Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 1999: WORLD-AFFAIRS in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 1999: WORLD-AFFAIRS

AFGHANISTAN Area: 652,225 sq km (251,825 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 24,792,000 (including Afghan refugees estimated to number more than 1,100,000 in Pakistan and about 1,400,000 in Iran) Capital: Kabul Chief of state: President Burhanuddin Rabbani; de facto Taliban Supreme Leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar Head of government: de facto Taliban council leader, Mullah Mohammad Rabbani Military successes by Afghanistan's Taliban government appeared to move the country closer to a unified political authority in 1998 than at any other time since the Soviet invasion of 1979. This consolidation of power, however, provoked international and regional tensions that threatened to destabilize the region and the Muslim world. Official Taliban restrictions on the education and employment of women brought critical reaction from the UN and other aid workers. In June the Taliban closed Kabul's private schools for women, including vocational training programs. The European Commission, complaining of restrictions on education, health care, and employment for women, suspended millions of dollars of funding for aid projects in July. Ordered to move their activities to a compound outside the city, most international aid workers left Kabul rather than comply. In August Mazar-e Sharif, the centre of anti-Taliban resistance in Afghanistan, fell to Taliban forces. This ended a stalemate in which Afghanistan had been divided between the Taliban, who controlled Kabul and the south of the country, and forces allied with the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani, confined mostly to an area north of the Hindu Kush. The Rabbani government had been driven from Kabul in September 1996 by the Taliban but had joined with Uzbek militia and troops of the Hezb-i Wahdat, a Shi!ite group of ethnic Hazara Afghans, in the Northern Alliance. After the fall of Mazar-e Sharif, Hazara fighters withdrew toward their central Afghan stronghold in Bamiyan, whereas forces led by Tajik commander Ahmad Shah Masoud continued to resist from mountainous areas north of Kabul. By mid-September Bamiyan too had fallen, and the Taliban controlled more than 90% of Afghanistan. Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan under Supreme Leader (Amir-ul-Momenin) Mullah Mohammad Omar and a Council of Ministers headed by Mullah Mohammad Rabbani. Most other countries and the UN continued to recognize the Islamic State of Afghanistan, led by Pres. Burhanuddin Rabbani. The consolidation of authority by the predominantly Pashtun Taliban aggravated tensions between Pashtuns and Afghanistan's other ethnic groups. In addition, the circumstances of the Taliban victory exposed a profound split between the staunchly Sunni Taliban and Shi!ite Iran, which had supported Afghanistan's Shi!ite minority. Taliban forces had occupied Mazar-e Sharif for a few days in 1997. During their withdrawal several thousand Taliban fighters had been taken captive and, as mass graves later revealed, massacred. The Taliban held Hazara forces primarily responsible for these killings. At the same time, Iran, long seen as military backers of the Shi!ite Hazara, became a focus of Taliban hostility. During the capture of Mazar-e Sharif in August, at least nine Iranians were killed when their consulate was stormed. Iran reacted by announcing a buildup of 200,000 troops along its border with Afghanistan, and Taliban officials proclaimed their readiness to attack Iranian cities with missiles. On August 20 U.S. missiles fired from the Arabian Sea struck training camps near Khost, south of Kabul, reportedly killing more than 20. The U.S. said that the camps were terrorist training bases used by Saudi Arabian dissident Osama bin Laden (see BIOGRAPHIES), who was suspected of having financed the August 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The Taliban refused to hand over bin Laden, who had been living in exile in Afghanistan since 1996. In November the Taliban reported that, since they had received no evidence from the U.S. of bin Laden's culpability, he was a free man. In February an earthquake struck the area near Rustaq in Takhar province, near the border with Tajikistan. Reports suggested that more than 4,000 may have died. In May a second earthquake shook the same location, and aid workers reported that 5,000 had died. ( See DISASTERS.) STEVEN SEGO ALBANIA Area: 28,748 sq km (11,100 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 3,331,000 Capital: Tiran Chief of state: President Rexhep Mejdani Head of government: Prime Ministers Fatos Nano and, from October 2, Pandeli Majko Albania in 1998 continued to suffer from its harsh political polarization. The opposition Democratic Party (PDS) of former president Sali Berisha ended a parliamentary boycott that it had started the previous year, demanding the resignation of the Socialist-dominated coalition government. Ignoring calls by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the Council of Europe, the PDS declined to participate in the parliamentary commission that was working on a draft constitution. Following widespread allegations of government inefficiency and corruption in his administration, Socialist Prime Minister Fatos Nano reshuffled his Cabinet in mid-April, reducing the number of ministers. Local by-elections on June 21 and 28 confirmed continuing popular support for his coalition, which won in five municipalities and six smaller communities. The opposition won in two municipalities and three communities. In late August police arrested former defense minister Safet Zhulali, former interior minister Halit Shamata, former chairman of state control Blerim Cela, and three other former officials of Berisha's government on charges of crimes against humanity in conjunction with their alleged roles in the suppression of unrest in 1997. General Prosecutor Arben Rakipi charged the six with having ordered the use of chemical weapons, airplanes, and helicopters against civilians. Subsequently, Berisha called on his supporters to bring down the government "with all means," saying that the arrests were politically motivated. On September 14, after the killing of a Berisha aide, Berisha supporters seized government buildings in Tiran. Government forces counterattacked and reoccupied the buildings, and on September 15 Berisha surrendered two tanks posted outside his headquarters after the government threatened to use force if his followers did not give up their weapons. Intraparty squabbling led to Prime Minister Nano's resignation on September 28, and he was replaced by 30-year-old Socialist Pandeli Majko a few days later. Pres. Rexhep Mejdani signed into law Albania's first post-communist constitution on November 28. More than 13,000 refugees fled into Albania after the eruption in February of civil war between the Serbian police and army and the ethnic Albanian separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) in the neighbouring province of Kosovo. The Albanian Foreign Ministry repeatedly charged Yugoslavia with border violations that included shelling and sniping and with conducting massacres of Kosovo's civilian population. It also called for NATO military intervention to stop the fighting. FABIAN SCHMIDT ALGERIA Area: 2,381,741 sq km (919,595 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 30,045,000 Capital: Algiers Chief of state: President Liamine Zeroual Head of government: Prime Ministers Ahmed Ouyahia and, from December 15, Smail Hamdani Violence continued to plague Algeria in 1998. Massacres during and just after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which coincided with January, were initially blamed on the extremist clandestine opposition coalition, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA). Subsequent investigations, however, suggested that government security forces were involved, and in early April two mayors in Relizane province were arrested for complicity in the attacks and 120 policemen were accused of involvement in murder, extortion, and kidnapping. At least 10 extrajudicial executions by the security forces were also revealed, and in September Pres. Liamine Zeroual authorized official support to resolve the issue of Algeria's "disappeared." Despite the ongoing violence, the security forces extended their activities against the GIA during the year. Security in major population centres improved, and the GIA seemed to have been pushed away from the central Mitidja plain toward the west of the country. The army's truce with the other major armed Islamic group, the Army of Islamic Salvation (AIS), held, and there were AIS-GIA clashes in June in which 50 persons died. Despite official claims that only 26,000 persons had died since 1992, outside observers estimated the true figure to be more than 70,000. The crisis in Algeria increasingly attracted external attention. Officials representing the European Union visited Algiers in early February, and a European parliamentary delegation followed later that month. Despite severe criticism over its human rights record at the UN Human Rights Conference in Geneva, the Algerian government invited a UN mission to visit in July. The mission concluded that the government was not involved in massacres and significant human rights abuses. Political conflicts continued throughout the year. Thirty small political parties that failed to meet electoral law criteria were banned in May. Ethnic tensions increased in June and July after the murder of a leading Berber singer and the introduction of an Arabization law, which required the use of Arabic in public. The president's adviser, Muhammad Betchine, and the prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, were subjected to a sustained hostile media campaign in July and August and, to general surprise, President Zeroual resigned in early September. New presidential elections were called for spring. Observers concluded that he had been forced out by the army command, despite Algeria's 1995 democratic constitution. His departure was followed in November by those of Betchine and the justice minister, Muhammad al-Adami. Prime Minister Ouyahia also resigned in December, to be replaced by Smail Hamdani, a former ambassador. Despite the International Monetary Fund's enthusiastic endorsement of Algeria's economic reforms in September, social tensions increased during the year, with unemployment at 28% and the national trade union threatening a general strike in April and October. The IMF standby facility, which expired in May, was not renewed, despite IMF prompting. The government agreed to speed up the privatization process, avoiding job losses as much as possible, and anxiety was expressed over the dominance of the oil and gas sector in the economy. The 21% increase in Algeria's oil quota granted by OPEC in January did not improve matters, and the budget had to be redrafted in June. Although Algeria's buoyant foreign exchange reserves would ensure that debt repayment would continue on schedule, the outlook for 1999 was bleak. GEORGE JOFF ANDORRA Area: 468 sq km (181 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 65,200 Capital: Andorra la Vella Chiefs of state: Co-princes of Andorra, the president of France and the bishop of Urgell, Spain Head of government: Prime Minister Marc Forn Moln With the European Union's new border-free trade policy in place, there was in 1998 a huge increase in the export of British cigarettes to Andorra (amounting to three packs a day per capita). This set off alarms within Andorra, and in March the EU sent fraud investigators there to check on tobacco smuggling. They found that organized gangs from Ireland and Great Britain were buying cigarettes in Andorra and smuggling them to their own countries, where they were sold on the black market and 70-80% tax levies were thereby avoided. The loss of tax revenues in the EU was estimated at $5 billion annually. The Andorran government pledged cooperation and raised retail taxes on cigarettes but did not make smuggling a penal offense. In April Andorra's foreign minister, Albert Pintat, met for official talks with his counterpart in Cuba. They pledged that the two countries would continue to enjoy friendly relations. ANNE ROBY ANGOLA Area: 1,246, 700 sq km (481,354 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 10,865,000 Capital: Luanda Chief of State: President Jos Eduardo dos Santos Head of government: Prime Minister Fernando Jos Frana van-Dnem In January 1998 the prospects for peace in Angola seemed better than they had for some time. At a meeting on January 9 between Pres. Jos dos Santos and delegates from the government and the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA), implementation of the terms of the Lusaka Protocol, the peace accord of 1994, was scheduled to be completed by February 28. Characteristically, however, a meeting between dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi, UNITA's leader, scheduled for the middle of February, was first postponed for two weeks and then lapsed completely; Savimbi maintained that it would be unsafe for him to travel to Luanda, whereas dos Santos was said to be too ill to leave the capital. Nevertheless, on March 6 UNITA claimed to have demobilized all its forces, and the government, though skeptical of the truth of the claim, responded by legalizing UNITA as a political party. Three members of UNITA were appointed as provincial governors on March 16, and four days later Savimbi was accorded special status. His privileges included armed bodyguards, residences, and trips abroad. Behind these promising developments, however, recriminations rumbled on. The government was accused of having announced the demobilization of UNITA's forces prematurely, with a view to making the troops still under arms illegal. The government responded by claiming that, in spite of the demobilization claims, UNITA's soldiers were beginning to regain control of surrendered territory. A further meeting between the government and UNITA was held on April 16-17 against a background of renewed reports that the latter's troops were active in a number of provinces, but no agreement was reached regarding the resumption of control over those areas by the government. The peace process received a severe setback when a UN special representative, Alioune Blondin Beye, was killed in an airplane crash on June 26. A successor, Issa Diallo, was appointed in August, but, in the meantime, dialogue between the opposing parties came virtually to a halt. The resumption of full-scale civil war was presaged by the massacre of more than 200 people in the diamond-mining province of Lunda Norte in July, with the government and UNITA accusing each other of responsibility for the killings. Exasperated by UNITA's continued procrastination, the government opened an offensive against a rebel base in the north of the country, near the town of Milando, on August 5. The objective seemed to be to put pressure on UNITA to implement the Lusaka Protocol rather than to oust the rebels from their main stronghold in the central highlands. Soon afterward government forces became deeply involved in fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in support of Pres. Laurent Kabila, their aim being to close the routes by which supplies of arms and other materials could reach UNITA. In September the government suspended all UNITA representatives in the parliament as well as the four UNITA members of the Cabinet. Later, military officials of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed that UNITA should be crushed by the forces of the SADC in alliance with the Angolan Army. Intense fighting resumed in December with government attacks on the UNITA strongholds of Andulo and Bailundo. KENNETH INGHAM Antarctica Ice averaging 2,160 m (7,085 ft) in thickness covers about 98% of the continent of Antarctica, which has an area of 14 million sq km (5.4 million sq mi). There is no indigenous human population, and there is no land-based industry. Human activity consists mainly of scientific research. The 43-nation Antarctic Treaty is the managerial mechanism for the region south of latitude 60 S, which includes all of Antarctica. The treaty reserves the area for peaceful purposes, encourages cooperation in science, prescribes environmental protection, allows inspections to verify adherence, and defers the issue of territorial sovereignty. A historic new agreement, the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty, entered into force on Jan. 14, 1998, after its ratification by the 26 Antarctic Treaty consultative (voting) nations. The protocol, which had been drafted in 1991, strengthened the original (1959) Antarctic Treaty, which designated Antarctica as a natural reserve devoted to peace and science. A widely noted feature of the protocol was its prohibition of mining and other activities relating to mineral resources, except for scientific research. More generally, it committed researchers to environmental impact assessments for both governmental and private proposed activities. It increased protection of plants and animals and their ecosystems throughout the region, and it designated certain areas for even more stringent protection. It prohibited or limited disposal of waste and discharge of pollutants. The protocol gave priority to scientific research, acknowledging the unique opportunities that Antarctica offered for understanding regional and global processes. Research groups had to make joint plans to respond to environmental emergencies, and compliance provisions included compulsory dispute settlement between member nations. Fisheries in Antarctic waters reported that during the 1997-98 year (July 1-June 30) they landed 92,456 metric tons, of which 87% was krill (Euphasia superba) and 12% was the Patagonian toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides). The highly marketable toothfish is an extremely slow-growing species that can live for more than 50 years and reach 2 m (6 ft) in length. The catch was about the same as reported the previous year. Japan and Poland led in the krill catch, and Chile, Australia, France, and South Africa caught the most Patagonian toothfish. A major concern in recent years had been the high catch of the Patagonian toothfish, over and above the official numbers, that had taken place without regard to fishing regulations. Scientists estimated that during the 1997-98 season this unregulated fishing landed five to six times more than the regulated fishery and would likely affect the sustainability of the toothfish stock. The concern also extended to the correspondingly higher incidental mortality of seabirds caused by longline fishing. Allegedly illegal fishing in Antarctic waters in 1998 resulted in the seizure (by France and Australia) of at least eight fishing ships. Member nations of the Convention on the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities in mid-1998 were considering methods to combat unregulated fishing, including use of satellite-linked vessel monitoring, a vessel registry, improved controls over national fishing vessels, improved controls on fish landings and sales, and sanctions to prevent trade in fish harvested in an unregulated way. Tourism in Antarctica rose substantially. A total of 9,604 tourists visited in the 1997-98 summer, up from more than 7,300 the previous year. Nearly all were passengers on 13 commercial ships that made 92 trips. About 200, however, arrived on yachts or commercial aircraft. The U.S. was the country of origin of 43% of the year's shipborne tourists. Germany, Australia, the U.K., Japan, and Switzerland also contributed significant numbers. The Antarctic Peninsula (Antarctica's northernmost region) was the most popular destination, but two tour ship visits were made to McMurdo, a U.S. research station that, at latitude 78 S, was Antarctica's southernmost port. The U.S. Navy in late 1998 began its last season of Antarctic operations. The withdrawal would close a 160-year history that began in the late 1830s with the navy's U.S. Exploring Expedition, which proved Antarctica a continent. The Air National Guard took over navy flying, and private firms were given other responsibilities that the navy had performed in recent decades to support research sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Science continued as Antarctica's main endeavour in 1998. Much of the research was performed to understand the continent and its role in world processes, especially climate change. Because of the extremely cold and dry atmosphere over interior Antarctica, astronomy and astrophysics flourished, particularly at the geographic South Pole, where the U.S. operated a year-round station. In all, 18 nations operated 36 year-round research stations. They and nine others, all Antarctic Treaty members, operated numerous additional summer research sites on the continent. On Vega Island off the Antarctic Peninsula, Argentine and U.S. scientists found a fossil tooth of the first duck-billed dinosaur, or hadrosaur, to be discovered outside the Americas. The tooth was in sands 65 million-70 million years old, from the Cretaceous Period. The find provided additional support for the existence of a land bridge between South America and Antarctica at that time. Scientists believed that dinosaurs and probably marsupial mammals used the bridge to disperse from the Americas to Australia via Antarctica. The hadrosaur discovery implied that Antarctica had a much different climate at that time, one that would support a robust ecosystem that provided vegetation to support these large plant eaters. In another find nearby, an ancient type of marine community typical of 450 million years ago resurfaced in fossils of near-modern age--fossil communities only 40 million years old dominated by brittle stars and sea lilies (marine invertebrates similar to starfish). As Antarctica entered its current deep freeze, scientists believed, cooling ocean temperatures suppressed predation and increased nutrient upwelling in the ocean surrounding the continent, which allowed the ancient creatures to reestablish themselves. The discovery revealed the impact global climate change can have on marine life. The Antarctic ozone hole was the largest ever in 1998, extending over an area nearly twice the size of the continent and extending higher above the Earth's surface than had previously been measured. A deep winter chill in the stratosphere, rather than increased manmade chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), got the blame; the cold increased the amount of clouds on whose surfaces CFCs destroy ozone. Scientists revised their estimate of the beginning of ozone recovery to 2015 for lower latitudes, but they said that the effect of greenhouse gases, which ironically chill the high stratosphere even while warming the lower atmosphere, would keep the Antarctic ozone hole as extensive as ever. The West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which if it melted would raise sea level some 5.5 m (18 ft), provided unsettling news in 1998. Researchers sifting through mud drilled from underneath it reported that it had disintegrated to next to nothing at least once in the last 1.3 million years. In addition, space radar images hinted that Pine Island Glacier, a major ice outlet, was retreating inland by more than 1 km (0.62 mi) a year, a rate that most models indicated would speed up if it continued. Collapse of the entire sheet could happen within two centuries, raising sea level at an alarming rate for the world's coastal areas. Other models suggested a slower collapse, in 4,000-7,000 years. GUY G. GUTHRIDGE ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA Area: 442 sq km (171 sq mi) Population (1997 est.): 64,500 (excluding evacuees from Montserrat) Capital: Saint John's Chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General James Carlisle Head of government: Prime Minister Lester Bird The problems facing Antigua and Barbuda's offshore banking sector continued in 1998. Three such banks were closed early in the year, following similar action against eight others in 1997. In May six men were arrested in the U.S. for allegedly using an Antiguan bank to launder money improperly obtained from U.S. investors. Antigua and Barbuda, in common with other Caribbean governments, stepped up the battle against money laundering. Attorney and member of parliament Vere Bird, Jr., brother of Prime Minister Lester Bird, was recovering after having been shot in the jaw in late 1997 by one of his clients, Cyril Bufton. Bufton had apparently become incensed over Bird's failure to secure better terms from the government for the removal of himself and his wife from nearby Guiana Island. The government was permitting Asian investors to develop the site into a major resort complex. Various legal maneuvers by the opposition United Progressive Party failed to stop the move. Bufton was charged with attempted murder. In September Hurricane Georges battered the Caribbean islands, killing two people and injuring several others on Antigua. DAVID RENWICK Arctic Regions The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66 30 N], climatic [north of the 10 C (50 F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or human (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures--Inuit, or Eskimo, and Aleut in North America; Saami, or Lapp, in northern Scandinavia; and, west to east, Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Green-land (part of Denmark). The Arctic Ocean, 14,090,000 sq km (5,440,000 sq mi) in area, constitutes about two-thirds of the region, the remaining land area consisting of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. Population (1999 est.) of peoples be-longing to the circumpolar cultures, more than 400,000 (including more than 200,000 in Russia). International organizations concerned with the Arctic include: the Arctic Council, the International Arc-tic Science Committee, the Barents Euro-Arctic Council, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, and the Saami Council. The Association of Indigenous Minorities of the North, Siberia and the Far East of the Russian Federation represents the interests of the 31 indigenous peoples of northern Russia. Late in 1997 Gov. Tony Knowles of Alaska announced the first new North Slope oil field in 10 years. The Badami oil field, located about 55 km (1 km = 0.62 mi) from Prudhoe Bay, was owned by BP Ltd. The field's recoverable reserves were estimated at 120 million bbl and were expected to produce up to 30,000 bbl of oil a day during its 25-year life. Construction of the site injected $200 million into the Alaskan economy, and the state was expected to receive $350 million in royalties during the life of the field. Under a controversial plan announced in August 1998, almost two million hectares (1 ha = 2.47 ac) in the National Petroleum Reserve on Alaska's North Slope would be reopened to oil and gas leasing. U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt indicated that the government was seeking to achieve in the reserve a balance between protecting sensitive environmental areas that provide habitat for caribou, grizzly bears, and birds and allowing drilling on land that industry believed was rich in oil. The nine million-hectare reserve was created in 1923 to ensure that the U.S. Navy had access to oil in a national emergency. According to industry estimates, it may hold between 400 million and one billion barrels of oil, far less than the Prudhoe Bay oil fields to the east. The plan did not affect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, farther east along the Beaufort Sea coast. In May a U.S. Geological Survey report increased the mid-range estimate of oil under the refuge to 20.7 billion bbl, up from the 13.8 billion bbl previously reported in 1987. The increased estimates were based on data from drilling sites outside the refuge, new computer analyses of seismic data collected in 1987, and the impacts of improved oil-recovery technologies that reduced the cost of production and the adverse environmental effects. In August it was reported that a Canadian company, Foothills Pipelines Ltd., had committed itself to a 22% interest in a new pipeline project--the Alaskan North Slope Project Sponsor Agreement. The multibillion-dollar project would involve the building of gas-conditioning facilities on the North Slope, a 1,300-km pipeline to Valdez, a gas-liquefaction facility, and tankers to transport the gas to markets. The agreement was seen as an encouragement for future northern natural gas development in the western Canadian Arctic. Governor Knowles pointed out that Alaska's North Slope was endowed with an estimated one trillion cubic metres of natural gas (1 cu m = 35.3 cu ft). He indicated that the project would create an estimated 10,000 construction jobs as well as 600 permanent jobs operating the pipeline and other facilities. In September the Yukon News reported on a meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, of the Northern Forum, a nongovernmental organization of 22 regional governments--territories, prefectures, provinces, and counties--from across the Arctic. Among the problems discussed were air pollution in the polar regions; reindeer herding in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia; the management of fish stocks that were being depleted in Norway, Alaska, and Russia; forest-management issues in northern Sweden and the Yukon in Canada; tourist development; exchange programs for students; and the possible creation of an international Arctic development bank. The government of the Northwest Territories (NWT) in Canada laid out its vision for administering the western portion of the NWT after the eastern portion became a separate political entity--called Nunavut--in April 1999. The controversial proposal was for a new kind of "partnership government" between native leaders and the territorial government to govern the western NWT as equal partners. The proposal also called on the Canadian government to transfer control of oil, gas, and minerals to the people who lived in the North. The fact that the NWT government might eventually become unrepresentative of all the people in its territory--split evenly between the native and nonnative population--went to the heart of one of the most sensitive issues in the North. In a judgment known as the Delgamuukw case, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in December 1997 that native people have a constitutional and historic right to their ancestral lands and that governments cannot override that right without appropriate consultation and compensation. The court also ruled that oral history--information and knowledge passed from generation to generation--must be regarded as serious evidence in determining native claims. One result of the Delgamuukw case was that the Inuit and other native people of Arctic Labrador and Quebec were able to challenge governments successfully concerning the development of several large projects, including the nickel mine at Voisey Bay being developed by Inco. Ltd. and the proposed $12 billion development of the hydroelectric potential of the lower Churchill River in Labrador. The $19.5 million Project SHEBA--short for Surface Heat Budget of the Arctic Ocean--ended in mid-October, one year after the Canadian Coast Guard ship Des Groseilliers had rammed its way 200 km into the Arctic Ocean ice pack. The icebreaker was allowed to freeze there as a floating research station while as many as 15 crew and 45 scientists from Canada, Japan, The Netherlands, and the U.S. conducted experiments in temporary buildings set up on the ice surrounding the vessel. The study's main purpose was to look at the impact of global warming on the polar ice pack, half of which freezes and refreezes each year. Some scientists predicted that if the Earth heated up by means of global warming, the ice could vanish. Other SHEBA studies found that the Arctic Ocean was more productive than scientists had predicted and that mercury, one of the contaminants measured, was found in snow at 20 times the level found in southern Canada. During its year-long drift Des Groseilliers traveled 11-19 km a day. New atmospheric and scientific data reported in September were consistent with computer models that predicted that higher latitudes would be disproportionately impacted by higher temperatures. For example, while summer temperatures were 4.86 C (2.7 F) above normal across Canada, they were more than 9 C (5 F) above normal in parts of the NWT. These higher temperatures matched other data recorded throughout the world. The Yukon News reported in August that global warming would likely prove detrimental to the native subsistence economy. Trapping, for example, would be affected because prime fur requires freezing temperatures, which were now occurring later in the winter, when there is little daylight. Following an international agreement reached in Scotland in June, Greenland closed its commercial salmon fishery, cutting off an industry that caught a large number of fish as they headed home to Canadian rivers. This was the first time in history no commercial fishermen were allowed to catch Canadian salmon in the eastern Arctic. Canada had previously shut down the commercial fisheries on its east coast. The closing down of these fisheries was estimated to have saved approximately 25,000 salmon in 1998. A British explorer, David Hempleman-Adams, achieved the last leg of what was called the "adventurers' grand slam" when he completed a 965.5-km journey on foot to reach the geographic North Pole at the end of April. He previously had climbed the highest peaks of all seven continents and had reached three of the four poles, magnetic and geographic, both north and south. He and his Norwegian trekking partner, Rune Gjeldnes, completed the journey on skis 54 days after leaving their starting point on Ward Hunt Island in Canada's Arctic. KENNETH DE LA BARRE ARGENTINA Area: 2,780,092 sq km (1,073,400 sq mi) Population (1998 est.): 36,125,000 Capital: Buenos Aires Head of state and government: President Carlos Sal Menem, assisted by Ministerial Coordinator Jorge Rodrguez The administration of Pres. Carlos Menem was in its next-to-last year in 1998, with Menem's term due to expire in early December 1999 and presidential elections (along with those for half of the Chamber of Deputies) due to be held during the previous two months (probably in October 1999). Despite the relatively long time remaining before the vote, 1998 from the outset was dominated in the political sphere by electoral considerations. In January the list of presidential candidates was led by Graciela Fernndez Meijide of the Frepaso coalition, with more than one-third of the votes in opinion surveys. Fernando de la Ra, the mayor of Buenos Aires and Meijide's rival from within the electoral Alliance formed between Frepaso and the Radical Civic Union (UCR) in August 1997, was in second place. The tables turned, however, following a very strong showing by de la Ra in the November 29 primary election. Leading candidates from the ruling Justicialist National Movement (Peronist Party) included Eduardo Duhalde (governor of Buenos Aires province), Ramn Ortega (former governor of Tucumn province), and Menem. Efforts to secure changes in the electoral and constitutional rules to permit Menem to run for a third consecutive term were prominent during the first half of the year. On March 19 the national electoral tribunal voted to give the nation's Supreme Court the final decision on this issue. This ruling had not been delivered by July, and at a special convention of the Justicialists on July 17, Menem sought to win the party's endorsement for a third term. Menem won the support of the convention, but, faced with the threat of a party split, he declared on July 21 that he would not press ahead with his reelection bid. This appeared to have staved off a major rift, although tensions between Duhalde and Menem remained high. There were also signs that the party might lose its control of the Senate in December, when some seats were being contested under transition rules set forth in the 1994 constitution. Despite Menem's diminished popularity in Argentina, which was underscored by a number of unsavoury developments during the year, including allegations of corruption affecting senior levels of government, his international prestige continued to grow. This was exemplified in the final quarter of the year when he received an invitation to address the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank annual meetings jointly with U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton. This was followed by important state visits in Europe, not least to the U.K. at the end of October. Compared with growth officially estimated at 8.4% in 1997, the expansion of gross domestic product (GDP) proceeded at a slower rate in 1998 under the impact of the financial crisis in Asia. This was confirmed by first-quarter GDP figures published in June, indicating a growth rate of 6.9% over the year; this was revised in September to 7.2%. Toward the end of August, Finance Secretary Pablo Guidotti stated that the official projection for 1998 GDP growth had been revised to 4.8%. Unemployment remained high, at 13.2% in both May and August. A series of budget cuts was introduced by Economy Minister Roque Fernndez in a bid to ensure that the country would meet the budget deficit targets agreed upon with the IMF and also to help underpin investor confidence. Inflation remained low, at about 1.1% in the year to the end of September, with monthly rates of 0 in both August and September. On the trade front, export expansion was undermined by low commodity prices in the wake of the Asian crisis and reduced demand from Brazil, whereas import growth remained relatively strong. This increased the deficit to $3,390,000,000 in the eight months to the end of August; during the same period of 1997, the deficit had totaled $1,730,000,000. Despite the difficult international financial market conditions prevailing in late 1998, by October 5 Argentina was able to announce that it had secured some $5.7 billion in new financing from the World Bank ($2 billion), Inter-American Development Bank ($2 billion), and private foreign banks and a local bond issue ($1.7 billion), which was sufficient to cover financing needs through March 1999. The peso remained stable at parity with the U.S. dollar, underpinned by reserves in excess of $25 billion and by growing bank deposits. SUSAN M. CUNNINGHAM ARMENIA Area: 29,743 sq km (11,484 sq mi). Some 12-15% of neighbouring Azerbaijan (including the 4,400-sq km [1,700-sq mi] disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh [Armenian: Artsakh]) has been occupied by Armenian forces since 1993. Population (1998 est.): officially 3,800,000; actually about 3,000,000 (plus 150,000 in Nagorno-Karabakh) Capital: Yerevan Chief of state: Presidents Levon Ter-Petrosyan and, from February 4 (acting until April 9), Robert Kocharyan Head of government: Prime Ministers Robert Kocharyan and, from April 10, Armen Darbinyan A fundamental disagreement surfaced in January 1998 between Pres. Levon Ter-Petrosyan and Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan over the best way to resolve the conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. Ter-Petrosyan advocated the peace plan proposed by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in September 1997 as a basis for negotiating concessions, but Kocharyan rejected it. After the defense and security ministers made clear their support for Kocharyan, Ter-Petrosyan's authority rapidly crumbled. Ter-Petrosyan resigned as president on February 3. In accordance with the constitution, the presidential powers devolved on Kocharyan pending elections for a new president on March 16. In that poll none of the 12 candidates gained the required 50% majority. In the second round on March 30, Kocharyan won with 59% of the vote; the election was, however, marred by charges of fraud. Kocharyan proclaimed a policy of national reconciliation, lifting the ban imposed by his predecessor on the Dashnak (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) party and releasing its leading members from prison. He also offered one of the Dashnak leaders and three defeated presidential candidates posts as his advisers and created a presidential council intended to provide those political parties not represented in the National Assembly with a forum to discuss policy. Kocharyan appointed Economy and Finance Minister Armen Darbinyan prime minister. Neither those appointments nor encouraging economic trends succeeded, however, in dispelling public suspicion that the new leadership was as corrupt as its predecessor. The murder in Augu

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