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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 43, 01-03-02

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. 5, No. 43, 2 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN MINISTRY EVACUATED AFTER BOMB ALERT
  • [02] ARMENIA SETS DEADLINE FOR ENERGY PRIVATIZATION
  • [03] OSCE CHAIRMAN-IN-OFFICE VISITS AZERBAIJAN
  • [04] ONE MILLION PEOPLE WANT GEORGIAN PRESIDENT TO RESIGN
  • [05] BOMB EXPLOSION REPORTED IN WESTERN GEORGIA
  • [06] THOUSANDS OF HOMES IN GEORGIAN CAPITAL UNSAFE?
  • [07] MEMORANDUM ON OIL PIPELINE SIGNED IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [08] CANADIAN OIL COMPANY OUTLINES FUTURE INVESTMENTS IN KAZAKHSTAN
  • [09] BREAD, UTILITY PRICE HIKES ANNOUNCED IN FORMER KAZAKH CAPITAL
  • [10] ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF KAZAKH CORRUPTION WHISTLE-BLOWER BANNED
  • [11] KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT
  • [12] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON SENIOR GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS
  • [13] TAJIK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS FRANCE
  • [14] TAJIK DISTRICT OFFICIAL ESCAPES ASSASSINATION

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] PRESEVO TALKS BEGIN
  • [16] NATO TROOPS TO PRESEVO BUFFER ZONE?
  • [17] CHIRAC BLASTS 'TERRORISM' ON MACEDONIAN FRONTIER
  • [18] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BORDER TREATY WITH BELGRADE
  • [19] KFOR AIRPLANE UNDER FIRE?
  • [20] HAEKKERUP WANTS KOSOVA VOTE BY YEAR'S END
  • [21] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: NO MONEY FOR BELGRADE WITHOUT MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION
  • [22] CROATIA FILES AGAINST MILOSEVIC IN THE HAGUE
  • [23] MONTENEGRO SAYS STATUS QUESTION IS CHIEF PRIORITY
  • [24] CRITICISM OF HERZEGOVINIAN CROATS' THREAT ON FEDERATION
  • [25] WORLD BANK PRAISES ALBANIAN REFORMS
  • [26] ALBANIA TO OPEN ANTI-SMUGGLING CENTER
  • [27] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT BANS ENVER HOXHA PICTURES
  • [28] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES ALL CITIZENS EQUAL
  • [29] ROMANIA LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO BOOST NATO ACCESSION CHANCES
  • [30] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO CONDITIONALLY ABOLISH VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR ROMANIANS
  • [31] FINAL SOLUTION IN INVESTMENT FUND CASE
  • [32] MOLDOVAN YOUTH PROTEST AGAINST APPROACH TO RUSSIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [33] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN MINISTRY EVACUATED AFTER BOMB ALERT

    The staff of the Ministry for State Revenues was evacuated on 1 March after an anonymous telephone caller warned that a bomb had been planted in the building, but a police search failed to locate any such explosive device, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Minister Andranik Manukian, who was named to that post four months ago (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2000), termed the scare "a provocation aimed at disrupting the work of our ministry." He said he considers unlikely any connection between the bomb scare and the murder two days earlier of a senior ministry official. LF

    [02] ARMENIA SETS DEADLINE FOR ENERGY PRIVATIZATION

    The winners of the international tender to privatize four energy distribution networks will be made public no later than 24 March, the Armenian government announced on 1 March, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Three Western companies have bid for those networks. Completion of the privatization, which has been postponed several times (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 31 July and 20 October 2000), is a precondition for the release of a $50 million World Bank Structural Adjustment Credit that will cover just over half this year's anticipated budget deficit. LF

    [03] OSCE CHAIRMAN-IN-OFFICE VISITS AZERBAIJAN

    Romanian Foreign Minister and OSCE Chairman-in-Office Mircea Dan Geoana met in Baku on 1 March with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev to discuss the Karabakh conflict, Turan ITAR-TASS reported. Aliev told Geoana that the Azerbaijani leadership is committed to finding a political solution to the conflict even though many Azerbaijanis want a new war to bring Karabakh back under Baku's control. As he has done several times in the past, Aliev criticized the failure of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to come up with an acceptable peace plan. Aliev also said that his talks with his Armenian counterpart Robert Kocharian have failed to yield any progress because Armenia "is trying to legalize the present situation" and demands "considerable compromises." Quliev, for his part, told Geoana that he hopes the OSCE will follow the principle of territorial integrity in its future efforts to mediate a solution to the conflict. LF

    [04] ONE MILLION PEOPLE WANT GEORGIAN PRESIDENT TO RESIGN

    The Mdzleveli political organization, whose chairman Avtandil Djoglidze polled less than 1 percent in the Georgian presidential election in April 2000, has collected one million signatures over the past year on a petition calling on President Eduard Shevardnadze to resign, Caucasus Press reported on 27 February. LF

    [05] BOMB EXPLOSION REPORTED IN WESTERN GEORGIA

    A homemade bomb caused minor damage to the former regional administration building in Zugdidi on 1 March, Caucasus Press reported. No one was injured as the staff were at lunch. Two people were killed and the building was badly damaged by an earlier bomb explosion in August 1998 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August 1998). LF

    [06] THOUSANDS OF HOMES IN GEORGIAN CAPITAL UNSAFE?

    Over 2,000 buildings in Tbilisi, which house over 100,000 people, are unsafe for human habitation, according to the daily "Rezonansi" on 1 March. Repairs will cost an estimated one billion laris ($490 million), but the city budget for this year allocates only 3.7 million laris for that purpose. The municipal council has asked the Georgian government to draft a five-year program to repair the 50 buildings that are in the greatest danger of collapse. LF

    [07] MEMORANDUM ON OIL PIPELINE SIGNED IN KAZAKHSTAN

    Georgian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Kazakh, and U.S. officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Astana on 1 March "On the Transport of Oil on the route Aktau-Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan," Reuters reported. That document could theoretically serve as the foundation for extending the planned Baku- Ceyhan export pipeline, insofar as it provides the legal foundations for foreign companies extracting oil in Kazakhstan to use that export route. But Kazakhstan has made no firm commitment to export a specific amount of crude via Baku-Ceyhan, and Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev said Kazakhstan would prefer to export oil via Iran. Kairgeldy Kabyldin, who is vice president of KazTransOil, told Interfax on 1 March that construction of the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline will be economically viable only if a minimum of 20 million tons can be transported through it annually. LF

    [08] CANADIAN OIL COMPANY OUTLINES FUTURE INVESTMENTS IN KAZAKHSTAN

    Canada's Hurricane Hydrocarbons Ltd. plans to invest $280 million in projects in Kazakhstan over the next two years, Interfax quoted Marlo Thomas, who is president of the company's subsidiary in Kazakhstan, as telling journalists in Almaty on 1 March. Some $30 million of that sum will be invested in construction of a gas-fired power station that will be fueled by gas from the Kumkol oil and gas field in southern Kazakhstan, according to Interfax on 27 February. Hurricane Hydrocarbons extracted some 3.3 million tons of oil in Kazakhstan last year, almost one-third more than in 1999, and plans to increase output in 2001 to 4 million tons. LF

    [09] BREAD, UTILITY PRICE HIKES ANNOUNCED IN FORMER KAZAKH CAPITAL

    The price of a loaf of bread in Almaty has been increased from 25-27 tenges to 30 tenges ($0.20) as of 1 March, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported. Housing utilities are to be increase by 10 percent beginning next month. LF

    [10] ANOTHER DEMONSTRATION IN SUPPORT OF KAZAKH CORRUPTION WHISTLE-BLOWER BANNED

    The city authorities in Shymkent, southern Kazakhstan, refused permission for a demonstration in the city center in support of Temirtas Tleulesov, author of two books detailing high-level official corruption in the city and Shymkent Oblast, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 1 March. It was the second time within two weeks that permission for such a demonstration was refused (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 February 2001). Tleulesov went into hiding after a court sentenced him in early February to a two-year imprisonment on a charge of hooliganism. LF

    [11] KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN SIGN MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENT

    Meeting in Almaty on 1 March, the defense ministers of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Sat Toqpaqbaev and Esen Topev, signed an agreement on military- technical cooperation, including between their respective military- industrial complexes, and agreed to exchange information on a regular basis, Interfax reported. They also agreed that their countries' armed forces will conduct joint maneuvers later this year, and that Kyrgyz servicemen will continue to receive training at military colleges in Kazakhstan. Toqpaqbaev said after the talks that he does not perceive any threat at present to either country' security, but added that Kazakhstan is ready to assist its neighbor in the event of a renewed incursion into Kyrgyzstan by Islamic militants. LF

    [12] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO VOTE ON SENIOR GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENTS

    Altai Borubaev, speaker of the People's Assembly (the upper house of the Kyrgyz parliament), told journalists in Bishkek on 1 March that the assembly has amended its regulations and in future will put to a formal vote the candidacies of senior government officials proposed by President Askar Akaev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The posts in question include those of premier, Supreme Court chairman, and prosecutor-general. Previously, the assembly approved candidates to those posts by a simple show of hands. LF

    [13] TAJIK FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS FRANCE

    During recent talks in Paris, Talbak Nazarov discussed with his French counterpart Hubert Vedrine the possibility of expanding bilateral relations, including the opening of a French diplomatic representation in Dushanbe, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 2 March. Vedrine said the EU plans to resume its assistance to Tajikistan within the framework of the TACIS program. Nazarov also met with heads of UN organizations and aid agencies. LF

    [14] TAJIK DISTRICT OFFICIAL ESCAPES ASSASSINATION

    Ismaildzhon Gulov, the district administration head in Kofarnihon, east of Dushanbe, escaped injury early on 1 March when three men opened fire on his car, Russian agencies and Asia Plus-Blitz reported. His bodyguard was severely injured. Gulov is a member of the People's Democratic Party headed by President Imomali Rakhmonov. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] PRESEVO TALKS BEGIN

    Talks involving representatives of NATO, Belgrade authorities, and local Albanians began in Bujanovac on 1 March. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic said that "time and patience" will be required, "Danas" reported. Presevo Mayor Riza Halimi expressed optimism. But Covic began by rejecting several key Albanian demands, including a discussion of autonomy and moving the negotiations to Kosova, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He also rejected any participation by members of the Liberation Army of Presevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac. PM

    [16] NATO TROOPS TO PRESEVO BUFFER ZONE?

    French officials have raised the question of providing NATO protection for EU monitors in the Presevo demilitarized zone, Reuters reported from Paris on 1 March. An unnamed NATO official told the news agency, however, that "an international military presence is not envisaged, period." In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher noted that "the buffer zone is not occupied by NATO... We've seen some reports of statements about an international military presence inside southern Serbia. That is not our intention, either. An international presence is not envisaged by us," RFE/RL reported. PM

    [17] CHIRAC BLASTS 'TERRORISM' ON MACEDONIAN FRONTIER

    President Jacques Chirac told visiting Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski in Paris on 1 March that "France condemns these acts, which amount to terrorism. We want a maximum number of measures to be taken to control and eradicate every form of terrorism in the region" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 March 2001). Trajkovski noted that "we are opposed to the idea of creating ethnically pure regions," AP reported. In Skopje, Deputy Prime Minister Bedredin Ibrahimi, who belongs to the Democratic Party of the Albanians, called the presence of armed gangs in Tanusevci "a provocation by extremists who want to destabilize Macedonia. It's definitely against the interests of ethnic Albanians here," the "Financial Times" reported. PM

    [18] MACEDONIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES BORDER TREATY WITH BELGRADE

    A majority of legislators voted on 1 March to ratify the border treaty with Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 20 and 27 February 2001). The Democratic Party of the Albanians, which belongs to the governing coalition, supported the proposal. Opposition ethnic Albanian legislators from the Party of Democratic Prosperity, as well as two independent ethnic Albanians, opposed the measure on the grounds that the Kosovars were not consulted, Deutsche Welle reported. Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski said that the treaty settles once and for all any questions about the border, AP noted. He added, however, that the treaty could be re-examined and reaffirmed if Kosova's political status were to change, the "Financial Times" reported. PM

    [19] KFOR AIRPLANE UNDER FIRE?

    The pilot of a KFOR light observation plane flying near the Kosova- Macedonian border believed that unknown persons shot at him on 28 February and forced him to take "evasive action," a KFOR spokesman said in Prishtina on 2 March, Reuters reported. PM

    [20] HAEKKERUP WANTS KOSOVA VOTE BY YEAR'S END

    In an apparent modification of his previous views, Hans Haekkerup, who heads the UN civilian administration in Kosova, told the OSCE in Vienna on 1 March that holding elections for new institutions will be crucial in order to bring progress to and stabilize Kosova, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 January and 27 February 2001, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 16 January and 23 February 2001). He now wants elections by the end of the year, provided that a legal framework for the new government is in place and the new central institutions are clearly defined by law. Haekkerup said that it will take at least six months to prepare for a Kosova-wide election. He wants to launch preparatory talks with political leaders in Kosova by 6 March. PM

    [21] HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: NO MONEY FOR BELGRADE WITHOUT MILOSEVIC EXTRADITION

    Amid Belgrade press reports to the effect that the arrest of former President Slobodan Milosevic may be imminent, Human Rights Watch said in New York on 1 March that Washington should make future aid to Belgrade contingent on the extradition of Milosevic to The Hague. Executive Director Holly Cartner said in a statement that "the U.S. government must be firmer than ever about the need to cooperate with the international tribunal. The Bush administration must send a clear message to the authorities in Belgrade that no money except humanitarian aid will flow from Washington until they start handing over indictees to The Hague," AP reported. The EU has indicated that it will not link assistance to cooperation with the tribunal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 February 2001). PM

    [22] CROATIA FILES AGAINST MILOSEVIC IN THE HAGUE

    Croatia has filed documents with the International Court of Justice -- which is located in The Hague but is separate from the tribunal -- demanding that the Belgrade authorities extradite Milosevic. The Croatian government charges that Belgrade is violating "the international convention on genocide by not punishing perpetrators of genocide" in Croatia between 1991 and 1995, Reuters reported. PM

    [23] MONTENEGRO SAYS STATUS QUESTION IS CHIEF PRIORITY

    The government said in a statement in Podgorica on 1 March that redefining the republic's political and legal status will be its chief goal over the coming six months, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. In Vienna, U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE David T. Johnson said that Montenegro should set higher legal thresholds for "participation and approval" in any referendum on independence. He noted that current legislation requires only 50 percent of registered voters to participate for a referendum to be valid. A simple majority among those casting their ballots is sufficient to pass the measure. PM

    [24] CRITICISM OF HERZEGOVINIAN CROATS' THREAT ON FEDERATION

    A spokesman for High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch said in Sarajevo on 1 March that ethnic Croat leader Ante Jelavic's threat to leave the federation with the Muslims is "unconstitutional and [would] violate the Dayton agreement," Reuters reported. In Zagreb, Zdravko Tomac, who is deputy speaker of the parliament, called Jelavic's statements "not in the interests of Croats" and a "catastrophic choice," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. President Stipe Mesic charged that Jelavic and his Croatian Democratic Community want changes that would lead to a "ghettoization of the Croats" and be highly damaging to them. PM

    [25] WORLD BANK PRAISES ALBANIAN REFORMS

    World Bank Director Christiaan Poortman said in Brussels on 1 March that Albania's reforms are "based on sound policies," dpa reported. He and European Commission representatives agreed, however, that Albania has much to do to improve the electricity supply, public administration, and judicial reform. PM

    [26] ALBANIA TO OPEN ANTI-SMUGGLING CENTER

    Interior Ministers from Greece, Italy, and Germany said in Tirana on 1 March that they support Albania's plans to open a regional center in Vlora to combat smuggling and human trafficking, AP reported. The center, which will be located in a villa that once belonged to dictator Enver Hoxha, will be staffed by Albanian police (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 February 2001). PM

    [27] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT BANS ENVER HOXHA PICTURES

    Prime Minister Ilir Meta ruled on 1 March that pictures of Hoxha may not be displayed in government buildings, AP reported. The issue arose when the Foreign Ministry recently exhibited a picture of the late dictator, who was briefly foreign minister in 1944, among a collection of portraits of former foreign ministers. News that the picture was on display provoked outrage among former political prisoners and Tirana University students. The students were instrumental in bringing about the overthrow of communism a decade ago. PM

    [28] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT DECLARES ALL CITIZENS EQUAL

    Ion Iliescu said on 1 March that all Romanian citizens are equal irrespective of their ethnic origin, Mediafax reported. Answering a question regarding the debate in the Hungarian Parliament of a law on ethnic Hungarians living abroad, Iliescu said "any discrimination imposed by international regulations is certainly not welcome." Iliescu stressed that Romanian citizens "represent a whole" and they should have "the same rights and obligations." The law on ethnic Hungarians living outside Hungary could provide preferential status for ethnic Hungarians travelling to Hungary. ZsM

    [29] ROMANIA LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN TO BOOST NATO ACCESSION CHANCES

    President Iliescu on 1 March said Romania will try to convince NATO member countries that Romania's acceptance into the military alliance at the 2002 Prague summit is needed for "securing peace and stability in Southeastern Europe," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Iliescu said after a government meeting that the Defense Ministry's annual budget will be raised by 33 percent. In other news, Iliescu declared the sentencing of army officials for their roles in the December 1989 change of regime "a political mistake" and judicially unfair. He added that General Victor Stanculescu should also be judged for his role in securing the victory of the 1989 revolution. Stanculescu's 15-year sentence for quashing the December 1989 revolt in Timisoara was suspended on 9 February by Prosecutor- General Joita Tanase (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2001). ZsM

    [30] EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT VOTES TO CONDITIONALLY ABOLISH VISA REQUIREMENTS FOR ROMANIANS

    The European Parliament in Brussels voted on 1 March in favor of abolishing visa requirements for Romanians, Romanian media reported. The deputies amended a Council of Ministers report that proposed the elimination of visas for Bulgarians, but put several conditions for eventually eliminating visa requirements for Romanians. These conditions included measures against illegal immigration from Romania and the repatriation of illegal Romanian residents in EU member countries. The EU's Council of Interior Ministers is to adopt an official visa regulation at its 15-16 March meeting. Should the ministers adopt the original version of the report, Romania would be the only candidate country whose citizens still require a visa for traveling to EU member countries. ZsM

    [31] FINAL SOLUTION IN INVESTMENT FUND CASE

    The Romanian Supreme Court on 1 March rejected an appeal lodged by the state-owned CEC savings bank and the Finance Ministry in the case of the collapsed private National Investment Fund (FNI), Romanian media reported. The court thus made a final decision in admitting that the contract between CEC and the FNI, in which the CEC was to have guaranteed investments, was legal. According to the contract, the CEC should pay compensation to depositors. However, CEC announced that the decision does not oblige it to do so, as the FNI's collapse was a result of penal activities. After the court ruling, hundreds of investors ended their protest in Bucharest at which they demanded compensation. ZsM

    [32] MOLDOVAN YOUTH PROTEST AGAINST APPROACH TO RUSSIA

    A small group of Chisinau high school students burned the flag of the former Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic on 1 March, Moldovan media reported. The burning was a protest against the intention of the Party of Moldovan Communists, winner of an absolute majority in parliament (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 February 2001), to introduce Russian as the country's second official language. ZsM

    [C] END NOTE

    [33] There is no End Note today.

    02-03-01

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


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