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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1 No. 3, 97-04-03

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. 3, 3 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] DE CHARETTE IN TRANSCAUCASUS.
  • [02] NEW REVELATIONS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SHIPMENTS TO ARMENIA.
  • [03] KURDS PROTEST IN ALMATY.
  • [04] KAZAK PRIVATIZATION CREATES "GHOST TOWNS."
  • [05] UYGHURS CALL FOR COORDINATED ACTION.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] PRESSURE MOUNTS TO SEND INTERVENTION FORCE TO ALBANIA.
  • [07] GREECE TO HELP ALBANIA.
  • [08] ALBANIA LETS KING COME HOME.
  • [09] BOSNIAN, CROATIAN UPDATE.
  • [10] STRIKE HITS MONTENEGRO.
  • [11] MACEDONIAN MINISTER RESIGNS.
  • [12] VAN DER STOEL ON HUNGARIAN MINORITY IN ROMANIA.
  • [13] ROMANIA TO RETURN JEWISH PROPERTY?
  • [14] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO RULE ON NATIONALIST POLITICIAN'S IMMUNITY.
  • [15] OECD ON BULGARIAN REFORMS.
  • [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT RUSSIA?

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] DE CHARETTE IN TRANSCAUCASUS.

    French Foreign Minister Herve de Charette says a settlement of the Karabakh conflict is one of France's foreign policy priorities, Russian and Western agencies reported. He also expressed the hope that agreement can be reached by the end of this year. De Charette met earlier this week with Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev and Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrossyan. De Charette and Aliev pledged support for expanding bilateral relations, particularly in the exploitation of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil.

    [02] NEW REVELATIONS ON RUSSIAN ARMS SHIPMENTS TO ARMENIA.

    Moskovsky komsomolets has published the results of its investigation into the clandestine deliveries of Russian arms to Armenia, including a detailed list of the hardware involved. Lev Rokhlin, chairman of the Russian State Duma Defense Committee, told a closed Duma session on 2 April that the shipments cost Russia more than $1 billion. The Azerbaijani news agency Turan quoted Georgian Minister of State Niko Lekishvili as telling a Georgian newspaper that the arms were channeled through Georgia, but Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze denied this was the case.

    [03] KURDS PROTEST IN ALMATY.

    Ethnic Kurds marched through downtown Almaty earlier this week to protest the municipal authorities' decision to withdraw permission for a celebration marking the spring holiday Nowruz, RFE/RL reported. The Yakbun association, which represents Kazakstan's 35,000 ethnic Kurds, organized the march. Participants carried Kurdish flags and portraits of Kurdish Workers' Party leaders. Some 5,000 ethnic Kurds from Moscow, Central Asia, and Western Europe had been invited to attend a celebration in the city's sports palace on 31 March. One city administration official said the celebration was cancelled because of purerly technical considerations, but another told Interfax that the celebration had an "anti-Turkish character which infringes on the interests of friendly Turkey."

    [04] KAZAK PRIVATIZATION CREATES "GHOST TOWNS."

    Leonid Solomin, chairman of Kazakstan's Independent Trade Unions' Confederation, says the sale of leading industries to foreign investors has created 'ghost towns' throughout the country, Reuters reported. Solomin notes that in 56 towns that were busy industrial centers during the communist era, enterprises have closed under new ownership. He adds that these companies are mainly in the energy sector and have been sold off at 'give-away prices.' In 1996, privatization revenues totaled 31.1 billion tenge ($414 million) or 4.3 times the previous year's figure, Interfax reported. Also in 1996, over 4,000 state enterprises and organizations were sold to private owners, bringing the total of private enterprises in Kazakstan to some 20,000.

    [05] UYGHURS CALL FOR COORDINATED ACTION.

    Representatives of the Uyghur diaspora in Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, have called for concerted action to oppose China's policy toward the Xinjiang/Uyghur Autonomous Republic, ITAR-TASS reported. The call was made at a recent meeting in Moscow of Uyghurs, a Turkic group of Muslims. Uyghurs and ethnic Chinese have recently clashed in several cities in Xinjiang. China's Uyghurs are seeking their own independent state.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] PRESSURE MOUNTS TO SEND INTERVENTION FORCE TO ALBANIA.

    The Italian and Albanian prime ministers have agreed to work quickly to get troops to the strife-torn country. To ease tensions between the two neighbors in the wake of last Friday's maritime disaster, Italy has agreed to raise the sunken vessel and compensate families of the victims. OSCE representative Franz Vranitzky said in Rome yesterday that the "indispensable" force should be on the ground within 10 to 14 days. He added that "the United Nations have given us three months" and stressed the international community must not repeat the mistakes it made in dealing with the former Yugoslavia. Vranitzky argued that "Albania has need of aid, of restoring public order, of economic reconstruction, and [of] restoring confidence in its political system."

    [07] GREECE TO HELP ALBANIA.

    Athens is also interested in helping its neighbor restore its economy, police, and army, Prime Minister Kostas Simitis told his Albanian counterpart, Bashkim Fino, in Athens yesterday. Once the situation has stabilized, Greece will provide $74 million in aid, including compensation to those who lost money in failed pyramid schemes. Greece fears an influx of refugees and ultimately regional destabilization unless Albania becomes stable and reasonably prosperous. In Tirana, police were deployed outside the U.S. embassy to control crowds of youths following the spread of false rumors that the U.S. will admit those wanting to flee the anarchy. Meanwhile, the Socialists have agreed to end their 11-month boycott of parliament in order to help the country "emerge from the crisis," party leader Fatos Nano said.

    [08] ALBANIA LETS KING COME HOME.

    King Leka's office in Johannesburg, South Africa, says the Albanian government decided Tuesday to let the heir to the throne return to the country he last saw in 1939 as a newborn baby. The son of the late King Zog I has not yet decided when to take up the offer, but he has been paying increasing attention to Albanian affairs in recent years, AFP reported on 2 April. He will have to work hard if he wants to become a serious political player, however. The tiny monarchist parties are given to fighting among themselves, and the regionally-based House of Zogu never had a chance to develop into a national institution during Zog's shaky decade-long reign.

    [09] BOSNIAN, CROATIAN UPDATE.

    In Pale, a police spokesman said the Croats are blocking the return of Serbian refugees to Drvar, RFE/RL reported. The west Bosnian town had a 97% ethnic Serb population before the breakup of Yugoslavia, but the Serbs fled during the 1995 Croatian offensive. Meanwhile, in the Slavonian region of Hrvatska Dubica, identification begins today of the remains of 56 Croats massacred by the Serbs in 1991.

    [10] STRIKE HITS MONTENEGRO.

    Some 1,800 workers at the Radoje Dakic big metallurgical enterprise are on strike to demand back wages and that management be punished, RFE/RL reported. The aging communist-era plant was crippled by economic sanctions against federal Yugoslavia, and most of its workers are now either laid-off or underemployed. Also in Podgorica, President Momir Bulatovic's office yesterday denied reports that he is in poor health. The president is engaged in a battle of wills with Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and other government officials opposed to close ties to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.

    [11] MACEDONIAN MINISTER RESIGNS.

    Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski has accepted the resignation of Construction Minister Jorgo Sundovski, Nasa Borba reports today. Sundovski was eased out of office as part of Crvenkovski's anti-corruption campaign following the recent collapse of the TAT pyramid scheme. Media in the former Yugoslavia have linked Sundovski and other prominent figures to TAT, but Sundovski earlier denied charges of wrongdoing.

    [12] VAN DER STOEL ON HUNGARIAN MINORITY IN ROMANIA.

    Max van der Stoel, OSCE commissioner for national minorities, says his meeting yesterday with Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), was 'the most encouraging' he has ever had with a Hungarian minority leader in Romania. He added that the government's line on minorities was 'courageous.' Marko told Van der Stoel that the UDMR's participation in the governing coalition may lead to a resolution of the Hungarian community's problems. But he added that legal solutions are still being sought to enable the implementation of national rights. Van der Stoel also met with Premier Victor Ciorbea, with whom he discussed primarily inter-ethnic relations. Ciorbea assured the commissioner of the government's good- will on the issue of minorities, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

    [13] ROMANIA TO RETURN JEWISH PROPERTY?

    Senate Chairman Petre Roman says the restitution of Jewish property nationalized by the fascist and communist regimes is 'no particular problem.' Roman was talking yesterday in Bucharest to Menahem Ariav, head of an association representing Israelis of Romanian origin. Roman noted the restitution of nationalized property belonging to individuals must be settled through legislation that applies to all those forced to leave the country. He said he opposed 'hasty solutions' that might trigger 'tensions' but stressed that the 'illegality' of the property confiscation must be made clear, RFE/RL's bureau in Bucharest reported. Earlier this week, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin said the restitution of Jewish property is a necessary act of justice that would help Romanians come to terms with their history, the independent news agency ARPress reported.

    [14] ROMANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO RULE ON NATIONALIST POLITICIAN'S IMMUNITY.

    The Constitutional Court says it is not within its competence to rule on the appeal by 43 senators contesting the parliamentary procedure used to lift the immunity of Greater Romania Party Chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor, Radio Bucharest reported. Nevertheless, the court said immunity is renewed if a deputy is re-elected and that lifting it requires the whole procedure to be repeated. The parliamentary majority last month ruled that the decision to lift Tudor's immunity, taken by the previous legislature, was still in force.

    [15] OECD ON BULGARIAN REFORMS.

    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development says Bulgaria needs to follow a comprehensive reform course to overcome its current crisis, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Paris. An OECD economic survey says the reform process begun in Bulgaria some years ago has foundered and that the country is mired in crisis when much of Central and East Europe is achieving stability and growth. The OECD proposes a 14-point program designed to help the Bulgarian economy, including the reform of the banking sector, the closure of loss-making enterprises, and the introduction of measures to restore foreign and domestic confidence in the economy. The report says Bulgaria will not be able to do everything alone and calls on the international community to offer generous support to Sofia.

    [16] BULGARIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT RUSSIA?

    Petar Stoyanov has raised with the Russian ambassador to Sofia the possibility of visiting Moscow, RFE/RL's correspondent in the Bulgarian capital reported. The President's Office said the visit depended on Moscow. Stoyanov's scheduled visit to Moscow in late January was canceled because of President Yeltsin's illness. Caretaker premier Stefan Sofiyanski is scheduled to visit the Russian capital before the end of this month. In other news, Stoyanov has invited Pope Paul John II to visit Bulgaria. Foreign Minister Stoyan Stalev told BTA before departing for Turkey earlier this week that the most important issue on his agenda is Turkish support for Bulgaria's quest to join NATO.

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


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