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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 3, No. 243, 99-12-16

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. 243, 16 December 1999


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER DETAINED
  • [02] AGREEMENT REACHED ON NEW WORLD BANK LOAN FOR ARMENIA
  • [03] ARMENIA RELEASES AZERBAIJANI POW
  • [04] AZERBAIJAN'S OPPOSITION REJECTS MUNICIPAL ELECTION RESULTS
  • [05] GEORGIA DENIES HOSTING CHECHEN-BEN LADEN MEETING
  • [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OUTLINES SECURITY PRIORITIES
  • [07] KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURES SEARCHED ON RETURN FROM FRANCE
  • [08] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2000 BUDGET
  • [09] TAJIKISTAN, BELARUS SIGN TRADE, ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS
  • [10] JAPAN TO FINANCE MODERNIZATION OF UZBEK AIRPORTS, TELECOM

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [11] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER WARNS YUGOSLAV ARMY
  • [12] NATO CONCERNED ABOUT MONTENEGRO
  • [13] MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE NEW PRESIDENT...
  • [14] ...AS TRAJKOVSKI TAKES OFFICE
  • [15] ALBANIA HAILS KOSOVA COUNCIL...
  • [16] ...WHILE SERBS SHUN IT
  • [17] YUGOSLAV ARMY SEEKS SCAPEGOATS
  • [18] SERBIAN FATHER REJECTS POSTHUMOUS AWARD FOR SON
  • [19] DRASKOVIC PARTY WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE
  • [20] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA COOPERATES WITH HAGUE TRIBUNAL
  • [21] ROMANIAN MEDIA SAYS GOVERNMENT TO BE HEADED BY
  • [22] ...AS RECOMMENDED BY OPPOSITION LEADER
  • [23] FORMER ROMANIAN MONARCH PARTICIPATES IN REVOLUTION
  • [24] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PREMIER
  • [25] COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSION REJECTS LUCINSCHI'S PRESIDENTIAL

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [26] RUSSIA MAY RISK SANCTIONS ON CHECHNYA

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN PRESIDENT'S FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER DETAINED

    Aleksan

    Harutiunian was detained late on 15 December by the military

    prosecutor investigating the 27 October parliament shootings,

    Noyan Tapan reported the following day. Harutiunian had

    submitted a letter of resignation to President Robert

    Kocharian earlier on 15 December in an attempt to end what he

    termed "immoral" speculation linking him to the organizer of

    the shootings, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Harutiunian

    had been summoned for questioning on two previous occasions,

    according to AP. Presidential spokesman Vahe Gabrielian told

    journalists later on 15 December that President Robert

    Kocharian has instructed the law enforcement agencies to

    conduct an "objective inquiry" into the rumors implicating

    Harutiunian. LF

    [02] AGREEMENT REACHED ON NEW WORLD BANK LOAN FOR ARMENIA

    Meeting

    in Yerevan on 15 December, Armenian Prime Minister Aram

    Sargsian and senior World Bank Judy O'Connor reached

    preliminary agreement on a new Structural Adjustment Credit

    for Armenia next year, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. The

    size of that loan, which will be used to cover part of

    Armenia's budget deficit, has not been specified. Sargsian's

    cabinet has not yet presented its draft budget for 2000. LF

    [03] ARMENIA RELEASES AZERBAIJANI POW

    As "a goodwill gesture,"

    the Armenian authorities on 15 December freed a 19-year-old

    Azerbaijani army conscript taken prisoner in September 1998

    on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, AP and ITAR-

    TASS reported. Armenia released three and Azerbaijan four

    prisoners in September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 20

    September 1999). LF

    [04] AZERBAIJAN'S OPPOSITION REJECTS MUNICIPAL ELECTION RESULTS

    Meeting in Baku on 15 December, representatives of the dozen

    Azerbaijani opposition parties aligned in the Democratic

    Congress refused to acknowledge the validity of the published

    results of the 12 December municipal elections, Turan

    reported. Democratic Congress chairman Shohrat Ismailov said

    the outcome of the poll had been falsified. "525 gazeti" on

    15 December quoted Musavat Party official as saying that 588

    of the party's total 2,556 candidates had been elected. Also

    on 15 December, the Central Electoral Commission declared

    invalid the poll results in one Baku constituency where only

    15,952 of the 38,176 votes cast were deemed valid. LF

    [05] GEORGIA DENIES HOSTING CHECHEN-BEN LADEN MEETING

    Georgian

    State Security Ministry spokesman Gela Suladze on 15 December

    rejected as fabrication an RIA Novosti report earlier that

    day that Chechen emissary Movladi Udugov had held secret

    talks in Tbilisi with a representative of Saudi- terrorist

    Osama bin Laden, Caucasus Press reported. The talks were said

    to have focused on arrangements for a Chechen government in

    exile headed by Udugov to fly later this week from Tbilisi to

    Karachi, from where they would travel to Afghanistan. Suladze

    said that Udugov has not visited Tbilisi for several months.

    Also on 15 December, Georgian Foreign Ministry spokesman

    Avtandil Napetvaridze denied a Russian media report claiming

    that OSCE observers who traveled to the Georgian-Chechen

    border earlier that day had seen Chechen militants on

    Georgian territory. LF

    [06] KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT OUTLINES SECURITY PRIORITIES

    In a 15

    December address to the nation, Nursultan Nazarbaev warned

    that the possibility of "spillover" from armed conflicts in

    neighboring countries will constitute "the main challenge" to

    Kazakhstan's security in the 21st century, Interfax reported.

    Further potential dangers are posed by religious and

    political extremism and drug-trafficking, he added. As

    pillars of the country's security strategy, Nazarbaev singled

    out increased security cooperation with Russia and China and

    between the "Shanghai Five" states (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,

    Russia, China and Tajikistan). He also identified the strong

    U.S. political and commercial presence in Kazakhstan as one

    of those pillars. Also on 15 December, Kazakhstan's Defense

    Minister Yerlan Idrisov told Interfax that the country's

    military doctrine, which will be approved early next year,

    will be "purely defensive." LF

    [07] KAZAKH OPPOSITION FIGURES SEARCHED ON RETURN FROM FRANCE

    Seven members of the Democratic Forum, which unites most

    Kazakh opposition parties and movements, were searched by

    National Security Committee officials at Almaty airport on 15

    December, RFE/RL's correspondent in the former capital

    reported. The opposition politicians, including Workers'

    Movement leader Madel Ismailov and a leading member of the

    Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan, were returning from

    a trip to Paris at the invitation of the French parliament.

    LF

    [08] KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT APPROVES 2000 BUDGET

    Legislators on 15

    December approved the amended budget for 2000 in the final

    reading, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. The revised budget

    envisages revenues of 9.7 billion soms (about $215 million)

    and expenditures of 9.5 billion soms, resulting in a modest

    surplus equivalent to 0.3 percent of GDP. GDP growth is

    projected at 3-4 percent and annual inflation at 20 percent,

    according to Interfax. LF

    [09] TAJIKISTAN, BELARUS SIGN TRADE, ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS

    A

    session in Dushanbe of the Tajik-Belarusian intergovernmental

    commission for trade and economic cooperation ended with the

    signing of three agreements on taxes and on establishing

    trade representations, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 15

    December. The possible creation of joint ventures was also

    discussed, including one producing tractors, but no concrete

    agreement was reached. LF

    [10] JAPAN TO FINANCE MODERNIZATION OF UZBEK AIRPORTS, TELECOM

    The Japanese government has granted a 15.5 billion yen ($149

    million) credit to help fund the reconstruction of the

    airports at Samarkand, Bukhara, and Urgench, Russian agencies

    reported on 15 December. In addition, Japan's Bank of

    International Cooperation has earmarked a 12.7 billion yen

    credit toward the ongoing expansion of Uzbekistan's

    telecommunications network. LF


    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [11] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER WARNS YUGOSLAV ARMY

    Filip

    Vujanovic said in an open letter to General Dragoljub

    Ojdanic, who is the army chief of staff, that there are no

    Montenegrin police forces "near" the Podgorica airport,

    Montenegrin Television reported on 15 December (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 15 December 1999). Vujanovic stressed that there

    is no reason for the military to place their forces at the

    airport on a heightened state of alert. He said that charges

    by the air force's General Spasoje Smiljanic that police

    units are illegally present at the airport constitute

    "disinformation...[aimed at] increasing tensions." PM

    [12] NATO CONCERNED ABOUT MONTENEGRO

    In Brussels on 15 December,

    NATO foreign ministers said in a statement that they are

    concerned about tensions between Belgrade and the

    "democratically elected government of Montenegro." U.S.

    Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott added that there

    will be no peace in the region without democracy in Serbia.

    The ministers urged Croatia to give fresh attention to

    implementing the Dayton peace agreement in Bosnia. PM

    [13] MACEDONIAN OPPOSITION REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE NEW PRESIDENT...

    Defeated Social Democratic presidential candidate Tito

    Petkovski and members of his party boycotted the 15 December

    presidential inauguration of Boris Trajkovski of the

    governing coalition. An unidentified Social Democratic party

    official told AP that his party considers Trajkovski only a

    "private citizen and not a legitimately elected president."

    The Social Democrats maintain that Trajkovski won because of

    numerous irregularities in the mainly ethnic Albanian western

    regions of Macedonia. They previously admitted defeat (see

    "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 December 1999). Critics charge that what

    really bothers the nationalistic Social Democrats is that

    ethnic Albanians cast the key votes necessary to elect

    Trajkovski. PM

    [14] ...AS TRAJKOVSKI TAKES OFFICE

    Trajkovski stressed in his

    presidential inaugural speech on 15 December that he intends

    to be the leader of all Macedonians regardless of their

    ethnicity. He added that he will "not allow ethnic hatred and

    intolerance undermine Macedonia's stability. The country's

    integrity is an issue on which there will be no compromise,"

    AP reported. PM

    [15] ALBANIA HAILS KOSOVA COUNCIL...

    Prime Minister Ilir Meta said

    in Tirana on 15 December that the formation of the new Kosova

    Interim Administrative Council is an "historic step" toward

    stability in the province, AP reported (see "RFE/RL

    Newsline," 15 December 1999). The council "will lead to the

    establishment of democratic institutions, thus opening the

    way for the preparation of free, democratic elections in

    Kosova," Meta added. He added that by signing the agreement

    that set up the council, the province's ethnic Albanians

    showed their willingness to live in peace with the Serbian

    minority. Meta stressed the commitment of the Albanian

    government "to support all processes for the democratization

    of life in Kosova and the entire region." PM

    [16] ...WHILE SERBS SHUN IT

    The Serbian National Council, which

    is the chief organization of Kosova's Serbian minority, said

    in a statement to the private news agency Beta on 15 December

    that the agreement setting up the interim council places the

    Serbs in a "humiliating and unacceptable position." The Serbs

    will join the new body only if they are given self-governing

    cantons. In Prishtina, the UN's Bernard Kouchner said that

    Serbs "are welcome [in his new council] and we have not

    stopped talking with them." He stressed that the Serbs

    themselves must decide whether to participate, AP reported.

    Kouchner previously rejected cantonization on the grounds

    that it would constitute a partition of the province along

    ethnic lines. The UN is committed to building a multi-ethnic

    Kosova. Kouchner recently said that he realizes that this

    goal is a long way off, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. PM

    [17] YUGOSLAV ARMY SEEKS SCAPEGOATS

    The Yugoslav military said in

    a statement published in the state-run daily "Politika" on 15

    December that it will try retired Colonel Sulejman Ajetovic

    in a military court for allegedly passing confidential

    information on the movements and strength of Serbian forces

    to Kosovar guerrillas during the recent conflict. Ajetovic is

    an ethnic Muslim from Medvedja in southern Serbia near the

    border with Kosova. Elsewhere, several army officers repeated

    charges made in the regime media that former General Momcilo

    Perisic also aided the Kosovar cause in the conflict, "Vesti"

    reported. Perisic now heads a small opposition party. "Danas"

    noted on 16 December that Perisic has filed legal charges

    against some of his accusers. PM

    [18] SERBIAN FATHER REJECTS POSTHUMOUS AWARD FOR SON

    The father

    of 20 year-old soldier Aleksandar Vukovic, who was killed in

    the recent conflict in Kosova, has returned to the Kraljevo

    military command a medal posthumously awarded Aleksandar. The

    father said in his letter: "This decoration was posthumously

    conferred to my son because he gave his life for his

    homeland. But he did not give his life for the homeland, but

    rather for Marko Milosevic [Yugoslav President Slobodan

    Milosevic's playboy son, who did not serve at the front] and

    his family.... I asked the colonel [in the Kraljevo command]

    to return to Milosevic this decoration and this letter that

    Milosevic awarded to me, to give it to his own family,

    because all members of his family are sitting together during

    their meals while we have ours at my son's grave," the

    private news agency Beta reported on 15 December. PM

    [19] DRASKOVIC PARTY WALKS OUT OF PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEE

    Representatives of the Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO) walked

    out of a meeting of the parliament's Judiciary Committee on

    the grounds that deputies from the ruling coalition were not

    willing to discuss seriously the SPO's call for early

    elections at all levels of government. Party officials said

    on 15 December that they will now decide on their next move.

    One official stressed, however, that "we do not want chaos,

    we do not want civil war," Reuters reported. PM

    [20] REPUBLIKA SRPSKA COOPERATES WITH HAGUE TRIBUNAL

    A UN

    spokesman said in Banja Luka on 15 December that experts from

    the Hague-based war crimes tribunal are questioning seven

    suspects in the Bosnian Serb capital. A lawyer for two of the

    suspects told AP that this procedure is being used for the

    first time in the Republika Srpska. He added that it allows

    suspects to participate in their cases from an early stage

    and not become involved "only after they have been arrested."

    In another first, Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Milorad Dodik

    and Justice Minister Milan Trbojevic will visit The Hague

    soon. Meanwhile in Munich, a Bavarian court sentenced

    Djurdadj Kusljic to life imprisonment for genocide and for

    the murder of six Muslims in 1992, when he was a Bosnian Serb

    police chief, the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" reported. PM

    [21] ROMANIAN MEDIA SAYS GOVERNMENT TO BE HEADED BY

    'TECHNOCRAT'...

    Romanian media on 15 December reported that

    Mugur Isarescu, governor of Romania's National Bank, will be

    designated as Romania's next premier. Mediafax said that

    Isarescu was called to the presidential palace, where he

    participated in the ongoing consultations between President

    Emil Constantinescu and leaders of the coalition parties.

    Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Chairman Bela

    Marko, interviewed by Romanian Radio on 16 December, said it

    is "very probable" that Isarescu will head the next

    government and that changes in the cabinet's line-up are also

    likely. Romanian Radio cited AFP as reporting that Isarescu

    has demanded "full freedom" in the choice of ministers. The

    radio added that the cabinet will have five deputy premiers.

    According to a 15 December Mediafax report, one of those

    deputies will be Democratic Party leader Petre Roman, who is

    currently Senate chairman. MS

    [22] ...AS RECOMMENDED BY OPPOSITION LEADER

    After talks with

    Constantinescu on how to solve the cabinet crisis, Party of

    Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) Chairman Ion Iliescu told

    journalists that he recommended that the government be headed

    by an unaffiliated "technocrat" and that its main task be the

    organization of next elections, as was the case of Theodor

    Stolojan's government in 1991-1992. Iliescu also said he told

    Constantinescu that the president "walked into a

    constitutional trap" by unlawfully dismissing Radu Vasile as

    premier. Constantinescu "had agreed" with him, he added.

    Iliescu said the PDSR, which is boycotting parliamentary

    debates, will not return to the parliament until the

    constitutional crisis is resolved by either a no-confidence

    vote in the outgoing cabinet or by Vasile's resignation. MS

    [23] FORMER ROMANIAN MONARCH PARTICIPATES IN REVOLUTION

    CELEBRATIONS

    Former King Michael will give a speech from the

    steps of the Orthodox Cathedral in Timisoara, where

    festivities marking the 10th anniversary of the uprising

    against the communist regime begin on 16 December, Romanian

    Radio reported the same day. MS

    [24] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT NOMINATES NEW PREMIER

    Dumitru Barghis,

    who was first deputy minister of economy and reform in Ion

    Sturza and Ion Ciubuc's cabinets, has been designated to form

    the new government, Flux reported on 16 December. President

    Petru Lucinschi read out in the parliament the decree

    nominating Barghis. Barghis has 15 days to form a cabinet,

    but Lucinschi said Barghis will present the list of ministers

    on 22 December, after consulting all parliamentary parties.

    Barghis is 42 years old and an engineer by training. MS

    [25] COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSION REJECTS LUCINSCHI'S PRESIDENTIAL

    RULE PROPOSAL

    Experts from the Venice Commission of the

    Council of Europe who examined Lucinschi's proposal to change

    from a semi- to a full-presidential system have negatively

    evaluated that suggestion, parliamentary deputy Vladimir

    Slonari told journalists on 15 December. Slonari said the

    experts concluded that the envisaged change would lead to too

    high a concentration of power in the president's hands at the

    expense of the parliament. This, they said, would run

    "contrary to European democratic principles," Infotag

    reported. Slonari said that "if Moldova considers itself a

    civilized state," it should comply with the commission's

    recommendations. MS


    [C] END NOTE

    [26] RUSSIA MAY RISK SANCTIONS ON CHECHNYA

    By Michael Lelyveld

    U.S. analysts say Russia may risk sanctions if it

    continues the war in Chechnya and thereby inflict further

    damage on its relations with the West.

    International tension has risen in the past week with

    the Russian campaign to capture Grozny and the growing number

    of displaced persons. Moscow's rejection of U.S. and European

    appeals to end the fighting has led to calls for penalties,

    including cutting off aid.

    Last week, "The New York Times" columnist William Safire

    linked the war to Russia's bid to control pipeline routes

    from the Caspian region and urged a series of steps including

    suspension of IMF loans. The conservative newspaper

    commentator also advocated a halt to financing by the U.S.

    Export-Import Bank and steps to lower world oil prices,

    depriving Russia of income to pay for the war.

    The recommendations go beyond those of U.S. presidential

    candidates, including Republican Texas Governor George W.

    Bush, who has said that Russia should not expect multilateral

    loans if civilians in Chechnya are bombed.

    In interviews with RFE/RL, some U.S. analysts say that

    the risk of sanctions will increase as Western sentiment

    intensifies against the war.

    Richard Haass, director of foreign policy at the

    Brookings Institution in Washington, commented that each day,

    there will be more and more pressure on Western governments

    to do something.

    While Haass said he believes that unilateral sanctions

    are generally ineffective, he noted that the disposition

    toward penalties appears even stronger in Europe than in the

    U.S.

    At the EU summit in Helsinki on 10-11 December, the

    leaders of the 15 member states of the EU stopped short of

    calling for sanctions. But they condemned Russian actions in

    Chechnya, threatened to review the EU relationship with

    Russia, and vowed strict enforcement of trade agreements,

    saying that some terms have not been fulfilled. There were

    also signs of softening in Moscow's line as officials

    extended the deadline for the bombardment of Grozny and

    offered safe passage to its citizens.

    Although experts see a growing risk of harsh measures if the

    war continues, some warn that sanctions against Russia would

    be both ineffective and destructive.

    Geoffrey Kemp, director of regional strategic programs

    at the Nixon Center in Washington, remarked that, "We could

    make matters worse very easily. If we slap sanctions on the

    Russians and do some of the other things that have been

    proposed, that is almost a guarantee that they will misbehave

    in the Caucasus and the Caspian."

    But analysts acknowledge that last week's low point in

    Russian relations was driven by an outburst of nationalism,

    evident not only in Chechnya but in Kremlin activities

    ranging from the union treaty with Belarus to the fielding of

    a new batch of Topol-M missiles. The analysts say the trend

    appears to be one of greater East-West frictions that could

    lead to retaliation.

    Robert Ebel, director of the energy and security program

    at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in

    Washington, said nationalism is also at the heart of the

    dispute over the Tyumen Oil company's takeover of a Sidanko

    subsidiary, despite protests from BP Amoco and other Western

    shareholders.

    Last week, the U.S. Export-Import Bank faced pressure to

    cancel $500 million in pending loan guarantees for Tyumen Oil

    as a result of the takeover. Such a move could lead to a

    further deterioration of bilateral ties and trade.

    If relations continue to worsen, another potential

    target is the Italian-Russian project known as Blue Stream to

    pipe gas across the Black Sea to Turkey.

    The plan could be particularly vulnerable because Russia

    is paying for the Chechnya war with increased oil earnings.

    Blue Stream promises to bring Moscow an estimated $3-4

    billion in new revenues from gas. The venture between ENI of

    Italy and Russia's Gazprom also flies in the face of a U.S.-

    backed plan to supply Turkey with a trans-Caspian line from

    Turkmenistan through Azerbaijan and Georgia.

    The government of Italy, which owns 36 percent of ENI,

    has been vocal in its opposition to Russian actions in the

    war. Last week, Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema called

    the bombing of Chechnya "horrible" and "unacceptable." In

    Turkey, the opposition Islamist Virtue Party has gone even

    further, accusing Russia of genocide. An official of ENI,

    contacted by RFE/RL, declined to comment on the tensions or

    potential repercussions for the Blue Stream project.

    Robert Ebel of the Center for Strategic and

    International Studies said that European countries have often

    separated their political disagreements from their business

    dealings. As a result, Ebel said, Blue Stream is unlikely to

    be affected by European reactions to the war.

    But there could still be threats to such investments

    should the war continue, particularly if columnists like

    Safire continue to link energy projects to Russia's agenda in

    the Caucasus. Diplomatic protests and aid delays may convince

    Moscow to end the war, but if not, critics are bound to look

    for other ways to bring pressure to bear.

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

    16-12-99


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


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