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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 1, No. 59, 97-06-24

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. 59, 24 June 1997


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HAILS MOSCOW TALKS ON ABKHAZIA...
  • [02] ...CRITICIZES HIS SECURITY MINISTER
  • [03] INFLATION IN TAJIKISTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [04] ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS SIGN "PACT FOR FUTURE"
  • [05] ALBANIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION STRUGGLING OVER POLLING TIME
  • [06] ALBANIAN UPDATE
  • [07] MONTENEGRIN SOCIALISTS GIVE MILOSEVIC "HALF VICTORY"
  • [08] STATE DEPARTMENT BLASTS PROPOSED SERBIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW
  • [09] BLASKIC TRIAL BEGINS IN THE HAGUE
  • [10] BOSNIAN SERBS BLOCK AIRPORT AGREEMENT
  • [11] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO MEMBERSHIP
  • [12] ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN NEW YORK
  • [13] BOB DOLE IN ROMANIA
  • [14] MOLDOVA, U.S. SIGN AGREEMENT ON PREVENTION OF WEAPONS PROLIFERATION
  • [15] LEFT-WING POLITICAL ALLIANCE SET UP IN MOLDOVA
  • [16] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] GEORGIAN PRESIDENT HAILS MOSCOW TALKS ON ABKHAZIA...

    Commenting on the recent Georgian-Abkhaz talks in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997), Eduard Shevardnadze said the two sides reached agreement on unspecified "very important points," Interfax and Western agencies reported on 23 June. Shevardnadze, who was speaking during his weekly radio address, praised Russia for mediating the talks and noted that progress on the most difficult issues was made only through goodwill on the part of both Georgia and Abkhazia. But he stressed there is still much work to be done and called for a larger role for the UN in settling the Georgian- Abkhaz conflict.

    [02] ...CRITICIZES HIS SECURITY MINISTER

    Shevardnadze also said that if allegations against Georgian Security Minister Shota Kviraia prove to be true, he will take "appropriate" measures, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 June. A number of politicians and journalists have accused Kviraia of tapping the telephones of leading newspaper editors. Shevardnadze also criticized Kviraia for failing to free his ministry of its Soviet-era legacy.

    [03] INFLATION IN TAJIKISTAN

    The value of the Tajik ruble has dropped by 50% since the end of April, Reuters reported on 23 June. The cause is an increase in the amount of Tajik rubles printed this year. According to the Tajik State Statistics Agency, some 5.4 billion rubles were printed in the first four months of 1997, three times the amount for the same period last year. On 23 June, the exchange rate for the Tajik ruble had fallen to 600 to US $1. In April, the rate was 400 Tajik rubles to $1.

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [04] ALBANIAN PARTY LEADERS SIGN "PACT FOR FUTURE"

    Democratic Party leader Titan Shehu, the Socialists' Fatos Nano, and the Social Democrats' Skender Gjinushi agreed in Rome on 23 June to respect the results of the 29 June elections and not to use violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997). They also pledged to grant the opposition a greater role in political life, including control over important parliamentary commissions and the anti-corruption agency. The opposition will also nominate the deputy speaker of the parliament. The three parties further agreed to cooperate after the elections in the formation of a new government, "Zeri i Popullit" reported. Sabri Godo of the Republican Party and the National Front's Hysen Selfo refused to sign the document in Rome and demanded that the ceremony take place in Albania, according to "Gazeta Shqiptare."

    [05] ALBANIAN CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION STRUGGLING OVER POLLING TIME

    The Central Election Commission held a heated debate in Tirana on 23 June over the closing time of polling stations, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported. The majority of the commission members asked President Sali Berisha to decree that the stations close at 7:00 p.m. A Democratic Party representative, however, said that such a move would be illegal. The Democrats want a later closing time, which the opposition fears would enable fraud to take place under the cover of darkness. Observers from the Albanian media at the commission meetings told an RFE/RL correspondent that the Democratic Party representatives are deliberately blocking the commission's work by delaying decisions. "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 24 June that "the extreme stubbornness of [the two Democrats] did not allow for a normal debate."

    [06] ALBANIAN UPDATE

    A multi-party round-table meeting in Tirana on 22 June failed to reach agreement on another key issue, namely the assigning of legislative seats on the basis of proportional representation. The same day, five policemen were injured, two seriously, when unidentified assailants opened fire at their car on the outskirts of Tirana. The shots were fired after curfew by several people who were using a military-type car, "Gazeta Shqiptare" reported on 24 June.

    [07] MONTENEGRIN SOCIALISTS GIVE MILOSEVIC "HALF VICTORY"

    The governing body of the Democratic Socialists Party (DPS) met in Podgorica on 23 June and endorsed the candidacy of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic for the federal Yugoslav presidency. The vote was 56 to 31, with 10 abstentions, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. By a much larger majority, however, the DPS voted down Milosevic's proposal for the direct election of the federal president. Under the current system, the parliament will elect the replacement for President Zoran Lilic, whose term ends on 25 June. Many Montenegrin politicians fear that direct elections would greatly reduce their republic's influence in federal affairs by weakening the role of the parliament. Montenegro plays a much larger role in the federal legislature than can be justified by the size of its population.

    [08] STATE DEPARTMENT BLASTS PROPOSED SERBIAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT LAW

    A State Department spokesman said in Washington on 23 June that Serbia's proposed law on local government would strengthen the power of the governing Socialist Party at the expense of the opposition. The spokesman said that the measure would undermine the opposition's control over more than a dozen cities that the opposition won only after a protracted political struggle with Milosevic last winter, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the U.S. capital. Other provisions of the legislation work against the interests of ethnic minorities by guaranteeing a power role for Serbs and Montenegrins in areas where other ethnic groups form the majority. Meanwhile in Ulcinj, a conference of Kosovar Albanians and opposition Serbs opened to discuss the future of Kosovo.

    [09] BLASKIC TRIAL BEGINS IN THE HAGUE

    The trial of Croatian Gen. Tihomir Blaskic started on 23 June at the Hague- based international criminal tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Security for witnesses is tight, following a recent series of leaks to the press of names of witnesses and other confidential information. Blaskic, who also served in the Bosnian Croat army, stands indicted on 20 counts involving atrocities against Muslims in the Lasva valley during the 1993 Croatian- Muslim conflict. Blaskic is the most senior suspected war criminal to stand trial so far. Charges against him stem from the orders he formulated and gave, whereas the other men in custody at The Hague carried out the orders of their superiors. Other top-ranking indicted figures--including Dario Kordic, a Croatian civilian who is also wanted in connection with the crimes in the Lasva valley--have not yet been taken into custody.

    [10] BOSNIAN SERBS BLOCK AIRPORT AGREEMENT

    NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said in Sarajevo on 23 June that Bosnian Serb representatives raised last-minute objections to a measure that would reopen civilian airports in Tuzla, Mostar, and Banja Luka. The Serbs demanded that local Serbian authorities be in full charge of the Banja Luka operation, whereas the agreement put all three airports under a joint authority. Momcilo Krajisnik, the Bosnian Serb member of the joint presidency, said in Pale that he also refused to agree on a proposal for a joint body to cooperate with the Hague-based tribunal, since the Serbs insist that each ethnic group have its own representative at the court. The Serbs have consistently tried to hamstring attempts at forming joint institutions.

    [11] ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO MEMBERSHIP

    Emil Constantinescu told a NATO security forum in Prague on 23 June that the Romanian people will regard the U.S. as "cynical" and "incapable of analyzing global interests" if his country is not admitted to NATO at the Madrid summit in July, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Constantinescu said "national pride" is the driving force behind Romania's bid to join the organization, adding "we are asking for a firm and clear recognition of our progress." He also noted that Romania started the campaign for NATO admission out of fear it would be left in a "gray zone." Since then, however, the country has become "not only a security consumer but a security provider as well," he stressed. Constantinescu also noted that the alliance would benefit from Romania's "strong" relations with Serbia and Bulgaria as well as with the Baltic States.

    [12] ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN NEW YORK

    Addressing the UN General Assembly's "Earth Summit" on 23 June, Victor Ciorbea said 50 years of communism "had left nothing unpolluted in Romanian society." He said his government views cleaning up the environment as one of its top priorities. Ciorbea also discussed his country's application for NATO membership with several leaders also attending the Earth Summit, including Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Italian Premier Romano Prodi, and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Radio Bucharest reported.

    [13] BOB DOLE IN ROMANIA

    Former U.S. presidential candidate Bob Dole, concluding a two-day visit to Romania on 23 June, said his "personal view" is that Romania should "immediately" be accepted into NATO, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Dole said President Bill Clinton and his administration are aware of his opinions. During his visit, Dole met with President Emil Constantinescu and the chairmen of the two houses of the parliament, Petre Roman and Ion Diaconescu. He left Bucharest for Bosnia, where he was sent on an official mission by Clinton.

    [14] MOLDOVA, U.S. SIGN AGREEMENT ON PREVENTION OF WEAPONS PROLIFERATION

    Moldovan Minister of Defense Valeriu Pasat and visiting U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary John P. White signed an agreement in Chisinau on 23 June on preventing the proliferation of mass destruction weapons, Infotag and BASA- press reported. The agreement prohibits the transportation and stationing of such weapons on Moldovan territory. The two leaders also signed an accord on military cooperation. In addition, White met with Prime Minister Ion Ciubuc and with deputy parliamentary chairman Dumitru Diacov. Among the issues discussed were the memorandum on joint activities signed by the U.S. and Moldovan Defense Ministries in December 1995, and Moldova's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program.

    [15] LEFT-WING POLITICAL ALLIANCE SET UP IN MOLDOVA

    The Socialist Unity Party-Edinstvo, the Socialist Party, and the Moldovan Union of Communists have set up a left wing alliance calling itself the Popular Patriotic Forces, BASA-press reported on 23 June. The bloc was established in Balti on 21 June, according to the agency The new alliance hailed the Russia-Belarus union and demanded that Lenin's mausoleum in Moscow be maintained intact. It also harshly criticized the policies of Ion Ciubuc's government and called for a way out of the "labyrinth of destructive reforms." Valeriu Senic, Petr Shornikov, and Florin Hristev were elected co-chairmen of the alliance.

    [16] BULGARIAN ROUNDUP

    Two miners are missing and nine injured following a coal mine blast at Bobovdol, southwestern Bulgaria, AFP reported on 23 June. Four of the injured are in serious condition. The explosion was caused by a buildup of methane gas. In other news, a naval exercise named "Cooperative Partner '97" began on 22 June along Bulgaria's Black Sea coast. The exercise is being held within the Partnership for Peace program and will last two weeks. Participants include Greece, France, Italy, Turkey, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, and Ukraine.

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


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