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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 110, 00-06-07

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. 110, 7 June 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES INCREASE IN GOVERNMENT SPENDING
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN, U.S. OPTIMISTIC ON EXPORT PIPELINE
  • [03] AZERBAIJAN TO BEGIN IMPORTING NATURAL GAS
  • [04] ANOTHER GEORGIAN OFFICIAL MURDERED
  • [05] CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE GEORGIAN PREMIERSHIP LOSES SUPPORT
  • [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PLAYS DOWN TENSIONS WITHIN RULING PARTY
  • [07] KAZAKH EDUCATION ACTIVIST ASSAULTED
  • [08] MORE KYRGYZ POLITICAL PARTIES DECIDE TO BOYCOTT ROUNDTABLE
  • [09] MURDERER OF TAJIK OPPOSITIONIST SENTENCED
  • [10] TAJIK DEFENSE MINISTER SLAMS POOR DISCIPLINE
  • [11] TURKMEN DEPUTY PREMIER DISMISSED

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [12] IZETBEGOVIC TO STEP DOWN
  • [13] IZETBEGOVIC TAKES STOCK OF SUCCESSES, FAILURES
  • [14] IZETBEGOVIC DEPARTURE TO HERALD NEW ELECTIONS?
  • [15] BOSNIA LAUNCHES JOINT BORDER POLICE
  • [16] U.S. HIKES AID FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN
  • [17] KOSOVA SERBS TO LAUNCH ROAD BLOCKADE
  • [18] TENSE SITUATION IN GRACANICA
  • [19] CHURCH CALLS ON KOSOVA SERB REFUGEES TO VOTE
  • [20] NATO REJECTS AMNESTY'S CHARGES
  • [21] MACEDONIA PROTESTS TO BELGRADE
  • [22] MACEDONIAN GOODS FOR MONTENEGRO
  • [23] EU HAS PRAISE BUT NO TIMETABLE FOR ALBANIA
  • [24] BROTHER OF MONTENGRIN PRESIDENT ARRESTED
  • [25] MONTENEGRO, U.S. REJECT MILOSEVIC OFFICIAL'S CHARGE
  • [26] CROATIAN WORKERS OCCUPY MINISTRY
  • [27] NEW LEFTIST COALITION EMERGING IN ROMANIA...
  • [28] ...WHILE RIGHT DOES POORLY
  • [29] ANOTHER ROMANIAN BANKING OFFICIAL DETAINED
  • [30] MOLDOVA PLAYS 'GREAT POWERS' CARD
  • [31] BULGARIA TO SEEK EGYPTIAN HELP OVER LIBYA TRIAL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] OSCE SEEKS AGREEMENT ON CENTRAL ASIAN WATER

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES INCREASE IN GOVERNMENT SPENDING

    Deputies on 5 June voted to increase this year's budget

    expenditures by 5.5 percent, to $495 million, the RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau reported. The government will withdraw $26.7

    million from a $53 million privatization fund to underwrite

    the additional expenditures, mostly in the construction

    sector. Specifically, $10 million will be earmarked for the

    northern districts hit by the 1988 earthquake. The additional

    expenditure, which has also been approved by the Armenian

    Central Bank, will raise the projected budget deficit to some

    $120 million. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN, U.S. OPTIMISTIC ON EXPORT PIPELINE

    Speaking on 6

    June at the opening of the seventh annual Caspian Oil and Gas

    exhibition in Baku, Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev

    expressed confidence that the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil export

    pipeline will be completed by 2004, Turan reported. U.S.

    special adviser on Caspian issues John Wolf said he believes

    that the problem of raising the estimated $2.4 billion

    construction costs for the pipeline will soon be resolved.

    Wolf said the U.S. would welcome Russian participation in

    that and other Caspian projects. He said the U.S. has a

    strategic interest only in ensuring that one state does not

    control all export pipelines from the region. Wolf suggested

    that Kazakhstan might also export some of its Caspian oil to

    Ceyhan. He explained that doing so would not necessitate

    building a trans-Caspian underwater oil pipeline as up to

    400,000 barrels per day could be transported by tanker from

    Aktau to Baku. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJAN TO BEGIN IMPORTING NATURAL GAS

    Ilham Aliev, who

    is vice president of the Azerbaijan state oil company SOCAR,

    told journalists in Baku on 6 June that in the future his

    country will import at least 2 billion cubic meters of

    natural gas annually in order to switch from oil- to gas-

    fired electric power stations, Interfax reported. The cost of

    importing gas will be met from the proceeds from the sale of

    crude oil. Aliev said that both Russia and Iran have offered

    to supply gas, but he did not quote prices. Azerbaijan

    currently extracts some 6 billion cubic meters of natural gas

    annually but needs 14 billion cubic meters. LF

    [04] ANOTHER GEORGIAN OFFICIAL MURDERED

    Georgian Military

    Prosecutor Zaza Nakeuri was shot dead near Tbilisi late on 5

    June, Caucasus Press reported the following day. It is not

    clear whether the killing was politically motivated. LF

    [05] CAMPAIGN TO RESTORE GEORGIAN PREMIERSHIP LOSES SUPPORT

    Speaking at a press conference in Tbilisi on 6 June, the

    leader of the Union of Georgian Traditionalists, Akaki

    Asatiani, said that 40 of the 133 parliament deputies who in

    late April signed a legislative initiative proposing the

    reintroduction of a cabinet of ministers and of the post of

    premier have now withdrawn their support for that proposal,

    Caucasus Press reported. Those members of the majority Union

    of Citizens of Georgia who endorsed those proposals were

    rebuked by President Eduard Shevardnadze (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 9 May 2000). Asatiani termed the deputies'

    behavior "childish," and vowed to collect 200,000 signatures

    among the population in order to raise the issue again in the

    legislature. LF

    [06] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT PLAYS DOWN TENSIONS WITHIN RULING PARTY

    Resuming his weekly radio interview after a two-month

    interruption, Shevardnadze on 5 June described as "normal"

    the decision of the Abkhazeti parliamentary faction to quit

    the parliament majority, Caucasus Press reported (seee

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 May 2000). Shevardnadze also said he

    does not plan to leave the majority Union of Citizens of

    Georgia (SMK), which he founded as his personal power base in

    the early 1990s. Two prominent members of the SMK

    parliamentary faction quit the group last week to protest the

    parliament's endorsement of Nino Chkhobadze as minister for

    environmental protection. Numerous deputies had earlier

    charged that while holding that post in the previous

    government, Chkhobadze had approved the import into Georgia

    of the environmentally dangerous substance pyrolized resin

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

    [07] KAZAKH EDUCATION ACTIVIST ASSAULTED

    Unidentified attackers

    threw acid in the face of Ersain Erqozha in Almaty late on 5

    June, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital reported.

    Erqozha was hospitalized with severe burns and may lose the

    sight of one eye. Erqozha's unofficial movement, named

    "Education is the Future of the Next Generation," has

    repeatedly criticized plans by the Ministry of Education to

    privatize educational establishments. He had earlier been

    threatened, and claimed that attack on him was politically

    motivated. LF

    [08] MORE KYRGYZ POLITICAL PARTIES DECIDE TO BOYCOTT ROUNDTABLE

    Leaders of the Republican, El (People's) and Erkindik

    (Freedom) parties announced in Bishkek on 6 June that they

    will not participate in the roundtable discussion with

    government representatives and NGOs scheduled for 8-9 June,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. Erkindik

    Chairman Topchubek Turgunaliev condemned the Kyrgyz

    leadership's unilateral decision to increase the number of

    participating organizations from 27 to 75. But he also argued

    that the roundtable should become a permanent forum at which

    government and opposition could exchange ideas. The

    opposition Ar-Namys and Kairan-El parties had earlier

    announced that they would not participate, while Communist

    Party chairman Absamat Masaliev said his members are

    undecided because no agenda for the session has been

    published. Also on 6 June, Jerzy Wenclaw, who heads the OSCE

    office in Bishkek, said that while his organization had

    participated in the preparations, the roundtable is not

    taking place under its aegis, Interfax reported. LF

    [09] MURDERER OF TAJIK OPPOSITIONIST SENTENCED

    Tajikistan's

    Supreme Court on 5 June sentenced a 21-year-old man to 17

    year in prison for the September 1998 shooting of respected

    opposition leader and journalist Otakhon Latifi, AP and

    Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 September 1998).

    Latifi had returned to Tajikistan several months earlier and

    headed the National Reconciliation Commission's sub-committee

    for legal issues. LF

    [10] TAJIK DEFENSE MINISTER SLAMS POOR DISCIPLINE

    Addressing a

    meeting of the Ministry of Defense board on 6 June, Defense

    Minister General Sherali Khayrullaev harshly criticized

    sloppy discipline among Defense Ministry personnel, Asia

    Plus-Blitz reported. He said that so far this year more than

    200 servicemen have been detained for infringements,

    including desertion, being absent without leave and using

    vehicles with illegal license plates. He warned commanders

    that they will be held responsible if the situation does not

    improve. LF

    [11] TURKMEN DEPUTY PREMIER DISMISSED

    President Saparmurat

    Niyazov on 6 June dismissed Serdar Babaev, deputy premier

    with responsibility for agriculture and water resources, for

    unspecified shortcomings, Reuters reported. No replacement

    has yet been named. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [12] IZETBEGOVIC TO STEP DOWN

    Alija Izetbegovic, who is the

    Muslim member of the joint presidency, said in Sarajevo on 6

    June that he will retire from politics in October at the end

    of his current term as presidency chairman. He added: "In

    August I will be 75, and the job of a member of the

    presidency requires a physical condition that I no longer

    have. I wish to thank all those who have supported me in the

    previous most difficult 10 years of our history." He added:

    "This is not the only reason [for the retirement.] There is

    also some disappointment, there are some misunderstandings

    between me and the international community...which could

    damage the further consolidation of the situation in Bosnia.

    The international community is pushing things forward in

    Bosnia...but it is doing it at expense of the Muslim people.

    I feel it as an injustice. These are the things that I cannot

    live with. Somebody must come [forward] who can deal with

    such problems," Reuters reported. PM

    [13] IZETBEGOVIC TAKES STOCK OF SUCCESSES, FAILURES

    Izetbegovic

    said in Sarajevo on 6 June that his greatest success was that

    he helped prevent Bosnia's becoming part of a greater Serbia

    during the war of 1992-1995. He added that his greatest

    failure was that he was subsequently unable to establish a

    "unified, democratic, and prosperous Bosnia." Expanding on

    his self-criticism, he noted that "there are no human rights

    in the country. Bosnia is being eaten up by social problems.

    There are no jobs, and people have a difficult life," the

    "Los Angeles Times" quoted him as saying. Izetbegovic is a

    devout Muslim who spent nine years in communist jails as a

    political prisoner. He founded the Party of Democratic Action

    in 1990 and has remained its leading figure. He is known to

    his followers as "grandpa" and considered the most important

    figure in establishing the post-communist Muslim nation. PM

    [14] IZETBEGOVIC DEPARTURE TO HERALD NEW ELECTIONS?

    AP reported

    from Sarajevo on 7 June that "some [unnamed] international

    officials who effectively run this country said Izetbegovic's

    decision may compel the two other presidency members--Bosnian

    Serb Zivko Radisic and Bosnian Croat Ante Jelavic--to resign,

    too. New elections would provide an opportunity to remove

    Radisic and Jelavic, who are seen by some international

    officials as an obstruction to implementing terms of the 1995

    Dayton peace agreement for a multiethnic, unified Bosnian

    state." A spokeswoman for the OSCE said that the OSCE's chief

    representative Robert Barry will soon discuss the latest

    political developments with Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the

    international community's high representative in Bosnia. PM

    [15] BOSNIA LAUNCHES JOINT BORDER POLICE

    Officials of Bosnia and

    the international community inaugurated the State Border

    Service in Sarajevo on 6 June. It will eventually have 3,000

    members, who will be posted at some 240 border crossings,

    Reuters reported. Izetbegovic said at the ceremony: "This

    service sets conditions for the establishment of economic

    relations with other countries and defines a strategy of

    development and the fight against corruption. It will also

    help the establishment of a single economic space." PM

    [16] U.S. HIKES AID FOR BOSNIAN REFUGEE RETURN

    U.S. Ambassador to

    Bosnia Thomas Miller said in Sarajevo on 6 June that

    Washington has increased its financial support for refugee

    return to $67.2 million. Some $45 million will go toward

    rebuilding infrastructure, $12.2 million for rebuilding

    homes, and $10 million for micro-credits and farm assistance.

    He noted that in the first four months of 2000, some 11,445

    refugees went home to areas controlled by an ethnic group

    different from their own, compared to 3,438 the previous

    year. Miller called the increase "fantastic" and stressed

    that refugee return is "among our highest priorities,"

    Reuters reported. PM

    [17] KOSOVA SERBS TO LAUNCH ROAD BLOCKADE

    Oliver Ivanovic, who is

    the hard-line leader of Serbs in northern Mitrovica, said on

    6 June that Serbs will block roads leading out of that

    enclave for two hours each day to protest growing and

    organized violence against the province's Serbs (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 6 June 2000). Ivanovic added that the blockade

    will continue until 12 June, when the UN Security Council is

    slated to discuss the situation in the Kosova. PM

    [18] TENSE SITUATION IN GRACANICA

    Five Serbs were injured in a

    grenade attack in Gracanica on 6 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    6 June 2000). Angry Serbian crowds then attacked Swedish KFOR

    troops and their vehicles. British troops fired into the air

    and at their attackers, injuring one. Brigadier Richard

    Shirreff said: "We were attacked. We had to fire shots to

    protect ourselves," AP reported. PM

    [19] CHURCH CALLS ON KOSOVA SERB REFUGEES TO VOTE

    The Serbian

    Orthodox Church issued a statement in Belgrade on 6 June

    urging Serbian refugees from Kosova to register with the UN

    civilian authorities and vote in the local elections widely

    expected to take place this fall. Serbian hard-liners have

    called for a boycott of the registration process. PM

    [20] NATO REJECTS AMNESTY'S CHARGES

    Speaking on 7 June, NATO

    spokesman Jamie Shea rejected a report by Amnesty

    International that accused NATO of committing war crimes in

    its 1999 campaign to end atrocities in Kosova. The report

    charged that the Atlantic alliance deliberately attacked

    civilian targets. Shea called the charges "unfounded." He

    added that the Hague-based tribunal's Chief Prosecutor Carla

    Del Ponte recently said that NATO did not commit war crimes

    and that "her opinion carries more weight" than does that of

    Amnesty. Serbian spokesmen in London and Belgrade praised the

    Amnesty study, BBC television reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan

    Report," 6 June 2000). PM

    [21] MACEDONIA PROTESTS TO BELGRADE

    Deputy Foreign Minister

    Nikola Dimitrov said in Skopje on 6 June that his government

    has submitted a "verbal demarche" to the Serbian authorities

    because border guards refuse admission to Macedonian citizens

    with stamps in their passports from the UN's civilian

    administration in Kosova. PM

    [22] MACEDONIAN GOODS FOR MONTENEGRO

    Starting 13 June, a "convoy"

    of trucks will take goods from Macedonia to Montenegro via

    Kosova once a week, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on

    6 June. PM

    [23] EU HAS PRAISE BUT NO TIMETABLE FOR ALBANIA

    Fabrizio Barbaso,

    who headed a team of EU officials visiting Albania, said in

    Tirana on 6 June that Albania has made much progress in

    stabilizing the macroeconomic situation, adopting laws on the

    police and civil service, and privatizing the mobile

    telephone monopoly. He added, however, that much remains to

    be done to strengthen law and order, speed up reforms in the

    financial sector, and privatize banks, utilities, and the

    fixed telephone monopoly, Reuters reported. Barbaso said that

    he cannot provide a timetable for Albania's reaching an

    association agreement with the EU, adding that such a

    decision can be made only by EU leaders in Brussels. PM

    [24] BROTHER OF MONTENGRIN PRESIDENT ARRESTED

    Police in Podgorica

    arrested Aco Djukanovic, who is the younger brother of Milo

    Djukanovic, for assaulting Zoran Klajic with a pistol,

    Montenegrin dailies reported on 6 June. Klajic is a member of

    the pro-independence Liberal Alliance, which will run

    candidates against those of the elder Djukanovic's coalition

    in the 11 June local elections. A lawyer for Aco Djukanovic

    said that Klajic had taunted him. PM

    [25] MONTENEGRO, U.S. REJECT MILOSEVIC OFFICIAL'S CHARGE

    Montenegrin Interior Minister Vukasin Maras said in Podgorica

    on 7 June that charges by hard-line Yugoslav Information

    Minister Goran Matic regarding the recent murder of a

    Djukanovic aide are the product of an "insane, sick, and

    tragic mind." Matic had blamed the CIA for the killing of

    Goran Zugic. In Washington, a CIA spokesman called Matic's

    remarks "absurd," AP reported. PM

    [26] CROATIAN WORKERS OCCUPY MINISTRY

    Dozens of workers from the

    state-run NAMA department store chain occupied the building

    of the Economics Ministry on 7 June. They want the government

    to provide money for the financially-troubled company, which

    has not paid most of its 2,000 workers for several months. PM

    [27] NEW LEFTIST COALITION EMERGING IN ROMANIA...

    With more than

    97 percent of the vote counted, the Party of Social Democracy

    in Romania is well ahead in the 4 June local elections,

    having won 26.3 percent of the mayoralties, 24.7 of local

    councilor posts, and 26.1 percent of county councilor posts.

    In second place is the Democratic Party, with 12.9 percent of

    mayors, 10.6 percent of local councilors, and 9,9 percent of

    county councilors. The Alliance for Romania is in third

    place, with 9.3 percent of mayors, 8.7 percent of local

    councilors, and 8 percent of county councilors. Observers say

    these three parties may form a coalition after the fall

    parliamentary elections if current trends persist. MS

    [28] ...WHILE RIGHT DOES POORLY

    The Democratic Convention of

    Romania (CDR) came fifth in mayoral elections (7.3 percent),

    trailing the National Liberal Party (PNL), which ran on

    separate lists from those of the CDR. The PNL also scored

    better than the CDR in terms of local councilors (8 percent

    compared with 6.5 percent) and county councilors (7.1 percent

    compared with 6.8 percent). The CDR has lost in five out of

    the six large towns, the exception being Timisoara.

    Independent candidates placed sixth, followed by the

    Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (5.4, percent, 6.3

    percent, and 7.3 percent, respectively) and the Greater

    Romania Party (4.8 percent, 5.8 percent, and 6.4 percent).

    The ballot seems to confirm predictions of the likely demise

    of the Party of Romanian National Unity. MS

    [29] ANOTHER ROMANIAN BANKING OFFICIAL DETAINED

    The Prosecutor

    General's Office on 6 June detained Camenco Petrovici, former

    president of CEC, Romania's largest state saving bank.

    Petrovici is suspected of "abuse of office." The decision to

    detain him was taken after Petrovici had undergone

    questioning. Petrovici, a member of the ruling National

    Peasant Party Christian Democratic, had signed a contract

    guaranteeing CEC investments in the since collapsed National

    Investment Fund without informing the CEC administrative

    board. CEC says the guarantee is null and void. If convicted,

    Petrovici faces a jail sentence of between five and 15 years.

    MS

    [30] MOLDOVA PLAYS 'GREAT POWERS' CARD

    President Petru Lucinschi,

    departing on 6 June for a five-day official visit to China,

    said Moldova wants to study the Chinese experience in

    economic reforms as well as the possibility to export to

    third countries through China. Lucinschi told Chinese

    reporters that Moldova considers Taiwan an "inalienable part

    of China," Infotag and ITAR-TASS reported. Moldovan media

    said Russian President Vladimir Putin will pay a visit to

    Moldova on 16-17 June--the first official visit of a Russian

    president since independence, Among other things, Putin will

    discuss with his hosts the Transdniester conflict. Meanwhile,

    the OSCE on 6 June expressed "concern" for the failure of

    Russian troops to withdraw from the Transdniester, despite a

    pledge to do so at last year's OSCE Istanbul summit, AP

    reported. MS

    [31] BULGARIA TO SEEK EGYPTIAN HELP OVER LIBYA TRIAL

    Foreign

    Minister Nadezhda Mihailova, who starts a three-day official

    visit to Egypt on 7 June, will seek the help of President

    Husni Mubarak and other officials to secure a fair trial of

    the six Bulgarian medics detained in Libya, Reuters reported

    on 6 June, quoting ministry spokesman Radko Vlaikov. On 2

    June, some 2,000 people holding candles had held a protest

    vigil near the Libyan embassy in Sofia. Four days later, on 6

    June, Libya's ambassador to Sofia lodged a protest against

    the vigil, AP reported. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [32] OSCE SEEKS AGREEMENT ON CENTRAL ASIAN WATER

    By Roland Eggleston

    The chairwoman of the OSCE, Austrian Foreign Minister

    Benita Ferrero-Waldner, went to Central Asia last week. One

    goal of her visit was to persuade the five countries to meet

    in London at the end of the year to discuss how the region's

    water resources could be used for the good of all.

    When she left Tashkent at the end of her tour, Ferrero-

    Waldner knew it would not be possible to convene the

    conference this year. The presidents of Turkmenistan and

    Uzbekistan said they prefer to handle the problem on a

    bilateral basis and rejected the multilateral approach

    proposed by the OSCE. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan,

    however, favor the conference.

    The OSCE chairwoman told RFE/RL she now believes it

    could be one or two years before the conference is held. In

    the meantime, OSCE will organize working groups and other

    meetings to try to persuade Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan to

    join the others at the talks.

    All the upstream countries, she said, want a solution to

    the problem and do not want to stick to the old solutions

    from the communist era. This is the reason why the proposed

    conference, when it finally does take place, will deal with

    all aspects of the water problem--how the water should be

    shared, the building of storage dams, the use of

    hydroelectric power, and irrigation.

    Officials traveling with the OSCE chairwoman said her

    negotiations in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were

    difficult. The reaction of Turkmen President Saparmurat

    Niyazov was described as cold. He said he does not believe an

    international conference in London is the right way to handle

    the matter.

    Those officials also said that Uzbek President Islam

    Karimov told the OSCE chairwoman that his country has a

    thousand years of experience in managing its water problems.

    He added that he, too, prefers bilateral discussions over a

    multilateral conference.

    Nevertheless, the foreign ministers of both countries

    have been invited to visit the OSCE headquarters in Vienna to

    discuss the proposals with experts on water management. The

    OSCE says it hopes the water problems can also be discussed

    on the sidelines of a summit meeting in Tashkent in October.

    That meeting has been called primarily to discuss how to

    tackle the pressing issue of drug smuggling in Central Asia

    and security issues.

    Ferrero-Waldner stressed that the OSCE is not trying to

    lecture the two reluctant states. "We are only advising on

    something we think could be good for the whole region," she

    commented.

    Neither Turkmenistan nor Uzbekistan attended a seminar on

    trans-boundary water resources organized by the OSCE in

    Almaty last November. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan

    did participate. However, some progress was made at a recent

    meeting of the five deputy water ministers in Nukes, a city

    in Uzbekistan located near the dying Aral Sea.

    The OSCE is not the only international organization

    working with the five Central Asian states to overcome the

    problems in reaching a water-sharing agreement. The World

    Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and

    other international bodies have also made suggestions.

    International experts say one important issue is what

    the water-rich states should get in return for sharing their

    waters. That is a sensitive issue in Kyrgyzstan, which is

    rich in water but has few other natural resources to boost

    the lagging economy. One Kyrgyz expert told journalists

    traveling with the OSCE chairwoman that some people in

    Kyrgyzstan are already asking why they should give away their

    water.

    The expert, who asked not to be identified, also said

    that some people have suggested Kyrgyzstan should block the

    flow of water to other countries unless it receives

    compensation. He said that argument, while made only by a

    minority, illustrates the tensions that can arise unless the

    problem is solved.

    A widely-read environmental report issued last year

    noted that Uzbekistan's agriculture depends heavily on the

    water-intensive cotton yield. The report said this has

    occasionally caused tensions with upstream states such as

    Kyrgyzstan.

    The OSCE chairwoman described the management of trans-

    boundary water resources as "one of the fundamental

    environmental issues in the region." She said the OSCE hopes

    that Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan will eventually come to

    agree that it can be best tackled by all five states working

    together for the common good.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.

    07-06-00


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


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