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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 113, 00-06-12

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. 113, 12 June 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ENDORSES NEW CABINET
  • [02] WORLD BANK APPROVES NEW LOAN FOR ARMENIA
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW ELECTION LEGISLATION
  • [04] COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXPRESSES CONCERN AT HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
  • [05] ...PLIGHT OF DISPLACED PERSONS, CHECHEN REFUGEES
  • [06] UN OBSERVER ROBBED IN WESTERN GEORGIA
  • [07] GEORGIA, SOUTH OSSETIA HOLD TALKS ON RESOLVING CONFLICT
  • [08] CENTRAL ASIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS ATTEND ECO SUMMIT...
  • [09] ...HOLD BILATERAL TALKS
  • [10] NEW POLITICAL PARTY ESTABLISHED IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [11] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN BEGINS NEW HUNGER STRIKE IN
  • [12] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION CALLS ON OSCE TO MODERATE NEW ROUNDTABLE
  • [13] MURDER WITNESS FOUND DEAD IN TAJIK CAPITAL
  • [14] UZBEK PRESIDENT OUTLINES PRIORITIES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] SPLIT VOTE IN MONTENEGRIN LOCAL ELECTIONS...
  • [16] ...REFLECTS DIFFERING CONDITIONS
  • [17] KOSOVARS CELEBRATE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF END OF SERBIAN
  • [18] ...BUT WITH SOME MISGIVINGS
  • [19] KOSOVA SERBS CONCERNED FOR FUTURE
  • [20] KOUCHNER TAKES STOCK OF KOSOVA
  • [21] KFOR COMMANDER WARNS AGAINST 'QUICK FIXES'
  • [22] LI PENG SLAMS NATO IN BELGRADE
  • [23] TENSIONS ON MACEDONIAN BORDER WITH KOSOVA
  • [24] IMF HAS PRAISE, CRITICISM FOR ALBANIA
  • [25] CROATIA TO APPLY FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP
  • [26] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTY BLASTS FASCIST COMMEMORATION
  • [27] FORMER SECRET POLICE BEHIND ROMANIAN INVESTMENT FUND
  • [28] MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT OPPOSES LEAVING CIS
  • [29] BULGARIA'S CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR FIRED ON CORRUPTION GROUNDS
  • [30] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETO

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [31] KOSOVA ONE YEAR ON: LEADERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST VIOLENCE

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ENDORSES NEW CABINET

    Parliamentary

    deputies indicated on 9 June that they will not push for a

    no-confidence vote in the new cabinet of Andranik Markarian,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Markarian, who had

    presented his program to deputies the previous day (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2000), vowed to make every effort

    to avoid seemingly inevitable cuts in budget spending this

    year. He added that the ongoing stabilization of the domestic

    political situation is reflected in what he called signs of

    "an atmosphere of mutual trust" between the president,

    premier, and parliament. Under the Armenian Constitution,

    deputies' failure to challenge Markarian's program

    constitutes formal approval of his cabinet, which

    parliamentary deputy speaker Gagik Aslanian announced on 10

    June. LF

    [02] WORLD BANK APPROVES NEW LOAN FOR ARMENIA

    The World Bank has

    approved a $40 million loan for upgrading Armenia's transport

    infrastructure, the head of the Bank's Yerevan mission,

    Oweiss Saadat, told journalists in the Armenian capital on 9

    June. The funds are earmarked for improving road and rail

    bridges, tracks, and rolling stock as well as transport

    connections with neighboring Georgia and Iran. It is the

    second such transport project the bank has funded in Armenia.

    LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI PARLIAMENT PASSES NEW ELECTION LEGISLATION

    By a

    vote of 86 to three with six abstentions, deputies on 9 June

    passed in the third and final reading the controversial

    amendments to the law on the Central Electoral Commission,

    Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Those changes stipulate that

    one third of the commission's 18 members will be proposed by

    the majority Yeni Azerbaycan party, one third by

    parliamentary deputies from the opposition Azerbaijan Popular

    Front and Azerbaijan National Independence parties, and the

    remaining third by independent parliament deputies, most of

    whom tacitly or overtly support the ruling authorities. The

    amendments are the product of talks conducted by OSCE and

    ODIHR representatives with both the Azerbaijani leadership

    and opposition parties. The amended legislation has been

    condemned as unfair by representatives of opposition parties

    that were barred from participating in the 1995 parliamentary

    elections under the proportional system and are thus not

    eligible for representation on the commission. LF

    [04] COUNCIL OF EUROPE EXPRESSES CONCERN AT HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION

    IN GEORGIA...

    Council of Europe Commissioner Alvaro Gil-

    Robles told journalists in Tbilisi on 9 June at the end of a

    one-week visit to Georgia that he does not consider

    conditions in Georgian prisons acceptable, Caucasus Press

    reported. He also called for the immediate release of former

    Mayor Tengiz Asanidze, who was pardoned by President Eduard

    Shevardnadze in an amnesty last year but whom Adjar leader

    Aslan Abashidze refuses to release from prison (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 12 October 1999 and 9 February 2000). LF

    [05] ...PLIGHT OF DISPLACED PERSONS, CHECHEN REFUGEES

    Gil-Robles

    also expressed concern over the conditions in which displaced

    persons from Abkhazia live, which he compared unfavorably

    with those of Chechen refugees in Georgia. But he added that

    as a result of his talks in Sukhum with Abkhaz leader

    Vladislav Ardzinba, he believes agreement will soon be

    reached on the repatriation of those displaced persons to

    Abkhazia. Gil-Robles said that he visited the Pankisi gorge,

    on the border between Georgia and Chechnya, and found no

    evidence supporting Russian claims that there are Chechen

    guerrilla bases there. But he admitted that some Chechen

    refugees in Pankisi are engaged in criminal activities, and

    he called for the swiftest possible repatriation of all of

    them to Chechnya. On 10 June, Georgian police in Tbilisi

    detained four Chechens from the Pankisi gorge who were trying

    to exchange counterfeit $100 bills, Interfax reported. LF

    [06] UN OBSERVER ROBBED IN WESTERN GEORGIA

    Four unidentified men

    in military uniforms robbed a member of the UN Observer Force

    in the west Georgian town of Zugdidi on the night of 9-10

    June, ITAR-TASS reported. It is the third such incident

    involving UN personnel in the town. Several members of that

    forces were taken hostage in the Kodori gorge earlier this

    month but were later released. LF

    [07] GEORGIA, SOUTH OSSETIA HOLD TALKS ON RESOLVING CONFLICT

    Georgian and South Ossetian officials, together with North

    Ossetian and OSCE representatives, held three rounds of

    Russian-mediated talks in Djava between 31 May and 10 June on

    a draft document intended to expedite a political solution of

    the conflict between the central Georgian government and the

    self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia, Interfax and ITAR-

    TASS reported. South Ossetia continues to demand independent

    status, while Tbilisi insists it is prepared to discuss only

    degrees of autonomy for South Ossetia within Georgia. Further

    talks are to take place under the OSCE's aegis in Vienna

    later this month. LF

    [08] CENTRAL ASIAN, AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENTS ATTEND ECO SUMMIT...

    Heidar Aliev, together with his counterparts from Kyrgyzstan,

    Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, as well as

    Kazakhstan's Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev attended the

    summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization in Tehran on

    10-11 June, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. Addressing the

    summit on 10 June, Aliev called for establishing peace and

    security in Central Asia and the South Caucasus. He expressed

    the belief that Iran can play an important role in resolving

    conflicts in the region. Aliev also said the restoration of

    the Silk Road, linking Central Asia and the Caucasus with

    Europe, will boost the economies of the Central Asian states.

    Summit participants, who also included representatives from

    Turkey, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, agreed to relax trade

    barriers in order to boost economic cooperation. They also

    discussed the transportation of energy resources within the

    region, AP reported. LF

    [09] ...HOLD BILATERAL TALKS

    Aliev met on the sidelines of the

    summit with Pakistan's leader, General Pervez Musharraf, who

    undertook to provide Azerbaijan with military assistance to

    resolve the Karabakh conflict, according to an unconfirmed

    Interfax report on 10 June. The presidents of Kyrgyzstan,

    Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan met separately with Iranian

    President Mohammad Khatami to discuss bilateral relations,

    ITAR-TASS reported. Khatami and Tajik President Imomali

    Rakhmonov repeated their previous calls for a peaceful

    solution to the civil war in Afghanistan. LF

    [10] NEW POLITICAL PARTY ESTABLISHED IN KAZAKHSTAN

    The Party of

    Patriots of Kazakhstan held its founding congress in Almaty

    on 9 June, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital

    reported. Ghani Qasymov, a former chairman of Kazakhstan's

    Customs Committee who ran unsuccessfully against President

    Nursultan Nazarbaev in last year's presidential poll, is the

    founder of the party. Qasymov said his party will support

    democratic changes in Kazakhstan. LF

    [11] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION POLITICIAN BEGINS NEW HUNGER STRIKE IN

    CUSTODY

    Lyubov Ivanova, the lawyer of arrested Ar-Namys

    party leader Feliks Kulov, told an RFE/RL correspondent in

    Bishkek on 9 June that her client began another hunger strike

    in detention two days earlier. She said Kulov was protesting

    the prison authorities' refusal to allow him to receive food

    parcels from his family. Kulov staged a 17-day hunger strike

    following his arrest earlier this year on charges of abuse of

    his official position when he held the post of minister of

    national security (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 March and 12

    April 2000). LF

    [12] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION CALLS ON OSCE TO MODERATE NEW ROUNDTABLE

    Representatives of the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights and

    the El, Kairan-El, Republican, Communist, and Democratic

    Movement of Kyrgyzstan parties issued a statement in Bishkek

    on 9 June condemning as a political show the roundtable

    discussion between the government, opposition, and NGOs that

    began the previous day, RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital

    reported. They expressed support for a proposed alternative

    roundtable to be mediated by the OSCE representation in

    Bishkek (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 2000). Participants in

    the ongoing Bishkek protest gathered on 9 June outside the

    OSCE office and called on that organization to condemn the

    roundtable. The OSCE had declined to participate on the

    grounds that the final format for that gathering differed

    considerably from that originally agreed upon by the OSCE,

    the government, and the opposition. LF

    [13] MURDER WITNESS FOUND DEAD IN TAJIK CAPITAL

    Relatives of

    Abdujabor Sayfulloev identified his body in a Dushanbe morgue

    on 7 June, Asia Plus-Blitz reported two days later. The cause

    of his death is unknown. Sayfulloev had been employed as

    chauffeur by the chairman of the Tajik Television and Radio

    Committee, Saifullo Rahimov, and was the sole witness to his

    killing by unknown gunmen on 20 May (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"

    22 May 2000). LF

    [14] UZBEK PRESIDENT OUTLINES PRIORITIES

    In an interview

    published on 8 June in "Fidorkorlar," the publication of the

    eponymous pro-government political party, Islam Karimov said

    that the ultimate aim of Uzbekistan's ongoing economic reform

    is to build a socially-oriented market economy, according to

    Interfax. He stressed the importance of minimizing

    interference by supervising bodies in the functioning of the

    economy, increasing the country's export potential, and

    ensuring a gradual improvement in living standards and social

    safeguards for the most disadvantaged strata of the

    population. Karimov singled out Islamic fundamentalism and

    Western movies propagating the cult of violence as among the

    greatest threats to creating a society "based on high moral

    and spiritual values." LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] SPLIT VOTE IN MONTENEGRIN LOCAL ELECTIONS...

    Preliminary

    results give supporters of Montenegrin President Milo

    Djukanovic the lead in the 11 June local elections in

    Podgorica. In Herceg Novi, however, followers of Yugoslav

    President Slobodan Milosevic appear to have the upper hand.

    The first official results are expected later on 12 June. The

    contest between Djukanovic's For A Better Life coalition and

    the rival Yugoslavia-Momir Bulatovic group was widely seen as

    a test between supporters of Djukanovic's independent-minded

    reform course and supporters of close links to Belgrade. The

    BBC reported on 12 June that few local issues would affect

    the outcome and that the central issue is indeed the nature

    of future relations with Serbia. PM

    [16] ...REFLECTS DIFFERING CONDITIONS

    The BBC broadcast on 12

    June added that Milosevic's supporters in Herceg Novi appear

    to have benefited from their campaign to depict Djukanovic as

    a Western puppet whose Western allies tried to buy him votes.

    Reuters added that the large number of war veterans and

    pensioners in Herceg Novi might have also tipped the scale in

    favor of Milosevic. Predrag Bulatovic, who led the campaign

    for the Yugoslavia-Momir Bulatovic slate, said: "In this

    election the citizens showed they were for the Federal

    Republic of Yugoslavia." By contrast, Podgorica was and

    apparently remains a source of support for Djukanovic, who

    can count on the support of most government workers. He told

    followers: "Today we can say for sure that Montenegro is

    marching on a stable, democratic, reformist path and that no

    one can distract it from that path. Our victory in Podgorica

    is much better and greater than our defeat in Herceg Novi,"

    the president concluded. PM

    [17] KOSOVARS CELEBRATE FIRST ANNIVERSARY OF END OF SERBIAN

    RULE...

    Some 30,000 ethnic Albanians filled a soccer stadium

    in Prishtina on 11 June to mark the first anniversary of the

    arrival of NATO peacekeepers in the province, Reuters

    reported. A column of 300 former members of the Kosova

    Liberation Army (UCK), who now wear the uniforms of the

    civilian Kosova Protection Corps (TMK), marched past

    enthusiastic onlookers waving Albanian flags. Many

    spectators, however, jeered veteran Kosova rights campaigner

    Adem Demaci when he said: "We should not forget that those

    Serbs who remain here are now living in miserable

    conditions..... They have been abandoned by Belgrade," AP

    reported. TMK commander Agim Ceku told listeners that Kosova

    needs a "tolerant and democratic society," but he did not

    mention Serbs. He added: "We have to prove to our [Western]

    friends that we have the ability to run Kosova after they

    leave." Reuters noted that everyone its correspondent

    interviewed saw independence as the only future for Kosova.

    PM

    [18] ...BUT WITH SOME MISGIVINGS

    London's "The Daily Telegraph"

    reported on 12 June that Kosovar political life has become

    highly fragmented and that many former UCK comrades-in-arms

    are now bitter rivals. The most serious challenger to former

    UCK leader Hashim Thaci is Ramush Haradinaj, the article

    added. Many former guerrilla leaders, moreover, have become

    involved in "brutal infighting, corruption, and mafia-style

    activities," which is strongly resented by ordinary Kosovars.

    The London daily suggested that the TMK is known locally as

    Tomorrow's Masters of Kosova and that many of its members

    have also been linked to crime (see also "End Note" below).

    PM

    [19] KOSOVA SERBS CONCERNED FOR FUTURE

    Political leader Momcilo

    Trajkovic called the situation of the province's Serbian

    minority "catastrophic," AP reported from Prishtina on 11

    June. He stressed that "Serbs and other non-Albanians are

    directly targeted [in ethnic violence]...and if this

    continues, only Albanians will remain" in Kosova. Trajkovic

    argued that "a key problem is that the international

    community's strategy is still based on the view that [local]

    Albanians are the victims." In Gracanica, Serbian Orthodox

    Father Sava, who is also a leader of the local Serbs, said

    that he is "very discouraged" by his recent visit to the UN

    Security Council. He said he does not see how Serbs can

    continue to participate in UN-sponsored Kosova civilian

    councils unless the Security Council provides Serbs with

    written guarantees for their security in the province,

    Reuters reported. PM

    [20] KOUCHNER TAKES STOCK OF KOSOVA

    Speaking in New York on 9

    June, Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian

    administration in Kosova, said that the province was a "dead

    desert" when peacekeepers first arrived. Now, he argued, much

    has changed: "We have reduced by 10 times the amount of

    crime, but there persists too much murder, violence, arson,

    and actions directly particularly against the Serbs of

    Kosovo." Kouchner stressed that it will be a long time before

    it is possible for Serbs and Albanians to live together

    peacefully. "Until this pain is eased, until the scars heal

    over, until people in the [ethnic] Albanian families know if

    those disappeared are dead or not, what happened to their

    brother, their cousin, their sister, their father, then it

    will not be possible to create conditions for greater

    tolerance," an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the UN. PM

    [21] KFOR COMMANDER WARNS AGAINST 'QUICK FIXES'

    British commander

    Brigadier Richard Shirreff said in Prishtina on 10 June that

    he is confident that he has the necessary forces to combat

    terrorism in Kosova. He added, however, that "there are no

    quick fixes in the fight against terrorism. We are not

    necessarily dealing with a coordinated organization. We may

    well be dealing with individuals who strike when the

    opportunity arises. This is very difficult to get a handle

    on," Reuters reported. PM

    [22] LI PENG SLAMS NATO IN BELGRADE

    Li Peng, who is the speaker

    of the Chinese parliament and best known abroad for his role

    in the 1989 killing of protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen

    Square, addressed the Yugoslav parliament on 12 June. He said

    that NATO's 1999 intervention to stop the genocide in Kosova

    "constitutes a violation of the purposes of the UN Charter

    and the universally recognized norms governing international

    relations and poses a serious threat to stability in Europe

    and peace in the world," Reuters reported. Li stressed that

    "bombing does not bring peace." PM

    [23] TENSIONS ON MACEDONIAN BORDER WITH KOSOVA

    Unidentified

    persons in Kosova exchanged fire with Macedonian defense

    forces along the border on 9-10 June in separate incidents,

    Reuters reported. President Boris Trajkovski subsequently

    ordered the army to "raise combat readiness" along the

    frontier, dpa reported. Macedonia recently strengthened

    border security in response to previous incidents (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 2000). PM

    [24] IMF HAS PRAISE, CRITICISM FOR ALBANIA

    Speaking in Washington

    on 9 June, IMF First Managing Director Stanley Fischer

    praised the Albanian authorities' achievements in pursuing

    "sound" macroeconomic policies, Reuters reported. Fischer

    added that Albania has "GDP growing at about 7 percent,

    inflation at close to zero, and external reserves at a

    comfortable level." He noted, however, that Tirana still

    needs to promote structural reforms. PM

    [25] CROATIA TO APPLY FOR NATO MEMBERSHIP

    Defense Minister Jozo

    Rados said in Zagreb on 9 June that his government will

    formally apply for full membership in the Atlantic alliance

    in the fall, Hina reported. He stressed that Croatia is

    anxious to meet all terms for NATO membership, including

    civilian control over the military. Under the late President

    Franjo Tudjman, who himself was a retired general, the

    military and intelligence communities were widely regarded as

    laws unto themselves. PM

    [26] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTY BLASTS FASCIST COMMEMORATION

    Prime

    Minister Ivica Racan's Social Democrats said in a statement

    on 9 June that a recent commemorative meeting by far-right

    activists "is in clear contrast to the policies of the Social

    Democrats." The Zagreb-based Civic Committee for Human Rights

    called the rally "a grave shame and a real danger for today's

    Croatia," AP reported. A group of ultranationalists met in

    Slunj the previous day to honor Jure Francetic, one of the

    leaders of the World War II pro-Axis Croatian government. PM

    [27] FORMER SECRET POLICE BEHIND ROMANIAN INVESTMENT FUND

    COLLAPSE?

    Thirty-six out of the 40 county branch managers of

    the collapsed National Investment Fund are former Securitate

    officers, Mediafax reported on 9 June. The other four served

    in the Interior Ministry and in the Defense Ministry. The

    previous day, the ad-hoc governmental commission

    investigating the case said fraud was "committed from within

    the fund" by people with managerial prerogatives. Earlier,

    the government had announced that the fund's collapse

    amounted to a "threat to national security." MS

    [28] MOLDOVAN GOVERNMENT OPPOSES LEAVING CIS

    The cabinet

    recommended on 10 June that the parliament reject a draft law

    submitted by the Popular Party Christian Democratic to

    abrogate all agreements with the CIS, Flux reported. The

    cabinet says the step would negatively impact on the effort

    to bring about the withdrawal of Russian troops from the

    Transdniester and solve the conflict with the separatists

    there. It also said that Moldovan trade within the CIS is

    growing and that leaving the organization would be against

    Moldova's interests. And it added that at the moment, CIS

    membership does not pose an obstacle to Moldova's integration

    into European structures. MS

    [29] BULGARIA'S CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR FIRED ON CORRUPTION GROUNDS

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, speaking on Bulgarian Radio on 9

    June, said he has asked Alexander Bozhkov, the country's

    chief negotiator with the EU, to resign owing to suspicions

    that he has been involved in corruption. Later the same day,

    Bozhkov complied with that request. Before his appointment as

    chief EU negotiator in December 1999, Bozhkov was deputy

    premier and industry minister and supervised property

    restitution and privatization. Bulgarian media have dubbed

    him "Mr. 10 percent," alleging he was involved in dubious

    deals from which he received a 10 percent cut. Kostov said he

    asked Bozhkov to step down after receiving a report from the

    Prosecutor-General's Office, AP and Reuters reported. MS

    [30] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT OVERRIDES PRESIDENTIAL VETO

    The

    parliament on 9 June voted by 122 to 63 with 12 abstentions

    to override President Petar Stoyanov's veto of the law

    shortening military service, AP reported. Last month,

    Stoyanov had asked lawmakers to reconsider the legislation in

    view of the military's opposition to it. Under the new

    legislation, as of 1 October 2001 military service for

    university graduates will be six months and for regular

    conscripts nine months. In other news, Egyptian President

    Hosni Mubarak on 10 June told Foreign Minister Nadezhda

    Mihailova in Cairo that he is "committing himself" to take up

    with the Libyan authorities the issue of the six Bulgarian

    nationals accused of deliberately infecting children in a

    Benghazi hospital with the HIV virus last year. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [31] KOSOVA ONE YEAR ON: LEADERS SPEAK OUT AGAINST VIOLENCE

    By Jolyon Naegele

    On the occasion of the first anniversary of the

    deployment of NATO peacekeepers in Kosova, the international

    community has sent a strong message to Kosova's leaders that

    the latest wave of violence is intolerable and must stop.

    Serbs have been the main targets in a spate of drive-by

    shootings, a road mining, and a series of grenade attacks.

    But two key Albanian figures--former commanders of the

    disbanded Kosova Liberation Army or (UCK)--were also killed

    in the last two months.

    But NATO-led peacekeepers have also been targets. A car

    rigged with about half a kilo of plastic explosives and a

    timer was parked n front of the British battalion

    headquarters in the center of Pristina late last week. But a

    British guard noticed something odd about the vehicle, and a

    KFOR unit deactivated the car bomb in time.

    Javier Solana, NATO's former secretary-general, who

    ordered the 11 weeks of air strikes against Yugoslavia that

    ended a decade of Serbian repression of Kosova's Albanian

    majority, is now the EU's high representative for common

    foreign and security policy. He was in Kosova last week to

    deliver a stern warning to the top Kosovar Albanian leaders,

    including political leader Ibrahim Rugova and former UCK

    commander Hashim Thaci.

    "As long as we continue with this level of violence, it

    will be very difficult to continue with the process of

    reconstruction in a good way, difficult to continue with the

    process of reconciliation," he noted. "And therefore I'd like

    here once again to make a clear appeal to the leaders of this

    community to lead. To lead means to talk with the people and

    to condemn what has to be condemned--and the violence has to

    be condemned."

    Solana expressed "alarm and tremendous indignation" at

    the violence against the Serbian community. He said that the

    anti-Serb violence --at least 58 attacks last month--is

    discouraging displaced Serbs from returning. Some 150,000

    Kosovar Serbs fled the province last year and most have not

    yet returned.

    A special envoy of U.S. President Bill Clinton delivered

    a similar message, less harshly worded, to Rugova and Thaci

    on 8 June. James O'Brien said that Kosova's leaders should

    put themselves above suspicion of allowing or encouraging

    violence. "If they act properly in this regard, then acts of

    violence will be seen for what they are--criminal acts,

    committed in some cases by extremists, who hope to disrupt

    the political process that the entire international community

    has committed itself to," he commented.

    O'Brien said the recent incidents are "systematic

    attempts to destabilize Serb communities." He declined to

    respond directly to allegations that the Belgrade regime may

    be behind some of the violence in an effort to destabilize

    Kosova and discredit the international community. And he

    argued that a professional criminal investigation is required

    to establish just who is responsible. O'Brien added that

    both Rugova and Thaci told him the violence is unacceptable

    to the people of Kosova, and they committed themselves to

    work publicly to end the violence.

    Rugova and Thaci each issued statements last week

    deploring the violence. Rugova, in his capacity as head of

    the Democratic League of Kosova, termed the acts of violence,

    "especially those targeting the Serb community, extremely

    disturbing." No matter who is responsible, he said, the

    violence threatens Kosova's hard-won freedom, stability and

    peace. Rugova demanded an immediate halt to the violence,

    warning that further acts, "especially on the first

    anniversary of freedom, may take away the moral and material

    support Kosova has had in the international community."

    In comparison, Thaci's statement, issued in his capacity

    as head of the Democratic Party of Kosova, was much more

    mildly worded. It called for "this phenomenon to disappear"

    and asks "all citizens of Kosova to refrain from and to

    denounce all violent acts" and to contribute to increasing

    security for all citizens of Kosova.

    While the international community exerts pressure on

    Kosova's leaders, KFOR peacekeepers have a similar mission at

    the grassroots level. The commander of a British battalion

    currently stationed in Pristina, Lieutenant Colonel James

    Murray-Playfair, said his troops are talking directly to the

    people in order to get across " a very clear message, that

    violence will not be tolerated." He described the recent

    upsurge in violence as "a relatively small blip," saying that

    the long-term trend since the UCK was demilitarized in

    September is toward an increasingly secure environment.

    Murray-Playfair added, however, that challenges still

    remain. The first challenge, he said, "is persuading men of

    violence--wherever they come from, whether they are Serbs who

    want to injure policemen, Serbs who want to injure Albanians,

    Albanians who want to injure Serbs or indeed other Albanians-

    -the very, very strong, resolute message from all of KFOR is

    that this violence will not be tolerated. And I think the

    challenge of security over the summer is one that we will

    continue to fight out."

    The author is an RFE/RL senior editor based in Prague.

    12-06-00


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


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