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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 50, 00-03-10

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. 50, 10 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] OSKANYAN SAYS ARMENIA'S TROUBLES STALL KARABAKH TALKS
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN AGREE ON GAS SHIPMENTS
  • [03] HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SAYS AZERBAIJAN'S DEATH ROW PRISONERS
  • [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR SALARY DELAYS
  • [05] GEORGIA CRITICIZES RUSSIAN MILITARY'S ACTIONS AS
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN GOVERNOR BANS JOURNALISTS FROM MEETINGS
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN EXPANDS TRADE WITH IRAN
  • [08] OPPOSITION CAMPAIGN AIDE DETAINED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [09] KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT REVOKES LAND TAX INCREASE
  • [10] ETHNIC RUSSIANS LEAVING KYRGYZSTAN
  • [11] UZBEKISTAN, EU DISCUSS COOPERATION
  • [12] TURKMEN-RUSSIAN GAS TALKS BEGIN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] KFOR TROOPS CONFISCATE WEAPONS NEAR SERBIAN BORDER
  • [14] POLICE DEPUTY TRANSFERRED AFTER CRITICISM OF FRENCH
  • [15] KOSOVAR ALBANIAN STUDENT LEADER PUT ON TRIAL FOR TERRORISM
  • [16] YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS SHUT DOWN MORE BROADCAST STATIONS
  • [17] DRASKOVIC MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF BLOODY CRACKDOWN
  • [18] CHINESE JUDGE APPOINTED TO HAGUE COURT
  • [19] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS WEST TO HELP IF YUGOSLAVIA
  • [20] CROATIA, REPUBLIKA SRPSKA AGREE TO INCREASE REFUGEE RETURN
  • [21] WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL REJECTS CROATIAN PROPOSAL FOR TRIAL IN
  • [22] EU OFFICIALLY UPGRADES TIES WITH CROATIA
  • [23] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS GREEK VILLAGES IN ALBANIA
  • [24] BABIUC RESIGNS, ROMANIAN COALITION CRISIS INTENSIFIES
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN
  • [26] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON
  • [27] BULGARIA REJECTS MACEDONIAN CRITICISM
  • [28] RUSSIA EXTRADITES SUSPECT IN LUKANOV MURDER

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [29] STRONG AND WEAK

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] OSKANYAN SAYS ARMENIA'S TROUBLES STALL KARABAKH TALKS

    Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan said on 8 March

    that the October 1999 assassinations in the parliament and

    ensuing events have almost "closed down" talks about

    resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute, Noyan Tapan

    reported on 9 March. Meanwhile, head of the Armenian

    Democratic Party Akop Akopyan told the same agency that

    "everything done by the former ruling party--the Armenian

    Pan-National Movement--for 10 years" had led to the

    "Lebanonization" of Armenia. PG

    [02] AZERBAIJAN, TURKMENISTAN AGREE ON GAS SHIPMENTS

    In a

    telephone conversation on 9 March, Azerbaijan President

    Heidar Aliev and Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov

    agreed to pump Turkmen natural gas to Turkey via a pipeline

    to be constructed across the Caspian Sea, ITAR-TASS

    reported. PG

    [03] HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP SAYS AZERBAIJAN'S DEATH ROW PRISONERS

    DYING BEFORE EXECUTION

    Eldar Zeyanalov, the director of

    the Azerbaijani Human Rights Center, told "525 gazet" on 8

    March that 50 of the 128 people sentenced to death in

    Azerbaijan between 1992 and 1998 died in prison before

    their sentences could be carried out. PG

    [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT APOLOGIZES FOR SALARY DELAYS

    Eduard

    Shevardnadze on 9 March apologized to Georgians for

    "failing to resolve" the delays in salary payments, Prime

    News reported. Meanwhile, the Central Election Commission

    denied registration to nine of the 17 people who are

    seeking to run for president and said it might force more

    off the ballot if irregularities in their applications are

    found, Interfax reported. PG

    [05] GEORGIA CRITICIZES RUSSIAN MILITARY'S ACTIONS AS

    'UNACCEPTABLE'

    Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Grigol

    Katamadze lodged a protest with the Russian embassy in

    Tbilisi on 9 March over the detention of German diplomats

    by Russian military personnel near the Vazianai base on 3

    March, Prime News reported. Katamadze told the news agency

    that the Russian military's behavior in this case was

    "absolutely unacceptable." Meanwhile, Georgian medical

    teams continued to vaccinate Chechen refugees in the

    eastern part of the country, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN GOVERNOR BANS JOURNALISTS FROM MEETINGS

    Mangistau Region Governor Lyazzat Kiinov has banned

    journalists from attending government meetings, Khabar TV

    reported on 7 March. He said that their presence "deter[s]

    many from voicing their critical remarks and proposals to

    each other," but he noted that "we will be inviting the

    press now to our meetings if there is something officially

    interesting that could be shared with them and brought to

    the attention of the people." PG

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN EXPANDS TRADE WITH IRAN

    Kazakhstan Prime

    Minister Kasymzhomart Tokayev met an Iranian delegation in

    Astana on 9 March to discuss increasing trade between the

    two countries, Khabar TV reported. Tokayev said that

    Kazakhstan intends to send 300,000 tons of grain to Iran

    this year. In addition, the two sides discussed

    reconstructing a Kazakhstan port on the Caspian to boost

    trade. PG

    [08] OPPOSITION CAMPAIGN AIDE DETAINED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Officials

    arrested the campaign chairman of opposition leader Feliks

    Kulov on 9 March, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Emil

    Aliev, the deputy chairman of the Ar-Namys (Dignity) Party,

    has been accused of fraud in connection with a loan four or

    five years ago, Interior Ministry officials told RFE/RL.

    Yevgeni Taranov of Ar-Namys said that Aliev's arrest

    destroys their election campaign. He added that party

    officials have been unable to make contact with Aliev since

    his arrest. PG

    [09] KYRGYZSTAN PRESIDENT REVOKES LAND TAX INCREASE

    Askar Akaev

    has revoked a government decree doubling the tax on land

    and announced a series of measures to help peasants with

    the spring planting, Interfax reported on 9 March. PG

    [10] ETHNIC RUSSIANS LEAVING KYRGYZSTAN

    During the first two

    months of this year, 8,000 ethnic Russians indicated that

    they plan to leave that country for the Russian Federation,

    Information-Blitz reported on 10 March. However, only 200

    have filed applications to do so. PG

    [11] UZBEKISTAN, EU DISCUSS COOPERATION

    An Uzbek delegation

    visited Brussels to discuss expanding cooperation with the

    EU, Information-Blitz reported on 10 March. The two sides

    focused on questions of financial transparency and the

    fight against narcotics trafficking. PG

    [12] TURKMEN-RUSSIAN GAS TALKS BEGIN

    Negotiations between

    Turkmenistan and Russia over gas deliveries began in Moscow

    on 10 March, ITAR-TASS reported. The talks are likely to be

    contentious because the Russian side objects to the price

    Turkmenistan currently charges and Gazprom chief Rem

    Vyakhirev has expressed doubts about Turkmenistan's ability

    to deliver the amount of gas it has promised. PG


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] KFOR TROOPS CONFISCATE WEAPONS NEAR SERBIAN BORDER

    NATO-

    led peacekeepers (KFOR) seized a horde of weapons at two

    locations near Kosova's border with southern Serbia on 9

    March, dpa reported. A KFOR spokesman said the grenades,

    guns, ammunition, and military uniforms were found in a

    home belonging to an ethnic Albanian as well as in Serbian-

    owned homes in northern Kosova. In a separate incident in

    the Kosovar Serb village of Grabovac, north of Mitrovica, a

    scuffle broke out between Danish peacekeepers and Serbs

    during a house-to-house weapons search. Some 300 villages

    began stoning the peacekeepers, alleging the soldiers had

    caused damage during their search. Three Serbs were injured

    in the incident. PB

    [14] POLICE DEPUTY TRANSFERRED AFTER CRITICISM OF FRENCH

    SOLDIERS

    The UN said on 9 March that the deputy chief of

    police in Mitrovica, British policeman John Adams, has been

    transferred to Prishtina after making comments the previous

    day that were critical of French KFOR soldiers, Reuters

    reported. Adams charged that the French soldiers impeded a

    UN police investigation after clashes on 7 March in

    Mitrovica in which 40 people were injured. He added that

    the soldiers also destroyed evidence that could have been

    used in prosecuting the perpetrators. A Western diplomat

    said that given "the nature of [Adam's comments] and the

    depth of French feeling on the matter it was impossible for

    him to remain in Mitrovica." PB

    [15] KOSOVAR ALBANIAN STUDENT LEADER PUT ON TRIAL FOR TERRORISM

    Albin Kurti said at the start of his trial in the Serbian

    city of Nis on 9 March that he is a citizen of the Republic

    of Kosova and that he does not recognize Serbian or

    Yugoslav courts, Reuters reported. Kurti, a leader of the

    Independent Union of Albanian Students who worked for

    Kosovar Albanian leader Adem Demaci, is accused of

    "associating with others for hostile activities related to

    terrorism" and could serve 20 years in jail. He said the

    court "is in the service of the fascist regime of [Yugoslav

    President] Slobodan Milosevic and has nothing in common

    with truth and justice." Kurti was arrested in April and is

    one of some 1,300-1,700 Kosovar Albanians being held by

    Serbian officials outside of Kosova. Several human rights

    organizations are attending the trial. PB

    [16] YUGOSLAV OFFICIALS SHUT DOWN MORE BROADCAST STATIONS

    The

    Yugoslav Telecommunications Ministry closed the Nemanja

    Television and Tir radio stations on 9 March, Reuters

    reported. Owner Radisa Milosavljevic said ministry

    officials "took away all the equipment--transmitters, radio

    links, and a radio transmitter." Milosavljevic said he was

    told his broadcasting license was not in order. The TV

    station has been operating since 1995 and had up to 1

    million viewers, he said. PB

    [17] DRASKOVIC MARKS ANNIVERSARY OF BLOODY CRACKDOWN

    Serbian

    opposition leader Vuk Draskovic pledged on 9 March that

    "all criminals in power" and others linked to President

    Milosevic's government will be brought to justice, AP

    reported. Draskovic was speaking at the ninth anniversary

    of the government's suppression of an anti-government rally

    in which several people were injured and two others killed

    in subsequent violent clashes. Draskovic said that "with

    evil and misfortune, [Yugoslav officials] perpetrate their

    power today." PB

    [18] CHINESE JUDGE APPOINTED TO HAGUE COURT

    The Chinese

    ambassador to Jamaica, Liu Daqun, has been named as a judge

    at the international war crimes tribunal at The Hague,

    Reuters reported on 9 March. The UN said Liu will complete

    the unfinished term of Chinese judge Wang Tieya, who

    resigned for health reasons. The term ends in November

    2001. PB

    [19] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT SAYS WEST TO HELP IF YUGOSLAVIA

    ATTACKS

    Milo Djukanovic said after talks with U.S.

    Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in Sarajevo on 9

    March that the West would come to Montenegro's aid in the

    event of an attack by Yugoslav forces, Reuters reported.

    Djukanovic said Albright "reiterated the readiness of the

    Western democratic world to offer...help." Djukanovic said

    his republic is in no hurry to secede from Yugoslavia but

    he noted that it does not have equal status within the

    federation. He said that his government hopes "that after

    all the lessons [Milosevic] should have drawn from previous

    defeats in former Yugoslavia he will not be ready to start

    another war adventure." But if he does, Djukanovic said,

    "we will have the potential to protect ourselves." PB

    [20] CROATIA, REPUBLIKA SRPSKA AGREE TO INCREASE REFUGEE RETURN

    Croatian Foreign Minister Tonino Picula and Republika

    Srpska Premier Milorad Dodik pledged in Banja Luka on 9

    March to increase the scale of the repatriation of refugees

    to their prewar homes, an RFE/RL correspondent reported.

    The initiative calls for the return of 2,000 people from

    each side within three months and will work to develop

    settlements for Bosnian Croats who choose to stay in

    Croatia and for Serbs from Croatia choosing to remain in

    the Republika Srpska. Secretary of State Albright said the

    U.S. will grant $7 million to the Srpska government this

    year, of which $1 million will be used to facilitate the

    refugee returns. PB

    [21] WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL REJECTS CROATIAN PROPOSAL FOR TRIAL IN

    ZAGREB

    Croatia said on 9 March that the war crimes

    tribunal has rejected a proposal for alleged war criminal

    Mladen "Tuta" Naletilic to be tried in Zagreb instead of

    The Hague, Reuters reported. Croatian Prime Minister Ivica

    Racan said "our proposals have unfortunately been rejected

    but we shall continue discussions." A tribunal spokesman

    said one idea being floated was for Naletilic to make an

    initial appearance in Zagreb, at which "charges would be

    read out in court in Zagreb and he would enter a plea"

    before being transferred to The Hague. PB

    [22] EU OFFICIALLY UPGRADES TIES WITH CROATIA

    EU Foreign

    Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said in Zagreb on 9

    March that the new Croatian government "shares the values

    of the EU and is commited to a process of political and

    economic reforms," Reuters reported. Patten said "the

    government has a difficult challenge in wiping the slate

    clean," but he added that he believes it will grasp the

    "golden opportunity." An EU assessment mission will produce

    a study on Croatia that, if positive, will lead to

    negotiations on a stabilization and accession agreement. PB

    [23] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS GREEK VILLAGES IN ALBANIA

    George Papandreou and Albanian Premier Ilir Meta toured

    ethnic Greek towns in southern Albania on 9 March, AP

    reported. Meta said "the future of our region will be very

    different from the past we left behind." The two were met

    by hundreds of villagers waving Greek flags. Papandreou

    told a crowd that "different cultural traditions can be

    creative and should not be feared." The status of the Greek

    minority in Albania and the illegal migration of Albanians

    to Greece in recent years have strained relations between

    the two countries. Greece claims there are some 400,000

    Greeks living in Albania, though Tirana says there are only

    about 80,000. An estimated 300,000 Albanians live illegally

    in Greece. PB

    [24] BABIUC RESIGNS, ROMANIAN COALITION CRISIS INTENSIFIES

    Government spokesman Ionut Popescu told journalists on 9

    March that Defense Minister Victor Babiuc has tendered his

    resignation, which will take effect once the leaders of the

    coalition reach an agreement on his replacement. Democratic

    Party leader Petre Roman walked out of the coalition

    leaders' meeting without signing the agreement. He said

    later that the coalition partners are trying to tarnish his

    party's image by linking that agreement with one on a

    package of reform laws. Roman said that his party has

    helped draft those bills and that the coalition partners

    would like the Democrats to come across as a "bargaining

    party." A meeting of the Democrats' Steering Committee

    later the same day decided to convene a party congress on

    17 March to decide whether "participating in the ruling

    coalition still makes sense." MS

    [25] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR U.S. INVOLVEMENT IN

    TRANSDNIESTER CONFLICT SETTLEMENT

    President Petru

    Lucinschi on 9 March told Cavey Cavanaugh, special envoy of

    the State Department for regional conflicts in the CIS,

    that it is "absolutely necessary for international

    organizations and the U.S. to become involved" in efforts

    to settle the Transdniester conflict, AP reported.

    Cavanaugh said the U.S. is ready to support Moldova, and he

    noted that the Transdniester conflict is " a special issue

    in the political dialogue between Washington and Moscow."

    MS

    [26] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN WASHINGTON

    Nadezhda

    Mihailova told journalists after meeting with Deputy

    Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and leaders of the

    Congress on 9 March that the U.S. is backing Bulgaria's

    NATO membership bid, AP reported. Mihailova said that

    nearly one year has passed since the Balkan Stability Pact

    was launched and the time has come "to transform the pact's

    long-term vision of integrating the Balkans into Europe

    into a concrete policy, with structured benchmarks backed

    by financial resources." MS

    [27] BULGARIA REJECTS MACEDONIAN CRITICISM

    Foreign Ministry

    spokesman Radko Vlaikov on 8 March rejected Macedonia's

    criticism of the Bulgarian Constitutional Court's decision

    to outlaw the OMO-Ilinden PIRIN party, BTA reported (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 2000). Vlaikov said that "those

    who believe that the Framework Convention for the

    Protection of National Minorities offers legal

    justification for extremist activities are wrong." He added

    that the convention "applies to the rights of existing

    minorities but does not sanction setting up new minority

    groups." Bulgaria does not recognize the existence of a

    Macedonian minority. Vlaikov also said that Bulgaria

    guarantees the individual rights of all its citizens but

    "cannot tolerate separatist manifestations." And he noted

    that Sofia hopes the "excellent relations" with Macedonia

    will not be affected by the outlawing of the party. MS

    [28] RUSSIA EXTRADITES SUSPECT IN LUKANOV MURDER

    Russia has

    extradited Ukrainian citizen Oleg Protsenko to Bulgaria,

    ITAR-TASS reported on 10 March. Protsenko is suspected of

    having been an accomplice in the assassination of former

    Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov in October 1996. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [29] STRONG AND WEAK

    By Paul Goble

    Acting Russian President Vladimir Putin's repeated

    statements that he will work to build a "strong" state have

    gained him enormous support among many Russians weary of

    the disorder that has prevailed in their country over the

    last decade.

    At the same time, his remarks have generated great

    concern among many others both there and in the West about

    the impact such a new state might have on Russia's chances

    to become a democratic society in which the state protects

    rather than tramples on human rights.

    But perhaps most fundamentally, Putin's comments have

    reignited ongoing debates in both Russia and the West about

    whether the state he now heads is weak or strong, about

    what such assertions mean, and about what policy

    consequences the outcome of this debate has for Russia, her

    neighbors, and the world.

    Those who argue that the Russian state is weak point

    to the government's inability to enforce a coherent policy

    line across all its institutions. They note the limits on

    the ability of Moscow to enforce its laws, collect taxes,

    or pay its employees on a regular basis across the entire

    country. And they call attention to the decay or even

    collapse of many key institutions, including the forced

    downsizing of the Russian army.

    Some who argue that the Russian state is weak go even

    further. They argue that Russia is now a "failed state," a

    term used to describe countries where the nominal central

    government lacks the power and authority to give orders to

    its own bureaucracy or to subordinate regional authorities.

    And they suggest that Moscow must somehow rebuild state

    authority or face a future even more dire than the present.

    Among those taking the "weak" side in this debate,

    some argue that this reconstitution of state power is so

    important that both Russians and the West must tolerate

    significant deviations from democratic norms. But others

    who have concluded that the Russian state is weak

    nonetheless insist that the rebuilding of the Russian state

    must stay within democratic norms or face another kind of

    disaster.

    That disaster, these analysts argue, would be the

    reconstitution of an authoritarian regime in Russia, which

    would be likely to trample on democratic liberties at home

    and to pursue a far more aggressive policy toward Russia's

    neighbors, particularly the former Soviet republics and the

    three Baltic states. And in support of their argument, they

    point to the policies of earlier failed states, including

    post-World War I Germany.

    Those who argue that the Russian state is strong, on

    the other hand, point to a very different set of realities.

    They note the reviving strength of the Russian military in

    Chechnya. They describe the government's power over the

    media, over central and regional debates, and especially

    Putin's ability to define the terms of public debate in

    advance of the presidential poll on 26 March.

    And they argue that the Russian state is already

    reviving and that the disorder the "weak" state advocates

    point to was never as great as the latter group said and is

    quickly being overcome by Putin and his new team. Indeed,

    most of those who argue that the Russian state is already

    strong support what the acting Russian president is doing.

    But as in the case of the advocates of the "weak"

    position, some of those who believe the Russian state is

    already strong argue that neither the Russian political

    system nor the West should tolerate violations of

    democratic norms and human rights by those who say they

    must rebuild a "strong" Russian state. Indeed, this group

    suggests, the Russian state may be in danger of becoming

    too strong for both democracy and peace.

    And in support of their position, they point out that

    since the beginning of the Chechen war there has been a new

    militancy in Russian political discourse about Russia's

    neighbors and about the West's involvement both there and

    in Russia itself.

    Just like the blind men in the famous story about the

    elephant, each of these positions captures an important

    truth about the Russian state today. On the one hand, it is

    far weaker than earlier Russian states, in terms of its

    coordinating ability. But on the other hand, it is much

    stronger, at least in terms of the capacity of some of its

    institutions, than some both in Russia and the West appear

    to believe.

    Taken together, the two sides in this debate point to

    the importance of moves to strengthen the government's

    coordinating role as well as to the significance of having

    some of its institutions weaken still further. But both

    also highlight something far more important.

    If they are read carefully, both the "weak" and the

    "strong" positions suggest that if the Russian state tries

    to recover its strength by sacrificing human rights and

    democratic procedures, any victories Moscow does achieve

    will be short-lived. And such Pyrrhic victories almost

    certainly will result in fresh disasters for Russia, its

    neighbors, and the world as a whole.

    10-03-00


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


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