CHECHEN MILITARY COMMANDER WANTS CEASE-FIRE.
Chechen military commander
Gen. Aslan Maskhadov said his forces are ready to negotiate a cease-fire with
Russia, AFP reported on 13 February. Maskhadov said negotiations could also
deal with an exchange of prisoners, as proposed by Ingush Vice President Boris
Agapov. Meanwhile, Chechen leaders claimed their forces had blown up a former
Soviet missile-launching site controlled by Russian troops, causing heavy
casualties. On 11 February, Russian forces inflicted heavy artillery
bombardment on the city of Argun, about 15 kilometers east of Grozny. There was
further fighting the next day in parts of Grozny itself, the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung reported on 13 February, noting that the campaign is far
from over. -- Victor Gomez and Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OVER CHECHNYA.
Federation Council has asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the
constitutionality of Yeltsin's decrees ordering the use of force in Chechnya.
The request focuses on three specific presidential directives issued on 1, 9,
and 17 December. Seventy-two deputies supported the motion, while according to
the constitution, only 36 votes are required to get the court to review a
presidential decree. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
PROTESTS AGAINST CHECHEN WAR CONTINUE.
Another gathering was held on 11
February on Moscow's Pushkin Square to protest against the Chechen war, Russian
TV and Interfax reported. The event, organized by the human-rights "Memorial"
society, Democratic Russia party, and the Soldiers' Mothers Committee, was the
first in a series of actions planned by signatories of the agreement, "For
Peace and Freedom, Against Bloodshed in Chechnya." "Memorial" activist
Aleksandr Daniel said as many as 102 organizations had signed the document by
the day of the protest action. The signatories represent groups from across the
political spectrum, including the radically anti-communist Democratic Union and
the "internationalist" faction of the Russian Communist party. On the eve of
the meeting, Russian TV's "Podrobnosti" reported that the Soldiers' Mothers
Committee intended to prevent next spring's military service draft and planned
to dismantle the North Caucasian railway line. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI,
JOURNALISTS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER FORTHCOMING ELECTIONS.
A decree by
President Yeltsin to computerize the upcoming presidential and parliamentary
elections could give the secret police control over the elections, according to
a full front-page article in the 10 February issue of Izvestiya. The
decree calls for the Central Election Commission in Moscow to collect data from
all constituencies which will then destroy their ballots. The newspaper
speculates the system will give control of the process to the Federal Agency on
Government Communications and Information (formerly a KGB department). Other
agencies that will be involved in the election are entirely dependent on the
president, who appoints both administration heads and the electoral commission
while representatives of the legislature or political parties will have no
control over ballot casting, Izvestiya claimed. The daily implied that
the December 1993 election and referendum were rigged, and the election
commission is reluctant to publish a detailed report on the results. -- Julia
Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
GAIDAR CALLS FOR UNIFIED DEMOCRATIC BLOC.
Russia's Choice leader Egor
Gaidar has called for the creation of an electoral bloc of all democratic
factions, Interfax reported on 11 February. He indicated his willingness to
form a coalition with Grigorii Yavlinsky's Yabloko party, warning that
democrats must not repeat "the mistakes they made during the previous
elections, when many hoped that they would be able to achieve much by working
separately." The Yabloko faction has been opposed to the president's policies,
while Gaidar had supported them until Chechnya. Gaidar said the democrats must
unite now because the preservation of the free market and democracy in Russia
is at stake. Yavlinsky told Moskovsky Komsomolets that a coalition
cannot be created at once, but added that "Gaidar is a professional economist
and it is always possible to find common ground with a professional economist."
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
ZHIRINOVSKY PROPOSES COOPERATION WITH COMMUNISTS.
leader of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, has proposed linking
his party with the Communist Party of the Russian Federation in preparation for
the upcoming legislative and presidential polls, AFP and Interfax reported on
12 February. A letter signed by Zhirinovsky instructed his regional party
leaders "to work with communist trade unions and parties, and in particular,
the Russian Communist Party led by Gennadii Zyuganov." Prospects for such a
union seem dim, however, as both Zyuganov and Zhirinovsky are planning to run
for president. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
YASIN CALLS DOMESTIC FOOD SHORTAGES "ALARMING".
Russian Economy Minister
Yevgeni Yasin told parliament on 10 February that food shortages in grain,
meat, butter, and vegetable oil were particularly alarming and urged the
government to change its food policy, Interfax reported. Yasin called for an
increase in customs duties on cheaper imported products and a ban on exports of
certain farm goods in order to create a "favorable environment for Russian
producers". Yasin said his ministry wants to ban wheat exports because it
predicts shortages will be at least 3.5 to 4 million tons in 1995. Yasin
emphasized that the country has a good overall supply of food, but resources
are unequally distributed among different areas and certain regions will
experience shortages as early as March. As of 1 January, only 101,000 tons of
meat were available, in comparison to 316,000 tons a year ago, and 12,000 tons
of butter were available, down from 88,000 tons. Only 800,000 tons of vegetable
oil were available while Russia needs 1.7 million tons to satisfy consumers.
More alarming, if oil producers sell 2.5 million tons of oil yielding seeds as
planned for 1995, production will fall to as low as 30,000 tons, making the
shortage even more severe, according to Yasin. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
FEDERATION COUNCIL APPROVES RISE IN MINIMUM WAGE.
The upper house of
parliament voted on 10 February to raise the minimum wage from 20,500 rubles to
54,100 rubles ($13), agencies reported. The minimum wage is used as a basis for
calculating benefits and pay for all public employees. Labor Minister Gennadii
Melikyan told ITAR-TASS the increase would cause major problems for the
government, but he admitted in an interview with Trud that the minimum
subsistence level was 240,000 rubles ($57) a month. The draft law is a major
obstacle to a $6.4 billion standby loan from the IMF, which is included in the
draft 1995 budget. The president is likely to veto the increase, just as he did
a proposed hike in the minimum pension, but parliament can overrule him with a
two-thirds majority. The deputy head of the reformist government commission on
economic policy, Maksim Boyko said, "This wage increase would undermine the
budget and destroy our prospects of an agreement with the IMF," the
Financial Times reported on 11 February. -- Penny Morvant and Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
COMPROMISE LAW ON FOREIGN ADOPTIONS.
The State Duma passed legislation
on 10 February prohibiting commercial agencies from dealing in adoptions and
increasing the categories of children eligible for adoption by foreigners, AFP
reported. The law is a compromise worked out after President Yeltsin vetoed
legislation in December that banned the use of intermediaries in the adoption
process, in effect precluding adoptions by foreigners. Under the new law,
families can be represented by non-profit agencies registered with the Russian
government, but paying fees to obtain children is forbidden. The new
legislation also makes any child for whom no Russian family can be found
eligible for foreign adoption. At present, only children with medical problems,
those with alcoholic or mentally ill parents, or non-Russian children who are
older are eligible--a restriction that has led would-be parents to bribe
middlemen or orphanage directors to reclassify healthy children. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA PASSES LAW ON CIVIL SERVICE.
The Duma passed the law on state
service in its third reading, Interfax reported on 10 February. The draft
legislation bars civil servants from simultaneously serving on federal or local
legislative bodies, and holding other positions apart from teaching, research,
and similar "creative" jobs. They are also forbidden from accepting payment for
publications or speeches that are part of their duties and are required to
submit a yearly declaration of income. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
NAVY CONFIRMS SUB SALE TO CHINA.
Russia has signed a deal to deliver
several Kilo-class diesel submarines to China, a Russian Navy spokesman said on
10 February. He denied, however, that the sale would alter the balance of power
in the region, Interfax reported. The spokesman also said the first submarine
had been built, but not yet delivered to China as claimed in Western media. He
also charged that the Americans were dramatizing the sale because "they feel
hurt about the sale of our diesel submarines, which are known for their
noiselessness and are capable of neutralizing American submarines." -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA DISOWNS ARMS SHIPMENT TO PERU.
The Foreign Ministry denied that a
Russian-made aircraft which landed in Brazil on 8 February had any connection
with the government, according to a statement released on 11 February. The
plane was suspected of carrying arms destined for Peru. The statement said,
"competent Russian agencies responsible for trade in armaments have nothing to
do with the cargo carried by the aircraft," Interfax reported. Moscow has
provided Peru with many of its weapons, and several weeks ago a government
spokesman confirmed trade would continue "depending how the situation in the
region develops." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
CIS SUMMIT PRODUCES LITTLE OF CONSEQUENCE.
The CIS summit ended on 10
February with only a few pieces of paper to show for its efforts. Viritually
every proposal was either rejected or watered down, international agencies
reported. The pact on peace and stability became a non-binding memorandum which
simply provides principles for signatories to apply in mutual relations. Before
the summit, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said, "I am clearly and fully
aware that a shapeless organization like the CIS has no future," Reuters
reported. A peacekeeping operation for Tajikistan under UN aegis was agreed to
by the summit participants. Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan,
Russia, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan also approved guidelines for a joint air
defense system. Yeltsin failed to attend the post-summit news conference, and
was seen stumbling and supported by aides. His speech was slurred and he
appeared ill. The next CIS summit is expected to take place on 26 May in Minsk.
-- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
KAZAKHSTAN, KYRGYZSTAN AND UZBEKISTAN FURTHER ECONOMIC COOPERATION.
bilateral and multilateral deals were concluded on the sidelines of the CIS
summit, international agencies reported. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
agreed on 10 February to provide greater institutional substance to their
"common economic space" agreement of1994. They intend to form an interstate
council to coordinate governmental relations in the economic sphere and to
provide seed capital for a Central Asian Bank to be based in Almaty. Kazakh
President Nursultan Nazarbaev said, "The task is to draw up, by 1996, a
six-year integration plan, taking into account the potential of Kyrgyzstan,
Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN DEPUTY CRITICIZES RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN TREATY.
Russian Duma Deputy
Sergei Glotov has called upon the legislature to examine the treaty on
Russian-Ukrainian friendship and cooperation initialed in Kiev on 8 February,
Ukrainian radio reported on 11 February. Glotov believes several articles in
the treaty contravene earlier resolutions of the Russian parliament. In
particular, Glotov said this applies to items dealing with the Black Sea Fleet.
The Duma has appointed two committees--one dealing with CIS affairs and the
other with foreign affairs--to analyze the text of the agreement and report
their findings to the chamber. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
WALESA WANTS DIFFERENT COALITION.
The Polish Peasant Party (PSL) voted
on 10 February to approve the ruling coalition's decision to replace Prime
Minister Waldemar Pawlak with Jozef Oleksy of the Democratic Left Alliance
(SLD). But while the PSL endorsed its chairman's recommendations, it selected a
negotiating team that excluded Pawlak's closest advisers (a sign of rising
dissent within the party). The SLD predicted optimistically that the new
government would be ready by the end of this week, Rzeczpospolita
reports. But President Lech Walesa let it be known that he will attempt to
engineer the formation of an entirely new ruling coalition, which would exclude
the PSL. Presidential legal adviser Lech Falandysz told journalists on 9
February that "the enlightened postcommunist element and the best people from
the [Solidarity] opposition must join together in a single government"--meaning
a coalition between the SLD and the opposition Freedom Union (UW). In comments
meant to inspire a renewed sense of vulnerability among coalition politicians,
Falandysz also claimed that the constitution gives the president the right to
block the appointment of any government approved in a parliamentary
"constructive no-confidence vote." As in the case of earlier threats to
dissolve the parliament, this argument distorts the sense of the Constitution
(which says simply that "the president appoints" a government formed in this
fashion). But it suggests that Walesa is determined to obstruct the coalition's
attempts to build a new cabinet. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
NEW ELECTIONS ON THE HORIZON?
New parliamentary elections appear likely
should the two ruling parties fail to agree quickly on the composition of a new
cabinet. SLD leaders indicated privately that new elections would be inevitable
if Jozef Oleksy fails in his mission, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. Meeting
on 12 February, the opposition UW adopted a strategy of maintaining "equal
distance" from both the ruling coalition and President Lech Walesa. UW floor
leader Bronislaw Geremek compared the coalition upheaval to "stirring the tea
without adding sugar." The party leadership instructed UW deputies to be
prepared either to propose the creation of a non-party government to serve
until new elections, or to lodge a no-confidence motion to clear the way for
the dissolution of the parliament. Walesa indicated on 12 February that, in the
event of new parliamentary elections this year, he would attempt to postpone
the presidential elections due this November. UW leaders revealed that Walesa
last month said he would try to strike a bargain with any new Sejm to put off
presidential elections by a year. Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Andrzej
Olechowski (who is still waiting for the president to accept his resignation)
announced that he is withdrawing from political life and will not serve in a
new government. He added that he will not run for president if Walesa is a
candidate. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE DELAYS INAUGURATION OF NUCLEAR REACTOR.
sixth reactor at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station, considered the largest
in Europe, will not be brought on line until the second quarter of the year
instead of the first quarter as planned because of a breakdown in state
financing, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 12 February. Mikhail Umanets, head of
Ukraine's civilian nuclear energy agency, told Interfax the government had
failed to provide the more than one billion karbovantsi they promised last year
in time to bring the sixth block on line for testing this quarter as scheduled.
The delay means that the unit will not be fully operational until December. The
other five reactors at the plant, built in the 1980s, generate about 6% of the
energy produced in the country. The sixth block was one of three reactors in
Ukraine that were only partially constructed at the time of the USSR's breakup
and was only recently completed in Ukraine's campaign to further develop the
nuclear industry in light of its heavy energy dependence on Russia and other
CIS states. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
DEVELOPMENTS IN UKRAINE'S MILITARY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX.
The sole working
prototype of the Antonov AN-70, which Ukraine was developing jointly with
Russia and Uzbekistan, crashed in a mid-air collision on 10 February, killing
all seven crew members, international agencies reported. The monitoring
aircraft with which it collided, an AN-72, landed safely. In other news,
Interfax reported on 12 February that the Ukrainian State Committee for Nuclear
Energy plans to invite US, French, German and Russian firms to take part in a
tender to design a factory producing nuclear fuel for its reactors. Ukraine
currently relies entirely on Russia for its supplies. An official from
Ukraine's Space Agency has said that Ukraine plans to participate in this
year's air show at Le Bourget where it will display a small scale model of an
aerospace complex. The project, known as the Svityaz, will cost $500-600
million and will be capable of launching an 8-ton payload to a near earth
orbit, and a one-ton payload to a geostationary orbit. On 10 February,
Ukrainian radio reported that US President Bill Clinton has refused Ukrainian
President Leonid Kuchma's request to remove a permanent delegation of Americans
monitoring Ukraine's Pavlohradsk mechanical plant, which previously produced
ballistic missiles. Kuchma made the request because he said the country could
not afford the upkeep of the delegation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA WARNS ESTONIA OVER SUPPORT FOR CHECHNYA.
The Russian Foreign
Ministry on 10 February summoned Juri Kahn, Estonia's ambassador to Moscow, to
hand him an official protest about the debate in the parliament on a resolution
entitled "On the Right of Self-Determination of the Chechen Nation," Western
agencies report. The protest called the debate "barefaced interference in
domestic affairs of the Russian Federation, fresh evidence of Estonian
authorities' support for the Dudaev regime and of their attempts to undermine
the foundations of Russian statehood." The ambassador was warned that "if
Tallinn continues its anti-Russian activities, it will have a serious impact on
Estonian-Russian relations." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIA WARNS IT WILL EXPEL FORMER RUSSIAN SOLDIERS.
Janis Adamsons said on 11 February that Russian military soldiers who retired
after 28 January 1992 and remained in Latvia in defiance of the troop
withdrawal agreements have to register by 15 February to obtain residency
permits or face expulsion, Interfax reports. The soldiers were supposed to have
left by 31 August 1994, but primarily due to a housing shortage remained in
Latvia. Adamsons noted that only 602 Russian retirees were registered as of 8
February. Latvia claims that there are about 4,000 such retirees while Russia
says they number only about 1,000. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
HAVEL WARNS OF "NEW YALTA."
A "new Yalta" or division of Europe could
happen if the West accepts that certain, particularly Central European,
countries belong to Russia's sphere of influence and thus should not be allowed
to join NATO, Czech President Vaclav Havel said. In an interview with the
German magazine Der Spiegel published on 13 February, Havel said the
opening up of NATO will serve the interests not just of the reforming states of
Central and East Europe who want to join, but also benefit the West. Russia
does not have the right to dictate to NATO who it should accept as members and
who not, he added. Havel said the admission of new countries to NATO is a
logical and natural way to overcome a security vacuum in Central Europe, and
for the Czech Republic admission to NATO is a more urgent concern than joining
the EU. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
PUBLIC HEARING ON SLOVAK NUCLEAR PLANT.
A hearing on Slovakia's nuclear
plant at Mochovce was held in Budapest on 10 February. Participants included
officials from the Hungarian Environment Ministry, members of the Slovak and
Hungarian Green Parties, as well as representatives of the two firms building
the plant, Slovenske Elektrarne and Electricite de France. The Greens
criticized the project, expressing concern about nuclear waste and safety, TASR
reports. A public hearing scheduled in Vienna in January was canceled after the
two firms building the plant refused to attend; however, a panel discussion is
expected to take place there on 14 February. According to a Financial
Times report on 11 February, the Austrian parliament voted unanimously on 9
February to ask the government to consider pulling out of the European Bank for
Reconstruction and Development if the bank chooses to give Slovakia the loan it
needs to finish the project. The EBRD will vote on the decision in April. --
Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
UN CONDEMNS SERB FLIGHTS OVER BOSNIA.
The BBC's Serbian and Croatian
Services reported on 13 February that the UN ruled that all sides in the
Bosnian conflict have broken flight restrictions in that embattled republic but
that the Bosnian Serbs have been "especially active." The report noted daily
flights from Serb airfields in Banja Luka and in Krajina in the past two weeks.
The Bosnian Serb news agency SRNA quotes Radovan Karadzic as saying that if
Croatia attacks the Krajina Serbs, his men will defend them, and that this
would be the first practical step toward the unification of the two rebel Serb
states. The latest UN report and the course of fighting around Bihac, however,
help recall that the two groups have long been working hand-in-glove and in
cooperation with authorities in Serbia proper. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BIHAC FIGHTING AT CENTER OF ATTENTION.
International media report on 13
February that combat in the Bihac pocket intensified over most of the weekend
and that Krajina Serb land reinforcements have arrived. The Bosnian government
singled out the situation around Bihac as demanding immediate attention if the
ceasefire that is largely holding elsewhere is to be maintained. UN commander
Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith met on 12 February with his Bosnian government
counterpart General Rasim Delic and now wants to see Bosnian Serb General Ratko
Mladic. The 13 February Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung notes fighting on
three fronts: Bihac itself, Velika Kladusa, and Bosanska Krupa. Bosnian Prime
Minister Haris Silajdzic, for his part, already seems to have soured on the
ceasefire, saying it should not be extended when it expires on 1 May. He
charged that an extension "would serve the purpose of our enemies, and that is
to keep the status quo here forever." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
A SHAKY FUTURE FOR BOSNIAN CROATS.
Among the worst victims of the
Croat-Muslim war of 1993 were the Croats of Bosnia, who, unlike those of
Herzegovina, live in widely scattered communities that are frequently far from
Croatia or other solid areas of Croatian settlement. Vecernji list of 13
February quotes Bishop Franjo Komarica of Serb-held Banja Luka as saying that
his people are frightened and confused, wanting only to get out. He laments,
however, that the continued exodus on top of the Serbs' own ethnic cleansing
could mean the end for many age-old Croatian communities in Bosnia. Meanwhile
in northern Bosnia, on 12 February the cantonal legislature of Posavina met in
Orasje amid the presence of many Bosnian and Bosnian Croat dignitaries,
including federal President Kresimir Zubak. The session dealt with a number of
questions in Croat-Muslim relations and marks a step toward the normal
functioning of the joint federation in northern Bosnia. The region has its own
distinct profile, and the Croats in nearby Gradacac kept their alliance with
the Muslims even in 1993. Many Posavina Croats suspect, moreover, that the
Zagreb and Herzegovinian authorities have repeatedly sold out their interests.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman has often tried to mollify the angry people
of Posavina, many of whom feel he deliberately abandoned their city of Bosanski
Brod in a secret deal with the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
FIVE KILLED IN BLAST NEAR BELGRADE.
Tanjug reported on 11 February that
five persons were killed and one seriously injured in a blast at a factory at
Lucani, some 140 kilometers southwest of Belgrade. AFP accounts suggest the
victims worked for a firm which produces chemicals for the military. In other
news, the international sanctions applied against the rump Yugoslavia continue
to receive media attention; on 12 February Reuters reported that Belgrade's UN
ambassador, Dragomir Djokic, told a local radio broadcaster in Kragujevac that
same day that in his opinion sanctions may be eased, on humanitarian grounds,
to allow for the importation of gas from Russia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
ROMANIAN OPPOSITION LEADER WARNS HUNGARIAN PARTY.
the chairman of the Democratic Convention of Romania, the country's main
opposition alliance, on 11 February warned the Hungarian Democratic Federation
of Romania that further cooperation depended on the HDFR leadership making a
"clear and unequivocal" statement that it was prepared to respect Romania's
Constitution and legislation. The HDFR, which is the main political
organization of Romania's large Magyar minority and a DCR member, recently
stirred controversy by suggesting that it favored a higher degree of autonomy
for ethnic minorities. In a separate development, a seven-person delegation
from Romania, including HDFR leaders Bela Marko and Laszlo Toekes, arrived in
Atlanta, Georgia, to take part in a seminar on ways to defuse interethnic
tension, staged by the Princeton-based "Project on Ethnic Relations" and the
Carter Foundation. On 10 February, the HDFR threatened to boycott the
conference if a deputy for the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity
attended. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVA'S FOREIGN MINISTER SETS PRIORITIES.
The Foreign Minister of the
Republic of Moldova, Mihail Popov, was quoted by Interfax on 11 February as
saying that close ties with Russia, Ukraine and Belarus are top priorities for
his country's foreign policy. Popov added that this was the core of a foreign
policy concept approved by the Moldovan parliament a few days ago; he also
suggested that closer cooperation with the three countries was the only way for
Moldova to overcome its current economic problems. Among Moldova's other
foreign policy priorities, Popov listed Romania and several Western countries,
including the US, Germany and France. Popov stressed that neutrality was the
main principle of Moldovan foreign policy and expressed the belief that the
agreement on the withdrawal of the 14th Russian army from Moldova, which was
initialed in October 1994, will be signed and implemented in due time. -- Dan
Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PROPERTY RECLAMATION BAN EXTENDED.
The Bulgarian Parliament on
9 February extended a 1992 measure protecting tenants from being thrown out of
restituted property for a further three years, Reuters reported the following
day. Krasimir Premyanov of the Bulgarian Socialist Party said "the law aims to
attain greater social justice," as without it there is "fear that 120,000
people will be left on the streets." The opposition sees it as a step back
towards communism, arguing it was unjust. Aleksandar Dzherov of the People's
Union said it "means an explicit restriction of the rights" of owners of homes
due to be restituted. The ban on the reclamation of property nationalized after
1944 would have expired on 24 February. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
MACEDONIA SAYS GREECE OFFERED SECRET TALKS.
The Macedonian government on
10 February said it rejected an offer by Greece to establish secret contacts,
AFP reported the same day. Macedonian Interior Minister Ljubomir Frckovski said
Greek envoys came to Skopje at the end of January to propose secret contacts,
adding that Macedonia has no interest in them for the time being. Macedonia
agrees to discuss technical questions such as visa problems or contacts between
firms "on a professional level," but the Greek envoys soon raised political
subjects such as the controversy over Macedonia's name and flag. Greek
government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos on 10 February denied that Greece
proposed any such meetings and said that Frckovski's declarations "are purely a
product of his imagination." Greece never had any intention and no reason to
make any proposals to Macedonia, AFP cited Venizelos as saying. Meanwhile,
Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his rump-Yugoslav counterpart
Vladislav Jovanovic met in Thessaloniki the same day. Nasa Borba
reported on 11 February that the Macedonian question was the main subject of
their talks, but gave no details. The same day AFP cited Papoulias as saying
that Greece supports moves to lift the UN sanctions against rump-Yugoslavia
because "we believe that the international community's attitude towards
Slobodan Milosevic is unjust, considering the decisive contribution he has made
to peace in the region." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE AGAINST PRESIDENT OF ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT.
Twenty-seven legislators, mainly from the opposition Socialist Party and
Democratic Alliance, initiated a no-confidence vote against President of
Parliament Pjeter Arbnori, Aleanca reported on 11 February. Also among
the deputies who signed the petition were Abdi Baleta from the ruling
Democratic Party and Kosta Makariadhi from the ethnic Greek party Omonia. The
legislators claim that Arbnori deliberately broke parliamentary rules and did
not make regular reports as he is obliged to do. They also accused him of
exceeding his authority and using state funds for personal purposes, including
using a helicopter to travel to Saranda to launch his new book. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Steve Kettle