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Newsline - April 14, 1999




VOTE TO DELAY IMPEACHMENT FALLS SHORT

A vote to delay a debate on the impeachment of Russian President Boris Yeltsin failed to pass the State Duma on 14 April, just 20 votes short of the 226 needed. The previous day, Duma faction leaders agreed to delay the debate to mid-May, but some members of the Communist Party opposed such a long delay. A compromise decision is expected to emerge after a new meeting of faction leaders with Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev on 14 April, Interfax reported. The debate was originally scheduled for 15 April. JAC

U.S., RUSSIA HOLD TALKS ON KOSOVA...

After an almost four- hour meeting in Oslo with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on 13 April, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told reporters that Russia and the U.S. agreed that future work is necessary to devise "an acceptable form of international presence in [Kosova] to ensure conditions for a political settlement." The two did agree on some basic principles for a peaceful resolution to the crisis, such as the end of violence in Kosova, the army's withdrawal from the area, and the return of refugees, ITAR-TASS reported. Ivanov called the discussion "very useful" but "difficult." Ivanov added that a meeting of G-8 foreign ministers will take place in "a matter of days." JAC

...AS RUSSIA REPEATS OLD THREATS, ACCUSATIONS RE NATO

The same day, the Russian Foreign Ministry repeated accusations that the U.S. is supplying military aid to the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), citing reports in British newspapers about alleged U.S. secret talks with the UCK. In addition, Defense Minister Igor Sergeev repeated an earlier threat that Russia may withdraw its peacekeepers from Bosnia- Herzegovina and send more warships to the Mediterranean in response to continuing NATO air strikes. "Segodnya" reported on 10 April that Sergeev has maintained a less bellicose public posture on the Kosova issue than some of his fellow officials at the Defense Ministry, such as the director of the department for international military cooperation, Colonel General Leonid Ivashov, and the commander of the Far East Military District, Colonel General Viktor Chechevatov. According to the newspaper, the Kremlin is displeased that these officers have publicly expressed positions at odds with President Yeltsin's. JAC

CHERNOMYRDIN TAPPED FOR PEACEMAKER ROLE IN BALKANS

President Yeltsin signed a decree on 14 April appointing former Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin as presidential envoy to Yugoslavia, presidential spokesman Dmitrii Yakushkin told reporters. Yeltsin apparently decided not to avail himself of the services of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who offered himself for the role during a television interview the previous day, Interfax reported. In other personnel news, first deputy head of the presidential administration Oleg Sysuev told ITAR-TASS that Nikolai Bordyuzha, former head of the presidential administration and secretary of the Security Council, will be appointed to head the State Customs Committee. JAC

U.S. SUPPORTING ISRAEL'S CLOSER RELATIONS WITH RUSSIA?

In its coverage of the visit of Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon to Moscow, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 13 April that according to its sources in the Israeli government, Israel's recent policy of wooing Russia "has been approved by Washington" because the U.S. "fears that its tense relations with Russia could push it into the embrace of such odious regimes as Iran, Iraq, and Syria." According to the daily, in his discussion with Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 12 April, Sharon made it clear that "the friendship is possible only after Russia discontinues the leakage of technologies to Iran and missile deliveries to Syria." Syrian President Hafez Assad recently postponed a visit scheduled for 12-13 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 1999). On 13 April, Sharon told Interfax that about 2 million people in the former Soviet Union can claim Israeli citizenship under its repatriation law. JAC

GOVERNORS DIVIDED ON ISSUE OF LARGER SLAVIC UNION...

Federation Council members expressed mixed reactions to the idea of expanding the Union of Belarus and Russia to include Yugoslavia. Both Lipetsk Oblast Governor Oleg Korolev and Ryazan Oblast Governor Vyacheslav Lyubimov spoke in favor of the larger confederation. Lyubimov told ITAR-TASS on 13 April that Yugoslavia's admission might persuade the world community that Russia "has something up its sleeve" and halt combat operations in the Balkans. However, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug Governor Aleksandr Nazarov said such a union would be disadvantageous to Russia in every respect, while Karelia Republic legislative assembly speaker Valentina Pivenko called the proposal "dangerous" because it would draw Russia into the conflict. In his recent address to leaders of Russia's republics, President Yeltsin pledged to consult with them on foreign policy issues, particularly on the union of Russia and Belarus (see "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 14 April 1999). The head of 17 of Russia's 21 republics issued a statement on 13 April calling on the State Duma to stop impeachment proceedings. JAC

...AS DUMA MOVES FORWARD?

The Duma authorized its Committee on Legislation, Judicial and Legal Reform and its Committee on International Affairs to draw up a draft decision calling on President Yeltsin to sign a treaty establishing the Russia-Belarus-Yugoslavia union, Duma Chairman Gennadii Seleznev told reporters on 13 April. The same day, the presidential envoy to the Duma, Aleksandr Kotenkov, told ITAR-TASS that although the president supports the idea of including Yugoslavia, the issue is an extremely difficult one requiring more than "just two or three weeks" of serious calculation. He added that "unification will cause us a serious economic headache and we should calculate what advantages, apart from geostrategic, such a union will give us." The next day only 84 Duma members voted in favor of a motion to put the issue of the expanded union on the legislature's agenda, Russian Television reported. That was well short of the 226 votes needed. JAC

ANGRY TEACHERS SEIZE ADMINISTRATOR'S OFFICE

Teachers in ten cities and villages in the Sverdlovsk Oblast stayed away from classes on 13 April to protest unpaid wages, ITAR-TASS reported. In Kushva, angry teachers seized the office of the head of the local administration and have so far resisted attempts by administration and police officials to leave. Last week, the information department of the oblast government reported that the oblast's government had managed to reduce the amount of wages still owed to state workers for 1998 by 19 million rubles ($760,000), Interfax-Eurasia reported on 7 April. Currently, the debt stands at 163.78 million rubles. Meanwhile, in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskii in the Kamchatka Oblast, teachers are continuing the second week of their strike called to demand the payment of six months of back wages. JAC

INDIAN DEFENSE OFFICIAL'S VISIT POSTPONED

A visit by Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes scheduled for 12 April was postponed at India's request, Interfax reported on 13 April. According to the agency, the visit had to be rescheduled for "internal political reasons." The same day, Russia expressed concern over India's test of a medium- range ballistic missile on 11 April, saying that it could undermine stability in the region. On 14 April a "high- ranking military diplomatic source" told ITAR-TASS that Pakistan's ballistic missile test undertaken in response to India's "could lead to a further build-up in the nuclear arms race in Asia." Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will visit Moscow from 19-22 April. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT AVOIDS PRIMAKOV MEETING

Presidential spokesman Mairbek Vachagaev told Interfax on 13 April that because of other engagements Aslan Maskhadov will not travel to the North Ossetian capital, Vladikavkaz, on 17 April to meet with Russian Premier Primakov, who is to attend a meeting of leaders of north Caucasus republics. Following the 5 March abduction in Grozny of Russian Interior Ministry General Gennadii Shpigun, Maskhadov called for an urgent meeting between himself and President Yeltsin to "defuse tensions," but Russian officials suggested that a meeting between Maskhadov and Primakov would be more appropriate. LF




ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT FAILS IN BID TO LOWER ENERGY TARIFS

Opposition deputies failed on 13 April to pass in the second and final reading a bill that would have reduced energy tariffs by 25 percent to their 1998 level, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Only 89 of the parliament's 190 deputies voted in favor of the bill, while the Armenian Constitution requires that an absolute majority must vote in favor to pass legislation amending government expenditures or revenues. Eduard Yegorian of the Hayrenik faction, who drafted the bill, insisted that the bill's passage was legal, and said he will appeal to the Constitutional Court if President Robert Kocharian fails to sign it into law. Many of the pro-government Yerkrapah deputies boycotted the session rather than risk jeopardizing voter support in the 30 May parliamentary poll. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S EX-PRESIDENT COMMENTS ON FOREIGN POLICY

In a telephone interview with Turan on 13 April, Ayaz Mutalibov expressed approval of the Azerbaijani leadership's decision not to renew the country's membership in the CIS Collective Security Treaty. But Mutalibov attributed to "despair" recent proposals by Azerbaijani officials that the country should host either a NATO or U.S. military base, warning that the West is unlikely to agree to such a move and that it would inevitably exacerbate Azerbaijan's already strained relations with Russia. He said he thinks it unlikely that any state, even Turkey, would risk a war with Russia over Azerbaijan. Mutalibov said he considers the proposal that Azerbaijan should form a confederation with Turkey "inexpedient" as it would entail the loss of Azerbaijan's independence. LF

EXPORT OF AZERBAIJANI OIL VIA RUSSIA RESUMES

Chechnya recommenced the pumping of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil through its sector of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline on 12 April, two weeks after halting it because of Russia's failure to pay back debts for security of that pipeline, Interfax and Turan reported on 13 April. The Azerbaijan International Operating Company, the sole western consortium currently exporting oil from Azerbaijan, has again upped production from the Chirag field which was cut by half as a result of the closure of the northern pipeline (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). LF

AZERBAIJANI INTERIOR MINISTRY ISSUES BAN ON BODYGUARDS

Interior Minister Ramil Usubov has issued a ruling that leaders of Azerbaijani political parties may no longer be accompanied by bodyguards, Turan reported on 12 April. The ruling follows an incident on 9 April in which a police official is reported to have rammed the car of National Independence Party of Azerbaijan chairman Etibar Mamedov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 April 1999). It is not clear what measures the ministry plans to take to enforce the ruling. LF

ABKHAZ READY TO RELEASE MEMBER OF DETAINED FISHING CREW?

Georgian Intelligence Service chief Avtandil Ioseliani and his Abkhaz counterpart, Astamur Tarba, have reached agreement on the release of a woman crew member of the Georgian fishing vessel intercepted in Abkhaz territorial waters on 3 April, Caucasus Press reported on 14 April (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999). Negotiations are continuing on exchanging her nine fellow crew members for four Abkhaz believed to be held by Georgian guerrillas. LF

GEORGIAN EX-PRESIDENT'S SON WANTED IN SHOOTING INCIDENT

Georgian police want to question Tsotne Gamsakhurdia, the elder of the late president's two sons, in connection with an incident in Tbilisi on 12 April in which he shot and wounded a member of the Georgian water polo team, ITAR-TASS and Caucasus Press reported. Gamsakhurdia is believed to be in Batumi where he is employed as an assistant to the city mayor. LF

TRANSCAUCASUS DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET

The defense ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Vazgen Sargsian and Safar Abiev, accepted an invitation from their Georgian counterpart, David Tevzadze, to a meeting in the Georgian government residence at Tsinandali on 12 April, Caucasus Press reported two days later quoting Georgian Deputy Defense Minister Giorgi Katamadze. Katamadze did not divulge details of the talks other than to say that the Nagorno- Karabakh conflict was not discussed. He added that the three defense ministers plan to meet again in Georgia in early May. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S NATIONAL BANK CHAIRMAN BRIEFS PRESIDENT

Kadyrzhan Damitov told President Nursultan Nazarbaev in Almaty on 13 April that the tenge is stabilizing after dropping sharply in value last week, RFE/RL's Almaty bureau reported. The exchange rate of the tenge to the U.S. dollar was fixed at 113.45 on 13 April, up from 117.5 on 9 April. But in eastern Kazakhstan, traders were demanding 138 tenge to the dollar, and some exchange offices in Astana remain closed because of a shortage of hard currency, according to RFE/RL correspondents. LF

HUNGER STRIKES IN KAZAKHSTAN

Hundreds of employees of an oil and gas research facility in Mangyastau, western Kazakhstan, are in the fifteenth day of a hunger strike to demand that the government and the state oil company KAZAKOIL pay their wage arrears for the past two years, RFE/RL correspondents in the region reported on 14 April. And in the oblast center of Qyzyl-Orda, seven local women have embarked on a hunger strike to demand their salaries for the last 18 months. The leader of that initiative told RFE/RL's Almaty bureau that several families in the oblast have recently died of hunger. LF

KYRGYZSTAN'S PRESIDENT BEGINS STATE VISIT TO INDIA

Askar Akaev met in New Delhi on 13 April with leading Indian officials, including President K.R. Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Topics discussed included bilateral relations and cooperation in agriculture, electronics, civil aviation, and tourism. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION, MEDIA CRITICIZE NEW PERSONNEL APPOINTMENTS

In an editorial on 14 April, the independent Kyrgyz weekly "Aalam" said that the appointment of Amangeldi MurAliyev as prime minister will only strengthen the tensions between the southern and northern regions of the country, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 13 April. The paper characterized MurAliyev as "too gentle" to conduct a ruthless crackdown on corruption, while the opposition "Res Publica" weekly on 13 April described him as "indecisive" and not capable of standing up to the president. Meanwhile, parliament deputies Dosbol Nur Uulu and Abasamat MasAliyev criticized President Akaev's appointment of 31-year-old Temirbek AkmatAliyev to succeed MurAliyev as governor of Osh oblast, the country's largest. An agronomist by training, AkmatAliyev had previously served in the presidential administration and, since early 1998, as governor of the small Talas oblast. The deputies argued that AkmatAliyev is too inexperienced to discharge his new duties competently. They accused Akaev of entrusting senior posts only to politicians who, like himself, come from the Kemin district of Chu oblast. LF

TAJIK GOVERNMENT DELEGATION VISITS TASHKENT

Tajik Prime Minister Yakhye Azimov flew to Tashkent on 13 April to discuss the implementation of agreements reached by Presidents Islam Karimov and Imomali Rakhmonov during their 90-minute talk on the sidelines of the 8-9 April Central Asian summit in Ashgabat, AP-Blitz reported on 14 April. Azimov and his Uzbek counterpart, Utkur Sultanov, discussed cooperation in the spheres of customs, border and land, passenger and cargo transit, and the supply and transit of natural gas to Tajikistan. "Vremya MN" on 13 April quoted Karimov as characterizing his talks with Rakhmonov as "an honest and frank exchange of opinions," in which Rakhmonov said "mutual understanding" was reached and "all problems were resolved." Karimov underscored that economic ties between the two countries did not suffer from the cooling in relations that followed Rakhmonov's charges that Uzbekistan had abetted the insurgency launched in November 1998 by rebel colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 November 1998). LF




LUKASHENKA FLIES TO BELGRADE

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka flew to Belgrade on 14 April to meet with Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. According to ITAR-TASS, Lukashenka told journalists before departing that his trip is "to continue the mission of Russian Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov." ITAR-TASS also reported that NATO informed Lukashenka that his flight to Yugoslavia would be undesirable, while Lukashenka's deputy chief of staff Ivan Pashkevich said NATO "has not officially responded to our request" regarding Lukashenka's trip. Belarusian Television reported on 13 April that Russian President Boris Yeltsin has instructed "appropriate Russian structures" to guarantee the safety of Lukashenka's flight to Belgrade. JM

BELARUS-RUSSIAN INTEGRATION BODY HOLDS SESSION IN MINSK

The Executive Committee of the Union of Belarus and Russia met in Minsk on 13 April to discuss about 20 economic issues. The meeting ended with the signing of two government agreements on control over exports and on price regulation in the transport, communication, and gas sectors. Russian First Deputy Premier Vadim Gustov commented that "we are fulfilling instructions of both presidents in order to sign--apparently, in June, because we have so far not been given another date--this fateful agreement between Russia and Belarus." Lukashenka and Yeltsin agreed on 25 December last year to prepare by mid- 1999 a treaty on a Belarusian-Russian union state. JM

EU WANTS UKRAINE TO CONTINUE KOSOVA PEACE EFFORTS...

The foreign ministers of Germany, Austria, and Finland--Joschka Fischer, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and Tarja Halonen--along with EU Foreign Relations Commissioner Hans van der Broek, met with President Leonid Kuchma and Foreign Minister Borys Tarasyuk in Kyiv on 13 April. The EU visitors praised Kuchma's initiatives to settle the Kosova conflict and urged him to pursue Ukrainian peace efforts, Interfax reported. Fischer told journalists after the meeting that, according to the EU's stance, all Serbian troops must leave Kosova to allow refugees to return. He also spoke in favor of a UN-sanctioned military force to keep peace in Kosova. Tarasyuk said Ukraine is ready to send troops to Kosova, provided that international peacekeeping forces operate under UN or OSCE command. JM

...URGES UKRAINE TO IMPROVE HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer also said in Kyiv that if Ukraine wants to integrate into Europe it should ensure more efficient protection of human rights, including the abolishment of the death penalty, AP reported. Ukraine wants to sign a free-trade agreement with the EU and join it as an associate member, but has so far failed to meet the Council of Europe's requirements to ban the death penalty and approve other legislation on human rights protection. JM

KUCHMA WANTS REFORMS TO BE MORE SOCIALLY ORIENTED

The Ukrainian president told a meeting at the Labor and Social Policy Ministry on 13 April that "the social dimension of the reforms underway must be their dominant feature and the social factor must be regarded as a major ingredient of stabilization and economic growth." He criticized the performance of the cabinet in the sphere of social policy but ruled out any significant cabinet reshuffles until the presidential elections on 31 October. "The people and myself have run out of patience, [but] a reshuffle would serve no good purpose," he said. JM

SECOND COURT ACQUITS ESTONIAN FINANCE MINISTER

The Tallinn District Court on 13 April acquitted Siim Kallas of fraud in the so-called $10 million affair, upholding an earlier ruling by the Tallinn Municipal Court, ETA reported. Last month, on the eve of the general elections, Kallas was cleared of those charges, which were made against him in his former capacity as governor of the Central Bank in 1993. The prosecutor, who had demanded a one-year suspended sentence for Kallas, can now appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court. JC

LATVIAN SOCIAL BUDGET DEFICIT TO TOTAL SOME $166 MILLION?

The Finance Ministry has predicted that the deficit in this year's social budget could total 96 million lats (some $166 million), exceeding the planned shortfall by almost 60 million lats, LETA reported on 13 April. Minister of Finance Ivars Godmanis informed the parliamentary Budget and Finance Commission that in the first three months of this year, the deficit was 22 million lats. He added that the government will soon come up with a proposal to review and amend legislation related to pension payments in order to reduce the deficit. Social expenditures have increased, largely because of an 8.8 percent hike in pensions last year, the recalculation of pensions, and the indexing of pensions for those over 80. JC

MAZEIKIU NAFTA LOST SOME $5 MILLION EARLIER THIS YEAR

The Lithuanian oil concern Mazeikiu Nafta had losses totaling 19.4 million litas ($4.85 million) earlier this year when deliveries of crude to the plant were discontinued, ELTA reported on 13 April. The oil refinery lay idle for 16 days, during which time repairs were carried out. According to a commission formed by the Economy Ministry, the shortage of crude can be attributed to curtailed Russian oil exports, the absence of long-term contracts for crude deliveries, and mistakes by the management of the oil refinery. JC

POLISH PRESIDENT IN VILNIUS

Following a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, Valdas Adamkus, in Vilnius on 13 April, Aleksander Kwasniewski told journalists that Poland, as a new member state of NATO, is now able to advocate from within the alliance that the Baltic states also be admitted, ELTA reported. The Polish leader vowed that he will raise the issue of further expansion at the Washington summit later this month. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gediminas Vagnorius assured Kwasniewski that the ongoing administrative reform in Lithuania will not harm the interests of the country's Polish community. The two leaders rated both countries' records vis-a-vis their national minorities as positive. JC

POLAND TO SEND TROOPS TO HELP KOSOVA REFUGEES

The Polish government on 13 April decided to send some 120 infantry soldiers to Albania to help set up camps for Kosova refugees. President Aleksander Kwasniewski, who must approve any dispatch of troops abroad as chief commander of Poland's Armed Forces, said the same day that he will sign his agreement as soon as he returns to Warsaw from his visit to Lithuania. Prime Minister Jerzy Buzek said Poland will receive 1,000 Kosova refugees now staying in Macedonia and Albania. Deputy Prime Minister Leszek Balcerowicz announced that 4 million zlotys ($1 million) has been earmarked for this operation in addition to the 2 million zlotys assigned earlier for Poland's Kosova relief effort. JM

CZECHS BACKING POSSIBLE 'BALKAN MINI-MARSHALL PLAN'

Foreign Minister Jan Kavan on 13 April told journalists that at NATO's meeting of foreign ministers the previous day he had expressed support for the "idea of a mini- Marshall plan" for the Balkans. Kavan said that despite the growing crisis, it is necessary to think about the future of this region, [which has been] enormously affected by the war." He also said NATO must prevent the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) from becoming militarily strong after the Yugoslav withdrawal from the province and must take a hard line against possible UCK belligerence, CTK and Reuters reported. Earlier, Kavan told CTK that President Vaclav Havel's warning that Czech behavior in the Kosova crisis could jeopardize the further enlargement of NATO was due to the "cacophony of noises now heard on the Czech political scene." MS

VISEGRAD GROUP TO MEET IN BRATISLAVA

Slovak Foreign Ministry state secretary Jan Figel on 13 April told journalists that the premiers of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia will meet in Bratislava on 14 May to revive the "Visegrad cooperation group," CTK reported. "Slovakia is returning where it naturally belongs," Figel said, adding that this "new beginning" can help Bratislava in its quest to be included with the EU "fast track" candidates as well promote its candidacy to NATO and the OECD, to which the other three Visegrad countries have already been admitted. Figel spoke after talks with his Czech, Hungarian, and Polish counterparts, who all expressed support for Slovakia's accession to these organizations. MS

HUNGARIAN OFFICIALS TURNED BACK AT YUGOSLAV BORDER

The Yugoslav authorities on 13 April refused entry to two Hungarian custom officials, declaring them persona non grata. The officials were escorting the Russian convoy allowed to proceed to Yugoslavia after being held up at the Hungarian-Ukrainian border (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 April 1999) and their task was to check that the transport is used for humanitarian purposes and the convoy returns from Yugoslavia. A spokesman for the Hungarian Civil Guards said that due to the incident, similar shipments may not be allowed to transit Hungary in the future, Hungarian media reported. MS




SERBS AGAIN USING SYSTEMATIC RAPE?

British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London on 13 April that numerous independent accounts by Kosovar women indicate that the Serbian forces are using systematic rape as an instrument of policy as they did in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Many women said that they were forced to have sex with Serbian soldiers in full view of their own families. Cook noted that "this completes the pattern of brutality of [Yugoslav President Slobodan] Milosevic's forces in Bosnia," the BBC reported. Milosevic's Tanjug news agency dismissed the charges of systematic rape as "propaganda." Observers note that Kosovar and Bosnian Muslim societies are very conservative and that extramarital sex by women can lead to lasting shame for them and their families. The Hamburg-based weekly "Der Spiegel" noted on 12 April that Serbian forces regularly humiliate and physically abuse their victims as part of the ethnic cleansing campaign. PM

NATO INVESTIGATES REPORTS OF 'RAPE CAMP'

A spokesman for the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 13 April that NATO is investigating reports that Serbian forces have set up a camp in Gjakova where Kosovar women are raped and killed. Another spokesman added that refugees' reports of systematic rape and other war crimes "are taking on the proportions of an encyclopedia." He concluded that "it is difficult to believe that something bad isn't happening. I fear that when this crisis ends and the international organizations--in particular the war crimes tribunal--are able to go into [Kosova], our worst fears are going to be confirmed." In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman said that the reports of systematic rape constitute "a very eerie and disturbing echo of documented instances of rape and killing of women in Bosnia during the Bosnia war." PM

MORE EVIDENCE OF ATROCITIES?

NATO is investigating reports of what may be a fresh mass grave at Velika Krusa between Prizren and Gjakova, the VOA's Croatian Service reported on 14 April. At Kacanik near the Macedonian border, the Kosova Liberation Army's (UCK) Kosova Press agency reported the previous day that Serbian forces "massacred" some 45 ethnic Albanians on 9 April. The UCK claimed that only 12 of the 45 were fighters and that the rest were civilians. The report has not been independently confirmed. Elsewhere, Mirjana Markovic, who is a prominent Serbian communist and the wife of Milosevic, told a leading Italian talk show that "the [Kosovar] Albanians shouldn't fear anyone, especially not the Serbs," AP reported. PM

NATO BOMBS BELGRADE AS LUKASHENKA VISITS

The Atlantic alliance "launched a very powerful attack" on the Serbian capital in the morning of 14 April, AFP reported. The bombing took place as Milosevic met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. A Serbian spokesman called the attack "a rude gesture to demonstrate NATO's military might," AP reported. The previous day in Washington, President Bill Clinton said that "now we are taking our allied air campaign to the next level with more aircraft in the region, with a British carrier joining our 'USS Roosevelt' and a French carrier in the area." In the Pentagon, a spokesman added that there will soon be "a very significant increase in [the number of] aircraft" available for strikes against Serbian targets. In Brussels, General Wesley Clark, who is NATO's top military commander, said he wants 300 additional U.S. aircraft, which would bring the total to some 1,000 planes. PM

SERBIAN FORCES ENTER ALBANIA

Around 100 Serbian troops crossed into Albania on 13 April, seized control of the border village of Kamenica and fought a running battle with border police and regular army troops for several hours, Information Minister Musa Ulqini told AP. The Serbian troops withdrew later in the day after destroying several houses. OSCE monitors confirmed the report. A Serbian General Staff spokesman called the account a "loathsome lie" and accused the OSCE monitors of bias. Elsewhere, two rockets exploded near Kruma in the Has Mountains on 13 April. It is not clear who fired the rockets, but observers speculated that Yugoslav troops targeted a nearby UCK training camp. Witnesses told Reuters that the rockets released a carpet of small mines in the area, some of which exploded on impact. No one was injured. FS

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT WARNS YUGOSLAVIA...

Rexhep Meidani told France Info Radio in Paris on 13 April that "there will be a tough military response...by the Albanian army and the Albanian people," to further incursions by Serbian troops. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo told German Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping in Bonn that "life for [Kosovar] Albanians and Serbs under a joint institutional structure will be unacceptable after their recent experiences," Reuters reported. Milo stressed, however, that Tirana has no intention of seeking to incorporate Kosova into its territory. FS

...AS DOES NATO

In a statement to parliament on 13 April, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said NATO remains committed to respond to any challenges to Albania's or Macedonia's security. In Washington, a White House spokesman warned Milosevic that he will face "the most serious consequences" if reports of the incursion prove to be accurate. FS

BONN UNVEILS PEACE PLAN

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said on 14 April that Germany has prepared a six-point peace plan that it wants the G-8 countries to implement, dpa reported. Observers suggest that, at first glance, it appears similar to NATO's five demands on Milosevic, except that the peacekeeping force will have a UN mandate and the interim government in Kosova will also be authorized by the world body (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 1999). NATO will "permanently suspend" air strikes once Serbian forces leave the province. In Strasbourg, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said that "the terrible developments in [Kosova] are not solely a domestic policy issue for Yugoslavia itself...Europe's voice has to remain resolute" to enable the refugees to go home, AP noted. PM

GERMANY LINKS EU MEMBERSHIP, REFUGEE ISSUE FOR MACEDONIA

On 14 April, some 1,000 Kosovar refugees arrived at the Macedonian border crossing Blace. The previous day, German Deputy Foreign Minister Guenter Verheugen said in Skopje that "the way Macedonia treats the refugees will have an influence on its request to become an associate member of the EU," Reuters reported. He urged government and opposition leaders to promote political stability as the key to improved relations with the international community. PM

YUGOSLAV NAVY REFUSES TO LEAVE MONTENEGRIN PORT

Admiral Milan Zec said in Belgrade on 13 April that the Navy rejects the demand of Petrasin Kasalica, who is the chief administrator of Bar, to leave that port (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 April 1999). Zec called the demand "dangerous and unacceptable" and said Kasalica's statement had given NATO information about the location and name of a Yugoslav warship. PM

TAMED RADIO B-92 ON THE AIR

The formerly independent Radio B-92 went back on the air on 13 April, three weeks after the authorities banned it. The station is now under new, pro-Milosevic management. Its broadcasting fare includes news from official sources and Serbian music. PM

BOSNIAN SERB SENTENCED FOR WAR CRIMES

A Sarajevo court sentenced Goran Vasic to ten years in prison on 13 April for war crimes against civilians and prisoners of war during the 1992-1995 conflict. The court acquitted him of killing Deputy Prime Minister Hakija Turajlic in 1993 for lack of evidence. The prosecutor said he will appeal and seek a harsher sentence. In Koblenz, Germany, the authorities are holding an unnamed 25 year-old Serb- Canadian for allegedly holding a Czech and a Canadian officer as human shields during 1995 NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions. PM

BOSNIAN FEDERAL PARLIAMENT RATIFIES AGREEMENT WITH CROATIA

The lower house of the mainly Muslim and Croatian federal legislature approved on 13 April a treaty outlining special relations with Croatia. Many Muslims opposed the pact on the grounds that it would give Zagreb too much say in the affairs of the Croatian population of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia's Western allies support the measure in order to promote both countries' postwar recovery. Zagreb says that the pact is necessary to prevent the Croats of Bosnia- Herzegovina from becoming second-class citizens in a state with a Muslim majority. PM

REFUGEES CONTINUE TO ARRIVE IN BOSNIA

More than 38,000 refugees from Kosova and Sandzak are currently in Bosnia- Herzegovina, "Dnevni avaz" wrote on 14 April. Some 30,000 are in the federation, 2,200 of whom are Serbs. An additional 8,000 refugees are staying in the Republika Srpska. PM

ROMANIAN POLITICIANS REACT TO YUGOSLAV 'UNION' WITH RUSSIA- BELARUS...

National Peasant Party Christian Democratic chairman Ion Diaconescu on 13 April said that the intended joining of the Union of Belarus and Russia by Yugoslavia is "an attempt to block NATO's way into the Balkans and restore Russian influence there," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. He added that the decision of the parliament in Belgrade was "inoperative" because "Russia can no longer influence events in the Balkans." APR leader Melescanu said the decision was "dangerous" for Romania, which is "likely to find itself between two new rival alliances," and that Romanian diplomacy must "intelligently speculate" on it to promote accession to NATO. Iliescu said the decision reflected "Yugoslav desperation" in face of "NATO aggression" and will have "no impact whatsoever on Romania." MS

...WHICH IS DISCUSSED WITH FOREIGN GUESTS AS WELL

Visiting Bulgarian Defense Minister Georgi Ananiev on 13 April told journalists that Yugoslavia's accession to the union was "just a declaration of intentions" that met with no response from Russia and Belarus. His host, Defense Minister Victor Babiuc, called it "an attempt to implicate Russia and Belarus in the conflict with NATO," which cannot succeed. Attending a meeting between the visiting U.S. Department of Defense's director for Europe and NATO, General Henry Kievenaar, and Foreign Minister Andrei Plesu, the Romanian chief of staff, General Constantin Degeratu, said Yugoslav accession to the union is "raising legitimate security problems that cannot be ignored by Romania. " Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Simona Miculescu said on 14 April that even if the union is "finalized," its coming into being must not affect the main Romanian foreign policy objectives, which are "integration into European and Euro- Atlantic structures," Mediafax reported. MS

MOLDOVA DENIES CIS PRESSURE OVER ITS POSITION ON YUGOSLAVIA...

Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleg Serebrian, in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 13 April, said that the CIS members had not exerted any pressure on Moldova to change its position towards the conflict in Kosova. Serebrian said that Moldova's geographical position "imposes a policy of neutrality and prudence" in relations with NATO and Russia and that Chisinau "hopes that the animosities between Moscow and Brussels will not lead to the bipolarization of the international political system." MS

...OR PLANNING TO APPLY 'YUGOSLAV MODEL' TO TRANSDNIESTER

Briefing journalists on the same day in Chisinau, Serebrian rejected statements made in Tiraspol that Moldova intends to apply "the Yugoslav scenario" in the separatist region. He said that Chisinau intends to solve the conflict "exclusively by peaceful means" and that "seven long years of negotiations are proof of this." The "events of 1991- 92," he said," will never repeat themselves," Infotag reported. MS

BULGARIA, AUSTRIA SUPPORT BALKAN STABILIZATION PLAN

Visiting Austrian President Thomas Klestil and his Bulgarian host, Petar Stoyanov, told journalists on 13 April that they back recent European Union plans aimed at the stabilization of southeastern Europe, dpa and Reuters reported. Klestil said that the region's problems related to human rights and ethnic minorities must be discussed at a special Balkan conference. He added that Russia must be part of the process of negotiations for a settlement in Kosova. Stoyanov said that it is "necessary to design a kind of Marshall plan for the post-war reconstruction of the Balkan region." He said that "ethnic and regional conflicts will disappear as the Balkan states improve their living standards and start feeling a part of the European family." MS




Basic Agreement Reached On New European Arms Accord


By Roland Eggleston

German officials and officials with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say that after years of negotiations, agreement has been reached on the basic elements of a new treaty restricting conventional weaponry in Europe.

German diplomats and OSCE officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL that the basic agreement was reached last week in Vienna, where the negotiations have been based.

The treaty would place limits on the number of artillery, tanks, armored troop carriers, war planes, and attack helicopters which can be held by any individual nation. Another part restricts the number of reinforcements which can be brought in from other countries.

NATO had earlier said the agreement would be "the cornerstone" of a new security regime in Europe. The aim is to ensure that in the future, no single country will be able to maintain military forces at levels which would allow it to hold a dominating position on the European continent.

German and OSCE officials say that the basic agreement concluded in Vienna last week has been accepted by 30 states, including Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and all other members of NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Confirmation from other capitals was not immediately available.

The officials said the agreed treaty will be presented at this month's NATO Summit meeting in Washington and the final text is expected to be signed at a summit meeting of the OSCE in Istanbul in November.

The new treaty will replace the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty limiting conventional forces on the continent, and several amendments since then.

The German and OSCE officials said it was achieved only after difficult negotiations in which all parties had to give way on some cherished positions.

They said that as an example, both Russia and NATO had to give way on some measures involving the new members of NATO--Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic. They said Russia also gave way on some of its positions about its forces in the Caucasus.

The original 1990 CFE treaty was based on the total holdings of two blocs of military power--NATO and the Warsaw Pact. The new treaty would treat every country individually. Each would be allowed a maximum number of conventional forces of its own and each is allowed to deploy only a certain number of foreign forces on its territory to make an overall limit.

German officials said, for example, that Germany will be allowed a maximum of 3,444 main battle tanks of its own. Other countries may station tanks in Germany, but the overall total of both German and foreign tanks cannot exceed 4,704. It is the same with artillery systems. Germany is to be allowed 2,255 of its own but foreign countries can only deploy about half that number on German soil.

German diplomats told RFE/RL that the expansion of NATO with the inclusion of the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary created problems which were solved only after months of argument. Russia argued that the admission of these states brought NATO's frontline closer to its borders and it was entitled to special privileges to protect itself.

One argument focused on the maximum limits allowed each country. The officials said it was defused only through a concession by the new member states of NATO. They agreed that they would cut their forces to below the levels originally proposed. The deadline for making these cuts is 2003. As an example, Poland will reduce the number of its main battle tanks from 1,730 to 1,577 by then.

The officials say that in another move to ease Moscow's concerns, several states close to Russia's borders have agreed to limit the number of foreign forces deployed on their territory. In return, Russia agreed to concessions regarding the deployment of forces in Kaliningrad and Pskov.

German diplomats said the purpose of these and other agreements was to decrease tensions in the sensitive border areas between Russia and NATO.

Another problem which was resolved only after long negotiations was the rapid deployment of forces in a crisis situation. Strict adherence to the limits would have meant that only a certain number of foreign forces could be sent to another country involved in a crisis. The United States, in particular, insisted on more flexibility. Finally, Russia agreed with NATO that in these exceptional circumstances two divisions of battle tanks, armored troop carriers, and artillery systems could be temporarily based in the affected country.

The officials said that the so-called 'Flank Areas' covering Russia's St. Petersburg military district and the Caucasus created other problems. Originally, Russia wanted to lift all restrictions on its deployment of troops in these regions. There were objections from Turkey, Georgia, Norway, and some other countries. They argued that, in theory, this could allow Moscow to station its entire armed forces on the borders in the south or the north. Finally, Russia agreed to a system limiting the number of forces it can move in and out of these regions according to the situation.

The document now agreed upon in Vienna is more than 100 pages long.

Diplomats describe it as a "basic structure." More months of negotiation will be needed to refine the rough text and re-examine some of the details, which could lead to new arguments. But the experts are confident it will be ready for signing by the heads of state and government at the OSCE Summit meeting in Istanbul in November. Roland Eggleston is a senior RFE/RL correspondent based in Munich.


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