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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 40, 01-02-27

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. 5, No. 40, 27 February 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA OPENS EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD
  • [02] ARMENIA FREES TWO MORE POWS
  • [03] FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER SENTENCED
  • [04] AZERBAIJANI, KARABAKH OFFICIALS ISSUE STATEMENTS ON MASSACRE ANNIVERSARY
  • [05] CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST SIX AZERBAIJANI WAR INVALIDS
  • [06] AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA TO STUDY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF RADAR INSTALLATION
  • [07] GEORGIA TO GIVE ZHIRINOVSKY COLD SHOULDER?
  • [08] GEORGIAN POLICE CONCERNED BY RISING VIOLENCE AGAINST FOREIGNERS
  • [09] GEORGIAN AIRLINE STAFF POSTPONE PLANNED PROTEST
  • [10] DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF TAJIKISTAN SEEK TO REUNITE
  • [11] PLANNED CASPIAN SUMMIT IN TURKMENISTAN POSTPONED
  • [12] UZBEKISTAN PLEDGES TO RESUME GAS DELIVERIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [13] GUNFIRE EXCHANGE ON MACEDONIAN-KOSOVAR BORDER
  • [14] CIVILIANS FLEE MACEDONIAN BORDER AREA
  • [15] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT WARNS TROUBLE-MAKERS
  • [16] RUSSIA CALLS FOR BALKAN BORDER GUARANTEES
  • [17] EU, U.S. WARN KOSOVARS...
  • [18] ...TAKE UP PRESEVO ISSUES
  • [19] EU COOL ON KOSOVA ELECTIONS...
  • [20] ...AND MONTENEGRIN SELF-DETERMINATION
  • [21] PATTEN UNDERSCORES SOLANA'S MESSAGE TO MONTENEGRO...
  • [22] ...BUT MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT HOLDS FIRM ON INDEPENDENCE
  • [23] YUGOSLAVIA PASSES AMNESTY LAW
  • [24] HAGUE COURT SENTENCES BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER
  • [25] ZAGREB NOT TO FINANCE HERZEGOVINIAN ARMY
  • [26] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO RELAUNCH NATO ACCESSION CAMPAIGN
  • [27] FINAL SENTENCES IN ROMANIAN CIGARETTE-SMUGGLING TRIAL
  • [28] OSCE DESCRIBES MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS AS FREE AND FAIR
  • [29] BRAGHIS ALLIANCE WILL GO INTO OPPOSITION
  • [30] BULGARIA TO WITHDRAW LICENSE FROM BALKAN AIRLINES
  • [31] EU GROUP TO MEASURE POLLUTION ON ROMANIAN-BULGARIAN BORDER

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [32] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA OPENS EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD

    An Armenian government delegation headed by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and accompanied by a group of Armenian businessmen flew to Baghdad on 25 February, Interfax and RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. Oskanian attended the ceremonial opening of Armenia's embassy in Baghdad on 25 February and met the following day with President Saddam Hussein to discuss the prospects for bilateral cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Oskanian discussed trade and economic cooperation with Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan and Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Hikmat Ibrahim al-Azzawi. He also discussed with Oil Minister Amer Mohammed Rashid the participation of Armenian businessmen in the "oil for food" program. The two countries established formal diplomatic relations a year ago. Iraq has an Armenian minority estimated at 10,000 people. LF

    [02] ARMENIA FREES TWO MORE POWS

    Armenia released two Azerbaijani prisoners of war on 26 February as "a gesture of good will," Noyan Tapan and Turan reported. The two men were reportedly taken prisoner several years ago after straying across the Armenian-Azerbaijani frontier. LF

    [03] FORMER KARABAKH DEFENSE MINISTER SENTENCED

    The Supreme Court of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 26 February handed down a 14 year prison sentence on the enclave's former Defense Minister Samvel Babayan, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Babayan was founded guilty on charges, which he denies, of master-minding an attempt to

    assassinate Karabakh President Arkadii Ghukasian in March 2000 in order to seize power. Presiding judge Suren Aleksanian said the verdict was based on pretrial testimony in which Babayan confessed to the charges against him. Babayan later retracted that admission of guilt, saying it was extracted from him under duress (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 December 2000). Two men found guilty of opening fire on Ghukasian's armored limousine were similarly sentenced to 14 years' imprisonment. One of them, Sasun Aghadjanian, has admitted his guilt, while the other, Levon Mirzoyan, pleaded not guilty. Two other Babayan associates received sentences of ten and 13 years respectively, while 11 other men charged in connection with the attack on Ghukasian received short suspended sentences. LF

    [04] AZERBAIJANI, KARABAKH OFFICIALS ISSUE STATEMENTS ON MASSACRE ANNIVERSARY

    In a statement to mark the anniversary of the massacre of several hundred Azerbaijanis in the Karabakh village of Khodjaly in 1992, Azerbaijan's President Heidar Aliev criticized then President Ayaz Mutalibov for failing to take measures to prevent those deaths, Interfax and dpa reported. Aliev also criticized the international community for what he termed its failure to condemn the killings. Meanwhile Vahram Atanesian, chairman of the Standing Foreign Relations Commission of the Karabakh parliament, issued a statement which Noyan Tapan circulated on 26 February. Atanesian said that the Karabakh Armenian authorities had given Mutalibov advance warning that they intended to try to neutralize Azerbaijani weapons emplacements in Khodjaly and had announced that a corridor would be opened to allow the civilian population to leave Khodjaly before that offensive began. Atanesian said that it was armed detachments of the Azerbaijan Popular Front who killed the Khodjaly villagers, not Armenian and Russian troops as Baku claims. LF

    [05] CHARGES BROUGHT AGAINST SIX AZERBAIJANI WAR INVALIDS

    Six members of the Society for the Protection of War Invalids who were arrested during the clashes in Baku last week between invalids and police remain in detention and have been charged with violating public order, inciting public unrest and resisting the police, Turan reported on 26 February (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 February 2001). The six men have been refused access to their lawyers and were transferred on 26 February from an investigation center to Baku's notorious Bailov jail. LF

    [06] AZERBAIJAN, RUSSIA TO STUDY ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT OF RADAR INSTALLATION

    Acting on an agreement reached with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the latter's visit to Baku in early January, President Aliev on 26 February ordered the creation of a joint Azerbaijan-Russian commission to assess the impact on the environment and the health of the local population of the Gabala radar facility, ITAR-TASS reported. That radar station, the only remaining Russian military facility in Azerbaijan, was built in the early 1980s. Within a couple of years, Azerbaijani experts claimed that it was causing an increase in deaths from cancer and a fall in the birthrate in the surrounding areas. LF

    [07] GEORGIA TO GIVE ZHIRINOVSKY COLD SHOULDER?

    Georgian Television reported on 26 February that a visit to Georgia by Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky scheduled to begin that day has been postponed until 1 March, ITAR-TASS reported. No reason was given for the delay. Zhirinovsky was scheduled to meet during his two-day stay in Tbilisi with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze and the leaders of parliament factions. Georgian Justice Minister Mikhail Saakashvili told a press conference in Tbilisi on 26 February that if Zhirinovsky does visit Georgia, parliament leaders and government officials will refuse to meet with him, ITAR-TASS reported. Parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania declined comment on Saakashvili's statement, according to Caucasus Press. LF

    [08] GEORGIAN POLICE CONCERNED BY RISING VIOLENCE AGAINST FOREIGNERS

    Tbilisi police chief Soso Alavidze told journalists on 26 February that he believes the recent wave of attacks on foreign visitors to the city is coordinated with the aim of "sowing panic," Caucasus Press reported. Alavidze noted that foreigners are increasingly attacked on the street and subjected to severe beatings even after they surrender their valuables to the assailants. Several Western governments have recently advised their citizens to exercise special caution when visiting Georgia. LF

    [09] GEORGIAN AIRLINE STAFF POSTPONE PLANNED PROTEST

    Some 150 pilots and ground staff of Georgia's Airzena airline decided after talks on 26 February with Georgian Transport and Communications Minister Merab Adeishvili to postpone their planned protest against the recently imposed visa requirement for Georgians travelling to Russia, Caucasus Press reported. They argued that the airline is losing custom and money because its staff need two weeks to provide Georgian travelers with Russian visas, while Russian airlines are able to do so within two days. The protesters warned that unless measures are taken to expedite the issuing of visas to Airzena passengers, they plan to block the runway at Tbilisi airport on 1 March. LF

    [10] DEMOCRATIC PARTY OF TAJIKISTAN SEEK TO REUNITE

    A meeting took place in Dushanbe on 24 February between members of the two factions of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan that formerly constituted that party's so-called "Almaty faction" to discuss terms for a reconciliation, Asia Plus-Blitz reported on 26 February. Originally formed in 1991 and banned in 1993, the DPT split in 1995. At that time, Djumaboy Niyozov was elected chairman of the so-called Almaty faction, while the party's leader Shodmon Yusuf remained in exile in Tehran until the Iranian authorities yielded to pressure from the Tajik government and expelled him. Yusuf is now in Vienna where he has applied for political asylum. The ban on the DPT and several other opposition parties was lifted in August 1999 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 August 1999), after which the DPT Almaty faction split. Former field commander and Minister of Emergency Situations Makhmudruzi Iskandarov, who was elected the party's chairman, incurred criticism from Niyozov's supporters and other party members for cooperating with the ruling authorities. The move towards reconciliation emanated from Niyozov and his supporters. LF

    [11] PLANNED CASPIAN SUMMIT IN TURKMENISTAN POSTPONED

    The summit of Caspian littoral states planned for 8-9 March in the Turkmen port city of Turkmenbashi has been postponed until early April at Iran's request, Reuters reported on 26 February quoting an unnamed Turkmen government official. It had been hoped that summit participants would adopt an agreement on the division of the sea into national sectors. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister and special envoy for the Caspian Viktor Kalyuzhnyi said on 23 February that at a meeting in Tehran on 21-22 February, deputy foreign ministers from the five littoral states had reached agreement on part of the draft declaration to be endorsed at the summit, Interfax reported. Kalyuzhnyi also said that Iran had made clear that it wants the summit postponed until after President Mohammad Khatami's planned visit to Moscow in mid-March and the venue changed. LF

    [12] UZBEKISTAN PLEDGES TO RESUME GAS DELIVERIES TO KYRGYZSTAN

    Following talks in Bishkek on 26 February with his Kyrgyz counterpart Kurmanbek Bakiev, Uzbek Prime Minister Utkir Sultanov told journalists that Uzbekistan will resume natural gas deliveries to Kyrgyzstan "soon," RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Sultanov said that the cause of the 25 January cutoff of supplies was damage to the Uzbek sector of the gas pipeline. He denied speculation in both Kyrgyzstan and the West that Uzbekistan had suspended gas deliveries in an attempt to wrest concessions from Bishkek on the demarcation of the frontier between the two countries (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 and 21 February 2001). LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [13] GUNFIRE EXCHANGE ON MACEDONIAN-KOSOVAR BORDER

    Spokesmen for Macedonia's Defense and Interior Ministries said in Skopje on 27 February that the border with Kosova is quiet following an exchange of machine gun fire lasting about three hours the previous day. Macedonian officials said that "Albanian terrorists coming mostly from Kosovo and some Macedonian citizens" fired from the Kosova side of the border at a Macedonian army and police patrol near Tanusevci (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 21 February 2001). The Macedonians returned fire, Reuters reported. Some 100 KFOR troops soon arrived in Debelde on the Kosovar side and imposed a night curfew. A Macedonian Interior Ministry spokesmen said that the Albanians might be from "a new organization called the National Liberation Army. We understand it was formed in Switzerland in 2000, and it could be active in Macedonia in the near future." Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski called the incident "a serious provocation" and criticized the performance of KFOR. He warned that although he wants to end the border tensions "through peaceful and diplomatic means, radical measures are not excluded." He did not elaborate, AP reported. PM

    [14] CIVILIANS FLEE MACEDONIAN BORDER AREA

    An OSCE spokesman said in Skopje on 26 February that most women, children, and elderly have left the Tanusevci area for Kosova, Reuters reported. A UNHCR spokeswoman in Prishtina told AP that the refugees number about 300. PM

    [15] MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT WARNS TROUBLE-MAKERS

    Boris Trajkovski said in Skopje on 26 February that "there is a tendency toward a worsening of the situation in southern Serbia, which can have a negative effect on the stability of Macedonia. No one should doubt our firm commitment to maintain the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Macedonia," Reuters reported. An unnamed "senior Western diplomat based in Skopje" told the news agency that both sides are hardening their positions "to see the reaction of the international community." Ethnic Albanians account for some 23 percent of Macedonia's total population. Unlike in President Slobodan Milosevic's Yugoslavia, they are well integrated into national political life and some hold cabinet positions. PM

    [16] RUSSIA CALLS FOR BALKAN BORDER GUARANTEES

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on 27 February that the international community should guarantee borders in the region to discourage "extremists." The statement noted that "the actions of the gunmen are aimed at provoking a crisis situation and destabilizing the internal political situation in [Macedonia]... The continuation of such a situation threatens the security and stability of the whole region. Russia believes an effective hurdle to extremists' actions would be confirmation by the international community of the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all the states of the region in question," Reuters reported. The statement also said that the clashes are aimed at realizing unspecified Albanian nationalist plans. Observers note, however, that no mainstream ethnic Albanian party anywhere in the Balkans calls for setting up a greater Albania as a realistic goal (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 February 2001). The Russian call for border guarantees may be an attempt to preclude eventual independence for Kosova. Moscow is a staunch supporter of Belgrade's political goals in the region. PM

    [17] EU, U.S. WARN KOSOVARS...

    The EU and U.S. said in a statement in Brussels on 26 February that the recent bombing of a full bus near Podujeva and "incidents of this kind gravely undermine our publics' and parliaments' political and financial support for Kosovo's democratic transition and economic recovery," AP reported (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report, 20 February 2001). The statement urged Kosova's political leaders to "condemn these heinous attacks in the strongest possible terms and to work with the authorities to bring these criminals to justice. We further call on the people of Kosovo to demonstrate that they will not tolerate this violence," the statement added. PM

    [18] ...TAKE UP PRESEVO ISSUES

    EU foreign ministers agreed in Brussels on 26 February to lift most of the remaining sanctions against Belgrade except those directly affecting the Milosevic family and ruling elite. The ministers also agreed to raise the number of EU monitors in the Presevo Valley from nine to 30. NATO foreign ministers are slated to meet on 27 February, with Presevo high on the agenda. Reuters quoted unnamed NATO officials as saying that the ministers are expected to reduce the length of the five kilometer-wide safety zone on the Kosova-Serbian border from 400 kilometers to 300, Reuters reported. It is not clear to what extent the size of the zone in the Presevo Valley will be affected, if at all. In Bratislava, Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica said that "we generally have the acceptance of NATO and KFOR for solving this problem according to [our] plan. I believe it will not be necessary for the Yugoslav Army and the Serbian police to use force [to stop violence in the region]. The coming days will give a definitive answer to this question." PM

    [19] EU COOL ON KOSOVA ELECTIONS...

    Speaking as EU chair, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said in Brussels on 26 February that "we cannot have general elections in Kosovo before time is ready. First, we have to have an administration. First, we have to have prepared the elections and we also have to make very careful preparations, and that is also the conclusion of [UN Kosovo administrator] Hans Haekkerup. So, we cannot have too early elections in Kosovo," RFE/RL reported. It is not clear what she meant by "early" (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 16 January and 23 February 2001). Some observers argue that the international community's failure to move ahead on the question of Kosova's status is a major source of regional instability. PM

    [20] ...AND MONTENEGRIN SELF-DETERMINATION

    In the latest in a series of EU statements "advising" Montenegro on how to plot its political future, Javier Solana said in Brussels on 26 February that he told Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic that "we are not going to [break] off relations with him. He has been a good friend in moments of difficulty and, therefore, I will continue seeing him when he needs it and when I need it," RFE/RL reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 February 2001). Solana stressed that the EU wants Montenegro and Serbia "to find a change in the constitution that can accommodate both. We are not for the separation of Podgorica from Belgrade, we are, on the contrary, for an accommodation with a change in the constitution, so that they can continue living together in the federation." Solana also warned Montenegro against unspecified "unilateral measures." PM

    [21] PATTEN UNDERSCORES SOLANA'S MESSAGE TO MONTENEGRO...

    Also speaking in Brussels on 26 February for the EU, Chris Patten added that "we want to see a democratic Montenegro within a democratic and reformed Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Our position is absolutely clear. We don't agree with President Djukanovic [on independence], but that is not a reason for the Commission and High Representative for not seeing him." In January, several Montenegrin officials made it clear that they regard such EU statements as arrogant and inadmissible, particularly when coming from officials who themselves represent small countries (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 23 January and 23 February 2001). PM

    [22] ...BUT MONTENEGRIN PRESIDENT HOLDS FIRM ON INDEPENDENCE

    Djukanovic said in Brussels on 26 February that "we do expect that the European Union and the democracies of the world will support our endeavors. The greatest assistance we could get would be the appreciation of our democratic goals," AP reported. He added that "making references to Montenegro in connection with Kosovo and [Bosnia] is wrong both politically and historically... Our goal is to stabilize our political scene. By doing so and by our rehabilitation of the unhealthy relationship with Serbia, we are also making our biggest contribution to regional security." He noted that an unspecified "part of public opinion in Belgrade" is trying to convince the international community otherwise. Djukanovic stressed that "Montenegro was, is, and will be a state." PM

    [23] YUGOSLAVIA PASSES AMNESTY LAW

    The Yugoslav parliament approved an amnesty law on 26 February that will affect some 28,000 young men who fled abroad to avoid serving in the army in Milosevic's wars. It will also cover some 450 of the 650 Kosovar political prisoners. Only the 200 jailed for "terrorism" are not affected, but Justice Minister Momcilo Grubac said he will appeal to Kostunica to consider each of their cases, arguing that in many instances "the real terrorists escaped" and police rounded up ordinary citizens, the "New York Times" reported. Ethnic Albanians will be watching to see how quickly Kostunica acts on those cases as a sign of whether he is willing to redress past wrongs to Yugoslav citizens of Albanian nationality. PM

    [24] HAGUE COURT SENTENCES BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER

    In the second landmark ruling in less than a week, the Hague-based war crimes tribunal on 26 February convicted Bosnian Croat leader Dario Kordic and former army commander Mario Cerkez of war crimes and crimes against humanity, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Kordic received a 25-year sentence and Cerkez a term of 15 years. The time each man has already spent in custody will be subtracted from his sentence. The sentencing of Kordic in connection with the "ethnic cleansing" of Muslims in the Lasva Valley in 1993 affirms the principle that civilian leaders are responsible for crimes they helped plan or encourage. In Bosnia, many Muslims agreed with the court prosecutors, who regarded the sentences as too light, AP reported. PM

    [25] ZAGREB NOT TO FINANCE HERZEGOVINIAN ARMY

    President Stipe Mesic said that Croatian financing for the ethnic Croat component in the Bosnian army is at an end, "Jutarnji list" reported on 26 February. Funding currently stands at about $500,000 per month, dpa reported. PM

    [26] ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT TO RELAUNCH NATO ACCESSION CAMPAIGN

    Premier Adrian Nastase on 26 February announced the government's decision to launch a campaign supporting the country's accession into NATO, Mediafax reported. Meeting with government members involved in preparing for Romania's admission to NATO and the EU, Nastase said the Defense Ministry's budget will be supplemented by over 30 percent of the original sum allocated for this year. The money will be obtained by external loans guaranteed by the government. The premier also announced that next week the government intends to obtain the support of all parliamentary parties for a joint declaration on supporting efforts to join NATO. The government will also look for support from the media and non-governmental organizations. According to a February opinion poll, if a referendum on the issue were held, 85 percent of Romanian citizens would vote in favor of joining NATO, while 80 percent believe Romania was left out from the first round of enlargement because it did not fulfill the required criteria. The former center-right government launched a media campaign aimed at boosting NATO accession chances in early 1997, ahead of the July NATO summit in Madrid. ZsM

    [27] FINAL SENTENCES IN ROMANIAN CIGARETTE-SMUGGLING TRIAL

    In the final ruling in the April 1998 cigarette smuggling case, the Romanian Supreme Court on 26 February sentenced 16 people involved to sentences of between three and a half and 15 years in prison, Mediafax reported. The toughest conviction, a prison term of 15 years, was given to Lieutenant Colonel Ioan Suciu, the former commander of Bucharest Military Airport, where the tobacco was smuggled into the country. Two other defendants were acquitted and a third person received a suspended sentence. In the case of Valentin Vasilescu, former deputy commander of the airport, currently a Greater Romania Party parliament deputy, the court decided that further investigation was needed. The cigarettes were brought into the country by plane in so-called "special operations" that often involved high- ranking military officials. The men sentenced will also have to pay a total of 3.6 billion lei (some $134,000), representing the value of smuggled cigarettes. ZsM

    [28] OSCE DESCRIBES MOLDOVAN ELECTIONS AS FREE AND FAIR

    According to a member of the OSCE mission that monitored Moldova's 25 February parliamentary elections, Dr. Kimmo Kiljunen, the Central Electoral Commission administered the elections in a nonpartisan, transparent, efficient, and timely manner, Infotag reported on 26 February. The head of the mission, Charles Magee, noted, however, that elections did not take place in the Transdniester region due to a lack of cooperation from authorities there. He said polling stations had been set up on the banks of the Dniester River for residents of the region to vote, but that a very small percentage had done so, and in some cases buses carrying voters had not been allowed to cross the river from Transdniester. DW

    [29] BRAGHIS ALLIANCE WILL GO INTO OPPOSITION

    Despite reports that the Communist Party, overwhelming victors in the 25 February elections, would keep him on as Moldova's prime minister, Braghis Alliance leader Dumitru Braghis told Infotag on 26 February that his party will go into opposition. "There are simply no other variants," he said. He added that his party will "promote the ideas and reforms we consider as correct. And the Communists have no other option but to shoulder the entire responsibility for the future government's work." DW

    [30] BULGARIA TO WITHDRAW LICENSE FROM BALKAN AIRLINES

    Transport and Communications Minister Antoni Slavinski said on 26 February that the ministry will revoke the operations license of the country's main carrier, Balkan Airlines, whose planes have been grounded for more than a week due to a financial dispute between the government and the airline's majority owner, Reuters reported. Slavinski said the license was not withdrawn earlier because doing so "would have jeopardized the rescue activities that concern the [stranded] passengers and the charter flight schedule." The airlines is in receivership, and a court will rule on an insolvency claim against it on 6 March. PB

    [31] EU GROUP TO MEASURE POLLUTION ON ROMANIAN-BULGARIAN BORDER

    An EU commission will be appointed to measure the level of air pollution in the Bulgarian town of Nikopol and the Romanian town of Turnu Magurele, the countries' environment ministers, Evdokia Maneva and Aurel Constantin Ilie, said on 26 February, BTA reported. Ilie said after a meeting with Maneva in Sofia that "if the international arbitration establishes that the Romanian chemical plant gases Nikopol, we shall close the plant." The Romanian Environment Ministry has ruled that pollution in Nikopol does not exceed acceptable levels, although the Bulgarian official data show that the chemical plant deposits grossly excessive amounts of pollution on the town. Neither country will accept the other's findings. People in Nikopol have long complained of occasional chemical clouds settling on the town. PB

    [C] END NOTE

    [32] There is no End Note today.

    27-02-01

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


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