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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 213, 01-11-08

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 5, No. 213, 8 November 2001

According to a poll conducted by VTsIOM and reported by Interfax on 7 November, 52 percent of Russians would like to see Abkhazia become part of the Russian Federation (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 36, 29 October 2001). Only 24 percent are opposed to such a shift in sovereignty, the poll found. At the same time, 54 percent of the sample said Russia should not take sides in the conflict between Tbilisi and Sukhum. PG

CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA, LATVIA HOPE TO EXPAND ECONOMIC COOPERATION
  • [02] WORLD BANK OFFICIAL DISCUSSES FURTHER LOAN TRANCHES WITH ARMENIAN LEADERS
  • [03] MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS CONCLUDE VISIT TO ARMENIA
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN TO TRY VOLUNTEERS TO FIGHT FOR CHECHEN INDEPENDENCE
  • [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE HAS OFFERED PRIME MINISTER'S POST TO ADJAR LEADER...
  • [06] ...AS TBILISI DEMONSTRATORS DISPERSE...
  • [07] ...AND TWO MORE CANDIDATES NOMINATED FOR PARLIAMENT SPEAKER
  • [08] KAZAKHSTAN AFFIRMS READINESS TO MAKE GREATER CONTRIBUTION TO ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN
  • [09] KAZAKH MINISTER PREDICTS MACROECONOMIC TRENDS FOR 2002
  • [10] BREAD PRICES INCREASED IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [11] DEMOGRAPHER SOUNDS ALARM OVER FALLING BIRTHRATE IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [12] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS TAX CODE
  • [13] U.S. DIPLOMAT PROMISES INCREASE IN AID TO KYRGYZSTAN
  • [14] TURKISH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] ANOTHER MACEDONIAN PROMISE FOR NATO
  • [16] IS MACEDONIA SET FOR RENEWED CONFLICT?
  • [17] 'SUSPICIOUS POWDER' IN NATO'S MACEDONIAN MAILROOM
  • [18] SERBIAN LEADER MEETS WITH BUSH
  • [19] NEW UNIFORMS FOR SERBIAN POLICE
  • [20] SERBIAN PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATES MILOSEVIC'S WIFE
  • [21] BELGRADE DRAWS UP LIST FOR KOSOVA ELECTIONS
  • [22] MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS WITHOUT QUORUM
  • [23] BOSNIAN SERB PARTY MULLS RESPONSE TO PETRITSCH
  • [24] INVESTIGATORS MAKE REVELATIONS ABOUT HERZEGOVINIAN BANK
  • [25] CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SEEKS PARTY LEADERSHIP
  • [26] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.K. VISIT
  • [27] ROMANIANS ARE MOST SUPPORTIVE OF EU AMONG ALL CANDIDATES
  • [28] ROMANIAN LIBERALS OFFER DEPUTY CHAIRMANSHIP TO MELESCANU
  • [29] ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS AGREE ON SHARING TASKS IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION
  • [30] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER CRITICIZES FOREIGN MINISTRY
  • [31] OSCE REPRESENTATIVES BARRED ACCESS TO JCC MEETING IN TIRASPOL
  • [32] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN AUSTRIA
  • [33] POLISH CHIEF OF STAFF IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [34] RUSSIA'S POPULATION CRISIS: DEMOGRAPHY AS DESTINY?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA, LATVIA HOPE TO EXPAND ECONOMIC COOPERATION

    Visiting Latvian Foreign Minister Indulis Berzins held talks in Yerevan on 5 and 6 November with Armenian leaders including President Robert Kocharian, parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian, and his Armenian counterpart Vartan Oskanian, Noyan Tapan and Mediamax reported. Noting the absence of any problems overshadowing bilateral relations, the two sides assessed the potential for expanding cooperation, which the Armenian side said is needed especially in the economic sphere. Kocharian specifically thanked Berzins for Latvia's support for Armenia's accession to the Council of Europe, adding that Armenia could benefit from Latvia's experience in implementing economic reform and integration into European structures. LF

    [02] WORLD BANK OFFICIAL DISCUSSES FURTHER LOAN TRANCHES WITH ARMENIAN LEADERS

    Judy O'Connor, the World Bank's regional director for Armenia and Georgia, told President Kocharian and Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian on 7 November that Armenia will receive the second, $15 million tranche of its SAC-4 loan only if the IMF decides it has met the required tax-revenue target, according to Armenian National Television, as cited by Groong. She explained that release of a further $20 million tranche under that program is contingent on the successful privatization of four energy distribution networks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May and 22 October 2001), acknowledging that the 11 September terrorist attacks in the U.S. have negatively affected foreign investors' interest in the South Caucasus. Markarian assured O'Connor the Armenian government will not include that tranche in its calculation of incomes in the 2002 budget, but will decide how it is to be used if and when the sum is finally disbursed. LF

    [03] MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS CONCLUDE VISIT TO ARMENIA

    The French, Russian, and U.S. co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group, together with Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov, met in Yerevan on 7 November with Armenian President Kocharian in order to acquaint him with the amended peace proposal they presented to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev in Baku three days earlier, Armenian media reported. Trubnikov told journalists after the meeting with Kocharian that the revised proposal is not "radically new," but adds greater detail to specific aspects of the draft agreement reached by the two presidents during their talks in Paris and Florida in March and April. French co-chair Philippe de Suremain said the co-chairs briefed Kocharian on President Aliev's suggestions and reading of the current situation, according to ITAR- TASS. He added that the co-chairs intend to focus on promoting confidence- building measures between the conflict parties. But at the same time de Suremain warned that any proposed solution to the conflict must be acceptable to other states in the region, including Turkey and Iran, Arminfo reported on 7 November. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN TO TRY VOLUNTEERS TO FIGHT FOR CHECHEN INDEPENDENCE

    Thirteen young Azerbaijani citizens who volunteered to join those Chechens fighting for their republic's independence from the Russian Federation have been charged with enlisting as mercenaries and membership of illegal armed formations, and will face trial in Azerbaijan's Court for Serious War Crimes on 14 November, Turan reported on 7 November. The young men were said to have undergone military training in a neighboring country, a possible allusion to the alleged Chechen military presence in the Pankisi gorge in northeast Georgia. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SAYS HE HAS OFFERED PRIME MINISTER'S POST TO ADJAR LEADER...

    Speaking live on the independent TV channel Rustavi-2 on 8 November, President Eduard Shevardnadze announced that during his talks in Batumi on 4 November with Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze he offered Abashidze the post of prime minister and hopes that he will accept, Caucasus Press reported. The post of premier does not yet technically exist, but Shevardnadze said on 5 November he hopes the parliament will amend the constitution to introduce it (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 37, 7 November 2001). "Izvestiya" predicted on 5 November that Shevardnadze would select the next premier, while Abashidze's preferred candidate would be elected parliament speaker. On 8 November, the independent daily "Alia" quoted unnamed experts as predicting that Shevardnadze will assume the responsibilities of interior minister until the current crisis is resolved. He held that post for several years in the 1960s. LF

    [06] ...AS TBILISI DEMONSTRATORS DISPERSE...

    The last few dozen demonstrators who gathered outside the Georgian parliament building on 31 October to demand Shevardnadze's resignation dispersed on 7 November, Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [07] ...AND TWO MORE CANDIDATES NOMINATED FOR PARLIAMENT SPEAKER

    The parliament faction of Abashidze's Revival Union, which numbers some 60 deputies, nominated its leader, Djemal Gogitidze, for the vacant post of parliament speaker on 7 November, Caucasus Press reported. The following day, the Industry Will Save Georgia faction, which is about to align with the "Majoritarian" faction giving a combined total of 34 deputies, proposed one of its members, David Saralidze, for the post of speaker, thus raising the total number of candidates to four. LF

    [08] KAZAKHSTAN AFFIRMS READINESS TO MAKE GREATER CONTRIBUTION TO ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN

    Altynbek Sarsenbaev, the chairman of Kazakhstan's Security Council, told journalists in Almaty on 7 November following a meeting between President Nursultan Nazarbaev and the chairman of the CIS Collective Security Treaty, Valerii Nikolaenko, that Kazakhstan is ready for closer cooperation with the international antiterrorism coalition, Interfax reported. He declined to say whether Kazakhstan is prepared to make its military bases available to U.S. troops, but said the country's leadership "will consider" any further requests or proposals for assistance. "Vremya novostei" suggested on 5 November that the Kazakh leadership is jealous of the intensity with which the U.S. is soliciting cooperation with Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. LF

    [09] KAZAKH MINISTER PREDICTS MACROECONOMIC TRENDS FOR 2002

    Kazakhstan's GDP is likely to reach 3.49 trillion tenges ($23.6 billion) in 2002, which is 450 billion tenges more than in 2001, Economy and Trade Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev told parliament on 7 November. He predicted real GDP growth of almost 12 percent, an increase of 11 percent in industrial output, and a 14 percent increase in oil and gas extraction. Kulekeev said that planned budget spending for next year will not be revised downward unless oil prices fall to $16 per barrel from the present $19.30. Even if spending is reduced, those cuts will affect highway construction and construction programs in the new capital, Astana, but social programs will be left unchanged, he added. LF

    [10] BREAD PRICES INCREASED IN KAZAKHSTAN

    Despite a bumper grain harvest of 18 million tons, 4 million tons more than last year, prices for bread in Kazakhstan have been increased by 10-15 percent since 1 November, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. A loaf of bread previously cost between 31 and 35 tenges ($.21 and $.25). There was no prior announcement of the price hike and no explanation for it has been given. LF

    [11] DEMOGRAPHER SOUNDS ALARM OVER FALLING BIRTHRATE IN KAZAKHSTAN

    Kazakhstan's population has fallen by 1.5 million over the past decade and the country may face a demographic crisis in the very near future, State Migration and Demography Agency Chairwoman Altynshash Zhaghanova told journalists in Astana on 7 November, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. She pointed out that although emigration has fallen over the past few years, Kazakhstan has the lowest birthrate of any Central Asian state. (During the first three months of 2001, births were down 6.4 percent compared with the same period in 2000). The country's total population as of 1 April 2001 was 14,842,600; in July 2000 Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov predicted that by 2030 Kazakhstan's population will rise to 25 million. LF

    [12] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT AMENDS TAX CODE

    The Legislative Assembly (the lower chamber of the bicameral parliament) on 7 November approved amendments to the Tax Code proposed by the government, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Persons earning more than 5,000 soms (about $105) per month will pay 20 percent tax and those with lower salaries 10 percent. The tax threshold is raised from 400 to 650 soms. The IMF withheld a loan tranche earlier this summer after parliament enacted and President Askar Akaev signed into law tax cuts that reduced the income tax rate from 30 percent to 10 percent. The Legislative Assembly rejected, however, a proposed 10 percent tax to be introduced on bank account interest payments. LF

    [13] U.S. DIPLOMAT PROMISES INCREASE IN AID TO KYRGYZSTAN

    Visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe assured Kyrgyz President Akaev on 7 November that Washington plans a gradual increase in aid to Kyrgyzstan, but did not divulge any specific sums, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau and AP reported. At the same time, Pascoe insisted that the increase is in no way connected with Kyrgyzstan's support for the international antiterrorism coalition. Kyrgyzstan has pledged "support" for that campaign but has not offered the use of its airfields. Pascoe and Akaev discussed the situation in Afghanistan and in Central Asia in general, economic reforms, and U.S. investment in Kyrgyzstan. Pascoe also met with Defense Minister Esen Topoev and Foreign Minister Muratbek Imanaliev and with representatives of Kyrgyz opposition parties. LF

    [14] TURKISH PRESIDENT DISCUSSES AFGHAN SITUATION WITH TAJIK PRESIDENT

    Ahmed Necdet Sezer arrived in Dushanbe on 7 November for talks with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov that focused on the situation in Afghanistan and on expanding bilateral relations. Rakhmonov noted that stability in neighboring Afghanistan is a necessary precondition for expanding economic cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. The two presidents said they would welcome a coalition government in Afghanistan, but that it should not include representatives of the Taliban, Reuters reported. Rakhmonov confirmed at a joint press conference after his talks with Sezer that U.S. experts are assessing the potential of three Tajik airfields -- at Kulyab and Kurgan Teppe in the south, and Khudjand in the north -- and that he will agree to the U.S. using "one or two" of them if they are deemed suitable. "It's not a secret that the infrastructure that Tajikistan inherited from the Soviet Union is not good for much," AP quoted him as saying. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] ANOTHER MACEDONIAN PROMISE FOR NATO

    NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said in Skopje on 7 November that Macedonian government leaders promised him that a long-overdue amnesty will apply to all former ethnic Albanian guerrillas except those indicted by The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). The government promised to "exchange letters" with NATO to that effect. It is not clear whether the guerrillas will accept anything less than a formal amnesty passed by the parliament. Upon arriving in Skopje, Robertson called on the legislature to pass the constitutional package that was slated to have been passed weeks ago. He said: "The agreement is now six weeks overdue for ratification in parliament. That means there are sizeable, real risks of a return to violence. Inevitably there is going to be...violence if the parliamentary process is not concluded [promptly]." PM

    [16] IS MACEDONIA SET FOR RENEWED CONFLICT?

    Reuters correspondent Mark Heinrich reported from Skopje on 7 November that nationalist legislators have used a "grab bag of gambits" in recent weeks to delay action on the reform package (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 October 2001). He also noted that "the threat of renewed fighting comes both from militant Albanian separatists exploiting broader feelings of betrayal and from Macedonian rightist hawks who oppose the civic democracy envisaged by the peace plan and may count on further delays to provoke Albanian violence and justify a new military offensive." The Macedonian government has recently made large arms purchases abroad and made "pointed displays on television of new firepower and special forces, [which] have made ex-guerrillas nervous and suspicious." PM

    [17] 'SUSPICIOUS POWDER' IN NATO'S MACEDONIAN MAILROOM

    A NATO spokesman said in Skopje on 8 November that a letter sent from China to a nonexistent soldier in the German contingent contained "suspicious white powder," AP reported. The spokesman added: "The mailroom was sealed, the individuals in contact with the mail -- five military personnel and one civilian -- received antibiotics, [and] the mailroom was sealed and decontaminated." No further details are available. PM

    [18] SERBIAN LEADER MEETS WITH BUSH

    Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic met in Washington with U.S. President George W. Bush for 45 minutes, which is three times longer than had been planned, "Danas" reported on 8 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). Bush praised the Serbian leadership for extraditing former President Slobodan Milosevic to The Hague in June and pledged continued U.S. support for the reform process. Also in Washington, Serbian Finance Minister Bozidar Djelic said he will seek an additional $42 million in U.S. assistance for Serbia, bringing the total aid for 2001 to $150 million, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djelic said that the additional money is needed to help pay off the debt. PM

    [19] NEW UNIFORMS FOR SERBIAN POLICE

    The uniformed employees of the Interior Ministry (MUP) are to have new work clothes, "Vesti" reported from Belgrade on 8 November. The new uniforms mark an important if symbolic break with the Milosevic regime. The uniformed members of MUP were considered his praetorian guard. PM

    [20] SERBIAN PROSECUTOR INVESTIGATES MILOSEVIC'S WIFE

    A Belgrade prosecutor has ordered an investigation into charges that Mira Markovic, the wife of Milosevic, illegally used her influence when he was still in power to obtain a downtown Belgrade apartment for her grandson's nanny, AP reported on 7 November. If convicted, she could receive a sentence of up to five years in prison. Many current Serbian leaders have sought to put Milosevic-era officials behind bars on relatively minor but provable charges. They call this the "Al Capone option," an allusion to the fact that the famous gangster went to prison not for many counts of murder but for tax evasion. PM

    [21] BELGRADE DRAWS UP LIST FOR KOSOVA ELECTIONS

    The governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition has put together a list of 60 candidates to run in the 17 November Kosova elections, dpa reported from Belgrade on 8 November. The list will be headed by Prishtina University's Serbian rector, Gojko Savic, and will appear under the name of "Return." In Serbian political usage, "return" can mean the return of refugees to Kosova or the restoration of Serbian control in the province. Most local Kosovar Serb political leaders have called for a boycott of the vote. But two prominent local politicians have recently withdrawn their support for the boycott, namely Momcilo Trajkovic and Marko Jaksic. PM

    [22] MONTENEGRIN PARLIAMENT ADJOURNS WITHOUT QUORUM

    The parliament adjourned in Podgorica on 7 November because a boycott by pro-Belgrade deputies prevented the assembly from having a quorum, "Vijesti" reported. A proposed law on a referendum on independence topped the agenda. The next session is scheduled to take place on 13 November. The pro-Belgrade deputies stayed away to protest what they say is an attempt by the government to hamstring an investigation of charges raised by a Croatian weekly that President Milo Djukanovic is deeply involved in a cigarette-smuggling racket. PM

    [23] BOSNIAN SERB PARTY MULLS RESPONSE TO PETRITSCH

    Leaders of Radovan Karadzic's Serbian Democratic Party (SDS) met in Banja Luka on 7 November to consider their response to recent critical statements by Wolfgang Petritsch, the international community's high representative in Bosnia, "Nezavisne novine" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). The outcome of the meeting of the SDS presidency is not known. Elsewhere, Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said the Republika Srpska must consider proposed legislation on cooperating with The Hague following the tribunal's indictment of a top former Bosnian Serb general, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). In related news, Jacques Klein, who heads the UN police force in Bosnia, told the BBC that NATO must catch indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic if its statements about capturing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists in Afghanistan are to have credibility. PM

    [24] INVESTIGATORS MAKE REVELATIONS ABOUT HERZEGOVINIAN BANK

    A spokesman for international investigators looking into the affairs of Hercegovacka Banka in Mostar said on 7 November that there is ample evidence that the bank was used to fund illegal attempts to create a Croat nationalist ministate, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The international community shut the bank down in April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 and 18 April 2001). The bank lent some $9.75 million -- which included most of its capital -- to shareholders without calling for repayment, the spokesman added. He noted that some "highly-placed individuals" were involved in the shady dealings, but did not name them. The bank's records also showed that Croatia paid it nearly $25 million in subsidies for the Herzegovinian Croat military over an unspecified time. PM

    [25] CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTER SEEKS PARTY LEADERSHIP

    Defense Minister Jozo Rados has announced his candidacy for the chairmanship of the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS), "Jutarnji list" reported from Zagreb on 8 November. He promised even-handed, responsible leadership, "Vecernji list" reported. Current HSLS Chairman Drazen Budisa has not said whether he will seek re-election. The HSLS is the second largest party in the governing center-left coalition. Some critics charge that Budisa's personal ambition and often mercurial behavior have hurt the party's fortunes. It is widely believed that Budisa would like to reconstruct the political landscape and emerge at the head of a new center- right government, but many center-right politicians are reluctant to enter into a coalition with him. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.K. VISIT

    Adrian Nastase met on 7 November with Jean Lemierre, the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and with his first deputy, Noreen Doyle, to discuss future projects for investments by the bank in Romania, Mediafax reported. These projects will primarily concentrate on agriculture, telecommunications, energy, and the oil industry. Nastase also met with British government officials and addressed a business forum organized by London's lord mayor, Ken Livingstone. He also lectured at Oxford on Romania's reforms and its economic prospects. MS

    [27] ROMANIANS ARE MOST SUPPORTIVE OF EU AMONG ALL CANDIDATES

    A public opinion survey conducted in the EU candidate countries by the Czech TNS Factum polling institute shows that support for joining the EU is highest among Romanians, Mediafax reported. More than four Romanians in five (81 percent) would vote for joining the EU in a referendum. Second- placed are Bulgarians (70 percent), followed by Slovaks (65), Slovenes (63), Turks (61), Hungarians (60), Latvians (53), Poles (49), Lithuanians (48), Czechs (47), and Estonians (38 percent). MS

    [28] ROMANIAN LIBERALS OFFER DEPUTY CHAIRMANSHIP TO MELESCANU

    The Standing Bureau of the National Liberal Party (PNL) decided on 7 November to offer former Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu the position of PNL first deputy chairman, the daily "Adevarul" reported the next day. The PNL and Melescanu's Alliance for Romania decided to merge earlier this year. MS

    [29] ROMANIA'S HUNGARIANS AGREE ON SHARING TASKS IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION

    In Cluj on 7 November, representatives of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, the historic Hungarian churches in Transylvania, and nongovernmental organizations agreed to jointly supervise the implementation in Romania of the provisions of the Hungarian Status Law, Mediafax reported. The representatives agreed to form for this purpose a joint commission composed of nine representatives from each of the three sides. MS

    [30] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER CRITICIZES FOREIGN MINISTRY

    Presidential adviser Victor Doras criticized the Foreign Ministry on 7 November for having leaked to the media the recent presidential proposals on the changes required in Moldovan foreign policy (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Doras said the proposals were "no state secrets," but were passed on to the ministry by the presidential office "for internal use" only and for soliciting comments from it. He also said the Presidential Office will now be forced to make public the entire contents of the proposals, as what reached journalists presents a "distorted image" of their purpose. Doras also said the Presidential Office finds it "strange" that some members of the ministry's staff "believe no changes in Moldovan foreign policy are warranted." MS

    [31] OSCE REPRESENTATIVES BARRED ACCESS TO JCC MEETING IN TIRASPOL

    The separatist authorities barred the access of OSCE representatives on 6 November to the meeting of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) in Tiraspol, OSCE mission spokesman Matti Sidoroff said on the next day, according to Flux. Sidoroff called the measure "unprecedented" and "without any justification," and said the move could be a "provocation." He said that in the absence of OSCE representatives, the JCC sittings "lose their international dimension." Sidoroff also said the separatists have recently barred access of his mission's representatives to the Colbasna ammunition depot, thus hindering their mission to monitor the evacuation of the Russian arsenal in Transdniester. He said that despite the hindrances, and "even if the Transdniester is against it," the OSCE is ready to continue its mediation efforts between the two sides. MS

    [32] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN AUSTRIA

    In Vienna on 7 November, Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi discussed with his Austrian counterpart Benita Ferrero-Waldner Bulgaria's quest to join the EU and cooperation in combating crime, dpa reported. Ferrero-Waldner said after the meeting that Bulgaria must play an important role in the fight against organized crime "as one of the countries affected by drug smuggling along the Balkans route." Pasi also received assurances of support in Sofia's negotiations with the EU. Ferrero-Waldner pointed out that Bulgaria has already provisionally concluded negotiations on 12 out of the 31 chapters of the acquis communautaire, and said she expects a still more intensive course of reforms by the cabinet headed by Simeon Saxecoburggotski. MS

    [33] POLISH CHIEF OF STAFF IN BULGARIA

    Polish Chief of Staff General Czeslaw Piatas, on a visit to Bulgaria at the invitation of his counterpart General Miho Mihov, said on 7 November in Veliko Turnovo that Poland will back Sofia's bid for NATO membership, BTA reported. General Piatas praised Bulgaria's contribution to peacekeeping operations. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [34] RUSSIA'S POPULATION CRISIS: DEMOGRAPHY AS DESTINY?

    By Dr. Graeme P. Herd

    Russia is undergoing a demographic crisis that is unprecedented in peacetime: the population of Russia declined at comparable rates only when experiencing world wars, repression, or the famine of the 1930s. President Putin, key ministries, and regional elites have all noted the crisis -- with predictions of the current 144.2 million falling to between 120-80 million Russians by 2050. However, although many demographers have charted the causes of failing fertility and rising mortality, including analysis of the age-sex, ethnic, and geographical asymmetries, there is little research into the long-term security implications of such rapid decline for federal stability.

    Some general features of the decline include a depopulation of the Russian Far East and North and migration toward the European core and South, and a movement from rural to urban settlement. More specifically, indigenous ethnic communities, invalids, and pensioners are being trapped in poverty ghettos, while educated ethnic Russians of working age with a higher degree of 'migratability' are moving. Differential birthrates between Slav and non- Slavs are widening, and are particularly noticeable between Muslim and Slavic Orthodox communities. Lastly, the Health Ministry calculated that 1 million Russians will have HIV by the end of 2001, and 10 percent of the entire Russian population by 2005.

    Political stability will be affected by the decline. Currently, 50 percent of the population lives in the 20 most populous regions and elections are won and lost in the 10 largest -- a factor that internal migration reinforces. Thus the political weight of peripheral regions is decreased, just as Putin's recentralization of political power reduces the 'sovereignty' of ethnic republics and the Muslim population increases. There are two likely interlinked political outcomes. First, the 20-30 million Muslims (15-30 percent of the population and rising) will begin to demand greater political representation within the elite. Second, a Russian nationalist 'traditional Slavic values' backlash is likely to be fuelled by fears of national survival and the perceived threat posed by minority groups to state identity.

    Military security is most obviously transformed by a declining population. Here the impetus will be to make real the rhetoric of military reform force reduction, the shift from a conscript to professional army. However, the closing of military bases, particularly those in the Russian Far East, further exacerbates internal migration patterns from periphery to center, and paradoxically renders border areas of greater strategic importance yet harder to defend. Moreover, economic productivity will also fall as a consequence of population decline, undercutting attempts to construct an RMA-type (Revolution in Military Affairs) low number, high-tech army.

    Economic instability will also have an impact on stability, a problem that in 2015 will be particularly acute. As the baby boomers of the 1950s and 1960s retire, the lack of children born in the 1990s will affect the workforce, creating a 20 percent shortfall in labor reserves. The dependency ratio between young and old will mean that the state must pay more toward pensions and health care and less on economic modernization. A further dilemma will occur if moderate economic growth is registered: at that point deferred migrants will move from the periphery; economic stagnation stabilizes population distribution. Only massive economic growth will allow Soviet era-style subsidies and incentives to support state- sponsored demographic engineering and the increase of populations in peripheral areas.

    It is calculated that the 20 percent labor reserve shortfall can only be met through immigration and then only half can consist of Slavic CIS workers, while the rest will be Chinese. Some analysts predict a Russian Chinese population of 10-30 million by 2050 and point to the societal security implications of such a large minority. While Chinese economic networks will improve cross-border trade, provide employment, increase local tax revenues, and generate investment, they will also generate interethnic tension and 'identity politics,' particularly in the Far East. In the context of high crime rates and housing shortages, unemployment differentials between Slavic and non-Slavic communities' social and societal polarization will increase.

    The federal foreign policy implications of such internal instability can be easily gauged. The Russian diaspora becomes an end in itself, not simply a means to an end as various studies have demonstrated in the Baltic states. Competition for Slavic migrants between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine becomes an issue of rising strategic importance within CIS security politics, as does the pressure for the Russia-Belarus Union. Massive Chinese immigration to the Far East and Siberia places strains on the Russo- Chinese Strategic Partnership, and both legal and illegal migration to the EU shapes Schengen border regimes, and the fear of a 'Fortress Europe.'

    Russia's policy responses to such predicted decline -- the drafting of a Migration Policy and the Demography Blueprint -- will prove to be a litmus test for Putin's ability to shape the federation. The issue of population decline will have to be factored into the strategic planning by the presidential administration and all power ministries and will expose and reinforce structural, institutional, and systemic weaknesses within the federation. It will also prove a crucial factor in the way in which globalization affects the federation, increasing the tendency toward localization -- those trapped communities are increasingly isolated -- and selective integration, as migration from and to the federation increases. Russia's destiny will be shaped by demographic decline through the new century.

    Dr. Graeme P. Herd is a lecturer in international relations and the deputy director of the Scottish Centre for International Security (SCIS). (g.herd@abdn.ac.uk)

    08-11-01


    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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