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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1 No. 1, 97-04-01

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Newsline Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>

RFE/RL NEWSLINE

Vol. 1, No. 1, 1 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES FORM NEW ALLIANCE...
  • [02] ...AS DO GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS IN GEORGIA.
  • [03] ARMENIA, RUSSIA TO INTENSIFY COOPERATION.
  • [04] NEW ROUND OF KARABAKH TALKS OPENS IN MOSCOW.
  • [05] REACTION TO DECISION ON ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPERS.
  • [06] ANOTHER UNSANCTIONED DEMONSTRATION IN KAZAKSTAN.
  • [07] HUNT FOR TAJIK REBEL ENDS.
  • [08] TURKMEN GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE CUT OFF?

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [09] DEADLY COLLISION IN ADRIATIC.
  • [10] INTERNATIONAL MISSION APPROVED FOR ALBANIA.
  • [11] UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
  • [12] IMMINENT CHANGES IN GERMAN DEPORTATION OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES?
  • [13] KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER REJECTS SERBIAN OPPOSITION'S OFFER.
  • [14] IMBROGLIO OVER COLLAPSED PYRAMID SCHEME IN MACEDONIA.
  • [15] NO PROGRESS IN ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS ON BILATERAL TREATY...
  • [16] ...OR IN ROMANIAN-RUSSIAN PARLEYS.
  • [17] GREATER ROMANIA PARTY INVITES LE PEN.
  • [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA.
  • [19] NEW PARTY FOUNDED IN MOLDOVA.
  • [20] BULGARIA REDUCES GASOLINE PRICES.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES FORM NEW ALLIANCE...

    Seven Armenian opposition parties on 29 March formed a National Alliance to campaign for pre-term presidential and parliamentary elections and the adoption of a new constitution. The alliance aims to build "a democratic, law- governed, and socially oriented society." It unites four of the five parties that supported defeated presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan in last year's disputed presidential elections: the National Democratic Union, the Democratic Party of Armenia, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-- Dashnaktsyutyun (ARFD). and the Union for National Self- Determination. Other members are the Union for Constitutional Right, the National Progress Party, and the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union.

    [02] ...AS DO GAMSAKHURDIA SUPPORTERS IN GEORGIA.

    Nine Georgian opposition parties representing supporters of former President Zviad Gamsakhurdia have overcome internal dissent to create a coalition called the Front for the Reinstatement of Legitimate Power in Georgia, Interfax reported on 27 March. On 31 March, Gamsakhurdia's birthday, his supporters staged demonstrations in several districts of Tbilisi to demand the resignation of the Shevardnadze leadership and the withdrawal from Georgia of all Russian troops, Russian TV reported.

    [03] ARMENIA, RUSSIA TO INTENSIFY COOPERATION.

    At a post-summit meeting in Moscow on 29 March, Yeltsin and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan reached agreement on signing a new treaty on Friendship and Strategic Partnership to supersede the December 1991 accord, presidential spokesman Levon Zurabian told journalists in Yerevan on 31 March. Zurabian denied, however, that Armenia is contemplating joining the Russian-Belarusian union. Russian Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin, who met with Ter-Petrossyan in Moscow on 27 March, told journalists that the new bilateral treaty will have "a military component," Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 28 March.

    [04] NEW ROUND OF KARABAKH TALKS OPENS IN MOSCOW.

    Yeltsin met with his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan, Levon Ter-Petrossyan and Heidar Aliev, in Moscow on 29 March to discuss prospects for resolving the Karabakh conflict. In Paris last week, the U.S., Russian, and French co- chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group has "outlined a common approach" to the round of talks that opens on 1 April in Moscow, Armenpress reported. Last week, the Foreign Ministry of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh issued a statement calling for a peaceful solution to the conflict based on the right of nations to self-determination.

    [05] REACTION TO DECISION ON ABKHAZ PEACEKEEPERS.

    The Abkhaz leadership last week rejected the decision by the CIS heads of state to expand the mandate of the CIS peacekeeping force in Abkhazia, Russian Public TV reported. Abkhaz parliamentary speaker Sokrat Djindjolia told Interfax on 31 March that if the CIS unilaterally amends the peacekeepers' mandate, Abkhazia will insist that they leave Abkhazia. The Abkhaz parliament has already voted to suspend further talks on future political relations between Abkhazia and the central Georgian government until Moscow lifts economic sanctions against Abkhazia. Meanwhile, Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili has said if there is no swift breakthrough in resolving the Abkhaz crisis, Georgia will invite the UN and the OSCE to take over the mediation process, Russian Independent Television reported.

    [06] ANOTHER UNSANCTIONED DEMONSTRATION IN KAZAKSTAN.

    A second demonstration against worsening living conditions took place in Almaty on the weekend. Some 300 people--mostly from the Communist party and social movement Pokaleniya, which consists largely of elderly people- -attended the rally in front of the government building. The demonstration was not sanctioned by the authorities and was the second such gathering within a week. On 27 March, pensioners rallied in Kokshetau, in northern Kazakstan, to protest unpaid pensions. On both occasions, demonstrators ignored a warning by Kazakstan's Procurator-General not to hold the rallies.

    [07] HUNT FOR TAJIK REBEL ENDS.

    Presidential spokesman Zafar Saidov has said an operation to capture the outlawed group headed by the Sadirov brothers has ended. The operation involved both Tajik government forces and opposition fighters. One of the brothers, Rizvon Sadirov, remains at large. Authorities say he and his remaining supporters have gone into hiding in a remote area of central Tajikistan. During the operation, 12 members of the Sadirov gang were killed and 20 captured. Bahrom Sadirov was among those captured. The group is responsible for two hostage- taking incidents since December, both of which involved foreign workers in Tajikistan.

    [08] TURKMEN GAS SUPPLIES TO UKRAINE CUT OFF?

    Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov says his country has cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine because of debts totaling $700 million. Niyazov added that it is not solely Kyiv's fault but a problem with "intermediary firms" transporting Turkmen gas to Ukraine. But Vladimir Rijov, an assistant to Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, said Niyazov's statement was intended for Gazprom, which transports the gas from Turkmenistan to Ukraine and also to western Europe. He said Gazprom has yet to pay for 10,000 million cubic meters of gas received from Turkmenistan. Rijov also said gas has not been cut off to Ukraine.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [09] DEADLY COLLISION IN ADRIATIC.

    President Sali Berisha declared 31 March a day of mourning following a collision between an Albanian ship carrying refugees and an Italian naval vessel three days earlier. Some 34 Albanians survived the incident, while four are reported dead and 87 missing, mainly women and children who were below deck. This is the most serious incident to date in the exodus that has seen 13,000 Albanians flee to neighboring countries. Each side blames the other for the sinking. The Italians have arrested the Albanian captain and called for a joint investigation. The Albanian authorities say the Italians deliberately rammed the Albanian boat.

    [10] INTERNATIONAL MISSION APPROVED FOR ALBANIA.

    The UN Security Council on 29 March voted in favor of an OSCE proposal to ensure aid deliveries and help the Albanian government restore order before the June elections. The Albanian parliament gave its consent the following day. Deployment is expected to begin as early as this week. The force is expected to consist of some 2,500 troops, with a similar number held in reserve. Countries mentioned as definite or possible participants include Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Romania, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and Slovenia. The Italians have been ready since mid-March for such an operation, but their role may have to be reviewed in the aftermath of the incident on the Adriatic. Rebels in the southern port of Vlora have threatened to kill any Italian soldiers who arrive there with the mission.

    [11] UPDATE ON FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.

    The UN Security Council has voted to send 186 additional police and 11 civilian personnel to the disputed northeastern Bosnian town of Brcko. In Vukovar, several hundred local Serbs pelted stones at visiting politicians from the governing Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ), RFE/RL reported. The HDZ commented that it will nonetheless go ahead with its campaign for the upcoming elections, which are a key element in the reintegration of eastern Slavonia into Croatia. Meanwhile, a Rijeka court has found four Bosnian Muslims guilty of "an act of international terrorism" in allegedly planning to kill renegade Muslim kingpin Fikret Abdic in April 1996.

    [12] IMMINENT CHANGES IN GERMAN DEPORTATION OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES?

    U.S. spokesmen have said Washington plans to take 18,000 people from Germany and elsewhere in Europe who might be in special danger if sent back to Bosnia. These include people from mixed marriages, traumatized individuals, and former concentration camp inmates. Elsewhere, UN spokesmen on 29 March blasted Bavaria deporting refugees in the middle of the night and sending them back into unsafe circumstances. In Germany itself, former Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher and many other public figures have signed a declaration against the deportations. It noted that "among those deported were pregnant women, patients receiving treatment for heart illness, and other people whose deportation is incomprehensible," including survivors of Srebrenica. Current Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel admitted there are problems and said he will visit Bosnia to discuss the policy, RFE/RL reported on 29 March.

    [13] KOSOVO ALBANIAN LEADER REJECTS SERBIAN OPPOSITION'S OFFER.

    Fehmi Agani, vice president of the Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK), called the Zajedno coalition's latest offer inadequate. The LDK is the main ethnic Albanian group in the country. The Serbian opposition suggested making Kosovo a "region," RFE/RL reported on 30 March. Agani added that the Albanians "have been proven correct" in their assessment that one should not be too eager to embrace Zajedno and that the coalition is really no alternative to the present Serbian regime. In other news, the shadowy Kosovo Liberation Army has taken responsibility for a recent series of killings, RFE/RL said on 29 March.

    [14] IMBROGLIO OVER COLLAPSED PYRAMID SCHEME IN MACEDONIA.

    Political fallout continues over the demise just over a month ago of TAT, a Bitola-based pyramid scheme. Its collapse led to the loss of $60 million for 30,000 people and the arrest of the firm's owner and the deputy governor of the National Bank. Construction Minister Jorgo Sundovski denied reports he had resigned in connection with the affair. On the weekend, Bitola's Mayor Siljan Bicevski and his wife were detained for helping funnel money from public and other sources into TAT to keep it afloat. Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has meanwhile promised a war against crime and corruption, AFP reported.

    [15] NO PROGRESS IN ROMANIAN-UKRAINIAN TALKS ON BILATERAL TREATY...

    Talks between Romania and Ukraine on a basic treaty appear to have stalled, RFE/RL reported on the weekend. A press release issued in Bucharest said Romania wants to review once again issues discussed in earlier rounds of talks, while Ukraine has advanced "new formulations" for the accompanying document. According to Segodnya, Bucharest demands that Ukraine agree to the demilitarization of Serpent Island and its declaration as a zone unfit for human habitation. The Russian daily says this would exclude the island from disputes over border areas, preventing Ukraine from laying claim to the rich oil deposits believed to be located in the island's continental platform. The island was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1946.

    [16] ...OR IN ROMANIAN-RUSSIAN PARLEYS.

    Following talks in Moscow, a Romanian Foreign Ministry official said Russia wants the basic treaty with Romania to be based on a text agreed upon in April 1996. That text makes no mention of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. But Romania want the text to be supplemented by "ideas reflecting the contemporary situation in Europe...and provisions included in similar treaties" concluded by Bucharest. This is apparently a reference to Security Council Recommendation 1201, which the treaty with Hungary mentions. Romania also wants to discuss the issue of the state treasures deposited in Moscow during the First World War, Radio Bucharest reported on the weekend.

    [17] GREATER ROMANIA PARTY INVITES LE PEN.

    Corneliu Vadim Tudor, leader of the xenophobic Greater Romania Party (PRM), told the French National Front congress in Strasbourg that the PRM "adheres without hesitation" to the front's program and ideas, RFE/RL reported on 31 March. He called for a "brotherhood alliance" between the two parties. The service cited French sources, according to whom Le Pen is to visit Romania in 1997. On 28 March, thousands of farmers demonstrated in Bucharest and Brasov last week to protest the government's decision to close down state-owned farms and reduce subsidies. They also chanted PRM slogans. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the extra-parliamentary Socialist Labor Party announced that his formation is close to forging an alliance with the PRM.

    [18] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON TREATY WITH ROMANIA.

    Petru Lucinschi on 31 March told journalists in Chisinau that Moldova wants to conclude the basic treaty with Romania "in the nearest future." He said the treaty should dispel "some existing suspicions" and do away with the argument that "the past was different," revealing his opposition to reunification. With regard to the withdrawal of Russian forces from the breakaway Transdniester region, Lucinschi said Russian President Boris Yeltsin sees "no problems" but wants Moldova to offer assurances that it will not turn into a "dangerous state" for Russia in military terms, Radio Bucharest reported on 31 March. Meanwhile, Lucinschi and Premier Victor Ciubuc, attending the CIS summit in Moscow, met with Gazprom President Rem Vyakhirev. They signed a document on settling Moldova's 1994-1996 debts to the company, Infotag reported on 28 March.

    [19] NEW PARTY FOUNDED IN MOLDOVA.

    The United Social Democratic Party--composed of the former Moldovan Social Democratic Party, the Party of Social Progress, the Republican Party, the Party of Socialist Action, and the Party of Economic Rebirth--was founded in Chisinau on 29 March, BASA-press reported. The new party says it is "center-left oriented" and rejects "shock-therapy in economic reforms... and the concentration of property and capital in the hands of a small social group." It also supports Moldova's neutrality and opposes the country's federalization. The leaders of the five united parties were elected co-chairmen of the new formation.

    [20] BULGARIA REDUCES GASOLINE PRICES.

    In a surprise move, Bulgaria's interim cabinet on 31 March reduced the price of gasoline by nearly 9%, according to an RFE/RL correspondent. It ordered a report within two weeks on the effects of the full liberalization of fuel prices. Bulgaria has experienced a fuel shortage for months. The government also announced a 35% increase in the price of electricity for households, a 30% hike in coal prices, and a 70% rise in the cost of heating. Interim Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski said last week that all wages will be go up 70% starting on 1 April and that a new social security system will be implemented. Meanwhile, a court has declared the state-owned Mineralbank bankrupt, saying it was unable to meet payments to foreign creditors exceeding $240 million, BTA reported. The bank's total debt was not revealed.

    Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
    URL: http://www.rferl.org


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