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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 9, 97-04-11

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. 9, 11 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] TWO MORE AZERBAIJANIS KILLED IN BORDER SHOOTING.
  • [02] GEORGIA HOSTS "TRASECA" CONFERENCE.
  • [03] KAZAK PRESIDENT BACKTRACKS ON THREATS OVER PENSION ARREARS.
  • [04] LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CENTRAL ASIA.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [05] FIRST ITALIAN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA.
  • [06] ALBANIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON FORM OF GOVERNMENT.
  • [07] SERBIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER KILLED.
  • [08] U.S. ENDS BOYCOTT OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
  • [09] MILOSEVIC LOYALIST KILLED IN KOSOVO.
  • [10] CROATIAN PRESIDENT URGES SLAVONIAN SERBS TO VOTE.
  • [11] PLAVSIC ATTACKS HER ENEMIES.
  • [12] EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA.
  • [13] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION.
  • [14] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOLDOVA.
  • [15] OSCE MISSION IN MOLDOVA TO CONTINUE PARTICIPATION IN JOINT CONTROL COMMISSION.
  • [16] BULGARIAN PENSIONERS CONFRONT PRESIDENT OVER ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS.
  • [17] RUSSIA ASKS SOFIYANSKI TO POSTPONE VISIT.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] TWO MORE AZERBAIJANIS KILLED IN BORDER SHOOTING.

    Two Azerbaijanis were shot dead last night trying to cross the frontier into Armenia's Izhdevan Raion, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported today, citing a Defense Ministry press release. Armenian troops returned Azerbaijani fire and then gave warning shots as three men tried to cross the border. There were no Armenian casualties. Interfax yesterday quoted an Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman as denying reports that two Azerbaijani troops were killed in a border shooting earlier this week.

    [02] GEORGIA HOSTS "TRASECA" CONFERENCE.

    The European Commission and the Georgian government have sponsored a conference on reviving the historic "Silk Road," which ran from China via Central Asia, the Transcaucasus, and Turkey to Europe, Russian agencies reported. Participants in the conference, which opened in Tbilisi on 8 April, include the deputy premiers and transport ministers of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation member countries and IMF and EBRD representatives. The so-called TRASECA project foresees the expansion of existing road, rail, and telecommunications links as well as ferry services across the Caspian and Black Seas. It could earn Georgia more than $300 million in transit tariffs in 1998 alone. Although the proposed transport routes do not cross Russian territory, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze favors Russian participation in the project.

    [03] KAZAK PRESIDENT BACKTRACKS ON THREATS OVER PENSION ARREARS.

    Nursultan Nazarbayev has extended the deadline for the payment of pension arrears to the end of this year, RFE/RL correspondents in Almaty reported. Last month, Nazarbayev set 10 April as the deadline and threatened to sack both Prime Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin and oblast governors who did not comply. But at a special government session yesterday, he extended the deadline, noting that there were signs of progress toward paying the arrears. As of 1 April, pension arrears totaled some 39 billion tenge ($500 million).

    [04] LATVIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN CENTRAL ASIA.

    Valdis Birkaus is on an official visit to Central Asia, RFE/RL's Central Asian and Latvian services report. He arrived on 9 April in Kyrgyzstan, where he signed agreements on transportation and mutual legal aid as well as a protocol on consultations with his Kyrgyz counterpart, Roza Otunbayeva. He also met with Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev. In Kazakstan yesterday, Birkaus met with his Kazak counterpart, Kasymzhomart Tokayev, to discuss the opening of a Kazak embassy in the Latvian capital and how to improve bilateral relations. Today in Tashkent, Birkaus is due to sign 12 accords, one of which will establish an intergovernmental commission on trade.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [05] FIRST ITALIAN TROOPS ARRIVE IN ALBANIA.

    Some 20 Italian soldiers disembarked at Durres today as an advance unit to safeguard humanitarian aid deliveries. The majority of the 6,000 international troops will start deploying on 14 April. Meanwhile, a team of military experts from six countries completed preparations yesterday for the force's arrival. Albanian Defense Minister Shaqir Vukaj says the troops will be safe and that all sides accept their presence. A French Defense Ministry spokesman said in Paris that the troops could be forced to disarm Albanian gangs if their own security is threatened but that this is not their mission. Portugal's defense minister said in Lisbon that Operation Alba is too risky and that Portugal will not take part.

    [06] ALBANIA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON FORM OF GOVERNMENT.

    President Sali Berisha and the main political parties agreed in Tirana yesterday that voters will choose in a referendum between a parliamentary republic, a presidential republic, and a monarchy. The vote may take place at the same time as early general elections in June. Meanwhile, the tiny royalist party Legality has said Leka Zogu, exiled pretender to the throne, will arrive in Albania tomorrow and stay for an "indefinite period."

    [07] SERBIAN DEPUTY INTERIOR MINISTER KILLED.

    A masked gunman shot dead Radovan "Bazda" Stojicic early this morning in a Belgrade restaurant, an RFE/RL correspondent in the Serbian capital reported. Stojicic, a police general who headed the public security department, died immediately. Police have launched a manhunt. Stojicic was a long-time aide to President Slobodan Milosevic and was involved in planning the Bosnian and Croatian wars by arming Serbs in those republics.

    [08] U.S. ENDS BOYCOTT OF SERBIAN PRESIDENT.

    The new top U.S. diplomat on implementing the Dayton peace accords left yesterday for the former Yugoslavia, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Washington. Robert Gelbard has replaced John Kornblum and will visit Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Macedonia over the next 10 days. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in Washington yesterday that his trip emphasizes that the U.S. expects greater efforts to implement Dayton, including the handing over of war crimes suspects. The visit will be the first high-level U.S. contact with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in five months. Washington suspended meetings with Milosevic to protest his refusal to accept the results of the November local elections.

    [09] MILOSEVIC LOYALIST KILLED IN KOSOVO.

    The Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) said yesterday that it killed Ramiz Leka in the village of Banjica, RFE/RL's correspondent in Pristina reported. Leka belonged to Serbian President Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia. This is the sixth time this year that the UCK has killed an ethnic Albanian whom, it says, collaborated with the Serbian authorities. Since January, the UCK has switched from occasional attacks against random targets to much more professional and systematic operations.

    [10] CROATIAN PRESIDENT URGES SLAVONIAN SERBS TO VOTE.

    Croatian President Franjo Tudjman said yesterday that the 13 April elections are the first step toward guaranteeing the return of Croatian refugees to that region, the coexistence of local Serbs there as equal citizens, and the end of the war of independence. He urged all citizens to put the past behind them and to concentrate on building a better future. Jacques Klein, UN administrator for eastern Slavonia, says that everything is set to go for the elections. Some local Croats, however, say that they have received threatening telephone calls telling them not to vote, Vjesnik reported yesterday.

    [11] PLAVSIC ATTACKS HER ENEMIES.

    Republika Srpska President Biljana Plavsic told Banja Luka TV on 9 April that her rivals are denying her air-time on Pale TV and calling for her resignation. She said "this amounts to the destruction of the country." It was Plavsic's most open attack to date on the Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, Momcilo Krajisnik, who controls Pale TV and with whom she is locked in a power struggle. She has launched moves against corruption and profiteering that threaten to undercut Krajisnik's business empire and power base.

    [12] EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA.

    Jacques Santer told the Romanian parliament yesterday that the economic program of Victor Ciorbea's cabinet is "bold." RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported Santer as saying that in addition to the $ 482 million already promised by the EBRD, Romania will receive some $61 million to help balance its trade deficit. Santer was in Bucharest to met with Ciorbea, members of the cabinet, the chairmen of the two houses of parliament, and President Emil Constantinescu, with whom he discussed Romania's application for EU membership.

    [13] ROMANIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES ALBANIAN MISSION.

    The parliament yesterday approved President Constantinescu's request that Romania send a 400-strong contingent to join the multinational mission in Albania, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The leftist and nationalist opposition opposed the motion or abstained. The legislature also approved Constantinescu's proposal that the Timisoara airfield be used as a logistics and supply base for the Albanian operation. In other news, Foreign Minister Adrian Severin and Austrian Vice Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel agreed in Bucharest on 9 April to set up what they call a "trilateral mechanism" to promote Romanian and Hungarian admission to the EU, Romanian TV reported. Hungary has not yet responded to the initiative.

    [14] RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOLDOVA.

    Following his meeting yesterday with President Petru Lucinschi and leader of the Transdniester breakaway region Igor Smirnov, Yevgenii Primakov said negotiations between the two sides will be resumed. Primakov said Lucinschi and Smirnov have agreed to sign the "memorandum of understanding on normalizing relations" by 15 May. The memorandum was drafted last year, but Chisinau has refused to endorse it, saying it encroaches on Moldovan sovereignty. An article stipulating that Chisinau and Tiraspol will develop relations "as part of a single state" is to be added to the document. But Smirnov says he is pessimistic about the outcome of future negotiations. Primakov, who is in Chisinau on a two-day visit, also met with Premier Ion Ciubuc and Foreign Minister Mihai Popov. Primakov and Popv agreed that the State Duma should ratify the basic treaty between Russia and Moldova, which was signed in 1990.

    [15] OSCE MISSION IN MOLDOVA TO CONTINUE PARTICIPATION IN JOINT CONTROL COMMISSION.

    The agreement on the participation of OSCE mission representatives in the Joint Control Commission has been extended to 1 September, Infotag reported yesterday. The new agreement also provides for a Ukrainian representative to the commission, which is overseeing the truce in the Dniester breakaway region. Other members represent Moldova, the Transdniester, and Russia. Since late March, Tiraspol has hindered the participation of OSCE mission representatives, claiming the original agreement expired in February and had to be renewed.

    [16] BULGARIAN PENSIONERS CONFRONT PRESIDENT OVER ECONOMIC HARDSHIPS.

    President Petar Stoyanov was forced to retreat inside the presidency building in Sofia yesterday after being confronted by a group of angry elderly protesters, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported. Stoyanov had sought to address the pensioners but had been shouted down with cries of "fascist" and "traitor." Security forces had to intervene to prevent Stoyanov from being physically attacked. Small groups of pensioners have been protesting economic hardships in front of the presidency building for the past several days. In other news, Socialist Party leader Georgi Parvanov accused the United Democratic Forces of making unrealistic electoral promises that might lead to social unrest.

    [17] RUSSIA ASKS SOFIYANSKI TO POSTPONE VISIT.

    The Bulgarian government press service announced yesterday that Russia has asked caretaker Premier Stefan Sofiyanski to postpone his scheduled visit to Moscow at the end of this week. RFE/RL's Sofia correspondent says Moscow wants to clarify some aspects of the 8 April agreement on Russian gas supplies to Bulgaria and the construction of pipelines to the Balkans that will transit Bulgarian territory (see RFE/RL Newsline, 9 April 1997). The press service said the visit has been re-scheduled for next week.

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


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