|Thursday, 12 December 2019|
RFE/RL Newsline, Vol. 5, No. 214, 01-11-09
From: Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty <http://www.rferl.org>
Vol. 5, No. 214, 9 November 2001
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
[C] END NOTE
[A] TRANSCAUCASUS AND CENTRAL ASIA
 STILL NO ARRESTS IN ARMENIAN CAFE DEATHTo date, 50 people, including members of President Robert Kocharian's bodyguard, have been questioned in connection with death in a Yerevan cafe on 25 September of an Armenian from southern Georgia, Poghos Poghosian, Armenian agencies quoted Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian as telling journalists in Yerevan on 8 November. But no one has been arrested and charged with Poghosian's killing. It is widely believed that Kocharian's bodyguards assaulted Poghosian after he directed insulting remarks at the president, who was visiting the cafe that evening together with French singer Charles Aznavour (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 September and 2 and 9 October 2001). LF
 MINSK GROUP CO-CHAIRS WARN AGAINST RESUMPTION OF HOSTILITIESIn a statement released in Yerevan on 8 November at the end of the visit to Baku, Stepanakert, and Yerevan, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen from France, Russia and the United States warned that a resumption of hostilities over Nagorno-Karabakh would have "disastrous" results for the entire South Caucasus, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported. Even the continuation of the current state of "not peace, but not war" risks leaving Armenia and Azerbaijan excluded from the positive processes of integration currently under way throughout the world, the statement said. The co-chairs confirmed that in their meetings with Presidents Heidar Aliev and Kocharian they presented ideas that could help to bring the positions of the two sides closer, stressing that responsibility for finding a solution to the conflict lies primarily with the two presidents. LF
 AZERBAIJANI PRESIDENT MEETS WITH U.S. DIPLOMAT...President Aliev met in Baku on 8 November with visiting U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Lynn Pascoe (a former U.S. Minsk Group co- chair) to discuss the situation in the South Caucasus and Central Asia and bilateral cooperation the ongoing international antiterrorism campaign, Turan and ITAR-TASS reported. LF
 ...ASSURES GEORGIAN COUNTERPART OF HIS SUPPORTPresident Aliev has telephoned his Georgian counterpart Eduard Shevardnadze to assure him of his support during the current period of political tensions in Georgia, Caucasus Press reported on 9 November. Aliev expressed his confidence that Shevardnadze will overcome his present difficulties and build a truly free and independent Georgian state. LF
 MUSLIMS OF CAUCASUS CALL FOR BOMBING HALT IN AFGHANISTAN DURING RAMADANParticipants at an international conference on the theme "Islam and Terrorism Are Incompatible" that opened in Baku on 8 November addressed an appeal to U.S. President George Bush to call a halt in the bombing of terrorist targets in Afghanistan for the duration of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in mid-November, Turan reported. They affirmed that "there is no doubt that the world must take action against terrorism," but added that carrying out antiterrorism operations "only against Muslim countries is tantamount to equating Islam with terrorism." Also on 8 November, Caspian News Agency reported from Yerevan that Azerbaijan's senior Muslim cleric, Sheikh-ul-Islam Allakhshukur Pashazade, will meet, probably in Moscow, at the end of this year or in early 2002 with Armenian Catholicos Garegin II. Pashazade declined an invitation from Garegin to attend the celebrations in September to mark the 1,700th anniversary of the adoption of Christianity as Armenia's state religion (see "RFE/RL Newsline, " 5 and 17 September 2001). LF
 10 JAILED FOR 1999 PLOT TO KILL GEORGIAN PRESIDENTGeorgia's Supreme Court passed sentence on 8 November on 10 men accused of plotting to assassinate President Shevardnadze in May 1999, Caucasus Press reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 May 1999). Former General Gudjar Kurashvili, identified as the leader of the conspiracy, and nine associates were sentenced to three years imprisonment; taking into account the time they have already spent in pretrial custody, they will be released in May 2002. Nine other men walked free as the sentences passed on them were less than the time they have already spent in detention. One of the alleged plotters, 29-year-old Security Ministry official Temur Papuashvili, died suddenly in custody in January last year (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 January 2000). LF
 ADJAR LEADER SAYS HE ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR STABILITY IN GEORGIA...In an interview with the independent Georgian TV station Rustavi-2 on 8 November, Adjar Supreme Council Chairman Aslan Abashidze said that during his four-hour talk with President Shevardnadze on 3 October he accepted responsibility for restoring stability in Georgia on certain conditions that he declined to divulge, Caucasus Press reported on 9 November. Abashidze also dodged a question about Shevardnadze's statement on Rustavi- 2 earlier on 8 November that he offered Abashidze the currently nonexistent post of prime minister (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2001). But he did comment that in the event that policies fail, it is generally the prime minister who is made the scapegoat. LF
 ...PRAISES HIS PREFERRED CANDIDATE FOR PARLIAMENT SPEAKERAbashidze also told Rustavi-2 that he telephoned Shevardnadze on 6 November to propose the candidacy of Djemal Gogitidze, who heads the Georgian parliament faction of his Revival Union, for the vacant post of parliament speaker, Caucasus Press reported. A group of deputies from that faction also proposed Gogitidze's candidacy on 7 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2001). Abashidze characterized Gogitidze as "a man from the provinces with no aspirations to a senior position, he is reserved and well- educated." Just such a person, Abashidze argued, can create a balance within parliament between supporters and detractors of the present leadership. Abashidze further observed that should he accept the post of prime minister, Gogitidze would have to resign as speaker as it is inappropriate for two persons from the same region of Georgia to occupy two such posts. Abashidze also said he does not believe former Minister of State Vazha Lortkipanidze has any chance of being elected speaker even though Shevardnadze backs him. Parliament will try again to elect a speaker late on 9 November, having failed to do so three days earlier. LF
 RUSSIAN EXPERTS REJECT ASSESSMENT OF SOUTH CAUCASUS POLITICIANS' INFLUENCESeveral Russian experts have taken issue with the results of a survey published by gazeta.sng.ru that named Azerbaijani President Aliev as the most influential politician in the South Caucasus, Caspian News Agency reported on 8 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 November 2001). Georgii Tikhonov, who is deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma's Committee for CIS Affairs, told the website that he considers Abashidze to be the most influential regional politician, followed by Aliev, Abkhaz President Vladislav Ardzinba, Armenian President Kocharian, Armenian Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, and former Georgian parliament speaker Zurab Zhvania, with Shevardnadze ranking seventh. It is not clear whether the original assessment was conducted before or after the beginning of the ongoing Georgian political crisis. LF
 MOSCOW ANGERED BY SHEVARDNADZE'S COMMENTS ON CHECHEN FIELD COMMANDERRussian agencies on 8 November cited unidentified Russian officials as rejecting statements that they claim Shevardnadze made during his 8 November interview with Rustavi-2 concerning Chechen field commander Ruslan Gelaev, who Russian sources claim led the contingent of Chechen fighters that infiltrated Abkhazia last month. Those reports quote Shevardnadze as describing Gelaev as "a soberly minded and well-educated person who is well- disposed toward Georgia," and as admitting that Gelaev and his men moved freely across Georgian territory from their base in the Pankisi gorge. Caucasus Press for its part quoted Shevardnadze as denying that he has ever met with Gelaev. "Rossiiskaya gazeta" reported on 12 October without citing its source that Gelaev met with Shevardnadze before the combined Chechen and Georgian guerrilla force entered Abkhazia. LF
 KAZAKH ROLE IN ANTITERRORISM CAMPAIGN STILL UNCLEARU.S. military experts are currently in Kazakhstan to evaluate together with Kazakh officials the possibilities for enhancing Kazakhstan's "military and technical cooperation" in the ongoing U.S.-led international antiterrorism campaign, Security Council Secretary Altynbek Sarsenbaev told Reuters on 8 November. He refused to elaborate. Defense Minister Lieutenant General Sat Toqpaqbaev for his part told journalists in Astana the same day that Kazakhstan does not plan to make its airfields available to the U.S., according to ITAR-TASS. Meanwhile, President Nursultan Nazarbaev told foreign ambassadors in Astana on 8 November that his country "is prepared to contribute to the fight" against the global menace that terrorism represents, ITAR-TASS reported. He said "all countries, governments, and international organizations" should pool resources and combine their efforts to eradicate terrorism. LF
 KAZAKHSTAN REJECTS SOUTH KOREAN ALLEGATIONS THAT PRESIDENT ACCEPTED BRIBESKazakhstan's Foreign Ministry released a statement on 8 November rejecting as "premeditated disinformation" press reports that quoted a South Korean businessman as saying that he authorized a subordinate to offer a bribe of $10 million to President Nazarbaev, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service and Interfax reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001). LF
 KAZAKHSTAN'S GOLD MINERS STRIKEEmployees at gold mines in the Moyinqum region of Zhambyl Oblast have begun a strike to demand payment of wage arrears dating back to May 2001, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported on 8 November. The men plan to block the main highway and railway line between Almaty and Astana if they do not receive those payments. LF
 KYRGYZSTAN'S CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REFUSES TO CONSIDER JAILED OPPOSITIONIST'S APPEALKyrgyzstan's Constitutional Court has refused to consider an appeal lodged by former Vice President and opposition Ar-Namys Party Chairman Feliks Kulov against the seven-year sentence handed down to him in January by the Bishkek Military Court on charges of abuse of his official position while serving as national security minister, Kulov's lawyer Vladislav Luzhanskii told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 8 November. The Bishkek Military Court and the Court of Appeals have both upheld that sentence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 March and 20 July 2001). LF
 TURKISH PRESIDENT, UN ENVOY, AFGHAN PRESIDENT HOLD SEPARATE TALKS IN TAJIKISTANOn the second day of visit to Dushanbe, President Ahmet Necdet Sezer discussed with Tajik Prime Minister Oqil Oqilov the prospects for expanding bilateral economic cooperation, ITAR-TASS reported. Sezer also met behind closed doors in Dushanbe with Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani to discuss the situation in Afghanistan and how that country should be governed once the Taliban are defeated. UN envoy for Afghanistan Francesc Vendrell met in Dushanbe on 8 November with Tajik Foreign Minister Talbak Nazarov to discuss the optimum composition of a future Afghan government. Vendrell is scheduled to meet on 9 November with Rabbani and Russian Ambassador Maksim Peshkov. LF
[B] SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE
 ETHNIC ALBANIAN PARTY BALKS OVER MACEDONIAN CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGESThe Party of Democratic Prosperity (PPD), which is one of the two largest Albanian parties in Macedonia, still refuses to accept proposed changes to the preamble of the constitution as agreed by all other major parties and EU negotiators, Reuters reported from Skopje on 8 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 November 2001). Parliamentary speaker Stojan Andov has said that he sees no reason to call a vote on the changes unless two-thirds of the 25 Albanian legislators will support them. He says he fears that any party that does not accept the changes will try to reopen the issue later. Andov, and Macedonian opinion in general, want any changes or reforms to put an end to Albanian complaints once and for all. The parliament was scheduled to resume debate on the long-stalled reform package on 9 November. PM
 SWEDE NAMED TO HEAD MACEDONIAN MISSING PERSONS GROUPEU envoy Alain Le Roy said in Skopje on 8 November that Brussels has asked Swedish expert Lars Norberg to head an international commission that will investigate the thorny question of missing people, AFP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 November 2001 and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 9 November 2001). PM
 YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT ARRIVES IN MACEDONIAVojislav Kostunica arrived in Skopje on 9 November for two days of talks with President Boris Trajkovski, Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, and other officials, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. PM
 CALLS FOR KOSOVA'S SERBS TO VOTENATO Secretary-General Lord George Robertson, Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Pavle, the Serbian government, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan have all appealed to Kosova's Serbian minority to vote in the 17 November elections, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported from Belgrade on 8 November (see RFE/RL Newsline," 8 November 2001, and "RFE/RL Balkan Report," 6 November 2001). Robertson said in Prishtina that Serbs should remember that "Kosovo's destiny in many ways will be shaped by the outcome of this election." In Vienna, OSCE mission chief Daan Everts said the Kosova elections will be the "best monitored elections this century." PM
 MONTENEGRIN LEADERS REMAIN FIRM ON INDEPENDENCEPresident Milo Djukanovic said in Podgorica on 8 November that Montenegro will be an independent country after the referendum slated for April 2002, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Foreign Minister Branko Lukovac said that Montenegro's own flag will fly in front of the UN building in New York after that vote. But officials of the OSCE have objected to Montenegrin legislation regarding the referendum. They believe that more than a simple majority will need to approve it for it to be valid. PM
 EXPERTS DISCUSS KEY BALKAN ROAD PROJECTMinisterial teams of experts from Montenegro, Bosnia, and Albania met in Budva on 8 November to discuss a highway project linking Sarajevo, Podgorica, and Tirana, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. The Montenegrins and Albanians also discussed improving the road linking Bar and Shkoder. PM
 HAGUE TAKES TWO BOSNIAN SERB BROTHERS INTO CUSTODYOfficials at the war crimes tribunal in The Hague said on 9 November that they are now in custody of Predrag and Nenad Banovic, Reuters reported. The Bosnian Serb twin brothers were indicted for crimes against humanity as guards in the Keraterm concentration camp in 1992. Five unidentified men in civilian clothes arrested the two as they were selling peppers at the market in Obrenovac, Serbia, the previous day, AP reported. Reuters quoted unnamed Yugoslav sources as saying that the five men were Serbian secret police. Belgrade authorities have said previously that Bosnian Serbs are not protected by legislation prohibiting the extradition of Yugoslav citizens. The Banovic family is from Prijedor. PM
 BOSNIAN SERBS WANT MUSLIM LEADER INDICTEDThe Bosnian Serb authorities have sent to The Hague an indictment of wartime Bosnian Muslim leader Alija Izetbegovic, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 8 November. Many Serbs have long demanded that top Muslim and Croat leaders be indicted for war crimes against Serbs. Izetbegovic has said that Muslims and Sarajevans were victims of Serbian aggression and cannot be considered war criminals. PM
 YUGOSLAV PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN BOSNIAA delegation from the federal parliament headed by Dragoljub Micunovic met with Bosnian officials in Sarajevo on 8 November, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Micunovic said that Belgrade's special links to the Republika Srpska, which are guaranteed by the 1995 Dayton agreements, are not at the expense of Bosnia as a whole. (The Croatian government has taken a different view regarding its right to special links to the Croat-Muslim federation.) Later on 8 November, the Belgrade delegation also met with the international community's high representative, Wolfgang Petritsch, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. PM
 WEAPONS COLLECTION CONTINUES IN BOSNIASFOR spokesman Daryl Morrell said in Sarajevo on 8 November that peacekeepers continue to collect thousands of illegal weapons more than five years after the Dayton agreements ended the Bosnian war, dpa reported. He noted that SFOR has collected 3,040 small arms, 686,486 rounds of ammunition, 12,667 hand grenades, 3,655 mines, 3,580 kilograms of explosives, and other weapons since January 2001. PM
 HAS INDICTED GENERAL FLED CROATIA?Deputy Prime Minister Goran Granic told "Jutarnji list" of 9 November that former General Ante Gotovina probably fled the country after The Hague indicted him for war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2001). The tribunal charged him with crimes against Serbian civilians during the Croatian army's 1995 offensive against Serbian rebels. Many Croats suspect that the government was glad that Gotovina fled lest the authorities try extradite a man whom many regard as a war hero. PM
 ROMANIAN PREMIER MEETS BLAIRPrime Minister Adrian Nastase said on 8 November upon his return from his visits to Canada, the United States, and Great Britain that the atmosphere at his meeting earlier that day with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London was "very warm and full of substance," Romanian radio reported. Nastase said Blair reiterated "his moral obligation to continue backing Romania's integration in NATO and the EU." Nastase said they discussed political developments in Romania and cooperation between their countries at both bilateral and international level. Blair, Nastase said, emphasized that Romania has made "notable internal progress," and is "called on to play the role of a strategic partner of the West in Southeastern Europe." Nastase also said the British leader expressed "full support" for the Social Democratic Party's (PSD) integration into the Socialist International. MS
 ROMANIAN CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES REJECTS PRM MOTIONThe Chamber of Deputies on 9 November rejected by a vote of 161 to 71 the motion of the Greater Romania Party to hold a debate on the Romanian treasury in Moscow and the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact in view of the current discussions underway with Russia on the pending basic treaty, Romanian radio reported. Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana assured the chamber that the government is "promoting with rigor and professionalism our national interest," and that the treaty will not include "damaging compromises" or "abandoning the country's dignity." Geoana said that to hold a debate now, when discussions are underway, would be "inopportune," and that the parliament will be in a position to express its views when the treaty is submitted for ratification. In related news, President Ion Iliescu said on Romanian television on 8 November that the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact "has no value or influence" today, and that the problem of the Romanian treasury can be dealt with in an annex to the envisaged basic treaty. MS
 ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PRAISES FORMER KING AT OFFICIAL CEREMONYPresident Iliescu on 8 November said former King Michael's historical role in staging the coup that led to the arrest of Marshal Ion Antonescu, as well as the role played by the Romanian royal dynasty in bringing about the country's unification in 1918 cannot and should not be overlooked. Iliescu made the comments during a ceremony marking Michael's name day at the Cotroceni presidential seat in Bucharest. Iliescu said he was and remains a republican, but that the time has come for a reconciliation of all forces willing to contribute to Romania's democratic future. The former monarch spoke in the same spirit. Hundreds came earlier on 8 November to the Elizabeth Palace in Bucharest to congratulate Michael, who recently turned 80. MS
 PARIS TRIBUNAL DISMISSES CASE AGAINST ILIESCUOn 8 November, a high court in Paris dismissed the complaint launched by a company owned by Romanian-born businessman Adrian Costea against President Iliescu, Romanian Radio reported. Costea had complained that Iliescu and his former Party of Social Democracy in Romania (PDSR) failed to pay over $1.3 million for services delivered by the company, which printed posters for the 1996 electoral campaign. The scandal later triggered an investigation in Romania, as some of Iliescu's former PDSR associates were suspected of money laundering. The court ruled that the complaint was launched four years after the alleged misconduct took place, and that the statute of limitations applied. It also said that the plaintiff failed to submit any documentation attesting to a contract between the company and either Iliescu personally or the PDSR. MS
 REPORT SAYS ROMANIA-BASED ARAB BUSINESSMEN FUNDED TERRORISTSAn investigation ordered by Premier Nastase found that Arab businessmen living in Romania donated hundreds of millions of dollars to terrorist organizations, the daily "Adevarul" and Romanian television reported on 8 November. The investigators found that the money was channeled through legally established companies. It said an Egyptian businessman transferred some $150 million to Egyptian-based associates with close links to Islamic terrorist organizations. The money was registered as "advance payment" for goods that were never delivered. MS
 ROMANIA'S POSITION ON STATUS LAW 'UNCHANGED'Foreign Ministry State Secretary Mihnea Motoc told the Council of Europe on 8 November that his country's position on the Hungarian Status Law "remains unchanged," Mediafax reported. Motoc later told the agency that Romania continues to be "open to a dialogue" with Budapest. Meanwhile, Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania Chairman Bela Marko clarified on 8 November that the recently established joint commission of his party, Hungarian historic churches, and nongovernmental organizations will not be involved in issuing "Hungarian ID cards," but only in recommending who is eligible for receiving those cards in Hungary, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS
 ROMANIAN MAVERICK MAYOR PAINTS SIDEWALKS IN NATIONAL COLORSUltranationalist Cluj Mayor Gheorghe Funar has ordered the sidewalks in Cluj to be painted in the Romanian national colors -- red, yellow, and blue, AFP reported on 8 November. In the past, Funar has ordered benches in public parks to be painted in the national colors. He said he drew his inspiration for his latest order during a visit to the South Korean city of Suwon, where he saw sidewalks painted in the same fashion. MS
 BALKAN STABILITY PACT CRITICIZES ROMANIAN SUBORDINATION OF NEWS AGENCYIn a letter to the Romanian authorities, the Balkan Stability Pact on 8 November called on the government to revoke an ordinance subordinating the national news agency Rompres to the control of the Public Information Ministry, AP and Romanian media reported. Michael Zenner, the chairman of the pact's Media Task Force, wrote that the pact's Charter for Media Freedom, which the Romanian government has endorsed, states that "publicly owned media should serve the interests of the public, and not of parties in power." A recent report by an independent Romanian organization that analyzed news bulletins on five television stations showed that the government and the ruling PSD have been allotted 10 times more coverage than opposition parties. MS
 MOLDOVAN RULING PARTY TO SATISFY GAGAUZ-YERI DEMANDS?A group of communist legislators intends to ask the Constitutional Court to examine a draft for amending the country's basic document to include the existence of the Gagauz-Yeri Autonomous Region as a separate administrative unit and affirm its right to "self-determination," Flux reported on 8 November. Valentin Chilat, a deputy representing the opposition Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD), said the Party of Moldovan Communists "intends to sell [Moldovan] territory in exchange for support at the ballot by the Gagauz in the next elections." He said the move could trigger "political instability" in the country. MS
 MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT DEBATES REVOKING DEPUTY'S PARLIAMENTARY MANDATEThe parliament on 8 November began debating the possible revocation of PPCD deputy Vlad Cubreacov's mandate on the grounds that his activity in support of the Bessarabian Metropolitan Church amounts to "support of an anticonstitutional organization," Infotag and Flux reported. Cubreacov is also accused, as the director of the church publication "Alpha and Omega," of working for Romania, where the publication is printed. The debate proposal was made by Communist deputy Yurii Yeremin. Yeremin said Cubreacov, who has represented the Bessarabian Church as a lawyer, infringes on the constitutional provision providing for the separation of church and state. Cubreacov said the initiative is proof of the Communists' "desperate situation" after the International Court for Human Rights started examining the Bessarabian Church's complaint against the government's refusal to register it. He warned that a revocation of his mandate will trigger "an international scandal." MS
 TRANSDNIESTER COMMUNISTS BACK SMIRNOV'S 'PRESIDENTIAL' BIDThe Communist Party in the Transdniester region has decided to back the "presidential" bid of Igor Smirnov, Flux reported on 8 November. In a resolution passed on the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the October Revolution, the local Communists said Smirnov must do more to ensure "Transdniester independence" until the region joins the Russia-Belarus Union, and should not allow the privatization of enterprises or increased prices for electricity and energy. MS
 RUSSIA TO PROCESS FIRST LOAD OF BULGARIAN RADIOACTIVE WASTERussia will soon begin processing radioactive waste from the Bulgarian Kozlodui nuclear power plant, dpa reported on 8 November, citing ITAR-TASS. The first trainload of used fuel rods from Kozlodui arrived in Krasnoyarsk to undergo the process at a local chemical plant. The Krasnoyarsk authorities are currently negotiating with Bulgaria for the delivery of more radioactive waste for treatment. MS
[C] END NOTE
 EBRD CHIEF SAYS KYIV MEETS TERMS FOR LOAN ON NEW NUCLEAR REACTORSBy Ron Synovitz
A key loan to Ukraine -- part of a $1.5 billion package linked to the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant -- has advanced closer to final approval. The board of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is to vote next month to confirm the $215 million loan, which was tentatively approved a year ago on condition that Ukraine meet the four targets on nuclear safety and economic credibility. Jean Lemierre, the president of the EBRD, said in London on 7 November that Ukraine has met the four conditions attached to the loan to help complete reactors at the Khmelnitskyy-2 and Rivne-4 nuclear plants, known collectively as K2R4, and he formally recommended that the EBRD's board of directors vote to confirm that loan.
Approval by the EBRD board also would help unlock funds totaling $1.5 billion from other lenders for the upgrading and completion of reactors at K2R4, so that Ukraine can replace energy production lost by the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant last year.
The first condition for EBRD financing was met a year ago when authorities in Ukraine permanently shut down the last active nuclear reactor at Chornobyl -- the site, in 1986, of the world's worst civilian nuclear accident.
Another important step was reached in September when the International Monetary Fund resumed disbursements under a loan program known as the "Extended Fund Facility."
EBRD spokesman Jeff Hiday told RFE/RL on 8 November that Lemierre's approval of Kyiv's progress on nuclear safety assurances is significant. "Another [important condition that Lemierre says has been met] is that a host of [nuclear] safety standards are put in place. And not only safety standards, but money to implement safety standards. And this is not only for these two reactors [at Khmelnitskyy and Rivne], but also for all 13 nuclear reactors that are operated in Ukraine," he said
The safety assurances required by the EBRD include the issuing of a report by international nuclear regulators confirming that Ukrainian nuclear regulators have the necessary independence and resources to assure that nuclear plants in the country meet Western safety standards. The EBRD also required commitments from the G-7 leading industrial nations and from the European Commission to provide technical assistance.
Finally, financial commitments for the K2R4 project were required from the European Union's nuclear agency Euroatom, along with several export credit agencies and Russia.
Hiday said prompt confirmation by the EBRD board next month could allow financing for the remainder of the $1.5 billion loan package to be completed by the end of this year. "I think [the EBRD loan and financing from others] is going to come together more or less simultaneously," Hiday said. "The G-7 also has to take a lead in arranging the financing. But it all needs to happen more or less at once. And, in fact, if we sign this deal next month in Kyiv, as we hope to, it would be not only us signing the deal but several of the other parties signing the deal at the same time. So we all have to move in concert."
But Hiday said the EBRD board's vote is not expected to be a long, drawn- out process. "[The board simply has] to give a confirmation that these four conditions have been met. But they don't have to go through the entire project again [as they did last year]," he said. "It's purely to agree that these technical conditions have been met."
Hiday said any loan agreement signed in Kyiv would contain a series of additional conditions that would have to be met before money is actually disbursed. "There are a lot of other conditions that relate to the money being disbursed. There are about 30 in total," Hiday said. "They range from adoption of a privatization plan for [Ukrainian] energy distribution companies to the establishment of a decommissioning fund for the eventual decommissioning of other [nuclear power] plants. Also, they have to do with electricity sector reform, to get tariffs raised and more cash collected for electricity bills."
The G-7 countries and the European Commission signed a memorandum of understanding with Kyiv in 1995 on the closure of Chornobyl. The EBRD was asked at that time to play a role in possible financing for the completion of K2R4.
The EBRD also administers three international funds for the decommissioning of Soviet-designed nuclear reactors in Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Slovakia.
Ron Synovitz is an RFE/RL correspondent.
Reprinted with permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty