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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 52, 01-03-15

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. 52, 15 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] NEW CHECHEN ATTACKS AS RUSSIAN TROOPS PULLED
  • [02] GROZNY SURVIVED WINTER 'WELL ENOUGH'
  • [03] RUSSIA HAS NO PLANS TO PULL BORDER TROOPS FROM ARMENIA
  • [04] MOST ARMENIANS SUPPORT FREEZING KARABAKH CONFLICT
  • [05] U.S. TO HOST ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI SUMMIT
  • [06] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT SUPPORTS POLL ON KARABAKH
  • [07] GEORGIAN LEADER THREATENS TO FIRE ENERGY CHIEF
  • [08] TROUBLE BREWING IN MINGRELIA?
  • [09] GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS OPEN IN YALTA
  • [10] FIGHTS OVER WATER SEEN INCREASING TENSIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA
  • [11] SECOND WELL COMES IN KAZAKHSTAN FIELD
  • [12] POLLUTION HURTS HEALTH OF 54 PERCENT OF KAZAKH WOMEN
  • [13] EMIGRATION HURTS KYRGYZ ECONOMY
  • [14] TURKMEN PRESIDENT URGES STUDENTS TO WORK WHILE STUDYING
  • [15] RUSSIAN CULTURAL CENTER OPENS IN UZBEK CAPITAL

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [16] MACEDONIA'S SECOND CITY REMAINS TENSE
  • [17] MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT PREPARES URGENT MEASURES
  • [18] MACEDONIA'S EX-PRESIDENT PLAYING POLITICS?
  • [19] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SLAMS VIOLENCE
  • [20] U.S. CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT
  • [21] NATO: NO PLANS TO SEND TROOPS TO MACEDONIA
  • [22] NATO DISCUSSES PRESEVO, MACEDONIAN SECURITY
  • [23] YUGOSLAV GENERAL PAVKOVIC LEADS HIS TROOPS TO THE KOSOVA FRONTIER
  • [24] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER: VOJVODINA 'NOT A PRIORITY'
  • [25] INTERNATIONAL HELSINKI FEDERATION: TIME TO DECIDE ON MONTENEGRO
  • [26] U.S. NOT TO REPLACE 750 SOLDIERS IN BOSNIA
  • [27] BOSNIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST CROATIAN HARD-LINERS
  • [28] PETRITSCH HANDS OVER POWERS TO BOSNIAN JUDICIAL BODY
  • [29] CROATIAN LOWER HOUSE VOTES TO ABOLISH UPPER HOUSE
  • [30] SLOVENIAN PREMIER TO VIENNA
  • [31] ALBANIAN EX-POLICE CHIEF ARRESTED
  • [32] ALBANIAN RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS POLICE VIOLENCE
  • [33] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONGRATULATES ETHNIC HUNGARIANS
  • [34] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT OUTLINES ECONOMIC PRIORITIES
  • [35] NEW MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT VALIDATED
  • [36] POWELL CONDITIONS U.S.
  • [37] BULGARIAN RULING FACTION...
  • [38] ...AND IT WILL SUPPORT KING SIMEON
  • [39] MALTESE PRESIDENT SURVIVES DEADLY CAR ACCIDENT
  • [40] WILL THE POPE VISIT BULGARIA?

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [41] THE LEGACY OF VIOLENCE IN KOSOVA.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] NEW CHECHEN ATTACKS AS RUSSIAN TROOPS PULLED

    Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus military district, said on NTV on 14 March that troop withdrawals would not reduce the ability of Russian forces to control the situation in Chechnya, but Russian news agencies reported that at least 12 Russian soldiers were killed and 27 wounded as the withdrawal began. The Russian forces did claim one victory: the killing of Khamid Basaev, the brother of Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 14 March said that there was less to the "widely promoted" withdrawal than it had been made to appear. And SPS Duma leader Boris Nemtsov, in an interview published in the 14 March "Komsomolskaya pravda," repeated his argument that Chechnya will eventually be partitioned unless there is a political settlement. PG

    [02] GROZNY SURVIVED WINTER 'WELL ENOUGH'

    Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov told ITAR-TASS on 14 March that the 200,000 residents of Grozny had survived the winter well enough, given the lack of basic services. "There were only a few cases of frostbitten people, but this is a staggering result given that the city was virtually fully destroyed," he said. He expressed thanks to Danish and Czech humanitarian groups for providing the city with food. Meanwhile, a humanitarian convoy of the International Red Cross arrived in Ingushetia on 14 March with 170 tons of food, ITAR-TASS said. PG

    [03] RUSSIA HAS NO PLANS TO PULL BORDER TROOPS FROM ARMENIA

    Visiting Federal Border Service commander, General Konstantin Totsky, said in Yerevan on 14 March that Moscow had no plans to reduce its border guard presence in Armenia, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. He said that he and his Armenian counterparts will sign an accord on 15 March on sharing the costs of the presence of these troops. PG

    [04] MOST ARMENIANS SUPPORT FREEZING KARABAKH CONFLICT

    A poll reported in "Haykakan Zhamanak" on 14 March showed that 72 percent of Armenians believe that Armenia should "freeze" the conflict over Karabakh and focus on developing its national economy. Only 30 percent believe that a peaceful resolution of the conflict is possible. PG

    [05] U.S. TO HOST ARMENIAN-AZERBAIJANI SUMMIT

    The U.S. State Department said on 14 March that Secretary of State Colin Powell has invited Armenian President Robert Kocharian and Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev to Key West, Florida, on 3 April for talks about the Karabakh conflict, Reuters reported. The State Department said the talks would be sponsored by the OSCE group in Minsk. On the same day, Turkey's "Cumhuriyet" reported that Aliev, who is currently in Turkey, had discussed possible resolutions of the Karabakh conflict with Turkish leaders. PG

    [06] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT SUPPORTS POLL ON KARABAKH

    The office of President Aliev is supporting a poll to be conducted by Azerbaijani sociologists on the opinions of Azerbaijani citizens concerning the Karabakh crisis, Turan reported on 14 March. The range of opinions may be broad: Turan reported a day earlier that the parliament had received 92 different proposals for solving the crisis, only six of them by force. Meanwhile, a group of Azerbaijani political parties in Nakhichevan demanded that Baku protest statements made in the Armenian media which suggested that Yerevan wants to annex part of that Azerbaijani enclave, Turan reported. PG

    [07] GEORGIAN LEADER THREATENS TO FIRE ENERGY CHIEF

    President Eduard Shevardnadze told Fuel and Energy Minister Davit Mirtskhulava on 14 March that "if the Kavkasioni high-voltage power line is damaged again, you will be fired," Kavkasia-Press reported on 14 March. Sabotage is suspected. Meanwhile, Interior Ministry officials warned about possible destabilization in the country, the agency said. PG

    [08] TROUBLE BREWING IN MINGRELIA?

    Elene Tevdoradze, the highly respected chairwoman of the Georgian Parliament Committee for Human Rights, told parliament deputies on 13 March that armed supporters of opposition politician Aleksandre Chachia are openly agitating against the central government in the western region of Mingrelia, Caucasus Press reported. A former adviser to Adjar Republic Supreme Council head Aslan Abashidze, Chachia created a political party in 1999 to promote the economic revival in Mingrelia (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 2, No. 13, 30 March 1999). Mingrelian police officials contacted by Caucasus Press denied Tevdoradze's claims. LF

    [09] GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS OPEN IN YALTA

    Georgian Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili and the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Republic of Abkhazia arrived in Yalta on 14 March for two days of talks within the context of the Geneva peace process, ITAR-TASS reported. This is the third such meeting: the first was in Athens in October 1998, and the second in Istanbul in July 1999. PG

    [10] FIGHTS OVER WATER SEEN INCREASING TENSIONS IN CENTRAL ASIA

    An article in Moscow's "Vremya MN" on 14 March suggested that conflicts over water are likely to exacerbate tensions among the countries of Central Asia. Meanwhile, Interfax reported that Kazakh and Uzbek officials met in Tashkent to discuss a regional pact on water sharing. PG

    [11] SECOND WELL COMES IN KAZAKHSTAN FIELD

    A spokesman for the Offshore Kazakhstan International Operating Company (OKIOC) told dpa on 14 March that a second and hence confirming well had come in the Kazakh section of the Caspian sea. Officials said that the strike confirms that the Kashagan field "is a truly major oil discovery." In related developments, Kazakh Prime Minister Kasymjomart Tokaev told visiting Russian envoy Viktor Kaluzhnii that Astana finds the recent Russian-Iranian statement on the Caspian "in conflict" with earlier Russian commitments, Turan reported the same day. But Kaluzhnii noted that Moscow does not object to building any pipeline, including one across the Caspian and the Baku-Ceyhan project, if it is economically beneficial, ITAR-TASS reported. PG

    [12] POLLUTION HURTS HEALTH OF 54 PERCENT OF KAZAKH WOMEN

    A survey conducted by the U.S.-supported Women in Kazakhstan project found that 54.4 percent of all women in Kazakhstan suffer from various illnesses caused by environmental factors, Interfax-Kazakhstan reported. PG

    [13] EMIGRATION HURTS KYRGYZ ECONOMY

    During the last three years, 220,000 people have left Kyrgyzstan, an outflow that is worrying Kyrgyz officials, Moscow's "Vremya MN" reported on 14 March. The outflow is generally among the most educated portions of the population, and sociologists have called it a "brain-drain" that is certain to hurt Kyrgyzstan's economic prospects. PG

    [14] TURKMEN PRESIDENT URGES STUDENTS TO WORK WHILE STUDYING

    Turkmenistan President Saparmurat Niyazov on 14 March called on students to combine studies with work in production, Interfax reported. PG

    [15] RUSSIAN CULTURAL CENTER OPENS IN UZBEK CAPITAL

    A Russian Center for Scientific and Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries opened in Tashkent on 14 March, Uzbek radio reported. The center is headed by the first female cosmonaut, Valentina Tereshkova, and is intended to promote ties between Central Asia and Russia, center officials said. PG

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [16] MACEDONIA'S SECOND CITY REMAINS TENSE

    Reuters reported heavy gunfire in the mountains above Tetovo in the direction of Kosova on 15 March. Fighting in the area the previous day left one civilian dead and 15 policemen injured, three of whom are ethnic Albanians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2001). There has been no word on casualties among the rebels of the National Liberation Army (UCK). An Interior Ministry spokesman told London's "The Guardian" that the situation is "horrible." He added that the approximately 200 insurgents have a wide array of weapons, which they "built up over a long period of time." It is not clear to what extent the local population sympathizes with the insurgents, but some young men in Tetovo told newsmen: "We've been waiting for this moment for 40 years. We have nothing here, no work nor any rights." A Macedonian government spokesman told the BBC the rebels want not only rights, but also to "fragment" the country into two parts along ethnic lines. The spokesman stressed that this is unacceptable. PM

    [17] MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT PREPARES URGENT MEASURES

    Following the outbreak of fighting in the Macedonian heartland on 14 March, President Boris Trajkovski met with ambassadors from EU and NATO countries, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. The ambassadors assured him of their support for the government and the territorial integrity of Macedonia. Top government officials are slated to hold a meeting of the National Security Council on 15 March, and will decide on whether to declare a state of emergency, dpa reported. The British broadcaster described the overall situation as uncertain and volatile. A reporter noted that the rebels have no difficulty hiding from NATO's observation helicopters in the rugged terrain along the Kosova-Macedonian border. Elsewhere, dpa reported that "many" young men have turned up at army recruitment offices to enlist, but Defense Ministry spokesmen said there is no need for additional manpower at present. PM

    [18] MACEDONIA'S EX-PRESIDENT PLAYING POLITICS?

    Former President Kiro Gligorov, who is close to the opposition Social Democrats, blasted the current government led by the Macedonian nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Albanian nationalist Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH), dpa reported from Skopje on 15 March. He sharply criticized "rotten alliances" with ethnic Albanian parties that allegedly serve "only to keep someone in power." He added that this "is a crime against Macedonia" but apparently did not suggest alternatives. PM

    [19] ALBANIAN GOVERNMENT SLAMS VIOLENCE

    On 14 March, Macedonian Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski telephoned his Albanian counterpart, Ilir Meta, to ask for his support, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. Meta stressed that Albania opposes violence and calls on the ethnic Albanian population of Macedonia -- comprising about 23 percent of the total -- to seek a peaceful resolution of their grievances. Speaking at a press conference with Kosova Protection Force commander Agim Ceku, Meta said: "The Albanians should demand their rights only through political and democratic means and peaceful protests, not through violent protests as happened in Tetovo today. The Albanians in Macedonia should pursue the road of dialogue and peace, not that of violence, to achieve their rights," dpa reported. PM

    [20] U.S. CALLS FOR SUPPORT FOR MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT

    Speaking in Tirana on 14 March, U.S. Ambassador to Albania Joseph Limprecht told reporters that "everybody [should] focus principally on the central issue...which is providing support to the government of Macedonia and to those elements of the Albanian political community...to isolate and to put down the people of violence, the extremists, as soon and as quickly as possible," Reuters reported. "It's important that there be action taken to separate [the rebels] from the political community because their actions are not legitimate. And any statements that imply that there is some sort of legitimacy to the extremists and acts of violence are not helpful in this situation." Limprecht praised Albanian Prime Minister Meta for his clear statements opposing violence and calling on Macedonia's Albanians to do the same. PM

    [21] NATO: NO PLANS TO SEND TROOPS TO MACEDONIA

    An unnamed NATO official told AP in Brussels on 15 March that the Atlantic alliance "stands shoulder-to-shoulder" with Macedonia. He added, however, that Macedonian authorities have the situation under control and that there is no reason for NATO to send in combat troops. The Atlantic alliance will nonetheless make its experts available to Skopje, the BBC's Serbian Service reported. Deutsche Welle noted that there is a German KFOR-support military base in the Tetovo area. PM

    [22] NATO DISCUSSES PRESEVO, MACEDONIAN SECURITY

    Members of the EU's Political and Security Committee met with ambassadors of NATO countries in Brussels to discuss the situation in Macedonia and the Presevo Valley on 14 March, RFE/RL reported. After the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson said: "We focused on the situation in the Balkans, where NATO and the EU are working together. The EU monitoring mission is a very critical part of what is happening in that part of the world today, especially in the ground safety zone between Kosovo and Southern Serbia." Referring to insurgent activity in the region, Robertson added: "And I want to [be] blunt in addressing the small minority who still prefer to use violence and intimidation [instead of] dialogue and democracy, to those who prefer the bullet to the ballot box, that their time is up and the clock is now ticking on them [and] what they do." PM

    [23] YUGOSLAV GENERAL PAVKOVIC LEADS HIS TROOPS TO THE KOSOVA FRONTIER

    General Nebojsa Pavkovic, who heads the General Staff and commanded the Third Army during the 1999 ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosova, led Serbian forces on 14 March into the southernmost part of the formerly demilitarized safety zone along the border with Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2001). His troops included men from the 63rd Paratroop Brigade and the 7th Battalion of the paramilitary police, which was stationed in Montenegro until recently, "Vesti" reported. Vienna's "Die Presse" noted that the average age of the soldiers is somewhat higher than is the case for most conscript units. In the village of Miratovac, local ethnic Albanians said they were fearful after one soldier threatened a 14-year-old Albanian boy with a knife. Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic, who previously called on civilians to come to him with any complaints about the soldiers, quickly arrived on the scene to talk to villagers. Local Albanians said the troops should stay on the frontier and out of the villages. PM

    [24] SERBIAN PRIME MINISTER: VOJVODINA 'NOT A PRIORITY'

    Zoran Djindjic said in Novi Sad that a decision on restoring the autonomy to Vojvodina that the Milosevic regime revoked over a decade ago is "not a priority" for the government, "Vesti" reported on 15 March. Djindjic said that it is necessary "to wait" for the authorities to draft a new Serbian Constitution. Dragan Veselinov, who heads the pro-autonomy Vojvodina Coalition, argued that the new governing coalition's views on Vojvodina are no different from those of Milosevic's Socialists and their allies, Vojislav Seselj's Radicals. Under the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, Vojvodina and Kosova enjoyed a legal status virtually identical to that of the six federal republics. Destroying the two provinces' autonomy was an important step in the consolidation of Milosevic's power. PM

    [25] INTERNATIONAL HELSINKI FEDERATION: TIME TO DECIDE ON MONTENEGRO

    The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) said in a statement from Vienna on 15 March that the wrangling over the political future of Montenegro has gone on for too long, and is "absorbing political energy and attention in Montenegro that is needed to solve other problems. The same, but to a lesser extent, is valid for Serbia. Taking territorial issues (about Montenegro and Kosovo) off Serbia's political agenda will only help and not complicate the democratization process." The IHF appealed to anti-independence Montenegrins to take part in the eventual referendum. The IHF also called on the international community to maintain strict neutrality. PM

    [26] U.S. NOT TO REPLACE 750 SOLDIERS IN BOSNIA

    Reporting from Washington on 14 March, AP quoted two unnamed U.S. officials as saying that the Bush administration will not replace some 750 soldiers in Bosnia when their tour of duty runs out. The U.S. will also withdraw an unspecified quantity of tanks and equipment. A "White House official" said that the troops are no longer needed for carrying out SFOR's peacekeeping mission. President George W. Bush told reporters on 13 March that "we must tell our European allies that over time we expect them to put the troops on the ground. But this administration will not precipitously withdraw from commitments that previous administrations made." PM

    [27] BOSNIAN FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MOVES AGAINST CROATIAN HARD-LINERS

    Defense Minister Mijo Anic said in Sarajevo on 14 March that he has annulled a ruling by his predecessor to withdraw Croatian units from the joint Croatian and Muslim federal army, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 March 2001). Anic promised to take unspecified "strong measures" against those who may try to circumvent his decision. Meanwhile, Interior Minister Muhamed Besic called on Croatian police to take orders only from the "legal authorities" and not from officials of the self- proclaimed "Croatian self-administration," dpa reported. PM

    [28] PETRITSCH HANDS OVER POWERS TO BOSNIAN JUDICIAL BODY

    On 14 March in Sarajevo, High Representative Wolfgang Petritsch assigned important responsibilities to the Independent Judicial Commission (IJC) that he founded in November to intervene in or suspend proceedings by judicial commissions and councils in the two entities and various cantons, Reuters reported. Petritsch stressed that "the establishment of the rule of law and an efficient, independent judiciary are preconditions for a modern, just, and democratic society. They make up the backbone of all the other reform efforts in Bosnia and Herzegovina." Finnish judge Kari Kiesilainen will head the IJC. PM

    [29] CROATIAN LOWER HOUSE VOTES TO ABOLISH UPPER HOUSE

    After a walkout by deputies from the opposition Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), the lower house of parliament approved several proposed constitutional changes, including one to abolish the House of Counties. The HDZ demanded that the measure also be submitted to the upper house, where the HDZ has a majority, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [30] SLOVENIAN PREMIER TO VIENNA

    Janez Drnovsek was to arrive in Vienna on 15 March for a two-day visit, "Die Presse" reported. Drnovsek said before leaving that he hopes to continue the thaw in bilateral relations that began with his recent meeting with Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel at a skiing event in Austria. The Vienna daily noted that Drnovsek's main priority is to ensure that a series of longstanding bilateral problems does not affect Ljubljana's chances for admission to the EU. The problems include the safety standards at Slovenia's Krsko nuclear plant, and several issues stemming from the expulsion of German-speakers from Slovenia at the end of World War II and the confiscation of their property. The rights and legal status of the German-speaking minority in Slovenia and of the Slovenian minority in Austria are also expected to be on the agenda. PM

    [31] ALBANIAN EX-POLICE CHIEF ARRESTED

    Police arrested Sokol Kociu on drug charges in a Tirana suburb on 14 March, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 February 2001). The former police chief of Vlora was on the run for a month, during which time he gave interviews to media but avoided capture by his former colleagues -- at least until 14 March. His case is linked to broader issues of police corruption (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2 March 2001). PM

    [32] ALBANIAN RIGHTS GROUP SLAMS POLICE VIOLENCE

    The independent Albanian Human Rights Group said in a statement in Tirana on 15 March that police deliberately hid evidence in the case of Gjon Gjonaj, whom a recent police report described as having committed suicide on 11 March in his prison cell. Local media and the political opposition say he was beaten to death while in custody for the murder of a policeman last October, AP reported. PM

    [33] ROMANIAN PREMIER CONGRATULATES ETHNIC HUNGARIANS

    On the occasion of Hungarian National Day on 15 March, which celebrates the 1848 Hungarian Revolution, Romanian Prime Minister Adrian Nastase congratulated the country's ethnic Hungarian community, Mediafax reported on 14 March. Nastase stressed upon the common destiny of ethnic Romanians and Hungarians "to live together." Nastase said the nations' future can only be "a common one" and "within the family of European nations." He admitted however, that representatives of both nations are "still prisoners of prejudices, passions, and stereotypes." According to Nastase, the solution to current problems is "a moderate attitude and dialogue." Nastase, who also serves as chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR), continues a habit introduced by the former centrist government to congratulate ethnic Hungarians on 15 March -- a gesture not shared by former PDSR governments. ZsM

    [34] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT OUTLINES ECONOMIC PRIORITIES

    Meeting with a delegation of Swiss businessmen, Romanian President Ion Iliescu on 14 March said the authorities' economic priorities should include the elimination of legislative problems and the reduction of red tape, as well as attracting foreign investment, Romanian media reported. Iliescu stressed the necessity of true economic reform that would improve living standards in the country. He said Romania should seek to develop its outstanding tourism potential by modeling other countries with successful tourist industries. Also meeting with Iliescu on 14 March, Credit Suisse First Boston Chairman David Mulford said foreign investors would be attracted to a Romania with a stable business environment and a further developed banking system. ZsM

    [35] NEW MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT VALIDATED

    The Moldovan Constitutional Court on 14 March validated the parliament elected in the 25 February elections, Flux reported. The same day, outgoing President Petru Lucinschi set the date of parliament's first session as 20 March. Party of Moldovan Communists Chairman Vladimir Voronin said the new legislature's first decision will be setting the date the parliament will elect the country's new president. ZsM

    [36] POWELL CONDITIONS U.S.

    SUPPORT TO MOLDOVA ON CONTINUING ECONOMIC REFORMS. According to the Moldovan Foreign Affairs Ministry, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on 14 March expressed the U.S. administration's wish to continue its cooperation with Moldova, Flux reported. Replying to his Moldovan counterpart Nicolae Cernomaz's letter congratulating his nomination, Powell said the 25 February "free and fair" elections showed the success of democratic reforms in Moldova. He added that, should economic reforms and Moldova's international integration continue, the U.S. is ready to continue its "firm support." Powell advised Moldova to use its current international support to facilitate full membership in the Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. ZsM

    [37] BULGARIAN RULING FACTION...

    A new Bulgarian political party, the Parliamentary Group for Dialogue and Partnership (PGDP), was formed on 14 March in Sofia when 10 members of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) faction left it, AP reported. The PGDP is co-chaired by Hristo Biserov, the former chief secretary of the UDF who was recently ousted from the UDF (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 February 2001), and Dimitar Ivanov, a monarchist who left the UDF several days ago. Biserov said he and Ivanov were joined in forming the PGDP by five other UDF members, one deputy from the Popular Union (a UDF ally), one from the Alliance for National Salvation, and an independent deputy. Biserov said the PGDP "will become the core of a new center-right party which will run in the election. It is open to all forms partnership and coalition with right-wing political formations." Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov, the chairman of the UDF, was traveling to Macedonia and was unavailable for comment. PB

    [38] ...AND IT WILL SUPPORT KING SIMEON

    A PGDP statement said "we support the bid of His Majesty Simeon II to take part in Bulgarian politics and we believe that he has moral credit and a potential to unify." Biserov returned the previous day from Madrid, where he met with former King Simeon. The Bulgarian Constitutional Court has barred the king from running in the presidential election later this year. Simeon's spokeswoman said the former king will come to Bulgaria at the end of March to announce his political plans. PB

    [39] MALTESE PRESIDENT SURVIVES DEADLY CAR ACCIDENT

    Guido De Marco, the president of Malta, was uninjured in a car accident involving his motorcade in southern Bulgaria on 14 March, Monitor reported. The accident occurred near the village of Mursalevo, about 65 kilometers south of Sofia. One driver in the motorcade was killed and at least three others injured when a truck skidded into the motorcade. De Marco was returning from a visit to the Rila monastery. His visit continued as scheduled and he met with Foreign Minister Nadezhda Mihailova in Sofia later in the day. PB

    [40] WILL THE POPE VISIT BULGARIA?

    Metropolitan Neophyte of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church's Holy Synod said on 14 March that Pope John Paul II is expected to visit Bulgaria as early as this autumn, Monitor reported, citing the daily "Trud." The announcement comes after talks between Bulgarian Orthodox Church Patriarch Maxim and the papal legate to Bulgaria, Antonio Menini. Such a trip would mark the 20th anniversary of an attempt on the pontiff's life by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca, who many believe was supported by the Bulgarian secret service. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [41] THE LEGACY OF VIOLENCE IN KOSOVA.

    By Fabian Schmidt

    Since the end of the Kosova war almost two years ago, many observers have been asking whether it will ever be possible to eliminate violence from public life in the province. It has, in fact, become clear that small armed groups of ethnic Albanians remain active and have even helped export the conflict into neighboring southern Serbia and Macedonia.

    The continuing violence indicates not only that the access to arms and the readiness of nationalists to use them are still very much a factor. The violence also shows that Kosova's social structure has significantly changed since the early 1990s.

    Kosova has traditionally been a conservative and rural society. Senior political leaders in the early 1990s were able to pursue a nonviolent policy by maintaining strong social control through the village structures. This nonviolence won them much sympathy in the West (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 February 2001). Ibrahim Rugova's Democratic League of Kosova (LDK) and its officials managed to keep the Kosovars united behind their strategy until early 1996, when the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) emerged.

    The new group seized the political initiative from the older generation of politicians, who in the eyes of many young UCK fighters had failed to offer them a serious perspective for the future. Indeed, in 1996 LDK officials still denied the existence of the UCK and blamed its attacks on Serbian agents provocateurs.

    Only in 1998, with increased Serbian military operations in Kosova, did the UCK gain mass recognition in the broader public as a protector of villages and towns. The development of the political party system since the war shows that a rift runs through society, between the older generation shaped by the tradition of nonviolence, and the younger generation, which has grown up with the experience of the failure of non-violence and was socialized in war.

    Inside Rugova's shadow-state, democratic discourse among Albanian political parties never had a real chance to develop. In many ways, the shadow-state was a product of the political experience of socialist Yugoslavia. Shadow-state media reported about political events in much the same dry and boring way that socialist-era publications did. Politicians and journalists avoided pursuing real discourse or openly discussing their differences, saying instead that all Kosovars are united in their aim of independence through nonviolence.

    After the end of the Kosova war, that picture changed with the emergence of more competitive independent media. But at the same time, a democratic political culture is only just starting to develop.

    The October 2000 local elections -- in which the moderate LDK won most mayoralties in smaller communities and larger city councils -- clearly showed that most Kosovars have little sympathy for the questionable commitment to democratic principles and transparency on the part of the parties that emerged from the UCK.

    But others, who grew up politically through the structures of the UCK, obviously find it difficult to reintegrate into a peacetime society. Many of them are now struggling to get food on the table in an impoverished region with a sky-high unemployment rate.

    Members of that generation lost their chance to get a proper education unless they emigrated. At best, they received basic schooling in the shadow- state's underground school system. Their employment opportunities are now minimal, and for many it is more lucrative to get involved in criminal activities than regular work.

    In addition, the psychological legacy of the recent conflict, mixed with a desire for revenge and uncertainty about their future, makes it difficult for some people to overcome their wartime traumas. Even though most UCK fighters have given up their weapons and many have found a new lease on life within the newly developed civil service, reintegrating those who have learned nothing but fighting and resistance will remain a difficult task.

    15-03-01


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


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