Policy of Ukraine (CPCFPU), a Kyiv-based think tank with close links to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, 87.5 percent supported a demarcated border with Russia, and 53.1 percent believed the lack of demarcation prevents Ukraine from integration into Europe. Meanwhile, 59.4 percent felt the lack of demarcation forced Ukraine's Western neighbors to introduce visas on Ukrainians, and another 56.3 percent thought it contributes to illegal migration, organized crime, and contraband.
Ukraine placed border troops on its 2,292-kilometer Russian border in January 1993, and eight years on its status still continues to differ from that on Ukraine's Western (former Soviet) borders. Although delimitation on land will be completed this year, Russia's position on the Sea of Azov, the Kerch Strait, and the Black Sea are again influenced by national identity considerations. Non-Russian former Soviet republics, such as Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan, view the Sea of Azov, Kerch Strait, and Caspian Sea as international waterways that should be delimited into country sectors with exclusive economic zones. Russia (backed by Iran in the Caspian) disagrees, with the Soviet legacy continuing to influence its attitude that they should remain "internal seas" as in the USSR.
Besides national identity, the CPCFPU points to three strategic motives for Russia's rejection of border demarcation. Firstly, the continuation of Soviet internal administrative frontiers in the form of "internal" CIS borders would allow Russia to continue to exert influence and apply pressure on other CIS states. Secondly, a nondemarcated border would prolong the confusion surrounding energy deliveries to Ukraine as until now Russia has refused Ukrainian requests to sell gas at the border where meters would be installed so it would be clear as to exactly how much Ukraine imports. Thirdly, Russia has always had irrational fears that Ukraine will slip away from its sphere of influence by integrating with the EU and NATO (it was not a coincidence that the May 1997 treaty was signed only two months prior to the Madrid NATO summit). Unresolved borders would prevent Ukraine's integration westward as the resolution of border questions is a prerequisite for membership in the EU and NATO. The CPCFPU therefore argues that accepting Russia's position (as Kupchyshyn briefly did) would, "cast doubts on the realization of Ukraine's European choice."
The Russian-Ukrainian border has even more importance for European security in the wake of the international concern over terrorism following the 11 September terrorist acts on the United States. Ninety percent of illegal migrants and two-thirds of contraband, including narcotics and weapons, enter Ukraine from Russia. A demarcated border with Russia has therefore importance not only for Ukraine, but for a soon-to-be expanded EU. Support for the demarcation of Ukraine's eastern border and improving security on it came during a June meeting between Prime Minister Anatoliy Kinakh and the EU's Security Chief, Xavier Solana, who has promised EU funds for improving security on the Russian-Ukrainian border. Obviously though, funds can only be provided if the border is demarcated, and to date Russia shows no sign of softening its opposition to doing so.
Taras Kuzio is a research associate at the Centre for International and Security Studies, York University.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty