LUZHKOV THREATENS TO RESIGN.
Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov has threatened to
resign unless President Boris Yeltsin reinstates Moscow Prosecutor Gennady
Ponomarev and Moscow police chief Vladimir Pankratov, news agencies reported.
Yeltsin fired the city's top law-enforcement officials on 2 March in response
to the assassination of television journalist Vladislav Listev, and the
Security Council endorsed the dismissals unanimously on 7 March. In a televised
interview the same day, Luzhkov claimed the purge was in fact aimed at him
personally, leaving him no choice but to resign. Luzhkov is far more popular
than Yeltsin in Moscow. However, Yeltsin has made the dismissals a centerpiece
of his plan to restore order in the city. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
SECURITY COUNCIL WANTS MORE MONEY TO FIGHT CRIME.
Secretary Oleg Lobov told reporters on 7 March that funding the fight against
crime was the main topic discussed at the council's session the previous day,
agencies reported. He said the country needs 1 trillion rubles to combat
organized crime and corruption rather than the 500 billion rubles allocated in
the draft 1995 budget, passed on its third reading on 24 February. Lobov also
said Yeltsin had urged prompt consideration of a law to protect judges and that
the president would soon sign a decree increasing the role of the Federal
Counterintelligence Service in uncovering crimes and restoring its
investigative organs. According to Lobov, 2.6 million crimes were committed in
Russia in 1994, nearly 1 million of which have not been solved. -- Penny
Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
CONFERENCE TO DISCUSS CHECHEN SETTLEMENT.
A conference to discuss terms
for a cease-fire in Chechnya, new elections, and the republic's future status
will be held in Moscow on 14 March, Yeltsin's chief of staff, Sergei Filatov,
told Interfax on 7 March. Representatives from Chechnya, the North Caucasus,
and the Chechen diaspora in Russia will participate. It is unclear whether
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev will send a delegation. Also on 7 March,
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets told Interfax that restoring
the Chechen economy is contingent on a political settlement of the conflict. So
far, seven potential candidates to head the Russian government department to
coordinate the Chechen reconstruction have refused the position. -- Liz Fuller,
AIR FORCE DROPPING MINES IN CHECHNYA.
The Russian Air Force has been
dropping mines on various "strategically important" Chechen regions controlled
by Dudaev supporters over the last several days, Interfax reported on 7 March,
quoting a representative of the joint command of federal forces. Last December,
President Yeltsin signed a decree placing a three-year moratorium on the export
of anti-personnel mines after U.S. President Bill Clinton's UN appeal for the
eventual global elimination of anti-personnel landmines. The export ban,
however, applies only to mines not equipped with a self-destruction device, and
the mines dropped in Chechnya apparently do not fall into that category.
Aircraft-delivered mines are considered particularly dangerous because no
accurate record can be kept of their location. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
OSCE WILLING TO MEDIATE CHECHNYA CONFLICT.
The OSCE is willing to help
mediate the conflict in Chechnya and set up a permanent mission in the
republic, international agencies reported. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn
made the announcement on 7 March after talks with President Yeltsin. Hungary
currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the OSCE. Yeltsin said, "We have
made considerable progress in tackling many of the problems discussed in
Budapest during the OSCE summit in December of 1994," Interfax reported. Horn
stressed the positive results of the Budapest summit and hoped further progress
could be made toward a comprehensive security regime in Europe. -- Michael
Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
WORLD BANK APPROVES $400 MILLION LOAN TO RUSSIA.
The World Bank approved
a $400 million loan to Russia on 7 March, international agencies reported. The
loan is intended to help create a private market in land and home sales. It
will assist local governments in selling land to private individuals. Housing
projects in six cities--St. Petersburg, Tver, Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod,
Barnaul, and Moscow--will initially receive assistance. A World Bank statement
said the project was "designed to demonstrate practical ways that markets can
produce housing and help revive the Russian economy." -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI,
MOST BANK TO SUE GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER.
The board of Most Bank plans to
sue Rossiiskaya gazeta, a state-subsidized organ of the Russian
executive branch, Interfax reported on 7 March. The Most Bank statement
denounces "brazenly distorted facts" in the newspaper's account of "business
relations" between Moscow Mayor Luzhkov and Most Bank President Vladimir
Gusinsky. Since the newspaper is financed from the federal budget, the
statement continues, its editor-in-chief and director-general should be charged
with "embezzlement of state capital" as well as libel. The bank and the
government have been at odds over alleged corruption for several months. On 2
December 1994, masked men from Yeltsin's presidential guard raided the bank
without a search warrant, confiscated documents, and arrested several bank
employees. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
GAIDAR WILL NOT SUPPORT A YELTSIN BID FOR REELECTION.
leader Yegor Gaidar told Izvestiya on 7 March it is "very unlikely that
our party will support President Yeltsin if he decides to run" for a second
term. While Gaidar said he does not support the idea of impeaching the
president, he reiterated his opposition to Yeltsin's policies in Chechnya. --
Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
BURBULIS CENTER PROPOSES REFERENDUM ON CONSTITUTION.
center, headed by former State Secretary Gennady Burbulis, issued a study that
proposed holding a nationwide referendum on several articles of the
constitution along with the December elections, Interfax reported on 7 March.
The document cited problems with the president's excessive powers and the
division of the executive branch into two parts (president and government). It
also said the constitution does not clearly define the division of
responsibility between the federal and local levels. The constitution failed to
define the duties of the prosecutor's office, the study asserted, and the
provisions for adopting a constitutional amendment are too strict. The result
is that the provisions of the constitution are often ignored for the sake of
political expediency. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
ELECTIONS HELD IN TATARSTAN AND BASHKORTOSTAN.
Interfax reported that
59.7% of registered voters took part in the elections to the Tatarstan State
Council on 5 March. Final results have not been tabulated. Overall, 468
candidates competed for 130 seats in the new parliament. On the same day, a
total of 57.7% of registered voters participated in the elections to the
Bashkir State Council. The new Bashkir legislature will be bicameral, with 351
candidates competing for 154 seats in the House of Representatives and 131
candidates seeking one of the 40 seats in Legislative Chamber. In both
republics, turnout was much stronger in rural areas than in urban centers. The
mayor of Ufa, Mikhail Zaitsev, appeared three times during the day on local
television to exhort citizens to vote. The old communist elites are likely to
win both races because independent candidates had difficulty collecting the
large number of signatures necessary to qualify for the ballot, Segodnya
reported on 7 March. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
PRIME MINISTER HEADS MILITARY STUDY COMMISSION.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin will head a special commission to study the problem of military
reform, according to Security Council Secretary Lobov, RIA reported on 7 March.
The commission will first study a Defense Ministry report submitted to the
council the previous day. He suggested that a conference would be convened
within the next few weeks to hear the ideas of the military district
commanders, the heads of the services, and military scientists. -- Doug Clarke,
MOSCOW SUPPORTS NUCLEAR TEST BAN BUT.
Lobov also told journalists that
Russia supports the principle of a total ban on nuclear testing, RIA reported.
He added, however, that Russia would set unspecified conditions so that such a
ban would not lead to a weakening of the country's security. Former Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev initiated a testing moratorium for the USSR in
October 1991, and Yeltsin has continued it. All other declared nuclear powers,
except China, have also stopped testing. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIAN INSPECTORS AT U.S. MISSILE BASE.
A team of Russian inspectors
arrived at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana on 5 March, after having
specified that location for their first surprise inspection under the terms of
the START-1 treaty, which entered into force last December, Western agencies
reported. As many as 200 Minuteman ICBMs were once stationed at Malmstrom. The
leader of the 10-member Russian team said the event was "a very momentous
occasion." The Russians will visit 36 U.S. strategic nuclear sites over a
four-month period in order to verify the accuracy of the data the Americans
have provided, while American inspectors will look at 65 former Soviet nuclear
weapons facilities in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. -- Doug Clarke,
YELTSIN SIGNS DECREE TO BAN CUSTOMS EXEMPTIONS.
In an effort to help
finance the budget deficit, President Yeltsin signed a decree on 6 March to
abolish customs exemptions, Russian and Western agencies reported. The law
revokes special privileges by which certain groups, including sports
organizations and veterans' associations, avoided paying Russia's huge import
duties on cars, alcohol, and other goods. First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly
Chubais said the decree applies to all Russian enterprises and organizations,
whether they belong to the Kremlin office or anywhere else. The decree, along
with other trade liberalization measures, comes as Russia tries to close a $6
billion standby loan with the IMF. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER ALEXASHENKO RESIGNS.
Russian Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin signed an order on 7 March dismissing Deputy Finance
Minister Sergei Alexashenko. However, in an interview with the Financial
Information Agency, Alexashenko said he resigned of his own free will because
he could no longer work with the new people hired at the ministry and abide by
"other game rules." -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
YELTSIN SIGNS COMPROMISE LAW ON FOREIGN ADOPTIONS.
signed a law banning commercial adoption agencies and liberalizing the
categories of children eligible for foreign adoption, Western agencies reported
on 7 March. The legislation, which goes into effect on 1 May, is a compromise
worked out after Yeltsin vetoed a draft law in December that barred all
intermediaries from the foreign adoption process, in effect preventing
foreigners from adopting Russian children. The new law allows non-profit
agencies registered with both the Russian and foreign government in question to
represent families and makes all children for whom no Russian family can be
found eligible for foreign adoption. At present, only children with medical
problems or alcoholic or mentally ill parents, as well as older or ethnically
non-Russian children, are eligible. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
VORKUTA MINERS BEGIN INDEFINITE POLITICAL STRIKE.
Miners at the Yuzhnaya
pit in Vorkuta began an all-out strike on 6 March, the chairman of the pit's
independent trade union told Interfax. The miners are demanding the resignation
of the president and government to protest the fact that they have not been
paid since December 1994. The same day, a week-long strike by 600 mine
construction workers in Vorkuta was suspended after the Vorkutaugol association
paid the workers' employer, Poloz, debts from November and December 1994. In an
interview with Interfax on 7 March, the chairman of the Coal Industry Workers'
Union, Vitaly Budko, said social tension remains high in mining areas across
the country although debts are starting to be paid. He expressed concern at the
amount of time it is taking the state to channel funds to the coal industry. --
Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
EXPLOSION AT MKHEDRIONI HQ.
One man was killed and three injured by an
explosion at the Rustavi headquarters of the Georgian paramilitary organization
Mkhedrioni during the night of 7 March, Interfax reported. While a Georgian
Interior Ministry spokesman said the explosion resulted from careless handling
of ammunition, Mkhedrioni's press center said sabotage could not be excluded.
-- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
NEW KYRGYZ PARLIAMENT TO MEET SOON.
The newly-elected parliament will
soon be called into session by President Askar Akayev, according to
presidential spokesman Kamil Bayalinov, Interfax reported on 7 March. The
Central Election Commission reported that 76 deputies have been registered
already. Twenty-two deputies have been confirmed in the 35-seat Legislative
Assembly (upper house) and 54 in the 70-seat Chamber of People's
Representatives (lower house). Previously, the commission reported that 89
deputies had been registered, but that figure was revised after some
unsuccessful candidates filed disputes over electoral irregularities. The
commission stated that most complaints were unfounded and expects the remaining
members to be confirmed by 9 March, in time to open the first session of
parliament. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.
EAST EUROPEANS SKEPTICAL ABOUT THEIR FUTURE.
The results of a
Eurobarometer opinion poll, released on 7 March in Brussels, show that a
majority of citizens in CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEan countries view negatively the
political and economic developments that took place in their countries in 1994.
In none of the 18 countries surveyed were a majority of citizens satisfied with
the development of democratic institutions. The lowest percentage of
dissatisfied citizens was recorded in the Czech Republic (53%) and the highest
in Bulgaria (91%). Since the previous Eurobarometer poll, the number of people
who hope their country will gain membership in the European Union has doubled
to 36%. Paradoxically, the lowest percentages of citizens who view the EU
positively were registered in those countries whose governments are most
actively striving for EU membership--Hungary (32%), the Czech Republic (34%),
and Poland (42%). In only four countries--the Czech Republic, Slovenia,
Albania, and Estonia--were more than half of the poll's respondents convinced
that the situation in their countries is improving. The market economy is
viewed most favorably in Romania (71%) and Albania (67%). The Eurobarometer
poll was commissioned by the European Union. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
EUROPEAN AGREEMENTS WITH BELARUS.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka, during a visit to Brussels on 6 March, signed an agreement with the
European Union aimed at improving trade and opening the way for an eventual
customs union between Belarus and the EU, Reuters reported. Once the accord is
ratified by the European parliament and its 15 member states, Belarus is to be
offered most-favored-nation status and restrictions on its exports will be
removed. Belarusian Television reported the same day that the Belarusian
Cabinet of Ministers has empowered Deputy Prime Minister Syarhei Linh to sign
an agreement with Great Britain and Northern Ireland on taxation. The agreement
is intended to prevent double taxation on income and savings. -- Ustina Markus,
INFLATION IN ESTONIA AND LITHUANIA.
The Estonian State
Office has announced that the consumer price index increased by 2.9% in
February, or 0.6% less than in January, BNS reported on 7 March. The price of
goods grew by 3.0% (food by 4% and consumer goods by 1.3%) and services by
2.8%. Meanwhile, Kestutis Zaborskas, the head of the Lithuanian Statistics
Department, said inflation was 3.9% in February, or 1.8% down on January,
RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported. The price of margarine, which Lithuania
does not produce and imports primarily from Sweden, increased by 24%. The
increase was due to the decision to place higher import duties on Swedish goods
after it joined the European Union. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
SWEDISH FERRY DECIDES TO RETAIN LINKS WITH ESTONIA.
The Swedish ferry
company Nordstrom & Thulin AB announced on 7 March that it was reversing
its earlier decision to stop services between Sweden and Estonia, Reuters
reported. The company, together with the state-owned Estonian Shipping Company,
operated Estline, whose ferry "Estonia" sank off the coast of Finland on 28
September 1994, resulting in more than 900 deaths. This tragedy prompted the
company to end ferry services between the two countries, but at the urging of
the Estonian authorities, it decided to retain the Stockholm-Tallinn ferry
link. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LATVIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY SECRETARY OFFERS RESIGNATION.
a member of the Farmers' Union, issued a statement on 7 March urging the
parliament to release him from his duties as Presidium member and parliament
deputy secretary, BNS reported. Tomins said the reasons for his resignation
were an incident in Washington and "the subsequent biased media campaign
casting a shadow on the prestige and honor of a parliament official and member
of parliament." Tomins was detained on 5 February by the police over an
argument with an American woman who claimed Tomins had assaulted her. Tomins
insisted he was the victim, and the U.S. authorities later dropped all charges.
-- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH GOVERNMENT DECLARES WAR ON CRIME.
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, at
a meeting of key ministers in the new Polish government, declared war on "all
forms of crime," Polish media reported on 7 March. A spokesman for Oleksy told
the media that internal security issues will be the top item on the new
cabinet's agenda when it meets for its first regular session. According to the
spokesman, the government intends to target organized crime in particular. He
said Oleksy is planning to set up a special commission whose main task will be
dealing with organized crime. The spokesman also said that Polish cities have
experienced a wave of bomb explosions and assassination attempts--as a result
of intensified conflicts among various organized criminal gangs. The motives
are not political, the spokesman commented. Rather, the gangs usually target
either businessmen who cannot or will not pay "protection" money or members of
other gangs. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
GERMAN DEFENSE MINISTER SAYS POLAND TO BE AMONG FIRST NEW NATO MEMBERS.
Volker Ruehe on 7 March said Poland will be among the first countries to be
granted admission to NATO, AFP reported. He said that the Visegrad countries
were particularly promising candidates, adding "There will be different speeds.
Poland will certainly be in front in this." Ruehe also noted that Poland has
made considerable efforts in its political and economic reforms and in adapting
its military to NATO standards. He hoped that Germany will soon be able to make
good on German President Roman Herzog's promise to facilitate Polish entry into
NATO and the EU. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
CZECH CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO REVIEW GERMAN CONFISCATIONS.
Constitutional Court is due on 8 March to hear a case challenging the legality
of the confiscation of property owned by Sudeten Germans expelled from
Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II, Czech media report. Decrees issued
by President Eduard Benes in exile during the war and following his return to
Prague in 1945 included ordering the expulsion of up to 3 million Sudeten
Germans without compensation; they were termed enemies of the country and held
responsible for its prewar break-up. The case was brought before the
Constitutional Court by an ethnic German from the North Bohemian town of
Liberec whose request for the return of property expropriated from his family
was refused by a local court. Czech restitution laws provide only for the
return of property confiscated after the communist takeover in 1948. -- Steve
Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT PASSES 1995 STATE BUDGET.
The parliament on 8 March
approved the 1995 draft budget by a vote of 83 to 52 with three abstentions,
Praca and Pravda reported. Proposals by opposition deputies to
increase funding for the Health Ministry, state health and social insurance
companies, education, and environmental protection were rejected. The
opposition also complained that the budget provides higher subsidies for local
transportation in Zilina than in Bratislava, arguing that the results of the
November 1994 local elections were a major factor in that decision. (Slovak
National Party Chairman Jan Slota was reelected as mayor of Zilina, while Peter
Kresanek, the candidate of five centrist and rightist parties, won in
Bratislava.) Meanwhile, Christian Democratic Movement deputy Mikulas Dzurinda
told Sme that the budget offers practically no funding for public
investment. Many consider the cabinet's macroeconomic forecasts unrealistic.
The budget foresees 5% growth in GDP, 9% annual inflation, 14% unemployment, a
trade surplus, and a budget deficit of 21 billion koruny. -- Sharon Fisher,
UPDATE ON CROATIAN-MUSLIM JOINT COMMAND.
Nasa Borba on 8 March
quotes Croatian President Franjo Tudjman as saying that the new military
agreement with Sarajevo "is not directed against any third party." Croatian
Television noted that the command will be headed by Croatian Chief-of-Staff
General Janko Bobetko and that its purpose is "the defense of territory,
borders, and population." Bosnian Foreign Minister Irfan Ljubijancic told the
BBC that the new staff is not intended for war but for defense. He added that
Bosnia fears that the current cease-fire could lead to a de facto partition of
the republic, as has happened in Cyprus. He said he could offer no optimistic
prognosis for peace. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
ARKAN'S MEN READY FOR A NEW WAR.
If a fresh conflict breaks out, Arkan's
Tigers are likely to be used once again as shock troops for Serbian attacks on
Croatia. Nasa Borba reports that they are ready "to defend Krajina and
Prevlaka," a strategic strip of Croatian territory running south from Dubrovnik
down to the Montenegrin border. Vjesnik, meanwhile, says the
Sarajevo-Zagreb alliance has the military advantage over the Serbs in numbers
and in training. It also notes that "the Bosnians and Croats have been
preparing for [a new war] for months." The BBC quoted the Red Cross as saying
that a new conflict could send 200,000 refugees fleeing into Slovenia. --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BELGRADE TO OFFER RECOGNITION TO EX-YUGOSLAV STATES?
on 8 March speculates whether Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic intends to
offer recognition to states of the former Yugoslavia. In a front-page story
headlined "Milosevic Prepared to Recognize Slovenia and the 'Republic of
Skopje,'" the newspaper says possible efforts to recognize Macedonia as the
"Republic of Skopje" may be aimed at appeasing Belgrade's regional ally Greece,
which is opposed to the former Yugoslav republic's use of the name "Macedonia."
The same daily also observes that there is apparently some concrete development
in bilateral Slovenian-rump Yugoslav relations. The daily reports on a press
conference held by Slovenian Premier Janez Drnovsek the previous day at which
he said Slovenia was prepared to resolve "practical" issues with Belgrade. He
also hinted that a Ljubljana bureau will be opened in Belgrade in "the near
future." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARIAN OFFICIAL SAYS PROBLEMS WITH ROMANIAN-HUNGARIAN TREATY PERSIST.
After signing the document to accompany the basic treaty with Romania,
Ferenc Somogyi, secretary of state at the Hungarian Foreign Ministry, said
there are "still problems," Radio Bucharest reported on 7 March. Disagreement
persists on issues that one side considers important and to which the other
gives lower priority, he added. Radio Bucharest quoted a spokesman for the
Hungarian Foreign Ministry who said the signing of the document in Bucharest
neither replaces the negotiations on the basic treaty nor has relevance for
those talks. Somogyi's Romanian counterpart, Mircea Dinu, praised the document,
saying it provides for a semi-annual review of the "level of [progress in]
collaboration between Romania and Hungary." Radio Bucharest, quoting "sources
close to the Romanian delegation," said "substantial progress" was made at the
expert-level negotiations on the basic treaty in Budapest on 7 March. The next
round of negotiations at expert level are to begin in Bucharest on 13 March. --
Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
DEMIREL IN ROMANIA.
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel paid a one-day
visit to Romania on 7 March, Romanian media report. He met with President Ion
Iliescu to discuss bilateral economic relations, regional cooperation, and
cooperation with European and international organizations. Iliescu and Demirel
told the press they supported any initiative aimed at achieving a peaceful,
political solution to conflicts in the former Soviet Union, the former
Yugoslavia, and the Balkans. It was the fourth meeting between Iliescu and
Demirel in the last two years, and Demirel's second visit to Romania over the
same period. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN SOCIALISTS PLAN TO RESTRICT LAND OWNERSHIP.
Socialist Party plans to submit to the parliament an amendment to the land law,
international news agencies reported on 7 March. The amendment will limit land
owners' rights to use and sell their land and will promote collective farming.
Owners wishing to sell their land will have to offer it first to the state,
which will decide within two months whether to purchase it at fixed prices.
Only if the state decides not to buy the land will the owner be allowed to sell
it to a third party. The amendment will allow newly formed cooperatives to
inherit the best and largest plots from the abolished communist collective
farms. Deputies from the Union of Democratic Forces said they will go to the
Constitutional Court if the amendment is approved. They argue that the planned
amendment infringes the constitution, which states that "private property is
inviolable." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT LIFTS TAX DEMAND ON SOCIALIST PARTY.
Socialist-led government on 6 March overturned a state demand that the
Bulgarian Socialist Party, the successor to the communist party, pay around $2
billion in outstanding taxes, AFP reported the following day. Government
spokesman Nikola Baltov said the decision is one of the government's measures
aimed at overturning anti-communist legislation passed by the Union of
Democratic Forces government in 1991-92. The UDF government led by Filip
Dimitrov froze the BSP's accounts in 1991 and demanded payment of 2.2 billion
leva in taxes and another $700 million allegedly spirited away by the
Communists in various state budgets from 1954-1989. UDF Chairman Ivan Kostov
was quoted by Demokratsiya on 8 March as saying that the government is
attempting to conceal "the dark side" of the communist party's finances. --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN TRADE UNIONS DEMAND GOVERNMENT'S RESIGNATION.
Council of the Trade Union Confederation has called for the government to
resign, Populli PO reported on 8 March. The trade unions claim that the
government has taken no measures to raise wages and pensions in the three years
since it came to power. They also note that Albanian prices have risen tenfold
on average, while the wages and pensions have increased only threefold. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN RADIO ENDANGERED BY VANDALISM.
Albanian TV and Radio broadcasts
are endangered in more than one-third of Albania because of robbery and
vandalism at transmitter stations, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 8 March.
Over the past two years, 76 such cases have been reported. The director-general
of Albanian TV and Radio has asked the government to cover the costs for
reconstruction, estimated at about $500,000. Meanwhile, it is reported that
Tirana will have its own public TV and radio channel. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
GREECE THREATENS TO BLOCK EU-TURKEY CUSTOMS UNION OVER CYPRUS . . .
Greece on 7 March again threatened to veto the customs union between EU and
Turkey, Reuters reported the same day. The Greek move came after Ankara
indicated it would annex northern Cyprus if the divided island joined the EU.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the customs accord was "definite" and
ruled out the Greek demand for an urgent meeting on the issue. He also said the
Turkish threats are "null and void." EU officials noted that Turkey has no say
in whether Cyprus becomes an EU member. The customs union was signed on 6
March, after Greece lifted its veto. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND JOINS WEU.
Greece became the tenth member of the Western
European Union on 7 March, international agencies reported. It had applied for
membership in November 1992 but had to wait for ratification by all WEU member
states. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave