IVANOV MAKES RETURN TRIP TO DAMASCUS...
During his second visit to the Syrian capital in less than 48 hours, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov briefed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on his talks in Israel (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2000). Ivanov was one of several international envoys seeking to mediate between Israeli and Palestinian officials and help put an end to the violence in Israeli territories under Palestinian jurisdiction. In particular, the Russian foreign minister was seeking to negotiate the release of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah guerrillas. He was quoted later on 11 October as telling Russian Public Television that it would be premature to speak of a breakthrough, but he noted at the same time that some "excellent variations to exit for the situation are taking shape," dpa reported. Ivanov also met with Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi, who was also in Damascus for talks on the situation in the Palestinian territories and southern Lebanon. On 12 October, Ivanov arrived in Cyprus for a visit that has been curtailed as a result of his Middle East shuttle diplomacy. JC
...AS PUTIN STRESSES RUSSIA'S ROLE IN MID-EAST PEACE PROCESS
Speaking in Astana on 12 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that Moscow is willing to play a bigger role in the Middle East peace process, of which it is a co-sponsor. "Russia has enough problems at home and we are not striving to be active everywhere," Putin said. "But we are ready for such work if the conflicting parties are interested in that." The Russian leader urged all parties in the conflict to engage in dialogue "despite all the difficulties and the indignation on one or the other side." The previous day, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had called on Russia to increase its role in the Middle East process. JC
IS MILOSEVIC HOARDING MONEY IN RUSSIAN BANKS?
According to the website of independent NTV, former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic may have transferred substantial sums of money to Russian banks, "The Moscow Times" reported on 12 October. The new Yugoslav government has reportedly asked Britain to help track down the funds, and an unidentified spokesperson at the British Foreign Office was quoted as saying that money Milosevic had spirited away to Cyprus and Lebanon is now moving "eastward." Russian officials have repeatedly denied over the past several days that Milosevic has requested asylum in Russia. JC
RUSSIAN LEGISLATORS SLAM U.S. ATTEMPTS TO LINK AID WITH POPE CASE
The U.S. House of Representatives on 11 October passed a resolution calling on Russia to release former Navy intelligence officer-turned-businessman Edmund Pope from prison and asking U.S. President Bill Clinton to consider cutting assistance to Russia if it does not, Reuters reported. Responding to that move, State Duma Chairman (Communist) Gennadii Seleznev said "Russia has its own laws on criminal procedure with which no one can interfere, not even the U.S., " while State Duma International Affairs Committee Chairman (People's Deputy) Dmitrii Rogozin called the House's decision "gross interference in the internal affairs of Russia and open pressure on our judicial system," Interfax reported. Duma Defense Committee deputy chairman (Yabloko) Aleksei Arbatov was also critical, calling the measure "a great stupidity," but predicted that President Bill Clinton will ignore it. Pope's trial is scheduled to open on 18 October. JAC
YABLOKO QUERIES LEGALITY OF UDMURT BALLOT
Sergei Mitrokhin, a member of the Yabloko faction in the State Duma, has called for the creation of a parliamentary commission to monitor the 15 October presidential elections in Udmurtiya, the first of their kind in the republic, Interfax reported on 11 October. State Council Chairman Aleksandr Volkov, who is considered the favorite in that ballot, has come under increasing fire, both inside and outside the republic, for engaging in what his opponents say are illegal campaign practices (see "End Note," "RFE/RL Russian Federation Report," 11 October 2000). In particular, Mitrokhin accused Volkov of using his official position to put pressure on voters, the local media, and other candidates. He also noted that it is "doubtful" that the appointment of Volkov's lawyer as head of the Udmurtiya Election Commission was legal--not least since according to press reports, documents were forged to bring about that appointment. JC
OLIGARCH TO MAKE TRANSITION TO GOVERNOR?
State Duma deputy (independent) and former Sibneft head Roman Abramovich intends to run for the governor's seat in Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the district which he currently represents in the lower legislative house, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 11 October, citing an unidentified source in Chukotka's capital, Anadyr. Gubernatorial elections are scheduled for 24 December. Chukotka, which is about the size of France, has only some 50,000 registered voters. Abramovich, 33, won 60 percent of the vote there in the 1999 December State Duma elections. JAC
INFLATION FEARS RAISED
The Russian-European Center for Economic Policy has released a report predicting that if the economic trends that prevailed from February to August continue, annual inflation will total 19 percent rather than the 18 percent projected in the budget, Interfax reported on 11 October. Furthermore, the report says, if the Central Bank continues to accumulate hard currency reserves to keep down the ruble, inflation may gain momentum and exceed 20 percent. Finance Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced recently that the government and bank will continue to keep the ruble at its current level (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2000). RFE/RL's Russian Service reported the same day that the price of gasoline at the end of September and the beginning of October increased more than 4 percent--the highest increase so far this year. At the beginning of October, the average price of 1 liter of gasoline was 7.86 rubles ($0.28). JAC
DUMA DEFENSE EXPERT TALLIES SHORTFALL FOR ARMED FORCES
In an interview with "Parlamentskaya gazeta" on 11 October, State Duma Defense Committee Chairman (tk) Andrei Nikolaev said that his committee is most concerned about the continued low wages for servicemen. According to Nikolaev, a serviceman's family of two or three people has to live on one-third of the minimum wage. He estimated that additional spending on the military this year should total some 25 billion rubles ($897 million). Included in this figure is 1.1 billion rubles for wages for the military, 4.8 billion rubles for transportation, 4.7 billion rubles for fuel, and 6.7 billion rubles for electricity supplies. He also revealed that defense enterprises have managed to squeeze some 1.3 billion rubles out of the Defense Ministry this year through law suits. JAC
OLD TOPOL TO GET NEW LEASE ON LIFE?
A 16-year-old Topol ballistic missile was successfully test-fired on 11 October, reaching its target, 5,000 kilometers away, on the Kamchatka peninsula without a glitch. A spokesman for the Strategic Rocket Forces was quoted by AP as saying that while Russia is upgrading to a newer version of the missile, the Topol-M, it will also extend the original life service of the old Topol. Most of Russia's long-range missiles are due to be scrapped under the START-II arms reduction treaty. Further talks on the START-III treaty, which envisages deeper cuts in Russian and U.S. arsenals, are due to open next week in Moscow. JC
NEW NOBEL LAUREATE PLEADS FOR MORE CASH FOR SCIENCE
In a speech to the State Duma on 11 October, Nobel Prize winning physicist and Duma deputy (Communist) Zhores Alferov called for increased funds for Russian scientists. Alferov noted that government spending on science was reduced to 1.72 percent of the budget this year from 3.8 percent of the national budget last year and some 7 percent during Soviet times. According to AP, Alferov also criticized plans to spend some 1.1 billion rubles ($39 million) on a new apartment building for Duma deputies (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 2000). "This exceeds all capital investments into all of Russia's science by more than four times," Alferov said. "This house alone would allow us to build scores of new laboratories." JAC
RUSSIA, SOUTH KOREA CONTEMPLATE EXTENSION OF TRANS-SIBERIAN RAILWAY
Railways Minister Nikolai Aksenenko called on visiting South Korean Transportation Minister Kim Yun Ki to participate in the realization of project creating a train corridor from Seoul to Europe via Pyongyang and Siberia, Interfax reported on 11 October. According to Aksenenko, the required investment for the rail project is anywhere between $500 million and $1 billion. Kim described the interest of his country in the project as great, noting that the volume of cargo currently moving by truck is more than double that moving by rail. Speaking at a conference in Boston on 6 October, Kyoji Komachi, managing director of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, noted that in the event of a rapprochement between the Koreas and the reestablishment of a rail connection between the two countries, the Trans-Siberian railway could be extended as far south as the South Korean city of Pusan, which would generate "a quite different flow of cargo between the Asia-Pacific region and Europe." JAC
COSMONAUT SELECTED WOMAN OF THE CENTURY
The U.K.-based International Woman of the Year association has bestowed the Woman of the Century award on 63-year-old Valentina Tereshkova. In 1963, Tereshkova completed a three-day journey in space aboard the Vostok 5 spaceship. According RIA Novosti, Tereshkova is still the only woman to have made such a mission. Later in 1963, she married fellow cosmonaut Andrian Nikolaev reportedly under pressure from then Soviet leader Nikolai Khrushchev. That alliance fell apart shortly afterward. Tereshkova has also received the Order of Lenin as well as other awards, according to the "Encyclopedia Astronautica." JAC
WHERE'S THE PORK?
The Russian Meat Union announced on 11 October that Russia will need to import up to 30,000 tons of pork meat sausage a month until the end of the year in order to meet domestic demand, Reuters reported. According to the agency, the U.S. is the likely supplier of the required sausage. However, the Agriculture Ministry was unable to confirm or deny the existence of an impending pork meat deficit. During the summer, news outlets provided extensive coverage of Russia's declining numbers of livestock; although the figures for swine were increasing, pigs need to reach a certain age before becoming pork products (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 June 2000). JAC
CIS SECURITY PACT SIGNATORIES AGREE TO CREATE JOINT FORCE...
Meeting in Bishkek on 11 October, the presidents of the six member states of the 1992 CIS Collective Security Treaty (Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan) discussed and then signed an agreement on the creation of a joint rapid-deployment force that could be sent to any one of those states to help counter a threat of external aggression or terrorism, Russian media reported. The agreement must be endorsed by the parliaments of all six states and does not override restrictions in their constitutions on the dispatch of troops to fight abroad. Details of financing and the division of responsibility is to be decided by the six general staffs. LF
...ASSESS AFGHAN THREAT
The six presidents also adopted a statement registering their concern at the increased threat posed to Central Asia by international terrorism and political and religious extremism, Interfax reported. The statement identified Afghanistan as the main source of instability in Central Asia and called on the international community to "actively seek ways to restore peace in Afghanistan," Reuters reported. Russian Security Council Secretary Sergei Ivanov told the meeting that while the agreement on a collective force had been drafted in the light of the recent escalation in fighting in Afghanistan, the signatories to the CIS Collective Security Treaty have no intention of launching strikes against that country, according to "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 12 October. Ivanov said that Russia would respond to a Taliban attack on Tajikistan according to the provisions of the Collective Security Treaty. Russian President Vladimir Putin directed the attention of the international community to the humanitarian problem that an exodus of refugees from Afghanistan into Tajikistan would create, Interfax reported. LF
UN BEGINS DISTRIBUTING DROUGHT RELIEF IN ARMENIA
A UN World Food program official told journalists in Yerevan on 11 October that distribution of international relief aid has begun to farmers in northern Armenia most seriously affected by this summer's drought, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. But he warned that the UN has received only approximately one half of the estimated 145,000 tons of cereal food aid needed and that if the shortfall is not met, "vulnerable groups" could be severely affected. He added that agricultural assistance to farmers is even more urgently needed than food aid. The Armenian government has estimated the overall damage caused by the natural disaster at more than $100 million. LF
AZERBAIJANI OPPOSITION ALLIANCE ON VERGE OF SPLIT
At their weekly meeting on 11 October, representatives of 10 opposition parties aligned in the Democratic Congress failed to reach agreement over which wing of the divided Azerbaijan Popular Front Party to recognize as the legitimate successor to that party, Turan reported. The AHCP split in August into two wings, the "reformers" and the "conservatives" (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 34, 24 August 2000). Representatives of the 10 parties that formed the Democratic Congress in 1994 anticipate that it may collapse as a result of the disagreement over the AHCP. LF
AZERBAIJAN, UKRAINE SIGN DEFENSE COOPERATION AGREEMENT
Visiting Kyiv on 10-11 October, Azerbaijan's Defense Minister Safar Abiev signed a defense cooperation agreement for 2001 with his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksandr Kuzmuk, AP reported. That agreement includes policy cooperation, bilateral cooperation within the NATO Partnership for Peace program, and cooperation within the GUUAM alignment, which is composed of Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. The two ministers told journalists on 11 October that the GUUAM member states intend to form a joint military sub-division that will participate in peacekeeping operations and protect the planned Caucasus transport corridor, including the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline, Turan reported. Abiev also met on 11 October with Ukrainian Premier Viktor Yushchenko, who pledged that his cabinet will seek ways of promoting joint training and data-exchange programs, Interfax reported. LF
GEORGIAN WARLORD PLANS RETURN TO POLITICS
Former Mkhedrioni paramilitary leader Djaba Ioseliani has stated his intention of contesting an upcoming by-election in Tbilisi, "Rezonansi" and "Segodnya" reported on 10 and 11 October. Ioseliani, who is 73, was released from jail earlier this year, having been sentenced in 1998 to 11 years' imprisonment on charges of involvement in the August 1995 attempt to assassinate Georgian head of state Eduard Shevardnadze (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 1998 and 21 April 2000). Ioseliani's political program calls for Georgia to declare its neutrality and for the abolition of the presidency. LF
KYRGYZ JOURNALIST RECEIVES AWARD FOR COURAGE
Zamira Sadykova, editor of the opposition newspaper "Res Publica," was presented in New York on 10 October with the International Women's Media Foundation's Courage in Journalism prize, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Sadykova received an 18-month suspended sentence in 1995 for allegedly slandering Kyrgyzstan's President Askar Akaev and was sentenced again libel in 1997 for reporting on corruption within a state-run gold-mining company. LF
KYRGYZ CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION WARNS LOCAL AUTHORITIES
The Central Electoral Commission on 11 October issued a second warning to local authorities not to create obstacles to opposition candidates in the runup to the 29 October presidential poll, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. It had issued a similar statement on 7 October. LF
FORMER KYRGYZ COMMUNIST LEADER BRINGS LIBEL SUIT AGAINST OPPOSITION POLITICIAN
Kyrgyz parliamentary deputy Turdakun Usubaliev, who served from 1961-1985 as first secretary of the Communist Party of Kirghizia, has brought criminal proceedings for libel against opposition El (Bei-Bechara) party chairman Daniyar Usenov, who has accused him of leading the republic to ruin, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported on 11 October. Usenov told RFE/RL that UsubAliyev has refused to accept his proffered apologies for that remark. UsubAliyev is demanding 60 million soms (approximately $1.25 million) in damages. LF
TAJIK FIRST DEPUTY PREMIER'S BODYGUARD ABDUCTED
A group of some seven gunmen abducted the bodyguard and chauffeur of Ali Akbar Turadjonzoda in central Dushanbe on 11 October, Interfax reported. A former leading member of the United Tajik Opposition, Turadjonzoda escaped injury when gunmen opened fire on his motorcade earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 February 2000). LF
BELARUSIAN TRADE UNIONS CALL FOR CONSOLIDATION
A congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus (FTUB) on 11 October approved an action program for the next five years and re-elected Uladzimir Hancharyk as FTUB chairman, Belapan reported. The congress called for a "socially oriented market economy in Belarus" and pledged to defend the workers' right to employment and "adequate remuneration." The congress also obliged the FTUB to oppose intimidation by the authorities as well as attempts to split the trade union movement in Belarus by setting up trade unions subservient to the government. Hancharyk, known as a docile Soviet-era trade union functionary, became critical of the Lukashenka regime as the country became increasingly impoverished. The authorities have sought to split the FTUB and have frozen its bank account, while the state-controlled media have published materials intended to compromise Hancharyk and other FTUB leaders. JM
BELARUSIAN AUTHORITIES URGE VOTERS TO 'PRODUCE RESULTS' IN HOMEL...
In a bid to counter the opposition's call for an election boycott, the Belarusian authorities have begun urging early voting and even threatening reprisals if voters fail to go to the 15 October legislative polls, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported on 11 October. The Homel authorities reportedly has taken advantage of their leverage over the management of state-run factories. "People! You all are obliged to cast your ballots by Friday [13 October], in order to produce results on Friday. Vote as you like, but get moving. You all are allowed to quit after lunch, go and vote," RFE/RL's Belarusian Service quoted a manager in the Homselmash machinery building plant as telling to workers. Asked what would happen to those who do not obey, the manager said: "They will get no good from it. The plant is to lay off thousands by the year's end." JM
To secure a large turnout in the legislative ballot in Vitsebsk, the authorities have launched a propaganda campaign at city universities and colleges, RFE/RL's Belarusian Service reported. University professors and lecturers are holding meetings with students and urging them to go and vote in the legislative elections. "Such is the order!" is the standard answer to the question why it is necessary to participate in the ballot. The administration of a student hostel of the Medical University threatened to evict those residents who do not go to the polls. JM
The Brest authorities are seeking to secure the re-election of Alyaksandr Zinchanka, head of the Budget Commission of the Chamber of Representatives. Initially, they denied registration to all Zinchanka's rivals in his constituency in Brest Oblast. When the Central Electoral Commission reproached them for this undemocratic move, the authorities registered one of Zinchanka's rivals. RFE/RL's correspondent from Brest reported, however, that now the government-controlled local press is publishing election materials devoted solely to Zinchanka, praising him for his contribution to improving roads and renovating schools in the region. Zinchanka is also credited with securing a 1 billion rubles ($950,000) loan from the National Bank to complete the construction of a boiler house in his constituency. Campaigners for Zinchanka have recently distributed flour, sugar, and buckwheat among his potential voters. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT 'CATEGORICALLY' BANS STEALING OF RUSSIAN GAS
Leonid Kuchma has "categorically" banned the siphoning off of Russian gas in transit via Ukrainian territory, Interfax reported on 11 October. The presidential press service said Kuchma gave the necessary instructions to Prime Minister Viktor Yushchenko and managers of the oil and gas sector, but it did not elaborate. Kuchma said earlier that so far this year Ukraine stole 13 billion cubic meters of Russian gas worth $700 million. Ukraine also acknowledged that it siphoned off $1.4 billion worth of Russian gas in 1999. Fuel and Energy Minister Serhiy Yermilov commented that Ukraine has not stolen Russian gas since May but added that at the beginning of the fall-winter season "some may wish to do so again," according to the 12 October "Eastern Economist Daily." JM
ITERA CUTS GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE
The Itera company has cut gas supplies to Ukraine from 30 million cubic meters to 4.8 million cubic meters a day, Interfax reported on 11 October. A representative of Itera's Kyiv branch said that four Ukrainian power plants paid for only 27.4 percent of the gas supplied by the company last month and that they currently owe it some $50 million. He noted that Itera plans to continue cooperating with the plants but added that "the deal depends only on payments." Itera sells gas to Ukrainian power plants at $45 per 1,000 cubic meters. JM
FORMER LATVIAN MILITARY COMMANDER ACQUITTED
A Riga regional court on 11 October acquitted former commander of the Latvian military Juris Eihmanis of abuse of power and squandering public funds. Eihmanis was charged in connection with the refurbishment of an apartment that cost 43,000 lats ($69,422) from the budget of the Zemessardze national guards, BNS reported. According to Eihmanis, the agreement on the apartment's renovation was concluded when he was undergoing training in the U.S. Eihmanis is currently a lecturer at the Baltic Defense College in Tartu, Estonia. MH
NEW LITHUANIAN COALITION SHAPING UP
Liberal Union leader Rolandas Paksas is likely to become Lithuania's next prime minister, a post he held for some six months last year, ELTA reported on 11 October. New Alliance chief Arturas Paulauskas, meanwhile, is in line to be the chairman of the parliament, The same report indicated that the coalition will ask ambassador to NATO and former Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius to return to that cabinet post, while Egidijus Vareikis of the Modern Christian Democrats is listed as a possible foreign minister. Alvydas Sadeckas, head of a security company, is touted as a possible candidate for interior minister. The four-party New Policy coalition has 66 out of 141 parliamentary seats and is currently holding coalition talks with the Peasants Party (which has four seats) and the Polish Electoral Action (two seats). MH
SOLIDARITY LEADER UNDER FIRE AFTER ELECTION DEFEAT
Following the 8 October presidential elections, Marian Krzaklewski has come under fire from his political allies within the Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS). Aleksander Hall wrote in the 11 October "Rzeczpospolita" that the AWS made a mistake by fielding Krzaklewski as its presidential candidate. Parliamentary speaker Maciej Plazynski told journalists that the AWS must change its image in order to regain those voters who "once" voted for it. "Can this be done without changing the image of the leadership? I am sure it can't," Plazynski added. Meanwhile, Krzaklewski has appealed for calm. "I have just under 3 million people behind me and that is an enormous capital for the Polish Right. Of course, it was not enough for an election victory because of various circumstances, but it is the nucleus on which a broader camp must be built," PAP quoted Krzaklewski as saying. JM
POLAND POSTPONES PURCHASE OF JET FIGHTERS
Polish Defense Minister Bronislaw Komorowski said on 11 October that budget restraints had forced him to put the planned purchase of 60 jet fighters on the backburner, Reuters reported. "[Other] programs are more important for the armed forces...such as finishing modernizing the command structure, purchasing land transporters for the army as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles," the agency quoted him as saying. Boeing and Lockheed Martin have offered their F-18s and F-16s, while BAE Systems and Sweden's Saab consortium have proposed the Gripen. JM
TENSIONS MOUNT BETWEEN PRAGUE AND VIENNA OVER TEMELIN...
A Czech government "ultimatum" to the Austrian authorities to act to lift the blockade by opponents of the Temelin nuclear power plant expired on 11 October, CTK reported. Prague had said that if Vienna failed to meet the ultimatum, it would complain to the EU about Austria's breach of international obligations. Speaking on Czech television on 12 October, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan warned that he does not expect the union to act "immediately" on the Czech complaint and said the situation "must not be dramatized and unnecessarily turned into a confrontation." Earlier on 11 October, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel had rejected the demand and said Prague "cannot really expect us to resort to using police to get women, mothers, or alarmed citizens off the streets." He added that in Austria the right to freedom of expression is respected, according to CTK. MS
...AS CZECH PREMIER SAYS PRAGUE PAYS PRICE FOR BACKING SANCTIONS
Mislos Zeman told his British counterpart, Tony Blair, in London on 11 October that tensions between the Czech Republic and Austria is part of the price Prague is paying for having supported the sanctions against Austria brought by 14 EU member states earlier this year. At the same time, he emphasized that those sanctions were directed not against Austria but against the participation of Joerg Haider's party in the Austrian coalition. Blair expressed support for the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, stressing that this is not only in the Czech Republic's interest but also in that of the EU. Zeman told journalists after the meeting that he had also discussed with Blair how to increase British investments in his country. MS
CZECH PRESIDENT IN TURKEY
President Vaclav Havel, speaking on the second day of a visit to Turkey, told journalists on 11 October that he is confident new Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer will succeed in improving his country's human rights record in general and the official attitude toward the Kurdish minority in particular. Havel said is would be "incorrect" to say "Kurds are despised here" but "so far there is no indication of Turkish recognition of [their] collective rights." At the same time, Havel condemned "the path of terrorism" of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, saying that "terrorism and violence cannot be sanctioned as a [legitimate] means in the struggle for rights," CTK reported. MS
CZECH PREMIER ASKS HAVEL TO APPOINT NEW JUSTICE MINISTER
Havel told Czech reporters in Ankara that he has approved Zeman's request that Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky be appointed justice minister to replace Otakar Motejl, who recently resigned, CTK reported. Rychetsky said in Prague that he hopes the appointment will be "temporary," pointing to his many duties in the cabinet. Motejl recommended as his successor judge Jaroslav Bures, who said on Czech Television on 11 October that he would accept the nomination provided Zeman meets three of his conditions: that he can return to the bench after his ministerial mandate expires, that Motejl's two deputy ministers continue in their position, and that "no one forces his or her ideas of judicial reform on me." MS
CZECHS, SLOVAKS LIFT SANCTIONS AGAINST YUGOSLAVIA
Rychetsky on 11 October told journalists after the cabinet's meeting that the oil embargo, the air travel embargo and other sanctions imposed on Yugoslavia have been lifted as a result of the political change in Belgrade, CTK reported. In Bratislava, Mikulas Dzurinda's government likewise decided on the same day to lift all sanctions against Belgrade. Both countries followed the example of the EU decision to lift sanctions imposed in 1998 and 1999. MS
SLOVAK CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REJECTS HARABIN'S COMPLAINT
The Constitutional Court on 11 October rejected as "unfounded" Supreme Court Chairman Stefan Harabin's complaint against the government's intention to dismiss him from his position, CTK reported. The Constitutional Court said the constitutionally-enshrined right to hold public office does not imply the right to "remain in that office." It also ruled that Justice Minister Jan Carnogursky did not violate Harabin's constitutional freedom of speech or freedom of information by recommending that the parliament dismiss him. Harabin, who was appointed by former Premier Vladimir Meciar, is accused by the government of improper conduct and of failing to fulfill his duties. The parliament has yet to vote on the cabinet's request. MS
KOSTUNICA: YUGOSLAVIA 'SITTING ON A VOLCANO'
Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said in Belgrade that a "volcano of threats" is undermining stability, BBC Television reported on 12 October. He noted that his political friends are at least as much a source of trouble for him as are his enemies. He did not elaborate. His remarks follow statements by Branislav Ivkovic of former President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) that the Serbian government will remain in office until the next legislative elections take place, possibly in December. Ivkovic stressed that the Serbian government is the only legal authority in Serbia, AP reported. He accused the opposition of allowing "lawlessness and violence" to take hold throughout the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2000). Ivkovic added that Prime Minister Mirko Marjanovic will take direct control of the police. Opposition leader Zoran Djindjic charged, however, that the Serbian government no longer controls "over 80 percent of the processes in the country" even if it declares itself "omnipotent." An unnamed "senior police source" told AP that the police will ignore Ivkovic's remarks. PM
SERBIAN OPPOSITION THREATENS MILOSEVIC BACKERS WITH STREET PROTESTS
Leaders of the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) called upon the SPS and its Radical allies to hold urgent talks with the opposition aimed at setting up a transitional Serbian government and finalizing a date for the elections. The DOS offered the two parties shared control of four important ministries, adding that there will be no "important personnel changes" in those ministries in the runup to the elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Djindjic suggested that the SPS could name the new prime minister but that the person must not be Marjanovic. The DOS gave the SPS and Radicals until 13 October to begin talks and set the election date. If the deadline is not met, the opposition will urge the public to take to the streets to put pressure on the former regime. Opposition leader Zarko Korac said that, in the last analysis, the DOS can rely "only on the people in the streets," the BBC Serbian Service reported on 12 October. PM
YUGOSLAV ARMY LEADERS WARN OPPOSITION
The pro-Milosevic army leadership said in a statement on 11 October that there will be "negative consequences" if unnamed political leaders continue to "discredit" unspecified members of the military leadership, Tanjug reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2000). The announcement follows a statement by Djindjic that Kostunica intends to replace General Nebojsa Pavkovic with former General Momcilo Perisic as chief of the General Staff. That same day, Kostunica met with top generals in Belgrade. An unnamed aide to the president told private Radio B-92 afterward that he does not intend to sack any generals at present. Elsewhere, Djindjic told "The Guardian" of 12 October that security forces are monitoring the telephones of DOS leaders from four locations in Belgrade. "It's more than it used to be [before 5 October]. They give the reports to Milosevic," he added. PM
MILOSEVIC'S SERBIAN SOCIALISTS REORGANIZE
The SPS said in a statement in Belgrade on 11 October that it will hold an extraordinary party congress on 25 November. The announcement added that Secretary-General Gorica Gajevic has been replaced by Zoran Andjelkovic, who is Milosevic's former governor of Kosova. Serbian President Milan Milutinovic becomes party vice president. AP reported that the SPS will run its own candidates in December and not have a joint slate with the United Yugoslav Left, which is led by Milosevic's wife, Mira Markovic. PM
U.S. TO DROP SERBIAN SANCTIONS
An unnamed "senior White House official" told AP that President Bill Clinton will lift sanctions on oil sales to Serbia and a flight ban for Belgrade's JAT airlines on 12 October, as the EU has already done (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2000). "The New York Times" reported that the administration has decided not to insist on the extradition of Milosevic to The Hague as a prerequisite for the lifting of further sanctions. Kostunica has repeatedly said that bringing Milosevic to justice is not a priority for him and that he will deal with the issue later. PM
MONTENEGRO WARY ON KOSTUNICA
Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac told AFP in Podgorica on 11 October that his government will initiate talks with Serbia on future relations between the two republics immediately after the Serbian elections. He said that recent remarks by Kostunica opposed to possible Montenegrin independence indicate that "the departure of Milosevic did not solve all problems" between Belgrade and Podgorica (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2000). Lukovac added that Milosevic is not the only Serbian official who wants "to reduce Montenegro to the status of a Serbian district." The only basis for relations between Serbia and Montenegro is one of full equality, the minister added. He argued that "one of the possible options is that Serbia and Montenegro will be independent states that are members of the UN." PM
KOSOVA'S CEKU SAYS NO COMPROMISE ON INDEPENDENCE
Agim Ceku, who is a former Kosovar guerrilla commander and now head of the civilian Kosova Protection Force, said in Ferizaj that "no Serbian leader and no Serbian government, no matter how democratic, can block Kosova's path to independence, " Hina reported on 12 October. He stressed that the Kosovars are determined to be masters in their own house and have their own military organization with commands in Albania and under their own flag. Djindjic said in Belgrade, however, that "we insist that a small section of the Yugoslav army and the Serbian police should be stationed in Kosovo in areas populated by Serbs," dpa reported. PM
SERBIAN COURT STALLS ON RE-TRIAL OF KOSOSVA ACTIVIST
A Serbian judge in Nis has postponed until December the re-trial of Flora Brovina, whom is serving a 12-year prison sentence for "terrorism," Reuters reported on 12 October. Rajko Danilovic, who is one of her lawyers, said that the judges "are avoiding this trial. In our future democratic society, there will be no room for the sort of judges who are scared when their boss is gone." PM
CROATIAN OLYMPIC HERO KILLED
A relative with apparent psychological problems shot and killed canoeist Matija Ljubek and another man after a family argument in eastern Croatia on 11 October. Ljubek was regarded as Croatia's most successful Olympic athlete, having won gold medals at the 1976 and 1984 Olympics. He headed the Croatian Olympic Committee's Mission to the recent Sydney games, Hina reported. PM
IZETBEGOVIC SUCCESSOR NAMED TO BOSNIAN PRESIDENCY
Halid Genjac, who is a top official of the Party of Democratic Action, will be the Muslim representative on the joint presidency after Alija Izetbegovic leaves office on 12 October, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
ROMANIAN PREMIER LAUNCHES PRESIDENTIAL BID
Prime Minister Mugur Isarescu on 11 October officially launched his presidential bid in an atmosphere described by journalists as "sober" and "in stark contrast" to the one that prevailed when other presidential hopefuls announced their candidacy. Isarescu told journalists that 750,000 (more than double the legally required 300,000) signatures have been gathered in support of his candidacy, and he insisted that he is and will remain politically independent. He said that if the Party of Social Democracy in Romania wins the parliamentary elections, he will be able to cooperate with it because "when it comes to finances, I belong to the right [of the political spectrum], but when it comes to people's welfare, I am a man of the left." MS
ROMANIAN PEASANT PARTY'S DISARRAY DEEPENING
The National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) will ask for Environment Minster Romica Tomescu to be replaced by PNTCD Deputy Chairman Tanase Barde, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 11 October. The PNTCD leadership cited Tomescu's failure to put into practice the party's decision to dismiss Dorin Ciuca, director of the Romsilva state forest authority. Tomescu has been criticized by party colleagues for failing to implement the law on forest restitution. Also on 11 October, the PNTCD leadership decided to "suspend" for one year the membership of deputy Ion Beciu and to expel his wife, Liana Beciu, from the party. Ion Beciu has recently attacked PNTCD First Deputy Chairman Ioan Muresan, calling him " the party's grave-digger" and "a cancerous tumor." The attack came after Muresan placed Christian Democratic National Alliance leader Victor Ciorbea at the head of the Alba County lists in the upcoming parliamentary elections. MS
SYNAGOGUE VANDALIZED IN ROMANIA
A 19th century synagogue in Timisoara has been vandalized and several religious items stolen, AP reported on 11 October. Police said they are looking for the culprits, whom they believe were children. On several occasions in the past, Romanian police attributed to children various acts of vandalism against cemeteries and synagogues, but proof has never been produced. MS
BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT WANTS MILOSEVIC IN THE HAGUE
The parliament on 11 October approved a resolution calling on Yugoslavia's new leaders to hand over ousted President Slobodan Milosevic to the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Reuters reported. The resolution welcomes Yugoslavia's transition to democratization but says Belgrade has yet to fulfill international obligations as a step to restoring stability in the region. The resolution also called on Yugoslavia to pay particular attention to the respect of minority rights, encourage fair local elections in Kosova, and allow a continued NATO presence in that province. MS
EU ENLARGEMENT: MESSAGES SENT, MESSAGES RECEIVED
By Christopher Walker
At a time when EU hopefuls in Eastern Europe are looking for a sense of coherence and stability from EU decision-makers, most of the recent messages from Brussels do not inspire confidence. Denmark's rejection of the Euro last month was one of two recent events that has altered the political landscape with regard to European integration and enlargement. The other event was the EU decision earlier this year to impose sanctions on Austria.
The Danish decision on the common currency and the EU sanctions on Austria have likely compounded concern among the Central European and Baltic candidates for EU membership that smaller states are getting short shrift and that larger states do not necessarily trust them. In arriving at their recent "no" vote, Denmark may have drawn certain conclusions from the Austrian episode. Accession states may, in turn, draw their own conclusions from the Danish experience.
The vote in Denmark came just two weeks after the removal of diplomatic sanctions against Austria. EU member states moved to lift the sanctions on Austria in advance of the Danish referendum, in part to take away a potent issue from opponents of Denmark's adoption of the common currency.
At the same time, the EU's action to normalize relations with Austria was taken to ease concerns that Vienna might make good on its threats to obstruct EU business, including enlargement efforts, so long as the sanctions remained in place. Supporters of the sanctions within the EU had argued that making an example of Austria for its inclusion of Joerg Haider's right-wing Freedom Party in the governing coalition would be an effective way of sending a message to capitals far beyond Vienna. By virtually any measure, the sanctions strategy backfired and turned Austria into an example of an entirely different category, namely that of tread-upon, smaller Member State.
The Austrian episode and the Danish rejection of the common currency have taken place at a delicate time with regard to the enlargement process and the position of accession states.
France currently holds the EU presidency, a term will culminate with the December Inter-Governmental Conference (ICG) in Nice. Many of the institutional reform issues on the agenda relate to enlargement of the union and tend to pit larger member states against smaller ones. All in all, this reform effort will require significant sacrifices from smaller states in order to be successful. Major agenda items for the IGC in December include reassessing the size of the European commission, the extension of the qualified majority vote, the reweighting of votes according to GDP and population, and the establishment of an "enhanced cooperation" clause.
For the EU countries that took the lead on punishing Vienna, the diagnosis of the basis for Joerg Haider's popularity was only partly correct. The attempted cure--diplomatic sanctions--exacerbated the problem, causing Austria's spine to stiffen and simultaneously reinforcing the notion that EU powers can take seemingly capricious action against smaller countries. Haider's fulmination on minorities and immigration attracts most of the international attention, but his recent success also is an expression of popular frustration with the thick bureaucracy and insular politics that represent a considerable part of the Austrian establishment. Indeed, this is precisely the condition that many citizens in other EU countries associate with Brussels, not to mention many of their own national governments.
This "democracy deficit," which is at the heart of the problem in Europe, manifests itself in different forms within the EU and in accession states. There has been as ongoing effort "to bring citizens closer to the EU" by improving transparency and decision-making procedures. This issue remains a top item on the union's agenda. For post-Soviet accession states, there are still large questions relating to the consolidation of democracy and the strengthening of "European identity."
While many citizens of EU member states are dissatisfied with the remote and secretive nature of EU governance, the gulf between citizens and elites in many accession countries is enormous, much of it the legacy of the Soviet system. For Hungarians, Czechs, Latvians, Lithuanians, and others in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE, the promise of the EU has been to anchor their countries in the West. But to the extent that the EU appears to prefer defending the interests of larger, more influential member states, the accession states, especially smaller ones, may find joining the ranks of the union less enticing.
The author is a New York-based analyst specializing in European affairs.