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Newsline - July 13, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 135, 13 July 1995
YELTSIN TO LEAVE HOSPITAL NEXT WEEK.
President Boris Yeltsin will leave the hospital on 17 July, according to agency reports. Doctors refused to release pictures of Yeltsin or details of his condition. Kommersant-Daily argues that Yeltsin's advisers, particularly Viktor Ilyushin, are nervous that the president's unstable health is making Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin look like an even more likely successor. On 12 July, Chernomyrdin spoke with Yeltsin for 20 minutes on the telephone and told reporters that speculation about the president's health is neither understandable nor polite, Russian Public Television reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA OVERRIDES YELTSIN VETO ON ITS SUBPOENA POWER.
By a vote of 308-1 and 2 abstentions, the State Duma overrode Yeltsin's veto of a law that gives the Federal Assembly the power to summon federal and local officials to its sessions to provide information. Fines of between 50 to 100 times the monthly minimum wage can be handed to those who fail to comply or provide false data. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA VOTE ON IMPEACHMENT FAILS.
For the second time, Communist deputies in the Duma failed to assemble enough votes to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Yeltsin, Russian media reported on 12 July. Only 168 deputies voted in favor of beginning the impeachment process, far short of the 226 required to put the motion on the Duma's agenda. The measure failed in part because deputies from Vladimir Zhirinovsky's Liberal Democratic Party, citing Yeltsin's illness, withdrew their signatures from the petition calling for impeachment. On 23 June, the Duma rejected the first attempt to begin parliamentary debate on an impeachment motion. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA PASSES BILL ON CHECHEN CONFLICT.
The Duma passed a bill calling for the political resolution of the Chechen conflict, Russian TV reported on 12 July. The bill calls for the removal of most federal troops from Chechnya, and the formation of an interim government for the republic. The bill also would prohibit the redeployment of Russian army troops in Chechnya without a state of emergency declaration by the president. According to the Russian Constitution, a state of emergency must be approved by the Federation Council. President Yeltsin ordered Russian troops into Chechnya last December without such a declaration. The bill now goes to the Council for approval. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RABOCHAYA TRIBUNA MAY BECOME ORGAN OF CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC.
Rabochaya tribuna, the newspaper Anatolii Yurkov founded and edited before he was appointed to lead the government newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta, may become the main newspaper of Prime Minister Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, Moskovskie novosti reported in its 9-16 July edition. Rabochaya tribuna is losing money and has reportedly been offered financial help from Gazprom, the gas monopoly Chernomyrdin led from 1989 to 1992. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

LABOR MINISTRY ON FALLING LIFE EXPECTANCY.
Labor Ministry representative Aleksandr Tkachenko said on 11 July that in 1994 life expectancy for Russian men fell to 57.3 years and for women to 71.1, Russian and Western agencies reported. According to AFP, he also said the population fell by 1.7 million in 1993-1994. It was not clear whether this figure takes into account migration, which compensated for much of the natural loss in previous years. Tkachenko added that the government had worked out an anti-crisis program to tackle the demographic problem, but he gave no details. NTV reported that the new figures were released in connection with an article in Izvestiya that claimed that the size of the adult population has been underestimated in order to manipulate the election results. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

BUSINESS AND THE MAFIA.
More than 40% of Russian entrepreneurs said they had come into conflict with criminal groups last year, according to an opinion survey reported by Radio Mayak on 12 July. One in four respondents admitted to regularly paying off mafia groups. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW ADOPTS CITY CHARTER.
Mayor Yurii Luzhkov signed the Moscow City Charter (ustav) on 12 July, NTV reported. Moscow is the 16th of Russia's 89 regions and republics to adopt its charter. The charter provides a legal basis for the mayor and City Duma and a foundation for adopting legislation at the local level. According to Luzhkov, none of its articles contradict the Russian Constitution. It took seven years to complete the process of writing the charter, Russian Public Television reported. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TATARSTAN HAS STOPPED MAKING PAYMENTS TO THE RUSSIAN BUDGET.
The republic of Tatarstan stopped sending payments to the Russian federal budget because Moscow had not paid for military equipment, Tatar Prime Minister Farid Mukhamedshin announced on 11 July, according to Radio Rossii. The Russian Defense Ministry owes enterprises in Tatarstan 96 billion rubles for military hardware produced last year, AFP reported. According to Mukhamedshin, since the Finance Ministry and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin did not reply to requests to pay the debt, "we had to resort to extreme measures." Tatar President Mintimer Shaimiev is on the political council of Chernomyrdin's electoral bloc, Our Home is Russia. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

RENEWED TENSION IN PRIMORSK MINES.
Miners in Primorsk Krai have not received pay checks for May and June and are threatening to take strike action if their wages are not paid, Russian media reported on 12 July. According to Segodnya on 11 July, no money has been received from the local power company Dalenergo for the last two months. The power industry blames the Finance Ministry for not releasing subsidies to the sector. Russian TV reported that the government will send 44 billion rubles to the krai within the next 10 days to pay the miners' wages. In April, a miners' strike in the region was only resolved after intervention by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

THEFT OF CURRENCY BONDS INVESTIGATED.
Military prosecutors have begun an investigation into the theft of $7.8 million worth of hard-currency bonds, Moskovskii komsomolets and an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 12 July. The bonds were allegedly stolen by Russian servicemen during military operations in Grozny in January. The bonds belonged to the state oil concern Grozneft and were kept at the Grozny branch of Kredobank, which was partly destroyed during the storming of the city. The looters allegedly teamed up with the director of a Yekaterinburg exchange and sold the bonds to the Moscow-based commercial bank Interbank for $2 million. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CONCERN OVER CHOLERA MOUNTS.
Russian officials said on 12 July that they have tightened sanitary controls on the border between southern Russia and Ukraine in an attempt to halt the spread of cholera, Western agencies reported. More than 200 people have been affected by a cholera outbreak in Ukraine this summer, and on 12 July one woman suffering from the disease in the Russian city of Rostov was taken to hospital, ITAR-TASS reported. Local officials in both countries have urged residents not to go fishing or swimming in the Don River. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA CRITICIZES NATO AIR STRIKES IN BOSNIA.
A high-ranking Russian diplomat characterized NATO air strikes against Bosnian Serb positions near Srebrenica as "senseless" and "counterproductive," Interfax reported on 12 July. The diplomat also contended that the air strikes would endanger UN peacekeeping personnel in Bosnia, not protect them. A statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry on 12 July denounced any use of force in Bosnia, and assigned equal blame to Muslims, Croats, and Serbs for taking actions which had led "to the logic of force gaining the upper hand in Bosnia." The statement added that Russia continues to support UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and opposes any withdrawal of the peacekeepers. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

DUMA CALLS FOR UNILATERAL LIFTING OF SANCTIONS ON RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
The Russian State Duma passed on its second reading a bill calling for Russia to unilaterally lift its sanctions against rump Yugoslavia, ITAR-TASS reported on 12 July. The bill, which passed by a vote of 246-3, states that since the rump Yugoslavia "was not part of the Balkan conflict," international sanctions against it are unjustified. However, to become law, the bill must still pass a third reading in the Duma, gain approval by the Federation Council, and be signed by President Yeltsin. The Duma also passed a non-binding resolution "resolutely condemning" NATO air strikes in Bosnia and attacking NATO's "open support of one side" in the Bosnia conflict. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

DEPUTY CHIEF OF THE GENERAL STAFF ON NATO EXPANSION.
Col. Gen. Dmitrii Kharchenko, deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, reiterated Russian objections to the eastward expansion of NATO in an interview with Krasnaya zvezda on 12 July. Kharchenko acknowledged that the countries of Eastern and Central Europe have security concerns, but said Russia "could not allow the security of others to be purchased at the price of Russia's security." He proposed that instead of joining NATO, the countries of the region could accept a joint guarantee of their security from Russia and NATO. The general noted that if NATO were to expand, Russia would have to reconsider the 1990 CFE Treaty but promised that those reductions which the treaty requires by November 1995 would be carried out on schedule. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

GDP DOWN BUT SOME SECTORS SHOW GROWTH.
Russia's GDP fell by 4% in the first six months of 1995, while industrial output declined 7%, AFP reported citing Goskomstat statistics on 12 July. However, the fall in GDP seems to have bottomed out in April. In June, GDP rose 3% over the previous month and industrial output was up 2%. It was the second straight month in which Russia's basic growth indicators were positive. GDP and industrial output rose 1% in May. Industrial growth was strongest in the heavy industry sector, notably in steel, where production in the first six months was up 12% over the same period in 1994. In light industry, however, output plummeted 38% in the same period. In 1994, industrial output fell 21% and GDP as a whole dropped by 15%. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA/CHINA LAUNCH FERRY SERVICE ACROSS AMUR.
Russia and China launched a car ferry service across the Amur River between the far-eastern border cities of Nizhnelenionskoe and Tongjiang, AFP reported on 12 July. The ferry service follows an agreement signed by Chinese Premier Li Peng in Moscow last month to build a bridge across another section of the Amur, linking the Heilongjiang city of Heihe with Russia's Blagoveshensk. The bridge will provide a rail and road link in a region where Soviet and Chinese troops clashed in 1969, leaving several hundred people dead. The flourishing border trade in this region only began in the late 1980s. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

DROUGHT THREATENS HARVEST.
The National Institute of Agricultural Economics said severe drought in key agricultural regions will reduce Russia's grain harvest to 70 million tons, below earlier forecasts and last year's 81.3 million tons, agencies reported on 12 July. In Ryazan Oblast alone, the damage caused by the drought is estimated at up to 260 billion rubles ($58 million), Russian TV reported on 11 July. The fall harvest is expected to bring in some 800,000 tons of grain less than anticipated. About 25% of the planted crops have been destroyed, which will create food and fodder grain shortages this year. The fodder shortage will cause a fall in meat production. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 135, 13 July 1995
STRATEGY SESSION IN TALUKAN?
Tajik Deputy Prime Minister Makhmadsaid Ubaidulaev said acts of "terrorism" against enlisted men and law enforcement officials is increasing in Dushanbe and other parts of Tajikistan, Russian TV reported on 11 July. Ubaidulaev also alleged opposition field commanders met in Talukan, Afghanistan from 2-5 July to discuss strategies and tactics for conducting subversive activities within Tajikistan. The meeting, he claimed, was presided over by Islamic Renaissance Party leader Said Abdullo Nuri who held talks with Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov in Kabul in May. Since the beginning of the month, 13 Tajik police officers have been killed, AFP reported on 11 July. The number of Tajik rebels killed during that time is unclear. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

CIS

BLACK SEA FLEET COMMANDER COMPLAINS TO CRIMEA.
Black Sea Fleet commander Eduard Baltin has criticized Crimean local authorities for hindering the normal functioning of the fleet, Russian Public TV reported on 12 July. According to Baltin, Sevastopol authorities have asked the fleet to evacuate many of the premises it occupies on an obvious pretext. The city's tax inspectors are also creating unnecessary problems for the fleet, he said. Baltin commented that the fleet pays trillions of karbovantsy into Ukraine's budget because it is charged 15 different taxes, while all of its financing comes from Russia. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 135, 13 July 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CANCELS COUPON PRIVATIZATION.
The parliament on 12 July approved an amendment to the privatization law canceling the coupon privatization program proposed by the previous government, TASR reported. Some 3.5 million Slovaks purchased coupon books under that program, which is replaced with a scheme whereby the National Property Fund (FNM) will issue bonds to coupon holders worth 10,000 koruny with a five-year maturity. The parliament largely ignored proposals made by the opposition, including monitoring the FNM's activities and shifting the bonds' maturity to 30 June 1998 (shortly before the next scheduled parliamentary elections). A number of opposition figures warned that the new scheme allows for corruption. According to a FOCUS poll published on 4 July in Narodna obroda, only 3.1% of Slovaks consider the government's privatization policy "correct," while 56.5% call it "incorrect." -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK PREMIER VISITS SPAIN.
Vladimir Meciar on 12 July concluded his two-day visit to Portugal and arrived in Spain, accompanied by Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Sergej Kozlik and Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk. Meciar met with his Spanish counterpart, Felipe Gonzalez, in the first of several talks with Central European leaders scheduled during Spain's Presidency of the EU, which began on 1 July. The two leaders discussed Slovakia's recently submitted application for EU membership and strengthening bilateral economic ties. Meciar also held talks with Spanish Defense Minister Gustavo Suarez Pertierra, focusing on Slovak attitudes toward NATO, TASR reported. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY WARNS OF OPPOSITION MOVES.
In a statement sent to TASR on 11 July, the central council of the Slovak National Party (SNS), a member of the government coalition, warned that the opposition is planning a comeback for September. According to the SNS, the party has been informed that foreign financial circles, including "a well-known American businessman of Hungarian origin," intend to invest millions of dollars in the Slovak opposition with the aim of destabilizing society. This money will be used to corrupt parliamentary deputies, with sums of up to $10 million per deputy, the party said. SNS deputy Vitazoslav Moric, in an interview with Sme on 13 July, said if eight deputies are "bought," the opposition will have enough votes to remove the government. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

WESTERN CONSORTIUM OFFERS TO BUILD CHORNOBYL SARCOPHAGUS.
International agencies on 12 July reported that a consortium of Western firms has made a $1.6 billion bid to build a new sarcophagus to enclose a cracking concrete tomb around the Chornobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in April 1986. The so-called Alliance consortium, consisting of French, German, and British companies, was awarded the feasibility study project last year by the European Union. Alliance announced in London on 12 July that the new structure, to be built as a pre-stressed concrete arch with a waterproof covering and stainless steel lining, would act as a shield during the dismantling of the reactor and old sarcophagus. It is yet unclear how the project will be financed. Ukrainian authorities have estimated the cost of closing Chornobyl by 2000 as they have pledged to do, at around $4 billion. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT RECEIVES NEW SPEAKER OF CRIMEAN PARLIAMENT.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma received Yevhen Supruniuk, the new speaker of the Crimean legislature in Kiev on 12 July, UNIAR and Ukrainian TV reported the same day. Supruniuk, who recently replaced the pro-Russian Serhii Tsekov, said he and Kuchma saw eye-to-eye on ways of solving the region's growing social and economic problems. The leaders discussed the new Crimean Constitution, establishing a free economic zone on the peninsula, and ways of financing the repatriation of Crimean Tatars from other CIS states. Supruniuk said he would concentrate on dividing powers between Kiev and Simferopol and on settling the region's most pressing problems before embarking on any official visits to Moscow. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN FINANCIAL ROUNDUP.
Chief presidential economic adviser Anatolii Halchynsky on 12 July said that Kuchma was prepared to sign two important decrees on debt repayment and monetary reform, UNIAR reported the same day. Halchynsky said the first would allow the government to repay debts to Ukraine's three largest banks, while the second will create a special commission on monetary reform. But he added that the move does not mean Ukraine's new currency, the hryvna, would be introduced in the near future. It is unlikely that the hryvna will be pegged to any foreign currency because this would require Ukraine to maintain a currency stabilization fund of some $5 billion, he commented. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN PRIME MINISTER CRITICIZES MONETARY POLICY.
Estonian Prime Minister Tiit Vahi has called the country's monetary system "primitive," BNS reported on 12 July. Vahi noted there were problems with pegging the value of the kroon exclusively to the German mark. He also said the main problem with Estonia's monetary system was that the total cash in circulation has increased 3-4 times over the past three years, while GPD had fallen. In his opinion, the amount of cash in circulation should be tied to GDP, as in the case of Germany. Vahi was responding to leader of the Reform Party Siim Kallas's comment that the premier has never understood the "macroeconomic working mechanism of Estonia's monetary policy." -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.


SEJM CONFIRMS MORATORIUM ON DEATH PENALTY.
The Sejm on 12 July confirmed a five-year moratorium on capital punishment, Polish media reported on 13 July. The moratorium was opposed by the Senate on 30 June. The last execution took place in Poland in 1988; since then, a few death sentences have been passed each year but have not been carried out. According to an opinion poll conducted in June by the Public Opinion Research Center, 60% of Poles are in favor of the death penalty while 30% would like it to be abolished. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH PROSECUTOR RULES ON MILITARY SERVICE ABROAD.
The Military Prosecutor's Office in Opole, in southwestern Poland, on 12 July ruled that two Polish citizens of German origin who performed military service in Germany did not commit a criminal offense. Polish law prohibits military service in a foreign army but makes an exception for people living abroad who have dual citizenship. The German minority leader Henryk Kroll, vice president of the Sejm National Minorities Committee, on 12 July said the Polish authorities should not make life difficult for emigrants who served in the German army, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 13 July. "I would like thousands to return. A quarter of a million emigrated, let 300,000 return," he commented. -- Jakub Karpinski, OMRI, Inc.


CZECH EMPLOYERS, UNIONS WELCOME END OF WAGE REGULATION.
Richard Falbr, head of the trade union federation, has welcomed the Czech government's decision to abolish wage regulation (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 July 1995), which since July 1993 had kept maximum salary increases down to 5% above inflation. Falbr said the move created better conditions for collective bargaining, Lidove noviny reported. The paper also quoted employers as supporting the step, saying it enabled them to offer their best-qualified employees higher wages. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus said wage deregulation should neither push up inflation nor lead to significantly higher unemployment. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH GOVERNMENT IN FAVOR OF EXTENDING SCREENING LAW.
The Czech government on 12 July approved proposals to extend the country's screening law for an extra two years, Czech media reported. The proposals were originally made by deputies from Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party. The law, which went into effect in 1991, bans former high officials of the Communist Party, StB secret police officers and agents, and members of the People's Militia--the disbanded paramilitary arm of the Communist Party--from holding various public offices until 1996. Opposition parties are opposed to extending the law. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 135, 13 July 1995
"ETHNIC CLEANSING IS APPARENTLY UNDER WAY."
This is how the VOA on 13 July described the Bosnian Serbs' expulsion of 5,500 Muslim refugees from Srebrenica. Some 30,000 tired and frightened people sought shelter at the Dutch UN base at Potocari, which has been used by 200 peacekeepers. A UN spokesman said there is a "stable refugee situation" at the base, with 10,000 people inside and 20,000 outside, AFP reported. The Serbs on 12 July brought up nearly 50 trucks and busses under the personal supervision of General Ratko Mladic. Male Muslims aged between 16 and 50 were sent to Bratunac for "examination." Others were taken to Tuzla, where 2,000 have arrived, or to Kladanj, where 3,500 people were dumped near the front lines and forced to walk for two hours across no man's land to Bosnian government positions. Many had bribed Serbian soldiers to be allowed on buses. The Serbs hold some 48 Dutch peacekeepers hostage. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

REACTIONS TO THE FALL OF SREBRENICA.
Reuters on 13 July quoted British Foreign Secretary Malcolm Rifkind as urging Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to make the Bosnian Serbs "behave in a more civilized fashion." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung cited remarks by Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic that his government probably will ask UNPROFOR to leave when its mandate runs out in November. The local Croats seem to be warming to the UN, however, with Hina saying their leader Kresimir Zubak has given the UN Rapid Reaction Force permission to use Croatian territory. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic warned that "the longer the war lasts, the more inflexible the Serbs will become." He said that Srebrenica had been freed of "Muslim terrorists" and that "order and calm" now prevail in the former east Bosnian enclave, AFP noted. The Sueddeutsche Zeitung wrote that Srebrenica may prove to be a decisive event "like Waterloo or Stalingrad" in determining "the kind of world we live in." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

"INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY FAILED THE TEST."
This is how Vesna Pesic, president of the Citizen's Union of Serbia, described the developments in Srebrenica, sharply criticizing the Bosnian Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 13 July. But Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the Democratic Party of Serbia, said the Bosnian Serb army's latest move was an "act of self-defense." He claimed that NATO air strikes provoked the annexation of the enclave, adding that the peace mediators were trying to "extinguish fire with fuel." State-run Borba, however, claims that UN peacekeepers consider that the occupation of Srebrenica has freed them from a nightmare. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

BOUTROS GHALI IN FAVOR OF MORE NEGOTIATIONS.
UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali, on the last day of his visit to Athens, said that despite continuing Bosnian Serb aggression, negotiations and maintaining the UN presence in former Yugoslavia is the only road toward solving the crisis, international agencies reported on 12 July. He said it is important "that we are condemning the offensive of the Bosnian Serbs against...Srebrenica and the violation of [UN] resolutions." Boutros Ghali added that a solution has to be found both for the problems of the refugees and "for the problem as a whole." He said he does not know if UN troops are in a position to take Srebrenica back from the Serbs or to defend the safe areas of Zepa and Gorazde, adding this has to be thought out by UN military officials in the area. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL APPROVES RESOLUTION.
The world organization's leading body on 12 July unanimously adopted a text calling on "both sides" to withdraw their armed forces from Srebrenica. Secretary-General Boutros Ghali has been authorized to use "all resources available" to reestablish the "safe area." The VOA suggested on 13 July that the resolution outlines no clear course of action and was passed simply because it was seen as "better than doing nothing." It may lead to more futile efforts at diplomacy and subsequent humiliation for the UN. The BBC reported that there is no political will in the Security Council to evict the Serbs by force and that some UN officials are privately saying the fall of Srebrenica may help speed up a peace settlement. French tough talk is seen largely as posturing, despite Prime Minister Alain Juppe's comment to AFP on 12 July that "we cannot leave Srebrenica with our tail between our legs." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

EU ADMINISTRATOR IN MOSTAR CALLS RESOLUTION "BALONEY."
Hans Koschnick said "this resolution is again nothing but baloney which nobody takes seriously," according to AFP on 13 July. "We're lying to ourselves day after day with these resolutions and it makes me sick," he said. "We cannot defend such enclaves so far into Serb territory without war, and if we don't want that we should retreat. The UN and NATO should finally say what they really want and define a policy." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBS POUND ZEPA AND SARAJEVO.
Bosnian Serb forces continue to put pressure on two other "safe areas," namely Zepa and Sarajevo. The Serbs shelled the capital's historical Turkish quarter at dawn on 13 July and later fired on a UN relief truck as it entered their territory, wounding the Russian driver. Vecernji list quoted Bosnian Cardinal Vinko Puljic as complaining about the lack of a strong Bosnian Croat political presence in Sarajevo, noting that local Croats are psychologically tired of constantly living in uncertainty. Meanwhile in Serb-held eastern Slavonia, pro-Belgrade Serbs prevented politicians from Knin from entering from Serbia and thereby scuttled chances for a legislative session to form a new government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


ALBANIAN DEPUTIES IN MACEDONIA.
A delegation of Albanian deputies, led by head of the Albanian parliamentary commission on foreign policy Eduard Selami, have held talks with Macedonian Foreign Minister Stevo Crvenkovski and Minister for Education and Sports Emilia Simoska, Flaka reported on 13 July. They discussed the rights of Macedonian Albanians to higher education in their mother tongue, minority rights, and the abolition of entry visas for Macedonians and Albanians wanting to visit each other's country. The legislators also met with Macedonian deputies. Selami had said before the visit that developing relations and future cooperation between Macedonia and Albania would depend on the outcome of the Albanian deputies' visit. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

UPDATE ON ROMANIA'S NEW EDUCATION LAW.
Cronica romana on 13 July published an appeal by Gheorghe Funar, chairman of the extremist Party of Romanian National Unity (PUNR), to President Ion Iliescu over the new education law. Funar urged that Iliescu reconsider intention to promulgate the law and his refusal to ask the Constitutional Court to verify its legality. He said the president, the government and the parliament have been "blackmailed" into passing the law, claiming that it paves the way for the Hungarian minority's territorial autonomy. He also claimed there is a "secret accord" between the majority party, the Party of Social Democracy in Romania, and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to link the law to the signing of the basic treaty with Hungary. Cronica romana reports that the PUNR's Permanent Bureau has distanced itself from Funar's appeal, saying it does not share his view. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN BRITAIN.
Radio Bucharest on 12 July reported that Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu began a three-day visit to Great Britain. He met with his British counterpart, Malcolm Rifkind, with whom he will sign an accord on the protection of investments on 13 July. He also addressed the Institute for Strategic Studies and held talks with Defense Ministry officials. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu met on 12 July in Bucharest with Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias to discuss economic cooperation and the feasibility of joint Greek-Romanian initiatives on the conflict in the former Yugoslavia. The same day, Romanian Transportation Minister Aurel Novac and his visiting Turkish counterpart, Ali Sevgi Erek, signed a protocol on creating a joint commission on transportation, Romanian TV reported. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MOLDOVA, ALBANIA BECOME MEMBERS OF COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
Moldova and Albania on 13 July became members of the Council of Europe, international agencies reported the previous day. The CE's Parliamentary Assembly had approved Albania and Moldova's applications at the end of June, making them the 35th and 36th members, respectively, of the organization. Moldova, the first member of the Commonwealth of Independent States to join the CE, will have five seats in the Parliamentary Assembly, while Albania will have four. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT DEFENDS CONSTITUTION, CRITICIZES SOCIALISTS.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 12 July said the Bulgarian Constitution remains the best guarantee of democratic stability, Reuters reported the same day. Addressing the parliament on the fourth anniversary of the constitution's adoption, Zhelev said everybody must "look beyond narrow party interests" to uphold it. He went on to attack the Socialist majority, saying "we are all wary about the resurrection of a one-party state." Socialist deputies jeered him when he commented that "calls for a war against the Constitutional Court are calls for war against the constitution itself." The court recently ruled that several laws passed by the Socialists were unconstitutional. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

TURKISH PRESIDENT IN ALBANIA.
Suleyman Demirel arrived in Tirana for a two-day visit on 12 July, international agencies reported. He held talks with Albanian President Sali Berisha on improving economic, military, and cultural relations. The talks also focused on the Bosnian crisis and the capture of Srebrenica. Demirel is to travel to Macedonia, where he is expected to sign a "friendship, good-neighborly, and cooperation" agreement. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave



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