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Newsline - June 10, 1999




TALBOTT, CHERNOMYRDIN BEGIN TALKS ON RUSSIAN PEACEKEEPERS IN KOSOVA...

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott arrived in Moscow on 10 June to meet with Russia's special envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin, and Defense Ministry officials to discuss Russia's role in a peace-keeping force for Kosova, Reuters reported. The talks follow the agreement the previous day reached by NATO and Yugoslav military officials on Serbia's withdrawal from Kosova (see Part II). Defense Ministry spokesman Colonel Vyacheslav Sedov on 9 June said that "the peacekeeping force should be under the aegis of the UN. This is the firm Russian position." He added that "the strength, the structure and the line of command" are on the agenda at the Moscow talks. Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said the Russian military could send up to 10,000 troops to take part in the peacekeeping force. FS

...IVASHOV HOPES TO 'CORRECT' EARLIER AGREEMENT

Colonel- General Leonid Ivashov, who is a senior Defense Ministry official expected to head the Russian military delegation at the talks, told ITAR-TASS on 9 June that the Russian military is unhappy with the draft UN Security Council resolution. Ivashov said: "We are determined to look for...a compromise on the issue, to correct negative things that were done earlier" during negotiations on the G-8 agreement. An unnamed high-ranking Defense Ministry official told Interfax that the Russian delegation will propose that Russia be given one of four sectors that will be in northwest Kosova. The official added that the proposal envisages the deployment in the sector of forces from neutral countries and several former Soviet republics, but not of NATO units. The following day, Talbott stressed that "there will be specific arrangement for a division of labor within [Kosova] but nothing that would bear any resemblance to partitioning or dividing [Kosova] up into different national sectors." FS

DID ALBRIGHT, IVANOV MAKE BREAKTHROUGH POSSIBLE?

An unnamed U.S. official told Reuters that the breakthrough to reaching a military agreement between NATO and Yugoslavia came in Cologne on 9 June. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov reportedly gave last-minute "categorical assurances" to U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that Russia will vote for the draft resolution (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1999) as soon as NATO suspends its air campaign. The official added that once the U.S. received the Russian promise, NATO agreed to strike from the military agreement a sentence that would have given NATO the right to resume bombing after 24 hours if the UN Security Council does not pass the resolution. FS

UN SECURITY COUNCIL SET TO ADOPT RESOLUTION

The Security Council on 9 June in New York put the finishing touches on the draft resolution authorizing an international force to move into Kosova. Western diplomats told AP that they expect China to abstain from the vote, rather than veto the resolution. Russian President Boris Yeltsin held telephone conversations with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to express his support for the resolution. Security Council President Babouccar- Blaise Jagne of Gambia said he will call for a meeting as soon as he receives a fax from Secretary General Kofi Annan detailing an order by NATO Secretary General Javier Solana advising that the NATO bombing of targets in Yugoslavia has stopped. FS

DUMA WANTS CHERNOMYRDIN SACKED

The State Duma on 10 June called on Yeltsin to sack Chernomyrdin as his special envoy to Yugoslavia. The communist faction initiated the non- binding vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 1999), which was backed by 271 to 92 with one abstention. FS

RUSSIAN CONTINGENT FOR KOSOVA TO PUT FURTHER STRAINS ON BUDGET

Prime Minister Stepashin declared on 10 June that the defense capabilities of the Russian army are "in a catastrophic state," noting that next year's budget must address this issue. Stepashin added that the "additional burden of preparing and deploying a Russian contingent in Kosova" would put additional strain on the country's financial resources. "Izvestiya" reported the previous day that President Yeltsin had tasked Stepashin with seeking to prevent any disruption in funds to the armed forces and finding additional monies for research and development. The head of the Defense Ministry's Directorate for the Military Budget and Financing, Georgii Oleinik, told the daily that budget monies in the first half of 1999 were devoted entirely for "tasks that could not be delayed" such as clearing soldiers' wage arrears, ensuring the timetable of work on the Topol-M missile system, and updating computers to cope with the millennium bug. JAC

STEPASHIN, DUMA PREPARE FOR SHOWDOWN?

Stepashin on 10 June said he is prepared to raise the issue of confidence in his cabinet if the Duma rejects the package of legislation prepared by the government in accordance with its agreement with the IMF. If Stepashin lost such a vote, President Yeltsin would have to name a new prime minister or dissolve the lower chamber. The previous day, the Duma postponed until 16 June consideration of a bill that would tax gasoline stations. Numerous Duma factions, including the Communist group, which is the largest, have said they will vote against the bill because they believe its passage will result in higher gasoline prices (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 1999). In his address to Duma members, Stepashin repeated his government's willingness to "introduce state regulation of the gasoline market." JAC

FINANCE MINISTRY PREDICTING RUBLE WILL SINK FURTHER AGAINST DOLLAR

Prime Minister Stepashin on 10 June said his cabinet will consider the final version of the 2000 budget on 9 August. Finance Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said that so far budget revenue is planned at 687.2 billion rubles ($28.3 billion) and expenditures at 763 billion rubles. The "primary" budget surplus is forecast at 2.8 percent. According to ITAR-TASS, the Finance Ministry expects the ruble to trade on average at 32 rubles to $1 next year, while annual inflation is predicted to hover between 18-22 percent. JAC

NEW ELECTION BILL CLEARS UPPER CHAMBER

The Federation Council on 9 June passed a bill regulating elections to the State Duma. The vote was 133 in favor, 5 opposed, and one abstention, according to Interfax. The law is part of a package of legislation sponsored by the Central Election Commission, which is attempting to reduce possible voter fraud and other irregularities during upcoming parliamentary elections. The new law limits the number of absentee voters and bars elected officials from using public funds and property for campaigning, "The Moscow Times" reported on 10 June. "Segodnya" reported on 5 June that Konstantin Titov and Sergei Kirienko, leaders of the Golos Rossii (Voice of Russia) and Novaya Sila (New Force) movements, respectively, agreed to establish a citizen monitoring system that will allow voters in the Duma elections "to gain access to information on the elections and how they are organized." The two leaders encouraged other parties to join their effort. JAC

MOSCOW MAYORAL RACE TO TAKE PLACE EARLY

A majority in Moscow's legislative assembly voiced its approval on 9 June for moving mayoral elections from June 2000 to December 1999, ITAR-TASS reported. A formal vote on the matter will likely take place on 11 June. "Segodnya" suggested on 9 June that former Prime Minister Kirienko will challenge Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov in that election, despite the certainty that he will lose, to gain political experience for future races. On 8 June, Luzhkov proposed that all retiring Russian presidents be given permanent membership in the Federation Council, Interfax reported. The suggestion is being widely interpreted by analysts as Luzhkov's attempt to mend a fraying relationship with the Kremlin (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 June 1999). As a senator, Yeltsin would be immune from criminal prosecution. JAC

BEREZOVSKII MEDIA EMPIRE SET TO EXPAND

Influential business tycoon Boris Berezovskii will soon own a controlling share in Moscow's TV-6 television company, "Segodnya" reported on 9 June. TV-6 President Eduard Sagalaev, according to the daily, said he has decided to sell a "sizable portion" of his shares to Berezovskii and the companies that he controls. Sagalaev declined to name either the amount of the shares he will sell or the price. Currently, he and Berezovskii each possess a 37.5 percent stake in the company. According to ITAR-TASS, the issue will be decided at a shareholders' meeting on 10 June. JAC

FEDERATION COUNCIL PUNTS SKURATOV ISSUE TO COURT

Members of the parliament's upper chamber voted on 9 June to appeal to the Constitutional Court to settle the issue of Prosecutor- General Yurii Skuratov's dismissal, Interfax reported. Senators voted 109 in favor and 6 against to ask the court to decide whether under the Russian Constitution, President Yeltsin has the right to suspend Skuratov from office, pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, without the approval of the Federation Council. Senators have twice rejected attempts to remove the controversial prosecutor. On 8 June, Skuratov attended a meeting of the council's anti- corruption commission and briefed its members on the activities of the companies Mabetex and Aeroflot. According to ITAR-TASS, the Constitutional Court is expected to take a decision on 22 June on a Moscow city court's initiative to institute criminal proceedings against Skuratov. JAC

IVANOV SAYS RUSSIAN-U.S. RELATIONS HAVE WORSENED...

Following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Albright on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Cologne, Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov told journalists that Russian-U.S. relations have worsened as a result of the Kosova crisis and "the atmosphere surrounding them remains negative," Interfax reported. "We will certainly take steps to repair the damage" to those ties, he commented, adding that Russia "has done a lot" to promote "partnership relations" with the U.S. JC

...REVEALS RUSSIA TO SIGN LAND MINE TREATY

Also in Cologne on 9 June, Ivanov said that Russia intends to sign the international treaty banning land mines, ITAR-TASS reported. The report did not indicate whether he specified when, however. Earlier, Russia declined to add its signature to the treaty, saying it needs the mines for defense purposes, according to AP. JC

FOUR ROYAL FAMILY MEMBERS REHABILITATED

The Prosecutor- General's Office announced on 9 June that four members of the royal family have been rehabilitated as victims of political persecution. Princes Nikolai Mikhailovich, Dmitrii Konstantinovich, Georgii Mikhailovich, and Grand Duke Pavel Aleksandrovich were executed in January 1919 as enemies of the state. An official at the Prosecutor-General's Office told ITAR-TASS that records show that the men had neither faced concrete charges nor had a proper criminal trial. JAC

PRIMAKOV COMMENTS VAGUELY ON NEXT CAREER PHASE

Asked about his plans, former Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov told reporters at a Moscow airport on 9 June that "the future will show. I do not exclude anything." Primakov was leaving Moscow to attend a conference in Switzerland and undergo a medical check-up. JAC

STEPASHIN, SHAIMIEV MEET

Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev met with Russian Prime Minister Stepashin on 9 June to discuss the political situation in the federation, Interfax reported. Shaimiev briefed Stepashin on the activities of the Vsya Rossiya bloc, which he heads. He said that Stepashin shared his concern over the possibility that falling living standards will lead to instability in the runup to the December State Duma elections. Shaimiev said that after those elections, Russia "will have to reach a civilized level" by forming a government of the parliamentary majority that would "delegate equal responsibilities for bodies of the [Russian] government and abolish the grounds for possible conflict...between them." Addressing the Federation Council the same day, Shaimiev rejected the draft federal law on the principles of power-sharing treaties between the center and federation subjects, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported, citing TatarInform. Shaimiev said that draft is "aimed at limiting the rights of members of the Russian Federation." LF

CHECHNYA TO CRACK DOWN OF THEFTS FROM OIL TRANSIT PIPELINE

Chechen National Guard commander General Magomed Khambiev told Interfax on 9 June that his men will immediately take over responsibility for guarding the Chechen sector of the Baku-Grozny-Novorossiisk pipeline to prevent further thefts of oil. Khambiev said that 120,000 tons of oil have been siphoned off since the pipeline went into operation in the fall of 1997. He added that Grozny will compensate for those losses with crude extracted in Chechnya. The Russian pipeline company Transneft has repeatedly halted operation of the Baku-Novorossiisk pipeline in recent months, most recently on 8 June, citing "technical reasons." But Khambiev said Transneft will not resume pumping oil through the pipeline until it receives guarantees from Chechnya that there will be no further thefts. Chechnya receives $15.67 in transit fees per metric ton of oil transported through the pipeline. LF




ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTS NEW SPEAKER

As widely anticipated, the new parliament elected former Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchian as speaker at its first session on 10 June, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Demirchian and Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian head the Miasnutytun alliance, which has some 65 seats in the 131- deputy parliament. Addressing deputies, President Robert Kocharian said there can be "no alternative" to political and economic reform. He added that he expects "close cooperation" between the legislature and the executive. Demirchian, for his part, said he will strive to "increase substantially" the role of the parliament in policy-making, and he called for "greater transparency' in the work of the government. LF

DEFENDANT IN ARMENIAN TRIAL IMPLICATES FORMER INTERIOR MINISTER

Only one of the eight former Armenian police officials accused of belonging to a death squad allegedly set up by former Interior Minister Vano Siradeghian has pleaded guilty to that charge, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported on 9 June. Arshak Shukian confirmed his earlier testimony that he received orders from the alleged gang leader, Armen Ter-Sahakian, in 1992-1993 to assassinate several prominent officials and that he participated in one such murder. Ter-Sahakian and the remaining six accused have pleaded not guilty to the murder charges. Ter-Sahakian said his earlier confession was made under pressure from the Armenian authorities. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT RETURNS TO BAKU

Heidar Aliyev on 9 June flew home to Baku from the Turkish resort of Antalya, where he had spent three weeks recuperating from heart bypass surgery in the U.S. in late April. Before his return, presidential administration officials had announced that he will embark on a grueling schedule of public commitments, including the opening of a new airport complex in Baku on 13 June, a ceremony to mark the 1,300th anniversary of the Turkish epic "Kitebi Dede Korkut" on 14 June, and a summit of Turkic states on 15 June. But Novruz Mamedov, head of the foreign relations department within the presidential administration, told Reuters on 9 June that the Turkic summit has been postponed indefinitely because of Aliev's health. Other members of the presidential administration, however, said the postponement was requested by Turkish President Suleyman Demirel, who visited Aliyev in Antalya before the latter's departure. LF

ABKHAZ, GEORGIAN TALKS CONCLUDE...

The confidence-building talks between Abkhaz and Georgian government delegations ended in Istanbul on 9 June with the signing of a declaration on the resumption of talks by three working groups created under UN auspices in late 1997, Caucasus Press reported. Those talks will address security measures in southern Abkhazia and the exchange of prisoners of war. The two sides agreed to convene another meeting on the repatriation to Abkhazia of displaced persons and measures to ensure their safety. LF

...AS LEADER OF DISPLACED PERSONS URGES NATO INTERVENTION

Addressing the NATO Assembly in Brussels on 9 June, Tamaz Nadareishvili, who is chairman of the so-called Abkhaz parliament in exile and unofficial leader of the Georgians who fled Abkhazia in 1992-1993, called for NATO to launch a peace enforcement operation in Abkhazia with a UN mandate under Article 7 of the UN Charter. He also urged the withdrawal from the border between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia of the CIS peacekeeping force currently deployed there and its replacement by an international force. Nadareishvili also said the Russian military base in Gudauta, which he characterized as a "source of destabilization," should be closed. Nadareishvili, who has formed his own political party to contend the Georgian parliamentary elections this fall, is seeking to persuade the international community that Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba should be indicted for genocide and ethnic cleansing. LF

KAZAKH PRESIDENT SETS PRIORITIES...

Addressing cabinet members and regional governors on 9 June, Nursultan Nazarbaev chastized those officials for infighting, which, he said, is undermining the confidence of foreign investors, Reuters reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1999). Nazarbaev criticized the government, and Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev personally, for the lack of a coherent program for the next three to five years, and he outlined 10 tasks for ministers and regional leaders, Interfax reported. Also on 9 June, the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan joined the OTAN party in calling for the government's replacement. The trade unionists noted that real wages have fallen by 25-30 percent in recent months, while food prices have risen sharply. LF

...AS PREMIER, OTHERS ASSESS ECONOMIC DOWNTURN

Addressing a conference in Astana on 9 June, Balghymbaev said economic output in the first five months of 1999 was down 4.8 percent compared with the same period last year and foreign trade turnover declined by almost 25 percent, Interfax reported. Balghymbaev also criticized the takeover of many large plants by foreign management, which began under his predecessor, Akezhan Kazhegeldin. He accused unnamed foreign investors of failing to meet tax commitments and to pay wages punctually. National Bank Chairman Qadyrzhan Damitov said that Kazakhstan's money base shrank by 20 percent during the first quarter of the year, while gold and hard currency reserves fell by 18.6 percent to $1.6 billion, Interfax reported. And Yerzhan Utembaev, who is chairman of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms, summarized the overall economic situation as "a serious crisis." LF

TURKMEN PRESIDENT SETS UP PIPELINE WORKING GROUPS

Saparmurat Niyazov on 9 June decreed the formation of two working groups to coordinate talks and the drafting of documents related to the planned construction of gas export pipelines, Interfax reported. One group will deal with the planned Trans-Caspian route via Azerbaijan and Georgia to Turkey, while the second will continue talks with Japanese and European companies on the construction of a pipeline via Afghanistan to Pakistan. Interfax quoted a senior official from the country's Oil and Gas Ministry as saying that Niyazov's decision indicates that at present Ashgabat does not favor one specific pipeline route over others. LF

UZBEK BOMBING SUSPECTS ADMIT TO CHECHEN CONNECTION

An unspecified number of the 22 men on trial for allegedly staging the 16 February bomb attacks in Tashkent, in which 16 people were killed, have admitted to undergoing training in camps in Chechnya run by Jordanian-born field commander Khattab, Interfax reported. Several other defendants said they underwent preparations for the attack in Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Also on 9 June, Interfax reported that 34 men are on trial in the Uzbek city of Fergana on charges of calling for the overthrow of the present Uzbek leadership. The men hoped to establish an Islamic state, Interfax quotes local court officials as saying. LF




COUNCIL OF EUROPE URGES BELARUS TO HOLD FREE ELECTIONS

The Council of Europe on 9 June called on Belarus to hold free elections under international supervision. In a statement, it commented that "internationally observed and accepted free and fair elections will be the first step toward rebuilding Belarus's relations with the Council of Europe." Belarus lost its special-guest status in the council in 1996, when President Alyaksandr Lukashenka disbanded the legitimate parliament. The council also appealed to the Belarusian government to release former Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, whose arrest is widely seen as politically motivated. Lukashenka said the same day that Belarus's dialogue with the OSCE and other European organizations must be based on "non- interference in internal affairs." Meanwhile, the Belarusian government has not responded to an OSCE offer to hold talks with the opposition in Bucharest on 11-14 June. JM

WORLD BANK CALLS FOR UKRAINE TO PRIVATIZE, PAY OLD DEBTS

Gregory Jedrzejczak, World Bank representative in Ukraine, has urged Ukraine to accelerate privatization and use the proceeds to service its foreign debt. Ukraine has to repay $1.2 billion this year and an estimated $2.3 billion next year. World Bank Vice President Johannes Linn said in Kyiv on 9 June that Ukraine may receive $400 million in loans by next summer if the government moves to implement the bank's requirements, commenting that "the issue number one is to ensure that the privatization process is very transparent and clearly competitive," according to Reuters. Meanwhile, ITAR- TASS quoted Ukrainian officials as saying that the World Bank will "soon" extend to Ukraine two tranches worth $100 million each. The agency also reported that the IMF will release by late June an unspecified tranche under its loan program for Ukraine. JM

UKRAINE, BULGARIA TO SEEK COMPENSATION FOR LOSSES IN BALKAN CRISIS

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma and his Bulgarian counterpart, Petar Stoyanov, said after talks in Kyiv on 9 June that their countries will seek compensation for economic losses due to NATO's bombing of Yugoslavia. Kuchma said the Balkan crisis was the main topic of discussion, adding that the two countries, along with Romania, will coordinate their efforts in the post-war restoration of Yugoslavia and the Danube waterway. Both presidents also stressed the need to boost economic cooperation. Bilateral trade turnover totaled $325 million in 1998. JM

ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT HOLDS ANOTHER MARATHON SESSION OVER BUDGET

Lawmakers on 9-10 June held another all-night session over the supplementary negative budget. As expected, the second reading of the bill faced massive delays due to opposition tactics. The opposition Center Party, opposing the 1 billion kroons ($67 million) cutback, introduced 559 amendments. Parliamentary rules allow a 10-minute break between each amendment. "Postimees" predicted four consecutive 24-hour sessions will be needed to deal with the amendments. Centrist deputy Olev Raju threatened that the party could introduce 10,000 amendments, according to "Eesti Paevaleht." The lead editorial in "Postimees" ran under the heading "What's Bad for the State Is Good for the Center Party." MH

LATVIAN CENTRAL BANKER URGES BUDGET CUTS

Bank of Latvia Governor Einars Repse has urged the government to quickly amend the 1999 budget. Testifying in front of the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee, Repse stressed his concerns over the growing budget deficit problem. "Direct, bold and enterprising steps are expected from Latvia--in this case, amendments to the budget," LETA quoted him as saying. Earlier, the government announced plans for a 32 million lats ($54 million) cut in the fall, but the central bank called for faster and deeper cuts to offset the projected financial deficit of 92 million lats, according to Reuters. Repse also noted that failure to act quickly on the deficit could adversely affect Latvia's credit rating, saying that recent macroeconomic indicators constitute "a red flag for foreign investors." While Finance Minister Ivars Godmanis said amendments are "inevitable," the government appears reluctant to tackle the issue before the summer recess. MH

LATVIAN PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN UNDER WAY

Two of the five declared candidates for Latvia's presidency hit the campaign trail on 9 June. New Party candidate and well-known composer Raimonds Pauls detailed his priorities for the presidency. " I will make sure those in power are no longer removed from the worries of the common people," LETA quoted him as saying. Pauls also stressed unity among all Latvian residents. People's Party candidate Vaira Paegle, meanwhile, called for Baltic unity in the bid to join both the EU and NATO: "The Baltic States were perceived as one during the fight for independence." The 100-member parliament elects the president by a secret majority vote. MH

SOLIDARITY LEADER CRITICIZES STATE MEDIA, WANTS LEGISLATIVE CHANGES

Marian Krzaklewski, chairman of the ruling Solidarity Electoral Action, has criticized the state media for biased coverage of reforms implemented in Poland, PAP reported on 9 June. "There are no positive teints in those reports. People are depressed by concocted reports. They are not told that, for instance, there are thousands of enterprises in Poland that are doing well," Krzaklewski said. He blamed the current board of Polish Television for that state of affairs. Krzaklewski said the government will submit a draft law to the parliament on a new way of appointing the members of the state radio and television supervisory boards. According to Krzaklewski, those boards should be appointed by groups that have "moral authority." He did not elaborate. JM

POLISH LUSTRATION COURT EXAMINES CASE OF OPPOSITION DEPUTY

Aleksander Bentkowski, parliamentary deputy from the opposition Polish Peasant Party (PSL), disclosed on 9 June that the Lustration Court has launched lustration proceedings regarding his case. He stressed, however, that he did not collaborate with the communist secret services. Bentkowski added that if the court rules that he is guilty of collaboration, he will quit politics. PSL parliamentary caucus head Janusz Dobosz told PAP that the party will not take any decision on Bentkowski until the court passes its verdict. Bentkowski was justice minister in a previous cabinet. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT CRITICIZES GOVERNMENT OVER KOSOVA CONTINGENT...

Vaclav Havel on 9 June criticized the government for its plans to provide only 150 soldiers for the envisaged peacekeeping force in Kosova, saying Czech involvement in the Yugoslav province should be "as big as possible," CTK and AP reported. One day earlier, the government decided to offer a platoon of 150 men. The parliament must still approve that decision. Speaking to journalists after meeting with Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Havel said he is "on the side of those who think the unit should be bigger," adding that "any investment we make now into our platoon...or into the postwar reconstruction will pay back a thousand times." Zeman said that if deputies are so "hypocritical" as to refuse to ensure the budget contains funds to help Kosova refugees, they should not criticize the government's decision. MS

...BUT BACKS IT ON EU INTEGRATION EFFORTS

Also on 9 June, Havel said he backs the government's efforts to take measures to speed the country's accession to the EU. He said the government-proposed amendment to the constitution rejected by the Chamber of Deputies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 June 1999) was not an attempt to "seize the right to pass laws," since it gave the parliament the right to veto legislation approved by the ministers within 30 days. "I am on the government's side" on this matter, CTK cited Havel as saying. But the president also added that it is questionable whether a minority government that encounters difficulties in pushing through legislation can remain in power till the next elections, scheduled for 2000. MS

SLOVAK PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN WANTS BROADER POWERS

Josef Migas on 9 June told CTK that he is demanding broader powers in order to discipline deputies for absenteeism and for speaking on matters that are not on the agenda. Migas said that in September he intends to submit proposals for changes in the parliament's house regulations. He noted that the absence of many deputies of the ruling coalition from debates last week led to the failure to pass legislation proposed by ruling coalition deputies and was fully exploited by the opposition. MS

CORRECTION

Based on an ambiguously worded CTK dispatch, "RFE/RL Newsline" on 9 June reported that the Slovak cabinet had approved the minority language bill. In fact, the bill was approved by the leadership of the four-party coalition. The government has yet to debate it.




NATO, SERBIA REACH MILITARY AGREEMENT ON KOSOVA

Near Kumanovo on 9 June, military representatives of the Atlantic alliance and Serbia reached an agreement on the Serbian military's withdrawal from Kosova. NATO air strikes ceased shortly thereafter, although spokesmen for the alliance in Brussels stressed the strikes have not been officially suspended. According to the agreement, the Serbian military must leave Kosova within 11 days in stages along prescribed routes. NATO had previously demanded that the Serbian forces leave within seven days. In Kumanovo, Yugoslav General Svetozar Marjanovic said that "the war has ended." In Belgrade, crowds appeared in the streets to celebrate. State- run media reported that Yugoslavia had reached an agreement "with the UN." PM

NATO WAITING FOR SERBIAN WITHDRAWAL

Spokesmen for the Atlantic alliance said in Brussels on 10 June that NATO is waiting for verification that Serbian forces have begun to leave Kosova before ordering a "suspension" of air strikes against Yugoslav targets. In Cologne, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said: "We have already seen some empty trucks and vehicles going into [Kosova] and hopefully that's a sign that they are preparing themselves to transport their troops and their equipment out. It looks as if we're in the end game." British General Richard Dannatt said in Skopje that NATO peacekeepers could begin to arrive in Kosova as early as 11 June if NATO confirms the withdrawal. PM

U.S. TROOPS ARRIVE IN MACEDONIA FROM ALBANIA

"Hundreds" of U.S. troops and an unspecified number of helicopters arrived on 10 June at the NATO military camp at Petrovec, Macedonia, from Albania, Reuters reported. Some 1,700 U.S. troops are expected to arrive in Petrovec by the end of the day. Observers suggest that the troops are going into Kosova via Macedonia rather than directly from Albania because the roads are better and less likely to be mined. PM

UNHCR: GET TROOPS IN QUICKLY

A spokesman for the UNHCR said in Geneva on 10 June that it is important that NATO troops enter Kosova as soon as possible to prevent further incidents. "If you look at the record of paramilitary forces elsewhere and their recent record [in Kosova], there is a major danger that they will burn and loot before leaving," he said. Other observers noted that a NATO presence is essential to prevent retreating Serbs from killing or injuring remaining Kosovars and to prevent Kosovar civilians and guerrillas from taking revenge on local Serbs. PM

UCK PROMISES NOT TO FILL POWER VACUUM IN KOSOVA

The provisional Kosovar government's Deputy Defense Minister Colonel Bislim Zyrapi told Reuters on 10 June that the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) "will hold [its] positions while the Serbian forces withdraw and NATO arrives." He said it will not fan out to fill the vacuum left by retreating Serbian forces. Zyrapi stressed that protecting the local population is the UCK's first priority. He added, however, that he cannot rule out cases of revenge attacks by returning refugees. Zyrapi stressed that the UCK will not disarm until all Serbian forces leave Kosova. He also said that the UCK should continue to exist as a small military force, but he did not elaborate. FS

MILOSEVIC SHORING UP POSITION?

Yugoslav President Slobodan secretly met with Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Vojislav Seselj and other members of the ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party at an undisclosed location over the weekend, the "Financial Times" reported on 10 June. Milosevic secured the Radicals' pledge to remain in the government, which they had threatened to leave after a dispute with Milosevic over the peace terms for Kosova (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). In Belgrade on 10 June, Democratic Party leader Zoran Djindjic called on the opposition to launch a campaign for Milosevic to resign. Observers note that the question remains whether Milosevic can remain in power after having started and lost four wars within eight years. PM

LAWYERS FILE CHARGES AGAINST NATO IN THE HAGUE

Independent lawyers from Britain, Canada, Greece, and Switzerland representing unspecified peace groups have filed formal charges at the Hague-based war crimes tribunal o against several NATO officials and other Western leaders for "violations of international criminal law in causing civilian death, injury and destruction" in NATO's air campaign against Yugoslavia, AP reported on 9 June. Chief Prosecutor Louise Arbour met with the lawyers to discuss the case. Tribunal spokesman Paul Risley said that "the prosecutor has asserted jurisdiction over all persons responsible for serious violations of humanitarian law or crimes of war within the territory of former Yugoslavia.... No person is excluded from the authority of the tribunal." FS

DJUKANOVIC PLEDGES HELP FOR SERBIA

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Cologne, Germany, on 9 June that Milosevic "is a politician who belongs to the past," adding that his polices are "quarrelsome and arrogant." The Montenegrin leader noted that Montenegro "is willing to make an effort to assist Serbia to democratize and to embark upon such an avenue together with us." He added: "I think that prospects for stability in the region can only be achieved if there is a substantial autonomy [in Kosova], within Yugoslavia, which will ensure full guarantees of minority [rights] and democratization within Yugoslavia as a whole." U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Montenegro "a shining example of what is possible" in the former Yugoslavia. PM

MONTENEGRINS CHARGE ARMY RESERVISTS WITH OFFENSES

In Podgorica on 9 June, Montenegrin officials gave Colonel Miroslav Samardzic, who is the Yugoslav army's chief prosecutor in Montenegro, a list of 151 criminal charges against an unspecified number of Yugoslav army reservists for offenses they allegedly committed in the mountainous republic. The charges involved unruly behavior, assaults on Montenegrin police, endangering the environment, theft, and unlawful detention. It is unlikely that the military prosecutor will act on the charges, AP reported. PM

CROATIAN JOURNALIST ESCAPES DETENTION BY YUGOSLAV ARMY

Antun Masle, who is a reporter for the independent weekly "Globus," arrived in Croatia after fleeing from a hospital in Podgorica where he had been held by the Yugoslav army on charges of espionage, "Vjesnik" reported on 10 June. Media reports in Yugoslavia and Croatia suggest that the Montenegrin police may have helped Masle escape, the Zagreb-based daily added. PM

FORMER CROATIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ARRESTED...

Police in Zagreb arrested Miroslav Separovic on 9 June for allegedly leaking "state secrets" and other confidential information to the press. The leaks resulted in media reports about the politically motivated fixing of soccer matches by intelligence agents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). Separovic resigned as director of the Croatian Intelligence Service (HIS) in January. He complained of many problems within that organization, Reuters reported. PM

...CAUSING POLITICAL CONTROVERSY

Representatives of several opposition parties and independent journalists met in Zagreb on 9 June and called for Separovic's release, "Novi List" reported. Separovic told reporters that he believes that Ivic Pasalic, who is President Franjo Tudjman's chief aide, ordered his arrest. Separovic added that Tudjman is aware that Pasalic deliberately made problems for him during his tenure at HIS. Pasalic said that Separovic is himself to blame for his difficulties there as well as for his decision to leave that organization. PM

ROMANIAN PREMIER, STRIKERS FAIL TO REACH SOLUTION

Prime Minister Radu Vasile on 9 June met with leaders of unions representing striking teachers, but the two sides agreed only to continue their talks. A union leader said the strikers will not end sanctions until the government fully implements agreements reached last October. Also on 9 June, a planned meeting between Vasile and some members of his cabinet and the leadership of the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) did not take place. The PDSR leadership claimed it had not received "on time" the invitation to attend. Vasile commented that PDSR's failure to attend is a "sign of ill will." The meeting has been rescheduled for 16 June, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

HUNGARIAN ETHNIC LEADER CRITICIZES ROMANIAN PRESIDENT

Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Chairman Bela Marko on 9 June said President Emil Constantinescu's recent comment on the significance of a document calling for the autonomy of Transylvania and the Banat and for Romania's federalization was "over-exaggerated" and "smacked of electoral campaigning" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). Marko said the document may well exist and have been circulated among Transylvanian intellectual circles, but he pointed out that Romanian and ethnic Hungarian intellectuals who allegedly signed the document have denied doing so. Marko said the ruling coalition must deal with the country's real problems rather than engage in "electoral campaigning," RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN U.S.

Dumitru Diacov, who is currently on a visit to the U.S., met on 9 June in Washington with Congress members and Carlos Pascual, director-general for relations with the New Independent States in the National Security Council, Flux reported. The previous day, Diacov informed World Bank officials about legislation initiated by the government on the privatization of the energy and telecommunications sectors, of agriculture and on improving fiscal supervision. On 24 June, the bank's executive board will discuss the agreement on granting a $40 million stand-by loan to Moldova. Diacov asked the members of Congress with whom he met to help Moldova in its effort to implement reforms. In an interview with ITAR-TASS, he said Moldova wants to pursue broad-based cooperation with Russia and remove "all suspicions" that have persisted since 1990. MS

BULGARIA CALLS ON YUGOSLAVIA TO RELEASE DETAINED ETHNIC LEADER

Foreign Ministry spokesman Radko Vlaykov on 9 June told journalists that the ministry has appealed to Yugoslav authorities to show "understanding" and to release from detention Marko Shukarev, leader of the Democratic Union of Bulgarians in Yugoslavia. Shukarev faces court-martial for desertion, having failed to report to the unit in which he was drafted after leave of absence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 June 1999). On 8 June, meeting with the leader of the Helsinki Committee for the Protection of Bulgarians in Yugoslavia, President Petar Stoyanov called Shukarev's detention "a frivolous act of ill-intent" that could "torpedo the future of joint efforts of Bulgarians, Serbs, and all Balkan people to turn the region into what they wish it to be," BTA reported. MS




ALBRIGHT BRINGS TOGETHER KOSOVAR LEADERS


by Fabian Schmidt

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has taken a major step toward putting a stop to infighting between three Kosovar leaders.

An 8 June meeting on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Cologne brought together Hashim Thaci of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK), Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosova (LDK), and Rexhep Qosja from the United Democratic Movement of Kosova. That meeting, which received little attention in the international media, took place at Albright's urging. Since the Rambouillet talks, Albanian, French, and other European governments have all failed to achieve such a gathering, despite their persistent efforts to persuade the three rivals to overcome their differences.

The secretary of state has thus demonstrated that Kosovars, like many Europeans throughout most of this century, have been unable to solve problems among themselves unless the U.S. took the initiative and forced them to agree on a basic democratic platform, thereby demonstrating its supremacy on the international scene.

Albright secured a commitment from the three Kosovars to honor the pledges they made at Rambouillet on creating a democratic interim framework for Kosova. The three agreed to coordinate their efforts toward setting up a post-war civilian administration in the province supervised by "a special representative of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan." The draft UN Security Council resolution proposed by the G-8 countries stipulates that the UN is to establish such an administration, but it is likely that the OSCE will be charged with doing the job and will have to work closely with the Kosovars to make that administration a success.

Few details of the meeting have been released, and UCK spokesman Sabri Kicmari told RFE/RL only that Albright later met with each of the three leaders separately. It is likely that during those meetings Albright was hammering out details of future cooperation. Late last month, Albright had urged the Kosovars to create a National Security Council, following a suggestion by Albanian Prime Minister Pandeli Majko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 May 1999). That council, made up of a variety of Kosovar political groups, would serve as Kosova's interim legislature until parliamentary elections are held under international supervision and would serve as a check on the provisional government during the interim period. The council may thus bring together the two governments that currently exist--the provisional government of Prime Minister Thaci and the shadow state government of Bujar Bukoshi of the LDK.

This is the second time that the rival Kosovars have agreed to form a broader platform. The first time was during the Rambouillet talks in March, when the Albanian government played a role in having the rivals sit at the negotiating table. In the end, it was the U.S. that helped them formulate a clear and credible vision for a democratic and free future in Kosova. That vision was credible because it included an international protectorate with strong foundations, including heavily armed NATO forces that would guarantee all Kosovar inhabitants the necessary security against both Serbian forces and enemies of the peace settlement within the province.

The vision also provided for internationally supervised free elections, in which the rivals would have to compete openly and on equal terms. The main reason Rugova's LDK was so hesitant to join Thaci's government was that the latter had weak democratic credentials and an opaque guerrilla organization. Without assurances from the U.S. and NATO, the LDK was afraid that the UCK, with its military structure, dominant position in the province and limited democratic experience, would eventually become a stumbling block for a truly democratic post-conflict development.

But fears were allayed once Western leaders made it clear that Western organizations will take the leading role in setting up Kosova's future police force, which is to be placed under civilian and democratic control. Albright stressed at a press conference after the 8 June meeting that "Kosovo's political leaders will, I hope, cooperate to make Kosova truly democratic." Therefore, a firm commitment by the UCK to disarm and transform itself into a political organization was at the center of her talks with the rival Kosovars, she added. At the same time, a new local police force will probably include former UCK fighters.

The Rambouillet accord envisaged that the Kosovar police force will be trained and supervised by the international community. It is, in fact, likely that this will happen soon after the deployment of international forces. Albright explicitly told journalists after the 8 June meeting that "these representatives...told me without any ambiguity that they will meet the key commitments made at Rambouillet.... The [UCK] will demilitarize and enter into a process of transformation." Thaci added that the UCK will "transform itself into a political entity."

Rugova, who has twice been elected as shadow state president and has so far refused to recognize Thaci's government, said: "We can do it together." He did not elaborate. And Albright stressed that "the leaders I have met with intend to go forward with vision and courage."

Indeed, the three will very soon have to demonstrate the credibility of their vision as well as their ability to set up the necessary state institutions. The challenges facing their administration will be huge. During and after the return of the refugees, they will not be able to meet those challenges unless they unite quickly now and keep to their promises to promote democracy.


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