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Newsline - June 27, 2000




PUTIN STRESSES SUPPORT FOR THE ARMY...

Addressing a reception for military school graduates in the Kremlin on 27 June, President Vladimir Putin declared that "Russia will not be able to solve the momentous tasks of state development without the army. That is impossible." He added that "in any country, and especially in Russia, the army has always been the foundation of the state." Putin also noted that the "army is restoring...its quality, but the most important thing is that its spirit is also being restored." AP reported that the cabinet is considering pay raises for the military at the same time as Putin was addressing the graduates; however, this money may only offset soldiers' possible loss of tax privileges under the government's tax reform (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 2000). JAC

...TO RESHUFFLE GENERAL STAFF

Interfax quoted unidentified government sources as saying on 26 June that no radical changes will take place in the leadership of the Defense Ministry but there will be a reshuffle of the General Staff. Under a decree signed by President Putin, commander-in-chief of the air force Anatolii Kornukov, head of the Strategic Rocket Force Vladimir Yakovlev, and chief of the navy Vladimir Kuroedov will retain their posts, as will commanders of all military districts, according to those sources. The Defense Ministry's official in charge of arms procurement, Colonel General Anatolii Sitnov, is likely to be replaced, however, the same sources said. Other changes in the upper echelon of the staff are reportedly expected but were not detailed by the agency. JC

SENATOR PREDICTS DEFEAT FOR PUTIN BILLS

Khabarovsk Krai Governor Viktor Ishaev said that the package of laws reforming the Russian Federation proposed by President Putin will likely be defeated in the Federation Council, Interfax reported on 27 June. That body is expected to consider on 28 June the law on reforming the Federation Council, which has already passed in three readings in the State Duma. Ishaev added that it is possible that some governors will vote for the laws but the majority will vote "like men." (Only one member of the Federation Council is a woman.) Commenting on the upcoming vote, Federation Council Chairman Yegor Stroev said that if the upper legislative chamber rejects the bill, it will "not be a tragedy," while St. Petersburg Governor Vladimir Yakovlev suggested the same day that several of his counterparts in the council want the bill to be referred to the conciliatory commission. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT CONDEMNS TURNCOATS

Aslan Maskhadov has circulated audio cassettes branding field commanders, including Apti Batalov, who have gone over to the Russian side as traitors and cowards, Interfax reported on 26 June, citing the pro-Moscow interim Chechen administration (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 April and 2 June 2000). Speaking in Moscow on 26 June, Russian presidential aide Sergei Yastrzhembskii said Maskhadov's denunciation, if it proves to be true, could signify "the beginning of a turn in favor of those forces who want to stop resisting" Russia and the recognition of interim administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov as Chechen leader. Yastrzhembskii also said that tensions generated by 12 Chechen local administrators' demand for a meeting with President Putin to explain their opposition to Kadyrov's appointment have subsided and that those officials are now working with Kadyrov (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2000). LF

RUSSIAN COMMANDER CLAIMS INGUSHETIA CONDONES CHECHEN INCURSIONS

Colonel General Gennadii Troshev, who commands the joint federal forces in Chechnya, accused Ingushetia's President Ruslan Aushev on 26 June of failing to take measures to prevent repeated incursions into his republic by Chechen fighters under the command of Maskhadov and field commanders Khattab and Arbi Baraev. On 25 June, Aushev had announced that he knows the identity of the Chechen commander who masterminded the 11 May attack on a Russian convoy in Ingushetia (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 and 12 May 2000). "Federal units cannot catch them in Chechnya, but if they come to the territory of Ingushetia we will certainly detain them," Aushev said. LF

RUSSIAN SECURITY SERVICE CONFIRMS CHECHEN LINK TO MOSCOW APARTMENT BOMBING

In a lengthy article published on 24 June, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" quoted unnamed sources within the Federal Security Service as claiming that organization has evidence that Chechen field commanders paid three members of a radical Islamic movement $500,000 to organize last summer's apartment bombings in Moscow and Volgodonsk. A total of 305 people died in those two attacks and 500 were injured. LF

WORLD BANK SET TO RELEASE MORE MONEY

The World Bank's country director for Russia, Michael Carter, told reporters on 26 June that the bank is expecting to approve the release a $250 million installment of a $800 million loan for welfare reform in the near future, Interfax reported. He added that the bank might approve in September the granting of the final $50 million tranche of its loan to restructure the coal sector. According to ITAR-TASS, Carter also said that more than 70 percent of the bank's projects are being implemented satisfactorily, compared with only 30 percent four-and-a-half years ago. World Bank President James Wolfensohn met with President Putin, Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, Deputy Prime Ministers Aleksei Kudrin and Viktor Khristenko, Minister for Economic Development and Trade German Gref, and presidential adviser Andrei Illarionov on 24 June. JAC

OIL EXPORT DUTIES TO RISE

The Russian government will raise export duties on crude oil and fuel oil as of 1 August 2000, Interfax reported on 26 June. According to Deputy Prime Minister Khristenko, the rate for crude oil could be raised from 20 euros ($18.8) to 27 euros per ton, but if the price of oil rises above $29 per barrel on world markets before the end of June, then the rate will be raised to 34 euros per ton. The rate for fuel oil will be raised from 12 euros to 20 euros per ton. The rates will be published in "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 1 July. JAC

GAZPROM BROKE EXPORT RECORD LAST YEAR

Gazprom exports of natural gas were up 5.2 percent in 1999--or 126.8 billion cubic meters--compared with 1998, breaking its record for those exports, Interfax-AFI reported on 27 June, citing an annual report that will be confirmed at a shareholders' meeting on 30 June. According to the agency, Gazprom's share of total consumption of gas on the European market totals some 26 percent. According to the report, Yugoslavia owes the company $325 million for gas supplies as of 1 January 2000, while Bosnia-Herzegovina owes $104.8 million. JAC

FSB DETAINS LITHUANIAN SUSPECTED OF SPYING FOR U.S.

The Federal Security Service announced on 27 June that it has detained a Lithuanian citizen on charges that he spied for the U.S. by hacking into the service's computer systems. According to a statement released by the FSB, the detainee has confessed that he is an agent of the Lithuanian intelligence service and was recruited by the CIA in 1999 to collect data on the FSB's computer and information safety department. The FSB released no other details on the alleged spy or his arrest, but Russian Public Television reported that he is a 24-year-old Lithuanian of Russian origin who had worked for the Lithuanian Tax Inspectorate and entered Lithuania's secret service while still a student. JC

PUTIN CALLS FOR BALKAN SOLIDARITY

During talks with his Greek counterpart, Konstantinos Stephanopoulos, in Moscow on 26 June, President Putin called on Greece and other countries in southeastern Europe to work more closely to solve problems in the Balkans. Putin stressed Moscow's position that Kosova must be demilitarized and ethnic Albanians in the province disarmed. The Russian president also outlined his proposal for a joint European missile defense system. Interfax quoted Stephanopoulos as saying that Greece "takes [that proposal] most seriously." Also on 26 June, the Greek and Russian foreign ministers signed an agreement on avoiding double taxation. JC

NEWSPAPER LINKS CHERNOMYRDIN WITH KREMLIN BRIBERY SCANDAL

"Novaya gazeta" reported on 26 June that Swiss prosecutors investigating charges of money-laundering and bribery connected with the Swiss firms' renovation of the Kremlin are preparing to charge former Prime Minister and State Duma deputy (Unity) Viktor Chernomyrdin and former President Boris Yeltsin's daughter Tatyana Dyachenko (see ). The newspaper cited unidentified Swiss law enforcement officials as saying they have evidence that Chernomyrdin had tens of millions of dollars transferred to his Swiss bank account by the Swiss firm Mercata while he was prime minister. Chernomyrdin responded to the charges saying that he never dealt with the Swiss construction firms and that he "has no bank accounts in Switzerland, but I wish I did." A Swiss judge has already issued an arrest warrant against former Kremlin facilities directorate chief Pavel Borodin, who is now secretary of state for the Union of Belarus and Russia. JAC

MEDIA-MOST SAYS IT WON'T SUE PUTIN

Media-MOST won a libel suit in a Moscow court on 26 July against "Ogonek" for an article published in December 1999 that alleged the media holding company had received "astronomical" amounts of credits that it did not want to pay off, Ekho Moskvy reported. A press release from the company noted that "it is worth mentioning that Russian President Vladimir Putin alleged more or less the same with reference to anonymous media reports during his official visits to Spain and Germany. However, Media-MOST executives decided not to bring an action against Putin "in order not to discredit the head of state once more" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 June 2000). JAC




FORMER ARMENIAN RULING PARTY REJECTS ENERGY EMBEZZLEMENT ALLEGATIONS

In a statement issued in Yerevan on 26 June, the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) charged that the ad hoc Armenian parliamentary commission that recently accused the previous, HHSh administration of condoning massive embezzlement in the energy sector was acting on instructions from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun, Noyan Tapan reported. The HHSh statement, signed by vice chairman of the party's board and former Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian, said the accusations are "a political manipulation" intended to deflect attention from the "complete failure" of the present administration's domestic and foreign policy. LF

COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL SEES NO OBSTACLES TO ARMENIAN, AZERBAIJANI MEMBERSHIP

Lord Russell Johnston, who is chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, said in Strasbourg on 26 June that he anticipates that the council will decide later this week to admit both Armenia and Azerbaijan to full membership, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported from Strasbourg. He said that admitting both countries simultaneously will help to resolve the Karabakh conflict. Some observers had anticipated that Azerbaijan's admission might be made contingent on whether the parliamentary elections to be held in November are free, fair, and democratic (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 21, 26 May 2000). LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT ADMITS PRESENCE IN GEORGIA OF CHECHEN FIGHTERS...

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi on 26 June, Eduard Shevardnadze admitted that some 200 Chechen fighters who have undergone medical treatment in Georgia and elsewhere are still in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported. He noted that during the recent visit to Tbilisi of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov the possibility of forming a Russian-Georgian joint commission to expedite the return of those fighters to Chechnya was discussed. LF

...RULES OUT ACCESSION TO RUSSIA-BELARUS UNION

Georgian President Shevardnadze told a news conference in Tbilisi on 26 June that Georgia has no intention of joining the Russia- Belarus union, which he described as "radical," Caucasus Press reported. He added that Georgia will give preference to bilateral relations in pursuing further integration within the CIS. LF

ABKHAZIA AGAIN STAKES CLAIM TO RUSSIAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT

Sergei Shamba, who is foreign minister of the unrecognized Republic of Abkhazia, told Caucasus Press on 26 June that Abkhazia will not permit arms currently deployed at the Russian military base in Gudauta to be removed from Abkhaz territory after the closure of that base (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 June 2000). Discussing the terms of that closure with Georgian leaders in Tbilisi on 24-25 June, Russian Deputy Premier Klebanov proposed that it be transformed into a training and leisure camp for the Russian peacekeepers currently deployed in Abkhazia under the CIS's aegis (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2000). LF

ADJARIA ADOPTS OWN CONSTITUTION

The Supreme Council of Georgia's autonomous republic of Adjaria on 26 June adopted a new constitution, flag, and national hymn composed by Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian parliament Committee for Legal Affairs Chairman Giorgi Meparishvili said that the Adjar authorities did not consult the central government when drafting the constitution and that he cannot say whether it contravenes the Georgian Constitution. But President Shevardnadze said in his traditional Monday radio address on 26 June that he is confident the Adjar Constitution does not violate the article of the Georgian Constitution that defines Georgia as a unitary state. LF

GEORGIAN DISPLACED PERSONS CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS

The Union of Abkhaz Refugees, one of several organizations claiming to represent the interests of Georgian displaced persons forced to flee Abkhazia during the 1992-1993 war, issued a statement in Tbilisi on 26 June calling for new Georgian parliamentary and presidential elections, Caucasus Press reported. The statement argued that the present Georgian leadership's policies have brought the country to the verge of catastrophe and risk precipitating the disintegration of Georgia as a sovereign independent state. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S MUSLIMS CHOOSE NEW MUFTI

The third congress of Muslims of Kazakhstan on 24 June elected as the country's new mufti Absattar Derbisaliev, a specialist in Arabic philosophy who previously served as a diplomat at Kazakhstan's embassy in Saudi Arabia, Interfax reported. His predecessor, Ratbek- hadji Nysynbaiuly, had been mufti since before the collapse of the USSR, according to RRE/RL's Kazakh Service. LF

KYRGYZ OPPOSITION APPEALS FOR KULOV ON EVE OF TRIAL

Five opposition parties--El, Kairan-El, the Republican Party, Ar- Namys and the Party of the Democratic Movement of Kyrgyzstan- -issued a joint statement on 26 June castigating the Kyrgyz leadership's rejection of appeals by the Russian State Duma, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and OSCE Secretary-General Jan Kubis on behalf of Ar-Namys Party chairman Feliks Kulov, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Kulov's trial by a closed military court begins on 27 June. The joint statement said that the reason Kulov's trial is to be closed is to hide the fact that the charges of abuse of office brought against him are fabricated. LF

KYRGYZ PARTY ANNOUNCES ITS ALIGNMENT WITH RADICAL OPPOSITION

Also on 26 June, Kairan-El chairman Dooronbek Sadyrbaev told a press conference in Bishkek that his party, which had hitherto been a part of the moderate opposition, had decided two days earlier to align with the radical opposition, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. He said that step was taken as a direct response to the anti-democratic policies of the present Kyrgyz leadership, in particular the arrest of Kulov. LF

TAJIKISTAN MARKS THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF PEACE AGREEMENT

In a 26 June radio address to mark the anniversary of the signing in Moscow on 27 June 1997 of the peace agreement that ended the civil war, President Imomali Rakhmonov said the significance of that document in the country's modern history is equal to that of its 1991 declaration of independence, ITAR-TASS reported. He said the 1997 agreement laid the foundations for an economic and democratic upswing, according to AP. Rakhmonov also called for renewed international efforts to end the war in neighboring Afghanistan LF

WORLD BANK GRANTS FURTHER CREDITS TO TAJIKISTAN

The World Bank has granted Tajikistan two credits of $20 million and $470,000, Interfax reported on 26 June. The larger sum is intended for modernizing of the agricultural infrastructure, including developing irrigation systems, and improving the quality of drinking water. The smaller credit is to finance a study on preventing natural disasters. LF

UZBEKISTAN, RUSSIA SIGN NEW MILITARY COOPERATION AGREEMENTS

Visiting Uzbek Defense Minister Lieutenant-General Yurii Akmazov and his Russian counterpart, Igor Sergeev, have signed further bilateral agreements on military cooperation, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 24 June (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 December 1999). One of those agreements allows Uzbekistan to use Russian weapons testing facilities. Further agreements will be drafted on the training of Uzbek military personnel in Russia, the repair of all Uzbek military equipment in Russia, and the establishment of a joint venture with Russian and foreign participation to manufacture explosives. Russian Defense Ministry official Lieutenant General Vasilii Grigorev commented that Uzbekistan currently participates in all CIS defense initiatives. Uzbekistan declined last year to renew its participation in the CIS Collective Security Treaty. LF




U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE MEETS BELARUSIAN OPPOSITIONISTS

Madeleine Albright met with Belarusian opposition activists at the "Toward a Community of Democracies" conference in Warsaw on 26 June. Belarus's official delegation--like those from China, Cuba, Iran, and Iraq--has not been invited to the conference, which foreign ministers and other officials from 108 countries are attending. Albright's meeting with Anatol Lyabedzka of the United Civic Party, Vintsuk Vyachorka of the Belarusian Popular Front, and several other Belarusian oppositionists followed a letter from two U.S. senators who had urged her to express U.S. support for the Belarusian opposition's efforts to overcome the country's "vestiges of communism and authoritarianism," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. "The meeting confirms that...the U.S. is really concerned about the situation in Belarus. We have been assured of official Washington's political and moral support for the Belarusian democratic opposition," Lyabedzka told RFE/RL. JM

BELARUSIAN JOURNALISTS DEMAND FREEDOM OF SPEECH

The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) held a demonstration in Minsk on 26 June in defense of the independent press in Belarus, Belapan and RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. The demonstrators held placards that read "No to the police state," "Do not write, do not criticize, do not speak--and you will not be sentenced," "Equal economic conditions for state and independent media." BAJ Chairwoman Zhana Litvina told RFE/RL that the association is demanding "equal economic conditions for the operation of the independent press. We protest the refusal to supply information [by government officials to non-state media]." Meanwhile, a correspondent for the Slovak newspaper "Sme" who took part in the demonstration to show solidarity with the Belarusian journalists noted that the "authorities deceive the Belarusian people. It is very hard for me personally to obtain information from the authorities in this country." JM

UKRAINIAN EX-PREMIER ADMITS MONEY LAUNDERING

Pavlo Lazarenko, currently in detention in the U.S., admitted through his Swiss lawyer on 26 June that he laundered $9 million in stolen money through Switzerland, AP reported. Lazarenko's confession appears aimed at securing a less harsh sentence from the Geneva court that is trying him on charges of money laundering. "This hearing is the result of negotiations with the defense to find a way out of a tangled case which seemed to be heading toward a dead end," Swiss prosecutor Bernard Bertossa told the court. Bertossa demanded a 18-month suspended prison term for Lazarenko. Investigators told the court that Lazarenko is believed to have embezzled a total of $880 million from Ukraine between 1994 and 1997. According to them, the money passed through more than 80 banks and some $170 million through Switzerland. JM

OSCE EXAMINES SITUATION OF UKRAINE'S RUSSIANS

OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel has wrapped up a fact-finding mission in Ukraine aimed at assessing the situation of the country's Russian minority. Van der Stoel visited Odesa, Kharkiv, the Crimean peninsula, and Lviv--the site of recent Ukrainian-Russian tensions caused by the tragic death of a Ukrainian composer (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 6 and 13 June 2000). Van der Stoel has not commented on the results of his mission, pledging only "to carefully study" the information and documents he gathered. The same day he left for Russia to examine the situation of ethnic Ukrainians there. "I have absolutely no grounds to think that the needs of the Russian-speaking population in Ukraine are being ignored," Interfax quoted Deputy Prime Minister Mykola Zhulinskyy as saying. JM

CHINESE PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER IN UKRAINE

Li Peng met with Ukrainian parliamentary speaker Ivan Plyushch, Premier Viktor Yushchenko, and President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 26 June. He had arrived in Ukraine on 24 June and spent two days touring the Crimean region and meeting with officials there. Plyushch urged China to agree to joint aviation projects with Ukraine, in particular involving the Ukrainian An-70 aircraft. "This is a question of business," Li Peng said, adding that much of the Asian market is already occupied by U.S. and European companies, according to AP. JM

NRG AGREES TO ESTONIAN PRIVATIZATION DEAL

U.S.-based NRG Energy has agreed to the government's conditions for the purchase of a minority stake in the country's main power plants. NRG said on 26 June that it is willing to assume the additional market risks insisted by the government in the final round of talks, BNS reported. The government is due to decide on the deal on 27 June, but Economics Minister Mihkel Parnoja warned that the decision will not be automatically implemented. Under the deal, NRG would receive a 49-percent stake in the two oil-shale-fired power plants in the northeast of Estonia, which provides most of Estonia's electricity. Talks on the deal began some five years ago. MH

ESTONIAN BANK MERGER ILLEGAL?

A Tallinn city court ruled on 26 June that the 1998 merger of the then two largest banks in the country--Hansapank and Hoiupank--was illegal, ETA reported. The court ruled that the Hoiupank general shareholders' meeting that approved the bank's incorporation into Hansapank was null and void due to a missing party at that meeting. The decision will go into force in ten days unless Hansapank appeals, which is thought to be likely. Hansapank said after the ruling that the deal was "set in stone" and under the law in 1998 was "perfectly normal." MH

YOUTH DRUG USE UP IN LATVIA

Director of Latvia's Drug Rehabilitation Center Astrida Strina warned on 26 June that drug use among Latvia's youth is rising, LETA reported. Stirna said that while in 1995 only about 5 percent of Latvia's youth had used cannabis, the corresponding figure in 1999 was 17 percent. Stirna also said that use of other narcotics rose from 3 percent to 11 percent in the same period but that the number sniffing glue had decreased from 17 percent to 6 percent. MH

WORLD DEMOCRACIES BACK 'WARSAW DECLARATION,' FRANCE ABSTAINS

More than 100 countries participating in the "Toward a Community of Democracies" conference in Warsaw have endorsed a "Warsaw Declaration" on democratic values and principles. France's delegation refused to sign the document, saying that the debate at the conference "should be considered as only the beginning for such an exchange, but not as a program of action," dpa reported. French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine said the previous day that some Western countries think of democracy as a "religion" that can be spread by means of "conversion" through punitive sanctions. Observers say Vedrine's pronouncement was veiled criticism of the U.S.'s foreign-policy measures to promote democracy. "We did not come to Warsaw to impose democracy--for that is a contradiction in terms," U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright retorted the next day. JM

GUEST LIST OF WARSAW CONFERENCE ON DEMOCRACY CRITICIZED

The U.S.-based Human Rights Watch has expressed dismay at what it called one-party states and governments restricting political freedom having been invited to the Warsaw conference on democracy, Reuters reported on 26 June. The group cited such countries as Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Burkina Faso, Azerbaijan, Qatar, Kenya, and Kuwait. "The concept of democracy is cheapened when it includes one- party states and governments that get 99 percent of the vote," Kenneth Roth, the group's executive director, said. The sponsors of the conference--the U.S., the Czech Republic, Chile, India, Mali, and South Korea --advised Peru, Haiti, Kyrgyzstan, and Fiji to ignore their former invitations. Kyrgyzstan and Fuji complied, while Peru and Haiti nonetheless took part. JM

POLISH POST-COMMUNISTS HAVE ANOTHER THREE SENATORS

The Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) won three seats in the Senate during the 25 June by-elections in the former provinces of Katowice, Szczecin, and Wroclaw, Polish media reported. Turnout was very low: 3.17 percent, 6.66 percent, and 5.71 percent, respectively. Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS) spokesman Piotr Zak commented that such low turnout was a "tragedy for democracy" and favored the post-communist SLD, whose electorate is more disciplined. According to the SLD, its victory in the 25 June ballot confirms the party's high popularity ratings demonstrated in polls. The SLD has now 29 senators, while the AWS has 51 and remains the strongest group in the 100-seat upper house. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT VETOES ELECTORAL LAW AMENDMENT

President Vaclav Havel on 26 June returned the law on amending the electoral law to the Chamber of Deputies for "further debate." Havel said such a "radical change" in the electoral system contravenes Article 18 of the constitution, which stipulates that elections are to take place under a system of proportional representation. In his view, although the changes provide for maintaining proportional representation, they are so far-reaching as to require a constitutional amendment rather than the passage of regular legislation. MS

CZECH OPPOSITION LEADER DISPLAYS 'EUROSKEPTICISM' AGAIN

Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Chairman Vaclav Klaus told a forum in Wachau, Austria, on 24 June that Europe has reached a stage where states see their "sovereignty fundamentally challenged," CTK reported. Klaus said that "EU's treatment of Austria earlier this year, the treatment of Yugoslavia by the international community last year, as well as the rather strange EU treatment of candidates from CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE...all have a common denominator...[namely] the attempt to impose external opinions on particular countries." Klaus also attacked feminism as leading to "the breakup of the classic family model" and strongly criticized "aggressive environmentalism" and globalization. Meeting with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel on 25 June, Klaus said the Czech Republic's position toward Austria is "shortsighted" and that Vienna is being "unfairly" treated by the EU. MS

CZECH PREMIER PUBLISHES APOLOGY

Prime Minister Milos Zeman made public on Nova TV on 25 June a written apology to ODS Deputy Chairman Miroslav Macek, as ordered by a Prague court in May, CTK reported. Zeman's remarks against Macek, whom he had accused of involvement in illegal privatization deals, had been made on the same channel. Nova TV screened the written apology for just a few seconds, prompting Macek to comment that Zeman once more "proves he lacks any sense of fair play." MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT REMAINS 'IN SERIOUS CONDITION'

A member of the team of doctors treating Slovakia's ailing President Rudolf Schuster said on 26 June there has been neither an improvement nor a deterioration in his condition and his life "continues to be in danger," Reuters reported. MS

MECIAR BECOMES 'SHADOW PREMIER'

The opposition Movement for a Democratic Slovakia on 24 June named former Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar as "shadow premier," CTK reported, citing Radio Twist. Two days later, a court in Bratislava ruled that criminal proceedings launched against former Interior Minister and HZDS Deputy Chairman Gustav Krajci be halted. The Prosecutor-General's Office has appealed the decision. Krajci was charged with abuse of office, forging official documents, and hindering the 1997 referendum on direct presidential elections and NATO membership. MS

SLOVAK ROMA ASK FOR ASYLUM IN CZECH REPUBLIC

A group of 170 Slovak citizens, mostly Roma, asked for asylum in the Czech Republic over the past weekend, CTK reported on 26 June, citing Czech television. Slovak Foreign Ministry spokesman Boris Gandel said that according to information he received from Prague, most asylum applicants give economic reasons for that request. Czech Television, however, reported that the main reason cited is racial discrimination. It added that 313 Slovak citizens have asked for asylum this year. Also on 26 June, a report released by the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance said racial discrimination against Roma persists in Slovakia and that police and prosecutors are not properly implementing anti-racial legislation, CTK reported. MS

JEWISH CEMETERY DESECRATED IN SLOVAKIA

Unidentified vandals desecrated a Jewish cemetery in Dunajska Streda, southern Slovakia, CTK reported on 26 June, citing Radio Twist. MS




SERBIAN OPPOSITION ON WAY TO JOINT SLATE

Representatives of most of Serbia's fractious opposition parties and coalitions agreed in Belgrade on 26 June on a compromise list of candidates for the local elections expected later this year. The compromise focused on central Serbia and Sandzak. The representatives will meet on 2 July to reach an agreement on Vojvodina, "Blic" reported. Cedomir Jovanovic of the Democratic Party told the private Beta news agency that the parties have now done what the public has wanted them to do "for the past 10 years." The only important opposition group not present was Vuk Draskovic's Serbian Renewal Movement (SPO). "Blic" published an opinion poll on 26 June that showed the united opposition in first place, followed by the governing coalition of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and then the SPO. PM

SABAC OPPOSITION PROTESTS BEATING OF RFE/RL CORRESPONDENT

Representatives of the opposition parties in Sabac issued a statement on 26 June to protest the recent beating of RFE/RL's Hanibal Kovac by bodyguards at a swimming pool and recreation center owned by a supporter of Vojislav Seselj's Radicals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2000). PM

MILOSEVIC BACKERS SLAM DJUKANOVIC

The state-run Belgrade daily "Politika" on 26 June criticized Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic for his recent apology to Croatian President Stipe Mesic for Montenegro's role in Milosevic's attack on Croatia in 1991 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2000). The daily wrote that Djukanovic has given in to "blackmail" and "soiled the reputation of the proud Montenegrins by dropping to his knees" before Mesic and the Ustashe. Velizar Nikcevic, who heads the pro-Milosevic Serbian People's Party in Montenegro, charged that Djukanovic's "gesture is a continuation of the policy of servility, treachery, hate, and provoking conflicts among his own people.... The Montenegrin regime is entering the last phase of treason," Reuters reported. Neither Milosevic nor his top aides have made any public statements on Djukanovic's remarks. PM

BELGRADE RESENTS EXCLUSION FROM UN DEBATE

Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister Nebojsa Vujovic said in Belgrade on 26 June that the UN Security Council should have invited his government's representatives to take part in its discussions on the Balkans three days earlier, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He said that the decision to exclude Serbian officials was "politically motivated and counterproductive." Vujovic stressed that Yugoslavia is a "factor of regional stability and cooperation." On 23 June in New York, Russian and Ukrainian delegates stressed that Serbian representatives should be present for any discussion on the Balkans. U.S. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke argued that Milosevic's representatives have no right to participate in UN discussions, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. PM

VOTER REGISTRATION PROCEDING APACE IN KOSOVA

Liz Hume, who heads the OSCE's election commission in Kosova, said in Prishtina on 27 June that some 700,000 people have registered to vote in the local and municipal elections widely expected to take place this fall. She said that most who have registered are ethnic Albanians and that virtually no Serbs have done so, Reuters reported. Registration ends on 15 July. Three large and many smaller ethnic Albanian parties as well as several ethnic minority parties signed up during the party registration that ended on 11 June (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 27 June 2000). Hume said that the OSCE favors proportional representation in the elections in order to encourage all the parties to work together. She called "unacceptable" a first-past-the-post system, which the three larger groupings favor. No Serbian party has registered. PM

KOSOVA TORTURE VICTIMS CALL FOR FORGIVENESS

An unspecified number of victims of torture and others marked the UN's International Day in Support of Victims of Torture in Prishtina for the first time on 26 June, AP reported. Adem Demaci, who spent 28 years in Yugoslav prisons and has been called the "Kosovar Mandela," called for forgiveness. "The heart can forgive so that we can get out of this hell we have in our soul." Veteran Kosovar leader Rexhep Qosja called on Kosovars not to "inflict the same pain that was inflicted upon us." Bernard Kouchner, who heads the UN's civilian administration in Kosova, called on people not to forget the families of torture victims. He appealed for the release of persons illegally detained and for clarification of the fate of the missing. PM

INTERNATIONAL AID AGENCIES WON'T BE KOSOVA'S 'SITTING DUCKS'

Paula Ghedini, who is the UNHCR spokeswoman in Prishtina, said on 26 June that international agencies will not return to Serb-held northern Mitrovica until they receive unambiguous guarantees of their safety from local Serbian authorities. She said that recent statements by local Serb leader Oliver Ivanovic do not go far enough. She argued that "there is a feeling of impunity among [Serbian] mobs, they feel they can get away with anything," Reuters reported. She fears that "we will have somebody killed" if the agencies go back without guarantees. "We are not going to send in [our staff], thinking that they are sitting ducks again," Ghedini added. PM

SOLANA HAILS SERBIAN RETURN TO KOUCHNER'S COUNCIL

Javier Solana, who is the EU's chief official for security issues, said in Brussels on 26 June that the only way for people to improve the situation in Kosova is to participate in the work of the UN civilian administration there. He praised the recent decision of the Serbian National Council to rejoin Kouchner's advisory body (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 2000). PM

BRITISH TROOPS UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR THEFT

Four members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers are under investigation by British military authorities in response to charges by ethnic Albanian civilians that the soldiers stole money and valuables from them, "The Guardian" reported on 27 June. PM

WHO'S AFRAID OF 'BOTA SOT'?

Activists of the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH), which is part of Macedonia's governing coalition, confiscated and destroyed "all" copies of the Tirana-based daily "Bota Sot" in the largely ethnic Albanian towns of Gostivar and Tetovo on 26 June, Reuters reported. The activists were angered by a recent article in "Bota Sot" alleging that the PDSH and its leader, Arben Xhaferi, have done nothing to help establish an independent Albanian-language university in Tetovo since the government was formed in November 1998. Xhaferi and other top party officials denied that they ordered the confiscation of the newspaper. Observers note that "Bota Sot" does not enjoy a reputation for the highest journalistic standards. PM

U.S. BLASTS PRESSURE ON SARAJEVO DAILY

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said on 26 June that "the United States strongly condemns efforts by the government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina to intimidate the free press." He was referring to recent measures taken by the tax police against the Sarajevo daily "Avaz" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 June 2000). Bosnian Prime Minister Edhem Bicakcic has called the tax investigation "routine," adding that some 70 companies are currently under scrutiny, Reuters reported. PM

NEW MAYOR FOR BANJA LUKA

The city council elected Independent Social Democrat Dragoljub Davidovic as mayor of the Republika Srpska's capital on 26 June. Wolfgang Petritsch, who is the international community's high representative, and Robert Berry, who heads the OSCE mission in Bosnia, sacked former Mayor Djordje Umicevic last fall (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 November 1999). PM

ISARESCU READY TO CONTINUE AS ROMANIAN PREMIER

Governmental sources cited by Romanian Television on 26 June said Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu is ready to continue as premier after the fall elections because "he would like to see through the objectives he has undertaken to accomplish." On 24 June, the leadership of the National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNLCD) discussed the possibility of nominating a "presidential-premier tandem" before the elections and said the Emil Constantinescu- Isarescu team might be a suitable choice. The proposal, however, was not discussed at a 26 June meeting between the PNTCD leadership and that of the National Liberal Party to discuss the future of the Democratic Convention of Romania. No decision was taken, but the two sides agreed that the electoral hurdle must be raised from 3 percent to 5 percent. MS

COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST NEW BUCHAREST MAYOR FOR 'DEFAMATION'

Party of Social Democracy in Romania First Deputy Chairman Adrian Nastase is filing a complaint against new Bucharest Mayor Traian Basescu for "insulting comments and defamation," Romanian Radio reported on 27 June. In an interview with the daily "Evenimentul zilei," Basescu had used vulgar language in describing Nastase's alleged sexual preferences. Basescu says he had asked the reporter to keep the remarks "off the record" and apologized for having made them. Meanwhile, on 26 June, Basescu's Democratic Party officially nominated Anca Boagiu, director in the Transportation Ministry, as Basescu's successor to the portfolio. Aged 31, Boagiu will be the youngest government member. She will also be the only woman serving in the cabinet. MS

DUTCH PREMIER IN ROMANIA

Visiting Dutch Premier Wim Kok on 26 June said after talks with Isarescu that he is convinced Romania "is now in good hands" and that Dutch investors are interested in Romania. After talks with Constantinescu, Kok also expressed support for Romania's bid to join NATO and the EU, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. On 27 June, Kok addressed a joint session of the Romanian parliament. MS

BULGARIA TO PURCHASE U.S. JET FIGHTERS?

Bulgaria is considering the purchase of an unspecified number of U.S.- made F-16 jet fighters, AP reported on 26 June. The Defense Ministry confirmed that Defense Minister Boiko Noev had left for the U.S. on 25 June but declined to comment on a report in the daily "24 Chasa" saying the purpose of Noev's trip was to decide on whether to purchase the fighters. MS




CONTRADICTORY EXPANSIONS


By Paul Goble

NATO expansion and EU expansion, long assumed to be complementary processes, are having an increasingly contradictory impact on those countries seeking to join one or the other or both, on the current members of these two key Western institutions, and on those countries like Russia that are unlikely ever to get into either.

These unintended contradictions, British defense analyst James G. Sherr concludes in a recent paper released by the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst's Conflict Studies Research Centre, reflect less the different purposes of the two organizations--NATO is a security alliance and the EU is an economic one--than the specific mix of policies they have adopted over the last decade concerning potential new members.

Since the collapse of the Soviet empire, Sherr notes, NATO has done everything it can "to soften the distinction between members and non-members," thereby successfully avoiding the drawing of new lines in Europe while extending a penumbra of security to countries whose national sovereignty has been at risk.

NATO, Sherr points out, has been willing and able to tailor its relationships with all Partnership for Peace countries, developing close links with some countries like the Baltic states and Ukraine and maintaining somewhat looser ties with the countries of the Caucasus and Central Asia. And because it is concerned with national defense, NATO has insisted that fundamental change inside these countries be a precondition for cooperation.

Indeed, Sherr implies, this willingness of the Western alliance to accept such diversity in the countries with which it is cooperating has become one of NATO's greatest strengths.

The EU has taken a very different approach. Sherr notes its main focus throughout this period has been the deepening of the integration of current members. And consequently, it demands that those countries that want to become members transform themselves at home and be willing to impose tighter border controls vis-a-vis their neighbors who cannot or do not want to join.

In that way, the EU draws precisely the kind of lines in post-Cold War Europe that NATO has sought to avoid. Moreover, because the accession process takes so long, this EU approach has the potential to dramatically expand the size of the gray zone of political and economic uncertainty between East and West. That, in turn, undercuts NATO's approach.

Not surprisingly, these differences between NATO and the EU have had a serious impact on countries interested in joining one or the other or both. Many of those countries' leaders view NATO as the primary source of military security but are increasingly concerned by NATO's efforts to work out a cooperative relationship with Moscow, whose policies are the primary reason these countries seek a relationship with the Western alliance.

At the same time, many aspirant countries see EU membership as the primary source of economic well-being. But they are nervous both about the impact of the demands of membership on their own societies and the tariff and visa walls the EU requires its members erect. Such tight borders will often cut these countries off from traditional partners, even after certain special transitional arrangements are approved.

But because NATO and the EU have such different purposes, few in Eastern Europe accept the notion, often promoted in the West, that the expansion of one is the equivalent of the expansion of the other. Indeed, they are ever more sensitive to the distinctions than are current members or those who oppose both institutions.

These distinctions are having an impact on NATO and the EU as they exist today. The approach of each of these institutions often undercuts the approach of the other, thereby reducing the effectiveness of both NATO's approach and the common European security and defense policy and also exacerbating tensions between the two groups.

And this contradictory impact of the two approaches also has a major impact on countries like Russia, which are unlikely to join either. That impact is all the greater because the Russian government does not appear to fully understand the distinctions.

Focusing on NATO's military past, Russian officials have largely ignored the alliance's variegated approach and its efforts to avoid drawing lines. And consequently, they have been almost unanimous in opposing the eastward expansion of the alliance, even as the alliance seeks to cooperate with Moscow.

And focusing on the EU's economic role, these same Russian officials have largely ignored the tight borders EU membership requires and the impact such borders might have on the Russian economy. Not surprisingly, most of them have welcomed EU expansion as a substitute for NATO growth, even though EU expansion might be more damaging to some Russian interests.

As Sherr notes, neither NATO nor EU leaders appear to be fully aware of the impact of such contradictions. Unless they consider them in the near future, both organizations will be helping to create a world in Eastern Europe very different from the one they and the countries of that region say they want.


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