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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 56, 00-03-20

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. 56, 20 March 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES CABINET'S ECONOMIC POLICY...
  • [02] ...AS YERKRAPAH REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR PREMIER
  • [03] ARMENIAN OFFICIAL SOUNDS ALARM OVER OUT-MIGRATION
  • [04] RUSSIAN STATE DUMA ACCUSES GEORGIAN COUNTERPART OF ANTI-

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT WARNS OF CIVIL WAR...
  • [06] ...WHILE NATO, EU WATCHING TENSE SITUATION IN MONTENEGRO
  • [07] SERBS PROTEST YET ANOTHER BLOW AGAINST INDEPENDENT MEDIA
  • [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER VOWS MAJOR PROTESTS
  • [09] YUGOSLAV COMMANDER ANNOUNCES ARMY TO BE REORGANIZED
  • [10] UN OFFICIAL IN KOSOVA SAYS ETHNIC RECONCILIATION
  • [11] YUGOSLAV ARMY GENERAL WARNS KOSOVAR ALBANIANS, NATO
  • [12] OSCE WARNS BOSNIA IT MUST HOLD ITS OWN POLLS
  • [13] UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES WELCOMES CROATIAN, BOSNIAN
  • [14] ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL TO FIGHT EXTRADITION TO THE HAGUE
  • [15] ALBANIA SEIZES RUSSIAN CARGO SHIP
  • [16] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATS OPT FOR STAYING IN RULING COALITION
  • [17] GAZPROM AGREES TO POSTPONE MOLDOVAN CURRENT DEBT PAYMENT
  • [18] BULGARIAN, MACEDONIAN PREMIERS TRY TO DEFUSE TENSION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [19] EU ENLARGEMENT NEGOTIATIONS: A DIFFICULT PATH TO TREAD

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES CABINET'S ECONOMIC POLICY...

    During 17 March meetings with the leaders of parties and

    factions in the parliament, President Robert Kocharian

    criticized the cabinet's economic track record, in particular

    public-sector wage arrears, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported.

    Also on 17 March, Yerevan Mayor Albert Bazeyan, who is a

    senior member of the Yerkrapah Union of veterans of the

    Karabakh war, tendered his resignation to Kocharian but was

    subsequently persuaded by other Yerkrapah members, including

    recently appointed Deputy Defense Minister General Manvel

    Grigorian, to withdraw it, according to Snark. Bazeyan told

    RFE/RL the following day that he had been upset by criticism

    of him aired by the independent television station A1+. LF

    [02] ...AS YERKRAPAH REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR PREMIER

    On 16 March,

    Grigorian and other senior Yerkrapah members promoted by

    Kocharian several days earlier pledged their continued

    support for Prime Minister Aram Sargsian, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported, quoting unidentified Yerkrapah members.

    Grigorian reportedly assured Sargsian that he and his fellow

    generals would never turn against Sargsian because of their

    personal loyalty to his murdered brother and predecessor

    Vazgen, who founded the Yerkrapah Union. On 18 March, Defense

    Minister Vagharshak Harutiunian denied that he had considered

    resigning to protest not having been informed by Kocharian in

    advance of the impending promotions. LF

    [03] ARMENIAN OFFICIAL SOUNDS ALARM OVER OUT-MIGRATION

    If

    economic and social conditions in Armenia do not improve over

    the next five to10 years, another 500,000-700,000 people are

    likely to leave the country, Noyan Tapan reported on 17

    March, citing a recent report by the head of the Department

    for Refugees Affairs and Migration, Gagik Yeganian. The

    report put the number of people who left Armenia in 1999 at

    between 75,000-85,000 and in 1997-1998 between 30,000-40,000.

    As of 1 January 2000, the population of Armenia was

    3,803,000. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN STATE DUMA ACCUSES GEORGIAN COUNTERPART OF ANTI-


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT WARNS OF CIVIL WAR...

    Milan Djukanovic

    said in an interview on 20 March that Yugoslav President

    Slobodan Milosevic is trying to "create a civil war from

    which he can completely distance himself," AP reported.

    Djukanovic, quoted in the Viennese daily "Der Standard," said

    Milosevic will "create internal conflicts." Djukanovic

    stressed the republic's plans to hold a referendum on

    independence if Belgrade does not embrace democracy and free

    market reforms. But he said his government is not "going to

    be overly hasty" in holding the vote because "Milosevic would

    use our nervousness as an alibi to intensify the crisis." The

    EU external relations commissioner, Gunnar Wiegand, said on

    17 March in Brussels that the EU Commission will ask EU

    member states for additional financial aid for Montenegro at

    a foreign ministers' meeting on 20 March. He called the

    situation in the republic "very serious." PB

    [06] ...WHILE NATO, EU WATCHING TENSE SITUATION IN MONTENEGRO

    NATO Secretary-General Lord Robertson said in Budapest on 17

    March that the alliance is watching the situation in

    Montenegro with "growing concern," dpa reported. Robertson,

    speaking at a two-day meeting of Balkan officials to discuss

    the Balkan Stability Pact, said he publicly calls on Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic to "end the economic blockade of

    Montenegro." That embargo, he said, is "a provocation, which

    seeks to undermine the authority" of Montenegrin President

    Milo Djukanovic's government. Robertson's predecessor and the

    EU's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said the EU "will

    not tolerate the creation of any problem in Montenegro."

    Solana said his message is directed at Milosevic. The

    conference was attended by the premiers of Albania, Bulgaria,

    Croatia, Hungary, Macedonia, Romania, and one member of the

    Bosnian presidency, who all declared in a statement that

    Montenegro should remain within the Yugoslav federation. PB

    [07] SERBS PROTEST YET ANOTHER BLOW AGAINST INDEPENDENT MEDIA

    Thousands of Serbs rallied for the second day in the central

    Serbian town of Kraljevo on 19 March to protest the closure

    of Kraljevo Radio-Television the previous day, Reuters

    reported. More than 10,000 people rallied on 18 March after

    authorities had dismantled the main transmitter of the

    opposition-run television and radio station. Ivan Rajovic,

    the news editor of the station, said the shutdown was

    probably punishment for the five days of protests by local

    army reservists against frequent call-ups. The Federal

    Telecommunications Ministry said the transmitter was taken

    away because the broadcaster did not have a valid license.

    The ministry has closed down four local radio and three

    television stations in the last 10 days. PB

    [08] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADER VOWS MAJOR PROTESTS

    Zoran Djindjic

    said the opposition in Serbia is planning mass protests in

    the near future, Reuters reported. Djindjic made his remarks

    on Russian public television. He said the opposition will

    launch a civil campaign aimed at bringing new elections and

    economic changes. Djindjic pledged that the opposition will

    not indulge in violence in its campaign. Serbia's factional

    opposition is due to meet this week to decide on a united

    plan for protests. PB

    [09] YUGOSLAV COMMANDER ANNOUNCES ARMY TO BE REORGANIZED

    Yugoslav

    Army General Staff Commander Colonel-General Nebojsa Pavkovic

    said on 18 March that the military's leadership is planning

    to reorganize the army, the news agency Beta reported.

    Pavkovic said the goal of the reorganization is the creation

    of a "small, flexible, mobile, and more modern army" capable

    of "meeting all challenges." Pavkovic made the remarks at a

    ceremony in Belgrade marking Military Education Day and the

    150th anniversary of the founding of the first military

    academy in Serbia. PB

    [10] UN OFFICIAL IN KOSOVA SAYS ETHNIC RECONCILIATION

    'IMPOSSIBLE'

    Bernard Kouchner said in an interview published

    on 18 March that despite progress, reconciliation between

    Serbs and ethnic Albanians in Kosova is "absolutely

    impossible." Kouchner, who was speaking in an interview with

    the French newspaper "L'Humanite," said that such steps as

    the reopening of schools and the formation of a banking

    system were improvements that received little attention. But

    he said the hatred between Serbs and ethnic Albanians is

    "extremely strong..., it's true that today reconciliation is

    absolutely impossible." He added "who is crazy enough to

    think that in eight months we could have done what they

    haven't been able to do in Ireland for 30 years?" He said

    multiethnicism is possible but that "peaceful coexistence"

    must be first established. PB

    [11] YUGOSLAV ARMY GENERAL WARNS KOSOVAR ALBANIANS, NATO

    Yugoslav

    Army Staff Commander Nebojsa Pavkovic warned that further

    problems with ethnic Albanians in southern Serbia could

    jeopardize the safety of NATO troops in Kosova, AP reported.

    Pavkovic said in an interview with the Belgrade daily

    "Vecernje Novosti" that "KFOR must know that in the event of

    an escalation of aggression against Yugoslavia, [NATO has

    possible] hostages in Kosovo." Pavkovic said the military is

    not currently mobilizing troops in response to the activity

    of ethnic Albanian rebels in southern Serbia but that it "is

    monitoring the situation." In other news, Serbian police

    released seven Czech NATO peacekeepers on 18 March who were

    detained after they strayed across the Kosova border. PB

    [12] OSCE WARNS BOSNIA IT MUST HOLD ITS OWN POLLS

    The head of the

    OSCE, Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said

    in Sarajevo on 17 March that the Bosnian parliament must pass

    a law on holding its own elections or have the law decreed by

    the international community, Reuters reported. The divided

    Bosnian parliament has twice refused to discuss the bill, the

    passage of which is a prerequisite for membership in the

    Council of Europe. Elections in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

    have been funded and run by the OSCE since 1995. Robert

    Barry, the OSCE mission head in Bosnia, said the member

    states of the OSCE "are not eager to go on paying bills for

    the elections indefinitely." Ferrero-Waldner also urged

    citizens of Bosnia to vote for change in the 8 April local

    elections. The call echos the OSCE's controversial slogan for

    the ballot, "Vote for Change." PB

    [13] UN HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES WELCOMES CROATIAN, BOSNIAN

    REFUGEE RETURNS

    Sadako Ogata said on 17 March that she

    supports pledges by Croatia's new government to allow the

    return of Serbian refugees to their pre-war homes in Croatia,

    AP reported. Ogata spoke to reporters after a meeting with

    Croatian President Stipe Mesic in Zagreb. Ogata said the

    UNHCR will provide full support for Croatia's attempts to

    receive international financial aid to facilitate the

    returns. In Laktasi, Bosnia two days later, Ogata urged the

    Croatian and Bosnian governments to work together toward the

    return of refugees. She said only 25,000 Muslim and Croatian

    refugees have returned to their homes in the Bosnian Serb

    republic since the signing of the Dayton agreement five years

    ago. PB

    [14] ACCUSED WAR CRIMINAL TO FIGHT EXTRADITION TO THE HAGUE

    The

    attorney for Bosnian Croat Malden "Tuta" Naletilic said on 19

    March that he will use "all means" to try to postpone his

    client's extradition to The Hague, AP reported. The attorney,

    Kresimir Krsnik, was responding to reports in Croatian

    newspapers that Naletilic will be transfered to The Hague in

    the coming days. A spokesman for the war crimes tribunal said

    the court has provided guarantees for Naletilic's health

    during the trip. The accused war criminal has severe heart

    problems and has undergone two operations in the last several

    months. PB

    [15] ALBANIA SEIZES RUSSIAN CARGO SHIP

    Albanian coast guard ships

    seized a Russian cargo ship on 17 March for violating the

    country's territorial waters, Reuters reported. Police said

    the vessel, with a crew of 15, was sailing from Montenegro in

    an area often used by tankers to smuggle fuel into Albania.

    The captain is being questioned. PB

    [16] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATS OPT FOR STAYING IN RULING COALITION

    The

    Democratic Party's National Coordination Council on 17 March

    voted by 414 to 94 to continue the party's participation in

    the ruling coalition, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

    Observers note that the next coalition crisis is looming

    large following Democratic Party leader Petre Roman's

    rejection of a demand by the National Liberal Party that a

    package of laws on reforming the judiciary system be passed

    by a procedure called "assumption of government

    responsibility." Under this procedure, the parliament would

    be considered to have approved the package if a no-confidence

    vote is not moved against the cabinet. Roman said on Romanian

    television that the package is too important to be passed

    without debate in the legislature. MS

    [17] GAZPROM AGREES TO POSTPONE MOLDOVAN CURRENT DEBT PAYMENT

    Gazprom has agreed to a Moldovan request to postpone the

    payment of its $4 million debt for deliveries in 2000.

    Chisinau will pay for those supplies on 15 April. Gazprom has

    agreed to accept monthly, instead of semi-monthly, payments

    and to increase the volume of deliveries after 1 April 2000,

    Flux reported on 18 March. However, ITAR-TASS the same day

    reported that the current debt totals $11 million and the

    total debt $760 million, of which nearly $500 million is owed

    by the separatist Transdniester authorities. And the

    following day, the Russian news agency reported that Gazprom

    is now demanding that Tiraspol clear its debt by paying for

    the maintenance of the Russian contingent in the region and

    by using funds from the sale of ammunition that had belonged

    to the former 14th Army and was subsequently transferred to

    the separatists. MS

    [18] BULGARIAN, MACEDONIAN PREMIERS TRY TO DEFUSE TENSION

    Macedonian Premier Ljubco Georgievski told journalists in

    Budapest after meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart, Ivan

    Kostov, that "there is no anti-Bulgarian campaign in

    Macedonia," BTA reported. Georgievski said that some

    "individual organizations" have protested the recent

    outlawing of an ethnic Macedonian party in Bulgaria ( see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 10 March 2000), but he noted that

    the government "distances itself from such aggressive and

    extreme positions." Kostov said the planned visit by

    Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov to Macedonia will be the

    best way to show that the "people in Bulgaria and Macedonia

    want our common interests to be put in the foreground, laying

    aside any artificially fanned confrontation." Both premiers

    were attending the Budapest conference on the Balkan

    Stability Pact. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [19] EU ENLARGEMENT NEGOTIATIONS: A DIFFICULT PATH TO TREAD

    By Breffni O'Rourke

    Substantive membership negotiations are due to begin

    next week between the EU's Executive Commission and the five

    second-wave Eastern European candidate countries--Bulgaria,

    Romania, Slovakia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

    The EU divides accession negotiations into 31 subject

    areas, which it calls chapters. The commission has proposed

    that for each of those five countries, the talks initially

    cover at least five chapters: small business, education,

    science, external relations, and common security policy.

    These are seen as the easiest of the chapters, largely

    because EU members and the eastern applicants already have

    much in common in those areas.

    Bulgaria has been offered negotiations in an additional

    area, cultural and audio-visual policy. Slovakia, Latvia, and

    Lithuania have been offered that area plus competitions

    policy and statistics.

    Over the coming months and even years, negotiations will

    be opened on all the chapters. However, the term

    "negotiations" is somewhat exaggerated in this context, since

    the process largely consists of the EU side explaining what

    the candidates have to do to meet EU norms in each of the

    given areas. As one Brussels-based Bulgarian diplomat,

    Vesselin Valkanov, told RFE/RL, "These are not classic

    negotiations, you are not sitting there bargaining in the

    true sense of the word. You are an applicant, and the rules

    of the club are as follows, so basically if you are aspiring

    to become a member of this particular club, you will have to

    accept the rules that are being laid out for you, and not

    only for you, but for those who are already members of the

    club."

    Commission officials have made clear that the EU will

    maintain a hard line and that there will be no softening of

    requirements for the less advanced second-wave countries. The

    EU's new chief negotiator on enlargement, Eneko Landaburu of

    Spain, says the thousands of pages of the EU body of rules

    must not only be adopted by candidates but also put into

    practice in reality.

    Landaburu says there can be no "handouts" to the future

    members. What counts, he says, is their state of

    preparedness, for their own sake and the sake of present EU

    members. Valkanov said that "on the bulk of the rules, or the

    so-called acquis communautaire, there won't be any

    bargaining, simply we must find ways to incorporate them in

    our legislation and to also effectively to implement them in

    our daily work in Bulgaria, and not argue whether we accept

    them or not."

    In specific cases where a candidate considers that

    applying the rules is especially difficult, it can ask for a

    transition period after accession to give it more time to

    reach compliance. Diplomats say that it is at this point that

    the only real bargaining enters the whole process: namely

    over the terms and length of transition periods. First-wave

    candidate Hungary, for instance, has asked for 35 such

    periods.

    For its part, the EU has made clear it does not favor

    many transition periods, and even when allowed such periods

    must be limited in time and scope. In theory, candidates can

    go a step further and ask for a "derogation," meaning a

    permanent exemption from EU rules in a particular area.

    However, one EU official said all the eastern candidates were

    told from the start that no derogations are expected.

    None of the first-wave countries (Poland, Hungary,

    Slovenia, Estonia, and the Czech Republic) have asked for

    derogations during their two years of negotiations, and the

    official said none are expected from second-wave candidates.

    Not all the candidates are happy about the EU's hard

    line, as some see undertones of political self-interest to

    it. Front-runners like Hungary hint that this approach by

    Brussels could be designed to slow entry. EU enlargement

    negotiator Landaburu denies that political pressure has any

    impact on the enlargement process. But it is clear that

    pressure exists in many forms.

    One example is provided by the foreign minister in

    Austria's controversial new rightist government, Benita

    Ferrero-Waldner. She says Austria wants a period of

    restriction on the movement of people and services from the

    east into the EU in order to protect Austrian jobs and

    companies. Germany also favors such a restrictive period.

    Senior EU figures, including Landaburu and Enlargement

    Commissioner Guenter Verheugen, are adamant that setting

    dates for the entry of new members is a pointless exercise at

    this stage. In short, it seems that the second-wave countries

    have a long haul ahead of them.

    20-03-00


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


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