OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
SHAKHRAI LEAVES CHERNOMYRDIN BLOC.
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai
announced that he is leaving Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home
Is Russia, NTV reported on 30 August. In recent months, Shakhrai is said to
have lost influence over the bloc's organization to other government figures,
including presidential adviser Aleksandr Shokhin. Shakhrai was reportedly
dissatisfied with the number of spots allocated to his Party of Russian Unity
and Accord (PRES) on the proposed party list for Our Home Is Russia. Shakhrai
was an early advocate of creating two centrist blocs led by Chernomyrdin and
Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin. PRES competed independently in the 1993 parliamentary
elections and barely cleared the 5% barrier necessary to win representation in
the Duma from party lists. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
PATRIARCH WARNS OF MUSLIM-ORTHODOX CONFRONTATION.
Patriarch Aleksii II
criticized the plan of the Russian Union of Muslims to elect representatives to
the Duma, arguing that it could cause confrontation in Orthodox-Muslim
relations, Russian Public TV reported on 30 August. He called on the spiritual
leaders of Russia's Muslims not to participate in the campaign and not to
support any candidates. The Orthodox Church will refrain from supporting
political organizations that call themselves "Christian" or "Orthodox." The
same day, a conference opened in Moscow to coordinate the nonpolitical
activities of Russian and foreign Islamic groups. Foreign representatives
included delegations from several CIS countries, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. The
goals of the conference were to find ways to send Russian students abroad and
increase foreign aid for Islam in Russia. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
TRETYAKOV OUSTED FROM NEZAVISIMAYA GAZETA.
The editorial board of
Nezavisimaya gazeta, which is not currently in production, voted nearly
unanimously to remove Vitalii Tretyakov from the post of editor-in-chief, which
he had held since the paper was founded in December 1990, NTV reported on 30
August. In order to preserve its editorial independence, Nezavisimaya
gazeta refused to run advertisements or accept any state subsidies, but
financial problems forced the paper to suspend publication on 24 May. Tretyakov
initially endorsed a proposed rescue plan to convert the paper into a
joint-stock company, but more recently he suggested that it would be better to
close the paper altogether than to sell shares to commercial interests. --
Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.
SECURITY COUNCIL DISCUSSES CHECHNYA . . .
The Security Council met on 30
August to discuss the situation in Chechnya, Western and Russian agencies
reported. President Boris Yeltsin chaired the widely publicized meeting, which
made two decisions aimed at speeding up the peace process in Chechnya. First,
federal authorities will try to "broaden" the base of Chechen leaders with whom
they are currently holding talks. Second, Yeltsin expressed willingness to meet
personally with Chechen leaders to push the talks forward. Asked by journalists
if this decision meant that direct talks with separatist Chechen President
Dzhokhar Dudaev might take place, Security Council Secretary and Presidential
Representative in Chechnya Oleg Lobov said the issue had not been discussed.
NTV commented that this position is illogical, since federal negotiators are
already talking with Chechen delegates who frequently consult with Dudaev. The
council also discussed measures for restoring the heavily damaged Chechen
economy, including paying compensation to citizens for property damaged during
the fighting. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
. . . WHILE SLOW DISARMAMENT CONTINUES.
In Grozny, implementation of the
30 July military accord continued to experience difficulties. The Chechen
rejection of a Russian proposal for a partial prisoner exchange again postponed
the deal. Regarding disarmament, Lobov told journalists that, with an estimated
70,000 weapons still in the hands of Chechen fighters, it was impossible to set
a date for new elections in Chechnya. Izvestiya noted on 31 August that
Chechen fighters have still only turned in about 800 weapons. The paper added
that the 50 billion rubles ($11.4 million) which have been allocated from the
federal budget to buy up weapons under the disarmament plan would not be
sufficient (at the current price of 900,000 rubles [$205] per gun) to buy all
those weapons, leaving at least 10,000 in the hands of the population. -- Scott
Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
CHERNOMYRDIN, YELTSIN LAUD TATARSTAN.
Speaking at a meeting in Kazan on
30 August to mark the fifth anniversary of Tatarstan's declaration of state
sovereignty, Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin praised Tatarstan's
"outstanding role" in the development of the "new Russian federalism," Interfax
reported on 30 August. Chernomyrdin also read an appeal from Russian President
Yeltsin, who affirmed that support for Tatarstan's aspiration for wider
independence had not been a mistake. Citing the example of Tatarstan to
underscore the distinction between extremism on the one hand and equality and
self-determination on the other, Chernomyrdin argued that Russia needs a new
and clearly formulated nationalities policy to regulate relations between the
center and the regions. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA DENOUNCES NATO ATTACKS ON BOSNIAN SERBS.
Yeltsin condemned both the recent Bosnian Serb mortar attack on Sarajevo and
the NATO airstrikes launched in response, international agencies reported. In
an interview with Russian Public TV, he said that Russia "opposed a military
resolution of the Yugoslav crisis" and repeated his call for an international
conference to resolve the conflict, to be held no later than October. Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin told Interfax that "it is
impermissible for the international community...to wage war against only one of
the parties to the Bosnian conflict," because "all participants in the
conflict" share responsibility for it. Karasin described the recent mortar
attack on Sarajevo, for which he blamed the Bosnian Serbs, as a "barbaric act."
But he added that there could be no military resolution of the conflict, saying
that "tit-for-tat" retaliation would only create a vicious circle of violence.
Interfax also reported that Russia planned to raise the issue of the airstrikes
at the UN Security Council. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.
The actual exchange of goods and services between
Russia and Turkey is not reflected in official statistics, according to the
August edition of Birzhevye vedomosti (no. 35). Officially, the volume
of bilateral trade is $2 billion, but the paper suggests that Turkish
construction work in Russia is worth $6 billion annually and "shuttle" trade by
individuals another $5 billion. The paper notes that officially, Russia
provides oil, gas, metals, Lada cars, industrial equipment, newsprint, and
timber to Turkey, while Turkey supplies Russia with candy, textiles, and
medicines. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
FAR EASTERN SCIENTISTS PROTEST LOW FUNDING.
Scientists in Russia's Far
East said at a press conference on 30 August that they intend to begin a
campaign of civil disobedience to protest government policies that are
"discrediting Russian science," Russian TV reported. The researchers are angry
at the government's failure to make scheduled budget payments to the sector,
saying that unique research is suffering as a result. The average monthly
salary of the scientific workers is a low 319,000 rubles (about
$72)--two-thirds of the subsistence minimum in the Far East. -- Penny Morvant,
MORE MILITARY FUNDING WOES.
The Defense Ministry received only slightly
over half the funds it was scheduled to receive in August from the Finance
Ministry, Krasnaya zvezda reported on 31 August. As a result, it said,
only 30% of servicemen would now receive their August pay. -- Penny Morvant,
NEW FEDERAL ENERGY COMMITTEE TO BE CREATED.
The government has prepared
the documents necessary to set up a Federal Energy Committee (FEC) to be headed
by First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais, Segodnya reported on 30
August. The FEC will regulate the prices of the fuel and energy sector,
determine access to pipelines, and monitor electric energy exports. The
committee will also enjoy exclusive investment and arbitration rights. The
economic activities of companies that operate within the sector will be subject
to strict monitoring. The companies will be required to submit routine reports,
data concerning investment projects, and detailed price list drafts, including
net cost, taxation, and profit items to the FEC. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
FINANCIAL MARKETS STILL SLOW.
In the wake of the interbank crisis,
financial market activity is still slow. According to Interfax, only a few
deals were concluded on the Moscow interbank credit market on 30 August.
Finance Ministry bond prices continued to rise on the off-exchange market.
Traders said the sharp increase was due to MinFin bond market stabilization and
commercial banks renewing operations with MinFin bonds. During the bank crisis,
banks were selling securities, whereas now investors are trying to buy back
bonds they sold earlier. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OBLAST BANKS AFFECTED BY CRISIS.
The Moscow banking crisis has caused
interbank credit interest rates in Russia's oblasts to rise, Interfax reported
on 30 August. Interest rate hikes were first felt in central Russia, where a
lack of money increased demand for funds borrowed from other oblasts. The
announced interest rates for 3 month loans in the oblast branches of Sberbank
grew by 10-20% on average in the past week and have reached 75-85%. Commercial
banks' credit rates increased by 5-10% and are now at an annual rate of
110-130% throughout Russia. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
SUSPECTS IN SHEVARDNADZE ASSASSINATION BID ARRESTED.
On 30 August the
Georgian security service arrested ten people suspected of perpetrating the
previous day's car bomb explosion outside the Georgian parliament, Ekho Moskvy
reported. Speaking at a public rally in Tbilisi on 30 August amid intensified
security, parliament chairman Eduard Shevardnadze formally announced his
candidacy for the 5 November Georgian presidential elections and blamed the
assassination attempt on unspecified "dark forces" who had hoped to clear the
way for their own presidential candidate, according to Radio Rossii. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
NAZARBAEV WINS REFERENDUM BY A BIG MARGIN.
As predicted, preliminary
results from the 30 August nationwide referendum show a major victory for
Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Central Election Commission Chairman
Yurii Kim told ITAR-TASS on 31 August that 89% approved the new constitution
and that 90% of the 8.8 million electorate turned out to vote. The united front
of opposition parties boycotted the elections. The turnout was puzzlingly high
given widespread apathy and ignorance of the draft constitution (see OMRI
Daily Digest, 25 August). More than 10,000 polling booths were in
operation, and about 1,000 representatives of political parties and public
movements monitored the vote; only 9 international observers were present.
Nazarbaev's claim that people fully endorse the new constitution was disputed
by Russia's NTV on 30 August, which said studies showed that most people had
not even seen the new constitution. Detailed returns will be available in a
week. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.
UZBEK MILITARY DOCTRINE APPROVED.
As widely expected, Uzbekistan's
parliament approved the republic's military doctrine on 30 August, Interfax
reported. It says that Uzbekistan considers no country its enemy, opposes war
as a means to resolve international disputes, and rejects the unilateral use of
force unless it or its allies are attacked. In other news, Uzbekistan recorded
a 5.7% fall in industrial production in the first six months of this year. --
Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
INDEPENDENCE DAY CENSORSHIP.
Uzbekistan's authorities have ordered Uzbek
Television to halt broadcasting of two Russian current affairs programs "Vesti"
and "Podrobnosti" until the end of independence day celebrations, NTV reported
on 29 August. Celebrations for the fourth anniversary of Uzbekistan's
independence begin on 31 August; the authorities evidently fear coverage of the
event in Russia will be "inadequate," NTV said. ITAR-TASS has estimated that
10,000 people from all over Uzbekistan and abroad will converge on Tashkent for
the celebrations. On 31 August 1991, 98.2% of the republic's electorate voted
for independence. -- Lowell Bezanis, OMRI, Inc.
LUKASHENKA TO RUN IN DUMA ELECTIONS?
On 30 August Belarusian radio
reported that the Russian electoral bloc Vozrozhdenie plans to include
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in its list of candidates for
Russia's parliamentary elections. The bloc also intends to include the
president of the self-proclaimed Transdniester Republic, Igor Smirnov.
According to Vozrozhdenie head Valerii Skurlatov, both presidents have
agreed to the move, although Skurlatov acknowledges that there may be problems
registering the two as they are citizens of other countries. Skurlatov plans to
get around this by pointing out that although both have different citizenships
now, previously they were Soviet citizens. He said the inclusion of such famous
individuals on Vozrozhdenie's list is a good illustration of the bloc's
goal of "redefining the Russian state within its 1975 borders." -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
POLISH OFFICERS GATHERED SIGNATURES SUPPORTING PRESIDENT.
In a report to
the Sejm on 30 August, Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Jerzy Zimowski
confirmed that signatures supporting President Lech Walesa's candidacy in the
upcoming elections were collected among soldiers of the special Vistula units
(NJW), subordinated to the ministry. An investigation revealed that signatures
were gathered in six of the eight units "with the knowledge and approval" and,
in some cases, even direct participation of commanding officers, Radio Warsaw
reported. NJW commander Vice Admiral Marek Toczek, who was dismissed last week,
destroyed the petitions when Gazeta Wyborcza exposed the signature
campaign. Presidential candidates must gather 100,000 signatures to qualify for
the ballot. Press reports had linked ousted presidential aide Mieczyslaw
Wachowski to the signature effort. Deputy Defense Minister Jan Kuriata assured
the Sejm that the armed forces' "apolitical" status would be respected during
the election campaign, but many deputies expressed skepticism. -- Louisa
Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
MORE TROUBLE FOR WALESA.
In another embarrassment for Lech Walesa, the
president's son was involved in a car crash on 30 August, apparently while
driving under the influence of alcohol and without a valid license. Slawomir
Walesa crashed into a Jaguar stopped at a red light in Warsaw and was later
taken to a government clinic, Radio Warsaw reported. The president's son
received a two-year suspended prison sentence and had his license revoked in
1992 after causing an auto accident in Gdansk. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH SEJM CRITICIZES NATIONAL BANK.
The Sejm on 30 August voted 270 to
107 to approve the enactment of the 1994 budget and the performance of last
year's government (headed by Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak), Gazeta
Wyborcza reported. But a report on 1994 monetary policy presented by
National Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz was rejected, and the bank was
chastised for inadequate cooperation with the government. Deputies from the
ruling coalition charged that the money supply had reached 213.8 trillion zloty
by year-end, far above the planned 169 trillion. Gronkiewicz-Waltz put the
actual figure at about 180 trillion, saying the higher sum was linked to this
year's currency reform. Deputy Prime Minister Grzegorz Kolodko again blamed the
central bank for higher-than-anticipated inflation. Gronkiewicz-Waltz walked
out when Kolodko took the floor. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLAND'S TYMINSKI OFFERS CASH.
Stan Tyminski, the eccentric emigre who
defeated Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki in the first round of the 1990
presidential elections before losing to Lech Walesa in the second, has offered
$1 for every supporting signature collected for his presidential campaign.
Tyminski, who now leads a fringe political grouping, Party X, made his $100,000
offer via the Internet, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. -- Louisa Vinton,
CZECH REPUBLIC TO SIGN CLASSIFIED INFORMATION AGREEMENT WITH U.S.
Minister Without Portfolio Igor Nemec on 30 August announced that the Czech
Republic will sign an agreement with the U.S. on the protection of classified
information, Czech media reported the next day. According to Nemec, the U.S.
has said such an agreement is a precondition for military cooperation between
the two countries and will also allow Czech firms access to U.S. technology
that would otherwise be unavailable. The Czech Republic is a member of NATO's
Partnership for Peace program, which seeks to foster military cooperation
between NATO and former Warsaw Pact countries. U.S. Defense Secretary William
Perry is due to visit the Czech Republic in September to attend joint military
maneuvers involving Czech, U.S., and German units. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI, Inc.
SLOVAK, HUNGARIAN PREMIERS HOLD CONFIDENTIAL TALKS.
Vladimir Meciar and
Gyula Horn on 29 August held confidential talks aimed at improving bilateral
relations, Western agencies reported. A spokeswoman for the Slovak prime
minister was quoted as saying that the two officials met in a Slovak mountain
resort. She said no information would be released until Meciar and Horn briefed
their respective parliaments. The talks were likely to have focused on the
Slovak draft language law--which, critics claim, discriminates against the
ethnic Hungarian minority in Slovakia--and on the delayed ratification of a
bilateral friendship treaty. The treaty has been ratified by the Hungarian
parliament but still not approved by Slovak deputies. -- Jan Obrman, OMRI,
UKRAINIAN ECONOMIC UPDATE.
The Ukrainian government convened on 30
August to finalize a draft of the 1996 state budget, which President Leonid
Kuchma is expected to submit to the parliament by 1 September, Ukrainian TV and
Interfax-Ukraine reported the same day. The current draft reveals a planned
budget deficit of 15% of GDP (a figure harshly criticized recently by IMF
representatives in Kiev) but the government plans to order ministries and local
administrations to take steps to reduce the projected deficit to 6% of GDP next
year. In other news, State Property Fund officials revealed that privatization
of enterprises in the agro-industrial complex has been proceeding very slowly,
Ukrainian TV reported on 30 August. Only 14% of enterprises slated for
privatization since 1993 have been transferred to private ownership, including
274 food-processing plants, grain elevators, and other agriculture-related
enterprises. The officials blame the poor financial situation of the
enterprises as well as resistance by local authorities for the slow pace of
privatization. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN ENERGY CONSUMPTION.
In the first six months of 1995, Ukrainian
private businesses used eight times more fuel than private households,
Ukrainian Radio reported on 30 August. Fuel consumption was reduced in the
state sector by 16%, while state fuel reserves on 1 July were down 25% on the 1
October 1994 level. Coal and mazut reserves were down 19% and 48% on last year.
-- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.
PROGRESS IN SEALING REACTORS IN ESTONIA.
representative Arvo Niitenberg said Russian specialists should finish building
concrete seals around the two nuclear reactors at the former submarine base at
Paldiski by 22 September, BNS reported on 30 August. Financial problems delayed
the purchase of concrete earlier in the month. Russia is required to complete
handing over the base to Estonia by 30 September. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI,
NEW NATIONAL AIR COMPANY IN LATVIA.
Latvian Privatization Agency
Director Janis Naglis said an agreement was signed on 29 August establishing a
new national air company, BNS reported the next day. The company will have a
registered capital of $12.1 million and will be owned by Latvia (51.03%),
Baltic International USA (20.04), and SAS (16.53%) airlines as well as two
Scandinavian funds (6.2% each). The existing Latavio airline will be
reorganized into a department handling charter flights and transport cargoes.
The new company will begin operations in September and will use only Western
airplanes to carry passengers. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
OMRI DAILY DIGEST
Vol. 1, No. 170, 31 August 1995
NATO BLASTS BOSNIAN SERBS . . .
International media on 31 August
reported that by sundown the previous day, there were four waves of attacks by
at least 60 NATO planes belonging to five countries in Operation Deliberate
Force. Their targets were Bosnian Serb military installations around Sarajevo,
Gorazde, Tuzla, and Mostar in the largest such operation in NATO's history. The
British, French, and Dutch artillery of the Rapid Reaction Force on Mt. Igman
pounded targets nearby. Only one plane--a French Mirage 2000--was downed. Its
two pilots parachuted into Bosnian government territory, the BBC said. Some
five EU monitors were killed, but it is not clear how they died. Bosnian Serb
Radio said that damage was "massive" and that seven civilians were killed, but
the VOA correspondent in Sarajevo noted that one has to take "anything the
Bosnian Serbs say with a grain of salt." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
. . . AND PROMISES FURTHER ATTACKS.
The International Herald
Tribune on 31 August said that U.S., British, and French commandos
operating behind Bosnian Serb lines prepared for the attacks for months by
identifying targets. It appears that the first day's strikes largely succeeded
in attaining their initial goal of taking out Serbian anti-air defenses and the
radar system. The VOA on 31 August spoke of the ground in Pale shaking. NATO
spokesmen made clear that the raids will not be proportionate to previous
actions of the Serbs and that the attacks will not be limited in scope or area.
The goal is to force the Serbs to modify their behavior while denying them the
means to continue their aggression. State Department official Nicholas Burns
told CNN that "the Bosnian Serbs . . . ought to have concluded that there is no
military victory in sight for them. The tide of the war has turned against
them. Their dream of a greater Serbia is no more [and] it's time to face the
responsibility of peace." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIAN SERBS REMAIN DEFIANT.
The BBC on 31 August quoted the Bosnian
Serb military command as saying that they will not withdraw their heavy weapons
and will resist future NATO attacks. Pale's "foreign minister," Aleksa Buha,
gave the first public reaction from the Bosnian Serb leadership. The
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 31 August quoted him as saying the
attacks had nothing to do with the shelling of the Markale market on 28 August.
He suggested that some broader plot was unfolding. Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic said that if the West thinks it can intimidate the Serbs, then its
"calculations . . . are wrong." Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic praised the
attacks and French President Jacques Chirac's role in organizing them, but said
they were long overdue. He stressed that the Serbian heavy weapons must be
destroyed and that it will not be enough to secure the Serbs' signature on yet
another demilitarization agreement. Favorable reactions to the strikes also
came from London, Bonn, Paris, Ankara, and Zagreb. NATO Secretary-General Willy
Claes said that "the attacks will not end until the Serbs change."
Vjesnik ran the headline: "The Blue Helmets Neutralize Serbs." --
Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
SERBIA CONDEMNS AIR STRIKES.
The rump Yugoslav government has condemned
the NATO air attacks and UN artillery strikes against the Bosnian Serbs, Tanjug
reported on 30 August. It demanded that the military action be halted
immediately and negotiations resumed "as the only way to reach a lasting and
just peace in Bosnia." The ruling Socialist Party of Serbia joined the chorus,
denouncing both the air raids and the massacre at the Sarajevo market place,
Nasa Borba reported on 31 August. But Vojislav Kostunica, leader of the
opposition Democratic Party of Serbia, compared the attacks to bombardments by
Nazi Germany during World War II, while Vojislav Seselj, alleged war criminal
and leader of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS), called for a "heavy
counteroffensive." According to Montena-fax, the leader of the SRS branch in
Montenegro called Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic an "enemy of the Serbian
people" and part of a "communist-Ustasha coalition." -- Fabian Schmidt,
KARADZIC AGREES TO "HARMONIZE" BOSNIAN SERB POLICY WITH BELGRADE.
Bosnian Serb and rump Yugoslav leaders, meeting in Belgrade on 29 August,
signed an agreement on coordinating their positions at peace negotiations, BETA
reported two days later. According to the International Herald Tribune
on 31 August, the agreement means that "the Bosnian Serbs let the [rump]
Yugoslav government speak for them in the Bosnian peace process." BETA argued
that Milosevic was not anxious to sign the agreement since it "means taking
responsibility for what happens in Bosnia." The groundwork for the agreement
may have been laid at a meeting in Belgrade on 27 August between Bosnian Serb
leader Radovan Karadzic, Bosnian Serb military commander Ratko Mladic, speaker
of the Bosnian Serb parliament Momcilo Krajisnik, and Milosevic. BETA reported
that at that meeting, Milosevic "talked the hard-core Bosnian leaders into at
least formally accepting the peace initiative." But the news agency added that
"it is unclear . . . what concessions [they are] prepared to make in practice."
-- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
HOLBROOKE MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC.
U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke held urgent
talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade after meeting with
Bosnian President Alia Izetbegovic in Paris. Holbrooke described their
four-hour discussions about the U.S. peace plan as "important and productive,"
the International Herald Tribune reported on 31 August. BETA also
reported that Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic is in Belgrade and is
"almost certain" to meet with Holbrooke. It speculated that such a meeting may
take place in the presence of Milosevic and may result in the "signing of some
kind of document" accepting U.S. proposals for an end to the war. Holbrooke had
previously threatened that the Bosnian Serbs will be exposed to heavy air
strikes if the peace initiative "does not show any progress," adding that the
Serbs are "the main obstacle to peace." The U.S. peace plan has not yet been
published but reportedly grants the Serbs "local self-rule," within a Bosnian
federation. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN PRESIDENT CALLS FOR "HISTORICAL RECONCILIATION" WITH HUNGARY.
Ion Iliescu, in a speech marking the 55th anniversary of the temporary loss of
northern Transylvania to Hungary, called for a "historical reconciliation" with
Budapest based on the German-French model. Iliescu, whose address was broadcast
live on Radio Bucharest on 30 August, said a joint political declaration could
be accompanied by a "judicial document" specifying what mechanisms and
instruments should be used in the process. He added that a "code of conduct"
should be drawn up to deal with national minority issues. Iliescu also said
Romania was ready not only to start negotiations on such a reconciliation at
once but also to renew discussions on the bilateral treaty. He warned Hungarian
politicians not to pose as defenders of Hungarian minority rights in
neighboring countries or attempt to exercise control over those rights from
abroad. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
VAN DER STOEL ON MINORITY RIGHTS IN ROMANIA.
Radio Bucharest on 30
August reported that Max van der Stoel, visiting OSCE High Commissioner for
Ethnic Minorities, told Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu that the "situation of
national minorities in Romania has improved a lot." Van der Stoel expressed the
hope that "unjustified doubts" over the new education law in Romania will be
overcome, making it possible to "give the green light to the process of
Romanian-Hungarian reconciliation." The high commissioner said Iliescu's speech
on reconciliation was "very important indeed." -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
POLL SHOWS ROMANIANS CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT.
An opinion poll published
on 30 August in the daily Adevarul showed that a large majority of
Romanians are critical of Nicolae Vacaroiu's government. The survey, carried
out among 1,000 respondents by the Bucharest-based Center for Research on the
Quality of Life, revealed that 79.5% consider the executive's performance on
ensuring a "decent living standard" as either "weak" or "very weak."
Eighty-five percent returned the same verdict on the government's efforts to
create new jobs. Performance on protecting families with children was judged to
be "weak" or "very weak" by 74.8% of the respondents; 61.9% expressed the same
opinion about the adequacy of unemployment benefits. The performance of police
in combating corruption was considered to be unsatisfactory by 45.8% of the
interviewees. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.
U.S. AMBASSADOR SAYS ROMANIA, POLAND SHOULD ANCHOR SECURITY IN REGION.
U.S. Ambassador to Romania Alfred Moses told students at the Black Sea
University on 30 August that Romania and Poland should be the anchors of
Central European security and lead the process of integration with the West,
Reuters reported. He said such a framework would not threaten Russia and would
remove the "historical temptation to intervene in the affairs of the region to
gain hegemony and change its destiny." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA DENIES ROLE IN YUGOSLAV BORDER KILLINGS.
The Albanian Interior
Ministry has said that no Albanian citizens were involved in the attack on a
Yugoslav border patrol on 29 August, Reuters reported the next day. The
ministry accused the Serbian authorities of "killing and sacrificing their own
uniformed people only to accuse Albanians." It described claims that a group of
ethnic Albanians fled to Albanian territory after shooting dead a rump Yugoslav
soldier near the border at Djakovica as "irresponsible" and having been
"invented" by the Serbian authorities. Tirana also accused Belgrade of creating
"tension and hostility toward Albanians." -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA PRESIDENT WELCOMES NATO OFFENSIVE.
Sali Berisha praised the NATO
attacks on Bosnian Serb positions as a "direct response to the massacre
committed in Sarajevo by Serbian terrorists [and] an honorable answer to all
the criminal acts, including genocide, they have committed during the war in
the former Yugoslavia," Zeri i Popullit reported on 31 August.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi arrived in Greece to meet with top
officials to discuss improving bilateral relations and the Balkan crisis,
international agencies reported. German and U.S. military delegations traveled
to Tirana to discuss military cooperation with Defense Ministry and military
officials and to prepare for a U.S.-Albanian military exercise called "Peaceful
Albania," scheduled to begin in September. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIANS SHOPPING FOR ARMS IN UKRAINE?
Col. Bektesh Kolasi, head of the
Albanian Ministry of Defense's Armaments Directorate, is heading a delegation
visiting Ukraine, ITAR-TASS reported on 31 August. The press service of the
Ukrainian military said the Albanians will visit a military unit "to acquaint
themselves with weaponry used by the Ukrainian Land Forces." They were also
scheduled to visit two defense factories and discuss "military and technical
cooperation." -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Penny Morvant and Jan Cleave