Issue No. 244. - October 23,  2001.
Contents:

1.Georgia: PLAYING GAME WITH VAGUE GOAL
            By Ivlian Haindrava

2. Bosnia and Herzegovina: NATIONALISTS PREPARING FOR RETURN TO POWER
            By Radenko Udovicic
 
3.Romania/Hungary : EUROPEAN MEDIATION OVER HUNGARIANS' STATUS LAW
            By Angela Magherusan

 4. Special addition : NEW AT TOL



Georgia: PLAYING GAME WITH VAGUE GOAL
    By Ivlian Haindrava

    Before the outburst of the armed conflict in northwestern province
of Georgia - Abkhazia in 1992-93 there were 235 thousands ethnic
Georgians and 90 thousands ethnic Abkhazians out of total 525
thousands population of Abkhazia. Victory of Abkhazians, who were
militarily and politically backed by Russia and assisted by
fighters from Northern Caucasus (mainly Chechens), turned into
expulsion of Georgians from Abkhazia. Russian peacekeeping forces
deployed along Inguri river in 1994 under the aegis of CIS just
fixed the division line between Abkhazia and the rest of Georgia.
Though the process of negotiations on return of IDPs and
determination of political status of Abkhazia was fruitless during
8 years already, tens of thousands of Georgians spontaneously
returned to their homes in Gali region of Abkhazia. In 1998
adventurist attempt to restore Georgian jurisdiction over Gali
region again resulted in expulsion of Georgians. And again after
the situation settled down Georgians returned t li region.
Abkhazians turned to be simply unable to colonize this territory
due to the lack of human resources (Gali region was almost
monoethnic before the conflict with more than 95% Georgians, while
composition of the population in 5 other regions of Abkhazia was
compound).
    This autumn has been marked with other hostilities in Abkhazia,
though the scenario was different from the events of 1998. In late
August and beginning of September concentration of Chechen and
some other north Caucasian fighters in Kodori gorge - the only
territory in Abkhazia controlled by Georgians - was reported.
Georgian officials denied any links to this while Moscow blamed
Tbilisi in transporting Chechens, who penetrated to Georgian
territory as a result of Russian offensives in Chechnia, from
northeastern Georgia to Abkhazia. Surprisingly Abkhazian party
kept silent and did not protest obvious military preparations in
Kodori gorge.
    In early October, Chechens and Georgian guerillas launched
military actions at the different spots of Abkhazia. Abkhazian
authorities introduced full mobilization and Russian peacekeeping
forces and the personnel of Russian military base in Abkhazia were
put on high alert. While clashes in Abkhazia continued, Georgian
president Shevardnadze stated that he thought it unreasonable to
prolong the mandate of Russian peacekeepers along Inguri river.
Indeed, their presence in the zone of initial dislocation stared
to look ridiculous on the background of the fighting deep inside
the territory of Abkhazia. Actually, after return of Georgian
population to Gali region, Russian peacekeepers were dividing
Georgians from... Georgians.
    On October 11 Georgian Parliament passed the decision, calling
President to start procedures aiming on withdrawal of Russian
peacekeepers and replacing them with international forces under
the aegis of UN. Some parliamentary factions even demanded
cessation of Georgia's membership in CIS, but majority declined
this initiative. Georgians were expecting a harsh reply from Russian
party, may be even direct Russian intervention in Abkhazia. But
official Russian position stated by President Putin turned to be
really unexampled in terms of Georgian-Russian relations of the
last decade. Putin stressed, that the conflict in Abkhazia and the
settlement of Georgian-Abkhaz relations was the matter of
Georgia's internal affairs and even did not oppose the idea of
withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the conflict zone.
Presidents of Russia and Georgia exchanged letters convincing each
other in goodwill and desire to solve all the problems of
Georgian-Russian relations in the spirit of mutual ct and
observance of the interests of the counterpart. This occurred to
be the turning point in the latest developments in Abkhazia.
    The situation started to settle down swiftly. Militant
rhetoric in Georgian and Russian official media vanished into thin
air, only Abkhazian party declared its own victory over "Georgian
aggression". Georgian guerillas cut down their activities, while
Chechen and north Caucasian fighters turned their way to the north
towards Russian border. Will they succeed in crossing it in high
mountains somewhere already covered with snow and protected by
Russian frontier guards, this is still a question. But it is only
one out of numerous questions that arose in connection with
current hot autumn in Abkhazia:
    1. What was Chechens' motivation in their appearance in
Abkhazia? Did they just want to assist Georgian guerillas in their
fight against Abkhazians? Did they want to open the "second front"
against Russians in Abkhazia? Did they want to cut their way to
Northern Caucasus and open the "second front" there? What were
they fighting and dying for in Abkhazia for the second time
already (in 1992-93 they fought on Abkhazian side)? Especially
taking into consideration the fact that they were fighting
Abkhazians, not Russians.
    2. What was the interest of Georgian authorities in Chechen
involvement in Abkhazia? Were they so naive as to hope that
Chechens would fight and dye for Georgian interests? Did they just
want to remind Abkhazs that without sustainable peace with
Georgians achieved they would be under permanent danger of
survival? What were their guarantees that destabilization would
expand towards north and not southeast (that is territory of
Georgia)?
    3. Why were Abkhazs silent and made no statements of concern
during the period of Chechens' concentration in Kodori gorge?
Furthermore, Prime-minister of Abkhazian government visited
Tbilisi in September and announced after his meeting with
Shevardnadze that everything was OK and the problems of mutual
security and prevention of armed conflict were solved. So what was
Abkhaz' interest and motivation in military actions on the
territory of their control?
    4. Why was the line of Russian policy (strongly supporting
Abkhazs against Georgians up to now) so drastically changed and
what is the real interest of new Russian policy regarding
situation in Abkhazia?
    5. What are the reasons for Shevardnadze's defiantly
courageous steps towards withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers? Is
this a result of his official visit to the US in early October? Or
is his behavior a reflection of a kind of "Falkland syndrome" (I
mean his total failure in internal policy which may have pushed
him to awake "patriotic" feelings among his compatriots in order
to shift public attention from social and economic issues to the
issues of territorial integrity)? Is this an indicator of his
inability to control his own subordinates (e.g. Minister of
Interior reportedly facilitated transportation of Chechens from
northeastern Georgia to Abkhazia)?
    There are much more questions certainly and their combination
(without distinct answers or variety of possible answers) is quite
confusing. But taking into account new realities in the world
after September 11 and tendency towards intimacy in West-Russian
relations some new configurations may appear in different regions.
The latest events in Abkhazia may be an indicator of such
rearrangement. And in response for its loyalty to the Western
antiterrorist campaign Russia may be let to reextend its influence
over former Soviet republics. And subordination
Moscow-Tbilisi-Sukhumi may be restored in a modified way.
                       ***
Bosnia and Herzegovina : NATIONALISTS PREPARING FOR RETURN TO POWER
    By Radenko Udovicic

    Two individually strongest nationalist parties in Bosnia -
Bosniak Party of Democratic Action (SDA) and Croatian Democratic
Community (HDZ) held spectacular party congresses last weekend,
changing or confirming their leaders.
    Also, parties decided on the future course of action and
prepared themselves for the fierce campaign to return to power.
Importance of those congresses is great, because the two parties
have ruled the country for ten years and are still extremely
popular. However, they couldn't form the government because of
great coalition of other parties.
    An important change occurred at the top of Party of Democratic
Action. Its president Alija Izetbegovic, an undisputed Bosniak war
leader, retreated from his office. His successor is Sulejman
Tihic, former vice-president of SDA and chief of SDA MPs in the
Serb Republic parliament. Although Tihic won't have nearly as much
charisma as Izetbegovic had, analysts think that the politician is
a good solution because there are no corruption scandals around
his name, nor political uncertainties characterizing some
high-ranking SDA officials.
    Before the congress, Izetbegovic said that he was withdrawing
from politics for health reasons, but also because of
political infighting. First reason cannot be contested as
Izetbegovic is now over 80 years old and his physical weakness
compared to time of power is evident. Regarding «fighting», one
cannot deny the fact that lately media are mentioning his
responsibility for war crimes which put some Bosnian army officers
in international war crimes court in Hague. But, much more
important now is mention of Izetbegovic's name in connection with
Bosnian mujahedeens who are considered to be responsible for
terrorist activities around the world. Some foreign media have
been speculating for days that there was a photo of Alija
Izetbegovic and Osama bin Laden during the latter's alleged visit
to Bosnia.
    Although that news is probably unfounded and nobody has
published the photo so far, it is certainly embarrassing both for
Bosniak authorities and Izetbegovic since it is truth that
mujahedeens who fought on Bosniak side during the war are now
living in Bosnia. Some of them were found guilty of terrorist
activity, and some were even connected with bin Laden's terrorist
cells. In order to remove the embarrassing legacy for which SDA is
mostly responsible, current government initiated a big action
against Islamic foreigners who received Bosnian citizenship. About
ten people have been arrested and expelled from the country so
far. Police is also surveilling all religious and political group
which accepted extremist beliefs which were never characteristic
for Bosnian Moslems.
    In his parting speech, Izetbegovic also reflected on the
current situation in the world. He supported fight against
terrorism led by the US, but he also accused America for unfair
politics in the Middle East. Mentioning Bush's statement that
action that ensued should secure peace and freedom to all children
of the world, Izetbegovic asked was it also true for Palestinian
children. He said that if America had rights, it had to have also
obligations and «finally put Palestinian nation into one house,
their own state».
    This is probably definite withdrawal of Izetbegovic from
politics. Somewhat over a year, he had left all state offices, and
now he left his party. Although he was elected honorary president
of SDA, that position is more a ceremonial one and was given him
only because of his great merits.
    Only few days earlier there was early congress of Croatian
Democratic Community, most popular Croatian party, which withdrew
from Bosnian government institutions and formed Croatian
Self-government, some kind of a para-state. The most important
decision of the congress was to return HDZ deputies to state and
entity parliament and begin fighting for their goals within the
system. Ante Jelavic was re-elected party president, causing
negative reaction from international community. High
representative Wolfgang Petritsch, who has the role of civil
manager of the country, forbidden Jelavic a couple of months ago
access to any public function because Petritsch found him
responsible for disrupting country's constitution. Of course,
Jelavic never accepted that decision and continued, but was
ignored from international elements. His re-election is a
challenge to international community which is now in a dilemma
what stand to take with HDZ. Some even mention possibility of
banning HDZ. Howe such radical move might cause great crisis in
the country, HDZ composed local government in almost all Bosnian
cities with Croatian majority so that more likely is continued
international isolation -it was one of the reasons behind HDZ's
decision to return to government institutions. Another reason is
that owners of many successful firms on territory with Croatian
majority rejected Croatian Self-government because it would have
meant their economic collapse. Also an important factor was lack
of any support from official Croatia to separatist actions, which
contributed to HDZ isolation. And finally, one shouldn't neglect
the fact that HDZ realized that current political situation in
south-eastern Europe doesn't allow political adventures and
disruption of Bosnian constitution. But, it doesn't mean that the
party was reformed since some of its extremist members still
remained at head positions. Best example for it is Jelavic. His
stay at the head of the party certainly won't help in winn ing
international trust. And here is the difference between
Izetbegovic's withdrawal and Jelavic's stay in power. Izetbegovic
freed SDA from his negative legacy. Although no mass crimes are
linked to his name and although his politics was directed at
preservation of Bosnia, Izetbegovic is still for majority of
people in Bosnia and world a war leader, one of the sides in a
war. On the other hand, Ante Jelavic, a moderate politician turned
extremist, remains as  a heavy weight on HDZ back.
    Two parties are hoping to win the elections again. SDA is
basing its optimism on lousy results of the current ruling
coalition which failed to start economic development or attract
foreign investors, an important election promise. SDA is still
going for national pride among Bosniaks, trying to accuse ruling
coalition and especially Social-democrat Party (SDP) for betrayal
of national interests because of the compromise with international
community and Serbian side. In his parting speech Izetbegovic left
a task for SDA - to fight for Bosnia where Bosniaks won't walk
with a bowed head. He emphasized that behavior of current
government as well as some members of international community
forces him to conclude that such scenario is possible.
Objectively, Izetbegovic's rhetoric is empty. Such his attitude
comes from the fact that the authorities in Federation, together
with government in Serb Republic and international community, are
revising Bosnian citizenships of Islamic citizens.
    Besides that, SDA has always been accusing SDP of being a
communist party which doesn't respect the rules of Islam.
    Regarding HDZ, it puts forward the fact that it was left out
from the government because of unfair coalitions of smaller
Croatian parties with Serbian and Bosniak parties on a national
and entity level, which was supported by international community.
Most Croats feel it is the first step towards marginalization of
their nation in Bosnia, since they are the smallest nation of the
three, thus most susceptible to minorization. That is why HDZ opts
for reconstitution of Bosnia into a country with three entities.
In real life, it means division of Federation into Bosniak and
Croatian part. Difference after the congress is only that HDZ will
now fight for that goal within the system, and not outside it.
    There are three more years until new election in Bosnia and it
is difficult to estimate just how much result will the agitation
of this two parties yield. If new government failed to start
economic development and prepare the country of integration into
Europe, then it isn't unlikely that extremely right-hand parties
will return to power. Partly responsible for the whole situation
is also international community which rashly promised economic
revival and quick integration into Europe for Bosnian citizens if
they voted for the so-called democratic forces.
                               * * *
Romania/Hungary : EUROPEAN MEDIATION OVER HUNGARIANS' STATUS LAW
    By Angela Magherusan

    Romanian-Hungarian relations have never been exactly normal,
in a political sense. Two neighboring countries always suffered
because of the Hungarian minority issue. Tensions over this
subject developed especially during past ten years, but  they
reached  an unprecedented level in the last few month, due to  the
Hungarians' Status Law, promoted by  the  Hungarian Parlament.
   Basicaly, the law proclaimed the right of the Hungarians living
in other countries than Hungary to have almost equal rights to
those of Hungarian citizens in Hungary: the right to work in
Hungary, the right to study in their mother-country through
scolarships, the right to have free transportation on Hungarian
territory and so on. In order to benefit from these rights,
Hungarians  were  supposed to obtain some kind of IDs which
provide them with all the mentioned advantages. In Romania, this
IDs were to be given  by Hungarian party DUHR - The Democrat Union
of the Hungarians in Romania.
    This is the law  that generated  a  huge dispute  among
Romanians and  Hungarians in both countries alike. The first saw
the act as a discriminatory law, whereas the latter considered it
to be a  righteous  document. At the same time, Romanian   and
Hungarian governments  had a firm  position over the subject.
Romania felt  that  the law had an extraterritorial  character,
and said that the Hungarian  authorities should have consulted
Bucharest before promoting it. On    the other side,  Hungary
replied that the document   was a natural  political gesture, made
to protect the  Hungarian ethics living outside  Hungary's
borders.
    The Hungarians' Status Law generated  protests not only in
Romania, but also in Austria and  Slovakia, countries which
apllied to the european  institutions, in order to prove  that the
international acceptance of this  document would innovate on  the
field  of minority rights protection . These countries argued that
no  present european legislation accepts the content of this law.
    In Romania, the disputed gained a more complex  level, because
of the DUHR - The Democrat Union of the Hungarians in Romania,
which is in the present, the main partner for the ruling party,
SDP, The Social-Democrat Polish Party. Regardless of this, the romanian
gouvernement  had a very strong  position over the Hungarians'
Status Law. It  refused to permit it to be transformed into
reality in Romania, and ignored all political pressure made by
the hungarian part, in order to change this.
    The whole problem  has now a solution, given by the so-called
"Venice comission", the Commission  for Democracy through Right,
an organ of European Commission. The Venice commission is
considered to be in the present the most objective and
unquestioned independent forum, in the field of ethic minorities
protection. The comission recently gave its report regarding the
Hungarians' Status Law. The general conclusions of this report
sustain the Romanian position in the issue, and requests Hungary
not to aply this unprecedented law.
    The  report of the Venice commission is being regarded as an
act which will determine a true curent of opinion in the European
legislation, since it does not have a decisional value. Though, it
becomes a new basis in interrpreting, from now on, all
controverses regarding ethic minorities protection.
    Relating strictly to the the Hungarians' Status Law, the
report  stipulates that  this law cannot be applied by Hungary in
a foreign country,  without its consent. Further on, it  says that
a document emitted by a state cannot give official or semiofficial
qualities to any of the NGOs of another country, in this case, the
DHUR,  since it is not a political party, but, in the text of  the
incriminated law, was supposed to be responsible with giving the
so-called "Hungarian  IDs".
    In this  context, the Venice comission  raport concludes that
a country can give certain advantages for another state's
citizens, only in the field of education and culture. Even in this
domain, says the document, positive discrimination must be
avoited.
    Thus, this international solution given to the Hungarians'
Status Law dispute  forces Hungary to give up its intentions of
applying the act from the beginning of next year.
    But will it be like this ?
    Hungary is nearing elections, and the protection of Hungarians
outsides the country's borders was one of the made electoral
promises made by the  actual prime-minister, Viktor Orban.
Therefore, he probably has to stick to this position if he wants
to win once more.
                                                ***
Special addition : NEW AT TOL October 22, 2001

    --- CONFERENCE ANNOUNCEMENT ---
    Attend the marcus evans CIS BANKING FORUM on 13 ? 14  December
2001 and benefit from two days of high-level, professional
presentations with networking access to the leading figures of
both the state and commercial banking sectors of Russia,
Kazakhstan, and Ukraine. For further information, email Ola
Samuelsson at OlaS@marcusevansuk.com or click below:
    http://www.marcusevans.com/events/CFEventinfo.asp?EventID=3078
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- WEEK IN REVIEW ---
    Abkhazia Still in the Fog of War Abkhazia threatens to make
preemptive strikes against ?terrorists? in Georgia and applies for
?associate membership? in the Russian Federation.
    by Andrew Gardner
    http://www.tol.cz/week.html
    Radical Leaflets Kazakh officials launch search for suspects
involved in spreading pamphlets calling for the establishment of
an Islamic state in Central Asia.
    by Didar Amantay
 
    Mysterious Deaths
    Croatian government investigates the deaths of 21 kidney
dialysis patients.
    by Lovorka Kozole

    Galloping Good Trade
    Fears about beef safety cause Russia to begin importing
horse-meat again from Mongolia.
    by Nomin Lhagvasuren
 
    Burying a Relic Russia wins praise from the United States
after deciding to shut down bases in Vietnam and Cuba.
    by Maria Antonenko
 
    MORE WEEK IN REVIEW:
 
    Prominent Latvian Judge Slain
    Romanian Town Draws Outrage With Plan to Segregate Roma
    Suspensions Follow Ukraine?s Admission of Culpability in Crash
    Belarusian Assets Likely to Be Up For Sale
    Romanian-Moldovan Relationship Still Strained
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Redrawing the Caucasus ---
    The dawn of a post-post-Cold War world may be good for the
United States and Russia, but it may not be for the Caucasus.
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=16&NrArticle=2425
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- SPECIAL FEATURES ---
    Crime Does Pay War criminals enrich themselves and their
families while they sit behind bars.
    by Moma Ilic with additional reporting by Tihomir Loza
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=2371
    From TOL's Balkan Reconstruction Report
(http://balkanreport.tol.cz)
    The City of Monday and No-Man's Land
    Getting to the story on the Afghan border from the Tajik
capital is no problem--if you know someone who can help.
    by Konstantin Parshin
 
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- IN FOCUS: On the Take: Corruption in Central and Eastern
Europe and Beyond ---
    The New Face of Clean Hands The autobiography of the Czech
Republic's strutting new chief police investigator suggests that
the country's problems with racially motivated crimes will not be
resolved any time soon.
    by Claude Cahn
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=5&NrArticle=2392
    Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don't
    The corruption scandals that plagued Poland's former
government are, unfortunately, ingrained in the country's
political system.
    by Jacek Leski
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=3&NrArticle=2391
    Starting from Scratch According to one TI program officer, the
news is decidedly mixed when it comes to fighting corruption in
Central Asia and the Caucasus.
    by Jeremy Druker
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=2411
    Trying a New Approach
    TOL speaks with an anti-corruption expert about tackling
judicial reform at the grassroots level.
    by Andrew Gardner
    http://www.tol.cz/look/TOLnew/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=4&NrIssue=22&NrSection=2&NrArticle=2389

    GLOBAL CORRUPTION REPORT 2001: The Global Corruption Report
(GCR) is a new publication from Transparency International, a
worldwide anti-corruption NGO. The Global Corruption Report 2001
provides an overview of the "state of corruption" around the world
from July 2000 to June 2001. Transitions Online is a major
contributor to the Global Corruption Report, with regional reports
on the Commonwealth of Independent States, Central Europe,
Southeast Europe, and the Baltic States.
    To learn more about TOL's involvement with this report, and
how to get a copy of it, please click here:
    http://archive.tol.cz/frartic/globalcr.html
    To purchase a hard-copy of the Global Corruption Report,
please click here.
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/393571100X/transitionson-21/026-5794993-5505211
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OPINIONS ---
    A New Partnership or Another Political Bargain? Russia and the
West seem to be enjoying a newfound closeness after the events of
11 September, but looks can be deceiving.
    by Elena Chinyaeva
 
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- FROM THE BRR ---
    Tarred With the Same Brush Bosnia struggles to shake off the
image as a safe haven for terrorists.
    by Daria Sito
    http://www.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=4&NrArticle=2401
    Healthy Tensions The race for the two highest posts in the
Slovene political cosmos is set to start as Prime Minister Janez
Drnovsek announces his intention to run for president next year.
    by Ales Gaube
    http://www.tol.cz/look/BRR/article.tpl?IdLanguage=1&IdPublication=9&NrIssue=1&NrSection=7&NrArticle=2402
    These articles are from TOL's subsite, the Balkan
Reconstruction Report
    (http://balkanreport.tol.cz), which has just been officially
launched.
    .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
    --- OUR TAKE: Redrawing the Caucasus ---
    The dawn of a post-post-Cold War world may be good for the
United States and Russia, but it may not be for the Caucasus.
    It was already a truism on 11 September that the world would
never be the same again. This week, we may have gotten an early
glimpse of just how different that world might be after the
shuttle diplomacy of U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. "Not
only is the Cold War over," he says, "the post-Cold War period is
also over." Other officials in his entourage fleshed that out
still further, talking of an "across-the-board" change in attitude
in the Kremlin toward cooperation with the West. Russia has
already made the historic steps of granting overflight permission
for U.S. military operations, sanctioning the deployment of U.S.
troops in Uzbekistan and announcing this week that it's closing an
electronic surveillance center in Cuba.
    For the Caucasus, though--already one of the most fractured
and fractious regions in the world--the emerging picture looks
disturbing. While military and intelligence cooperation may grab
the headlines, part of the growing cooperation between the United
States and Russia may also relate to oil in the Caucasus. Given
the threat of Islamic terrorism to key oil producers in the Gulf,
the attractiveness to the United States of Russian, Caspian, and
Central Asian oil is growing. That gives considerable leverage to
all post-Soviet oil producers--in the Caucasus, that means
Azerbaijan--and makes it increasingly important for them to
complete and secure their pipelines, which, in the Caucasus, run
(or are due to run) through Azerbaijan, Georgia, Dagestan, and
(war permitting) Chechnya. But, above all, the desire for secure
supplies of oil makes Russia even more of a lynchpin and
reinforces its influence over the region.
    Three recent developments in the region should be reviewed in
a new light given the rapprochement between the United States and
Russia. First, for Chechnya, the implications of the U.S.-led war
on terror became apparent very soon after 11 September. Putin has
always conflated separatism with terrorism, and the West has in
public appeared more willing to accept this dangerous inflation of
that slippery word. Reports suggest that in private the West?s
position may be more understanding still. The increasingly
mouths-shut policy of the West toward human-rights abuses in
Chechnya removes an irritant for Russia. The possibility of
cooperation over ?terrorism? should weaken Chechen resistance. If
Russia can exert pressure on Georgia, which borders Chechnya, it
could also begin to attack the Chechens? southern flank. Putin
entered Chechnya in 1999 with an entry strategy, but no apparent
exit strategy. He may be finding it now.
    Next, what precisely is happening in Georgia?s breakaway
republic, Abkhazia, is perhaps too unclear for conclusions at this
point. However, events are developing in a
way that increases Russia?s influence in and over Georgia, thereby
advancing both its interests in Chechnya and oil--and the
rapprochement with the United States suggests that it can, if it
chooses to, push its interests considerably further with little
demur from the Bush administration.
    Finally, on 16 October, Powell urged the Senate foreign
relations committee to lift Section 907 of the Freedom Support
Act, which bans U.S. aid to Azerbaijan until it lifts its blockade
of Armenia. The stated reason is to thank Baku for providing
intelligence and making airspace available for the anti-terrorism
campaign. If oil is a central motivating feature of the United
States? new foreign policy, oil could also be added to the list of
reasons. Alarm bells are ringing in Yerevan.
    Alarm bells--for all three developments--are justified.
Lifting Section 907, whatever the rights and wrongs of its
imposition, threatens the very fragile peace that has been
sustained since the 1994 cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh, an
Armenian-controlled exclave, and Nakhichevan, an Azeri exclave
surrounded by Armenia. No one is truly happy with the status quo,
but inching peacefully toward a lasting peace under the aegis of
international agencies such as the OSCE is preferable to a return
to imbalance, uncertainty over great-power motives, and the
possibility of conflict.
    In Armenia and Azerbaijan--and Georgia and Chechnya as
well--some stark choices should be clarified before this game
plays itself out. Is it preferable to have spheres of influence or
to proceed very slowly according to international law?
    Spheres of influence provide short-term answers and meet the
priorities in great powers? hierarchy of motives. International
mediation, based on international law, seeks to find long-term
settlements based on principles such as democracy, human rights,
and refugee rights. Of the two, international law better answers
the long-term needs of newly independent, small, and weak states
and nations. This, therefore, seems the better choice for those
interested in lasting peace in the Caucasus. Those who prefer
spheres of influence in the region should consider the possible
effects of anger and of weak governments--more conflicts, more
refugees, more human-rights abuses, and the retarded development
of democracy and the rule of law. In the Caucasus, a complex
mosaic of nations, religions and cultures, poverty, and the
presence of oil makes the situation all the more combustible.
    So the Cold War or post-Cold War period may be coming to an
end, but some decision-making habits of policy-makers, all of
whose formative years were during the Cold War, may die harder. To
them, with power and one defining goal--the Cold War then,
terrorism now--it may seem suddenly easy to redraw the world. The
hard and time-consuming part is drawing it well.
    .......................................................
    The TOL weekly newsletter is published by Transitions
Online--The leading news provider covering Eastern Europe. Check
us out at http://www.tol.cz