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Newsline - May 11, 1999




IMPEACHMENT FIXED ON DUMA AGENDA

The State Duma Council confirmed on 11 May that the process of impeaching Russian President Boris Yeltsin will begin on 13 May and continue through 15 May, Russian Public Television reported. Duma deputies will consider separately the five charges against the president. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii said that his party will support three of those charges, while Liberal Democratic Party member and Chairman of the Committee on Geopolitics Aleksei Mitrofanov said on 11 May that his party has not yet decided how it will vote, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Ekho Moskvy reported the same day that an informed Kremlin source has claimed that Yeltsin will propose Railways Minister Viktor Aksenenko as a replacement for Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov before the vote takes place. Writing in "Trud" on 8 May, political analyst Vyacheslav Nikonov predicted that a dissolution of the Primakov government would trigger "a tremendous political crisis, comparable only to the events of the fall of 1993." JAC

RUSSIAN UN AMBASSADOR SAYS CHINA WANTS CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION

Following a closed Security Council session in New York on 10 May, Russian Ambassador to the UN Sergei Lavrov said that "China insists on an official apology, on an official investigation, and on bringing to court those guilty for the [accidental NATO] attack" on the Chinese embassy in Belgrade during the night of 7-8 May. He added that the embassy bombing, "whether it was [done] deliberately or inadvertently, is a glaring violation of international law," ITAR-TASS reported. FS

CHERNOMYRDIN SAYS CHINA'S VIEWS 'CLOSE' TO RUSSIA'S...

Yeltsin's envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin told ITAR- TASS in Beijing on 11 May that Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji have views on the Kosova crisis "close" to those of Russia. After meeting with both Chinese leaders, Chernomyrdin said that he discussed with them a possible UN Security Council Resolution based on the principles adopted at last week's G-8 summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 May 1999). He did not say, however, whether China will support the resolution that G-8 Foreign Ministry officials are preparing in Bonn. Chernomyrdin also told the state-run Xinhua news agency that the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade constituted "aggressive behavior and a brutal act." FS

...PRAISES PARTIAL SERBIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL

Chernomyrdin told Interfax in Beijing that a partial troop withdrawal announced by Yugoslav officials (see Part II) is "important for resolving the Yugoslav crisis." He added, however, that that all corresponding documents must be "studied carefully to find out the details of the announced move." His aide, Valentin Sergeev, said in Moscow that the withdrawal may be "one of [Belgrade's] most serious moves in the process of resolving the Yugoslav crisis," Reuters reported. He claimed that the move was largely the result of Russia's mediation efforts. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in Brussels on 10 May that a partial troop withdrawal is not sufficient to fulfill NATO's five key demands to end its air-campaign. FS

GOVERNMENT TO REINTRODUCE FIXED PRICES ON VODKA...

As part of the government's pursuit of budget revenue to satisfy IMF requirements for disbursement of a new loan, the Primakov government is drafting a resolution requiring that state distilleries manufacture and distribute vodka according to retail and wholesale prices fixed for the country as a whole, "Moskovskii komsomolets" reported on 11 May. According to the daily, First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Maslyukov, among others, believes that this measure will bring an additional 2.5-3 billion rubles ($104-125 million) into the state coffers. The newspaper cites unnamed analysts at the Finance Ministry who believe that the policy will only increase "vodka piracy," thus increasing the amount of lost revenues from the vodka excise tax. JAC

...AND NATIONALIZE INSOLVENT BANKS?

"Kommersant-Vlast" reported in its latest issue that the package of bills prepared by the government in compliance with its agreement with the IMF will attract opposition not only from the Duma but also from the presidential administration. Citing an unnamed high-ranking Kremlin official, the publication reported that the Yeltsin administration opposes the bill on the insolvency of lending organizations, which would reportedly require that banks be nationalized if they become insolvent. According to "Kommersant-Vlast," the "IMF believes that another wave of bank privatizations will be the next phase" after nationalization. However, the publication noted that while Duma deputies may be willing to support banks' nationalization, they will never support those institutions' re-privatization. JAC

FEWER RUSSIANS FILE PERSONAL INCOME TAX RETURNS

According to preliminary estimates, the number of individuals who filed personal income tax returns for 1998 was down 7 percent on the previous year, "Finansovaya Rossiya" reported in May. Two reasons for this drop, according to Max Sokol, director of the Individual Taxation Directorate, are because some citizens decided to wait to declare their income in May and because those who earned less than 20,000 rubles ($832) do not have to file a return. The proportion of residents who filed returns was higher in Moscow and some large cities in southern Russia than in other parts of the country, according to the publication. JAC

'MIR' STILL LOOKING FOR FINANCING

Vladimir Nikitskii, Energiya's deputy director-general, told Interfax on 10 May that sufficient funding to keep "Mir" in orbit has not yet been found, and if no investors are lined up by June, the space station will drop into the Pacific Ocean in late August. According to Nikitskii, British businessman Peter Llewellyn helped Energiya secure a $100 million loan, which will help finance only the station's 28th mission. He added that Llewellyn's promotional flight is just part of a broad search for sources of funding outside the federal budget. JAC

LENINGRAD NARROWLY MISSES DEFAULT?

In contrast to coverage by other media outlets, such as AP, "The St. Petersburg Times" and "Vremya MN" reported on 7 May that the Leningrad Oblast did not default on a $50 million syndicated loan on 5 May but managed to persuade its creditors to reschedule the loan (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 May 1999). According to the St. Petersburg daily, the oblast's Finance Committee Chairman Aleksandr Yakovlev, told reporters on 6 May that, after visiting the construction site of a new Philip Morris factory, creditors agreed to a restructuring proposal that called for the loans to be repaid in full by May 2001. Revenues from a tobacco excise tax will be a key source of new financing for the oblast government. JAC

SVERDVLOVSK GOVERNOR SUGGESTS GOLD REPLACEMENT FOR DOLLAR

Eduard Rossel is proposing that a gold coin worth more than the U.S. dollar be introduced in Russia, Interfax reported on 10 May. After the introduction of the coin, "all dollars must be loaded on a barge and shipped to" the U.S. Rossel added that Russia "should stop enriching the U.S. economy." Earlier, Rossel, who appears to fancy himself as an innovator in the realm of monetary policy, suggested that Russia impose a ban on circulation of the dollar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 October 1998). In addition, one version of the oblast's 1999 budget called for the introduction of a local currency. JAC

SMOLENSKII RETURNS

So-called oligarch and head of SBS-AGRO bank Aleksandr Smolenskii returned to Moscow from Austria on 10 May, Interfax AiF reported. On 6 April, the office of the Prosecutor-General announced its intention to arrest the banker on suspicion of money-laundering and other illegal financial machinations. Later, it was announced that a warrant for his arrest had been withdrawn. JAC

CHECHNYA PREPARES FOR PRESIDENT'S VISIT TO MOSCOW

Aslan Maskhadov met for two hours on 10 May with members of the commission that traveled to Moscow later that day to finalize the agenda for Maskhadov's upcoming meeting with Russian President Yeltsin, Interfax reported. Former Deputy Prime Minister Akhmed Zakaev said that meeting may take place on 13 or 14 May. It is to focus on why earlier agreements signed by the two sides were not implemented and how to set about doing so. Russian Nationalities Minister Ramazan Abdulatipov said on 7 May that Yeltsin is prepared for the meeting, which Abdulatipov predicted will be "useful for both sides," according to ITAR-TASS. LF




AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT LEAVES HOSPITAL

Heidar Aliyev was discharged from the Cleveland Clinic on 10 May, his 76th birthday, eleven days after undergoing cardiac surgery, Reuters reported. Aliyev said he is feeling "much better than before the operation," but an Azerbaijani embassy spokesman said the president must undergo further checkups. He declined to specify when Aliyev will return to Azerbaijan. In a live television broadcast to Azerbaijanis the previous day, Aliyev congratulated his countrymen on the anniversary of the end of World War II. He also said he is conducting telephone conversations with leading Azerbaijani officials and commended their running of the country in his absence, according to Turan. LF

U.S. HOPES FOR RELEASE OF IMPRISONED AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST

At a press briefing in Washington on 10 May, U.S. State Department spokesman James Rubin expressed disappointment that the Azerbaijani authorities have rejected appeals for the release of Fuad Gakhramanly, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Gakhramanly was sentenced in November last year to 18 months' imprisonment for an unpublished article that the prosecution claimed outlined tactics for overthrowing President Aliyev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November 1998). Rubin said he hopes Gakhramanly will be released under an amnesty to mark Azerbaijan's national independence day on 28 May. The International League for Human Rights has also appealed to President Aliyev to release Gakhramanly, Turan reported on 10 May. LF

AZERBAIJANI JOURNALIST GIVES VARYING EXPLANATIONS OF DETENTION IN IRAN

"Ekspress" editor Ganimat Zahidov briefed journalists in Baku on 10 May on the circumstances of his detention by the Iranian authorities at the Astara frontier crossing on 3 May, Turan reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 and 10 May, 1999). Zahidov said Iranian officials had objected to his having conducted an interview in Tabriz with a prominent representative of Iran's ethnic Azerbaijani population while he, Zahidov, was travelling on a tourist visa, which, the officials said, did not entitle him to engage in journalistic activities. Zahidov then had to go to Enzeli in order to acquire a valid visa before returning to Baku. Speaking later on 10 May on private ANS-TV, however, Zahidov said that Iranian intelligence operatives had detained him at Astara and taken him to Enzeli, where they threatened him with imprisonment unless he agreed to cooperate with them, including preparing an assassination attempt on former President Abulfaz Elchibey. LF

GREEK, GEORGIAN PRESIDENTS DISCUSS COOPERATION

Visiting Tbilisi on 9-11 May, Constantine Stefanopoulos met with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard Shevardnadze, Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze, parliamentary speaker Zurab Zhvania, Patriarch Ilia II, and members of Georgia's ethnic Greek minority, Caucasus Press reported on 10 May. Shevardnadze and Stefanopoulos discussed bilateral cooperation within the Council of Europe and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization, the conflicts in Kosova and Abkhazia, possible enhanced Greek involvement in the TRACECA transport corridor, and the export via Georgia of Caspian oil. Stefanopoulos said Greece still supports plans for a pipeline from the Bulgarian port of Varna to Alexandropoulis that would bypass the Turkish straits. Two inter-governmental agreements on avoiding dual taxation and on assistance in the field of civil and criminal law were signed on 10 May. LF

CIS EXECUTIVE SECRETARY VISITS KAZAKHSTAN

Yurii Yarov flew to Astana on 11 May where he briefed Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev on the implementation of decisions adopted by the 2 April CIS summit, including the creation of a CIS free trade zone, RFE/RL correspondents reported. At a subsequent meeting with journalists Yarov declined to comment on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's 7 May statement that "the CIS has absolutely no prospects for development..., it doesn't even fulfil the role of a political club" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 May 1999) LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT MEETS WITH MINISTERS

Nazarbaev met on 10 May with Justice Minister Baurzhan Mukhamedzhanov, Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Minister Serikbek Daukeev, and Transport and Communications Minister Serik Burkitbaev, RFE/RL's Astana bureau reported. The discussions focused on implementation of presidential decrees on combating corruption, expanding natural gas supplies from the North Aral region to the south of the country, which has recently been hit by shortages, and improving the country's telecommunications system. Also on 10 May, First Deputy Prosecutor-General Onalsyn Zhumabekov told ITAR-TASS that the Kazakh authorities have compiled a "black-list" of some 3,000 officials sacked or sentenced for, or merely suspected of, corruption or economic crime and who will be barred from holding government posts. LF

KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT DEPUTY REPORTS ON AFTERMATH OF BARSKOON DISASTER

Jypar Jeksheev briefed journalists in Bishkek on 10 May about his trip the previous week to the Issyk-Kul region, scene of the May 1998 spill of toxic chemicals that caused four deaths, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Jepsheev said that some 60 local residents are still suffering from the symptoms of poisoning and that the local authorities ignored a 6-9 May picket by residents demanding help. LF

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL ASSESSES SITUATION IN TAJIKISTAN

In a letter to the UN Security Council on 10 May, Kofi Annan recommended extending for a further six months the mandate of the UN Observer Mission in Tajikistan, which expires on 15 May, ITAR-TASS reported. Annan noted that progress in implementing the 1997 Tajik peace agreements has been complicated by the "deeply-rooted mistrust" between the government and the opposition. He added that tensions between the government and the United Tajik Opposition have delayed the involvement of other political forces in the peace process. LF




BELARUSIAN FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER MISSING

The whereabouts of former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, a prominent oppositionist, are currently unknown. Zakharanka's wife told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service that on 7 May, he had "called around 10:00 p.m. and said he is on his way home. I was waiting for him. But he never returned." Zakharanka was fired by President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in 1996. He had tried to form an independent union of law enforcement officers, which prompted prosecutors in Homel to launch a criminal case against him. Following the disappearance of former National Bank Chairwoman Tamara Vinnikava last month, Zakharanka is the second major figure among those opposed to Lukashenka to disappear under unknown circumstances. The Interior Ministry on 10 May announced it is launching a search for Zakharanka. JM

BELARUS'S OPPOSITION ELECTIONS PROCEED, DESPITE DIFFICULTIES

According to the opposition Central Electoral Commission, some 1.4 million voters (16 percent of the total electorate) have cast ballots in the presidential elections since voting began at voters' homes on 6 May, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 10 May. Voting is scheduled to end on 16 May. The commission has reported numerous arrests of regional electoral commission members and the confiscation of ballot boxes and ballots by the police. "I am glad with the course and dynamics of voting, despite some faults in the process," commission head Viktar Hanchar commented. Hanchar stressed that the commission will not set up stationary polling stations on 16 May, as demanded by Zyanon Paznyak, a presidential candidate in the elections. According to Hanchar, such an action is "technically impossible" and "politically inexpedient." JM

UKRAINIAN CABINET DISCUSSES ENERGY SECTOR PROBLEMS

Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 10 May pressed for tighter checks on payments for electricity, the "Eastern Economist Daily" reported on 11 May. Pustovoytenko told a cabinet meeting that unpaid electricity bills "cost the budget millions in lost revenues." Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Kuratchenko said that only 23 percent of all gas bills are paid, with some 13 percent settled in cash. The gas sector is currently owed 3.9 billion hryvni ($1 billion), including 1.9 billion hryvni in fines. Pustovoytenko told the meeting that industrial production in January-April slumped by 2.7 percent, compared with the same period in 1998. JM

UKRAINIAN POPULIST LEADER TOPS LIST OF PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS

Nataliya Vitrenko, the outspoken populist chairwoman of the Progressive Socialist Party, tops the list of Ukraine's presidential hopefuls, according to a poll conducted in April by the independent Democratic Initiatives Fund and Socis- Gallup. Vitrenko has 19 percent backing and is followed by President Leonid Kuchma (17 percent), Socialist Party leader Oleksandr Moroz (10 percent), and Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko (8 percent). The poll also showed that 75 percent of Ukrainians intend to vote in the 31 October presidential elections. JM

ESTONIAN PREMIER PROPOSES 'THREE PARACHUTES'

Introducing the negative supplementary budget to the parliament on 10 May, Prime Minister Mart Laar proposed three "parachutes" to cushion the effects of budgetary problems: improved control over tax collection, amendments to excise regulations, and the approval of the supplementary budget, ETA reported. Laar also said that an upcoming IMF report will contain sharp criticism of Estonia's economy "for the first time since the restoration of independence." "This may lead to a decrease in foreign investments...and an economic decline," he warned. The IMF has said it believes that Estonia's 1999 budget should be cut by 2.3 billion kroons ($156.5 million), rather than the some 1 billion kroons proposed by the government (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 May 1999). JC

KRISTOPANS DEMANDS RESIGNATION OF ECONOMY MINISTER

Latvian Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans on 10 May sent a letter to the New Party, the junior coalition partner, demanding the resignation of Economy Minister Ainars Slesers. The premier told reporters that Slesers's work has not been satisfactory and pointed out that the Economy Ministry has failed, among other things, to meet a 7 May deadline for drawing up anti- dumping legislation. Meanwhile, Slesers responded to Kristopans's intention to remove him from office by arguing that the "real" head of the government is Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs and that Kristopans is "merely continuing the work of former Minister of Economy Laimonis Strujevics," LETA reported. He expressed the view that Lembergs is "the one demanding his dismissal" because he, Slesers, has refused to "abide by Lembergs' directives and has failed to defend 'certain interests.'" Slesers last week requested that the Justice Ministry rule on whether Lembergs is in compliance with the anti-corruption law. JC

LATVIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO 'AFTER THE SUMMIT'

Speaking at RFE/RL's Prague headquarters on 11 May at a conference entitled "NATO After the Washington Summit," Guntis Ulmanis said the Russian government made a mistake by not participating in NATO's recent 50th anniversary celebrations in Washington last month. He argued that the security interests of all European states, including Russia, would be better served by closer cooperation between Moscow and NATO. Ulmanis also urged that the three Baltic States be regarded as a unified group of NATO candidates. He said that the will of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia to continue to cooperate on defense would diminish if only one or two Baltic countries were invited to join the alliance. Ulmanis is in Prague on a three-day official visit. He met with Czech President Vaclav Havel on 10 May. JC

ADAMKUS NOMINATES VILNIUS MAYOR AS PREMIER

Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus has nominated Vilnius Mayor Rolandas Paksas, a member of the ruling Conservative party, as prime minister. Gediminas Vagnorius resigned from that post last week after Adamkus had expressed no confidence in him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 May 1999). Paksas, a part-time stunt pilot and former flight instructor, did not respond immediately to his nomination by Adamkus, saying that he will consult with the party and "other public figures." The Conservatives have argued that they do not want a member of their party to become the next premier. According to the latest opinion polls, the 43-year-old Paksas is the most popular politician from the Conservative Party. Meanwhile, Conservative Party leader Vytautas Landsbergis told journalists he is "still of the opinion that, with some Conservatives in the new cabinet, the premier should not necessarily be a [representative] of the ruling party," ELTA reported. JC

EU INCREASES ENLARGEMENT AID TO POLAND

European Commission spokesman Nico Wegter on 10 May said that the EU will grant Poland 230 million euros ($247 million) under its PHARE program of free-market development and modernization for Eastern Europe, Reuters reported. Last May, the EU slashed 34 million euros from its aid package to Poland on the grounds that Warsaw had not properly prepared its spending plans. "Since 1998, we have noticed with satisfaction that the procedures have been very much streamlined," Wegter commented. JM

POLISH LEFT-WING PARLIAMENTARY DEPUTIES LEAVE FOR YUGOSLAVIA

Four parliamentary deputies from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance have left for Belgrade to meet with Yugoslav parliamentary deputies and the opposition, Polish Radio reported on 10 May. The deputies stressed that they will not meet with anyone from President Slobodan Milosevic's camp. Marek Siwiec, head of the presidential National Security Bureau, said the trip involves a big political risk and could be used by Milosevic's propaganda machine. JM

CZECHS OPPOSE NATO BOMBING, SUPPORT TEMELIN

Fifty-three percent of Czechs are now opposed to the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia, 36 percent support it, and 10 percent are undecided, according to a Sofres-Factum poll cited by TV Nova on 10 May. The poll was conducted after NATO accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Another Sofres-Factum poll found that 59 percent of Czechs support the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant and 28 percent do not, CTK reported on 10 May. In other news, the Romany National Congress (RNC) is calling for a boycott of Czech pork to protest the government's failure to remove a pig farm from the site of the World War II concentration camp for Roma in Lety, CTK reported on 10 May. The RNC will also try to put pressure on European firms to refrain from doing business with Czech companies. The Czech government dropped a plan to buy the pig farm for 600-700 million crowns ($17-20 million), saying the asking price was too expensive, "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 11 May. VG

SCHUSTER EMPHASIZES GOOD RELATIONS WITH CZECHS

Slovak presidential candidate Rudolf Schuster said it would be a mistake for Czech and Slovaks not to make use of their close historical ties, "Pravo" reported on 11 May. Schuster said if he is elected, his first trip abroad will be to the Czech Republic. A poll conducted by Markant found that 40 percent of those surveyed intend to vote for Schuster in the first round of the presidential election on 15 May, TASR reported on 10 May. The Markant poll put support for former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar at 25 percent and former Czechoslovak diplomat Magda Vasaryova at 17.5 percent. Schuster also told Pravo that the NATO bombing operation in Yugoslavia was hurting his election campaign and helping Meciar. VG

SLOTA CLAIMS GREATER HUNGARY PLANNED

Presidential candidate and Slovak National Party chairman Jan Slota said unnamed sources in Budapest have informed him that a Greater Hungary will be established by the year 2005, TASR reported on 10 May. He added that the first step toward Hungary's expansion would be the establishment of autonomy in the ethnic Hungarian regions of southern Slovakia. Slota, who chairs the parliamentary committee overseeing the Slovak Intelligence Service [SIS], said he plans to raise the issue with the SIS. Bela Bugar, chairman of the Party of the Hungarian Coalition, dismissed Slota's claims as "nonsense bordering on stupidity," according to a 10 May Slovak Radio report, cited by the BBC. Slota has received between 5 percent and 7 percent in recent public opinion polls. VG

HUNGARIAN PARTIES COMMENT ON VOJVODINA

The vice-president of the Hungarian Smallholders' Party, the junior partner in the Hungarian governing coalition, said it is conceivable that the Yugoslav province of Vojvodina should become an independent state, "Nepszadbag" reported on 11 May. The leading coalition party, FIDESZ, says the ethnic Hungarian minority of Vojvodina should be granted autonomy within the Yugoslav state. The president of the Hungarian Justice and Life Party, Istvan Csurka, said he also supports autonomy for the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians of Vojvodina but added that it would be meaningless unless it were backed by "guarantees." Meanwhile, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic told the Croatian media that ethnic Hungarians enjoy various linguistic rights in Vojvodina, despite the fact that "Hungary has become a NATO member and placed its bases at the disposal of American aircraft to attack us." VG




UNHCR SPOKESMAN SAYS SERBS ABDUCTED HUNDREDS OF MEN...

Chris Janowski, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in Geneva on 10 May that Serbian troops have overrun several villages close to the Kosovar towns of Peja and Istog, driving out thousands of refugees in what appeared to be a well-planned offensive. He said that 8,000 refugees crossed into Albania within the past 24 hours. Janowski added that "we don't have proof, but according to what newly arriving refugees are saying, it looks as if indeed a great number of men have been abducted. Dozens have been killed." FS

...WHILE REFUGEE INFLUX TO MACEDONIA DECLINES

Only a few people crossed into Macedonia on 10 May. The border is open, according to Macedonian authorities. UNHCR spokeswoman Paula Ghedini told an RFE/RL correspondent in Tirana that some 10,000 refugees who were turned back by Serbian police at the Macedonian border over the weekend are believed now to be on their way to Kukes. Only 600 people in badly overcrowded Macedonian refugee camps have so far volunteered to be transferred to a new camp in the Albanian town of Korca that can accommodate 6,000 people. FS

YUGOSLAV ARMY OFFICIALS ANNOUNCE PARTIAL TROOP WITHDRAWAL

Officials from the Yugoslav Army's Supreme Command told Tanjug on 10 May that they have ordered a partial troop withdrawal from Kosova and will reduce the remaining forces to "peacetime levels prior to the NATO aggression" when an agreement is reached on deploying a UN mission in Kosova. They added that "actions against the [Kosova Liberation Army] have been completed." They did not specify, however, how many soldiers will leave Kosova. FS

WESTERN OFFICIALS SAY YUGOSLAV OFFER INSUFFICIENT

U.S. State Department Spokesman Joe Lockhart told Reuters in Washington on 10 May that "we have seen no evidence at all of any withdrawal." He added that the announcement indicates that the position of Milosevic is weakening. Lockhart concluded that "he now knows with all certainty that this air campaign will continue. He knows the damage that it's done to his forces...and he perhaps is looking for a way out of this." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Belgrade's decision is "a half-measure" and not sufficient to fulfill the five key NATO demands. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook in London repeated the demand for a full troop withdrawal. French President Jacques Chirac stressed in Helsinki on 11 May that "we now expect a complete change of attitude from the Serbian authorities." FS

NATO CONTINUES AIR CAMPAIGN

In the night of 10 to 11 May, NATO continued to bomb strategic targets in Yugoslavia and Kosova, Reuters reported. Helped by good weather, alliance planes flew 623 sorties to strike at airfields, bridges, military radio sites, petroleum storage facilities, and Yugoslav forces in Kosova. NATO hit army barracks near Belgrade and Pancevo as well as special police headquarters at Valjevo. FS

YUGOSLAVIA TAKE NATO COUNTRIES TO COURT

Yugoslav officials have filed charges against 10 NATO countries at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Belgrade wants those countries to end the air campaign against Yugoslavia immediately and pay compensation for the damage. Yugoslav Foreign Ministry official Rodoljub Etinski told the court that the bombings are "illegal [and] constitute a violation of human rights and the perpetration of...genocide," dpa reported. He argued that that the military campaign violates the Geneva convention on the protection of civilians and the UN Charter. NATO spokesman Jamie Shea said in Brussels that the charges are "particularly cynical" and added that Milosevic himself has violated international law and UN regulations, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Brussels. The BBC noted on 11 May that Yugoslavia joined the court only "a few weeks ago." FS

RUGOVA MEETS WITH POPE

Kosovar leader Ibrahim Rugova met with Pope John Paul II in Rome on 10 May. Rugova told AP that without an international peacekeeping force "Kosova will remain the victim of the extremists in Belgrade." He stressed that the peace-keeping forces should include NATO countries, Russia, and other states. For the first time since he left Yugoslavia, Rugova spoke publicly, but reluctantly, of his meeting with Milosevic in Belgrade in April. Rugova said that "I don't want to go back into it and into the things that happened to me there." He added that "I held on to my position always, as I did then, before and now. I can say there was clearly the pressure of the situation for both sides, but personally, I don't like to talk about it." Rugova concluded that "certainly, the best thing is independence for Kosova." FS

RELIEF ORGANIZATIONS WARN OF EPIDEMIC IN ALBANIA

International relief organizations warned in Tirana on 10 May of possible diarrhea and cholera epidemics, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Aid officials said the diseases may spread during the summer months. Colonel Helge Erikson, spokesman of the NATO operation "Allied Harbor," said that it is difficult to convince the refugees in Kukes to leave the northern town for other regions in Albania. He warned that if NATO cannot evacuate the bulk of the refugees, an emergency situation will arise in the northern city. The main reason for the reluctance of refugees to move on is the hope of establishing contact with relatives whom they expect to arrive in Kukes. FS

NATO PREPARES NEW CAMPS IN ALBANIA

NATO forces have recently begun to build new refugee camps in Elbasan, Korca, Vlora, Fier, and other Albanian cities, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. They have also begun to repair key roads in the area of the Rinas airport and between Puka and Kukes. British Defense Secretary George Robertson said in London on 10 May that Britain will send another 1,200 troops to Albania to build new camps. Of these, 1,000 will come from Macedonia and 200 from Britain. The same day, NATO troops began reconstructing the military airport of Gjader, near Lezha. FS

POPLASEN CALLS NATO 'OCCUPATION FORCE'

The ousted Bosnian Serb hard-line president, Nikola Poplasen, speaking on 10 May in Banja Luka, called the NATO campaign against Yugoslavia an "aggression." He added that "we are expected to be obedient, while the [NATO led] Stabilization Force (SFOR) in [Bosnia] is growing into an occupation force," AP reported. The International Community's High representative Carlos Westendorp fired Poplasen in March for obstructing the implementation of the Dayton agreement. Meanwhile in Madrid, Westendorp warned that "if we want negotiations [in Kosova], inevitably they will have [to include] Milosevic, but his presence afterwards as a guarantor of the agreements could cause us problems." He stressed that "one of the errors that the international community committed in Bosnia was to think that Milosevic was part of the solution to the problem, when really he was the problem." FS

SURVIVOR DECLINES TO TESTIFY AGAINST CROATIAN DEATH CAMP COMMANDER

Eduard Sajer, a witness in the trial of Dinko Sakic, a World War II commander of the Jasenovac death camp, declined to appear in court on 10 May. In a letter sent to the Zagreb County Court, Sajer said that he was recently admitted to a cardiological clinic in Belgrade and that he is "physically and mentally unfit" to attend the trial, AP reported. Meanwhile, police officials said they have arrested 13 right-wing extremists on 8 May after they interrupted annual V-day celebrations in Zagreb, injuring three people. FS

FORMER ROMANIAN SOCCER COACH SENTENCED

A Romanian military court has sentenced the former head coach of Dinamo Bucharest to 12 years in prison for embezzlement, Reuters reported on 10 May. The court also ordered Vasile Ianul to pay $1.2 million in damages. Ianul, who is also a former Interior Ministry colonel, was found to have embezzled $2.3 million from the club between 1991 and 1994. He admitted to having paid bribes to secure victories for his team and to having financed Interior Ministry activities in the early 1990s. Ianul said he never personally profited from his financial activities, adding that he is "shocked" by the severity of the sentence, AP reported on 10 May. VG

ORTHODOX GROUP ATTACKS BAPTISTS IN MOLDOVA

Some 700 Orthodox Christians led by seven priests on 10 May attacked a group of 20 Baptists who were building a prayer house in a Moldovan village, AP reported. The Orthodox group threw stones at the Baptists, injuring seven of them, and tore down the incomplete prayer house. Moldovan Orthodox priest Teodor Rosca apologized for the incident, but he added that it took place because the Baptists were "proselytizing" in the village. VG

MOLDOVA RECEIVES MONEY FROM WORLD BANK

The World Bank has disbursed the second $35 million tranche of its credit line to Moldova, BASA-press reported on 10 May. The disbursement had been delayed owing to the government crisis in Moldova. Government officials in Chisinau said they will use the money to reduce the budget deficit and pay foreign and domestic debts. In other news, presidential press secretary Anatol Golea said Moldova may accept 10 to 15 refugee families from Kosova, Infotag reported on 10 May. Golea added that the Kosova conflict has hurt the Moldovan economy by affecting foreign investment as well as cargo transport on the Danube River. He said Moldova will apply for inclusion in any plan to rehabilitate the region after the conflict. VG




MORE THAN AUTONOMY, LESS THAN INDEPENDENCE


by Paul Goble

Discussions about Kosova's future status, one likely to be more than autonomy but less than independence, call attention to an increasing willingness on the part of the international community to consider political arrangements that the existing state system had seemed to preclude.

Most proposals currently on the table about that war- torn land include some kind of international military presence--although disagreements remain about its size, composition, and armaments--that would allow the Kosovars to return to their homes in security. But none of these scenarios calls for the recognition of Kosova as a full- fledged independent state. Indeed, most seem designed to prevent that very outcome.

On the one hand, these various proposals to give Kosova a special status reflect an effort by the international community to solve the immediate problem. And most of the governments making them have gone out of their way to insist that arrangements designed for Kosova will not become a precedent either for other ethnic communities seeking greater rights or for an international community interested in defending those rights.

But on the other hand, the debate about how to deal with Kosova appears to reflect the convergence of three major shifts in the international system over the last few decades. A Kosova settlement of virtually any kind seems certain to increase those shifts, regardless of what any participant in this debate now says.

First, sovereignty no longer means what it did in the past. The heightened role of the UN, particularly since the end of the Cold War, has led ever more states to accept restrictions on activities that they had earlier viewed as their sovereign right to engage in. Government leaders no longer insist that they have unlimited rights with respect either to the treatment of their own populations or in their relations with other states.

That has not meant the end of the international system of states. Indeed, far from all countries have accepted these new arrangements. But it has meant that the component parts of that system have changed, even though few of them are prepared to recognize the full magnitude of consequences that these changes entail.

Second, the international system, or at least major parts of it, is apparently now prepared to intervene in the affairs of other countries in ways that most of its members earlier had felt were prohibited.

Until very recently, neither individual governments nor groups of states were prepared to argue that they had the right to intervene on the territory of another state in the name of protecting human rights or combating crimes against humanity. Now in Kosova, NATO has done just that, intervening to protect the Kosovars but insisting that the Western countries will not, at least not yet, recognize an independent Kosova.

Such intervention further limits the meaning of sovereignty not only of Yugoslavia but potentially of other countries as well. That is the foundation of some objections to what NATO is doing, but the crimes against which NATO is acting have overwhelmed these objections in the minds of most people and governments in the West.

And third, these two shifts have combined to power a third one: a willingness to accept the possibility that particular territories might enjoy something more than autonomy but less than independence.

Most analysts trace the history of the current international system of states to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. That agreement created the system of nation-states by recognizing the power of any given state to be absolute and unquestioned on its territory. That system allowed other states to compete with it externally, but it did not allow any of them to make demands that would lead to shared sovereignty.

In fact, that idealized picture never existed, and it has become ever less true in the 20th century. Perhaps the clearest example of the way in which the international system has accepted a kind of shared or restricted sovereignty concerns Taiwan, an island most countries around the world consider to be part of China but which they treat for all practical purposes as an independent country.

Yet another concerns the efforts to promote shared Irish and British rule over Northern Ireland, an arrangement that has yet to bear fruit but is seen by many as the only way out of the tragic conflict that has torn that region for much of the past generation.

And Kosova represents yet another step in the refashioning of the international state system, a step that is likely to have ever broader consequences in the future. And that is even more likely to be the case if, as now, those taking that step seek to deny that outcome.


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