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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 87, 00-05-04

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. 87, 4 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT HOLDS TALKS ON NEW CABINET
  • [02] GEORGIA DENIES IT PLANS TO HOST FOREIGN MILITARY BASE
  • [03] ABKHAZ, GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS GALI KILLINGS
  • [04] ARRESTED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER DEMANDS RUSSIAN DEFENSE
  • [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO INDIA

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] BAJUK ELECTED SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER
  • [07] BLAIR BACKS CROATIA FOR NATO PROGRAM
  • [08] MESIC BLASTS CROATIAN RIGHT
  • [09] UN FORENSICS EXPERTS EXAMINE SECOND MASS GRAVE IN CROATIA
  • [10] UNHCR TO LEAVE NORTHERN MITROVICA?
  • [11] SERBIAN PROTESTS IN KOSOVA
  • [12] 'NO MEDIA FREEDOM IN SERBIA'
  • [13] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT FINES STATION
  • [14] MILOSEVIC BACKERS TAKE CONTROL OF FEDERAL UPPER HOUSE
  • [15] ROMANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT WORKERS THREATEN TO SHUT DOWN REACTOR
  • [16] U.S. SEEKS RESOLUTION OF TRADE DISPUTE WITH ROMANIA
  • [17] CLARIFICATION:
  • [18] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN CLEARED OF CORRUPTION CHARGES
  • [19] BULGARIA CONFIDENT ON EU TALKS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [20] HUNGARIAN LEADER AVERTS INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT HOLDS TALKS ON NEW CABINET

    Robert

    Kocharian assured outgoing government ministers in Yerevan on

    3 May that the composition of the next cabinet will not

    differ fundamentally from the previous one, RFE/RL's Yerevan

    bureau reported. But Minister for Industrial Infrastructures

    Vahan Shirkhanian, a staunch supporter of sacked Premier Aram

    Sargsian, said he will not join the new cabinet. Kocharian's

    press secretary, Vahe Gabrielian told Interfax on 3 May that

    Kocharian's dismissal of Sargsian and Defense Minister

    Vagharshak Harutiunian the previous day had not been a snap

    decision. Meanwhile, according to observers in Yerevan,

    possible candidates to head the next government are Deputy

    Foreign Minister Artashes Tumanian, Right and Accord party

    chairman Artashes Geghamian, National Democratic Union

    chairman and former Premier Vazgen Manukian, People's Party

    leader Stepan Demirchian, Central Bank Chairman Tigran

    Sarkisian, and business magnate Hrant Vardanian. LF

    [02] GEORGIA DENIES IT PLANS TO HOST FOREIGN MILITARY BASE

    Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili told

    journalists in Tbilisi on 3 May that Georgia will not make

    the Vaziani military base near Tbilisi available either to

    Turkey or NATO after Russian troops withdraw next year,

    Russian agencies reported. He added that his ministry regards

    as a priority ensuring that international monitors supervise

    the withdrawal of Russian forces from the military base in

    Gudauta, Abkhazia. On 4 May, Caucasus Press quoted Georgian

    Defense Ministry official Paata Gaprindashvili as saying that

    in talks scheduled for next month, Tbilisi will raise with

    Moscow its demand for a share in the assets of the Soviet

    Black Sea Fleet. LF

    [03] ABKHAZ, GEORGIAN OFFICIALS DISCUSS GALI KILLINGS

    Georgian

    Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze and Abkhaz Premier

    Vyacheslav Tsugba on 3 May agreed to set up a working group

    composed of police and security officials from both sides to

    investigate acts of terrorism in Abkhazia's Gali Raion, ITAR-

    TASS reported. At least 13 Abkhaz have been killed in the

    district in recent weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 April and

    3 May 2000). It is unclear how that group differs from the

    one Lortkipanidze and Tsugba agreed to create under the

    auspices of the UN Coordinating Council in January (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 January 2000). The two premiers also

    agreed to exchange lists of persons suspected of involvement

    in terrorist activities in Gali. The Georgian list contains

    67 names, according to Caucasus Press. LF

    [04] ARRESTED KYRGYZ OPPOSITION LEADER DEMANDS RUSSIAN DEFENSE

    LAWYERS

    Ar-Namys party chairman Feliks Kulov, who was

    arrested in March and charged with embezzlement and abuse of

    his official position as security minister from 1996-1998,

    has again asked Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor-general and the

    minister of national security to allow two Russian lawyers

    from St. Petersburg to defend him, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau

    reported on 3 May. Investigator Ikramidin Aitkulov rejected a

    similar appeal by Kulov last month on the grounds that his

    case involves state secrets. LF

    [05] UZBEK PRESIDENT WRAPS UP VISIT TO INDIA

    Islam Karimov

    completed a three-day state visit to India on 3 May, during

    which he met with his Indian counterpart, K. R. Naranayan,

    and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Karimov's talks with

    the latter focused on security in Central and South Asia, the

    situation in Afghanistan, and fighting international

    terrorism. The two signed nine agreements on upgrading

    political and economic relations, an extradition treaty, and

    a declaration pledging to cooperate to counter any future

    destabilization in Central or South Asia as a result of

    developments in Afghanistan, dpa reported. Also on 3 May, the

    official Afghan Islamic Press agency issued a statement

    rejecting Karimov's assertion that Afghanistan supports

    international terrorism, dpa reported. It said the statement

    was intended to divert the attention of the Uzbek people from

    domestic hardships. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] BAJUK ELECTED SLOVENIAN PRIME MINISTER

    The parliament voted

    46 to 44 on 3 May to elect center-right candidate Andrej

    Bajuk as prime minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000).

    The law requires him to present a government by 18 May. His

    program will center on preparing Slovenia for admission to

    the EU at the earliest possible date as well as on

    liberalizing the economy in order to attract foreign

    investment. The 56 year-old economist has lived mostly

    abroad. His family left Slovenia in 1945 and moved to

    Argentina, where Bajuk became a university professor. He has

    spent most of his working career at the Interamerican

    Development Bank. PM

    [07] BLAIR BACKS CROATIA FOR NATO PROGRAM

    British Prime Minister

    Tony Blair told his visiting Croatian counterpart, Ivica

    Racan, in London on 3 May that his government backs Croatia's

    request for quick admission to NATO's Partnership for Peace

    program (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000). Blair's

    spokesman said that "Racan set out Croatia's aspirations for

    admission to Partnership for Peace and opening of

    negotiations on a stabilization and association agreement

    with the European Union. The prime minister gave his full

    support," Reuters reported. Blair also told his guest that

    the EU and NATO must help Croatia "move forward." Racan told

    the Royal Institute of International Affairs that "Croatia

    has every reason to expect the long-awaited Partnership for

    Peace membership as early as the end of May." PM

    [08] MESIC BLASTS CROATIAN RIGHT

    Marinko Liovic, who heads the

    Association of Croatian War Invalids of the War for the

    Homeland, has threatened that his group will block various

    "roads, harbors, and airports" at the start of the tourist

    season, "Slobodna Dalmacija" reported on 4 May. The move is

    aimed at protesting the government's polices on economic

    reconstruction and on cooperation with the Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal. Liovic has the backing of several other

    nationalist organizations, including Ante Djapic and his

    Croatian Party of [Historic] Rights, "Novi List" reported.

    President Stipe Mesic said in Vukovar, however, that

    "probably only those with blocked brains want to block the

    roads." He argued that those "adventurists" who plan to

    obstruct the roads are making impossible demands on the

    government. The authorities will not tolerate a closing of

    the roads, which were closed long enough during the 1991-1995

    war, Mesic added. PM

    [09] UN FORENSICS EXPERTS EXAMINE SECOND MASS GRAVE IN CROATIA

    Forensics experts from the Hague-based war crimes tribunal

    have discovered human bones from at least 10 people at a

    suspected mass grave in Obradovic Varos near Gospic, AP

    reported on 3 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 April 2000). The

    bones are now being studied and identified in Zagreb.

    Investigators have begun work at a second site near Brusane,

    which is also in the Gospic area. The forensics experts are

    investigating charges that Croatian forces killed Serbian

    civilians in several localities during the 1991-1995 war.

    Recent weeks have seen much discussion in the press about who

    was responsible for the killings and which top officials knew

    about them. PM

    [10] UNHCR TO LEAVE NORTHERN MITROVICA?

    A spokesman for the UNHCR

    said in Prishtina on 3 May that the international refugee

    organization may cease its operations in Serb-held northern

    Mitrovica if attacks on UN vehicles and personnel continue.

    He added that UNHCR employees are "not prepared to be sitting

    ducks...[if] thugs...continue to target the international

    community," Reuters reported. His statement comes in response

    to violence on 29 April in which 15 international personnel

    were injured, one vehicle damaged, and another destroyed. PM

    [11] SERBIAN PROTESTS IN KOSOVA

    In northern Mitrovica on 3 May,

    some 2,000 Serbs staged a peaceful demonstration to demand

    the return of all Serbian refugees to their homes in Kosova.

    In Prishtina, moderate Serb leaders told the UN's interim

    administrative council that they demand that international

    security forces find or account for all 1,000 non-Albanians

    who have disappeared since the end of the 1999 Kosova

    conflict. PM

    [12] 'NO MEDIA FREEDOM IN SERBIA'

    The chief editors of the

    dailies "Blic" and "Glas javnosti," the weekly "NIN," and

    Studio B Television said in a joint statement to mark World

    Press Freedom Day that "there is no media freedom in Serbia,"

    Vienna's "Die Presse" reported on 4 May. The editors added

    that some 30 media companies have been fined more than $2

    million under the draconian 1998 media law aimed at

    intimidating or silencing the non-state media. PM

    [13] SERBIAN GOVERNMENT FINES STATION

    In the latest move against

    private media under the 1998 law, the authorities fined

    Studio B Television $10,000 on 3 May for reporting "false

    news." The station had reported that "four bodyguards" of

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's son Marko recently

    beat up three opposition activists in a Pozarevac cafe (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 2000). The Pozarevac office of the

    United Yugoslav Left (JUL), which is headed by the mother of

    Milosevic junior, said in a statement that "hooligans"

    attacked local JUL members, Reuters reported. The statement

    added that "Marko does not have bodyguards" and stressed that

    the opposition wants to "create chaos and civil war in the

    country by a series of terrorist actions." The families of

    the three injured men plan to sue Marko Milosevic's four

    friends, AP reported. PM

    [14] MILOSEVIC BACKERS TAKE CONTROL OF FEDERAL UPPER HOUSE

    Vuk

    Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement lost its four seats in

    the upper house of the Yugoslav legislature on 3 May

    following the party's decision to boycott the Serbian

    parliament, which elects representatives to the federal body

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 2000). Former General Momcilo

    Perisic, who heads the small Movement for Democratic Serbia,

    said the opposition is to blame for the current political

    state of affairs because "they have not been sufficiently

    active either in the parliament or outside it," "Danas"

    reported. Leaders of several anti-Milosevic parties in

    Montenegro said in Podgorica that the latest developments

    show the Yugoslav federation has experienced a "debacle" and

    is in a continuing state of crisis, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [15] ROMANIAN NUCLEAR PLANT WORKERS THREATEN TO SHUT DOWN REACTOR

    Several hundred workers at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant

    went on strike on 3 May to demand higher wages and twice as

    many vacation days as are currently granted, RFE/RL's

    Bucharest bureau reported. After Industry and Trade Minister

    Radu Berceanu rejected those demands, the leader of the

    plant's union threatened to shut down the reactor. That

    action might pose a threat to safety. MS

    [16] U.S. SEEKS RESOLUTION OF TRADE DISPUTE WITH ROMANIA

    A

    spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

    said on 3 May that the office is in contact with Romania's

    Ministry of Industry and Trade to determine whether Romania

    is imposing discriminatory custom duties on some imported

    products. The spokesman said that if the talks fail, the U.S.

    may ask the World Trade Organization to make a ruling, an

    RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported. In a written

    statement to the U.S. Congress earlier this week, U.S. Trade

    Representative Charlene Barshefsky threatened to initiate

    actions against six countries, including Romania, for

    imposing high duties on imports of clothing, poultry and

    several alcoholic beverages, Mediafax reported on 2 May. MS

    [17] CLARIFICATION:

    The 1955 Lisbon ruling, referred to in "RFE/RL

    Newsline" of 3 May, recognized the right of King Carol II's

    first son, Mircea, to bear the Hohenzollerns' family name but

    did not recognize Mircea as "prince." Hence, the usage of

    that title by Mircea's son, Paul, is misleading, as is his

    usage of the title "Paul de Romania."

    [18] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN CLEARED OF CORRUPTION CHARGES

    Mihail Mihailov, who resigned last month as government

    spokesman (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 2000), has been

    cleared of the suspicion of bribe-taking and intends to

    resume his duties, AP reported. Police experts said a taped

    conversation between Mihailov and a businessman allegedly

    offering him a $10,000 bribe was clearly fabricated. MS

    [19] BULGARIA CONFIDENT ON EU TALKS

    Foreign Minister Nadezhda

    Mihailova on 3 May announced that Bulgaria intends to

    complete talks with the EU on six of the 31 chapters of the

    aquis communautaire by the end of this year. She told

    journalists that "the pace of membership talks is linked

    directly with the course of reforms and we believe we are

    capable of implementing those reforms," Reuters reported. EU

    official Eneko Landaburu said in Sofia that the ongoing

    corruption scandals in Bulgaria will not affect negotiations

    on joining the union. "Until we receive proof, we consider

    all this to belong to the sphere of rumors," he said.

    Landaburu also announced that the EU is granting Bulgaria 250

    million euros ($223 million) this year to help the country

    achieve sustainable economic growth by implementing

    infrastructure projects. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [20] HUNGARIAN LEADER AVERTS INTERNATIONAL EMBARRASSMENT

    by Michael Shafir

    To a certain extent, the 29 April decision by

    Independent Smallholders' (FKGP) leader Jozsef Torgyan to

    turn down his nomination as presidential candidate was a

    patriotic gesture. In refusing the nomination, Torgyan has

    spared Hungary an international embarrassment, the ruling

    coalition inner tensions, and himself the unwelcome prospect

    of being rejected by the Hungarian legislature.

    According to the 1998 agreement that the FKGP signed

    with the major coalition partner, the Federation of Young

    Democrats-Hungarian Civic Party (FIDESZ), the FKGP has the

    right to propose the ruling coalition's joint candidate for

    president, and there was little doubt that the candidate

    would be Torgyan. The agreement was ambiguous enough to avoid

    specifying what would happen if FIDESZ rejected the FKGP's

    nomination--for good reason. The deal was one of the

    concessions made by FIDESZ during coalition bargaining, but

    Premier Viktor Orban was certainly not unaware that Torgyan's

    nomination to replace outgoing President Arpad Goncz would

    stir controversy both at home and abroad. The parliament must

    vote on a new president by 3 July. Signs had already emerged

    that Torgyan's candidacy would not be backed by all the

    coalition parties.

    In fact, as early as January 2000 Orban had bluntly

    stated that "it would be better" if Torgyan remained chairman

    of the FKGP." Other FIDESZ officials were making it clear to

    the FKGP leader that his path to the presidency would not be

    smooth. But in the past several months the Hungarian

    political scene has turned into one quite properly described

    by FIDESZ chairman Laszlo Koever on 27 April as a "cold civil

    war" in which the forces of the center-right and those of the

    opposition center-left seem unable to engage in dialogue.

    Furthermore, there were (and still are) obvious indications

    of an "unwritten pact" between the center-right coalition and

    the far-right Hungarian Justice and Life Party (MIEP).

    Against this background, a FIDESZ decision to accept

    Torgyan's nomination and his possible election as president

    with the support of Csurka's MIEP would have pushed Hungary

    into a situation closely resembling that in neighboring

    Austria following the formation of that country's new right-

    far-right coalition.

    The contrast between the liberal-minded and

    internationally popular Goncz and Torgyan could hardly be

    greater. The FKGP chairman has often been described as a

    "populist," though that term is too "elastic" to have any

    real meaning. Torgyan is, in fact, a "radical" politician of

    the kind that post-communist Eastern Europe has witnessed

    over the past decade or so, starting with Russia's Vladimir

    Zhirinovskii and including Bulgaria's Georges Ganchev,

    Poland's Stanislaw Tyminski and Leszek Moczulski and

    Slovenia's late Ivan Kramberger.

    Like most politicians of this ilk, Torgyan does not

    hesitate to indulge in demagogic rhetoric, frequently

    courting and encouraging extreme nationalism. He reportedly

    told Aurel Braun, a Canadian professor of political science

    who interviewed him several years ago, that Roma would be

    best isolated in apartheid-like enclosures, where, he said,

    their leaders would be held responsible for whatever misdeeds

    the inmates perpetrated. This "solution" was not really

    original (Corneliu Vadim Tudor had proposed it in Romania)

    and stopped just short of Csurka's more racist

    pronouncements.

    Torgyan is a typical post-communist leader whose

    policies come closest to what Poland's Adam Michnik described

    as "post-Bolshevik Bolshevism." Like all such "Bolsheviks" in

    the area, Torgyan readily embraces the myth of "Judeo-

    Bolshevism," and some members of his party do so even more

    openly than he does. Within that mindset, communism was not

    only imposed from the outside--an argument that can hardly be

    challenged--but was done so mainly with the help of local

    Jews. The danger that this will be repeated, according to the

    FKGP leader, has not disappeared. Addressing a rally of his

    supporters in March 1996, he spoke of a "liberal-Bolshevik"

    danger that is allegedly "paralyzing...the powers of the

    Hungarian nation." But he hastened to add that "We, however,

    cannot be paralyzed. We are Hungarian. And come the spring

    season, the Hungarian manually clears the vermin away. Let us

    also clear the vermin."

    There are many other examples of the "peasant leader"

    understanding how to translate alleged peasant seasonal

    practices into the rhetoric of daily politics. Perhaps

    Torgyan's "explanation" to his party as to why he chose to

    decline its nomination sums up his position: "I need to stand

    firm on the barricades erected against Bolshevik

    restoration," he said, adding that as president he would no

    longer have been able to do so.

    But Hungary, as everyone knows, is far from facing the

    danger of "Bolshevik restoration." It is a trusted NATO

    member and likely to become one of the first former communist

    countries to join the EU-- that is, if another Torgyan does

    not make it to the presidency.

    04-05-00


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


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