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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 121, 00-06-22

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. 121, 22 June 2000


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN MAJORITY PARLIAMENT BLOC RECOVERS COHESION
  • [02] TURKEY CONDEMNS KARABAKH ELECTIONS
  • [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS AMNESTY FOR SUPPORTERS OF
  • [04] GEORGIAN PENSIONERS DEMAND 13 MONTHS ARREARS...
  • [05] ...AS IMF CALLS FOR BUDGET SEQUESTER
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN IMPOSES LIMITS FOR REPATRIATION
  • [07] CHINESE BUSINESSMAN KIDNAPPED IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [08] UN TO PROVIDE FOOD AID FOR TAJIKISTAN
  • [09] RUSSIAN BORDER GUARD DIRECTOR QUERIES WISDOM OF ENDING TAJIK
  • [10] PUTIN APOLOGIZES FOR RUSSIAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS BOSNIAN MISSION
  • [12] CANADA SAYS MILOSEVIC NOT ACCEPTABLE PARTNER
  • [13] BOSNIAN EDITORS PROTEST PRESSURE ON PRESS
  • [14] BOSNIAN NON-NATIONALISTS TO FORM COALITION?
  • [15] DEL PONTE HAILS CROATIAN COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL
  • [16] DECANI MONASTERY SHELLED
  • [17] DIENSTBIER 'UNSETTLED' BY SERBIAN SITUATION
  • [18] GENERAL PERISIC 'HONORED' BY LOSS OF RANK
  • [19] DRASKOVIC HEARING POSTPONED
  • [20] ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TRIGGER CONFLICTS ON THE LEFT....
  • [21] ...AND ON THE RIGHT
  • [22] NATO COMMANDER SAYS NO PLANS TO STATION TROOPS IN BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] WILL THE 'BUCHAREST SURPRISE' MATTER THIS FALL?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN MAJORITY PARLIAMENT BLOC RECOVERS COHESION

    Vartan

    Mkrtchian, a leading member of the Miasunutiun (Unity)

    coalition, the largest parliamentary faction, told RFE/RL's

    Yerevan bureau on 21 June that the bloc's two constituent

    parties have overcome the tensions engendered by the

    appointment of one of the parties' leaders as prime minister

    last month. The People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) had objected

    to the appointment of Republican Party of Armenia (HHK)

    chairman Andranik Markarian to that position and declined to

    accept any responsibility for the work of his government (see

    "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 20, 18 May 2000). Ten

    members of Miasnutiun quit that faction to protest

    Markarian's appointment (see "RFE/RL Newsline" 16 May 2000).

    Mkrtchian said on 21 June, however, that "emotions have given

    way to common sense" and that "not only has Miasnutiun

    avoided a breakup, but it is stronger than ever before." LF

    [02] TURKEY CONDEMNS KARABAKH ELECTIONS

    The Turkish Foreign

    Ministry on 21 June issued a statement affirming that the 18

    June parliamentary elections in the unrecognized Nagorno-

    Karabakh Republic were illegitimate and constitute "yet

    another indication that Azerbaijan's territorial integrity

    and sovereignty are being violated," AFP reported. The

    statement described the enclave as being under Armenian

    occupation. LF

    [03] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS AMNESTY FOR SUPPORTERS OF

    FORMER PRESIDENT

    The Georgian parliamentary Commission for

    National Reconciliation, created two months ago at the

    suggestion of President Eduard Shevardnadze, proposed on 21

    June that criminal cases against 236 supporters of deceased

    President Zviad Gamsakhurdia be terminated, Caucasus Press

    reported. It also approved a proposal by deputy Davit

    Salarizde to consider the grounds for rehabilitating

    Gamsakhurdia, who died in January 1994. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN PENSIONERS DEMAND 13 MONTHS ARREARS...

    Pensioners in

    the west Georgian town of Zugdidi picketed the town hall and

    blocked a major highway on 21 June to demand payment of their

    pensions for the past 13 months, Caucasus Press reported. As

    of 30 May, the Georgian government owed a total of 110

    million lari ($56 million) in pension arrears dating back to

    1997. LF

    [05] ...AS IMF CALLS FOR BUDGET SEQUESTER

    David Owen, the head of

    an IMF delegation that has spent the past 10 days in Georgia,

    warned President Shevardnadze on 22 June that the fund will

    not discuss any further assistance to Georgia before October,

    Caucasus Press reported, citing ANS-Press. The IMF official

    advocated a budget sequester of 110 million lari, which is

    the equivalent of the budget shortfall for the first five

    months of this year. On 15 June, Caucasus Press quoted Owen

    as telling Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili that the fund's

    further cooperation with Georgia is contingent on that

    country's eliminating poverty, reducing budget expenditures,

    and cracking down on corruption. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN IMPOSES LIMITS FOR REPATRIATION

    President

    Nursultan Nazarbaev has imposed a ceiling of 5,000 for

    Kazakhs from Afghanistan, Mongolia, China, Turkey and

    elsewhere who wish to settle permanently in Kazakhstan,

    RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 21 June. Nazarbaev has

    also finally granted citizenship to some 1,880 Kazakhs who

    settled in Kazakhstan from Mongolia in the early 1990s. An

    estimated further 30,000 Kazakhs in Mongolia alone are

    awaiting permission to move to Kazakhstan. LF

    [07] CHINESE BUSINESSMAN KIDNAPPED IN KYRGYZSTAN

    A Chinese

    businessman en route for Bishkek was abducted by uniformed

    armed men in the town of Osh on 21 June, ITAR-TASS reported.

    The abductors have demanded a $150,000 ransom for his

    release. LF

    [08] UN TO PROVIDE FOOD AID FOR TAJIKISTAN

    The UN World Food

    Program's Dushanbe representative, Bouchan Hadj-Chikh, said

    on 21 June that the program will provide 90,000 tons of food

    aid worth $45 million over the next two years to feed an

    estimated 575,000 people, Reuters and Asia Plus-Blitz

    reported. Part of that aid will be distributed to the elderly

    and to children, and some will be given in payment for

    agricultural produce. The UN agency will fund rehabilitation

    work in the agricultural sector and reconstruction of schools

    and hospitals. LF

    [09] RUSSIAN BORDER GUARD DIRECTOR QUERIES WISDOM OF ENDING TAJIK

    PEACEKEEPING OPERATION

    Russian Federal Border Service

    Director Konstantin Totskii told Interfax in St. Petersburg

    on 21 June that he considers it premature to terminate the

    CIS peacekeeping operation in Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 June 2000). He added that in the light of the

    concentration of Taliban forces near Afghanistan's border

    with the Central Asian states, he doubts that the decision

    will be implemented before the situation in Tajikistan

    reverts to normal. Speaking at the CIS summit in Moscow on 21

    June, Russian President Vladimir Putin termed the decision to

    end the peacekeeping operation correct, adding that Russia is

    determined to continue promoting peace and stability in

    Central Asia, Interfax reported. LF

    [10] PUTIN APOLOGIZES FOR RUSSIAN MEDIA COVERAGE OF TAJIKISTAN

    On

    the sidelines of the 21 June CIS summit, President Putin

    expressed his regrets to his Tajik counterpart, Imomali

    Rakhmonov, that the Russia media do not give adequate

    coverage of positive changes in Tajikistan, Tajik

    presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov told Asia Plus-Blitz on

    22 June. The Tajik Foreign Ministry had issued a statement

    earlier this week criticizing Russian media bias in reporting

    developments in Tajikistan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June

    2000). LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] UN SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS BOSNIAN MISSION

    The Security

    Council voted 14 to zero on 21 June to extend the mandate of

    the 21,000 SFOR troops and 1,600 international police until

    19 June 2001. Russia abstained to protest the refusal by the

    organizers of the Brussels international conference on Bosnia

    in May to invite representatives of the Belgrade regime (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 2000). Russian Ambassador to the UN

    Sergei Lavrov said that Russia boycotted the Brussels

    gathering because it allegedly served to "further isolate

    and...blockade Yugoslavia." He added, however, that he agrees

    with the "general thrust" of the resolution extending SFOR's

    mandate, AP reported. Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang

    Yingfan voted for the resolution but said that excluding

    Belgrade "does not help peace," Reuters reported. PM

    [12] CANADA SAYS MILOSEVIC NOT ACCEPTABLE PARTNER

    But Canadian

    representative told the Security Council on 21 June that "the

    Belgrade regime under the leadership of indicted war criminal

    Slobodan Milosevic has consistently sought to actively

    undermine the implementation of the [1995] Dayton peace

    agreement [on Bosnia]. As my government made clear at [the

    Brussels] meeting, we look forward to the day when a

    democratic Yugoslavia begins to participate constructively in

    the peace implementation process throughout the region," an

    RFE/RL correspondent reported. PM

    [13] BOSNIAN EDITORS PROTEST PRESSURE ON PRESS

    The editors-in-

    chief of several leading periodicals issued a joint statement

    in Sarajevo on 21 June to protest recent financial and other

    pressures by the Muslim authorities on the press,

    "Oslobodjenje" reported. The editors of the dailies

    "Oslobodjenje" and "Dnevni avaz" and of the weeklies

    "Slobodna Bosna" and "Dani" expressed solidarity in the face

    of "every form of pressure against the freedom of the press."

    They demanded that the authorities act only in accordance

    with the law and called upon local representatives of the

    international community to "energetically" respond to any

    attempt to curtail the freedom of the press. The editors

    specifically called on the authorities to unblock the bank

    accounts of "Dnevni avaz," which the tax authorities recently

    froze. PM

    [14] BOSNIAN NON-NATIONALISTS TO FORM COALITION?

    Leaders of

    several non-nationalist parties and coalitions are expected

    soon to agree on forming an "alternative bloc" to fight the

    nationalist parties in the November general elections,

    "Slobodna Bosna" reported on 22 June. Some of the politicians

    in question are Zlatko Lagumdzija, Haris Silajdzic, Milorad

    Dodik, Kresimir Zubak, Safet Orucevic, and Jadranko Prlic.

    Silajdzic, moreover, has rejected an offer from Muslim leader

    Alija Izetbegovic to form a coalition with his nationalist

    Party of Democratic Action, the weekly added. It is not

    clear, however, whether such an electoral pact between the

    non-nationalists will materialize. Differences in

    personalities and political programs have often prevented

    such cooperation in the past. PM

    [15] DEL PONTE HAILS CROATIAN COOPERATION WITH TRIBUNAL

    Carla Del

    Ponte, who is the chief prosecutor of the Hague-based war

    crimes tribunal, thanked President Stipe Mesic in Zagreb on

    21 June for Croatia's cooperation with the tribunal. She

    noted that she now has the documents she needs to investigate

    charges of war crimes surrounding Croatia's 1995 offensives

    against Serbian forces, the VOA's Croatian Service reported.

    Del Ponte went on to Dubrovnik to discuss issues arising from

    the 1991 Serbian and Montenegrin shelling of that historical

    town with Croatian Justice Minister Stjepan Ivanisevic. She

    said that she will also raise the issue of Dubrovnik with the

    leaders of Montenegro, which is the next stop on her current

    Balkan trip. PM

    [16] DECANI MONASTERY SHELLED

    Unknown persons fired six mortar

    shells at the historical Serbian Orthodox Decani monastery

    during the night from 21 to 22 June, dpa reported. Father

    Sava, who is a moderate Serbian political leader and who

    lives and works in the monastery, said that nobody was

    injured and damage was slight. On 21 June, a series of

    incidents involving KFOR troops and local Serbs in northern

    Mitrovica left two Serbs injured, a UN spokeswoman said in

    Prishtina, AP reported. Two Serbian policemen and one

    security guard were injured in a series of explosions in

    Bujanovac and Presevo in southwestern Serbia bordering

    Kosova. Serbian authorities blamed "Albanian terrorists" for

    the explosions, Reuters reported. PM

    [17] DIENSTBIER 'UNSETTLED' BY SERBIAN SITUATION

    Jiri Dienstbier,

    who is the UN's special envoy for human rights in the former

    Yugoslavia, said in Belgrade on 21 June that Kosova is

    undergoing organized "reverse ethnic-cleansing" as ethnic

    Albanians force out Serbs and other members of minority

    groups, AFP reported. Turning to the situation in Serbia,

    Dienstbier said that he recently told regime officials that

    their country cannot be destabilized from the outside if it

    is not first destabilized internally, CTK reported. He urged

    the officials not to treat their political opponents as

    "enemies of the state or terrorists." Dienstbier called

    members of the Otpor (Resistance) student movement "young,

    educated, and open-minded people. They reject violence....

    They want dialogue with the government, but it is refused to

    them." The former Czechoslovak foreign minister added that he

    is "unsettled" by "the growing atmosphere of violence, in

    which several people have been killed, including politicians

    and journalists." PM

    [18] GENERAL PERISIC 'HONORED' BY LOSS OF RANK

    Former chief of

    the General Staff and General Momcilo Perisic said in

    Belgrade on 21 June that the military court that recently

    stripped him of his rank in the reserves has no legal right

    to make such a decision, "Vesti" reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 June 2000). He added that while the loss of

    one's rank is a great disgrace in "normal and decent

    countries," he considers it "plus" in a country like

    Milosevic's Serbia. Perisic added that he is proud of his

    record during 37 years in the military and stressed that he

    prevented the authorities from using the army against

    protesters in 1996 and 1997. PM

    [19] DRASKOVIC HEARING POSTPONED

    Montenegrin authorities on 21

    June postponed for one day the court hearing in Podgorica of

    two brothers charged with involvement in a recent attempt to

    kill Serbian opposition leader Vuk Draskovic (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 21 June 2000). At the request of the prosecutor,

    the authorities replaced Svetlana Vujanovic, who is the wife

    of the prime minister, with Zoran Zivkovic as judge.

    Meanwhile in Belgrade, Civic Alliance leader Goran Svilanovic

    denied reports by the state-run Tanjug news agency that the

    two brothers had previously served as bodyguards for him and

    his colleague Vesna Pesic. Svilanovic stressed that "it is

    well known that neither Pesic nor I ever had a bodyguard," AP

    reported. PM

    [20] ROMANIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS TRIGGER CONFLICTS ON THE LEFT....

    Bucharest Mayor-Elect Traian Basescu on 21 June told

    Romanian Radio that Party of Social Democracy (PDSR) in

    Romania Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase is a "perestroikist"

    who represents "hair-styled communism." Basescu was

    responding to Nastase's 20 June statement that Bucharest

    voters had backed the PDSR en masse and that the mayor is

    "walking on PDSR territory" in the capital. Basescu said

    Bucharest voters elected their representatives to be served

    by them and not the other way around. He added that Nastase

    is incapable of understanding this because of his communist

    mentality. MS

    [21] ...AND ON THE RIGHT

    National Liberal Party (PNL) First

    Deputy Chairman Valeriu Stoica has said the local elections

    showed the PNL is the strongest formation on the right and

    that successful opposition to the left is possible only if

    all rightists rally around the PNL, RFE/RL's Bucharest

    Bureau reported on 21 June. The leaderships of the PNL and

    the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD)

    meet on 22 June to discuss the future of the Democratic

    Convention of Romania (CDR). PNTCD Deputy Chairman Ioan

    Muresan said ahead of the meeting that his party is

    offering the PNL 50 percent of the slots on the CDR lists

    and that if the offer is rejected "we shall go out separate

    ways" in the 2000 parliamentary elections (see also "End

    Note"). MS

    [22] NATO COMMANDER SAYS NO PLANS TO STATION TROOPS IN BULGARIA

    NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Joseph Ralston

    on 21 June told journalists in Sofia that NATO has no

    intention of deploying forces in Bulgaria or in any other

    non-member country, AP and dpa reported. He spoke after

    meeting with Bulgarian President Petar Stoyanov, Prime

    Minister Ivan Kostov, and members of the cabinet. The talks

    focused on the situation in the Balkans and Bulgaria's

    preparations for admission into the organization. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [23] WILL THE 'BUCHAREST SURPRISE' MATTER THIS FALL?

    By Michael Shafir

    The surprising victory of Democratic Party candidate

    Traian Basescu in the runoff for the post of Bucharest

    general mayor has produced some amusing debates among

    analysts. Those analysts have been joined by some foreign

    correspondents whose lack of familiarity with the Romanian

    political scene is all too evident. Basescu entered the race

    after the Democrats had dropped their initial candidate, whom

    the polls showed performing poorly, and had already produced

    a mini-surprise by qualifying for the runoff against Sorin

    Oprescu, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania's (PDSR)

    candidate. The gap between Basescu's 41.1 percent backing in

    the first round and Oprescu's 17.2 percent, however, seemed

    far too large to be bridged.

    But when the ballots were counted on 19 June, Basescu

    had produced nothing short of a miracle: he received 9,815

    votes more than did Oprescu. Although a very small margin,

    this was sufficient to open the doors of the mayoral office.

    The PDSR had seemingly managed a "Phoenix-like" performance

    in the capital: defying all predictions, a leading member of

    the ruling coalition Democratic Party had dashed the

    aspirations of Ion Iliescu's party to return to power after

    the parliamentary and presidential elections in the fall.

    "Romania's ruling coalition narrowly won a victory",

    reported a correspondent for a major news agency. Those more

    familiar with the Romanian political scene know better,

    however. While nominally part of the coalition, the Democrats

    have time and time again caused coalition crises, and no one

    was personally more involved in engineering those crises than

    Basescu, who is also a deputy leader of the party. Others

    attributed Basescu's triumph to his alleged "charismatic

    personality," though the capable bald manager who heads the

    Transportation Ministry can be considered anything but

    charismatic.

    In fact, there are simpler explanations for his

    electoral triumph. For example, voters must have wondered

    what credentials the surgeon Oprescu has to manage a capital

    city that is successfully competing with Tirana for being

    Europe's dirtiest (stray dogs and rats are in abundance) and

    unsafest place on the Continent.

    To conclude from the "Bucharest surprise" that the

    Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) may still "save" the

    parliamentary elections is to oversee a few significant

    "details" available in print--both small and large. First,

    Basescu's victory notwithstanding, each of the six sectors

    into which Bucharest is divided will have PDSR mayors and the

    PDSR will have a majority on the town's council. Since 1992,

    Bucharest has appeared to be a CDR "fiefdom." In fact, the

    PDSR has always won local elections in districts outside

    larger towns. This time, however, the party won 53 percent of

    all large cities and 48 percent of all county-capital towns.

    This indicates that a major shift is under way among the

    Romanian electorate in favor of the main opposition party,

    which has continued to win smaller towns and the countryside.

    Out of the total of 2,957 mayoral posts contested on 4 and 18

    June, the PDSR won 1,051.

    At the same time, the performance of the Democrats is

    indeed impressive. Somehow they managed to divest themselves

    of any responsibility for the economic debacle engineered by

    the ruling coalition and to place second after the PDSR in

    all contests decided by the 4 and 18 June elections--mayoral,

    local councilors, and county councilors. They will now have

    392 mayors, 11 of whom are town mayors and seven of whom are

    mayors in county capitals. This is a 4 percent increase over

    1996, before the party returned to the government. The

    Democrats are entitled to look with optimism toward the fall

    elections. But this optimism must be qualified. Petre Roman,

    the party's leader, has repeatedly proved in the past that he

    is incapable of supporting a popular "number 2," and he is

    undoubtedly now watching Basescu suspiciously.

    Third place in terms of mayors, local councilors, and

    county councilors was taken by the Alliance of Romania (APR),

    which has 283 mayors. The PDSR, the Democrats, and the APR

    are all "descendants" of the National Salvation Front and, as

    such, all three belong to the category of "successor parties"

    to the former Communist Party. Come the fall elections, they

    may well form the next coalition.

    Should this happen, the CDR would certainly lament the

    "short memory" of Romanians. However, the CDR should engage

    in some self-examination before "externalizing guilt." The

    CDR and National Peasant Party Christian Democratic leader

    Ion Diaconescu, responding to calls that he assume

    responsibility for the electoral debacle, dismissed any

    possibility of his stepping down. There is thus little hope

    that the CDR--regardless of its makeup in the fall

    parliamentary elections-- will be able to undo much of the

    damage already done.

    In the local elections, the CDR placed not only behind

    the three leading formations mentioned above. In terms of

    mayors elected (147), it trailed the National Liberal Party

    (251), independent candidates (159), and the Hungarian

    Democratic Federation of Romania (148). Even if the National

    Liberals return to the CDR fold for the parliamentary

    elections, the prospects for those who seemed to signal

    "change" in 1996 are far from encouraging. And in view of the

    PDSR's record on reform, the "change to change"--to cite

    Chalmers Johnson's classic title--is unlikely to signal a new

    beginning for Romania. Rather, one can expect a return "to

    square one," which will only widen the gap between Bucharest

    and those East Central European capitals already playing at

    other chess tables, such as NATO and the EU's fast-track.

    22-06-00


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


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