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RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 198, 01-10-18

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. 198, 18 October 2001


CONTENTS

[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

  • [01] ARMENIA CALLS ON TURKEY TO COOPERATE IN PRESERVING CULTURAL MONUMENTS
  • [02] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS DIRECT TALKS WITH KARABAKH LEADERSHIP
  • [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR ANTITERRORISM COALITION...
  • [04] ...PARDONS THREE JAILED JOURNALISTS
  • [05] RUSSIA DENIES VIOLATING GEORGIAN AIRSPACE
  • [06] ABKHAZ OFFICIALS CLAIM TO HAVE DESTROYED, EXPELLED MOST INFILTRATORS
  • [07] ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT APPEALS TO OSCE
  • [08] ABKHAZ PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS POSTPONED
  • [09] ITERA THREATENS TO HALVE GAS SUPPLIES TO GEORGIA
  • [10] UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA
  • [11] GEORGIAN CRIMINAL KINGPIN KILLED BY OUTHOUSE MINE
  • [12] KAZAKHSTAN'S DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER REPORTS ON DEFENSE SPENDING, ARMS TRADE
  • [13] TAJIK DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES U.S. PARATROOPERS LANDED IN AFGHANISTAN
  • [14] U.S. AMBASSADOR THANKS UZBEKISTAN'S MUSLIMS FOR SUPPORTING ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN

  • [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

  • [15] TOP INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES ARRIVE IN MACEDONIA TO PUSH FORWARD PEACE PLAN...
  • [16] ...STALLED DESPITE PRESIDENT'S THREATS TO WITHDRAW
  • [17] MACEDONIAN POLICE MOVE TO REBEL AREAS POSTPONED, SCALED DOWN
  • [18] SERBIAN WORKERS STRIKE, THREATEN BLOCKADES
  • [19] ETHNIC ALBANIANS SENTENCED IN KOSOVA FOR RUNNING ARMS TO MACEDONIA
  • [20] SERBIAN, ALBANIAN LEADERS MEET FOR FIRST TIME SINCE KOSOVA WAR
  • [21] BRITISH MISSIONS IN BOSNIA SHUT DOWN FOR SECURITY REASONS...
  • [22] ...AS BOSNIAN MUSLIM GROUPS CONDEMN ANTI-TALIBAN ATTACKS
  • [23] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER REJECTS UNITED BOSNIA AND TALK OF A SINGLE ARMY...
  • [24] ...AND SAYS REPUBLIKA SRPSKA DOESN'T KNOW WHEREABOUTS OF KARADZIC, MLADIC
  • [25] BOSNIAN ASSEMBLY TO HOLD 'NO-CONFIDENCE' VOTE ON DEPUTY MINISTER
  • [26] NEW BOSNIAN MUSLIM POLITICAL LEADER OUTLINES KEY POLICIES
  • [27] ALBANIAN TROOPS DEPART FOR PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN BOSNIA
  • [28] ROMANIA CONSIDERS APPEALING TO HAGUE TRIBUNAL OVER CONFLICT WITH UKRAINE
  • [29] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SEES IMPROVED CHANCES FOR NATO, EU ACCESSION
  • [30] ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY IN ROMANIA EVASIVE OVER ROLE IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION
  • [31] ROMANIAN ROMANY ORGANIZATION TO SUE PIATRA-NEAMT MAYOR
  • [32] MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS SIGN AGREEMENT IN CHISINAU...
  • [33] ...BUT NO AGREEMENT IN SIGHT OVER MOLDOVA'S 'ANTI-ROMANIAN CAMPAIGN'
  • [34] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS BLOCK HIGHWAY AGAIN TO PROTEST MOLDOVAN BLOCKADE
  • [35] ANTHRAX SCARE REACHES BULGARIA
  • [36] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS ATTACK STOYANOV
  • [37] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY POURS COLD WATER ON DEFENSE MINISTER'S STATEMENT
  • [38] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER THANKS RUSSIA FOR UN SUPPORT
  • [39] BULGARIA HOPES FOR OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT OVER BALKAN AIRLINES

  • [C] END NOTE

  • [40] There is no End Note today.

  • [A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA

    [01] ARMENIA CALLS ON TURKEY TO COOPERATE IN PRESERVING CULTURAL MONUMENTS

    In his 16 October address to the 31st session of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian called on Turkey to cooperate with Yerevan in the conservation of Armenian cultural monuments now on Turkish territory, including the ancient Armenian capital Ani, Noyan Tapan reported. LF

    [02] AZERBAIJAN REJECTS DIRECT TALKS WITH KARABAKH LEADERSHIP

    Azerbaijan's Foreign Minister Vilayat Quliev has told journalists that Baku does not recognize Arkadii Ghukasian, president of the unrecognized Nagorno- Karabakh Republic, as a party to the Karabakh conflict, and therefore will not agree to direct talks with him "at this stage of the negotiating process," Interfax reported on 17 October. Quliev added that Azerbaijan will continue to negotiate with Armenia, which "triggered" the conflict by making territorial claims on Azerbaijan and which supports Nagorno- Karabakh. Ghukasian told a group of visiting Azerbaijani journalists earlier this month that he is ready to travel to Baku for direct talks with Azerbaijani officials on resolving the conflict (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). On 15 October, Armenia reported, and Azerbaijan denied, that Azerbaijani forces fired on an Armenian military post for over an hour during the night of 13-14 October, according to Arminfo and ANS-TV as cited by Groong. LF

    [03] AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS SUPPORT FOR ANTITERRORISM COALITION...

    Speaking at a 17 October ceremony to mark the 10th anniversary of Azerbaijan's declaration of independence, President Heidar Aliev said that Azerbaijan is currently part of the antiterrorism coalition and "will contribute to the prevention of terrorism," but added that "the international community in its turn must put an end to terrorism against Azerbaijan," Turan reported. On 16 October, two more U.S. Hercules military aircraft were spotted coming in to land at Baku's Bina airport, ITAR-TASS reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 October 2001). LF

    [04] ...PARDONS THREE JAILED JOURNALISTS

    Following criticism from the OSCE (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 October 2001) and a 16 October letter from the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, on 17 October President Aliev signed a decree pardoning Elmar Huseinov, founder of the now closed newspaper "Bakinskii bulvard," "Milletin Sesi" editor Shahbaz Huduoglu, and Baku Printing Press Director Shahlar Mamedov, all of whom were recently jailed for between six and 18 months on charges of insulting the honor and dignity of senior officials (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 24 September 2001). LF

    [05] RUSSIA DENIES VIOLATING GEORGIAN AIRSPACE

    Russian air force commander General Anatolii Kornukov denied on 17 October that the two Su-25 fighters that overflew Georgian airspace early that day were Russian, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2001). Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said the intrusion was "intolerable" and "contrary to the principles of interstate relations," AP reported. The Georgian Defense Ministry released a statement the same day reaffirming Defense Minister Davit Tevzadze's 9 October warning that any aircraft that violate Georgia's airspace will be shot down (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 October 2001). An unspecified number of additional Georgian army troops were dispatched to Mestia in northwest Georgia on 17 October to reinforce the Georgian border guards on the Georgian-Russian border, Caucasus Press reported. LF

    [06] ABKHAZ OFFICIALS CLAIM TO HAVE DESTROYED, EXPELLED MOST INFILTRATORS

    Abkhaz military and security officials said on 17 October that up to 50 Chechen and Georgian fighters were killed near the Amtkhel mountain, some six kilometers from the Abkhaz Russian border, in a battle earlier that day with Abkhaz troops in which the Abkhaz side also deployed military aircraft, Caucasus Press reported. On 18 October, Abkhaz Deputy Defense Minister said Abkhazia now fully controls the lower reaches of the Kodori gorge, Caucasus Press reported. He said casualties on the Abkhaz side since fighting began amount to 16 killed and some 20 wounded, while approximately 60 of the intruders have been killed. But Interfax on 17 October quoted Abkhaz Defense Minister Vladimir Mikanba as admitting that small groups of fighters may have escaped detection. He said one such group of three fighters were surrounded and killed on the morning of 17 October near the village of Ilori in Ochamchire Raion, which is close to the Black Sea coast and some 25 kilometers south of the Kodori gorge. LF

    [07] ABKHAZ PARLIAMENT APPEALS TO OSCE

    The Abkhaz parliament has appealed to the OSCE to help mediate a solution to the Abkhaz conflict, Russian agencies reported on 17 October. The appeal also requested that the OSCE "make an unbiased assessment of the actions of the Georgian leadership," rather than accept without question Georgian accusations that the Abkhaz engaged in ethnic cleansing of the majority Georgian population of the republic. The statement reaffirmed Abkhazia's commitment to a peaceful solution of the conflict. Meanwhile OSCE Chairman in Office Mircea Geoana released a statement on 17 October expressing concern over the escalation of hostilities and calling on all sides "to refrain from further military action, respect the cease-fire, and engage in meaningful negotiations." LF

    [08] ABKHAZ PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS POSTPONED

    Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba announced on Abkhaz television that the parliamentary elections scheduled for 24 November have been postponed due to the ongoing fighting, Caucasus Press reported on 17 October. LF

    [09] ITERA THREATENS TO HALVE GAS SUPPLIES TO GEORGIA

    The Gazprom subsidiary ITERA threatened on 17 October to cut gas supplies to Georgia by 50 percent as of 20 October unless Tbilisi promptly pays back all its outstanding debts, Reuters and Interfax reported. The Georgian distributor Gruzgas owes ITERA a total of $82 million dating back to 1996, of which more than $20 million was for 2000 and $5.8 million for 2001. LF

    [10] UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER VISITS GEORGIA

    On the second leg of his tour of the South Caucasus, Anatoliy Zlenko held talks in Tbilisi on 17 October with his Georgian counterpart Irakli Menagharishvili, Caucasus Press and ITAR-TASS reported. They focused on bilateral relations, global and regional security, and cooperation including between GUUAM member states. Particular attention was focused on the situation in Abkhazia: Zlenko again affirmed Kyiv's support for Georgia's territorial integrity and reiterated that Ukraine would be willing to provide peacekeepers to serve in Abkhazia under a UN mandate. But Abkhaz presidential aide Astamur Tania said in Sukhum the same day that the Abkhaz leadership opposes Ukraine's involvement in any peacekeeping operation," Interfax reported. He said Ukraine "has a nonconstructive position" regarding how to resolve the conflict. LF

    [11] GEORGIAN CRIMINAL KINGPIN KILLED BY OUTHOUSE MINE

    Vephkhia Margoshvili, who was widely suspected of involvement in abductions and drug trafficking through Georgia's Pankisi gorge, was killed by a mine that exploded in his outhouse on the morning of 17 October, Caucasus Press reported. Georgian Interior Minister Kakha Targamadze left Tbilisi for Pankisi the same day to investigate the killing. Georgian press commentaries on 18 October focused on a possible connection between Margoshvili's murder and that of journalist Giorgi Sanaya in July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 July 2001). Shortly before Sanaya's death, Margoshvili gave Georgian parliament Human Rights Committee Chair Elene Tevdoradze a video cassette with incriminating material which he asked her to pass to Sanaya. LF

    [12] KAZAKHSTAN'S DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER REPORTS ON DEFENSE SPENDING, ARMS TRADE

    Speaking at a press conference in Astana on 17 October, Deputy Defense Minister Zhannat Ertlesova said that Kazakhstan's 2002 budget allocates more than 33.7 billion tenges ($227.7 million) for her ministry, of which 20.5 billion is to be spent on defense and 1.5 billion on personnel training, Interfax reported. This year's budget allocated 30.9 billion tenges for defense, an 87 percent increase over the previous year. She admitted unspecified financial violations within the ministry in the areas of budget planning and control, but ruled out any connection between those violations and the recent fires at two arms depots (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 13 and 14 August and 7 September 2001). She also said that in 2002 Kazakhstan hopes to earn 2 billion tenges from arms sales, which is double the average for the past four years. LF

    [13] TAJIK DEFENSE MINISTER DENIES U.S. PARATROOPERS LANDED IN AFGHANISTAN

    Tajikistan's Defense Minister Colonel General Sherali Khairulloev denied on 17 October that U.S. paratroopers have landed near Kandahar, Interfax reported. He said doing so in territory controlled by the Taliban would be "suicidal." Also on 17 October, Tajikistan's Security Ministry increased surveillance of the Dushanbe water supply system and other vital facilities, Asia Plus-Blitz reported. LF

    [14] U.S. AMBASSADOR THANKS UZBEKISTAN'S MUSLIMS FOR SUPPORTING ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN

    Meeting with staff members of the Muslim Spiritual Board of Uzbekistan, U.S. Ambassador John Herbst thanked Uzbekistan's Muslim community for their support of the U.S.-led antiterrorist strikes against neighboring Afghanistan, Interfax reported on 17 October. LF

    [B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE

    [15] TOP INTERNATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES ARRIVE IN MACEDONIA TO PUSH FORWARD PEACE PLAN...

    NATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, and OSCE Chairman Mircea Geoana arrived in Skopje on 18 October to try and break the deadlock that has brought the implementation of the Ohrid peace plan to a halt, Western news agencies reported. "There could easily be in this country a return to violence unless everything that was agreed on is implemented," Robertson said after landing in the capital. Geoana told reporters at the airport that progress in the political process is a precondition for the OSCE to continue building up its monitoring mission in Macedonia. The three are expected to meet with Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski and leaders of ethnic Albanian and Macedonian parties to pressure them to approve the constitutional reforms to improve the rights of the ethnic Albanian minority as agreed in the Western-backed 13 August plan. DW

    [16] ...STALLED DESPITE PRESIDENT'S THREATS TO WITHDRAW

    Following a meeting with the leaders of the four largest parties in parliament that failed to come to any agreement, Trajkovski threatened to withdraw from the peace process and not submit any of the reform package to parliament for debate, AP and Reuters reported on 17 October. Ethnic Albanian deputies have boycotted parliament to protest Trajkovski's decision not to submit all 15 of the amendments at one time. "We will not take part in any parliamentary session if the constitutional changes are not presented in a package," said a senior official of the Party for Democratic Prosperity. Ethnic Albanian parties fear that Trajkovski will submit some key amendments with alterations, in particular one that states that Macedonia is made up of Macedonians and minorities, not the more neutral phrasing of Macedonia as a nation of its citizens as agreed in the Ohrid peace agreement. DW

    [17] MACEDONIAN POLICE MOVE TO REBEL AREAS POSTPONED, SCALED DOWN

    A plan to begin moving Macedonian security forces into rebel-held territory accompanied by international monitors (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2001), has been postponed to next week and reduced from eight villages to five, AFP and Reuters reported on 18 October. Craig Jennes, head of the OSCE mission in Macedonia, said that Western envoys agreed to go ahead with the plan "because of the positive political signal it sends. But we shall be hesitant about participation in the future if the political process remains stalled," he said. DW

    [18] SERBIAN WORKERS STRIKE, THREATEN BLOCKADES

    More than 5,000 strikers blocked central Belgrade and 10,000 others in eight cities around Serbia chanted antigovernment slogans as strikes to protest the government's Labor Code continued, AP reported on 17 October. Union leaders have called for a one-hour blockade of Belgrade's main roads for 19 October and are demanding the resignation of Serbian Labor Minister Dragan Milovanovic. The Socialist Party of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic backed the strikers, saying the law "jeopardizes elementary rights of workers," while "giving too much power to employers and owners." DW

    [19] ETHNIC ALBANIANS SENTENCED IN KOSOVA FOR RUNNING ARMS TO MACEDONIA

    A court in the southeastern town of Gnjilane convicted 10 ethnic Albanians of illegal weapons possession and sentenced them to prison terms ranging from two to 4 1/2 years, AP and Reuters reported. The 10 were the first to face trial of up to 900 suspects detained by KFOR peacekeepers between June and August attempting to take arms from Kosova to Macedonia to support ethnic Albanian rebels there. Many were later released and it is not clear how many remain in custody. The panel of judges was made up of two international judges and one local judge. DW

    [20] SERBIAN, ALBANIAN LEADERS MEET FOR FIRST TIME SINCE KOSOVA WAR

    Marking the first meeting between the sides since the 1999 war, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Nebojsa Covic met in a roundtable with leaders of Kosova's main ethnic Albanian parties to discuss provincial elections set for 17 November, AP reported on 17 October. The meeting, organized by the U.S.-based Project on Ethnic Relations, focused on participation in the elections by the Serbian minority. In attendance were moderate leader Ibrahim Rugova and former Kosova Liberation Army leaders Hashim Thaci and Ramush Haradinaj. Although officials at the meeting were upbeat, others, speaking privately, said Haradinaj refused to meet with Covic while Thaci mostly argued with him. DW

    [21] BRITISH MISSIONS IN BOSNIA SHUT DOWN FOR SECURITY REASONS...

    The British government has closed its embassies, consulates, and government agencies in Bosnia amid security concerns that also shut down U.S. facilities in the country on 17 October (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 October 2001), dpa reported. Bosnian Prime Minister Zlatko Lagumdzija confirmed the closures, adding that security measures were increased at the locations. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Party of Democratic Action (SDA) strongly condemned what officials have labeled "credible threats" against the U.S. and British presence in the country, according to the Onasa news agency's. Citizens there "support the presence of the international community since it is necessary and is in the [interest] of peace in Bosnia-Herzegovina," an SDA statement said. AH

    [22] ...AS BOSNIAN MUSLIM GROUPS CONDEMN ANTI-TALIBAN ATTACKS

    Senior members of Bosnia's Muslim community have condemned U.S.-led operations against Afghanistan's Taliban regime, dpa reported on 17 October. A statement issued by the most senior of local clerics, Mustafa Ceric, said the community "raise[s] our voice against revenge resulting in innocent Afghan civilians becoming victims," the agency said. The United States and Britain were called on by Ceric to limit their retaliation to determining responsibility and punishing the real criminals, dpa reported. The Bosnian Muslims have repeatedly condemned the 11 September terrorist attacks against the United States, dpa said. AH

    [23] BOSNIAN SERB LEADER REJECTS UNITED BOSNIA AND TALK OF A SINGLE ARMY...

    Bosnian Serb Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic said the Republika Srpska would not be phased out and dismissed the idea of a united Bosnia-Herzegovina in statements carried by the Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA and other media on 16 October. "Bosnia-Herzegovina is no longer a subject of interest to the world," he said, adding that "the Republika Srpska is a concept which cannot be denied." Ivanic said "nothing" could come of any initiative to form a single army in Bosnia-Herzegovina, labeling such moves unconstitutional, SRNA said. Ivenic said NATO sought better coordination of the country's armies, not a single army, and added that the Council of Europe did not mention a single merged army. The report said Ivanic said it is "in the interests of the Serbs from Republika Srpska to take over their part of Bosnia-Herzegovina and in that way prevent any possible manipulation with Bosnia-Herzegovina." AH

    [24] ...AND SAYS REPUBLIKA SRPSKA DOESN'T KNOW WHEREABOUTS OF KARADZIC, MLADIC

    Ivanic also insisted that the Republika Srpska has no information on the whereabouts of Radovan Karadzic or Ratko Mladic, SRNA reported on 16 October, citing local media. Ivanic said that efforts to encourage authorities of Republika Srpska to hunt down the two wartime leaders, both accused of war crimes, was simply an attempt by the international community to avoid responsibility for their fates. Ivanic added that, "If the Republika Srpska were to show willingness for cooperation, judicial bodies of the Republika Srpska could hold trials against Serbs accused of war crimes," according to the agency. AH

    [25] BOSNIAN ASSEMBLY TO HOLD 'NO-CONFIDENCE' VOTE ON DEPUTY MINISTER

    The speaker of the House of Peoples, Sejfudin Tokic, has launched proceedings that could lead to the ouster of the deputy minister of foreign trade and economic relations, Jadranko Prlic, local media reported on 17 October. A plenary session of the legislature will discuss the initiative on 23 October, according to the Onasa website. The move comes after an audit reportedly showed overspending, misleading figures on revenues and spending, failure to pay employee contributions in the diplomatic-consular network, and sloppy bookkeeping, the reports said. AH

    [26] NEW BOSNIAN MUSLIM POLITICAL LEADER OUTLINES KEY POLICIES

    Speaking on public radio on 17 October, the new leader of the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) outlined the course that one of the country's strongest political parties will pursue under his leadership. Sulejman Tihic reiterated that delegates "defined our position as that of a center- oriented people's party," with priorites that include "general civilized values regarding rights and liberties, the economy, social policy, issues of war veterans and martyrs' families, and others." He stressed that the party now seeks to speak for the interests of non-Muslims as well. When asked about efforts to form a "Bosniak [Muslim] nation," the SDA leader said, "the number of those who support this initiative is growing by the day." He added that, "If any initiative is belated, then perhaps it is a case of 'better late than never.'" Tihic also pledged to "try to improve our relations with the international community" and criticized the ruling Alliance for Change for allowing a deterioration in relations with Croatia and a "staffing purge" when they came to power. AH

    [27] ALBANIAN TROOPS DEPART FOR PEACEKEEPING MISSION IN BOSNIA

    A contingent of Albanian soldiers left Rinas Airport on 17 October to join the Stabilization Force-led peacekeeping mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina, ATA reported, citing a Defense Ministry spokeswoman. The company, including 70 officers and soldiers from what the agency describes as an "Armed Forces Commando" unit, will join German peacekeepers under the SFOR banner. After a month of training, the Albanian troops will back up the German mission in Bosnia, the agency said. AH

    [28] ROMANIA CONSIDERS APPEALING TO HAGUE TRIBUNAL OVER CONFLICT WITH UKRAINE

    Prime Minister Adrian Nastase said on 17 October that he has asked the Foreign Affairs Ministry to examine the possibility of appealing to the International Court of Justice in The Hague over Ukraine's drilling for oil in the Black Sea near Serpents Island, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Nastase told a forum of Romanian-language journalists from around the world that the 1997 basic treaty with Ukraine was negotiated "in haste" because Romania's then-governing coalition believed it would advance the country's chances to be admitted to NATO at the Madrid summit. Not enough attention has been paid to the vague stipulations in the treaty on the demarcation of the border between the two countries on the Black Sea's continental shelf, Nastase said. He said this has made it possible for Ukraine to start drilling in 2000, despite the fact that negotiations on the continental shelf have yet to be concluded. MS

    [29] ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER SEES IMPROVED CHANCES FOR NATO, EU ACCESSION

    Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana said in an interview on 17 October with the German daily "Suddeutsche Zeitung" that Romania is likely to benefit from the latest developments in world politics, Mediafax reported. Geoana said that the strategic importance of Southeastern Europe is growing in view of its proximity to crisis regions such as the Near and the Middle East. He said this will encourage NATO and the EU to expand and to extend financial assistance to countries in the Balkans. Geoana said Romania's chances of becoming a NATO member at the 2002 Prague summit are also improving due to Russia's new pro-Western orientation, and that Romania and Bulgaria are likely to join the EU in 2006. MS

    [30] ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY IN ROMANIA EVASIVE OVER ROLE IN STATUS LAW IMPLEMENTATION

    Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) Chairman Bela Marko told journalists on 17 October that the UDMR "has the expertise and the infrastructure" needed for issuing Magyar ID cards in line with the provisions of the Hungarian Status Law, but added that his party will under no circumstances become involved in issuing these cards, Mediafax reported. Marko said the UDMR could "make recommendations" to authorities in Hungary on who is entitled to carry the ID card. The Romanian authorities have several times warned that issuing ID cards on Romanian territory is unconstitutional, but Marko said the cards will be issued in Hungary. Marko also said the UDMR wants the Education Ministry to "offer explanations" about a search that is under way in Hungarian-language schools in Romania for textbooks printed in Hungary. He said the Covasna County local authorities have launched controls "reminiscent of the Securitate methods of before 1989." MS

    [31] ROMANIAN ROMANY ORGANIZATION TO SUE PIATRA-NEAMT MAYOR

    The Framework Romany Convention announced on 17 October that it will begin legal proceedings against Piatra-Neamt Mayor Ion Rotaru over his plans to move the Roma in his town to a specially designated area, Mediafax reported. The organization praised President Ion Iliescu and Premier Nastase for their public opposition to the plan. Also on 17 October, Hunedoara County Prefect Aurelian Seraficeanu told journalists he is opposed to Deva Mayor Mircia Muntean's plans to move the Roma to the outskirts of the town, and will launch judicial proceedings against the mayor if he goes ahead with it. Muntean said the plan has no discriminatory motivation, claiming that concentrating the Roma in a single place will make it "easier to identify them for the purpose of extending social aid" to that population. He said that in light of Romany opposition, he will offer the apartments intended for the Roma to "ethnic Hungarians or Germans." MS

    [32] MOLDOVAN, ROMANIAN INTERIOR MINISTERS SIGN AGREEMENT IN CHISINAU...

    Visiting Romanian Interior Minster Ioan Rus and his Moldovan counterpart Vasile Draganel signed in Chisinau on 17 October a three-year agreement on securing borders, combating organized crime, the transborder trafficking of arms and drugs, as well as illegal immigration and trafficking of women. The two ministries are to exchange information on a permanent basis in the struggle against these crimes, RFE/RL's Chisinau bureau reported. MS

    [33] ...BUT NO AGREEMENT IN SIGHT OVER MOLDOVA'S 'ANTI-ROMANIAN CAMPAIGN'

    Rus also met with Premier Vasile Tarlev and told him Bucharest wants the Moldovan government to "clarify" its position over the anti-Romanian declarations made in Strasbourg by Justice Minister Ion Morei. Tarlev told journalists the same day that he "regrets" Premier Nastase "missed an opportunity" to meet in Chisinau with Ukrainian Premier Anatoliy Kinakh and solve the "serious problems" Bucharest has in its relations with Kyiv. Asked to comment on the Romanian government's demands, Tarlev replied that they are "unacceptable." No foreign official is entitled to demand the dismissal of a Moldovan cabinet member, he said, "just as Moldova cannot demand the reshuffle of the cabinet in Bucharest." MS

    [34] TRANSDNIESTER SEPARATISTS BLOCK HIGHWAY AGAIN TO PROTEST MOLDOVAN BLOCKADE

    On 17 October, picketers claiming to represent members of Transdniester trade unions again blocked the Chisinau-Odessa highway near the border with Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported. The demonstrators allowed vehicles with Russian, Ukrainian, and Transdniester license plates to pass through, but would not allow passage to cars with Moldovan plates. The press service of the Transdniester separatists told ITAR-TASS that the protest "was staged in response to the economic blockade enforced by the Moldovan leadership, and has a warning character." MS

    [35] ANTHRAX SCARE REACHES BULGARIA

    A working meeting at the Interior Ministry was held on 17 October to discuss ways of coping with the many reports announcing the discovery of "white powder" in different places in Bulgaria, BTA reported. The Sofia post office earlier on 17 October handed over to the National Security Service a small parcel posted abroad, which contained white powder. A similarly looking substance found in the parking space of the Sofia Hilton was tested and found not to be anthrax. Areas in Sofia were sealed off in the morning hours after public phone booths had been dusted and had to be disinfected. An envelope labeled "Anthrax" was found in the vicinity of a cemetery in Kiustendil and police detained a man who confessed to the prank. A similar "practical joke" was played by a worker in Lukovit on a fellow-worker. The Interior Ministry announced that pranksters will be charged under an article in the Criminal Code. MS

    [36] BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS ATTACK STOYANOV

    Five out of the six pairs of candidates for the presidential and vice- presidential post on 16 October participated in the first televised debate ahead of the 11 November elections, BTA reported on the next day. President Petar Stoyanov and his running mate Nelly Kutskova did not take part in the debate because Stoyanov objects to a provision in the law that makes a distinction between candidates according to who nominated them. All participants concentrated on attacking Stoyanov's record and in particular his alleged insufficient involvement in the struggle against corruption and his "subordination" to the Union of Democratic Forces. Stoyanov said in reaction that "Bulgaria cannot be ruled with hatred and negativism." MS

    [37] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY POURS COLD WATER ON DEFENSE MINISTER'S STATEMENT

    Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Elena Poptodorova on 17 October said a possible mission for Bulgarian troops in Macedonia would require a special invitation from NATO, and coordination with the authorities in Skopje as well as the approval of the Bulgarian parliament, BTA reported. Poptodorova was reacting to a statement by Defense Minister Nikolai Svinarov in Berlin that the possible participation of Bulgarian troops in the ongoing peacekeeping effort in Macedonia had been raised during meetings Svinarov held with German Defense Ministry officials. BTA reported from Skopje later on 17 October that the Macedonian Defense Ministry said in a statement that troops from neighboring countries should not become involved in efforts to solve the Macedonian crisis, regardless of whether they are NATO candidates or not. MS

    [38] BULGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER THANKS RUSSIA FOR UN SUPPORT

    Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi on 17 October thanked Russia for its support of Bulgaria in securing a nonpermanent representative seat on the UN Security Council, ITAR-TASS reported the same day from Sofia. Pasi signed with Russian Ambassador Vladimir Titov an intergovernmental program of cooperation in culture, education, and science for 2001-2003. Pasi said that a telephone conversation he had with his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov in early October changed Moscow's position on Bulgaria's candidacy for the Security Council seat and said Russia's changed position had a "considerable impact" on the outcome of the vote. MS

    [39] BULGARIA HOPES FOR OUT-OF-COURT SETTLEMENT OVER BALKAN AIRLINES

    Transport and Communications Minister Plamen Petrov told journalists on 17 October that the government is ready to reach an out-of-court settlement with the Israeli Zeevi group, which owns a majority 75 percent stake in the debt-ridden Bulgarian national carrier Balkan Airlines, Reuters reported. The airline was grounded in February and a Sofia court launched insolvency procedure against Balkan Airlines in March. An administrator appointed by the court approved the resumption of some flights and is seeking an investor. Petrov said the Zeevi group has sought contacts with the cabinet and "hard and complex negotiations are under way." He said if these problems are solved, there is a good chance that a foreign investor will want to take over Balkan airlines, but added that for the sake of the negotiations' success "it would be good not to put the matters on front pages." MS

    [C] END NOTE

    [40] There is no End Note today.

    18-10-01

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


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