EXTENDED CHECHEN CEASE-FIRE EXPIRES.
Chechen and Russian military
commanders have agreed to extend an ongoing two-day cease-fire until 19
February, Russian and Western agencies reported. The two sides also reached
agreement on exchanging lists of prisoners at their third meeting in Ingushetia
on 17 February. Chechen military Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Russian Deputy
Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai, and Ingush Vice President Boris Agapov called
for talks at the political level to resolve the Chechen crisis. In contrast,
Sergei Filatov, head of Yeltsin's presidential staff, told Interfax on 18
February that the Chechen people must first elect a new leadership before such
talks can take place. Chechen mufti Muhamed Alsabekov said at a 17 February
news conference in Moscow that Chechen religious leaders would support neither
the head of the government of national trust, Salambek Khadzhiev, nor
Provisional Council chairman Umar Avturkhanov, nor Ruslan Khasbulatov,
according to Interfax. Meanwhile, in an interview with the Los Angeles
Times on 18 February, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev threatened a
terrorist campaign in Russia. On 19 February, Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kulikov, the
commander of Russian federal troops in Chechnya, accused Chechen forces of
violating the cease-fire with an attack on Russian troops south of Grozny on 18
February, ITAR-TASS reported. Although Kulikov said the possibilities for
stopping hostilities were "exhausted," Ostankino television and ITAR-TASS
reported on 19 February that Russian and Chechen military representatives were
discussing a possible time and venue for future talks. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI,
THREE NEW PARTIES SET UP IN RUSSIA.
Three new political parties held
founding congresses on 18-19 February, but President Yeltsin sent a welcoming
address to only one of them, Russian TV's "Vesti" reported. Yeltsin's address
to the congress of the Social Democratic Party was read by the president's
chief of staff, Sergei Filatov. The congress elected Aleksandr Yakovlev, the
Federal Broadcasting Service chairman, to lead the new party and former Moscow
KGB head Yevgeny Sevastyanov to be one of Yakovlev's five deputies. In an
interview with ITAR-TASS, Yakovlev, the architect of liberal reform under
former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, denied claims that the new political
group is in the pocket of the president. Yakovlev specifically named Yegor
Gaidar's Russia's Choice and Grigorii Yavlinsky's Democratic Alternative
parties as potential allies. At a similar founding congress, former Finance
Minister Boris Fedorov launched the new "Forward, Russia!" party. He also
pointed to Gaidar and Yavlinsky as potential partners. At the same time,
Fedorov identified "Forward, Russia!" as the party of democratic opposition to
Yeltsin. Meanwhile, State Duma member Viktor Kobelev founded a third new
political movement, Vozrozhdenie derzhavy (Revival of the Great Power),
to contest the coming elections, Interfax and AFP reported 18 February. Kobelev
was a former ally of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, but left his party after coming into
conflict with him. The leader of the new party rejected alliances with other
political groups because their platforms were too "dogmatic." The main plank of
the movement's platform is "to save and resurrect Russia." -- Julia Wishnevsky
and Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CONFERENCE ON LOCAL GOVERNMENT HELD.
A conference on local government
bringing together federal and provincial leaders took place in the Kremlin on
17 February, Interfax reported. President Yeltsin told the conference that "an
updated system of municipal self-rule will work for the territorial integrity
of Russia." In his speech, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that,
traditionally, local governments have been seen as extensions of the federal
authorities and that it will take many years to overcome that legacy. The
writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told the conference that local governments are
the key to Russia's future. He supported the sections of Yeltsin's draft
legislation that emphasize separating power between federal and local
authorities and granting the local governments financial independence. Deputy
Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai said Yeltsin will now set up a "public council"
to put together a final draft for consideration by parliament. Chuvash
President Nikolai Fedorov rejected a proposal to abolish the ethnic republics
advanced by a number of speakers, including Solzhenitsyn. Both Solzhenitsyn and
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov warned that it would not be wise to adopt a single
law on local government for both Russia's cities and rural areas. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
RIGHT-WING OFFICERS ASSEMBLY MEETS.
The ultra-nationalist and unofficial
"All-Russia Army Officers Assembly" opened its annual meeting on 18 February in
Moscow by singing both the Russian and Soviet national anthems and then
continuing with its usual attacks on the government, the defense minister, and
the West, Interfax reported. Retired Col.-Gen. Vladislav Achalov railed against
the media and the authors of "the uncountable number of books of reminiscences"
for revealing military secrets to the West--which he said was aiming to "weaken
the Russian military potential and obtain Russian know-how." He asked the 300
delegates to work out concrete measures that would "contribute to uniting the
aspirations of all patriotic forces in restoring the combat preparedness,
honor, and dignity of the Russian armed forces." Retired Gen. Valentin
Varennikov called for a law forbidding the use of the army in internal armed
conflicts. He charged that the military was being used as a scapegoat for the
failure of politicians to solve the crisis in Chechnya. On 19 February,
Stanislav Terekhov, leader of the Union of Officers, told Interfax that the
conference would become a permanent body which would "act for strengthening the
defense capacity of the country and unmask anti-national forces which destroyed
the USSR and are completing this process in Russia." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI,
BOOK ON SOVIET NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
President Yeltsin has signed a decree
calling for the publication of archive documents dealing with the history of
nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union, Interfax reported on 18 February. The
project "aims at reconstructing an objective picture of the emergence of the
national nuclear industry and the history of the creation of nuclear weapons in
the Soviet Union," according to the decree. The report said an unclassified
book would be published covering nuclear developments through 1954, but it did
not indicate when it would be available. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
CHUBAIS VOWS TO SLASH CREDITS TO AGRO-INDUSTRIAL SECTOR.
government intends to "stop or radically reduce the allocation of centralized
credits to the agro-industrial sector," First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly
Chubais said at a conference with leaders of territorial property management
committees, property funds, and bankruptcy agencies, Segodnya reported
on 18 February. Chubais said the process of crediting the countryside is
ineffective. "In receiving a credit, everybody understands that it can neither
be returned nor can interest be paid on it," he said. The minister noted that
assistance to the countryside must be provided, but in the shape of budget
financing and by introducing a special tax patterned after a value added tax.
-- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
CHUBAIS CALLS JANUARY FINANCIAL RESULTS "CATASTROPHIC."
Prime Minister Chubais called January's financial results "catastrophic" in a
speech before an expanded board meeting of the State Property Committee,
Segodnya reported on 17 February. Budget revenue was 6 trillion rubles
(4,314 rubles to $1) instead of the 13 trillion rubles planned. Chubais said
the main reasons for the crisis were the slow pace of cash privatization and
delays in IMF talks on a $6 billion loan which had been included in first
quarter budget revenues. The budget envisions the sale of state property to
generate 9.1 trillion rubles in revenue. In January, the proceeds amounted to
only 13 billion rubles. Chubais also noted that by the end of 1994,
privatization measures came to a virtual standstill and he called upon the
State Property Committee to move the process along. "The domestic economy will
not survive investment postponement for another year," he said. -- Thomas Sigel
, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN STOCK MARKET FACES CRISIS.
The Russian securities market has
been in crisis since the fall of 1994, Securities and Stock Market Commission
director Dmitry Vasilev said at a conference on 17 February, Interfax reported.
The director said the crisis was caused by low demand for Russian bonds and
securities which is linked to lack of consumer confidence due to imperfect
legislation regarding stock exchange operations. Neither the government nor
market agents have devised an effective market control mechanism. Vasilev also
said Russia's unfavorable economic situation and the Chechen crisis have
affected the bonds and securities market. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN ISSUES DECREE ON ADVERTISING.
President Yeltsin has issued a
decree barring the media from advertising alcohol, tobacco, and the services of
unregistered healers on the grounds that they pose a threat to public health,
Reuters reported on 18 February. Under the decree, media that break the law
will be sued and their revenues used to fund public health programs. In
December 1994 , the Duma passed a law on its first reading banning tobacco and
alcohol advertising. Public health has deteriorated rapidly in Russia in recent
years and life expectancy has fallen sharply, particularly for men. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
INDEPENDENT TRADE UNIONS TO FORM ELECTION ASSOCIATION.
The leadership of
the Russian Federation of Independent Trade Unions decided on 17 February to
set up an electoral association, called Trade Unions of Russia, and select
candidates for a federal list, Interfax reported. Federation chairman Mikhail
Shmakov said other unions might also join the association which would consider
entering into a coalition with the Agrarians, Communists, and the Socialist
Workers' Party. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
STRIKES INCREASE IN JANUARY.
There was a sharp increase in the number of
strikes this January in comparison with the same month in 1994, Radio Rossii
reported on 18 February. Strikes occurred at 95 organizations, mostly in the
education sector. The main reason for the industrial action was late payment of
wages. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
SECOND ROUND OF KYRGYZ ELECTIONS.
Despite the assassination of a
parliamentary candidate in Bishkek on 16 February and an appeal for a
postponement by representatives of the intelligentsia on 18 February, the
second round of parliamentary elections took place in Kyrgyzstan as scheduled
on 19 February, ITAR-TASS reported. Voter turnout was estimated at more than
60%. Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev admitted procedural violations,
characterizing the voting as "free and competitive but not absolutely honest,"
Interfax reported on 19 February. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATION IN ARMENIA.
Some 20,000 people attended a
protest meeting in Erevan on 18 February convened by the opposition "Alliance
for National Accord" to demand the resignation of President Levon
Ter-Petrossyan, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, 300 journalists from a number of
publications financed by the temporarily banned Dashnak Party continued to
demonstrate outside the president's official residence demanding that the ban
be lifted and that they be allowed to resume work. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER ON RUSSIAN-UKRAINIAN ACCORD.
Black Sea Fleet
commander Admiral Eduard Baltin said the treaty on Russian-Ukrainian friendship
and cooperation initialed in Kiev on 8 February did not resolve any issues
regarding the fleet, Ukrainian radio reported on 17 February citing an
interview in Slava Sevastopolya. While the agreement calls for future
meetings between Russian and Ukrainian delegations to resolve the division of
the fleet, Baltin said it does not commit either side to anything. Baltin also
criticized Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets who had initialed
the agreement, saying he led the talks badly and did not know the real state of
affairs within the fleet. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN-RUSSIAN MILITARY COOPERATION.
Ukrainian Defense Minister
Valerii Shmarov on 18 February met with a Russian military delegation headed by
Viktor Glukhikh, Ukrainian Radio reported. The two sides discussed joint
production of military hardware, including the TU-70 and TU-334 aircraft, and
the exchange of military information. They also signed an agreement on
military-technical cooperation and on setting up a financial group to be called
"International Aviamotors." Interfax reported on 17 February that Vyacheslav
Chrnovil, leader of the national-democratic Rukh, criticized Shmarov for
attempting to restore the ex-USSR military-industrial complex rather than
building a national one. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN NATIONAL BANK DELAYS FOREIGN CURRENCY BAN.
The National Bank
of Ukraine has deferred a measure aimed at restricting the use of foreign
currencies in local transactions, Interfax-Ukraine and AFP reported on 18
February. The government urged the bank to delay the move, announced in
November, in an effort to halt the rapid "dollarization" of the Ukrainian
economy. Ukrainian Deputy Premier Ihor Mityukov said the ban was still
necessary but that the government was not yet prepared for it. Experts believe
there are some $10 billion in circulation in Ukraine or hidden in private
savings. High inflation has significantly devalued the temporary Ukrainian
currency, the karbovanets--although it has remained stable since December,
trading at 130,000 and 145,000 karbovantsi to $1. Ukraine hopes to follow the
example of other former Soviet republics, such as Russia and the Baltic States,
which have banned the use of the dollar and other currencies in domestic
business. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUS BALKS AT FURTHER CFE CUTS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka on 17 February announced he has ordered the halting of the weapons
destruction mandated by the 1990 conventional armed forces treaty (CFE).
Interfax quotes him as saying he did not intend to destroy the country's armed
forces under the guise of reforming them. While Belarus has met the CFE's two
interim destruction quotas, it must destroy by 17 November 1995 more than 650
tanks, 500 armored fighting vehicles, and 50 combat aircraft in order to comply
with the treaty. Lukashenka said the desire of neighboring Poland and Lithuania
to join NATO is giving cause for concern. He also revealed he intends to have
closer contacts with the Russian armed forces, provided Belarusian troops are
not required to serve outside the country. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
SUNKEN FERRY "ESTONIA" TO BE PROTECTED.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry on
17 February said that Estonia, Finland, and Sweden are to ban access to the
ferry "Estonia," which sank off the Finnish coast on 28 September at a cost of
more than 900 lives, Reuters reported. The three countries will sign an
agreement stating that attempts to raise victims or objects from the ferry will
be punished. The statement says: "The spot is regarded as being the grave of
the victims which the governments wish to be respected as their place of
burial." -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT IN POLAND.
Algirdas Brazauskas told the Sejm on 17
February that distrust between Lithuania and Poland was fading into the past,
BNS reported. He said the "misunderstanding" over the Polish-Lithuanian border
"must be eliminated as soon as possible." He went on to propose the creation of
a common peacekeeping battalion and joint control of air space and sea borders.
President Lech Walesa and Brazauskas signed a declaration on cooperation to
improve bilateral relations. He also discussed with Senate President Adam
Struzik and Sejm speaker and prime minister candidate Josef Oleksy issues
relating to ethnic minorities in both countries. Brazauskas returned to Vilnius
on 18 February. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND, RUSSIA SIGN PIPELINE AGREEMENT.
An accord on the construction of
a $2.5 billion segment of a natural gas pipeline connecting Russia's Yamal
peninsula with Germany was the main fruit of Russian Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's visit to Warsaw on 18-19 February, Gazeta Wyborcza
reported. The visit, postponed repeatedly since May 1994, focused almost
exclusively on economic issues, although President Lech Walesa did use the
occasion to restate Poland's determination to join NATO. The pipeline agreement
guarantees Poland natural gas supplies until 2010. The Polish government will
reportedly cover $300-350 million of the costs and extend customs and tax
preferences on the import of building materials. The two sides agreed to
restrict to Polish firms the right to distribute gas in Poland and to allow
Russia to employ its own professionals in building the Polish segment.
Construction of the first 102 km begins in April. But the two sides failed to
sign planned agreements on weapons production and fishing in the Sea of
Ochotsk. Scattered demonstrations against the Chechen war were held in Warsaw
during the visit. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE REACHES PARLIAMENT.
The coalition parties
submitted a constructive no-confidence motion, signed by 111 deputies, on 17
February, Rzeczpospolita reported. According to the constitution, the
vote may take place no sooner than seven days after the motion is tabled. The
Sejm could debate the motion during its 1-3 March session, but Sejm speaker and
prime minister candidate Jozef Oleksy told reporters the vote would be
scheduled only if the composition of the new cabinet were settled beforehand.
Oleksy met again with President Lech Walesa on 18 February, but no agreement
was reached on the defense and foreign affairs posts. Walesa warned that he
will take "tough decisions" if the formation of the new cabinet drags on too
long. Rzeczpospolita reported that conflict has erupted within the
Democratic Left Alliance over Oleksy's plans to retain Wieslaw Kaczmarek as
privatization minister. There is also an internal dispute within the Polish
Peasant Party over Oleksy's determination to remove both Foreign Trade Minister
Leslaw Podkanski and Agriculture Minister Andrzej Smietanko. -- Louisa Vinton,
HAVEL ON CZECH-GERMAN RELATIONS.
Czech President Vaclav Havel,
addressing a 17 February seminar on Czech-German relations, argued that the
time has come for the Czech Republic and Germany to stop issuing apologies and
sending "bills for historical grievances." He said both sides should cease
demanding war and post-war damages, with the exception of compensation for
Czech victims of the Nazi regime. He argued against linking such historical
events as the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and the post-war expulsion of
Sudeten Germans with contemporary political and legal issues. Both Czech Prime
Minister Vaclav Klaus and Foreign Affairs Minister Jozef Zieleniec welcomed
Havel's speech. But Franz Neubauer, the leader of the largest Sudeten German
organization in Germany, said Sudeten Germans were disappointed with Havel's
speech because "while until now he has rejected [the principle of] collective
guilt as inhuman and unjust, he is now essentially making a large part of the
Sudeten Germans jointly responsible for their expulsion." -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI,
SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY VOTES FOR CONTINUITY.
The post-communist Party
of the Democratic Left held its third congress on 18-19 February in Poprad.
Despite the party's poor performance in last fall's parliamentary elections, in
which it won only 13 seats, Peter Weiss was re-elected as chairman, with 53.91%
of the vote, Narodna obroda reports. Brigita Schmoegnerova was elected
deputy chairwoman for economic and social policy, beating former Economy
Minister Peter Magvasi. Milan Ftacnik, Pavol Kanis, Viliam Sopka, and Juraj
Horvath were elected deputy chairmen. The victory of Weiss, Ftacnik, and
Schmoegnerova shows that the PDL remains committed to strengthening its
position as a modern social democratic party. It is expected that the PDL will
be admitted to the Socialist Internationale next year. Schmoegnerova said the
party is now preparing a shadow cabinet. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK JOURNALISTS PROTEST REMOVAL OF COLLEAGUE.
from Slovak Radio have sent a letter to Slovak Radio director Jan Tuzinsky
protesting the recent dismissal of Washington correspondent Peter Suska.
Tuzinsky, a parliament deputy for the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia,
claimed the decision was economic, not political. But the letter, published in
Sme on 18 February, maintains the decision is not only political but
also "endangers the independence of Slovak broadcasting" and contravenes the
constitution. The journalists claim that Suska was removed because of his
criticism of the Slovak delegation's performance at the trade and investment
conference in Cleveland, Ohio, in mid-January. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN DIES IN ARMED RIOT IN MACEDONIA.
One ethnic Albanian died and
28 people were wounded, including nine policemen, when shots were exchanged
during clashes between ethnic Albanians and Macedonian police in Mala Recica,
near Tetovo, on 17 February, Nasa Borba reported on 20 February. The
riots followed a police crackdown on the self-proclaimed Albanian-language
university in Tetovo, which opened on 16 February. The riots began the next day
when some 200 ethnic Albanians tried to force their way into the university
building. Witnesses and official reports say the first shots were fired by the
protesters. The rector of the university, Fadil Sulejmani, and a leader of the
Forum for the Defense of Human Rights were arrested the same day. The funeral
of 33-year-old Abduseljan Emini on 19 February was attended by about 10,000
people and took place without incident. After the funeral, a group of youths
marched to the police station to demand the release of Sulejmani, but they
dispersed after one of their leaders appealed to them to avoid excesses,
international agencies reported on 17 and 18 February. Sulejmani had warned of
armed clashes before the university opened. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ETHNIC ALBANIAN POLITICIANS ON TETOVO RIOT.
Following his meeting with
Macedonian Prime Minister Branko Crvenkovski on 18 February, the leader of the
Party for Democratic Prosperity (the largest ethnic Albanian party in
Macedonia) said a compromise over Albanian-language higher education can be
found. But Menduh Thaci, an independent parliament deputy and leader of a group
that split away from the PPD, denounced the police violence, saying neither the
government nor the Macedonian intellectuals have "a minimum of understanding"
for the Albanians' demands. Thaci called on Albania and international
organizations for assistance. In an interview with Deutsche Welle's
Albanian-language service on 19 February, he claimed that pro-Serbian forces
were behind the clashes. Flaka on 20 February reported that policemen
painted the symbol meaning "only force saves the Serbs" on the university
building during the raids. The Interior Ministry, however, denied Albanian
claims at a press conference on 18 February that Serbian police were involved
in the clashes. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
INTERNATIONAL REACTIONS TO TETOVO CLASHES.
The UNPROFOR representative
in Skopje, Hugo Anson, said the UN peacekeeping forces deeply regretted the
violence in Tetovo and urged ethnic Albanians and the Macedonian government "to
continue the path of dialogue, goodwill, compromise, and restraint," AFP
reported on 18 February. He added that the UN Security Council is committed to
ensuring respect for the "sovereignty and territorial integrity" of Macedonia
and asked all citizens to regard themselves foremost as Macedonian citizens
"and only afterwards as members of various ethnic groups." The Albanian
government condemned the shooting as a "criminal act of violence . . . which
does not serve the too-fragile stability in the region," Reuters reported,
citing a declaration read on Albanian Television and Radio Tirana. "The terror
exercised against Albanians and the killing of a demonstrator shows the
existence of an anti-Albanian police state [in Macedonia]," the statement said.
-- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
MILOSEVIC REFUSES TO TRADE BORDER RECOGNITION FOR SANCTIONS LIFTING.
Nasa Borba on 20 February reports that Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic, during three-day talks with Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev,
categorically refused to recognize Croatia's and Bosnia and Herzegovina's
borders in exchange for the suspension of most UN-imposed sanctions against the
rump Yugoslavia. Kozyrev, for his part, had arrived in Belgrade openly
sympathetic to the president's position. The two leaders issued a statement on
19 February saying "the lifting of sanctions is the first essential step that
needs to be taken toward a definitive solution to the Yugoslav crisis." Kozyrev
openly criticized Western nations for what he called their "haggling" over
peace in the former Yugoslavia. He urged that Milosevic's peace initiatives be
rewarded with the prior lifting of economic sanctions, AFP reported. Kozyrev
and Milosevic met in Karadjordjevo, about 100 km north of Belgrade, from 17-19
February, following proposals by the Contact Group that the economic boycott
against rump Yugoslavia be suspended if Belgrade recognizes Croatia and Bosnia
and Herzegovina in their present borders. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
LOCAL MEDIA ON KOZYREV-MILOSEVIC MEETING.
Serbian authorities on 18
February slapped a media blackout on the Milosevic-Kozyrev talks. But Reuters
reported the same day that Serbia's state-run media openly scorned any
suggestions that Belgrade extend recognition to Croatia and Bosnia and
Herzegovina in exchange for the suspension of sanctions against rump
Yugoslavia. The state-run daily Borba rejected outright the idea that
recognition could be the first step toward solving regional problems, noting
that "the diplomatic table is burdened with problems that would have to be
solved in advance [of recognition]." Reuters also reported that the Bosnian
Serb leadership on 17 February was planning to propose that Milosevic press
ahead with the "unification of all Serbs." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
OTHER DIPLOMATIC DEVELOPMENTS IN THE YUGOSLAV AREA.
reported on 18 February that Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, at a meeting
with U.S. Contact Group representative Robert Frasure, said fears of new
fighting are unfounded, despite Croatia's decision that UNPROFOR must leave by
30 June. Frasure repeated American warnings that Zagreb's policy is foolhardy
since it places too much hope on a deal with Milosevic and excessive confidence
in the Croatian military. Meanwhile, at the U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein,
Germany, the UN commander in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lt.-Gen. Rupert Smith,
participated in NATO exercises to simulate the possible evacuation of UNPROFOR
from Bosnia. On a more optimistic note, Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic
told an international audience about his plans for the economic development of
his embattled republic. His government has given priority to foreign backing
for some 400 private and state enterprises dealing with infrastructure and
basic necessities. The goal is to replace relief aid as soon as possible. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION OF ROMANIA ABOUT TO SPLIT?
The main umbrella
organization uniting Romania's centrist opposition appears on the verge of
splitting after decisions taken by the organization's council on 17 February,
Radio Bucharest and Romanian Television reported the same day. The council
rejected proposals submitted by the Party of Civic Alliance, the Romanian
Social Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party '93 that the DCR be restructured
to distinguish it from its member parties and civic movements. The council also
decided that member parties, with the exception of the Hungarian Democratic
Federation of Romania, must run joint lists in the 1996 local and general
elections and back the same candidate in the presidential elections. Finally,
the council demanded that the HDFR explicitly state its respect for the
country's constitution, including the provision defining Romania as a "unitary
and national state." The HDFR, the PCA, the RSDP, and the LP '93
representatives refused to sign the modified protocol, prompting DCR President
Emil Constantinescu to say the implication is that the four parties "are no
longer active in the DCR." But he added that the parties' leaders have 30 days
in which to change their minds. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVA SETS DATE FOR GAGAUZ REFERENDUM.
Moldovan Prime Minister Andrei
Sangheli told Interfax on 17 February that the referendum among residents
wanting to join the Gagauz autonomous region will be held on 5 March. Sangheli
said the areas in which the referendum is to be held will be determined by a
government commission headed by Deputy Prime Minister Valeriu Bulgari. He also
said the elections for a Gagauz assembly will take place in May. The Moldovan
parliament approved in December limited autonomy for the Gagauz minority.
Villages in which the Gagauz make up more than half of the population will
automatically become part of the autonomous region. The referendum is designed
to help determine which other areas become part of that region. -- Michael
Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave