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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 239, 99-12-10

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. 239, 10 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GUNMAN TAKES HOSTAGES IN ARMENIAN INSTITUTE
  • [02] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER WAR
  • [03] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO JAPAN
  • [04] OPPOSITION PARTY IN KAZAKHSTAN COMPLAINS OF
  • [05] TAJIK PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTION LAW
  • [06] OSCE DECLINES TO MONITOR TURKMEN PARLIAMENTARY
  • [07] TURKMENISTAN ASKS EBRD TO RECONSIDER LOAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [08] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS MONTENEGRO OVER AIRPORT...
  • [09] ...AS DOES SESELJ
  • [10] MONTENEGRO PLAYS DOWN INCIDENT
  • [11] U.S., NATO EXPRESS CONCERN
  • [12] BELGRADE REGIME'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST OPPOSITION
  • [13] SERBIAN COURT SENTENCES KOSOVAR RIGHTS ACTIVIST
  • [14] STATE DEPARTMENT PUTS KOSOVA DEATHS AT 10,000
  • [15] KOUCHNER 'SUSPENDS' OPPONENT OF FRENCH
  • [16] CROATIAN OPPOSITION SLAMS STATE-RUN TV
  • [17] ROMANIAN RAILWAY STRIKE ENTERS FIFTH DAY
  • [18] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESTITUTION LAW
  • [19] ROMANIA SEEKS TO IMPROVE TRADE TIES WITH IRAQ
  • [20] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW PRIME MINISTER-
  • [21] U.S. LAUNCHES AID PROGRAM FOR BULGARIA
  • [22] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT PREPARES FOR Y2K

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [23] TIMOTHY GARTON ASH DISCUSSES 1989

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GUNMAN TAKES HOSTAGES IN ARMENIAN INSTITUTE

    A

    17-year-old sportsman identified as Artem Minasian armed

    with two hunting rifles briefly took a group of students

    hostage at Yerevan's Pedagogical Institute on 9 December,

    RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He suffered serious

    gunshot wounds when police entered the building to disarm

    him. Noyan Tapan quoted the Prosecutor-General's Office as

    saying that the gunman hoped to pressure the Armenian

    government into ensuring that his sporting achievements

    were entered in the Guinness Book of Records. But student

    hostages quoted the gunman as saying he wanted to protest

    the government's policies and as demanding that President

    Robert Kocharian come to negotiate with him personally.

    Minasian also said that two of his associates were on

    standby to blow up seven buildings in the city in the event of

    his death or arrest. Kocharian negotiated with the five

    gunmen who killed eight people and held deputies hostage in

    the Armenian parliament in late October (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 29 October 1999). LF

    [02] GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER WAR

    IN CHECHNYA

    Parliamentary deputies adopted a resolution

    on 9 December describing Russia's ongoing military campaign

    in the North Caucasus a threat to peace and stability in

    Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. The statement affirmed

    Georgia's recognition of the territorial integrity of the Russian

    Federation and Georgia's desire for friendly relations with all

    neighboring states, including Russia. But it also rejected

    Russian demands for permission to launch operations against

    Chechen militants from Georgian territory and called on the

    Russian government to negotiate an end to the conflict. Also

    on 9 December, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze

    convened a meeting of power ministers to discuss the

    situation on the Georgian-Chechen border and to assess

    Russian allegations that the intelligence services of unnamed

    countries are planning to perpetrate terrorist acts in Georgia

    in order to destabilize that country's internal political

    situation. LF

    [03] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT CONCLUDES VISIT TO JAPAN

    Visiting Tokyo on 5-8 December, Nursultan Nazarbaev held

    talks with Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi and with

    Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. Nazarbaev and Obuchi signed a

    joint statement on friendship and partnership in the 21st

    century. Japan agreed to advance $1.2 million in credits for

    eight construction projects, including repair of highways in

    western Kazakhstan, modernization of the Atyrau oil refinery,

    and construction of an oil pipeline from Atyrau to Kenkiyak.

    LF

    [04] OPPOSITION PARTY IN KAZAKHSTAN COMPLAINS OF

    HARASSMENT

    Lawyer Oleg Sunkov, who represents the

    Azamat Party, told journalists in Almaty on 10 December that

    tax police searched his office earlier this week and

    confiscated materials on the activities of the pro-presidential

    Civic Party, RFE/RL's bureau in the former capital reported.

    The previous day, Temirtas Tleleusov, author of a book

    detailing the illegal activities of some members of the

    leadership of the South Kazakhstan Oblast, was attacked and

    badly beaten in the town of Shymkent. His son told RFE/RL

    that he has been hospitalized. Local police deny any

    knowledge of the attack. LF

    [05] TAJIK PARLIAMENT PASSES ELECTION LAW

    Lawmakers

    on 10 December passed the law on parliamentary elections

    agreed on by the government and opposition last week, Asia

    Plus-Blitz reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 December

    1999). Also on 10 December, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" noted

    that despite President Imomali Rakhmonov's recent decree

    calling for measures on political liberalization, the Supreme

    Court has annulled the registration by the Justice Ministry of

    the Democratic Party of Tajikistan (Tehran Platform) on the

    grounds that the information provided by that party of the

    number of members in its local branches was inaccurate. The

    Supreme Court earlier banned the Agrarian Party and the

    Party of National Unity and annulled the registration of both

    the Justice and Development and the Renaissance of

    Tajikistan parties. The Justice Ministry has refused to

    register the Party of the National Movement of Tajikistan. LF

    [06] OSCE DECLINES TO MONITOR TURKMEN PARLIAMENTARY

    ELECTION

    An OSCE spokesman said in Vienna on 9

    December that the organization will not send even a "limited

    assessment" mission to monitor the 12 December

    parliamentary elections in Turkmenistan, an RFE/RL

    correspondent reported. President Saparmurat Niyazov had

    requested a full monitoring mission during talks in Ashgabat in

    October with OSCE Chairman In Office Knut Vollebaek. But the

    OSCE said that the election framework "falls far short of what

    is required for democratic elections." Specifically, he noted

    that no provision has been made for non-government political

    parties to contest the poll, the executive controlled the

    nomination of candidates, and freedoms necessary for any

    level of political activity were severely restricted. A total of

    102 candidates, some independents and some representing

    the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan, are competing for the

    50 mandates in the new parliament. LF

    [07] TURKMENISTAN ASKS EBRD TO RECONSIDER LOAN

    Turkmenistan has asked the EBRD to reconsider providing a

    $50 million loan for the reconstruction of the Ashgabat-Mary

    highway, Interfax reported on 8 December quoting an

    unidentified government source. Turkmenistan rejected the

    EBRD's terms for that loan last month, saying it will raise

    alternative funding for the project. On 9 December, Interfax

    reported that President Niyazov had completed a visit to

    western regions of the country, during which he witnessed

    the beginning of construction of the Geoktepe-Turkmenbashi

    highway. That project, which will cost an estimated $525

    million, is being implemented by a Turkmen-Iranian joint

    venture and financed by Turkmenistan's state transport and

    communications fund. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [08] YUGOSLAV ARMY WARNS MONTENEGRO OVER AIRPORT...

    The Yugoslav army said in a statement on 9 December that

    Montenegro's leaders should not do anything to challenge

    the army's authority in the military areas of Podgorica airport

    (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 1999). The army

    command warned against further attempts by Montenegrin

    police to build a hangar for their helicopters on what the

    army regards as its property. According to the statement,

    "attempting to perform work in this manner, and provoking a

    situation likely to lead to an incident, could have

    unfathomable consequences for peace and stability in

    Montenegro." The army "will continue to prevent illegal

    usurpation attempts against its property and land," RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [09] ...AS DOES SESELJ

    In Belgrade on 9 December, Serbian

    Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj also warned the

    Montenegrin authorities: "The Podgorica airport is both

    civilian and military. It is of strategic importance for the

    defense of the country.... The federal air control [sic] must

    have all authority in Montenegro as far as air traffic is

    concerned and control of all [air] entries into the country,"

    AP reported. PM

    [10] MONTENEGRO PLAYS DOWN INCIDENT

    Montenegrin

    Foreign Minister Branko Perovic told the BBC on 10

    December that his government reached an "arrangement" the

    previous day with the Yugoslav military, which led to the

    reopening of the airport without further incident. He denied

    that the government has backed down from its intention to

    take full control of the airport, saying that a decision on that

    issue will be announced at the next meeting of the cabinet.

    He added, however, that that session has been "postponed"

    because of unspecified "other reasons." Perovic thanked

    Western leaders for their warnings to Belgrade over the

    incident, adding that such statements should be made "every

    day." PM

    [11] U.S., NATO EXPRESS CONCERN

    Secretary of State

    Madeleine Albright told a news conference in Egypt on 9

    December that "we have concerns about what is going on" in

    Montenegro, AP reported. She stressed U.S. support for

    Podgorica. In Washington, NATO commander U.S. General

    Wesley Clark noted that "the situation is very tense in

    Montenegro. We know that there are pressures and

    intimidation coming from Serbia and [Yugoslav President

    Slobodan] Milosevic. We are watching this very, very

    closely.... It has been made very clear to Mr. Milosevic that he

    should not--and must not--interfere" in Montenegro. PM

    [12] BELGRADE REGIME'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST OPPOSITION

    CONTINUES

    Third Army Commander General Nebojsa

    Pavkovic said that former army chief-of-staff General Momcilo

    Perisic "worked for a long time in the interest of the Western

    powers" before Milosevic fired him in November 1998.

    Pavkovic characterized Perisic's behavior toward the EU and

    NATO as "servile," the Frankfurt-based Serbian daily "Vesti"

    reported on 10 December. Perisic now heads a small

    opposition party, the Movement for a Democratic Serbia. In

    Belgrade on 9 December, an unspecified number of police

    forced their way into the offices of Vuk Draskovic's Serbian

    Renewal Movement. They "were looking for" three of

    Draskovic's aides who had previously accused the authorities

    of conducting "state terrorism" against their leader, RFE/RL's

    South Slavic Service reported. PM

    [13] SERBIAN COURT SENTENCES KOSOVAR RIGHTS ACTIVIST

    Judge Marina Milanovic told her court in Nis on 9 December

    that she has sentenced Kosovar medical doctor and human

    rights activist Flora Brovina to 12 years in prison for

    providing aid and comfort to "terrorists" of the Kosova

    Liberation Army (UCK) during the recent conflict in the

    troubled province. Brovina has denied the charges and called

    the trial "political." Gradimir Nalic, who leads an organization of

    Yugoslav human rights lawyers, said that the sentence will

    only encourage Albanian judges in Kosova to pass tough

    sentences on Serbs. He added that Milanovic's ruling "reveals

    the state's negligence towards Serbs" in Kosova. In

    Washington, the State Department's special Balkan envoy

    James Dobbins said that the trial was "severely flawed" and

    urged Belgrade to overturn the conviction. PM

    [14] STATE DEPARTMENT PUTS KOSOVA DEATHS AT 10,000

    "The number of victims whose bodies have been burned or

    destroyed may never be known, but enough evidence has

    emerged to conclude that probably around 10,000 Kosovar

    Albanians were killed by Serbian forces" in the conflict in the

    first half of 1999. This was the principal finding of the study

    "Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo: An Accounting," which the U.S.

    State Department released on 9 December in Washington. PM

    [15] KOUCHNER 'SUSPENDS' OPPONENT OF FRENCH

    TELEPHONE DEAL

    On 9 December, the UN's Bernard

    Kouchner suspended Agron Dida as head of the post and

    telecommunications service in Kosova. Kouchner said that

    Dida was "uncooperative" by refusing to sign an agreement

    with the French firm Alcatel to establish a mobile telephone

    system in the province (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23

    November 1999). Dida argued that a rival offer by the

    German firm Siemens was more advantageous to Kosova,

    RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kouchner is French.

    PM

    [16] CROATIAN OPPOSITION SLAMS STATE-RUN TV

    The six

    main opposition parties said in a statement in Zagreb on 10

    December that state-run television continues its long-

    standing bias toward the governing Croatian Democratic

    Community (HDZ). The parties charged that broadcasts paint

    an idyllic picture of the current situation and spread fear of

    change. The parties called for an end to the bias in the runup

    to the 3 January parliamentary elections, AP reported. For

    years, the opposition, EU, U.S., and numerous NGOs at home

    and abroad have criticized the pro-HDZ orientation of state-

    run television and demanded that it present more balanced

    coverage. PM

    [17] ROMANIAN RAILWAY STRIKE ENTERS FIFTH DAY

    Romanian railway workers began the fifth day of their strike

    on 10 December after union leaders the previous day had

    again failed to reach an agreement with the Transport

    Ministry on wage hikes. Prime Minister Radu Vasile took part

    in the 9 December negotiations. Union leader Gheorghe

    Sultana said Transport Minister Traian Basescu "showed no

    understanding for our problems." The unions are calling for a

    70 percent raise, while Basescu has offered a 20 percent

    hike. The Supreme Court is expected to decide on 10

    December on the legality of the strike; if it declares the

    action illegal, railway employees will have to resume work.

    Meanwhile, an official from the Jiu Valley coal field said that if

    the strike continues, coal production may have to stop on 11

    December owing to a lack of trains to transport cargo,

    Reuters reported. VG

    [18] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESTITUTION LAW

    Romanian legislators on 9 December passed a bill on the

    limited restitution of farmland seized by the former communist

    regime. The bill provides for the restitution of up to 50

    hectares of farmland and 10 hectares of forest to original

    owners. The parliament passed the bill in a joint sitting of the

    lower and upper houses. The bill must now be signed by

    President Emil Constantinescu. VG

    [19] ROMANIA SEEKS TO IMPROVE TRADE TIES WITH IRAQ

    Romanian Secretary of State for Trade Sorin Potanc met with

    the Iraqi Transport Ministry's senior undersecretary, Jameel

    Ibrahim, on 9 December in Baghdad for talks on improving

    trade relations, according to an INA report cited by Reuters.

    Iraqi Communications and Transport Minister Ahmed Murtada

    Ahmed Khalil said he hopes Romanian firms can help meet his

    country's transportation needs as part of the UN oil-for-food

    deal with Iraq. VG

    [20] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT NAMES NEW PRIME MINISTER-

    DESIGNATE

    Presidential spokesman Antol Golea on 9

    December confirmed that President Petru Lucinschi will ask

    Ion Casian to form a new government, BASA-Press reported.

    The 49-year-old Casian is the deputy manager of the Ericsson

    company's office in Moldova and a former communications and

    information minister. Casian on 9 December said a majority

    should be formed among the parties in the parliament to

    support his candidacy, Infotag reported on 10 December. VG

    [21] U.S. LAUNCHES AID PROGRAM FOR BULGARIA

    The U.S. on

    9 December inaugurated a $4 million aid program for

    Bulgarian towns along the River Danube that have been

    affected by the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia earlier this year,

    an RFE/RL correspondent reported. The towns depend

    heavily on the Danube as a trade route, but the river has

    been blocked since the bombing. VG

    [22] BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT PREPARES FOR Y2K

    The

    Bulgarian government on 9 December declared 3 January a

    non-working day in preparation for any potential Y2K

    problems, AP reported. Meanwhile, the Plama oil refinery

    announced that it will temporarily suspend operations at the

    turn of the new year to deal with potential disruptions in

    electricity and natural gas supplies. In other news, an

    explosion took place on Sofia's Narodno Subranie Square

    across from the parliament building, BTA reported. The blast

    broke the windows of a nearby cafe and bank, but no injuries

    were reported. Police are investigating the incident. VG


    [C] END NOTE

    [23] TIMOTHY GARTON ASH DISCUSSES 1989

    Timothy Garton Ash, the well-known British

    contemporary historian and a fervent advocate of rapid EU

    expansion to Eastern Europe, spoke to Elena Nikleva of

    RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service last month. Garton Ash was in

    Prague to moderate a high-level conference commemorating

    the 10th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution in the former

    Czechoslovakia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 1999).

    Asked about the several new dividing lines in Europe

    that he believes have replaced the Berlin Wall, Garton Ash

    responded that "there are now many dividing lines instead of

    one, and I think in 10 years' time there will be still many

    dividing lines. But I think one of the most dangerous

    doctrines of the [1990s] has been what I call vulgar

    Huntingtonism--the idea propagated by the [U.S.] political

    scientist Samuel Huntington that the great and enduring

    divide in Europe is precisely between the area that had

    Western Christianity and the area that had Orthodox

    Christianity or Islam."

    Garton Ash said that he has never supported "that sort

    of cultural determinism and I think it is both analytically wrong

    and politically misguided. I think it is terribly important that

    the process of the enlargement of the European Union and of

    Western structures continues and remains open not just to

    countries like Bulgaria, but also to parts of the former Soviet

    Union."

    Nikleva asked Garton Ash whether he agreed that only

    politicians--not ordinary people--were celebrating the 10th

    anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Wasn't this another

    new dividing line, one between elites and the people?

    "You are absolutely right that the celebrations of the

    10th anniversary have been largely media events and political

    events rather than popular events. Both in Berlin and here in

    Prague, I think there is a painful contrast between then and

    now, but that's perhaps not surprising. And of course one of

    the new divisions which you get, particularly in capitalism, is

    the division between rich and poor. But I don't think,

    whatever the odd public opinion poll says, that a majority of

    East Germans or even a significant minority of East Germans

    would want the old system back. Nor would I think [does]

    anyone else in post-communist Eastern and Central Europe."

    How long does Garton Ash think it will take for the three

    Baltic States and the Balkan countries to attain full EU

    membership?

    "I think that there is a good chance that in the next 10

    years southeastern Europe and indeed the Baltic States

    could come into a larger EU. I think the process of [EU]

    enlargement will continue and I think that the great challenge

    of the next 10 years is probably not southeastern Europe

    actually--because I think that this process has already begun,

    the process of enlargement--but the former Soviet Union, and

    there I think you could see a big dividing line between the

    former Soviet Union and the West of Europe. I believe [that]

    because of the West's engagement in the Kosovo war most

    politicians in the West now recognize that we have to get

    serious about reintegration of the Balkans [into Europe].

    Whether deeds will follow words, I'm not sure, but I believe I

    am going to be cautiously optimistic about that in the medium

    term."

    If "Europe" doesn't end in Central Europe, then where in

    his view does it end?

    "Europe doesn't end, it fades away. It fades away

    across the Eurasian continent somewhere between Moscow

    and Vladivostok. And it fades away into Turkey. These are

    the two open frontiers of Europe, and only a fool would say

    Europe ends here and draw a sharp line on the map. Frankly,

    [in the past] for most West Europeans, Europe ended on the

    East German border; and even today for many West

    Europeans, Europe ends on the Polish frontier. That's actually

    a considerable achievement for those of us who have

    advocated enlargement--that the definition of Europe even

    extends this far, and it even includes...Central Europe. My

    point is that that has set a precedent. And indeed the new

    European [Union] Executive Commission under [President]

    Romano Prodi has recognized this fact and they now

    envisage an EU of 30 to 35 states."

    Finally, Nikleva asked Garton Ash about the paradox that

    while there is much talk about the new millennium, there is not

    much talk about a new morality. Doesn't Europe need a new

    morality for the new millennium?

    "Well, it would be very nice, wouldn't it? There is a

    sense that something is going wrong in the sort of model of

    consumer democracy that post-communist Europe is taking

    over from the West--a bad copy of the West. I think in this

    part of the world--and by this part of the world I mean

    Bulgaria as well as the Czech Republic [and elsewhere]--you

    sense this malaise of consumer democracy. My contribution

    as a writer is to analyze the malaise, to expose it and

    certainly I think that better political leadership--a leadership

    that puts the long term before the short term--is one of the

    answers we need. But we also need more critical intellectuals

    who point out these problems and try to drag people away

    from the television screens."

    10-12-99


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


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