Visit our Treaty, Convention & International Organization Document Archive A)? GHT="50">
Compact version
Today's Suggestion
Read The "Macedonian Question" (by Maria Nystazopoulou-Pelekidou)
HomeAbout HR-NetNewsWeb SitesDocumentsOnline HelpUsage InformationContact us
Sunday, 26 January 2020
 
News
  Latest News (All)
     From Greece
     From Cyprus
     From Europe
     From Balkans
     From Turkey
     From USA
  Announcements
  World Press
  News Archives
Web Sites
  Hosted
  Mirrored
  Interesting Nodes
Documents
  Special Topics
  Treaties, Conventions
  Constitutions
  U.S. Agencies
  Cyprus Problem
  Other
Services
  Personal NewsPaper
  Greek Fonts
  Tools
  F.A.Q.
 

RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 102, 00-05-26

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. 102, 26 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN NATIONALIST PARTY TURNS AGAINST LEADERSHIP
  • [02] ARMENIAN RIGHT-WING SEEKS SUPPORT IN SOUTH
  • [03] U.S. BANK REJECTS ARMENIAN INVESTMENT PROPOSAL
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT VISITS GYANJA
  • [05] GEORGIA AGAIN DENIES TALIBAN PRESENCE
  • [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION, PRESS TARGETED FOR REPRISALS
  • [07] KYRGYZSTAN DESIGNATES RUSSIAN 'STATE LANGUAGE'
  • [08] DATE SET FOR KYRGYZ ROUNDTABLE
  • [09] KYRGYZSTAN'S GUILD OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE REFUSED
  • [10] TAJIKISTAN DENIES DIPLOMATS INVOLVED IN KAZAKH DRUGS
  • [11] SECURITY OFFICIAL SAYS TAJIKISTAN COULD REPEL TALIBAN
  • [12] UZBEKISTAN DEFINES LIMITS TO MILITARY COOPERATION WITH

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] MILOSEVIC SHUTS UNIVERSITIES
  • [14] PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA
  • [15] SERBIA TO ORDER DEATH PENALTY FOR 'TERRORISM'?
  • [16] CLINTON KEEPS SANCTIONS ON BELGRADE
  • [17] HAGUE COURT CALLS SERBIAN LETTER 'PARANOID'
  • [18] SERB SENTENCED IN MITROVICA
  • [19] DJUKANOVIC WANTS MORE ACTION FROM INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY
  • [20] MESIC: CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES TO BE MORE
  • [21] TWO CROATIAN NCOS INDICTED FOR ANTI-SERB INCIDENT
  • [22] COURT INVESTIGATES CROATIAN TYCOON
  • [23] TWO KILLED, NINE WOUNDED IN CROATIAN GRENADE INCIDENT
  • [24] PETRITSCH WARNS BOSNIANS: SHAPE UP OR LOSE AID
  • [25] MUSLIM PARTY STRIPS GANIC OF MEMBERSHIP
  • [26] ROMANIAN PREMIER SEEKS BETTER RATING FOR HIS COUNTRY
  • [27] ROMANIAN PROSECUTORS QUESTION FORMER OFFICIALS
  • [28] BULGARIA GETS HIGH IMF MARKS
  • [29] BULGARIANS REACT DIPLOMATICALLY TO RUSSIAN OBJECTIONS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] SHIFTING THE BALANCE IN CENTRAL ASIA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN NATIONALIST PARTY TURNS AGAINST LEADERSHIP

    Addressing a congress of his National Accord party on 25 May,

    chairman Artashes Geghamian criticized the policies of

    Andranik Markarian's new government, arguing that far greater

    state involvement is needed to overcome Armenia's current

    economic crisis, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. "We still

    don't have a concept of national economic security or a

    foreign policy doctrine," he complained. But the congress did

    not discuss whether to vote no confidence in the new

    government next month. Geghamian had supported the previous

    government of Aram Sargsian, whose policies Markarian has

    pledged to continue. Geghamian had been considered a possible

    successor to Sargsian as premier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4

    May 2000). "Azg" reported on 25 May that National Accord's

    partner in the Right and Accord parliament bloc, the Union

    for Constitutional Rights, is increasingly unhappy with

    Geghamian's attacks on the president and government. Right

    and Accord has seven parliament deputies. LF

    [02] ARMENIAN RIGHT-WING SEEKS SUPPORT IN SOUTH

    Members of the

    recently created Union of Rightist Forces visited the

    southern region of Meghri on 23-24 May and appear to have

    tried to garner support from the local population by

    suggesting that, contrary to official disclaimers, the

    Armenian leadership is considering ceding that region to

    Azerbaijan in exchange for Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenpress and

    Noyan Tapan reported. Some residents, alarmed by that

    possibility, have reportedly left Meghri. Democratic

    Motherland chairman Petros Makeyan claimed that Premier

    Vazgen Sargsian and parliamentary speaker Karen Demirchian

    were killed in the 27 October parliament shootings because

    they opposed such a territorial exchange. A spokesman for

    President Robert Kocharian denied last week that Kocharian

    and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Heidar Aliev, had agreed to

    such an exchange of territory (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 May

    2000). LF

    [03] U.S. BANK REJECTS ARMENIAN INVESTMENT PROPOSAL

    The U.S. Exim

    Bank has rejected a request by General Motors for a $50

    million loan to help finance the production of trucks and

    minibuses in Armenia, according to "Respublika Armeniya" of

    25 May, as cited by Groong. General Motors had committed

    itself to that project in January1998. Exim Bank cited

    "economic instability" in Armenia as the reason for its

    decision. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT VISITS GYANJA

    President Aliev traveled

    on 23-24 May to Gyanja, Azerbaijan's second-largest city, and

    to Shamkir, where he attended the opening of a hydro-electric

    power-station partly funded by the EBRD, Turan reported. In

    Gyanja, only 5,000 of whose 300,000 residents are employed,

    Aliev discussed social and economic problems with city

    administrators. Aliev stressed that foreign investment is

    needed to privatize the city's dormant industrial

    enterprises, including the aluminum plant, for which he said

    several foreign bids have been made. LF

    [05] GEORGIA AGAIN DENIES TALIBAN PRESENCE

    Georgian Border Guard

    Commander Valerii Chkheizde on 25 May rejected as

    misinformation Russian media claims that Taliban mercenaries

    are waiting in Georgia to enter Chechnya, Caucasus Press

    reported. The Georgian Foreign Ministry had issued a similar

    denial two days earlier (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 2000).

    Speaking in Moscow on 25 May, however, Colonel General

    Valerii Manilov, who is first deputy chief of the Russian

    Army General Staff, told journalists that 1,500 men are

    concentrated in Georgia's largely Chechen-populated Pankisi

    gorge ready to enter Chechnya, Interfax reported. Manilov

    added that military defenses are being constructed in the

    gorge. LF

    [06] KAZAKH OPPOSITION, PRESS TARGETED FOR REPRISALS

    Igor

    Poberezhskii, who is former Kazakh Premier Akezhan

    Kazhegeldin's press secretary, was stabbed and seriously

    wounded in Moscow on 25 May, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

    reported. On 24 May, film-maker Rashid Nugmanov, a member of

    Kazhegeldin's Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, was

    detained at Almaty airport on his arrival from France, where

    he has lived for the past seven years, and ordered to report

    to the Almaty tax police the following day. And on 25 May,

    police confiscated the entire 26 May print-run (53,000

    copies) of the independent weekly "Nachnem s ponedelnika,"

    together with documentation found during a search of the

    newspaper's Almaty editorial office. LF

    [07] KYRGYZSTAN DESIGNATES RUSSIAN 'STATE LANGUAGE'

    The

    Legislative Assembly, the lower house of the bicameral

    parliament, has voted by 43 to two to pass legislation

    designating Russian an "official language" of the Kyrgyz

    Republic, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 25 May. The law

    rules that Russian may be used alongside Kyrgyz, which

    remains the state language, in all spheres of life. Kyrgyz

    officials say the legislation is intended to stem the

    increasing emigration of Russians from Kyrgyzstan, where they

    currently account for approximately 14 percent of the

    population (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 May 2000). LF

    [08] DATE SET FOR KYRGYZ ROUNDTABLE

    Presidential administration

    official Arslan Anarbekov told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 25

    May that the roundtable discussion between the Kyrgyz

    leadership and opposition has been scheduled for 3-4 June. He

    said seven issues are on the agenda, including the results of

    the February-March parliamentary elections, preparations for

    the presidential elections to be held later this year, press

    freedom and human rights, and the role and status of

    opposition and non-governmental organizations in the

    political process. LF

    [09] KYRGYZSTAN'S GUILD OF PRISONERS OF CONSCIENCE REFUSED

    REGISTRATION

    Guild of Prisoners of Conscience Chairman

    Topchubek Turgunaliev told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 25 May

    that the Ministry of Justice has again refused to register

    that organization. The ministry claimed that no one is

    persecuted for political motives in Kyrgyzstan and therefore

    no one can qualify as a prisoner of conscience. The ministry

    had refused two weeks earlier to register the guild, which

    was founded in February and has some 100 members, on the

    grounds that the documentation it submitted contained errors.

    LF

    [10] TAJIKISTAN DENIES DIPLOMATS INVOLVED IN KAZAKH DRUGS

    SMUGGLING

    Tajik Foreign Ministry official Igor Sattarov told

    journalists in Dushanbe on 25 May that employees of

    Tajikistan's Almaty embassy are not involved in drug-

    smuggling, Reuters reported. He blamed the recent discovery

    by Kazakh National Security Committee officials of almost 100

    kilograms of heroin on the Tajik trade representative in

    Kazakhstan and a former driver for the Tajik embassy there,

    neither of whom has diplomatic immunity (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 23 and 24 May 2000) . LF

    [11] SECURITY OFFICIAL SAYS TAJIKISTAN COULD REPEL TALIBAN

    Tajik

    Security Council Secretary Amirkul Azimov told ITAR-TASS in

    an exclusive interview on 25 May that his country's armed

    forces are "ready and capable to rebuff foreign aggression

    from any state, including Taliban fighters." A Taliban

    spokesman had threatened on 24 May that any Russian attack on

    Taliban bases in Afghanistan would trigger reprisals against

    Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, whose territory Russia would be

    constrained to use to launch such strikes (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 25 May 2000). LF

    [12] UZBEKISTAN DEFINES LIMITS TO MILITARY COOPERATION WITH


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] MILOSEVIC SHUTS UNIVERSITIES

    The Serbian Education Ministry

    on 25 May ordered all universities to close the following

    day, which is one week before the scheduled end of the

    semester. The ministry's decree added that "students will be

    allowed to enter schools only on the day of their exams and

    will not be able to use libraries," Reuters reported. The

    decree added that "there must be no gatherings or

    demonstrations at the faculties," AP reported. The opposition

    Democratic Party said in a statement that the universities

    have become "forbidden zones." The decree comes on the eve of

    a planned student strike against the rule of Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic. Observers suggest the decree

    indicates that the regime is worried about the growing

    influence of the Otpor (Resistance) student movement. Unlike

    the fractious parties of the opposition, Otpor has a broad

    membership and does not have any highly visible, egotistical

    leaders. PM

    [14] PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SERBIA

    Some 2,000 persons attended a

    rally in Belgrade on 25 May, which is the ninth straight day

    of small protests following the regime's crackdown on non-

    state electronic media. In Nis, some 2,000 students marched

    on the police station to protest the government's latest

    moves against Otpor. PM

    [15] SERBIA TO ORDER DEATH PENALTY FOR 'TERRORISM'?

    Serbian Deputy

    Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj told a Belgrade news

    conference on 25 May that "anyone carrying out terrorist

    actions and killing our citizens upon an American order

    should face death penalty, as well as those who are

    kidnapping our people," Reuters reported. Yugoslav Deputy

    Prime Minister Nikola Sainovic, who is an indicted war

    criminal, called for improved efforts against "terrorism" and

    noted that a new law to that effect will be ready "within

    days," "Danas" reported. He added that the law will not apply

    to Montenegro because the Montenegrin government "openly

    supports those who carry out terrorism in Serbia," "Blic"

    reported. The Belgrade regime recently accused Otpor of

    "terrorism" and routinely calls Kosovar activists

    "terrorists." PM

    [16] CLINTON KEEPS SANCTIONS ON BELGRADE

    U.S. President Bill

    Clinton extended for an additional six months the sanctions

    first imposed on Milosevic's Yugoslavia in April 1999.

    Clinton said in documents sent to Congress on 25 May: "This

    situation [presented by Milosevic's policies] continues to

    pose a continuing and unusual and extraordinary threat to the

    national security, foreign policy interests, and the economy

    of the United States," Reuters reported. The sanctions ban

    the import of Yugoslav goods to the U.S. and export of U.S.

    goods to that country. Most medicines and agricultural

    products are excepted. PM

    [17] HAGUE COURT CALLS SERBIAN LETTER 'PARANOID'

    Graham Blewitt,

    who is a deputy prosecutor at the Hague-based war crimes

    tribunal, said on 25 May that an inflammatory letter from a

    Serbian minister to Chief Prosecutor Carla Del Ponte "is a

    sign of paranoia coming out of Belgrade," Reuters reported

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 2000). Blewitt added that "the

    fact the prosecutor has not received the letter, I think, is

    an indication that it's part of a disinformation campaign,

    and I expect we'll see more of this in coming weeks and

    months." PM

    [18] SERB SENTENCED IN MITROVICA

    Swedish judge Christer

    Karphammer sentenced Nebojsa Mutavdzic to six months

    imprisonment for setting fire to the abandoned house of an

    ethnic Albanian in 1999. Mutavdzic had pleaded guilty, saying

    that he was drunk at the time and that three Albanians had

    provoked him. The judge ordered him released because he has

    already spent almost 10 months in prison awaiting trial. This

    is the first trial held in the divided city since NATO took

    control in 1999. PM

    [19] DJUKANOVIC WANTS MORE ACTION FROM INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

    Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Sveti Stefan on

    25 May that "unlike in Bosnia and [Kosova]...the

    international community must use preemptive diplomacy and

    other security measures to prevent another conflict.... As

    long as Milosevic is in power, we have to be concerned for

    peace and stability not only in Montenegro but in the region

    as well," AP reported. Elsewhere, Djukanovic said that he

    regrets that some unnamed members of the Serbian opposition

    are not willing to treat Montenegro as an equal partner in

    the Yugoslav federation, "Vesti" reported. Montenegro's

    population is roughly one-tenth that of Serbia. PM

    [20] MESIC: CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE SERVICES TO BE MORE

    PROFESSIONAL

    Croatian President Stipe Mesic told RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service on 25 May that the intelligence services

    will soon be reorganized (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May

    2000). Their staffs will be reduced and their new managers

    appointed for their professional qualifications rather than

    political loyalties. Prime Minister Ivica Racan said that the

    Croatian Intelligence Service "was a center of political

    power" under the late President Franjo Tudjman, "Vecernji

    list" reported. PM

    [21] TWO CROATIAN NCOS INDICTED FOR ANTI-SERB INCIDENT

    The

    district attorney's office in Karlovac on 24 May indicted two

    of five non-commissioned officers who recently destroyed an

    anti-fascist World War II monument in the mainly Serbian

    village of Veljun near Slunj in the Kordun area (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 19 May 2000). If convicted, the men could face

    three months in prison or the loss of 100 days' pay. The

    district attorney ruled that there is not sufficient evidence

    to indict the other three men. PM

    [22] COURT INVESTIGATES CROATIAN TYCOON

    The Zagreb county court

    began a criminal investigation on 24 May of Josip Gucic, his

    son Zvonimir, and five of their associates, AP reported. They

    are suspected of embezzling some $24 million from the NIK

    textile company. The elder Gucic owns more than 25 companies

    in his Gucic Group. He is in Germany, allegedly for medical

    treatment. Scarcely a day passes in Croatia without new

    revelations in the media of scandals involving persons close

    to, or who grew rich during the rule of, the Croatian

    Democratic Community. PM

    [23] TWO KILLED, NINE WOUNDED IN CROATIAN GRENADE INCIDENT

    A 25-

    year-old veteran of the 1991-1995 independence war pulled the

    pins on two hand grenades in a post office in Vinkovci on 25

    May, killing himself and a postal clerk. Police are

    investigating the incident. PM

    [24] PETRITSCH WARNS BOSNIANS: SHAPE UP OR LOSE AID

    Wolfgang

    Petritsch, who is the international community's high

    representative in Bosnia, said in Sarajevo on 25 May that

    foreign donors' patience is running out with Bosnia because

    of local officials' failure to enact major reforms. "You need

    to understand that many people in other countries that are

    financing [Bosnian reconstruction efforts] have their own

    problems and they don't want to be bothered with your

    problems. If they do not see that there is progress in this

    country then they will put pressure on their politicians to

    stop the support for Bosnia-Herzegovina," AP reported.

    Petritsch added that it "is now known all over the world that

    the politicians here in Bosnia-Herzegovina are doing a lousy

    job." He stressed that he has not hesitated to use his powers

    in the past and will not hesitate to do so in the future. He

    recently sacked 22 officials whom he said were obstructing

    the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement. PM

    [25] MUSLIM PARTY STRIPS GANIC OF MEMBERSHIP

    The Party of

    Democratic Action (SDA) has expelled from its ranks Ejup

    Ganic, who has been one of the leading Bosnian Muslim

    politicians for the past decade. The move comes following

    Ganic's refusal to resign the post of president of the mainly

    Muslim and Croatian federation, despite the SDA's recent vote

    of no confidence in him. Party officials blame him and five

    other politicians for the SDA's poor showing in the April

    local elections. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN PREMIER SEEKS BETTER RATING FOR HIS COUNTRY

    Prime

    Minister Mugur Isarescu met with officials from the Thompson

    Bank Watch and Standard & Poor's on 25 May to seek an

    improvement of Romania's country risk status, an RFE/RL

    correspondent in New York reported. Standard & Poor's

    officials promised to send a fact-finding team to Romania.

    Meanwhile, the chairwoman of Sovinvest, the company

    administering the failing National Investment Fund, , has

    resigned citing health grounds. Ioana Maria Vlas went into

    hiding when police opened an investigation into the fund's

    administration. Also on 26 May, the country's two leading

    trade unions, the National Sindicate Bloc and Fratia,

    announced they will set up a joint trade union confederation

    "of a social democratic orientation." MS

    [27] ROMANIAN PROSECUTORS QUESTION FORMER OFFICIALS

    Mircea Cosea

    and Floring Georgescu, former ministers in Nicolae Vacaroiu's

    cabinet, were questioned on 26 May by Romanian prosecutors

    about their ties to Adrian Costea in the money-laundering

    affair, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Cosea, now a

    deputy chairman of the Union of Rightist Forces, told the

    prosecutors he knows nothing about either the circumstances

    of an oil supplies deal cut by companies headed by Costea or

    the contract under which Costea received money to pay for a

    photo-album on Romania. Cosea admitted that Costea had paid

    for three of the former minister's trips to and vacations in

    France. Georgescu said he "knows nothing" about Costea's

    commercial affairs and that he was never involved in the deal

    on oil deliveries. The media speculate that those deliveries

    were destined for Yugoslavia in violation of the embargo

    imposed on that country. MS

    [28] BULGARIA GETS HIGH IMF MARKS

    IMF First Deputy Managing

    Director Stanley Fischer said in Sofia on 25 May that the

    fund may soon sign a new stand-by agreement with Bulgaria, AP

    and Reuters reported. Fischer said that if Bulgaria continues

    "behaving like an exemplary member of the fund," it is

    "possible to consider signing a new three-year agreement." In

    1998, the IMF approved a $840 million loan for Bulgaria.

    Fischer said that "serious reforms always take several years

    to bear fruit" and that since Bulgaria may register a growth

    of about 4 percent this year, 2000 may be "just that year."

    MS

    [29] BULGARIANS REACT DIPLOMATICALLY TO RUSSIAN OBJECTIONS

    "Bulgaria highly values Russia's respect of its sovereign

    right to choose the best guarantees for its own national

    security," Deputy Foreign Minister Marin Raikov told

    journalists on 25 May. Raikov was responding to a statement

    by Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Avdeev,

    who had said in Sofia that his country views "skeptically"

    the declarations adopted by nine East Central European

    countries-- among them Bulgaria--in Vilnius last week asking

    NATO to invite them to become members (see above). Also on 25

    May, Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev told Prime Minister Ivan

    Kostov in Sofia that his company rejects Bulgarian demands

    that the price of gas deliveries be lowered, Reuters

    reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [30] SHIFTING THE BALANCE IN CENTRAL ASIA

    By Paul Goble

    Iran's new efforts to close its border with

    Afghanistan appear likely not only to shift the balance

    of power within and among the countries of Central Asia

    but also to transform the ties these states have with

    the Russian Federation and the U.S.

    If Tehran is successful in blocking the flow of

    drugs and refugees from Afghanistan into Iran, even more

    of these two destabilizing forces are likely to flow

    into the post-Soviet Central Asian states. And such

    flows are likely to prompt governments there to crack

    down on their own societies, to tighten security among

    these states, and to turn to those outside governments

    ready and willing to help them do so.

    Those moves, in turn, will transform the

    geopolitics of the region, especially since both Moscow

    and Washington have an interest in providing drug

    interdiction technology--the former in order to expand

    Russian influence in the region and the latter to

    prevent the flow of Afghan-produced drugs to Western

    Europe and the U.S.

    All three of these converging moves--Iran's

    decision, Central Asian concerns about border security,

    and the geopolitical competition between Russia and the

    U.S.--have been very much on public view so far this

    year.

    Last week, the Iranian parliament allocated $116

    million to increase security along its border with

    Afghanistan. The lawmakers took this step both to reduce

    the number of refugees from the Taliban regime and to

    block the flow of drugs from Afghanistan into Iran.

    Tehran has accused Afghanistan of smuggling two-

    thirds of its annual drug production of 3,000 tons into

    Iran both to develop an Iranian market and to use that

    country as a trans-shipment point to Europe. And its

    politicians have suggested, in the words of one, that

    this drug trafficking has "driven the eastern Iranian

    provinces into a state of chaos."

    Earlier Iranian efforts to block the border have

    failed because of a shortage of funds and the corruption

    inevitably accompanying the drug traffic. But Tehran now

    has more funds available, having received a World Bank

    loan last week over the objections of the U.S. Moreover,

    it has compelling domestic and foreign policy reasons

    for preventing the influx of drugs.

    Domestically, the Iranian authorities must contend

    with up to 3 million drug users and the social and

    medical problems they present. And for foreign policy

    reasons, an Iran actively fighting drugs is likely to

    receive more international support, especially in

    Western Europe.

    But if Iran is successful, the drugs will still

    continue to be produced and shipped out, most likely via

    the still weak states of Central Asia. In recent months

    and weeks, these countries have begun to step up border

    security, after a decade in which both regional leaders

    and major outside powers pressured them to keep the

    borders as open as possible to promote cooperation.

    As a result of such pressure, most of the frontiers

    between these states remain extremely weak. And a new

    flood of drugs and refugees would almost certainly

    overwhelm those countries, especially because of the

    corruption among local officials that would almost

    certainly follow. That pattern almost certainly will pit

    each of these countries against the others as they

    scramble to defend themselves.

    The most immediate consequence, however, is that

    the governments there will use the fight against the

    drug trade and refugees--what some are already calling

    "Narco-Islam"--to justify ever more repressive policies,

    an approach that some governments beyond the region may

    find convincing but one that could leave these regimes

    even weaker than they are today.

    During his visit to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan last

    week, Russian President Vladimir Putin played to the

    fears of local leaders over Afghanistan to try to win

    their support for a special Russian role in the region.

    Arguing that "a threat to Uzbekistan is a threat to

    Russia," Putin promised to do whatever was necessary to

    block ideological and criminal influences coming from

    the south--including unspecified "preventive actions."

    Putin's remarks were obviously keyed to local

    concern about the influence of the Taliban. But he also

    pointedly noted that "there have been attempts to

    redivide criminal spheres within the post-Soviet space

    using extremism and international terrorism," terms used

    to apply to the drug trade and the criminal structures

    that it supports and spawns.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. has also demonstrated its

    interest in combating any expanded flow of drugs

    northward through Central Asia. In the last two months,

    Washington has sent the CIA director, the FBI director,

    and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to the region

    both to reaffirm U.S. interest in Central Asia and to

    stress its nervousness about the spillover of Afghan

    events there.

    These three actions to combat the Afghan-originated

    drug trade by Iran, Central Asian governments, Moscow,

    and Washington simultaneously break down existing

    alliances and create new ones as all these countries try

    to figure out how to address the interrelated problems

    of drugs and crime originating in Afghanistan.

    At the very least, the fight against the drug trade

    may, like politics, create some very strange bedfellows.

    More likely, it will lead to a fundamental rearrangement

    of the geopolitics of Central Asia and the broader

    world.

    26-05-00


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


    Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article
    Back to Top
    Copyright 1995-2016 HR-Net (Hellenic Resources Network). An HRI Project.
    All Rights Reserved.

    HTML by the HR-Net Group / Hellenic Resources Institute, Inc.
    rferl2html v1.01 run on Friday, 26 May 2000 - 13:33:17 UTC