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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 101, 00-05-25

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. 101, 25 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA MAY JOIN CIS CUSTOMS UNION
  • [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS CAUCASUS SECURITY
  • [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS TWO MINISTERIAL CANDIDATES
  • [04] ABKHAZ LEADER WANTS TALKS WITH SHEVARDNADZE
  • [05] GEORGIAN 'HAWK' RESIGNS
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN DETAINS SUSPECTED MERCENARIES
  • [07] UN ENVOY TERMS AFGHANISTAN A THREAT TO TAJIKISTAN
  • [08] TURKMENISTAN DEPORTS LAST RUSSIAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] CROATIA JOINS NATO PROGRAM...
  • [10] ...WITH BALKANS ON AGENDA AT NATO MEETING
  • [11] WHAT IS GOING ON IN PRESEVO?
  • [12] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KOSOVA
  • [13] UNHCR WARNS OF KOSOVA SEX TRADE
  • [14] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN KINGPIN GOES ON TRIAL
  • [15] MILOSEVIC WANTS STREET PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO
  • [16] BELGRADE MINISTER CALLS DEL PONTE 'WHORE'
  • [17] DEL PONTE ADMONISHES CROATS
  • [18] TOP CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY SCRAPPED?
  • [19] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.S. VISIT
  • [20] ROMANIAN INVESTMENT FUND ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE
  • [21] BULGARIA WARNED OVER PIRATE CD IMPORTS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [22] RADICAL RIGHT ON THE MARCH IN CROATIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA MAY JOIN CIS CUSTOMS UNION

    Meeting on 24 May in

    Minsk with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka,

    Armenian President Robert Kocharian said Armenia will

    "seriously consider" joining the CIS Customs Union if that

    body "starts functioning without major flaws," Interfax

    reported. But he added that so far it is a "purely formal"

    organization. The previous day, Russian President Vladimir

    Putin had briefed Kocharian in Minsk on that day's Customs

    Union session, ITAR-TASS reported. Putin and Kocharian also

    focused on bilateral relations. LF

    [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS CAUCASUS SECURITY

    PACT NOT FEASIBLE AT PRESENT

    Tofik Zulfugarov, who resigned

    last fall as Azerbaijani foreign minister, believes it would

    be premature to talk of creating a regional security system

    in the South Caucasus before all regional conflicts have been

    resolved, Caucasus Press reported on 24 May. He said one of

    the "fundamental principles" of such a system is the mutual

    recognition by all regional states of each others'

    territorial integrity. But in the future, once that objective

    is realized, he added, "such a system could become an

    important factor for preserving peace and stability,"

    provided that all regional states are included in it. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS TWO MINISTERIAL CANDIDATES

    A

    majority of deputies on 24 May declined to endorse the

    candidates proposed by President Eduard Shevardnadze for the

    posts of agriculture minister and minister for environmental

    protection, Caucasus Press reported. Both of the candidates

    had held those portfolios in the outgoing government. Bakur

    Gulua, the proposed agriculture minister, served under then

    Georgian Communist Party First Secretary Shevardnadze in the

    early 1980s, when he successfully spearheaded agricultural

    reform. He is currently implicated in an embezzlement

    scandal. The candidate for minister of environmental

    protection, Nino Chkhobadze, has been accused of condoning

    the import for industrial purposes of substances that pose an

    ecological hazard. LF

    [04] ABKHAZ LEADER WANTS TALKS WITH SHEVARDNADZE

    Vladislav

    Ardzinba told journalists in Sukhum that the current state of

    negotiations on resolving the Abkhaz conflict is

    unsatisfactory, Caucasus Press reported. He said it is

    imperative that he meet with President Shevardnadze to

    address that problem, even before the two draft documents

    currently under discussion are finalized. Shevardnadze has

    consistently said he will agree to meet with Arzdinba only to

    sign those agreements. Ardzinba also affirmed once more that

    Abkhazia will not sign a third document, recently drafted by

    the UN, defining the division of powers between the Abkhaz

    leadership and the central Georgian government in Tbilisi.

    Earlier this week, Shevardnadze and Arzdinba met separately

    with U.S. State Department Special Envoy for conflicts in the

    Newly Independent States Carey Cavanaugh to discuss the

    situation in Abkhazia. LF

    [05] GEORGIAN 'HAWK' RESIGNS

    Tamaz Nadareishvili on 24 May

    announced his resignation as chairman of the Abkhaz Supreme

    Council in exile, which is composed of the ethnic Georgian

    deputies elected to the Abkhaz parliament in 1990 and who

    fled Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war, Caucasus Press

    reported. He also quit the "Abkhazeti" parliamentary faction.

    Nadareishvili had announced the previous day that he intended

    to step down as de facto leader of the ethnic Georgian

    displaced persons from Abkhazia to protest what he considers

    the Georgian government's too lenient approach to resolving

    that conflict. He had resigned as chairman of the parliament

    in exile following the May 1998 fighting in Abkhazia, but he

    withdrew that decision under pressure from other members of

    that body (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 1, No. 15, 9

    June 1998). LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN DETAINS SUSPECTED MERCENARIES

    Kazakhstan's

    National Security Committee detained 16 Afghan and Pakistani

    nationals on their arrival at Almaty airport from Karachi on

    25 May, ITAR-TASS reported. A spokesman for the committee

    said that the men, who reportedly carried forged passports

    and virtually no baggage, are Taliban mudjahedin en route for

    Chechnya via Georgia. A similar group of 70 Pakistanis was

    refused entry into Kazakhstan last fall (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 17 November 1999). LF

    [07] UN ENVOY TERMS AFGHANISTAN A THREAT TO TAJIKISTAN

    UN Special

    Envoy for Tajikistan Ivo Petrov said in a statement released

    in New York on 24 May that there is "constant instability" in

    Tajikistan and that the ongoing civil war in Afghanistan

    could torpedo the ongoing Tajik peace process, Reuters

    reported. He said Tajikistan still needs large amounts of

    economic aid. Ten days earlier, the UN Security Council had

    positively assessed the work of its observer mission, which

    withdrew from Tajikistan following this year's parliamentary

    elections. That ballot marked the final stage of the peace

    process. LF

    [08] TURKMENISTAN DEPORTS LAST RUSSIAN BAPTIST MISSIONARY

    Turkmen

    security police have located Vitalii Tereshin, the last

    remaining Russian Baptist missionary in Turkmenistan, and

    deported him to Russia, Keston News Service reported on 23

    May. Tereshin is the sixth Baptist missionary to be forced to

    leave Turkmenistan, along with his family, since the

    beginning of this year. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] CROATIA JOINS NATO PROGRAM...

    Croatia formally joined NATO's

    Partnership for Peace program and the Euro-Atlantic

    Partnership Council at the meeting of the alliance's foreign

    ministers in Florence on 24 May. U.S. Secretary of State

    Madeleine Albright noted that "in a few short months, Croatia

    has made dramatic progress toward a democratic society, has

    demonstrated a renewed commitment to the [Bosnian peace]

    process, and has taken steps to promote stability and

    security in southeastern Europe," AP reported. PM

    [10] ...WITH BALKANS ON AGENDA AT NATO MEETING

    Albright argued in

    Florence on 24 May that Serbia has no future as long as

    Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic remains its leader. She

    added that it can count on international assistance only when

    it establishes a democratic system. Albright criticized

    Russia for recently hosting Yugoslav Defense Minister

    Dragoljub Ojdanic, who is an indicted war criminal. She

    stressed that such individuals should be arrested and sent to

    the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Russian Foreign Minister

    Igor Ivanov apologized for that visit, attributing it to "an

    internal, technical hitch" (see Part I). NATO Secretary-

    General Lord Robertson noted that several countries have

    withdrawn their contingents from Kosova and that NATO is

    having difficulty keeping the minimum numbers of troops it

    needs to carry out its mission in the province, the

    "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported. PM

    [11] WHAT IS GOING ON IN PRESEVO?

    A U.S. army spokesman told AP on

    25 May that there has recently been sporadic mortar and

    machine gun fire in the Presevo valley area of southwestern

    Serbia bordering Kosova. The spokesman was unable to confirm

    reports by local ethnic Albanians that Serbian forces have

    launched an offensive against four villages nearby. An

    Albanian spokesman charged that Milosevic is launching a

    crackdown in the area to divert attention from his problems

    with the Serbian opposition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May

    2000). An unnamed Serbian government official told the news

    agency that there were only "regular police activities" in

    the area. Serbian state-run television reported on 24 May

    that "Albanian terrorists" fired mortar shells at a police

    checkpoint near Bujanovac and that the shells came from the

    direction of the ethnic Albanian village of Dobrosin in the

    demilitarized zone along the border. The broadcast added that

    several U.S. Apache helicopters flew over the area before the

    shelling began. PM

    [12] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT VISITS KOSOVA

    Rexhep Meidani on 14 May

    became the first Albanian head of state to visit Kosova.

    Referring to local elections slated for later this year,

    Meidani called on voters to support candidates "who are

    committed to stabilizing the situation in Kosova," Reuters

    reported. UN chief civilian administrator Bernard Kouchner

    said that he does not see any threat to regional stability

    from greater Albanian nationalism and that Meidani shares

    this view. Serbian propaganda frequently claims that Albanian

    nationalists in Kosova and Albania seek to form a single

    state. Observers note, however, that no mainstream Albanian

    or Kosovar political leader or party calls for a greater

    Albania as a practical political goal. Cross-border contacts

    in recent years have enabled Albanians and Kosovars to

    realize that their more than 80 years of political separation

    have produced two very different societies and cultures. PM

    [13] UNHCR WARNS OF KOSOVA SEX TRADE

    The UNHCR said in a report

    released in Prishtina on 24 May that the large foreign

    presence in Kosova has led to the growth of a sex industry in

    which primarily East European women are forced into

    prostitution. The women come chiefly from Moldova, Ukraine,

    Romania, and Bulgaria and are often lured to Kosova by

    promises of simple but well-paid jobs in restaurants and

    entertainment. Once outside the borders of their homelands,

    the women's new employers abuse them, take their documents,

    and force them into virtual slavery. This reflects similar

    patterns seen in human traffic in many parts of Eastern

    Europe since the fall of communism and the opening of

    frontiers. PM

    [14] MACEDONIAN ALBANIAN KINGPIN GOES ON TRIAL

    Xhavit Hasani went

    on trial in Skopje on 24 May on charges of attempted murder

    and possessing an illegal weapon, AP reported. Macedonian

    authorities regard him as a criminal, but many ethnic

    Albanians admire him as a hero of the 1999 conflict in Kosova

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 April 2000). PM

    [15] MILOSEVIC WANTS STREET PROTESTS IN MONTENEGRO

    "Vesti"

    reported on 25 May that a tape broadcast on the Montena

    television station confirms allegations by the Montenegrin

    media that Milosevic recently admonished his supporters in

    Montenegro to destabilize the government of President Milo

    Djukanovic by organizing street protests (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 24 May 2000). PM

    [16] BELGRADE MINISTER CALLS DEL PONTE 'WHORE'

    Yugoslav Justice

    Minister Petar Jojic, who belongs to Vojislav Seselj's

    Radical Party, sent a letter on 24 May to "the whore [Carla]

    Del Ponte, the self-proclaimed prosecutor of the criminal

    Hague [war crimes] tribunal." Jojic said that she and her

    predecessor, Louise Arbour, "symbolize prostitution as you

    take money from customers and do your best...to keep them

    satisfied." He argued that the tribunal is "illegal" and

    serves as an instrument for NATO and the U.S. to "persecute

    Serbs." AP described the letter as "unprecedented." Jojic

    wrote Del Ponte to reject her request that he cooperate with

    the tribunal and extradite indicted persons living in Serbia.

    PM

    [17] DEL PONTE ADMONISHES CROATS

    Del Ponte visited Zagreb on 24

    May to urge top officials to speed up their cooperation in

    handing over documents to The Hague regarding Bosnian war

    crimes. She also expressed concern that recent Croatian press

    reports on the 1993 Ahmici massacres might tip off suspected

    war criminals that the tribunal is looking into their cases,

    Reuters reported. Del Ponte is also known to be unhappy with

    the idea, suggested by several Croatian officials, that

    indicted war criminals could be tried in Croatia rather than

    in Holland. Her hosts included Prime Minister Ivica Racan,

    Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic, and Justice Minister

    Stjepan Ivanisevic. PM

    [18] TOP CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENCY SCRAPPED?

    Racan said in

    Zagreb on 24 May that the National Security Council has

    agreed to "transform" the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS)

    and place it under professional civilian control. Police

    occupied HIS offices to prevent the staff from tampering with

    documents, "Jutarnji list" reported. The new head of HIS will

    be Damir Loncaric, who is a former police inspector, "Novi

    List" added. Racan said that the council's decision means, in

    effect, that the HIS will be "dissolved," RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported. President Stipe Mesic said, however,

    that the intelligence organization will be merely

    "reorganized." HIS was formerly headed by Miroslav Tudjman,

    the son of the late president. It is widely believed that

    Miroslav Tudjman misused the HIS for political purposes. How

    to reform the intelligence services is a major topic of

    dispute between Mesic and Racan. PM

    [19] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONTINUES U.S. VISIT

    IMF Managing

    Director Horst Koehler told Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu

    in Washington on 24 May that he expects the fund's

    executive board to approve at the end of this month

    extending last year's stand-by agreement with Romania and

    resuming the disbursement of tranches, which was

    interrupted owing to Romania's lack of progress in

    implementing reforms. Koehler said Romania now has a "clear

    economic policy direction" and the government deserves the

    IMF's support. Isarescu commented that reform will

    continue, despite 2000 being an election year. Also on 24

    May, Isarescu met with National Security Adviser Sandy

    Berger and National Economic Adviser Mike Hammer to discuss

    Romanian and regional economic recovery, an RFE/RL

    correspondent in Washington reported. MS

    [20] ROMANIAN INVESTMENT FUND ON VERGE OF COLLAPSE

    The Senate's

    Budget and Finance Commission is to meet with the leaders

    of the National Fund for Investment (FNI) on 25 May to

    discuss the fund's situation, Romanian Radio reported. On

    24 May, the fund "temporarily" halted payments after

    hundreds of investors who wanted to close their accounts

    were told that the fund cannot comply with that request.

    Isarescu said in Washington that people who invest in funds

    that are not state-guaranteed "assume a risk" and that

    "there are no reasons" to believe the FNI precedent "could

    spread to other financial institutions." Earlier this

    month, the private International Bank of Religions had

    announced it was unable to make payments to account holders

    and was placed under the supervision of the National Bank.

    MS

    [21] BULGARIA WARNED OVER PIRATE CD IMPORTS

    "Bulgaria is not

    producing pirate products any more, but its market is

    dominated by these products," Jay Berman, chairman of the

    International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, told

    Reuters on 24 May. Speaking at the end of a two-day visit

    to Sofia, Berman said that while Bulgaria, a former major

    producer of pirate CDs, has managed to clamp down on that

    problem, it now has to tackle the flourishing street trade

    in illegal imports. Berman said most of the pirate CDs are

    from Ukraine, now Europe's leader in such merchandise, as

    well as from Russia and Montenegro. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [22] RADICAL RIGHT ON THE MARCH IN CROATIA

    By Andrej Krickovic

    The Right in Croatia has been on the defensive ever

    since late President Franjo Tudjman's ruling Croatian

    Democratic Community's (HDZ) defeat in the parliamentary and

    presidential elections early this year. Now a series of

    right-wing incidents has shocked the country and shown that

    the radical Right is still a threat that the new authorities

    must take seriously.

    Over the last few weeks, several veterans' organizations

    have held large anti-government demonstrations. On 10 May,

    for example, some 5,000 veterans gathered in Split to protest

    the government's policy of cooperation with the Hague-based

    International War Crimes Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

    (ICTY). Veterans believe that the country's center-left

    government is using the ICTY as a weapon against the Right.

    They also believe that the government is intentionally

    minimizing the contribution that the veterans made during the

    country's war for independence. Veterans and Invalids of the

    Patriotic War (HVIDRA) President Marinko Liovic has publicly

    threatened that his veterans will sabotage the upcoming

    tourist season by blocking roads, border crossings, and

    airports.

    Ethnic tensions are also growing between local Croats

    and returning refugees in territories once occupied by rebel

    Serbs. On 6 May, local Croats in the isolated village town of

    Veljun prevented a group of Croatian Serbs from commemorating

    a World War II era massacre by fascist Ustasha forces. In a

    shockingly grotesque display, one local woman (who claimed

    that her son was killed in the recent war) urinated on a

    monument on which local Serbs planned to lay wreaths to the

    victims of the World War II massacre. On 17 May, five

    noncommissioned officers broke up the monument with their

    hands. And there have also been reports that local Croats and

    Serbs have again begun to arm themselves in Kordun, which saw

    heavy fighting during the 1991-1995 war.

    Many observers believe such incidents are being

    organized by the right wing of the HDZ. Groups like Liovic's

    HVIDRA have close ties to the former ruling party, and many

    Croats regard them as the HDZ's satellites. They believe the

    HDZ wants to use such incidents to create a state of chaos in

    the country in the hope that this will unleash a political

    crisis resulting in the fall of the current government and

    the return of the HDZ to national prominence.

    There are indications that these hard-liners are being

    helped by renegades from the intelligence community who are

    still loyal to the HDZ's right wing. Last week, police told

    the independent weekly magazine "Nacional" that they suspect

    that operatives from military intelligence and leaders of the

    Split chapter of HVIDRA organized the 3 May riot by soccer

    fans during a championship game in Split, which left 100

    people injured and resulted in the arrest of another 100

    fans. The stadium's surveillance tapes reveal that several

    men brandishing mobile telephones directed the rioting crowds

    in Split's soccer stadium. Police later identified them as

    former operatives of military intelligence.

    Opinion polls show that most Croats reject the right-

    wing offensive. According to a recent poll in the daily

    "Jutarnji list," nearly 90 percent of the country's citizens

    disapprove of Liovic's inflammatory rhetoric. Most people do

    not want to see a few zealots like Liovic scare off the

    tourists and foreign investors whom the ailing economy

    desperately needs.

    Many veterans' groups have also spoken out against

    Liovic's radical comments. The leader of the Rijeka chapter

    of HVIDRA has threatened that his veterans will use force to

    unblock roads and border crossings if Liovic carries through

    on his threats. Minister of Veterans' Affairs Ivica Pancic

    (who himself is a veteran and a displaced person from

    Vukovar) claims that Liovic and other radical veterans'

    leaders are motivated by their own selfish interests. Some

    members of HVIDRA have accused Liovic of embezzling hundreds

    of thousands of dollars from the organization. Pancic

    believes that Liovic and others like him are trying to stir

    up controversy and violence in order to detract attention

    from their own shady financial dealings.

    Meanwhile, the government's investigations into the

    major corruption scandals that occurred under the HDZ regime

    and the new authorities' willingness to extradite suspected

    Croat war criminals to the ICTY are making some people

    nervous. The Right may be able to find support among groups

    such as influential army generals who fear prosecution by the

    ICTY, Croatian immigrants from Bosnia who will be forced to

    return the houses they have occupied to returning Serb

    refugees, and members of other interest groups (like veterans

    and war victims) who face the loss of their privileges. It

    may also attract the support of the most needy and

    underprivileged citizens, whom it may be able to convince

    that returning Serb refugees are the main source of their

    misery.

    The threat from the radical Right poses a strong

    challenge to the government, which until now has cooperated

    with the ICTY and given its unconditional support to the

    return of Serbian refugees to Croatia. Indeed, these policies

    are the main reason why the West has finally allowed Croatia

    to enter NATO's Partnership for Peace Program, which is

    undoubtedly the biggest success of the government's first 100

    days in office.

    The author is a free-lance writer based in Zagreb

    (akrickovic@aol.com).

    25-05-00


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


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