MOSCOW EXPECTS NATO TO CODIFY NEW RELATIONSHIP...
The Kremlin believes the main event of the 21-22 NATO summit in Prague will not be the extension of membership invitations to as many as seven candidate countries, but the expected announcement of the reform and restructuring of the trans-Atlantic alliance, "Vremya novostei" reported on 19 November. Under the reform, it is expected that NATO's three geographically based commands will be abolished and functional commands created with responsibility for such tasks as combating terrorism and weapons proliferation, coping with natural disasters, and conducting peacekeeping missions. NATO is also expected to adopt a document formalizing the new relationship between Russia and NATO. That document will stress that the alliance's eastward expansion and, especially, the likely inclusion of the Baltic states represent no military threat to Russia. NATO is also expected to commit itself to not deploy large military contingents or nuclear weapons on the territory of any new member states. Experts from NATO and Russia have reportedly prepared a proposal for the creation of a joint antiterrorism training center to be located in Russia. A decision on this project is expected to be made during a 9 December visit to Moscow by NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson. VY
...AS BUSH SAYS NATO, RUSSIA FACE COMMON THREAT
U.S. President George W. Bush will seek to assuage Russia's concerns about NATO's eastward expansion during his 22 November summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin, "Izvestiya" and other Russian news agencies reported on 20 November. The daily published Bush's responses to questions posed by its correspondent at a 19 November press conference in Washington on the eve of the president's departure for Prague. Bush said he will tell Putin that NATO expansion is a positive thing for Russia and that the alliance's mission has changed since the end of the Cold War. NATO no longer views Russia as a threat and the Warsaw Pact no longer exists, Bush said. He emphasized that the alliance and Russia now must face the common threat of international terrorism together. He said he appreciates Russia's support of UN Security Council Resolution 1441 against Iraq. The goal of the resolution is the disarmament of the Iraqi regime and the United States will consider military action if necessary to achieve this goal, Bush said. VY
INTERIOR MINISTRY TO BE DISSOLVED IN SWEEPING REFORM
Deputy chief of the presidential staff Dmitrii Kozak announced on 19 November that the Interior Ministry will be abolished under a major Kremlin reform proposal, strana.ru reported. Kozak told the website that under a draft bill prepared by the commission on delineating responsibilities among federal, regional, and local authorities that he heads, the current functions of the Interior Ministry will be divided into two components -- the federal and the municipal. Local law enforcement agencies will be responsible for maintaining public order and safety, while the federal level will oversee national domestic security and criminal investigations. Consequently, the police (militsiya) will be divided into federal and municipal components, with the federal part including a national-investigations service and a National Guard, which will be formed from the estimated 200,000 current Interior Ministry internal troops (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 October 2002). VY
INTERIOR MINISTRY CREATES ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING UNIT
The Interior Ministry's economic-crimes departments has created a special operative unit to combat money laundering, polit.ru reported on 19 November. The new unit will be subordinated to the Financial Monitoring Committee, which was created last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 November 2001). It will focus on the most criminalized sectors of the economy, including the sale of alcohol and tobacco, the fuel and energy infrastructure, and the distribution of consumer goods. The creation of this unit was one of the conditions for removing Russia from the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2002). VY
CONTROVERSY OVER PRIEST'S ZAKAEV TESTIMONY CONTINUES...
The Russian Orthodox priest whose testimony lies at the heart of some of the Russian government's accusations against Chechen Vice Premier Akhmed Zakaev denied at a Moscow press conference on 19 November that he had changed his testimony against Zakaev, gazeta.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. Father Filipp said that an "Izvestiya" article on 19 November and other media reports (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002) saying he had changed his testimony "do not correspond with my exact words," according to polit.ru. "I am here to tell you there are absolutely no grounds to renounce the evidence I produced in 1996 and during the latest questioning," he added. Father Filipp was kidnapped by Chechen fighters in Grozny in 1996. "Izvestiya" defended the accuracy of its 19 November article and published in its 20 November issue another interview with Father Filipp that was made immediately prior to the priest's press conference. In that interview, although Father Filipp contests several assertions in the 19 November "Izvestiya" article, he refuses repeatedly to answer the direct question of whether Zakaev was involved in his kidnapping. RC
...AS FORMER SECURITY COUNCIL SECRETARY LAMBASTES STATE'S CASE AGAINST CHECHEN VICE PREMIER
Ivan Rybkin on 20 November told Ekho Moskvy that he considers the government's dossier against Vice Premier Zakaev "slovenly and very, very unconvincing." He said that he has the impression that prosecutors simply tried to pin on Zakaev every action that the Chechen armed resistance has undertaken over the last nine years. Zakaev was arrested in Copenhagen on 30 October and is currently fighting extradition to Russia. A Danish Justice Ministry official was quoted by ITAR-TASS on 19 November as saying Copenhagen does not believe Russia has fulfilled the formal requirements necessary to extradite Zakaev. According to the report, the Danish government has requested corrected translations of some documents and additional details of the allegations against him. RC
DUMA RAISES PARTY-LIST BARRIER TO 7 PERCENT
The State Duma on 20 November approved in its third and final reading a draft law on the election of State Duma deputies, RosBalt and other Russian news agencies reported. The new law raises the percentage of the vote necessary for parties to qualify for party-list seats from five to seven beginning with the December 2007 Duma elections. Moreover, only parties with branches in more than half the 89 subjects of the federation or blocs containing at least one such party will be eligible for party-list seats, and blocs may have no more than three member groups. Also, parties that are represented in the Duma will no longer have to gather signatures in support of their presidential candidates. RC
PUBLIC COMMISSION BLAMES 'NEGLIGENT' OFFICIALS FOR DEATHS OF HOSTAGES
A public commission organized by the Union of Rightist Forces (SPS) to look into the 26 October storming of a Moscow theater in which Chechen fighters were holding more than 700 hostages released its findings on 19 November, lenta.ru and other Russian news agencies reported. The commission charges that the large number of civilian casualties in the operation -- more than 120 hostages died, mostly from the effects of the sleeping gas used by special forces -- was caused by the disorganization and "negligence" of responsible officials. The commission found evidence of poor coordination among the special forces, medical personnel, and rescue teams that contributed to the deaths of hostages following their release. Commission head and Duma Deputy Major General Eduard Vorobiev (SPS) said the commission found no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of special-forces officers or doctors. SPS leader Boris Nemtsov told journalists President Putin had authorized him to publicize the commission's findings. VY
PUTIN VISITS MISSILE PLANT
President Putin on 19 November visited a secret missile-production complex in the Moscow oblast town of Reutov, RTR and other Russian news agencies reported. The president pledged that the state will invest only in military-industrial enterprises that are working on defense-related issues and only in those that are producing efficiently. At present, only about 15 percent of the country's defense plants would qualify for such investment, as 85 percent are producing dual-use goods or commercial products. Putin said that those plants should organize and manage themselves, including the development of international contacts. Gerbert Yefremov, director of the Reutov complex, showed Putin the plant's Strela light missile booster and the Yakhont antiship missile, which the plant produces for the Russian navy and for sale to India. Putin expressed his satisfaction with the Reutov plant. "Russia is a country rich in mineral resources, but that is only for the short term. The future lies in high-technology production such as is happening here," Putin said. VY
BUSINESS DISPUTE ON THE HIGH SEAS
A Russian fishing trawler in the Sea of Japan was the subject of an apparent takeover attempt on the high seas on 20 November, Russian news agencies reported. According to newsru.com, the "Tulun" was approached by another trawler, the "Korf," aboard which was a man who claimed to be the owner of the "Tulun" and others reportedly armed with nightsticks. There were conflicting reports as to whether shots were fired during the incident, but no injuries were reported. Russian, Japanese, and Korean authorities all denied early reports that the incident was either piracy or terrorism. Ownership of the "Tulun" is currently the subject of court cases in Primore and on Sakhalin, State Fisheries Committee Chairman Yevgenii Nazdratenko was quoted by lenta.ru as saying. The two trawlers are being escorted to Vladivostok by Russian Coast Guard vessels and are expected to arrive on 21 November. RC
LIBERAL LEADER DECRIES POLITICAL CENSORSHIP
Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii dealt out some harsh criticism of President Putin's term in office in an interview with RosBalt on 19 November. "Over the last two years, public politics in Russia has been liquidated," Yavlinskii was quoted as saying. He also said that since the summer of 2000 a regime of virtual political censorship has been introduced in the national mass media. "Appearances in the media are only possible in limited doses and only on the basis of special permission," Yavlinskii said. He noted that this situation has not prevented SPS leader Nemtsov from appearing in the national media frequently. Ironically, Yavlinskii made many of the same charges in an even longer interview published in the government-owned daily "Rossiiskaya gazeta" on 20 November. RC
CHECHEN OFFICIALS APPEAL TO PUTIN OVER DISAPPEARANCES
Two senior members of the pro-Moscow Chechen government and three regional administrators have appealed to President Putin to put a halt to the abductions and killings of civilians in Chechnya by the Russian military, Interfax reported on 19 November. They claimed the military is using armored vehicles to abduct civilians "on a massive scale" at the dead of night. They said the political situation in Chechnya has deteriorated as a result of reprisals since the 23-26 October Moscow theater hostage taking and warned that if the killings continue, "a social upheaval might occur and every positive achievement of recent years might be lost." Speaking in Grozny on 15 November, administration head Akhmed-hadji Kadyrov said 48 people had disappeared within a few days, and nine in his native village of Tsentoroi over the previous week, as a result of which he is ashamed to look fellow villagers in the eyes, Interfax reported. LF
EXPERT SAYS RADIATION LEVELS IN CHECHNYA EXCEED PERMITTED MAXIMUM
Interfax on 19 November quoted Chechnya's chief epidemiologist Taisiya Mirzoeva as telling a Grozny newspaper that radiation levels and water pollution at several locations in Chechnya exceed the permitted maximums. She said radiation levels are dangerously high at two locations in Grozny as a result of an accident at a chemical plant and that other radiation sources have been discovered in Argun, Gudermes, Shali, and Chiri-Yurt. LF
ARMENIAN PARLIAMENT CLOSE TO AGREEMENT ON ELECTION-LAW AMENDMENTS
The largest Armenian parliament factions announced on 19 November that they have reached a tentative compromise with minority factions on election-law amendments proposed by the latter, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 11 November 2002). The precise details of the agreement, which should be finalized on 22 November, were not disclosed, but the 28 opposition deputies have reportedly agreed to drop their demand to grant candidates' proxies the right to supervise the voting and vote count. LF
ARMENIAN COURT SUSPENDS TENDER FOR TV FREQUENCIES
Armenia's Economic Arbitration Court ruled late on 18 November to suspend the ongoing tender for nine television frequencies, Noyan Tapan and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Noyan Tapan had filed a lawsuit against the National Commission for Television and Radio after its bid for one of those frequencies was rejected (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 November 2002). Mesrop Movsesian, director of the A1+ television station that lost its frequency in a controversial tender earlier this year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 and 4 April 2002), criticized the court decision, claiming the Armenian authorities are using the Noyan Tapan law suit as a pretext for avoiding awarding his station a new frequency before the presidential elections scheduled for February 2003. LF
ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN EXCHANGE PRISONERS OF WAR
Armenia and Azerbaijan each released one prisoner of war to the other side on 19 November in an exchange overseen by the Red Cross on the border between the two countries, Interfax and Turan reported. LF
AZERBAIJANI GOVERNMENT TAKES OVER SHARE IN OIL EXPORT PIPELINE PROJECT
Ownership of the 25 percent stake that the Azerbaijan State Oil Company SOCAR owns in the consortium to build the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan export pipeline for Caspian Sea oil has been transferred to the Ministry for Economic Management, Interfax on 19 November quoted Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade as saying. Rasizade added that SOCAR might also transfer to state ownership its stakes in other consortiums established to develop Caspian hydrocarbon deposits. SOCAR President Natik Aliev announced earlier this month that the company will soon begin to privatize its service sectors. LF
GEORGIAN, RUSSIAN SECURITY OFFICIALS MEET
Georgian National Security Council Secretary Tedo Djaparidze, accompanied by Prosecutor-General Nugzar Gabrichidze and State Border Department Chairman Lieutenant General Valeri Chkheidze, held talks in Moscow on 19 November with Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo, Russian agencies and Caucasus Press reported. Caucasus Press quoted Rushailo as stating that the situation regarding cooperation in the fight against international terrorism has deteriorated "dramatically" since his previous meeting with Djaparidze on 5 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2002). Rushailo said Moscow wants closer cooperation between the two countries' armed forces, security councils, and prosecutor-generals' offices and hopes to see "concrete results" in the joint crackdown on terrorism. The extradition to Moscow of Chechen gunmen apprehended in Georgia in early August was also discussed. LF
GEORGIA IMPOUNDS TURKISH FISHING VESSEL
Georgian border guards on 19 November intercepted a Turkish fishing vessel off Pitsunda and ordered it to sail to Poti, where the crew of 15 were charged with fishing illegally in Georgian territorial waters, Caucasus Press reported. Abkhaz officials claim the vessel was in international waters, and that some crewmembers were injured when the Georgian border guards opened fire. The Turkish embassy in Tbilisi declined to comment on the incident. LF
GEORGIA SEEKS TO DELAY REPATRIATION OF MESKHETIANS
Speaking in Tbilisi on 19 November after meeting with visiting OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Rolf Ekeus, Georgian Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze appealed to the OSCE and the Council of Europe to extend the 2011 deadline for the return to southern Georgia of Meskhetians and their descendants deported from the region by Joseph Stalin in 1944, Caucasus Press reported. The repatriation was one of the conditions for Georgia's admission to the Council of Europe. Djorbenadze said allowing the Meskhetians to return before Georgia's territorial integrity has been restored would create new problems for Georgia. LF
GEORGIAN OPPOSITION DEPUTY CHARGED WITH ASSAULT
The Prosecutor-General's Office has brought criminal charges against opposition parliament Deputy Petre Tsiskarishvili (New National Movement) after he attacked fellow Deputy David Saganelidze (New Rightists) with knuckledusters on 19 November to avenge insulting remarks he claimed the latter had made earlier about him, Caucasus Press reported. Saganelidze has been hospitalized with eye injuries. National Movement leader Mikhail Saakashvili said he will expel Tsiskarishvili from his faction. LF
RELATIVES OF ABDUCTED GEORGIAN OFFICER STAGE PROTEST
Relatives of Colonel Zurab Durglishvili, a member of the international peacekeeping force in South Ossetia who was abducted in Tskhinvali in mid-August (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 August 2002), staged a protest on 19 November to demand that the Georgian authorities redouble their efforts to secure his release, Caucasus Press reported. Officials of the unrecognized Republic of South Ossetia have claimed Durglishvili was engaged in criminal activities, including clandestine arms sales. LF
KYRGYZ DEMONSTRATORS SENTENCED AS PROTESTS CONTINUE IN SOUTH
A Bishkek district court on 19 November sentenced 25 of the 63 opposition activists detained in the capital the previous day to between three and five days in jail for "disturbing the peace" by attempting to hold an unsanctioned protest rally, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. According to Interfax, they were also fined 1,200 soms ($25.60). Meanwhile, small demonstrations took place on 19 November in the towns of Uzgen and Tash-Komur and the village of Kerben in Aksy Raion to protest the government's harsh treatment of local residents who traveled to Bishkek to participate in the planned People's Congress, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reported. Interfax quoted an unidentified opposition politician as warning that if the detainees are not released, some 4,000 residents of Djalalabad Oblast might begin a new march on Bishkek. LF
KYRGYZSTAN TO POLL DOMESTIC, FOREIGN INVESTORS
Prime Minister Nikolai Tanaev chaired a session of the government Council on Economic Policy on 19 November at which it was agreed to conduct a poll of both domestic and foreign investors to determine whether they are satisfied with the government's measures to encourage investment, akipress.org reported. Both Tanaev and President Askar Akaev have repeatedly designated reversing the decline in foreign investment over the past two years a top priority. LF
TAJIK OPPOSITION PARTY AGAIN APPLIES FOR REGISTRATION
The Social Democratic Party of Tajikistan (SDPT) submitted a new application for registration to the Ministry of Justice on 19 November, Asia Plus-Blitz reported the following day. The application includes a list of over 1,500 party supporters from 63 towns and rural districts. The SDPT recently sent an open letter to President Imomali Rakhmonov complaining that its registration was revoked in 1999 and that the Justice Ministry has rejected its subsequent attempts to reregister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2002). LF
TAJIK OPPOSITION POLITICIAN SAYS RADICAL ISLAM STILL POSES THREAT
In an interview with "Najot," the weekly paper of the Islamic Renaissance Party of which he is leader, Said Abdullo Nuri warned that the surviving members of the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, who are believed to be still in Afghanistan, pose a serious threat to Tajikistan's national security, Interfax reported on 19 November. The IMU launched incursions into Kyrgyzstan in 1999 and 2000 from bases in Tajikistan. Nuri also predicted that ongoing government reprisals against former members of the United Tajik Opposition might impel some of them to align with the forces of rebel Colonel Mahmud Khudoiberdiev, who masterminded antigovernment uprisings in 1997 and November 1998. A third potential danger, Nuri continued, is the radical Islamic party Hizb-ut-Tahrir, which seeks to recruit support from among the most impoverished strata of the population. LF
PRISONERS IN UZBEKISTAN PUNISHED FOR OBSERVING RAMADAN
Some 150 practicing Muslim prisoners at a prison near the southern town of Qarshi have been transferred to punishment cells for observing Ramadan, Keston News Service reported on 19 November. LF
MOST EU COUNTRIES IMPOSE TRAVEL BAN ON BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT, SEVEN OTHER OFFICIALS
Fourteen of the 15 EU states on 19 November imposed a travel ban on Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and seven other senior officials to protest human rights abuses in Belarus, international news agencies reported. Portugal, which currently holds the OSCE Presidency, did not joint the ban, arguing the EU needs a more flexible policy with regard to Belarus. "We don't agree with the political timing of the initiative," AP quoted Portuguese Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz as saying. Portugal is to organize an OSCE ministerial meeting in Porto on 6-7 December and wants to keep its options with regard to Belarus open. Belapan reported on 20 November that the travel ban, apart from Lukashenka, extends to presidential administration chief Ural Latypau, Premier Henadz Navitski, Defense Minister Leanid Maltsau, Interior Minister Uladzimir Navumau, Foreign Minister Mikhail Khvastou, Justice Minister Viktar Halavanau, and KGB chief Leanid Yeryn. "There will naturally be reciprocal measures; the Foreign Ministry will tackle this issue if need be, but in any case Belarus will respect itself and will not copy such mean steps," Lukashenka's spokeswoman, Natallya Pyatkevich, told RFE/RL's Belarusian Service. JM
BELARUS CONTRACTS NEW GAS SUPPLIES IN WAKE OF ROW WITH GAZPROM
Belarus has signed a contract with international gas supplier Itera on the delivery of 1.72 billion cubic meters of gas to Belarus by the end of 2002 for $38 per 1,000 cubic meters, Interfax reported on 19 November, quoting Belarusian Premier Navitski. "We have already signed contracts with other independent gas suppliers in Russia for about 600 million cubic meters [of gas]," Navitski said, adding that these suppliers are asking no less than $42 per 1,000 cubic meters. "For this reason, in November-December, gas for the country will cost not $24 as before [from Gazprom] but an average of $40." Earlier this month, Gazprom reduced its gas supplies to Belarus by 50 percent, saying the country had already exhausted its quota of subsidized Russian gas deliveries in 2002. President Lukashenka subsequently blasted the Kremlin for "unprecedented" political pressure over this reduction (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 11 November 2002). JM
UKRAINIAN PREMIER-DESIGNATE MEETS WITH PARLIAMENTARY GROUPS
Donetsk Governor Viktor Yanukovych, who was appointed prime minister by President Leonid Kuchma last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 November 2002), began meeting parliamentary caucuses on 19 November ahead of an expected vote on his approval in the Verkhovna Rada on 21 November, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported. "I see my role as stabilizing the work of the government and developing cooperation with the parliament. We need stability. Everyone is sick of instability," Reuters quoted Yanukovych as saying. The People's Power, Agrarian Party, Social Democratic Party-united, and European Choice parliamentary groups have reportedly decided to support Yanukovych. Yanukovych was proposed for the post by the Ukraine's Regions parliamentary caucus. The current lineup in the Verkhovna Rada is as follows: Our Ukraine (110 deputies), Communists (61), Labor Ukraine-Party of Entrepreneurs and Industrialists (42), Social Democratic Party-united (39), Ukraine's Regions (37), Socialists (21), Democratic Initiatives (22), European Choice (20), Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc (18), Popular Democratic Party (16), Agrarians (16), People's Power (16), People's Choice (15). There are also 16 nonaligned deputies in the 449-strong Verkhovna Rada. JM
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP CHINA VISIT
President Kuchma on 19 November wound up his four-day visit to China, ITAR-TASS reported. According to the Ukrainian Embassy in Beijing, the visit resulted in "laying down the foundation for strategic partnership" between China and Ukraine. President Kuchma met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin, parliamentary Chairman Li Peng, Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs Li Lanquing, and Defense Minister Chi Haotian. The embassy said Ukraine regards China "as its key political and trade partner in the Asia-Pacific region." The sides reportedly examined the possibility of delivering An-140 planes from Ukraine to China and prospects for boosting cooperation in aircraft building. The two countries signed an intergovernmental agreement on the protection of intellectual-property rights, a protocol on cooperation in aircraft building, and a joint declaration on the results of talks in which China expresses a readiness "to render Ukraine active support for its admission to the World Trade Organization." JM
ESTONIAN PRESIDENT VISITS AUSTRIA
Arnold Ruutel held talks in Vienna on 19 November with Austrian President Thomas Klestil on future relations between Russia and Ukraine, on the one hand, and the EU and the seven countries that are expected to receive invitations to join NATO later in the week in Prague, ETA reported. Unlike his Lithuanian and Latvian counterparts Valdas Adamkus and Vaiva Vike-Freiberga, Ruutel will not attend the NATO summit as he will be visiting Italy on 20-22 November. The main aim of Ruutel's visit was to take part in celebrations on 20 November marking the 90th birthday of Pan-European Union President Otto von Habsburg that began with a mass in St. Stephen's Cathedral and continued with a festive meeting in the Hofburg. SG
OIL TRANSIT IN LATVIA GIVEN SLIM CHANCE FOR GROWTH
The head of Russian LUKoil subsidiary LUKoil Baltija R, Haims Kogans, in an interview in the weekly "Kommersant Baltic" asserted that oil transit in Latvia has no perspective for growth, LETA reported on 19 November. He noted that if a 1997 proposal for the privatization of Ventspils Nafta -- whereby 33 percent would have been sold to LUKoil, 33 percent to Western investors, and 34 percent retained by the state -- had been implemented, Russia would not have built the new oil terminal at Primorsk that is now exporting oil that went through Ventspils in the past. Kogans said LUKoil exported 3 million tons of oil through Ventspils last year and intended to reduce this figure to 1.2 million tons this year, but now the figure has been reduced to just 550,000 tons. He also explained that cost considerations -- and not politics -- played a part in reducing Ventspils' role. SG
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN BUSY ON MOSCOW VISIT
Accompanied by five parliamentary deputies, Arturas Paulauskas made an official visit to Moscow on 17-19 November, ELTA reported. On 18 November, Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev said the chances of Russia ratifying the Russia-Lithuania border treaty have improved and the agreement might even be approved this year. Russian Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov told Paulauskas that President Putin's opinion of Lithuania's position on Kaliningrad Oblast is absolutely positive. Putin's special envoy for Kaliningrad, Dmitrii Rogozin, predicted that a readmission agreement will be concluded by 30 June, but also claimed that the existence of a Chechen cultural center in Vilnius "encourages illegal migration of refugees from Northern Caucasus." The next day, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov informed Paulauskas that a Russian delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov will travel to Lithuania soon to discuss technical issues of communications with Kaliningrad. He stressed the need to reach an agreement on military transit to Kaliningrad via Lithuania. Paulauskas also met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko. SG
LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES KYOTO PROTOCOL
By unanimous vote that included six abstentions, parliament on 19 November ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol aimed at reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, BNS reported. President Valdas Adamkus signed the protocol in New York in 1998, obliging the country to reduce its 1990-level emissions by 8 percent by 2008-2012. Lithuania has substantially exceeded the requirements, according to BNS. Lithuania's greenhouse-gas emissions totaled 42 million tons in 1990, while in 2001 the figure was 16 million tons. Levels will likely increase in the future, as Lithuania fulfills EU obligations to close a nuclear reactor at Ignalina in 2005 and a second reactor in 2009. The protocol has been ratified by 95 countries, including all EU member states. SG
POLISH MINERS PROTEST GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURING PLAN
Some 10,000 mining trade unionists with burning torches staged a march and a rally in front of the provincial administration building in Katowice, southern Poland, on 19 November, Polish media reported. The demonstration was aimed at a government-backed restructuring program stipulating the closure of seven coalmines and the elimination of 35,000 of Poland's 140,000 coal-industry jobs by 2006 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002). "We are here to shout out two simple things: work and bread," Solidarity union head Janusz Sniadek told the crowd. Protesters refused to talk with Silesian Governor Lechoslaw Jarzebski, who met them outside the office. "Twelve months of your [tenure] has shown you're here only for the salary," PAP quoted one trade unionist as saying to Jarzebski, who suggested further negotiations in his office. Some 50 miners from the August 80 trade union went on hunger strike at nine mines to protest the restructuring plan. JM
POLAND ADMITS 150 CHECHEN ASYLUM SEEKERS
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva has expressed satisfaction over Poland's decision to admit a group of Chechens seeking political asylum, PAP reported on 19 November. Poland admitted 150 Chechens this past weekend, marking the first such entry by Chechens since the 23-26 October hostage taking at a Moscow theater. "It is a welcome development. The high commissioner hopes that the decision means a return to the open-door policy by the countries that Chechens seek asylum in," UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski said. At the same time, Janowski noted that Lithuanian border guards refused entry to 28 Chechens, mostly women and children, and sent them back to Belarus, which in turn sent them back to Russia. JM
IN CZECH CAPITAL, U.S. PRESIDENT TOUTS 'COALITION OF THE WILLING' TO DISARM IRAQ...
U.S. President Bush said after a meeting with his Czech counterpart Vaclav Havel on 20 November that a military conflict with Iraq is his "last choice" and stressed that "if the collective will of the world is strong, we can achieve disarmament peacefully," AP reported. The first of 19 NATO heads of state to arrive in Prague for the alliance's 21-22 NATO summit, Bush added, however, "The United States will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm" Saddam Hussein's regime if the Iraqi leader does not abandon weapons programs, the news agency reported. Havel, whose final term expires in early 2003, said, "If...the need to use force were to arise, I believe NATO should give honest and speedy consideration to its engagement as an alliance," according to CTK. U.S. ambassadors in 50 countries are soliciting support for personnel and equipment to aid in the war on terrorism and, potentially, on Iraq, AP reported. Diplomatic sources told the news agency that several countries are working to craft a summit statement to echo UN Security Council demands that Iraq allow unfettered weapons inspections. Bush is expected to meet later on 20 November with NATO Secretary-General Robertson and Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, whose country shares a border with Iraq. AH
...AS LEADERS SAY NEW POSTCOMMUNIST EXPANSION WILL BOOST NATO'S ANTITERRORISM EFFORT
Speaking at the joint press conference with Havel on 20 November, Bush said the entry of additional former communist states to NATO will help fight "global terrorists who hate freedom," according to AP. His host and a longtime advocate of NATO expansion, Havel added, "I welcome the idea of countries joining NATO whose history has taught them the need to protect freedom at any cost -- countries whose admission into NATO will invigorate our alliance," according to AP. "If the alliance is to be meaningful, it must be able to confront modern dangers" including terrorism, he said. The alliance is expected to invite up to seven postcommunist countries into NATO on 21 November. AH
CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS GLOBAL THREATS WILL DISCOURAGE TRADITIONAL EUROPEAN NEUTRALITY
Speaking on 20 November at a conference of foreign policy and security experts in Prague ahead of the NATO conference, Havel said global terrorism poses a dilemma for traditionally neutral states like Austria, Finland, and Switzerland, according to AP. "Many of these nations profoundly cherish the historic traditions of their neutrality, and we all respect that," he said. "Nevertheless, I believe that all these countries sooner or later will ask themselves what the purpose or the content of neutrality is in the world of today." In the absence of Cold War-type blocs and in the face of threats from organized crime, terrorism, or advancement of weapons of mass destruction, Havel said, "Can one be neutral, for example, toward assassins who perpetrate large-scale murders of civilian populations?" AH
...AND REPEATS CALL FOR CLEAR TRANSFORMATION OF NATO
Havel in the same speech on 20 November reiterated his conviction that NATO must be rapidly and visibly transformed to fulfill its original mission: "the defense of shared values," CTK reported. NATO cannot be just a "big but slightly empty system which would have many commanders without any troops or many committees and commissions without any major influence, while its members would be just ready, if need be, to fill them with specified parts of their armies." He added: "If the alliance is to have a sense now, it must be above all an organization equipped with a large amount of well- and rapidly processed information, an organization able to make decisions at breakneck speed and to immediately deploy, whenever needed, either its permanent, always prepared and excellently trained units of rapid deployment or specialized forces of various armies." AH
CZECH PRESIDENT EXPECTS NATO TO ADMIT SEVEN NEW MEMBERS, CONTINUE EXPANSION...
President Havel on 19 November told journalists he expects the Atlantic alliance to extend invitations to seven states and believes further expansion will take place in the future, RFE/RL and CTK reported. Havel said Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Serbia, and Montenegro also belong to the joint "Euro-Atlantic cultural and geographical space," according to RFE/RL. Havel also said the summit will deal not only with NATO enlargement but also with the pursuit of a strategy to fight international terrorism and other current threats. Havel said he believes that in extreme circumstance, NATO has the right to intervene in countries outside the alliance. "There are greater values than state sovereignty, and for the purpose of saving human life or saving humanity" it may become necessary to "use force against a particular state." But he added that such cases "must be judged with extreme responsibility and on a case-by-case basis." MS
...REITERATES OPPOSITION TO RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP IN THE ALLIANCE...
Havel on 19 November reiterated his oft-expressed opposition to Russian membership in NATO, RFE/RL reported. Russia's membership in the alliance "would rather paralyze our cooperation and in a way make it worthless," he said. Havel reasoned that, if he wanted to improve his relations with the Czech prime minister, "I would not do so by asking him to move into my apartment" since this "would more likely worsen than improve the relations." Havel also said the decision to deny a visa to Belarus's president (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 November 2002) "is not an expression of any kind of aversion to Belarus." Rather, he added, it is "an expression of aversion to the authoritarian manner of rule represented by Alyaksandr Lukashenka." He said the decision will not affect that country's membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace. MS
...AND SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT PROPOSAL TO SET UP JOINT AIRSPACE DEFENSE WITH SLOVAKIA
Havel also said he backs government efforts to set up a joint air-force unit with Slovakia that would defend the two countries' airspace, RFE/RL and CTK reported (see Slovak item below and "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002). "It was not good when the countries of our region -- Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic -- built their air forces independently, without consulting with each other," he said. "According to modern concepts, this is one air space and the greater the cooperation, the better it will be both on technical and at command level." MS
EXPLOSIVE DEVICE FOUND ON TRAIN TRACKS IN CZECH CAPITAL
An explosive device was discovered on a railway line in Prague on 19 November, prompting local authorities to tighten the already heavy security presence ahead of the NATO summit, Czech Radio reported. A police spokesman confirmed that the device was found by rail workers near the Prague-Kyje train station, a few kilometers from a military airfield on the city's east side. The bomb was safely defused and no one was injured, though the subsequent diversion of trains resulted in a collision with an abandoned vehicle, according to CTK. MS
COMMUNISTS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE RELEASES ANTI-SUMMIT DOCUMENT
An international conference of communist organizations in Prague on 19 November released a document asserting that NATO cannot protect European countries, which should give up membership in that organization's military structures, CTK reported. The "Prague Appeal" stated that Europe has no need for an "aggressive alliance" that questions the role of the UN. Instead, Europe needs a non-aggressive security system that includes all European countries -- from the Atlantic to the Urals and from Scandinavia to the Balkans -- based on the principle of full equality, the document states. The appeal will be read out by Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) officials at anti-summit rallies and delivered to Czech government officials. MS
FORMER CZECH PREMIER TELLS EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT 'NO SECOND-CLASS CITIZENSHIP'
Addressing a special debate of the European Parliament attended by lawmakers from candidate countries, former Premier Vaclav Klaus said on 19 November that he does not want his countrymen to be "second-class citizens" in the EU, RFE/RL reported from Strasbourg. Klaus said the current debate in the EU on a common European constitution is inspired by social democratic ideology, according to CTK. MS
SLOVAK PRESIDENT, FOREIGN MINISTER BACK CZECH PROPOSAL FOR JOINT AIR DEFENSE
President Rudolf Schuster on 19 November said that in his capacity as supreme commander of the Slovak Army, he is backing a Czech proposal to set up a joint air-force unit to defend the countries' airspace, CTK reported (see Czech item above and "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002). Schuster said he has a "high appreciation" of Czech Defense Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, who made the proposal, adding that relations between the Slovak and the Czech armies have much improved since Tvrdik became defense minister in May 2001. Slovak Foreign Minister Eduard Kukan said he does not "rule out" the proposal but added that Poland and Hungary could also join the joint unit, as cooperation among the Visegrad Four countries in military matters is "very advanced." Kukan called the proposal "rational" and said it will be "seriously considered" by Slovakia. A spokesman for Slovak Defense Minister Ivan Simko said Tvrdik's idea is "interesting" and that the sides should start consultations on "initial ideas and options." MS
SLOVAKIA'S COMMUNISTS TO PARTICIPATE IN ANTI-SUMMIT DEMONSTRATIONS IN PRAGUE
Slovak Communist Party (KSS) Secretary Ladislav Jaca on 19 November told TASR that KSS members will actively participate in anti-NATO summit demonstrations in the Czech capital. Jaca said the KSS opposes NATO enlargement, whose goal he called "achieving American global totality by total globalization." MS
SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS CONSIDERABLE EFFORT STILL NECESSARY TO ENSURE NATO MEMBERSHIP
Prime Minister Dzurinda, in an interview with the Czech daily "Hospodarske noviny" on 20 November, said he is aware that considerable efforts must still be made to ensure that his country's expected invitation to join NATO becomes reality, CTK reported. Dzurinda said that before the September elections, Slovakia's membership in the organization was threatened by the possibility of a return to power of former Premier Vladimir Meciar. Now it must be ensured that the Slovak Army undergoes radical changes, he said. He said that while defense spending has totaled 1.89 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the past three years, the defense allocation in next year's budget will represent 2 percent of GDP. Dzurinda also said that within the framework of country specialization that NATO is pursuing, Slovakia can contribute units specializing in high mountain combat as well as reconnaissance units and engineering troops. MS
SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS THERE IS 'ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT' IN EU ACCESSION TERMS
Foreign Minister Kukan said on 19 November that in accession parleys with the EU, Slovakia can still negotiate better terms for agricultural quotas as well as receive financing for securing the Schengen border and increased support for regional development, TASR reported. Kukan was speaking on his return from Brussels, where he attended a meeting of EU foreign ministers and their counterparts from candidate countries. MS
FORMER SLOVAK POLITICAL PRISONERS TO RECEIVE COMPENSATION NEXT YEAR
Several thousand Slovak victims of the communist regime will start receiving compensation for their suffering in 2003, CTK reported on 19 November . Parliament the same day approved a bill stipulating that 50 million crowns ($1.2 million) will be allocated for this purpose from the 2003 budget and 500 million crowns from the 2004 budget. According to the Confederation of Slovak Political Prisoners, only 6,000 out of a total of 70,000 Slovak political prisoners under communism are still alive. The bill stipulates that political prisoners who spent at least six months in detention have the right to receive a one-time 80,000-crown compensation payment and an additional 6,000 crowns for each year spent in prison. Relatives of deceased political prisoners are entitled to receive half of the compensation. MS
HUNGARY TO OFFER RAPID-REACTION FORCE TO NATO
Hungary plans to develop a rapid-reaction force by 2004 as a contribution to NATO capabilities, Defense Minister Ferenc Juhasz told reporters after a cabinet meeting on 19 November, Hungarian media reported. A 3,000-member logistics battalion made up entirely of professional soldiers would be outfitted against chemical and biological attack and would assist in the deployment of soldiers from other countries, Juhasz explained. He said Hungary will also offer to take part in planning and developing a common surveillance system for NATO, to develop its midair fueling capacity, to equip its Gripen fighter jets with NATO-compatible onboard weapons, and to upgrade its helicopter fleet. The rapid-reaction force would cost an estimated 30 billion forints ($130 million), excluding transportation capacity, Juhasz said. Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy is expected to present the offer at the NATO summit in Prague that begins on 21 November. MSZ
HUNGARIAN CABINET APPROVES EU COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGY
The government on 19 November approved an EU communications strategy to be run by the Communications Public Foundation, which will be formed on 27 November, Hungarian media reported. The foundation will be headed by Prime Minister's Office State Secretary Ferenc Baja, and its main goals are to expand public awareness of EU affairs and explain the advantages and challenges of EU membership and its effects on everyday life. Baja said a total of 500 million forints ($2.1 million) will be allocated for the foundation's operations this year and 1.5 billion forints next year. MSZ
HUNGARIAN NOBEL PRIZE WINNER THREATENS TO SUE OVER PLAGIARISM CLAIM
Nobel Prize winner for literature Imre Kertesz said on 19 November that he will take legal action over a claim that an early work published under his name was written by someone else. A statement released via his Hungarian publisher, Magveto, called the claim ridiculous, "Nepszabadsag" reported. A former friend, Pal Ban, accused Kertesz of plagiarism in a provincial weekly, claiming a farcical play written by him entitled "Csacsifogat" (A Cart Pulled By A Donkey) was published without his permission under Kertesz's name. Ban, who left Hungary in 1956, said he forgot about the whole affair until recently, when he heard Kertesz saying on television that the royalties he received on 2,500 performances of "Csacsifogat" gave him the financial freedom to write his award-winning novel "Fateless." Kertesz's German publisher said a former enemy of Kertesz fabricated the story because the writer's past was being closely scrutinized before the Nobel Prize was awarded. MSZ
SFOR SAYS BOSNIAN SERBS DISGUISED COMBAT HELICOPTERS WITH RED CROSS INSIGNIA
SFOR spokesman Lieutenant Commander Yves Vanier said in Sarajevo on 19 November that a recent inspection of the Bosnian Serb airbase of Zaluzane near Banja Luka showed that the Republika Srpska has seven combat helicopters more than it is allowed under a regional arms-control agreement, Hina reported. Vanier said the helicopters, which bore Red Cross insignia, could be adapted for combat and are not fully modified for transporting the wounded. The SFOR command has asked the Republika Srpska's military command for an explanation. General Momir Zec, the Bosnian Serb chief of staff, said there is nothing illegal about the helicopters, but vowed that any improper equipment that SFOR finds will be removed, according to Hina. UB
FORMER CROATIAN ARMY INTELLIGENCE CHIEF QUESTIONED
General Javor Domazet, a former Croatian Army intelligence chief, began testifying to investigators for The Hague-based international war crimes tribunal on 19 November, AP reported. Domazet is being questioned in the Zagreb offices of the tribunal in connection with offensives carried out by the Croatian Army in 1993 and 1995, his lawyer said. During the offensives, the Croatian Army is said to have expelled and killed Serbian civilians. So far, the war crimes tribunal has indicted three former Croatian Army generals for war crimes, but only one general, Rahim Ademi, has surrendered to the tribunal. Ante Gotovina, who was among the commanders of the 1995 offensive, went into hiding last year. The third general, the 83-year-old former chief of Main Staff Janko Bobetko, has resisted extradition (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 13 November 2002). UB
OSCE LAUDS CROATIAN GOVERNMENT, URGES HELP WITH RETURN OF SERB REFUGEES
Peter Semneby, who heads the OSCE office in Zagreb, said on 19 November that the current Croatian government has improved the country's democratic record but added that it must do more to help ethnic Serb refugees return to their prewar homes, AP reported. Semneby lauded the government's efforts to reform the judiciary and to improve media freedom and minority rights. He added, however, that the overall picture remains mixed. "Progress in terms of implementation remains slow, and many initiatives have stalled or remain incomplete," Semneby said, citing an ambivalent approach to helping ethnic Serbian returnees by the government. Thousands of Serbs were forced to leave Croatia in 1995, when the Croatian Army recaptured territories that were occupied by Serbian rebels and the Yugoslav Army in 1991. UB
U.S. INVESTIGATORS PROBING SERBIAN ARMS DEALS WITH IRAQ
The U.S. Embassy in Belgrade officially confirmed on 19 November that U.S. weapons experts are in Serbia to determine if the country has ceased all arms trading with Iraq, AP reported. An embassy statement said a group of experts "is presently in Yugoslavia assessing and processing the information that has been provided by the Yugoslav government." The Belgrade government conceded last month that state arms trader Yugoimport in recent years violated a UN embargo by overhauling MiG jet engines and providing other military service for Iraq (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 25 October 2002). UB
SERBIA'S CHRISTIAN DEMOCRATS SUSPEND MEMBERSHIP OF RULING COALITION
Christian Democratic (DHSS) leader Vladan Batic announced on 19 November that his party will suspend its membership in the ruling Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) coalition, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported. Batic's decision came after parliament rejected debate of a referendum on Serbian independence that was initiated by his party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002). UB
FRENCH 'BLOCKING TACTICS' STILL THWARTING NATO MANDATE IN MACEDONIA
During a meeting of ambassadors to NATO in Brussels on 19 November, France continued to block plans to extend the NATO mission in Macedonia, Reuters reported. The French government insists the EU should be given every opportunity to take over the Macedonian mission. "You could see [the French position] as arguing about technical details or as downright blocking tactics to get the EU in. I am sure it is the latter," a diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. EU plans to debut its own military force in a peacekeeping mission have been held up by a standoff between Greece and Turkey over the EU's desire to use NATO assets and logistics. The current NATO mandate expires on 15 December. UB
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY URGES MACEDONIA TO COOPERATE WITH THE HAGUE
In a joint statement, representatives of the United States, the EU, the OSCE, and NATO in Macedonia have urged the government to cooperate with the international war crimes tribunal in The Hague, "Dnevnik" reported on 20 November. The ambassadors reminded Skopje that the tribunal informed Macedonian authorities more than six weeks ago that it will take up five cases of alleged war crimes stemming from last year's conflict. Should the government fail to transfer the cases to the tribunal within 60 days, the tribunal has to inform the UN Security Council that the Macedonian government is not complying with tribunal decisions. Last week, a Skopje city court asked the Macedonian Supreme Court to rule on cooperation with The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 September 2002). UB
EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN REASSURES ROMANIA, BULGARIA ON EVENTUAL MEMBERSHIP
European Parliament Chairman Patrick Cox, addressing a special debate attended by lawmakers from EU candidate countries, said in Strasbourg on 19 November that the EU is committed to including Romania and Bulgaria among its members. Cox said he hopes the two countries will be able to join the organization by 2007, the EU's target date for the two countries' accession (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 October 2002), RFE/RL correspondent reported. MS
PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT WOULD CANCEL ROMANIAN PRESIDENT'S POWER TO REMOVE PREMIER
The ad hoc parliamentary commission that will present draft constitutional amendments to the bilateral parliament on 19 November has decided to propose eliminating the constitutional article granting the president the right to revoke the premier's appointment if the head of government is unable to perform his duties, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The amended constitution would stipulate that only the parliament has the right to dismiss the premier by a no-confidence vote. In December 1999, former President Emil Constantinescu used this constitutional stipulation to dismiss former Premier Radu Vasile, who refused to resign although most members of his cabinet tendered their resignations in an attempt to force him to do so. The commission also decided to propose amending the constitutional stipulation granting prosecutors the right to issue warrants for searches of private residences. The issuance of such warrants would be the sole prerogative of judges. MS
ROMANIAN LOWER HOUSE HEEDS PRESIDENTIAL OBJECTIONS TO POLITICAL-PARTIES BILL
The Chamber of Deputies on 19 November heeded the objections raised by President Ion Iliescu and amended a bill it recently passed on the registration of political parties, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The previous version would have raised the minimum number of members needed for party registration from the current 10,000 to 50,000, but the bill sets that minimum number at 25,000 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 November 2002). A party applying for registration must also prove it has members in at least 18 of Romania's 41 counties. MS
ROMANIAN MINERS BARRICADE THEMSELVES IN COAL MINE
Approximately 150 miners on 19 November barricaded themselves in a coal mine in Horasti, some 320 kilometers west of Bucharest, AP reported the next day. The miners took the action to protest planned job cuts at the mine. The company that operates the mine has accumulated losses of 300 billion lei (almost $9 million) so far this year, according to the news agency. Ten of the miners have begun a hunger strike and the protesters are demanding the equivalent of $20,000 per miner in exchange for voluntary retirement. Managers said the company, which employs 600 workers, could eventually be forced to close the mine. MS
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT WILL NOT NEGOTIATE WITH SMIRNOV AS 'HEAD OF SEPARATE STATE'
President Vladimir Voronin said in an interview with ITAR-TASS on 19 November that he will not accept negotiations with separatist leader Igor Smirnov for as long as Smirnov claims to be the head of a separate state. Voronin said he has considered the resolution of the Transdniester conflict his main priority since the start of his presidency. "This is why I met with Smirnov already on the second day [of my term]," Voronin said. However, he added that it soon became clear to him that Smirnov and "those surrounding him are not interested in settling the conflict" and the negotiations became "fruitless." Voronin declared that "there will be no negotiations for the sake of negotiating. And I am ready to meet Smirnov, but only as the administration head in Tiraspol." He also said that the OSCE's plan for resolving the conflict is a good one and could become the basis for a settlement. He noted that the basic treaty signed by Russia and Moldova after he became president mentions "respect of Moldova's territorial integrity" and the "denunciation of separatism in all its forms." MS
OSCE DELEGATION IN MOLDOVA
An OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation headed by assembly Vice President Kimmo Kiljunen met in Chisinau on 19 November with President Voronin, Premier Vasile Tarlev, and parliamentary speaker Evgenia Ostapchuk, Flux reported. The delegation is to evaluate the situation at the line of partition between Moldova and Transdniester and the causes for the stalled negotiation process for resolving the conflict. Ostapchuk said the Moldovan parliament has set up a special commission on negotiations with the separatists and its members are ready to resume the parleys at any time, "provided they bring concrete results." Kiljunen told journalists that the OSCE is "disappointed" that Russia will not be able to withdraw its forces from Transdniester by the end of this year, as stipulated in the 1999 OSCE summit resolution. He said the issue will be examined again at the OSCE meeting in Porto, Portugal, in early December. "We need a new deadline," Flux quoted him as saying. MS
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICIZES AGREEMENT WITH EU
President Georgi Parvanov harshly criticized the agreement reached between the European Union and the Bulgarian government under which the energy chapter of the acquis communautaire for EU accession was closed (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002), BTA reported on 19 November. According to a press release issued by Parvanov's office, the agreement stipulates that Bulgaria must shut down blocks No. 3 and No. 4 of the Kozloduy nuclear-power plant by 2006 but does not clearly provide compensation for doing so. Parvanov said it is unrealistic to assume that the energy chapter could be renegotiated, even in the event that the nuclear plant is determined to be safe. He added that while the commitments assumed have yet to be evaluated, it is clear that an early closure of the blocks in question would lead to economic losses and rising energy prices for Bulgaria. Parvanov urged lawmakers to assess whether the government has ignored a parliamentary decision not to shut down the reactors by 2006. UB
ENLARGED EUROPE'S BORDERLANDS POSE VAST CHALLENGE
At the precise moment the Euro-Atlantic community is opening its arms to a large group of new NATO and EU candidates, it is simultaneously turning a cold shoulder to certain soon-to-be-neighbors. The West is zeroing in on and looking to isolate the leadership of two problem countries that represent some 60 million people on the future EU's doorstep.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka and Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma (both of whose countries already border NATO) have been told by the alliance that they are unwelcome at this week's Prague summit. In the case of Lukashenka, the Czech Republic rejected the his entry-visa application, and he is now facing a possible Europe-wide travel ban. In response, Lukashenka has suggested he might loosen his own country's border controls and flood Western Europe with illegal immigrants and narcotics.
Ukraine's Kuchma is embroiled in a major controversy connected with his country's alleged transfer of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq, an act that has put the Ukrainian president squarely in Washington's crosshairs.
Belarus and Ukraine have settled into a particularly alarming pattern of behavior, where one is more likely to hear of illegal arms deals and "disappearances" of opposition figures and independent journalists, than news of credible economic or political reforms. This behavior raises profound questions concerning the shape and character of the new, enlarging Europe: Will countries not on a near-term EU or NATO track manage to strike a reform course to enable their productive and meaningful participation in modern European affairs? Or will these societies remain stuck in place, effectively shutting off the road to stability and prosperity and thus increasing the likelihood of new dividing lines in Europe?
The Baltic states and other candidate countries of Central Europe are proceeding apace with their reform and modernization efforts and soon expect to be full members in the two desired Western clubs (the Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles already became full members in NATO in 1999). Slovenia and Slovakia, which missed out on the first round of NATO enlargement, are this time around expected to receive invitations to join both the trans-Atlantic alliance and the EU. And with a post-11 September push, Bulgaria and Romania also are expected to be welcomed into NATO.
Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova -- none of which is on the Western organizations' short lists -- stand in stark contrast. EU President Romano Prodi offered precisely such a differentiated vision of Europe last month, affirming that the Balkans are "fated to join the European family," while giving a much less generous appraisal of the three lands to the enlarged EU's immediate east.
Belarus, a self-isolated state of 10 million people, has recently refused to extend the diplomatic accreditation of the last remaining member of the OSCE's Advisory and Monitoring Group (AMG), Alina Josan, thereby completing its emasculation of the OSCE representation in Minsk. That mission had been engaged in monitoring Belarus's commitments on political and human rights issues, and Josan's expulsion at the end of October followed the expulsion by the Belarusian authorities of the AMG acting head in April 2002, the deputy acting head in June 2002, and its human-dimension officer in September 2002.
In recent years, former Interior Minister Yury Zakharanka, opposition politician Viktar Hanchar, Hanchar's businessman friend Anatol Krasouski, and journalist Dzmitry Zavadski, all have disappeared and are believed dead. Minsk is suspected of selling dual-use technology to Baghdad. The Belarusian leadership, not eager to build links to the West, has oriented itself toward a set of outlaw states around the globe.
Ukraine has dug itself into a particularly deep hole in its relations with the United States. Washington has said that there is a "crisis of confidence" in bilateral relations and has suspended $55 million in aid in the wake of Kyiv's reported $100 million sale of a Kolchuga radar system to Iraq. A UN report issued in 2002 under the auspices of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) found that in 1999 Ukraine sent two helicopters and spare parts to Belgrade just before the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia began. And there is, of course, the horrifying case of journalist Heorhiy Gongadze, in whose murder the Ukrainian president has been implicated.
By engaging in such behavior, these countries risk acquiring the image in Western public opinion of virtually unsalvageable cases. This is, however, only part of the equation. How Belarusians and Ukrainians view themselves remains an open question. Do they see a place for themselves in the West?
European prosperity and security are not divisible. Therefore, sooner or later, the EU must find a coherent and cohesive policy approach to the unstable lands on its eastern flank, ideally in a coordination and cooperation with the United States.
Discussion of EU and NATO enlargement creating new dividing lines is frowned upon in Euro-Atlantic discourse. But the reality is that forward-looking countries in the Central and Eastern Europe have dedicated themselves to joining the Western family of truly democratic states. The question is not really whether there will be a new dividing line. Instead, it is whether countries on the new Europe's margin -- among them Belarus and Ukraine -- will ultimately choose to take the difficult but very much needed steps to ensure that any new dividing line does not become permanent.
Christopher Walker is head of the Rapid Response Unit at the EastWest Institute. The views expressed in this article are his own.
AFGHANISTAN GUARDS AGAINST TALIBAN-HEZB-E ISLAMI ALLIANCE
Afghan government and coalition forces are beefing up security measures as reports about a possible alliance between Taliban leader Mulla Mohammad Omar and Hezb-e Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 November 2002) are being taken more seriously, the Pakistani daily "The Nation" reported on 19 November. The report said that "certain differences" remain between Hekmatyar and Omar, who are known to have been at odds in the past, but said they have now agreed to "wage a joint struggle" to remove foreign forces from Afghanistan. The report concluded that, while such an alliance could "create some problems for the United States," it would not be capable of inflicting "huge losses" on U.S. forces in Afghanistan. AT
AFGHAN MINISTER SAYS HIGH SALARIES PAID BY FOREIGN ORGANIZATIONS ARE 'UNJUST'
Planning Minister Haji Mohammad Mohaqeq told Radio Free Afghanistan on 19 November that the vast difference between salaries paid by the Afghan government and those paid by international organizations working in Afghanistan is "totally unacceptable and unjust." Mohaqeq claimed that international organizations are absorbing all of the professionals returning to Afghanistan, resulting in a lack of qualified personnel available to the government. Mohaqeq said that if the Afghan government cannot hire the returning Afghans there is no chance for the country to stand on its own, and it will have to forever rely on the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. In response to a question on why many returning Afghans are unemployed, especially in the provinces, Mohaqeq said it is not due to a lack of jobs but because of the low salaries paid by the government. AT
AFGHAN PRESIDENT APPOINTS COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE KABUL UNIVERSITY VIOLENCE...
Afghan President Hamid Karzai on 18 November appointed a high-level commission to investigate the causes of the 11-12 November student protests at Kabul University and why the situation became violent (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12, 13, 14, and 15 November 2002), Radio Free Afghanistan reported. Two students were killed and five students and five police officers were injured during the protests, RFE/RL reported. The seven-member commission is headed by Nematullah Shahrani, one of Karzai's deputies, and is to report its findings to the cabinet within two days, according to the report. The commission recommended on 19 November that living conditions at the university's dormitories should be improved, but was still reviewing the causes for the violence, RFE/RL reported the same day. AT
COMMISSION FORMED TO IMPROVE ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN AFGHANISTAN
President Karzai on 18 November appointed a 10-member commission comprising Afghan cabinet ministers and academics to draft a plan for improving the academic standards of institutions of higher education, Radio Free Afghanistan reported. The commission is to submit their plan to the cabinet within one month. AT
TWO KILLED IN CLASHES IN NORTHERN AFGHANISTAN
Two fighters loyal to General Abdul Rashid Dostum were killed in the village of Maqsud in the northern Samangan Province when they attacked forces loyal to Dostum's rival, General Ata Muhammad, Radio Free Afghanistan reported on 19 November. Dostum's side has not commented on the skirmish, according to the report. AT
IRAN OFFERS TO BUILD ROAD TO TAJIKISTAN THROUGH AFGHANISTAN...
Iranian Roads and Transport Minister Ahmad Khorram told Afghan Finance Minister Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai on 19 November that his country is interested in constructing a road connecting Iran and Tajikistan via Afghanistan, IRNA reported. "The route will play a significant role in [the] development of trade and transit relations among the three states of Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan as well as other regional countries," Khorram said. AT
...AND DONATES WHEAT SEED TO AFGHANISTAN
Iran has donated 535 tons of wheat seed to Afghan farmers as part of the crop-substitution program in Afghanistan, IRNA reported on 19 November. The "wheat will be distributed to the farmers who have volunteered to refrain from cultivating opium poppies in the southern province of Helmand, [which] traditionally been one of the primary areas of opium production in Afghanistan," according to the report. AT
IRAN REITERATES OPPOSITION TO ATTACK ON IRAQ...
Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told journalists during his visit to Brussels on 20 November that "Iran will never take part in military operations against Iraq" even if such action was approved by the United Nations, the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported. "If the arms inspectors confirm that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the sanctions on that country must be lifted because it has been the Iraqi nation that has suffered from the sanctions," Kharrazi added. AT
...AND HOLDS TALKS WITH EU COMMISSIONER
Foreign Minister Kharrazi held talks in Brussels on 20 November with European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten regarding the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories, IRNA reported. Kharrazi said he briefed the European side on the case involving university Professor Hashem Aghajari (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2002) and "appreciated the way the EU reacted to the case," IRNA reported. AT
IRANIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS PROTEST PHYSICAL ABUSE
Two parliamentarians from Ahvaz Province have protested in parliament physical attacks against their colleagues, the conservative "Kayhan" newspaper reported on 19 November. Reformist Hamid Kahram protested the beating of Ahvaz representative Kianoosh Rad by unidentified assailants in the vicinity of the Ahvaz airport. The paper also reported that another reformist representative, Jasem Shadeedzadeh, has protested the beating of Behzad Nabavi, which occurred near the same airport two weeks ago. AT
U.S. PRESIDENT SAYS NATO WILL DISCUSS IRAQ AT SUMMIT...
President George W. Bush said in Prague on 20 November that NATO will "discuss" the Iraq issue during the 21-22 November NATO Prague summit, international media reported. The president made the comments during a press conference with Czech President Vaclav Havel. "There is universal recognition that [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein is a threat to world peace. There is clear understanding that he must disarm in the name of peace. We hope he chooses to do so. Tomorrow, we'll discuss the issue. We'll consider what happens if he chooses not to disarm, but one thing is certain: He'll be disarmed, one way or the other," RFE/RL quoted Bush as saying. He added that the current challenge facing NATO is how to transform itself into an organization that is capable of meeting the global terrorist threat. He also called on NATO member states and "free nations" to "work collectively" to disarm Iraq. President Bush told Czech Television on 19 November that he hopes NATO would join a U.S. military coalition against Iraq should that country fail to comply with UN weapons inspectors, but said that any such decision is "far away." KR
...AND TOUTS 'COALITION OF THE WILLING' TO DISARM IRAQ...
U.S. President Bush said after a meeting with his Czech counterpart Havel on 20 November that a military conflict with Iraq is his "last choice," and stressed that "if the collective will of the world is strong, we can achieve disarmament peacefully," AP reported. Bush added that "the United States will lead a coalition of the willing to disarm" President Hussein's regime if the Iraqi leader does not abandon weapons programs, the news agency reported. Havel, whose final term expires in early 2003, added, "If...the need to use force were to arise, I believe NATO should give honest and speedy consideration to its engagement as an alliance," according to CTK. U.S. ambassadors in 50 countries are soliciting support for personnel and equipment to aid in the war on terrorism and, potentially, on Iraq, AP reported. Bush was expected to meet later on 20 November with NATO Secretary-General Robertson and Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, whose country shares a border with Iraq. AH
...AS NATO ASSEMBLY COMMITS TO FIGHTING WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION
The NATO Parliamentary Assembly closed its 48th session in Istanbul, Turkey, on 19 November. The assembly addressed the revision of NATO's mission in its "2002 Istanbul Declaration on NATO Transformation," posted on the assembly's website (http://www.naa.be). "NATO should now endorse defense against the threat of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, and particularly the threat of biological, chemical, or radiological agents, as a priority for the allies," according to the declaration. Meanwhile, German government sources told Berlin's ddp news agency on 19 November that NATO will issue a separate declaration in support of UN resolution 1441. An unidentified source said Germany would "fully support" the declaration, but added that the NATO declaration will not go so far as to offer NATO support for military action against Iraq, ddp reported. KR
LEBANON COMPILING LIST OF POSSIBLE ARAB INSPECTORS
Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud is reportedly compiling a list of potential Arab weapons inspectors, in coordination with other Arab states, "The Daily Star" reported on 19 November. Hammoud told reporters on 18 November that there are "Lebanese people with enough expertise to handle an arms inspector's job," and that he is in the process of contacting such people, many of whom live abroad, to request their services, the paper reported. KR
DENMARK CHARGES IRAQI GENERAL WITH WAR CRIMES
Danish police formally brought war crimes charges against an unidentified former Iraqi Army general on 19 November. "The purpose of the preliminary hearing is to determine whether there are specific grounds to assume that the former Iraqi general will undergo criminal proceedings in Denmark," Danish state Prosecutor Birgitte Vestberg said in a press release, Copenhagen's "Berlingske Tidende" reported on 19 November. Vestburg is investigating allegations that the general was involved in acts of genocide against Kurds in the late 1980s, Danish Radio reported the same day. The radio report speculated that the Danish authorities will request that the Iraqi, who currently lives in Denmark, be remanded into custody at the hearing. KR
IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER MEETS BLIX, BARADEI...
Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri met with UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Executive Chairman Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Muhammad El-Baradei in Baghdad on 19 November to discuss "views regarding the start of [the inspectors'] work," Iraqi TV reported the same day. Sabri reportedly told Blix and El-Baradei that "Iraqi parties" are ready to assist weapons inspectors, disprove U.S. allegations that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, and lift the "unfair embargo" on Iraq. KR
...AS IAEA CHIEF SAYS IRAQ WILL MEET DEADLINE
IAEA Director-General El-Baradei told Al-Jazeera television on 19 November that Iraq has pledged to declare its weapons of mass destruction by the 8 December deadline. El-Baradei said inspectors must determine whether Iraq restarted its nuclear program. Regarding chemical and biological weapons, El-Baradei told Al-Jazeera that when inspectors withdrew from Iraq in 1998, they "had not reached the conviction that Iraq submitted all the documents it should have submitted to confirm it had no chemical and biological weapons." El-Baradei said inspections will begin prior to the 8 December deadline. KR