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Newsline - August 10, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

VOL. 1, NO. 155, 10 AUGUST 1995
MILOSEVIC ARRIVES IN MOSCOW; TUDJMAN REFUSES INVITATION.
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic accepted President Boris Yeltsin's recent invitation and arrived in Moscow on 9 August, Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin's attempt to mediate a settlement of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia fell through, however, when Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, after some confusion in Zagreb and Moscow, declined the invitation. Tudjman claimed that talks on the conflict required additional preparation and that Croatia could only participate in such discussions if Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, whom Yeltsin had not included in his earlier proposal, was also invited. On 10 August, Izvestiya speculated that Tudjman's refusal had been prompted by pressure from the Western powers who feared that Russia might broker a Serb-Croat deal that would harm the interests of the Muslim-led Bosnian government. Milosevic is scheduled to meet with Yeltsin and other top Russian officials on 10 August. * Scott Parrish

YELTSIN ON YUGOSLAV CONFLICT.
In an interview with the Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai, carried by ITAR-TASS on 9 August, President Yeltsin praised the activities of the UN peacekeepers in the former Yugoslavia but expressed concern about recent decisions to deploy a rapid-reaction force and simplify the procedures for using NATO air power to support the peacekeepers. Yeltsin condemned the recent vote in the U.S. Congress to ignore the UN arms embargo against the Bosnian government, saying that the embargo should be tightened. Russia does not favor the Serbs, Yeltsin claimed, but added that the accusations put forward by the international war crimes tribunal against Bosnian Serb leaders Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic were "unjust" since the conflict is a civil war in which nobody is either "right" or "guilty." On the same day, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev released a letter to UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali that harshly condemned the recent Croatian military offensive and claimed it had been "indirectly encouraged from the capitals of a number of leading world states." * Scott Parrish

COMMUNISTS, LDPR WANT TO DISCUSS BOSNIA AT SPECIAL SESSION.
The Communists and Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia have proposed that the situation in Bosnia be included on the agenda of the Duma's 12 August special session, ITAR-TASS reported. On 8 August, several deputies proposed that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic be invited to the meeting. The deputies will also try to adopt a Duma statement on the situation or pass a law calling on Yeltsin to abandon UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia unilaterally. The Duma Council rejected all those proposals because, according to Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, the initiative to hold the special session addressed only the issue of the Russian elections, Russian Public TV reported. * Robert Orttung

CHEMICAL WEAPONS USED IN CHECHNYA?
A group of UN-sponsored humanitarian aid workers have discovered evidence suggesting that chemical weapons, possibly chlorine gas, were used during the Chechen conflict, AFP reported on 9 August. The aid workers found that a large number of inhabitants of the Avatury area, southwest of Grozny, are suffering from skin irritations which are "consistent with the use of toxic chemicals." Many trees in the area are defoliated. Witneses reported seeing yellow gas near ground level in the area in May. Similar evidence, in addition to containers resembling those used for chemical warfare, has also been found in other parts of Chechnya, the aid workers told AFP. Russian officials have denied that federal forces could have used chemical weapons, although the aid workers speculated that the chemicals could have been obtained from local oil refineries. * Scott Parrish

REDUCED GOLD RESERVES INDICATE POSSIBLE FUNDING OF CHECHEN WAR.
The Russian government has repeatedly claimed that the Chechen war and restoration costs are being financed solely within the federal budget's framework, but some speculate that the government resorted to selling gold to finance the war operation, Segodnya commented on 9 August. The newspaper noted that recent statistics from the State Committee for Precious Metals showed that on 1 July, gold reserves amounted to 278 tons, compared with 375 tons on 1 December 1994, prior to the large-scale warfare in Chechnya. Within seven months, gold reserves fell 97 tons. Since a troy ounce of gold (31.3 grams) during this period was fluctuating between $350-390 on world exchange markets, Russia could have gained no less than $1 billion (approximately 4.5-5 trillion rubles) if the gold was sold. * Thomas Sigel

DUMA CALLS SPECIAL SESSION TO DISCUSS DISTRICT BOUNDARIES.
The Duma Council passed a motion on 9 August to hold a special session of the legislature that will vote on the law defining district boundaries for the 225 single-mandate districts in the December elections, Izvestiya reported on 10 August. The Federation Council failed to pass an earlier version of the law just before the beginning of the Duma's summer recess. Duma member Vladimir Isakov, one of the sponsors of the special session which will be held on 12 August, feared that if the Duma did not adopt a law, Yeltsin might try to disband the new Duma on the grounds that its election lacked a proper legal basis. The new electoral law states that there can be up to a 15% difference in the size of the districts, while a 20% difference was allowed in 1993. If no new law is adopted, the 1995 elections would have to be held on the basis of the 1993 law. The new division reduces the number of districts in the east while increasing them in central Russia. The special session's organizers fear that they may not be able to muster a quorum among the vacationing deputies. * Robert Orttung

RUTSKOI HITS THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL.
General Aleksandr Rutskoi arrived in Murmansk to open a regional branch of his Derzhava electoral bloc, ITAR-TASS reported on 10 August. Rutskoi has already announced his candidacy for the presidency and believes that his party can win a majority of the seats in the Duma. Rutskoi is one of the most active campaigners on the circuit, having already visited 49 regions of the Russian Federation, Izvestiya reported on 9 August. Rutskoi's campaign manager, Viktor Kobelev, organized Vladimir Zhirinovskii's campaign in 1993. * Robert Orttung

RULES ON USE OF CAMPAIGN FUNDS PUBLISHED.
Detailed instructions approved by the Central Electoral Commission on the use of campaign funds by political parties and electoral associations were published in the official newspaper Rossiiskaya gazeta on 9 August. The rules correspond to guidelines laid out in the law on parliamentary elections, adopted on 21 June, which provided for campaign funds to be kept in special temporary accounts in Russia's Sberbank. The instructions specify how the bank accounts must be opened, limits on individual contributions and how they must be deposited, and how candidates must register the receipt and expenditures of campaign funds. The electoral commission may file suit to revoke the registration of candidates or political parties if funds outside the special Sberbank accounts are used for campaign purposes. * Laura Belin

MUSLIM ORGANIZATIONS PREPARE FOR ELECTIONS.
Two large Muslim organizations are preparing for the December 1995 parliamentary elections, according to the 6-13 August issue of Moskovskie novosti. The Union of Muslims, led by Akhmet Khalitov, was organized this year to represent the interests of Muslims of various political orientations; it already claims to have 50 regional branches. The All-Russian "Nur" (Light) movement, chaired by Khalit Yakhin, also hopes to unite Muslim voters and claims 47 regional organizations. The paper pointed out that both movements have had some connection to Vladimir Zhirinovskii's Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR). Khalitov was involved in the LDPR in its early years but split with Zhirinovskii; Yakhin is currently an aide to LDPR Duma deputy Aleksei Mitrofanov. * Laura Belin

REWARD SET AT $1 MILLION TO FIND KIVELIDI'S KILLERS.
The Russian Business Round Table has offered a $1 million reward for information leading to the capture of the killers of murdered banker Ivan Kivelidi, Russian and Western agencies reported on 9 August. Kivelidi, who headed Rosbiznesbank and the Round Table, died on 4 August after being poisoned. The banker is the latest in a series of Russian businessmen to be assassinated. The Round Table's vice-president and former Russian finance minister said, "The police are incapable of doing anything, or else they are in league with the criminals." * Thomas Sigel

INCREASE IN NUMBER OF BORDER-CROSSINGS.
The head of the federal border service, Maj. Gen. Mikhail Shkuruk, told ITAR-TASS on 9 August that the number of checkpoints at the border has nearly doubled in the last two to three years because of an increase in the number of border-crossings. Shkurok said that in the last seven months of 1995, 33.5 million people have been allowed to cross along with 4 million transport vehicles. In comparison, during the whole year of 1992, only 13.7 million people and fewer than 1.4 million vehicles crossed. Since the beginning of the year, border guards have stopped 550,000 people trying to cross illegally. The agency framed the story with statistics on contraband narcotics and weapons smuggling since the beginning of 1995 (respectively 412 kg and 600 guns), underlining growing fears in Russia of increased migration and refugees. * Alaina Lemon

YELTSIN ISSUES SAVINGS LOAN SCHEME DECREE.
Russian President Yeltsin issued a decree ordering the cabinet to begin issuing bonds in September that will be available to the entire population, ITAR-TASS reported on 9 August. The main purpose of the savings loan scheme is to help people protect their savings from inflation. Commenting on the loan scheme, Presidential aide Aleksandr Livshits said the government will issue sets of bonds over the next three years. Each set will consists of 10 series and each series will have bonds worth a total of 1 trillion rubles. The State Savings Loan bonds are fully guaranteed by the state. * Thomas Sigel



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

VOL. 1, NO. 155, 10 AUGUST 1995
GULIZADE: PROTECT US FROM RUSSIA AND IRAN.
A paper referring to Russia as "the biggest enemy of Azerbaijan" was presented in Washington DC by Vafa Gulizade, foreign policy adviser to the president of Azerbaijan, Moskovskaya pravda reported on 9 August. The U.S. press described Gulizade's report as "sensational" and "scandalous," according to the paper. It noted that Gulizade said Iran is "spending vast sums" to export fundamentalist Islam to Azerbaijan and is cooperating with Russia to suppress Azerbaijan's independence. Gulizade was reported as arguing that Russia is manipulating the newly independent states by playing one off the other and views Azerbaijan as the main obstacle to exercising control over the region because Baku has refused to accept the stationing of Russian troops on its soil. His call for the U.S. and the West in general to protect Azerbaijan from Russian and Iranian influences, the paper reported, will likely "negatively affect" Russian-Azerbaijani relations. Noting that 70% of Azerbaijan's exports go to Russia and some 1.5-3 million Azerbaijanis live there, the paper argued that "ordinary" people in Azerbaijan, as opposed to the present government, favor drawing closer to Russia. The subtext of the article contained a warning: it noted that the "Azeri community in Moscow"--which includes pro-Russian alternatives to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev--"strongly condemned" Gulizade's report. * Lowell Bezanis

IRAN TO AZERBAIJAN: NO TIES TO ISRAEL.
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati warned Azerbaijan to stay away from Israel or risk instability in the Caucasus region, AFP reported on 9 August, citing IRNA. Velayati, who is visiting Almaty, made the remarks to Azerbaijani President Heidar Aliev, who is also visiting Kazakhstan. Any further rapprochement between Azerbaijan and Israel will harm Islamic unity and "those governments themselves" the minister warned. Tehran's relations with Baku have been increasingly rancorous since Iran was forced out of the "deal of the century" to exploit oil in the Caspian Sea. Aliyev is expected to visit Israel later this year. Tehran has not used such strong language with Turkmenistan, with which it has close ties, although Ashgabat maintains economic and political ties with Tel Aviv. * Lowell Bezanis

KAZAKHSTAN TO SELL URANIUM TO LIBYA.
The government of Libya is prepared to purchase uranium from Kazakhstan, AFP reported citing the official Libyan news agency Jana on 9 August. No details of the agreement were available. Libya was recently critical of what the country perceived as secrecy surrounding the 600 kg of enriched uranium that the U.S. purchased from Kazakhstan in 1994 and appealed to the United Nations for the destruction of the material. The Libyan report did not specify how the country would use the uranium. * Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

VOL. 1, NO. 155, 10 AUGUST 1995
SLOVAKIA ASKS U.S. FOR EXPLANATION.
Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 9 August, said his government has asked the U.S. State Department whether the U.S. is changing its attitude toward the Slovak government. He noted that just 14 days ago, the view was positive; however, during his visit to the U.S., President Michal Kovac told Slovak Radio on 8 August that U.S. representatives said Slovakia is not maintaining the same pace toward democracy and reform as are Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1995). Foreign Ministry State Secretary Josef Sestak on 9 August said that Slovakia has sent a note to the U.S. embassy in Bratislava asking for clarification of the U.S.'s attitude. Meanwhile, Kovac has come under increasing attack from the government coalition. Speaking on Slovak TV, Meciar called Kovac's statements "very unfortunate." Presidential spokesman Vladimir Stefko said that Kovac was not interpreting the "official" opinion of the U.S. government but rather the opinions of high-ranking specialists within the U.S. administration, Pravda reported on 10 August. * Sharon Fisher

UPDATE ON SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S U.S. VISIT.
Michal Kovac, meeting with top representatives of the White House, the State Department, and the Defense Department, identified three main reasons for political tension in Slovakia: relations between the president and premier, between the president and parliamentary majority, and between the coalition and opposition. He also stressed the importance of solving problems between the government, on the one hand, and trade unions, district administrations, and universities, on the other. According to Kovac, the coalition believes that "whoever wins the elections has the possibility to proceed without regard for the opinions of the opposition," Pravda reported on 10 August based on a fax sent to the Foreign Ministry by Slovak Ambassador to the U.S. Branislav Lichardus. * Sharon Fisher

UKRAINIAN-BRAZILIAN RELATIONS.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleksander Nykonenko has said Ukraine is preparing to open an embassy in Brazil, Ukrainian Radio reported on 8 August. He noted that Brazil was one of the ten most industrially developed countries in the world, with a GNP larger than that of either Russia or Ukraine. Trade between the two countries in 1994 totaled $46 million. Brazil is also home to 500,000 Ukrainians, who have been actively seeking to promote closer cultural and economic ties between the two countries. * Ustina Markus

CFE INSPECTORS IN BELARUS.
A delegation of inspectors arrived in Minsk on 8 August to check whether Belarus is complying with the 1990 CFE treaty, Belarusian Radio reported. The group is to begin work on 11 August. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in February announced that the republic was suspending CFE reductions because of financial difficulties. To date, there have been no statements that disarmament has resumed. Minsk has offered to show the delegation 72 sites around Barysau and Machulishkau, but they may be shown other sites of their own choosing. * Ustina Markus

NEW PRESIDENTIAL CONTROL SERVICE IN BELARUS.
Belarusian Radio on 8 August reported that President Alyaksandr Lukashenka issued a decree renaming the Control Service of the Administration of the President. It will now be called the Control Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus. The decree aims at enhancing the president's powers and making the work of the control service more effective. It also named the head of the previous control service, Vasil Dalhaleu, as chief of the successor organization. * Ustina Markus

ESTONIAN COMMERCIAL BANK TO OPEN BRANCH IN RUSSIA.
The Rusian Central Bank has given permission to the Estonian EVEA Bank to open a branch in Russia, BNS reported on 9 August. EVEA Bank is the first Estonian commercial bank to be allowed to operate in Russia. Its information and advertising department head, Gennadi Gramberg, said that the bank applied for permission to set up a branch because of the growing interest in Russia in Estonian banking . The branch's primary tasks will be the exchange of information, market research, and introduction of EVEA Bank's services into Russia. It will be allowed to have only two employees and will base its work on Russian legislation. * Saulius Girnius

SAFETY OF LITHUANIA'S NUCLEAR POWER PLANT.
The Lithuanian Energy Ministry held a press conference on 9 August to respond to a recent U.S. report stating that Ignalina was one of four nuclear power plants in Eastern Europe that were even more dangerous than the Chornobyl facility, RFE/RL reported. A Swedish nuclear expert noted that the U.S. report did not accurately reflect the current situation at Ignalina because it was written in May 1993 and did not take into account various measures taken to improve Ignalina's safety. He said that once all these measures have been taken--at a cost of $100 million--the safety of the Ignalina plant will be comparable to that of atomic facilities in the West. * Saulius Girnius

POLISH GOVERNMENT APPROVES DRAFT LAW ON FOREIGN VISITORS.
The Polish government on 8 August approved a draft law on foreign visitors that would allow someone to be refused entry to Poland if the aim of his visit is unclear or if his stay could endanger public health. The law also enables authorities to verify whether a visitor has sufficient financial means to stay in the country. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Jerzy Zimowski said the requirement that the visitor have $20-25 for each day of his visit will be enforced primarily for Romanian, African, and Asian visitors. He added that the law follows Western norms and will replace legislation from 1963, Polish media reported on 9 August. * Jakub Karpinski

UPDATE ON MILITARY'S INVOLVEMENT IN POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMAPIGN.
Minister of Interior Andrzej Milczanowski has created a special commission to investigate revelations in the Polish press that signatures supporting President Lech Walesa's candidacy were collected from troops in Interior Ministry units under presure from commanding officers (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1995), The Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski said no election campaigning has taken place in the military detachments subordinated to his ministry, Polish media reported on 10 August. Before the 1993 parliamentary elections, Gen. Julian Lewinski, commander of the Warsaw Military District, ran a campaign supporting a pro-presidential party. * Jakub Karpinski

CROATIA STOPS HUNGARIAN RAIL CARGO.
The Croatian government has asked the Hungarian State Railway (MAV) to halt all cargo shipments bound for Rijeka, a port on Croatia's Adriatic coast, Reuters reported. A MAV spokesman on 9 August said that the official reason given by the Croats was "traffic overload."He commented that it is not clear whether the request is in any way related to fighting in Krajina. Rijeka is the main port for landlocked Hungary, having been actively developed by Hungary during Habsburg times. According to the spokesman, MAV officials on 10 August will hold talks with their Croatian and Slovenian counterparts on ending the cargo halt. * Jiri Pehe



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

VOL. 1, NO. 155, 10 AUGUST 1995
SERBIAN REFUGEES, SOLDIERS HEAD FOR SERBIA.
The VOA on 10 August reported that some 100,000 Serbs are on the road from the former Krajina to Serbia via Bosnian Serb territory. A major problem is the presence of armed soldiers among the civilians, although few of the troops have any stomach for fighting. The Croats, who have just taken the last Serb stronghold of Dvor, do not trust the UN to disarm the men. Nor do the Bosnian Serbs seem to have much confidence in their nominal allies, whom they are disarming and then keeping out of Banja Luka, the BBC said. AFP reported that the International Committee of the Red Cross is concerned about the presence of the soldiers and what it will mean for the safety of the refugees. The International Herald Tribune added that Croatian civilians are pelting the refugees with stones. A Croatian policeman said that "these people are angry. You should be thankful they don't do more" to the Serbs. Meanwhile in Zagreb, UN special envoy Yasushi Akashi started talks on 9 August to scale down the UN presence in Croatia, especially of soldiers. "We would like to have a reduced but effective presence," Akashi told AFP. * Patrick Moore

SERBIA TO SETTLE REFUGEES IN KOSOVO.
AFP on 10 August cited Tanjug to the effect that some "thousands" of Krajina refugees will be sent to the roughly 90% ethnic Albanian-inhabited province of Kosovo. It is not clear how many will be resettled there and what will happen to those who do not want to go. Serbian nationalists have long dreamed of reversing demographic trends in the impoverished area, which are the results of steady Serbian emigration and a high Albanian birth rate. The Serbian government to date has had little luck in enticing Serbs to settle there voluntarily, even with generous benefits. The first refugees are expected within days and some communities have volunteered to accomodate them, but any mass resettlement will require more resources than the authorities currently have at their disposal. Some observers have painted bleak scenarios should Belgrade apply its "ethnic cleansing" techniques in Kosovo. * Patrick Moore

U.S. SAYS CROATIA NOT GUILTY OF "ETHNIC
CLEANSING."
Peter Galbraith, influential U.S. ambassador to Croatia, rejected British and Serbian charges that Zagreb is guilty of "ethnic cleansing." He told the BBC on 9 August that "ethnic cleansing is a practice supported by Belgrade and carried out by Bosnian and Croatian Serbs, forcefully expelling local inhabitants and using terror tactics." He added that the Croatian military success could prove to be a positive step in resolving the conflict through negotiations. A British journalist said that international diplomacy has no new ideas anyway and that the problems are being resolved by the military on the ground. A German editor added that this is because the international community has no clout since it has been unwilling to use force. * Patrick Moore

CIA HAS EVIDENCE OF SERBIAN WAR CRIMES IN SREBRENICA.
The VOA and The New York Times on 10 August reported on disclosures by a top CIA official and a State Department spokesman on the possible mass murder of Muslims by Serbs following the fall of Srebrenica last month. One spy photo apparently showed a field near a soccer stadium with hundreds or thousands of Muslim men and boys. A second photo, taken a few days later, showed the field empty but with the earth disturbed in a large pattern recalling that of mass graves elsewhere. There are some 6,000 people from Srebrenica still unaccounted for. The American officials said that incidents of human rights violations committed by the Croatian or Bosnian forces "do not approach the scale or systematic nature" of those of the Serbs. The State Department official noted that, following the Croatian reconquest of Krajina, there have been "scattered cases of human rights abuses" but "no reports of the kind of atrocities that followed the fall of Srebrenica." * Patrick Moore

MORE ON RUMORS OF A BOSNIAN CARVE-UP.
The BBC on 10 August quoted a British commentator as saying that Croatia knows it needs the alliance with the Muslims for its own security and that the Croat-Muslim federation "is the current game in town." Many Croats have wondered why the British politican who produced the map, supposedly drawn by President Franjo Tudjman, waited three months to do so, and why the notes on the map contain no typical "Croatianisms." Tudjman, in fact, has just presented top Croatian awards to his Bosnian counterpart, Alija Izetbegovic and to Bosnia's foreign minister. Slobodna Dalmacija on 10 August quoted Bosnian Fifth Corps commander General Arif Dudakovic as praising the Croatian role in relieving Bihac. Meanwhile, Tudjman has refused to meet Serbian and Russian presidents in Moscow unless Izetbegovic is present, Vjesnik reported. (See related items in the Russian section) * Patrick Moore

BELGRADE MASS RALLY DENOUNCES SERBIAN PRESIDENT.
Up to 10,000 people gathered in downtown Belgrade on 9 August to participate in a mass rally against Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, international media reported the following day. The rally, attended by nationalist political leaders and members of the Serbian Orthodox clergy, held Milosevic personally responsible for the defeat of rebel Serb Krajina forces and for the "loss" of rebel-held Croatian territory. Protesters called Milosevic "a second Tudjman" and "ustasha." Officials from the Orthodox Church, which called for Milosevic's ouster following Croatia's victory, blessed the gathering. * Stan Markotich

MILOSEVIC REPLIES TO KARADZIC.
Serbian President Milosevic on 9 August responded to Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic's statements the previous day denouncing Milosevic for allegedly selling out Serbian national interests by "abandoning" Krajina, Tanjug reported. Milosevic charged that Karadzic and the Krajina Serb leadership were responsible for the "loss" of Krajina because of their "war-mongering" and unwillingness to accept internationally mediated peace plans. "The results of rejecting talks are a great loss of life, the loss of Krajina, and an exodus of the population," Milosevic said. * Stan Markotich

ECOLOGISTS URGE SHUTDOWN OF SLOVENIAN NUCLEAR FACILITY.
The Austrian ecological group Global 2000 on 8 August called for the closure of Slovenia's power plant in Krsko, AFP reported the following day. The plant is located some 30 kilometers from the Croatian capital, Zagreb. The group said that in view of recent developments in the region, it may become the source of a major ecological disaster. It noted that "Serbia has a military potential sufficient to unleash a nuclear disaster in the region, which, even increased surveillance of the power station would not help avoid." Serbian units were not far from the plant during their 1991 invasion of Slovenia but did not cause damage. The plant was built jointly by Croatia and Slovenia, which share its output. * Stan Markotich

ETHNIC GERMANS CRITICIZE ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW.
Paul Philippi, leader of Romania's ethnic Germans, said that a new education law will result in the publication of schoolbooks that gloss over the role of Germans in Transylvanian history, Reuters reported on 9 August. Philippi heads the German Forum, the main organization of the 100,000 or so ethnic Germans still living in Romania after a massive exodus dating back to Ceausescu's times. The new education law has also been attacked by ethnic Hungarians in Romania, who say it limits mother-tongue instruction and curtails cultural rights. Radio Bucharest on 9 August reported that the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania has decided to step up actions protesting the law. * Dan Ionescu

ROMANIA OPENS FERRY-BOAT SERVICE TO TURKEY.
Romania on 9 August opened its first ferry-boat service to Turkey, Western agencies reported. The new service, which links Romania's main Black Sea port of Constanta with Samsun, will operate twice a week. The ferry-boat can take aboard 40 freight trucks and 70 cars. Transportation charges are expected to be up to 25% lower than by road. Romania and Turkey, which are members of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation association, want to increase economic ties. * Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA, ROMANIA DISAGREE ON BRIDGE SITE.
Transport Ministry experts from Bulgaria and Romania have failed to agree on the site for a second bridge over the Danube linking the two countries, Reuters reported on 9 August. Following two-day talks in Sofia, Bulgaria accepted the recommendation of the British consulting firm Alexander Gibb to build the bridge along the Western side of the common border, while Romania said it wants the bridge to be built further east. The two countries hope to agree on a location by mid-September and to present their proposal to the EU, which is partly financing the project. Bulgaria and Romania also disagree over financing. Sofia hopes to win financial aid from Western countries, while Bucharest is in favor of loans from international organizations. * Stefan Krause

DATE SET FOR BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS.
President Zhelyu Zhelev on 10 August set the first round of local elections for 29 October 1995, Bulgarian media reported. Under the electoral law, the second round has to take place no later than 14 days after the first. In other news, Irina Bokova was appointed deputy foreign minister on 9 August. She replaces Stanimir Aleksandrov, who asked to be relieved of his duties for personal reasons. Bokova was secretary of the Council of Ministers for European Integration and chair of the Coordinating Commission for European Integration. * Stefan Krause

BULGARIA CONSULTS GERMANS OVER NATIONAL STOCK EXCHANGE.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev on 8 August met with the general manager of the Frankfurt stock exchange to discuss setting up a Bulgarian stock market, AFP reported the same day. The Bulgarian government, which wants foreign assisitance in this task, has also consulted with representatives of the Paris and Chicago stock exchanges. Gechev said that "under equal conditions," Bulgaria prefers to cooperate with a European partner. * Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR "RECONSTRUCTION" OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY.
At the fourth conference of the Tirana branch of the Democratic Party on 9 August, President Sali Berisha called for the party to be "reconstructed," for the pace of reform to be accelerated, and for the party to increase its work in the countryside, Koha Jone reported the next day. Berisha added that a dialog with voters is necessary. The Democrats are expected to run a close contest with the Socialists in the upcoming elections in April 1996. Transport Minister Albert Brojka was re-elected as head of the Tirana branch. Meanwhile, the Albanian Socialists have denied reports that they held a secret meeting with the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia in Sofia on 29 July. * Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1300 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave





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