|Wednesday, 22 January 2020|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 4, No. 192, 00-10-04
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 4, No. 192, 4 October 2000
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 COLLAPSE OF ARMENIAN MAJORITY PARLIAMENT BLOC FORESTALLED?Members of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), the senior partner within the embattled Miasnutiun majority bloc, told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 3 October that ongoing talks with the HHK's junior partner, the People's Party of Armenia (HZhK), may still avert the split in Miasnutiun that observers considered inevitable. They said HHK leader and Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has informed the leaders of five other parliamentary parties with whom he began talks on creating a new parliament majority bloc about his decision to seek a reconciliation with the HZhK. The catalyst for the anticipated collapse of Miasnutiun was the disagreement between its two members over the validity of the 26 September vote on parliamentary speaker Armen Khachatrian's offer to resign (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 September and 2 October 2000). LF
 FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER PLEADS NOT GUILTY TO ATTEMPTED MURDER CHARGETestifying on 3 October for the first time since his trial began two weeks earlier, Samvel Babayan, the former defense minister and army commander of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, denied charges of involvement in the failed 22 March bid to assassinate the enclave's president, Arkadii Ghukasian, a correspondent for RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Babayan admitted having received "dozens" of proposals to kill Ghukasian, including some from among his 14 co-defendants, but he said he had rejected them all. He also denied having admitted on 3 April that he had plotted to assassinate Ghukasian with the intention of succeeding him as president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 April 2000). Babayan claimed that he had been drugged and beaten up that day. LF
 FOUR BORDER VIOLATORS REPORTED DETAINED IN AZERBAIJANI EXCLAVETwo U.S. citizens, one Korean and one Russian, were apprehended by a border patrol during the night of 28 September attempting to cross the border from Armenia into Azerbaijan's Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic, Turan and ANS reported on 3 October. An Armenian accompanying the four was shot dead, according to Turan. The four were in possession of military topographic maps and are currently being held at the National Security Ministry according to ANS. But a spokesman for that ministry denied that any such border incident had taken place or that the ministry is holding any foreign nationals. LF
 ISLAMIC MILITANT LEADER SENTENCED TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN AZERBAIJANComplying with the prosecutor's request, a Baku court on 3 October sentenced Jeyshullah leader Mubariz Aliev to life imprisonment on nine charges of murder, attempted hijack, terrorism, robbery, and illegal possession of weapons, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 September 2000). Twelve other members of the clandestine Islamic organization received prison terms ranging from four to 13 years. LF
 GEORGIA SEEKS HELP TO CAPTURE ESCAPED PRISONERS...The Georgian Interior Ministry appealed on 3 October to Interpol and to its Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Russian counterparts for assistance in locating and recapturing the 12 prisoners who reportedly escaped from a Tbilisi security prison on 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported. A Chechen representative in Tbilisi, a spokesman for Georgia's breakaway Republic of South Ossetia, and the governor of Mingrelia-Upper Svaneti all denied on 3 October that any of the escapees have found refuge on their territory. LF
 ...AS JUSTICE MINISTER RESIGNSGeorgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told journalists on 3 October that he has reluctantly accepted Dzhoni Khetsuriani's decision to resign as justice minister in the wake of the jail break, Interfax and Caucasus Press reported. Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze warned on 3 October that the mass escape could presage an attempt to destabilize the political situation in Georgia. He warned that any such attempt would be "crushed by all legitimate means." Meanwhile, supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia denied that they would resort to any unconstitutional steps in their opposition to the present authorities. Two of the escapees served in the early 1990s as Gamsakhurdia's finance minister and as commander of his presidential guard. LF
 OSCE DENIES RUSSIAN ALLEGATIONS OF VIOLATIONS OF GEORGIAN-CHECHEN BORDERThe OSCE Mission in Tbilisi on 3 October denied an ITAR-TASS claim that it had submitted to the organization's Vienna headquarters a report stating that OSCE observers deployed on the border between Georgia and Chechnya had registered numerous foot- and hoofprints that testify to unsanctioned traffic across that border, Caucasus Press reported. An OSCE official said such prints have been found in the vicinity of the border but that its report stressed it is impossible to conclude with certainty that the persons who made them crossed the border. LF
 FOUR GEORGIAN OLYMPIC ATHLETES FAIL TO RETURN HOMEFour members of Georgia's Olympic team failed to return from Sydney after the games ended, Caucasus Press reported on 4 October. A member of Georgia's Olympic Committee said he believes the four men may try to seek employment in Australia. He ruled out any political motive for their failure to return to Georgia. LF
 SECOND KYRGYZ PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ALLIANCE FORMEDAlmaz Atambaev, a businessman and one of the six candidates registered to contest the 29 October Kyrgyz presidential poll, has secured the backing of Iskhak Masaliev, a Communist who failed the mandatory language examination for presidential candidates, Interfax reported on 3 October. Masaliev, whose father heads the Communist Party of Kyrgzystan, said he decided to support Atambaev because of the latter's political and economic experience and commitment to political moderation. Observers note that Atambaev, like most of the present Kyrgyz leadership, is from northern Kyrgyzstan, while Masaliev is a native of Osh Oblast in the south. Some southerners resent the northerners' virtual monopoly on top political posts. Also on 3 October, Suleiman Imanbaev, chairman of the Central Commission for Elections and Referenda, accused unnamed international organizations of interfering either directly or indirectly in the preparations for the presidential ballot, ITAR-TASS reported. Imanbaev criticized the Kyrgyz Foreign Ministry for its alleged failure to protest such interference. LF
 UZBEKISTAN, TURKEY SEEK TO OVERCOME ESTRANGEMENTVisiting Tashkent on 2-3 October, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem held talks with his Uzbek counterpart, Abdulaziz Komilov, and President Islam Karimov, the "Turkish Daily News" reported. Those talks focused on how to double bilateral trade turnover from $300 million in 1999 to $600 million in 2001 and on joint measures to combat terrorism in Central Asia. Karimov told Cem that Russia exaggerates that threat in an attempt to bolster its influence in the region, but at the same time, he requested help from Turkey in training Uzbek army officers. Relations between the two countries cooled several years ago because of the presence in Turkey of Uzbek oppositionist Muhammed Solih, and Uzbekistan's restrictions on the activities of Turkish businessmen and closure of Turkish-run schools in Uzbekistan. But Cem characterized the current relationship as "balanced and sound [and] based on rational considerations and shared interests." LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 SERBIAN OPPOSITION CONTINUES PROTESTSSome 50,000 people turned out in Kragujevac on 3 October to hear a speech by opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica, who stressed that he defeated Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic in the first round of voting on 24 September. Kostunica said that "we will rid Serbia of all the evil that Milosevic brought with him, but first we must rid Serbia of him." Strikes took place at many places around the country, including in the Majdanpek basin, at "all factories" in Valjevo, and in the Zastava automobile enterprise in Kragujevac, the broadcast added. "Vesti" of 4 October reported that many members of the staffs of Radio Yugoslavia, Radio- Television Novi Sad, Radio Belgrade, "Borba," "Dnevnik," and the cultural section of Radio-Television Serbia called on their respective managements to stop serving the interests of the regime and to report news objectively (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). PM
 SERBIAN AUTHORITIES ORDER ARREST OF MINERS...Police forcibly dismantled some barricades and arrested some strikers in apparently random actions in several parts of Serbia on 3 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The government said in a statement that it will use the full force of the law to "prevent and punish every subversive activity." The state prosecutor's office subsequently prepared arrest warrants for an unspecified number of strikers and protesters. Arrest warrants were issued for 11 striking miners at the Kolubara coal mine and for two opposition activists, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). PM
 ...WHILE MINERS PLEDGE TO CONTINUE STRIKEReuters reported from Belgrade on 4 October that the miners have vowed to continue their strike and that several members of management have joined them. Strike committee member Zoran Ristic said: "This is not a political strike but a strike for the protection of elementary human rights. The system of [Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS)] and Milosevic's Serbia is crumbling. High officials of the SPS are joining us." PM
 WELCOME GIFT FOR SERBIAN OPPOSITIONMladjan Dinkic, who is a leader of the opposition G-17 group of economists, said in Belgrade on 3 October that an unknown person threw a computer diskette with detailed results of the 24 September elections through a window of the Yugoslav Statistics Office to the opposition, the "International Herald Tribune" reported.
''Somebody from the Yugoslav Statistics Office threw a computer diskette through the window to us. The software includes election results from individual polling stations. That's exactly what we needed," Dinkic said. He added, however, that it is for the officials to make the tally public. ''We've got the proof now, but the Electoral Commission is the one to present the real results to the public,'' he said. PM
 SERBIAN OPPOSITION SUES FOR ELECTION FRAUDOpposition representatives appeared before the 17-member Constitutional Court on 4 October to present charges that the authorities systematically rigged the election results by using a "sophisticated computer program," AP reported. The opposition leaders said that they have a copy of the program and will present it to the court as evidence. PM
 BUSH WELCOMES RUSSIA'S ROLE IN SERBIA...Speaking in the televised U.S. presidential debate on 3 October, Republican candidate and Texas Governor George W. Bush said that he welcomes Russia's active participation in ending the political crisis in Serbia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," "End Note," 3 October 2000). He said that "this will be an interesting moment for the Russians to step up and lead as well; be a wonderful time for the president of Russia to step into the Balkans and convince Mr. Milosevic it's in his best interest and his country's best interest to leave office. The Russians have got a lot of sway in that part of the world, and we'd like to see them use that sway to encourage democracy to take hold." PM
 ...WHILE GORE IS SKEPTICALAlso speaking in the televised debate on 3 October, Democratic candidate and Vice President Al Gore said that "we need to be very careful in the present situation before we invite the Russians to play the lead role in mediating." Gore stressed that he understands "what the governor has said about asking the Russians to be involved, and under some circumstances that might be a good idea. But being as they have not yet been willing to recognize Kostunica as the lawful winner of the election, I'm not sure that it's right for us to invite the president of Russia to mediate [the] dispute there because we might not like the result that comes out of that. They currently favor going forward with a runoff election. I think that's the wrong thing." The runoff is slated for 8 October. Kostunica and the opposition plan to boycott it, claiming that he won outright in the first round. Kostunica's position is that he accepts Putin's offer of mediation but that he is waiting for a formal invitation from Moscow and an assurance that he will indeed meet with the Russian leader (see Part I). PM
 SERBIA'S KOSTUNICA: MILOSEVIC IS 'NATO'S MERCENARY'Kostunica said in Cacak that it is wrong for Milosevic to charge that the opposition is working for NATO, "Vesti" reported on 4 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). Kostunica added that "Milosevic is NATO's mercenary. Who brought NATO to Kosovo if not Milosevic?" Kostunica asked. "It doesn't matter whether it's because he loves them or because they paid him. [The point is that] Milosevic is NATO's mercenary." Meanwhile in Prague, UN human rights envoy Jiri Dienstbier called for exempting Milosevic from prosecution for war crimes in return for his peacefully leaving office, the BBC reported. PM
 MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT: 'WAIT AND SEE'Milo Djukanovic told "Pobjeda" of 4 October that his government will wait and see how political developments unfold in Serbia in the coming days and weeks. He stressed, however, that he has no intention of compromising with any authorities in Belgrade on issues of vital importance to Montenegro. He added that Podgorica will pursue its goals of democratization, economic reform, and building links to the outside world regardless of who is in charge in Serbia. PM
 REACTIONS IN MONTENEGRO TO KOSTUNICA'S OFFER TO BULATOVICZarko Rakcevic, who is president of the Social Democrats, told "Vijesti" of 4 October that he is "not surprised" that Kostunica intends to ask Predrag Bulatovic of the hitherto pro-Milosevic Socialist People's Party (SNP) to form a government. Rakcevic added that there is no difference between Kostunica's policy toward Montenegro and that of Milosevic. Elsewhere, Bulatovic told the same Podgorica daily that Milosevic lost the elections and there is no need for a second round. Bulatovic said that the SNP was a loyal ally of Milosevic in the elections but added that now the elections are over and it is time to assess their outcome honestly. PM
 CROATIAN PRESIDENT: ARMY IS LOYAL TO STATEStipe Mesic told "Jutarnji list" of 4 October that the government's political enemies in the military are a small, isolated group (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 2000). He stressed that the army is loyal to the state and its leadership. Mesic repeated the government's long-standing policy that it intends to reduce the size of the army--including the number of generals--and depoliticize it. A commentary in the same Zagreb daily argued, however, that the government would do well to stop devoting so much time and attention to issues related to war crimes and dissident generals. The author, Nikola Jelic, said that the government should concentrate on making good on its campaign promises to cut taxes and raise incomes. He argued that independent economists are frustrated with the government's lack of attention to burning economic questions. PM
 HAGUE COURT PROSECUTOR IN BOSNIACarla Del Ponte, who is the chief prosecutor for the Hague-based war crimes tribunal, arrived in Sarajevo on 2 October on a four-day visit. She will meet with top international and local officials dealing with the implementation of the Dayton peace agreement and especially with the question of missing people, AP reported. On 4 October, the international community's High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch said in a statement in Sarajevo that none of SFOR's 22,000 peacekeepers should leave before the 11 November parliamentary elections. He stressed that "SFOR's presence remains vital as the country has just started to turn the corner nearly five years after the Dayton peace accords were signed," Reuters reported. PM
 ROMANIAN SENATE PASSES REAL ESTATE RESTITUTION BILLThe Senate on 3 October passed a bill on the restitution of real estate nationalized by the Communists, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The bill, which has been the subject of negotiations between the main parties of the ruling coalition and the main opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, differs from the restitution bill passed by the Chamber of Deputies earlier this year in that it exempts from restitution buildings that now house hospitals, schools and seats of political parties. The owners of those buildings are to be compensated instead. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and the Greater Romania Party voted against the bill, on which the two houses of the parliament will now have to seek a compromise. MS
 NEW LIBERAL PARTY REGISTERED IN ROMANIAThe Bucharest Municipal Tribunal on 3 October registered the Traditional National Liberal Party, whose leaders recently split from the National Liberal Party (PNL). The party's name, which was originally the National Liberal Party-The Bratianus, has been changed to avoid objections by the PNL. Finance Minister Decebal Traian Remes, who heads the new formation, said his party will join the Democratic Convention of Romania 2000, whose registration was also approved by the tribunal on 3 October. MS
 ROMANIANS STOP SHIP ON WAY TO KOZLODUYA Russian ship transporting radioactive fuel to the Kozloduy Bulgarian nuclear plant was stopped on 3 October by Romanian authorities demanding documentation that the cargo is safe. AP reported the next day. The ship is now being held in the Danube port of Sulina. A spokesman for the port authorities said that in addition to lacking the necessary paperwork on safety controls, the ship failed to provide the required 30--day advance notice to transport a nuclear cargo. MS
 TURKEY RETALIATES IN CONSUL AFFAIRTurkey has refused to approve Stiliyan Rusinov Vurbanov's appointment as Bulgarian consul-general in Edirne, following the return of the Turkish consul-general in Burgas to her country "at the request of the Bulgarian government," the BBC reported, citing a 1 October dispatch by the Turkish news agency Anatolia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 October 2000). The Bulgarian government explained its decision by saying that Consul-General Bezya Untuna had carried out "activities that contravene the principle of non- interference in domestic affairs." Ahmed Dogan, leader of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), on 30 September called the decision "the worst gaffe of the Foreign Ministry in the last 10 years." But Gyuner Takhir, leader of the rival National Movement for Rights and Freedoms, which split from the DPS, said no Turkish diplomat has interfered in Bulgarian domestic policy to the extent that Untuna did. MS
[C] END NOTE
 CAUCASUS PEACE AND INTEGRATION STILL SEEN AS FAR OFFBy Emil Danielyan
Five months ago, analysts at the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies (CEPS) proposed a comprehensive Stability Pact for the Caucasus.
Modeled on post-war European integration, their proposal called for a number of specific actions that would help put the war-torn and impoverished region on the path to economic development. The CEPS plan--the most thorough yet on resolving conflicts in the South Caucasus--suggested mechanisms for ending the long-running conflicts in Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. It called for a regional security order to be jointly guaranteed by Russia and the West. The establishment of a South Caucasus Community would mark the final phase of the integration process.
A CEPS task force led by Michael Emerson, co-chairman of the independent think-tank, toured the region this summer to gauge the state of opinion both in its sovereign states and unrecognized entities. Speaking to RFE/RL in Yerevan on 28 September, Emerson said that his overall impression is that "we are still a long way away from getting a real breakthrough." He added, however, that "at the level of ideas, I think we are for the moment rather happy that this comprehensive proposal for the whole region has at least got onto the desks, into the minds of the leaderships, senior civil servants, and intelligentsia of the region."
Emerson discussed prospects for regional peace at a two-day international conference last week in the Armenian capital. He said that the current situation leaves the region with no chance of reversing its decade-long economic decline, with closed borders and the threat of renewed fighting continuing to make it unattractive to foreign investors.
For Emerson, economic cooperation and--eventually--integration is the only way out of the current impasse, which he describes as "low-welfare dead- locked equilibrium." Most experts attending the Yerevan conference agreed that no major cooperation schemes can get off the ground in the Caucasus before a solution is found to its regional conflicts. The settlement of the Karabakh dispute is seen as particularly essential for the success of such initiatives.
One of the participants, Georgian political scientist Ghia Nodia, argued that policy-makers across the region have little incentive to make major concessions, not least because their domestic public opinions would not support them. Emerson, for his part, stressed that he hopes "public opinion in Armenia and elsewhere can understand that there is no chance for this country and the rest of the region to be as successful as you would like it to be without settlement of these conflicts."
Emerson also challenged the Armenian government's view that joint projects with Azerbaijan on energy, transport, and communications can be launched before there is a peace deal on Karabakh.
The proposed CEPS Stability Pact calls for unconventional solutions to the future status of Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. It suggests that the conflicting parties draw on the "family of modern European solutions," including ideas such as shared sovereignty, equality among ethnic communities, and "multi-tiered" governing structures. In this way, Karabakh might form a confederation or "common state" with Azerbaijan or become an Armenian-Azerbaijani "condominium."
Under the CEPS plan, settlement of area conflicts would be followed by the creation of a wider regional security system under the aegis of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The plan sees the OSCE as the only international structure that can accommodate the often conflicting interests of Russia and the West. Emerson himself believes that neither NATO nor the CIS can play such a role.
The idea of a regional security system propped up by interested world powers has been supported by Armenian, Azerbaijani, and Georgian leaders over the past year. But Emerson said that all those leaders need to "articulate that more deeply than they have done so far." "If Russia, the EU, [the] U.S. [and] OSCE are to invest in this project more heavily," he argued, "then there has to be credible expressions of political interest on the part of the leaders of the South Caucasus. That at the moment is rather on the thin side."
Emerson describes as "cautious" the reaction so far of outside powers to the proposed Security Pact. Russia, he said, has resisted any increase in Western influence in what for centuries was a zone of its exclusive hegemony. But Emerson did see "some chance of new thinking in Moscow."
As for the EU, Emerson said it is reluctant to embrace a Caucasus Stability Pact unless both Russia and the U.S. do so first.
The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Yerevan.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty