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Newsline - July 25, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 143, 25 July 1995
YELTSIN LEAVES HOSPITAL.
President Boris Yeltsin checked out of the hospital on 24 July and went to the Barvikha sanitarium in the Moscow suburbs, Presidential Press Secretary Sergei Medvedev announced to the Russian media. Staying at the health complex will prevent Yeltsin from returning to his normal routine, since he usually works in the Kremlin or at his home outside Moscow. Yeltsin entered the hospital on 11 July, complaining of chest pains. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

BARSUKOV TO HEAD FSB AFTER ALL.
After his press secretary denied earlier rumors about the appointment, Yeltsin named Col. Gen. Mikhail Barsukov to the post of Federal Security Service (FSB) director on 24 July, Russian and Western media reported. Until now, Barsukov has been in charge of Kremlin security and is a close friend of the head of the presidential security service, Aleksandr Korzhakov. Izvestiya viewed the appointment negatively, reporting that Barsukov's main qualifications are his participation in Yeltsin's fishing and hunting trips. Duma Security Committee Chairman Viktor Ilyukhin, a Communist deputy, said Barsukov was appointed more for his loyalty to Yeltsin than for his professional ability and that the appointment would lead to more political surveillance, AFP reported. Barsukov is widely viewed as an FSB outsider. Yeltsin also named Viktor Zorin, the former head of the FSB's counter-intelligence department who has more than 30 years experience in the security services, as first deputy director of the FSB. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

PRIMORSK LEADERS DENOUNCE ARREST OF LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN VLADIVOSTOK.
The Primorsk Krai Duma and administration, including Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, denounced the 20 July arrest of Primorsk tax police chief Aleksandr Bondarenko, whom they called an "honest and professional officer," Radio Rossii and ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. Bondarenko was the fifth person arrested in connection with the March 1994 ouster of Viktor Cherepkov, the first democratically elected mayor in Vladivostok. Cherepkov was removed from office on corruption charges, but the charges were dropped after the Procurator General's Office determined that the case against Cherepkov had been falsified. Cherepkov has not been reinstated as mayor. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

WOMEN END WAGE-PAYMENT PROTEST IN BURYATIYA.
A group of women who were blocking railways in Buryatiya since 17 July to demand that their husbands be paid millions of rubles in unpaid wages have ended their protest, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. The men worked for the joint-stock company "Cheltailes." The company director, Yurii Moshkin, said the women agreed with the state procurator that their protest was unlawful. He added that the enterprise would begin paying out the 150 million rubles ($33,000) it owes to employees on 25 July. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

FAR EASTERN MILITARY SHIPYARD WORKERS GET SOME BACK PAY.
Ship repair workers in Vladivostok defense plants received their March 1995 pay several weeks after their families demonstrated, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. The protest took place on 13 July, and the agency reported that after a "brief pause" the Defense Ministry transferred 9 billion rubles to pay the workers' salaries. It quoted local trade union officials as saying that was not enough. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GROZNY NEGOTIATIONS STALL.
Talks between Russian and Chechen negotiators adjourned again on the evening of 24 July without agreement, Western and Russian agencies reported. Members of both delegations confirmed that the issue of Chechnya's status continues to hinder the signing of a political agreement. The military protocol signed on 23 June cannot be fully implemented until the political agreement has been concluded. Minister for Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov, Russia's lead negotiator, said the Russian position remains unchanged: Chechnya must remain in the Russian Federation although the "details" of its status can be discussed. He admitted, however, that the Chechen delegation continues to reject this formulation. Chechen head delegate Usman Imaev said the talks were "difficult," but he reiterated that both delegations "remain firmly committed to successfully concluding the talks." He added that he "would not attempt to guess when they will be finished." Negotiations are scheduled to resume on 25 July. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

UNUSUALLY HIGH OFFICER CASUALTY RATES IN CHECHNYA.
Officers serving in Chechnya suffered an unprecedented casualty rate, NTV reported on 23 July. Quoting General Staff sources, the station reported that 20% of those killed were officers, while an Airborne Troops officer said that 128 of the 300 paratroopers lost in the fighting were officers. The report said that the ratio of officers killed to those wounded was 1:2; the historical ratio is 1:3. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

TELEPHONE BOMB THREAT TARGETS VNUKOVO.
A bomb threat at Vnukovo International Airport caused the temporary evacuation of employees and passengers on 24 July, ITAR-TASS reported on the same day. An unidentified person had dialed the emergency line "02" and claimed a bomb was in the airport, but nothing was found. Located south of Moscow, the airport is used mostly for flights within the former Soviet Union, including to Chechnya. Police fear that Chechen terrorists were behind the threat, according to Western agencies. It was the fourth such threat at Vnukovo in the past month. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

REFUGEE STATUS REVIEWED IN COURT.
In an unprecedented case, the St. Petersburg court is examining complaints filed by foreign citizens who have been denied refugee status, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. There are about 30 analogous legal complaints in the city, most filed by Afghans. Almost 140 Afghans are seeking refugee status in Russia, NTV reported on 17 July. The Migration Service of St. Petersburg told ITAR-TASS that it has refused refugee status to 90 people since the beginning of the year. Most are unable to find work because they lack the proper documents and face a language barrier; they are believed to be earning their livelihood through informal trade or low-paid construction work. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

YELTSIN SCRAPS OBSOLETE MILITARY DECREES.
President Yeltsin signed a decree that invalidates a number of Soviet-era decrees on the military, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. Those included a February 1991 presidential decree on military councils in the armed forces, a June 1991 presidential decree on appointing and dismissing military leaders, and a November 1991 decree establishing a "strategic containment force" with the Soviet armed forces. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

KOKOSHIN CALLS FOR LARGER MILITARY BUDGET.
First Deputy Defense Minister Andrei Kokoshin called for greater military spending in 1996, telling a defense industry management group on 24 July that the defense budget should be "at least proportional to the growth of the GDP," ITAR-TASS reported. Kokoshin, the highest ranking civilian in the Defense Ministry, said extra funds should be spent on higher quality training and updating equipment. He also said that it is vitally important to provide the military with the money allocated to it in this year's budget. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

GRACHEV WELCOME IN BAVARIA THIS TIME.
Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has been invited to participate in a seminar on the role of the armed forces in a democracy, a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry told ITAR-TASS on 24 July. The seminar will take place in Ebenhausen, just outside Munich, and the German delegation will be headed by Defense Minister Volker Ruehe. In January of this year, Ruehe had made it clear that Grachev would not be welcome at a February conference on European defense held in Munich after the Russian general called Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev a traitor and branded Duma Defense Committee Chairman Sergei Yushenkov a "vile toad." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSO-FINNISH TRADE TALKS IN MOSCOW.
Finnish Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen discussed bilateral trade and debt issues with his Russian counterpart, Viktor Chernomyrdin, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Trade Oleg Davydov on 24 July, Western and Russian agencies reported. Among the issues addressed were Russia's $1 billion debt to Finland, the impact of recent increases in Russian tariffs and transport fees on bilateral trade, and joint investment projects. Davydov said the most important joint project touched upon in the talks was a proposed $1 billion oil pipeline, which would connect the Finnish port of Pori with the oil fields of the Timan-Pechora Basin in northern Russia. The proposed project would provide the first direct link between Russian oil fields and European markets. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

WORST GRAIN HARVEST IN TWO DECADES EXPECTED THIS YEAR.
Russian farmers are expecting the country's worst grain harvest in 20 years following a severe drought that has plagued farmlands in southern Russia, according to Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. The minister said the harvest is likely to be 75-78 million metric tons, or about 4%-8% less than last year's harvest of 81.3 million metric tons. Russia will produce enough grain for its own use, but it will no longer be able to provide former Soviet republics with cheap grain. Despite the expected poor harvest, the state does not plan to import foreign grain. Zaveryukha said he did not expect the low grain yield to result in higher bread prices because the government can be expected to subsidize bread if the price of grain starts to soar. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

AEROFLOT STAYS AFLOAT DESPITE COMPETITION.
Despite increasing competition on the international market with other air passenger and cargo companies, Aeroflot, Russia's international airline company, reported success in the first half of 1995, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 July. Flying to 143 destinations in 102 countries around the world, Aeroflot has transported around 500,000 passengers and more than 28,000 tons of cargo since the beginning of the year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

RUBLE DROPS FIVE POINTS AGAINST DOLLAR.
The Russian ruble fell five points against the U.S. dollar from its rate in 21 July MICEX trading to close at 4,490 rubles to $1 on 24 July, Business-Tass reported the same day. Initial demand was $16.36 million with 24 banks participating. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 143, 25 July 1995
KYRGYZSTAN TO GET MORE LOANS.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will extend loans of between $60-70 million to Kyrgyzstan this year, AFP reported. In a welcoming speech to Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev, who is on a tour of Southeast Asia, the bank's president, Mitsuo Sato, said the Manila-based financial institution remains committed to helping the Kyrgyz government meet its objectives. Kyrgyzstan is the newest addition to the bank's roster of 55 member states. The bulk of the loan will help pay for agricultural programs and the renovation of a power plant. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

TAJIKISTAN REMAINS OFFICIALLY IN ECONOMIC CRISIS.
Tajik government officials concluded at a cabinet meeting that the republic's economy is still in an economic crisis, Russian Public TV reported on 24 July. Most of Tajikistan's industries have ceased to work and the rest are functioning at 50% capacity. The communications and transport systems were described as "sad." Although some pointed out that the introduction of the national currency, the Tajik ruble, is reanimating the economy, it was also mentioned that salaries are rarely paid in full. The shelves in state-run stores are empty and the prices at markets are rising. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

CIVIL UNREST IN SOUTHERN TAJIKISTAN.
Residents of the city of Khorog attacked a unit of the Russian Border Forces on 23 July, Russian Public TV reported the next day. The group began by hurling insults at the Russian soldiers and then started throwing rocks and sticks at them. A representative of the Border Forces Service said the soldiers fired warning shots in the air to no effect. Order was finally restored when the soldiers shot "one of the most aggressive assailants in the arm." -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.


CIS

SOVIET-BUILT REACTORS "SAFE."
A senior Russian nuclear official claimed that 10 Soviet-built reactors that were recently criticized in a U.S. federal intelligence report received a clean bill of health from the International Atomic Energy Agency, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 July. According to the U.S. report, 10 reactors in Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Lithuania are at "high-risk" of failure because of their poor and outdated design, inadequate regulatory regime, and economic pressures to keep them running. Anatolii Zemskov, a spokesman for the Rosenergoatom concern, said Russian reactors are subjected to regular modernization and inspections to improve their safety, but he conceded that some of the East European reactors need to be upgraded. -- Michael Mihalka, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 143, 25 July 1995

CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE

POLISH ECONOMIC GROWTH QUICKENS . . .
The Polish economy grew faster in the first half of this year than in the past three years, thanks to booming exports and investment spending, according to the Main Statistical Office (GUS). First-half industrial production rose by 13%, and 55.8% of firms are now making profits, up from less than half one year ago. Exports were up by 18.4% and imports by 19.3% in constant prices. GUS set the first-half trade deficit at $1.2 billion, but IMF officials told Rzeczpospolita on 24 July that unrecorded cross-border purchases (estimated at $3 billion so far this year) mean that Poland has a sizable trade surplus. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE POLISH FAMILIES IN TROUBLE.
One in five Polish families lives below the poverty line, according to a report by the government's plenipotentiary for women summarized in Rzeczpospolita on 25 July. Only 55% of Polish families are able to cover their expenses from wages alone, down from 68% in 1989. The proportion of single-parent families rose from 21% in 1989 to 38% last year, largely because of alarmingly high mortality rates among middle-aged men. Ten percent of Polish children do not get enough to eat, and nearly half have health problems. The report apparently did not take into account the substantial benefits accruing to some families from the extensive semi-legal "gray economy." -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINE TO CONDUCT CENSUS IN 1999.
Ukrainian Radio reported on 24 July that the Ukrainian government has ordered a national census to be conducted in 1999, the first since independence. The last census was conducted in 1989 as part of an all-union census in the USSR. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.


FOREIGN VISITORS IN UKRAINE.
A military delegation from Moldova headed by Defense Minister Pavel Creanga arrived in Kiev on 24 July, Ukrainian Television reported. Creanga discussed military cooperation in a number of areas with his Ukrainian counterpart, Valerii Shmarov. He is also scheduled to meet with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk. In other news, a delegation from the permanent Committee for the All-Chinese Assembly of National Representatives ended a five-day visit. The delegation met with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to discuss increasing cooperation. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

MOSCOW PATRIARCH IN BELARUS.
Aleksii II, patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, arrived in Minsk on 22 July for a two-day visit, Belarusian and Russian Public Television reported. During the visit, Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Orthodoxy united the Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian peoples. He added that divisions and separatism within the Orthodox Church such as witnessed recently in Ukraine should not be allowed. The Belarusian Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk said there is no conflict between members of the Orthodox Church and Catholics in Belarus, unlike in Ukraine. Lukashenka presented the patriarch with the medal of Francis Skarinyn. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

PRIVATIZATION PLANS IN BELARUS.
Belarusian Television on 23 July reported that more than 1,000 collective enterprises will be privatized this year in Belarus. Most will be agrarian complexes, shops, services, and enterprises dealing with foodstuffs. Some 35,000 people are employed at the enterprises, which are valued at some 5 trillion Belarusian rubles ($430 million). -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

CRIME IN BALTIC STATES.
In the first half of 1995, Estonia registered 126 crimes per 10,000 population, considerably higher than Lithuania (82) and Latvia (72), BNS reported on 21 July. Crime in Lithuania was up 16.7% on the same period in 1994, primarily owing to a 22.8% increase in theft. In Latvia, the number of registered crimes decreased by 11.6%, with murders declining by 16.9% and robberies by 27.6%. But the number of fraud cases in Latvia grew by 33.8% and pickpocketing by 54.9%. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

LATVIA TO BEGIN ISSUING STATELESS PERSONS' CERTIFICATES.
Latvian Citizenship and Immigration Department head Ints Citars on 24 July said that his office will probably begin issuing stateless persons' certificates this week, BNS reported. The certificates will serve as an identity and travel document for permanent residents of Latvia who were former Soviet citizens but have not acquired another citizenship. The failure of the Latvian foreign and interior ministries to coordinate instructions on filling out and distributing the certificates delayed their issuance from the original 20 July target date. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

MEETING OF LITHUANIAN, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT HEADS.
Seimas Chairman Ceslovas Jursenas, accompanied by a 10-member delegation, traveled to Moscow on 24 July for a three-day official visit, BNS reported. He discussed with Russian Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko the Russian-Chechen peace talks, Russian transit through Lithuania, and a possible Russian-Lithuanian-Polish meeting in October on cooperation in border regions. Jursenas is to meet with State Duma Chairman Ivan Rybkin, Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov, and other officials. Topics of discussion will include the upcoming Russian parliament elections, Moscow's position on NATO expansion, and economic questions such as the implementation of the most-favored-nation trade agreement between the two countries. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH MINISTER DENIES DECISION TAKEN TO MODERNIZE JETS.
Defense Minister Vilem Holan on 24 July denied reports that his ministry has decided to modernize 24 MiG-21 jets (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 July 1995), Rude pravo reported the next day. The daily said Holan told journalists that the only decision taken so far is for two jets to be upgraded by next year, one as a fighter and the other for training. Further steps will be taken only after this project has been evaluated. Members of the parliament's Defense and Security Committee told Mlada fronta dnes that the option of buying American F-16 fighters, though expensive, has not been ruled out. One committee member said that if the modernization of the 24 MiGs goes ahead despite their opposition, the parliament could reduce the Defense Ministry's budget next year. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

CZECH-ROMANIAN MILITARY ACCORD.
Romanian Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca signed an agreement on military cooperation with his Czech counterpart, Vilem Holan, in Prague on 24 July. CTK reported that Tinca told a press conference the agreement covered virtually all spheres of cooperation, including technology, military training, and the exchange of observers during exercises. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK EDUCATION MINISTER IN HUNGARY.
Eva Slavkovska, who has drawn sharp criticism for personnel changes and plans to implement "alternative" (bilingual) education in schools for the Hungarian minority, visited Budapest on 24 July to meet with her Hungarian counterpart, Gabor Fodor. Discussions focused on minority education in both countries as well as general educational concerns, TASR and Pravda reported. Following the meeting, Slavkovska said a 1994 poll conducted to determine interest in the alternative education program revealed that 21% of parents agreed with it. She criticized the politicization of the issue, noting that the percentage agreeing with the program will certainly decrease this year. Even so, Slavkovska said, the program will not be canceled, as it is anchored in the cabinet's program. Stressing that the program will be implemented on a voluntary basis, she said that if a sufficient number of students want to enroll in an alternative school, the ministry will allot the necessary funding. According to Slavkovska, approximately 30 alternative kindergartens will be established this year. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAK SKINHEADS ATTACK ROMA.
Some 30 skinheads attacked several young Romani men in the central Slovak town of Ziar nad Hronom on 21 July, the Internal Ministry told TASR three days later. One youth who was set afire sustained second- and third-degree burns and was hospitalized in serious condition. Eight of the skinheads were arrested, and four charged with causing grievous bodily harm. Reuters on 24 July quoted a human rights activist as saying this was one of the most serious attacks on Roma in years: "We've heard of attacks with weapons but never immolation." -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARIAN, SPANISH PREMIERS DISCUSS EU.
Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzales, following a meeting in Madrid on 24 July with Hungarian Premier Gyula Horn, told journalists that Spain will support the European Union's eastward expansion. International media report Gonzales as saying he will suggest to fellow EU prime ministers that East European leaders be invited to the next EU summit in Madrid in December. According to Gonzales, Spain "will never be an obstacle" to Hungary's entry into the EU. Spain assumed the EU's six-month rotating presidency on 1 July. Horn told the same press conference that EU membership is "vital for Hungary." Gonzales's meeting with Horn was the second in a series of talks scheduled with leaders of former communist countries. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 143, 25 July 1995
HAS ZEPA FALLEN?
International media on 25 July said that the Bosnian government in Sarajevo has denied UN accounts that Zepa has in effect surrendered. Bosnian authorities in the embattled "safe area" reportedly made an agreement with the Serbs on the evacuation of women, children, the sick, and the elderly. It is unclear what this would mean for military-aged men, who appeared to prefer to die fighting rather than face a massacre like the one that followed the Serbian conquest of Srebrenica. UN special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki said on 24 July that the Serbs had committed "barbaric acts" against the Muslims in that eastern Bosnian town. "What happened cannot be described as [moderate] violations of human rights but as extremely serious violations on an enormous scale," he concluded. UN spokesman Chris Gunness added that the Serbs' "actions are an affront to the values of all civilized people." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBS CLOSE IN ON BIHAC.
The four-way assault by Krajina Serb, Bosnian Serb, and rebel Muslim forces on the Bihac pocket continues. AFP on 25 July reported that Krajina units have reached the fringes of the "safe area" itself, and Reuters wrote the previous day that the Serbs appear to be trying to split the pocket in two and then mop up the separate halves. A UN spokesman said that "this coordinated, deliberate attack on all fronts represents arguably the most considerable military action in Bosnia for many months." The VOA added that the UN Security Council has warned the Serbs not to press their attack on Bihac. A French Foreign Ministry spokesman urged "all parties to show restraint" and said that the goal was to prevent another Srebrenica. He warned there could be a "substantial and decisive response" if attacks persist. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

WHO BOMBED PALE?
Meanwhile near Sarajevo, British and French units of the new Rapid Reaction Force continued to arrive on Mt. Igman on 24 July. It remains uncertain, however, what accounted for the reported bombings of the Bosnian Serb "capital" on the 23-24 July. Both France and NATO denied they were responsible, although Liberation on 24 July ran a detailed account of what it called a mission ordered personally by President Jacques Chirac. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

NATO FAILS TO REACH A DECISION ON AIR STRIKES.
Ambassadors of the Atlantic alliance meeting in Brussels on 24 July failed to agree on a program for implementing the resolution approved in London on 21 July. Another session is scheduled for the afternoon of 25 July. The International Herald Tribune quoted an American official as saying that "there's no snag. It's just complicated and time-consuming." But the VOA said there are differences as to what would trigger air strikes, what would be the targets, and who would order the missions. UN Secretary-General Boutrous Boutrous Ghali insists that he have the final say, but this is unacceptable to Washington, which wants the operations exclusively in NATO hands. The International Herald Tribune on 24 July quoted a French official as saying that "the object is to diminish the firepower of the Serbs to a level where the Bosnians can hold their own, not to raise the firepower of the Bosnians." U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole has other ideas, however. The VOA reported that he will soon call a vote on a unilateral lifting of the arms embargo against the Bosnian government. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


MILOSEVIC MEETS WITH KOZYREV.
BETA on 24 July reported that Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev, allegedly acting on instructions from Russian President Boris Yeltsin, arrived in Belgrade the same day for talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. Accompanying Kozyrev were Russian Ambassador to Brussels and former special envoy to the former Yugoslavia Vitalii Churkin and Contact Group representative Aleksandr Zotov. The apparent reason for the visit, which followed the London Conference's threat to use military action against the Bosnian Serbs if they attacked the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Gorazde, was to secure Milosevic's help in reining in the Bosnian Serb side. Kozyrev reiterated Moscow's oft-repeated commitment to a peaceful resolution to the Bosnian conflict. According to AFP, Milosevic used the opportunity to condemn international "threats . . . [and] military action" aimed at the Bosnian Serbs. "The international community must engage in creating political conditions that are effective and capable of leading to a stable peace," said Milosevic. AFP reported on 25 July that Kozyrev left Belgrade saying he was "satisfied" with his visit. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI, Inc.


GREEK SENIOR DIPLOMAT DENOUNCES INTERRUPTION OF MACEDONIAN TALKS.
Former Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Ioannis Tzounis said the Greek government has made a "mistake" by interrupting the Greek-Macedonian talks and perpetuating the economic embargo against Macedonia. In an interview with the Greek newspaper To Vima he noted that "the battle over the name of Greece's northern neighbor is the core of the problem, [which is endangering] security and peace in the region." To resolve the conflict, he proposed bilateral treaties on the inviolability of existing borders between Macedonia, rump Yugoslavia, Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, BETA reported on 24 July. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT PROMULGATES EDUCATION LAW.
Ion Iliescu on 24 July promulgated the controversial education law, Romanian media reported. The law, which has sparked widespread criticism from ethnic minorities and especially from the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), was recently denounced as detrimental to minority rights in a resolution passed by the European Parliament. Iliescu defended the new law at a press conference, saying he had "no reservations whatsoever" about signing the bill. "The objections formulated by the UDMR are groundless," he stressed. Asked about the campaign of civic disobedience planned by the UDMR, Iliescu said the party was assuming "great political responsibility." He expressed the hope that "the Hungarian population will carefully weigh such actions." -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN GOVERNMENT, EMPLOYERS, UNIONS SIGN SOCIAL ACCORD.
Romanian Finance Minister Florin Georgescu, Chairman of the National Confederation of Romanian Employers George Paunescu, and Pavel Todoran, chairman of the National Confederation of Romania's Free Trade Unions--The Brotherhood, signed a social accord at the government's headquarters on 24 July, Radio Bucharest reported. The accord states that the unions must refrain from staging or encouraging strikes as a means of meeting union members' claims. The government, in turn, pledged that the average net wage would reach 75,000 lei ($38) by 1 September, which means a pay rise of 20.7% as against current salaries. The National Confederation, the country's largest labor organization is the only union confederation to have approved the accord. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.

RUMP YUGOSLAV HUMAN RIGHTS MINISTER IN BULGARIA.
Margit Savovic met with Bulgarian deputies on 24 July, Bulgarian media reported. Saying that all rump Yugoslav citizens enjoy equal rights, Savovic dismissed a report by UN special envoy Tadeusz Mazowiecki on human rights violations in her country as "not objective." On the situation of the Bulgarian minority in eastern Serbia, Savovic said Bulgarian is regarded as a mother tongue by the authorities, but many Bulgarians do not have the desire to learn it properly. She said the term "Western regions," used in Bulgaria to describe the territories ceded to Yugoslavia in 1919, is "unacceptable" and constituted interference in Yugoslav internal affairs. Former Prime Minister Filip Dimitrov from the opposition Union of Democratic Forces boycotted the meeting, saying he "will not meet with the minister for human rights of a state that brutally violates them." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

BULGARIAN TV CHIEF CANCELS ENTERTAINMENT SHOWS.
Ivan Granitski, director of Bulgarian National Television, announced on 23 July he is canceling two weekly entertainment programs, international media reported the same day. The two programs are a beauty contest and a game show. Granitski, who was appointed by the Socialist majority in June, said he will ban programs "propagating, violence, homosexuality, prostitution, gambling, and drug addiction" as part of his "struggle for higher professional and artistic levels of programs and against those [who] oppose national interests." Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev said he fully supports Granitski's move because "national interests" require it. A commentator for the independent weekly 168 chasa called the move "sheer nonsense." -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN TIRANA.
Zoran Thaler visited Albania on 21 July, Gazeta Shqiptare reported the following day. At meetings with Albanian President Sali Berisha and Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi, both sides agreed to improve economic and military cooperation. They also discussed the Bosnian crisis and the Kosovo conflict, reportedly agreeing that "the aggressor must be punished." In other news, a high-ranking U.S. diplomatic delegation arrived in Tirana for a two-day visit on 24 July to discuss bilateral relations and the situation in the region, Montena-fax reported the same day. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

GREEK FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR MEETING OF BOSNIAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS.
Karolos Papoulias on 24 July said Greece will try to arrange a dialogue between Bosnia's religious leaders, AFP reported the same day. Papoulias, who was on two-day visit to Jordan, called such a meeting "essential to finding a solution." He also said Greece will send humanitarian aid to "all those suffering" in Bosnia. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.


[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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