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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 47, 01-03-08

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. 47, 8 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] RUSSIA SEEKS TO MEND TIES WITH ARMENIA'S MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX
  • [02] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION RALLY CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO RESIGN
  • [03] RUSSIA CONDEMNS ABKHAZ LOCAL ELECTIONS, ATTACKS ON PEACEKEEPERS...
  • [04] ... AS GEORGIA ACCLAIMS UKRAINIAN MEDIATION IN ABKHAZ CONFLICT
  • [05] RUSSIAN ENVOY VOICES OBJECTIONS TO KAZAKHSTAN'S PARTICIPATION IN BAKU- CEYHAN PIPELINE
  • [06] KAZAKH PARLIAMENT APPROVES CAPITAL LEGALIZATION
  • [07] CHARGES AGAINST INDEPENDENT KYRGYZ PAPER DROPPED

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] KOSOVA PEACEKEEPERS ON ALERT AFTER CLASH WITH GUNMEN
  • [09] SERBIA REPORTS FIGHTING IN LUCANE AREA
  • [10] WHAT ROLE FOR PEACEKEEPERS ON MACEDONIA'S FRONTIERS?
  • [11] NATO TO ALLOW SERBIAN FORCES BACK INTO BUFFER ZONE
  • [12] HERZEGOVINIAN CHIEF SACKED FROM BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY
  • [13] CROATIA WITH ITS OWN PLAN FOR BOSNIA?
  • [14] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON STATE SECRETS...
  • [15] ... AND LAW ON STATUS OF FOREIGNERS
  • [16] ROMANIAN PARTIES BACK NATO MEMBERSHIP QUEST
  • [17] ROMANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES NATO DELEGATION
  • [18] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.K.
  • [19] PUTIN REACTS TO MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS
  • [20] MOLDOVAN PARTY LEADERS RESIGN
  • [21] BULGARIA DISPATCHES MILITARY HARDWARE TO MACEDONIA
  • [22] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO REVISE POLITICAL PARTIES LAW
  • [23] BULGARIA TOUGHENS NATURALIZATION LAWS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [24] There is no End Note today

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] RUSSIA SEEKS TO MEND TIES WITH ARMENIA'S MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX

    A Russian government delegation arrived in Yerevan on 6 March to assess the prospects for restoring ties between the two countries' military-industrial complexes, which were ruptured following the demise of the USSR, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Delegation head Vladimir Simonov told RFE/RL that Russia is particularly interested in the "Mars" enterprise, which is headed by People's Party of Armenia leader Stepan Demirchian. Although the Russian delegation was officially said to have been invited to Yerevan by the Armenian government, political analyst Andranik Markarian said at a lecture in Yerevan that it traveled to Armenia on Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative. LF

    [02] GEORGIAN OPPOSITION RALLY CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO RESIGN

    Several hundred people attended a protest demonstration in Tbilisi on 7 March, the ninth anniversary of Eduard Shevardnadze's return to Georgia to head the country's provisional leadership, Caucasus Press and AP reported. Speakers blamed Shevardnadze for precipitating the loss of Georgian control over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and called on him to resign before he destroys the country completely. The protest was jointly organized by supporters of deceased President Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the Revival Union and "Industry Will Save Georgia," which are the second- and third-largest parliament factions, and the Labor Party. Those parties are considering either forming a new alliance, or working together to force the president and government to step down and the dissolution of parliament. LF

    [03] RUSSIA CONDEMNS ABKHAZ LOCAL ELECTIONS, ATTACKS ON PEACEKEEPERS...

    Moscow "has always supported" Georgia's territorial integrity and for that reason will not recognize as valid the local elections to be held in Abkhazia on 10 March, Interfax reported on 7 March quoting unidentified Russian Foreign Ministry officials. Also on 7 March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko expressed "extreme concern" both at the upsurge in attacks by Georgian guerrillas on Russian members of the CIS peacekeeping force deployed in western Georgia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report, " Vol. 4, No. 9, 2 March 2001), and at allegations in the Georgian press that members of the peacekeeping force have engaged in reprisals and genocide against the Georgian civilian population of Abkhazia. Yakovenko noted that the Georgian government has signed several protocols undertaking to curtail the guerrillas' activities, but has taken no concrete measures to do so. LF

    [04] ... AS GEORGIA ACCLAIMS UKRAINIAN MEDIATION IN ABKHAZ CONFLICT

    After meeting in Tbilisi on 7 March with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Anatolii Zlenko, President Shevardnadze characterized Kyiv's participation in international efforts to resolve the Abkhaz conflict as equally important as those of the "Friends of the UN Secretary-General" group of countries, ITAR-TASS reported. He said that during their talks Zlenko had made "interesting proposals" on how to resolve the conflict. Zlenko said that during its chairmanship this month of the UN Security Council, Ukraine will devote special attention to the Abkhaz conflict, to which a special session will be devoted on 21 March. Shevardnadze further expressed appreciation for Ukraine's willingness to host a confidence- building meeting between Abkhaz and Georgian delegations in Yalta on 16-18 March. After his meeting with Shevardnadze, Zlenko traveled with UN Special representative for Abkhazia Dieter Boden to Sukhum, where the two met with Abkhaz Prime Minister Vyacheslav Tsugba. LF

    [05] RUSSIAN ENVOY VOICES OBJECTIONS TO KAZAKHSTAN'S PARTICIPATION IN BAKU- CEYHAN PIPELINE

    Viktor Kalyuzhnyi, who is Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and presidential envoy for the Caspian, told journalists on 6 March that he opposes Kazakhstan's plans to export oil via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 2001). Kalyuzhnyi said that instead, Moscow and Astana should work out a common transit policy, noting that such a policy would obviate the need for Kazakhstan to use the Baku- Ceyhan pipeline. Also on 6 March, Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that when Baku-Ceyhan first goes into operation (which is scheduled to be in 2004), Kazakhstan could export some 10 million tons of crude per year via that route. Nazarbaev repeated that his country remains committed to the use of multiple export pipelines. LF

    [06] KAZAKH PARLIAMENT APPROVES CAPITAL LEGALIZATION

    The lower house of Kazakhstan's bicameral legislature on 7 March approved in the first reading a draft law that would waive punishment for persons who legalize illegally exported capital, Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 March 2001). Under the draft, capital accumulated in Kazakhstan is not subject to tax, while a 12 percent tax would be imposed on capital brought back to Kazakhstan from abroad. If that capital is subsequently deposited for one year in a Kazakh bank, the tax is reduced to 6 percent, and after two years the initial 12 percent tax would be refunded. LF

    [07] CHARGES AGAINST INDEPENDENT KYRGYZ PAPER DROPPED

    Kyrgyzstan's prosecutor general has closed the criminal case brought against the independent Kyrgyz newspaper "Delo Nomer" in November 2000 on charges of divulging state secrets, the paper's editor, Viktor Zapolsky, told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 7 March. The case had been brought at the insistence of the National Security Service, which argued that the paper had divulged state secrets in its coverage of the trial last summer of former National Security Minister Feliks Kulov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 December 2000). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] KOSOVA PEACEKEEPERS ON ALERT AFTER CLASH WITH GUNMEN

    The Macedonian Defense Ministry said in a statement on 8 March that its troops and ethnic Albanian gunmen exchanged fire that morning in the tense Tanusevci region. A spokesman for the ministry provided few details, but said no Macedonian soldiers were injured, AP reported from Skopje. Macedonian authorities have banned journalists from the area, so no independent accounts of developments are available. Across the border in Kosova, KFOR troops entered the area of Tanusevci that lies within Kosova, but found no guerrillas or equipment, AP reported. Elsewhere along the Kosova side of the border, international peacekeepers are on alert after their first clashes with armed ethnic Albanian rebels in the area (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 March 2001). KFOR troops wounded two rebels and took one of them prisoner during the fighting. KFOR subsequently took control of Mijak, a town in Kosova not far from Tanusevci, where three Macedonian soldiers died recently in exchanges of gunfire with the rebels, about whom little is known. PM/NCA

    [09] SERBIA REPORTS FIGHTING IN LUCANE AREA

    There is also tension in the buffer zone between Serbia and Kosova after three Yugoslav soldiers died in a land-mine explosion on 7 March. Serbian authorities said in a statement the following day that one additional policeman was injured when he stepped on a land mine in the Lucane area and that Serbian forces and Albanian fighters exchanged fire that morning, AP reported. There is no independent confirmation of the Serbian account. Meanwhile in Sofia, Dragoljub Micunovic, speaker of the Yugoslav parliament and leader of the Democratic Center, said the danger of a new war breaking out in the Balkans is "minimal," AP reported. PM/NCA

    [10] WHAT ROLE FOR PEACEKEEPERS ON MACEDONIA'S FRONTIERS?

    At the United Nations, Macedonian Foreign Minister Srdjan Kerim asked the Security Council on 7 March to support the deployment of KFOR peacekeepers along a stretch of his country's border with Kosova to prevent further attacks by gunmen. He wants troops deployed in a 5 kilometer-wide zone inside Kosova, from which arms, "soldiers," and "large gatherings of people" will be excluded, Reuters reported. The council issued a statement condemning the attacks by "ethnic Albanian armed extremists" and welcoming steps by KFOR to tighten security along the frontier. It did not, however, take a stand on Macedonia's request. PM

    [11] NATO TO ALLOW SERBIAN FORCES BACK INTO BUFFER ZONE

    NATO foreign ministers agreed in Brussels on 8 March to allow an unspecified number of Serbian forces to return to at least part of the 5 kilometer-wide safety zone along Serbia's border with Macedonia, Reuters reported. The ministers did not specify what kinds of weapons the Serbs will be allowed to use, but the news agency said the Serbs will probably be allowed to use tanks and helicopters. This section of the zone is believed to be a source of supply for gunmen in the Tanusevci area. NATO's decision is the first step in the phased return of Serbian forces to the zone, which NATO has been discussing for some weeks (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March 2001). Belgrade regards the move as a first step toward the return of its forces to Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 March 2001). The UNHCR has warned that the return of Serbian troops to the zone could lead to instability in Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 March 2001). PM

    [12] HERZEGOVINIAN CHIEF SACKED FROM BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY

    High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch fired Ante Jelavic as the Croatian representative on the joint Bosnian presidency on 7 March. Petritsch said Jelavic's recent moves aimed at setting up a Croatian "self-administration" in Bosnia-Herzegovina constitute a violation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Austrian diplomat told a news conference in Sarajevo that he "decided to remove Ante Jelavic and three other HDZ [Croatian Democratic Community] officials -- Ivo Andric- Luzanski, Marko Tokic, and Zdravko Batinic -- from their public offices, and barred them from holding any party positions." Petritsch added that the decision was not easy, but that he had "no choice" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 March 2001). PM

    [13] CROATIA WITH ITS OWN PLAN FOR BOSNIA?

    Prime Minister Ivica Racan said in Zagreb on 7 March that his government had previously warned Jelavic and the Herzegovinian HDZ against "hasty moves," AP reported. "Unfortunately, that's exactly what they did, and the international community reacted this way." Racan stressed that the cabinet will not discuss the Herzegovinian developments at its 8 March session because "our duty is to bring a better life for people in Croatia, and nothing will distract us from working on that." He added, however, that Croatian officials will work with all concerned for a reduction of tensions in the neighboring republic. He declined to comment on a recent proposal by his coalition partner Drazen Budisa, who suggested that Bosnia become a federation of 12 to 14 ethnically based cantons without ethnically based entities, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. "Jutarnji list" wrote on 8 March, however, that Racan has endorsed Budisa's proposal and spoke to Petritsch on the telephone about it. PM

    [14] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW ON STATE SECRETS...

    The two chambers of the parliament, meeting in joint session, on 7 March approved a law on the protection of state secrets, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said the law is in line with the NATO requirement that member states pass legislation to safeguard NATO secrets, but critics say the provisions are open to controversial interpretation and that the law could negatively impact freedom of information and of expression. Under the bill, anyone found guilty of publishing state secrets can face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, and those trying to procure state secrets can be sentenced to up to seven years. The law makes the guarding of state secrets the "civic duty" of all citizens and an expression of their "national fidelity." The Romanian Intelligence Service is entrusted with overseeing respect of the law. MS

    [15] ... AND LAW ON STATUS OF FOREIGNERS

    Parliament also approved a law on the status of foreigners in Romania. Among the more controversial articles in this law is one reminiscent of the Ceausescu legislation, which requires that Romanians notify police if they have foreign guests staying with them for longer than 15 days. Nastase said the law is in line with EU requirements aimed at combating illegal immigration. The law also makes it illegal for foreign citizens to set up, or be members of, Romanian political parties or to "initiate, organize, or participate in demonstrations or public meetings affecting public order or national security." MS

    [16] ROMANIAN PARTIES BACK NATO MEMBERSHIP QUEST

    Leaders of all the parties represented in parliament on 7 March issued a joint declaration backing the government's quest to secure access to NATO membership, making that quest a priority of Romanian foreign policy while pledging to increase funds allocated to the military to continue reforms and make the army compatible with NATO requirements. Nastase said Romania must step up efforts to join the alliance in 2002, and should "under no circumstances miss this chance," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

    [17] ROMANIAN PREMIER RECEIVES NATO DELEGATION

    Premier Nastase on 8 March received a NATO delegation led by the organization's deputy secretary-general, Edgar Buckley. The delegation has been in Romania for two days and has reviewed Romanian military reforms and preparation for NATO accession. According to Mediafax, Buckley told Nastase that Romania has made progress, adding that progress must also be evaluated in terms of the country's legislation on security and information protection, as well as in terms of its economic capability to sustain membership. Nastase told the guests that Romania can be a "reliable NATO partner" and is ready to participate "within its resources and capabilities" in solving regional crises. MS

    [18] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN U.K.

    Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana is meeting on 8 March in London with his British counterpart Robin Cook, Romanian Radio reported. On 7 March, Geoana met with European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Chairman Jean Lemierre, urging the launching of new projects financed by the bank in his country. Geoana told a Romanian Radio reporter that the U.K. has been Romania's "most solid partner" in helping the country's military undergo NATO-required reforms. In response to a journalist's question on the negative reactions in his country to the controversial appointment of Ristea Priboi as chairman of the parliamentary commission overseeing the activity of the Foreign Intelligence Service, Geoana replied that "11 years after the fall of communism, such matters should be evaluated with some detachment." MS

    [19] PUTIN REACTS TO MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS

    During his first online press conference on 6 March (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 March 2001), Russian President Vladimir Putin said the victory of the Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) in the February elections is "above all, an internal affair" of a "friendly state that is member of CIS." He said he can only "welcome" the friendly attitude displayed by the PCM toward Russia, and that the Russian-Belarus Union "is open to all countries that agree to the union's objectives and statutes." The decision to join the union or not, he commented, is however, "largely Moldova's own domestic affair." MS

    [20] MOLDOVAN PARTY LEADERS RESIGN

    The leadership of the Moldovan National Liberal Party (PNL) on 7 March resigned, following the poor performance of the PNL in last month's parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The party garnered only 2.8 percent and failed to gain parliamentary representation. On similar grounds, National Peasant Party Christian Democratic leader Valeriu Muravschi, whose formation was backed by 1.7 percent, submitted his resignation on the same day. PNL leader Mircea Rusu said a party congress will be conveyed within three months to elect a new leadership, but did not rule out that the outgoing leaders may run again. Rusu also said the PNL will initiate negotiations with "anti-communist formations" to create an "anti-communist alliance." He said the party's urging to do so before the elections had not been heeded, and that such an alliance would have polled 15 percent in the February ballot. MS

    [21] BULGARIA DISPATCHES MILITARY HARDWARE TO MACEDONIA

    Prime Minister Ivan Kostov, speaking in the parliament on 7 March, said Bulgaria will supply military hardware to Macedonia to help it halt incursions by ethnic Albanian militants from Kosova, AP and AFP reported. A Defense Ministry spokeswoman later clarified that the supplies will consist of munitions. Kostov also said he is traveling to Macedonia on 8 March for a two-day visit to discuss the situation with the neighboring country's leaders. He told lawmakers that the "destabilization of Macedonia and its government is completely unacceptable for Bulgaria and creates risks for our interests," calling on NATO and KFOR forces to "block the terrorists' supplies of munitions and armed forces." The premier also called on the Macedonian government to "use all means" to solve the conflict, "which can have no military solution." MS

    [22] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT AGREES TO REVISE POLITICAL PARTIES LAW

    The parliament on 7 March voted 103 to 78 in favor of accepting President Petar Stoyanov's veto of a new law on political parties, the English- language service of the Sofia daily "Monitor" reported. Stoyanov vetoed the law, saying it would curb pluralism and allow dubious funding of politicians. He particularly objected to an article in the law under which parties would be disbanded if they failed to run in two consecutive elections. The president also called for the abolishment of the requirement that parties garnering less than 1 percent of the vote must renew their legal registration after the elections and prove they are backed by at least 500 supporters. He also urged legislators to ban anonymous donations, saying the provision opens the door to "funding of dubious origins." The parliament has not yet established when the law will be debated again. MS

    [23] BULGARIA TOUGHENS NATURALIZATION LAWS

    "Monitor" also reported on 7 March that the parliament passed on first reading legislation toughening rules on acquiring Bulgarian citizenship by naturalization. Under the new law, acquiring Bulgarian citizenship will be conditioned on renouncing one's previous citizenship. Foreign citizens of Bulgarian origin who wish to restore their citizenship will be exempt from this provision. The new legislation also toughens requirements for refugees to acquire Bulgarian citizenship. The changes are aimed at bringing legislation in line with that of the EU. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [24] There is no End Note today

    08-03-01

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


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