STANDOFF BETWEEN FEDERAL AND MOSCOW AUTHORITIES CONTINUES.
Yury Luzhkov has rejected the candidacy of Oleg Gaidanov for the post of Moscow
city prosecutor. Prosecutor General Alexei Ilyushenko had nominated Gaidanov to
replace Gennady Ponomarev, who was sacked following the murder of TV journalist
Vladislav Listev. Luzhkov is appealing the dismissals of Ponomarev and Moscow
police chief Vladimir Pankratov to the Constitutional Court, on the grounds
that the federal government must first consult Moscow authorities before firing
city officials. Luzhkov told Moscow TV on 14 March that the "powerful political
attack" on the city's authorities resembled "theater of the absurd," for which
Listev's murder was only a "pretext." Luzhkov also said the Russian government
had refused to release funds allocated to Moscow, which is tantamount to an
"economic blockade" of the city. Luzhkov denied having presidential aspirations
and described his relations with Yeltsin as "excellent," Interfax reported. He
blamed Yeltsin's security service, led by Alexander Korzhakov, for causing the
confrontation, NTV reported. * Laura Belin
CHERNOMYRDIN ENDORSES DRAFT CHECHNYA PEACE PLAN.
Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin has given his written approval to a five-stage peace plan for
Chechnya, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai informed the conference "Peace
Initiative in Chechnya" in Moscow on 14 March, Interfax and AFP reported. The
plan envisages a cessation of military operations; humanitarian actions; talks
on a cease-fire conducted by a Russian-Chechen military commission that will
also include Russian Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev and Ingush
President Ruslan Aushev; a formal peace settlement on the basis of talks at the
republican and local levels; elections to a new Chechen parliament; and the
conclusion of a power-sharing treaty between Russia and Chechnya "similar to
that signed between Russia and Tatarstan." Shakhrai also stated that Yeltsin is
about to announce a new Chechen peace initiative, according to AFP. * Liz
TRADE UNION FEDERATION PROPOSES NATIONWIDE PROTEST.
Federation of Independent Trade Unions proposed on 13 March that its members
consider staging a nationwide day of protest against falling living standards,
Interfax reported the following day. Alexei Surikov, federation deputy
chairman, said the protest, provisionally called for 12 April, could vary in
form from region to region and industry to industry. He also said the
federation, through its electoral association, Unions of Russia, intends to
nominate candidates for the upcoming legislative elections independently and
enter into alliances with political parties and movements, such as the
Communists, Agrarians, and the Socialist Workers' Party. Meanwhile, Ekho Moskvy
reported on 13 March that trade unions in Primorsky Krai plan to hold rallies
on 27 April to protest against the "critical" economic situation in the region.
They will call for the resignation of the government and early presidential
elections. * Penny Morvant
YELTSIN APPOINTS NEW PRESS SECRETARY.
President Yeltsin appointed
television journalist Sergei Medvedev, 37, as his new press secretary,
replacing Vyacheslav Kostikov who will now become Moscow's ambassador to the
Vatican, Reuters and Interfax reported on 14 March. Medvedev said his most
pressing tasks will be to keep Yeltsin in touch with the outside world and
establish better relations between the president's team and the media. Medvedev
was the first television reporter to publicize Yeltsin's resistance to the
August 1991 coup and was instrumental in summoning people to the White House to
counter a hard-line takeover. More recently, he has been the host of the
political news program "News Plus" on Ostankino. His appointment is a clear
attempt to bolster Yeltsin's image before the June 1996 presidential election.
Kostikov, who held the job since 1992, is famous for his savage attacks on
Yeltsin's political opponents during the president's confrontation with
parliament in 1993. * Robert Orttung
RUSSIA TO EXPORT 2 MILLION TONS OF ALUMINUM.
First Deputy Economics
Minister Yakov Urinson told a cabinet meeting that Russia intends to export
about 2 million tons of aluminum in 1995, Interfax reported on 14 March.
Urinson said rising prices and Russia's position as a leading producer of
aluminum should make 1995 a favorable year for exporting the metal. * Thomas
CURRENCY DEMAND INCREASES ALMOST 150%.
Initial demand for currency at
MICEX trading on 14 March was $192.71 million, up $110.82 million or almost
$150% from 13 March trading, the Financial Information Agency reported. Supply
was at $168.87 million. The ruble fell 28 points against the dollar to 4,723
rubles. According to the dealers, when the rate reached 4,722 rubles to $1 the
Central Bank sold $1 million. When the ruble fell to 4,723 rubles to $1, the
bank continued selling, first $1 million, then $15 million, and finally $6.83
million which brought its total intervention to $23.83 million, $9.83 million
more than in 13 March trading. Commercial banks were not very active and
withdrew $10,000 from sale. Dealers told the news agencies that the dollar's
slowdown on the inter-bank market is related to the accumulation of rubles for
the upcoming auction of treasury bonds. * Thomas Sigel
LUKIN: DEAL ON CFE FLANK LIMITS WOULD FACILITATE NATO EASTWARD EXPANSION.
State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin said in a 14
March interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta that lifting the flank limits
in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty would facilitate an agreement with
NATO on eastward expansion. He said if "Russia is allowed to deploy its armed
forces as it wishes, then NATO approaching our borders will not be so
dangerous." He also questioned the value of the START-2 treaty given the "very
bad geopolitical situation" in which Russia finds itself. He said Russia should
form alliances with its immediate neighbors and that progress in that regard
has already been made with Belarus. He added that he thought "Ukraine will soon
find itself in a precarious situation. We should explain to our Ukrainian
friends that all talk about Western aid is a trifle compared to the
consequences they will have to face when they find themselves outside a
collective security system." * Michael Mihalka
AFTERMATH 0F MISSILE ACCIDENT IN VORONEZH OBLAST.
The governor of
Voronezh Oblast has sent a letter to Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin stating
that if the Buturlin air force testing range is not closed, the local public
are likely to stage protests, Izvestiya reported on 15 March. A missile
launched during a training flight over the range on 10 March went out of
control and exploded close to a village and the Novovoronezh nuclear power
station. A special commission is investigating the accident, and residents have
been assured that no further flights will take place until the government
determines the fate of the range. Noting that the authorities made no statement
about the accident until 13 March, three days after it took place,
Izvestiya drew parallels with the official reaction to the Chornobyl
disaster in 1986. * Penny Morvant
KOZYREV: "NO FUNDAMENTAL CHANGES" IN RUSSIAN FOREIGN POLICY.
Minister Andrei Kozyrev announced there would be "no fundamental changes" in
Russian foreign policy after a meeting of senior ministry officials with
President Yeltsin, Ostankino TV reported. The meeting had been put off several
times for "technical reasons." Kozyrev added that the Russian leadership was
"unanimous" in objecting to "any hasty and reckless expansion of NATO," which
is the "main obstacle" obstructing Russia's partnership with the alliance. RIA
reported that Yeltsin wants the ministry to conduct better strategic analysis
which should improve its coordination with other federal offices. He also said
it should pay more attention to the needs of ethnic Russians living abroad. *
SOLZHENITSYN: RUSSIA BECOMING A "COLONY" OF THE WEST.
prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn charged that Russia is letting
itself become an "ideological colony" of the West, during a 13 March interview
with Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Vladimir Lukin on Russian TV.
Solzhenitsyn claimed that Russia has pursued a foreign policy of "infantilism"
in recent years and singled out Radio Liberty, an "ambiguous organization," for
conducting "direct interference in our affairs." While admitting that RL "was
once irreplaceable," he said Russians no longer need the service and claimed
the U.S. Congress now uses it to promote Siberian separatism. Solzhenitsyn said
Russia also needs to boost its "ideological defense" against scientific and
cultural grants from the Soros Foundation, as well as American trade unions,
U.S. government-funded organizations to promote democracy, and various Western
charities that use the Russian media to undermine Orthodoxy. * Laura Belin
COUP UNDERWAY IN AZERBAIJAN.
Azerbaijani government troops surrounded
the headquarters of the OMON special police near Baku, ITAR-TASS and Interfax
reported on 15 March. Fighting between government troops and OMON forces is
reported elsewhere in the country. Deputy Interior Minister Rovshan Dzhavadov
has reportedly called for the resignation of President Heidar Aliyev and the
Azerbaijani government, charging that they have brought the country to the
verge of ruin. Aliev's whereabouts are unknown. Aliyev had cancelled a scheduled
visit to Pakistan to attend the ECO heads of state meeting after an incident on
13 March when OMON forces occupied two towers in northern Azerbaijan. * Liz
TAJIK OPPOSITION LEADER READY TO TALK AS VIOLENCE CONTINUES.
Abdullo Nuri, leader of the Islamic Revival Movement based in Tajikistan, has
indicated he is ready to hold talks with Tajik President Emomali Rakhmanov "at
any time and at any place," Interfax reported on 14 March. Nuri, who was
speaking to General Hassan Abasa, head of the UN military observers in
Tajikistan, added that the opposition "will not initiate any combat operations
on the Tajik-Afghan border this Spring." However, talk of peace did not prevent
six masked gunmen from kidnapping and executing Zainiddin Mukhiddinov, a
newly-elected member of the Tajik parliament. Meanwhile, three Tajiks,
described by the chief of the Tajik Foreign Ministry section Zafar Saidov as
militants, were fired upon as they tried to cross into Tajikistan from
Afghanistan. Saidov told Interfax that one of them was killed and the other two
fled back to Afghanistan. * Bruce Pannier
MEMBERS OF DISSOLVED KAZAKH PARLIAMENT MEET.
On 14 March, 130 of the
former Kazakh parliament's 177 deputies met and decided to continue working,
Interfax reported. They requested that the UN and other international
organizations send independent experts to assess the legality of recent events.
President Nursultan Nazarbaev dissolved parliament on 11 March after a
Constitutional Court verdict. The deputies are disputing the verdict, claiming
that it refers to only one electoral district and that the court ruling has not
taken effect because it has not been published or sent to any government
institution. * Bruce Pannier
CIS SECRET SERVICE CHIEFS MEET.
The heads of the CIS secret services are
scheduled to meet in Moscow on 15 March to discuss ways of cooperating in their
fight against crime, Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported. Federal
Counterintelligence Service department head Yuri Demin said the aim of the
conference is to develop an alliance among the secret services which have so
far only cooperated on a bilateral basis. He suggested that Interpol is a good
model for multilateral cooperation that would save money and increase
effectiveness. Demin dismissed the notion that such an arrangement would lead
to the resurrection of the KGB, insisting that cooperation will focus only on
those crimes which threaten national security including terrorism, money
laundering, corruption, smuggling, and sabotage of strategic installations.
Each service will retain its independence. * Michael Mihalka
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT TIGHTENS CONTROL OVER HARD CURRENCY OUTFLOW . . .
Leonid Kuchma issued a decree on 13 March aimed at preventing tax evasion and
the illegal flight of hard currency earnings to foreign countries,
Interfax-Ukraine reported the next day. The Ukrainian leader also reprimanded
Deputy Prime Minister Ihor Mityukov for failing to carry out a similar order on
the repatriation of hard currency accumulated in Ukraine and deposited in
foreign banks. It has been estimated that billions of U.S. dollars, often
illegally made by Ukrainian businesses and officials, are held in foreign
accounts, depriving Ukraine of badly-needed tax revenues. * Chrystyna
. . . AND VISITS CHORNOBYL.
Kuchma visited the Chornobyl nuclear power
plant on 14 March in an effort to determine the fate of the two reactors still
operating , Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. Accompanied by Ukrainian
Foreign Minister Hennadii Udovenko and other officials, Kuchma told plant
personnel that a final decision on the future of Chornobyl would be taken by
the Ukrainian government during a special meeting on the matter in the near
future. Despite pressure from the West to shut down the plant as an
environmental hazard, Kuchma opposes its closure because it provides 7% of the
country's energy at a time when Ukraine is experiencing a deep energy crisis. *
UKRAINE WANTS SANCTIONS AGAINST BELGRADE EASED.
Interfax on 14 March
reported that Volodymyr Yelchenko, deputy head of the international
organizations department in the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, has said Ukraine
will press for the easing of UN sanctions against Belgrade. According to
Yelchenko, Ukraine's losses due to sanctions amounted to $4 billion by the end
of 1994. The heaviest losses were sustained by Ukraine's inland water
transportation enterprises, especially the Danube Steamship Line, which has
lost all its clients. Losses were also sustained by smelting plants oriented
toward exporting their products to Austria. Yelchenko said that Kiev is aware
that no one will compensate Ukraine for all its losses but it wants to see
Ukraine's position taken into account. He added that Ukraine will at least
press for an easing of the navigation regime on the Danube. * Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN NAVAL COMMANDER RESIGNS.
Vice Admiral Volodymyr Bezkorovainy,
commander of the Ukrainian Navy, submitted his resignation on 14 March, AFP
reported. The official reason for his resignation was reported to be poor
health, but the navy press center said that in the past 18 months, Bezkorovainy
had not been sick once. According to AFP, Bezkorovainy was at odds with Defense
Minister Valerii Shmarov over the Black Sea Fleet and had a poor working
relationship with the fleet's commander, Admiral Eduard Baltin. Deputy Foreign
Minister Borys Tarasyuk was reported to have said that Bezkorovainy's
resignation was unexpected and regrettable. * Ustina Markus
OPPOSITION LEADER ON RUSSIAN-BELARUSIAN ACCORDS.
Aleh Trusau, leader of
the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada, has said he hopes the parliament will
have "the common sense" not to ratify the Russian-Belarusian agreements on
setting up a customs union and leasing military installations in Belarus to
Russia, Interfax reported on 14 March. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei
Bolshakov recently announced that if Belarus does not ratify the agreement,
Russia will reimpose customs duties on Belarus. Trusau dismissed the remark as
a political bluff, saying that Belarus was a highway for some 60% of Russia's
exports to the West. He calculated that if customs duties were imposed, Russia
stood to earn less than $300 million, while Belarus would earn twice that
amount. * Ustina Markus
TRIAL OF FORMER ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER BEGINS.
The trial of former
Estonian Prime Minister Indrek Toome began at the Tallinn City Court on 14
March, Reuters reported. Toome, who was premier from 1988 to 1990, is charged
with offering a bribe worth 30,000 kroons ($2,700) to a police officer for the
return of three confiscated passports. Although Toome could be sentenced for up
to two years in prison, state prosecutor Andres Ulviste asked only for a fine
to be imposed. Toome's defense did not deny the bribery charges. but accused
the police of setting a trap. The court is expected to pass judgment on 16
March. * Saulius Girnius
POLISH TRIBUNAL RULES ON WAGES.
The Constitutional Tribunal ruled
against President Lech Walesa on 14 March in declaring wage legislation adopted
last December as constitutional, Rzeczpospolita reported. The law
governs wage levels for employees who are paid from the state budget, such as
teachers and doctors. It was designed to ease pressure on the budget by
abolishing a 1989 provision that set budgetary wages at 106% of those in the
industrial sector. The provision was always a dead letter; and successive
governments struggled to obtain Sejm approval to suspend its implementation.
The new law states that wages will be set through annual negotiations between
unions, employers, and the government. The president had argued that the new
legislation violated "the principle of social justice." In other economic news,
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy has lowered the government's sights on inflation,
arguing that a December-on-December rate of 20-21% (rather than the official
17% goal) would be a success. * Louisa Vinton
MOVEMENT ON POLISH CONCORDAT.
The concordat with the Vatican signed on
28 July 1993 does not violate the current constitution, according to a
resolution approved unexpectedly by a special Sejm commission on 14 March.
Following emotional debate, the commission rejected a subcommittee proposal to
declare that the concordat violated the separation of Church and state and
discriminated against non-Catholic denominations. The commission noted (as had
the Suchocka government, which negotiated the treaty) that ratification would
require amending existing legislation to ensure equal rights for all religions.
The vote was carried by deputies from the Polish Peasant Party and the
opposition Freedom Union, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. All Democratic Left
Alliance deputies (except commission chairman Zbigniew Siemiatkowski) were
opposed. Sejm debate on the commission's report is expected in April. * Louisa
HAVEL RENEWS CALL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS TO BE IMPLEMENTED.
President Vaclav Havel on 14 March called again on the Czech parliament to fill
the "holes" in the country's constitution before they become an issue in the
1996 election campaign. Havel said that the creation of a second parliament
chamber, the Senate, and the redrawing of the Czech Republic's administrative
districts were vital provisions in the constitution that had never been
implemented. Following several political scandals in recent months, Havel also
called on deputies to show a greater sense of public responsibility, and he
opposed government policy on several points, including financing pension
insurance from the state budget. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus refused to comment
publicly on Havel's speech but told some cabinet members it was aimed against
his Civic Democratic Party, the main partner in the governing coalition,
Lidove noviny reported. * Steve Kettle
CZECH INTERIOR MINISTRY SAYS INTERNATIONAL COMMUNIST GROUPS MUST LEAVE.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Ruml on 14 March confirmed that three international
organizations with close links to the former communist regime will no longer be
allowed to have their headquarters in Prague, Czech Television and other media
reported. The International Organization of Journalists, based in Prague since
1947, the International Students' Union, and the World Trades Union Federation
were ordered by the federal Interior Ministry to leave Czechoslovakia in 1992.
After a two-year appeal process, Ruml confirmed that they must remove their
secretariats from Prague. But he added that the organizations will still be
allowed to conduct activities in the Czech Republic. * Steve Kettle
SLOVAK CABINET REFUSES TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE.
The Slovak government
has reacted angrily to an initiative by a number of Slovak newspapers to
protest plans to raise value-added tax on commercial publications with more
than 30% foreign investment, Narodna obroda reported. A number of Slovak
dailies on 6 March printed a blank front page containing only a warning about
the higher tax. The government said that cabinet members would not participate
in a press conference "in protest against the deception of the public, the
damaging of the interests of the Slovak Republic at home and abroad, the
disruption of freedom of speech [as well as] intolerance, arrogance and lack of
culture." Chairman of the Slovak Syndicate of Journalists, Julius Gembicky,
said the blank pages were printed as a preventative measure addressed not to
the government but to members of the parliament. * Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK TEACHERS DISSATISFIED WITH SALARIES.
Kamil Vajnorsky, chairman of
the education and science trade union, warned on 14 March that social tension
is growing among teachers and scientists. Vajnorsky stressed that low salaries
mean that the number of unqualified teachers in schools will continue to grow,
while university professors and scientists will continue to seek employment
elsewhere. Demands for a meeting with Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar to find a
solution to these problems were rejected because the premier has no time to
discuss such questions, Narodna obroda reported. Meciar pledged in his
election campaign that the salaries of university teachers and scientists would
double by 1995, but he reneged on such promises after signing the general
agreement with the trade unions and employer associations in February.
Association of Slovak Workers Chairman Jan Luptak criticized a proposal during
the parliament's recent discussion on the 1995 state budget to raise teachers'
salaries, stressing that workers' salaries are also low. * Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PROTESTERS URGE GOVERNMENT TO RESIGN.
Nearly 10,000 people
marched through Budapest on 14 March to protest an austerity package that will
trim government benefits to families, MTI and Western news agencies reported.
Protesters joined Jozsef Torgyan, chairman of the Independent Smallholders'
Party, in calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Gyula Horn and his
government. Torgyan, whose party holds 26 of the 386 seats in the parliament,
accused Horn of "giving up our country's basic social achievements." The Horn
government's austerity package, announced on 12 March, was also criticized by
trade unions and other opposition parties. Two ministers and a deputy state
secretary have tendered their resignations to protest the austerity measures,
which include drastically cutting allowances for child care and imposing fees
for university tuition. * Edith Oltay
UNPROFOR TO BECOME UNFIC.
Vecernji list and Nasa Borba on
15 March reported that the name of UN troops replacing UNPROFOR under a new
mandate will be United Nations Forces in Croatia, or UNFIC. The Zagreb and
Belgrade dailies also discuss the cacophony of opinions throughout Croatia and
elsewhere on President Franjo Tudjman's new deal with the U.S. Nasa
Borba quotes leaders of Croatia's Liberals and Independent Democrats as
criticizing Tudjman, while Zagreb's top Serbian politician, Milorad Pupovac,
welcomed the decision. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung suggests that
the Serbs of Knin may accept it as well, since UN troops will remain to keep
Croatian forces out of Serbian-held areas. International media also comment
that the 500 UNFIC troops on Croatia's external borders pose no real threat to
the Serbs, since UNFIC will not be able to completely monitor, let alone seal,
a frontier more than 1,000 kilometers long. * Patrick Moore
KARADZIC REJECTS UNFIC.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 15
March also reported, however, that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic has
slammed the idea of UN forces being stationed on that part of the Croatian
border separating his forces from those of the Krajina Serbs. He threatened to
take action against UNPROFOR in Bosnia if UNFIC indeed takes up such positions.
UN mediator Yasushi Akashi accordingly came back from his latest talks with
Karadzic depressed about the possibility of a new war in Bosnia and
Herzegovina. Hina reported on 14 March on a series of Serbian attacks in the
Gradacac, Stolac, Orasje, and Mostar areas, while the same news agency and
Slobodna Dalmacija on 15 March discuss continued tensions between Croats
and Muslims. * Patrick Moore
SERBIAN LEADERS ON NEW UN MANDATE.
The Croatian agency Hina on 13 March
reported on reactions by Serbian opposition leaders to the proposal for a new
UN mandate in Croatia. Vojislav Seselj, controversial leader of the Serbian
Radical Party, observed that "Serbia must not allow a change in the name,
mandate, or role of the peace forces." Democratic Party of Serbia leader
Vojislav Kostunica called the decision "dangerous." Vuk Draskovic, leader of
the Serbian Renewal Movement, expressed the hope for regional peace, observing
that "the forces of peace will win the battle with the forces of war." * Stan
ETHNIC ALBANIAN SHOT IN KOSOVO.
An ethnic Albanian man has been shot and
killed by police in the Serbian province of Kosovo, international agencies
reported on 14 March. The Democratic League of Kosovo, the leading Kosovar
shadow-state party, quoted an eyewitness as saying that police shot and kicked
the 26-year-old Ejup Kasumi even after he had fallen to the ground. The
shooting reportedly followed police raids for weapons in Urosevac. The Serbian
military and police have launched a campaign to forcefully induct ethnic
Albanians into the Yugoslav army. At least 20 Albanian youngsters have been
arrested on charges of desertion or draft dodging after authorities sent some
200 draft notes to ethnic Albanians, Rilindja reported on 10 March. *
ROMANIAN OPPOSITION ALLIANCE ON RECENT SPLITS.
The Executive Committee
and the Council of the Democratic Convention of Romania (CDR) on 14 March said
they regarded the Liberal Party '93 (PL) and the Party of Civic Alliance (PAC)
as having withdrawn from the convention, Radio Bucharest reported. The two
parties recently decided not to sign the CDR's revised protocols of 17
February. The leading bodies of the CDR also announced that some members of the
PL and the PAC have opted to set up a new liberal party within the convention.
The CDR includes two other liberal parties, the National Liberal Party and the
National Liberal Party--Democratic Convention. The liberal formations in the
CDR were given until 31 May to unify. Meanwhile, the Civic Alliance movement
criticized the PAC's decision to leave the CDR and said it was withdrawing its
moral and political support for that party. * Dan Ionescu
BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT ACCUSED OF OBSTRUCTING PRIVATIZATION.
Hadzhitodorov, a member of the Bulgarian Privatization Agency's supervisory
board, on 14 March accused the government of obstructing the privatization
process, Standart reported the following day. He claims that ministers
have forbidden their ministries to close deals on their own. Bozhidar
Kabakchiev, interim head of the Privatization Agency, said Deputy Prime
Minister Rumen Gechev asked him to refrain from privatization sales. Gechev's
deputy wants to check all deals concluded by the agency, Kabakchiev said. *
IMF OFFICIALS IN BULGARIA.
A delegation from the International Monetary
Fund is in Sofia to examine Bulgaria's state budget and balance of payments,
Otechestven Front reported on 15 March. If the IMF approves the
government's fiscal policies, a $300 million loan agreement will be signed. The
IMF delegation has held talks with officials from the Bulgarian National Bank
and will also meet with cabinet members. The Bulgarian government wants to cut
the budget deficit to 4.5% of GDP and inflation to 50% in order to meet IMF
requirements. Deputy Prime Minister Rumen Gechev was quoted as saying that a
$150 million loan would cover Bulgaria's needs for 1995, but in the next few
years, it would need larger sums to pay its foreign debts. Bulgaria has to pay
$1 billion by the end of 1995, of which $280 million is owed to the IMF.
National Bank Governor Todor Valchev was reported as saying that Bulgaria "will
look for new creditors" if an agreement with international lending
organizations cannot be reached. * Stefan Krause
GREECE, ALBANIA TO DEVELOP FRIENDSHIP TREATY.
Greece and Albania have
agreed to develop a friendship treaty, Reuters reported on 14 March. Greek
Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, who was on a two-day visit to Albania, met
with Albanian President Sali Berisha on 14 March to discuss the status of the
ethnic Greek minority in Albania and the possible legalization of the status of
Albanians working in Greece. Berisha said the treaty could be signed this year,
while Papoulias expressed the political will to solve a number of grievances
between the two neighbors, adding that the prospects for practical results were
excellent. Meanwhile, textile workers in Berat ended their hunger strike after
the government promised to maintain production at their factory, Deutsche
Welle's Albanian-language service reported on 14 March. * Fabian Schmidt
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave