1.FRY/ Kosovo: SERBS TO PARTICIPATE AT GENERAL ELECTIONS
By Ilber Emra
2. Georgia: STRUGGLE AHEAD
By Ivlian Haindrava
3.Azerbaijan:TALKS WITH ARMENIA MIGHT BEGIN AGAIN
By Farhad Mammadov
The first general elections in Kosovo, a formally Yugoslav
province that has been under UN government for 28 months, will be
held on the 17th of November.
Parties from all ethnic communities will participate at the
elections. It will be the primary characteristic of the elections,
prepared under close care of the Organisation for European Security
and Cooperation (OSCE) that is ruling Kosovo together with UN and
In many respects, the elections are a great test for both
foreign missions and Kosovar Albanians. Although it may sound
illogical at first, the elections are also a test for Belgrade
authorities who waited until almost the last moment to call
Kosovar Serbs to participate in the elections.
Out of total of 1,2 million registered voters, approximately
180,000 Serbs will be eligible to vote. However, it is still
unclear how many will heed Belgrade authorities and vote for
"Return", a coalition of Serbian NGOs and political parties.
Among the estimated 100,000 Kosovar Serbs, there are still
many of those who do not wish to participate at the elections.
They are mostly supporters of the former Milosevic's government,
but there are also some local leaders of parties participating in
Serbian government, which is making things more complicated for
Belgrade authorities that urged Kosovar Serbs participation
at the elections after pressure by the international community and
the present situation in the region. Foreign officials in Kosovo
think that the main Belgrade goal is to persuade as many Serbs
as possible to go out and vote. They are reiterating that now
Serbs have a chance to win as much as 25 seats
in the future Kosovar parliament of 120 MPs. These 25
representatives would practically be figureheads of Belgrade in
Kosovo, which met with harsh condemntation of leaders of Albanian
parties. After long and difficult negotiations with international
representatives, Belgrade authorities managed to come out with
significant concessions for Serbs with the signing of the joint document
of UNMIK and Belgrade authorities. Thus Belgrade became directly
involved in the solution of Kosovar crisis, which was also met with
strong rejection from Albanian parties in Kosovo. Belgrade managed
to get indirect gurantees of the international government that the
new Kosovar parliament will not be able to declare independence which
is the main political motto of all election rallies and Albanian
leaders in Kosovo.
After signing an agreement with Belgrade in the middle of intense
Albanian election campaign, Chief of the UN mission to Kosovo and
special envoy of UN generalsecretary Hans Haekkerup said that for
the next three years Kosovo will not be independent.
The mild election campaign of Kosovar Albanians became more heated
after UNMIK and the Serbian government signed Joint document.
Occasional remarks about models of negotiations for including
Kosovar Serbs into elections changed overnight with salvos on
"political offensive" of Belgrade on Kosovo. Three Albanian
leaders, Ibrahim Rugova, Hashim Thaqi and Ramush Hajradinaj,
whose parties will seemingly be the only to have representatives
in the parliament, all said that the document was unacceptable.
Rugova is the leader of Democratic Alliance of Kosovo (DSK),
the party forecast to be in lead. Thaqi leads the Democratic Party of
Kosovo (PDS) while Hajradinaj is the president of Alliance for the
Future of Kosovo (AAK). The latter two parties were formed when the
KLA, an armed formation of Kosovar Albanians that fought two years
against Slobodan Milosevic's military and police forces in Kosovo,
Still, it seems that the current crises between the international
community and Kosovar Albanians will not result in significant
regrouping of political forces, since both Rugova and Hajradinaj
said it was pointless to fight UN and NATO missions. "The Joint
document is unacceptable... but I don't want to fight the
international community", said Rugova before 10,000 supporters in
the town of Istok in western Kosovo. Thaqi proved to be more
radical, saying that DPK members won't be participating in a
special task force for implementation of Joint document.
The Albanian press reacted negatively to the document, claiming
that the "greatest post-war crisis" has just started.
"If Ibrahim Rugova, Hashsim Thaqi and Ramush Haradinaj are
really the patriots they claim to be, they should sit together
and draft a political declaration which will cancel Belgrade
document", said Pristina daily "Zeri", warning about "fatal
consequences" of the document.
Kosovo's best selling daily newspaper "Koha Ditore" said
that "something is rotten in the state of Kosovo" while "Bota sot"
said that future of Kosovo should be decided in Kosovo "and no
force is great enough to prevent it".
Representatives of international community, including UN
general secretary and American and British officials, have finally
secured Serbian participation, after much lobbying. With their
participation, elections will get necessary legitimacy, but the
price to be paid is inevitable clash with political goals of
Kosovar Albanians. UNMIK chief said upon his return from Belgrade
that the future Kosovar parliament won't be able to proclaim
independence, thus repeating many times stated position of
international community on that issue.
Representatives of the international government in Kosovo also
said that they would not allow creation of any parallel
institutions in the province and that participation of Serbs in
the decision-making process in future parliament and outside of it
will be formalized via institutions.
"Democratic authorities in Belgrade deserve praise for their
approach to cooperation which will have a positive effect for all
ethnic communities in Kosovo", Haekkerup said. But, trying to calm
Albanian fears, Haekkerup said that the Joint document and Resolution
1244 of the UN Security Council were "neutral when it comes to
deciding on the future status of Kosovo and leave all possibilites
Georgia: STRUGGLE AHEAD
By Ivlian Haindrava
On October 30, National Security Ministry officials appeared
in the office of the independent TV company Rustavi-2 in Tbilisi,
claiming the need to check up the financial documentation.
The Rustavi-2 staff objected, arguing that an audit held in the
company the very previous week did not reveal any infringements.
The incident was broadcasted live and people started to gather in
the backyard of the office protesting the attack against the
channel acknowledged to be the only independent TV company with
large audience all over the country. By evening, several
hundreds of people crowded the backyard. A number of MPs,
NGO activists and popular figures condemned the raid on Rustavi-2,
assessing it as an attempt to silence free media.
The parliament's Human Rights Committee met in AN afternoon
emergency session to discuss the implications of the raid, which
parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania termed an act of political persecution.
President Shevardnadze,who was on a visit in South Georgia that day,
avoided any comments, ordering the prosecutor's office to investigate
the legality of the action undertaken by the Ministry of Security.
Some observers presumed that the true context of the matter
could be the conflict between Shevardnadze and his most powerful
ministers on one hand, and Rustavi-2 on the other, which began more
than a year ago (see STINA bull. issue No.177, June 9, 2000, The
State Versus Journalist). One of the most popular weekly programs
broadcast by Rustavi-2 - "60 Minutes", based on the journalist's
independent investigation, blamed the President and his clan for
the flourishing corruption in Georgia. The relations between
executives and Rustavi-2 deteriorated farther after Guiorgui
Sanaya, 26 - a popular presenter of Rustavi-2 was found shot dead
in his Tbilisi flat on July 26, 2001. President Shevardnadze
directed the Minister of Internal Affairs, the Prosecutor General,
and the Minister of State Security, to oversee the inquiry
personally, but no result was observed since. Sanaya's colleagues
believe that the murder resulted from his professional work and
could have been intended to intimidate Rustavi-2 TV-company
and free media in Georgia as a whole.
The spontaneous meeting on October 30 at the backyard of
Rustavi-2 lasted all night long and transformed into protest rally
at the House of Parliament the next morning. These were
predominantly students who demonstrated in support of free media
and called for resignation of the president and the government and
demanded pre-term parliamentary elections. Different democratic
political forces, NGOs, journalists, public figures, supported
students. The Minister of National Security sent his resignation
on October 31, but the number of protesters at the House of
Parliament continued to increase every other hour reaching some 12
thousands on November 1-2. At the extraordinary session the
speaker of the parliament Zurab Zhvania announced his resignation
if the Minister of Interior and Prosecutor-general would resign as
well. President Shevardnadze, who first tried to protect those two
and even threatened to resign himself if the Minister of Interior
and Prosecutor-general were constrained resign, changed his mind
soon. Trying to calm down the situation in the capital-city he
dismissed his government on November 1 and accepted resignation of
the Prosecutor-general and the speaker of the parliament. In such
a way he secured for himself the only legitimate position in the
power cutting the ground from under demands of his resignation. He
explained his forced steps in a TV-address as a protection of
democratic values in Georgia and turned down any speculations on
restriction of freedom of media.
On November 2, Georgia found itself having no government and
no speaker of the highly fragmented parliament.
According to the Georgian Constitution, the president should
introduce the new composition of the government for the approval
of the Parliament within two-weeks-period after resignation of the
previous one. According to the Regulations of the Parliament of
Georgia it should elect new speaker in the place of the preceding
one in ten-days-term. At present the situation in Georgia means that
election of a new speaker requires formation of a new majority in the
legislative. After the ruling party, Citizen's Union of Georgia (CUG),
fell to pieces this autumn, the process of regrouping in
the parliament was now forcibly accelerated by the need to provide
the legislative with a new speaker in order to get prepared and
legitimate to approve (or reject) new composition of the
executive. Formation of the majority in the Parliament became
crucial for the immediate future of the country.
Georgia, which is now experiencing a more sophisticated than
before, but steadily increasing pressure from Russia, has either to
confirm her western orientation or to yield to her northern
neighbor. Facing deep political crisis President Eduard
Shevardnadze delayed his visit to NATO and EU headquarters in
Brussels (scheduled for November 5-8) and made his way to Batumi.
During his meeting with authoritarian leader of Ajara Autonomous
Republic Aslan Abashidze on November 3 Shevardnadze offered him
the post of prime minister. Such a position is not yet provided
for in Georgian political system, but Shevardnadze hopes the
parliament will soon amend the constitution to introduce it. For
the time being he appointed Aslan Abashidze as a president's
commissioner on conflict resolution (Abkhazia and South Ossetia).
It is noteworthy that Russian politicians and media, who focused
their special attention on the latest developments in Georgia,
welcomed Shevardnadze's both initiatives. Indeed, sta on Abashidze
and his political coalition "Revival", avowed as openly
Russian-oriented political force, inevitably means Georgia's shift
Meanwhile the parliament was busy with nominations for the
speaker's vacant post. Intense one-week-long bargaining among 13
parliamentary factions produced three candidates for November 9
First, Nino Burjanadze - Head of the Parliamentary Committee
on International Affairs, nominated by the remainders of the CUG
under the leadership of the former speaker Zurab Zhvania and
supported by the rightist Union of Georgian Traditionalists.
Second, Vazha Lortkipanidze - former State Minister
(1998-2000), former Georgian ambassador to Russia, and former
Comsomol leader during Soviet period, who has just won
by-elections in one of the rural districts of Georgia, nominated
by two factions that moved away from CUG lately.
And the lastly, Jemal Goguitidze - leader and nominee of the
"Revival" coalition representing Abashidze's interests.
Burjanadze's victory was considered to be the emerging of
parliament majority under Shevardnadze's weakened or even symbolic
influence and a chance for continuation of western-oriented
foreign policy. Success of Lortkipanidze would have meant
maintenance of Shevardnadze-controlled majority in the parliament
leading to rather amorphous internal and foreign policy.
Goguitidze as a speaker would have been a clear indication of
creation of Shevardnadze-Abashidze's majority in the parliament
with corresponding composition of executive and Russia-oriented
The session of parliament started at 11 a.m. on November 9 and
lasted till 4:30 a.m. on November 10 (sic) and was marked with
real scandal. When everything was prepared for the voting one of
the members of the parliament's counting and tabulation commission
revealed that the ballot-papers had been numbered with invisible
ink from the underside. As far as according to the procedure MPs
had to vote alphabetically it meant that the secrecy of the voting
would have been roughly violated. Late in the evening on the
request of the MPs a special inquiry group arrived to the
parliament to investigate the case and interrogate the staff
involved in printing ballot-papers. New ballot-papers were printed
under the control of representatives of all three nominees.
At about midnight the voting was over and an hour later the
results were announced. Burjanadze received 104 votes,
Lortkipanidze - 71 and Goguitidze - 52 (228 out of total 235 MPs
participated in the election). Since none of the candidates gained
absolute majority of 118 the second round of the elections started
shortly after. By 4:30 a.m. Nino Burjanadze was declared the new
speaker of the Georgian parliament. 129 MPs supported her while
only 98 voted for Vazha Lortkipanidze.
Mrs. Nino Burjanadze, 37, is the first lady to occupy the post
of the speaker in the Georgian parliament. This is the second
position in the constitutional hierarchy, which provides the
speaker for replacing president in case the latter is unable to
perform his duties.
Politically her victory leads to fragile majority in the
parliament (104 votes in the first round - less than absolute
majority), where former speaker Zurab Zhvania and the leader of
the Union of Georgian Traditionalist Akaki Assatiani are supposed
to play the key roles. It also reveals Shevardnadze's first
serious defeat in political games and is a prelude to fierce
struggle for the power between the old and the new generations in
* * *
Azerbaijan: TALKS WITH ARMENIA MIGHT BEGIN AGAIN
By Farhad Mammadov
The co-chairs of the Minsk group of the Organization
Security and Corporation in Europe [OSCE] who visited the
region of the Armenian-Azerbaijan conflict on November
3, have suggested a new regulation variant to the two sides. The
co-chairs held talks with Azeri president Heidar Aliev in Baku
and the next day conducted a press conference, after which they
traveled to Upper Karabakh and to Armenia from there. However,
an unpleasant incident occurred while the co-chairs were crossing
the front line and three Azeri soldiers accompanying them stumbled
upon a mine and were injured.
The co-chairs of the Minsk group have prepared new
suggestions on the regulation of the Karabakh conflict during
consultations held in Lisbon, Portugal on October 30 and 31,
2001. It is notable that on the day of beginning consultations, the
President of the United States George Bush held a telephone
conversation with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia,
suggesting that the idea of new suggestions were put forward
by the White House. Though the essence of the new regulation
variant is not known, the co-chairs have stated that the basis
of the prepared suggestions is composed of the agreement gained
at the talks held in Paris in February and March and in the U.S.
in April 2001.
This statement has immediately caused a negative reaction in
the Azeri community. Some details of the Paris talks were passed
to the local media. The regulation model that is under consideration
would give the status of independent state to Upper Karabakh.
Naturally, the Azeri media and community reacted strongly to a
regulation model that is against the territorial integrity and state
sovereignty of the country. And Heidar Aliev had to take the public
opinion into account and avoided holding talks being that might
be seen as being against the interests of the country.
Visiting the co-chairs to the region with the same suggestions
of the principles that the public does not accept instead of a
demonstrating different approach to the regulation of the conflict
has immediately made actual the opinions that "Azerbaijan is again
taken to capitulating peace". In addition, Vyachislav Turbnikov, the
first deputy foreign minister of Russia visiting the region
together with the co-chairs, spoke on the necessity of
guaranteeing the interests of "Upper Karabakh people during the
regulation of the conflict" at the meeting with the
representatives of the so-called "state" in Upper Karabakh. Novruz
Mammadov, an assistant of the Azerbaijani president on foreign
relations, has immediately shown a negative reaction to his
statement, and marked that the official Baku Heidar Aliev is ready
to give a high autonomy status to Upper Karabakh at the
composition of Azerbaijan. "There is no use to expect anything
else". But the local media has commented the speech of the Russian
representative as "a pressure of the co-chairs on Azerbaijan". In
his turn, the French co-chair of the Minsk group, Philip de
Sureymen, stated in Upper Karabakh "the responsibility for the
regulation of the conflict lies on Azerbaijan and Armenia".
Yerevan talks of the co-chairs were at night on November 6th
and the attitude of the Armenian leadership to the new suggestions
is not known, yet. The Russian sources have already spread such
news that on November 30 Heidar Aliev and Robert Kocharian will
hold a bilateral meeting in Moscow, during the CIS summit.
Probably, the sides will also discuss the new suggestions at that
meeting. For now, the Azeri media spread news that there are
definite problems in the health of Heidar Aliev and stated that
there is no possibility to begin any foreign visits in the near future.