Visit our Treaty, Convention & International Organization Document Archive A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 55, 00-03-17

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. 55, 17 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT EXPLAINS RATIONALE FOR ARMY PROMOTIONS
  • [02] NAKHICHEVAN ARMENIANS APPEAL TO RUSSIA TO ANNUL KEY TREATY
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE SIGN NEW COOPERATION AGREEMENTS
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN AGAIN REJECTS TURKMEN CLAIMS TO CASPIAN OIL-
  • [05] ...DEMANDS INCREASED SHARE OF CAPACITY OF GAS EXPORT
  • [06] KARABAKH AUTHORITIES ACCUSE BAKU OF XENOPHOBIA, ECONOMIC
  • [07] AZERBAIJANI PAPER WARNED OF IMMINENT ATTACK
  • [08] GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER UNVEILS PROGRAM
  • [09] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY TO SEEK ASYLUM ABROAD
  • [10] KYRGYZ PROTESTS CONTINUE
  • [11] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ARRESTED

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] U.S. TROOPS TO JOIN MANEUVER IN KOSOVA
  • [13] REINHARDT: KOSOVA MAY NEED PEACEKEEPERS FOR DECADE
  • [14] KOSOVARS SHUN CLASH WITH U.S.
  • [15] ETHNIC ALBANIAN LAWYER BEATEN IN SERBIA
  • [16] JAILED EDITOR FREED
  • [17] SERBIA MAINTAINS BLOCKADE OF MONTENEGRO
  • [18] YUGOSLAV ARMY DENIES POLITICAL ROLE
  • [19] GERMAN PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATE STABILITY PACT CHIEF
  • [20] MESIC CONFIRMS EXISTENCE OF FRANJO-SLOBO HOT LINE
  • [21] TWO MORE EX-OFFICIALS ARRESTED FOR GRAFT IN CROATIA
  • [22] ROMANIAN CHEMICAL PLANT LEAKS AMMONIA
  • [23] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REBUKES HUNGARIAN FAR-RIGHT
  • [24] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES KEY ECONOMIC STRATEGY PAPER
  • [25] MOLDOVAN PREMIER WARNS COUNTRY MAY DEFAULT ON DEBTS
  • [26] U.S. CONFIRMS OFFER OF SUPPORT TO MOLDOVA
  • [27] BULGARIA SETS UP SPECIAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE ARMS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [28] RUSSIA, UKRAINE WAGE WAR OF WORDS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT EXPLAINS RATIONALE FOR ARMY PROMOTIONS

    Speaking on Armenian National Television late on 15 March,

    Robert Kocharian said that the reason behind his 14 March

    promotion of senior army officers who are members of the

    Yerkrapah Union of veterans of the Karabakh war was to

    prevent the military from being drawn into Armenian

    politics and the weakening of the country's defense

    potential, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He said that

    domestic political tensions had begun to affect the army,

    prompting "numerous complaints" from military personnel.

    Kocharian added that the reshuffle will enable him as

    commander in chief "to control the army and bear full

    responsibility for the country's security." The following

    day, Kocharian met for two hours with the leadership of the

    Miasnutiun parliament majority alliance to discuss the

    political situation. No details of those talks were

    divulged (see also "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No.

    11, 17 March 2000). LF

    [02] NAKHICHEVAN ARMENIANS APPEAL TO RUSSIA TO ANNUL KEY TREATY

    Meeting in Yerevan on 16 March, representatives of the

    former Armenian community from the Azerbaijani exclave of

    Nakhichevan adopted an appeal to the Russian State Duma to

    annul sections of the Treaty of Moscow signed 79 years

    earlier, according to a National Council of Nakhijevan

    Armenians press release. That part of the treaty, which was

    signed by Soviet Russia and Turkey, transferred

    Nakhichevan, which in November 1920 had been formally

    recognized as part of Armenia, to Azerbaijani jurisdiction,

    the appeal notes. In 1924, Nakhichevan was given autonomous

    status within Azerbaijan which subsequently, the press

    release claims, implemented a policy of compelling the

    region's ethnic-Armenian majority to emigrate. The press

    release argues that as the legal successor to Soviet

    Russia, the Russian Federation should annul the "illegal

    and illegitimate" treaty which hinders friendly relations

    and trust between Armenia and Russia. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE SIGN NEW COOPERATION AGREEMENTS

    Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and his visiting

    Ukrainian counterpart Leonid Kuchma signed a treaty on

    friendship, cooperation, and partnership in Baku on 16

    March that designated the relation between the two states

    as "a strategic partnership," ITAR-TASS reported. Also

    signed were a 10-year economic cooperation agreement and

    agreements on interbank financial settlements, pensions,

    and education. Aliev and Kuchma also discussed cooperation

    within GUUAM, the prospects for exporting Azerbaijan's

    Caspian oil via the Odesa-Brody pipeline, and the Karabakh

    conflict. The two presidents pledged to coordinate their

    efforts towards integration into European structures.

    Kuchma promised support for Azerbaijan's aspiration to be

    accepted into full membership of the Council of Europe. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN AGAIN REJECTS TURKMEN CLAIMS TO CASPIAN OIL-

    FIELD...

    Azerbaijan's foreign minister, Vilayat Guliev,

    said on 16 March that Ashgabat's claims to ownership of the

    Kyapaz (Serdar) Caspian oil field will not be valid until

    the five Caspian littoral states (Azerbaijan, Iran,

    Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan) have reached

    agreement on the legal status of the Caspian Sea, Interfax

    reported. The two countries have been in dispute over

    ownership of that field for several years (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 7 July 1997, 17 April 1998, and 17 March 1999).

    Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov has proposed convening

    a summit of leaders of the littoral states next month to

    try to resolve differences over the legal status of the

    Caspian (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 March 2000). LF

    [05] ...DEMANDS INCREASED SHARE OF CAPACITY OF GAS EXPORT

    PIPELINE

    Less than one week after his father Heidar

    accepted Niyazov's offer to allow Azerbaijan to export 5

    billion cubic meters of natural gas per year via the

    planned Trans-Caspian pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13

    March 2000), Azerbaijan State Oil Company First Vice

    President Ilham Aliev said in Baku on 15 March that

    Azerbaijan will demand that allocation be increased to at

    least 8 billion cubic meters, Turan reported the following

    day. That pipeline will have an initial capacity of 16

    billion cubic meters, and a final capacity of 30 billion.

    Ilham Aliev said that Azerbaijan will soon begin gas

    production at offshore Caspian fields that are so large

    that two or three pipelines will be needed to export the

    gas. LF

    [06] KARABAKH AUTHORITIES ACCUSE BAKU OF XENOPHOBIA, ECONOMIC

    PRESSURE

    The Foreign Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-

    Karabakh Republic has issued a statement accusing the

    Azerbaijani authorities of creating obstacles to the

    enclave's normal political and economic development and to

    the establishment of peace and stability in the region,

    Noyan Tapan reported on 17 March. The statement rejects as

    unfounded an Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry statement of 15

    February claiming that plans by the enclave's government to

    attract foreign investment could have a negative impact on

    the ongoing search for a solution to the Karabakh conflict.

    The statement accuses Baku of seeking to arouse anti-

    Armenian sentiment and to exacerbate economic conditions in

    Karabakh in order to compel the Armenian population to

    emigrate. LF

    [07] AZERBAIJANI PAPER WARNED OF IMMINENT ATTACK

    A police

    official who declined to divulge his identity telephoned

    the independent Azerbaijani daily "Azadlyg" on 15 March and

    warned that preparations are under way for an attack on the

    paper's premises, Turan reported on 17 March. The Baku

    premises of the opposition Musavat Party and its newspaper

    "Yeni Musavat" were attacked in early February (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 8 February 2000). LF

    [08] GEORGIAN PRESIDENTIAL CHALLENGER UNVEILS PROGRAM

    Djumber

    Patiashvili told supporters (and some hecklers) on 16 March

    that if he wins the 9 April presidential poll his

    priorities will be restoring Georgia's territorial

    integrity, developing domestic industry, eliminating

    unemployment, and resolving social problems, Caucasus Press

    reported. Patiashvili also pledged to pay wages and

    pensions on time, raising the monies to do so by abolishing

    what he termed "unnecessary" state structures such as the

    post of regional governor. Incumbent President Eduard

    Shevardnadze told journalists on 13 March that Georgia will

    not resort to a monetary emission to cover domestic debts.

    Pension arrears since the beginning of the year have

    already reached 20 million lari (over $10 million) in

    addition to the 110 million lari outstanding pension and

    wage debts for previous years. LF

    [09] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY TO SEEK ASYLUM ABROAD

    Former

    Batumi mayor and Georgian parliament deputy Aslan Smirba

    has appealed for political asylum abroad after Georgian

    Prosecutor-General Djamlet Babilashvili asked the

    legislature to strip Smirba of his immunity to allow his

    prosecution, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 March. Smirba is

    accused of embezzling $290,000 from the London office of

    the Georgian Merchant Fleet, of which he is a former

    director. Investigators believe he may also have been

    responsible for the disappearance of millions of dollars in

    other funds belonging to the company. LF

    [10] KYRGYZ PROTESTS CONTINUE

    Some 200 supporters of opposition

    El (Bei Bechara) Party chairman Daniyar Usenov staged a

    further demonstration in Bishkek on 16 March to demand the

    annulment of the court ruling barring Usenov from

    contesting the 12 March runoff election to the Kyrgyz

    parliament, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Around 500

    supporters of Ar-Namys Party chairman Feliks Kulov staged a

    separate protest in Bishkek, while 1,000 people congregated

    outside the local court building in the town of Kara-Buura

    for the fifth consecutive day to protest Kulov's poll

    defeat. An Ar-Namys Party member told RFE/RL that village

    officials in Talas Oblast had told local residents that

    they had been pressured from above to falsify the poll

    outcome. Also on 16 March, State Secretary Naken Kasiev,

    Deputy Interior Minister Kalmurat Sadiev and Bishkek City

    Prosecutor Jumadyl Makeshev warned on state television that

    the protest demonstrations in Bishkek were illegal and that

    their organizers will be punished. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN ARRESTED

    Erkin Kyrgyzstan

    leader Topchubek Turgunaliev was arrested in Bishkek late

    on 16 March, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital

    reported. Earlier that day Turgunaliev had addressed one of

    the protest meetings in Bishkek and called on President

    Askar Akaev to resign. Turgunaliev, who is 58 and a former

    university rector, has been arrested and tried three times

    in the past five years on charges of insulting Akaev, abuse

    of his official position, and planning to assassinate the

    president. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] U.S. TROOPS TO JOIN MANEUVER IN KOSOVA

    A Pentagon

    spokesman said in Washington on 16 March that 1,100 Marines

    will take part in a NATO exercise of 2,000 troops over the

    weekend. He stressed that the maneuver has been planned

    since September and is not related to current tensions in

    Mitrovica and southwestern Serbia. Meanwhile in Athens,

    Aleka Papariga of the Communist Party of Greece called for

    anti-U.S. and anti-NATO demonstrations in Thessaloniki

    while the Marines pass through the city. She said that NATO

    troops in Kosova are "occupying forces engaged in ethnic

    cleansing against the Serbs," Reuters reported. Papariga

    also called for the recall of Greek forces serving with

    KFOR. Observers note that ordinary Serbs welcome the

    presence of the Greek soldiers. German army officers have

    told "RFE/RL Newsline" that Greek crowds have previously

    harassed and taunted German and other NATO troops in

    Thessaloniki. PM

    [13] REINHARDT: KOSOVA MAY NEED PEACEKEEPERS FOR DECADE

    KFOR

    commander General Klaus Reinhardt told Reuters in Prishtina

    on 17 March that peacekeepers may have to remain in the

    troubled province for up to 10 years. He compared the

    difficult situation there with those in other trouble

    spots. "Look at Northern Ireland and how long that is

    taking. Look at Sinai and Lebanon and you see how difficult

    that is," he added. Reinhardt also expressed doubts that a

    multicultural society will return any time soon to Kosova.

    U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has also

    recently distanced herself from multiculturalism as a goal

    (see "RFR/RL Balkan Report," 16 March 2000). "The New York

    Times" ran a commentary on 17 March in which it called on

    the international community to "get real" and recognize

    that most Serbs and Albanians do not want to live together.

    PM

    [14] KOSOVARS SHUN CLASH WITH U.S.

    NATO Secretary-General Lord

    Robertson said in Zagreb on 16 March that the Atlantic

    alliance has the situation in Kosova under control. "It

    should not be assumed that because there are one or two

    flashpoints, the majority of [Kosova] is somehow in flames.

    That is not true," he added. In Kosova, a U.S. army

    spokeswoman hailed NATO's confiscation of illegal weapons

    from Albanian extremists: "This won't be the last time.

    Everything we find that's suspicious we'll act upon," she

    said (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 2000). In Washington,

    State Department spokesman James Rubin noted that the

    Albanians did not resist and seemed concerned not to

    provoke any incident between themselves and the U.S.

    forces. He stressed that this "demonstrates that the

    Kosovar Albanians do not desire confrontation with American

    forces. We do not believe we are headed for a confrontation

    with the Kosovar Albanians," he added. PM

    [15] ETHNIC ALBANIAN LAWYER BEATEN IN SERBIA

    During the night

    of 16 March, four unidentified masked men forced their way

    into the Zemun apartment of Husnia Butyqi, beating him and

    his wife. He has undergone surgery for head wounds and is

    in serious condition, the private Beta news agency

    reported. Butyqi was slated to defend some of a group of

    five ethnic Albanians in a Belgrade court the following

    day. He has previously defended Albanian activist Flora

    Brovina and others. Zemun is run by Vojislav Seselj's

    Serbian Radical Party. PM

    [16] JAILED EDITOR FREED

    Nebojsa Ristic, who is the editor in

    chief of the independent Television Soko in the central

    Serbian town of Soko Banja, was freed from a prison in

    Zajecar on 17 March. Ristic told a crowd of well-wishers

    that it remains essential to support free media, AP

    reported. He had been held for one year for "spreading

    false information." Ristic had irked the authorities by

    displaying a poster in his office window reading: "A Free

    Press--Made In Serbia." PM

    [17] SERBIA MAINTAINS BLOCKADE OF MONTENEGRO

    Despite recent

    claims by the Belgrade authorities that the border between

    Serbia and Montenegro is open, "Vesti" of 17 March wrote

    that it is as tightly regulated as any international border

    in Europe. Reporting from Mehov Krs, the reporters added

    that Serbian authorities do not allow even sheep to pass

    the frontier freely. There is "no trace" of police on the

    Montenegrin side of the crossing, the daily noted.

    Elsewhere, Beta reported that a shipment of 3,500 tons of

    iron is stuck on the border. The Niksic iron works has had

    to stop production for a lack of raw materials from Serbia.

    PM

    [18] YUGOSLAV ARMY DENIES POLITICAL ROLE

    The command of the

    Second Army said in a statement in Podgorica on 16 March

    that Montenegrin charges that the military has taken on a

    political role are "malicious and very dangerous," RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16

    March 2000). The statement added that the Montenegrin

    police have recently increased their numbers and conducted

    military training exercises. PM

    [19] GERMAN PROSECUTORS INVESTIGATE STABILITY PACT CHIEF

    Peter

    Schwartzwald, a prosecutor in Duesseldorf, told Reuters on

    17 March that "an investigation is under way against Bodo

    Hombach," who heads the EU's Balkan Stability Pact. The

    former top aide to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is

    suspected of having illegally diverted $150,000 from a

    private company to an official of the Social Democratic

    Party. Charges of financial irregularities and extravagance

    have surfaced previously against Hombach in the German

    political arena. Many in Germany and elsewhere criticized

    Schroeder's 1999 appointment of Hombach, who has little

    background in international affairs and none in the

    Balkans. PM

    [20] MESIC CONFIRMS EXISTENCE OF FRANJO-SLOBO HOT LINE

    Croatian

    President Stipe Mesic told reporters in Zagreb on 16 March

    that press reports of a direct telephone line between the

    late President Franjo Tudjman and Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic are true, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 2000). It is not

    clear when the phone line was set up or how often it was

    used. Mesic added that investigators will soon begin

    listening to tapes that Tudjman made of conversations in

    his office. PM

    [21] TWO MORE EX-OFFICIALS ARRESTED FOR GRAFT IN CROATIA

    On 16

    March, police in Split arrested Zvonimir Vedris and Davor

    Zuvic, who were prominent officials in the last

    government's Transportation Ministry. They are suspected of

    embezzling $2 million that was slated for the construction

    of two airports that were never built. The money landed in

    private accounts abroad, "Vecernji list" reported. Police

    chief Ranko Ostojic said that the arrest proved the

    "connection between crime and the former government," Hina

    noted. PM

    [22] ROMANIAN CHEMICAL PLANT LEAKS AMMONIA

    A chemical plant in

    southern Romania was reported to have leaked concentrations

    of ammonia that exceeded local safety standards on 15

    March, AP reported the next day. While the Romanian

    Environment Ministry said the leak was about 1.5 times

    above the safety level, Bulgarian authorities said it

    reached 3.6 times the acceptable level. Meanwhile, a German

    Environment Ministry official on a visit to Romania said

    local environmental organizations had told her there are

    some 55 "environmental time bombs" similar to the one that

    caused a recent heavy metal spill in the Tisza River, MTI

    reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 March 2000). VG

    [23] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY REBUKES HUNGARIAN FAR-RIGHT

    LEADER

    The Foreign Ministry on 16 March said in a

    statement that it has "taken note" of the declaration made

    one day earlier by far-right Hungarian Justice and Life

    Party leader Istvan Csurka and that it "regretfully must

    conclude that these declarations are in evident contrast

    with the positive evolution [marked] in Romanian-Hungarian

    relations." Csurka told a gathering marking the 15 March

    Hungarian national holiday that a repeat of "the tragedy"

    of the Tisza (Tisa) River pollution can only be avoided if

    Transylvania becomes an independent state. The Romanian

    ministry says the purpose of the statement is to "create

    artificial tension" in Romanian-Hungarian relations and

    that the two countries must continue their effort to

    achieve integration into "a united Europe that is

    unburdened by prejudice and reminiscences of the past,"

    Romanian state radio reported. MS

    [24] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES KEY ECONOMIC STRATEGY PAPER

    The Romanian coalition government on 16 March approved a

    key medium-term economic strategy paper that calls for non-

    inflationary and sustainable economic growth, Rompres

    reported. The document is considered essential for the

    country's upcoming membership talks with the EU. In other

    news, Romania announced that it will open eight centers

    around the country to process Moldovan applicants for

    citizenship, AP reported on 15 March. The Moldovan

    government has protested against the decision. Also, a

    Bucharest court on 16 March rejected a request by Zoe

    Ceausescu--the daughter of late Romanian communist leader

    Nicolae Ceausescu--for the return of belongings that were

    confiscated during the 1989 anti-communist revolt, Mediafax

    reported. VG

    [25] MOLDOVAN PREMIER WARNS COUNTRY MAY DEFAULT ON DEBTS

    Dumitru Braghis on 16 March warned that his government may

    default on its debt payments for this year if the

    parliament does not pass key laws related to a memorandum

    the country has signed with the IMF, Infotag reported. If

    Moldova fulfills the memorandum, which calls for the

    privatization of key companies, it will be eligible to

    receive external financing. He said the cabinet is not sure

    it will be able to pay some $81.3 million in debt payments

    due this year without external financial assistance. VG

    [26] U.S. CONFIRMS OFFER OF SUPPORT TO MOLDOVA

    U.S. Deputy

    Secretary of State Strobe Talbott on 16 March told visiting

    Moldovan Foreign Minister Nicolae Tabacaru that the U.S. is

    ready to provide the country with $33 million to speed up

    the withdrawal of Russian troops from the breakaway region

    of Transdniester, Infotag reported. VG

    [27] BULGARIA SETS UP SPECIAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE ARMS

    SALES

    The Bulgarian government has set up a special

    commission to investigate allegations in a recent UN report

    that the country sold weapons to Angola's UNITA rebels (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 March 2000), BTA reported. Several

    officials have denied that the country made any direct arms

    sales to UNITA. In other news, Bulgarian Prime Minister

    Ivan Kostov suggested to his visiting Swedish counterpart,

    Goran Persson, that the Balkan Stability Pact be used to

    guarantee foreign investment in the Balkan region, BTA

    reported on 15 March. Persson praised the idea and said he

    would present it at the upcoming EU summit in Lisbon. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [28] RUSSIA, UKRAINE WAGE WAR OF WORDS

    By Askold Krushelnycky

    Russia and Ukraine are engaged in an increasingly

    heated war of words about language. The Russian government

    has criticized Ukrainian policy aimed at making the use of

    the Ukrainian language mandatory for all state officials

    and increasing its use in schools. Russian organizations in

    both Russia and Ukraine have joined in that criticism.

    Last week, hundreds of people in the west Ukrainian

    city of Lviv demonstrated to demand the closure of all

    Russian-language publications. In the capital, Kyiv,

    nationalists demanded that Russian be banned from official

    use and from television.

    Meanwhile in Russia, protesters from Russian Orthodox

    organizations picketed the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow.

    They demanded equal rights for the Ukrainian and Russian

    languages in Ukraine and what one of the organizations, the

    Christian Rebirth Union, called "equal rights for ethnic

    Russians on Ukrainian territory."

    The upsurge in Russian concern follows Ukrainian

    proposals in the last three months to increase the use of

    Ukrainian in education and introduce Ukrainian-language

    tests for state employees and officials. Russian-speakers

    are angry that they may not be eligible for some state jobs

    unless they learn Ukrainian. Some Russian community

    organizations in Ukraine have characterized the moves as an

    attack on Russian culture generally.

    Last month, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said

    the measures could infringe upon human rights and damage

    what it called "the cultural and linguistic environment."

    The statement added that such actions in so sensitive an

    area as language usually have "dire consequences."

    Russian Human Rights Commissioner Oleg Mironov, for

    his part, said that Ukraine's language proposals grossly

    violate international norms, particularly the European

    Convention on Human Rights, to which Ukraine is a

    signatory. He called the scale of language discrimination

    in Ukraine "massive and unprecedented."

    In reply to the Russian charges, Ukrainian Foreign

    Ministry spokesman Ihor Hrushko said that everyone in

    Ukraine has the right to choose his or her language of

    education. According to the Foreign Ministry, that is not

    true of Russia, where, it added, the country's large

    Ukrainian community has received very little official

    support for Ukrainian-language publications or activities.

    In any case, Hrushko commented, Kyiv is sure that its

    proposals are in accordance with human rights norms. "We

    have already informed the Russian side that if this

    practice of groundlessly twisting the facts--that is, the

    real situation concerning languages in Ukraine--continues,

    then the Ukrainian side reserves the right to turn the

    matter over for independent assessment by the Council of

    Europe, the OSCE's (Organization for Security and

    Cooperation in Europe) human rights experts or other

    respected international bodies," he told RFE/RL. "We are

    absolutely convinced that we are in the right on this

    issue, and we are ready for any international

    adjudication."

    The language issue is an extremely emotional one

    throughout the former Soviet Union. Non-Russians in most

    former Soviet republics point out that they were forced to

    use Russian in central and local government administration,

    at the workplace, and in educational establishments.

    (Notable exceptions were the three Transcaucasus republics,

    whose respective republican constitutions proclaimed that

    the mother tongue of the titular nationality was the state

    language.) The use of a non-Russian native language was

    often portrayed by Soviet authorities as evidence of

    nationalism, and thousands were executed or sent to labor

    camps for trying to defend their mother tongue.

    Many Ukrainians, in particular, believe that during

    the Soviet era, Russian was used as a weapon against the

    national identity of non-Russian peoples. Under Soviet

    rule, Ukrainians found it much safer to use the Russian

    language. Besides, Russian was not only the language of

    opportunity in education and at the workplace but also the

    predominant language of literature and entertainment,

    including television and films.

    Within Ukraine, there is a pronounced east-west divide

    in the use of language. Western Ukraine,. which was not

    incorporated into the Soviet Union until after World War

    II, is predominantly Ukrainian-speaking. Eastern Ukraine

    was heavily russified under the tsar and later under

    communism. The east also contains many of Ukraine's ethnic

    Russians, who make up about one-fifth of the country's 50

    million inhabitants.

    After Ukraine attained independence, Ukrainian became

    the state language and was introduced into more schools and

    institutes as the language of instruction. But one-third of

    the country's schools continue to use Russian, and much

    official business is still conducted in that language.

    Moreover, Russian-language publications and television

    programs abound.

    Many Ukrainians say their language needs to be

    promoted as an essential ingredient of national identity.

    They feel little sympathy for Russians who are reluctant to

    learn the language of the country they are living in.

    17-03-00


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


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright © 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Friday, 17 March 2000 - 16:33:11 UTC