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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 86, 00-05-03

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. 86, 3 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PREMIER DISCUSSES ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN MOSCOW
  • [02] ARMENIAN MILITARY PROSECUTOR ORDERED TO CONTINUE PARLIAMENT
  • [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY SHELVES IMPEACHMENT OPTION
  • [04] ARMENIAN, TURKISH UNIVERSITIES SIGN LANDMARK AGREEMENT
  • [05] KARABAKH PROSECUTOR GIVES DETAILS OF ASSASSINATION BID
  • [06] POLICE USE FORCE TO BREAK UP DEMONSTRATION IN AZERBAIJAN...
  • [07] ...ARREST OPPOSITION LEADERS
  • [08] AZERBAIJAN AIMS TO DEEPEN COOPERATION WITH NATO
  • [09] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, TURKEY CONCLUDE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR OIL
  • [10] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT INAUGURATED
  • [11] KAZAKH STRIKERS PLAN PROTEST MARCH
  • [12] ISSUE OF KAZAKH OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER CONFISCATED
  • [13] KYRGYZ PICKET PARTICIPANTS ARRESTED
  • [14] OSCE OFFICIAL MEETS WITH KYRGYZ OPPOSITION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] COHEN, CLARK WARN KOSOVARS
  • [16] SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF SLAMS RUSSIAN, CHINESE DIPLOMATS
  • [17] SERBIAN WORKERS HOLD PROTESTS...
  • [18] ...WHILE REGIME CELEBRATES IN BAMBI PARK
  • [19] OSCE DENIES ALBANIAN OPPOSITION'S CHARGE OF BIAS
  • [20] CROATIAN ADMISSION TO PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE IMMINENT?
  • [21] TUDJMAN'S PARTY PICKS NEW LEADER
  • [22] PARLIAMENT TO VOTE THIRD TIME ON PRIME MINISTER
  • [23] IMF DELEGATION EXTENDS ROMANIAN STAY
  • [24] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES LAW ON COMMUNIST REGIME'S
  • [25] BULGARIA REACTS TO MACEDONIAN PREMIER'S INTERVIEW

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] ROMANIA, MOLDOVA CONCLUDE PROBLEMATIC BASIC TREATY

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PREMIER DISCUSSES ECONOMIC COOPERATION IN MOSCOW

    Aram Sargsian told journalists on 29 April on his return from

    a two-day working visit to Moscow that he had reached

    agreement during talks with Russian First Deputy Prime

    Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on increased Russian investment in

    Armenia's stagnating industrial sector, ITAR-TASS reported.

    Also discussed were cooperation in the energy sector and

    Armenia's outstanding debts to Russia for supplies of nuclear

    fuel to the Medzamor nuclear power station. No details were

    divulged of Sargsian's meeting with Russian Defense Minister

    Igor Sergeev. Kasyanov for his part told journalists in

    Moscow on 28 April that "it is too early" to discuss the

    possibility of Armenia's accession to the Union State of

    Russia and Belarus (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No.

    16, 21 April 2000). He added that Armenia's accession to that

    union would necessitate "mutual concessions." LF

    [02] ARMENIAN MILITARY PROSECUTOR ORDERED TO CONTINUE PARLIAMENT

    SHOOTING INVESTIGATION

    Armenian Prosecutor-General Boris

    Nazarian on 28 April rejected a request

    by Military Procurator Gagik Jahangirian to take over the

    conduct of the investigation into the 27 October Armenian

    parliament shootings, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. In a

    written statement, Nazarian said that the investigating team

    headed by Jahangirian "has not violated any provision of the

    Armenian code of criminal justice" and that "all

    [Jahangirian's] actions and petitions are justified and stem

    from the requirements of the law." On 26 April Jahangirian

    had submitted his resignation to Armenian President Robert

    Kocharian to protest the latter's ruling the previous day

    that he should not testify before parliament on the ongoing

    investigation into the shootings. Kocharian refused to accept

    Jahangirian's resignation (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April

    2000). LF

    [03] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY SHELVES IMPEACHMENT OPTION

    After talks with unidentified legal experts on 28 April, the

    majority Miasnutiun parliament bloc distanced itself still

    further from demands expressed earlier in the week for

    President Kocharian's impeachment, Interfax and RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. Miasnutiun leader Andranik Markarian

    said that the bloc has not yet raised the impeachment issue

    with the Constitutional Court, which must endorse a

    parliament vote to impeach the president. But Markarian added

    that Miasnutiun may still ask the Constitutional Court to

    rule on the legality of Kocharian's order to Military

    Procurator Jahangirian not to testify before parliament,

    according to Interfax. Hmayak Hovanissian, who is deputy head

    of the People's Party of Armenia, the junior partner within

    Miasnutiun, told Interfax on 28 April that there is no good

    reason for Kocharian's impeachment, and that an impeachment

    attempt would "lead the country into a cul-de-sac." Meanwhile

    Kocharian on 28 April told journalists that he will shortly

    take the "resolute steps" that he believes the Armenian

    people expect from him, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He

    did not elaborate. LF

    [04] ARMENIAN, TURKISH UNIVERSITIES SIGN LANDMARK AGREEMENT

    Senior officials from Yerevan State University and Ankara

    Polytechnical University signed a cooperation agreement in

    Yerevan on 1 May, RFE/RL's bureau in the Armenian capital

    reported. Several dozen members of the youth organization of

    the Armenian Revolutionary Federation--Dashnaktsutiun

    gathered to protest both the signing of the agreement and

    Turkey's refusal to recognize as genocide the killings and

    forced deportations of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915.

    Armenia and Turkey have not established diplomatic relations.

    LF

    [05] KARABAKH PROSECUTOR GIVES DETAILS OF ASSASSINATION BID

    Mavrik Ghukasian, who is chief prosecutor of the unrecognized

    Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, told journalists from Armenia in

    Stepanakert on 22 April that nine people have been charged

    with the 22 March attempt to kill the enclave's President

    Arkadii Ghukasian, according to "Azg" of 26 April as

    circulated by Groong. The Karabakh prosector said that the

    enclave's former Defense Minister, Samvel Babayan, has

    confessed to organizing the assassination bid. He said that

    the perpetrators had also planned to kill two further senior

    officials, whom he did not name. They then hoped to pressure

    the enclave's government into naming Babayan as leader. The

    prosecutor said that Babayan had paid two of President

    Ghukasian's attackers some 2 million drams (approximately

    $3,800). He added that Babayan had also provided some

    $550,000 and 300 tons of diesel fuel to the Right and Accord

    bloc during last year's Armenian parliamentary election

    campaign. LF

    [06] POLICE USE FORCE TO BREAK UP DEMONSTRATION IN AZERBAIJAN...

    Police armed with batons attacked participants in an

    unsanctioned demonstration in Baku on 29 April to demand the

    resignation of President Heidar Aliev and safeguards to

    prevent the falsification of the parliamentary elections due

    in November, Reuters and RFE/RL's Baku bureau reported. The

    demonstrators also demanded the release of political

    prisoners and opposition access to the state-controlled

    media, according to Turan. Estimates of the number of

    participants range from 5,000--20,000. Dozens of

    demonstrators and several journalists, including "Azadlyg"

    editor Gunduz Tahirly, were injured or beaten, while a police

    spokesman claimed that 34 police were likewise injured by

    sticks or stones thrown by demonstrators. The ten opposition

    parties aligned in the Democratic Congress had convened the

    protest in the city center after refusing an offer from the

    municipal authorities to hold it on the outskirts (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April 2000). LF

    [07] ...ARREST OPPOSITION LEADERS

    Police on 30 April detained

    some 50 participants in the Baku demonstration, including

    leading Musavat Party member Arif Hadjiev, Akhrar Party

    leader Vagif Hadjibeyli, and People's Party leader and former

    Premier Panakh Guseinov, Turan reported. Those three, and 12

    other people, were sentenced by Baku district courts the same

    day to between five and 15 days' detention. The Azerbaijani

    Prosecutor-General's office warned on 30 April that criminal

    proceedings may be opened against the organizers of the

    protest, Reuters reported. Speaking on national television

    the same day, presidential administration official Ali

    Hasanov said that the opposition has no reason to fear vote-

    rigging in the November parliamentary poll, as Azerbaijan's

    accession to full membership of the Council of Europe is

    contingent on that vote being acknowledged to be free and

    democratic. LF

    [08] AZERBAIJAN AIMS TO DEEPEN COOPERATION WITH NATO

    Visiting

    Baku on 27-28 April, NATO political committee chairman

    Admiral Guido Venturoni discussed with Azerbaijan's Defense

    Minister Safar Abiev and with President Aliev the prospects

    for expanding Azerbaijan's cooperation with NATO within the

    parameters of the Partnership for Peace program, Turan

    reported. Abiev specifically denied his Georgian counterpart

    David Tevzadze's 26 April statement that joint exercises

    involving forces from the U.S., Georgia, Azerbaijan and

    Armenia are being planned (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April

    2000). He also argued that Azerbaijan's military cooperation

    with NATO does not pose a threat to Azerbaijani-Russian

    relations. LF

    [09] AZERBAIJAN, GEORGIA, TURKEY CONCLUDE LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR OIL

    PIPELINE

    In a written statement issued in Washington on 28

    April, U.S. President Bill Clinton hailed the agreement

    reached earlier that day by Azerbaijani, Georgian and Turkish

    foreign ministry officials and Western oil company

    representatives, AP and Caucasus Press reported. That

    agreement addressed earlier Georgian reservations concerning

    Georgia's legal responsibilities in the event of damage to

    the Georgian sector of the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export

    pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 March 2000). LF

    [10] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT INAUGURATED

    Eduard Shevardnadze was sworn

    in on 30 April for his second presidential term. Caucasus

    Press and Reuters reported. Pledging to become "stronger,

    firmer and more decisive," Shevardnadze singled out as a

    priority over the next five years purging incompetent and

    corrupt officials from the government. He further promised to

    pay outstanding wages and pensions arrears within a short

    time (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 2000). Shevardnadze

    expressed regret that during his previous presidential term

    he had not succeeded in restoring Georgia's territorial

    integrity. He said the as yet unratified Georgian-Russian

    treaty signed in 1994 is obsolete, and that a new pact should

    be drafted. The inauguration ceremony was attended by Russian

    oligarchs Boris Berezovskii and Vladimir Gusinskii. Foreign

    heads of state were not invited because of economic

    constraints. LF

    [11] KAZAKH STRIKERS PLAN PROTEST MARCH

    Current and former

    employees of the Taraz Phosphorous Plant in Kazakhstan's

    southern Zhambyl Oblast plan to begin a protest march to

    Almaty on 6 May if their demands for payment of wage arrears,

    pensions and other allowances are not met by that date,

    RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent reported on 2 May. They began a

    protest action and hunger strike on 11 April to demand those

    payments (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 2000).

    [12] ISSUE OF KAZAKH OPPOSITION NEWSPAPER CONFISCATED

    Bigeldy

    Gabdullin, editor of the opposition weekly "XXI vek," told

    journalists in Almaty on 28 April that the previous day's

    issue of the paper had been confiscated by Almaty tax police,

    who declined to give any explanation for their action,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. The paper has

    repeatedly been subjected to official pressure (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 14 January 2000). LF

    [13] KYRGYZ PICKET PARTICIPANTS ARRESTED

    Police in Bishkek on 28

    April arrested three participants in the ongoing picket in

    central Bishkek to demand the release of arrested Ar-Namys

    party chairman Feliks Kulov and the annulment of the results

    of the parliamentary elections held in February-March,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The three

    were charged with hooliganism. The picket entered its 47th

    day on 1 May. Kulov's lawyer, Larisa Ivanova, told RFE/RL on

    1 May that the Kyrgyz Security Ministry has completed its

    investigation into the charges against Kulov. LF

    [14] OSCE OFFICIAL MEETS WITH KYRGYZ OPPOSITION

    OSCE Secretary-

    General Jan Kubis held discussions in Bishkek on 28 April

    with representatives of several opposition parties and NGOs,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Those talks

    focussed on the domestic political situation and the

    possibility of an OSCE-sponsored round table discussion

    between the opposition and the Kyrgyz leadership. Together

    with Premier Amangeldy Muraliev and Foreign Minister Muratbek

    Imanaliev, on 29 April Kubis attended the opening of an OSCE

    office in the southern city of Osh. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] COHEN, CLARK WARN KOSOVARS

    On separate trips to Kosova on 1

    May, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen and outgoing

    NATO Supreme Commander Europe General Wesley Clark told

    ethnic Albanians not to support any insurgency in

    southwestern Serbia's Presevo Valley area. Referring to a new

    120-member U.S. surveillance team in that region, Cohen said:

    "We have strengthened our capability of interrupting the flow

    of weapons that may be transported illegally," AP reported.

    Referring to the mainly ethnic Albanian Kosova Protection

    Force, Clark said: "We're not going to allow them to get

    involved in providing logistic support for any fighting.

    They're not going to be permitted to have a security role and

    certainly not a logistics role." He stressed that "people [in

    Kosova] have to have tolerance. They have to move out of the

    past, out of the 19th century and move into the 21st

    century," Reuters reported. PM

    [16] SECURITY COUNCIL CHIEF SLAMS RUSSIAN, CHINESE DIPLOMATS

    Anwarul Chowdhury, who is Bangladeshi Ambassador to the UN

    and currently holds the Security Council chair, said in New

    York on 1 May that the UN should appoint a special envoy to

    investigate reports of missing persons in Kosova. "The

    Council cannot maintain credibility unless we address this

    issue," Reuters quoted him as saying. Chowdhury added that he

    regrets that Russian Ambassador to the UN Security Council

    Sergei Lavrov and Chinese Deputy Ambassador Shen Guofeng met

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 26 April

    before a Security Council delegation visited Kosova (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April 2000). Chowdhury added that the

    two diplomats had every right to visit Belgrade but said it

    is "regrettable that the ambassadors visited with war

    criminals." PM

    [17] SERBIAN WORKERS HOLD PROTESTS...

    Several thousand Belgrade

    residents held a 1 May demonstration under the auspices of

    the Nezavisnost (Independence) trade union movement. The

    meeting's theme was: "The world of work is the key to

    democracy," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The union

    said in a statement that workers had allowed Milosevic to

    "push them into evil and hatred," and that now "the moment

    has come to touch every hand that stretches out to help us.

    The workers in Serbia must take responsibility for their role

    in the democratization of Serbia," Reuters reported. Union

    leader Branimir Canak said: "this is the moment to wake up

    and say a decisive 'no' to the regime of Slobodan Milosevic."

    PM

    [18] ...WHILE REGIME CELEBRATES IN BAMBI PARK

    Pro-Milosevic

    unions held their 1 May celebration in Smederevo. The top

    leadership, however, attended a festival the previous night

    in Milosevic's home town of Pozarevac to mark the opening of

    the visitors' season for Bambi [Amusement] Park, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. The park was built during the

    1999 Kosova conflict with money from the Bambi cookie

    company, the city government, and the Madona Company, which

    is a business venture of Milosevic's son, Marko. Many Serbs

    regard Bambi Park as the ultimate symbol of regime corruption

    and privilege. PM

    [19] OSCE DENIES ALBANIAN OPPOSITION'S CHARGE OF BIAS

    OSCE

    spokesman Giovanni Porta told dpa in Tirana on 1 May that the

    Democratic Party's charges that the OSCE supports the

    governing Socialists "are not fair. The OSCE has always kept

    an open, clear and unbiased attitude in its mediation efforts

    in Albania." Democratic Party officials have charged that the

    OSCE supports the Socialist position on electoral

    legislation, which, the Democrats argue, will enable the

    Socialists to rig upcoming elections (see "RFE/RL Balkan

    Report, 7 April 2000). PM

    [20] CROATIAN ADMISSION TO PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE IMMINENT?

    President Stipe Mesic, Prime Minister Ivica Racan, and other

    top Croatian leaders visited the aircraft carrier "U.S.S.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower" near Dubrovnik on 30 April. Racan told

    reporters afterward that he is pleased to have seen the ship

    "only eight days before my trip to Brussels, where Croatia

    expects to be admitted to Partnership for Peace." He set the

    date for formal admission as 25 May, "Jutarnji list" reported

    on 2 May. Racan will visit NATO headquarters on 8-9 May to

    discuss his country's prospects for admission to the

    alliance. The Croatian government of the late President

    Franjo Tudjman supported NATO during the 1999 Kosova

    conflict, and the former general himself sorely wanted to see

    his country admitted to the alliance. But NATO did not allow

    Croatia to join Partnership for Peace because of its record

    on democratization and minority rights. Mesic and Racan are

    firmly committed to overcoming the international isolation of

    the Tudjman years. PM

    [21] TUDJMAN'S PARTY PICKS NEW LEADER

    Some 2,000 delegates to the

    congress of the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) chose

    former Deputy Foreign Minister Ivo Sanader as new party

    leader in Zagreb on 30 April. Referring to the HDZ's having

    slipped to at least fifth place in recent opinion polls,

    Sanader told supporters: "The Croatian public seems to have

    forgotten everything the HDZ has done for this country....

    But we shall return to power much sooner than a lot of people

    are expecting," Reuters reported. His main rival was Branimir

    Glavas, who is a right-wing leader from eastern Slavonia.

    Glavas charged that the party has failed to confront the

    scandals and corruption charges that cost it a series of

    elections at the beginning of the year. Ivic Pasalic, whom

    many regard as Tudjman's chosen successor, took himself out

    of the running for any party offices, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported on 29 April. Pasalic has been at the center

    of several scandals (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2 May 2000).

    PM

    [22] PARLIAMENT TO VOTE THIRD TIME ON PRIME MINISTER

    Legislators

    agreed in Ljubljana on 28 April to hold a third round of

    voting for prime minister on 3 May. The move came two days

    after Andrej Bajuk, who is the center-right candidate,

    received 43 out of 90 possible votes, thereby falling just

    three votes short of an absolute majority (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 27 April 2000). Under the rules governing a third

    round of balloting, a candidate needs only a simple majority.

    Reuters quoted top political analysts in Ljubljana as saying

    that the outcome is too close to predict. President Milan

    Kucan wants early elections to provide a fresh mandate for

    parliament. PM

    [23] IMF DELEGATION EXTENDS ROMANIAN STAY

    Prime Minister Mugur

    Isarescu told journalists on 28 April that after the last

    round of talks with the head of the IMF delegation Emmanuel

    Zervoudakis he is "optimistic" that the IMF will extend the

    stand-by agreement with Romania by 11 months, as requested by

    his cabinet. Isarescu also said that the latest economic data

    confirms that Romania is heading towards economic growth. But

    Zervoudakis on the same day decided to extend his stay in

    Romania for further discussions on the recently-approved

    budget. He is meeting Isarescu again on 2 May. Government

    spokeswoman Gabriela Vranceanu-Firea on 1 May said Romania

    has fulfilled 20 out of the 25 conditions demanded by the

    fund. The main remaining problems, she said, are the high

    burden imposed on the budget by wages and the arrears owed by

    loss-making state-owned companies. MS

    [24] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES LAW ON COMMUNIST REGIME'S

    'CRIMINALITY'

    President Petar Stoyanov on 28 April signed

    into law the recently-approved legislation on the "criminal"

    nature of the communist regime (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27

    April 2000). Stoyanov, who earlier said he had misgivings

    about the law, said he was doing so because the legislation

    "does not grant, annul, or violate any legal rights," BTA

    reported. He said the law is of a "declaration type."

    Stoyanov also said that he is "encouraged" by the steps the

    cabinet has taken as of late to combat corruption, adding

    that "the time has come for strong statements to make room

    for all-out action." But he also said he does not agree with

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's proposal to curtail the immunity

    of judges as part of the effort to fight corruption. MS

    [25] BULGARIA REACTS TO MACEDONIAN PREMIER'S INTERVIEW

    Foreign

    Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov on 28 April told journalists

    that Bulgaria hopes a statement by Macedonian President Boris

    Trajkovski has been "misinterpreted" by the Macedonian media,

    because "it would be alarming if the opposite were true," BTA

    reported. In an interview with the daily "Utrinski Vestik" on

    22 April, Trajkovski said that criminals, smugglers and drug

    traders penetrate Macedonia from Bulgaria, and urged the EU

    not to lift visa requirements for Bulgarian nationals.

    "Transferring one's own problems to one's neighbors has never

    been a useful thing to do," Vlaikov said. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] ROMANIA, MOLDOVA CONCLUDE PROBLEMATIC BASIC TREATY

    by Michael Shafir

    The foreign ministers of Moldova and Romania, Nicolae

    Tabacaru and Petre Roman, on 28 April initialed in Chisinau

    the basic treaty between their countries in the presence of

    the EU coordinator for the South East European Stability Pact

    Bodo Hombach. The treaty must now be approved by the two

    countries' presidents and by the Moldovan and Romanian

    legislatures.

    Although negotiations on the treaty have lasted for no

    less than seven years, the stumbling blocs do not appear to

    have been really solved in the document finally agreed on.

    They were rather circumvented through compromises that make

    its repudiation by its opponents on both sides of River Prut

    a certainty. Bucharest has been pushing for a treaty that

    would express the anomaly of the imposed separation of

    Bessarabia from the Romanian state. It therefore wished the

    treaty to be called one of "fraternity," to speak of "two

    Romanian states," to include an explicit denunciation of the

    1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that had made possible the

    annexation by the Soviet Union in 1940 of Bessarabia and

    northern Bukovina, and to be explicitly written "in the

    Romanian language." For Chisinau, on the other hand, a treaty

    that would emphasize anomalies was a treaty that would in the

    long run undermine its independent statehood. The famous

    saying "in the long run we are all dead" was quite rightly

    perceived to be fully applicable if Moldova were to accept

    Bucharest's "suggestions."

    The compromise solutions, as all compromises go, are

    "neither fish, nor fowl", or, as a Romanian daily put

    colloquially, "neither horse, nor donkey." The treaty is

    neither one of "fraternity" nor a "regular treaty," but is

    rather designated as one of "privileged relations." No

    reference is made to "two Romanian states," but mention is

    made of the joint "roots in the historic past," and of a

    "community of culture and language." The Russian-German pact

    is not explicitly denounced, but is implicitly rejected by

    making reference to two documents approved by the Moldovan

    parliament and by the Romanian government in 1991, upon

    Moldova's declaration of independence. One must note that the

    Moldovan position on this point is rather delicate: the

    declaration of independence approved by the country's

    parliament in 1991 had indeed "noted" the pact's denunciation

    by the "parliaments of many states" but had stopped short of

    embracing that denunciation, for nullification of the pact

    would have found Moldova back to the status of a Romanian

    province. Not so the Romanian government's 1991 declaration,

    which, while welcoming the Moldovan declaration of

    independence, viewed it as "a decisive step on the road to

    peaceful obliteration of the nefarious consequences" of the

    pact, which was described as "directed against the rights and

    interests of the Romanian people." Finally, the pact does not

    stipulate in which language it is formulated, though it is

    clearly written in Romanian. The Moldovans had long insisted

    that mention be made of the fact that the treaty is written

    in either the "state" or the "official" languages (plural),

    for although the two are practically identical, the state

    language in Moldovan is defined in the constitution as being

    "Moldovan.".

    Naturally, each side is now attempting to present the

    treaty in the interpretation best suited to over-ruling

    possible objections to it. In Moldova, President Petru

    Lucinschi and parliament chairman Dumitru Diacov emphasized

    the "regular features" of the document, which, they claimed,

    contains "all provisions" that a regular treaty (that is

    indistinguishable from other basic treaties) should include.

    Foreign Minister Petre Roman, on the other hand, chose to

    present the treaty as being one "between two fraternal

    states" and spoke again of "the two Romanian states" while

    referring to the treaty's significance." The Romanian Foreign

    Ministry went one step further, explaining that the

    "principle of inviolability of borders" included in the text

    does not necessarily rule out border modifications (that is,

    the eventual re-unification of the two states), since the

    Helsinki Final Act stipulates that "peaceful border

    modifications," with the agreement of both sides, are

    possible.

    What, then, is "privileged" about the treaty? What made

    the two sides suddenly agree on the compromise? And why now

    and not earlier? Bodo Hombach's presence at the initialing

    ceremony provides more than a hint. Praising the treaty, the

    EU official said that the document is likely to help both

    Romania's quest for integration in the EU and Moldova's

    effort to achieve EU associate status and to become a full-

    fledged member of the South East European Balkan Stability

    Pact. Indeed, soon thereafter President Emil Constantinescu,

    attending a meeting of Central and East European heads of

    states in Hungary, apparently secured the agreement of his

    peers for Chisinau to be invited to their next meeting.

    Romania's reasons for agreeing to the pact now can also

    be linked to the EU integration effort, the more so as

    Bucharest, though invited to accession talks recently, has

    little else to offer the EU than proof of its eagerness to

    solve standing problems with its neighbors. The "privileged

    relationship" at closer scrutiny amounts to no more than an

    engagement on Romania's side to promote Moldova's integration

    efforts alongside its own. By so doing, Romania has in fact

    accepted Moldova's position that a "re-integration" of the

    two countries can only occur within the larger context of

    European integration. But Bucharest is also undertaking to

    defend "Moldovan territorial integrity" and "sovereignty" in

    all possible forums and in practice. Roman explained that

    this is precisely an illustration of the "privileged

    relations" aspect of the treaty.

    This allusion to the Transdniester conflict is one that

    may be problematic. The OSCE rotating chairmanship that

    Romania takes over in 2001 could be a forum to defend and

    promote Moldovan full sovereignty. But that prestigious

    position is by definition limited in time. And an eventual

    involvement by Romania in the Transdniester conflict beyond

    words and mediation efforts is unlikely to convince the EU

    that Bucharest promotes regional stability.

    03-05-00


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


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