|The soul that is within me no man can degrade. I am not the one that is being degraded on account of this treatment, but those who are infliciting it upon me. - Frederick Douglass|
RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 70, Part II, 12 April 1999
________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol 3, No. 70, Part II, 12 April 1999 A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL NewsLine and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * MECIAR TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT * RUSSIAN CONVOY TO YUGOSLAVIA BLOCKED AT HUNGARIAN BORDER * SERBIA SHELLS ALBANIA END NOTE: MOSCOW AND MINSK VIRTUALLY ALONE IN SUPPORT OF MILOSEVIC xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE VEGETABLES RATIONED IN BELARUSIAN CITY. The city authorities in Hrodna, northwestern Belarus, have introduced the rationed sale of vegetables, Belarusian Television reported on 10 April. According to the new regulation, one customer is not allowed to buy more than 5 kilograms of potatoes and/or 2 kg of cabbages, beets, or carrots in a city shop. According to the television report, the authorities were forced to introduce rationing because a "considerable part of [Hrodna Oblast] vegetable stocks" had already been sold to "commercial structures" (a term usually applied to non- state firms) without coordination with local authorities. JM LUKASHENKA TO PUNISH FARMERS NOT MEETING QUOTAS. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has signed a decree "on responsibility for [those] failing to fulfill supplies of agricultural products to the state," Belarusian Television reported on 8 April. Under the decree, collective farm managers who refuse to sign contracts with the state on agricultural supplies or fail to fulfill such contracts may be disciplined for a "gross violation of labor obligations." In particular, those avoiding to sign such contracts may be fined up to 200 minimum wages. Pre-paid state contracts for agricultural supplies--which usually set prices for agricultural products below their production cost--are the principal method of running the state-sponsored agricultural sector in Belarus. JM KUCHMA SAYS BELARUS-RUSSIA-YUGOSLAVIA UNION UNREALISTIC. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said on 10 April in Odessa that a proposal by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic for Belgrade to join the Belarusian-Russian Union is unrealistic. He added that Milosevic's request can be regarded as a "political measure for settling the Kosova crisis," Interfax reported. The previous day, Kuchma said Ukraine will not be drawn into the military conflict in the Balkans. "It is enough for Ukraine to have 12,000 boys killed in Afghanistan," he added. JM PUSTOVOYTENKO PUNISHES TAX INSPECTORS FOR POOR PERFORMANCE. Ukrainian Prime Minister Valeriy Pustovoytenko on 9 April ordered a cut in the salaries of tax inspectors after he was told they had failed to meet their tax collection target this year, AP reported. Finance Minister Ihor Mityukov reported that the state collected 3.4 billion hryvni ($865 million) in revenues in the first three months of 1999, or 82 percent of the target. The overall tax debt to the government has risen to 13.9 billion hryvni. JM UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT TO INVESTIGATE CHORNOVIL'S DEATH. The Supreme Council on 9 April set up a commission to investigate the death of Vyacheslav Chornovil, leader of the Popular Rukh of Ukraine and a former Soviet political prisoner and dissident (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 March 1999). Both parliamentary caucuses of the internally divided Rukh have demanded that Chornovil's death in a car crash be investigated, even though Interior Minister Yuriy Kravchenko has said the crash was accidental. JM JUSTICE MINISTRY DECLARES LATTELEKOM RATES VOID. The Justice Ministry on 9 April issued a statement confirming the validity of Minister of Transport Anatolijs Gorbunovs's 31 March decree revoking the Lattelekom phone rate approved by the Telecommunications Tariffs Council in January, LETA reported. The council had appealed to the Justice Ministry to rule on the legality of Gorbunovs's decree, which had argued that the higher phone rates are not in accordance with the law on telecommunications. Later on 9 April, the council's chairman, Raimonds Jonitis, told reporters that the council has adopted a decision reversing its approval of the new rates. He added that Lattelekom must comply with that decision. JC LATVIAN, LITHUANIAN FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET. Valdis Birkivs and Algirdas Saudargas met in the Lithuanian coastal resort of Palanga on 9 April to discuss bilateral relations and international issues, LETA reported. After the meeting, Birkivs told journalists that negotiations between Latvian and Lithuanian delegations on the common maritime border will continue at the end of the month. He said he hopes that an agreement will be signed before the end of this century but noted that he could give no guarantee. Bilateral talks on the Lithuanian-Latvian maritime border began some five years ago, with the main bone of contention being offshore oil deposits. JC POLISH PARLIAMENT PASSES LAW ON FORMER NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS. The parliament on 10 April passed a law setting "100-meter conservation zones" around former Nazi concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek. The law prohibits pursuing any activity within those zones. It is expected that the law will enable the government to resolve the Catholic- Jewish controversy around 240 crosses erected so far by radical Catholic groups near Auschwitz. Government officials hope the law will give them the right to terminate the lease on the land outside the camp--now held by the Association of War Veterans--and open the way for removing the crosses, as demanded by Jewish organizations. However, Catholic self-styled leader Kazimierz Switon--who has lived in a tent for a year near the controversial crosses--said he "will not be taken from here alive." A new cross was erected at the site on 11 April. JM RIGHTIST COALITION PARTY CRITICIZES POLISH CABINET. The Christian National Union (ZChN), a component of the coalition Solidarity Electoral Action (AWS), has criticized Jerzy Buzek's cabinet for not implementing the policies of the ZChN and the AWS as promised during the election campaign in 1997. The ZChN has set five conditions for its further support to and participation in the government. The ZChN demands that the government implement a "more family-oriented policy," protect domestic enterprises, support agriculture with preferential credits, make the penal code more restrictive, and--upon EU entry--gain access to the EU labor market for Polish workers and obtain subsidies equivalent to those in other EU countries. JM ZEMAN RE-ELECTED PARTY CHAIRMAN. The ruling Social Democratic Party's (CSSD) three-day National Congress on 10 April re-elected Prime Minister Milos Zeman as its chairman and Vladimir Spidla as "statutory deputy chairman," CTK reported. Spidla is widely tipped to be Zeman's "crown prince." The congress later re-elected Petra Buzkova, Zdenek Skromach, and Petr Lachnit deputy CSSD chairpersons, while Karel Kobes replaced Finance Minister Ivo Svoboda as deputy CSSD chairman in charge of the party's finances. A total of 341 (out of 620) delegates to the congress signed a letter to the Yugoslav embassy condemning NATO's "aggression" against Yugoslavia. Addressing the congress on 11 April, Foreign Minister Jan Kavan said that Prague was "not in favor" of ground operations in Yugoslavia. He praised the role of "Russian diplomacy" and said he hopes that Russian units will become part of an international peacekeeping force in Kosova. MS CZECH GOVERNMENT DISCUSSES KOSOVA CONFLICT. At what CTK called an "impromptu meeting" held during the congress, the cabinet reached a unanimous position ahead of the NATO meeting of 12 April on the continuation of operations in Yugoslavia, CTK reported. Kavan declined to give other details, saying the meeting was called at his request "so I can represent the united position of the government." At another, special cabinet meeting held on 11 April, the government decided to allocate one billion crowns ($28.4 million) in humanitarian aid to Kosova. MS MECIAR TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT. The Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) on 9 April announced that its chairman, former Premier Vladimir Meciar has "accepted the request" of "party organs and HZDS members" to run for president in the elections scheduled for 15 May, Reuters and AP reported. Analysts said Meciar stands a good chance to reach a runoff on 29 May, which will take place if no candidate scores more than 50 percent on 15 May. Before the HZDS announcement, polls showed that the strongest backing is registered by the ruling coalition's candidate, Kosice Mayor Rudolf Schuster, followed by former actress and ambassador to Austria, Magda Vasaryova. AP said eleven candidates had registered by midnight 9 April, when the registration deadline expired. Among them are former President Michal Kovac and Jan Slota, leader of the extremist Slovak National Party. MS SLOVAKIA TO ACCEPT 500 KOSOVA REFUGEES. The government on 9 April decided to allocate 80 million crowns ($2 million) for aid to Kosova refugees, including the possible setting up of a refugee camp for 500 people in Slovakia, CTK reported citing Interior Minister Ladislav Pittner. In other news, Interior Minister spokesman Jozef Sitar on 9 April said that four former members of the Slovak Counter-Intelligence (SIS) Service were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the kidnapping of Kovac's son in 1995, CTK reported. MS RUSSIAN CONVOY TO YUGOSLAVIA BLOCKED AT HUNGARIAN BORDER. A convoy of 73 trucks carrying "humanitarian aid" to Yugoslavia from Russia and Belarus was held up at the Ukrainian-Hungarian border on 10 April, after custom officials found that some of the vehicles and their cargo violate the UN embargo against Yugoslavia, Hungarian media reported. The officials said that five lorries had armored cabins equipped with embrasures, while eight other were carrying nearly 57 tons of fuel. Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Horvath said that if the Russians withdraw these parts, the convoy can move on. Russian Emergency Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Budapest on 12 April. Before leaving Moscow, he said that Budapest was breaking international agreements by stopping the convoy and that President Boris Yeltsin and the government were "extremely disturbed by Hungary's position." Yeltsin and Premier Yevgenii Primakov on 12 April discussed the blocking of the convoy, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that "if there is not a solution in the coming hours, it will have the most serious results for Russian-Hungarian relations," Reuters reported. MSZ/MS SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBIA SHELLS ALBANIA. Serbian forces and guerrillas of the Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) exchanged fire in the Tropoja area of the border between 9 and 11 April. Yugoslav military authorities warned Tirana in a statement on 10 April not to harbor "terrorists." The text added that "Albania and its terrorist proteges will be responsible for the consequences of a possible flare- up of the war in the Balkans." The next day, Serbian forces shelled Albanian territory, killing three and wounding 12, some of whom were civilians, dpa reported. It was the first killing of Albanian civilians in the conflict. On 12 April, Serbian forces seriously wounded three UCK fighters and an unidentified foreign journalist in the Padesh area. FS ALBANIA WARNS SERBIA. On 12 April, Interior Minister Petro Koci said in Tirana that "NATO needs to intervene to neutralize the Serbian artillery near the border with Albania, because it has been firing in the direction of Albanian territory in the last few days," Reuters reported. Earlier, the government issued a statement in which it condemned the killings as "an unprecedented act and a grave violation of the territorial integrity" of Albania. The text added that the government sharply condemns "the dangerous escalation of military activities of Yugoslavia against Albanian territory." The government said that citizens will resist aggression and that the authorities are working "to guarantee security and inviolability of the territory of the country." FS TIRANA GIVES 'FULL AUTHORITY' TO NATO. The Albanian parliament passed a law on 9 April in which it gave the Atlantic alliance "full authority" over the country's air space, ports and military infrastructure. Two days later, Foreign Minister Paskal Milo said that Albania urges NATO to send more troops to its territory. Some 8,000 NATO troops are due in Albania soon as part of the humanitarian relief effort known as "Operation Allied Harbor." FS WHERE ARE THE 'MISSING 100,000'? Unnamed British officials said in London on 11 April that some 100,000 Kosovar males remain unaccounted for, AP reported. The officials said that typical calculations for such population movements suggest that some 35 percent of the refugees arriving in neighboring countries should be males, but in fact at some border crossings the figure has been as low as 10 percent. The males may have been taken hostage by Serbian forces, may have taken to the hills to fight, or may have been massacred by the Serbian forces, "The Independent" wrote on 12 April. Two days earlier, the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" suggested that the Pentagon has released very little of its intelligence regarding massacres in Kosova, even to NATO allies. PM COOK: 400,000 DISPLACED PERSONS. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said in London on 11 April that he spoke by telephone to UCK leader Hashim Thaci, who told him that some 400,000 Kosovars are living rough in snowy weather. Cook stressed that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for making these people "victims of ethnic cleansing." Cook added that Milosevic has turned Kosova into a "place of terror." In Brussels on 10 April, NATO spokesmen said that Serbian forces have destroyed some 200 towns and villages in the province. Meanwhile, Serbian forces selectively opened and closed Morina and other border crossing points over the weekend. There was no clearly discernible pattern behind the openings and closures, the BBC noted. Refugees uniformly told the same story of eviction, humiliation, robbery, and expulsion. PM RAMBOUILLET AS HISTORY? Cook said in London on 9 April that he does "not expect many of the refugees who have been expelled from the country to be willing to return in circumstances in which the people who carried out their expulsion are still in posts" of influence in Kosova. He stressed that "we should be looking for something further than we envisaged in [the] Rambouillet" accords. Two days later, Cook added that Kosova will need "a period...under the protection of an international military force." PM BOMBINGS HAVING AN EFFECT? NATO Secretary General Javier Solana told the BBC on 11 April that Serbian forces and Milosevic's political entourage are "cracking up" as a result of the bombing campaign. Observers noted that recent footage of Milosevic and his top aides broadcast by Serbian Television suggests that they are drawn out. In Belgrade, Telecommunications Minister Dojcilo Radojevic said that the telecommunications system is functioning only "with great difficulty." Milosevic, for his part, urged citizens "to work harder and better in response to the aggression." PM MASKED GUNMEN KILL SERBIAN JOURNALIST. Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Slavko Curuvija on 11 April 11 in Belgrade after a pro-Milosevic paper accused him of supporting NATO air strikes, the "Washington Post" reported. His girlfriend, who was present at the killing, said that the men appeared to be professional assassins. He was the publisher of the banned daily "Telegraf" and weekly "Evropljanin." PM TAIWAN SENDS MILITARY ENGINEERS TO MACEDONIA. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Taipei on 12 April that Taiwan is sending about $5 million worth of food, medicine, shelter, ambulances, and jeeps to Macedonia, in addition to the $2 million in cash that the Republic of China's government has already donated, AP reported. Deputy Foreign Minister David Lee is slated to depart for Macedonia later in the day with a delegation that includes seven doctors as well as numerous nurses, pharmacists, and volunteers from local charities. Also present are six soldiers from the military's engineering corps. The news agency noted that this is the first time that Taiwan has sent a military mission to Europe. PM MORE REFUGEES REACH MONTENEGRO. Some 2,000 Kosovar refugees arrived in Montenegro on 11 April. This brings the total to reach that mountainous republic since 24 March to 43,000, Reuters reported. PM DJUKANOVIC TO MILOSEVIC: KEEP OUT. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic told "The Daily Telegraph" of 12 April that he believes that Milosevic and his Montenegrin allies "intend to use the war situation to manipulate and use the army which, under the pretext of a state of war, will engage in confrontation with the civilian authorities and impose martial law. This would create the conditions that, after the war, would allow Milosevic finally to achieve his goal of reinstating the obedient [former President Momir] Bulatovic to power in Montenegro." Djukanovic warned Milosevic that any attempt to stage a coup "would be a much more tragic and much more profound conflict in Montenegro than simply one between the army and the [pro-Djukanovic] police. This would be a confrontation between the citizens of Montenegro, one against the other, with all the passions and emotions of which people in this area are capable," Reuters reported. PM MONTENEGRO REJECTS ARMY ORDER AGAINST REBROADCASTING. The Montenegrin government on 10 April turned down a demand made by the command of the Yugoslav Second Army the previous day that Podgorica ban the rebroadcasting of foreign radio programs in Serbo-Croatian. The Montenegrin Information Secretariat said in a statement that there is "no reason" to ban the broadcasts, "which have in no way adversely affected national defense," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 11 April. The Serbian authorities banned rebroadcasting of foreign programs, including those of RFE/RL, last October. Elsewhere in Montenegro, Radio Panorama in the Sandzak town of Pljevlja stopped broadcasting after the entire staff was drafted into the army, the South Slavic Service added. PM U.S. CONFIRMS ASSURANCES FOR CROATIA. President Bill Clinton recently informed Secretary of State Madeleine Albright that he has reclassified Croatia as a "front- line" state in the Balkan conflict. The reclassification will entitle Zagreb to unspecified defense equipment and services, Reuters reported on 9 April. Croatia will be able to buy military equipment on a license-by-license basis. Clinton noted recent moves by the Croatian government "to increase the transparency of the military budget and enhance civilian control of the military." A State Department spokesman said that Washington hopes that Zagreb will continue to make progress in these areas. PM CROATIA SENDS AID FOR KOSOVARS. The government approved a $2.6 million humanitarian aid package for Kosovar refugees in Albania and Macedonia, AP reported on 10 April. The Roman Catholic charity Caritas has collected a further $500,000 worth of aid. Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa said that his country already provides a home for 5,000 Kosovar refugees and can only take in an additional "limited number." He stressed that Croatia still houses 90,000 refugees and displaced persons from the Croatian and Bosnian wars of 1991-1995. He did not indicate how many more Kosovars Croatia will accept. Kosovars have long been a part of the Croatian landscape and predominate in certain professions, such as sweet- shop owners. PM ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SAYS KOSOVA COULD BE PARTITIONED. Andrei Plesu, in an interview with state radio on 9 April, said partitioning Kosova may satisfy some of Belgrade's "historic and symbolic" demands, while also "providing some satisfaction to the Albanians, who could be concentrated in the southern part of the region." The statement met with harsh criticism from the opposition Party of Social Democracy in Romania, which on 10 April called it "unacceptable and irresponsible." Plesu also said that Romania could host up to 6,000 Kosovar refugees and has already prepared facilities for 1,300-1,500, but would need international help to do so. He said that Romania's losses as a result of the crisis amount to $50 million weekly. MS NEW DATE SET FOR SUMMIT ON TRANSDNIESTER. Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 10 April announced that the summit on resolving the Transdniester conflict, which was postponed due to Russian Premier Yevgenii Primakov's illness last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 April 1999), will be held on 29-30 April, Romanian radio reported citing ITAR-TASS. On 9 April, Grigorii Marakutsa, chairman of the separatist region's Supreme Soviet, met in Chisinau with Moldovan parliament chairman Dumitru Diacov, discussing the settlement of the conflict and energy deliveries from the Transdniester to Moldova. Marakutsa said after the talks that the proposals advanced by the OSCE and the mediators are "unacceptable" to the Transdniester side and "other alternatives will probably be examined in Kyiv and Odessa," RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Romania renewed electricity supplies after receiving assurances from Moldovan Premier Ion Sturza that Chisinau's debt will be paid "within the shortest possible time." MS BULGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES GOVERNMENT TO ACCEPT MORE REFUGEES. Petar Stoyanov on 9 April appealed to the government to accept more Kosova refugees, saying Bulgaria must "fulfill its obligations" under the Convention on the Status of the Refugees and expressing concern over "statements by politicians and journalists" that "create a nourishing environment for xenophobia." Stoyanov also said Bulgaria must not "erect internal Balkan fences based on ethnic and religious principles," an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. MS BULGARIAN PATRIARCH PYMEN DEAD. Patriarch Pymen died on 10 April of cardiac failure. He was aged 92, AP reported citing BTA. Since 1991, the Bulgarian Orthodox Church has been split between supporters of Pymen and those who backed Patriarch Maxim. Pymen was proclaimed patriarch in 1996 by Maxim's opponents, who accused Maxim of collaboration with the communist regime. MS. END NOTE MOSCOW AND MINSK VIRTUALLY ALONE IN SUPPORT OF MILOSEVIC By Pete Baumgartner The vehement opposition by the governments of Russia and Belarus to NATO's air campaign in Yugoslavia has placed them in a small group of countries within Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union that tend to support Belgrade over NATO in the Kosova crisis. Though the three newest members of NATO--the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland--obviously back the alliance's actions in Yugoslavia, absolute support has not been forthcoming in every case. The weakest link for NATO has been in Prague. Though Czech President Vaclav Havel has spoken strongly in support of the air strikes, the governing Social Democrats (CSSD) have made only lukewarm statements in favor of NATO's actions. Additionally, on 10 April 341 delegates at a CSSD conference in Prague signed a letter condemning the NATO air campaign. Among conservatives, parliament speaker and former Premier Vaclav Klaus said on 8 April that the air strikes "were not the right policy," and that since the bombing began "the suffering in Kosova has increased manifold." The rival Freedom Union party called for Klaus to be dismissed as speaker for "severely damaging the Czech Republic's credibility and prestige within NATO." Hungary, the only NATO country that shares a border with Yugoslavia, has solidly endorsed NATO action. So much so, in fact, that one ethnic Hungarian leader in Serbia's Vojvodina region said Budapest's "extreme" support for the air strikes could have negative consequences for ethnic Hungarians there. Hungarian Premier Viktor Orban even spoke favorably of NATO's bombing of the bridges spanning the Danube River in Novi Sad, despite the fact that Hungarian companies will suffer substantial economic losses as a result of the stoppage in shipping traffic the bridge debris has caused. (Orban reasons that destruction of the bridge will help prevent Yugoslav troops stationed in Vojvodina, which includes many ethnic Hungarians, from being transferred to Kosova.) In Warsaw, official backing for the air campaign has been solid, and only a small group of pacifist Catholic deputies and the Peasant Party have spoken against the NATO operation. Polish Foreign Minister Bronislaw Geremek gave an impassioned speech to parliament in support of air strikes on 9 April, and former President Lech Walesa even called for the alliance to send in ground troops. Perhaps even more vocal than the fledgling NATO members in their support for military action against Yugoslavia are the seven countries striving to be part of the next wave of NATO expansion: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuanian, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. These countries sent a joint letter to U.S. President Bill Clinton on 9 April expressing their full support for action necessary to end "...the suffering and violence in Kosova." In Bratislava, Slovak Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda called the decision to bomb Yugoslavia the lesser "of two evils." But the party of former Premier Vladimir Meciar called the air strikes "modern barbarism" in parliament on 25 March and declared its "solidarity" with Yugoslavia. In Bulgaria and Romania, government backing for NATO's actions faces harsh criticism from the major opposition parties--criticism that resonates somewhat within the public, who are uncomfortable with the close proximity of the military operations and who feel for the ethnic Romanian and ethnic Bulgarian minorities living in Serbia. Though the government of Bulgarian Premier Ivan Kostov supported the strikes, it was criticized in some Western circles for closing its borders to all Yugoslav refugees except ethnic Bulgarians. Romania and Bulgaria also stand to lose millions of dollars from the shutdown in shipping on the Danube, something the threadbare economies of those countries can ill afford. The Moldovan Foreign Ministry said on 25 March that it notes that the Atlantic alliance's decision to use force was "to a large extent imposed by the irreconcilable position" of one side in the conflict, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. Croatian officials, whose country has not yet been accepted into NATO's Partnership for Peace program, have publicly supported NATO. In Bosnia-Herzegovina, pledges of official support for either Yugoslavia or NATO fall largely, predictably, along ethnic lines. Leaders in both countries no doubt feel a touch of schadenfreude that Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is enduring the kind of destruction that other former Yugoslav republics experienced during the 1991-1995 wars of Yugoslav succession. In Kyiv, government officials have mixed condemnations of NATO air strikes, with calls for resumed negotiations. The Defense Ministry also maintained that "strong relations with NATO are within Ukraine's interests." And despite virulent statements by deputies against NATO, resolutions reducing ties with NATO as well as one calling for Ukraine to renege on its nuclear-free status have failed to pass a largely leftist parliament. President Leonid Kuchma has also turned down all calls for military aid to be sent to Belgrade and called Yugoslavia's proposal to join the Belarusian-Russian Union "unrealistic." In the Caucasus, both Armenia and Georgia expressed disappointment at the failure of negotiations to solve the conflict and concern at the decision by the alliance to use force against Yugoslavia. Most political groups in Yerevan spoke against the air strikes, though the Foreign Ministry said on 25 March that "Armenia has always stood up for the right of peoples to self- determination." Though on the same day, its defense minister signed a CIS joint statement in Moscow calling the NATO air strikes "inhuman." Meanwhile, the People's Front of Azerbaijan Party praised NATO actions against Yugoslavia "...which has committed genocide against Albanians." It said that "the same policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out against Azerbaijanis living in...Nagorno-Karabakh" and was hopeful that "such [NATO] action will be carried out against Armenia..." The Central Asian states have been relatively quiet and ever cautious in their official statements regarding the Kosova conflict. Kazakhstan neither endorsed nor condemned the air strikes but did call for Yugoslav forces to withdraw from Kosova. The Tajik Foreign Ministry condemned the air campaign as "destabilizing the global situation." So while Belgrade knows it has little support in the West, unequivocal support in the East is also rare. Though in a global sense, Yugoslavia appears to be doing alright: Yugoslav Deputy Foreign Minister Zoran Novakovic pointed out on 9 April that Russia, China, and India oppose the NATO military campaign, and those countries "account for a majority of the world's population," he said. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1999 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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