IZVESTIYA: YELTSIN'S TEAM CONCERNED ABOUT CHERNOMYRDIN'S INCREASING
The 19 May edition of Izvestiya claims that the appearance of
Prime Minster Viktor Chernomyrdin's right-center bloc without a strong
left-center counterweight has turned Chernomyrdin into a possible competitor
for the presidency in 1996. The prime minister's rising prominence has alarmed
the president's close advisers and may lead them to attempt to postpone the
elections. Izvestiya speculates that President Boris Yeltsin's
previously announced intention to protest the constitutionality of the State
Duma electoral law in the Constitutional Court could force a delay in the
parliamentary elections while the case is being litigated, and lead the
presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously in June
1996. Such a move would eliminate Chernomyrdin as a possible competitor to
Yeltsin for the presidency, because he would have to concentrate on the
parliamentary campaign. The article cited a recent comment by Federation
Council Speaker Vladimir Shumeiko that it would not be a disaster to hold both
elections together as further evidence that this scenario will be carried out.
* Robert Orttung
MORE NEW ELECTORAL ALLIANCES.
Yury Palchikov, the leader of the
Association of Investors, Shareholders, and Borrowers, announced the creation
of a new electoral bloc called People (Narod), Ekho Moskvy reported on 18 May.
Palchikov said his bloc's goal would be to provide the people with rights they
are guaranteed on paper but do not enjoy in practice. The Afghan War Veterans'
Fund and the nationalist association Russian Union also joined the People bloc,
which hopes to attract the support of citizens who have lost their savings in
commercial enterprises. On the same day, the movement Duma-96 announced plans
to form its own electoral alliance, Interfax reported. Duma deputy and Duma-96
chairman Anatoly Gordeev named the People's Democratic Party and the Union of
Afghan War Veterans as possible partners in his his bloc, which he said would
not be an "opposition alliance." * Laura Belin
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGES HOLD CONFERENCE.
Judges from the
Constitutional Court and from constitutional courts in the regions of the
Russian Federation held a conference in Moscow, Interfax reported on 18 May.
Addressing the conference, President Yeltsin's chief of staff Sergei Filatov
criticized attempts by some federation members to "deviate from the Russian
Constitution and take as much power as possible from the center, giving nothing
in return." He said stability could never be restored under conditions of
"lopsided power." Other speakers at the conference emphasized the need for more
cooperation between constitutional courts at the federal and regional level. *
SENIOR TAX OFFICIAL ARRESTED IN VLADIVOSTOK BRIBERY SCANDAL.
Alexander Gorbushin, a senior member of the Far Eastern tax police, has been
arrested on charges of falsifying documents in the bribery scandal that cost
Vladivostok's former mayor his job, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 May. Viktor
Cherepkov, elected mayor of Vladivostok in June 1993, was forcibly removed from
office in March 1994 after a lengthy investigation in which he was accused of
bribe-taking. Cherepkov denied the charges, asserting that he was the victim of
a feud between a group of Primorsky Krai industrialists backed by Governor
Yevgeny Nazdratenko and the democrats headed by himself. In December 1994, the
State Prosecutor's Office ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove
Cherepkov had accepted bribes. Citing sources close to the Prosecutor's Office,
Segodnya reported on 17 May that other high-ranking law enforcement
officers in Primore will probably be arrested for unlawfully persecuting
Cherepkov. * Penny Morvant
NUMBER OF AIR CRASHES RISING.
In 1994, 302 people were killed in
airplane crashes in Russia, up from 222 in 1993, ITAR-TASS reported on 18 May
quoting a transport safety official. The number of train accidents also rose.
Most of the accidents were caused by negligence and poor maintenance of
equipment. In March 1994, 75 people were killed when an Aeroflot airbus crashed
near Novokuznetsk with the pilot's 16-year-old son at the controls. Hijacking
attempts have also become more frequent, with 120 cases reported last year.
Meanwhile, a leading aviation official cited by Reuters said Moscow's four
airports need $1.5 billion for renovation work. * Penny Morvant
CHERNOMYRDIN, MASKHADOV, GRACHEV ON CHECHNYA.
Chernomyrdin has again called for talks "at any level" on a peaceful solution
of the Chechen conflict, Interfax reported on 17 May. Chernomyrdin argued that
favorable conditions exist for resuming the negotiating process, in which he
said it was "logical" that the National Accord Committee headed by Umar
Avturkhanov should participate. He also said the Chechen people are not
responsible for "the extremist activities of a bunch of political adventurers."
Ingush President Ruslan Aushev greeted Chernomyrdin's offer as "a real chance"
to end the conflict. In an appeal dated 17 May and summarized by Interfax,
Aslan Maskhadov, the head of the Chechen armed forces, in his capacity as a
former Soviet army colonel, appealed to Russian military officers to stop
combat operations in Chechnya, and expressed willingness to meet with Russian
Defense Minister Pavel Grachev "even on Russian territory." Grachev told
journalists in Beijing on 18 May that he would agree to meet with Chechen
military leaders only after they comply with the federal government's demand
that they cease hostilities and surrender their weapons. He said he would agree
to talks with Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev, whom he termed "a state
criminal," only with the consent of President Yeltsin * Liz Fuller
CONTINUING SAGA OF GAS CENTRIFUGES TO IRAN.
The Russian government would
have prevented the transfer of gas centrifuges to Iran on its own initiative
without American intervention, a senior official at the Russian Foreign
Ministry told Interfax 18 May. The official dismissed charges in the media that
a contract to supply the centrifuges had already been signed. Nuclear Energy
Minister Viktor Mikhailov had signed a protocol in January "which said that
contracts will be written for the training of nuclear physicists for Iran and
for the construction of a centrifuge plant," the official said. The minister
had the legal right to sign the protocol, which the official said registered
Iranian interest in the centrifuges. Nevertheless, the official pointed out
that Mikhailov had displayed some "initiative" in the affair since, unlike the
training of nuclear specialists, a centrifuge deal would have violated a 1992
agreement on nuclear cooperation with Iran. Mikhailov was unauthorized to take
that step. The official conceded that, until recently, the Foreign Ministry was
unaware of the details of the Nuclear Energy Ministry's negotiations with Iran
but the actual provision of the centrifuges would have required a separate
agreement approved by the government. He said he hoped the decision not to
provide the centrifuges would "calm the Americans." * Michael Mihalka
GOVERNMENT CHIDES OIL INDUSTRY FOR DECLINING OUTPUT.
government, in a special commission meeting chaired by First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets, criticized the oil industry for failure to reverse
output declines, which affect export earnings, the Petroleum Information Agency
and Western agencies reported on 18 May. A document distributed at the meeting
reported that crude oil output declined by 3% in the first four months of this
year, compared with the same period in 1994 and drilling work dropped by 18%.
About 27.2% of Russian oil wells remain idle due to lack of funds. Refineries
are operating at less than 55% capacity and many farming regions and remote
northern areas are experiencing fuel shortages. Equipment, pipelines, and other
machinery are corroding and wearing out, often resulting in major accidents.
The commission called on ministries and companies to take steps to remedy the
problem but made no specific recommendations. * Thomas Sigel
GOVERNMENT TO ISSUE "GOLD CERTIFICATES."
Russian President Boris Yeltsin
ordered the issuance of "gold certificates," a new type of government security
to be backed by gold, the Finance Ministry told the Financial Information
Agency on 18 May. Complying with the general conditions for the issuance of
federal bonds, 2 trillion rubles (about $400 million) worth of certificates is
slated to hit the market by the end of June. * Thomas Sigel
TAJIK PRESIDENT, OPPOSITION LEADER OPEN TALKS.
Tajik President Imomali
Rakhmonov met with the Islamic Renaissance Movement leader Sayid Abdullo Nuri
in Kabul on 17 and 18 May to discuss ways of ending the conflict in Tajikistan.
The talks focused on the return of Tajik refugees living in Afghanistan and
ending the armed conflict on the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Ali
Akbar Turadzhonzoda, a Tajik opposition leader, said the meetings marked
"progress in inter-Tajik relations" but went on to say that "no serious
achievements were reached," Interfax reported. The opposition has put forth
three demands: an interim government in Dushanbe made up of neutral
personalities, the use of peacekeepers from Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey
to separate rival factions, and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the
Gorno-Badakhshan area, AFP reported. * Bruce Pannier
TAJIK OPPOSITION GIVES WARNING.
In an interview with Interfax on 18 May,
Turadzhonzoda said clandestine groups loyal to the opposition are currently in
Tajikistan, and they are capable of applying extra pressure on the Dushanbe
government "if needed." He denied charges by the Tajik Security Ministry that
members of Tajikistan's Islamic Renaissance Movement had been detained in
connection with terrorist activities in Dushanbe. Turadzhonzoda said, "Our
armed forces have never carried out any terrorist acts against civilian targets
nor individuals, nor do they intend to perpetrate such acts." He claimed that
more and more people both inside and outside Tajikistan support the opposition.
* Bruce Pannier
NIYAZOV VISITS MOSCOW.
Talks between Turkmen President Saparmurad
Niyazov and his Russian counterpart, Boris Yeltsin, reflected similar views on
the matters discussed, Interfax reported on 18 May. Discussion focused on
several issues, including Russian use of military facilities in Turkmenistan,
joint operation of gas pipelines, measures to counteract Central Asia's
"Islamization," securing the Tajik-Afghan border, and the status of the Caspian
Sea. Yeltsin pledged to use his influence to solve border problems, thereby
improving Russo-Afghan relations and helping the situation in Tajikistan.
Niyazov told Interfax the Caspian is an "internal sea" which cannot be divided,
a position that supports the Russian view but opposes that of Azerbaijan and
Kazakhstan. * Lowell Bezanis
RUSSIA ON BELARUSIAN REFERENDUM.
Unlike the Russian media, which has
voiced mixed reactions to the Belarusian referendum on 14 May, the Belarusian
media has only reported on positive reactions from Russia. On 17 and 18 May,
Belarusian media reported that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev was well
disposed toward the results, that the Russian State Duma is preparing a
statement upholding the referendum's results and that the St. Petersburg
organization of Russian writers has written to Belarusian President Alyaksandr
Lukashenka congratulating him on the results. In contrast, Nezavisimaya
gazeta reported on 16 May that President Yeltsin and Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin do not care for Lukashenka and that former acting Prime Minister
Yegor Gaidar has warned Russian taxpayers that a union with Belarus may be
costly to them. The newspaper also cast doubt on the realization of the
proposed customs union between the two states. * Ustina Markus
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES BILL ON SEPARATION OF POWERS.
President Leonid Kuchma scored a major political victory on 18 May when the
Ukrainian parliament voted by 219 to 104 to approve a compromise version of his
bill on the separation of powers, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian TV reported
the same day. The new law gives the president the exclusive right to form a
government; previously, he was required to obtain the parliament's approval for
his choice of key ministers. The motion was passed after presidential spokesman
Fedir Burchak proposed a compromise version excluding articles that would have
empowered Kuchma to dissolve the assembly and allowed the legislature to
impeach the president. According to the final draft, Kuchma's right to call a
referendum is limited to issues related to the adoption of a new post-Soviet
constitution. Communists and socialists voted against the bill, warning that it
would lead to authoritarian rule. In addition, they argued that the vote was
illegal because it drew only a simple majority. * Chrystyna Lapychak
CRIMEAN TATARS MARK DEPORTATION ANNIVERSARY BY DEMANDING GREATER RIGHTS.
Nearly 30,000 Crimean Tatars marked 51 years since Stalin ordered mass
deportations of their people with a rally in Simferopol demanding greater
political and economic rights, Interfax-Ukraine and AFP reported on 18 May.
Protesters called for official recognition of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatars'
self-styled assembly, as their chief representative body. They also demanded
more money for the resettlement of Tatars in Crimea and for urgent steps to
restore their language, culture, and religion. Mejlis speaker Mustafa Dzhemilev
condemned Crimean separatist forces and warned "We will not let the separatists
trigger another Chechnya here." The crowd observed a period of silence for
Moslem Chechen victims of Russia's military crackdown. On 18 May 1944, Soviet
forces deported 200,000 Crimean Tatars to central Asia and Siberia. Many have
since returned, and Tatars now make up about 10% of the region's population. *
UKRAINIAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS UPDATE.
Ukrainian Radio reported on 18 May
that Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn arrived in Kiev on an official visit,
the premier's first to Ukraine since that country gained independence. It was
also reported that Ukrainian parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz met with
Moldovan ambassador to Ukraine Ion Russu. Moroz said that "procedural
obstacles" should not prevent the ratification of the Ukrainian-Moldovan
treaty. Russu noted that there were no obstacles on the Moldovan side to the
document's ratification. * Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY ON LANGUAGES IN SCHOOLS.
Ministry of Education has sent a letter to regional authorities asking that
they guarantee parents' rights to choose which language their children be
taught in during the first years of schooling, Belarusian radio reported on 18
May. This decision appears aimed at forestalling protests by parents following
the 14 May referendum, in which 83% of those who voted came out in favor of
giving Russian the status of official language, alongside Belarusian. Since
1992 there has been a move to teach primary school students in Belarusian. *
BELARUS RECEIVES MORE MONEY TO SCRAP MISSILE SITES.
Deputy Foreign Minister Valeri Tsepkalo told Interfax on 18 May that the United
States will allocate an additional $6 million to dismantle the launching pads
for Russian SS-25 missiles deployed on Belarusian territory. These missiles
were stored in garages with sliding roofs that permitted them to be fired from
the storage sites. The START-I treaty requires that the concrete foundations of
such garages be destroyed either by explosion or evacuation. Two of the 81
sites have already been destroyed by explosion, but Tsepkalo termed this method
"unacceptable." He explained that it caused "great ecological damage to the
local environment. A lot of trees get destroyed by pieces of concrete flying in
all directions." * Doug Clarke
WORLD BANK HELPS FINANCE BALTIC SEA CLEANUP.
The World Bank on 17 May
announced that it will join the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development, the European Investment Bank, the Nordic Environmental Finance
Corporation, and Nordic Investment Bank in financing seven projects, costing
$240 million, to clean up the Baltic Sea, Reuters reported the next day.
Lithuania and Latvia will undertake two projects each and Estonia, Russia, and
Poland one each. The projects are part of a broader, long-term initiative that
will focus on 132 trouble spots and cost an estimated $1 billion. * Saulius
ESTONIA, UKRAINE INITIAL FREE TRADE TREATY.
Tiit Reiman, head of the
Foreign Trade Department at the Estonian Economics Ministry, announced that
Estonia and Ukraine on 18 May initialed a bilateral agreement on free trade and
an accord on maritime affairs, BNS reported. The free trade agreement covers
all products, including agricultural ones. The Ukrainian government delegation
is also scheduled to sign a protocol outlining future activities, such as
speeding up the conclusion of a bilateral accord on avoiding double taxation. *
POLISH PRESIDENT, PREMIER DISCUSS FOREIGN POLICY.
Lech Walesa and Jozef
Oleksy on 18 May discussed Russian protests against plans to open the "Free
Caucasus" radio station in Poland. They also discussed the 4 June commemoration
of the Soviets' 1940 massacre of Polish officers at Katyn. In other news,
Gazeta Wyborcza on 19 May published an appeal by 130 intellectuals
supporting former Minister of Labor Jacek Kuron's presidential candidacy. Two
days earlier, Adam Strzembosz, head of the Polish Supreme Court and another
presidential candidate, met on 17 May with leaders of five parties that do not
support his candidacy. He declared that he would withdraw from the race if a
right-of-center candidate emerged who had better chances of winning than either
himself or Walesa. * Jakub Karpinski
CZECH FINANCE MINISTER WANTS TO END WAGE REGULATION.
Ivan Kocarnik on 18
May said he would like to end wage regulation immediately, Hospodarske
noviny reported the following day. Kocarnik told a forum of managers that
wages are expected to increase by between 16.5% and 18% this year. "Of course,
we will abolish wage regulation at some point. I'm for doing it as quickly as
possible," he said. Under current regulations, some wage rises are linked to
inflation and do not take into account the performance of the company
concerned. Labor and Social Affairs Minister Jindrich Vodicka recently said
that wages will most likely not be deregulated this year. He and trade unions
argue that the regulations limit the inflationary pressures that would result
from a free wage market. Despite being a major bone of contention, the issue of
wage regulation was not discussed at a meeting of ministers, employers, and
unions on 18 May. * Steve Kettle
SLOVAK FOREIGN MINISTER ON TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Juraj Schenk said at a
press conference on 18 May that the bilateral state treaty signed by the Slovak
and Hungarian prime ministers in March will not be submitted to the parliament
in the near future, Narodna obroda reported. He noted that the framework
agreement on the protection of national minorities will be discussed at the
next parliament session, to be held in June. Only after that agreement has been
approved will the interstate treaty be presented to the parliament, Schenk
said. The framework agreement is the main document on which the treaty is based
and calls for individual rights for minorities. Schenk suggested that if that
agreement is passed, the controversial Council of Europe Recommendation 1201,
which was included in the Slovak-Hungarian treaty, can be interpreted as also
guaranteeing individual rather than collective rights. * Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PRESIDENT SENDS OPEN LETTER TO SLOVAK TV.
Michal Kovac on 18 May
wrote an open letter to Slovak TV Director Jozef Darmo in connection with his
appearance on STV the previous day. Kovac recorded a statement for STV in
response to calls by Premier Vladimir Meciar for a referendum to remove him. He
said he was told by STV staff that the statement would be broadcast during
STV's main newscast or shortly afterward. Instead, it appeared much later than
expected, with no prior announcement. "I do not feel offended as an individual,
but I can hardly consider the STV's attitude as anything other than intentional
manipulation, particularly in relation to the public," Kovac said. The
president also suggested that the electronic media in Slovakia are not
"sufficiently plural or free," Pravda reported. * Sharon Fisher
IS MILOSEVIC PLANNING TO RECOGNIZE BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA?
on 19 May reports that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has signaled to
U.S. envoy Robert Frasure that the rump Yugoslavia may be prepared to extend
recognition to Bosnia-Herzegovian. According to the daily, the two have met to
discuss the details of such a move. Nasa Borba quoted Lord Owen as
saying in an interview with the BBC the previous day that recognition on
Milosevic's part would constitute "a momentous step" in halting hostilities in
the war-torn country. Meanwhile, ultranationalists within Serbia are said to be
furious by the reports. Nasa Borba on 19 May noted that the Serbian
Radical Party, led by ultranationalist and accused war criminal Vojislav
Seselj, is planning to hold protest meetings on 17 June to show that the
Serbian people [will not] tolerate sell-outs." Vladimir Lazarevic, a member of
the New Democracy party, which is supportive of Milosevic's Socialists in the
Serbian legislature, is quoted by Nasa Borba as saying that recognition
of Bosnia-Herzegovina would be "acceptable." * Stan Markotich
International media say that fighting in Sarajevo was
lighter on 18 May than on the previous two days. Only sporadic shelling was
reported, following intense clashes during the previous 48 hours. Meanwhile,
Hasan Muratovic, a Bosnian government minister without portfolio, said at a
conference in Morocco on 18 May that the arms embargo against his country
should be lifted as a means of bringing the Serbian side to the negotiating
table. "We need a big success on the battlefield to bring the Serbs to
discussions," he said. Nasa Borba on 19 May reported that General Rasim
Delic, commander of the Bosnian Muslim army, has said his troops are ready to
liberate Bosnia. Finally, Reuters on 18 May, citing UN sources, reported that
some 155,000 residents of Bosnia's western Bihac pocket face real prospects of
starvation unless "its rebel Serb and Muslim besiegers stop blocking relief
convoys to the enclave soon." * Stan Markotich
REFUGEES FROM SLAVONIA TO BE SETTLED IN KOSOVO.
administration of Kosovo is preparing to settle thousands of Serbian refugees
from other former Yugoslav republics, Kosova Daily Report said on 17
May. About 10,000 Serbian refugees from western Slavonia are expected to arrive
in Kosovo soon. They will initially be housed in hotels, hostels, and tourists
resorts until permanent accommodation is found. Humanitarian organizations,
including the UN High Commission for Refugees, will reportedly cater for their
food needs. * Fabian Schmidt
COUNCIL OF EUROPE DELEGATION IN MACEDONIA.
A delegation from the Council
of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly arrived in Macedonia for a two-day visit on
18 May, Flaka reported the following day. The delegation met with
parliament chairman Stojan Andov to discuss economic developments in Macedonia.
Meetings are also scheduled with President Kiro Gligorov, Prime Minister Branko
Crvenkovski, representatives of various political parties, members of the
Ethnic Relations Council, non-governmental organizations, and religious
communities. The delegation also plans to meet with the rector of Skopje
University to discuss higher education in Albanian. Meanwhile, the university's
Faculty of Drama has decided to launch acting courses in Albanian and Turkish
beginning this fall. * Fabian Schmidt
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT REFUSES TO EXPLAIN KGB ALLEGATIONS TO PARLIAMENT . .
Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 18 May said Ion Iliescu will
not explain to the parliament his position on allegations that he had KGB links
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 18 May 1995). Chebeleu said that while several
parliamentarians have suggested that Iliescu appear before the parliament, the
constitution does not state that the president is politically accountable to
the legislature. Radio Bucharest announced that five opposition parties
represented in parliament have agreed to issue a joint declaration demanding a
response to the allegations, which they called "very serious" and possibly
"detrimental to the country and the institution of the Presidency." * Michael
. . . AND ATTEMPTS TO SPLIT HUNGARIAN MINORITY.
One week before the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) is scheduled to hold its
congress, Iliescu has made an obvious attempt to exacerbate differences between
the UDMR's "radical" and "moderate" factions. At a press conference carried by
Radio Bucharest on 18 May, presidential spokesman Chebeleu said Iliescu
"appreciated" the "constructive attitude" of Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula
Horn toward the negotiations on the Hungarian-Romanian basic treaty.
Consequently, he continued, the president was all the more concerned about the
"extreme-nationalist positions" adopted by some UDMR leaders. Iliescu called on
the "responsible leaders" of the UDMR not to follow the "extremist path, which
never brought anything positive anywhere." As a possible solution to
differences with Budapest over the treaty's provisions, Iliescu suggested that
the document embrace the priniciples of Council of Europe Recommendation 1201
but not mention it by name. * Michael Shafir
SLOVAK DEFENSE MINISTER IN ROMANIA.
Jan Sitek, visiting Romania from
17-18 May, met with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, with whom he discussed
integration into Euro-Atlantic structures and cooperation within the
Partnership for Peace program, Radio Bucharest reported. The two leaders also
discussed Slovakia and Romania's relations with Hungary and the problem of the
Hungarian national minorities in their countries. Both sides agreed that
minorities should be granted individual, rather than collective rights. Sitek
also met with his Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, who said agreement was
reached on "a number of concrete measures" for joint military maneuvers within
the Partnership for Peace program and cooperation in the field of military
technology. Finally, Sitek held talks with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu,
who said the two countries had many common interests--above all, that of
integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. * Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN OFFICIAL REJECTS LEBED PROPOSAL.
Interfax on 17 May quoted Lt.
Gen. Alexander Lebed as suggesting that the 14th army perform "peacekeeping
functions" in the breakaway Transdniester region. Deputy Chairman of the
Moldovan parliament Nicolae Andronic responded by saying the proposal aimed at
"keeping Russian troops in east Moldovan districts by any means," BASA-press
reported on 18 May. He noted that the Russian Defense Ministry was not
authorized to make such a decision, since it would contravene the agreement
between Presidents Mircea Snegur and Boris Yeltsin of July 1992. Also on 17
May, Interfax reported that Moldova and Russia will discuss the withdrawal of
the 14th Army at a meeting scheduled for late July. * Michael Shafir
SIGNING OF BULGARIAN-RUSSIAN AGREEMENTS POSTPONED.
Prime Minister and Trade Minister Kiril Tsochev on 17 May announced that two
agreements between Russia and Bulgaria will not be signed during Russian Prime
Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's visit to Sofia on 18-19 May, Reuters reported
the same day. He said that the two countries are ready to sign an agreement on
nuclear fuel but that there are objections from Ukraine and Moldova, which are
concerned about the safety of nuclear fuel transports via their territory. The
second agreement is on preferentially priced natural gas deliveries from Russia
to Bulgaria. The present agreement expires in 1997, and experts from both
countries have been unable so far to reach agreement on new prices. * Stefan
G-24 MEETING ON ALBANIAN INFRASTRUCTURE.
A G-24 meeting on
infrastructure investment in Albania was held on 17 May in Brussels, the
European Commission reported the following day. The Albanian delegation was led
by Minister for Construction and Tourism Dashnor Shehi. The meeting was also
attended by officials from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan,
Switzerland, Turkey, the United States, and representatives of the IMF, the
World Bank, and the EBRD. Discussions focused on implementing the public
investment program adopted by Albania in 1994 and on the external assistance
required for its implementation. The participants reviewed projects submitted
by the Albanian government for possible external financing. These projects were
in the transport, energy, telecommunications, and water supply sectors. *
DIPLOMATIC INITIATIVE TO SOLVE GREEK-TURKISH RIFT WITHIN NATO.
Secretary-General Willy Claes, announced that a diplomatic effort will be
undertaken to resolve differences between Greece and Turkey before a meeting of
defense ministers in June, international news agencies reported on 18 May.
Speaking in Ankara following talks with Turkish Prime Minister Tansu Ciller,
Claes said a NATO delegation would shuttle between Ankara and Athens to find a
solution to disputes over budget matters and the stationing of a rapid
deployment force in the region. The row has resulted in Turkey's blocking of
NATO's military budget and the forestalling of a 1992 decision to establish two
new military bases in the region. * Lowell Bezanis
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave