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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 234, 99-12-03

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. 3, No. 234, 3 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA, BULGARIA REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR EURASIAN TRADE
  • [02] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT, NEW UN REPRESENTATIVE MEET...
  • [03] ...AS FIVE KILLED IN ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK
  • [04] RUSSIAN, U.S. OFFICIALS DISCUSS KAZAKH OIL EXPORT PIPELINE
  • [05] NEW EXODUS OF RUSSIANS FROM KYRGYZSTAN
  • [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY SUES MINISTRY OF JUSTICE
  • [07] TAJIK PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREES ON DEMOCRATIZATION, ECONOMIC
  • [08] TURKMENISTAN TO PUBLICIZE POLICE CRIMES

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] KFOR COMMANDER WANTS CONCRETE HELP
  • [10] ARTEMIJE SAYS SERBS LIVE IN 'CONCENTRATION CAMPS'
  • [11] ALBANIA SEES KOSOVA'S FUTURE IN REGIONAL INTEGRATION
  • [12] NUMBER OF MILITARY POLICE IN MONTENEGRO ON THE RISE
  • [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES DEMAND DECISION ON ELECTIONS
  • [14] SERBS RETREAT FROM BOSNIAN COOPERATION AGREEMENT...
  • [15] ...BUT WILL THEY GET AWAY WITH IT?
  • [16] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTY AGREES ON TOP CANDIDATES
  • [17] BALKAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN BUCHAREST
  • [18] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT VOIDS COMMUNIST PRISON SENTENCES
  • [19] MOLDOVAN LEADERS AGREE ON 'GOVERNMENT PROFESSIONALISM'
  • [20] WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR BULGARIA

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [21] OBSERVERS EXAMINE UKRAINE'S MEDIA AFTER PRESIDENTIAL POLL

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA, BULGARIA REAFFIRM SUPPORT FOR EURASIAN TRADE

    CORRIDOR

    Visiting Yerevan on 1-2 December, Bulgarian

    President Petar Stoyanov reached agreement with his Armenian

    counterpart, Robert Kocharian, on boosting trade and economic

    cooperation within the framework of the EU's TRACECA project,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. That project envisages a

    transport corridor linking Central Asia and the Caucasus with

    Europe. The two presidents both underscored that Bulgaria's

    geographic location enables it to serve as a gateway to

    Europe for Armenia. They signed a series of agreements,

    including a joint statement in which bilateral relations are

    positively assessed and Bulgaria pledges to promote Armenia's

    acceptance into full membership of the Council of Europe. A

    number of other inter-governmental cooperation agreements

    were also signed. LF

    [02] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT, NEW UN REPRESENTATIVE MEET...

    During talks

    in Sukhumi on 2 December with Dieter Boden, the new UN

    Special Representative for Georgia, Abkhaz President

    Vladislav Ardzinba called for the immediate signing of the

    agreement on peace and the non-resumption of hostilities,

    Caucasus Press reported. That draft agreement, together with

    a protocol on the repatriation of displaced persons, was

    prepared in June 1998 by Abkhaz and Georgian representatives,

    but Tbilisi repeatedly declined to sign them. Ardzinba said

    the signing of the peace agreement would end the deadlock in

    relations between Abkhazia and the central Georgian

    authorities. Ardzinba also reaffirmed that he will not sign

    any constitutional power-sharing agreement with Georgia,

    according to Interfax. LF

    [03] ...AS FIVE KILLED IN ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK

    An Abkhaz

    police colonel and four civilians were killed on 1 December

    when the car in which they were travelling hit a radio-

    detonated landmine in Abkhazia's Ochamchira Raion, Caucasus

    Press and Interfax reported the following day. Such

    incidents, for which the Abkhaz authorities say Georgian

    guerrillas are responsible, occur frequently in Gali Raion,

    south of Ochamchira, but only occasionally in Ochamchira

    itself. LF

    [04] RUSSIAN, U.S. OFFICIALS DISCUSS KAZAKH OIL EXPORT PIPELINE

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met in Moscow on 2

    December with leading members of the Caspian Pipeline

    Consortium, including LUKoil President Vagit Alekperov and

    Chevron Oversea President Richard Matzke, Interfax reported.

    Alekperov told the meeting that construction of the 1,580-

    kilometer pipeline from Tengiz to Novorossiisk will be

    completed on schedule in June 2001 and that it will be able

    to handle all Kazakhstan's current and export requirements.

    Kazakhstan currently produces some 25 million tons of crude

    per year. Kazakhstan has expressed interest in shipping some

    oil via the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline if new reserves discovered

    exceed the anticipated capacity of the Caspian pipeline. LF

    [05] NEW EXODUS OF RUSSIANS FROM KYRGYZSTAN

    More than 3,000

    ethnic Russian have left Kyrgyzstan in recent months,

    RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 2 December quoting a

    Russian embassy official. As reasons for the renewed

    outmigration, Russia's Ambassador to Kyrgyzstan Georgii Rudov

    cited deteriorating economic conditions, the hostage-taking

    in southern Kyrgyzstan in August-October, and moves by the

    Kyrgyz leadership to strengthen the use in public life of the

    Kyrgyz language. Of some 900,000 Russians living in

    Kyrgyzstan in the early 1990s, some 650,000 remain. LF

    [06] KYRGYZ OPPOSITION PARTY SUES MINISTRY OF JUSTICE

    Leading

    members of the El (Bei-Bechara) Party told journalists in

    Bishkek on 2 December that they have brought legal

    proceedings against the Kyrgyz Ministry of Justice for

    violating the constitution and the law on political parties,

    RFE/RL's bureau in the Kyrgyz capital reported. The ministry

    last week advised the Central Electoral Commission not to

    register the party to contend the 20 February parliamentary

    election on the grounds that the party's founding documents

    do not explicitly state its intention to do so. LF

    [07] TAJIK PRESIDENT SIGNS DECREES ON DEMOCRATIZATION, ECONOMIC

    REFORM

    Imomali Rakhmonov on 1 December signed two decrees

    "on expanding the process of democratization of socio-

    political life in the republic" and "on Measures for the

    further development and enhancing the effectiveness of

    economic reforms," Asia Plus-Blitz reported the following

    day. The first of those decrees is intended to guarantee

    political pluralism and the free participation of all

    political parties in elections and in the state

    administration. The second is intended to expedite and expand

    privatization. It also charges the government with taking

    steps to improve the investment climate and with drafting

    legislation on the state treasury and national social

    security measures to protect the most vulnerable groups of

    the population. LF

    [08] TURKMENISTAN TO PUBLICIZE POLICE CRIMES

    Turkmenistan's

    President Saparmurad Niyazov on 2 December issued a decree on

    mandatory media coverage of crime committed by police

    officers, Interfax reported. National media are also

    instructed to give broad coverage to the trials of police

    officials on criminal charges. The decree is intended to

    deter police, military, and customs and tax officials from

    accepting bribes. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] KFOR COMMANDER WANTS CONCRETE HELP

    General Klaus Reinhardt

    told NATO defense ministers in Brussels on 2 December: "I

    asked for funds. All we have to date are pledges, but not a

    single dollar," AP reported. He noted that $120 million will

    be needed to develop a functioning civil service in the

    province. Some civil servants have not been paid since June.

    An additional $10 million will be required for the police

    force, he added. Only the U.S., U.K., France, and Germany

    have offered money or materiel for the police. U.S. Defense

    Secretary William Cohen said that of the 13,000 former Kosova

    Liberation Army (UCK) members who have applied to join the

    police force, only 1,700 have passed the qualifying test. He

    added that "this is a difficult mental transformation" for

    the former guerrilla fighters to make. PM

    [10] ARTEMIJE SAYS SERBS LIVE IN 'CONCENTRATION CAMPS'

    Serbian

    Orthodox Archbishop Artemije, who is one of the two top

    leaders of the Serbs in Kosova, told Slovak Foreign Minister

    Eduard Kukan in Gracanica on 2 December that members of

    Kosova's dwindling Serbian minority live in "concentration

    camps" from which they cannot move freely. He charged that

    representatives of the international community have turned a

    blind eye toward violence against Serbs. Artemije stressed

    that UCK hard-liners play a major role in the province and

    that the Serbs "have been deprived of all human rights,

    including the right to live, to work, and to enjoy freedom of

    movement," AP reported. PM

    [11] ALBANIA SEES KOSOVA'S FUTURE IN REGIONAL INTEGRATION

    Speaking in Tirana on 2 December, Albanian Prime Minister

    Ilir Meta told Bernard Kouchner, who is the UN's chief

    administrator in Kosova, that "Albania sees Kosova's future

    in the new Europe, in a Europe in which processes of regional

    integration are under way." He added that Albania will

    continue to use its influence in Kosova in the interests of

    promoting "peace and tolerance." Deputy Foreign Minister Ben

    Blushi said that "security and stability in Kosova are

    closely linked to security and stability in Albania and in

    the entire region," dpa reported. PM

    [12] NUMBER OF MILITARY POLICE IN MONTENEGRO ON THE RISE

    Montenegrin Prime Minister Filip Vujanovic said in Podgorica

    on 2 December that Belgrade has increased the number of

    military police in Montenegro in recent months without the

    permission of the Podgorica authorities, RFE/RL's South

    Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 November

    1999). He added that the Montenegrin authorities are

    nonetheless "in full control of the situation" and that there

    is "no reason for alarm." The prime minister also said that

    the government has not made any decision on calling a

    referendum on independence. He stressed that Montenegro

    already has "economic sovereignty." In Belgrade, a spokesman

    for Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party

    of Serbia said that recent Montenegrin proposals to redefine

    the nature of the relationship between Serbia and Montenegro

    are "ten times worse" than Slovenian proposals that preceded

    the breakup of the former Yugoslavia in 1991. PM

    [13] SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES DEMAND DECISION ON ELECTIONS

    Officials of 13 Serbian opposition parties agreed in Belgrade

    on 2 December to demand that the government decide within one

    week whether to launch talks with the opposition on holding

    new elections for all levels of government, "Danas" reported.

    Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) did not join

    the agreement. Observers note that many Serbs suspect the SPO

    still hopes to strike a deal with the ruling coalition.

    Elsewhere, a spokesman for the Socialists said the governing

    party sees no reason for early elections except for those for

    local government. The opposition currently controls the

    administration of over 30 municipalities. PM

    [14] SERBS RETREAT FROM BOSNIAN COOPERATION AGREEMENT...

    Zivko

    Radisic, who is the Serbian representative on the three-

    member Bosnian joint presidency, has distanced himself from a

    recent agreement he made with Muslim Alija Izetbegovic and

    Croat Ante Jelavic in New York (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16

    November 1999). Radisic said in Banja Luka on 2 December that

    the declaration on increasing cooperation between the three

    ethnic groups was not signed and remains a statement of

    intent rather than a binding agreement. Republika Srpska

    Prime Minister Milorad Dodik previously said he does not

    accept some aspects of the agreement. Many Serbs object in

    particular to setting up a multiethnic border police force,

    which they regard as a threat to the sovereignty of the

    Republika Srpska, AP reported. PM

    [15] ...BUT WILL THEY GET AWAY WITH IT?

    In New York, a spokeswoman

    for U.S. Ambassador to the UN Richard Holbrooke said on 2

    December that he considers the agreement to be binding,

    despite what she called pressure on Radisic by "hard-liners

    in Belgrade." In Sarajevo, a spokesman for the international

    community's Wolfgang Petritsch said that "we are all sick and

    tired of local politicians and officials who sign up to

    declaration after declaration and then fail actually to live

    up to the obligations." He noted that Petritsch has the power

    to sack officials whom he considers to be obstructing

    implementation of the 1995 Dayton peace agreement. PM

    [16] CROATIAN GOVERNING PARTY AGREES ON TOP CANDIDATES

    Leaders of

    the Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) agreed in Zagreb on 2

    December on the persons who will head the HDZ's list in each

    of the 11 districts in the 3 January parliamentary elections.

    They are Foreign Minister Mate Granic, party Deputy

    Chairwoman Ljerka Mintas-Hodak, parliament speaker Vlatko

    Pavletic, deputy speaker Vladimir Seks, Ivan Jarnjak, Vesna

    Skare-Ozbolt, Ivica Kostovic, Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa,

    Nikica Valentic, Jure Radic, and Milan Kovac. "Jutarnji list"

    reported that two leading politicians received second-place

    listings although they wanted top spots. They are Ivic

    Pasalic and Zlatko Canjuga. The main opposition coalition is

    expected to announce its slates on 3 December. Candidates

    from the Social Democratic Party will head the lists in seven

    districts, while the Social Liberals will take first place in

    the remaining four, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported.

    PM

    [17] BALKAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN BUCHAREST

    The foreign

    ministers of the Southeastern Europe Cooperation Group,

    meeting in Bucharest on 2 December, called for the rapid

    restoration of democracy and human and minority rights in

    Yugoslavia and expressed concern over continuing acts of

    intolerance in Kosova, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

    Absent from that meeting was the Yugoslav foreign minister,

    who had not received an invitation to attend because a

    consensus could not have been reached in his presence,

    according to Romanian Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu. The

    chief diplomats of Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, and

    Turkey, along with a Greek deputy foreign minister, adopted a

    joint declaration calling for rapid implementation of the

    Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe and for a charter on

    good neighborly relations to be signed at a summit in

    Bucharest in February. The meeting was also attended by

    representatives of 22 other countries. MS

    [18] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT VOIDS COMMUNIST PRISON SENTENCES

    The

    government on 2 December approved a regulation granting the

    status of "fighter in the anti-communist resistance" to

    people sentenced by the former regime for political reasons.

    A commission will decide to whom that status will apply.

    Those eligible for such a status and whose properties were

    confiscated by the former regime when they were sentenced

    will have those properties restored or will receive

    compensation, Mediafax reported. Their sentences are to be

    declared null and void. MS

    [19] MOLDOVAN LEADERS AGREE ON 'GOVERNMENT PROFESSIONALISM'

    President Petru Lucinschi and Premier-designate Vladimir

    Voronin agreed on 2 December that the main criterion for

    future ministers must be "professionalism" rather than party

    affiliation, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. They said the

    cabinet's main task is to continue reforms. Alexandru Mosanu,

    leader of the Alliance for Democracy, which includes the

    parties that formed the previous cabinet, said on 2 December

    that the alliance will not support a cabinet headed by

    Voronin. "Responsibility for the attempt to restore

    communism...falls squarely on the president and on the

    Communist Party," Mosanu argued. MS

    [20] WORLD BANK APPROVES LOAN FOR BULGARIA

    The World Bank on 2

    December approved a $100 million loan to help Bulgaria close

    its budget gap, Reuters reported. The loan is contingent on

    the country's making "substantial progress" in reforming its

    financial, business, and energy sectors. Also on 2 December,

    the parliament raised the retirement age in an effort to cut

    the costs of supporting pensioners. The retirement age for

    men is to be raised incrementally from 60 to 63 and for women

    from 55 to 60, AP reported. The country's state pension fund

    is registering a deficit and may be unable to pay pensions

    beginning next year, Bulgarian media reported earlier this

    week. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [21] OBSERVERS EXAMINE UKRAINE'S MEDIA AFTER PRESIDENTIAL POLL

    By Lily Hyde

    Ukrainian presidential elections, which took place in

    two rounds in late October and mid November, focused world

    attention on the country's media. International watchdogs

    from the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and

    Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Institute for

    Media all concluded that Ukraine's television, radio, and

    print media were overwhelmingly biased toward one or another

    candidate. Thus, they argued, Ukrainians were denied access

    to objective information.

    Observers condemned government intimidation of the media

    in the form of tax and fire inspections and law suits. They

    also lamented the fact that oligarchs own most media outlets

    and use them for their political ends.

    Some observers, however, think the several reports

    produced by human rights and freedom of speech watchdogs were

    exaggerated.

    The latter view is held by Taras Kuzmov of Internews, an

    internationally-funded training project for television and

    radio journalists. Kuzmov told RFE/RL that reports focused

    overwhelmingly on Kyiv-based media and ignored Ukraine's

    extensive regional media outlets. Most broadcasting outlets,

    he added, were approached neither by government officials nor

    by presidential candidates: "Without question there were some

    precedents of pressure on TV companies, but there were many

    stations that didn't experience any such pressure."

    Vadym Denysenko, chief editor of the national television

    channel STB, argued that the reports did not provide

    sufficient explanation of their monitoring results, which

    recorded the airtime accorded to each candidate and whether

    the coverage was positive or negative.

    "Basically, Channel X is 99 percent positive about

    [incumbent President Leonid] Kuchma and 70 percent negative

    about [the challenger, Petro] Symonenko," he remarked. "I

    don't see the mechanism, they didn't explain how they

    calculated these numbers. It's like I'd say this woman is

    beautiful and this woman is not beautiful--it's my personal

    subjective view, nothing more, until I explain my

    conclusions. And for this reason, I can't absolutely trust

    all these reports."

    While few would deny that the state of the Ukrainian

    media leaves much to be desired, many say that to blame only

    government interference is an over-simplification. According

    to Denysenko, the single biggest problem facing STB is the

    country's economic decline. Prior to the elections, however,

    STB complained loudly of what it called government repression

    when its bank accounts were frozen by tax inspectors. Its

    cause was taken up by the Committee to Protect Journalists

    and was cited as an example of state coercion by the Council

    of Europe and the OSCE.

    After a management reshuffle at STB, and the unfreezing

    of bank accounts, the complaints have disappeared. Denysenko

    is now keen to downplay any problems with the government. He

    told RFE/RL all difficulties have now been solved and that

    STB was able to continue objective coverage of news in the

    month before the election and since.

    But others see STB's new tone as a form of self-

    censorship. Kuzmov of Internews says that it is a tactic that

    allows Kyiv-based media like STB to remain in business. He

    says these media outlets are overwhelmingly dependent on big

    business, and the interests controlling them usually back the

    ruling power. He says if journalists tried to be completely

    objective in their coverage, the outlet would simply go out

    of business, so Ukrainian journalists choose pragmatism over

    idealism.

    "I think the Ukrainian mass media doesn't know what

    direct political censorship is," Kuzmov argues. "Instead,

    self-censorship exists. One journalist got to the heart of it

    when he said Ukrainian journalists have freedom of speech,

    but they have the wisdom not to use it."

    IREX ProMedia is a sister organization to Internews,

    also promoting free media in Ukraine. IREX ProMedia's Tim

    O'Connor advocates ownership by foreign media companies as

    one possible way of improving standards because a foreign

    company is more interested in profit than politics and can

    bring international experience. He says two newspapers in

    regions of Ukraine have already been bought by a Norwegian

    company and are doing well.

    O'Connor says that the poor pay given most journalists

    is another problem. He says Ukrainian journalists receive

    such low wages that some take extra money to write articles

    in favor of political candidates. But O'Connor says the

    professionalism of many journalists in Ukraine is also

    undermined by Soviet press traditions: "[Journalists] very

    often see their role as someone who is responsible for

    sifting through information and then telling their readers or

    viewers what to think about it. They don't actually give them

    the information and let them make up their own minds, they

    see themselves as the analysts...which is very much a

    continuation of the old traditions."

    According to O'Connor, Ukrainian journalists "absolutely

    did not try to be independent" during the elections. But he

    adds the Ukrainian public needs to become more discerning too

    and make greater demands on its media.

    Kuzmov of Internews, meanwhile, says a lot of talented

    young people are working in the Ukrainian media but says the

    level of professionalism is still low. He predicts that in

    time, there will be so many young journalists that they will

    be able to change the whole system.

    The author is a Kyiv-based RFE/RL correspondent.

    03-12-99


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


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