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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 103, 00-05-29

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. 103, 29 May 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT RATIFIES OIL PIPELINE AGREEMENT
  • [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT OPENS WEBSITE
  • [03] RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA
  • [04] DEPUTIES FROM ABKHAZIA QUIT GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY
  • [05] CHINESE DELEGATION TARGETED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [06] PUTIN PRAISES KYRGYZ LAW ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE
  • [07] TURKMENISTAN REDUCES ACCESS TO INTERNET

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] MILOSEVIC ACCEPTS INVITATION TO VISIT MONTENEGRO
  • [09] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS MONTENEGRO
  • [10] MONTENEGRIN DELEGATION HURRIES HOME
  • [11] KOUCHNER: MILOSEVIC DESTABILIZING KOSOVA
  • [12] GEORGIEVSKI, THACI PLAN COOPERATION
  • [13] RYZHKOV: SITUATION IN KOSOVA 'GETTING WORSE'
  • [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS RECEIVED IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN
  • [15] MILOSEVIC'S POLICE ARREST STUDENT ACTIVISTS
  • [16] OTPOR PRESENTS DEMANDS TO SERBIAN OPPOSITION
  • [17] BOSNIAN MUSLIM PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADERS
  • [18] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW TAX PACKAGE
  • [19] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY CRITICIZES PREMIER
  • [20] ROMANIAN INITIATIVE ON TRANSDNIESTER PRISONER REJECTED BY
  • [21] BULGARIA'S PARLIAMENT ENDORSES NATO MEMBERSHIP BID

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [22] SECURITY PROBLEMS IN KUKES

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT RATIFIES OIL PIPELINE AGREEMENT

    Deputies voted on 26 May by 93-0 with three abstentions to

    ratify the package of agreements on construction of the Baku-

    Ceyhan oil export pipeline, Interfax and Turan reported.

    Those agreements were signed by the presidents of Azerbaijan,

    Georgia, and Turkey in November 1999 and earlier this month

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 November 1999 and 11 May 2000). The

    Georgian parliament is to debate ratification of the

    agreement on 30 May, and its Turkish counterpart by 10 June.

    Western oil company representatives met in Tbilisi last week

    with Georgian officials to discuss four possible routes for

    the Georgian sector of the pipeline, according to Caucasus

    Press. Experts from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Turkey gathered

    on 29 May to prepare for joint military exercises, to be held

    next month, on guarding the pipeline once it is completed.

    Once a consortium to finance the 1,730 km pipeline has been

    created, construction time is estimated at three years. LF

    [02] FORMER AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT OPENS WEBSITE

    Ayaz Mutalibov,

    who has lived in Moscow since the Azerbaijan Popular Front

    thwarted his bid to regain power in May 1992, has launched

    his personal website at , Turan

    reported on 27 May. The same day, several hundred members of

    the political parties aligned in the United Azeri Forces

    congregated at the memorial on the outskirts of Baku to

    Azerbaijan Democratic Republic leader Memed Emin Rasulzade to

    mark the 82nd anniversary of the proclamation of Azerbaijan's

    independence. They carried banners proclaiming their support

    for Mutalibov and demanding democratic reforms, free and fair

    elections, and the resolution of the Karabakh conflict. LF

    [03] RUSSIAN INTERIOR MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA

    Visiting Tbilisi on

    26-27 May, Vladimir Rushailo met with his Georgian

    counterpart, Kakha Targamadze, and Georgian President Eduard

    Shevardnadze, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. The two

    ministers focused on joint measures to combat organized crime

    and drug-smuggling and signed a cooperation program for the

    period 2000-2001. Rushailo told journalists that several

    "odious figures" from Chechnya are currently living in

    Georgia's Pankisi gorge, which borders on Chechnya. He said

    that Georgian and Russian law enforcement agencies are

    working together to prevent Chechen fighters crossing into

    Georgia under the guise of refugees. Rushailo also affirmed

    Moscow's readiness to enter a dialogue with any Chechen

    figures who have the authority to end the current fighting,

    according to ITAR-TASS. LF

    [04] DEPUTIES FROM ABKHAZIA QUIT GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY

    FACTION

    The 17 deputies from the Abkhazeti faction, which

    represents the ethnic Georgians forced to flee Abkhazia

    during the 1992-1993 war, decided on 27 May to quit the

    Georgian parliament majority faction, Caucasus Press

    reported. In the future the Abkhazeti faction will seek to

    represent the interests of those displaced persons, and may

    to that end transform itself into a political party, but it

    will not join the parliamentary opposition, faction member

    Gia Gvazava said. It is not clear whether the proposed new

    party will merge with the Party for the Liberation of

    Abkhazia formed in late 1999 by Abkhaz parliament-in-exile

    chairman Tamaz Nadareishvili. Nadareishvili announced his

    resignation from that post last week to protest the Georgian

    government's approach to resolving the Abkhaz conflict (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 2000). Following Abkhazeti's

    decision, the Union of Citizens of Georgia and the

    "Majoritarian" faction together have a 135 majority in the

    235-member legislature. LF

    [05] CHINESE DELEGATION TARGETED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Unidentified

    gunmen opened fire in Bishkek late on 25 May on a car

    carrying three ethnic Uighur members of a delegation from

    China's neighboring Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Reuters and

    AP reported. One of the three was killed, and the other two

    injured. The three men had traveled to Bishkek to investigate

    an arson attack earlier this month on the city's Chinese

    market. An ethnic Uighur citizen of Kyrgyzstan was shot dead

    in Bishkek two months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 March

    2000). LF

    [06] PUTIN PRAISES KYRGYZ LAW ON RUSSIAN LANGUAGE

    Russian

    President Vladimir Putin telephoned his Kyrgyz counterpart

    Askar Akaev on 26 May to express his approval of the law

    adopted the previous day that designates Russia an official

    language in Kyrgyzstan, Interfax reported. A member of

    Putin's press service said the Russian president considers

    that legislation the outcome of joint efforts to protect the

    rights of Kyrgyzstan's ethnic Russian population. The law is

    intended to stem the increasing emigration of Russians from

    Kyrgyzstan. Until recently, ethnic Russians, who held many

    senior economic and administrative posts, played an important

    role in defusing tensions in southern Kyrgyzstan between

    local Kyrgyz and the region's sizable Uzbek minority. The

    prospect of an escalation in such tensions, together with the

    earlier language law that Russians considered discriminatory,

    contributed to the increase this year in ethnic Russian

    emigration. LF

    [07] TURKMENISTAN REDUCES ACCESS TO INTERNET

    The Turkmen

    government has rescinded the licenses of all the country's

    private Internet providers as of 29 May, RFE/RL's Turkmen

    Service reported. State-owned Turkmentelekom is the sole

    remaining company providing Internet access. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] MILOSEVIC ACCEPTS INVITATION TO VISIT MONTENEGRO

    Predrag

    Bulatovic, who is vice president of the pro-Belgrade

    Socialist People's Party (SNP) of Montenegro, said in

    Podgorica on 28 May that Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic has accepted the SNP's invitation to visit

    Montenegro (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 May 2000). Bulatovic

    did not specify when or where Milosevic will go. Bulatovic

    added that the trip will "create problems" for the reformist

    government of President Milo Djukanovic because he

    "cooperates with the [Hague-based war crimes] tribunal and

    will have to keep his promise to arrest all war crimes

    suspects, including the Yugoslav president," "Danas"

    reported. Bulatovic added that Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic

    was "wise" when he said that Montenegro will only detain

    those indicted persons whose arrests will not harm "civil

    peace" in the republic, Reuters reported. PM

    [09] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS MONTENEGRO

    General Milorad Obradovic,

    who commands the Second Army, said in a statement that the

    command has outlined a series of steps to heighten the army's

    military preparedness, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported

    on 27 May. Among others, the measures include shutting down

    airports built without Belgrade's approval and arresting

    persons who urge others not to cooperate with the military.

    PM

    [10] MONTENEGRIN DELEGATION HURRIES HOME

    Montenegrin Vice

    President Dragisa Burzan and other members of the Montenegrin

    delegation unexpectedly left a regional conference on Kosova

    in Prishtina on 27 May and returned home. The Montenegrins

    said simply that they had to "attend an urgent meeting in

    Podgorica," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [11] KOUCHNER: MILOSEVIC DESTABILIZING KOSOVA

    Bernard Kouchner,

    who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, told

    the regional conference in Prishtina on 27 May that Milosevic

    is "continuing his efforts at destabilizing Kosova," RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. Kouchner added that

    Milosevic's actions serve to destabilize "the entire region."

    Delegations from Kosova, Macedonia, Albania, and--at least at

    the outset--Montenegro, attended the conference. PM

    [12] GEORGIEVSKI, THACI PLAN COOPERATION

    Macedonian Prime

    Minister Ljubco Georgievski and Kosova Protection Corps

    commander Hashim Thaci spoke in Prishtina on 27 May about the

    possible opening of representative offices in each other's

    capitals. The two leaders also discussed ways to facilitate

    the improved exchange of people and goods between Kosova and

    Macedonia, as well as the future of Albanian-language higher

    education in Macedonia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 April

    2000). PM

    [13] RYZHKOV: SITUATION IN KOSOVA 'GETTING WORSE'

    A KFOR

    spokesman said in Prishtina on 27 May that there have been

    four violent incidents involving attacks on Russian

    peacekeepers in recent days (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 24 May

    2000). Nikolai Ryzhkov, who heads a Russian State Duma

    commission that just visited the province, said in Belgrade

    on 27 May that the situation there is "getting worse" and

    that "there is no order nor is there any kind of authority"

    in Kosova. Ryzhkov added that Kouchner "follows a clearly

    Western policy" in the province, RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [14] SERBIAN OPPOSITION LEADERS RECEIVED IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN

    MINISTRY

    Vuk Draskovic, Zoran Djindjic, and Vojislav

    Kostunica met with officials of the Balkan department of the

    Foreign Ministry in Moscow on 29 May. Draskovic told

    reporters that Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will speak with

    the Serbian delegation later in the day, ITAR-TASS reported.

    Draskovic added that Ivanov confirmed the meeting "10 days

    ago." It is not clear why, if this is indeed the case,

    Serbian and international media reported down to that very

    morning that it is not clear whether Ivanov will see the

    opposition leaders. The Serbs want Russia to use its

    influence in Belgrade to persuade the regime to cease

    repression and hold new elections. PM

    [15] MILOSEVIC'S POLICE ARREST STUDENT ACTIVISTS

    A spokesman for

    the Otpor (Resistance) student movement said in Belgrade on

    29 May that police arrested four activists in Nis and eight

    in Subotica in the early hours of the morning. The spokesman

    added that "Otpor is now the regime's primary target because

    it is so widespread, it's everywhere in Serbia," AP reported.

    He added that "with every new arrested student activist, a

    hundred more join Otpor." PM

    [16] OTPOR PRESENTS DEMANDS TO SERBIAN OPPOSITION

    Otpor on 27 May

    sent the leaders of the opposition parties a proposal to draw

    up a "strategy of national defense against violence and

    repression," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Otpor

    asked for a reply by 31 May. The students want a strategy

    meeting on 1 June in Belgrade that will include

    representatives of all cities and communities. The students

    stressed to the fractious parties that "if you are not

    willing to take steps [for a joint action program], we will

    do it alone," London's "The Observer" reported. An Otpor

    spokesman told a rally of 15,000 people in Belgrade that too

    much time has been wasted on "senseless meetings." "Vesti"

    noted on 29 May, however, that most people remain afraid of

    the regime and its police and are reluctant to attend mass

    rallies. PM

    [17] BOSNIAN MUSLIM PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADERS

    The steering

    committee of the Party of Democratic Action voted in Sarajevo

    on 27 May to elect Edhem Bicakcic and Sulejman Tihic as vice

    presidents. They replace Ejup Ganic and Halid Genjac, who

    recently lost a vote of confidence following the party's poor

    showing in local elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May

    2000). PM

    [18] CROATIAN GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES NEW TAX PACKAGE

    Parliament

    approved a series of measures on 26 May aimed at creating

    jobs by shifting the burden of taxation "from production to

    consumption," "Jutarnji list" reported. Taxes on cigarettes,

    alcohol, gasoline, and coffee will rise, while some taxes

    that companies pay will drop. Critics say that the measures

    will fuel inflation and hit consumers in a country where the

    average wage is about $450 per month. PM

    [19] ROMANIA'S DEMOCRATIC PARTY CRITICIZES PREMIER

    Democratic

    Party Chairman Petre Roman on 28 May backed his deputy's

    criticism of Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu of two days

    earlier, Mediafax reported. Deputy Democratic Party Chairman

    Traian Basescu said on 26 May that Isarescu is responsible

    not only for the collapse of the National Investment Fund's

    (FNI), but also of acquiescing to a "lack of transparency" in

    the intended privatization of the Agricultural Bank and

    Commerce Bank. He said the two banks have refused to hand him

    reports on their assets and that he will resign as

    governmental coordinator for parleys with the World Bank

    unless they do so, saying that under Isarescu "the mafia

    system feels it is protected by the cabinet." MS

    [20] ROMANIAN INITIATIVE ON TRANSDNIESTER PRISONER REJECTED BY

    MOLDOVAN LAWYERS

    Romanian Foreign Minister Petre Roman has

    proposed to his Polish counterpart, Bronislaw Geremek, that

    Poland assume the judicial retrial of Ilie Ilascu, who has

    been sentenced to death and is detained in a Tiraspol prison,

    RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 26 May. Moldovan

    parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov has also recently

    proposed that the case of the "Ilascu group" be re-examined

    by legal experts from an OECD-member country. But Moldovan

    legal experts on 27 May told the bureau that the Supreme

    Court ruled in 1994 that the decision of the Tiraspol court

    was illegal and that there is "no reason" to revise that

    ruling. Constitutional Court President Pavel Barbalat, who

    chaired the Supreme Court in its 1994 ruling, said the

    separatists in Tiraspol will anyhow never agree to have a

    third country re-examine the case. MS

    [21] BULGARIA'S PARLIAMENT ENDORSES NATO MEMBERSHIP BID

    With a

    vote of 189 to 3, Bulgaria's parliament on 26 May endorsed a

    government-sponsored resolution backing the government's

    drive to join the EU and NATO. The opposition Bulgarian

    Socialist Party, in a reflection of its recently-held

    convention, voted in favor of the resolution, although it

    said that it will demand that a referendum be held before

    joining NATO, BTA and AP reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [22] SECURITY PROBLEMS IN KUKES

    By Fabian Schmidt

    Albania's remote Kukes region has long been known as a

    center of lawlessness and became even more notorious during

    the 1999 conflict in nearby Kosova. It has been nearly one

    year since peace came to the province, but Kukes's problems

    remain.

    In an interview with "Koha Ditore" published on 23 May,

    Albanian Public Order Minister Spartak Poci acknowledged that

    crime poses a serious threat to returning refugees on the

    road linking central Albania with the northern town of Kukes

    and subsequently with Kosova. The city and district of Kukes,

    which includes the main border crossing between Albania and

    Kosova, faced the largest influx of refugees during the 1999

    war, when hundreds of thousands of people passed through that

    city. Since the end of the war, robberies on the roads,

    illegal attempts to cross the border between Albania and

    Kosova, and smuggling of illicit goods have been frequent.

    Poci explained that the rise in crime is not simply the

    fault of law enforcement agencies. Rather, he said, it

    reflects a broader phenomenon triggered by the war: "Kukes

    was a burden that the police could not cope with. [The town]

    bore the brunt of the entire humanitarian crisis in Kosova,

    with all its effects, and witnessed the complete destruction

    of the regular police service. Thus it was clear that the

    Albanian state--and not only the police--needed time to bring

    the entire [security] infrastructure along the border back

    into service. But this work is proceeding quickly. Of course

    we have used the opportunity to carry out changes and

    reorganizations within the local police department and

    prefecture. It is important to note that we can already see

    results."

    Still, many refugees who return voluntarily to Kosova

    from western countries are afraid to use the Kukes route. At

    present, the main concern of the Albanian authorities is to

    safeguard this summer's expected transit of thousands of

    voluntary returnees from Germany and Switzerland through

    Albania into Kosova. Poci stressed that Albania will not

    allow the transit of refugees whom the host countries have

    expelled by force. He added:

    "We have prepared a plan according to which we will

    organize [the refugees'] return. The refugees will travel

    only during specified hours, which means in the daytime.

    Regardless of whether the people travel in groups or

    individually, we will give assistance. The Kosovars will

    always be accompanied by Albanian police. In keeping with an

    agreement we have with the German and Swiss governments,

    those countries will cover the necessary logistical expenses

    of this operation. The agreement has not been ratified, but

    we expect that it will be in the near future. We will not

    allow the transit of the Kosovar refugees through Albania to

    begin before all the preconditions have been met."

    Poci also predicted that the overall security situation

    in the Kukes area will improve in the coming months. He said

    that KFOR and UNMIK officials have recently stepped up

    cooperation with the Albanian authorities in patrolling the

    border. He also shed light on problems within the Albanian

    security forces: "This is not an easy task, for several

    reasons. In the first place it is necessary to rid the police

    of criminals and of those police officers who cooperate with

    smugglers. This also applies to other institutions such as

    the customs and customs police."

    A joint project drawn up by KFOR and the Albanian

    government on guarding the Kosova-Albanian border was

    presented to the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe at

    the beginning of this year. EU and U.S. border experts

    launched the project in cooperation with local officials one

    month ago. A third roundtable on security will take place at

    the beginning of June, and Poci expects that at this point

    donor countries will authorize financial support for the

    Albanian authorities for specific tasks.

    These measures aim primarily at eliminating smuggling

    and preventing the emergence of a new contraband corridor

    from Eastern Europe through Kosova and Albania into Western

    Europe. The Albanian authorities have accordingly developed a

    permanent exchange of information and direct cooperation with

    KFOR and the UNMIK police. At this point delegations of the

    respective authorities maintain these contacts through visits

    rather than via permanent liaison offices.

    But that cooperation has already resulted in several

    cases of the mutual extradition of criminals. Poci stressed:

    "We are concerned that organized crime does not spread

    throughout Kosova in the absence of authority and a [capable]

    police force. Our common struggle aims at creating permanent

    institutions of cooperation to prevent the emergence of

    organized crime."

    29-05-00


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


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