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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 33, 97-05-19

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. 33, 19 May 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT INVITES POPE TO VISIT.
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN BELATEDLY RATIFIES CFE FLANK AGREEMENT.
  • [03] KAZAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES RUSSIAN OFFICIALS.
  • [04] NEW TAJIK AGREEMENTS.
  • [05] NEW PRESIDENT FOR MONGOLIA.

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [06] POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP IN ALBANIA.
  • [07] PRODI DENIES THREAT TO LEAVE ALBANIA.
  • [08] TENSE WEEKEND IN KOSOVO.
  • [09] DID BRITAIN'S RIFKIND OBSTRUCT WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION AGAINST MILOSEVIC?
  • [10] MILOSEVIC MEETS BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS.
  • [11] CROATIAN CURRENCY BECOMES LEGAL TENDER IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
  • [12] NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.
  • [13] FORMER PRESIDENTIAL AIDE NOMINATED ROMANIA'S INTELLIGENCE CHIEF.
  • [14] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW DRAFT LAWS.
  • [15] ROMANIAN PREMIER ON LABOR UNREST.
  • [16] MOLDOVAN PREMIER ON BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA.
  • [17] IMF TEAM BEGINS WORKING WITH BULGARIA ON CURRENCY BOARD.
  • [18] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE "MACEDONIAN-LANGUAGE ISSUE."

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASIA AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT INVITES POPE TO VISIT.

    At a meeting in the Vatican on 16 May, Eduard Shevardnadze invited Pope John Paul II to visit Georgia, AFP reported. Shevardnadze also held talks in Rome with Italian leaders and with officials of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which will implement a special program to increase agricultural production and crop yields in Georgia, according to ITAR-TASS. A declaration on political and economic cooperation and several bilateral agreements were signed, including one on military cooperation, Interfax reported.

    [02] AZERBAIJAN BELATEDLY RATIFIES CFE FLANK AGREEMENT.

    The Azerbaijani parliament ratified the 1996 CFE flank agreement on 16 May, 24 hours after the official deadline for doing so expired, ITAR-TASS reported. A senior official in Baku told Interfax yesterday that the provision stating that signatory states may cede part of their armament quotas to Russia or permit the stationing of Russian troops on their territory does not apply to Baku. Azerbaijan was the last signatory state to ratify the accord. The Moldovan parliament approved it on 15 May, according to BASApress.

    [03] KAZAK PRESIDENT CRITICIZES RUSSIAN OFFICIALS.

    Nurusultan Nazarbayev told a journalists' conference in Almaty at the weekend that Kazakstan "has no debts to Russia," according to Interfax and AFP. Nazarbayev was responding to Russian Minister for CIS Affairs Aman Tuleev's statement that Kazakstan owes Russia 134 kilograms of gold and 6.5 tons of silver. The Kazak president claimed Russia owes Kazakstan $480 million in rent for the Baikonur space center. He also noted that Russia is doing little to promote "equality and respect for the sovereignty of other CIS countries." And he criticized Russia's military presence in other CIS countries, notably Armenia and Tajikistan, which, he said, reflected a "pro- communist mentality" in the Russian bureaucracy.

    [04] NEW TAJIK AGREEMENTS.

    President Imomali Rakhmonov and United Tajik Opposition leader Said Abdullo Nuri signed several agreements in Bishkek on 16-17 May. The two leaders agreed to a general amnesty, continued prisoner exchanges, and a plan to hand over 25% of the seats in the Central Election Committee to the UTO. They also agreed to allow 500 UTO members into Dushanbe to protect their representatives on the committee. The issue of legalizing the UTO has still not been fully resolved, and disarming UTO armed formations remains an issue. The government says this step must be completed before a reconciliation council can begin planning new parliamentary elections, scheduled to take place no later than summer 1998. The UTO argues that the four or five months needed by the government for this process would hinder its chances in those elections.

    [05] NEW PRESIDENT FOR MONGOLIA.

    Natsagiyn Bagabandi of the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party won yesterday's presidential elections. He took just over 60% of the vote to beat incumbent Punsalmagin Ochirbat, who received about 30%. Bagabandi has promised to slow the pace of reform in Mongolia, claiming the "shock therapy" reforms introduced by Ochirbat and his Democratic Coalition have lead to widespread unemployment and poverty in Mongolia. However, the Democratic Coalition still has a majority in Mongolia's parliament.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [06] POLITICAL BRINKMANSHIP IN ALBANIA.

    Socialist Prime Minister Bashkim Fino meets with representatives of other opposition parties today to finalize their demands for changes to the election law. Fino will then try again to persuade President Sali Berisha to agree to the new provisions, which deal with proportional representation, access to the media, monitoring, and control over electoral commissions. Berisha himself would have to decree any changes, since on 16 May he dissolved parliament and called elections for 29 June. It is unclear how far in advance of the vote the law can still be amended. The opposition over the weekend again hinted it might boycott the ballot if current law remains unchanged. Berisha told supporters in Lac yesterday that he will not modify the law.

    [07] PRODI DENIES THREAT TO LEAVE ALBANIA.

    Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Rome yesterday denied reports that he has pledged to cut short Operation Alba unless the elections go ahead on schedule. He said his earlier remarks about the need for the Albanians to help stabilize their country themselves were not meant as a "threat, but just [as] a serious observation." In Vlora, representatives of the Salvation Committees controlling numerous southern towns met over the weekend and rejected Berisha's demand that the local committees disband. In Ulcinj in Montenegro, a local ethnic Albanian politician told BETA news agency over the weekend that more than 100 trucks carrying scrap iron arrive illegally from Albania each day. And in the Albanian industrial town of Elbasan, five men were killed in gang warfare yesterday.

    [08] TENSE WEEKEND IN KOSOVO.

    Posters appeared in Pristina over the weekend calling on ethnic Albanians in the name of the local Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) to abandon shadow- state President Ibrahim Rugova's policy of non-violence and launch an armed struggle. For his part, Rugova's deputy Fehmi Agani said in Belgrade that he does not know if the UCK really exists. On 16 May, unidentified attackers shot an ethnic Albanian dead on the Prizren-Djakovica road, while two Serbian police were wounded in the village of Srbica. Soon after the attack on the policemen, Serbian authorities arrested at least 30 Albanian students. The next day, students at the underground Albanian university in Pristina protested the arrests. Meanwhile, the trial opened in Pristina today of 18 Kosovars charged with terrorism as alleged members of the UCK, Nasa Borba reported this morning.

    [09] DID BRITAIN'S RIFKIND OBSTRUCT WAR CRIMES INVESTIGATION AGAINST MILOSEVIC?

    The Observer wrote yesterday that former Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind blocked a U.S. request last year to turn over jointly collected intelligence data to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal. Court President Antonio Cassesse also appealed in vain to Rifkind to release the telephone intercepts that might have proven a link between Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leaders. The London weekly added that Rifkind refused to change the orders of British peacekeepers to enable them to arrest indicted war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic. The paper also charged that the Milosevic regime secretly paid $160,000 to Rifkind's Conservative Party through a lobbying firm.

    [10] MILOSEVIC MEETS BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS.

    The Serbian president met in Belgrade on Friday with Momcilo Krajisnik, the ethnic Serb member of the Bosnian joint presidency, and with Republika Srpska Prime Minister Gojko Klickovic to discuss implementing the recent economic agreement between Belgrade and Pale, Nasa Borba reported this morning. Meanwhile in nearby Vojvodina, Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin met with his federal Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, on 16 May. They signed a protocol reaffirming the rights of each country's ethnic minority on the other's territory, including the right of individuals to declare their membership in an ethnic minority group. They also noted there are no outstanding issues between Belgrade and Bucharest but that economic links could be stronger.

    [11] CROATIAN CURRENCY BECOMES LEGAL TENDER IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.

    The kuna went into circulation today in eastern Slavonia, which is gradually being reintegrated into Croatia. Meanwhile, Serbian deputies for the first time since 1991 took their seats in the government of Osijek- Baranja county, in Osijek, on 17 May. The county leader is once again the Croatian Democratic Community's (HDZ) Branimir Glavas, but his deputies are now the Independent Democratic Serbian Party's (SDSS) Mirko Blagojevic and the independent Anica Horvat. An RFE/RL correspondent also reported from Osijek that the HDZ and the SDSS have reached a power-sharing agreement for the towns of Vukovar and Beli Manastir.

    [12] NEWS FROM AROUND FORMER YUGOSLAVIA.

    Rail traffic resumed yesterday on the line between Tuzla, located on Bosnian federal territory, and Doboj, in the Republika Srpska. In Podgorica, some leaders of the Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) charged Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic with acting as if he were already the party's presidential candidate in the upcoming elections, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The DPS' organization in Cetinje underscored the point by nominating his rivals Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic and parliamentary speaker Svetozar Marovic for the presidency. And in Macedonia, an exercise sponsored by NATO and involving up to 1,000 troops ended on 16 May.

    [13] FORMER PRESIDENTIAL AIDE NOMINATED ROMANIA'S INTELLIGENCE CHIEF.

    President Emil Constantinescu yesterday nominated Costin Georgescu as chief of the Romanian Intelligence Service. The 55-year-old Georgescu managed Constantinescu's election campaign in 1992 (see RFE/RL Newsline, 6 May 1997). He is a construction engineer by profession and a deputy of the National Liberal Party. He will have to resign that position if the parliament approves his nomination, as it is expected to do, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported.

    [14] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVES NEW DRAFT LAWS.

    The government yesterday approved amendments to the Law on Education doing away with provisions that were viewed as discriminatory by the Hungarian minority. The amendments provide for instruction in the mother tongue at all levels of education and abolish the provision stating that national minorities must study subjects such as history or geography in Romanian. The executive also change the name of the ministry from Ministry of Public Instruction to Ministry of National Education. In addition, it approved a draft law on the National Bank giving it full independence and responsibility for stabilizing the national currency and prices by controlling the money supply.

    [15] ROMANIAN PREMIER ON LABOR UNREST.

    Victor Ciorbea says "obscure forces" are trying to manipulate people who are genuinely hit by temporary hardships as a result of economic reform. He said those who are suffering most are not "the noisiest." In an interview with RFE/RL on 16 May, Ciorbea said the government has no intention to "give into force and intimidation attempts." He was responding to a demonstration in Bucharest one day earlier protesting the government's economic policies. The same day, some 600 heavy truck drivers drove through Bucharest and honked their horns as they passed government headquarters. The demonstrators were protesting the cabinet's intention to institute a road tax.

    [16] MOLDOVAN PREMIER ON BASIC TREATY WITH ROMANIA.

    Ion Ciubuc says the pending basic treaty with Romania must reflect "today's realities [and] the interests of both countries and their constitutions." Addressing a news conference in Chisinau on his return from a visit to Romania on 17 May, Ciubuc said the draft of the treaty "should be thoroughly prepared" to avoid "leading to tensions." He said the treaty must be "one of friendship and cooperation and not one of fraternity, as some people think." Earlier reports said Romania was insisting on a document that mentioned the "special relationship" of the two countries based on their unity of culture, history, and language, Infotag reported.

    [17] IMF TEAM BEGINS WORKING WITH BULGARIA ON CURRENCY BOARD.

    A team of IMF officials has arrived in Sofia for two weeks to assist Bulgarian officials in setting up the currency board of the National Bank. An RFE/RL correspondent in Washington reported on 16 May that the IMF views the setting up of the board as the "key" to Bulgaria's economic reform and stabilization program. The board will tie the lev to the German mark and will strictly limit the amount of currency the bank can issue, making the money supply dependent on the bank's hard-currency reserves. The agreement with the IMF also prohibits the National Bank from providing cheap credits to cover budget deficits or the losses of state enterprises.

    [18] BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT TO DEBATE "MACEDONIAN-LANGUAGE ISSUE."

    The parliamentary National Security Committee plans to debate the so-called "Macedonian-language issue" at its first session. An RFE/RL Sofia bureau correspondent says the dispute has clouded relations between Sofia and Skopje for almost six years. Bulgaria has insisted for more than a century that Macedonian is a dialect of Bulgarian. Skopje say this linguistic claim is a "thin disguise" for territorial ambitions toward Macedonia that date back to the breakup of the Ottoman Empire. In other news, BTA reported on 16 May that the spiritual leader of the country's 800,000 strong Muslim community, Hadzhibasri Hadzhisherif, has died in Sofia aged 69.

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


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