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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 58, 01-03-23

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. 58, 23 March 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN LEFTIST LEADER CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO 'PLAY FOR TIME' IN KEY WEST...
  • [02] ...AS KARABAKH PRESIDENT SAYS ENCLAVE MUST HAVE SAY IN SETTLEMENT
  • [03] U.S. GENERAL VISITS ARMENIA
  • [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS MEASURES TO STABILIZE GALI...
  • [05] ...FIRES PRIVATIZATION MINISTER
  • [06] FORMER GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DISCOUNTS WARNING OF IMMINENT UPRISING
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT CONTINUES DEBATE ON MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS...
  • [08] ...AS PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER RESIGNS AS MEDIA-HOLDING DIRECTOR
  • [09] WOMEN STAGE PROTEST ON BEHALF OF ARRESTED ISLAMISTS IN KYRGYZSTAN
  • [10] UZBEKISTAN SEEKS TO LURE MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] MACEDONIA CONTINUES OFFENSIVE
  • [12] ALBANIA DEPLORES KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN MACEDONIA
  • [13] GERMAN KFOR ARREST FIVE ON BORDER
  • [14] U.S. SENDING OBSERVATION AIRCRAFT TO KOSOVA-MACEDONIAN BORDER
  • [15] SERBIAN MINISTER BAITS ALBANIANS ON EVE OF TALKS
  • [16] SERBIAN PREMIER'S VISIT TO U.S. INCONCLUSIVE
  • [17] SERBIAN MINISTERS CALL HAGUE COURT 'HARSH REALITY'
  • [18] SECURITY COUNCIL SLAMS HERZEGOVINIAN CROAT PLANS
  • [19] ROMANIAN COUNCIL CLEARS PRIBOI OF SUSPICION OF 'POLITICAL POLICE' ACTIVITY...
  • [20] ...BUT CLEARANCE MEETS PROTESTS
  • [21] ROMANIAN OFFICIALS CRITICIZE 'SMEAR CAMPAIGN' AGAINST PATRIARCH
  • [22] EXTREMIST PARTY BREAKS RELATIONS WITH ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER
  • [23] ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON SENATE TO BACK IMPRISONED SENATOR
  • [24] PASTUKHOV CRITICIZES VORONIN IN TIRASPOL
  • [25] BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SETS ELECTORAL TIMETABLE
  • [26] BULGARIAN CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS 'NO THREAT' FROM MACEDONIAN CONFLICT
  • [27] RUSSIAN OFFICIAL WORRIED ABOUT BULGARIA'S WESTERN ORIENTATION...
  • [28] ...SAYS BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT MUST RECOGNIZE ITS ERRORS
  • [29] IJF CONDEMNS POLICE ACTION AND SACKING OF BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [30] There is no "End Note" today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN LEFTIST LEADER CALLS ON PRESIDENT TO 'PLAY FOR TIME' IN KEY WEST...

    Former Armenian presidential national security adviser Ashot Manucharian told journalists in Yerevan on 22 March that President Robert Kocharian risks triggering political destabilization if he agrees during the upcoming Key West talks with his Azerbaijani counterpart Heidar Aliev to a settlement of the Karabakh conflict that runs counter to Russia's interests, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Manucharian, who is believed to have close links to Russian security agencies, warned that Moscow has the necessary leverage to "destabilize" Armenia. He predicted that if Armenia agrees to a Karabakh settlement forced on it by the U.S. as part of a bid to increase the West's influence in the South Caucasus, it could find itself encircled by pro-Turkish states. Arguing that "we have now come to the crucial crossroads," Manucharian said the best thing Kocharian could do in Key West is "to play for time," Noyan Tapan reported. LF

    [02] ...AS KARABAKH PRESIDENT SAYS ENCLAVE MUST HAVE SAY IN SETTLEMENT

    In an interview published on 22 March in "Golos Armenii," the president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) Arkadii Ghukasian warned that while the series of direct talks between presidents Kocharian and Aliev is important, "no issue of any importance" in the Karabakh conflict can be resolved without the NKR's participation. Also on 22 March, NKR parliament speaker Mushegh Ohanjanian told RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent that Ghukasian told the enclave's legislature the previous day that the peace options currently being discussed by Aliev and Kocharian are "more acceptable" than earlier variants. LF

    [03] U.S. GENERAL VISITS ARMENIA

    Visiting Yerevan on 21-22 March, General Carlton Fulford, who is deputy commander-in-chief of U.S. forces in Europe, met with Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and senior Foreign Ministry officials to discuss bilateral military cooperation, regional security, and the prospects for resolving the Karabakh conflict, Noyan Tapan reported. Fulford told journalists in Yerevan on 22 March that he hopes a peaceful solution to the Karabakh conflict will be found soon, noting that such a solution is in Turkey's interests. LF

    [04] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ORDERS MEASURES TO STABILIZE GALI...

    Speaking at a cabinet session in Tbilisi on 22 March, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze ordered the Interior and National Security Ministries to take immediate steps to stabilize within the next few days the situation in Abkhazia's southernmost Gali Raion, Caucasus Press reported. "There will be no peace between Georgia and Abkhazia as long as innocent people from both sides perish," Shevardnadze said, in a clear reference to the landmine that killed a bus driver near the Georgian village of Khurcha the previous day (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2001). He added that the Georgian force ministries should not hesitate to call on the Russian peacekeepers stationed on both sides of the internal border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia for assistance if such is needed. Caucasus Press reported the same day from the west Georgian town of Zugdidi that Khurcha has been subjected to sporadic artillery fire from Abkhazia for two days. Meeting on 22 March in Sukhum with Major General Tim Ford, adviser on military affairs to the UN secretary-general, Abkhaz Foreign Minister Sergei Shamba complained that despite the signing in Yalta one week earlier of an Abkhaz- Georgian agreement on the nonresumption of hostilities, terrorist acts in Abkhazia are continuing, Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [05] ...FIRES PRIVATIZATION MINISTER

    At the same 22 March cabinet session, Shevardnadze publicly fired Privatization Minister Mikhail Ukleba for his failure to curb corruption within his ministry, Caucasus Press reported. The Prosecutor-General's Office and the Audit Chamber had both criticized a report submitted by Ukleba on his ministry's anticorruption activities, accusing him of ineffectiveness. Responding to Shevardnadze's accusation that "it is in your ministry that everything is being sold off and corruption is flourishing" and that he had sought to play down extent of corruption, Ukleba told journalists after the session that "I did everything I could," according to AP. Prosecutor-General Gia Meparishvili argued at the session that the law should be amended to empower his agency to confiscate and return to state ownership property that has been illegally privatized, Caucasus Press reported. Meanwhile, Minister of State Gia Arsenishvili has postponed a visit to the U.S. scheduled for 3-12 April because of the imminent launch of Shevardnadze's new anticorruption program, which he is to spearhead, Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [06] FORMER GEORGIAN DEFENSE MINISTER DISCOUNTS WARNING OF IMMINENT UPRISING

    Gia Karkarashvili, who served as Georgian Defense Minister in the early 1990s, has rejected as overstated predictions made at a press briefing on 22 March by opposition Union of Traditionalists leader Akaki Asatiani, who served in 1990-1991 as parliament speaker under Zviad Gamsakhurdia, "Akhali taoba" reported on 23 March. Asatiani argued that the current situation in Georgia is reminiscent of that in the early 1990s, and predicted that a new national leader may emerge and head a spontaneous popular revolt against the Georgian leadership. Also on 22 March, "Dilis gazeti" published extracts from an unpublished work by the late Akaki Bakradze, one of Georgia's most respected literary critics and political commentators. Bakradze said that Georgia has degenerated into a country without a cohesive society, and such a country is unable to resolve the problems it faces. LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S PARLIAMENT CONTINUES DEBATE ON MEDIA LAW AMENDMENTS...

    The Mazhilis (the lower chamber of Kazakhstan's parliament) on 22 March approved draft amendments to the Law on the Media that would impose fines on newspapers, Internet sites or electronic media that propagate information that is demonstrably false or cannot be proven to be true, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. The amendments also cut drastically the volume of foreign radio and TV programming that may be retransmitted (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 2001). Information and Culture Minister Altynbek Sarsenbaev said those restrictions are intended to reduce the preponderance of Russian programming. U.S. Ambassador Richard Jones has expressed reservations with regard to the amendments which must now be approved by the Senate, the upper chamber of parliament. LF

    [08] ...AS PRESIDENT'S DAUGHTER RESIGNS AS MEDIA-HOLDING DIRECTOR

    President Nursultan Nazarbaev's daughter Darigha announced in Astana on 21 March her decision to quit as director of the Khabar News Agency, the country's largest and most influential media holding, which she helped to found in the early 1990s, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported the following day. LF

    [09] WOMEN STAGE PROTEST ON BEHALF OF ARRESTED ISLAMISTS IN KYRGYZSTAN

    Some 30 women picketed the local police department in the town of Kara-Suu in Kyrgyzstan's southern Osh Oblast on 21 March to protest the arrest of seven men on charges of distributing materials for the unregistered Hizb ut- Tahrir Islamic party, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported the following day. Police refused to release the men, arguing that only a court can rule on whether they are innocent or guilty. At least five presumed Hizb ut-Tahrir activists were reported to have been arrested in Osh Oblast alone in December and four more in January. LF

    [10] UZBEKISTAN SEEKS TO LURE MORE FOREIGN INVESTMENT

    The Uzbek government has approved a list of 38 major state-owned enterprises for partial privatization over the next two years, Interfax reported on 22 March. Stakes in those enterprises, which include the Almalyk iron and steel complex, the Chkalov aviation plant, and chemical and oil industry enterprises, will be offered for sale by tender to foreign investors. In addition, Germany's Commerzbank has been chosen as adviser in the sale of a 51 percent stake in the national telecommunications operator Uzbektelekom. Foreign investors have been voting with their feet and leaving Uzbekistan in recent years to protest the government's continued delay in implementing its promises to make the national currency convertible. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] MACEDONIA CONTINUES OFFENSIVE

    Macedonian forces continued their offensive against the ethnic Albanian rebels of the National Liberation Army (UCK) outside Tetovo on 22 March, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2001). In Skopje, the EU's foreign affairs chief, Chris Patten, warned Kosovar Albanians that they must take a clear stand against the UCK's violence lest they turn international opinion against them. He stressed that there is no place in Europe "for terrorism and extremism," which are the Macedonian government's terms for the UCK. PM

    [12] ALBANIA DEPLORES KILLING OF CIVILIANS IN MACEDONIA

    The Albanian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 22 March that it is concerned about the escalation of violence in Macedonia. The ministry in particular expressed regret at the killing of two ethnic Albanian civilians by police in Tetovo, dpa reported. Foreign Minister Paskal Milo wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council that Tirana urges Macedonian Albanians to solve their problems through political means only. "We have made it clear that problems related to national rights should always be resolved through political means," Milo said. PM

    [13] GERMAN KFOR ARREST FIVE ON BORDER

    German peacekeepers arrested three Kosovars and two men from Tetovo on the Kosova-Macedonian border as the five were attempting to cross into Macedonia, Hina reported on 22 March. The five are suspected of attempting to supply the guerrillas. PM

    [14] U.S. SENDING OBSERVATION AIRCRAFT TO KOSOVA-MACEDONIAN BORDER

    Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral Craig Quigley told reporters in Washington on 22 March that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has signed a deployment order dispatching a unit of Air Force Predator unmanned drones to the border area, AP reported. The unit consists of two or three planes and about 80 support troops and will arrive "in the next week or so," Quigley added. The Predators can feed real-time photographic images not only to U.S. commanders in the area but also to the Pentagon, the news agency noted. It is not clear where the planes will be based. Meanwhile in Paris, the Defense Ministry said that it will dispatch between 10 and 15 drones to monitor the border. PM

    [15] SERBIAN MINISTER BAITS ALBANIANS ON EVE OF TALKS

    Yugoslav Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic said in Belgrade that talks with local Albanian leaders from Presevo will begin in Merdare on 23 March. He added: "I expect that the talks will quickly lead to the withdrawal of Albanian terrorists from the Ground Safety Zone and the return of our forces," dpa reported. It is not clear how he came to this conclusion, since the local Albanians -- and not just "terrorists" -- do not trust the Serbian forces, which are commanded by the same individuals who led the 1999 ethnic cleansing campaign in Kosova. PM

    [16] SERBIAN PREMIER'S VISIT TO U.S. INCONCLUSIVE

    Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic told reporters in Washington on 22 March that the U.S. government still "needs time" before deciding by 31 March on whether to extend the rest of a $100 million aid package to Belgrade (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 March 2001). Djindjic stressed that he met with a wide range of people from public life, including Secretary of State Colin Powell. A State Department spokesman said that Powell "welcomed the steps that have been taken [by Belgrade] since their last meeting and stressed the importance of continued progress. The administration has not taken a decision on certification [on whether Belgrade meets Washington's conditions]. We expect to address the issue next week," Reuters reported. Djindjic faced tough questions during his visit. These included: Is the Serbian government really so busy that it cannot arrest one man -- former President Slobodan Milosevic -- and put him on a plane? Another question was: Why does Serbia continue to have an indicted war criminal -- President Milan Milutinovic -- as head of state? PM

    [17] SERBIAN MINISTERS CALL HAGUE COURT 'HARSH REALITY'

    Returning from a visit to The Hague-based war crimes tribunal, Yugoslav Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac and his Serbian counterpart Vladan Batic said in Belgrade on 22 March that the court is "a reality, maybe a harsh reality, but something that cannot be ignored," AP reported. The two men appealed to those indicted to surrender to the court voluntarily so they can receive "much better treatment" than if they are arrested. Elsewhere, Milosevic received a delegation from the Russian State Duma that praised his "struggle against the [alleged U.S.] policy of dominance" in the world. PM

    [18] SECURITY COUNCIL SLAMS HERZEGOVINIAN CROAT PLANS

    The council issued a statement in New York on 22 March in which it said that plans by the Herzegovinian-based Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to establish a so-called "Croatian self-administration" are in violation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreements, AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 March 2001). The HDZ argues that the current constitutional arrangement in Bosnia puts the Croats into a position inferior to those of the Serbs and Muslims. Critics charge that the HDZ refuses to accept a loss of power and fears an investigation of its leaders' business dealings. PM

    [19] ROMANIAN COUNCIL CLEARS PRIBOI OF SUSPICION OF 'POLITICAL POLICE' ACTIVITY...

    The National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives (CNSAS) on 22 March said Ristea Priboi, who was recently appointed head of the parliamentary commission overseeing the activity of the Romanian Intelligence Service, did not engage "in activities of political police" though he was a member of the Securitate's Foreign Intelligence Directorate. Priboi's designation as the head of the commission has stirred protest among opposition parties and in the media. The CNSAS added that its conclusions are based on information provided by the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) and noted that the current legislation stipulates that "some categories of documents are kept for a limited time span only." MS

    [20] ...BUT CLEARANCE MEETS PROTESTS

    CNSAS member Mircea Dinescu told RFE/RL that he left the CNSAS meeting "in protest." Dinescu said that since the CNSAS itself established that Priboi was engaged in "monitoring RFE/RL" at a time when those writing to the station faced arrest and persecution, that alone is reason enough to regard him as having been a member of the "political police." MS

    [21] ROMANIAN OFFICIALS CRITICIZE 'SMEAR CAMPAIGN' AGAINST PATRIARCH

    President Ion Iliescu on 22 March said the allegations against Patriarch Teoctist are both "irrelevant" and display "a lack of decency." The daily "Libertatea" the previous day accused Teoctist, on the basis of what is claimed to be his Securitate file, of being a member of the fascist Iron Guard, a Securitate informant, and a homosexual (for the CNSAS reaction see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 March 2001). Culture and Religious Affairs Minister Razvan Teodorescu protested against the "shameless campaign based on uncontrolled and partial information" contained in files "from the Stalinist epoch." The Romanian Orthodox Church said the allegations are a "manipulation of public opinion" that "astonished" believers and clergy alike. The SRI said Teoctist had been "shadowed" by the Securitate. MS

    [22] EXTREMIST PARTY BREAKS RELATIONS WITH ROMANIAN PRESIDENT, PREMIER

    The Greater Romania Party (PRM) on 22 March announced it has "broken any contact" with President Iliescu and Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, as well as with the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and will not re- establish contact "until Gorj county prefect Toni Grebla" is dismissed. The PRM claims Grebla threatened and insulted PRM leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor's wife during a telephone conversation. The incident allegedly took place following the publication of an article against Grebla in Tudor's weekly "Romania mare." MS

    [23] ROMANIAN PREMIER CALLS ON SENATE TO BACK IMPRISONED SENATOR

    Premier Nastase has called on the Senate to issue a declaration in support of Ilie Ilascu, who has been imprisoned by the Transdniester authorities since 1992. Ilascu became a Romanian citizen last year and was elected a senator on the lists of the PRM in November. Nastase said Ilascu's case is one affecting Romanian "national interest" and that his detention "following an unjust trial conducted by a state that is not internationally recognized" hinders the former Moldovan citizen and parliamentary deputy from taking up his seat in the Romanian Senate. Senate Chairman Nicolae Vacaroiu said a draft declaration will first be discussed in the Senate's Permanent Bureau and later submitted for the approval of the chamber. MS

    [24] PASTUKHOV CRITICIZES VORONIN IN TIRASPOL

    State Duma CIS Committee Chairman Boris Pastukhov criticized Party of Moldovan Communists leader Vladimir Voronin during his visit to Tiraspol, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported on 22 March. Pastukhov said Voronin's decision to "start everything from scratch" in Moldova's negotiations with the Transdniester separatists is "not welcome" and said that it would be "a regrettable error" to scrap all agreements reached in the past by the two sides. Pastukhov recommended that experts from Moldova and the Transdniester region renew negotiations next week. He said he will return to Tiraspol in April, together with Yevgenii Primakov, chairman of the Russian State Commission on the Transdniester. Tiraspol Supreme Soviet Chairman Grigorii Marakutsa was cited as saying the separatists' participation in the planned OSCE meeting on the Transdniester in Bratislava "depends on [separatist leader] Igor Smirnov's decision. We shall do what he tells us to." MS

    [25] BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT SETS ELECTORAL TIMETABLE

    The Constitutional Court on 22 March ruled that the parliament should be dissolved on 19 April, two months ahead of the June general elections. A group of parliamentary deputies asked the court to decide on which date the parliament's term began four years ago -- 19 April, the date of the last election, or 7 May, the date when deputies were sworn in. The court ruled that the four-year term began in April 1997, BTA and Reuters reported. The ruling effectively tightens the time frame for parties and electoral alliances to register for the elections. MS

    [26] BULGARIAN CHIEF OF STAFF SAYS 'NO THREAT' FROM MACEDONIAN CONFLICT

    Chief of Staff General Miho Mihov on 22 March said that Bulgaria does not intend to deploy additional troops on its western border, because "Bulgaria's territory and its airspace are not threatened by aggression," Reuters reported. In response to a journalist's asking whether Bulgaria intends to reinforce its border with Macedonia, Mihov said that "under no circumstances" should Bulgaria "add to the existing tension" by deploying its troops closer to the conflict area. MS

    [27] RUSSIAN OFFICIAL WORRIED ABOUT BULGARIA'S WESTERN ORIENTATION...

    Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Avdeev, in an interview with the Bulgarian English-language "Monitor" on 22 March, voiced concern that NATO would be allowed access to infrastructure facilities built with the aid of the former Soviet Union and Russia, particularly harbors and airports. He said Prime Minister Ivan Kostov's government is deliberately keeping people familiar with Russia away from public office. "Today we deal with Bulgarian officials who do not know Russia and do not speak Russian," he said, because "the selection made by the new political elite is very specific." Staff trained in the former USSR, Avdeev said, are being pushed out of administrative and military structures. MS

    [28] ...SAYS BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT MUST RECOGNIZE ITS ERRORS

    Avdeev also said Russia did not want to "break the political dialogue with Bulgaria" but "after several years of inadequate moves, after having destroyed cooperation with Russia, the Bulgarian government must recognize it has made major mistakes." Avdeev, who served as ambassador in Sofia in the early 1990s, said Bulgaria has failed to attract expected Western investments after turning its back on ties with Russia, and is being viewed with skepticism by Western lenders. "We reduced import tariffs for Bulgarian goods by 25 percent, but Bulgaria refused to reciprocate," he noted. MS

    [29] IJF CONDEMNS POLICE ACTION AND SACKING OF BULGARIAN JOURNALISTS

    The International Federation of Journalists (IJF) on 22 March condemned the Bulgarian authorities over the escalation of the crisis at Bulgarian state radio on 19 March, when police moved into the station and barred protesting journalists from entering studios. Seven leaders of the protesting journalists have been sacked since, an IJF press release said. IJF General Secretary Aidan White said the radio's management "violates the right of journalists to protest over what they consider to be clear political interference in the country's public broadcasting service." The IJF- affiliated Union of Bulgarian Journalists and Union of Journalists in Bulgaria are holding protests on 23 March, calling on the Radio and Television Council to intervene to prevent the dismissals and to hear the protesters' demands. MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [30] There is no "End Note" today.

    23-03-01

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


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