Accessibility links

Newsline - August 29, 1995


Vol. 1, No. 168, 29 August 1995
A committee of representatives from the parliament and the president met on 28 August to find a compromise on the issue of the formation of the Federation Council, ITAR-TASS reported. President Boris Yeltsin earlier vetoed a bill approved by both houses of the parliament calling for elections to the upper house. The president wants to appoint its members from the leadership of Russia's 89 republics and regions. The Constitutional Court has not yet answered a Duma request to determine the constitutionality of the president's proposal. Duma representative to the commission Vladimir Isakov said that a number of compromise solutions were possible, including delegating local governors to the Federation Council after they are elected by popular vote. The majority of governors currently serving were appointed by Yeltsin. The commission chose five possible compromises which will now be developed by a group of experts for discussion in the Duma when it reconvenes in October. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

A congress of Power to the People (Vlast--Narodu) has drawn up the bloc's list for the December parliamentary elections, Interfax reported on 28 August. Former Soviet Prime Minister Nikolai Ryzhkov will top the list of 270 candidates, followed by Russian Public Union (ROS) chairman Sergei Baburin and Mothers for Social Justice leader Yelena Shuvalova. Lt. Col. Stanislav Terekhov, head of the Officers' Union, and renowned chess player Anatolii Karpov are also included. Power to the People was created in July and calls itself a "patriotic left-centrist" alliance. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Valentin Kuptsov, deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF), said that the Communists have agreed not to compete against candidates from the Agrarian Party or the bloc Power to the People in 65 of Russia's 225 single-member constituencies, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Party chairman Gennadii Zyuganov said his party hopes to form the next government and expressed confidence that Communists and their left-wing allies will win a majority of seats in the next Duma. The Communists have drawn up a party list of 270 candidates and will nominate candidates in 160 single-member constituencies. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

Aleksandr Yakovlev, chairman of the Board of
Russian Public TV, will run for the Duma on the party list of Yegor Gaidar's Russia's Democratic Choice-United Democrats, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Yakovlev will be among the top ten names on the list. The 71-year-old former Politburo member, who developed many of former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms, earlier declined a spot on age and health grounds. The delegates to the bloc's 26 August congress voted to include him because they felt he would bring additional votes. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

General Anatolii Romanov, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, issued an order on 28 August forbidding Chechen citizens to carry arms in the republic's towns and cities, ITAR-TASS reported. The order is in response to recent incidents involving Chechen fighters who returned to the cities and town of Chechnya after the signing of the July 30 military accord but have not yet turned in their weapons because of the stalled disarmament process. Romanov's order also called for tightening passport controls at checkpoints within the cities. According to Interfax, Chechen delegates submitted to their Russian counterparts on 28 August a schedule for the disarmament of Chechen units that will be used by the federal command to formulate a schedule for the simultaneous withdrawal of federal troops from the republic. However, the long-delayed prisoner exchange was postponed once again on 28 August, and federal positions were attacked 11 times on the night of 28-29 August. One federal serviceman was killed and three others wounded -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

Nuclear Power Minister Viktor Mikhailov denounced as "total rubbish" a 27 August article in The Sunday Telegraph (London) claiming that Russia had concluded a secret deal to provide Iran with two 400-megawatt reactors for its nuclear research program, to be built at Neka, in northern Iran, international agencies reported. The Telegraph report claimed that the reactors would be used in the Iranian nuclear weapons program. Mikhailov said that "there is no secret accord" between Moscow and Tehran and emphasized that all contacts between Iranian and Russian nuclear officials concern only the completion of the nuclear power station at Bushehr, for which a contract was signed in January. Russia and Iran have repeatedly claimed that the Bushehr project will have no military implications. Mikhailov did add that, in the future, Russia might help Iran construct as many as four power reactors at the Bushehr site. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

President Yeltsin met with Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev to congratulate him on the fifth anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of sovereignty, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin will fly to Kazan to take part in ceremonies commemorating the anniversary on 30 August. Shaimiev is a prominent figure in the prime minister's bloc Our Home Is Russia. In February 1994, federal authorities and Tatarstan signed the first power-sharing agreement in the Russian Federation. Since then, five other autonomous republics have signed agreements to divide power with Moscow. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

A new movement in Tyumen Oblast called Unity of the Oblast, just registered by the local justice administration, has proposed an oblast-wide referendum on preserving the oblast's unity, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The oblast contains two other constituent parts of the Russian Federation: the Khanty-Mansii and Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrugs. Both okrugs have confirmed their status within the oblast in their charters, but the Tyumen administration does not agree with several articles that limit its management responsibilities. In fact, the dispute is more about the division of power between the oblast and the okrugs, than the unity of the oblast. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

Nizhnii Novgorod Governor Boris Nemtsov believes that delays in the payment of old-age pensions will lead to hunger or even mass unrest, Radio Rossii reported on 28 August. Nemtsov said his oblast's Pension Fund, like those in many other regions, does not have enough money to pay pensioners and is not receiving sufficient funds from Moscow to make up the shortfall. As a result, he went on, every month pensions are late or not paid in full. According to Yevgenii Gontmakher, deputy chairman of the presidential Commission on Social Policy, the Pension Fund is in dire financial straits because of the fall in real wages and diminishing importance of wages in the income of the population. He noted also that some of the Pension Fund's money is used to finance projects and benefits that should be covered by the federal budget. According to First Deputy Prime Minister Yurii Yarov, the fund is now owed more than 10 trillion rubles ($2.26 billion) and since July pensions in many parts of the country have been delayed by 20 days, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

Five of Russia's largest banks pledged to resume interbank trading in a bid to restore confidence in the paralyzed short-term loan market, ITAR-TASS and Interfax reported on 28 August. The two national banks, Sberbank and Vneshtorgbank, as well as Inkombank, Imperial, and Most-Bank, signed an agreement to resume loan operations among themselves with the aim of slowly opening up the market to other operators. Russia's short-term loans market came to an abrupt halt on 25 August, when a liquidity crisis hit a number of banks, forcing them to halt short-term credits and threatening several with collapse. Fears of insolvency created a domino effect, prompting nearly all Russia's banks to suspend operations on the short-terms loans market amid a general cash shortage. On 28 August, the majority of banks remained on their guard after last week's panic, despite Central Bank intervention to boost liquidity and dispel fears of a general crash. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

Russia and Vietnam have joined forces to establish a bank in Vietnam that will service Russian-Vietnamese joint ventures, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. The bank will mainly service the Russian-Vietnamese joint oil venture Vietsovpetro, which was created in 1985. It will also handle Vietnam's debt payments to Russia. The report said that Vietcombank, Vietnam's largest bank, will own half the bank and that two Russian banks, Imperial and National Credit, will own 20% each. A Russian government oil firm, Zarubezhneft, will own 10%. The protocol of intent was signed last week in Hanoi, and officials anticipate charter approval within six months. The authorized start-up capital of the bank will be $10 million. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

Russia's main diamond producer reported sales of $628 million in the first half of the year and said it was in good financial shape, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 August. AK Almazy Rossii-Sakha Vice President Semen Zelberg told the news agency that sales were $28 million over projections. Russia exports 95% of its uncut diamonds, most of which are mined by the company in Siberia. Almazy-Rossii sold $1.14 billion worth of diamonds in 1994, mostly through the South African De Beers-run cartel. The company is currently renegotiating a new contract with De Beers, and Zelberg complained that the cartel's new price list is "unacceptable" to the Russian side. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 168, 29 August 1995
Following a two hour meeting of the heads of state of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, a 21 article "Bishkek Declaration" was signed in Bishkek on 28 August, Western and Russian media reported the same day. Overall, this summit, like its two predecessors, was longer on rhetoric than on substance. Kyrgyzstan Foreign Minister Roza Otunbayeva termed the "Turkic alliance," part of the Bishkek Declaration, the key document signed by all participants in the summit; she said it was a cultural union based on "the community of cultures, languages, and traditions," Interfax reported on 28 August. Initiatives advanced by Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan for holding various international conferences on security, cooperation, and confidence building in Central Asia, or Asia in general, were adopted. Participants in the summit also backed Turkmenistan's efforts to be recognized as a neutral state; expressed concern over ongoing conflicts in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and former Yugoslavia; and called upon the OSCE to take a more active role in resolving these problems. Russia's reaction to the proceedings was unusually muted; this may be connected with Moscow's decision to hold its own summit of Turkic-speaking countries in Moscow in September. In his opening speech to the meeting,
Turkish President Suleyman Demirel sought to allay Russian fears concerning the gathering of "siblings and related communities" but urged the latter to avoid becoming dependent on other states by moving their natural gas and oil through Turkey en route to world markets, international media reported. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.

President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan expressed his reservations about the effectiveness of economic cooperation among Turkophone countries, Interfax reported on 28 August. He termed the suggestions made to date "confused" and emphasized that Central Asian economic cooperation should be stepped up. Specifically, he called for Turkmenistan and Tajikistan to join in the Central Asian economic union, established in 1994 by Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Uzbekistan. Karimov also said Uzbekistan will not participate in such gatherings in future if they are "strikingly political." The same day, ITAR-TASS noted that Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov had told the other participants in the summit not to rush into a Turkic-language alliance. He was quoted as saying "a common language" cannot become a platform for a "political bloc." He also said that close attention to ties with Russia, other CIS states, and Iran would go hand in hand with efforts directed toward regional integration with Turkey. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 168, 29 August 1995
Polish President Lech Walesa told reporters on 28 August that Mieczyslaw Wachowski, the top aide who was fired three days earlier, "is and remains my friend," Gazeta Wyborcza reported. There were two reasons for the dismissal, Walesa said. Wachowski needed a rest from constant accusations of misconduct, and the president needed to reorganize his office to prepare for a second term. Walesa on 28 August promoted presidential staffers Andrzej Zakrzewski to minister of state (last held by Wachowski) and Andrzej Ananicz to secretary of state. Zakrzewski met with several former Walesa aides who had left the president's service because of disagreements with Wachowski in an apparent attempt to regroup for the fall elections. Walesa indicated to reporters that former Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski is being courted to head the president's re-election campaign. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

In a pastoral letter read out in all Catholic churches on 27 August, the Polish episcopate urged Catholics not to vote for candidates in the upcoming elections who "participated in the exercise of power at the highest party and government levels under totalitarian rule," Gazeta Wyborcza reported. The Church hierarchy traditionally declines to endorse specific candidates but instead issues general guidelines for voter behavior. The statement supported candidates who defend "ethical and evangelical values but also respect the views of other faiths and non-believers." Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski argued that the bishops' admonition did not refer to him. His role as minister for youth and sport in the last two communist governments was nothing to be ashamed of, he said. National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz commented that Kwasniewski should have another look at his own resume. Kwasniewski joined the communist party in 1977 and was one of the its rising stars in the late 1980s. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

Hungary's Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ) is threatening to leave the ruling coalition over a proposal to name a deputy prime minister to oversee the economy, Radio Budapest and international agencies reported. The liberals argue that such a post would diminish the power of Finance Minister Lajos Bokros, whose controversial austerity package aimed at dealing with the country's large budget deficit enjoys strong support from the SZDSZ. Prime Minister Gyula Horn has stressed he intends to establish the post, despite opposition from the coalition partner. He has also said he is in favor of appointing trade union leader Sandor Nagy, who is generally regarded as leader of the Socialist Party's left wing, which is opposed to both the austerity package and market reforms that result in job losses. The Socialists have a narrow majority in the parliament, but it is unclear what the party's pro-market wing would do in the event of a split with the SZDSZ. -- Jan Cleave, OMRI, Inc.

International agencies on 28 August reported that Hungary's Smallholders' Party has called on the government to break off diplomatic relations with Romania. The call came at a weekend meeting of opposition parties in Hungary. Prime Minister Gyula Horn, who was present at the meeting, called for a continued dialogue and diplomatic efforts to improve relations with Romania. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

Albert Horvath, leader of the Hungarian Party of Gypsies, hand-delivered a letter to Premier Gyula Horn demanding that the government guarantee Gypsies parliamentary representation, MTI reported on 28 August. He said he had to resort to delivering the letter to the Socialist Party headquarters because he had written so many already and not received an answer. Horvath cited constitutional paragraphs promising minorities representation in the parliament as well as equal political and cultural rights. He pointed out that the unemployment rate for the minority stands at 80% and that many Gypsies earn only 6,700 forint ($55). Without parliamentary representation, he said his party was unable to try to make changes. Some Romani and Gypsy parties do not use the name "Roma" in order to include those groups that do not speak Romani. -- Alaina Lemon, OMRI, Inc.

Gyula Horn and Vladimir Meciar plan to meet to discuss the draft of a controversial Slovak language law during the Central European Free Trade Agreement meeting in the Czech town of Brno on 11 September, Hungarian media reported on 28 August. The draft language law would require all schools, including those predominantly or exclusively attended by members of the Hungarian minority, to teach in the Slovak language. An estimated 600,000 ethnic Hungarians live in southern Slovakia. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc.

The Slovak Christian Democratic Movement has again attacked Jan Luptak, deputy parliamentary chairman and a member of the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, for questioning the need for independent judges, TASR reported on 28 August. Christian Democratic deputy Ivan Simko was quoted as saying that it is "incredible that the chairman of a party that nominated the minister of justice is attacking the very pillars of a free society, namely the independence of the judiciary." Luptak said in an interview with Slovak TV on 17 August that "it is a mistake for society to have independent judges [at a time] of economic transformation." -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc.

Following the May referendum on giving the Russian language equal status with Belarusian, it appears the majority of first graders will be taught in Russian, Belarusian Radio reported on 28 August. Of the 25,000 first graders in Minsk, 11,000 will be taught in Russian and 5,000 in Belarusian. The parents of the remaining 9,000 have not yet decided in which language they want their children to receive instruction. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

Ukrainian Radio on 28 August reported that foreign investment in Ukraine increased in the first six months of the year to $560 million. The biggest investors are Germany and the U.S., which respectively account for 20% and 19% of total foreign investment. They are followed by Britain, Russia, Cyprus, Switzerland, Ireland, and the Netherlands. Most investment has gone into the machine building industry, metals, domestic trade, the food business, and light industry. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

Martti Ahtisaari, at the start of a two-day visit to Riga on 28 August, met with his Latvian counterpart, Guntis Ulmanis, BNS reported. They discussed the financial situation in Latvia and how Finland could assist Latvia to join the European Union. Finnish and Latvian Foreign Ministers Tarja Halonen and Valdis Birkavs signed an accord on formally handing back to Latvia its pre-war embassy building in Helsinki. The ministers also discussed the possibilities of introducing visa-free travel between the two countries, Finnish assistance to Latvian border guards, and cooperation in combating organized crime. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.

Zbigniew Okonski and his Lithuanian counterpart, Linas Linkevicius, on 28 August signed protocols on cultural cooperation and the transfer of military equipment to Lithuania, RFE/RL reported. They also discussed the formation of a joint UN peacekeeping battalion. Okonski met with President Algirdas Brazauskas, Prime Minister Adolfas Slezevicius, and Foreign Minister Povilas Gylys. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.


Vol. 1, No. 168, 29 August 1995
The attack on Sarajevo's Markale market on 28 August left at least 37 dead and 87 wounded, international media reported the following day. Soon after the shelling, Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic said that Bosnia's participation in the peace process should be suspended until NATO clarified its role in protecting Sarajevo as a UN-designated "safe area." Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey stressed that "there must be some credibility restored by the international community in not allowing terrorism to undermine their own peace process [or] their own credibility." President Alija Izetbegovic promised revenge against the Serbs, adding that "as far as the killers are concerned, my message to them is we shall strike back . . . and very soon too." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

Nasa Borba on 29 August said the entire Bosnian Serb leadership has denied any connection with the Sarajevo attack. As was the case with the previous shelling of the market on 5 February 1994, the Serbs suggested that the government bombarded its own people for devious ends. The Serbian civilian leader, Radovan Karadzic, told SRNA that "the Muslim side, as usual, on the eve of important moments in the negotiations, staged a massacre of its own population to sabotage the peace process." His information minister called it "a classic act of Islamic terrorism." The military commander, General Ratko Mladic, said his men were not responsible. Bosnian Serb Radio claimed that soon after the Markale incident, government forces shelled a Serbian Orthodox church near Sarajevo and killed a member of a wedding party. There has generally been a pattern of the Serbs denying war crimes and accusing the Muslims or Croats of similar things each time the Serbs have done something particularly condemnable. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

Few people outside Serbian circles seemed to believe Karadzic and his fellows, however. The UN on 29 August announced that it had "concluded beyond all reasonable doubt" that Bosnian Serb forces fired the 120mm mortar round into an area packed with innocent civilians. It was not immediately clear what action, if any, would follow. Air strikes or use of the Rapid Reaction Force nearby were the two most likely options. The UN statement added that "all options are being reviewed, including the use of air power." Even the usually mild-mannered special envoy, Yasushi Akashi, said there would be "very strong action." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

The International Herald Tribune on 29 August said U.S. mediator Richard Holbrooke was somewhat cautious in his recommendations as to what should be done. Holbrooke, the "architect" of the short-lived policy of direct talks with Pale last winter, is now promoting Washington's latest effort to secure peace by effectively partitioning Bosnia. The Sarajevo government rejects any attempt to destroy the unity of the country. But the Bosnian Serb "legislature," meeting on Mt. Jahorina in the early hours of 29 August, welcomed Holbrooke's efforts for "a durable and just peace." Karadzic applauded the plan, saying earlier on Bosnian Serb Radio that "the American initiative, as far as we know, takes into account a maximum of Serb interests, and I hope our parliament will welcome this offer favorably." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

The Bosnian Serb legislators also agreed that they and rump Yugoslavia would be represented at future international conferences by a joint delegation. The measure had been suggested by EU mediator Carl Bildt, SRNA said. Meanwhile, Bosnian and Serbian media continued to speculate on persistent but unconfirmed reports that Mladic has tried to arrest Karadzic. The two internationally wanted war criminals have been publicly at odds over a variety of issues related to tactics and power. In Gorazde, British forces completed their withdrawal ahead of schedule, leaving behind only two military observers and a political analyst. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 28 August reported on the continued row in the Netherlands over the behavior of Dutch peacekeepers following the fall of Srebrenica in July. They have been charged with turning a blind eye to massacres of Muslims and other war crimes in order to avoid clashing with the Serbs. The latest reports suggested that the Dutch virtually had to stumble over mounds of corpses as they were leaving the area. AFP said that the Serbs still refuse to allow an independent investigation . -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

A peace conference in the Hungarian town of Szeged, attended by nongovernmental representatives from 15 countries, has expressed fears that another 70,000 Krajina Serbs will be settled in Vojvodina, which has large Hungarian, Croatian, and other Central European minorities, Hungarian TV1 reported on 27 August. Meanwhile, Hina on 28 August said that 565 ethnic Croatian refugees arrived in Croatia from Vojvodina on 28 August. The mass expulsion of Croats and Muslims from Banja Luka and other areas in northwestern Bosnia continued on 28 August, Croatian Radio reported. Some 300 people crossed the River Sava from Srbac to Davor, and more refugees are expected to arrive. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Margit Savovic, rump Yugoslav minister without portfolio in charge of civil liberties and minority rights, has denied that Serbian refugees in Kosovo and Vojvodina will disturb the ethnic balance there, Tanjug reported on 27 August. Savovic charged "certain countries" with using the refugee crisis to "interfere in Yugoslavia's internal affairs." Vjesnik on 29 August said that paramilitary troops under internationally wanted war-criminal Zeljko Raznjatovic, alias "Arkan," have begun press-ganging refugees in Serbia for deployment in eastern Slavonia. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

Amid renewed tension in Romanian-Hungarian interethnic relations in Transylvania, Max van der Stoel, the OSCE High Commissioner for Ethnic minorities, began a four-day visit to Romania on 28 August, Radio Bucharest announced the same day. He met with leaders of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania and is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu, Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase, Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu, government coordinator of the Council for National Minorities Viorel Hrebenciuc, and deputy justice and education ministers. Van der Stoel will also participate in a symposium on international legislation for national minorities. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

Yevhen Marchuk on 28 August began a two-day visit to Moldova, Infotag reported the same day. He met with his Moldovan counterpart, Andrei Sangheli, and parliamentary chairman Petru Lucinschi. During the visit, thirteen agreements on economic cooperation are to be signed as well as an accord on the protection of minority rights. Sangheli said the Moldovan side intends to raise the issue of agreements that have been signed but not implemented. The Ukrainian parliament has not yet ratified a treaty on friendship and cooperation, signed in October 1992, and other agreements have also not been observed. Radio Bucharest reported on 29 August that Marchuk proposed setting up a customs-free trade zone between the two countries and that his hosts responded to the proposal "with interest." Chisinau is also planning to raise the issues of border demarcation and Moldovan cargo transit through Ukrainian territory. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

The Moldovan government on 28 August officially protested the intention of the Russian military in Transdniester to transfer armaments to the authorities of the breakaway republic, Radio Bucharest announced the same day. Valerii Yevnevich, head of the Russian military in Transdniester, was quoted as saying the equipment about to be transfered to Tiraspol cannot be used for military purposes. He had previously said that a team of officers from the Materials Resources Direction of the Russian Defense Ministry were in Tiraspol to deal with the transfer of the army's assets in Slobozia, Parcani, and Bender. BASA-press reported on 25 August that according to Yevnevich, both the staff and equipment of the Russian battalions in Bender and Slobozia are to be transferred to the garrison in Tiraspol. He said that to date, no equipment has been transferred either to the Transdniestrian authorities or to Russia. He also noted that more than 5,600 missiles and mines have been destroyed and 3,800 remain intact. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

The Bessarabian Metropolitan Seat, which is subordinated to the Bucharest Patriarchate, has sued the Moldovan government for refusing to register the seat for three years, BASA-press reported on 25 August. A court in Buiucani will start examining the lawsuit later this week. The Moldovan Orthodox Church, to which most Orthodox believers in the country belong, is subordinated to the Moscow Patriarchate. Last week, Moldova's State Service for Religious Problems proposed that the Moldovan Orthodox Church should be subordinated to the Patriarchate of Constantinople as a compromise measure. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi, during the visit to Tirana of his Egyptian counterpart, Amr Moussa, has stressed again that sanctions against the rump Yugoslavia should not be lifted unless the Kosovo conflict is resolved. Moussa and Serreqi said their countries have identical views on the crisis in the former Yugoslavia. Moussa added that Egypt considers the settling of Serbian refugees in Kosovo to be an "attempt to alter the demographic structure in Kosovo, [which is] unacceptable," Reuters reported on 28 August. According to BETA, Moussa also met with President Sali Berisha and Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi to discuss Egyptian investments in Albania and other forms of cooperation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

White House communication manager George Stephanopoulos arrived in Athens on 28 August, Reuters reported the same day. Stephanopoulos will meet with Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias, and the main conservative opposition party leader, Miltiades Evert, on 29 August to discuss the situation in the Balkans. The talks will focus on Greece's differences with neighboring Turkey, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and the war in Bosnia. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave