DUMA COMMITTEE ON BOSNIAN CRISIS.
The Duma Committee for International
Affairs has condemned NATO action in Bosnia-Herzegovina, dubbing the air
attacks of 25 and 26 May, and NATO's presence in general, a measure that
"only aggravates the situation and complicates the search for peaceful
ways to settle the Yugoslav crisis," Interfax reported on 29 May. The
committee also observed that while it was "far from justifying
uncivilized Serb operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina...the decision of NATO
to bomb the positions on one side of the conflict represents a challenge
to peace efforts." -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV CONDEMNS "BARBARITY."
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
said Moscow "can no longer tolerate barbarity as regards peacekeepers in
Bosnia," Interfax reported. Nevertheless, the minister also stood firm
on his government's conviction that "shrinking from real work with
Belgrade, double standards in evaluating the actions of the conflicting
sides, [and] NATO bombing, although [carried out with] UN consent, does
nothing but aggravate the situation." Kozyrev met with his Contact Group
counterparts on 29 May in The Hague, where he outlined his opposition to
a withdrawal of UN peacekeepers from Bosnia-Herzegovina. Meanwhile, the
Belgrade daily Nasa Borba reported the following day that Russian
special envoy Alexander Zotov has finally arrived in the Serbian capital
for talks. No Russian troops have been taken prisoner or hurt in the
former Yugoslavia, according to Interfax citing Russian Airborne Troop
Commander Yevgeny Podkolzin. However, Nasa Borba reported that 37 ethnic
Russians are among the prisoners currently being held by the Bosnian
Serbs. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
KHASBULATOV CALLS FOR CHECHEN CEASEFIRE.
Addressing the Russian
parliament hearings on human rights violations in Chechnya on 29 May,
former Russian parliament speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov called for an
immediate ceasefire in Chechnya, Interfax reported. He said that should
be followed by the withdrawal of Russian federal troops whose presence,
he argued, creates tension throughout the North Caucasus. Khasbulatov's
attempt to find common ground in the fall of 1994 with Chechen
opposition leader Umar Avturkhanov ended in failure. Since then,
Khasbulatov has maintained his distance from the pro-Russian government
of national salvation in Grozny. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
AGRARIAN PARTY COUNCIL DISCUSSES ELECTION PLANS . . .
Following a plenum
of the Agrarian Party council, party chairman Mikhail Lapshin pledged to
coordinate campaigns for parliamentary seats in single-member
constituencies with Gennady Zyuganov's Communist Party, Pravda reported
on 30 May. The platform developed at the plenum rejects the policies of
the "wild market," including planned reforms allowing the sale of land
to "large private landowners." Lapshin said "only the revival of the
villages can save Russia." -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND BEHAVIOR OF SOME LEADING MEMBERS.
At the same plenum, regional
representatives expressed dissatisfaction with some of the Agrarian
Party's most prominent members, Sovetskaya Rossiya reported on 30 May.
The council asked Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha and
Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk why they had not done more to
draw leaders of regional agricultural organizations into the Agrarian
Party. Party members also questioned the recent behavior of Duma Speaker
Ivan Rybkin, who has made ambiguous statements concerning his possible
leadership of a center-left electoral bloc. Rybkin did not appear at the
council plenum. Although he still describes himself as a member of the
Agrarian leadership, since early May he has missed several meetings with
other party leaders. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
LETTER ACCUSING CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC FORGED.
A forged letter accusing
leaders of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc, Our Home Is
Russia, of direct contacts with criminals was circulated in the Duma,
Segodnya reported on 27 May. The letter was allegedly written by Union
of Journalists chairman Vsevolod Bogdanov, but Bogdanov called it a
"complete fraud." Segodnya noted that Duma Security Committee Chairman
Viktor Ilyukhin passed the letter on to the Prosecutor General's Office
without bothering to confirm its authenticity. The incident follows a
series of recent allegations against Chernomyrdin and his bloc. On 26
May, Boris Fedorov, leader of "Forward, Russia!," said Chernomyrdin
became one of Russia's ten richest men after receiving Gazprom stock
worth up to $1 billion in the company's privatization, Ekho Moskvy
reported. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
DUMA BY-ELECTION IN YEKATERINBURG INVALID.
A 28 May by-election for a
Duma seat in Yekaterinburg was declared invalid due to a turnout of only
9% of eligible voters, Russian TV reported on 29 May. A turnout of at
least 25% was required to make the election valid. The Central Electoral
Commission told Interfax the same day that the by-election cost the
commission 1 billion rubles ($200,000), not including what the three
candidates themselves spent on the campaign. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA FOR NATO PARTNERSHIP.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
said on 30 May in the Netherlands that Russia will follow its individual
partnership program within NATO's Partnership for Peace, international
agencies reported the same day. He is also expected to endorse a second
document outlining a special consultative arrangement between NATO and
Russia. However, Kozyrev told ITAR-TASS that NATO's enlargement "does
not conform either with Russia's national security interests or with the
interests of European security." He said forcing the issue might
threaten further ties with the Western alliance. Kozyrev called for the
creation of an "effective non-bloc model of European security." -- Doug
Clark and Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
TURKEY, TATARSTAN SIGN AGREEMENT.
Tatarstan and Turkey signed an
agreement in Ankara on 28 May dealing with trade, economic, scientific,
technical, and cultural cooperation, Interfax reported the next day.
Tatarstan Prime Minister Farid Muhametshin described the agreement as a
"historic document" which upgrades bilateral relations. The agreements
will pave the way for Tatarstan to open a mission in Ankara and
encourage trade relations. In 1994, trade with Turkey--valued at $39
million--represented 5% of Tatarstan's overall trade. -- Lowell Bezanis,
GOSKOMSTAT ANNOUNCES SLIGHT ECONOMIC IMPROVEMENT.
Russia's economy is
showing signs of growth, but inflation is still high, Goskomstat
chairman Yury Yurkov announced at a press conference with Russian and
Western agencies on 29 May. The chairman said both GDP and industrial
output have grown 1% since May 1994. Despite that rise, figures for the
first five months of 1995 show a decline; GDP fell 3% and industrial
output 5% compared to the same period of 1994. Yurkov said inflation is
falling, but not rapidly enough. The inflation rate in May will not be
5-6% as predicted but 7.5-8%. Monthly inflation has fallen sharply from
levels of almost 20% since January, but economists contend that to hold
the rate down, Russia must follow a tight monetary policy and reject
pressure from lobby groups for cash. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
SHADOW ECONOMY ACCOUNTS FOR OVER 20% OF GDP.
Russia's shadow economy,
defined as goods concealed by producers in order to evade taxes,
accounts for 20-22% of the total GDP, Goskomstat chairman Yurkov told
Interfax on 29 May. Yurkov also said that from January to April 1995,
Russian residents spent 37.5 trillion rubles ($7.3 billion at the April
rate) on buying foreign currency, primarily U.S. dollars. However,
residents spent much less money on buying hard currency in May due to
the ruble's rise against the dollar. Ruble stability against the U.S.
dollar could help cut inflationary pressures because it would increase
the cost of imported goods which comprise a growing share of Russia's
consumer basket. The ruble was flat at 5,019 to $1 in 29 May MICEX
trading. The currency has risen 2% in May and is currently trading well
above April's all-time low of 5,130 rubles to $1. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI,
LEGAL PROBLEMS OF ARMS COMPANY DELAYS EXPORTS.
The director general of
the state-owned Rosvooruzheniye arms export company told a Moscow news
conference on 29 May that the instigation of criminal proceedings
against the company had already provoked delays in implementing several
contracts totaling $108 million, Interfax reported. The official would
not identify the countries involved, but said the contracts are for BMP-
3 infantry fighting vehicles, various armored personnel carriers, and
Mi-17 helicopters. Rosvooruzheniye has been charged with tax evasion,
and some buyers are said to have suspended payments on deals while
waiting for the legal investigation to be completed. -- Doug Clarke,
SHEVARDNADZE ON ABKHAZIA, SOUTH OSSETIA.
In his regular Monday radio
broadcast, Georgian parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze said the
decision taken at the CIS Minsk summit on 26 May to extend the CIS
peacekeeping mandate in Abkhazia to the end of 1995, constituted "a
landmark" in the quest for a settlement to the Abkhaz conflict, Interfax
reported. He added that Georgian Defense Minister Vardiko Nadibaidze
will travel to Moscow to help draw up "a program of action" for the
peacekeeping force. Shevardnadze also told journalists in Tbilisi on 29
May that during talks on 27 May with North Ossetian President Akhsarbek
Galazov on the situation in South Ossetia, the two men had agreed to
create a team of experts who will lay the ground for talks between
Georgian and South Ossetian representatives scheduled for June. The
talks will deal with the return of refugees, the disarmament of illegal
units, and a resolution to South Ossetia's economic problems. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
Aliyev CONFIRMS HELSINKI TALKS.
Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev
confirmed that talks on Nagorno-Karabakh would be held in Helsinki in
mid-June, ITAR-TASS reported on 29 May. Speaking at a meeting with
Vladimir Kazimirov, Russian co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk conference on
Nagorno-Karabakh, Aliyev said he had reached an understanding on this
point with Armenian President Levon-Ter-Petrossyan at the Minsk summit
of CIS states. Last week, Armenia said it would not participate in the
talks unless it received security guarantees for its energy supplies
following an attack on a pipeline which cut its natural gas supplies.
The pipeline in question has since been repaired. -- Lowell Bezanis,
IRAN CUTS ELECTRICITY TO NAKHICHEVAN.
Claiming non-payment for power
supplied in the past, Iran stopped delivering electricity to
Nakhichevan, Western agencies reported on 29 May. Reuters, citing the
Iranian daily Kar va Karga, noted that Azerbaijan owes Iran $10 million
for electricity; AFP, citing Iranian officials, reported that Azerbaijan
owes $6 million for power delivered to Nakhichevan. An accord for Iran
to supply 60% of the electricity needs of Nakhichevan has been in effect
since December 1992; the present cut-off is likely connected to
Azerbaijan's early April decision to cancel a deal allowing Iran to
participate in the international consortium which is to develop offshore
oil fields in the Caspian Sea. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINE OFFERS NEW PROPOSALS ON BLACK SEA FLEET.
In a letter to
President Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has proposed that
the two sides abandon the principle of separate basing for their shares
of the Black Sea Fleet and use separate installations instead, according
to issue no. 97 of Moskovskaya pravda. The paper noted that the proposal
is essentially the same as using bases. Kuchma said Ukraine is ready to
sign a treaty with Russia so that the two parts of the fleet can
function normally as national navies, but not at the expense of
Ukrainian territory, Ostankino reported on 29 May. The two presidents
are to meet in Sochi on 9 June to continue negotiations over the fleet.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT PLEDGES TO ENFORCE LAW ON SEPARATION OF POWERS.
Leonid Kuchma said in Kiev on 29 May that he will implement the law on
separation of powers even if the Ukrainian parliament fails to approve
amendments suspending 68 articles of the constitution that contradict
the new legislation, Interfax-Ukraine and Ukrainian Television reported
the same day. Kuchma told reporters he has not abandoned the idea of
calling a national plebiscite on confidence in the parliament and the
president. He said parliament speaker Oleksander Moroz failed to hand
over the legislation for the president's signature within the 10 days
required, thereby holding up his appointment of a new government. --
Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
EU APPROVES TRADE CONCESSIONS TO UKRAINE.
reported on 29 May that the EU has approved a package of trade
concessions to Ukraine. The agreement is seen as an interim accord that
may lead to increased political ties between Ukraine and the EU. The EU
will also grant Ukraine a $110 million loan to help balance its budget.
That loan was contingent on Ukraine's shutting down the Chornobyl
nuclear power station by 2000. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
REFERENDUM ON CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION CALLED OFF.
Four factions that have a
majority in the Crimean legislature decided on 29 May to call off a
referendum on the banned Crimean Constitution, scheduled for 25 June,
Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The Crimean parliament's press
service told Interfax that the Russia, Russia-Unity, Republic, and
Agrarian-Communists groups will start drafting a new constitution based
on the 1992 Ukrainian law on power-sharing between Ukraine and Crimea.
-- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UPDATE ON BELARUSIAN ELECTIONS.
According to further results reported by
international agencies on 29 May, 102 deputies were elected during the
second round of parliament elections the previous day. This brings the
total up to 120, well short of the 174 necessary for the new parliament
to begin work. The Agrarian Party has the most seats, with 31, and the
communists 27. Most other elected deputies are independents. Among the
successful candidates are Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb,
Lukashenka's former rival for the Presidency and former Prime Minister
Vyacheslau Kebich, and the head of the KGB Uladzimir Yahorau. Opposition
leader Zyanon Paznyak and former Chairman of the Supreme Soviet
Stanislau Shushkevich failed to get elected. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI,
TWO ESTONIAN PARTIES TO MERGE.
Mart Laar, chairman of the Pro Patria
Party, and Tunne Kelam, leader of the National Independence Party,
signed on 28 May an agreement to unite the parties before the fall local
elections, BNS reported the next day. The two parties formed the core of
the ruling coalition elected in September 1992 but performed poorly in
the March 1995 elections when they ran together. Kelam said that other
parties, such as the Forest Party and the Estonian Farmer's Party,
neither of which passed the 5% threshold to gain parliament seats, could
join the new party. He also commented that the new grouping will work
closely with the Reform Party of former Bank of Estonia President Siim
Kallas. -- Saulius Girnius , OMRI, Inc.
PARLIAMENT CONVENTION ON TIBET IN VILNIUS.
Eighty parliamentarians from
21 countries attended a convention in Vilnius on 26-28 May to discuss
the status of Tibet from the point of view of international law,
demographic policy in Tibet, and its relations with China, BNS reported
the next day. The convention agreed to send an international delegation
to Tibet and Beijing to investigate the situation there and to press for
talks on a peaceful settlement of the conflict between China and Tibet.
Lawmakers from 13 countries--the three Baltic States, Russia, Poland,
Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, Iceland, Canada, New Zealand, India, and
Japan--also decided to set up an international group that will seek
solutions to the Chechnya conflict. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
LITHUANIAN CAR BOMB VICTIM DIES.
Rimantas Grainys, one of the largest
shareholders in the Vilnius-based commercial bank Ekspres, died on 29
May from injuries sustained from a car bomb attack in Vilnius three days
earlier, BNS reported. Grainys was alleged to have been involved in
laundering money belonging to the so-called "Chechen mafia". It is
unclear whether the car bomb was planted by a rival gang known as the
"Vilnius brigade" or the Chechens. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH NATIONAL BANK REVERSES COURSE, LOWERS RATES.
The Polish National
Bank on 29 May lowered basic lending rates by four points (to 31% for
the refinancing credit rate) after raising interest rates in February
for the first time in five years. National Bank President Hanna
Gronkiewicz-Waltz argued that the rate cut was justified by weakening
inflationary pressures and the zloty's recent strengthening following
the introduction of a semi-floating exchange rate regime. This move is
the latest in a series of tussles between the NBP and the government.
According to a report in Gazeta Wyborcza, the rate cut is widely seen as
a "capitulation" by Gronkiewicz-Waltz to Deputy Prime Minister Gregorz
Kolodko, who sharply criticized the NBP's decision to raise interest
rates in February. Also, Gronkiewicz-Waltz said on 27 May that she does
not exclude running in the upcoming presidential elections. -- Jakub
Karpinski and Ben Slay, OMRI, Inc.
CZECHS AND POLES DISAGREE AGAIN OVER VISEGRAD GROUP.
Minister Vaclav Klaus on 29 May again rejected Polish desires for closer
ties among the four Visegrad countries of Central Europe, Mlada fronta
dnes reported the following day. Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw
Bartoszewski, at a meeting with Klaus, called for greater cooperation
among Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. But Klaus
repeated his long-held view that the Visegrad group should not become
institutionalized. The two however agreed on their countries' strategies
for joining NATO and European institutions and on relations with
Germany. On the first day of his two-day official visit to Prague,
Bartoszewski also had talks with his Czech counterpart Josef Zieleniec.
-- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAKIA TO CAMPAIGN FOR FULL EU MEMBERSHIP.
Slovak Foreign Minister
Juraj Schenk told journalists in Brussels on 29 May that Slovakia may
seek to gain full EU membership at the 26-27 June union summit in
Cannes, TASR reports. He noted that the invitation from French President
Jacques Chirac for Slovakia to participate in the June summit marked
another concrete step toward closer ties with the EU. French Foreign
Minister Herve de Charette announced on 29 May in Brussels that the
French president is extending an invitation to attend the EU summit to
the prime ministers and presidents of all countries that have already
signed association agreements with the EU or are in the process of
signing such agreements. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
HUNGARY'S SCUD MISSILES DETONATED.
A U.S. demolition expert detonated on
29 May Hungary's remaining Soviet-made Scud missiles, international and
Hungarian media reported. U.S. Ambassador to Hungary Donald Blinken told
journalists that the action was a joint effort by the U.S. and Hungary
to prevent the spread of dangerous weapons. He said the destruction of
the missiles demonstrated Hungary's determination to join Western
security structures. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyorgy Keleti said
Hungary's remaining seven Scud missiles were never targeted and were put
in storage in 1989. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.
NORTH ATLANTIC ASSEMBLY MEETING IN BUDAPEST.
The North Atlantic Assembly
ended a four-day meeting in Budapest on 29 May, Western agencies
reported the same day. It was the first time the assembly had convened
in a former communist country. NAA President Karl Voigt and Hungarian
military expert Tamas Wachsler submitted a report calling for new
members of NATO to be "fully integrated into the NATO structure" and
stating that in peace time, no foreign troops and nuclear weapons need
be deployed in these countries. Russian delegates argued that any
expansion of NATO would threaten the division of Europe. The assembly
passed a resolution condemning the "barbaric" actions of the Bosnian
Serbs in taking UN peacekeepers as hostages and called for the UN
mandate in Bosnia to be strengthened. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN SERBS REMAIN DEFIANT.
International media on 30 May report that
the Bosnian Serb supreme command has issued a statement saying that the
UN is siding with the Bosnian government and that the Serbs now regard
"all Security Council resolutions, all NATO ultimatums, and all accords
with the UN that have been abused...[as] null and void." General Ratko
Mladic said that UN soldiers will still be used as human shields by
keeping them at sites where NATO aircraft might strike but that they
will no longer be chained to fences and poles. The Serbs denied they had
any hostages, preferring to call their captives "prisoners of war." Pale
nonetheless did not call for a pullout of UN forces because, in the
opinion of the BBC, that would pave the way for Washington to arm the
Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBS HOLD NEARLY 400 HOSTAGES.
Nasa Borba reports on 30 May that the
number of UNPROFOR soldiers held captive by Bosnian Serb forces is
rapidly approaching 400. The French lead the list with 174, followed by
55 Canadians, 41 Ukrainians, 37 Russians, and 34 British. The 26
remaining hostages come from various countries, including three from the
Czech Republic. The BBC notes that the Serbs have developed a taste for
their involuntary guests' belongings and now wear French uniforms and
drive British vehicles. They nonetheless appear to have lost ground in
the Mt. Ozren area, north of Sarajevo, to attacks by Bosnian government
forces. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
CONTACT GROUP IS "BACK IN ACTION."
This is how British Foreign Secretary
Douglas Hurd described the 29 May session in The Hague of the foreign
ministers of Germany, France, Russia, the U.K., and the U.S. They
condemned the Bosnian Serbs' "outrageous acts" and threatened
"consequences if [the hostages] are not correctly treated and returned
unharmed." But they neither specified what those consequences would be
nor gave a deadline for freeing the captives. The five called for
"strengthening" UNPROFOR but also urged renewed diplomatic efforts,
especially toward securing Belgrade's recognition of Sarajevo.
International media noted that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
stressed the need for negotiations, while U.S. Secretary of State Warren
Christopher would not rule out further air strikes. Meanwhile, EU
foreign ministers said on 29 May that Pale would be held responsible for
the fate of the hostages. -- Patrick Moore , OMRI, Inc.
MILOSEVIC'S MAN IN KRAJINA SACKED.
Borislav Mikelic was ousted as prime
minister by the Krajina Serb legislature in Knin on 29 May, Nasa Borba
reported the next day. He was regarded as Serbian President Slobodan
Milosevic's main ally in the Krajina leadership, which otherwise favors
closer links--including an ill-defined "union"--with the Bosnian Serbs.
Mikelic's popularity has nose-dived recently, because he is suspected of
being willing to accept Krajina's reintegration into Croatia. -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON UNIFICATION, BOSNIAN CRISIS.
Minister Vladislav Jovanovic on 29 May said the unification of Serbia
with Serb-held territories in Bosnia and rebel Serb-occupied areas of
Croatia was an eventuality that would spell only "catastrophe" and
amount to defiance of the international community. Jovanovic, in what
seems to be a break with the Bosnian Serb leadership over the escalation
of the conflict in Bosnia, said the taking of UN hostages and their use
as human shields against possible future NATO air raids was
"unacceptable." Politika on 30 May reported that Jovanovic has described
the sacking of the Krajina premier as "an internal question" for the
Republic of Serbian Krajina. This statement may be seen as an attempt by
Belgrade to distance itself from its former rebel Serb clients in
Croatia. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN PARTY CONGRESS IN MACEDONIA.
Iljaz Halimi, leader of the ethnic
Albanian Democratic People's Party, was reelected at a party congress in
Tetovo on 28 May, Flaka reported the following day. The congress adopted
two documents--one dealing with economic and social questions and the
other demanding improved Albanian-language education and the closer
integration of ethnic Albanians in the fields of culture and science. A
proposal to change the party's name to Democratic Party of Albanians was
rejected. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN SENATORS DENOUNCE HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY.
Several senators on
29 May, responding to the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania's
(UDMR) program adopted at its recent congress (see OMRI Daily Digest, 29
May 1995), attacked the party's demand for territorial autonomy.
Socialist Labor Party First Deputy Chairman Adrian Paunescu and Greater
Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor (both former Ceausescu "court
poets") called on the prosecutor-general to take legal action against
the UDMR for violating the constitution. The UDMR was also denounced by
Vasile Dumitru, a member of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in
Romania, and by Senator Vasile Vetisianu, a member of the opposition
National Peasant Party-Christian Democratic, Radio Bucharest and
Romanian Television reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
NEW JEWISH RELIGIOUS LEADER IN ROMANIA.
Rabbi Mark Yeheskel was elected
first rabbi of Bucharest on 28 May, Radio Bucharest announced, citing a
press release by the Federation of Jewish Communities. Federation
president Nicolae Cajal told RFE/RL that Rabbi Yeheskel was born in
Romania and has taught in the U.S. The press release said he will have
jurisdiction over all Jewish communities in Romania. Nonetheless, he was
not appointed chief rabbi of Romania, the position occupied by Rabbi
Moses Rosen, who died last year. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
GAGAUZ ELECTION UPDATE.
BASA-press, citing sources from the Central
Electoral Commission, reported on 29 May that only 28 of the 35
parliament seats in the autonomous Gagauz region have been filled. Run-
offs for the vacant seats will be held on 11 June. The second round of
elections for the region's leader will also be held that day. The
electorate will choose between George Tabunshchik, who gained 45% of the
vote in the first round, and Mikhail Kendigelean, who received 28% .
Turnout at the 28 May election was approximately 70%. The Moldovan
Communist Party has expressed its support for Tabunshchik, BASA-press
reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT URGES NATO MEMBERSHIP . . .
Zhelyu Zhelev on 29 May
said that full membership in NATO is "the political ticket to enter the
European Union." He argued in an interview with state-run Radio Horizont
that no former East bloc country will be admitted to the EU without
being a member of NATO. Zhelev commented that there are no obstacles to
prevent Bulgaria from becoming a full member of NATO by the end of the
year "if NATO is willing to accept us." With regard to the EU, Zhelev
said reforms are Bulgaria's "visiting card." He added that consensus
must be reached on a free market economy and democracy. Also on 29 May,
Zhelev met with Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Avdeev. Duma on 30 May
quoted Avdeev as saying that Russia's position on NATO expansion remains
unchanged. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
. . .BUT POLITICIANS FAIL TO AGREE.
The Consultative Council on National
Security has failed to bridge different views on Bulgaria's possible
membership in NATO, Demokratsiya reported on 30 May. The council, headed
by the president, is composed of members of the government, the main
political parties, and the president's staff. President Zhelyu Zhelev
asked the council to convene to discuss applying to join NATO, but the
meeting ended with a vague statement that the parties "agreed to
continue discussing [Bulgaria's] concrete position." Three opposition
parties supported Zhelev's stance that Bulgaria must clearly state its
desire to join NATO. Prime Minister Zhan Videnov, government members,
and representatives of the Bulgarian Socialist Party argued that "there
is no social consensus as yet on Bulgaria's membership in NATO." --
Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIAN JOURNALISTS THREATEN STRIKE.
The Albanian Association of
Professional Journalists has threatened to suspend publication of all
independent newspapers in response to an order that all papers be sold
only at state-owned book shops and kiosks in Tirana. The order, issued
by Mayor of Tirana Sali Kelmendi, would place severe restrictions on the
number of copies of each newspaper, international media reported. The
association also said it will begin legal proceedings to reclaim lost
earnings for street sellers who were prevented by the police from
selling newspapers on 26 May. Meanwhile, Adrian Krasta, a journalist for
Albanian TV, was beaten by unidentified individuals, Gazeta Shqiptare
reported on 30 May. The paper said the attack was probably in connection
with Krasta's professional work as a journalist. -- Fabian Schmidt,
ALBANIAN RIGHT-WING PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS.
One of the founders of the
extreme right-wing Democratic Party of the Right (PDD), Abdi Baleta,was
sacked from the party's leadership at the PDD congress on 27 May,
Aleanca Nacionale reported the next day. The congress was attended by
representatives from all over Albania, except from Baleta's stronghold,
Pogradec. Baleta's defeat comes after his de facto break from the party
on 27 April, when he publicly denounced elements within the PDD. --
Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 12:00 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave