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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 44, 00-03-02

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. 4, No. 44, 2 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AGREEMENT FORMALIZES RUSSIA'S FREE USE OF MILITARY BASE IN
  • [02] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES LINKS WITH LATEST SHOOTING
  • [03] UN REPRESENTATIVE CHIDES GEORGIAN OFFICIAL FOR WAR-MONGERING
  • [04] ADJAR LEADER LAYS DOWN GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MANDATE
  • [05] KAZAKH OIL SECTOR EMPLOYEES CALL FOR ANNULMENT OF CHINESE
  • [06] KYRGYZ FIRST-ROUND ELECTION RESULTS STILL UNCLEAR
  • [07] ANOTHER ATTACK ON POLICE IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] SERBIAN GENERAL SAYS NATO RESPONSIBLE FOR TROUBLE IN
  • [09] ...WHILE UNHCR CONCERNED ABOUT SERBIAN INTIMIDATION OF
  • [10] SERBS STONE ALBANIANS USING KFOR FOOTBRIDGE
  • [11] SERBIAN CIVILIANS IN STANDOFF WITH U.S. TROOPS
  • [12] RUSSIAN KFOR SOLDIER DIES OF WOUNDS
  • [13] KOUCHNER'S PLAN A NON-STARTER?
  • [14] ARTEMIJE: NO CHANGE IN KOSOVA'S STATUS YET
  • [15] ALBANIA SEEKS 'ALBANIAN SPACE IN EU'
  • [16] ITALY, ALBANIA DISCUSS FIGHTING MAFIA
  • [17] SERBIA HIKES ELECTRICITY PRICES
  • [18] SERBIAN POLICE DETAIN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS
  • [19] CROATIA'S MESIC NAMES LEGAL TEAM
  • [20] ANKICA TUDJMAN WANTS AUDIT
  • [21] SLOVENIA SEEKS REASSURANCE FROM AUSTRIA
  • [22] ROMANIAN DEFENSE INDUSTRY WORKERS MARCH
  • [23] TWO ROMANIANS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR NUCLEAR SMUGGLING
  • [24] ROMANIAN LIBERALS DEFUSE GOVERNMENTAL CRISIS
  • [25] MOLDOVA APPEALS TO MOSCOW TO RESUME GAS SUPPLIES
  • [26] RUSSIA HELPS BULGARIA IN LIBYAN DOCTORS' CASE

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [27] TURKMEN INCONSISTENCY COULD JEOPARDIZE PIPELINE PROJECT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AGREEMENT FORMALIZES RUSSIA'S FREE USE OF MILITARY BASE IN

    ARMENIA

    Under a protocol signed by Armenian Deputy Defense

    Minister Astvatsatur Petrosian and Russian Embassy official

    Igor Gordyushev on 1 March, Moscow is exempt from paying rent

    for the use of land, buildings, and other facilities of its

    military base in Armenia, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    That agreement formalizes an arrangement that has existed

    since the collapse of the USSR. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY DENIES LINKS WITH LATEST SHOOTING

    SUSPECT

    Armenia's Interior Ministry has issued a statement

    clarifying that Armen Harutiunian, who was detained on 28

    February on suspicion of involvement in the 27 October

    parliament killings (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 March 2000), is

    not employed by the ministry, Noyan Tapan reported. According

    to the statement, since March 1999 Harutiunian has been

    employed as a security guard by Armentel. LF

    [03] UN REPRESENTATIVE CHIDES GEORGIAN OFFICIAL FOR WAR-MONGERING

    Dieter Boden, who is the UN secretary-general's special

    representative for Abkhazia, expressed concern on 1 March

    over Georgian parliamentary Defense and Security Committee

    chairman Revaz Adamia's recent remarks, according to Caucasus

    Press. Following talks in Sukhum(i) on 27-28 February with

    senior Abkhaz representatives, Adamia had said that Tbilisi

    should resort to the "Chechen variant" if Abkhazia continues

    to reject the offer of autonomous status within Georgia.

    Boden said such statements run counter to Georgian President

    Eduard Shevardnadze's insistence that the Abkhaz conflict

    must be resolved peacefully. Also on 1 March, Georgian

    presidential adviser Levan Aleksidze told Interfax that

    "Georgia will not launch hostilities against the separatist

    regime in Abkhazia because the international community may

    respond with force as it did in Bosnia." LF

    [04] ADJAR LEADER LAYS DOWN GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MANDATE

    Adjar

    Supreme Council chairman Aslan Abashidze, who heads the so-

    called Batumi alliance of five Georgian opposition parties,

    has informed the Georgian parliament that he is relinquishing

    his deputy's mandate, Caucasus Press reported on 1 March.

    Abashidze was elected a parliamentary deputy in 1992, 1995,

    and again in October 1999 but has not attended a single

    parliamentary session, claiming that he fears Georgian

    security officials may undertake an attempt on his life. On 2

    March, "Alia" quoted a member of Abashidze's parliamentary

    faction as saying that Abashidze plans to travel to Tbilisi

    later this month for the first time since 1991 to campaign

    for the 9 April presidential poll. LF

    [05] KAZAKH OIL SECTOR EMPLOYEES CALL FOR ANNULMENT OF CHINESE

    CONTRACT

    Employees at the oil production company

    Aktobemunaigaz have published in the local Aktyubinsk press

    an open letter to Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev

    asking him to annul a contract concluded in 1997 with the

    Chinese National Petroleum Company, which owns a 60 percent

    stake in Aktobemunaigaz, Interfax reported on 29 February.

    The appeal claimed that the Chinese management of

    Aktobemunaigaz continues to ignore the interests of the

    company's personnel and to violate labor legislation.

    Specifically, it has reneged on an agreement to pay

    unemployment benefit to 2,000 Kazakh staff made redundant in

    April 1999. The signatories to the appeal asked Nazarbaev to

    establish a government commission to launch an investigation.

    Kazakhstan's Premier Qasymzhomart Toqaev discussed the

    situation at Aktobemunaigaz with Chinese Vice Premier Wu

    Bangguo in Davos earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31

    January 2000). LF

    [06] KYRGYZ FIRST-ROUND ELECTION RESULTS STILL UNCLEAR

    Kyrgyzstan's Central Electoral Commission announced on 1

    March that the final results of voting in the 20 February

    parliamentary elections are still unclear, RFE/RL's Bishkek

    bureau reported. The commission refuses to grant opposition

    candidates permission to resume campaigning until it becomes

    clear which candidates qualify for the 12 March runoff in an

    estimated 87 constituencies where no candidate won a clear

    majority in the first round. A group of 11 prominent

    opposition candidates, including the chairmen of the El (Bei-

    Bechara) and Ar-Namys parties, Daniyar Usenov and Feliks

    Kulov, had intended to tour the country together to meet with

    voters. The opposition attributes the delay in publicizing

    the results of the first round of voting to the authorities'

    attempt to falsify the outcome in those constituencies where

    opposition candidates won. The CEC says it is still checking

    numerous reported violations. LF

    [07] ANOTHER ATTACK ON POLICE IN TAJIKISTAN

    Three police officers

    were wounded on 29 February in an exchange of fire in

    Darband, 80 kilometers east of Dushanbe, with fighters loyal

    to one of the former field commanders of the United Tajik

    Opposition, Asia Plus-Blitz reported, quoting Interior

    Minister Humdin Sharipov. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] SERBIAN GENERAL SAYS NATO RESPONSIBLE FOR TROUBLE IN

    SOUTHWEST SERBIA...

    General Vladimir Lazarevic, who commands

    the Yugoslav army in southern Serbia, said on 2 March that

    "NATO forces already call the Pcinj district (Presevo,

    Bujanovac, and Medvedja municipalities) 'eastern [Kosova],'

    and plan [to annex it to Kosova] as the next phase in

    breaking up Serbia and Yugoslavia. In other words, they want

    to spread the very bad security situation in [Kosova] to this

    part of Serbia," AP reported from Belgrade (see "RFE/RL

    Balkan Report," 29 February 2000). Zivorad Igic, a Serbian

    official from Kosova, added: "Albanian terrorists now have

    aspirations toward Serbian territories outside [the

    province]. Unfortunately, the international security forces

    are unbelievably and unreasonably tolerant toward the

    Albanian terrorists, whose unpunished crimes show that

    they...can do whatever they want and be responsible to no

    one," Zigic added. NATO officials previously said they are

    closely observing the tense situation in the region and will

    not allow armed persons to cross the frontier. PM

    [09] ...WHILE UNHCR CONCERNED ABOUT SERBIAN INTIMIDATION OF

    ALBANIANS

    The UNHCR said in a statement in Geneva on 2 March

    that 102 ethnic Albanians recently arrived in Gjilan seeking

    safety. They reported an increase in Serbian military and

    police presence in southern Serbia, AP reported. The refugees

    gave "consistent accounts of harassment, beatings,

    confiscation of houses and apartments, forced conscription,

    rape threats, and demands for money," the UNHCR added. Young

    families make up the majority of the refugees and call the

    security situation "intolerable." Observers note that the

    incidents reported by the refugees recall the developments in

    Kosova prior to the 1999 conflict. PM

    [10] SERBS STONE ALBANIANS USING KFOR FOOTBRIDGE

    Some 150 Serbs--

    most of whom were women--threw stones at two ethnic Albanians

    trying to cross KFOR's new footbridge across the Ibar River

    in Mitrovica on 2 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 February

    2000). The Albanians fled back to the south side of town.

    Prior to the incident, a French KFOR spokesman said: "We

    launched this little temporary footbridge to provide

    civilians freedom of movement, which is their essential

    right. Freedom of movement is essential for the development

    of civic society here. We are monitoring the situation

    closely and we hope that there will be no incidents," AP

    reported. PM

    [11] SERBIAN CIVILIANS IN STANDOFF WITH U.S. TROOPS

    On 1 March,

    some 200 angry Serbian civilians surrounded 15 U.S. KFOR

    soldiers near Gjilan after the troops detained one Serb in

    possession of illegal weapons. The Serbs let the soldiers

    leave with the suspect only after U.S. reinforcements

    arrived, AP reported. PM

    [12] RUSSIAN KFOR SOLDIER DIES OF WOUNDS

    A KFOR spokesman said in

    Mitrovica on 2 March that a Russian soldier "died of internal

    bleeding overnight," Reuters reported. Unknown persons in an

    ethnic Albanian area of Skenderaj shot the man recently while

    he was on patrol (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 March 2000).

    Meanwhile in Decan, KFOR troops arrested two ethnic Albanians

    in connection with the recent mortar shelling of the medieval

    Serbian Orthodox monastery complex there, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported on 1 March. The monastery was not

    damaged. PM

    [13] KOUCHNER'S PLAN A NON-STARTER?

    The UN's chief administrator

    in Kosova, Bernard Kouchner, has prepared a four-stage plan

    for the reunification of Mitrovica, "Danas" reported on 2

    March. It calls for reestablishing security, allowing all

    persons to return to their homes, and setting up a unified

    city council and administration. Kouchner has submitted his

    proposal to the Security Council. Oliver Ivanovic, who is a

    leader of the local Serbs, dismissed the plan, calling it

    "cosmetic" and stressing that it will "not lead to a lasting

    solution" to Mitrovica's problems. PM

    [14] ARTEMIJE: NO CHANGE IN KOSOVA'S STATUS YET

    Serbian Orthodox

    Archbishop Artemije, who is one of the two main leaders of

    the Kosova Serbs and who supports the Serbian opposition,

    said in Washington that it is too early for any discussion on

    Kosova's political future. He said that a change in the

    province's status should come only after democracy has been

    established in Serbia and Yugoslavia. Some international as

    well as Albanian observers have recently called for talks on

    the political future of Kosova. They argue that the UN's

    interim administration has proved ineffective and that time

    has come to set up permanent structures, which presumably

    would be controlled by the ethnic Albanian majority. PM

    [15] ALBANIA SEEKS 'ALBANIAN SPACE IN EU'

    Tirana's Foreign

    Minister Paskal Milo told Vienna's "Die Presse" of 1 March

    that his government does not support the creation of a

    "greater Albania," as Belgrade has frequently charged.

    Instead, Milo argued, his government wants "an Albanian space

    within the EU...[which has] nothing to do with a greater

    Albania or Albanian state." He called for increased regional

    cooperation involving Albania and all of its neighbors as

    preparation for their joining the EU. Referring to Kosova, he

    called on KFOR not to allow local Serbs to affect a partition

    of Mitrovica or of the province. Milo regretted that Serbs

    and Albanians have not yet re-established joint communities,

    but he added: "How can that happen in such a short time after

    the Serbs have committed so many atrocities?" PM

    [16] ITALY, ALBANIA DISCUSS FIGHTING MAFIA

    A delegation of

    Italian experts on fighting organized crime held talks in

    Tirana with top Albanian officials on 1 and 2 March. Issues

    include traffic in illegal immigrants, prostitutes, drugs,

    weapons, and stolen cars from the Balkans to Italy via

    Albania, dpa reported. President Rexhep Meidani argued that

    "Albania needs special attention and assistance because it is

    the last station in the traffic in illegal emigrants and

    other traffic to Italy." In particular, he asked for

    technical assistance for Albanian police, prosecutors, and

    judges. Albanian efforts in combating organized crime have

    been hurt by corruption, inefficiency, and lack of experience

    among police and other officials. Italy has long stationed

    police, customs agents, and other experts in Albania. Italian

    ships also patrol Albanian waters in an effort to curtail

    smuggling. PM

    [17] SERBIA HIKES ELECTRICITY PRICES

    The state-run power company

    announced in Belgrade on 1 March that it has raised its

    prices to consumers by 9.5 percent, effective immediately.

    The company stressed that it needs more money to repair the

    damage inflicted by NATO's 1999 bombing campaign. PM

    [18] SERBIAN POLICE DETAIN OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS

    Police took some

    43 supporters of the League of Social Democrats of Vojvodina

    (LSV) to the Novi Sad police station on 1 March. Most of the

    activists were later released. The party had called a protest

    for that afternoon to coincide with the arrival of Serbian

    Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic to inaugurate work on

    rebuilding the Varadin Bridge. The LSV has called the

    government's reconstruction plans a "sham" and charged that

    Belgrade is dealing with the authorities in Novi Sad in a

    high-handed manner. PM

    [19] CROATIA'S MESIC NAMES LEGAL TEAM

    Croatian President Stipe

    Mesic appointed a five-member legal advisory committee on 1

    March to draft proposals for reducing the powers of the

    president. Initial drafts could be ready within two to three

    weeks, and the final proposals for changes to the

    constitution could be finished in about six months, "Jutarnji

    list" reported. All parties and presidential candidates in

    the recent elections agreed that many of the late President

    Franjo Tudjman's powers must be transferred to the parliament

    or other governmental bodies. PM

    [20] ANKICA TUDJMAN WANTS AUDIT

    Ankica Tudjman, who is the widow

    of the late president, called on Prime Minister Ivica Racan

    to launch a formal audit of her family's wealth, "Jutarnji

    list" reported on 2 March. She said that she wants to put an

    end to rumors and media reports that the Tudjmans possess a

    huge fortune that was accumulated illegally. Mesic has said

    that the Tudjmans will face legal measures--"as would any

    citizen--if they are found to have broken the law." PM

    [21] SLOVENIA SEEKS REASSURANCE FROM AUSTRIA

    Foreign Minister

    Dimitrij Rupel said in Ljubljana on 1 March that his

    government will soon ask its Austrian counterpart not to

    block Slovenia's admission to the EU. He also asked Austria

    to cease raising objections to the Krsko power plant, which,

    Rupel argued, was built according to Western safety

    standards. The Freedom Party's Joerg Haider has previously

    called for Krsko to be closed. He is governor of Carinthia,

    which borders Slovenia and is home to most of Austria's

    ethnic Slovenian minority. PM

    [22] ROMANIAN DEFENSE INDUSTRY WORKERS MARCH

    More than 10,000

    Romanian defense industry and aeronautics workers

    demonstrated outside the governmental and presidential

    buildings in Bucharest on 1 March, Rompres reported. The

    demonstrators called on the government to ensure that workers

    receive part payment of their wages during temporary layoffs,

    Reuters reported. The same day, NATO Supreme Commander in

    Europe General Wesley Clark arrived in Bucharest to discuss

    Romania's defense industry reform plans and thank Romania for

    its support for the alliance during its bombing campaign in

    Yugoslavia last year. VG

    [23] TWO ROMANIANS BEING INVESTIGATED FOR NUCLEAR SMUGGLING

    The

    Romanian intelligence service on 1 March said it is

    investigating two Romanians on suspicion of trying to smuggle

    nuclear secrets out of the country, AP reported. The two

    suspects were carrying materials from the Cernavoda nuclear

    plant when they were detained on 29 February at the border

    with Moldova. VG

    [24] ROMANIAN LIBERALS DEFUSE GOVERNMENTAL CRISIS

    The Standing

    Bureau of the National Liberal Party (PNL) on 1 March decided

    to put an end to the coalition crisis triggered by the

    resignation of Defense Minister Victor Babiuc from the

    Democratic Party and by the subsequent attacks of Democratic

    Party Deputy Chairman Traian Basescu against President Ion

    Iliescu and the PNL, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The

    bureau said it has "taken note" of the Democrats' "regrets"

    expressed one day earlier for having "used formulations that

    affected the public image of the PNL" (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    1 March 2000). MS

    [25] MOLDOVA APPEALS TO MOSCOW TO RESUME GAS SUPPLIES

    President

    Petru Lucinschi met with Russian Ambassador to Moldova Pavel

    Petrovsky on 2 March to ask Russia to resume the supply of

    natural gas to Moldova, AP reported. On 1 March, Deputy

    Moldovan Prime Minister Valeriu Cozarciuco and Mihail Lisnic,

    chairman of Moldovagaz, flew to Moscow in an attempt to

    persuade Russia to resume supplies. Russia cut off gas

    supplies to Moldovan on 28 February because of unpaid bills.

    Moldova owes Russian some $7 million for gas deliveries.

    Moldovan parliamentary speaker Dumitru Diacov said Russia

    could be using the cutoff to gain "political capital," but he

    refused to elaborate. Meanwhile, hospitals in Chisinau have

    canceled all routine surgery owing to the lack of natural

    gas. VG

    [26] RUSSIA HELPS BULGARIA IN LIBYAN DOCTORS' CASE

    The chairman

    of Bulgaria's National Assembly, Yordan Sokolov, met with

    Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria Vladimir Titov on 1 March to

    discuss the trial of six Bulgarian doctors in Libya, BTA

    reported. The doctor are accused of willfully infecting

    children with the HIV virus. At the meeting, Titov informed

    Sokolov of his contacts with Libyan officials over the trial.

    Sokolov says Russia's intervention in the case has helped in

    securing a postponement of the trial until April (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 29 February 2000). Titov said: "Our common aim is

    to guarantee just and humane proceedings." Deputy Foreign

    Minister Vasiliy Takev said on 1 March that Bulgaria has

    demanded that all formalities be settled to allow the

    departure of another 17 Bulgarian doctors who were initially

    detained in connection with the case. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [27] TURKMEN INCONSISTENCY COULD JEOPARDIZE PIPELINE PROJECT

    By Michael Lelyveld

    A U.S. official says Washington is working on a finance

    plan for the trans-Caspian gas pipeline to meet the concerns

    of Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov.

    John Wolf, the Caspian adviser to U.S. President Bill

    Clinton, told reporters in Istanbul earlier this week that

    the project's developers will submit a detailed project plan

    by the end of March. The aim is apparently to convince

    Niyazov that Turkmenistan will not lose money on the pipeline

    to Turkey if it agrees to terms demanded by Azerbaijan.

    In an unusual public show of anger toward a U.S.

    diplomat, Niyazov last week accused Wolf of "deliberately

    holding up" the $2,5 billion dollar project and of pressuring

    Ashgabat to accept unfavorable conditions from Baku.

    Azerbaijan has demanded half the capacity of the

    pipeline for its own gas sales to Turkey as a condition for

    allowing transit on its territory. Niyazov believes the

    remaining share for Turkmenistan's gas will not be enough to

    pay for the line across the Caspian.

    In comments carried on the Turkmen Press website on 29

    February, Niyazov said if Ashgabat accepts Azerbaijan's

    terms, it will take Turkmenistan eight years to realize a

    profit once the pipeline opens in late 2002. In the meantime,

    Turkmenistan will be faced with an estimated $3 billion debt,

    Niyazov said.

    Showing frustration, Niyazov noted that previous

    attempts to deal with U.S. companies on planned pipeline

    projects to Pakistan and Turkey had failed. Turkmenistan

    recently opened talks with Russia's Gazprom on selling up to

    50 billion cubic meters of gas per year. Some analysts

    believe the sales to Russia could replace the trans-Caspian

    deal.

    The partners for the pipeline will have until 20 March

    to present new figures that will address Niyazov's concerns.

    He has extended the mandate of the PSG International

    consortium for one month from 19 February, when it was due to

    expire. U.S.-based Bechtel Corporation and General Electric

    Capital have been working on the project, along with the

    British-Dutch firm Royal Dutch/Shell.

    A further threat to the entire project is posed by

    Azerbaijan, which last year laid claim to half the pipeline's

    capacity after finding a large gas deposit in its Caspian

    offshore field, known as Shah Deniz. At the same time, Baku

    started its own push to sell gas to Turkey, pressing its

    advantage of shorter transit distance. That move is also

    thought to be in retaliation for Turkmenistan's claim to a

    Caspian oilfield on its border with Azerbaijan. Niyazov has

    refused to give ground on the disputed oilfield.

    As originally planned, the trans-Caspian line was

    designed to carry 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year.

    Turkmenistan agreed to sell 16 billion cubic meters to Turkey

    and an additional 14 billion for transit to Europe. But

    Azerbaijan's demand for 16 billion cubic meters of capacity

    on the same line would make Turkmenistan's agreement with

    Turkey impossible to fulfil.

    In trying to make the deal work with less gas, the

    consortium partners may be facing another problem. Niyazov

    himself has negotiated terms with Turkey that may not be

    favorable, regardless of what Azerbaijan does.

    Turkey has agreed to pay Turkmenistan only a fixed price

    for its gas in the first six months of deliveries. After

    that, the price may be renegotiated to reflect market forces.

    If the price drops, so would Turkmenistan's profits, making

    it harder to pay pipeline costs.

    Because countries such as Iran and Russia are also

    planning to sell large volumes of gas to Turkey, there is a

    good chance that prices will decline for supplies that are

    not already covered by contract. Turkmenistan is unlikely to

    be in a strong bargaining position, even if the trans-Caspian

    pipeline is built.

    Niyazov has tried to deal with his troubles by

    threatening to sell huge volumes of gas to Russia. But higher

    volumes may only result in lower prices, making

    Turkmenistan's financing troubles worse.

    But without the competition from a trans-Caspian deal,

    Russia could insist on paying even less for Turkmen gas. The

    options appear to be limited, and Niyazov may be in the

    process of limiting them even further unless he can

    compromise with Azerbaijan.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Boston.

    02-03-00


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


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