Meaning of YEAR IN REVIEW 2000: WORLD-AFFAIRS in English

YEAR IN REVIEW 2000: WORLD-AFFAIRS

Afghanistan Area: 652,225 sq km (251,825 sq mi)Population (1999 est.):25,825,000 (including Afghan refugees estimated to number about 1,100,000 in Pakistan and about 1,400,000 in Iran)Capital: KabulChief of state: de facto Taliban Supreme Leader (Amir-ul-Momenin), Mullah Mohammad OmarHead of government: de facto Taliban council leader, Mullah Mohammad Rabbani In 1999 the Islamic fundamentalist Taliban exercised political control over 90% of Afghanistan, but its inability to eliminate completely military opposition left the country internally divided throughout the year and made it a source of instability for other countries in the region. Opposition to rule by the mainly Pashtun Taliban came initially from Afghanistan's non-Pashtun ethnic groups, notably the Uzbek and Turkmen minorities. Their centre, Mazar-e Sharif, had been taken by Taliban forces in August 1998, and a few weeks later Bamiyan, the centre of the Hazara minority, had fallen. The suppression of the Shi'ite Muslim resistance heightened tension between the Taliban regime and Iranian authorities that continued into 1999. In May the Taliban was accused of conducting an anti-Shi'ite campaign in Herat, but the information minister contended that his government had only suppressed an Iran-backed conspiracy in the western Afghan city. During 1999 the most significant opposition to the Taliban movement was led by Ahmad Shah Masoud, a Tajik military leader based in the Panjshir Valley, north of Kabul. Fighting during the summer months was focused on the Shomali plains, where a Taliban campaign pushed Masoud's forces into the Panjshir Valley. The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said that 40,000 civilians had been forced out of the newly taken territory, populated mostly by Tajiks, in order to deprive opposition forces of sympathetic support. The Taliban was accused of destroying villages to make them uninhabitable. There were reports that another 100,000 civilian refugees had fled to the Panjshir Valley, where they were expected to face shortages of food and water. Afghanistan's neighbours urged the warring factions to find a peaceful settlement, an act that reflected a common concern by leaders of the former Soviet Central Asian republics over the threat to stability in their own countries from Islamic fundamentalism and ethnic antagonisms. Turkmenistan tried to establish its neutrality by opening direct talks with the Taliban and acting as host for peace talks between the two sides in its capital, Ashgabat, in February. The Ashgabat talks, organized by UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, brought Masoud together with Taliban representatives. A second round of talks in March resulted in an agreement on principles, but the crucial question of who should exercise authority in Afghanistan was not resolved. Opposition forces and the UN, encouraged by several governments in the region, pushed for a broad-based coalition to take charge, but the Taliban insisted that the country be subject to a unified command under its own supreme leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar. In April a Taliban spokesman declared the talks a failure. Public statements by officials in Uzbekistan showing solidarity with Iran's anti-Taliban position were balanced with diplomatic approaches to Kabul. Uzbekistan also was host to talks in Tashkent among a group of contact countries from the region. In July the UN sponsored talks in Tashkent of the "six plus two," Afghanistan's six immediate neighbours-Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and China-plus the U.S. and Russia. This conference included face-to-face meetings between Taliban and opposition representatives, but there was still no progress toward a settlement. Non-Afghan UN employees began returning to Afghanistan in March. The UN had pulled out all foreign staff after a colleague was shot amid violent protests against the August 1998 U.S. missile attacks on alleged terrorist camps run by Osama bin Laden. The U.S. accused bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi Arabian, of using Afghanistan as an operational base for anti-U.S. terrorist activities, including the bombings in 1998 of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Taliban authorities refused to extradite bin Laden, and his whereabouts became the subject of speculation. In July U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton signed an executive order imposing economic and commercial sanctions on the Taliban for its support of bin Laden and his terrorist network. Stephen Sego Albania Area: 28,748 sq km (11,100 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 3,365,000Capital: TiranChief of state: President Rexhep MejdaniHead of government: Prime Minister Pandeli Majko and, from October 27, Ilir Meta Developments in Albania in 1999 were determined by the war in neighbouring Kosovo. During the 78 days of the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia from March until June, about 450,000 of the total 750,000 Kosovar refugees expelled by Yugoslav forces fled into Albania. That figure was equal to almost 15% of Albania's total population. The hostilities turned Albania into a key operational theatre for international relief agencies and NATO forces in Albania, called KFOR, which launched a humanitarian relief operation. In addition, within the framework of the NATO air campaign, U.S. forces deployed 24 Apache antitank helicopters and long-range artillery pieces in northern Albania. The northern Albanian border regions of Kuks and Tropoj bore the brunt of the refugee influx and military operations. Supplying the refugees and transporting them to other parts of the country created immense logistic difficulties for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other relief agencies. The region also saw ongoing border clashes between Yugoslav forces, who continually shelled Albanian border villages, and Kosovo Liberation Army fighters operating in part from support bases inside Albania. The border area remained heavily mined after the fighting subsided. The arrival of NATO troops in Kosovo on June 12 and the end of the fighting paved the way for the return of the opposition Democratic Party (PDS) to Albanian political life after 10 months of boycotting of the People's Assembly. (The party began a sustained boycott after a PDS delegate, Azem Hajdari, was killed in September 1998.) At an extraordinary party congress in Tiran on July 17, PDS leader Sali Berisha declared that its return was a gesture of gratitude to the U.S. for its engagement on behalf of the Kosovars. Until that time the PDS had been strongly under the control of Berisha, but late in the year the reformists in the PDS openly clashed with Berisha's supporters over party strategy. The reformers argued that the parliamentary boycott was leading to political isolation of the party. Similarly, in the governing Socialist Party, former prime minister Fatos Nano won the party leadership from Prime Minister Pandeli Majko. Majko subsequently resigned as prime minister and was replaced by the former deputy prime minister, Ilir Meta. On September 15 Nano accused Majko of having allowed Kosovar guerrillas to smuggle arms through Albanian territory. A measure of normalcy descended on civilian life in the north as well. Newly appointed Interior Minister Spartak Poci managed to break up 12 criminal gangs throughout the country, most notably those in Tropoj, where special police units restored order in September. Because of frequent armed robberies, Tropoj earlier had been a "no-go" area for international aid agencies. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe closed its office there on June 16 after gunmen killed two of its local staff. With the end of the fighting in Kosovo, Albania's relations improved with its neighbours-Montenegro, Macedonia, Greece, and the new UN administration in Kosovo, with whom the Albanian Foreign Ministry planned a series of joint regional development projects within the framework of the European Union-funded Stability Pact for Southeastern Europe. Early accomplishments included the installation of a powerful microwave-telephone connection between Albania and Kosovo and the signing of infrastructure development projects with Montenegro. Fabian Schmidt Algeria Area: 2,381,741 sq km (919,595 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 29,910,000Capital: AlgiersChief of state: Presidents Liamine Zeroual and, from April 27, Abdelaziz BouteflikaHead of government: Prime Minister Smail Hamdani and, from December 23, Ahmed Benbitour In theory 1999 should have marked the beginning of a new era in Algeria in the wake of the departure of the Zeroual regime. The first three months of the year, however, were marked by an increasingly vituperative presidential election campaign that culminated, on April 15, in the withdrawal of six of the seven candidates, just before the elections were due to be held, on the grounds that the result would be fraudulent. Abdelaziz Bouteflika, long identified by a hostile press as the army's preferred candidate, did not withdraw, however, and was-not surprisingly-declared elected by close to a 75% majority of the votes cast. Voter turnout, however, probably represented only about 23% of the electorate. The new president immediately sought to win Algerians' approval, despite the manner of his appointment, by promising to end the terrorism crisis, in which he admitted that up to 100,000 persons had died, although the official figure up to then had been 28,000. He proposed a partial amnesty on May 29, decreeing a pardon for some 4,000 Islamists at the same time. In the event, 2,400 persons were freed from prison on July 5, Algerian Independence Day, and the National People's Assembly passed an amnesty law that was approved by referendum on September 16. The Army of Islamic Salvation (AIS), which had entered into a truce with the Algerian government in October 1997, agreed to lay down its arms in June. By the end of October, however, there were hints that its leader, Madani Mezraq, might call for a renewal of violence by the end of the amnesty period on Jan. 13, 2000, because the conditions of the truce had still not been met. Violence, which had escalated during Ramadan at the start of the year, died away as the presidential elections approached and as more effective security operations were established. The Armed Islamic Group (GIA) split into a group under Antar Zouabri in the Mitidja Plain and a new group calling itself the Jami'yya Salafiyya li'l-Daw'a wa'l-Jihad under Hassan Hattab in the area east of the capital, which pursued different policies. Whereas the Zouabri group continued as in the past, the Hattab group targeted the security forces and eschewed the indiscriminate killings typical of the GIA. Sporadic violence occurred elsewhere as well, particularly in the supposedly pacified west of the country. A road ambush at Bchar in August in which 29 persons died led to official verbal attacks on Morocco for harbouring GIA groups. The Moroccans hotly denied it. By the end of the year, President Bouteflika's enthusiasm, although undimmed, had lost some of its sheen as his difficulties multiplied. The removal of 22 of Algeria's 47 provincial governors and, later, of urban officials as well did little to stem corruption. Apparently because of objections from his army backers, it was only late in December that he found it possible to name his own prime minister and reshuffle the government. Meanwhile, the economic situation worsened, with unemployment reaching 30%, despite the improvement in world oil prices. George Joff Andorra Area: 468 sq km (181 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 66,100Capital: Andorra la VellaChiefs of state: Co-princes of Andorra, the president of France and the bishop of Urgell, SpainHead of government: Chief Executive Marc Forn Moln Andorra maintained its status as a mecca for tourists, especially the day-trippers attracted by duty-free shopping. Efforts were being made to attract longer-term visitors on a year-round basis as well. The skiing season, which usually lasted from December through March, was enhanced and extended by the use of snowmaking machines. Hiking trails were developed to attract visitors during the dry season, and the village festivals during the summer months were more widely publicized. Banking continued to contribute substantially to the economy. Long considered a tax haven, Andorra worked to expand its financial services. Radio Valira, the first radio station in Andorra, opened during the year. Anne Roby Angola Area: 1,246,700 sq km (481,354 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 11,178,000Capital: LuandaChief of state: President Jos Eduardo dos SantosHead of government: Prime Minister Fernando Jos Frana van-Dnem until January 29; thereafter the responsibilities of the prime minister were assumed by the president. The attack launched by government forces against UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) rebels in the central Angolan highlands in December 1998 quickly proved to have been ill-judged. While the government had dispatched large numbers of troops to assist in the civil war in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo, UNITA had used the temporary lull in hostilities to build up its own armed forces. With money obtained from the illegal sale of diamonds smuggled out through neighbouring territories, it had also acquired unexpectedly large quantities of weapons of a level of sophistication that took its opponents by surprise. By mid-January 1999 UNITA had laid siege to the three government-held cities of Malanje, Huambo, and Kuito and on January 26 was reported to have captured M'banza congo, near the border with the Republic of the Congo. This was an important base from which to launch attacks on oil installations in the northwest and diamond mines in the northeast. The increase in hostilities, accompanied by the shooting down of two UN-chartered aircraft by UNITA on Dec. 26, 1998, and on Jan. 2, 1999, prompted Issa Diallo, the UN's special representative in Angola, to insist upon the importance of maintaining the UN presence in the country. On February 26, however, the UN Security Council, acting on the recommendation of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, voted unanimously to disband its peacekeeping mission on March 20. The Angolan government, disillusioned by the role played by the UN, had already rejected the ineffective Lusaka peace agreement of November 1994. It had also decided to discontinue its support for the UN observer mission on the grounds that UNITA had cynically failed to fulfill the terms of both the peace agreements negotiated by the UN and, with impunity, had used the opportunity to strengthen its own position. The government recognized, however, that its foreign currency reserves were almost exhausted and admitted in its budget, published in March, that because of its poor record of debt repayment there was little prospect of external financial aid. Nonetheless, in May, in response to the Council of Ministers' agreement to the participation of foreign oil companies in three promising offshore projects, a group of foreign banks offered a morale-boosting loan of $575 million. The following month the government was also able to announce the discovery of an important diamond field on the outskirts of Kuito, though its exploitation would depend upon the progress of the war that had raged around the town for six months. The immediate prospects were not bright, and in August Pres. Jos Eduardo dos Santos warned members of the Southern African Development Community at a summit meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, that the activities of Angolan rebels were likely to affect neighbouring countries. Although the UN wanted to impose sterner sanctions in the hope of bringing Jonas Savimbi, UNITA's leader, to the negotiating table, dos Santos still refused to take part in any further talks because, in the light of previous events, he felt he could not trust Savimbi. Kenneth Ingham Antarctica Ice averaging 2,160 m (7,085 ft) in thickness covers more than 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 44-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. In 1999 Venezuela acceded to the Antarctic Treaty, bringing to 44 the number of nations that agreed to use the region south of 60 S latitude for peaceful purposes only. Twenty-seven of these nations performed scientific research in the Antarctic in 1999 and thus had voting status at that year's consultative meeting, the 23rd since the treaty entered into force in 1961. The meeting improved environmental assessment and protection measures, considered ways to improve shipping safety, and urged nonconsultative nations that send expeditions to adhere to the treaty's new (1998) Protocol on Environmental Protection. The meeting also passed a resolution to support control of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in Antarctic waters. Scientists estimated that unregulated fishing landed five to six times more Patagonian toothfish than the regulated fishery and would likely affect the sustainability of the stock. The fish, marketed as Chilean sea bass, grow extremely slowly; they live more than 50 years and reach 1.8 m (6 ft) in length. Member nations of the Antarctic Marine Living Resources Convention in 1998 had implemented ways to combat unregulated fishing, including satellite-linked vessel monitoring and vessel registry and marking, and in 1999 they worked on measures to control trade of fish caught illegally. Legal fisheries in Antarctic waters reported that during the 1998-99 year (July 1 to June 30) they landed 119,898 metric tons, of which 85% was krill (Euphasia superba) and 14% was the Patagonian toothfish. Tourism figures rose again, with 10,013 persons visiting during the 1998-99 Antarctic summer, compared with 9,604 the previous year. Most visits were seaborne by 16 ships and several yachts, which made a total of 116 voyages. Nearly 16,000 tourists were expected during the 1999-2000 season, with at least part of the increase attributed to welcoming the new millennium in Antarctica. The U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., calculated that the first sunrise of 2000 over land would take place at Dibble Glacier, Antarctica. At the geographic South Pole at 90 S latitude in the interior of Antarctica, construction continued, summer and winter, on buildings to replace aging research facilities that the U.S. National Science Foundation installed in 1975. The new station was to be ready in 2005 and would support mainly astrophysics. Some scientists proposed reassembling the famous central structure of the retiring station-a geodesic dome-as a polar museum at Ohio State University. Wide press attention was given to the station's physician, who showed symptoms of breast cancer during the eight-month winter isolation. In October 1999 she was evacuated to a hospital in the United States. Water discovered deep under the thick ice of East Antarctica was the subject of scientific interest because it could harbour life forms that had been isolated for as long as a million years. The body of water, the size and depth of Lake Ontario, was called Lake Vostok. Ice-core drilling for climate studies, which penetrated within 120 m (394 ft) of the lake, was stopped so researchers could figure out how to sample the lake without contaminating it. NASA said Lake Vostok could serve as a test bed for future exploration of Jupiter's moon Europa, thought to have an ice-covered ocean similar to the Antarctic feature. U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton, while in Christchurch, N.Z., after having attended an economics meeting, announced the release of previously classified satellite photographs of Antarctica's McMurdo Dry Valleys. Seven images made in 1975 and 1980 offered sufficiently good resolution and digital elevation data to track, for example, the rise of glacier-fed lakes, indicating climate change. During a cruise aboard the research icebreaker Nathaniel B. Palmer, Joseph Eastman of Ohio University netted four species of fish previously unknown to science. The waters appeared to have been the site of geologically recent "adaptive radiation" as a single stock of fish evolved to fill ecological niches that unrelated species would otherwise occupy. This was the only known example of an adaptive radiation in marine fish. In October NASA announced the first high-resolution map of Antarctica compiled from images taken in 1997 by Radarsat, a Canadian satellite. The first evidence of large volcanic eruptions that shook Antarctica about 25 million years ago was discovered in rock cores retrieved from the seabed as part of an ocean-floor drilling project. One eruption was several times larger than that of Mt. St. Helens (in Washington state) in 1980. The evidence was gathered in the Cape Roberts Project, involving scientists from Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States. The evidence consisted of layers of volcanic debris that were erupted explosively into the atmosphere and then settled into the ocean onto the seafloor. The thickness and coarseness of the debris indicated a large eruption that reached into the stratosphere. The discovery demonstrated a far more spectacular history of volcanic activity than was previously suspected for the Ross Sea region of Antarctica. An iceberg remnant that had broken off the Thwaites Ice Tongue in the early 1990s entered shipping channels south of South America in 1999. The berg, B-10A, was 39 77 km (24 48 statute miles). A U.S. Antarctic research ship circumnavigated the iceberg, photographing it, plotting its shape with radar, and collecting blue-ice fragments for study. New evidence was found that the renewal of deep waters by sinking surface water near Antarctica had slowed to only one-third its flow of a century or two earlier. Science magazine said this huge, climate-altering change-if it was real-would greatly complicate attempts to understand how the ocean and climate were responding to another big influence on climate-the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Guy G. Guthridge Antigua and Barbuda Area: 442 sq km (171 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 69,100 (including evacuees from Montserrat)Capital: Saint John'sChief of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor-General James Carlisle Head of government: Prime Minister Lester Bird Prime Minister Lester Bird of Antigua and Barbuda successfully ensured himself another five years in office when his Antigua Labour Party (ALP) won the general election on March 9, 1999. This was the ALP's sixth successive election victory. The party captured 12 seats in the 17-seat House of Representatives, one more than it previously held. The main opposition United Progressive Party took four seats, losing one to the ALP. The Barbuda People's Movement retained the Barbuda seat, as usual. Accusations of a lax attitude toward the problem of money laundering continued to dog the government. In April the U.S. Treasury Department advised American banks to exercise "close scrutiny" of transactions with financial institutions in Antigua and Barbuda. American authorities felt that the legislation passed by the Bird government a few months before the last election actually facilitated, rather than discouraged, money laundering. The U.S. advisory was followed by one from the government of Great Britain. Shortly after these admonitions, William Cooper, head of Antigua and Barbuda's American International Bank, was arrested and charged with money laundering. In June the country's veteran political leader, Vere Bird, father of the sitting prime minister, died. (See Obituaries.) David Renwick Arctic Regions The Arctic regions may be defined in physical terms (astronomical [north of the Arctic Circle, latitude 66 30' N], climatic [above the 10 C (50 F) July isotherm], or vegetational [above the northern limit of the tree line]) or in human terms (the territory inhabited by the circumpolar cultures-Inuit (Eskimo) and Aleut in North America; Saami (Lapp) in northern Scandinavia; and Uralic, Paleosiberian, Middle Asian, and Arctic peoples in northern Russia and Siberia). No single national sovereignty or treaty regime governs the region, which includes portions of seven countries: Canada, United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Greenland (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 land area consists of permanent ice cap, tundra, or taiga. The population (1999 est.) of peoples belonging to the circumpolar cultures is 375,000. International organizations concerned with the Arctic include the Arctic Council, the Barents Euro-Arctic Region, the Inuit Circumpolar Conference, the Saami Council, and the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North. International scientific cooperation of the Arctic is the focus of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska at Fairbanks. In March 1999, as the 10th anniversary passed of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska's Prince William Sound, the Anchorage Daily News reported that the five-year-old class-action lawsuit, originally settled for $5 billion, against Exxon Corp. had not yet been resolved. None of the estimated 35,000 plaintiffs had received payment, though many were due to receive $1 million or more. Exxon was reported to have paid out $300 million to fishers for losses they incurred in 1989 for not being able to fish and an additional $2 billion to clean up the spill. Exxon also paid $1 billion to settle state and federal claims. The company was appealing the class-action court decision because it did not believe that additional punitive damages were warranted. In April BP Amoco announced plans to buy the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO). This estimated $27 billion acquisition, if successful, would make BP Amoco the world's second largest oil company. Alaska would then become the company's biggest producer. Because nearly 60% of the state's budget and 40% of its total economic activity came from North Slope oil fields, a takeover of ARCO would give BP Amoco unprecedented influence over Alaska's future. The company announced plans to invest $5 billion over the next five years to further develop its North Slope oil and gas fields and its small new oil fields in the Arctic, such as Badami and North Star. In May, after more than 60 years, hunters from the Bering Strait island of Little Diomede landed a bowhead whale. The 8.5-m (28-ft)-long whale, estimated to weigh 25 metric tons, was landed by a six-member crew using a walrus-skin boat. After being recognized by the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, the community did not obtain the right to kill bowheads by the International Whaling Commission until 1991. Since then, Diomede hunters had had the right to land two bowheads a year. It was expected that landing the bowheads would revive cultural ceremonies and the role of community elders, which had been associated with this traditional hunting practice. On April 1 the map of Canada changed dramatically. On that date the newly formed territory of Nunavut joined the 10 provinces and two other territories constituting the second largest country in the world. (See Special Report: Nunavut.) The more politically and ethnically complex Northwest Territories (NWT), in Canada's western Arctic, was also in the process of trying to re-create itself. Because of still-unsettled land claims, proposals to reconcile the aboriginal right of self-government of eight different aboriginal groups with government for the entire territory had been sidetracked. It appeared that each group would work out its own widely varying arrangements with the NWT government regarding jurisdictional matters. Early in 1999 reports in the Toronto Globe and Mail speculated that the future economy of the NWT and Nunavut would be built on the exploitation of nonrenewable resources, such as diamond and gold mining, and on the development of a sustainable tourism industry. Scientists reported that Canada's best-known population of polar bears, living in the area around Churchill in northern Manitoba, was becoming much thinner and was producing fewer offspring-the result, they concluded, of global warming. Male bears normally weigh up to 600 kg, but the weight of the average male had fallen by 80-100 kg during the past 25 years (1 kg=2.2 lb). Female bears were having fewer triplet cubs, another indication that the bears were not receiving enough nourishment. The bears spend part of their year on land and part on sea ice, where most of their feeding takes place, mostly on seals. The sea ice appeared to be melting up to two weeks earlier than normal because temperatures in the area had undergone a dramatic increase during the past century, rising about 1.8 C (3.24 F). This forced the bears onto the land, where they ate principally grasses and berries until the sea ice froze in November. In July a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania was reported to be excavating a 45 million-year-old fossil forest located on Axel Heiberg, an uninhabited island in the Canadian Arctic. Discovered in 1985, the forest was recognized as one of the largest and best-preserved fossil sites of its kind and was being promoted for status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Researchers mapped more than 1,000 tree stumps from a time when the polar region was warm enough to produce redwood swamps and boreal forests inhabited by rhinoceros-like animals and alligators. The American scientists were attempting to reconstruct the climatic, atmospheric, and environmental conditions that permitted such a forest in the extreme High Arctic. Early in the year the Canadian branch of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference spearheaded a $10 million program of humanitarian aid for the Russian Far North. The aid was destined to help feed about 1,500 aboriginal people and others in many communities in Chukotka, an area near the Bering Strait. The Russian Far North, home to an estimated 12 million people, continued to suffer some of the worst effects of the country's economic crisis. At the same time, it was reported that thick ice had prevented a Russian tanker and an accompanying icebreaker from delivering 10,000 metric tons of badly needed fuel oil to the region. Kenneth de la Barre Argentina Area: 2,780,092 sq km (1,073,400 sq mi)Population (1999 est.): 36,578,000Capital: Buenos AiresHead of state and government: President Carlos Sal Menem and, from December 10, Fernando de la Ra; assisted by Ministerial Coordinator Jorge Rodrguez Carlos Menem's 10-year tenure as Argentine president ended on Dec. 10, 1999. Menem was constitutionally prohibited from seeking reelection; nevertheless, he spent the first half of 1999 attempting to clear the constitutional and political obstacles preventing him from seeking a third term. Menem was driven primarily by a desire to maintain control of his Justicialist Party (PJ; also known as the Peronist Party). He faced a stiff challenge within the PJ by fellow Peronist Eduardo Duhalde, the outgoing provincial governor of Buenos Aires and a presidential candidate. Each scored victories in early 1999, such as Menem's success in postponing the PJ presidential primary from May until July and Duhalde's achievement of an alliance with former Tucumn governor Ramn ("Palito") Ortega, who became Duhalde's vice presidential candidate. Only in May, after Menem's standard-bearer in the Buenos Aires PJ gubernatorial primary was soundly defeated by Duhalde's candidate, did Menem desist in his reelection efforts. The opposition Alliance (composed of the Radical Civic Union , the Front for a Country in Solidarity , and several smaller parties) chose its presidential candidate in a November 1998 primary. Buenos Aires Mayor Fernando de la Ra (UCR) won 64% of the vote, defeating Frepaso's Graciela Fernndez Meijide (36%). Under a UCR-Frepaso preprimary agreement, Frepaso named the Alliance's vice presidential candidate, selecting Carlos ("Chacho") lvarez. In late May Duhalde enjoyed a surge in the opinion polls following his slate's victory in the Buenos Aires primary, obtaining a statistical tie with de la Ra. By late July, however, owing in part to Menem's attempted sabotage of his candidacy and de la Ra's error-free campaign, Duhalde trailed de la Ra by 10-15% in polls. Duhalde was unable to close this gap during the campaign's final three months. On October 24 de la Ra was elected president with 49% of the vote. Duhalde took 38%, while former economy minister Domingo Cavallo won 10%. De la Ra assumed office on December 10. In the simultaneous partial renovation of the Chamber of Deputies, the Alliance won 65 seats, the PJ 50, and other parties 15. As of December 10, the Alliance held 126 of the Chamber's 257 seats, the PJ 101, and other parties 30. In the Senate the PJ continued to possess an absolute majority of the seats (39), the Alliance 25, and other parties 6. In addition to the strong legislative opposition facing de la Ra, 15 of the country's 23 governors were PJ (including those of the three largest provinces), while only 7 belonged to the Alliance. Finally, de la Ra faced a Supreme Court dominated by Menem appointees. The Brazilian economic crisis, uncertainty engendered by the election campaign, and the government's failure to enact a series of important secondary reforms adversely affected the Argentine economy in 1999. In contrast to the 3.9% gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate for 1998, the negative first- and second-quarter GDP growth rates of -3% and -4.9%, respectively, signaled a worsening economic situation that was not expected to rebound until early 2000. The unemployment rate in August was 14.5%, up from 12.4% in October 1998. At the end of the first quarter, Argentina's trade deficit was 22.1% less than that during the same period in 1998, a situation that stemmed primarily from a substantial drop in imports. The Southern Cone Common Market (Mercosur) continued as Argentina's largest export market (29.5%), followed by the European Union (22.1%) and the North American Free Trade Agreement countries (12.9%). Inflation remained extremely low in 1999, with a projected inflation rate of between -1% and -2%. In January Menem attempted to deepen Argentina's convertibility plan (under which the Argentine peso is pegged to the U.S. dollar), proposing that Argentina adopt the U.S. dollar as its currency. This proposal was roundly criticized by the opposition as well as by many Peronists and received only a tepid reception from U.S. government officials. By the end of the year, dollarization had been largely forgotten. Argentina's relations with two of its Mercosur partners deteriorated during 1999. Relations with Paraguay were strained by Argentina's refusal to extradite Lino Oviedo, a former general and prominent politician accused of masterminding the 1999 assassination of Paraguayan Vice Pres. Lus Mara Argaa Ferraro. (See Obituaries.) Relations with Brazil remained tense over trade issues and frequent violations of Mercosur rules by both countries. On a more positive note, Argentina reached an agreement with the United Kingdom in July under which Argentine citizens could henceforth travel to the Falkland Islands/Islas Malvinas. Since the unsuccessful 1982 Argentine invasion of the Falklands, only relatives of fallen Argentine soldiers had been able to visit the islands. Mark P. Jones 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 (1999 est.): officially 3,800,000; actually about 3,000,000 (plus 150,000 in Nagorno-Karabakh)Capital: YerevanChief of state: President Robert KocharyanHead of government: Prime Ministers Armen Darbinyan, Vazgen Sarkisyan from June 11 until October 27, and, from November 3, Aram Sarkisyan The alignment of political forces was twice fundamentally reconfigured in Armenia during 1999, on both occasions weakening Pres. Robert Kocharyan. The May 30 parliamentary elections resulted in a convincing victory for the Unity coalition comprising the Republican Party, headed by Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan (see Obituaries), and the People's Party, led by former Armenian Communist Party first secretary Karen Demirchyan. Sarkisyan was duly named prime minister, while Demirchyan was elected parliamentary speaker. Sarkisyan, hitherto regarded as pro-Russian, presented an economic program aimed at combatting corruption and attracting increased foreign investment. It also met the conditions imposed by international financial organizations on whose help Armenia was relying to bridge a larger-than-anticipated budget deficit. Sarkisyan and Demirchyan, together with five other parliamentary deputies and one Cabinet minister, were shot dead in the National Assembly on October 27 by five gunmen who said they were protesting corruption within the leadership. President Kocharyan rejected the proposal by a group of army generals that Minister for Industrial Infrastructure Vaan Shirkhanyan, a close associate of Sarkisyan, be named prime minister, instead tapping Sarkisyan's younger brother Aram, a little-known cement factory director, for the post. The delay in investigating the shootings impelled Shirkhanyan and other members of the Yerkrapah union of Karabakh war veterans (which Vazgen Sarkisyan had founded and headed) to demand Kocharyan's resignation in early December. Late in that month 14 people, including two high officials, were arrested in connection with the shootings. A further victim of political violence was Deputy Minister of the Interior and National Security Maj. Gen. Artsun Markaryan, who was found shot dead in February. In September the trial of former interior minister Vano Siradegyan, a leading member of the former ruling Pan-Armenian National Movement, began on charges of having arranged contract killings in 1994-96. Catholicos Karekin I, patriarch of the Armenian Apostolic Church, died of cancer in June. (See Obituaries.) The election in October of Ararat Archbishop Karekin Nersisyan to succeed him was marred by claims by other candidates that leading Armenian officials were lobbying in Nersisyan's favour. Cooperation with Russia, especially in the economic and military spheres, remained a cornerstone of Armenia's foreign policy. The government simultaneously continued to promote regional cooperation, however, primarily with Georgia and Iran, and to seek to improve its relations with Turkey. In line with Kocharyan's policy of strengthening ties with the diaspora, several hundred Armenians from around the globe attended a major conference in Yerevan in September. Elizabeth Fuller Austria Area: 83,859 sq km (32,378 sq mi) Population(1999 est.): 8,080,000 Capital: Vienna Chief of State: President Thomas Klestil Head of Government:Chancellor Viktor Klima At the end of 1999, Austria's main political parties-the centre-left Social-Democratic Party of Austria (SP), the right-wing Freedom Party of Austria (FP), and the centre-right Austrian People's Party (VP)-were still locked in talks to form a new government following the October 3 general election. In a year dominated by elections-to state legislatures in March, the European Parliament in June, and, most important, the federal parliament in the autumn-the FP gains attracted great attention and concern internationally because of the expression of extremist views by some party members. The FP's first electoral breakthrough came when party leader Jrg Haider became governor of the state of Carinthia in April following his party's best-ever performance in any election. (See Biographies.) This presaged the party's gains in the October general election, in which it overtook the VP by the narrowest of margins to become the country's second largest party. This did not herald a resurrection of the extreme right, however. The five-percentage-point increase in FP support, to 27%, was instead a vote of protest against the dominance of the SP and VP, which together had controlled politics in Austria for most of the second half of the century. The FP's populist policies, which promised to insulate Austrians from globalization and other perceived sources of economic ins

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