Le PM turc =?UNKNOWN?Q?pr=E9sente_=E0?= Paris le nouveau visage de s

Le Monde, France
21 juillet 2004

Le premier ministre turc présente à Paris le nouveau visage de son
pays
LE MONDE

M. Chirac confirme le soutien de la France à la candidature de la
Turquie à l’Union européenne.
Venu à Paris pour plaider en faveur de l’intégration de son pays à
l’Union européenne, le premier ministre turc, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
savait qu’il n’aurait pas à prêcher un convaincu en la personne de
Jacques Chirac. Le président français, qui l’a reçu à déjeuner mardi
20 juillet à l’Elysée, lui a confirmé son soutien. L’intégration de
la Turquie à l’Union est “souhaitable dès qu’elle sera possible”, a
dit M. Chirac.

C’est surtout à l’opinion française que voulait s’adresser le premier
ministre turc. M. Erdogan avait à son programme des rencontres avec
les dirigeants de l’UMP, de l’UDF et du PS, ainsi qu’avec le
président de l’Assemblée nationale, Jean-Louis Debré, pour tenter de
désarmer les objections exprimées ces derniers mois par les partis
français, qui mettent en porte-à-faux la position officielle arrêtée
par le président.

Avant les élections européennes de juin, l’UMP a pris position contre
l’entrée de la Turquie dans l’Union, Alain Juppé ayant fait droit aux
craintes qui s’exprimaient dans le mouvement contre les thèses qu’il
avait autrefois défendues. L’UDF exprime une hostilité plus
constante, ce que François Bayrou a réaffirmé mardi, tout comme
Philippe de Villiers. “Si l’on considère que l’Europe doit s’étendre
perpétuellement et englober des pays qui appartiennent à d’autres
continents et à d’autres cultures, alors on aura au bout du compte
une Europe faible”, a déclaré M. Bayrou, mardi, à RTL. La communauté
arménienne se fait également entendre. Le premier secrétaire du Parti
socialiste, François Hollande devait relayer auprès de M. Erdogan sa
revendication d’une reconnaissance par Ankara du génocide de 1915.

M. Erdogan s’était donc donné pour mission de faire mieux connaître
le nouveau visage de la Turquie, ouvert, pacifique, rassurant. Il s’y
est employé dans ses rencontres ainsi que dans la longue conférence
de presse qu’il a donnée mardi.

Le premier ministre turc tenait à dissiper un malentendu : il n’est
pas question que la Turquie intègre l’Union dès demain. La décision
que prendront les 25 pays de l’Union, le 17 décembre, porte sur
l’ouverture de négociations d’adhésion, si la Turquie remplit les
critères exigés (les “critères de Copenhague”) ; la Commission de
Bruxelles doit donner son avis sur ce dernier point en octobre. Les
négociations peuvent ensuite être longues, a convenu M. Erdogan, en
parlant de “cinq ou dix ans”.

Ne pas engager les négociations dès lors qu’Ankara répondrait aux
critères fixés serait de la part de l’Union trahir ses
engagements,”manquer son examen de sincérité”, a souligné M. Erdogan.
Il n’est plus temps, dit-il, de contester la vocation européenne de
la Turquie dès lors que le statut de pays candidat lui a été
officiellement reconnu par l’Union depuis plusieurs années.

Le premier ministre turc a insisté sur le fait que les réformes ne
seraient pas remises en cause en cas de rejet par l’Union.”Les
critères de Copenhague deviendraient les critères d’Ankara”, a-t-il
dit, car c’est la voie qu’a choisie la Turquie pour elle-même. Quant
à la reconnaissance du génocide arménien, tout en faisant remarquer
qu’elle ne figure pas parmi les critères imposés, il a laissé
entendre qu’elle fait partie d’un ensemble de questions avec
l’Arménie (“qui ne reconnaît pas les frontières actuelles”) dont il a
souhaité le règlement. Il a appelé confier la question du génocide
aux historiens, à ne pas la laisser hypothéquer l’avenir.

M. Erdogan s’est fait le défenseur d’une Europe “lieu de rencontre
entre les cultures et les civilisations” ; il espère qu’elle se verra
comme telle et qu’en intégrant un grand pays musulman elle ne
manquera pas l’occasion d’agir “comme exemple à l’échelle mondiale”.

Autre aspect de la visite de M. Erdogan qui ne peut pas nuire à sa
cause : les rencontres qu’il a eues avec les milieux d’affaires
français, premiers investisseurs étrangers en Turquie, et l’annonce,
mercredi matin, de l’achat de 36 Airbus par Turkish Airlines.

Claire Tréan

La visite de M. Erdogan scelle le rapprochement franco-turc

Le Monde, France
21 juillet 2004

La visite de M. Erdogan scelle le rapprochement franco-turc
LEMONDE.FR

Le premier ministre turc a tenté de rassurer l’opinion française en
insistant sur le fait que la prochaine étape, le Conseil européen du
17 décembre, ne devait se prononcer que sur “le début d’un processus
de négociation” et non sur l’adhésion.
Les deux parties sont satisfaites. Le premier ministre turc, Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, a obtenu à Paris la confirmation du soutien du
gouvernement français à la candidature de la Turquie à l’Union
Européenne lors d’une visite qui s’est conclue mercredi 21 juillet
par la signature d’un contrat d’achat de 36 Airbus.

M. Erdogan s’est vu dérouler le tapis rouge par les plus hautes
autorités de l’Etat français pendant son séjour alors que la question
de l’adhésion de la Turquie à l’UE est loin de faire l’unanimité dans
les partis politiques et l’opinion publique française.

“L’APPROCHE CONSTRUCTIVE” DE LA FRANCE

Le dirigeant turc a été reçu par le président Jacques Chirac qui “a
rappelé que l’intégration de la Turquie dans l’Union européenne était
souhaitable dès qu’elle serait possible”, par le premier ministre
Jean-Pierre Raffarin et par les présidents de l’Assemblée Nationale,
Jean-Louis Debré et du Sénat, Christian Poncelet.

Jacques Chirac a estimé que “la Turquie avait fait des progrès
considérables et qu’elle doit poursuivre et intensifier la mise en
oeuvre des réformes démocratiques et économiques”. M. Erdogan a
remercié le chef de l’Etat pour “l’approche constructive” et
“l’attitude tout à fait positive de la France”. Les pays européens
doivent se prononcer lors d’un sommet le 17 décembre à Bruxelles sur
l’ouverture des négociations d’adhésion de la Turquie à l’UE.

Le premier ministre turc s’est également adressé à l’opinion
française en rencontrant les dirigeants des principaux partis, le PS,
l’UDF et l’UMP, qui s’est prononcé contre l’adhésion de la Turquie
malgré la position de M. Chirac.

Il a aussi appelé les milieux d’affaires qu’il a rencontrés au Medef
à épauler la candidature turque et à profiter des opportunités
d’investissement dans son pays de 70 millions d’habitants.

ANKARA ACHÈTE 36 AIRBUS

Les négociations d’achat de 36 Airbus pour la compagnie nationale
turque Turkish Airlines ont été finalisées lors de ce voyage et la
lettre d’intention d’achat a été officiellement signée mercredi dans
la soirée à l’Elysée.

M. Erdogan, accompagné de sa délégation, et Jacques Chirac ont
assisté à la signature de l’accord par les présidents d’Airbus
Industrie Noël Forgeard et de Turkish Airlines, Candan Karlitekin. Le
vice-ministre de l’économie allemand, Ditmar Staffel, était également
présent. Ce contrat de plus de 3 milliards de dollars porte sur
l’achat de cinq A330-200, douze A321 et dix-neuf A320.

M. Erdogan a tenté de rassurer l’opinion en insistant sur le fait que
la prochaine étape, le Conseil européen du 17 décembre, ne devait se
prononcer que sur “le début d’un processus de négociation” et non
l’adhésion. Il a affirmé que son pays avait “réalisé, en gros,
l’essentiel des critères” fixés par l’Union Européenne et que la
période de négociation “nous permettra de combler toutes nos
lacunes”.

LA QUESTION ARMÉNIENNE

Le dirigeant islamiste modéré a par ailleurs insisté sur la vocation
européenne de la Turquie, définissant l’Europe comme “lieu de
rencontre, de conciliation entre les différentes cultures et
civilisations”. Les partis politiques ne semblent pas avoir été
totalement convaincus, notamment sur la question arménienne, sujet
épineux en France du fait de la présence de la deuxième plus
importante communauté arménienne du monde (450 000 personnes).

Le premier secrétaire du Parti socialiste, François Hollande, a
indiqué à l’issue de sa rencontre avec M. Erdogan qu’il avait
“insisté” auprès de lui sur la reconnaissance du génocide arménien de
1915. Sur l’interprétation des conditions d’entrée à l’UE, “il y a
encore discussion”, a-t-il dit.

Dans une interview accordée à France 2, mardi, M. Erdogan avait
affirmé que la reconnaissance d’un génocide arménien ne figurait pas
dans les critères d’adhésion et il a renvoyé cette question “aux
historiens”. Au mois de février 2001, le Parlement avait reconnu le
génocide perpétré par l’Empire ottoman en 1915.
From: Baghdasarian

Azerbaijan Appeals Court Upholds Ruling to Fine Brit Airlines $3,000

Azerbaijan’s Appeals Court Upholds a Ruling to Fine British Airlines $3,000

Baku Today
21/07/2004

Azerbaijan’s Appeals Court has upheld a court ruling to fine the
British Airways $3,000 in order to compensate the material and moral
damage the company has allegedly inflicted to an Azeri citizen, ANS
reported on Wednesday.

According to the court ruling, the Azeri citizen, Vusal Kazimli, was
denied entry to a British Airways plane last year although he had
booked a ticket two months earlier. The court said that Kazimli’s seat
in the plane hadbeen sold for a foreign citizen.

Aslan Ismailov, the plaintiff’s lawyer, said the main problem is that
foreigners view Azeris as second-class citizens.

`We, as the citizens of Azerbaijan, are always respectful to
foreigners. But the foreigners are behaving as landlords in our
country,’ Ismailov complained in an interview with ANS.

The lawyer Ismailov added that the court ruling is to be a message to
some foreign companies operating in Azerbaijan.

Turquie. Trois jours pour convaincre

Le Télégramme
20 juillet 2004

Turquie. Trois jours pour convaincre

Le Premier ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan est arrivé hier et
restera jusque demain à Paris pour plaider en faveur de l ‘ entrée de
son pays dans l ‘ UE .

Il s’agit d’une visite importante pour la Turquie. Car le Premier
ministre turc Recep Tayyip Erdogan entend promouvoir auprès des
dirigeants français la candidature de son pays à l’Union européenne.
Aujourd’hui il sera reçu à l’Elysée par le président Jacques Chirac
lors d’un déjeuner de travail.

La Turquie a obtenu le statut de candidat à l ‘ UE en 1999 et la
Commission européenne doit en octobre recommander ou non l ‘
ouverture des négociations d ‘ adhésion sur laquelle se prononceront
les dirigeants européens en décembre.

Les critères requis sont remplis

Jacques Chirac est favorable à l ‘ adhésion si les critères requis
sont remplis. Il a qualifié, lors du sommet de l ‘ OTAN à Istanbul le
29 juin, la marche d ‘ Ankara vers l ‘ UE d’ « irréversible » ,
insistant sur la « vocation européenne, historique, très ancienne »
de la Turquie.

Son parti, l ‘ Union pour la majorité présidentielle (UMP), s ‘ est
en revanche prononcé contre une adhésion, tout comme les autres
partis de droite.

La gauche y est globalement favorable même si le Parti Socialiste a
mis comme préalable la reconnaissance par Istanbul du génocide
arménien de 1915.

Une majorité de Français est contre

Pourtant selon un chercheur de l’Institut français de relations
internationales, « Tous les sondages récents, sauf un, indiquent qu ‘
une majorité de Français est contre l ‘ adhésion de la Turquie » .

La France « est le seul pays européen à avoir instrumentalisé cette
question lors du pseudo-débat sur les élections européennes » ,
souligne un autre chercheur de l’Institut de relations
internationales et stratégiques.

Se servir des relations économiques

Lors de sa visite Erdogan doit également évoquer les relations
économiques.

Les échanges entre les deux pays se sont chiffrés en 2003 à quelque 6
milliards d’euros. La France est le deuxième partenaire commercial de
la Turquie et son quatrième fournisseur.

La compagnie nationale Turkish Airlines se prépare à acheter près de
50 avions de ligne, notamment moyen et long courrier, pour renouveler
sa flotte vieillissante.

Le consortium aéronautique européen Airbus et l’américain Boeing sont
en lice. Le Premier ministre turque souhaiterait se servir de ce
contrat de deux milliards de dollars (1,6 milliard euros), qui
devrait en principe être partagé entre les deux constructeurs, pour «
inciter » les Français à donner leur aval à l’ouverture des
négociations d’adhésion avec Ankara, a-t-on indiqué de source proche
du dossier.

La France et la Turquie se =?UNKNOWN?Q?f=E9licitent_de?= leurs=?UNKN

Le Monde, France
22 juillet 2004

La France et la Turquie se félicitent de leurs échanges économiques
LE MONDE

A l’issue de sa visite en France, le premier ministre turc, Recep
Tayyip Erdogan, a parrainé démonstrativement, avec le président
Chirac, mercredi 21 juillet, dans un salon du palais de l’Elysée, la
signature par Airbus et Turkish Airlines d’un protocole d’accord sur
la vente de 36 avions.

La visite du chef du gouvernement turc, venu plaider pour l’entrée de
son pays dans l’Union européenne, a ainsi été l’occasion d’insister
de part et d’autre sur la bonne santé des relations économiques entre
les deux pays et les avantages que la France en retire. Parlant d’une
“explosion” des échanges, le directeur de la mission économique
française en Turquie a indiqué mercredi à Istanbul qu’ils avaient
atteint en 2003 un niveau record de 6,1 milliards d’euros,
poursuivant leur progression en 2004.

Le soutien de Jacques Chirac à la Turquie reste cependant contesté en
France. Le président de l’UDF, François Bayrou, reçu mercredi par M.
Erdogan, avait réitéré la veille son opposition à une adhésion
turque. “Le moins que l’on puisse dire, c’est que la Turquie n’est
pas une société européenne”, avait-il dit. Les responsables UMP
François Baroin et Alain Juppé, dont le parti défend un “partenariat
privilégié” avec la Turquie au lieu d’une adhésion à l’UE, se sont
montrés en revanche discrets sur la discussion qu’ils ont eue.

François Hollande, premier secrétaire du Parti socialiste a indiqué,
après avoir rencontré à son tour M. Erdogan, ne pas avoir
“d’hostilité à l’adhésion de la Turquie en tant que telle”, mais
qu’elle devait être “conditionnée à des progrès plus grands en
matière de droits de l’homme, de démocratie politique, de garanties
en matière de laïcité” ainsi qu'”à la reconnaissance du génocide
arménien”. Pour M. Hollande, “nous devons utiliser au mieux les
négociations sur l’adhésion pour que nos valeurs et nos principes
soient respectés”.

Le premier secrétaire du PS qui sait son parti divisé, façonne une
sorte de ligne d’équilibre : contre une entrée immédiate, sans
l’exclure à plus long terme dans une dynamique de négociations. “Je
ne comprends pas très bien la position du parti là-dessus”,
s’irritait mardi Henri Emmanuelli, en mettant notamment en avant “le
niveau des salaires en Turquie” et le problème des “délocalisations”.
“Je regrette que le PS ne soit pas plus attentif à l’opinion de son
électorat”, ajoutait-il, en affirmant que ce dernier est
majoritairement opposé à une telle adhésion.

The Iron Grip

The Moscow Times
Arts & Ideas
July 23 – 29, 2004

The Iron Grip

Even Stalin’s most fearsome henchmen were putty in the dictator’s hands, a
new study by Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk maintains.

By Sam Thorne
Published: July 23, 2004

Of the numerous books that have been written about Josef Stalin, relatively
few have focused on the twilight years of his dictatorship, from the end of
World War II to his death in March 1953. Those works that do address this
period tend to depict Stalin as an increasingly paranoid figure, struggling
to cling to health and power as his deputies jockey for position to succeed
him. In “Cold Peace: Stalin and the Soviet Ruling Circle, 1945-1953,”
historians Yoram Gorlizki and Oleg Khlevniuk challenge the prevailing
version, using formerly unavailable archive material to shed light on the
internal workings of the top Soviet leadership during Stalin’s final years.
They attempt to show a clear political logic to Stalin’s behavior, however
irrational it may seem, and dispel the notion that there were ever any
serious contenders to usurp him (or even conspirators to kill him).

Following the war, Gorlizki and Khlevniuk contend, Stalin’s consistent aim
was to consolidate the Soviet Union’s status as a superpower, and, in the
face of growing decrepitude, to maintain his hold as leader of that power.
The authors describe how Stalin created a dual political order: informal and
personalized in some spheres, orderly and institutionalized in others.
Realizing, for example, that he no longer had the energy to oversee many
aspects of government, Stalin initiated key organizational changes, setting
up a Council of Ministers to manage the economy, while he and his inner
circle in the Politburo concentrated on a smaller set of policy issues,
among them state security, ideology and foreign affairs. Unlike the
Politburo, the Council of Ministers met regularly, worked to deadlines on
individual assignments with a clear division of labor and suffered minimal
interference from Stalin — except when economic issues touched on matters
of state.

The other side of this arrangement was a Politburo entirely obedient to
Stalin’s whims, comprising five members in 1945 and 10 by 1953, including
Stalin himself, two long-standing colleagues in Vyacheslav Molotov and
Anastas Mikoyan, and younger members, such as Lavrenty Beria and Nikita
Khrushchev. In contrast to the Council of Ministers, Stalin personally
selected the Politburo’s membership, set its agendas, fashioned its
procedures and organized the locations and timings of its meetings to suit
himself. Often, meetings would take place in the dining room of Stalin’s
dacha in the early hours of the morning — and when not dining with the
leader, Politburo members were often phoned by Stalin’s secretary as late as
4 or 5 a.m. to be told that Stalin had gone to bed and that they, too, could
leave their desks and go home. A Yugoslav envoy who visited Stalin during
this period described how a significant part of Soviet policy was shaped at
these dinners. “It all resembled,” he wrote, “a patriarchal family with a
crotchety head who made his kinsfolk apprehensive.” Gorlizki and Khlevniuk
term Stalin’s style of leadership “neo-patrimonial” in that he attempted to
combine a modern, committee-based system of administration with a more
primitive method of rule based on personal fealty.

After World War II, Stalin moved quickly to reassert his authority over his
deputies, who had come to enjoy a measure of autonomy in their respective
fields as the war took its toll on the dictator’s health and stamina. Within
a year, Stalin launched a series of savage attacks on every member of the
Politburo, using a variety of methods to intimidate them, including
face-to-face confrontations, demotions, assaults on allies and the threat of
physical repression. In each case, the victim was required to apologize
speedily and abjectly, usually in writing. Mikoyan, for example, after being
blamed by Stalin for grain shortages that crippled the country in 1946,
issued this cringing statement: “Of course, neither I nor others can frame
questions quite like you [Stalin]. I shall devote all my energy so that I
may learn from you how to work correctly. I shall do all I can to draw the
lessons from your stern criticism, so that it is turned to good use in my
further work under your fatherly guidance.”

In the years that followed, Stalin continued to exert fierce psychological
pressure on his deputies. Whenever they showed signs of independence, he
slapped them down ruthlessly. Molotov was even forced to divorce his wife,
who was subsequently arrested on trumped-up charges that she was linked to
“Jewish nationalists.” The lesson was that nobody, not even a spouse, could
get in the way of a Politburo member’s primary allegiance to Stalin. More
important still was the demand that personal devotion to Stalin should
supersede any loyalty to an “office.” At the drop of a hat, Stalin could
create or destroy institutional positions and all the personal incentives
and authority that came with them.

AP
Stalin established a dual political order — part informal, part unyielding
— to maintain a hold over his subordinates.

Although Stalin sought to inspire in the last years of his dictatorship the
submissive attitude that the Politburo had displayed toward him immediately
after the Great Terror, he did not plumb the same depths of brutality to
achieve it. There were none of the large-scale purges of the political elite
seen in the 1930s; instead, Stalin appeared to value order and continuity
within his entourage. When he denounced his closest colleagues, the ensuing
charade of repentance and chastisement was usually played out in front of
only a small audience. If the victim was less important, Stalin’s criticism
might leak out into wider circles or appear in the papers.

At the same time, members of the Politburo learned not to rock the boat,
knowing that any advantage they might gain from having a rival removed could
not make up for the lethal climate of uncertainty and suspicion that
inevitably followed. If they needed reminding of this, it came in 1950 when
Stalin executed the head of the state planning agency, Nikolai Voznesensky,
for allowing a trade fair to go ahead in Leningrad without permission from a
high enough authority: As ever, Stalin hated any sign of autonomy in others.

Gorlizki and Khlevniuk write persuasively of how fear of Stalin’s
unpredictable behavior united members of the Politburo in a tacit alliance,
and how their experience of working together laid the foundations of
collective leadership after Stalin’s death. Whereas earlier historians of
this period have relied largely on newspaper articles, leaked reports and
memoirs — many colored to show Khrushchev, Stalin’s eventual successor, in
a positive light — Gorlizki and Khlevniuk have trawled through piles of
newly available Central Committee paperwork and personal correspondence to
create an admirably objective and balanced account of Stalin’s relationship
with his ruling circle, backed up with copious notes.

For the lay reader there is, if anything, too much detail, and the book
sometimes becomes bogged down in tracking the constant reorganizations and
personnel changes that Stalin made to keep his subordinates on their toes.
Even the personalities of the main actors become submerged eventually in
this morass of intrigue, although perhaps this is how things really were:
Certainly the underlying banality of Stalin’s dying regime comes through
strongly. Ultimately, the “cold peace” alluded to in the title is perhaps a
bit too glacial to appeal to a popular readership, but for scholars seeking
a hard-nosed analysis of high-level Soviet politics after the war, this book
could hardly be bettered.

A former editor at The Moscow Times, Sam Thorne now free-lances from
Britain.

Copyright © 2004 The Moscow Times. All rights reserved

RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly – 07/22/2004

RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
_________________________________________ ____________________
RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly
Vol. 4, No. 28, 22 July 2004

A Weekly Review of News and Analysis of Russian Domestic Politics

************************************************************
HEADLINES:
* TAKE YOUR SPIN DOCTORS, PLEASE
* TELEVISION: THE KREMLIN’S TOOL IN THE NEAR ABROAD
* PUTIN DISMISSES HEAD OF GENERAL STAFF IN MILITARY SHAKE-UP
************************************************************

ELECTIONS

TAKE YOUR SPIN DOCTORS, PLEASE

By Julie A. Corwin

Russia and Ukraine have generally maintained a healthy
cross-border trade, but in the run-up to the 31 October Ukrainian
presidential elections, some Ukrainians are questioning whether they
really want Russia’s latest export: political consultants. On 19
July, youth activists rallied in Kyiv outside a building where
Effective Politics Foundation head Gleb Pavlovskii was holding a
press conference, TV 5 in Kyiv reported. A week earlier, almost two
dozen activists from the Youth — The Hope of Ukraine organization
picketed the Russian Embassy in Kyiv to demand that Moscow not
interfere in the presidential race, bearing signs saying “Russian
Political Consultants: Suitcase, Train Station, Russia!,” utro.ru
reported on 12 July.
The picketers also demanded that the Ukrainian authorities
expel Russian consultants — particularly Marat Gelman. Gelman, a
former deputy general director at ORT, most recently organized the
surprisingly successful election effort of the Motherland party in
Russia’s 2003 State Duma race. Pavlovskii is perhaps best known
for his role in shaping Unity’s message during the State Duma
elections in 1999. He has also taken credit for creating Vladimir
Putin’s image. Another Russian political consultant who is
sparking interest in Ukraine is Igor Shuvalov (not to be confused
with Russian presidential aide Igor Shuvalov). Consultant Shuvalov is
better known in Ukraine than in Russia and works for the Ukrainian
presidential administration. Shuvalov has reportedly authored many of
the “temnyky,” or secret written instructions, issued by the
presidential administration to media outlets regarding their coverage
— or noncoverage — of certain news events. In addition, according
to opposition website “Ukrayinska pravda” on 16 June (see “RFE/RL
Newsline,” 17 October 2002). A Ukrainian branch of Pavlovskii’s
Effective Politics Foundation has also reportedly played a key role
in the invention and distribution of temnyky.
The October ballot is not the first Ukrainian election in
which Russian spin doctors have taken part. They had a relatively
high profile during the 2002 campaign for the Verkhovna Rada,
although some Ukrainian political activists have questioned their
effectiveness in that race. In an interview with “Kommersant-Daily”
on 5 July, Our Ukraine lawmaker Mykola Tomenko said that Gelman
worked for the pro-government Social Democratic Party-united (SPDU-o)
during the 2002 race. Gelman and Pavlovskii, according to Tomenko,
promised that they would secure 10 percent of the total votes for
SDPU-o but managed to get only 6.3 percent. Shuvalov, together with
Petr Shchedrovitskii, worked on the campaign for Winter Crop
Generation, which finished with even just 2.02 percent of the vote,
according to “Ukrayinska pravda” on 16 June. Shchedrovitskii is
perhaps best known for his work consulting presidential envoy to the
Volga Federal District and former co-leader of the Union of Rightist
Forces (SPS) Sergei Kirienko.
In this year’s presidential election, the top contenders
are Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych and Our Ukraine leader Viktor
Yushchenko. Gelman, Pavlovskii, and Shuvalov are all reportedly
working for Yanukovych. In a press conference in Moscow on 1 July,
Pavlovskii denied that he is working for any candidate in Ukraine.
However, he severely criticized Yushchenko in remarks that were
picked up by a variety of Russian and Ukrainian media outlets. He
said that a “victory for Yushchenko could be seen as a victory for
Western Ukraine over Eastern Ukraine, something that is dangerous for
the country itself,” “Nezavisimaya gazeta” reported on 2 July.
Pavlovskii added that if Russia wants to see chaos in the former
Soviet Union, then it should back Yushchenko, “a weak man and a
politician who is being controlled, who is lacking in independence
and who will take society toward disintegration, first politically,
and then perhaps, territorially.”
In an interview with Hromadske Radio in Kyiv on 19 May,
Gelman too denied that he is working as anything other than an
art-gallery owner during his stay in the Ukrainian capital. However
he, like Pavlovskii, has an opinion about the race. He said that “my
personal position is that if Yushchenko becomes president, I will
consider it a personal defeat. But I have no clients here.” Later in
the same interview, when queried about the poor performance of his
clients in the 2002 elections, Gelman insisted that “the
customer-contractor relationship is very intimate one, and
conclusions about whether a political consultant has fulfilled his
task can be drawn based on whether he continues his relationship with
his clients. I can state in this respect that I have not lost any
major clients either in Russia or here in Ukraine.” Therefore, if
Viktor Medvedchuk, SPDU-o leader and presidential-administration
chief, can be considered “major,” then apparently Gelman still works
for him.
Despite their denials, the perception that Gelman and
Pavlovskii are involved in the election persists. In an interview
with RBK on 5 July, Kirill Frolov, director of the Ukraine department
at the Institute for CIS Countries, went so far as to characterize
Gelman’s strategy for Yanukovych. He said that Gelman is
rejecting the use of the resources of the Russian Orthodox Church in
the campaign and is instead trying to create a “carnival-like”
atmosphere.
Yushchenko’s supporters have accused Gelman and
Pavlovskii of using “black public relations” against Yushchenko. In
comments published by Ekspert-tsentr on 5 July, Tomenko implied that
Yanukovych’s campaign is using “unprincipled methods” against
Yushchenko. He noted the broken windows at the Russian Cultural
Center in Lviv and the meetings of Ukrainian National
Assembly-Ukrainian National Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO) where fascist
symbols were used in support of Yushchenko. An article in “Moskovskii
komsomolets” on 16 July linked a public rally held by the
ultranationalist Ukrainian National Assembly in Kyiv’s central
square with Yanukovych’s headquarters and with Pavlovskii and
Gelman in particular, calling the gathering “Gelmanjudend.” The
daily, which cited no sources, commented: “The question is: Why
should a democratically minded, pan-national candidate initiate such
a threat, when only a silovik no one currently knows can benefit?
There is absolutely no sense in it.”
It should perhaps be noted that consultants sometimes will
not only orchestrate an public event, but will also arrange to have
articles published about it, and they will sometimes arrange for a
trick against their own candidate that can be blamed on the campaign
of the opposition or be used to generate voter sympathy.
It could be argued that the protests against the Russian spin
doctors help rather than hurt their cause, since presumably no one
would object to their presence if they were completely ineffectual.
In comments to “Politicheskii zhurnal,” No. 24, Andrei Konovalov,
president of the Institute for Strategic Evaluations and Analysis,
joined his Ukrainian counterparts in criticizing the presence of
Gelman, Pavlovskii, and others, saying that all they can create are
“provocations.”
Konovalov concluded that regardless of whether Yanukovych or
Yushchenko is elected president, the general direction of Ukraine
will be the same: toward the West. “The basic tendency of foreign
policy in Ukraine is a movement toward the West, a striving for
integration into European structures and NATO,” he said. “Whoever
wins the election, this situation will not change.” Vladimir
Zharikhin, deputy director of the Institute for CIS Countries,
agreed, noting that the fundamental relationship between Russia and
Ukraine will not change “cardinally” under either candidate. “In the
end, the Donetsk group, to which Yanukovych belongs, has its own
interests which frequently diverge from those of Russian businesses,”
he added.
To combat Ukraine’s drift toward the West, Konovalov
suggests that rather than importing Russian “political technologies,”
Russian enterprises should engage in a gradual but relentless
penetration of Ukraine’s energy complex, so that “Russian
businesses control the Ukrainian economy.” It is possible that
Konovalov’s suggested strategy is already being implemented, and
the push to elect Yanukovych is simply a supplementary effort rather
than a competing one.

FOREIGN POLICY

TELEVISION: THE KREMLIN’S TOOL IN THE NEAR ABROAD

By Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russian media, especially Kremlin-controlled television which
is viewed widely in Russia and neighboring states, is instrumental in
promoting President Vladimir Putin’s policies for the former
Soviet Union and in maintaining Russian hegemony over the
“information space” of the CIS and in securing Russian geopolitical
objectives in the region. With a far more professional and
wide-reaching television system than in the Soviet era, in part
enhanced by Western investment and training, Russia now has a subtle
— sometimes, not-so-subtle — means of covering the news and views
of the region, and of shaping that news to its own ends.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is featured virtually every
evening on prime-time television, as concerned about Russian-language
textbooks in Latvia as he is about evacuating Russian energy workers
from Iraq following terrorist attacks. Breaking with diplomatic
protocol, Putin is shown rushing in person to the airport to greet
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and listen to him praise
Russia’s new emergency-rescue planes.
But it was to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma that Putin
granted his very first long, televised conversation immediately after
his March re-election, opening with a friendly suggestion to “take a
walk after dinner and then come over to my house for tea and
we’ll chat.” Comradely moments like that perhaps remove the sting
of the publicly televised humiliation Putin dealt Ukraine when he
remonstrated leaders for thinking they could live off any kind of
exports other than beets and when extracted the prime-time admission
from Kuchma, who is often courted by the West, that the CIS “cannot
look out to sea for the weather to be made” from the European Union,
but must make it themselves in the CIS.
Carefully staged meetings with CIS leaders are given ample
airtime on the official RTR and other stations and are designed to
shape the views of millions of Russians in the Russian Federation and
the mindset of millions of Russian-speakers in the near abroad. The
coverage from Moscow influences their thinking about local elections
and regional issues.
The power of this electronic reach might not be immediately
evident, but it is amply demonstrated by incidents such as
Minsk’s shut-off of Russian programming during politically
delicate moments and battles in Central Asia over frequencies for
certain Russian programs. Pictures, as they say, always speak 1,000
words. When a record nine CIS presidents came to Moscow in early
July, Putin took the first three — Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev,
Kyrgyzstan’s Askar Akaev, and Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili
— to the Bolshoi Theater. The message is not only about the
ostensible superiority of Russian culture or the closeness of ties
with CIS allies, but the age-old practice of supplicants needing to
make their way to the top to solve their problems.
Negative coverage on prime-time Russian television can have a
devastating effect. For months, the Ukrainian parliament was
portrayed as uncouth and undemocratic, wrecking voting equipment.
Never was there any discussion about whether an abrupt switch away
from popularly electing the president to having the parliament select
him was a threat to democracy. When candidates began to register for
the presidential election this week, RTR focused on the antics of
Brotherhood candidate Dmitrii Kolchunskii and his entourage, who
rolled up to the Central Election Commission in armored vehicles, and
on a frenzied support rally of his followers. By contrast, a
safety-suited Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych was shown threading
his way among steelworkers at a blast furnace in Dniepropetrovsk,
waxing reminiscent about having first met his wife at a steel plant,
and still appearing later that evening crisp and cool to sing a
romantic duet with Ukraine’s celebrated Ruslana on stage before
screaming fans.
Not that Russian television is above playing the democracy
card when necessary. During the chilly winter months when Russian gas
companies were shutting off the pipelines to Belarus over payment
disputes, RTR featured scenes of urbane Russian energy officials
speaking ironically about President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, contrasted
with the sputterings of a clownish Lukashenka and, later, his
about-face on paying market rates for natural gas. And suddenly, RTR,
ORT, and other Russian media outlets found time for the Belarusian
opposition, featuring demonstrations and speaking in sympathetic
tones of beaten activists and expelled journalists. But as soon as
the energy deals were settled, coverage of the Belarusian opposition
dried up.
Nonetheless, Lukashenka’s recent announcement that he is
willing to seek a third presidential term “if the people allow him to
run” proved too much for Russian television. “The Belarusian leader
refers to himself in the third person,” dryly cracked RTR’s
Mikhail Antonov in the set-up to unflattering scenes of
Lukashenka’s populist claims of public support for violating the
constitution.
While Russian television and newspapers already have a great
influence in the near abroad, lately the Kremlin appears almost
panicked about what Putin called the danger of the “erosion” of
Russian interests in the CIS. In an unprecedented move, the topic of
the CIS was placed on the agenda of the Security Council as a matter
of national defense, with Kremlin-access television camera operators
on hand to witness the choreographed discussion, replete with
tanned-and-rested Muscovite bureaucrats and pale CIS representatives
in Moscow hanging their heads. Stern calls were made to open Russian
cultural centers throughout the CIS and step up Russian-language
training.
Within minutes into the news hour that same day, Kremlin
political consultant Gleb Pavlovskii was featured in Kyiv opening up
a Russian club and taking questions from Ukrainian journalists about
Russian influence on the Ukrainian presidential election. “What, some
Russian citizen will come here and start handing out ratings??” fumed
Pavlovskii, coquettishly discounting the possibility. “They’ll
kick him out.”
To be sure, Russian television and print media, which are far
freer than most local CIS media, are a boon for local democrats. Yet
their coverage on Russian television is decidedly mixed.
Georgia’s President Saakashvili is unabashedly compared with
Hitler in teaser ads for strana.ru, and even the smallest street
vendors’ demonstration is played up to look like proof of the
alleged “ungovernable” nature of Caucasians. Demonstrators in Yerevan
are shown mainly overturning cars or setting fires. By contrast,
Armenian President Robert Kocharian is invited to Moscow to give a
sober soliloquy in a lengthy pan on RTR about why stability and trust
in his government should prevail over disgruntled activists
complaining about election corruption.
Far out of proportion to their size and actual importance to
Russia’s security concerns is coverage of the Baltic states. Many
weeks, the nightly news features demonstrations, alternately, of
veterans alleged to be Nazi collaborators and students angry about
language requirements in Latvia, or stories about Estonia’s
recent announcement that Russian university diplomas must be
certified by national education offices. Estonia’s move, said to
be in keeping with its European Union commitments, was juxtaposed on
RTR with a similar move by Turkmenistan not to recognize Russian
diplomas.
Turkmenistan comes in for hot-and-cold coverage, depending on
the state of negotiations about the status of Russians there.
Sometimes President Sapurmurat Niyazov is called “Turkmenbashi” and
portrayed unflatteringly in scenes reminiscent of Soviet dictator
Josef Stalin, with thousands of dancing children paying homage to
their beloved leader. On other occasions, he is shown as an important
trade partner and placed in artificially flattering settings, such as
at his desk in his library, enthusing about how he has had domestic
architects copy designs from St. Petersburg. Any subscriber to the
top oil newsletters in the region following the status of various
energy deals between Russia and the near abroad could probably fairly
accurately determine the temperature of coverage of this or that CIS
state in that week’s news on Russian television.
Ashgabat recently shut down Russia’s Mayak radio station,
but then promised this week to restore it, leaving it unclear whether
the closure was a demonstration of muscle-flexing or the consequence
of a technical breakdown. Some other CIS leaders have instituted
requirements for percentages of domestic content in native languages,
in part to counter Moscow’s influence.
When terrorists attacked in Uzbekistan in March, Russian
media gave saturation coverage to the bombings and the police raids
to capture the suspects — more coverage than local television did.
Indeed, Russian media have generally covered terrorism around the
world more intensely than some regional media and have been an
alternative source of information for CIS populations. Usually the
responsibility or negligence of CIS governments is not the focus of
the coverage, however, and usually some sort of link is made between
domestic resistance movements and international terrorism movements.
Often, what little can be gleaned in the way of hypotheses for
various terrorist attacks comes from the Russian media, particularly
from websites with breaking news.
The media also accomplish by silence or evasion what they
cannot accomplish by propagandistic set pieces. Little is seen, for
example, about the drug trade in Tajikistan or Tajik migrant laborers
on television, although newspapers have been somewhat bolder in
covering their plight.
Whether through distorted images or the absence of accurate
coverage, the Russian media will continue to have a far-reaching
impact on governments and publics throughout the CIS. It is an era in
which broadcast images with the right spin and setting will prove
more powerful than armies or missiles because they are capable of
reaching people’s hearts and minds instantly.

MILITARY POLICY

PUTIN DISMISSES HEAD OF GENERAL STAFF IN MILITARY SHAKE-UP

By Jeremy Bransten

President Vladimir Putin fired on 19 July the chief of the
General Staff, Army General Anatolii Kvashnin, along with three other
top military commanders. Few in Russia’s military are sorry to
see Kvashnin leave.
Moscow-based military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer called
Kvashnin “the most hated general in the Russian military,” according
to “The New York Times.” He has now been replaced by his deputy,
Colonel General Yurii Baluevskii, a man who is far more respected.
Kvashnin is most closely associated with Russia’s two
ill-fated wars in Chechnya and especially the 1994-95 winter
offensive aimed at taking Grozny, which ended in catastrophe and cost
the lives of hundreds of Russian soldiers. That has not made him
popular with the rank and file. Kvashnin’s bureaucratic battles
with the Defense Ministry over control of military planning have also
earned him the dislike of the top brass.
Now, the Defense Ministry appears to have won the upper hand
as Russia enters another phase of its military restructuring.
Although many analysts point to last month’s deadly raid
in Ingushetia as the catalyst for the dismissal of Kvashnin and three
top military commanders for the North Caucasus region, the shake-up
appears to be the result of a long-term plan.
Kvashnin’s dismissal follows adoption of a law that cut
the powers of the General Staff and reduced it to a department of the
Defense Ministry that will function as an advisory group responsible
for strategic planning. For years, the two institutions had existed
as rival centers of power and fought a tug-of-war over operational
control of Russia’s armed forces.
Those opposing Kvashnin accused him of being stuck in the
past, actively undermining efforts to transform the military into a
smaller, more technologically advanced force.
Moscow-based military analyst Aleksandr Golts told RFE/RL
that Kvashnin was ill suited for the General Staff’s new role, so
in this respect his replacement by Baluevskii makes sense. “The
Russian General Staff is being excluded from the chain of operational
command of the armed forces and will have to concentrate exclusively
on strategic planning,” according to Golts. “[In this regard,]
Anatolii Kvashnin was the least suitable person, due to his
intellect, for any kind of planning. His first deputy, Yurii
Baluevskii, has demonstrated his great analytical skills and that he
is capable of such tasks. So, at first glance, everything appears
very logical.”
The problem, according to Golts, is that the newly positioned
General Staff is set to operate in a vacuum. Reforms at the lower
levels have not been carried out, meaning that a system of regional
commands — which could provide input for the General Staff’s
strategic planning — simply does not exist. “[For example,] the
Americans plan their operations in these commands,” he said. “The
entire war against Iraq was planned in the Central Command. In
Russia, the role of the commands is performed by the military
districts. But they do not have the ability to plan because their
main duty is the mobilization of reservists in case of war. That is
what they are trained to do. They cannot take on operational
planning. This is just one of many questions that come up when you
analyze how this new General Staff is supposed to perform.”
Golts says this latest reshuffle is symptomatic of the way
military reform is being carried out in Russia, which is from the top
down, exactly in the wrong order. “In my view, what is happening with
the General Staff is similar to the decision to create several
rapid-reaction units made up of professional, contract soldiers. The
idea is correct, but it is introduced as a first step when instead it
should come as the final decision after a series of complicated
reforms. So the decision is made without the requisite preparation.
One can assume that it is done out of naivety or on purpose, so that
the military brass — after a period of time — can approach the
president and tell him: ‘Esteemed commander in chief, this is not
working out. This [reform] is not right for Russia.'”
One thing is clear, however. When it comes to Russia’s
troubles in the North Caucasus, no amount of military reshuffles will
end the prolonged war in Chechnya, as Yurii Baluevskii himself
indicated in an interview with RFE/RL two months ago. “How do you
take away a machine gun from a young man who has held it for 10 or 12
years?” he said. “How do you make him work, till the land, sell
goods? This is a problem. And there is no military solution. The only
solution is an economic recovery [in Chechnya], employment of the
population, education.”
Whether Putin — who gives the orders — sees it this way is
another question.

COMINGS & GOINGS

IN: President Putin on 19 July named Colonel General
Yurii Baluevskii chief of the General Staff, RIA-Novosti and other
Russian media reported. Baluevskii, who previously served as first
deputy chief of the General Staff, replaced Army General Anatolii
Kvashnin, who was dismissed earlier the same day. RIA-Novosti also
reported on 19 July that Colonel General Aleksandr Belousov has been
named first deputy defense minister.

UP: President Putin on 12 July named Andrei Denisov as
Russia’s ambassador to the UN and its representative on the UN
Security Council. Denisov was most recently a deputy foreign minister
in charge of foreign economic policy, according to “Profil,” No. 27.
Denisov replaces Sergei Lavrov, who was named foreign minister in
March.

RESHUFFLED: First Deputy Foreign Minister Valerii Loshchinin
will remain Foreign Minister Lavrov’s only first deputy foreign
minister, while Lavrov’s second first deputy, Vyacheslav
Trubnikov, will now serve as ambassador to India, Russian media
reported on 13 July. Another former first deputy foreign minister,
Eleonora Mitrofanova, will now head the ministry’s new Agency for
Relations with Russians Abroad. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Razov
was named ambassador to China, and special presidential adviser on
Caspian affairs with the rank of deputy foreign minister Viktor
Kalyuzhnyi will serve as the new ambassador to Latvia.

IN: Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov has named Andrei
Dolgorukov as Russia’s trade representative to the United States,
replacing Mikhail Barkov. Dolgorukov most recently headed the
Americas department of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry,
“Rodnaya gazeta,” No. 27, reported.

OUT: Prime Minister Fradkov dismissed Nikolai Gusev from his
post as deputy property relations minister; Petr Sadovnik as deputy
natural resources minister; and Ilya Budnitskii and Valerii
Sirozhenko as deputy media ministers, “Kommersant-Daily” reported on
17 and 14 July.

POLITICAL CALENDAR

22 July: Cabinet will discuss plan for privatization of state
property in 2005
22 July: Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari will visit
Moscow
24 July: Aeroflot shareholders meeting will elect new board
of directors
29 July: Celebration honoring the 250th anniversary of the
birth of Saint Serafim of Sarov will be held in Nizhnii Novgorod
31 July: State Duma will hold a special session
1 August: Deadline for the Finance Ministry to present its
draft 2005 budget to the government
3 August: State Duma will hold a special session
8 August: Supreme Court will consider an appeal by Pavel
Zaitsev, the special police investigator who headed a high-profile
corruption probe into the Grand and Tri Kita furniture stores and who
was found guilty of exceeding the authority of his office
12 August: Fourth anniversary of the sinking of the “Kursk”
nuclear submarine
12-15 August: BMW Russian Open Golf Tournament in Moscow
13-29 August: Russian athletes will participate in the Summer
Olympics in Greece
23 August: The trial of the accused murderers of State Duma
Deputy Galina Starovoitova will reopen
26 August: Deadline for the government to submit its draft
2005 budget to the State Duma
29 August: Presidential elections will be held in Chechnya
September: St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum plans
to open the Hermitage Center, which will exhibit works from the
Hermitage’s collection, in the city of Kazan
15-18 September: The third International Conference of Mayors
of World Cities will be held in Moscow
20 September: The State Duma’s fall session will begin
October: President Putin will visit China
October: International forum of the Organization of the
Islamic Conference will be held in Moscow
7 October: President Putin’s birthday
23-26 October: Second anniversary of the Moscow theater
hostage crisis
25 October: First anniversary of Yukos head
Khodorkovskii’s arrest at an airport in Novosibirsk
31 October: Presidential election in Ukraine
November: Gubernatorial election in Pskov Oblast
20 November: Sixth anniversary of the killing of State Duma
Deputy Galina Starovoitova
22 November: President Putin to visit Brazil
December: A draft law on toll roads will be submitted to the
Russian government, according to the Federal Highways Agency’s
Construction Department on 6 April
December: Gubernatorial elections in Bryansk, Kamchatka,
Ulyanovsk, and Ivanovo oblasts
29 December: State Duma’s fall session will come to a
close
1 February 2005: Former President Boris Yeltsin’s 74th
birthday
March 2005: Gubernatorial election in Saratov Oblast

*********************************************************
Copyright (c) 2004. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.

The “RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly” is prepared by Julie A. Corwin
on the basis of a variety of sources. It is distributed every
Wednesday.

Direct comments to Julie A. Corwin at [email protected]
For information on reprints, see:

Back issues are online at

http://www.rferl.org/about/content/request.asp
http://www.rferl.org/reports/rpw/

MCA-Eligible Countries ‘Proud’ of Recognition, Aid Official Says

alllAfrica.com

MCA-Eligible Countries ‘Proud’ of Recognition, Aid Official Says

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

July 20, 2004
Posted to the web July 21, 2004

Washington, DC

Enthusiastic about country ownership concept, Applegarth adds

The 16 developing countries selected as the first eligible to submit
proposals for supplemental aid from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
are “uniformly proud” of being recognized for their accomplishments in
implementing political and economic reforms, says John Applegarth, head of
the agency that administers the fund.

Speaking July 20 at the start of the quarterly meeting of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) in Washington, Applegarth added that the 16 also
are enthusiastic about the concept of “country ownership” of development
priorities that is at the core of the MCA program.

Applegarth said MCC teams recently visited all 16 nations to review with
government officials how their proposals for MCA funding will be evaluated.
The teams also communicated to members of civil society, the private sector
and the general public in each country how they can participate in the
proposal-development process.

The MCA is the administration’s supplemental aid program for developing
countries that meet certain political and economic standards. The House of
Representatives July 15 approved funding the account at $1.25 billion in the
fiscal year beginning October 1 (FY05), an amount that is 25 percent more
than the current, first-year spending.

Applegarth gave examples of how selected countries are altering their views
of receiving aid from the United States. A senior official in Armenia, he
said, stated that his country’s inclusion in the program helped it focused
more strongly on governing, governance and democracy.

Cape Verde is treating its selection as MCA-eligible as the country’s
third-most-significant achievement after gaining independence from Portugal
and making the transition to democracy, he said.

Applegarth said there are no specific timelines for countries to submit
funding proposals. The countries want to “stop, take stock and rethink about
how they could really use this new resource,” he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who conducted the meeting as chair of the
MCC, said countries that were not selected have asked: “What did we do wrong
or what is it we have to do right to get into this game?”

“We lay it out for them,” he said. “You can be a recipient, you can work out
a compact [agreement] with us, but you have got to do the right things” to
create conditions for attracting investment and trade, he said.

The MCA is “the most significant development program since the [post-World
War II] Marshall Plan,” he said.

Powell added that the MCA is in addition to and not at the expense of other
aid programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID).

The 16 selected countries are Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia,
Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua,
Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.

Kocharian: Armenia Candidly Interested in Stability in Georgia

ROBERT KOCHARIAN: ARMENIA CANDIDLY INTERESTED IN STABILITY IN GEORGIA

22.07.2004 14:12

/PanARMENIAN.Net/ Armenia is candidly interested in stability in
Georgia, Armenian President Robert Kocharian stated at a meeting with
Georgian Foreign Minister Salome Zurabishvili in Yerevan today. The
President said he hoped that the Georgian leaders would find ways to
overcome problems in the country as soon as possible. In the course of
the conversation R. Kocharian said he was satisfied with the current
level of relations between the two countries. At the same time the
parties considered the opportunities of further development of
Armenian-Georgia ties, as well as discussed the key questions of
future prospects in the region.

The gentleman writer’s epic

The Globe and Mail, Canada
July 22 2004

The gentleman writer’s epic

The remarkable success of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin in 1994 has
allowed Louis de Bernières to write his latest exotic epic at a
leisurely pace at his English country house, he tells REBECCA
CALDWELL

By REBECCA CALDWELL
Thursday, July 22, 2004 – Page R1

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Louis de Bernières’s latest
novel, Birds Without Wings, is a grand saga encompassing the full
range of human experience in the lives of villagers in the tiny
hamlet of Eskibahce in Turkey around the time of the First World War.
Fans of the author’s 1994 sleeper bestseller Captain Corelli’s
Mandolin, an epic tale fleshing out the extent of humanity on a tiny
village on a Greek island during the Second World War, would hope for
no less. No, the real shocker of Birds Without Wings is that the book
began not in some sun-drenched Mediterranean paradise, but in
Calgary.

Before Cowtowners start rejoicing at their newly minted literary
importance, it should be noted that the first line of the book that
de Bernières wrote in 1996 while a writer-in-residence at the
University of Calgary’s Markin-Flanagan Distinguished Writers program
is shot through with insanity and tragedy: “The people who remained
in this place have often wondered why Ibrahim went mad.”

“It might have been from being in a tiny little office with no
windows at a university,” he jokes during a phone interview from his
home, a country house in Norfolk, England. “No, I’d had this going
through my mind for some time, and I think I was waiting for one of
my victims to arrive and I just had this idea about what the first
page should be.”

Although he ended up completing his manuscript on a return journey to
Calgary last year as well, the real inspiration for Birds Without
Wings was a visit to a ghost town in Turkey about a decade ago.

De Bernières was struck by how he could still see the pretty pastels
of the ruined houses of a once-harmonious multicultural community,
home to Christians and Muslims, Greeks and Turks, that was devastated
by political turmoil and a disastrous policy of expulsions and
resettlements, first of Armenians, then of Christian Greeks,
following the First World War, one of the first swellings of a new
wave of 20th-century nationalism.

“They obviously used to have a sophisticated and pleasant life. All
the houses had water systems that filled up off the gutter on the
roofs and had an outside loo on the corner,” he said. “When [the
Christians] left, the local economy collapsed. They lost everybody
who knew how to make anything, and everybody who knew how to do
anything. Some people did come to replace the Christians, but they
were never the same again.”

It was in such a town where de Bernières imagined the setting for his
sketches of young lovers, Christian Philothei and Muslim Ibrahim;
childhood friends Karatavuk and Mehmetcik; the two spiritual leaders
of the town, Father Kristoforos and Abdulhamid Hodja; and the wealthy
landlord, Rustem Bey, his wife Tamara and his Circassian mistress
Leyla.

Interspersed between their vignettes are nearly straight segments of
the historical events of the early 20th century that would shatter
the bucolic world, notably the rise of Mustafa Kemal. Better known as
Mustafa Ataturk, he would lead the disintegrating Ottoman Empire
through the First World War and the savage Gallipoli campaign,
eventually consolidating his own power as the first chief of the new
nation of Turkey.

With 625 pages broken into 95 chapters, plus six epilogues and a
postscript, Birds Without Wings feels a bit episodic, a result not of
intended structural design but how his work evolves from short
stories, he says. De Bernières’s seemingly characteristic impulse to
write about Big Ideas such as nationalism and religious intolerance
also wasn’t a deliberate artistic aim. That he happened to write a
book about the historical failure of nationalism and religious
fanaticism at a time when issues of nationalism and religious
fanaticism are once again radically dividing the world was
coincidental, he says. If anything, the civil and religious wars that
tore through the former Yugoslavia in the nineties were more salient
when he started the book, he points out.

“What gets me interested in a story is a narrative,” said de
Bernières. “The themes, I suppose, come up almost by accident when
you’re writing a book like this. They’re there, but you don’t have to
put them in on purpose. There’s all sorts of things, you know,
there’s nationalism and religion and honour and love, war,
comradeship, all of these things. But I would never sit down and
think, ooh, I must write a book about comradeship.”

For the record, though, the abuse of nationalism and religion is
something he feels strongly about. In a way, writing about the topic
is his inheritance: De Bernières may be a French name, but he is
English, a descendent of Huguenots fleeing persecution in
18th-century France.

“I actually think religion is evil when it’s in its militant phase,”
he said. “When you’re militant, and you think you have God on your
side and you have a direct telephone line to him, then you’re going
to start all sorts of unpleasant mayhem. I actually think it is
absurd to claim to know things that are actually unknowable. And I
know that nationalism is a load of rubbish. Look at my country. There
is no such thing as a purebred Englishman.”

In the slow summer book season, newspapers in Britain have been
anxiously awaiting their turn to weigh in on what’s being touted as
the adult equivalent of a Harry Potter novel. As with Captain
Corelli’s Mandolin, the initial critical reception to Birds Without
Wings in Britain has been mixed (North American reviews will wait
until the book’s official release date on July 24). The Independent
declared it a masterpiece; while Peter Kemp of The Sunday Times
accused him of “stereotypes spray-painted with exoticism.”

The somewhat publicity-reluctant de Bernières — he’s not doing any
television interviews in Britain because, “As soon as you are on the
television, you become interesting to the tabloid newspapers, and
then you have people on the lawn with cameras” — doesn’t go out of
his way to read reviews, although people will call him up with
congratulations or commiserations.

“Sometimes you read criticism which is actually quite helpful, and
you think, hmm, yes, that’s a good point,” he said. “The Peter Kemp
one — he was annoyed with me that everyone was called Ali the
Broken-Nosed or Ali the Snowbringer, or etc, etc. The fact is that
back in those days, Turks didn’t have surnames, so that’s what they
were being called, but Peter Kemp thought that was just me trying to
be fake-exotic. That kind of criticism is just so ignorant, it just
makes you feel contemptuous rather than hurt.”

De Bernières, 49, is in the fortunate position of being able to take
the occasional bad review in stride. He’s earned his professional
cred long ago, selected as one of the Best of Young British Novelists
by Granta in 1993 and claiming a fistful of Eurasia-region
Commonwealth Writers Prizes — for a double-dose of magic realism,
1990’s The War of Don Emmanuel’s Nether Parts and 1991’s Senor Vivo
and the Coca Lord. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin won the overall
Commonwealth Writers Prize in 1995, but more important, Corelli won
him some creative breathing space.

Since being released in 1994, Corelli has sold 2.5-million copies in
the Commonwealth alone, propelled by a marketer’s impossible dream —
word-of-mouth sales. The film rights were sold for roughly £200,000
(almost $486,000 Canadian). With his money, de Bernières was able to
stop scratching out a living as a substitute teacher and buy his
country house, which he shares with his partner, an actress and
director. There, the rural-Surrey-bred, prep-school-educated author
has built his own Arcadia.

In the 10 years since Corelli, he’s leisurely produced Red Dog, a
children’s book about a legendary Australian mutt, and Sunday Morning
at the Centre of the Universe, a radio play meant as a farewell to
his old London community before he left for the country. De Bernières
has plans for two more novels as well as two books of short stories,
but he’s not racing to write them, although not because the success
of Corelli means he doesn’t have to.

“I only ever wrote when I felt like it, so that hasn’t changed,” he
said. “There was never a time when I suddenly thought, ooh, my life
has changed, everything is completely different, because it was all
happening so gradually. The best thing is that I bought myself a
house in the country where I can live with lots of space and
tranquillity.”

He spends his newly purchased spare time not writing more, but
tinkering about with cars (he has fixed up three, his oldest a 1947
Ford Pilot) and indulging in his one real obsession: playing music
and restoring instruments. He’s fond of woodwinds, and “things with
frets and strings” including guitars, banjos and, of course,
mandolins.

“It was the first time I’d had any money or spare time and I found
that when I quit teaching, I suddenly had that much more time for
hobbies, so I didn’t write any more than I did before,” he said. “I
also wanted time for my style and approach to change a bit, to
mature. I didn’t want to write Captain Corelli’s Mandolin twice.”