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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 7, 97-04-09

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. 7, 9 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TWO AZERIS KILLED IN CLASH ON ARMENIAN BORDER.
  • [02] KAZAK-KYRGYZ RELATIONS.
  • [03] NEW TURKMEN ECONOMIC DREAM REVEALED.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [04] ITALIAN POLITICAL ROW THREATENS MISSION TO ALBANIA.
  • [05] ALBANIA BLASTS ITALIAN CALL FOR BERISHA TO GO.
  • [06] GREEK FORCE ALL SET FOR ALBANIA.
  • [07] U.S. URGES SLAVONIAN SERBS TO VOTE IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS.
  • [08] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN ON THE STUMP.
  • [09] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER DIGS IN.
  • [10] CALLS FOR UNITY OF SERBIAN OPPOSITION.
  • [11] SOFIYANSKI WARNS AGAINST COMPLACENCY.
  • [12] BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN GAS AGREEMENT.
  • [13] IMF OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.
  • [14] ROMANIAN MAGNATE UNDER INVESTIGATION.
  • [15] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON MILITARY REFORM.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TWO AZERIS KILLED IN CLASH ON ARMENIAN BORDER.

    Armenian forces opened fire on four unidentified men trying to cross the border from Azerbaijan earlier this week, AP reported yesterday. Two men were killed, while the others retreated. Although there are exchanges of fire along the Armenian- Azerbaijani border almost every month, this is the first time in over a year that casualties have been reported. Meanwhile, the Azerbaijani parliament has sent a letter to the CIS Inter- Parliamentary Assembly arguing that Russia's policy of clandestinely supplying arms to Armenia shows it cannot be an impartial mediator in the Karabakh conflict, according to Interfax yesterday. Addressing a news conference in Yerevan yesterday on the OSCE-mediated Karabakh talks in Moscow last week, Armenian First Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said the Azerbaijani negotiating position has hardened, making progress unlikely.

    [02] KAZAK-KYRGYZ RELATIONS.

    Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev and his Kazak counterpart, Nursultan Nazarbayev, have signed agreements on military cooperation, avoidance of double taxation, cooperation in attracting foreign investment, environmental protection, and agricultural reforms, RFE/RL correspondents in Kazakstan reported. The two ministers were meeting in Almaty yesterday. Of particular importance for Kyrgyzstan was a deal to receive annually 1 million tons of Kazak oil. Kazakstan has agreed to have uranium refined at the Kara-Balta plant in Kyrgyzstan, while Kazak specialists will help in the construction of a hydro-electric project in the Pamir Mountains.

    [03] NEW TURKMEN ECONOMIC DREAM REVEALED.

    President Saparmurat Niyazov told the government on 7 April that it is has 1,000 days to make far-reaching improvements in several sectors of the economy, RFE/RL's Ashgabat bureau reports. Niyazov's program envisages 10% annual growth in GDP through increased natural gas and oil exports, the completion of pipeline projects, and an increase in cotton production, which he wants to reach 2 million tons annually by the year 2000. Several ministers were shuffled after the announcement, most notably those responsible for natural gas, oil, and pipeline construction.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [04] ITALIAN POLITICAL ROW THREATENS MISSION TO ALBANIA.

    The Italian government faces a tough test today when the lower house of the parliament votes on a proposal to deploy an Italian-led security force in Albania. Italy's upper house yesterday approved the plan, but Romano Prodi's government does not have a majority in the lower house. His allies there, the Refounded Communists, oppose Operation Alba as colonialist and as aimed at propping up the government of President Sali Berisha. The center-right opposition approves of the force in principle but has introduced its own bill with the aim of forcing Prodi to resign.

    [05] ALBANIA BLASTS ITALIAN CALL FOR BERISHA TO GO.

    In Rome yesterday, Prodi and Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Piero Fassino distanced themselves from Fassino's earlier remarks that Berisha should resign. The Albanian Foreign Ministry in Tirana sent two protests to its Italian counterpart. One note slammed Fassino's statement as interference in Albanian affairs, while the other demanded a clarification of the remarks. The Italian deputy minister had openly criticized Berisha in hopes of winning the Refounded Communists' backing in the lower house for Prodi's bill on Operation Alba. The communists welcomed Fassino's remarks against Berisha but said he did not go far enough.

    [06] GREEK FORCE ALL SET FOR ALBANIA.

    A Greek government spokesman said in Athens yesterday that most of the more than 700 Greek troops for Operation Alba will go to Tirana. At least 100 soldiers will head for the port of Vlora in the south, which has been a hotbed of lawlessness. Greeks troops will not be deployed in southern regions with a large Greek minority.

    [07] U.S. URGES SLAVONIAN SERBS TO VOTE IN CROATIAN ELECTIONS.

    A State Department spokesman said in Washington yesterday that eastern Slavonia's Serbs should vote in the 13 April elections to ensure a stake in Croatian political life. He noted that this is the first post-war vote in which the region's Croats and Serbs will cast their ballots together. But in Vukovar yesterday, the local Serbian assembly put off its decision on whether to participate in the elections. The Serbs are holding out for more political concessions from the Croats. The UN has often told them to be satisfied with the package of rights promised by Zagreb for when the area rejoins Croatia in July.

    [08] CROATIA'S TUDJMAN ON THE STUMP.

    Amid much military pomp and circumstance, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman yesterday opened the Maslenica bridge, near Zadar, to link northern and southern Dalmatia. He told the crowd that they have his Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) to thank for Croatia's achievements, Vjesnik reported. Serbian shells destroyed the original bridge in 1991, but the Croatian authorities quickly replaced it with a pontoon structure. In Croatia, the bridge has come to symbolize national unity and defiance of the Serbs. Novi list, for its part, accuses the HDZ of using misleading TV advertisements to suggest that the Roman Catholic Church backs that party. Polls suggest that the HDZ is in trouble, and the party is making use of national symbols to try to regain popularity.

    [09] MONTENEGRIN PRIME MINISTER DIGS IN.

    Milo Djukanovic in Podgorica yesterday defied orders from President Momir Bulatovic last week to sack three ministers who had openly criticized Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, RFE/RL reported. Djukanovic admitted that Deputy Prime Minister Slavko Drljevic, Culture Minister Goran Rakocevic, and security chief Vukasin Maras should have been more careful in their public statements. But he stressed that it is he, not the president, who determines the government lineup. The row between the president and prime minister mirrors tensions in the governing Democratic Socialist Party and in society as a whole over Montenegro's relations with Milosevic and Serbia. Many politicians charge that Milosevic's policies have brought economic hardship to the tiny mountain republic, which depends on tourism and shipping for its livelihood.

    [10] CALLS FOR UNITY OF SERBIAN OPPOSITION.

    Zajedno coalition leader Vesna Pesic told her colleagues Vuk Draskovic and Zoran Djindjic yesterday to stop feuding lest their fighting hurt the opposition politically, RFE/RL reported from Belgrade and New York. Djindjic blames the regime for stirring up the feud and says that he never challenged Draskovic's plans to run for the Serbian presidency. Djindjic also called for an end to public squabbling among opposition leaders. Draskovic had earlier accused Djindjic of trying to split the coalition. The three have just wrapped up their visit to the U.S.

    [11] SOFIYANSKI WARNS AGAINST COMPLACENCY.

    Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski has warned members of the United Democratic Forces (ODS) not to be complacent about winning a big enough majority in the parliamentary elections scheduled for 19 April, Reuters reported yesterday. Sofiyanski said the ODS should work hard to win a majority large enough to form a government and continue reform policies. He added that one of the new government's first tasks would be to pass the legislation needed to set up the IMF-proposed currency board. A Bulgarian delegation in Brussels continues discussions today with the G-24 group of industrialized countries on additional support to accompany an IMF stand- by loan. Bulgaria and the IMF reached agreement on the loan last month.

    [12] BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN GAS AGREEMENT.

    The Bulgarian interim government and representatives of the Russian Gazprom company have initialed an agreement on constructing gas pipelines that will transit Bulgarian territory and on Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported yesterday. The Bulgargas company will be the owner and financer of the new pipelines, while the Bulgarian- Russian joint venture Topenergy will finance and build them. The Bulgarian government and the Russian delegation agreed "in principle" that some Russian gas supplies will be paid for by Bulgarian goods. Bulgarian caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Sofiyanski and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin are scheduled to sign the agreement in Moscow later this week.

    [13] IMF OFFICIAL IN ROMANIA.

    Poul Thomsen, chief IMF negotiator for Romania, says he is satisfied with the government's fiscal, budgetary, and monetary policies, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Thomsen said after his meeting with Premier Victor Ciorbea yesterday that he is confident inflation will begin to drop in the near future. But Radio Bucharest later quoted Thomsen as saying it is "premature" to asses the success of economic reforms to date. Thomsen is in Bucharest for a final round of discussions on a new stand-by loan for Romania. The IMF is scheduled to take a decision on the loan later this month.

    [14] ROMANIAN MAGNATE UNDER INVESTIGATION.

    George Paunescu is under investigation by the Prosecutor-General's office. In an interview with RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau yesterday, Prosecutor Gheorghe Mocuta said Paunescu was suspected of having bought shares in a bank using credits from another bank, which is illegal under Romanian law. He has not yet been charged with any crime. Paunescu is known for his ties to leading officials in the regime voted out of power last autumn.

    [15] MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON MILITARY REFORM.

    Petru Lucinschi says the country's army will given a "non-political, neutral" status, Interfax reported yesterday. Lucinschi was speaking at a meeting of the state commission in charge of drawing up and implementing military reform. As head of state, Lucinschi is also army commander in chief. Lucinschi instructed the commission to draw up a reform concept based on the models of Austria, Switzerland, Slovenia, and Slovakia. According to Interfax, Moldova has some 10,000 servicemen, but their number is expected to be reduced.

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


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