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Newsline - August 21, 2001




MARCH COMMEMORATES THREE KILLED DURING 1991 COUP ATTEMPT

Approximately 200 people participated in a march in Moscow on 20 August to place wreaths from President Vladimir Putin and other senior officials at the site where three defenders of the White House were killed during clashes in the August 1991 coup attempt, AP and "The Moscow Times" reported. Meanwhile, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said on Radio Rossiya the same day that he had made "many errors" in the lead-up to the coup, particularly his failure to reform the Communist Party and the Soviet federal system. Also on 20 August, Ludmila Narusova, the widow of former St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoliy Sobchak, was presented with a gold medal by the Memorial Fund of the Most Holy Prince Aleksandr Menshikov for her late husband's success in maintaining legality and keeping the peace in the northern capital during the August 1991 coup, Interfax reported. PG

PUTIN VISITS SOLOVETSKII ISLANDS...

On 20 August President Putin visited the Solovetskii Islands, the site of a medieval Russian monastery and also one of the earliest and most notorious Soviet penal colonies, Russian and Western agencies reported. Joining him on this pilgrimage was Russian Orthodox Patriarch Aleksii II. Officials pointed out that Putin was the third Russian leader to visit the site: the first was Peter the Great and the second Alexander II. PG

...SAYS ALL PEOPLES 'EQUAL BEFORE GOD'

Speaking in Solovki, President Putin said on 20 August that the principle that "all peoples are equal before God" lies "at the foundation of Russian statehood" and "has permitted the creation of a strong and multinational state," Interfax reported. He said that unlike in the medieval West, Russian Orthodox culture had always insisted upon the equality of all peoples. He said that the fact that Russia was called Holy Russia has "enormous moral meaning" because it underscores "that special role which Russia took upon itself when it voluntarily accepted Christianity." Putin concluded that "without Christianity, Russia could hardly exist." PG

PUTIN FORMS COMMISSION TO REFORM STATE SERVICE

President Putin has formed a commission to oversee the reform of government service, according to a text of his directive reported by Interfax on 20 August. The commission will be headed by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov. According to Putin's order, the commission is to come up with plans for reform by the end of 2001. PG

PUTIN SENDS BIRTHDAY GREETINGS TO CLINTON

President Putin sent a telegram to former U.S. President Bill Clinton on 19 August congratulating him on his 55th birthday, Interfax reported. Putin said in his message that he recalls "with pleasure our meetings and active cooperation" and that he "count[s] on further contacts in the future." PG

GOVERNMENT SENDS DUMA WTO PROGRAM

The government on 20 August sent to the Duma a list of legislative projects needed to bring Russian law into correspondence with World Trade Organization norms and thus provide support for Russia's application for membership in that body, Interfax-AFI reported. The cabinet has asked that the Duma approve these measures no later than the fourth quarter of 2001. PG

BYKOV'S LAWYERS TO CHALLENGE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF SUPREME COURT DECISION

Lawyers for former Siberian Aluminum head Anatolii Bykov plan to appeal to the Constitutional Court to ask that a decision of the Supreme Court announced on 17 August be declared unconstitutional, Interfax reported on 20 August. That earlier decision stripped Bykov of his immunity as a deputy in the Krasnoyarsk Krai legislature and ordered that he stand trial. PG

SPS, KPRF PROVIDE COMPUTERS TO BIROBIDZHAN SCHOOLS

The Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) has provided two computer servers to the schools of the Jewish Autonomous Oblast of Birobidzhan, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 20 August. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) plans to do the same. PG

RUSSIA, UKRAINE AGREE ON ENERGY UNION

Prime Minister Kasyanov and his Ukrainian counterpart Anatoliy Kinakh agreed on 20 August following a meeting in Moscow that the two countries will move immediately to initiate the parallel operation of their electrical grids, RTR television reported. Kasyanov noted that this synchronization of the power systems will allow Russia to export electricity to the West. President Putin issued a statement on the occasion, saying that this accord will "significantly strengthen" the position of the two countries on the international energy market. Meanwhile, Kasyanov noted that Moscow and Kyiv are finalizing an agreement on Ukrainian debts for Russian gas. Kinakh for his part said that Kyiv has agreed to offer its national oil and gas company to Russia as a deposit for its future payments on Russian gas supplies, ITAR-TASS reported on 20 August. VY

MOSCOW PAYS ON DEBT TO PARIS CLUB

Moscow on 20 August paid $1.27 billion against its debts to the Paris Club of creditors, Interfax-AFI reported. At the same time, the Finance Ministry told Interfax-AFI that the Russian government plans to borrow no more than $1.87 billion in 2002, of which not more than $1 billion will be from foreign sources. PG

WASHINGTON SEEN SEEKING TO BOOST RUSSIA'S IMAGE

Writing in "Vek," No. 32, Stanislav Tarasov argues that the U.S. administration has decided to seek to "improve Russia's image" in the run-up to President Putin's visit to the United States. The U.S. decided "to 'launder' Russia" because of its interest in expanding economic ties between the two countries and in reducing Europe's importance in relations between Russia and the Untied States. PG

FRENCH SAY MOSCOW AGREED TO NATO OPERATION IN MACEDONIA

On 20 August, ITAR-TASS quoted a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry as saying that Russia was consulted about and has agreed to NATO's operation Essential Harvest in Macedonia. PG

ITALY RETURNS 45 ICONS TO RUSSIA

Italian authorities on 20 August returned to Moscow 45 icons that were illegally taken to Italy in 1996, ITAR-TASS reported. The news service said that Italy will soon return an additional 850 Russian antiquities. It noted that a total of 256,000 pieces of art and cultural valuables have been returned to Russia over the last five years as a result of the work of the Interior, Foreign, and Culture Ministries. PG

JAPAN PROTESTS RUSSIAN SALE OF FISHING RIGHTS NEAR DISPUTED ISLANDS

Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi has sent a protest note to President Putin concerning Moscow's sale of fishing quotas in the waters around the disputed Kurile Islands, Russian and Western agencies reported on 20 August. Koizumi said in his message that Putin should recognize the seriousness of this issue for the overall development of bilateral ties. But a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman told Interfax the same day that Russia has no intention of changing its approach because it is based exclusively on "commercial" considerations. VY

RUSSIA NOW TRAILS ONLY U.S. IN FOREIGN ARMS SALES

Citing a report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), Interfax reported on 20 August that Russia exported $7.7 billion worth of arms in 2000, trailing only the U.S. which exported $18.6 billion during the same period. According to the CRS report, foreign arms sales totaled $36.9 billion in 2000, up 8 percent from 1999. PG

NEW ECONOMIC DATA RELEASED

Real incomes in Russia increased 5.4 percent over the first seven months of 2001, the State Statistics Committee told Interfax on 20 August. Meanwhile, the committee said, wage arrears increased by 1.3 percent in July to a total of 34.1 billion rubles ($1.2 billion). The country's foreign trade surplus fell to $27.8 billion during the first six months of 2001, down from $29 billion in the same period a year earlier. The number of unemployed in Russia in July 2001 compared to that figure a year earlier was 18.4 percent lower and totaled 5.9 million. PG

RUSSIAN ALUMINUM MOVES INTO DOMESTIC AUTO INDUSTRY

The Russian Aluminum (RusAL) industrial financial group is making major acquisitions within the domestic automobile industry, Prime-TASS reported on 20 August. It recently purchased the Kurgan bus factory as well as similar factories in Pavlovsk and Likin, and it is already the owner of the GAZ automobile factory. The news service said that RusAL is planning to target AvtoVAZ for a takeover in the future. VY

RUSSIAN POPULATION CONTINUES TO DECLINE

The population of Russia fell 458,400 during the first six months of 2001, the State Statistics Committee told Interfax on 20 August. That decline is 33,000 more than the decline during the same period in 2000, despite increases in the birthrate and declines in the death rate. The number of divorces increased 19.7 percent from the first half of 2000 to the first half of 2001, exceeding the increase in the number of marriages, which was only 14.4 percent between these two periods. Meanwhile, the number of people arriving from abroad fell 79 percent from the first six months of 2000 to the first six months of 2001. PG

MORE THAN 4 MILLION HAVE OBTAINED RUSSIAN CITIZENSHIP SINCE 1993

Vladimir Shumov, the head of the presidential administration on citizenship, told Interfax on 20 August that over the last eight years more than 4 million people have acquired Russian citizenship. Most of these, he said, are migrants from the former Soviet republics. PG

GOVORIN RE-ELECTED IRKUTSK GOVERNOR

In the second round of voting on 19 August, Boris Govorin won re-election, Interfax reported. With 98 percent of the ballots tallied, Govorin took 47.28 percent of the vote. His opponent, Duma deputy (KPRF) Sergei Levchenko, received 45.6 percent. Levchenko announced that he will appeal the results in the courts, but Aleksandr Veshnyakov, the chairman of the Central Election Commission, said that there have been no reports of violations of electoral law that might lead to a change in the outcome. Meanwhile, Interfax reported on 20 August that Russian special services were successful in preventing a major terrorist bombing planned for the Irkutsk marketplace. PG

RUSSIAN NAVY SEEN DECLINING TO 100 SHIPS BY 2010

Lack of funding for new construction and fuel shortages are hampering Russia's ability to maintain its navy and as a result, Moscow may have only 100 ships of all classes by 2010, according to an article in "Nezavisimoe voennoe obozrenie," No. 30. Ever more ships are falling into disrepair, and the navy has been forced to raid its reserves in order to send the fleet to the Indian Ocean earlier in 2001. According to the article, one of the main reasons for these problems is that the navy is not funded as a separate budgetary item apart from the rest of the military. PG

'KURSK' RAISING EFFORTS HAMPERED BY STORMS

Bad weather on 20 August continued to limit work on raising the sunken "Kursk" submarine, but officials involved said that the submarine nonetheless will be raised on schedule by 15 September, Russian and Western agencies reported. PG

A NEW PLAN TO FIGHT ORGANIZED CRIME

Aleksandr Ovchinnikov, the newly appointed head of the Interior Ministry's Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime, said in an article published by "Izvestiya" on 20 August that his agency will soon be transformed into the Criminal Militia Service. That will allow the Interior Ministry to "split organized crime from within" rather than simply respond to particular actions. Ovchinnikov also said he is opposed to any anticorruption efforts within his agency lest it force many experienced officers off the payroll, which he said would be particularly troubling given the shortages of militia officers. VY

MORE POACHING IN RUSSIAN COASTAL WATERS

The Federal Border Service (FPS) said that between 15-20 percent of ships in Russian territorial waters and in Russia's economic exclusionary zone are involved in poaching, an increase over earlier years, Interfax reported. Most of the violators, an FPS spokesman said, are Russian ships rather than foreign ones. PG

VORONEZH PEASANTS PLAN TO DEFEND THEIR GRAIN WITH STICKS AND CLUBS

According to an article in "Vek," No. 32, peasants in Voronezh Oblast "intend to defend their grain with sticks and clubs against confiscation by court officials for the debts of previous years." What makes this threat so frightening is that it is taking place during a good harvest and in one of the most fertile regions of the country. The weekly suggests that peasants may soon displace railway workers and miners as the greatest expression of popular discontent and source of social unrest in Russia. PG

WESTERN SIBERIAN REGION HEAVILY POLLUTED BY OIL

"Inostranets" reported on 14 August that Dutch analysts working together with the Russian ecological organization Greenpeace have identified 700,000-840,000 hectares of soil in Western Siberia as being heavily polluted with oil. Not only has that harmed the agricultural production of that region, but it has had serious health consequences as well. Over the past five years, the number of cancer cases in the center of the affected region has doubled. PG

750,000 REFUGEES NOW IN RUSSIA

As of 1 July 2001, there were 754,800 refugees and forced resettlers in Russia, Interfax reported, citing government statistical sources. More than a third of them are from Central Asia, with another 131,000 from unstable regions within Russia itself. PG

LEADER OF ARMENIAN CRIMINAL GROUP IN MOSCOW DIES

Nodar Chograshi, who law-enforcement officials have identified as one of the leaders of an Armenian organized crime group in the Russian capital, died in a Moscow hospital over the weekend, Interfax-Moscow reported on 20 August. He was attacked while traveling in his armored Mercedes-600 near Sheremetevo Airport. PG

COURT ORDERS ORT TO AIR RETRACTION ON LUZHKOV

A Moscow court on 20 August ordered ORT to air over the course of 10 days a retraction of its earlier report that Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov was involved in the theft of 5,000 KamAZ trucks, Interfax reported. Luzhkov had filed suit to obtain such a retraction after the station broadcast that report in March 2000. The court on 29 June found for Luzhkov and ordered the station to pay him compensation. The latest order supplements that decision. PG

COURT RULES ELECTIONS AT TV-6 LEGAL

The appellate division of the Moscow arbitrage court on 20 August confirmed as legal the decision of the annual assembly of stockholders of the TV-6 corporation to elect a new leadership of the channel. In doing so, the court rejected a challenge by LUKoil-Garant to a decision by the court of first instance on 28 June. PG

'A TSARIST FLAG AND A SOVIET HYMN'

"Vremya MN" on 18 August featured comments about the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the tricolor as Russia's national flag, which will be marked on 22 August. One historian, Nikolai Orlovich said that "In Russia, everything is different than it is elsewhere. Just look what is being done. The flag is tsarist, the shield is tsarist, but the hymn is Soviet. I can't believe my eyes. It might somehow be possible to combine the first two. But not the hymn as well. It's high time for us to become consistent at least at the level of state symbols." PG

TATAR PRESIDENT HINTS THAT POWER-SHARING TREATY COULD BE ANNULLED

"Vremya novostei" on 20 August quoted Tatarstan's President Mintimer Shaimiev as saying for the first time that the power-sharing treaty concluded between his republic and Moscow in 1994 could be annulled. Shaimiev said that it is "difficult to build a federal state, but that it is necessary to do so on the foundations that exist today." He also admitted that it will not be possible to bring Tatarstan's Constitution and laws into conformity with the Russian Constitution and legislation by the September deadline originally set for doing so. LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY SAYS BASAEV HAS RETREATED FROM VEDENO

After one week of heavy fighting with Russian federal forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"14 and 15 August 2001) during which the entire Vedeno Raion in Chechnya was cordoned off by Russian troops, Chechen field commander Shamil Basaev ordered his men to retreat from his native village of Vedeno into the mountains of southern Chechnya, "Vremya MN" reported on 21 August, quoting Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's spokesman Mairbek Vachagaev. Vachagaev said the offensive demonstrated that the Chechen forces are still strong enough to occupy entire villages and hold them for several days. Russian journalists believe that the federal forces hesitated to launch a full-scale artillery and bombing offensive to dislodge Basaev's men because such a mass attack would have inevitably resulted in heavy losses and killed hundreds of civilians. It would also cast doubts on Russian claims that the "military phase" of the war is already over. LF




SIX SUSPECTED IRANIAN AGENTS ARRESTED IN AZERBAIJAN

Azerbaijan's National Security Ministry on 18 August arrested six Muslim clerics in Djalalabad Raion on suspicion of working for Iranian intelligence, Turan and Reuters reported on 20 August. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S SENIOR CLERIC CALLS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE RELIGIOUS COUNTERPROPAGANDA

The head of the Muslim Religious Board of the Caucasus, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade, admitted on 18 August that, partly as a result of proselytizing by various religious sects since the collapse of the USSR, the religious situation in Azerbaijan is "complicated," Turan reported on 20 August (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 4, No. 30, 17 August 2001). He called for more sophisticated and effective Islamic propaganda to counter such missionary activity. Pashazade said all mosques are to be registered centrally and formally subordinated to the Religious Board, which will also inform mosques of the subject to be discussed in the weekly Friday sermon. LF

TURKISH OFFICER DENIES LINK BETWEEN CASPIAN TENSIONS, WARPLANES

The participation of a squadron of Turkish warplanes in parades in Baku on 24-25 August should not be construed as "a demonstration of force," nor is it in any way connected with the recent escalation of tensions between Azerbaijan and Iran, the squadron's commander, Colonel Mehmet Kutlu, told journalists in Baku on 20 August, according to Turan. He said the squadron's visit to Azerbaijan was arranged last year to coincide with a graduation ceremony for Azerbaijani pilots. LF

GEORGIAN OIL COMPANY SAYS NO GAS TRANSIT AGREEMENT WITH AZERBAIJAN REACHED

Last week's talks in Baku between Azerbaijani officials and a Georgian governmental delegation headed by Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili on the terms for the transit of Azerbaijani gas via Georgia failed to iron out disagreements, Caucasus Press reported on 20 August, quoting an unidentified official from the Georgian International Oil Corp. A further round of talks is to take place next month. Menagharishvili had said after his talks in Baku that a transit agreement "is ready for signing" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2001). LF

ABKHAZ CLAIM TO HAVE DESTROYED GEORGIAN GUERRILLA BASE

One member of a group of Georgian guerrillas was shot dead and the remainder neutralized in a shoot-out with Abkhaz police on 18 August, Abkhaz Security Service head Raul Khazhimba told journalists in Sukhum on 20 August, Caucasus Press reported. He said a large quantity of arms and ammunition was also confiscated. Khazhimba said that the Abkhaz authorities informed the Georgian government of the whereabouts of the guerrilla detachment during talks last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 and 17 August 2001), but that the Georgian side failed to take any measures to detain them. LF

POLL REGISTERS SOLID SUPPORT FOR LATEST GEORGIAN ANTICORRUPTION PROPOSAL

Of 500 people questioned in an opinion poll conducted by Intermedia, 72 percent said they are in favor of confiscating illegally acquired wealth from government officials, Caucasus Press reported on 20 August. A draft bill tabled by Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili that would provide for such confiscations incurred criticism from Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and several members of the government, as well as from some opposition politicians (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 9 and 14 August 2001). Saakashvili himself figured among those politicians whom the poll participants suspected of having acquired their wealth illegally, as did parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania, former Minister of State Niko Lekishvili, Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze, and Tbilisi police chief Soso Alavidze, who has just resigned after being accused by Saakashvili of corruption (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). LF

COMMISSIONING OF KAZAKHSTAN'S OIL EXPORT PIPELINE AGAIN POSTPONED

The ceremony to mark the filling of the first oil tanker with Kazakh crude exported via the Caspian Pipeline Consortium's pipeline to Novorossiisk has been postponed from 2 to 20 September, Caspian News Agency and Caucasus Press reported on 16 and 17 August. That ceremony had been planned for 6 August but was postponed due to disagreements between the shareholders, which include several international oil companies and the Russian and Kazakh governments, which have 24 and 19 percent stakes respectively. Meanwhile, over 100 people have staged a protest in Gelendjik on the Black Sea coast near Novorossiisk to focus attention on the ecological risks inherent in exploitation of the pipeline, Glasnost-North Caucasus reported. They demanded that the city authorities hold a referendum on whether permission should be granted for the loading of crude from the pipeline onto tankers at Novorossiisk. LF

INVESTIGATION INTO KAZAKH ARMS DEPOT FIRE 'ALMOST COMPLETE'

The probe into the causes of the fire that destroyed an arms depot in northern Kazakhstan earlier this month is almost completed, Kazakhstan's Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sat Toqpaqbaev told Interfax on 20 August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 14 August 2001). Spontaneous combustion of artillery shells and premeditated arson have been mentioned among the possible causes of the blaze. LF

RED CROSS SAYS 1 MILLION FACE STARVATION IN TAJIKISTAN

The second consecutive summer of drought in Tajikistan has left up to 1 million of that country's 6.4 million population threatened by starvation, a senior Red Cross official who recently returned from Tajikistan said in Geneva on 21 August, according to AP. Many of the rural population were forced last year to sell all but their most elementary possessions to buy food. The International Red Cross has launched an appeal for $4 million to provide food for those most at risk, and also for clothes and winter shoes for children to enable them to continue attending school. LF

ANOTHER OPPOSITION FIELD COMMANDER APPREHENDED IN TAJIKISTAN

Police in Dushanbe have arrested former field commander Mustafo Taghoev on charges of murder, extortion, drug trafficking, and hostage taking, according to Asia Plus-Blitz and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 21 August. A former colonel in Tajikistan's special police and a member of the anti-Islamic Tajik Popular Front, Taghoev was first arrested and sentenced in 1999, but was freed in an amnesty shortly afterward. LF




OSCE MONITORS BEGIN WORK IN BELARUS

A mission consisting of 15 observers from the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) has inaugurated its monitoring work in Belarus in connection with the 9 September presidential election, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 20 August. The ODIHR intends to send a total of 29 long-term monitors to Belarus, along with an 150 additional monitors on election day, and to open its offices in all of the country's oblasts. The Belarusian authorities have refused entry visas to two ODIHR monitors. JM

RUSSIA'S ZYUGANOV BACKS LUKASHENKA

Gennadii Zyuganov, the leader of Russia's Communist Party, met with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 20 August, Belarusian Television reported. Zyuganov complimented Lukashenka for initiating the creation of the Russia-Belarus Union and assured the Belarusian president that Russia's Communists will continue to back him. Meanwhile, the Belarusian Party of Communists led by Syarhey Kalyakin has thrown its support behind Uladzimir Hancharyk, Lukashenka's challenger in the 9 September presidential ballot. JM

BELARUSIAN INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPER WARNED

The State Press Committee has issued a warning to the independent, pro-opposition newspaper "Nasha svaboda," Belapan reported on 20 August. The committee said information published in "Nasha svaboda" on 17 August that President Lukashenka accused Premier Uladzimir Yarmoshyn and presidential administration chief Mikhail Myasnikovich of plotting against him is "incorrect." The committee added that "Nasha svaboda" will be banned for a period of three months if future actions require another warning. Finance police seized 400,000 copies of the 17 August issue of "Nasha svaboda" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). The editors have reportedly managed to distribute some 100,000 copies of the issue. JM

BELARUS OBTAINS $30 MILLION LOAN FROM RUSSIA

The Finance Ministry has reported that Minsk received $30 million last week as the first tranche of the $100 million loan previously approved by Russia, Belapan reported on 20 August. The ministry added that the loan will be used to pay for Russian imports, primarily oil and gas. JM

BELARUSIAN OPPOSITION ACTIVIST URGES OFFICIALS TO ABIDE BY LAW IN ELECTION CAMPAIGN

Former Agriculture Minister Vasil Lyavonau has urged government officials of all levels to strictly abide by Belarusian laws in the presidential election campaign, Belapan reported on 20 August. In particular, Lyavonau warned them against rigging the 9 September presidential ballot in favor of President Lukashenka. Lyavonau is the head of For a New Belarus, a group that supports Hancharyk, the broad opposition coalition's single presidential candidate. Lyavonau spent almost three years in prison following a trial that was widely believed to be an act of reprisal by Lukashenka. JM

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR FUNDING FOR MINE SAFETY

Speaking at the Zasyadko mine in Donetsk on 20 August, Leonid Kuchma announced that he will call on the U.S. government and international organizations to help fund a "degasification" program at Ukrainian coal mines, Ukrainian and international media reported. Kuchma said he will also ask Ukraine's parliament to find a way to allocate money specifically for mining safety and recommended that mines not dig new shafts more than 1-kilometer deep. A methane blast at the Zasyadko mine on 19 August killed 36 miners some 1,300 meters underground. One miner died of severe burns on 20 August, and 10 remain missing. Kuchma announced a 2 million hryvni ($377,000) fund to compensate families of the victims. JM

UKRAINIAN EX-PREMIER REJECTS CHARGES OF CONTRACTING TWO MURDERS

Former Premier Pavlo Lazarenko, who is now in a U.S. federal prison facing a 54-count indictment, has denied in an open letter that he has anything to do with the killings of parliamentary deputy Yevhen Scherban in 1996 and of former National Bank Governor Vadym Hetman in 1998, Interfax reported. Lazarenko has been accused of contracting those killings by Prosecutor-General Mykhaylo Potebenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). Lazarenko said Potebenko's charges are "another gross fabrication that is caused by the activities of my U.S. lawyers and their successful advance on the path toward closing my case in the U.S." JM

CONTROVERSY OVER ESTONIA'S SALE OF POWER PLANTS

Reacting to the statement made by President Lennart Meri on 17 August opposing the sale of AS Narva Elektrijaamad (Narva Power Plants Ltd) to the U.S. company NRG, U.S. Ambassador to Estonia Melissa Wells declared in an interview in the 21 August edition of "Eesti Paevaleht" that the canceling of the sale would send a negative signal in regard to doing business with Estonia. The NRG investments, Wells argued, will lessen unemployment in the socially disadvantaged region of northeastern Estonia. The opposition parties have called a special parliamentary session on 23 August to discuss the privatization of the plants. Meri is urging all parliament deputies to attend the session. The president has criticized the secrecy of the privatization terms and even called on Estonian officials directly connected with the privatization deal to resign. It is unclear whether the parties in the ruling coalition will attend the session. SG

RIGHTIST PARTY QUITS COALITION IN LATVIA'S CAPITAL

An emergency meeting of the board of For the Fatherland and Freedom/LNNK (TB/LNNK) on 20 August decided to end cooperation with the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDSP) in the Riga City Council and withdrew from the council's coalition, LETA reported the next day. TB/LNNK accused the LSDSP of breaking existing agreements by exhibiting a monument to Peter the Great (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001) during the city's 800th anniversary celebrations without informing them. The monument was returned on 20 August to the company that is restoring it. With the withdrawal of the TB/LNNK, the coalition declined to just 23 of its 60 seats, but with the expected addition of the leftist For Human Rights In a United Latvia, which has 13 deputies, the LSDSP is likely to remain in control. SG

GERMAN OFFICIAL URGES LITHUANIA TO MAINTAIN FAST PACE IN EU TALKS

Reinhard Schweppe, the head of the German Foreign Ministry's European Union Department, told Lithuania's chief EU negotiator, Petras Austrevicius, in Vilnius on 20 August that Lithuania should keep up its rapid pace in EU accession talks, ELTA reported. Schweppe noted that although each country is evaluated according to its individual achievements, the three Baltic states' position combined would have more weight than each of them separately. Austrevicius said that Lithuania expects understanding and a flexible approach on the part of the EU relating to the energy chapter, especially in regard to closing down the Ignalina nuclear power plant. Lithuania has agreed to close the plant's first reactor by 2005 and to make a decision on closing the second in 2004, but the EU is pressing for closing the second by 2009. SG

POLAND'S TELEPHONE OPERATOR SUES TELECOMS GIANT

Niezalezny Operator Miedzystrefrowy (NOM -- Independent Interzonal Operator) has taken legal action against the state-controlled Telekomunikacja Polska (TP SA), demanding compensation of some 81 million zlotys ($19 million), PAP reported on 20 August. NOM said the demanded sum includes the estimated loss in profits that would have been made had NOM been active from 1 January 2001. NOM claims it could not start its services earlier because TP SA impeded negotiations on a contract between them. NOM started to provide long-distance services on 1 July of this year, thereby breaking TP SA's monopoly of the market. Last month, the weekly "Polityka" disclosed a "secret annex" to the sale of a 35 percent stake in TP SA in 2000 (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 14 August 2001). "Polityka" suggested that the government is responsible for delaying the demonopolization of Poland's telecommunications market. JM

CZECHS DON'T FEAR AUSTRIAN LAWSUIT ON TEMELIN

A spokesman for the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant on 20 August said the utility company CEZ, which operates the plant, "has no reason to be worried" about a lawsuit by Temelin opponents, CTK reported. Austrian antinuclear activists earlier on 20 August said they plan to launch a lawsuit that will "impose full liability on the plant for any damage caused by it." The Westinghouse Electric Co., which supplied Temelin with technology, is also to be sued, the opponents said. CTK also reported from the border town of Freistadt in Austria that thousands of Austrians have signed the "Veto Temelin" petition organized by the far-right Austrian Freedom Party. The petition calls on the Austrian government to veto the Czech Republic's accession to the EU if it does not abandon the plant's operation. MS

BRITISH EMBASSY IN PRAGUE HEEDS ROMANY WOMAN'S APPEAL

The British Embassy in Prague has heeded an appeal by a Romany woman who was not allowed to board a plane to the U.K. during checks carried out at Prague's Ruzyne airport from mid-July to early August, CTK reported on 20 August, citing Czech Television. Irena Bagarova, a university teaching assistant on maternity leave, said she was turned back at the airport by U.K. officials on the grounds that she was allegedly unemployed, although her work contract was still valid. A spokesman for the embassy refused to comment but said five appeals have been filed with the embassy. Some 120 Czech citizens, most of them Roma, were refused permission to fly to the U.K. as a result of the checks. On 21 August, the daily "Lidove noviny" wrote that applications for asylum in the U.K. are again on the rise since the checks were discontinued and that London is considering resuming them. About 200 monthly applications for asylum in the U.K. were being filed by Czech citizens in the U.K. prior to the introduction of the checks. MS

SLOVAK PRESIDENT CALLS FOR STRONGER ECONOMIC TIES WITH BRAZIL

President Rudolf Schuster, ending a month-long vacation in Brazil, on 20 August called for increased trade between the two countries. Schuster said Slovakia could be a "gateway" for South American countries to the EU, which it hopes to soon join. He also said Slovak technology could be used to alleviate Brazil's current energy crisis, which has forced electricity rationing, AP and CTK reported. MS

SLOVAK CHURCHES CONTINUE OPPOSITION TO YOGA IN SCHOOLS

A spokesman for the Slovak Catholic Bishops Conference on 20 August said the Catholic Church in the country continues to object to plans to introduce yoga courses in school curricula, CTK reported. Protestant Bishop and Chairman of the Ecumenical Council of Churches Julius Filo said his church also opposes the plans. Filo added that it is not "fear of Indian influence competition" that has determined this position, but rather the fact that "we do not want to regret, in a few years, that we launched an unexplored project which, experts say, can cause great harm." Filo added that similar projects have been rejected in the Czech Republic and Austria. Education Minister Milan Ftacnik, who has practiced yoga for years, said introducing it in schools would improve the health condition of pupils. The Catholic and Protestant bishops say that the planned physical exercises would be accompanied by "relaxation and concentration procedures that can lead to psychological manipulation" and "obedience to a guru" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 19 July 2001). MS

SLOVAK POLICE CHARGE ASSAILANTS OF ROM

Slovak police on 20 August brought charges of "causing bodily harm" against two young men in Holic, western Slovakia, CTK reported. The two deny that they are affiliated with a racist movement, but police say they may also be charged with a racially motivated attack. They attacked a young Rom in early August, who suffered head injuries and underwent surgery in Bratislava. The attack triggered protest marches by Roma in Holic (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 20 August 2001). MS

HUNGARY CELEBRATES NATIONAL HOLIDAY

Speaking in front of the parliament building on 20 August, Prime Minister Viktor Orban in a speech commemorating the foundation of the Hungarian State by King St. Stephen said that Hungary has "achieved what few countries have managed to do, and became what it wanted to become -- a free, independent, strong, and growing nation." Orban said that "We shall unite our continent in the spirit of freedom and responsibility, and Hungarians will take part in this unity by defending their independence and preserving their national pride." In regard to ethnic Hungarians abroad, Orban said that "We shall implement the cross-border reunification of the Hungarian nation, because the future knows no borders, and as long as borders separate rather than bind, the homeland will be supreme." MSZ

ORBAN MEETS ETHNIC HUNGARIAN LEADERS IN PARLIAMENT

Representatives of ethnic Hungarian organizations from Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Croatia, and Slovenia met with Orban on 20 August in the Hungarian parliament and discussed the implementation of Hungary's Status Law. During the meeting, Orban said the Hungarian government will support the Hungarian Coalition Party in Slovakia regardless of whether that party decides to leave the Slovak cabinet or remain in the ruling coalition. In other news, Orban and his Serbian counterpart Zoran Djindjic on 17 August opened a Hungarian Consulate in Subotica. At the inauguration ceremony, Orban said he hopes ethnic Hungarians "will remain respected citizens" in Serbia, while Djindjic said that Hungarians will be granted "collective rights" that are in line with EU norms. MSZ




NATO OK'S MACEDONIAN MISSION

Reuters quoted unnamed Western diplomats in Skopje on 21 August as saying that General Joseph Ralston, NATO's supreme commander, is satisfied that the Macedonian cease-fire is holding (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001, and "End Note," below). "The Times" suggested that Ralston will advise NATO's North Atlantic Council on 21 August to move ahead with plans to launch Operation Essential Harvest to collect weapons from the guerrillas of the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UCK). In Brussels, Reuters reported that NATO has indeed agreed to launch the mission. In Skopje, President Boris Trajkovski said that he hopes that the arms collection will be "extensive and not symbolic" in nature, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM

MACEDONIAN ARMY TO 'REDISTRIBUTE' FORCES

AP reported from Skopje on 20 August that the Macedonian army will "redistribute" its forces by pulling back from areas near UCK positions so that NATO can more easily collect weapons. Macedonian officials nonetheless fear that the UCK will try to occupy any positions that the security forces leave. PM

OPPOSITION TO SETTLEMENT, NATO IN MACEDONIA

On 21 August, Reuters quoted unnamed Defense Ministry sources in Skopje as saying that guerrillas damaged a 14th-century Orthodox monastery in Lesok. An unnamed Western diplomat told the news agency, however, that the ministry's story is "rather suspicious. [The UCK] is not known to have attacked religious sites before. If you wanted to pick one way to screw up the peace agreement, this would be one of them." The "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" reported that many Macedonian-language media have for some weeks been fueling anti-American and anti-NATO sentiment, suggesting that the U.S. is arming the UCK even though there is no evidence to back up such conspiracy theories (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 July and 14 August 2001). In the most recent display of anti-Western sentiment, some Macedonian nationalists recently blockaded the main road between Skopje and the border crossing to Kosova at Blace. PM

MACEDONIAN AUTHORITIES RESPONSIBLE FOR UCK'S PROPAGANDA WINDFALL?

"The Guardian" wrote on 21 August that "Skopje's bullying" of Western diplomats and journalists in recent weeks has given the UCK a "public relations coup." The daily suggested that Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski recently showed his opposition to the political settlement by "raging" against the UCK's political leader, Ali Ahmeti, when Ahmeti gave a press conference to announce that the UCK will disarm (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). The government tried to force the cancellation of Ahmeti's press conference. An unnamed "Western official" told the government: "I hope you are not about to send a helicopter gunship up to Sipkovica [where the press conference was]. This [press conference] was bound to happen, and as long as [Ahmeti] is supportive of the agreement, [his conference] is actually helpful." The daily noted that the Macedonian side has frequently tried to intimidate Western journalists and officials, "draining sympathy for the counterinsurgency, which was initially viewed as a justified crackdown against terrorists." Now, "Western journalists are more likely to report from Albanian areas, where they are welcomed." PM

PRESEVO ALBANIANS: NO CHANGE SINCE MILOSEVIC

Several leaders of ethnic Albanian political parties in the Presevo valley and in Kosova told Deutsche Welle's Albanian Service on 20 August that NATO was too hasty in allowing Serbian forces to reoccupy the demilitarized zone along Serbia's border with Kosova, Deutsche Welle's "Monitor" reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 August 2001). Behlul Nasufi, the vice president of Presevo's Party for Democratic Activity (PVD), said that the Serbian and Yugoslav authorities proved very diligent in arranging for their forces to return to the zone, but have done nothing to help the region's ethnic Albanians. He added that "nothing has changed" for the Albanians since the collapse of former President Slobodan Milosevic's regime. PM

ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER WINS NOMINATION FOR RE-ELECTION

Leaders of the governing Socialist Party voted in Tirana on 20 August to keep Prime Minister Ilir Meta as their party's nominee to head the government (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 24 July 2001). AP reported that Meta's victory over Arben Malaj is seen as one of relative professionalism over the crony-based politics of the party's old guard. Meta said after the vote: "You have seen my total commitment and devotion to changing Albania, and Albania has changed enough for those who want to see the change. The new cabinet ministers will be Socialists with a political mandate. Those who accuse me of turning the government into a club of friends are wrong." PM

BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT: MASS GRAVE MAY BE LARGEST TO DATE

Government forensics experts said in Sarajevo on 20 August that a mass grave found near Bratunac may prove to be the largest one yet discovered because it has already yielded the remains of more than 210 victims, dpa reported. The bodies are believed to be those of Muslims killed by Serbs during the 1995 Srebrenica massacre. In The Hague on 21 August, Bosnian Serb Colonel Dragan Jokic pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from that massacre (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2001). In Sarajevo on 20 August, Bosnian Serb government adviser Sinisa Djordjevic told AP that the Banja Luka authorities will send to The Hague by mid-September materials to show the involvement of wartime Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic in war crimes. PM

MONTENEGRIN LEADERS BEGIN TALKS

President Milo Djukanovic and Socialist People's Party (SNP) leader Predrag Bulatovic discussed Montenegro's relations with Serbia in Podgorica on 20 August, "Dan" reported. Bulatovic said that his party will not take part in preparations for a referendum on independence because there is no reason to hold one. The talks are but the latest stage in a months-old cat-and-mouse game that has been going on between the leaders in Podgorica and the Belgrade authorities, including the SNP. PM

VOJVODINA LEADERS PRESENT PLATFORM

Leaders of 14 political parties and NGOs agreed in Novi Sad on 20 August on a platform for "full autonomy" for Vojvodina, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 July 2001). Talks with the Belgrade authorities in the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition are slated for 21 August. Vojvodina, like Kosova, had extensive autonomy under the 1974 Yugoslav Constitution, which Milosevic abrogated. PM

SERBIAN GOVERNMENT IMBROGLIO CONTINUES

Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic said in Belgrade on 20 August that he wants Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) to prove its charges that his government is corrupt or else withdraw its call for a vote of confidence in that government, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). Yugoslav Foreign Minister Goran Svilanovic, who heads the Citizens' Alliance of Serbia (GSS), said that he hopes that the disagreements within DOS will quickly be put to an end. PM

MACEDONIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN ROMANIA

Visiting Macedonian Foreign Minister Ilinka Mitreva on 21 August met with Prime Minister Adrian Nastase, Romanian Radio reported. On 20 August, Mitreva held talks with Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana and Chamber of Deputies speaker Valer Dorneanu. Geoana, who currently holds the OSCE chair, said after the meeting that the OSCE intends to send 25 additional "monitors" to Macedonia and that Romanian monitors will participate in that mission as a "token of the importance Romania attributes" to achieving stability in that country. He also said Romania is willing to organize in September a "donors conference" for Macedonia in Bucharest, but Mitreva replied that it is now "too late" for such a conference to be held. She said her country has proved its goodwill by signing the agreement on the settlement of the conflict, but added that in order for that agreement to be implemented Albanian rebels need to lay down and hand over their weapons. She also said Macedonia's security forces are determined to defend the country's sovereignty if the rebels do not comply with the agreement. MS

MORE ROYAL RESTITUTION CLAIMS IN ROMANIA

The five heirs of Princess Ileana are demanding the restitution of the Bran castle in the Carpathian Mountains, Mediafax reported on 20 August. However, the heirs are prepared to agree to a $25 million compensation instead of the restitution. The 15th-century castle was gifted to Queen Maria by the Brasov town hall and was inherited by the queen's daughter, Princes Ileana, who was King Carol II's sister. Also on 20 August, a woman claiming to be a descendant of Hungarian King Matyas Corvinus filed a claim for the restitution of the Hunyadi castle in Transylvanian Hunedoara. Cosmin Gusa, the general-secretary of the ruling Social Democratic Party, on 20 August said that the restitution claims are being examined by "specialists" and that the government intends to abide by the provisions of Law No. 10 of this year, which deals with real estate restitution. Gusa added, however, that "there may be more royal claims" in the offing, alluding to self-proclaimed Prince Paul, who is a descendant of King Carol II from a morganatic marriage and who is claiming a share of the royal properties. He said "negotiations" with the royal claimants will start after the experts end their examination of the claims. MS

MOLDOVAN OPPOSITION LEADER COMPLAINS ABOUT 'ROMANIAN INDIFFERENCE'

In an interview with the Bucharest daily "Curentul" on 20 August, Iurie Rosca, the leader of the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic, said that no "important politician" in Romania believes that "Bessarabia is still a space that can be won back," and no politician regards reunification with Bessarabia as "imperative." Rosca complained about "the absence of a patriotic sentiment" in Romania, and added that the main reason was Romania's "political class is in fact a direct product of the former communist regime." He said that Romania "contents itself with granting a few scholarships" to Moldovan students, as well as "cultural activities" or "unsuccessful attempts to encourage Romanian investments" in Moldova. MS

MOLDOVA ASKS DIPLOMATS TO STAY AWAY FROM TIRASPOL CELEBRATIONS

The Foreign Ministry on 20 August sent a note to diplomatic missions in Chisinau, asking them to "refrain" from participating in the 2 September celebrations in Tiraspol of the separatists' "11th independence day anniversary," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The ministry said the festivities have an "obvious propagandistic and provocative character" and "once again prove the Transdniester authorities' intention to compromise by all possible means Moldova's efforts to urgently solve the Transdniester conflict." The ministry warned that participation in the festivities would "have a negative impact on the effort to solve the conflict," as well as "prejudice the good relations" between Moldova and states that would send envoys to Tiraspol. MS

BULGARIA'S CHIEF EU NEGOTIATOR SAYS 'NO TANDEM WITH ROMANIA'

Meglena Kuneva on 20 August said on Bulgarian Radio that no Bulgarian politician "has ever mentioned a tandem with Romania in the quest of attaining EU accession," Mediafax reported. She also said no consultations have ever taken place regarding that possibility and added that Bulgaria will continue its "individual approach" toward attaining EU membership. On 14 August, Romanian Premier Nastase had said after meeting in Sofia with his Bulgarian counterpart Simeon Saxecoburggotski that they agreed upon a "tandem approach" toward achieving EU and NATO membership. Romania recently protested against remarks made by Hungarian Ambassador to Bulgaria Bela Kolojzni, who advised Bulgaria to desist from such an approach (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 August 2001). MS

BULGARIA READY TO START EU NEGOTIATIONS ON AGRICULTURE

Agriculture Minister Mehmed Dikme told Reuters on 20 August that Bulgaria is "ready to open agriculture negotiations with the EU and we really hope that this will happen by the end of this year." He said that although the agriculture chapter in the aquis communautaire is "one of the most difficult," he believes that "Bulgaria can walk up this difficult road and protect the interests of its farmers" simultaneously. He said that in order to "make farming efficient and raise land prices, we need to consolidate private plots." Dikme said "enormous fresh funding" is needed to bring small farms up to EU standards, and that the government plans to invest 808 million euros ($741 million) in agriculture over the next seven years, some of which will come from EU grants. Bulgarian agriculture employs 27 percent of the workforce but accounts for less than 15 percent of GDP. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS CHIEF MUFTI

Premier Saxecoburggotski on 20 August met with Bulgaria's Chief Mufti Selim Mehmed, BTA reported. The premier asked the mufti to prepare a document outlining problems dealing with nationalized and unrestituted Waqf properties, the restoration of their places of worship, educational funds, and difficulties encountered in teaching Islam in schools. Chief Mufti Mehmed told the premier that despite the progress made in achieving religious rights and freedoms since 1989, a number of problems remain and require the intervention of the cabinet for a solution. Among these problems he noted that of the status of the Chief Mufti's Office, which he described as "inadequate," particularly in view of its "enormous responsibilities, and the international prestige it enjoys among Islamic countries." MS

ACCIDENT AT BULGARIAN NUCLEAR PLANT SAID TO BE 'MINOR'

A "temporary retaining wall" collapsed at the Kozloduy nuclear power plant on 20 August during "repairs of a canal linking the plant to the Danube River," BTA reported. The agency said radiation levels were not increased as a result of the incident and the plant continues to operate "normally." The construction site was flooded and the repair operations had to be stopped. No one was injured. MS




EXPECTATIONS IN THE BALKANS


By Patrick Moore

The planned NATO mission to Macedonia has awakened a wide range of expectations before it has even begun. It is likely that at least some of these hopes will be disappointed. But the start of a new mission provides an opportunity for the international community to assess its broader agenda in the region.

NATO is preparing for Operation Essential Harvest, the goal of which is to collect and destroy weapons from those members of the National Liberation Army (UCK) willing to surrender them. The alliance is slated to complete the mission in 30 days and then withdraw.

Few observers believe that the mission will be so simple or quick. Macedonian government officials say that they expect that the guerrillas -- whom they call "terrorists," even though the UCK uses guerrilla rather than terrorist tactics -- will bury or hide most of their weapons and go back to fighting when they feel the time is ripe. The UCK fighters, for their part, stress that they do not know who will protect Albanian civilians from vengeful Macedonian security forces once the weapons are destroyed and NATO is gone. Finally, the alliance maintains that it is interested only in carrying out Essential Harvest and leaving, and not in dealing with any wider agenda.

But all these doubts aside, everyone concerned seems anxious for Essential Harvest to get started. Some of the Macedonian government leaders -- perhaps with a view to the January 2002 elections -- frequently criticize NATO and especially the U.S., but at the same time they welcome the NATO presence (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 31 July and 17 August 2001). Their goal is to have on the ground what President Boris Trajkovski's spokesman has called a "heavy presence" by members of the international community, including the OSCE and EU as well as NATO. Skopje feels that a large foreign presence is the ethnic Macedonians' best insurance against a revival of hostilities by the UCK. Should the guerrillas again resort to violence, this reasoning goes, the foreigners will be on hand and in a position to stop the UCK.

The guerrillas and the two ethnic Albanian political parties represented in the four-party governing coalition likewise view the NATO presence as an insurance policy against the other side's possible misbehavior. If NATO is on the ground, the Albanians argue, the Macedonian security forces will not dare take revenge on ethnic Albanian communities. And the UCK is probably counting on NATO to provide a physical buffer to ensure that government forces stay out of many of the territories that the guerrillas have captured.

Whether or not NATO will oblige them remains to be seen. It is hard, moreover, to see how NATO can meet either side's expectations if its troops stay for only 30 days. But NATO officials seem concerned to get their forces in place as soon as possible before the recent isolated cease-fire violations become any worse. In the meantime, the Western troops will begin collecting those weapons that the UCK decides to surrender.

It is therefore not too difficult to imagine that NATO will be put under pressures to extend or expand its mission even before Essential Harvest has begun. The most commonly voiced criticism of the mission -- from the region and also from the media in many NATO countries -- is that the 30-day time framework is too short.

Other observers add that NATO cannot expect to carry out a purely military mission. The alliance must also plan on playing a civilian role, because it is unrealistic to expect the two sides to work together without an "honest broker" to help things along. According to this reasoning, NATO should plan on having at least some political role for itself from the very start -- before the alliance is forced by the pressure of events on the ground to assume such a role.

Some observers add that this might also be an opportunity for the international community -- which in effect means NATO and the EU -- to rethink what its goals are in the region as a whole. The jury remains out as to how effective a role outsiders can play in Balkan nation-building or even in promoting civil societies. In the last analysis, it will be the task of the peoples of the region alone to achieve political stability, overcome or neutralize deeply rooted mistrust and hatreds, and build political cultures that go beyond conspiracy theories, parties based on charismatic leaders rather than programs, and a view that public office is primarily a source of enrichment.

There are probably two things that the wealthy and powerful international community can do to help bring about peace and stability. First, it can promote job creation and prosperity so that people have a productive outlet for their energies and a chance to build a better life. One should not forget that demagogues rose to power and wars began in the former Yugoslavia only after a decade of economic downturn. People who feel they have something to lose will not have much of a stomach for fighting. One factor in preventing the recent Macedonian conflict from getting totally out of hand seems to have been precisely that too many people felt they had too much to lose if it did.

A second thing that the foreigners can do is to maintain some form of effective, long-term military presence. This, its proponents argue, will reassure peaceful citizens and foreign investors, and will provide a deterrent to those tempted to cause mischief. Such a military presence will need to include at least some U.S. forces to be effective. The Americans are the only foreigners whom the ethnic Albanians of the region truly trust, and the foreigners whom potential troublemakers of any ethnic background are likely to take most seriously.


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