|The fool wonders, the wise man asks. - Benjamin Disraeli|
Vol 1, No. 67, Part I, 7 July 1997
Vol 1, No. 67, Part I, 7 July 1997 Note to readers: the RFE/RL Web Site will be providing detailed coverage of NATO's Madrid Summit from 8-9 July. News updates, analysis, and RealAudio will be posted on the following page: http://www.rferl.org/nca/special/madrid-nato/index.html This is Part I of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Newsline. Part I is a compilation of news concerning Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia. Part II, covering Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe, is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine are available through RFE/RL's WWW pages: http://www.rferl.org/newsline/search/ Back issues of the OMRI Daily Digest are available through OMRI's WWW pages: http://www.omri.cz/ xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part I *FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LAND CODE *RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN TREATY ON FRIENDSHIP, COOPERATION *PROGRESS IN GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS End Note WHY ONLY THREE COUNTRIES WILL LIKELY BE INCLUDED IN FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx RUSSIA FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES LAND CODE... The Federation Council on 3 July approved by 107 to zero a new land code prohibiting the purchase and sale of farmland, Russian news agencies reported. Ilya Yuzhanov, chairman of the State Committee on Land Resources and Land Tenure, said President Boris Yeltsin is certain to veto the code, which Yuzhanov called "reactionary" (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 June 1997). At a cabinet meeting the same day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin ordered Yuzhanov's committee to draft four presidential decrees and two government directives on land reform. The issue can be regulated by decrees and directives as long as no land code has been signed into law. Also on 3 July, the Council overrode by 135 to nine with four abstentions a presidential veto of a law on state regulation of the agro-industrial complex. The Duma overrode Yeltsin's veto of that law on 19 June. ...PASSES LAW ON PRIVATIZATION. The Federation Council on 3 June approved a law on privatization allowing the state to appropriate privatized property without compensating new owners if they failed to meet either investment commitments or social obligations to employees, ITAR-TASS reported. The law would also give the state a veto at shareholder meetings of "strategically important" privatized enterprises and require the government to submit its privatization plans for parliamentary approval (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1997). LAW RESTRICTING SOME RELIGIOUS GROUPS PASSED. The Federation Council on 4 July approved the controversial law "on freedom of conscience and religious associations" by 112 to 4 with one abstention, Russian news agencies reported. The law would limit the activities of foreign missionaries and grant unregistered "religious groups" fewer rights than accredited "all-Russian religious organizations," such as Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism. Human rights activists protest that it would punish some minority groups and sects that were banned during the Soviet period (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 and 30 June 1997). However, Kaluga Oblast Governor Valerii Sudarenkov, who chairs the Federation Council's Committee on Science, Culture, Education, Health, and Ecology, argued the law is needed to "protect society from the massive expansion of pseudo-religious cults and organizations that through their proselytizing endanger individual rights and freedoms and the health of citizens." LIST OF SITES FOR PRODUCTION-SHARING AGREEMENTS APPROVED. The Federation Council on 3 July approved a law authorizing five oil and gas fields, one gold mine, and one iron ore deposit for development under production-sharing agreements, Russian news agencies reported. Deputies approved the production-sharing list by 127 to 11 with 10 abstentions. Yeltsin is expected to sign the law, clearing the way for foreign companies to invest in the seven sites in exchange for a portion of the natural resources extracted in the future. Supporters of the law estimate that up to $16.5 billion may be invested in the approved sites over the next 20 years. UPPER HOUSE TO APPEAL TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AGAINST PRESIDENTIAL VETOES. The Federation Council voted unanimously on 4 July to appeal to the Constitutional Court against Yeltsin's actions over the laws on trophy art and the government, Interfax reported. The trophy art law would prohibit the transfer to foreign countries of cultural valuables seized during World War II, and the law on the government would require the entire cabinet to step down if the prime minister resigned or was sacked. Yeltsin recently vetoed both laws for a second time, charging that the State Duma and Council had used unconstitutional voting procedures to obtain the two-thirds majority needed to override his earlier vetoes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 July 1997). LAWS ON COOPERATION WITH IRAQ, LIBYA REJECTED. The Federation Council on 4 July rejected laws sponsored by Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia calling for increased cooperation with Iraq and Libya, Russian news agencies reported. One law would have resumed purchases from Iraq of oil and petroleum products and sales to Iraq of Russian equipment and spare parts. The other would have allowed Russian companies to sell any product other than weaponry to Libya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 and 16 June 1997). Foreign Ministry spokesman Valerii Nesterushkin praised the Council's decision, saying Russia must not violate international sanctions. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov met with Iraqi National Council Chairman Saadoun Hammadi on 3 July and said the two countries are preparing to resume cooperation after sanctions against Iraq are lifted, Interfax reported. Hammadi was in Moscow following an invitation from the Federation Council. SUPPLY SHIP DOCKS WITH "MIR." The "Progress-35" cargo ship docked with the damaged "Mir" space station at 7:59 a.m. Central European time on 7 July, Russian media reported. "Progress-35" is carrying the necessary parts for the temporary repair of the station's "spektr" module as well as regular supplies. Repair work will not begin for 10 days or so to allow technicians on Earth to further study possible repair techniques in underwater simulation facilities. BRITISH AID WORKERS ABDUCTED IN CHECHNYA. A British couple engaged in relief work in Chechnya were abducted in Grozny on 3 July, Russian agencies reported. Three days later, President Aslan Maskhadov ordered the creation of a special anti-kidnapping unit with "unlimited powers," according to AFP. Maskhadov has already warned that kidnappers who are brought to trial face a possible death penalty. RUSSIA, AZERBAIJAN SIGN TREATY ON FRIENDSHIP, COOPERATION. Yeltsin and Heidar Aliev on 3 July signed a treaty on friendship, cooperation, and security that provides for the promotion of international security systems and respect for the territorial integrity of both countries, Russian and Western agencies reported. Five intergovernmental agreements were also signed. Yeltsin subsequently told Interfax that he and Aliev had "resolutely solved" all outstanding problems in bilateral relations but that some issues remain to be clarified. Aliev said the next day that Moscow's refusal to extradite former President Ayaz Mutalibov is "inconsistent with the close and friendly ties that bind our countries," according to Interfax. Aliev had met on 3 July with Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev but failed to reach agreement on Russia's continued use of the Gabala early-warning radar station in northern Azerbaijan. YELTSIN CALLS FOR CONFERENCE ON NAGORNO-KARABAKH... Following his talks with Aliev, Yeltsin said he has reached agreement with his U.S. and French counterparts, Bill Clinton and Jacques Chirac, to convene a meeting with the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan on ending the Karabakh conflict, Interfax and Reuters reported. Yeltsin said he instructed Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov to pay greater attention to the issue. Armenian presidential adviser Zhirair Liparitian told Interfax on 4 July that he welcomes Yeltsin's proposal for a conference of the five presidents plus representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh. Two days earlier, Armenian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arsen Gasparyan had called on the U.S., France and Russia as co-chairmen of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group to press for direct talks between Baku and the Nagorno-Karabakh leadership, Noyan Tapan reported. ...AND TRILATERAL COMMISSION TO INVESTIGATE ARMS SUPPLIES. Yeltsin also proposed to Aliev that a commission of Russian, Azerbaijani, and Armenian deputy prime ministers be set up to investigate the allegations of illegal Russian arms supplies to Armenia, Turan and Interfax reported. Aliev denied that Azerbaijan had received any weaponry from Russia. Russian Defense Minister Igor Sergeev said after his talks with Aliev on 4 July that Russia will not send any more arms to either Azerbaijan or Armenia until the Karabakh conflict is resolved. AGREEMENT ON EARLY OIL "IMMINENT." Aliev also discussed the export via Chechnya of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil during his talks with Yeltsin, First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov, and Russian Security Council secretary Ivan Rybkin, Russian agencies reported. Nemtsov told journalists on 4 July that a corresponding agreement will shortly be signed by the presidents of the Russian pipeline company Transneft, the Chechen state oil company Yunko, and the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR. CHERNOMYRDIN IN GERMANY. During a two-day visit to Berlin, Prime Minister Chernomyrdin suggested to German officials that Russian and Germany could have joint jurisdiction over some disputed trophy art transported to the USSR during World War II, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 July. Chernomyrdin said he wanted to settle the restitution problem in a "civilized fashion," and he criticized the trophy art law recently passed by the Russian parliament. In meetings with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and German President Roman Herzog, Chernomyrdin also called for more German investment in Russia and repeated Moscow's opposition to NATO expansion. Addressing a symposium in Berlin on 4 July, Kohl commented that the "German-Russian relationship is better than ever before in history," AFP reported. CHAIRMAN OUTLINES PLANS FOR ELECTRICITY GIANT. Boris Brevnov, the chairman of the board of Unified Energy Systems (EES) and an ally of First Deputy Prime Minister Nemtsov, addressed a cabinet meeting on 3 July, Russian news agencies reported. Brevnov asked the government to shorten the list of consumers that can buy electricity at discount rates as well as the list of organizations and enterprises to which power cannot be cut. Brevnov also said EES plans to raise $1.25 billion this year by issuing convertible bonds and seeks to reduce the government stake in the company from 52.3 percent to 50 percent plus one share, Interfax reported. The Duma recently passed a law that would require the government to retain a 51 percent stake in EES (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997). According to Interfax, EES holds controlling stakes in 72 regional utilities, which produce about 75 percent of total Russian electricity. "IZVESTIYA" EDITOR SACKED. The board of directors of "Izvestiya" voted on 4 July to sack editor-in-chief Igor Golembiovskii. "Kommersant-Daily" suggested that the board was displeased with recent articles on the activities of Stolichnyi and Menatep banks, for which Golembiovskii assumed personal responsibility (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 and 3 July 1997). The board also approved a process for selecting Golembiovskii's successor that is expected to reduce the influence of the paper's journalists. Meanwhile, "Izvestiya" on 5 July published a letter from First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais refuting allegations published in the newspaper on 1 July. Chubais said he would have expected to see such accusations published in the opposition paper "Sovetskaya Rossiya." He noted that he had personally helped "Izvestiya" fend off attempts by the opposition-dominated Supreme Soviet to take over the paper in 1992. TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA PROGRESS IN GEORGIAN-ABKHAZ TALKS. Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Berezovskii returned to Moscow on 3 July following three days of shuttle diplomacy between Tbilisi and Sukhumi, Russian and Western agencies reported. Both Berezovskii and Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba said they were satisfied with the ongoing talks. Berezovskii told journalists on 3 July that agreement has been reached on a mechanism, but not a specific timetable, for the repatriation of ethnic Georgians who fled Abkhazia in 1992-3. Neither he nor Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze divulged any details, however. Interfax on 4 July quoted an unidentified source in Moscow as claiming that talks in Moscow last month between Russian, Abkhaz, and Georgian representatives resulted in almost complete agreement on a protocol on resolving the conflict. Berezovskii said the signing of that document "will not be delayed." GEORGIAN SECURITY MINISTER RESIGNS. Shevardnadze on 5 July accepted the resignation of Security Minister Shota Kviraya, Russian and Western agencies reported. Opposition parliamentary deputies have accused Kviraya of black-marketeering, telephone-tapping, and shooting six men suspected of looting. Kviraya has rejected the accusation as "lies and insults." The following day, Shevardnadze named Deputy Security Minister Maj.-Gen. Guram Gakhokidze as acting security minister. TURKMENISTAN PROTESTS CREATION OF NEW CASPIAN CONSORTIUM. The Russian oil companies LUKoil and Rosneft will have 30 percent and 20 percent holdings, respectively, in a consortium to explore and develop the Kyapaz oil field, 145 km east of Baku on the border between the Azerbaijani and Turkmen sectors of the Caspian Sea, Turan reported on 4 July. The Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR will have the remaining 50 percent. The presidents of the three companies signed a corresponding agreement in Moscow on 4 July after talks between Aliev and Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov. The following day, the Turkmen Foreign Ministry issued a statement disputing Azerbaijan's ownership of the deposit and demanding the immediate annulment of the agreement, Interfax reported. AFGHAN REFUGEES RETURN FROM TURKMENISTAN. Most of the 8,000 Afghan refugees who fled to Turkmenistan at the end of June and early July have returned to their villages in northern Afghanistan, according to Interfax and Reuters. Fighting between forces of the Taliban militia and Anti-Taliban coalition led by Gen. Abdul Malik has virtually ceased, allowing the refugees to return home. Conditions in the refugee camp in Turkmenistan were poor; 14 are reported to have died there and five are too ill to return. More than100 young men who do not wish to go back are currently being interviewed by the UNHCR's protection officer. JAPANESE DELEGATION VISITS KAZAKSTAN. A Japanese delegation led by Keizo Obuchi, the head of the Economic Cooperation Committee of Japan's ruling Liberal-Democratic Party, pledged on 4 July to assist Kazakstan in its efforts to join the Asian-Pacific Cooperation Organization. Obuchi said Tokyo wants to participate in pipeline projects that will bring oil and gas from Kazakstan to China. He told journalists there are no obstacles to developing relations between Japan and Kazakstan and that Japan plans to increase investment in Kazakstan. Japan's Eximbank will finance 15 projects in Kazakstan and has increased the funds to finance those ventures to $6 billion, he added. Meanwhile, the IMF has announced that, based on Kazakstan's progress toward reforms in 1996, it will allocate some $1.35 billion instead of $200 million. DEMONSTRATION IN BISHKEK. Some 400 people took part in a demonstration outside the government building on 7 July to protest the arrest two days earlier of Nurlan Alymkulov, leader of the Yntymak movement, for planning a public rally, RFE/RL correspondents in Bishkek reported. Yntymak represents the young, unemployed, and homeless people of the Kyrgyz capital. The police asked the demo nstrators to disband, telling them that Alymkulov has requested they do not hold any demonstration. When police attempted to take into custody Tursunbek Akunov, the chairman of Kyrgyzstan's Human Rights Movement, several women intervened to prevent them from doing so. The police then began using force to disperse the crowd. One woman has been hospitalized. This is the fourth demonstration in Bishkek in just over a month. END NOTE WHY ONLY THREE COUNTRIES WILL LIKELY BE INCLUDED IN FIRST WAVE OF NATO ENLARGEMENT by Michael Mihalka NATO will likely invite only three countries--the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland--to join the alliance at the Madrid summit on 8-9 July. Several NATO members wanted to extend an invitation to Slovenia and Romania, but the United States has made it clear that it would like the first wave of NATO enlargement to be small. The U.S. government's decision says a great deal about the current dynamics of European security. First, by restricting the first wave to the three Central European countries, the U.S. has removed the Baltic States' candidacy from the security agenda for the time being. Both Washington and Bonn wish to avoid needlessly antagonizing Moscow, which strongly objects to NATO enlarging to include countries from the former Soviet Union. Russia acquiesced to the first wave of enlargement by signing the Russia-NATO Founding Act, which states that NATO has neither plans nor reasons to deploy nuclear weapons or foreign troops on the territory of the new members. Russia has interpreted this to also mean that NATO will not build any new infrastructure there either. Second, the U.S. government is particularly concerned about how the debate on enlargement will unfold in the Senate. To date, the NATO enlargement process has failed to prompt a public debate in the U.S. This is surprising, since enlargement will entail not only clear obligations but also costs that have not yet been determined. Third, many feel that Romanian democracy and economic reform, despite having made significant progress in the last year, need more time to take root before that country can be considered for NATO membership. The government of Vladimir Meciar in Slovakia has come under fire from both the EU and U.S. for its anti-democratic tendencies. And in Sofia, it is only recently that a center-right government in favor of NATO membership has been reinstalled to replace the Socialists, who had shown greater interest in siding with Moscow. Fourth, while few observers dispute Slovenia's democratic credentials and its economic successes (despite lagging behind other countries in the region with regard to privatization), some point out that, with its population of some 2 million, it is unlikely to make much of a military contribution to the alliance. That argument has also been made against the candidacy of the Baltic States, whose prospects for NATO entry would be undercut by Slovenia's inclusion. Fifth, the admission of Romania and Slovenia would cause a shift in the strategic focus of the alliance to southeastern Europe. This is one of the reasons that countries like Italy, Turkey, and Greece have been supporting Bucharest and Ljubljana. However, the implications of such a shift have not yet been thought through. And in the meantime, NATO's continued participation in Bosnia following the expiry of SFOR's mandate remains in doubt. Sixth, the Madrid summit will cover a number of topics that will command the attention of the alliance. These include the enlargement of NATO's integrated military structure to include Spain and possibly France. Finally, the alliance will also embark on an enhanced Partnership for Peace program to promote integration with those countries that are not be invited to join in the first wave. Planning cells will be set up in NATO headquarters in which the military from partnership countries will be invited to participate. The North Atlantic Cooperation Council has already been transformed into the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, which has increased responsibilities. Thus, enlargement of the alliance to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland will take place at a time of considerable change within the alliance. Those three countries have sound democratic and economic credentials, and their accession to NATO will not significantly alter the alliance's strategic focus. The author teaches at the George C. Marshall Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1997 RFE/RL, Inc. 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