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Newsline - June 2, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 107. 2 June 1995
GRACHEV ACCEPTS LEBED'S RESIGNATION.
Defense Minster Pavel Grachev signed 14th Army Commander Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed's resignation request, Russian agencies reported on 1 June. Grachev called Lebed an "ordinary general" with political ambitions, whose resignation was not a "tragedy." President Yeltsin has not yet accepted Lebed's resignation. * Laura Belin

ADVERTISING TO BE RESUMED ON CHANNEL 1 . . .
The Russian Public Television company (ORT), which stopped running advertisements when it took over Channel 1 broadcasting from Ostankino TV on 1 April, will soon resume advertising on the network, Segodnya reported on 1 June. ORT Director General Sergei Blagovolin said a new advertising code for the network was near completion. Shortly before he was murdered on 1 March, Vladislav Listev, then ORT director general, announced a temporary ban on Channel 1 advertising and permanent changes in advertising rules. The new rules will diminish the role of middlemen, who earned tens of millions of dollars annually re-selling advertising time purchased at cost from Ostankino. * Laura Belin

. . . AMID ACCUSATIONS OF CORRUPTION AT OSTANKINO.
Meanwhile, Radio Mayak on 1 June reported allegations of corrupt advertising practices at Ostankino TV. The report charged that Alexander Dmitriev, vice-president and chief economist at Ostankino, helped found a joint venture between Ostankino and an Israeli television company in 1993 and was subsequently paid a monthly salary of $40,000, even though Ostankino received very little of the joint venture's revenues. Radio Mayak also asserted that beginning in 1993, Ostankino had illegally broadcast advertisements for Israeli companies. * Laura Belin

IGNATENKO APPOINTED DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER FOR MEDIA.
President Yeltsin has appointed Vitaly Ignatenko to the post of deputy prime minister in charge of media affairs, Interfax reported. Ignatenko will retain his current position as director general of the official ITAR-TASS news agency, according to Russian TV. However, Interfax reported that he will leave this position immediately. According to First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, Ignatenko will have to define his responsibilities in coordination with Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai who is in charge of the media. Shakhrai may now take some responsibility for foreign policy issues. Commentators from Chubais to Mikhail Poltoranin, chairman of the State Duma Committee for Information Policy, praised Ignatenko as a "top-notch professional." Oleg Golembiovsky, editor of Izvestiya , told NTV he believes the appointment is a government attempt to increase its influence over the media. * Robert Orttung

ROW OVER QUAKE AID FROM JAPAN.
Japan will send a fourth batch of aid to the victims of the earthquake on Sakhalin despite the bitterness sparked by President Boris Yeltsin's remarks about its possible political price tag, Kyodo News Agency reported on 2 June. Yeltsin said on 31 May that Japan might use the aid issue to pressure Moscow to return the disputed Kuril Islands. Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigory Karasin then added insult to injury by saying Yeltsin's remarks relected Russian astonishment that certain Japanese officials linked the territorial question with all other issues, Reuters reported. Karasin also stressed, however, that Russia greatly appreciated Japan's offer and said First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets had telephoned the Japanese foreign minister to coordinate relief efforts. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky also sent a letter thanking Japan for its assistance and regretting "individual irresponsible statements by Russia's top leadership," according to Interfax. * Penny Morvant

CRIMINAL CASE INSTITUTED OVER SHODDY BUILDING WORK.
The Sakhalin Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case to look into claims that poor construction work contributed to the deaths in Neftegorsk during Sunday's earthquake, Interfax reported on 1 June. At least 17 apartment blocks collapsed in the disaster, burying an estimated 2,000 people. The case is based on Article 251 of the Criminal Code on infringements of building regulations. According to Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu, the apartment blocks were put up in the 1960s before Sakhalin was considered an earthquake zone. Meanwhile, Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Shafranik has rebuffed suggestions that the quake could place the future of the oil industry on Sakahlin in doubt, noting that oil pipelines had suffered only 16 minor leaks as a result of the quake. * Penny Morvant

FSB PROHIBITS PUBLISHING OF WINTER HARVEST PROJECTIONS.
For the first time in several years, the Federal Security Service (FSB) has forbidden the publication of official winter-crop harvest projections, Ekho Moskvy and Interfax reported on 1 June. An FSB spokesman told Ekho Moskvy that harvest information should be considered a "commercial secret." However, another FSB spokesman denied the reports the same day, according to Reuters. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin and Duma Budget Committee Deputy Chairman Gennady Kulik supported the idea of keeping harvest projections secret. Ilyukhin argued that releasing such information would give Western nations leverage to use against Russian security interests. Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk has previously forecast a winter harvest of 82 million tons, but the real figures are expected to be much lower. * Laura Belin

MOSCOW TO DISCUSS FINANCING OF RECONSTRUCTION IN CHECHNYA.
The State Commission for Postwar Reconstruction of Chechnya, headed by Soskovets, met on 1 June to consider ministry proposals on financing reconstruction work in Chechnya, Interfax reported. The government plans to spend 5.7 trillion rubles ($1.14 billion) by the end of 1995. In May alone, it allocated 35.1 billion rubles ($7.02 million) to be paid as wages and social benefits to Chechen residents, senior commission spokesman Yury Mikhailov told the news agency. Meanwhile, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin said spending on defense has dropped far behind that on other sectors of the Russian economy this year, as less than half of the funds planned for defense projects have been allocated from January to May, AFP reported. A shortage of cash has led to delayed wage payments and slower production of military hardware. No figures were released. * Thomas Sigel

RYBKIN CONTINUES BUILDING LEFT-CENTER BLOC.
State Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin is conducting talks with more than 20 parties and movements to build a left-center bloc to counter Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's right-center bloc, the speaker told an interviewer from Rossiiskaya gazeta. He claims that at least 120 to 140 Duma deputies, mainly representing single-member districts, are interested in the bloc. Rybkin said the bloc will be concerned in particular with the fast pace of reform, pointing out that a car driver should not speed up when he sees a sign saying, "Road Construction Ahead." * Robert Orttung

TURKISH SPY SPILLS BEANS?
Turkey has officially denied that it is conducting espionage in Chechnya following the arrest of Turkish national Isak Kasap in Dagestan, AFP reported on 31 May. The Russian Foreign Ministry lodged an official protest accusing Turkey of sending secret agents to assist Chechen rebels, AFP reported on 1 June. Ministry spokesman Karasin told journalists Kasap had talked about his mission, revealed the names of individuals working at the headquarters of the Turkish national intelligence service (MIT), and divulged the name of another spy who had met with Dzhokhar Dudaev in March. Members of the Turkey-based "Committee of Caucasus-Chechen Solidarity" also say members of their group in Chechnya have been arrested. Following low-key talks in February, Turkey promised Russia it would not support the Chechen rebels. * Lowell Bezanis

RATIFICATION NECESSARY FOR PARTNERSHIP FOR PEACE?
Any agreement on Russian participation in the Partnership for Peace program must be ratified by the Russian parliament, State Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin told Interfax on June 1. Ilyukhin added that such an agreement would stand little chance of ratification. A high-ranking Foreign Ministry official disputed Ilyukhin's claim, stating that there is no constitutional or legal need for parliamentary ratification, as the agreements are only "working plans," outlining areas of cooperation between Russia and NATO. The official added that the agreements should not have come as a surprise to the parliament, because deputies had participated in the drafting process. * Scott Parrish

AGREEMENT COULD INCREASE RUSSIAN INFLUENCE ON NATO EXPANSION.
By joining the Partnership for Peace (PfP), Russia has increased its chances of "defending its interests" on the issue of NATO expansion, according to Krasnaya zvezda on 1 June. The newspaper did, however, criticize the timing of the agreements. Recent NATO decisions in Bosnia, he argued, show the alliance remains unwilling to treat Russia as a full and equal partner on matters of European security. Nevertheless, the paper argued, the institutionalization of NATO-Russian consultation and cooperative measures through PfP may offer a better chance for Russian views to be heard and considered by NATO leaders. * Scott Parrish

GOVERNMENT TO EASE STOCK MARKET RULES FOR FOREIGNERS.
The Russian government plans to ease the rules on the purchase of Russian securities by foreigners, the Financial Information Agency reported on 1 June. The Federal Commission for Securities and the Stock Market (FCSSM) said the commission, together with the Central Bank of Russia will finalize new rules for non-resident purchases. Currently, foreign investors must receive permission from the bank each time they wish to purchase Russian enterprise shares. New legislation will only require that non-residents notify the bank of the purchase. More than 60% of the off-exchange market is controlled by domestic investors. Western share purchases have amounted to no more than $200 million in recent months. In August 1994, foreign investments reached a record high of $500 million. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 107. 2 June 1995
GEORGIA OPENS RADAR STATIONS.
As part of a deal with Russia on joint air defenses, Georgia opened two Soviet-era radar stations and a command post controlling the airspace around Tbilisi on 1 June, Reuters reported, citing Georgian television. Georgian air defense commander Georgi Kvinikadze said Russia would supply equipment and train personnel so that all Soviet-era air defense systems in the republic could be reactivated. Without elaborating, he also said Georgian air space has been repeatedly violated. Russia and Georgia agreed last year on the original military cooperation package. * Lowell Bezanis

CIS ACCORD ON FIGHTING ORGANIZED CRIME.
CIS security chiefs signed an agreement on fighting organized crime at a meeting in Gudauri, Georgia on 31 May, Interfax and NTV reported. Protocols were signed on various issues including terrorism, nuclear smuggling, illegal armed formations, and drug trafficking. The heads of the security services also agreed to exchange personnel and set up a single database in Moscow. Azerbaijan's representative said he had reached agreement with his Armenian counterpart "on possible cooperation within certain limits and on certain questions." * Penny Morvant

RUSSIA FINANCING BLACK SEA FLEET ALONE.
For the second year in a row, Russia has been providing all the money to run the so-called "joint" Black Sea Fleet, a senior fleet official told Interfax on 1 June. Alexander Zhukov, the fleet's chief of finance, said sailors from Ukraine are serving in the fleet and Ukraine has been asked to pay the fleet's debts to Ukrainian shipyards to compensate for their wages. He also said about 40% of the Russian money spent on the fleet went to Ukraine in the form of taxes or payments. Zhukov reported that only help from Russian regions and towns--above all Moscow--ensured the social welfare of the fleet's crews. The laid-up aircraft-carrying cruiser Moskva belongs to the fleet, and the Moscow authorities have financed the construction of several blocks of apartments for its sailors. * Doug Clarke



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 107. 2 June 1995
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VETOES KUCHMA'S PLEBISCITE.
The Ukrainian legislature on 1 June voted 252 to nine to veto President Leonid Kuchma's 31 May decree calling a legally non-binding plebiscite on confidence in himself and the parliament, international and Ukrainian news agencies reported 1 June. Lawmakers called the poll unconstitutional. They also said his decree did not specify how the cash-strapped government would pay for the nationwide plebiscite. The legislators prohibited the government and local authorities from allocating funds for any national referendum until the end of the year. They ordered Kuchma to submit the draft of a "constitutional accord" allowing the implementation of his law on separation of powers. They also proposed that he submit by 8 June a list of candidates for prime minister and the eight portfolios that, under current law, the parliament must approve. The current acting cabinet was dismissed in April, but Kuchma has waited for the enactment of the new political reform law to gain the exclusive right to appoint the ministers. * Chrystyna Lapychak

PRICE HIKES IN UKRAINE.
Ukrainian authorities increased utility prices for individual consumers as of 1 June, Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The price of heating has doubled, while those for water and sewage disposal have risen by 40%. The government announced recently that it intends to incrementally bring utility rates, which were previously heavily subsidized, to 60 % of their real costs; on 1 June, they stood at 30% . Bread retailers have threatened to raise bread prices by 10-20% next week. Such austerity measures are blamed for Kuchma's declining popularity in many parts of the country. A March poll by the International Sociology Institute in Kiev revealed only a 38% national confidence rating for the president, down from 76% in December. * Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS.
Ukrainian Radio on 1 June reported that Leonid Kuchma European Union Foreign Commissioner Hans van der Broek signed in Brussels a temporary agreement on trade and trade relations. European Commission President Jacques Santer hailed the agreement as establishing a special relationship between the EU and Ukraine. The agreement--the first of its kind to be signed by the EU and a former Soviet republic--was contingent on Ukraine's promise to close down the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. The same day Kuchma visited NATO headquarters and met with NATO chief Willy Claes. Claes said that Ukraine will be invited to a special "16 plus 1" meeting with NATO. Ukraine's recent policy toward NATO is to seek a special relationship with the alliance. * Ustina Markus

CRIMEAN LEGISLATURE GIVES INITIAL APPROVAL TO NEW CONSTITUTION.
Crimean deputies have given their initial approval to the draft of a new constitution, UNIAR reported on 1 June. The draft is based largely on the 1992 Crimean Constitution, annulled by Kiev in March as too separatist, but several amendments have been made, including the incorporation of the full text of a 1992 Ukrainian law on power-sharing between Ukrainian and Crimean authorities. Lawmakers also kept the article, opposed by Kiev, establishing a presidency in the autonomous region. * Chrystyna Lapychak

NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE ON IMF CREDIT TO MINSK.
Interfax on 1 June reported that the IMF is continuing talks with the Belarusian government on releasing $250 million of a stand-by credit to Minsk. An IMF mission collecting data on the Belarusian economy began work last week. The IMF made $102 million available to the country in February but did not release the larger stand-by credit because donor countries, reportedly concerned about Belarus's failure to adhere to its economic reform program, would not confirm their co-financing. * Ustina Markus

ESTONIA'S RUSSIAN PARLIAMENTARIANS WANT ALIENS LAW AMENDED.
Viktor Andreev, a member of the Russian caucus in the Estonian parliament, on 31 May proposed that the aliens law be amended to guarantee permanent residence permits to everyone who settled or was born in Estonia before 1 July 1990, BNS reported. He also proposed that the 12 July deadline for aliens to file for residence and work permits be extended. Although about half a million non-citizens live in Estonia, only 210,000 applied for permits by 30 May. Officials may thus find it difficult to process other applications in the six remaining weeks. * Saulius Girnius

LATVIAN PROSECUTORS BEGIN CRIMINAL CASE ON BALTIJA BANK.
Biruda Bilbe, a spokesperson for the Latvian prosecutor's office, said on 1 June that a criminal investigation has begun against Talis Freimanis and Aleksandrs Lavents, former heads of the Baltija Bank, Reuters reported. The two have not been arrested but are forbidden to leave Latvia. They are charged with exchanging 60% of the bank's credit resources, worth about 80 million lati ($156 million), for Russian state treasury bonds redeemable in 2008 with 3% annual interest. * Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN GANG MEMBER TO BE QUESTIONED IN GERMANY.
A Lithuanian prosecutor will travel to Dusseldorf next week to interrogate Igor Tiomkin about the murder on 12 October 1993 of Respublika deputy editor Vitas Lingys, BNS reported on 1 June. Tiomkin, a member of the criminal gang known as the "Vilnius brigade," was arrested on 4 May. Lithuania has asked for his extradition and even agreed not to sentence him to death, but it may take several more weeks before a German court authorizes the transfer. * Saulius Girnius

POLAND TO BECOME MEMBER OF WTO.
The Ministry of Foreign Economic Cooperation has announced that Poland will become a member of the World Trade Organization on 1 July. Polish President Lech Walesa on 30 May signed an agreement committing Poland to abolish all trade barriers, except customs, with the other 121 WTO members, Polish and international media reported on 2 June. * Jakub Karpinski

POLISH REACTION TO RUSSIAN-NATO RELATIONS.
Polish Foreign Minister Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, commenting on Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev's proposal for common NATO-Russian security guarantees for former Soviet satellites, said that "to belong to a security system or to receive a security guarantee is exclusively a matter of competence of an interested country. We don't want to accept security guarantees from somebody else. We want to be in a common security system and not inside a crossword puzzle," Polish media reported on 1 June. * Jakub Karpinski

CZECHS SEE KOHL'S SPEECH AS CONCILIATORY.
Czech leaders welcomed German Chancellor Helmut Kohl's conciliatory tone toward Czech-German relations in a speech to the Bundestag on 1 June marking the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of ethnic Germans from various Central and East European countries, Czech media reported. But they again insisted there can be no revision of the Benes decrees under which Sudeten Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. Kohl thanked President Vaclav Havel and Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus for recognizing that the expulsions from Czechoslovakia were unjust. He added that he hoped "a reasonable solution with the Czech Republic" will soon be possible. Havel told Czech and German television that Kohl was accepting the hand of friendship extended by recent Czech diplomatic initiatives, while Klaus welcomed the tone of the speech. Both, however, rejected Bavarian Premier Edmund Stoiber's repeated demand that they repeal the Benes decrees. * Steve Kettle

NEW PETITION LIST SCANDAL IN SLOVAKIA.
The Association of Workers of Slovakia (ZRS), a member of the government coalition, may have competed illegally in last fall's parliamentary elections, Slovak media reported on 2 June. The election law requires that each new party collect 10,000 signatures to participate in the vote. Two former ZRS members have informed journalists that approximately 2,000 names on the ZRS lists were copied by current ZRS parliamentary deputy Jan Garaj from a list of unemployed people at the district labor office in Nove Zamky. Chairman of the extraparliamentary Republican Party Ivan Duris said his party has submitted a request to the attorney-general that the ZRS lists be investigated. This development follows an ongoing dispute over the petition lists of the opposition Democratic Union. * Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES AUSTERITY PACKAGE.
The Hungarian parliament on 31 May adopted a package of measures aimed at drastically cutting the country's public sector deficit, which is expected to reach $2.28 billion this year, international media reported. Two socialist ministers have resigned since the austerity package, proposed by Gyula Horn's socialist-liberal government, was first unveiled on 12 March. It provides for sharp reductions in social benefits, layoffs of civil servants and teachers, and the introduction of fees for higher education institutions. Finance Minister Lajos Bokros estimates that the implementation of the package will save the government some 170 billion forints ($1.37 billion). * Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 107. 2 June 1995
KARADZIC WARNS OF "SLAUGHTER."
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, in his first public remarks in several days, said that the hostage crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina "has to be solved by political means." He added that "any attempt to liberate [the UN peacekeepers being held hostage by Bosnian Serbs] by force would end in catastrophe. It would be a slaughter." International media noted on 2 June that the number of hostages now stands at 372 and that a Swedish civil affairs officer was released soon after his capture the previous day. Britain has admitted that it is maintaining "contacts" with Pale but insists that these "are not negotiations," Nasa Borba reported on 2 June. AFP said the previous day that UNPROFOR troops are "living in fear of their own stolen vehicles" and that "every UNPROFOR vehicle could contain Bosnian Serbs in disguise, and so it has to be treated as a potential enemy." * Patrick Moore

SERBIAN FORCES CLOSE IN ON GORAZDE.
Nasa Borba on 2 June reported that Bosnian Serb troops are now only 2 kilometers from the center of the besieged Muslim enclave, whose population is swollen with refugees. The Serbs continue to shell the town, but there is no confirmation of Bosnian government charges that the Serbs are bringing up reinforcements. The BBC reported that it was otherwise "a quiet night in Bosnia." * Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN FOREIGN MINISTER AGAINST CHANGING UN MANDATE.
The Bosnian government and the Bosnian Serbs are both wary of any projected changes in UNPROFOR's mandate. The new Bosnian foreign minister, former UN ambassador Muhamed Sacerbey, told the BBC on 1 June that the UN suffered from having appeased the Serbs for too long and that any weakening of the mandate would turn the peacekeepers into "truck drivers for humanitarian aid." The Bosnian government wants instead to have the means to defend itself and some air cover but not foreign ground troops. The BBC and VOA on 2 June noted that the UN debate over the mandate is likely to drag on for at least two weeks and that neither the proposal to weaken the present arrangement nor the one to replace it with a multi-national military force is likely to be accepted. * Patrick Moore

CROATIA SLAMS "MORAL CAPITULATION."
Foreign Minister Mate Granic warned that further concessions to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic would amount to "moral capitulation...at a time when the entire international community is faced with unprecedented acts of barbarity and the peace forces are suffering humiliation." Granic charged that Milosevic still "pulls the strings of war" in both Bosnia and Croatia, AFP reported on 2 June. * Patrick Moore

CHRISTOPHER URGES BELGRADE TO MAKE CLEAN BREAK WITH BOSNIAN SERBS.
Reuters on 1 June reported that U.S. Secretary of Sate Warren Christopher has appealed to Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to "take sides with the rest of the civilized world" and break ties with the Bosnian Serb leadership. Christopher also remarked that U.S. diplomatic efforts so far have failed to convince Milosevic to isolate the Bosnian Serbs. He noted that recent meetings between Milosevic and U.S. envoy Robert Frasure produced no agreement on lifting sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia in exchange for Belgrade's recognition of Bosnia-Herzegovina. In other news, Nasa Borba on 2 June reported that 1,000 ultranationalists, meeting in Belgrade the previous day, called for the unity of all Serbian lands and support for unification between Bosnian Serb-held lands and rebel Serb-held territory in Croatia's Krajina area. * Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ATTACKS HUNGARIAN MINORITY PARTY.
Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 1 June told a press conference that the position of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) at its congress last week was "unacceptable and incomprehensible," Radio Bucharest reported. Chebeleu said the UDMR was attempting to "undermine the basic pillars of the Romanian state" and attempting to set up "a state within a state." He also attacked the congress's appeal to the U.S. to use most favored nation status as an instrument for ensuring Romanian's democratization and respect for minority rights. * Michael Shafir

HUNGARIAN MINORITY LEADER RECEIVES HOAX BOMB BY POST.
Romanian Television on 31 May reported that Bela Marko, chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), on 31 May received a parcel by post containing what appeared to be a bomb. The parcel, sent from Graz in Austria on 27 May, contained a book that was wired. Police and members Romanian Intelligence Service established that the bomb was a hoax. Senator Karoly Szabo of the UDMR said the parcel seemed to be "some sort of warning." * Michael Shafir

ROMANIA OBJECTS TO REPORT PRESENTED AT NAA.
Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu on 1 June said Romania was "disappointed" that at the North Atlantic Assembly session in Budapest in late May, the idea of enlarging NATO "in several stages" was again proposed and that Romania was not among the states perceived as likely to join NATO first, Radio Bucharest reported. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mircea Geona, in a statement carried by Radio Bucharest the previous day, said Romania was "surprised by...[and had] serious reservations about" a report presented by NNA President Karl Voigt and the deputy chairman of the Hungarian parliament's Defense Commission. Geoana said the report contradicted the "spirit" of the Partnership for Peace program. * Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON LEBED'S RESIGNATION.
Mircea Snegur, in an interview with the Bulgarian news agency BTA, said that if Lt. Gen. Alexander Lebed's resignation is accepted, Moldova will propose "the appointment of a man who will not permit destructive forces to take over the enormous amounts of 14th Army armaments," BASA-press and Infotag reported on 31 May. He pointed out that a settlement to the conflict in the breakaway Transdniestrian region does not depend on who commands the 14th Army but on whether the Tiraspol leadership shows goodwill. * Michael Shafir

GREEK-MACEDONIAN TALKS TO START SOON?
Negotiations between Athens and Skopje will start at UN headquarters in New York in 10 days, MIC reported on 1 June, citing Greek Mega TV. Unnamed diplomatic sources in New York and Washington are quoted as saying that a transitional agreement will be signed providing for a new Macedonian flag and the simultaneous lifting of the Greek embargo. The text of the agreement is reported to be ready. Meanwhile, Macedonian government spokesman Guner Ismail said Macedonia still insists on Greece's lifting the embargo before the talks start. Matthew Nimetz, one of the mediators in the Greek-Macedonian dispute, told Macedonian Radio that "at least for the moment, a meeting is not foreseen." * Stefan Krause

UPDATE ON GREEK-TURKISH DISCORD.
The Greek parliament's decision to ratify the Law of the Sea Convention was received coolly by Turkey, international media reported on 1 June. Turkish Foreign Minister Erdal Inonu made a clear distinction between ratification and any attempt to extend Greece's territorial waters, which, he said, Ankara would view as cause for war. Within hours of the Greek move to ratify the convention, Turkey went ahead with planned military maneuvers in the Aegean. Athens on 1 June criticized the Turkish maneuvers in the Aegean as provocative and announced it will closely monitor them, Reuters reported the same day. Government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said Ankara "is repeating its usual practice of artificial tension and provocations against Greece." Greece will hold a five-day exercise in the Aegean starting 5 June, but officials said it will not coincide with Turkish maneuvers. * Lowell Bezanis and Stefan Krause

G-24 OFFERS AID TO ALBANIA.
Albanian Minister for Construction and Tourism Dashamir Shehi said after a G-24 meeting in Brussels that Albania has secured $1 billion for infrastructure investment. One-third of that amount is to come from the World Bank, one-third from EU countries, and one-third from the Albanian government, Reuters reported. Shehi also said the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the PHARE program have confirmed they will help finance the $28 million highway linking Tirana to Durres. Another road linking Durres to the Greek border is already under construction with funds from the EU's cross-border program totaling 45 million ECU, Rilindja Demokratike reported on 30 May. Other sectors to be supported are energy, telecommunications, and water supply. * Fabian Schmidt

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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