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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 2, No. 25, 98-02-06

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. 2, No. 25, 6 February 1998


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] KOCHARIAN SAYS SITUATION IN ARMENIA UNDER CONTROL
  • [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE BEGINS
  • [03] FURTHER REACTIONS TO TER-PETROSYAN RESIGNATION
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN AGREE ON DIVISION OF CASPIAN
  • [05] EU SUPPORTS TURKMENISTAN OVER PROPOSED PIPELINE
  • [06] TIME, LOCATION SET FOR CENTRAL ASIAN MILITARY EXERCISE
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN CREATES HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
  • [08] KAZAKH BANK TO OPEN OFFICES ABROAD

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] EU CALLS FOR SERBIAN-ALBANIAN DIALOGUE
  • [10] HAS ALBANIAN POLICY TOWARD KOSOVO HARDENED?
  • [11] SERBIA STOPS KOSOVO MAIL DELIVERY
  • [12] MIXED RESULTS IN YUGOSLAV-SLOVENIAN TALKS
  • [13] PLAVSIC ADVISER WARNS AGAINST YUGOSLAV DINAR
  • [14] KLEIN URGES CHANGE OF BOSNIAN PASSPORT DESIGN
  • [15] KARADZIC ARREST WARRANT STILL VALID
  • [16] BRCKO TALKS BEGIN
  • [17] SLOVENIA, ITALY SETTLE PROPERTY DISPUTE
  • [18] ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL
  • [19] VAN DER STOEL IN ROMANIA
  • [20] TRANSDNIESTER SUBMITS DRAFT DECLARATION ON STATEHOOD
  • [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BILL ON NATIONAL PROPERTIES REGISTER

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [22] WHY TER-PETROSYAN FELL

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] KOCHARIAN SAYS SITUATION IN ARMENIA UNDER CONTROL

    Acting Armenian President Robert Kocharian said on 5 February that he is in complete control of the situation in Armenia, Interfax reported. He hinted that he might appoint Vardan Oskanian, the first deputy foreign minister, as acting foreign minister. Asked about his citizenship, Kocharian, who is from Nagorno-Karabakh, said he does not know "for sure if I am an Armenian citizen or not." Armenian citizenship is a requirement for candidates in the presidential elections, which are scheduled for 16 March (see also "End Note" below). PG

    [02] ARMENIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE BEGINS

    Meanwhile, Vazgen Manukian, the leader of the opposition National Democratic Union, has said he will take part in the presidential elections next month, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on 5 February. Calling the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan the doorway to a "new epoch" in Armenian politics, Manukian said he did not expect fighting in Karabakh to resume. Other likely candidates are the Communist Party's Sergey Badlian and longtime anti-Soviet dissident Paruir Hairikian. PG

    [03] FURTHER REACTIONS TO TER-PETROSYAN RESIGNATION

    Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze on 5 February praised Ter- Petrosyan for his courage in resigning, saying the decision will promote "stability in the region," ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennadii Tarasov said the same day that Moscow considers the resignation an "internal affair" of a friendly country. PG

    [04] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN AGREE ON DIVISION OF CASPIAN

    In a breakthrough for Baku and a setback for Moscow, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan have agreed that the Caspian Sea should be divided into national sectors, ITAR-TASS reported on 5 February. Such a division would allow each of the five littoral states to develop the offshore oil resources without taking into consideration the views of the other four countries, as Russia has been insisting. Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov announced the agreement following consultations in Ashgabat. PG

    [05] EU SUPPORTS TURKMENISTAN OVER PROPOSED PIPELINE

    Kees Wittebrood, the chief of the EU's Central Asian department, met with Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov on 5 February, Interfax reported. Wittebrood told Niyazov that the EU supports a proposed pipeline that would transport Turkmen natural gas to Europe via Iran and Turkey. Wittebrood also announced the EU will provide 14 million ecu ($12.7 million) in food aid to Turkmenistan. Niyazov proposed a joint project with the EU for cotton production. BP

    [06] TIME, LOCATION SET FOR CENTRAL ASIAN MILITARY EXERCISE

    A two-day conference on planning the next Central Asian military exercise under NATO's Partnership for Peace program ended in Almaty on 5 February, ITAR-TASS reported. The first deputy defense ministers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan were present, along with representatives from Russia, the U.S., Georgia and Turkey. The next round of exercises will take place at the end of September 1998 in southern Kazakhstan, in Uzbekistan, and in Kyrgyzstan. BP

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN CREATES HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION

    Kazakhstan and the UN have agreed to set up a presidential commission on human rights in the Central Asian state, Reuters and AFP reported on 5 February. The commission will review complaints from citizens, mediate in disputes with authorities, and sponsor seminars to raise make citizens aware of their rights. The UN is donating $100,000 to help start up the commission. BP

    [08] KAZAKH BANK TO OPEN OFFICES ABROAD

    Kazakhstan's Narodnyi Bank will open representative offices in Moscow, Beijing, and London over the next six months, AFP reported on 5 February. Those offices will not engage in banking activities. A bank official said "our bank is opening new credit lines by working with foreign banks, so it's necessary for us to represent our interests [abroad]." BP

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] EU CALLS FOR SERBIAN-ALBANIAN DIALOGUE

    British Junior Foreign Minister Tony Lloyd said in Tirana on 5 February that Serbs and Kosovo Albanians "need to move toward greater autonomy for the Albanians in Kosovo and the recognition that neither separatism nor violence offers any solution to the Kosovo Albanians." He added that the EU, whose presidency the UK currently holds, "will condemn violence from any part and [stress] that separatism is not on the agenda of the international community." Lloyd urged the Serbian authorities to implement the 1996 agreement to reintroduce Albanian-language education. He also called for direct talks between Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and Kosovo shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova. The Kosovars reject bilateral talks and want internationally mediated negotiations or a Dayton-style conference. Lloyd also noted that the EU is considering setting up an office in Pristina. PM

    [10] HAS ALBANIAN POLICY TOWARD KOSOVO HARDENED?

    Albanian Foreign Ministry officials reassured Lloyd that Albania will work to restore calm if an armed conflict breaks out in Kosovo, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. Those assurances followed a statement earlier this week by Foreign Minister Paskal Milo that Albanians everywhere will react "as one nation" should war erupt in Kosovo. The previous government of President Sali Berisha often used that formulation to indicate that Albania would respond militarily if Serbia launched a campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against the Kosovars. The current Socialist-led government has in recent months distanced itself from Berisha's pro-Kosovar policy and sought better ties to Belgrade. Elsewhere, spokesmen for the Defense Ministry denied a report in "Koha Jone" of 3 February that the military are concentrating artillery and armor in the Kukes area, near Kosovo. FS

    [11] SERBIA STOPS KOSOVO MAIL DELIVERY

    Officials of the Kosovo branch of the Yugoslav Post in Pristina earlier this week decided to stop mail deliveries to some 20 mainly ethnic Albanian villages in the Srbica and Glogovac areas, BETA news agency reported from Kosovska Mitrovica on 5 February. The officials cited security concerns as the reason for that decision. It is unclear whether the ruling has come into effect. The villages affected are located in an area where the clandestine Kosovo Liberation Army is particularly strong. PM

    [12] MIXED RESULTS IN YUGOSLAV-SLOVENIAN TALKS

    Mihailo Milojevic, the president of the Yugoslav Chamber of Commerce, told his visiting Slovenian counterpart, Jozko Cuk, in Belgrade on 5 February that Ljubljana must change its political stance toward Belgrade if economic relations are to improve. Cuk suggested that an improvement in economic ties could lead to a warming of the political climate. He also noted that trade between Slovenia on the one hand and Serbia and Montenegro on the other totaled $5 billion in 1990 but only $138 million last year. Milosevic's Yugoslavia claims to be the sole legal successor to the former Yugoslavia and hence entitled to all its properties and assets. Slovenia and the other former Yugoslav republics demand that the properties and assets be divided among the successor states. PM

    [13] PLAVSIC ADVISER WARNS AGAINST YUGOSLAV DINAR

    Rajko Tomas, an adviser to Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic, said in Banja Luka on 5 February that Bosnian Serbs should have confidence in the new Bosnian joint currency, the convertible mark, which is pegged to the German currency at one-to-one. Tomas added that the convertible mark will shield Bosnian Serbs from the inflationary affects stemming from the ongoing fall of the Yugoslav dinar, which is the most widely used currency in the Republika Srpska. He said that the "advantage of the convertible mark is the advantage of stable money.... Therefore, the convertible mark should provide for stable development of the Republika Srpska and Bosnia- Herzegovina in general." Tomas also commented that the Yugoslav dinar is "just printed money without backing." PM

    [14] KLEIN URGES CHANGE OF BOSNIAN PASSPORT DESIGN

    Jacques Klein, a deputy to the intentional community's Carlos Westendorp, said in Sarajevo on 5 February that the joint passports, which the parliament approved on 15 December 1997, should be modified to remove the reference on the cover as to which of the two entities the bearer comes from. Klein stated that removing the words "Republika Srpska" or "Federation of Bosnia-Herzegovina" would reduce the risk of the bearer being subjected to harassment by nationalists from the other entity. He argued that the principle of not including the name of the entity of origin was successful in the case of the design of the new license plates and that it should prove successful with the passports as well. PM

    [15] KARADZIC ARREST WARRANT STILL VALID

    A spokesman for the Hague-based International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia said in Sarajevo on 5 February that the court "expects that if [indicted war criminal Radovan Karadzic] travels outside the Republika Srpska, he will be immediately arrested and transferred to The Hague." The spokesman added that the court "would like to put on record that there is an outstanding international arrest warrant for Karadzic." Reports appear from time to time in the former Yugoslav and international media that Karadzic has left Bosnian Serb territory for destinations that have included Montenegro, Slovenia, Hungary, Greece, and Russia. The Russian Foreign Ministry recently denied Belgrade press reports that Karadzic has gone into exile in Russia. PM

    [16] BRCKO TALKS BEGIN

    U.S. negotiator Roberts Owen opened talks in Vienna on 5 February to decide the status of the north Bosnian town of Brcko and surrounding villages. The deadline for a decision, which has been postponed before, is 15 March. The Brcko question was the only one left open in the 1995 Dayton agreement. The Serbs claim that town and surrounding area because they provide a land link between the two halves of the Republika Srpska. The Muslims and Croats argue that they together constituted the majority in the town before the war and that to deny them Brcko would be to endorse the results of "ethnic cleansing." PM

    [17] SLOVENIA, ITALY SETTLE PROPERTY DISPUTE

    The Slovenian Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Ljubljana on 5 February confirming an earlier statement by visiting Italian Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini that Italy will accept $62 million from Slovenia to compensate Italian citizens who fled Slovenia at the end of World War Two for their property losses (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 February 1998). PM

    [18] ROMANIA'S COALITION PARTNERS SIGN PROTOCOL

    Members of the coalition signed the new government protocol on 5 February following lengthy negotiations, Radio Bucharest reported. Coalition leaders have suggested that the protocol is generally viewed as a temporary arrangement and that a new government is likely to be set up within the next few months. The Democrats have stressed that they will continue to seek the replacement of the prime minister. They undertook to back those laws that "promote reforms" and the measures that the government agreed on before their withdrawal from the executive. However, there is no mention in the protocol of a pledge to refrain from backing or initiating no- confidence motions in the government. The 11 Democratic deputy ministers officially resigned on 5 February, but Democratic prefects remain in office. MS

    [19] VAN DER STOEL IN ROMANIA

    European Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel on 4 February met with George Pruteanu and Anghel Stanciu, the chairmen of the bicameral parliament's education commissions, both of whom are opposed to amendments to the 1995 education law proposed by the government and supported by the Democratic Federation of Romania (HDFR). Last December, the Senate passed a version of the amended law that failed to meet the Hungarians' demands. Pruteanu said Van der Stoel told him that under international law, Romania is not obliged to set up universities teaching in national minority languages. In related news, Democratic Convention Chairman Ion Diaconescu said on 4 February that the convention will respect its promises to the HDFR, including those on the education law. MS

    [20] TRANSDNIESTER SUBMITS DRAFT DECLARATION ON STATEHOOD

    At a 5 February meeting of experts from the two conflicting sides in the Transdniester conflict, the separatists submitted a draft "Declaration on Transdniester Statehood." Anatol Taranu, the head of the Moldovan delegation, has rejected the draft, saying that "it can be seen with the naked eye that the document...contradicts the spirit of the 8 May 1997 memorandum on normalization of relations." He added that the separatists are "counting on concessions" as they try to exploit the election campaign in Moldova. He emphasized that all issues between Tiraspol and Chisinau must be settled "with full respect for the sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova." Chief Tiraspol negotiator Vladimir Garbuzov argued that the declaration is "within the spirit of the memorandum." Like Taranu, he called for negotiations to continue. MS

    [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES BILL ON NATIONAL PROPERTIES REGISTER

    Deputies on 5 February approved in the first reading a bill on creating a national properties register. Last November, they had rejected a similar bill proposed by the government, prompting the World Bank to postpone a $16 million loan to finance setting up the register, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Both the World Bank and the IMF have made the creation of the register a condition for extending loans to Moldova. Also on 5 February, David Owen, IMF deputy director for Southeastern Europe told President Petru Lucinschi that while Moldova has succeeded in reducing inflation and stopping economic decline, it needs to strengthen financial discipline and control more strictly the implementation of the budget law. The fourth installment of a $185 million loan approved by the IMF last year has been postponed pending changes to the 1998 budget. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [22] WHY TER-PETROSYAN FELL

    by Paul Goble

    The resignation earlier this week of Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosyan highlights the limits of international pressure on countries with democratic political systems and the dangers inherent in ignoring those limits.

    Under pressure from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group--led by Russia, France, and the U.S.--Ter-Petrosyan was forced to accept the so-called Lisbon principles for the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Although Ter-Petrosyan himself sometimes violated democratic norms, his grudging acceptance of those principles cost him the support of both his own government and people and ultimately forced his resignation. Moreover, it brought to office Robert Kocharian, who is less susceptible to international pressure and less sympathetic to the Lisbon principles.

    Those principles, presented at the OSCE summit in 1996, call for the restoration of Soviet-era borders, broad autonomy for ethnic Armenians in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, and international guarantees of such a settlement. While many have repeatedly invoked them as OSCE policy, they were, in fact, never formally adopted by that body. Yerevan refused to give its approval, arguing that the principles failed to take into account its own interests as well as facts on the ground.

    As Ter-Petrosyan made clear at the time, Armenia could never agree to compromise the fate of the Armenians of Karabakh by forcing them to accept the restoration of Azerbaijani control of the disputed enclave. His government made clear that Armenians were being asked to concede their victories in the field with little to show for it except Azerbaijan's promises that it would respect the autonomy of Karabakh in the future. And neither Ter-Petrosyan nor other Armenians placed much faith in the notion that the international community would effectively monitor any settlement that might be reached.

    Instead, they feared that the international community would eventually turn away from the issue out of deference to Baku and its enormous oil wealth and because of a sense that the Karabakh situation was no longer a pressing issue.

    But following the 1996 summit, the Minsk Group put ever more pressure on Ter-Petrosyan to agree its proposals. Ter-Petrosyan frequently countered by pointing out that neither his government nor his electorate could support them. He noted that the international community, in the form of the Minsk Group, was putting all the pressure on Armenia and thereby allowing Azerbaijan to obtain at the negotiating table what it had been unable to achieve in the field.

    With each visit by Minsk Group diplomats, Ter- Petrosyan moved ever closer to the Lisbon principles, winning praise in the chancelleries of the Minsk Group countries but costing him support at home.

    The popularity of Ter-Petrosyan in those foreign capitals was evident in the comments of world leaders after his fall from office. But his unpopularity at home is the reason he fell. Ter-Petrosyan clearly recognized that danger and sought to limit it last year by appointing Karabakh leader Robert Kocharian as his prime minister.

    Although politically shrewd, that move bought Ter- Petrosyan only a small amount of time. Moreover, it meant that Kocharian, who opposes the Lisbon principles, could mobilize Armenian opinion against the policies of his president. Kocharian did that with both skill and abandon; as a result, Ter- Petrosyan is out of office and Kocharian is now acting president.

    On the one hand, the change at the top in Armenia may introduce a certain clarity in any future talks on reaching a settlement of the Karabakh dispute. No one can doubt where Kocharian stands, and an appreciation of that may lead to more serious talks.

    On the other hand, a broader lesson has been learned: however well-meant, international pressure on leaders of democratic or even democratizing countries may quickly become counterproductive if it fails to take into account popular attitudes in those countries. Ter-Petrosyan was prepared to go along with the Minsk Group. As he stressed in his resignation speech, he was the leader of the party of peace in Armenia.

    But the Minsk group did not take into account Armenian popular attitudes and did not appear to many Armenians to be even-handed in its dealings with the parties to the conflict. Also, it did not provide Ter- Petrosyan with the concessions he needed to remain in power.

    Now, the Minsk Group program is at best on hold, and the dangers of a renewed conflict in the region are far greater than they were before Ter- Petrosyan's departure.

    06-02-98


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


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