MINELRES: RFE/RL Newsline on minority issues

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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 145, Part II, 2 August 2004

ETHNIC ALBANIANS IN SOUTHERN SERBIA SEEK AUTONOMY. The leaders of the
three main ethnic Albanian opposition parties in southern Serbia
announced in Presevo on 30 July that they have agreed on a joint
program calling for regional autonomy for the Presevo Valley with the
right to join Kosova, with which the area was linked in pre-communist
times, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported.
The leaders said that the unspecified "anti-Albanian activities of
the Serbian authorities" left them with no choice. Many ethnic
Albanians still refer to the region as "eastern Kosova." In Belgrade,
Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica's advisers Slobodan Samardzic and
Aleksandar Simic said that the proposed program is unnecessary,
adding that the situation of the Albanians in the Presevo Valley
cannot be compared to that of the Serbs in Kosova, which is far
worse. Dusan Janjic of Belgrade's Forum for Ethnic Relations said
that the proposed platform resembles that of the former guerrillas in
the region and could lead to a serious crisis. PM

SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO'S FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON SERBS TO VOTE IN
KOSOVA'S ELECTION. Vuk Draskovic said in Belgrade on 31 July that
members of Kosova's Serbian minority should vote in the province's 23
October parliamentary elections, the "Southeast European Times"
reported. He said that plans by some local Serbian leaders and
Serbian Prime Minister Kostunica for the Serbian minority to boycott
the vote help nobody. Draskovic called on Serbs to protect their
interests by filling the up to 30 seats to which they are entitled to
in Kosova's legislature. The previous day in Brussels, a spokeswoman
for EU foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana stressed that
participating in the elections is the best way for all ethnic groups
to defend their respective interests, RFE/RL's South Slavic and
Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30
July 2004). The OSCE announced in Prishtina on 1 August that 4 August
is the deadline for political parties to register to participate in
the 23 October vote. PM

MOLDOVA MAKES GOOD ON ULTIMATUM TO IMPOSE ECONOMIC SANCTIONS ON
TRANSDNIESTER... The Moldovan government announced on 30 July that it
stopped issuing export certificates for Transdniester-based companies
on 1 August, Infotag reported. The cabinet thus made good on its
ultimatum to impose economic sanctions on the separatist region if
the problem of schools teaching Moldovan (Romanian) with the Latin
script is not solved (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 2004). The
decision was made at a cabinet meeting chaired by President Vladimir
Voronin. Voronin said at the meeting that it is misleading to call
the measures an economic blockade against Tiraspol. He said
Transdniester-based companies that have registered in Moldova in line
with legal requirements will be able to continue trading without
problems but those that failed to do so would no longer be issued
export certificates. MS

....WHILE TIRASPOL ANNOUNCES RESTRICTIONS ON GRAIN EXPORTS...
Reacting to the Moldovan economic sanctions, Transdniester separatist
leader Igor Smirnov on 1 August signed a decree prohibiting
agricultural enterprises in Transdniester with debts to the budget
from exporting grain without the authorities' permission, ITAR-TASS
reported. The decree also bans the sale of bread to buyers based
outside the separatist region. On 31 July, the Tiraspol authorities
proposed the resumption of negotiations with Chisinau. A statement
issued by the separatist "Foreign Ministry" appealed to the Moldovan
leadership and the three mediators (Russia, Ukraine, and the
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) calling for a
"civilized dialogue" within the framework of the five-sided
negotiations. At the same time, the statement accused Moldova of
intending to settle the conflict by force and charged that Chisinau
has escalated the dispute over the closed schools. On 1 August,
ITAR-TASS cited Moldovan Reintegration Minister Vasilii Sova as
saying, "If the leaders in Tiraspol want to begin negotiations, they
must agree to the proposals made on 27 July by the mediators to
diffuse tension." MS

....AS MOSCOW EXPRESSES 'DEEP CONCERN' OVER CONFLICT'S ESCALATION.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 30 July it was
"deeply concerned over the continuing deterioration in relations
between Chisinau and Tiraspol," Infotag reported. The ministry said
the escalation of the conflict is "fraught with unpredictable
consequences and has the potential to affect the situation in the
region as a whole...[and] obstructs the prospect of reaching a
political settlement." It said that the idea of forcibly resolving
"the Transdniester problem" is "extremely dangerous." The ministry
did not specify who was contemplating the use of force. It also
"urged both sides to display political wisdom and not allow the
situation to get out of control." In an apparent allusion to economic
sanctions against Tiraspol, the ministry said it urges the sides to
"abstain from taking any destructive measures and to return to
dialogue." MS

POWELL SAYS TRANSDNIESTER RISKS INTERNATIONAL ISOLATION. In a letter
to Moldovan Foreign Minister Andrei Stratan, U.S. Secretary of State
Colin Powell said on 30 July that the Tiraspol authorities are
risking "isolation by the international community" if they fail to
display the will to "seriously negotiate" within the existing
five-party negotiations framework, Flux reported. Powell said he was
"worried" by the continuing "provocations" of the separatists,
including their decision to close down schools teaching Moldovan in
the Latin script. He also said the United States will continue urging
Russia to abide by its obligations assumed at the 1999 OSCE Istanbul
summit. U.S. Ambassador to Moldova Heather Hodges met on 30 July with
President Voronin, discussing bilateral relations and the situation
created by the separatists' decision to close down the schools. MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 146, Part II, 3 August 2004

GEOANA SAYS ROMANIA, MOLDOVA, EU CONSULTING ON SANCTIONS AGAINST
TRANSDNIESTER. Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana told
journalists on 2 August that his country is consulting with Chisinau
and Brussels on a series of possible sanctions against the
separatists in Transdniester, Mediafax reported. Geoana said that the
list of Transdniestrian leaders banned from traveling in the EU last
year might be enlarged in response to the separatists' closure of
schools teaching Moldovan (Romanian) in Latin script (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 24 February 2003). Other envisaged sanctions include the
blocking of bank accounts and economic measures. Geoana also said
that the government in Bucharest is examining the possibility of
having children in Transdniester whose schools were closed down
"study abroad," where "they would be able to be taught in their
mother tongue." MS

TIRASPOL STOPS MOLDOVA-BOUND TRAINS. In retaliation against Moldovan
economic sanctions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 August 2004), the
Transdniestrian separatist authorities on 1 August detained four
freight trains headed for Gagauz-Yeri at the Ribnita crossing,
Infotag reported the next day. The trains were stopped for what was
called a "thorough customs check." The separatists also announced
that all Chisinau-bound trains arriving from Moscow, Kyiv, or other
cities in the Commonwealth of Independent States would be stopped for
similar checks at Bender-Tighina. MS

DEFENDERS OF MOLDOVAN LYCEUM SENTENCED TO SHORT PRISON TERMS. Three
men who attempted to resist the takeover by Tiraspol militia of the
Eureka Moldovan lyceum in Ribnita were sentenced by a local district
court to seven days in prison, Infotag reported on 2 August (see
"RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 2004). Three other would-be defenders were
sentenced to three days in jail. They were charged with obstructing
law-enforcement personnel on duty and unauthorized acts of protest.
MS

EU URGES RUSSIA TO ASSIST IN RESOLVING TRANSDNIESTER SCHOOL
CONFLICT... EU foreign- and security-policy chief Javier Solana
called on Russia on 2 August to help find a solution to the dispute
between Chisinau and Tiraspol over the closed Moldovan schools,
Infotag reported. In a letter to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, Solana said that like Russia, the EU strongly opposes any
escalation of the confrontation and "perceives it as imperative that
the actions against Moldovan schools taken by Transdniester
authorities be stopped." Solana urged Lavrov to convince the
separatist authorities to end the school closings and return to the
negotiation table. MS

....AS UKRAINE 'CONCERNED' OVER SITUATION OF CLOSED MOLDOVAN SCHOOLS.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said in a 31 July statement that it is
deeply concerned over the deterioration of the situation in
Transdniester prompted by the recent acts of the Tiraspol authorities
against schools teaching Moldovan in Latin script, Infotag reported
on 2 August. "Ukraine is adamant in viewing these actions as
contradicting European human rights and liberties and as potentially
harming the prospects for a resolution of the Transdniester
conflict." As a "mediator country, Ukraine urges the Tiraspol
administration to take the necessary measures for the resumption of
the normal functioning of the Moldovan-language schools," the
statement said. MS


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 147, Part I, 4 August 2004

KYRGYZSTAN TO OPEN NEW CONSULATE IN UZBEKISTAN. Kyrgyz Foreign Minister
Askar Aytmatov announced plans on 3 August to open a new Kyrgyz
consulate in Uzbekistan, the Kabar news agency reported. The foreign
minister explained that the move stems from the Uzbek decision to impose
a new visa regime for the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. With a sizable number of
ethnic Kyrgyz residing in Uzbekistan, the Kyrgyz government seeks to
replicate the function of its consulate in the Tajik town of Khujand,
which services its Kyrgyz population there. RG


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 147, Part II, 4 August 2004

UN AND KOSOVA'S GOVERNMENT OFFER NO CONCESSIONS TO SERBS ON ELECTIONS.
Officials of the UN civilian administration in Kosova (UNMIK) and the
province's elected government said in Prishtina on 3 August that they
will not make any concessions to the Serbian minority to persuade the
Serbs not to boycott the 23 October parliamentary elections, RFE/RL's
South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL
Newsline," 29 and 30 July and 2 August 2004). In Belgrade, Serbian Prime
Minister Vojislav Kostunica's Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) said in a
statement that the Serbian minority's leaders will not make a final
decision on a possible boycott until after one more round of talks with
Kostunica and Serbian President Boris Tadic. The "Neue Zuercher Zeitung"
of 4 August noted that the Serbian and the Kosovar Serb leaderships have
been sending out contradictory signals regarding a boycott. The daily
added that the threat to boycott might be a tactic aimed at securing
approval for Belgrade's plan for the "cantonization" of Kosova, which
the Albanian political parties reject as they see it as a first step
toward an ethnically-based partition of the province (see "RFE/RL Balkan
Report," 16 April and 9 July 2004). The UN also opposes the proposal.
The paper added that a concession might be possible, however, to meet
Serbian demands for local control over security forces. PM


RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 8, No. 149, Part II, 6 August 2004

SERBIAN MINISTER URGES KOSOVA'S SERBS NOT TO VOTE... Zoran Loncar,
who is Serbia's minister for local government, said at the United
Nations on 5 August that Kosova's Serbs should not take part in the
23 October elections to Kosova's parliament because of concerns for
their safety, RFE/RL reported. But Stuart Holliday, the deputy U.S.
ambassador to the UN, called on the Serbs not to boycott the vote.
"We look...to [Serbian] Prime Minister [Vojislav] Kostunica,
President [Boris] Tadic, and the Serbian government. We look to them
to send a clear signal that Kosovo Serbs should, without
precondition, participate in the elections." U.K. Ambassador to the
UN Emyr Jones Parry stressed that "nonparticipation will only
disenfranchise the Kosovo Serbs at a time when we have seen real
progress on their key concerns. The Kosovo Serbs should participate
in the elections and should rejoin the institutions" that they have
been boycotting. Several other EU diplomats made similar points. The
Kosovar government has dismissed the Serbian complaints as
politically motivated, noting that the Serbs had found nothing wrong
with voting conditions when they cast their ballots in the recent
Serbian presidential vote (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 and 30 July
2004). PM

....AS CONCERNS GROW OVER KOSOVA'S FUTURE. UN ambassador Holliday
said in New York on 5 August that time has come to move toward more
self-government for the Kosovars, RFE/RL reported. "The international
presence in Kosovo should move increasingly toward a monitoring role
and less of a governing role," he said. Holliday stressed that "we,
of course, would not support the wholesale transfer of reserved
authority that the provisional institutions of self-government of
Kosovo proposed last month, but the UN in Kosovo can further shift
additional competencies to the local authorities or further share
these competencies with them" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 and 29
July, and 6 August 2004). The meeting at the UN coincides with the
release of a 12-page, 64-paragraph report by UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, stressing that the Kosovar authorities must meet
internationally mandated standards and address the concerns of the
Serbian minority. Albanian Ambassador to the UN Agim Nesho argued,
however, that it will help promote regional stability if the
"international community -- along with the discussion of standards --
takes into consideration the final status of Kosova under the belief
that the implementation of the policy of 'status with standards' will
advance concretely the political process in Kosova and further
normalize the situation in the region." PM

MORE PROTESTS AGAINST REDISTRICTING PLANS IN MACEDONIA. The
conservative opposition Internal Macedonian Revolutionary
Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) charged that a group of ethnic Albanians
attacked a motorcade organized by that party in an Albanian part of
Skopje on 4 August, "Utrinski vesnik" reported. The motorcade sought
to protest the government's redistricting plans, which would also
change the administrative borders of some districts in Skopje. Police
reportedly said that they only witnessed arguments between protesters
and locals who blocked the road with a container, but did not confirm
that the motorcade was indeed attacked. Several persons were slightly
injured in the incident. On 22-23 July, a protest against the
redistricting plans turned violent in Struga (see "RFE/RL Newsline,"
23 and 26 July 2004, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 2, 23, and 30 July
2004). UB