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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 237, 99-12-08

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. 3, No. 237, 8 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN MINISTER AGAIN CALLS FOR PRESIDENT'S
  • [02] KARABAKH PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON POLITICAL
  • [03] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT INAUGURATED
  • [04] GEORGIA WANTS PIPELINE AGREEMENT AMENDED
  • [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S ECONOMY MINISTER PREDICTS STEADY
  • [06] ...RULES OUT SALE OF TENGIZCHEVROIL STAKE
  • [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN GREETS
  • [08] UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES UNVEIL PROGRAMS

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] EU OIL CLEARS SERBIAN CUSTOMS
  • [10] DRASKOVIC SUES SERBIAN STATE SECURITY
  • [11] TRAJKOVIC: ONLY DEMOCRACY CAN HELP SERBS IN
  • [12] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH APPEALS FOR SUPPORT
  • [13] MONTENEGRIN MINISTER INDICTED
  • [14] TUDJMAN'S CONDITION DETERIORATES
  • [15] ARE SECRET SERVICES BUGGING CROATIA'S ACTING
  • [16] PETRITSCH NAMES BOSNIAN TV BOARD
  • [17] WORLD BANK TO FUND ALBANIAN ROAD
  • [18] THOUSANDS OF WEAPONS HELD ILLEGALLY IN ALBANIA
  • [19] ROMANIAN INTELLECTUALS CALL ON PEOPLE TO
  • [20] ROMANIAN, ALBANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET
  • [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSED
  • [22] ...WHILE VORONIN PLEDGES TO CONTINUE TALKS
  • [23] BULGARIAN MINISTER ASKS GREECE TO HELP HIJACKED
  • [24] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS SOCIALIST OPPOSITION
  • [25] BULGARIA, TURKEY SIGN SECURITY COOPERATION

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] OSCE RELEASES REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN MINISTER AGAIN CALLS FOR PRESIDENT'S

    RESIGNATION

    Minister for Industrial Infrastructure Vahan

    Shirkhanian told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 7 December that

    President Robert Kocharian should step down as he has

    failed to present a "comprehensive program" to bring the

    country out of the crisis into which it was plunged by the 27

    October killings of Premier Vazgen Sargsian and other senior

    officials. Shirkhanian had earlier called for Kocharian's

    resignation in his 4 December address to a congress of the

    Yerkrapah Union of veterans of the Karabakh war. Kocharian

    had responded to that statement by accusing Shirkhanian of

    aspiring to the premiership and possibly also to the

    presidency. But on 7 December Shirkhanian told RFE/RL that "I

    could never think of myself as premier after Vazgen Sargsian.

    It's impossible." LF

    [02] KARABAKH PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON POLITICAL

    SITUATION

    Arkadii Ghukasian told journalists in Stepanakert

    on 7 December that there is no political opposition in the

    unrecognized republic, Noyan Tapan reported. He conceded

    that former Defense Minister Samvel Babayan is still seeking

    to influence economic and defense policy, adding that

    Babayan should limit himself to his duties as commander of

    the Defense Army of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic rather

    than interfere in matters in which he has no expertise.

    Ghukasian also said that the Karabakh Armenian leadership

    will do its best to help defuse the "certain internal tension"

    that has arisen in Armenia following the 27 October

    parliament shootings, RFE/RL's Stepanakert correspondent

    reported. LF

    [03] ABKHAZ PRESIDENT INAUGURATED

    Vladislav Ardzinba was

    sworn in on 6 December for his second term as president of

    the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, Caucasus Press

    reported. He was re-elected in a 3 October poll whose

    validity the international community rejects. Ardzinba pledged

    to do everything in his power to restore peace and

    prosperity and to guarantee the human rights and civil

    liberties of the unrecognized republic's multi-ethnic

    population. Abkhaz parliamentary speaker Sokrat Djindjolia

    told the daily "Respublika Abkhaziya" that Ardzinba's main

    objective during the next five years is to achieve

    international recognition of Abkhazia as an independent

    state, according to Caucasus Press on 8 December. LF

    [04] GEORGIA WANTS PIPELINE AGREEMENT AMENDED

    Less

    than three weeks after the signing in Istanbul of legal

    agreements on the operation of the planned Baku-Ceyhan oil

    export pipeline, Georgian International Oil Company President

    Giorgi Chanturia told journalists in Tbilisi on 7 December that

    Georgia wants those agreements revised, Caucasus Press

    reported. Chanturia said that Georgia wants changes

    introduced in the sections of those agreements dealing with

    the ecological safety of the pipeline and the distribution of

    responsibility for its operation between the companies using

    the pipeline and the states across whose territory it runs. He

    said Georgia specifically considers "unacceptable" an article

    under which Georgia would bear sole financial responsibility

    for ecological damage caused by a rupture of the pipeline on

    its territory. LF

    [05] KAZAKHSTAN'S ECONOMY MINISTER PREDICTS STEADY

    GROWTH...

    Zhaqsybek Kulekeev told journalists in Almaty on

    7 December that Kazakhstan's GDP is set to grow by 5

    percent in 1999, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former

    capital reported. He said that figure would have been higher

    but for the repercussions of last year's Russian financial

    crisis. He predicted that the Kazakh economy will grow

    steadily over the next few years, according to Interfax. LF

    [06] ...RULES OUT SALE OF TENGIZCHEVROIL STAKE

    Kulekeev

    also told journalists on 7 December that Astana has decided

    not to sell its stake in the Tengizchevroil consortium in the

    near future, RFE/RL's Almaty correspondent reported. The

    proposal to do so, which was made last summer, gave rise to

    heated disagreements within the Kazakh leadership and

    resulted in the firing of Kazakhoil President Nurlan Qapparov

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 August and 3 September 1999).

    LF

    [07] KAZAKHSTAN'S NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN GREETS

    FINANCIAL STABILIZATION

    Grigorii Marchenko told

    journalists in Almaty on 7 December that the situation on the

    financial market finally stabilized in November, RFE/RL's

    correspondent in the former capital reported. Marchenko

    said that the tenge has now stabilized at a rate of 137.9 to

    $1, compared with 142.2 in early November. Kazakhstan's

    gold and hard-currency reserves rose by 6.5 percent in

    November, Interfax reported on 6 December. LF

    [08] UZBEK PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES UNVEIL PROGRAMS

    Incumbent President Islam Karimov and People's Democratic

    Party chairman Abdulkhafiz Djalalov have published their

    respective programs for the 9 January presidential poll,

    Interfax reported on 7 December. Karimov's program

    prioritizes political and economic development and provides

    for raising the minimum salary by 250 percent and the

    average wage by 80-100 percent over the next five years.

    He also pledges to provide natural gas to 82 percent and

    drinking water to 85 percent of the population by 2005.

    Djalalov similarly focuses on promoting economic

    liberalization. He calls for stronger public control over state

    authority and greater media freedom. In foreign and security

    policy, he advocates broadening mutually advantageous

    cooperation, above all with other Central Asian states. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] EU OIL CLEARS SERBIAN CUSTOMS

    All 14 trucks carrying

    EU fuel oil for Nis and Pirot left the customs area at Nis

    airport for the two cities' respective power plants on 7

    December, the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti"

    reported. Nis Mayor Zoran Zivkovic said he is happy that the

    "citizens of Nis and Pirot have received aid from the EU." An

    EU spokesman said in Belgrade that Brussels is already

    planning additional deliveries of heating oil to unspecified

    municipalities controlled by the opposition. PM

    [10] DRASKOVIC SUES SERBIAN STATE SECURITY

    Vuk

    Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) has filed

    charges in a Belgrade court against the state security

    forces, Reuters reported on 7 December. A spokesman for

    the SPO said that the party is convinced that the security

    services are the owner of the truck that Draskovic believes

    tried to kill him on 3 October (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 12

    October 1999). Elsewhere, unnamed members of the SPO

    formed the Serbian Defense Movement (which also has the

    acronym SPO) to "fight state terrorism," RFE/RL's South Slavic

    Service reported. PM

    [11] TRAJKOVIC: ONLY DEMOCRACY CAN HELP SERBS IN

    KOSOVA

    Momcilo Trajkovic, who is one of the two principal

    leaders of the Kosova Serbs, said that only the

    democratization of Serbia can lead to a significant

    improvement in the situation of Serbian minority in the

    troubled province, Montenegrin Television reported on 8

    December. He took issue with the Belgrade regime's view

    that KFOR shares responsibility for the ongoing violence

    against Serbs. Trajkovic said that those responsible are the

    regime of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and "the

    Albanian separatists." PM

    [12] SERBIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH APPEALS FOR SUPPORT

    The Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church has issued a

    statement calling on other Orthodox Churches and on

    international cultural bodies such as UNESCO for support in

    helping preserve the Serbian cultural heritage in Kosova,

    "Vesti" reported on 8 December. The statement noted that

    some 80 monasteries and churches have been "destroyed" in

    recent months, including some buildings dating back to the

    14th century. The Synod appealed for an "end to crimes

    aimed at wiping out everything that is Serbian" in the

    province. Observers note that Serbian forces during the

    1991-1995 Croatian and Bosnian wars systematically sought

    to destroy Roman Catholic and especially Muslim religious

    buildings in areas under their control, including two Ottoman

    mosques in Banja Luka that were registered with UNESCO. PM

    [13] MONTENEGRIN MINISTER INDICTED

    An Italian court has

    indicted Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic for

    having links to the Sicilian mafia, the BBC's Serbian Service

    reported on 8 December. Perovic allegedly developed

    connections to the mafia to smuggle cigarettes and other

    goods into Montenegro during the 1991-1995 Croatian and

    Bosnian wars. It is an open secret in Montenegro that both

    the current leadership and the opposition include many

    persons who made fortunes in smuggling during that time. It

    is unclear why the court singled out Perovic. PM

    [14] TUDJMAN'S CONDITION DETERIORATES

    An unnamed

    official of the governing Croatian Democratic Community told

    Reuters in Zagreb on 8 December that President Franjo

    Tudjman's condition is "the gravest it has been so far." In a

    statement, Tudjman's doctors described his condition as

    "very critical," adding that he requires "most intensive care."

    Tudjman has been in the hospital since 1 November and is

    widely believed to be in the final stages of cancer. PM

    [15] ARE SECRET SERVICES BUGGING CROATIA'S ACTING

    PRESIDENT?

    Parliamentary speaker Vlatko Pavletic, who is

    also carrying out Tudjman's duties because the president is

    incapacitated, said he wants a written statement from Interior

    Minister Ivan Penic as to whether the security services have

    bugged his offices, "Jutarnji list" reported on 8 December.

    The weekly "Nacional" recently claimed that the security

    services listen to Pavletic's conversations. He is taking the

    charges very seriously, the Zagreb daily noted. There have

    been several scandals regarding the misuse of the

    intelligence services for political purposes since Croatia

    became independent in 1991 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1

    February 1999). PM

    [16] PETRITSCH NAMES BOSNIAN TV BOARD

    The international

    community's Wolfgang Petritsch appointed 21 persons to

    four-year terms on the new Administrative Council, which will

    supervise the work of public television in the mainly Muslim

    and Croatian federation. He also appointed Tadej Labernik,

    who is a Slovene, to a key administrative post in public

    television, "Dnevni avaz" reported on 8 December. PM

    [17] WORLD BANK TO FUND ALBANIAN ROAD

    CONSTRUCTION

    Unnamed officials of the World Bank said in

    Washington on 7 December that the bank has approved a

    40-year, $13.65 million credit for roads linking Durres with

    Kosova and Berat with Corovode. Both roads were damaged

    by NATO vehicles and refugee convoys during the Atlantic

    alliance's Balkan campaign earlier in 1999. Most roads in

    Albania are far below European standards. PM

    [18] THOUSANDS OF WEAPONS HELD ILLEGALLY IN ALBANIA

    Neritan Ceka, who heads the parliament's Committee on Public

    Order, said in Tirana on 8 December that in its campaign to

    buy illegally-owned weapons, the government has succeeded

    in acquiring only about 70,000 out of 600,000 such weapons.

    Many of the illegal weapons taken from government arsenals

    during the 1997 anarchy found their way to Kosova during

    the recent crisis, but many others remain in Albania, dpa

    reported. The UN has offered local communities aid for

    schools and roads in return for handing in illegal weapons.

    For centuries, gun ownership has been an integral part of the

    macho culture that prevails in much of the Western Balkans.

    PM

    [19] ROMANIAN INTELLECTUALS CALL ON PEOPLE TO

    SUPPORT CONSTANTINESCU

    Hundreds of leading Romanian

    intellectuals and artists have signed a declaration calling on

    the public to support President Emil Constantinescu. The

    declaration was published as a one-page spread in several

    Romanian daily newspapers on 8 December. It praises

    Constantinescu's efforts to bring the country closer to

    European structures, saying he has managed to turn the

    country into an "active partner for the Western world." The

    appeal was signed by leading writers, academics, writers, and

    actors in the country. In other news, the Romanian railway

    strike continued into its third day on 8 December, blocking

    more than 60 percent of railway traffic in the country. VG

    [20] ROMANIAN, ALBANIAN PRESIDENTS MEET

    Constantinescu

    and his visiting Albanian counterpart, Rexhap Meidani, decided

    to reactivate a joint economic council to promote bilateral

    trade, Rompres reported on 7 December. Meidani said he

    appreciates Romania's role in cooperating with NATO on the

    Kosova crisis. VG

    [21] MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT REJECTS PROPOSED

    GOVERNMENT...

    Lawmakers on 7 December failed to give a

    necessary vote of confidence to Prime Minister-designate

    and Communist leader Vladimir Voronin's cabinet, BASA-Press

    reported. Voronin's cabinet received the support of only 48

    out of 101 deputies, four short of the required number.

    President Petru Lucinschi said after the vote that he will

    resume his search for a new prime minister-designate. If the

    parliament does not approve a new government by 27

    December, the president can dissolve the legislature and call

    new elections. VG

    [22] ...WHILE VORONIN PLEDGES TO CONTINUE TALKS

    Voronin said his party will resume negotiations with Lucinschi

    on forming a new cabinet. He said the Communists are not

    afraid of early elections, but he added that such a ballot

    would be a "catastrophe for the Moldovan economy."

    Christian Democratic Popular Front leader Iurie Rosca said

    only an "outstanding and surprising candidate with all the

    qualities of a competent and honest person" would be able

    to secure the support of the parliament. VG

    [23] BULGARIAN MINISTER ASKS GREECE TO HELP HIJACKED

    CREW

    Bulgarian Transport Minister Wilhelm Kraus has asked

    his country's Foreign Ministry to request that the Greek

    government help ensure the safety of the Bulgarian crew of a

    cargo ship that appears to have been hijacked in the Aegean

    Sea, BTA reported on 7 December. Bulgaria says the crew of

    the ship, which set sail from Burgas on 29 November, has

    been taken hostage by a group of about 250 illegal migrants.

    Earlier, a report by Greece's ANA Agency claimed that the

    migrants paid large sums of money to get on the boat while it

    was in a Turkish port. VG

    [24] BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS SOCIALIST OPPOSITION

    LEADERS

    Bulgarian Prime Minister Ivan Kostov on 7

    December said that he and Bulgarian Socialist Party leader

    Georgi Purvanov held a "successful" meeting on the country's

    strategy for obtaining membership in the EU, BTA reported.

    Kostov noted that the country's EU accession negotiations

    will require a political consensus on achieving legislative

    changes as well as amendments to the Bulgarian Constitution

    before the next elections. VG

    [25] BULGARIA, TURKEY SIGN SECURITY COOPERATION

    PROTOCOL

    Turkish Interior Minister Sadettin Tantan and his

    visiting Bulgarian counterpart, Bogomil Bonev, on 7 December

    signed a cooperation protocol on various security issues,

    BTA reported. The protocol includes pledges to cooperate in

    fighting terrorism, drug trafficking, and the robberies of

    tourists passing through either country. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] OSCE RELEASES REPORT ON HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

    IN KOSOVA

    By Roland Eggleston

    Hundreds of atrocities, against both ethnic Albanians

    and ethnic Serbs, have been recorded by the Organization

    for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The group released

    details of the human rights abuses earlier this week in two

    volumes titled "Kosovo--As Seen, As Told."

    In 760 pages, the report describes individual and mass

    killings, the rape of women and girls, the killing of children,

    and the looting and burning of homes and shops. Unlike many

    such reports, which give a general overview of a situation,

    this one is very specific: scores of towns and villages are

    named along with details of incidents that took place there.

    However, none of the victims or perpetrators is

    identified by name. The OSCE says it does not wish to

    expose the victims to retaliation for having spoken out, while

    it wants to protect the privacy of rape victims. The names of

    the alleged perpetrators were not revealed for legal

    reasons, but they have been passed on to the International

    Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague.

    The reports are almost all from victims or eyewitnesses.

    The sheer number of allegations made it impossible for the

    OSCE to investigate each one thoroughly, but the group did

    try to obtain supporting evidence from other sources,

    including medical authorities.

    An OSCE human rights officer, Ian Gorvin, says the

    organization tried to be balanced in its reporting. "There is

    data concerning violation of the rights of Kosovo Albanians

    by Serb and Yugoslav forces, but equally there is data about

    violations of the rights of Serbs and also of Albanians by the

    Kosovo Liberation Army," he said.

    Volume One of the OSCE report details human rights

    violations in Kosova between December 1998 and March

    1999, when the NATO bombing began. It also contains many

    reports of crimes said to have been carried out by Serbian

    military and paramilitary forces during the 78-day NATO

    bombing campaign, which ended in June. The convoys

    carrying ethnic Albanians to Macedonia and Albania were

    often raided by Serbian forces, who survivors said committed

    murder and rape and looted the refugees' few possessions.

    Volume One also contains a breakdown of events in

    each of Kosova's 29 municipalities, mostly during the bombing

    campaign. The report gives eyewitness accounts of Serbian

    activity in nearly 300 towns, villages, and communities. One

    recurring theme is the pressure applied to many ethnic

    Albanians to pay large sums of money in German marks to

    secure their own release or the release of a son. In several

    cases, the individual was killed even after ransom money was

    paid.

    Volume Two deals with the period after NATO troops moved

    into Kosova following the bombing campaign. Much of it deals

    with the revenge taken by ethnic Albanians on Serbs and

    Roma as well as the political role of the now-disbanded

    Kosova Liberation Army (UCK).

    The OSCE says it documented 750 cases of human

    rights violations in the period from 14 June to 31 October,

    and investigations are continuing into hundreds more.

    The report says the hatred of the ethnic Albanians and their

    desire for revenge created the climate in which the vast

    majority of human rights violations are taking place. One

    human rights investigator said the province is completely

    polarized: "The bitterness in the ethnic Albanian population

    about their past treatment has led to a situation where the

    entire remaining Kosovo Serb population is now seen as a

    target for Kosovo Albanians."

    The report contains pages of descriptions of the

    abduction of Serbian men and boys, the burning of property,

    and discrimination against ethnic Serbs, including the elderly

    and children. The story is told in the separate reports on the

    situation in each of the five KFOR zones of Kosova.

    Volume Two also examines the emergence of rival

    political factions in Kosova--particularly the now-disbanded

    Kosova Liberation Army--and the tensions this has provoked

    in the ethnic Albanian community.

    "The rights of Kosovo Albanians to freedom of

    association, expression, thought, and religion have all been

    challenged by other Kosovo Albanians," the report notes. It

    also comments on the political ambitions of the UCK, which

    has imposed itself as a provisional government in many

    communities, noting that in many cases those who repress

    the Serbian population claim to be members of the UCK or

    associated with it. The report acknowledges that the highest

    levels of the former UCK leadership have publicly stated that

    their members have no links to violent disturbances. The UCK

    leadership says criminal elements who were never part of the

    UCK are now exploiting the UCK umbrella for their own

    purposes.

    The two volumes that make up this massive report on

    human rights violations will be sent to the International

    Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia to assist in the

    prosecution of those responsible for atrocities. The OSCE will

    provide the court with its list of those believed to be

    responsible for murders, rapes, beatings, and abductions.

    The former chief of the international court, Justice

    Louise Arbour, sums up the OSCE's hopes for the report in its

    foreword. Describing the report as a reliable data base, she

    says it will assist those trying to establish peace and justice

    in Kosova.

    The author is an RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.

    08-12-99


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


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