YELTSIN: CURBING INFLATION AND SPENDING ARE KEY PRIORITIES.
annual state of the nation address to a joint session of parliament on 16
February, President Boris Yeltsin said controlling government spending and
curbing inflation were key priorities for 1995. "No one is entitled to make
decisions which undermine the budget and boost inflation," he warned. He said
the main condition for financial stability is strengthening the ruble. He also
stressed the need to facilitate investment and modernize the economy, arguing
that Russia's reliance on the raw material sector of the economy must be
reduced. On social policy, Yeltsin spoke of the need to "fill economic reform
with social substance" and said measures must be taken to ensure the timely
payment of wages and allowances, and to restore the population's savings. He
also said the government would have to support agriculture. While acknowledging
that the media have become a powerful mechanism for democracy, the president
was critical of some of their coverage, warning that criticism should not be
turned into mockery of the state. He urged the parliament to strengthen
Russia's judiciary, which he said was still "in deep crisis," and conceded that
crime-fighting measures had not been fully implemented. He stressed the need to
improve the professionalism of state officials, calling for strict limitations
on their commercial activities, and described corruption in law enforcement
agencies as "an ever bigger obstacle to normal work." He also expressed concern
about the rise of fascism in the country. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN CALLS MILITARY INEFFICIENT; STRESSES NEED FOR REFORM.
Yeltsin called the Russian military "inefficient" and blamed its poor handling
of the Chechnya operation for "big losses" and extensive "human rights
violations," in his address to parliament on 16 February. He said the
government had "underestimated" the situation in Chechnya. In a harsh criticism
of the military's initial operation in Chechnya, he said, "Our state turned out
to be unprepared for efficient power actions. At the initial stage, the
hackneyed system of planning military operations was of such a scope that the
uncoordinated activities of ministries made themselves felt. That is the reason
for the big losses. That is the root of the human rights violations in the
course of combat." He said, "The Armed Forces are not well prepared for
settling conflicts of local character." He added that the military reform to
date had been "unsatisfactory" and said that in 1995, he would work to raise
its technical equipment and combat readiness to modern levels. A number of
reasons made Russia put off the Chechnya operation, he said, among them, "a
syndrome of the guilt of a society for the imperial past, the Afghan syndrome,
and a protracted standoff between the legislature and executive." -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
YABLOKO TO BOYCOTT YELTSIN'S ADDRESS.
The liberal Yabloko faction, led
by the front-runner candidate for the next presidential election, Grigorii
Yavlinsky, declared its intention not to attend the joint session of parliament
to be addressed by President Boris Yeltsin, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported on 15
February. Earlier reports indicated that the Yabloko faction had made a joint
request with the Communist Party asking that the legislature be provided with
time to discuss the speech with Yeltsin in the second part of the session. All
the Duma's factions signed the request, except Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Choice,
Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 11 February. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI,
DUMA ADOPTS RADIO AND TV LAW.
The State Duma passed a controversial bill
on radio and television which bans preliminary censorship in broadcasting, but
also tightens state control over the national airwaves, Russian TV and news
agencies reported on 15 February. The law, adopted in the third reading,
provides for the establishment of the Federal Commission for Television and
Radio which will distribute frequencies between various TV and radio companies,
issue broadcasting licenses, and prepare a state register of license holders.
The commission will consist of 25 members and a chairman. The latter and 15
members will be appointed by the president, while parliament will name the
remaining 10. Under the new law, domestic productions must make up at least
two-thirds of the films broadcast on Russian TV. That is a slight increase from
the current 60% requirement. Meanwhile, the Moscow mayor's office has
nationalized all cable TV stations in the capital, Komsomolskaya pravda
reported on 9 February. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
CHECHEN CEASE-FIRE EXTENDED.
Chechen and Russian military commanders
reached agreement on a two-day cease-fire for all categories of weapons
beginning at midnight on 15 February, Interfax and AFP reported. During the
talks in Ingushetia, they also agreed on an exchange of dead and wounded. The
deal extends a 13 February ban on the use of heavy weapons. Russian military
commander General Anatoly Kulikov said the Chechens had rejected a Russian
proposal on the exchange of prisoners, but would consider a second proposal to
make Grozny a demilitarized zone. Also on 15 February, a group of influential
Chechen clergymen asked Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to prolong
the truce until the end of Ramadan on 3-5 March. Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev expressed doubt that the talks would lead to a lasting truce, Interfax
reported. Yusup Soslambekov, chairman of the Chechen parliament dissolved by
Dudaev in 1993, argued that the former legislature could help resolve the
crisis by mediating between Dudaev and the Chechen opposition. -- Liz Fuller,
COMMUNIST PARTY PUTS FORWARD PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE.
The Communist Party
of Russia (CPR) "has the right and is obliged to put forward its candidate" for
the next presidential election in Russia, announced CPR Chairman Gennadii
Zyuganov at a news conference in Moscow on 15 February, Interfax reported.
Zyuganov said the CPR has joined an electoral coalition which includes the
Agrarian Party, the Socialist Party of Workers, the Federation of Producers of
Goods, and national patriotic forces. Zyuganov said such a bloc of national
patriotic forces, if elected, would act "strictly within the limits of the law"
and would prevent dangerous "Zhirinovsky-like" forces from gaining the upper
hand in Russia. He also said the Russian president should not be elected by
popular vote, but rather by an assembly of electors which would include "the
whole national elite and people elected by corresponding institutions and
bodies." Zyuganov spoke of the danger of the whole country turning into a large
Chechnya if the current Russian leadership continued its "anti-popular course."
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
ZHIRINOVSKY PARTY PROPOSES "OPTIMISTIC OPTION".
Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) is trying to "reach the heart of
every elector" in its election campaign, a source in the party's leadership
told Interfax on 15 February. The LDPR, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, has issued
a leaflet entitled, "An Address to the Working People" which has been
distributed throughout Russia. The leaflet called the party "the only political
organization representing the interests of the entire nation" and accused the
government of indifference to the interests of the working person. It rejects
"development schemes" that the party claims are forced on Russia by the West,
but, at the same time, does not call for the country to "revert to the past."
In an interview with Interfax, Zhirinovsky said if Russians listen to reason
and vote for the only honest party, the LDPR, they will have "a great Russia
which belongs to all of them". -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA BUDGET COMMITTEE FINDS MONEY BY CUTTING EXPENDITURES.
Duma committee for budget, taxes, banks, and finances found another 12.4
trillion rubles (4,224 rubles to $1) to finance budget expenditures by cutting
allocations to the military and Interior Ministry, the Financial Information
Agency reported on 14 February. The committee decided to reduce the armed
forces by 400,000 troops in order to slash expenditures on maintaining
servicemen by 1 trillion rubles. The money will be used to purchase weapons and
combat equipment. The committee also cut allocations to the Interior Ministry
by 500 billion rubles, which will instead be used to maintain border guards,
intelligence, and counterintelligence. The committee proposed to cut
expenditures on state machinery by nearly 700 billion rubles by abolishing
government structures such as the Economics Reform Center, the Center for
Economic Trends, and the government press office. The committee said subsidies
to the Moscow government could be reduced by nearly 1 trillion rubles.
According to committee chairman Mikhail Zadornov, the group will have to
discuss more than 500 amendments in the next few days in order to submit a
modified draft budget for a third reading on 17 or 22 February. -- Thomas
Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA WARNS AGAINST "HASTY" NATO EXPANSION.
Russian Foreign Minister
Andrei Kozyrev warned against a "hasty" NATO expansion, ITAR-TASS reported on
15 February. Nevertheless, he spoke of a need to repair relations with NATO
which had deteriorated since Russia refused to initial its individual
Partnership for Peace work program in December. He said he is still waiting for
an explanation of why NATO changed its plans from partnership to expansion. He
added, "In the existing situation it is necessary to find a new, expanded
formula of developing the partnership with NATO which will take into
consideration the Russian role in international affairs and the interest of
Moscow to create such a system of European security which would not isolate it
from the rest of the continent." President Yeltsin spoke out against the
expansion of NATO to the east in his speech to parliament on 16 February,
ITAR-TASS reported. A well-informed source told the agency, "The president
believes that such an expansion would be detrimental to joint efforts in
creating a new model of genuine pan-European security." He added, "Boris
Yeltsin does not want Europe and the world to return to old or new lines of
division, and believes NATO has no grounds to build on Russian western
frontiers a structure allegedly aimed to defend East European countries because
Moscow has no 'black thoughts'" about them. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
KOZRYEV SEEKS EARLY IMPLEMENTATION OF EU PARTNERSHIP ACCORD.
Minister Kozyrev argued for an early implementation of the EU partnership
accord with Russia, during a trip to Stockholm where he met with Swedish
ministers and the British foreign minister, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 February.
He was particularly critical of what he called discrimination against Russian
exports to the EU. "The existence of such barriers impedes the promotion of new
relations, creates a bad background for Russia, and contradicts the talk about
Western assistance to Russian reforms," he said. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
RUSSIA ACCUSES U.S. OF COMMERCIAL INTERESTS IN ATTEMPTING TO BLOCK IRANIAN
A Russian foreign ministry diplomat said commercial and
political interests lie behind U.S. efforts to block Russia from building a
nuclear power plant in Iran, Interfax reported on 15 February. He said the U.S.
is ignoring repeated confirmations from the International Atomic Energy Agency
that Iran does not have a military nuclear program. He said the U.S. was
particularly irritated by close Russia-Iran contacts and needed to provoke
world political opinion against them every six months or so. "Such tricks by
Washington have two pragmatic goals. First, the Americans are using the
'Iranian threat' to preserve their own military presence in the Persian Gulf.
Second, Washington is perfectly aware of the fact that the Iranian market,
including the arms one, is extremely promising. Naturally, the Americans would
like to gain the market back in the future and, at the same time, force
competitors, primarily Russia, from Iran," said the diplomat. Meanwhile, a
Russian Nuclear Energy Ministry spokesman said on 15 February that the deal
would go ahead. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
No report today.
POLISH PARTIES SIGN AGREEMENT.
The Democratic Left Alliance (SDL) and
the Polish Peasant Party (PSL) have signed a coalition agreement endorsing the
candidacy of Sejm speaker Jozef Oleksy for prime minister, the PSL's Jozef
Zlych for Sejm speaker, and an unnamed SLD member for Sejm deputy speaker (the
press has tipped former Finance Minister Marek Borowski as the most likely
candidate for this post). The agreement was signed after several hours delay
because outgoing Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak abruptly disappeared.
Rzeczpospolita speculates that Pawlak changed his mind about leaving
office and that PSL negotiators had to persuade him to sign the agreement.
Gazeta Wyborcza's hypothesis was that Pawlak wanted to delay the
agreement in order to weaken challenges to his own position within the PSL. The
SDL will reportedly have nine posts in the new cabinet, the PSL eight. Most
serving SLD ministers are expected to stay on, while most PSL ministers will
leave. The PSL's Aleksander Luczak (currently education minister) will likely
be deputy prime minister without portfolio. SLD leader Aleksander Kwasniewski
told reports that Oleksy would consult with the president purely out of
"courtesy" rather than constitutional necessity. Gazeta Wyborcza quotes
an unnamed presidential adviser as saying that Oleksy's stance "means war." --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
PRESIDENT'S LEGAL ADVISER RESIGNS.
Lech Falandysz, the president's chief
legal adviser, has submitted his resignation. Gazeta Wyborcza attributes
the move to a conflict with Minister of State Mieczyslaw Wachowski, the
president's right-hand man. A spokesman said Lech Walesa will decide whether to
accept the resignation when he returns from a week-long trip to Latin America,
which begins on 18 February. Falandysz, who has worked in the president's
office since November 1991, is the author of recent controversial
interpretations of the constitution. The term "Falandyszation" is widely used
in Poland to describe Walesa's self-confessed method of "balancing on the
margins of the law." -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
STANDOFF BETWEEN UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT AND PARLIAMENT INTENSIFIES.
Ukrainian parliament on 15 February urged President Leonid Kuchma to consider
firing his influential chief of staff, Dmytro Tabachnyk, exacerbating tensions
between the reform-minded president and conservative legislature, Reuters
reported the same day. A resolution, approved without debate, ordered the Chief
Prosecutor's Office to investigate the claim that Tabachnyk was responsible for
barring several deputies from a 30 January hearing on organized crime, chaired
by Kuchma. The legislators stopped short of adopting a resolution demanding
Tabachnyk's resignation, although many accused him of assuming too much power.
Kuchma, who is on vacation in western Ukraine, has not commented on the move.
The president and parliament have been at odds over Kuchma's proposed political
reforms and his request for increased executive powers to implement economic
reforms. Some deputies say they will not agree to giving up their right to
appoint and sack key ministers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN ARMS FOR SALE.
Reuters on 15 February quoted the commander of
the Ukrainian air force, Volodymyr Antonets, as saying Ukraine cannot maintain
its 19 TU-160 strategic bombers and since 1993 has been negotiating with Russia
the sale of these and the smaller TU-95 bombers. Antonets said the two sides
have been unable to agree on a price. He noted that the TU-160s are comparable
to U.S. B-1 bombers, which cost $300 million each. As Ukraine has ratified
START-1 and acceded to NPT as a non-nuclear state, there is no reason for it to
maintain the bombers, which are equipped to carry a dozen nuclear missiles and
are too expensive to convert into non-nuclear aircraft. Meanwhile, Ukrainian
Radio reported that Ukraine plans to participate in the 19-23 March arms fair
in Abu Dhabi. It currently exports there naval arms and equipment for
conventional ground forces, particularly the T-84 tank. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
UKRAINE TO BUILD ANOTHER AN-70 PROTOTYPE.
A spokesman for Kiev's Antonov
aircraft plant told Interfax on 15 February that the company will build a
second prototype of the AN-70 medium-range military transport this year. The
first aircraft was lost on 10 February after a mid-air collision. The spokesman
said Antonov will work hard to save the project, which has been 15 years in the
making. The company hopes to sell as many as 1,500 turbo-prop planes. -- Doug
Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER IN UKRAINE.
Andres Tarand met with his Ukrainian
counterpart, Vitalii Masol, in Kiev on 15 February, Ukrainian Television
reported. The two leaders discussed an agreement on bilateral free trade and
other issues. Tarand said Estonia views positively Ukraine's role in Europe as
a balancing factor. He also said he was interested in Ukraine's attitude toward
the 50,000 Ukrainians living in Estonia, who make up 3% of the country's
population. He said he would like them to have Ukrainian schools but that
Estonia would need Ukraine's support to achieve this goal. -- Ustina Markus,
RENEWED CONFRONTATION BETWEEN BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT AND PARLIAMENT.
Reuters on 14 February reported that the Belarusian parliament has once again
challenged President Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Lukashenka presented the parliament
with a bill for 5 billion Belarusian rubles ($450,000) for the use of the
parliament building, which belongs to the Presidency. Deputies opposed the
move. Deputy Uladzimir Hrybanau said "Lukashenka is again trying to show
parliament who's boss." The president has been at odds with the parliament over
a law restricting his powers and allowing for his removal under certain
conditions. He has so far refused to sign it. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN CHAIRMEN OF SUPREME SOVIET CONCERNED OVER ACCORD WITH RUSSIA.
Chairman of the Belarusian Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb has said the Cabinet
of Ministers was too "hasty" in bringing into effect the January agreement with
Russia, Belarusian Radio reported on 14 February. He was referring to the
accord signed by Belarusian Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir and his Russian
counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, on creating a customs union between the two
countries and allowing Russian troops to use strategic bases in Belarus for 25
years. Hryb said he believed the cabinet had overstepped its powers in signing
the agreement and had violated Belarusian law on the stationing of foreign
troops on Belarusian territory. Belarus is officially a neutral state. All
Russian troops were to withdraw in 1996. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH PARTY ALLEGING SPY AFFAIR LOSES ONE-THIRD SUPPORT.
Democratic Alliance (ODA), the second-strongest party in the Czech coalition
government, has lost almost one-third of its voter support since its leader
alleged that the secret service spied on political parties, according to an
opinion poll published on 16 February. The poll, conducted by the Center for
Empirical Research, shows that the ODA's rating dropped from 12.2% in January
to 8.2% this month. For the first time since the June 1992 elections, the ODA
fell to fourth place in voters' choice of parties. ODA leader Jan Kalvoda in
January accused the counterintelligence service BIS of spying on his and other
parties. But the government rejected Kalvoda's claims and a senior member of
the ODA left the party, saying that Kalvoda invented the BIS affair to cover up
a continuing scandal over ODA finances. Premier Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic
Party (ODS) has apparently benefited most from the ODA's fall: its support rose
from 26.9% to 30.4% in the February poll. The opposition Social Democrats also
increased their support, from 17.0% to 20.8%, and the Communist Party moved
into third place with 10%. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK CABINET APPROVES 1995 BUDGET, THREE-PARTY GENERAL AGREEMENT.
1995 Slovak budget, passed on 15 February, provides for a 5% growth in GDP, a
10% inflation rate, a 14% unemployment rate, and a budget deficit amounting to
3% of GDP, Sme reports. The cabinet also approved the 1995 general
agreement between the government, the unions, and the employers' association.
The initial draft agreement was approved on 2 February after the government
dropped demands for wage regulation. But at its congress on 14 February, the
Slovak Confederation of Trade Unions instructed union president Alojz Englis
not to sign the agreement until the state budget was approved by the
parliament. The unions criticized the fact that the cabinet's draft budget
included a proposal for wage regulation, despite government promises to the
contrary. Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman, in an interview with Pravda on 16
February, said he and other cabinet members were "surprised" by the unions'
decision. He said the proposals for wage regulation were dropped from the final
version of the budget draft. Slovakia is currently using a provisional budget.
-- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK OPPOSITION CRITICIZES MECIAR'S DECISION ON MOCHOVCE.
Democratic Party Chairman Ludovit Cernak on 15 February said Slovakia needs to
find a compromise solution over the controversial nuclear plant under
construction at Mochovce, Pravda reports. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar
announced the previous day that the plant will be completed with Russian
assistance, even if the EBRD fails to provide a loan. Meciar criticized
Vienna's "hysteria" over Mochovce, saying that the Czech plant at Temelin did
not attract similar attention. He also asked if Austria wants to lose Slovakia
as its "political friend." Democratic Union Deputy Chairman Roman Kovac
stressed that Austria is a key partner for Slovakia in terms of EU integration.
He noted that Meciar's statements were "improvised" and that it will take some
time for diplomats to correct them. The European Parliament will begin debating
Mochovce on 16 February. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
The latest round of Hungarian-Slovak talks on a
new basic treaty ended on 15 February in Budapest, MTI reports. Hungarian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Gabor Szentivanyi commented that while the two sides
came closer to reaching agreement on some issues, substantial differences
remain over the clause on minority rights. The next round of talks are
scheduled to be held in Bratislava on 27 and 28 February. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI,
HUNGARIAN COURT RULING ON 1956 SHOOTINGS.
The Budapest Military Court on
15 February dropped charges against retired border guard Colonel Istvan Dudas
and three former rank-and-file border guards accused of committing crimes
against humanity in 1956, MTI reports. The court said there was no evidence
that the four men were responsible for firing on a crowd of peaceful
demonstrators in Mosonmagyarovar. Fifty people died and a large number were
wounded in the shooting. Hungarian courts have so far sentenced only two
members of the former communist militia for their role in killing civilians in
1956. Hungarian President Arpad Goncz, who was jailed after 1956 on charges of
treason and served six years of a life sentence, said the sentencing of the two
men will not revive the victims, nor will it help find those who gave the order
to shoot, Western news agencies report on 15 February. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI,
HUNGARIAN FOREIGN TRADE.
Minister of Industry and Trade Laszlo Pal
announced on 14 February that Hungarian exports in 1994 grew by 20% to $10.7
billion, while imports were up 16% on the 1993 level, at $14.6 billion, MTI
reports. He said that 72% of exports went to developed countries, especially to
EU member states, and 24% to former communist countries. Exports to CIS
countries declined by 8%. Of the products exported, the largest increase was
registered by consumer goods (27%), followed by agrarian products (16%) and
machinery (12%). -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN SERB LEADER REMAINS DEFIANT.
Reuters on 15 February quoted
Radovan Karadzic as calling the international Contact Group "a bewildered bunch
that does not know how to solve the war." He also told a crowd in Grahovo that
the Bosnian Serb army will "no longer strike [the enemy] in forests and
villages but where it will hurt them most." AFP noted that he threatened to
"smash" government forces if they launch a new offensive in the Bihac pocket.
His authorities imposed a news blackout on the Bihac area, leading one Bosnian
Serb journalist to suspect that "something serious is going on in the Bihac
pocket." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
OTHER BOSNIAN DEVELOPMENTS.
The first aid convoys in some time headed to
the Bihac area on 15 February as part of a deal to ensure that relief reaches
all sides, AFP reports. The news agency also notes that Bosnian Serb forces
have complained about flights reaching Tuzla airport, suggesting that
government forces are being resupplied by air, despite the UN's "no-fly zone"
over the embattled republic. The Serbs have been under strong UN criticism
recently for staging military flights from Serbia and in several parts of
Bosnia and Herzegovina. The UN is investigating the Serbs' charge regarding
Tuzla. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN OPPOSITION PARTIES SUPPORT INDEPENDENT MEDIA.
on 16 February reports that the leaders of four main opposition parties in the
rump Yugoslavia--Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement, Zoran Djindjic
of the Democratic Party, Vojislav Kostunica of the Democratic Party of Serbia,
and Vojislav Seselj of the Serbian Radical Party--have offered their support to
the independent media, currently under attack by Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic's regime. The four opposition leaders, in a meeting with Studio B
director Dragan Kojadinovic, pledged their deputies will walk out of the
federal, republican, and municipal legislatures if the authorities do not
abandon policies designed to "strangle the independent media." -- Stan
Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
BANNED ALBANIAN UNIVERSITY OPENS IN MACEDONIA.
Albanian-language university opened in Tetovo on 15 February, Reuters reported
the same day. The opening ceremony followed a political battle with the
Macedonian authorities, which have proclaimed the university illegal because
Macedonian law does not yet provide for higher education in Albanian. Police
raided the university in December, destroying parts of the wooden building.
Rector Fadil Sulejmani warned the authorities not to repeat the attacks, saying
that "the people will defend me. If police try to prevent us working, 200,000
Albanians will rise to our defense, and they have guns and grenades." He called
on the authorities to avoid a confrontation, adding that "it would take us
directly to war." Flaka on 16 February reports that representatives of
all Albanian political parties in Macedonia were present at the opening
ceremony, attended by more than 10,000 people. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN DELEGATION IN ROMANIA.
A Ukrainian delegation, led by First
Deputy Foreign Minister Boris Tarasiuk, ended its three-day visit to Romania on
15 February. The delegation was received by President Ion Iliescu on 14
February and held talks with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu the following
day. Tarasiuk, in an interview with Radio Bucharest on 14 February, said that
the two countries will soon start negotiations on concluding a bilateral treaty
and that the document may be signed later this year. He added that the treaty
will be accompanied by what he described as a "joint political declaration." A
spokesman for the Romanian Foreign Ministry said one of the sticking points was
the inclusion of a clause on the "effects of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact."
Tarasiuk also met with representatives of the Ukrainian minority in Romania.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian embassy in Bucharest was quoted by an RFE/RL
correspondent in Kiev as saying that in the long term, Romania is trying to
assimilate ethnic Ukrainian and other minorities. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT MEETS WITH DNIESTER LEADER.
Mircea Snegur on 15
February met in Tiraspol with Igor Smirnov, leader of the self-proclaimed
Dniester Republic, Interfax and a Radio Bucharest correspondent in Chisinau
report. According to a communique released after the five-hour, closed-door
meeting, the two sides discussed issues of mutual interest, including a special
status for the breakaway region. A document detailing this status is currently
being drafted under the mediation of the OSCE mission in Moldova and a special
envoy of the Russian president. Sources in Tiraspol were quoted as saying that
the meeting also focused on ways to restore normal economic ties between the
two regions. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
GREEK SOCIALISTS NAME CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY.
Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 15 February said it will support Kostis
Stephanopoulos as presidential candidate, Reuters reported the following day.
Stephanopoulos, a conservative nominated by the nationalist Political Spring
party, said he will accept the candidacy if at least two parties support him.
Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou said Stephanopoulos is the candidate who has
the "widest public acceptance." Stephanopoulos was a minister in governments
led by the New Democracy party between 1974 and 1981. After losing a fight over
the chairmanship of the ND to Konstantinos Mitsotakis in 1985, he formed the
Political Renewal party. He disbanded that group in 1994 after failing to win a
single seat in national and European elections. Greek presidential elections
are due in April but are now likely to be held in early March. The votes of 200
out of 300 deputies are needed in the first two rounds, and 180 in the third to
elect a president. PASOK has 170 seats, and Political Spring 11. If no
candidate wins the required number of votes, the parliament has to be dissolved
and new elections held within 45 days. PASOK's support for Stephanopoulos is
generally seen as a move to avoid early general elections. -- Stefan Krause,
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave