CRIME CONTROL DEBATED FOLLOWING LISTEV'S MURDER.
In the wake of the
murder of Vladislav Listev, the Security Council is meeting on 6 March to
discuss ways to tackle organized crime and corruption, which even President
Boris Yeltsin has acknowledged is pervasive in Russian political and economic
life, agencies reported. Yeltsin has also urged the State Duma to quickly
approve the draft law on organized crime, scheduled to receive its third
reading later in March, according to a 3 March RFE/RL correspondent's report.
-- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN TO LET PONOMAREV STAY?
According to NTV, quoting unnamed Kremlin
sources, President Yeltsin has decided to let Moscow Prosecutor Gennady
Ponomarev and Moscow MVD chief Vladimir Pankratov -- who were dismissed
following Listev's assassination -- stay on if they meet an unspecified
deadline for solving the case. In a 2 March speech, Yeltsin had blamed
Ponomarev for failing to stop the mafia's growing power in Moscow. Meanwhile,
employees of the Moscow Prosecutor's Office held a meeting on 3 March to
protest Ponomarev's imminent dismissal, Interfax reported. In a message to
Yeltsin and parliamentary leaders, the prosecutor's office employees said that
firing Ponomarev "will not only fail to help the [Listev] investigation, but
will play into the hands of the forces destabilizing legal order." Moscow Mayor
Yuri Luzhkov called Yeltsin's order an emotional reaction to the killing,
because firing Ponomarev would only be welcomed by gangsters, Interfax reported
on 4 March. Duma deputies of various political orientations have defended
Ponomarev, charging that he has been made into a scapegoat for the journalist's
assassination and other problems in the prosecutor's office. Ponomarev himself
was not present at his colleagues' protest, but has said that after crimes such
as Listev's murder, "someone" should resign. -- Penny Morvant and Laura Belin,
THOUSANDS ATTEND LISTEV FUNERAL.
Many of Russia's top political figures,
including Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov, First Deputy Premier Oleg
Soskovets, and Duma Deputy Speaker Artur Chilingarov, attended Listev's
funeral, Interfax reported on 3 March. The public funeral was held at
Ostankino's concert studio, and the line of people wishing to pay their last
respects to the popular television journalist stretched for two kilometers
outside the building. The funeral had to be postponed for several hours after
an anonymous caller threatened to blow up the studio. (No bomb was found on the
premises.) Listev was buried next to the legendary Russian folk singer Vladimir
Vysotsky at Moscow's Vagankovo Cemetery. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
Talks in Ingushetia between Chechen military leaders
and Russia's administrator for Chechnya, Nikolai Semenov, on implementing a
conditional ceasefire agreement failed to take place as arranged on 4 March,
Western agencies reported. An Ingush official told Interfax that Russian
commanders had prevented the Chechen delegation from attending. Meanwhile
Russian troops strengthened their hold over southern Chechnya on 3 March and on
4-5 March intensified artillery bombardment of the towns of Samashki and Argun
where Chechen forces are concentrated, Western agencies reported. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA HINDERS OSCE MISSION.
An OSCE diplomat has accused Russia of
hindering the organization's latest mission to Chechnya, AFP reported on 3
March. He said, "The mission was taken for a ride" by the Russians. The mission
could not travel to Dagestan or Igushetia to investigate the refugee situation
there. The OSCE press release stated, "The mission's findings confirmed the
seriousness of the human rights situation. It also confirmed that the most
urgent problems are the distribution of relief goods and [Red Cross] access to
Chechnya, the security of the civilian population, and refugee problems. The
mission believes the fundamental issue remains a negotiated ceasefire as the
condition for any substantial improvement." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
GENERAL WHO HALTED ADVANCE IS PROMOTED.
The commanding officer of the
76th Guards Airborne Division, Maj.-Gen. Ivan Babichev, has been promoted to
head an army corps, ITAR-TASS reported on 3 March. Babichev gained notoriety
last December during the Russian attack on Grozny by halting the column he was
leading when confronted by Chechen civilians. Western agencies reported him as
saying he would not fire on civilians and telling the crowd that the military
operation violated the constitution. Babichev, however, soon ordered his troops
to continue their advance, and played a key role in the capture of Grozny. --
Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
ARMY BACK IN COMMAND OF FORCES IN CHECHNYA.
Col.-Gen. Anatoly Kvashin,
the newly-appointed commander of the North Caucasus Military District, has been
placed in command of the Russian armed forces in Chechnya, ITAR-TASS reported
on 3 March, quoting a spokesman at the press center of the joint federal forces
headquarters. On 1 February, the post had been turned over to General Alexander
Kulikov, commander of the Russian Interior Troops. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RADIO STATION EMPLOYEE KILLED IN PRIMORSKY KRAI.
The body of radio
engineer Igor Kaverin was found on the morning of 3 March in Primorsky Krai,
Interfax reported. He was an employee of Free Nakhodka. Police said he was shot
at point blank range and that they are seeking three 23- to 25-year-old men as
the suspected assassins. Kaverin's murder is the second serious crime against
media personnel in the Primorsky Krai in the last six months. -- Robert
Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
DEMOCRATIC LEADERS CONCERNED ABOUT ELECTIONS.
Boris Fedorov, leader of
the new Forward Russia party, called for a congress of democratic forces to
work out common election tactics and agree on forming a coalition government
after the elections, Interfax reported. Fedorov said he has long supported such
a congress because a split in the democrats on the eve of the elections could
lead to the restoration of dictatorship. Yegor Gaidar, Russia's Choice leader,
has also called for such a coalition on numerous occasions. Speaking in Omsk on
3 March, Gaidar said he is worried about the elections and that it is difficult
to predict their outcome, since "Russia has come to reconsider its priorities
every now and then." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHINA TO BUY MORE RUSSIAN SUBMARINES.
China has agreed to buy six
Russian Kilo-class diesel powered submarines in addition to four others it
recently acquired, the Hong Kong South Morning Post reported on 4 March.
The paper quoted Beijing sources as saying the two countries had also finished
preliminary discussions on the Chinese purchase of an additional 12 Russian
submarines during the next five years. Western officials had voiced concern
after the first submarine sale that Russia was upsetting the naval balance in
the region. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
FOOD CRISIS MUST BE RESOLVED.
The Russian food crisis must be resolved
immediately, Deputy Premier Alexei Bolshakov told Interfax on 3 March.
Bolshakov said the government was taking all necessary measures to create a
steady supply of food, develop a network of wholesale food markets, and restore
relations with the CIS countries. According to Russian Trade Committee
statistics, the production of meat fell 25% in 1994 against 1993, dairy
products by 17%, butter by 33%, sugar by 36%, and flour by 14%. The
agricultural sector is unable to meet the consumption needs of the population.
As a result, the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations reported the nation had
to import three times more meat and fish in 1994 than in 1993, 4.3 times more
poultry, and two times more milk powder. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN WON'T VISIT AUSTRIA.
The Russian ambassador to Austria, Valery
Popov, announced on 3 March that President Yeltsin will not visit Austria in
April as previously planned, Reuters reported. Popov said Yeltsin would be too
busy for a visit in April. The Austrian president had invited Yeltsin, along
with leaders of the US, Britain, and France, to Vienna to celebrate the 50th
anniversary of the founding of the second Austrian republic. However, Russia
had come under fire from Austrian politicians over Chechnya and its demand that
Austria reaffirm its neutral status. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
GENERAL GROMOV IN JAPAN.
In his first trip as the Foreign Ministry's
military expert, Deputy Defense Minister Col.-Gen. Boris Gromov took part in
the first high-level bilateral military talks between Russia and Japan on 3
March in Tokyo, ITAR-TASS reported. Gromov was a member of the delegation led
by Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev. Gromov said Russia had offered Japan a long
list of cooperative measures, including invitations to military exercises,
personnel exchanges, aircraft overflights, and joint naval maneuvers and port
visits. He said the main purpose of those initiatives was to "contribute, with
due account of our agreements with the United States and China, to the . . .
security of the Asia-Pacific region." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV: DISCUSSES KOREA, CHECHNYA IN JAPAN.
During his visit to Japan
on 3-4 March, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said Russia should supply
light-water nuclear reactors to North Korea as part of a program to allow
inspections of its nuclear facilities, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 March. North
Korea has rejected the proposal that South Korea supply the reactors.
Meanwhile, Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono told Kozyrev that Japan will
provide $500,000 to Russia for assistance to Chechen refugees. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL ASIAN STATES MEET OVER ARAL CRISIS.
At a one-day summit in
Dashkhovua, Turkmenistan to discuss ways to alleviate the shrinking of the Aral
Sea, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev chided the other Central Asian states
for a lack of effort, Reuters reported on 3 March. He said the international
community has done its part, but that Central Asia has only paid 15% of its
capital pledge into a fund for saving the Aral Sea. He noted that Kazakhstan
has paid 30% of its initial pledge, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan 2%, and
Turkmenistan and Tajikistan nothing at all. The meeting was to have been held
at the CIS summit last month, but was put off because Turkmenistan's President
Saparmural Niyazov failed to show up. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
CEASEFIRE EXTENDED IN TAJIKISTAN.
Representatives of the Tajik
opposition, the UN, and the OSCE held talks in Islamabad on 3 March to discuss
the venue for the fourth round of UN sponsored talks on a settlement of the
civil war, a Radio Liberty correspondent reported. In a 3 March interview with
Interfax, the head of the Tajik opposition Islamic Revival Movement, Akbar
Turadzhonzoda, said he did not recognize the 27 February elections as valid. He
denied aspiring to seize power in Tajikistan and proposed that power be
transferred to a new state council representing both the present leadership and
the opposition. On 4 March, Turadzhonzoda sent a letter to the UN announcing
that the ceasefire agreed to in September 1994 would be extended until 26
April, AFP reported on 4 March. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
MKHEDRIONI STRIKES AGAIN.
Georgian parliament chairman Eduard
Shevardnadze has demanded "severe punishment" for some 200 members of the
paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni who briefly occupied the mayor's office in
Rustavi on 3 March, Interfax reported on 5 March. The group was protesting
planned measures to prevent the illegal extortion of motor vehicle drivers in
transit through southern Georgia to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Mkhedrioni is
reportedly deeply involved in the extortion. Shevardnadze stated that such
actions undermine Georgia's statehood and could jeopardize parliamentary
elections scheduled for autumn 1995. On 2 March, the Tbilisi deputy police
chief was shot dead by a subordinate, according to AFP. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI,
FIRST STEP TOWARDS CIS AIR DEFENSE SYSTEM.
Georgian parliament chairman
Eduard Shevardnadze held talks in Tbilisi with the chairman of the CIS
Committee on Air Defense, Col.-Gen. Viktor Prudnikov, on 4 March, Interfax
reported. They discussed how to develop the Georgian air defense system in
light of an agreement reached at the CIS summit in February. The Georgian
Defense Ministry said earlier that the Georgian air defense system had fallen
apart after the Russians left and much of the equipment was stolen. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT ELECTIONS: SWING FROM THE RIGHT.
of the Estonian parliament elections on 5 March indicate that the governing
right-of-center Pro Patria was severely defeated by more leftist parties,
Western agencies report on 6 March. Official results will be announced on 8
March, but the division of mandates in the 101-seat parliament already seems to
have been determined. The clear winner is the Coalition Party and Rural Union
(CPRU), with 41 seats. The Reform Party has 19 seats; the Center Party 17; Pro
Patria seven; and the Moderates, the Rightists, and the Russian-speakers'
coalition "Our Home Is Estonia" six each. Coalition Party chairman Tiit Vahi
appears to be the future prime minister, but the CPRU will have to form a
coalition either with the Reform or Center Parties or with two of the other
winning parties. Nine parties and coalitions did not gain the required 5% of
the vote to obtain seats. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH SEJM APPROVES NEW GOVERNMENT.
The Sejm on 4 March voted by 272 to
99 with 13 abstentions to approve the cabinet and government program presented
by Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. President Lech
Walesa, who must still formally appoint the government, did not attend the Sejm
session devoted to debate on the new cabinet, but its composition is a clear
victory for him. The ruling coalition opted in the end to accept his candidates
for the three "presidential" ministries: Andrzej Milczanowski (internal
affairs), Wladyslaw Bartoszewski (foreign affairs), and Zbigniew Okonski
(defense). Two factors prompted the coalition's decision to back down: the
president's evident determination to have his way (as demonstrated in his
rejection of all candidates proposed by Oleksy) and the coalition parties'
assumption that presidential elections in October or November would remove
Walesa. Oleksy, in his address to the Sejm on 3 March, appealed to the
president to sign the 1995 budget. He pledged to cooperate with Walesa but also
warned that the government could not be divided "into so-called presidential
ministries or ministries belonging to one party or another." The new
government's priorities, as listed by Oleksy, include strict budgetary
discipline, fighting unemployment, rapid privatization, and pension and health
insurance reform. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
VETERANS DOMINATE POLISH CABINET.
Although party proportions remain
roughly the same, the new lineup suggests that government policy may be more
coherent and less oriented to the demands of the farmers' lobby. The new
agriculture minister, Roman Jagielinski, is viewed within his own Polish
Peasant Party (PSL) as a "landlord" (that is, a proponent of efficient
large-scale farming, rather than small peasant holdings). Former Finance
Minister Marek Borowski will head the public administration. The old Democratic
Left Alliance (SLD) economic team remains largely intact. Grzegorz Kolodko
stays on as finance minister, as do Wieslaw Kaczmarek as privatization
minister, Leszek Miller as labor minister, and Barbara Blida as construction
minister. Former communist youth activist Jerzy Jaskiernia takes over as
justice minister from Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz, who was elected deputy speaker
of the Sejm. Jozef Zych of the PSL was voted Sejm speaker to replace Oleksy.
New faces in the government include the PSL's Klemens Scierski (manager of a
Katowice power plant) as industry minister and former Deputy Health Minister
Jacek Buchacz (PSL) as foreign trade minister, replacing the discredited Leslaw
Podkanski. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE RESISTS G7 PRESSURE ON CHORNOBYL.
Following three days of talks
in Kiev between G7 and Ukrainian officials on the future of the Chornobyl
nuclear power station, Ukraine is still refusing to close down the plant, AFP
reported on 3 March. The G7 promised in July 1994 to provide $800 million to
help Ukraine shut Chornobyl. Kiev has argued that the sum is insufficient and
says it cannot close Chornobyl's Nos. 1 and 3 reactors until alternative energy
supplies are secured. The oldest reactor, No. 2, is to be brought back into
service in 1996. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ihor Mityukov said
Ukraine will repay a 1992 EU loan worth $35 million to buy medicine, Interfax
reported on 4 March. The EU sent a letter in mid-February to the Ukrainian
Finance Ministry demanding payments on the credit. Failure to make those
payments would have jeopardized a new 85 million ecu ($111 million) credit from
the EU. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
NEWS FROM BELARUSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY.
Interfax on 3 March reported that
deputy Uladzimir Hribanau has voiced concern over the fact that not a single
diplomat on the staff of the Belarusian embassy in Russia is a Belarusian
citizen. Hribanau said the problem stems from legislation on foreigners and
state-less persons adopted in 1991. Stateless people continue to hold high
positions, even though this contravenes the constitution. Hribanau went on to
say that the current state of affairs explains why "Russia handles Belarus as
part of itself." Meanwhile, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has
issued a decree appointing four non-Foreign Ministry officials as ambassadors,
Belarusian Radio reported the same day. The first deputy parliament speaker and
head of the Belarusian Socialist Party, Vyacheslau Kuznyatsou, was named
ambassador to China; Mayor of Minsk Alyaksandr Heramsimenka, ambassador to
Bulgaria; deputy Mikalai Vaitsyankou, ambassador to the Czech Republic; and the
chairman of the Mahileu Regional Council, Mikalai Hrineu, ambassador to
Moldova. Deputy Foreign Minister Pyotr Belyayeu said he saw no problem with the
appointment of non-professional diplomats, since there was a shortage of
trained career diplomats in Belarus. He also said the appointments corrected
several anomalies, citing the fact that since early 1992, Belarus has had no
ambassador to China even though the Chinese have had representatives in Minsk.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
KALVODA RE-ELECTED DESPITE SCANDALS.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Jan
Kalvoda was re-elected chairman of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA) at its
4-5 March congress, Lidove noviny reported. As sole candidate for the
post, Kalvoda received 174 of the 231 votes. The only changes in the party
leadership were the election of Privatization Minister Jiri Skalicky as a
deputy chairman and the failure of two incumbent deputy chairmen to retain
their posts. Several delegates criticized the way Kalvoda and other party
leaders have handled various issues, including repayment of the ODA's 52
million koruny debt to a now-bankrupt bank and Kalvoda's public assertions that
the secret service (BIS) illegally spied on his and other parties. Those
assertions have not been proved. During the month after the BIS affair broke,
the ODA, a junior partner in the four-party coalition government, lost almost
one-third of its support among voters. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PRESIDENT ACCEPTS RESIGNATION OF INTELLIGENCE DIRECTOR.
Kovac has accepted the resignation of Slovak Information Service Director
Vladimir Mitro, despite the fact that a new director has not yet been named,
Sme reported on 5 March. Several members of the government parties have
announced support for a proposal that would shift the power to appoint and
remove the SIS director from the president to the cabinet. Slovak Prime
Minister Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak Radio on 3 March, said "it would
be correct if the control and guarantee of impartiality were governed by the
cabinet, which is under the control of the parliament and not the president,
who considers himself an individual beyond the control of the parliament." He
added that "the system of control through the government would be significantly
more democratic and safe." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PREMIER WILLING TO NEGOTIATE ON MOCHOVCE . . .
during a one-day visit to Vienna on 3 March, said he is prepared to discuss
alternatives to completing Slovakia's nuclear plant at Mochovce, which is
already 80% finished, AFP and Reuters reported. His statement came after
Austrian Chancellor Franz Vranitzsky offered Slovakia 500 million schillings
($50 million) to convert the plant into a gas-powered facility. Meciar called
the offer inadequate, noting that "it would take three to four gas-powered
plants to replace Mochovce," and said if the other options are found
unacceptable, the plant at Mochovce will be completed. Austria is worried about
safety at the new plant and has strongly opposed its completion, causing
friction in otherwise good bilateral relations. Meciar noted that the problem
of Mochovce will not disrupt Slovak-Austrian relations and that the visit
helped "strengthen mutual trust," TASR reported. The EBRD is expected to decide
by the end of March whether to offer Slovakia a DM 412 million ($274 million)
loan to help complete Mochovce. The European Parliament on 16 February voted to
suspend funds to complete the project. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AS PROTESTS AGAINST THE PLANT GROW.
Austrian and Slovak
environmentalists on 4 March stretched a 70 kilometer-long banner from
Bratislava's main square to Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral, TASR and dpa
reported. The banner contained the signatures of some 1.2 million citizens
opposed to the completion of the Mochovce plant. Protesters then delivered a
letter to the French Embassy in Bratislava, urging French investors to consider
backing alternative energy projects. (The plant is being constructed by
Slovensky Elektrarne and Electricite de France.) Meanwhile, returning on 3
March from a two-day visit to the U.S., Austrian Environmental Minister Maria
Rauch-Kallat said the U.S. Department of Energy has promised to intervene to
delay the EBRD's decision on granting the loan for Mochovce. -- Sharon Fisher,
HUNGARIAN ORGANIZATIONS ON BASIC TREATIES.
The World Federation of
Hungarians, together with representatives of the Hungarian minorities in
Romania and Slovakia, has called on the Hungarian government to sign only
treaties with Romania and Slovakia that guarantee "administrative autonomy" for
Hungarian-populated areas, MTI reported. The Hungarian Democratic Federation of
Romania and the Hungarian Coalition in Slovakia said the basic treaties should
be approved by ethnic Hungarians living in those countries. They stressed that
reconciliation between peoples was impossible without guarantees of minority
rights. The WFH warned that "bad or hasty" treaties would stand in the way of
solving the problems of ethnic Hungarians. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS PLAY CAT-AND-MOUSE WITH UN AID CONVOYS.
reported on 5 March that Bosnian Serbs let through a convoy with 30 tons of
food to peacekeepers in the besieged enclave of Srebrenica, in eastern Bosnia.
The 500 or so Dutch UNPROFOR troops had run out of food in the UN-declared
"safe area." But the Serbs did not let a medical convoy pass. Nor have Serbs or
Muslim rebels allowed any relief vehicles through to Bihac, in western Bosnia,
where some 200,000 people are threatened by starvation. News agencies on 4
March quoted a UN spokesman as urging the combatants to show "maximum
restraint" toward civilians and peacekeepers. He also said that the
organization will not tolerate the Serb blockade against Srebrenica, Zepa, and
Gorazde. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
MACEDONIA TO RECEIVE $42.5 MILLION FROM EBRD.
Macedonia and the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed a loan agreement in Ohrid on 4
March, Vecher reported. Macedonia will receive $42.5 million over the
next ten years to modernize its telecommunications system. Ivan Ginovski,
director of the Macedonian Post and Telecommunications Company, said some
340,000 new telephone lines will be installed and 100,000 old telephones
replaced. Finance Minister Jane Miljovski was cited as saying he is pleased
that the EBRD is helping Macedonia "at one of the most difficult moments." --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVENIAN-ITALIAN RELATIONS IMPROVING.
AFP on 4 March reported that
Slovenian Foreign Minister Zoran Thaler has welcomed a decision by Rome,
announced the previous day by Italian Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli, to drop
its veto against Slovenian attempts to negotiate associate member status in the
European Union. The news agency quoted one unnamed Slovenian Foreign Ministry
source as saying the Italian government's decision will help lay the foundation
for "a positive and relaxed atmosphere" in which, it this hoped, both parties
will be able to advocate "balanced solutions to problems." -- Stan Markotich,
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM?
Ion Iliescu, on the occasion
of his 65th birthday, said that he has no intention yet "to lay down arms" and
that he "felt duty-bound to the country" to "stay true for the rest of my life"
to his "publicly expressed credo," the independent daily Evenimentul
zilei reported on 4 March. Those remarks may have been an allusion to his
intention to run for an additional term in 1996. Adrian Nastase, the executive
president of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, was quoted by
Evenimentul zilei as saying that the party's presidential candidate in
the next elections will again be Iliescu. But it is unclear whether Iliescu's
candidacy would be constitutional. The basic law, approved in a December 1991
referendum, limits the presidential terms to two; Iliescu served as elected
president between 1990 and 1992 and was re-elected to that post in 1992.
Proponents of Iliescu's third candidacy claim the provision should not apply
retroactively to the approval of the constitution. Some 2,000 people, including
leaders of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, came to the
presidential palace on 3 March to congratulate Iliescu. The celebrations were
covered extensively by Romanian Television. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK LOAN TO ROMANIA CONTINGENT ON PRIVATIZATION.
Hartman, the World Bank representative in Bucharest, told a press conference on
3 March that the second installment of a loan to Romania will be released only
if privatization is accelerated, the independent daily Romania libera
and international media reported on 4 March. Hartman said the World bank
was eager to see what results from the current debate in the parliament on the
privatization bill. But she added that the mere passage of the law will not be
enough and that the bank wants assurances in the form of "concrete mechanisms"
to achieve privatization targets. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
MOLDOVAN GAGAUZ REFERENDUM.
Preliminary results of the 5 March
referendum in five Moldovan districts on whether to become part of the Gagauz
autonomous region suggest that not only the Gagauz but also other ethnic groups
voted in favor of joining, international agencies reported. Moldovan Radio said
voter turnout was 79%, exceeding the required 60%. The final results are
expected on 6 March. Villages in which the Gagauz make up more than half of the
population will automatically become part of the autonomous region, whose
creation was approved by the parliament in December 1994. The referendum, which
was monitored by observers from the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and Turkey, is
to determine which other areas become part of that region. -- Michael Shafir,
ALBANIAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY LEADER SACKED.
Eduard Selami was dismissed at
the Democratic Party's extraordinary party congress on 5 March, AFP reported
the next day. President Sali Berisha had called for his dismissal, saying that
Selami had "obstructed" party policy. Selami had demanded that the posts of
party leader and prime minister be combined, arguing that the government was
not properly implementing the party program. He had also opposed Berisha by
demanding that the new Albanian constitution be adopted by the parliament and
not through a referendum. An earlier referendum in November 1994 was defeated.
Meanwhile, a committee composed of representatives of the Socialist Party, the
Social Democratic Party, Aleanca Demokratike, and the Party for Human
Rights has published a proposal for a new Albanian constitution, the
Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported on 2 March. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
GREECE DROPS VETO AGAINST EU-TURKEY CUSTOMS UNION.
Greece on 3 March
announced that it has lifted its veto against a customs union between the EU
and Turkey, Reuters reported the same day. Greek government spokesman Evangelos
Venizelos said Greece was ready to accept the agreement because all EU members
are committed to starting membership talks between the union and Cyprus six
months after an intergovernment meeting scheduled for 1996. Greek European
Affairs Minister Georgios-Alexandros Mangakis was quoted as saying that "the
agreement satisfies Greek demands" and that the government of the Republic of
Cyprus, "as the sole voice of the Cypriot people, including the Turkish
Cypriots, has the responsibility to negotiate Cyprus's entry [into the EU]."
Under the agreement, another Greek condition for lifting the veto, namely
financial support for its textile industry, will be examined in 1996. -- Stefan
Krause, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave