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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 90, 00-05-10

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 4, No. 90, 10 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TASK FORCE ASSESSES U.S. AID TO ARMENIA
  • [02] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS U.S. KARABAKH MEDIATOR
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI TAX POLICE TARGET OPPOSITION JOURNAL
  • [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES 'NEUTRAL' CANDIDATE FOR STATE
  • [05] GEORGIAN CUSTOMS DENIES AFGHAN MISSILES STORED IN TBILISI
  • [06] KAZAKH OFFICIALS ASSESS THREAT FROM TALIBAN...
  • [07] ...AND FROM LOCUSTS
  • [08] TAJIKISTAN SEEK WAYS TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] CROATIA TO JOIN KFOR
  • [10] RACAN SETS PRIORITIES
  • [11] ZAGREB POLICE ARREST RIGHTISTS AT ANTI-FASCIST RALLY
  • [12] PETRITSCH CALLS FOR END TO BOSNIA'S COMMUNIST-STYLE ECONOMY
  • [13] KLEIN CALLS FOR BOSNIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE
  • [14] SLOVENIA TO PRESS AHEAD WITH EU AGENDA
  • [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION FORMS 'CRISIS COMMITTEE'
  • [16] KOSOVA GRENADE ATTACK WOUNDS SIX SERBS
  • [17] BULGARIA FINDS NO PROOF OF ANGOLA SANCTIONS INFRINGEMENT
  • [18] BULGARIA DISMISSES TOP ORGANIZED CRIME FIGHTER
  • [19] ISRAELI OWNER SUES STRIKING BULGARIAN PILOTS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [20] WILL ALBANIA'S DEMOCRATS RETURN TO POWER?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TASK FORCE ASSESSES U.S. AID TO ARMENIA

    The U.S.-Armenian

    task force created in January to improve the effectiveness of

    U.S. economic aid to Armenia held its first meeting in

    Yerevan on 8-9 May, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. U.S.

    coordinator Bill Taylor and Armenian Finance and Economy

    Minister Levon Barkhudarian both assessed the talks as

    positive. Taylor told journalists that the two sides are

    aware of the problems that need to be resolved, including

    improving Armenia's investment climate and amending

    restrictive tax and customs regulations. Taylor also said

    that Armenia's "place and role" in the regional energy system

    was discussed, but he gave no details. On 5 May, the head of

    Armenia's Medzamor nuclear power station, Suren Azatian, told

    Snark that Russia and Armenia intend to intensify their

    cooperation in the sphere of nuclear energy, according to

    Groong. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS U.S. KARABAKH MEDIATOR

    Carey

    Cavanaugh, the U.S. co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk Group,

    which is mediating a solution of the Karabakh conflict, told

    Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev in Baku on 9 May that

    ways of resolving that conflict will be among the topics

    discussed during U.S. President Bill Clinton's visit to

    Moscow next month, Reuters reported. Cavanaugh expressed the

    hope that "real results in strengthening peace" can be

    achieved in the next few months. Meeting on 8 May with

    Azerbaijani Defense Minister Safar Abiev, Cavanaugh stressed

    the need, which he said the Armenian government also

    recognizes, for measures to strengthen the cease-fire along

    the Line of Contact, which separates Armenian and Azerbaijani

    forces, Turan reported. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI TAX POLICE TARGET OPPOSITION JOURNAL

    Tax

    officials on 8 May sealed the Baku offices of the "Monitor

    Weekly," accusing its editor of failing to present financial

    data for the first three months of the year, AP and Interfax

    reported. The journal's editor, Elmar Huseinov, said that

    accusation was unfair as he has not yet received the required

    audit from the tax directorate. He attributed the move to

    official displeasure with the weekly's criticism of the

    president. "Monitor Weekly" began publication one year ago.

    Its predecessor, "Monitor," ceased publication in the summer

    of 1998 after a Baku court fined it for insulting senior

    officials. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PROPOSES 'NEUTRAL' CANDIDATE FOR STATE

    MINISTER

    Eduard Shevardnadze has proposed Kakheti Governor

    Gia Arsenishvili as minister of state, Caucasus Press

    reported. Arsenishvili, 58, is a former mathematics

    professor. whom observers consider a "compromise" candidate

    selected in order to avoid having to choose between outgoing

    State Minister Vazha Lortkipanidze and parliamentary speaker

    Zurab Zhvania, who were considered rivals for the post (see

    "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 17, 28 April 2000).

    Mikhail Saakashvili, who heads the majority Union of Citizens

    of Georgia parliamentary faction, characterized Arsenishvili

    as "uncorrupted," adding that "he has all the preconditions

    for conducting an independent economic policy." But

    Saakashvili noted that Georgian "oligarchs" oppose

    Arsenishvili and are lobbying for their own candidate, whom

    he did not identify. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN CUSTOMS DENIES AFGHAN MISSILES STORED IN TBILISI

    The Georgian Customs Department has rejected as fabricated

    media reports that S-3 and S-8 missiles supplied by the

    Taliban to the Chechens are being stored at a customs

    terminal in Tbilisi, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported on

    9 May. The department says it fully controls all military

    cargo transiting Georgia. LF

    [06] KAZAKH OFFICIALS ASSESS THREAT FROM TALIBAN...

    General

    Bakhytzhan Ertaev, who is commander-in-chief of Kazakhstan's

    armed forces, told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service on 10 May that the

    Taliban pose a serious threat to Central Asia, including

    Kazakhstan. But he added that Kazakhstan's armed forces are

    able to repel any offensive from that quarter. Late last

    month "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted Kazakhstan's Premier and

    former Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev as saying that

    "we are not saying that there is a direct threat to

    Kazakhstan, but our geo-political situation is such that we

    have to think about our army." Ertaev said that a reform of

    the armed forces is under way. LF

    [07] ...AND FROM LOCUSTS

    Touring Aqmola Oblast earlier this week,

    Kazakhstan's Deputy Premier Daniyal Akhmetov warned that the

    Agriculture Ministry currently has sufficient anti-locust

    pesticides to protect only 4 million of the total 7 million

    hectares of wheat fields threatened by a recurrence of last

    summer's plague of locusts, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported

    on 10 May. He said that the National Security Ministry is

    investigating why most of the anti-locust pesticides

    purchased are not suitable for use with Kazakh farm

    machinery. Reuters on 13 April reported that the Kazakh

    government had spent $18 million on such chemicals. LF

    [08] TAJIKISTAN SEEK WAYS TO ALLEVIATE POVERTY

    An IMF mission

    arrived in Dushanbe on 8 May to advise the Tajik government

    on the drafting of a long-term program "On the strategy of

    poverty alleviation and economic growth," Asia Plus-Blitz

    reported. According to a report on poverty in Tajikistan

    prepared by the World Bank and cited by "Nezavisimaya gazeta"

    on 6 May, 96 percent of Tajikistan's population live below

    the subsistence minimum, 80 percent in poverty, and one-third

    in extreme poverty. State sector employees receive an average

    monthly salary of $3-5, but some 20 percent of the population

    are paid less than $1.075 a month. Most people blame the

    catastrophic economic situation on government incompetence

    and corruption. Almost 80 percent of the foreign credits

    Tajikistan has received have been used to shore up the

    country's balance of payments. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] CROATIA TO JOIN KFOR

    Prime Minister Ivica Racan told the

    weekly "Globus" that Croatian troops will soon join NATO

    peacekeepers in Kosova, dpa reported from Zagreb on 10 May.

    Racan is in Brussels negotiating Croatia's admission to the

    Atlantic alliance's Partnership for Peace program. "Jutarnji

    list" reported that Croatia's joining the program is expected

    to be announced shortly (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 May 2000).

    PM

    [10] RACAN SETS PRIORITIES

    Racan told the "International Herald

    Tribune" of 10 May that Croatia plans to apply for full NATO

    membership as soon as it is accepted into Partnership for

    Peace. Among his other priorities, he listed membership in

    the EU, creation of an independent central bank, establishing

    a safe environment for investment, and speeding up

    transparent privatization. These tasks will be difficult to

    achieve because the previous government left Croatia

    internationally isolated and lagging behind other countries

    in the transformation process. The prime minister warned that

    Milosevic regime is in "its last stages, although I am unsure

    it can end without conflict. [Milosevic] fought for a greater

    Serbia; now he is fighting for survival.... There is the

    danger of further conflict," Racan added. He feels that

    "independence is likely for Montenegro. If this is what

    people want, their wishes must be respected. If [Montenegro]

    leaves [the Yugoslav federation], that will be the logical

    end to the process of disintegration [of the former]

    Yugoslavia." PM

    [11] ZAGREB POLICE ARREST RIGHTISTS AT ANTI-FASCIST RALLY

    Police

    detained seven persons on 9 May for attempting to provoke a

    clash between large groups of anti-fascist demonstrators and

    rightists who had come to heckle them. The size of the crowd

    was about 2,000, AP reported. The anti-fascists staged their

    annual protest to demand that the Square of Croatian Heroes

    receive back its communist-era name, which was Square of the

    Victims of Fascism. Since the victory of the center-left

    coalition in January 2000, rightists have increasingly been

    on the defensive (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 May 2000). PM

    [12] PETRITSCH CALLS FOR END TO BOSNIA'S COMMUNIST-STYLE ECONOMY

    Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's

    chief representative in Bosnia, told the UN Security Council

    in New York on 9 May that Bosnia's economy remains little

    changed since communist times. He stressed that nationalist

    parties run major industries for their own benefit, which is

    "completely out of step with the market requirement of the

    new millennium," Reuters reported. Petritsch noted that the

    "payment bureau," through which all commercial and public

    bank transfers must pass, is "a cash cow for nationalist

    parties who exploit the system remorselessly." He added that

    "such arrangements must not be tolerated. We have to start

    protecting the economic sphere from this kind of old-style

    intrusion." Petritsch nonetheless concluded that the

    nationalist parties' grip on power is slowly weakening. Some

    300,000 Bosnian citizens still remain abroad as refugees,

    however, and an additional 800,000 are displaced persons

    within Bosnia, he noted. PM

    [13] KLEIN CALLS FOR BOSNIA'S ADMISSION TO COUNCIL OF EUROPE

    Jacques Klein, who is the UN's chief representative in

    Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 9 May that the Council of Europe

    should admit that republic to membership as soon as possible,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Klein warned that

    Bosnia's continuing international isolation will only play

    into the hands of extremists and nationalists. PM

    [14] SLOVENIA TO PRESS AHEAD WITH EU AGENDA

    European Affairs

    Minister Igor Bavcar told a press conference in Ljubljana on

    9 May that the country will stay on schedule for implementing

    legislation aimed at speeding its admission to the EU despite

    the change of government (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 14

    April 2000). "We have established enough security mechanisms

    to give the whole process [its own momentum]...which politics

    cannot change," Reuters reported. PM

    [15] SERBIAN OPPOSITION FORMS 'CRISIS COMMITTEE'

    Officials of

    several opposition parties and the Otpor (Resistance) student

    movement told AP in Belgrade on 10 May that they have agreed

    to form a "crisis committee" to pool resources and form a

    network of lawyers and activists. This task force will

    organize protests and otherwise react swiftly against "every

    harassment of pro-democracy forces," the officials added. The

    Social Democrats' Slobodan Orlic argued that "all parties of

    Serbia's united opposition have approved the formation of the

    crisis committee. We should have done this a long time ago."

    The move comes one day after the opposition's and Otpor's

    decision to cancel a protest meeting in Pozarevac, which is

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's home town and known

    in opposition circles as "the forbidden city" (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 9 May 2000). Opposition leader Milan Protic said

    that the rally organizers "did not want to put people in

    danger," Reuters reported. Some opposition activists

    nonetheless blocked the Belgrade-Pozarevac highway for one

    hour, "Danas" reported. PM

    [16] KOSOVA GRENADE ATTACK WOUNDS SIX SERBS

    Unknown persons

    hurled a grenade into a Serbian-owned shop in Cernica in the

    U.S. sector of eastern Kosova on 9 May, injuring six Serbs,

    Reuters reported. Earlier that day, KFOR troops prevented a

    clash between an unspecified number of Serbs in northern

    Mitrovica and a group of 30 Albanians, who attempted to cross

    into that area from the south, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service

    reported. PM

    [17] BULGARIA FINDS NO PROOF OF ANGOLA SANCTIONS INFRINGEMENT

    Justice Minister Teodosii Simeonov told journalists on 9 May

    that a government commission has "come to the conclusion that

    Bulgaria cannot be charged with violating the UN embargo" on

    arms supply to Angola, Reuters reported. A UN report by

    independent experts released in March accused two incumbent

    African presidents and a dozen countries, among them

    Bulgaria, of helping UNITA rebels smuggle diamonds to buy

    arms and oil for their forces. The report said Bulgaria had

    supplied arms to UNITA since 1997 and that UNITA personnel

    masquerading as Congolese were trained in Bulgaria in how to

    use the weapons. Deputy Foreign Minister Vasili Takev said

    the government intends to increase control over arms exports

    by requiring exporters to confirm delivery of each arms

    shipment, in addition to presenting the end-user certificate

    required at present. MS

    [18] BULGARIA DISMISSES TOP ORGANIZED CRIME FIGHTER

    The

    government on 9 May approved Interior Minister Emanuil

    Yordanov's proposal that General Kiril Radev be dismissed as

    head of the National Service for Fighting Organized Crime,

    Reuters reported. He is to be replaced by Rumen Milanov, who

    until now headed the Gendarmerie. A ministry spokesman said

    that under Radev, the National Service has "significantly

    lagged behind in countering economic crime," which is "one of

    the ministry's priorities." The local media links Radev's

    dismissal to the row between Prime Minister Ivan Kostov and

    former Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, whom Kostov sacked in

    December 1999. Radev was appointed by Bonev. MS

    [19] ISRAELI OWNER SUES STRIKING BULGARIAN PILOTS

    Gad Zeevi,

    owner of a 75 percent share in Balkan Airlines, said in Sofia

    on 9 May that he is taking legal action against the carrier's

    striking pilots. Zeevi urged the government to help end the

    week-long strike and threatened to pull out of the investment

    if the cabinet fails to do so. A spokesman for the strikers

    said 76 of the 250 pilots have received summons in a civil

    suit. Earlier on 9 May, the pilots rejected a proposal by

    Zeevi that they share one-tenth of any future profits. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [20] WILL ALBANIA'S DEMOCRATS RETURN TO POWER?

    By Fabian Schmidt

    Three years after mass riots and widespread anarchy

    toppled the Democratic Party (PD) government of President

    Sali Berisha, some analysts in Tirana suggest that the party

    may have a good chance of winning this fall's local ballot

    and general elections due by June 2001.

    The Tirana-based analyst Armand Shkullaku argued in the

    weekly "Klan" of 23 April that "the Socialists have failed to

    fulfill their promises to the electorate. They have failed to

    prove the accusations they put forward against Berisha--that

    he is a thief and a killer--and they have shown the inability

    to govern."

    Shkullaku argues that just one year ago, most people

    would have ruled out the possibility of Berisha returning to

    government. "Now you better think twice before you speak," he

    says. "In the last three years of the left-wing government,

    very few things have changed, people have forgotten many

    events of the past, and [the Socialists] have not kept many

    of their promises. For the PD of Sali Berisha, current

    Albanian political reality offers also significant

    opportunities, despite the huge problems the party has had so

    far."

    The first factor playing into the hands of the PD is

    voter behavior: "We should not forget that the Albanians, who

    have generally been betrayed [by the politicians], have

    learned to vote against [rather than for a particular

    political option]," Shkullaku says.

    Thus the main reason why people may vote for the PD can

    be found within the governing coalition. In the course of

    three years, the Socialist-led coalition has conducted four

    government reshuffles. Two were under Prime Minister Fatos

    Nano, one saw the appointment of Prime Minister Pandeli

    Majko, and the last brought in current Prime Minister Ilir

    Meta.

    These reshuffles took place even though the Socialist

    Party has an absolute parliamentary majority and the

    coalition has over two-thirds of the seats. Shkullaku points

    out that none of these governments has been able to clear

    itself of all corruption and smuggling allegations.

    He also argues that recent governments have lost

    credibility when they claim great success at international

    donors' conferences and through their participation in the

    EU's Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. In fact, they

    have been unable to provide enough electricity in the winter,

    drinking water in the summer, or properly maintained roads.

    Many people are dissatisfied with the coalition's failure to

    solve these day-to-day problems and have lost their trust in

    its ability to govern.

    Second, the Socialists have lost the moral high ground

    in competing with Berisha. A lack of transparency and the

    slow process of investigating the whereabouts of the money

    that people lost in fraudulent pyramid investment schemes in

    1997--as well as the failure to indict some of the suspects--

    have played into the hands of the Democrats.

    One of Berisha's strongest moral arguments during recent

    opposition rallies is that the investigating authorities have

    been unable to prove charges against him of participation in

    the pyramids. The Socialists in 1997 used these accusations

    in overthrowing his government.

    The investigators have also been unable to substantiate

    charges of corruption against the previous PD administration

    or prove the Socialists' accusations against the PD

    government that the Democrats sought to use military force

    against rebel southern cities during the unrest. Courts have

    closed all cases based on that charge for lack of evidence.

    Furthermore, a trial dealing with riots in the capital after

    the killing of PD legislator Azem Hajdari on 14 September

    1998 did not result in sentences against prominent PD

    leaders. The Socialists earlier accused the Democrats of

    having attempted a coup d'etat.

    Third, Berisha has been running an aggressive public

    relations campaign, holding rallies in all major cities

    throughout the country. The Socialists would need to match

    Berisha's campaign in order to reach the rural population,

    but they have shied away from public rallies, arguing that

    they do not need to give Berisha a dose of his own medicine.

    In any case, Shkullaku remains skeptical about what the

    Socialists will have to offer to the electorate: "The

    Socialists' difficulties in presenting themselves to the

    people show that the governing party will not have an easy

    time in facing its rival during the election campaign."

    Berisha's campaign, however, appeals more to those

    unsatisfied with the current government than to those who are

    looking for specific alternative political options and better

    government.

    While the Socialists have the problem of presenting

    results to the electorate, Berisha will have difficulties

    putting his words into action. The voters still remember his

    authoritarian way of governing during the first years of

    post-communism, and he has done little or nothing to change

    that image. His attempt at the start of the year to exclude

    the reformist wing around Genc Pollo from the PD shows that

    Berisha has not changed his style of leadership within the

    party.

    In addition, the relationship between Berisha and the

    international community has deteriorated considerably since

    the mid-1990s. This is due to the lack of democracy within

    the PD and to the party's continuing refusal to negotiate

    compromises with the government under the umbrella of the

    OSCE. This was the case surrounding recent roundtable

    negotiations about a new electoral code.

    Indeed, many voters who fear international isolation

    should Berisha return may turn their back on both the PD and

    the Socialists. Nonetheless, a recent poll suggests that no

    "third force" is capable of capitalizing on public

    disillusionment with the two parties. The result is likely to

    be low voter turnout.

    10-05-00


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


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