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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 10, 97-04-14

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. 10, 14 April 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT WANTS DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUGS POSSESSION.
  • [02] KAZAK URANIUM EXPORTS.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [03] ITALIAN PREMIER SAYS FOREIGN TROOPS TO LEAVE ALBANIA IN JULY.
  • [04] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT FIGHTS RIVALS IN OWN PARTY.
  • [05] LEKA RETURNS TO ALBANIA.
  • [06] FIRST ELECTION RETURNS FROM CROATIA...
  • [07] ...BUT POLLS STAY OPEN IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
  • [08] POPE IN SARAJEVO.
  • [09] U.S. WANTS RIGHTS RESTORED IN KOSOVO.
  • [10] ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS PRIVATIZATION LIST IS FINAL.
  • [11] ROMANIA SIGNS CEFTA AGREEMENT.
  • [12] ROMANIA BEGINS RESTITUTION OF JEWISH, GERMAN PROPERTIES.
  • [13] RUSSIA, UKRAINE TO GUARANTEE CHISINAU-TIRASPOL MEMORANDUM?
  • [14] IMF APPROVES LOAN TO BULGARIA.
  • [15] KING SIMEON TO VISIT BULGARIA.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] KYRGYZ SUPREME COURT WANTS DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUGS POSSESSION.

    Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court is working on an amendment to the criminal code whereby possession of "large amounts" of narcotics would be a capital offense, ITAR-TASS reported on 11 April. Askar Mameyev, chairman of the government commission on drugs, said he estimates that 15-20 tons of narcotics transited Kyrgyzstan in 1996. He added that 10% of crime in Kyrgyzstan is drug-related. Compared with its neighbors, Kyrgyzstan has lenient laws on drug possession and use.

    [02] KAZAK URANIUM EXPORTS.

    Viktor Yazikov, head of the Kazak National Company for Atomic Energy and Industry, says that from 1993 to 1996, Kazakstan exported 7,000 tons of uranium, Interfax reported on 11 April. Almost half (3,000 tons) went to the U.S. Yazikov said that in the first half of this year, Kazakstan will ship another 540 tons to the U.S. Interfax did not specify where the rest of the uranium was shipped.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [03] ITALIAN PREMIER SAYS FOREIGN TROOPS TO LEAVE ALBANIA IN JULY.

    Romano Prodi said in Tirana yesterday that the new multinational force arriving in Albania to secure aid deliveries will not interfere in domestic politics and will leave one month after the elections, which are now slated for June. Prodi met with his Albanian counterpart Bashkim Fino in Vlora, where he was given an enthusiastic welcome by crowds, and with President Sali Berisha in Tirana. Critics charge that the mission is headed for danger because the problem in Albania is not hunger but lawlessness. The Albanian authorities respond that comparisons with Bosnian conditions are unjustified.

    [04] ALBANIAN PRESIDENT FIGHTS RIVALS IN OWN PARTY.

    Leaders of President Berisha's Democratic Party met late into the night yesterday to deal with a challenge to the president and his leadership. At least 20 legislators and former ministers have blasted Berisha, former Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi, and former Foreign Minister Tritan Shehu for their roles in the current crisis. The dissidents want a new leadership. Democratic Party officials have not yet commented on the results of the meeting.

    [05] LEKA RETURNS TO ALBANIA.

    Exiled King Leka returned yesterday to his homeland and called for a referendum on the restoration of the monarchy. He told some 2,000 supporters at Tirana airport that he will start work immediately on such a vote, adding that has come to share "the suffering" of the people and plans to stay "as long as is necessary." Political parties and President Sali Berisha agreed in principle last week to a referendum but set no date. The pro-monarchy Legality Movement, which organized Leka's visit, polled about 5% in elections last year and helps govern Shkoder as part of a local government coalition.

    [06] FIRST ELECTION RETURNS FROM CROATIA...

    Preliminary results of yesterday's elections show the ruling Croatian Democratic Community (HDZ) leading in most of the 21 districts for the upper house of parliament. Voter turnout was estimated at around 54% shortly before polls closed. Early returns show an opposition coalition is closely challenging the HDZ for control of the Zagreb city council, where the HDZ has been in the minority since 1995. The HDZ may lose control of Split, where it has only 26% of the vote so far.

    [07] ...BUT POLLS STAY OPEN IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.

    UN officials in Vukovar have ordered voting to continue today in the Serb- held region of eastern Slavonia to give all eligible voters the chance to cast their ballots. Many polling stations opened late on Sunday because of the tardy arrival of ballot papers. In addition, many ethnic Serb voters with valid Croatian documents could not find their names on the lists. UN officials criticized Zagreb for administrative incompetence and attacked the Serbian leadership for waiting until the last minute to decide to take part in the polls. U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith said there was a "certain pattern" to the problems with the voting lists. Croatian refugees who plan to go home once eastern Slavonia becomes Croatian again in July voted elsewhere.

    [08] POPE IN SARAJEVO.

    Pope John Paul II paid a 25-hour visit to the Bosnian capital on the weekend to meet with the country's Catholic, Serbian Orthodox, Muslim, and Jewish leaders. Yesterday, he also spoke individually with each of the three members of the collective Bosnian presidency and celebrated mass in the city's open-air stadium. Some 50,000 people, many of whom had crossed Bosnian Serb lines, attended the mass. Security concerns overshadowed the visit, during which police found 23 land mines and a remote control detonator wired up under a road bridge. The visit had been frequently postponed because officials had deemed conditions in the Bosnian capital too dangerous.

    [09] U.S. WANTS RIGHTS RESTORED IN KOSOVO.

    Assistant Secretary of State John Kornblum, outgoing top U.S. envoy to the Balkans, has urged the full restoration of human rights in the Serb- controlled province of Kosovo. Kornblum and his successor, Robert Gelbard, met with Ibrahim Rugova, leader of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians, in Pristina yesterday. Rugova said that "with the help of the United States, the problem of Kosovo will be solved." But Kornblum again ruled out support for Kosovar independence, noting that the restoration of human rights would mean a "Kosovo within Serbia." The two U.S. envoys later traveled to Macedonia, where they met with President Kiro Gligorov and other senior government officials.

    [10] ROMANIAN PREMIER SAYS PRIVATIZATION LIST IS FINAL.

    Victor Ciorbea says the list of the 10 state-owned companies facing imminent privatization will not be changed unless the State Property Fund (FPS) produces evidence that those companies are not loss-making, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 12-13 April. Ciorbea also wants to place the FPS under direct government control in an apparent attempt to discipline the fund, whose spokesman on 11 April denied that the list was final. Ciorbea said both the spokesman and other FPS staff would be dismissed. But he added that he has "full confidence" in FPS director Sorin Dimitriu, who had also said the list was tentative. The government released the list last week.

    [11] ROMANIA SIGNS CEFTA AGREEMENT.

    Minister of Trade and Industry Calin Popescu Tariceanu has signed the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) on his country's behalf, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported on 12 April. The signing ceremony was attended by Tariceanu's counterparts from the five current member states -- Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Romania will become the organization's sixth member on 1 July.

    [12] ROMANIA BEGINS RESTITUTION OF JEWISH, GERMAN PROPERTIES.

    The government announced on 11 April that it will return six buildings confiscated from the Jewish community during and after World War II and one building confiscated from the German community. All the properties are in Bucharest. The decision, which still has to be approved by the parliament, does not extend to properties confiscated from individual members of either group. The Jewish community is to set up a non-profit organization to administer the returned properties.

    [13] RUSSIA, UKRAINE TO GUARANTEE CHISINAU-TIRASPOL MEMORANDUM?

    Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov told journalists in Chisinau on 11 April that Russia and Ukraine will be "guarantors" of the memorandum on settling the conflict with Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region. He added that Moscow will respect the accord signed with Chisinau on the withdrawal of Russian troops and that it is not considering an increase in the troops stationed in the Transdniester. Tiraspol's demand to bring Russian "peace-keeping forces" to the region is "not timely," he commented. BASA-press reports that the article recently added to the memorandum (see RFE/RL Newsline, 11 April 1997) stipulates that the two sides will develop relations "within the common state, within the borders of January 1990."

    [14] IMF APPROVES LOAN TO BULGARIA.

    The IMF on 11 April approved a $657 million standby loan for Bulgaria to support economic reforms. Ivan Kostov, leader of the United Democratic Forces, said strict compliance with the IMF's tough conditions for the loan "will deal a blow to corruption, racketeering, and unfair competition" and "will stop the chasing away of honest foreign and Bulgarian investors," Reuters reported on 12 April. Meanwhile, Deputy Premier Alexander Bozhkov told the EBRD annual meeting in London yesterday that Sofia plans to privatize six top banks by mid-1998 in order to restore confidence in the banking sector.

    [15] KING SIMEON TO VISIT BULGARIA.

    A spokesman for former King Simeon II announced yesterday that the exiled Bulgarian monarch will visit Bulgaria on 15 April. In an interview with the Spanish daily ABC, Simeon ruled out returning to live in that country in the immediate future, saying he wants to "contribute something positive and not just add to the confusion," AFP reported on 13 April. Last week, members of the Alliance for National Salvation, composed of several small pro-monarchy parties, visited Simeon at his home in Madrid. His spokesman said Simeon was the king of all Bulgarians and did not support one party over another.

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


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