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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 8, 97-04-10

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. 8, 10 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ACCORD AS CORNERSTONE OF NAZARBAEV'S EURASIAN UNION?
  • [02] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN.
  • [03] ALIEV CALLS ON GEORGIA TO CONDEMN RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA.
  • [04] TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY.
  • [05] TURKMENISTAN DENIES HELPING TALIBAN.
  • [06] KAZAKSTAN TO INCREASE OIL PRODUCTION, EXPORTS.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [07] ITALY APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION.
  • [08] ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS AGAIN FOR DEPLOYMENT.
  • [09] ALBANIA LIFTS PRESS CURBS.
  • [10] UN NOT TO CUT MACEDONIAN FORCE.
  • [11] KOSOVO TALKS END IN NEW YORK.
  • [12] SLAVONIAN SERBS URGED TO VOTE.
  • [13] SCANDINAVIA ENCOURAGES BOSNIANS TO GO HOME.
  • [14] ROMANIA, IMF SIGN LETTER OF INTENT.
  • [15] ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTIES CONCLUDE POLITICAL PACT.
  • [16] IMF DISSATISFIED WITH MOLDOVA'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.
  • [17] OSCE MISSION IN TRANSDNIESTER STILL FACES PROBLEMS.
  • [18] G-24 ENDORSES BULGARIAN STABILIZATION PROGRAM.
  • [19] LEADING BULGARIAN BANKERS ARRESTED.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ACCORD AS CORNERSTONE OF NAZARBAEV'S EURASIAN UNION?

    Kazak President Nursultan Nazarbaev has rejected suggestions that the Treaty on Eternal Friendship, which he and Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev signed earlier this week, is an alternative to the Russian-Belarus union agreement, Nezavisimaya gazeta reports today. Nazarbaev said that "if the CIS states unite in Europe, then the countries of Central Asia could join them and we would have a Eurasian Union." He first floated the idea of a Eurasian union strengthening integration within the CIS in 1994. Akaev endorsed that idea in Almaty earlier this week.

    [02] GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN.

    Theodoros Pangalos has called for expanding Armenian-Greek economic relations and for closer cooperation between Greece, Armenia, Georgia, and Iran in unspecified "areas of mutual concern," Asbarez and Armenpress reported. Pangalos was in Yerevan yesterday to meet with his Armenian counterpart, Alexander Arzoumanian, President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, and Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan. He told journalists later that Greece supports the right of nations to self-determination, "whether [in the form of] cultural autonomy or fully-fledged independence." He said he believes the Karabakh conflict should be resolved in accordance with this principle. Pangalos also said Turkey's position vis-a-vis Karabakh was destabilizing and that Ankara should realize that the Ottoman Empire is dead and cannot be revived.

    [03] ALIEV CALLS ON GEORGIA TO CONDEMN RUSSIAN ARMS SUPPLIES TO ARMENIA.

    Meeting in Baku yesterday with visiting Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili, Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev expressed the hope that the Georgian leadership will condemn Russian arms shipments to Armenia, Interfax reported. Aliev intimated that Armenia could use this hardware against Georgia. Meanwhile in Yerevan, Armenian Defense Minister Vazgen Sarkisyan said on national TV that the reports on the arms shipments are aimed at weakening the Armenian army and depriving the country of aid. Last month, Sarkisyan had implicitly confirmed the reports.

    [04] TAJIK TALKS BREAK DOWN ON FIRST DAY.

    The latest round of Tajik peace talks broke down in Tehran yesterday when the Tajik opposition representatives demanded the release of 11 of their colleagues who, they say, were arrested in Moscow. Ali Akbar Turajonzoda, head of the opposition delegation to the talks, told RFE/RL's Moscow bureau yesterday that the men had been arrested immediately before the talks were scheduled to begin and charged with the murders of Russian soldiers serving in Tajikistan. He described the arrests as typical Moscow tactics to discredit the opposition and as pointless in view of an amnesty signed earlier this year for Tajik opposition fighters. Maxim Peshkov, head of the Russian observer delegation to the talks, said one of the detained Tajiks, Abdurahmon Nazarov, was a "Russian citizen. "He denied any knowledge of the other ten detainees.

    [05] TURKMENISTAN DENIES HELPING TALIBAN.

    Turkmenistan's Foreign Ministry has denied any role in aiding Afghanistan's Taliban movement, ITAR-TASS reported today. The denial followed an 8 April interview with Afghan warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum in Komsomolskaya Pravda in which Dostum said the Taliban are selling narcotics and receiving weapons via Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan has consistently said that, as a neutral country, it neither supports nor gives aid to any of the warring factions in Afghanistan.

    [06] KAZAKSTAN TO INCREASE OIL PRODUCTION, EXPORTS.

    Nurlan Balgimbaev, head of the new Kazak national oil and gas company, hopes that oil production in 1997 will reach its previous peak of 26.5 million metric tons, Nezavisimaya gazeta reported yesterday. Balgimbaev said that Kazakstan plans to export 7 million tons of oil this year via Russia--1 million by tanker across the Caspian Sea and then by rail from Baku to Georgia and 1 million via Iran by means of a "swap." The oil swap with Iran is problematic, however, as Kazak oil contains such a high level of impurities that it cannot be refined at the Tehran oil refinery, Delovoi mir reported yesterday. Balgimbaev was ambivalent about Kazakstan joining the OPEC and expressed doubts that projected pipelines either through Afghanistan and Pakistan or through China would materialize in the foreseeable future.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [07] ITALY APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION.

    The Italian parliament agreed last night to send troops to lead a European force to Albania. Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi made a last-minute deal with the center-right opposition to clinch a majority vote. Prodi said that the more than 5,000 troops will start deploying on 14 April. France, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and Greece also plan to send troops. The peacekeepers' goal is to restore order and protect the delivery of humanitarian aid.

    [08] ALBANIAN PRIME MINISTER CALLS AGAIN FOR DEPLOYMENT.

    Bashkim Fino said in Tirana yesterday that the international force is badly needed so that his government can concentrate on battling organized crime. Fino told Reuters that conditions throughout the country remain dangerous because so many people are armed. Rebel leaders say that they will give up their weapons only after new elections and only to international peacekeepers. But the international force's mandate does not include confiscating arms. Meanwhile, President Sali Berisha says that the June elections may not go ahead after all, the Vienna daily Die Presse reports. "We have set the election date for June. But at the moment there is no real progress because the [rebel] committees are still functioning," Berisha told the newspaper.

    [09] ALBANIA LIFTS PRESS CURBS.

    The Albanian parliament voted yesterday to end press restrictions. The emergency all- party government imposed the press curbs on 2 March at the height of the armed anarchy. The restrictions require government-appointed committees to censor articles before publication. The dailies of three main political parties are the only papers still publishing, after fire destroyed the offices of the main independent daily, Koha Jone.

    [10] UN NOT TO CUT MACEDONIAN FORCE.

    The Security Council voted unanimously in New York yesterday to suspend the planned reduction in its peacekeeping force in Macedonia. The decision comes in response to unrest in neighboring Albania. The council acted on Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation that it revoke last November's decision to reduce the size of the UN Preventive Deployment Force in Macedonia (UNPREDEP) while extending the force's mandate until 31 May. The 1,050 peacekeepers include some 500 U.S. troops. UNPREDEP's main mission is to prevent conflicts elsewhere in the former Yugoslavia from spilling over into Macedonia.

    [11] KOSOVO TALKS END IN NEW YORK.

    Inter-communal talks in New York aimed at easing tensions in Kosovo ended yesterday without significant agreement. But participants described the discussions as a solid first step toward resolving the decade-old crisis. They also agreed to meet regularly, although they did not set a date for the next round of talks. In a final statement, Serbs and ethnic Albanians said any future agreement must be based on principles of democratization, mutual respect, respect for human rights, and promotion of regional stability. Albanians, who make up 90% of Kosovo's population, seek independence for the region, while Serbs insist it must remain part of Serbia.

    [12] SLAVONIAN SERBS URGED TO VOTE.

    Serbian leaders in eastern Slavonia said in Vukovar yesterday that local Serbs should go to the polls on 13 April to elect representatives, an RFE/RL's correspondent in Osijek reported. Earlier, the Serbian leaders met with UN administrator Jacques Klein, who once again urged them to take part in the elections. Eastern Slavonia is the last Serb-held part of Croatia. The 13 April ballot is seen as a key step in the UN-administered region's return to Croatia. The local Serbian leadership had delayed a final decision on participating in the polls in the hope of winning more concessions from the UN and the Croatian authorities.

    [13] SCANDINAVIA ENCOURAGES BOSNIANS TO GO HOME.

    Norway is offering two-year residency permits to its 12,000 Bosnian refugees if they now agree to go home, an RFE/RL correspondent in Copenhagen reported yesterday. Denmark will give its 16,000 Bosnians $2,500 each if they leave and, beginning 1 May, Sweden will raise departure payments to its 60,000 Bosnians from $300 per individual to $3,000 per adult and $2,000 per minor. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung yesterday quotes Swedish Development Minister Pierre Schori as saying his government is not trying to encourage the Bosnians to leave but rather make things easier for them if they want to go. Most Bosnians in Denmark and Sweden have permanent residency status and show little interest in going home.

    [14] ROMANIA, IMF SIGN LETTER OF INTENT.

    Finance Minister Mircea Ciumara, National Bank Governor Mugur Isarescu, and chief IMF negotiator for Romania Poul Thomsen yesterday signed a letter of intent for an IMF loan. RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported that the agreement, which provides for a $400 million loan to support reforms, is to be approved by the IMF's board later this month. Prime Minister Victor Ciorbea said the World Bank is also expected to approve a $600 million loan on 22 April. He added that Bucharest anticipates funds this year from the EU and donor countries totaling some $1 billion. Most of those funds will be channeled to the social welfare system, restructuring industry and agriculture, road construction and repairs, and environmental protection. Meanwhile, Citibank has announced it will grant credits worth $157 million to help the state-owned RAIF agricultural company purchase U.S.-made agricultural machines.

    [15] ROMANIAN EXTREMIST PARTIES CONCLUDE POLITICAL PACT.

    The Greater Romania Party (PRM) and the extraparliamentary Socialist Labor Party (PSM) have formed a political alliance, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported yesterday. The PRM will represent PSM standpoints in the parliament. The agreement also provides for joint candidates in local by- elections scheduled for next month. PRM chairman Corneliu Vadim Tudor said that given the current political situation, the alliance's doctrine "is neither of the left nor of the right, but Romanian." The PSM failed to win representation in the legislature last autumn.

    [16] IMF DISSATISFIED WITH MOLDOVA'S ECONOMIC PERFORMANCE.

    The IMF says that Moldova's economic performance is "unsatisfactory" and that it will not release the remaining installments of a May 1996 loan worth a total of $195 million, the Romanian independent news agency Mediafax reported yesterday. Only two installments worth $16.25 million each have so far been released. An IMF delegation is to visit Chisinau later this month to discuss measures needed to improve the Moldovan economy. A recent IMF statement says the Moldovan government has not yet implemented measures agreed on early last year.

    [17] OSCE MISSION IN TRANSDNIESTER STILL FACES PROBLEMS.

    Infotag reported yesterday that another car transporting OSCE mission members was stopped by Tiraspol law enforcement officials on the outskirts of Bendery-Tighina. This was the third such incident in three weeks preventing the OSCE from participating in a meeting of the Joint Control Commission, which is overseeing the truce in Moldova's Transdniester breakaway region. Tiraspol began last month voicing objections to the OSCE's participation in the commission meetings, claiming the agreement on the commission, which expired in early February, must be renewed. Besides the OSCE officials, the members of the commission are representatives of Moldova, Russia, and Tiraspol.

    [18] G-24 ENDORSES BULGARIAN STABILIZATION PROGRAM.

    The G-24 group of donor nations and organizations has agreed to grant loans and credits to cover Bulgaria's external financing obligations for 1997-98. RFE/RL's Washington bureau that the group said in Brussels yesterday that Bulgaria's caretaker government has shown "strong commitment to implementing a bold macroeconomic stabilization and structural reform despite exceptionally difficult circumstances." The IMF is expected to approve tomorrow a new stand-by loan of some $659 million. In addition, Bulgaria will be allowed to draw about $29 million from a special facility the fund maintains for countries experiencing a temporary export shortfall or a sudden increase in cereal imports.

    [19] LEADING BULGARIAN BANKERS ARRESTED.

    The Interior Ministry yesterday announced the arrest of three top bankers for allegedly granting bad loans totaling some 100,000 million leva ($65 million). An RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported that three more bankers have been put under police surveillance and made to post bail. One of those under surveillance is former deputy director of the National Bank Emil Harsev, who is known to oppose IMF involvement in the country. Harsev told RFE/RL's Bulgarian service that the prosecutor's decision was a politically motivated move before the 19 April elections. He rejected any accusations of mismanagement. All six bankers were on the board of directors of Mineral Bank, which declared bankruptcy last year.

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


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