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Newsline - September 6, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 173, 6 September 1995
AGRARIANS CRITICIZE OUR HOME IS RUSSIA.
In his speech to the congress of the Agrarian Party, leader Mikhail Lapshin described the current government's policy as "anti-popular" and "anti-peasant," Ekho Moskvy reported on 5 September. Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha denounced Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's idea of holding a referendum on private property for land because, he argued, the land should belong only to rural workers. His speech reflects the rift in the cabinet over agrarian issues. The congress, held on 5 September in Moscow, also called for the restoration of the Soviet Union. The party removed Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin from its leadership, but stopped short of excluding him from the party, NTV reported. Lapshin, Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Nazarchuk, and Chairman of the Agrarian Union Vasilii Starodubtsev will top the party list. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

TRADE UNIONS SUPPORT BLOC WITH INDUSTRIALISTS.
After failing to build an alliance with Rybkin's left-center bloc and then the Agrarian Party, Mikhail Shmakov's trade union organization and Vladimir Shcherbakov's Russian United Industrialist Party set up a group tentatively called Trade Unions and Industrialists of Russia-Union of Labor. Though there were heated discussions at the 5 September trade union meeting on uniting with the industrialists, the vast majority were in favor of the alliance, ITAR-TASS reported. Shmakov said that trade unions and industrialists have common interests in employment, respectable salaries, and legality. The industrialists will hold their congress on 6 September and the new bloc will meet two days later. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CENTRAL ELECTORAL COMMITTEE DEFINES OBSERVERS' RIGHTS.
Since there is no law defining the public's right to monitor vote counting procedures, the Central Electoral Commission has released a list of rights for domestic and foreign poll watchers and the media, Kommersant-Daily reported on 5 September. Although the document gives the observers wide-ranging rights, it does not specify punitive measures in cases where electoral committees violate these rights. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

FEDOROV CHARGES GOVERNMENT INTERFERENCE.
Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov charged that some regional governors have prevented their subordinates from joining his movement, Russian Public Television reported on 5 September. Despite such interference, Fedorov said, Forward, Russia! has approved 137 candidates to run for parliament in single-member constituencies and will soon have the 200,000 signatures needed to appear on the party-list ballot. The party list is headed by Fedorov, Duma deputy Bella Denisenko (formerly of Russia's Choice), and Aleksandr Vladislavlev (head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs). Fedorov's campaign includes an innovative joke contest, Reuters reported on 16 August. Members of the public are invited to submit jokes about other political parties, with the best one receiving a $3,000 prize. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

SHAKHRAI TO JOIN FORCES WITH ROSSEL?
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and his Party of Russian Unity and Concord (PRES) may strike an alliance with Sverdlovsk Governor Eduard Rossel, according to Ekho Moskvy and Russian Public Television on 5 September. Shakhrai reportedly supported Rossel's ouster in 1993, after Rossel backed the creation of a Urals Republic. However, the Sverdlovsk branch of PRES helped organize Rossel's August campaign against the candidate backed by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's bloc Our Home Is Russia, to which PRES officially belonged. On 31 August, Shakhrai left the prime minister's bloc, denouncing it as a closed party of bosses. -- Laura Belin, OMRI, Inc.

TAIMYR ANNEXES NORILSK.
The Duma of the Taimyr Autonomous Okrug voted to annex the city of Norilsk, removing it from the jurisdiction of Krasnoyarsk Krai, ITAR-TASS reported on 6 September. Krasnoyarsk Krai's executive branch opposes the move. Norilsk is the site of a huge, profitable nickel mine, and the conflict began when the director of Norilsk Nikel, Anatolii Filatov, sought the city's subordination to the okrug in April 1995. The president's representative in Krasnoyarsk Krai, Yurii Moskvich, said that changing the status of the city would have serious consequences and that a treaty protecting the status quo should be signed. -- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.

CHECHEN LEADERS IN ELECTION DISPUTE.
The head of the Moscow-backed Chechen government of national revival, Salambek Khadzhiev, told journalists in Grozny on 5 September that he objects to the 1 September decision of Umar Avturkhanov's Committee for National Accord to postpone indefinitely the parliamentary elections planned for 5 November, Interfax and Segodnya reported on 5 September. Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev has scheduled alternative elections for 27 October. Ekho Moskvy on 5 September quoted former Russian Supreme Soviet speaker Ruslan Khasbulatov as pledging his support for the newly-created Chechen Popular Union for Revival, the aims of which coincide with those of his 1994 Chechen peace mission. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.

COUNCIL OF EUROPE MAY RECONSIDER RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP.
A positive evaluation by a German parliamentarian may lead the Council of Europe to reconsider Russia's now frozen application for membership, Russian and Western agencies reported on 5 September. Ernst Muehleman, in a report to the 26-member council, concluded that Russia was now making progress towards "a peaceful settlement of the Chechen conflict," meeting the main condition which the council had set for reactivating the Russian application when it was frozen in February. At its 26 September meeting, the council will formally vote on reinstating Russia's petition for membership. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO SELL TWO ADDITIONAL REACTORS TO IRAN.
Indicating that Russia will not bow to ongoing American pressure to break off nuclear cooperation with Iran, a spokesman for the Ministry of Nuclear Power told ITAR-TASS on 5 September that Russia recently signed a contract to supply an additional two light-water reactors for the Bushehr power station. The first contract, signed in January, provides for Russia to complete an unfinished site at Bushehr, installing a new Russian VVER-1000 reactor. The new contract calls for the construction of two additional VVER-440 reactors at the same location. The spokesman, Eduard Akopyan, brushed off potential criticism of the new contract, saying that "the United States doesn't want to see Russia as a competitor" in the nuclear industry, and noting that 26 Russian-built reactors are currently operating safely under international safeguards in 10 countries. -- Scott Parrish, OMRI, Inc.

URANIUM FROM SCRAPPED WEAPONS SENT TO U.S.
An initial shipment of $120 million worth of uranium derived from scrapped nuclear weapons has been sent to the U.S., an official of Tekhsnabeksport told reporters on 5 September. ITAR-TASS quoted Igor Kupryanov as saying the exports had initially been "somewhat behind schedule" but were now back on track. In 1992 the U.S. agreed to pay Russia $12 billion for 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium from dismantled Russian nuclear weapons, in a deal that seemed to be in trouble earlier this year. Kupriyanov, whose company is affiliated with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, said that long-term contracts for the export of uranium had been recently signed with U.S., South Korean, and South African companies. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

RUSSIA TO REPROCESS FOREIGN NUCLEAR WASTE.
The Nuclear Energy Ministry said on 4 September that it is ready to accept foreign nuclear waste for reprocessing and temporary storage. According to Reuters, on 1 September the government approved controversial new rules allowing waste from abroad to be stored at the nuclear city of Krasnoyarsk-26 until a new reprocessing facility is built. That plant will process the waste for a fee, and Russia will use the resulting plutonium and uranium; the final waste will be sent back to the country of origin. Environmentalists argue that radiation levels are already too high at storage sites and that Russia does not even have the capacity to process its own nuclear waste. The Nuclear Energy Ministry says two-thirds of the storage complex at Krasnoyarsk-26 is empty. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

CHINA TO TAKE DELIVERY OF SUBMARINE.
The Krasnoe Sormovo shipyard in Nizhnii Novgorod is about to hand over a diesel-powered submarine of the Varshavyanka class to its new Chinese crew, ITAR-TASS reported on 4 September. It will be the second delivery by the shipyard to China this year. Known as the Kilo-class in the West, the submarine reportedly cost about $250 million, which China will pay half in hard currency and the rest in consumer goods. Foreign sources have reported in the past that China had contracted to buy as many as ten of the Kilos. -- Doug Clarke, OMRI, Inc.

BUDGET FUNDS MISUSED IN PRIMORSK KRAI.
A detailed examination of the way in which funds from the federal budget have been used in Primorsk Krai found that billions of rubles designated for the fishing industry and the purchase of grain and oil products were loaned to "questionable" commercial structures. Russian Public Television said on 5 September that the four-month investigation had already resulted in a number of criminal cases. An interdepartmental government commission headed by Petr Karpov was sent to investigate Primorsk finances following an energy crisis in the krai earlier this year caused in large part by nonpayments. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

POLICE BRUTALITY INCREASING?
Many Russians are more afraid of the police than they are of the mafia, claims a report in Izvestiya on 1 September. According to Andrei Babushkin, head of a prison watchdog body, nongovernmental organizations in Moscow alone receive hundreds of complaints every month from people claiming to have been beaten and tortured by the police, yet complaints against the police are almost always dismissed as groundless. A poll conducted in Nizhnii Novgorod found that 46% of victims of a crime did not want to turn to the police for help. According to Valerii Abramkin, head of the Center for Criminal Law Reform, police lawlessness is worse now than it was in the communist era. One incident highlighted in the press was the killing in police custody of a 19-year-old man in Mordoviya in late July. -- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.

GOVERNMENT TO STREAMLINE TAX SYSTEM.
The Russian government plans to streamline the country's tax system from 1 January by lifting certain company taxes and limiting various regional taxes, Russian and Western media reported on 1 September. Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov told reporters the taxes to be lifted included the special tax for supporting farmers, which forms 1.5% of the value added tax. Shatalov described the current tax system as "vague, unstable and unpredictable," saying it discouraged investors and encouraged tax fraud, which could deprive the 1995 budget of 40% of its planned revenue. The new tax code also restricts local authorities' ability to impose various regional taxes. Since 1994, Moscow has permitted regions to impose their own taxes. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.

PARAMONOVA ADDRESSES BANKERS IN VLADIVOSTOK.
Speaking at the Asian-Pacific International Congress of Bankers in Vladivostok, Russia's Acting Central Bank Chairwoman Tatyana Paramonova said the Central Bank plans to repeal its resolution adopted last February which introduced stricter reserve requirements for commercial banks, Pravda reported on 6 September. Commenting on the bank crisis, Paramonova said certain banks have already collapsed; the Central Bank canceled 160 licenses since 25 August. But, she noted that the combined assets of these banks amount to less than 1% of the total assets of Russia's banking system. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 173, 6 September 1995
TURKMENISTAN: PIPELINE DEALS IN MAKING.
Pakistani President Faroor Leghari arrives in Ashgabat on 6 September to begin talks on bilateral trade, Reuters reported the same day. Talks are expected to focus on a $3 billion natural gas pipeline linking Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghanistan. A memorandum on the project was signed by the two countries in March. The pipeline could eventually provide Pakistan with 22 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. Leghari's visit comes on the heels of a visit by Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqazadeh, who proposed a 40-kilometer pipeline linking the Korpedzhe gas field in Turkmenistan with Iran, ITAR-TASS reported. The Iranian project will cost $215 million and is expected to yield eight billion cubic meters of gas annually. -- Bruce Pannier, OMRI, Inc.

JAPANESE BANK LOAN TO KAZAKHSTAN.
The Export-Import Bank of Japan will lend 16.2 billion yen ($165 million) to Kazakhstan to assist its economic reform program, according to a report by AFP on 6 September. A sum of 9.72 billion yen will be loaned in co-financing with the International Monetary Fund and the remaining 6.48 billion yen will be co-financed with the World Bank. -- Bhavna Dave, OMRI, Inc.

ARMENIA TO RESTART NUCLEAR PLANT.
Armenia will restart its nuclear power plant at Medzamor later this month, according to Vladimir Kurginyan of Armenia's nuclear safety committee, Interfax reported on 4 September. The plant, 30 kilometers south of Yerevan, was shut down after the December 1988 earthquake. Kurginyan said that work will also begin on two new reactors at the site. -- Peter Rutland, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 173, 6 September 1995
SLOVAK PREMIER SAYS PRESIDENT MISINFORMED PUBLIC ABOUT SON'S KIDNAPPING.
Premier Vladimir Meciar, speaking on Slovak TV on 5 September, alleged that President Michal Kovac misinformed the public about his son's kidnapping in Bratislava and subsequent arrest in Austria on suspicion of fraud (see OMRI Daily Digest, 5 September 1995). Meciar called statements made by the President's Office "unqualified, misleading and in many cases contradictory," Reuters reported. Meciar also accused the president of giving "above average assistance in the case of his son" and of obstructing investigations into the matter. The cabinet the same day issued a statement expressing "understanding for the state of mind" of the president. Although Kovac asked the Foreign Ministry to formally request the return of his son from Austria, the cabinet expressed "firm conviction that no doubts can be cast on the democratic legal systems of Austria and Germany," which are now both involved in the case. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

SLOVAKIA ENDS CUSTOMS DUTIES ON IMPORTED CARS . . .
Government spokesman Tomas Hasala, following a cabinet session on 5 September, announced that customs duties on imported cars will be dropped. The measure, aimed at cutting down on vehicles emitting high levels of pollution, applies only to new passenger cars with engines less than 1.5 liters. It is likely to reduce their average retail price by up to 100,000 koruny ($3,300) and will take effect in two weeks and last through the end of 1996. Until now, imported cars faced 19% customs duty, plus a 10% import surcharge. The measure is expected to reduce state budget income by 40 million koruny by the end of 1995 and by 93 million in 1996, TASR reported. The cabinet also approved its plan for financing the Mochovce nuclear power plant. -- Sharon Fisher, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE CZECHS ARE UPSET BY SLOVAK DECISION.
Czech politicians said the Slovak government's decision to scrap customs duties and import surcharges on foreign cars breaches the customs union between the two countries, Czech media reported on 6 September. "The customs union is beneficial for the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic and I don't understand the attempts by Slovakia to break it," Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told reporters. The end of import duties will seriously affect the competitiveness of Czech automaker Skoda's cars in Slovakia: under the Czech-Slovak customs union, they were already exempt from import duties and surcharges but now will be only a little cheaper than other foreign models. Skoda spokesmen played down the Slovak announcement, but even with its hitherto advantageous position, Skoda's sales in Slovakia have plummeted since the breakup of Czechoslovakia. Klaus said he would discuss the customs union with his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, at a CEFTA summit in Brno on 11 September. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.

HUNGARY, SLOVAKIA TO DISCUSS GABCIKOVO DAM.
A spokesman for the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 5 September told journalists in Budapest that experts from Hungary and Slovakia will meet "in the coming days" to discuss the Gabcikovo dam on the Danube River, international media reported. In 1989, Hungary abandoned the Slovak-Hungarian project, launched in 1977, claiming it was ecologically harmful. Slovakia went ahead with its part of the project, while Hungary took its case to the International Court of Justice in the Hague in 1993. Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn and his Slovak counterpart, Vladimir Meciar, recently agreed to try to settle the dispute over the dam before the court reaches a verdict. The Hungarian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the experts will "clarify in which areas the two sides could reach agreement in theory. He noted an out-of-court settlement would help bilateral ties. -- Jiri Pehe, OMRI, Inc.

SERBIAN MINISTERS IN HUNGARY.
Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Slobodan Babic and Minister of Industry Oskar Fodor arrived in Hungary for a two-day visit on 5 September, Reuters reported the same day. Hungarian Political State Secretary Csaba Tabajdi, who is responsible for national minority issues, held talks with the delegation. He later said that "Hungary is monitoring the fate of the Hungarians in Vojvodina very closely and a long-term solution of the problem there is a test of the two countries' relations." About 300,000 ethnic Hungarians live in Vojvodina and have expressed fears that they will be driven out by ethnic Serbian refugees from Krajina. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

POLISH OFFICIAL QUESTIONS BACKING FOR NATO.
Deputy Defense Minister Andrzej Karkoszka, speaking at a Sejm committee hearing on the Partnership for Peace program on 5 September, stressed that NATO membership would require Polish combat troops to participate in the alliance's military operations. He questioned whether the public would back putting Polish soldiers at risk in this way. Defense Committee chairman Jerzy Szmajdzinski of the ruling Democratic Left Alliance proposed a public debate on the subject. Opposition deputies criticized the proposal, arguing that the public is well aware of the implications of NATO membership. Karkoszka set the cost for Poland's PFP participation at 20 million zloty ($8 million) this year, Rzeczpospolita reported. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RECONVENES.
The Ukrainian parliament began its fourth session on 5 September with a speech by Socialist speaker Oleksander Moroz, who criticized the country's continuing economic decline, Radio Ukraine reported the same day. Citing government statistics, Moroz said an almost 14% decrease in industrial output and a 22% drop in the production of consumer goods in the first half of 1995 showed that President Leonid Kuchma's tight fiscal policies were insufficient. He said some signs of financial stabilization in the first six months of the year proved weak and short-lived, with inflation growing since June and the Ukrainian karbovanets having been recently devalued. The legislature is expected to debate 300 issues, including 100 bills and amendments related to economic reform. Among these will be the 1996 draft budget, the government's program for next year, and the draft of a new Ukrainian constitution. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

SOCIALISTS PROTEST END TO RUSSIAN-LANGUAGE SCHOOLING IN LVIV.
Members of the Socialist Party and the leftist Civic Congress of Ukraine have been on hunger strike since 1 September protesting a decision by the Lviv City Council to stop enrolling students in the city's last remaining Russian-language class, UNIAN reported 4 September. The council of the heavily ethnic Ukrainian city ruled on 23 May to halt enrollment of first-year students in the city's only Russian-language class at Secondary School No. 9. Pavlo Khobzey, who heads the city's education department, has threatened to resign if Kiev orders Lviv to renew enrollment in the classes. -- Chrystyna Lapychak, OMRI, Inc.

PARLIAMENT VS. PRESIDENT IN BELARUS.
Reuters and Belarusian Radio on 5 September reported that Chairman of the Supreme Soviet Mechyslau Hryb has accused President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of violating deputies' rights and seeking to increase his authority at the expense of the courts and legislature. Hryb's statement followed confirmation that Lukashenka passed a decree suspending deputies' immunity from arrest. Hryb asked the Constitutional Court to rule on the legality of the decree, while Lukashenka retaliated by withdrawing all draft laws forwarded to the parliament for approval. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.

ESTONIAN CONSUL-GENERAL IN ST. PETERSBURG CALLS FOR BETTER TRADE RELATIONS.
Estonian Consul-General in St. Petersburg Mart Volmar, speaking to Smena on 5 September, complained that imports from Russia are declining and that Russian exporters are using Finland as a transit route to the West rather than Estonia. He attributed Russia's reluctance to trade with Estonia to political considerations. Russia wants easier access to Estonia for Russians who live near the border but work or own property in Estonia. Volmar said the Estonian government is working on a draft law to facilitate border crossings between the Russian city of Ivangorod and the mostly Russian-speaking Estonian city of Narva. -- Brian Whitemore, OMRI, Inc., in St. Petersburg

CANADIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN LATVIA.
Andre Ouellet, during a brief trip to Riga on 4 September, held talks with President Guntis Ulmanis, Prime Minister Maris Gailis, and Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs, LETA reported the next day. Ouellet expressed support for Latvia's integration into NATO, stressing the need for Latvia to participate actively in the Partnership for Peace program. Birkavs said that agreement was reached on Canadian aid for cleaning up environmental damage at former Soviet military bases. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 173, 6 September 1995
NATO CONTINUES ATTACKS AGAINST BOSNIAN SERBS . . .
War planes of the Atlantic alliance suspended their assaults late on 5 September owing to bad weather but resumed them again the next morning. The BBC said they were "revisiting" the targets they had hit the previous week. The Lukavica barracks near Sarajevo appear to have been destroyed. Nasa Borba on 6 September reported that the Majevica communications tower, linking Pale with other Serbian conquests in Bosnia, has also become history. The Rapid Reaction Force near Sarajevo again shelled Bosnian Serb positions. A UN press release quoted Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali as saying the Serbs must choose between continued air strikes and meeting the Security Council's demands. A U.S. spokesman told the VOA that the air attacks may continue even after peace talks begin on 8 September. In anticipation of those discussions, the Bosnian and Croatian presidents met in Split on 5 September to harmonize their positions. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

. . . WHILE MLADIC REMAINS DEFIANT.
"If you bomb us, we will defend ourselves. The more they bombard us, the stronger we are." This was the reaction of Bosnian Serb commander General Ratko Mladic to the air strikes resumed around 1:00 p.m. on 5 September after a break of more than three days, the International Herald Tribune reported the next day. The VOA said Mladic was "true to form," and also threatened to wage a Vietnam-style protracted war against his attackers. His men fired on Sarajevo, wounding some civilians and sending UN forces to their shelters. The BBC quoted Bosnian Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic as saying the air strikes will accelerate the peace process. The Rijeka daily Novi list argued that the coming seven days will be "decisive" in the conflict. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL LAUNCHES INVESTIGATIONS OF CROATS.
The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia has formally begun looking into charges against the Croats stemming from their retaking of Krajina in early August. The Hague-based body had previously taken such measures only against the Serbs, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung noted on 6 September. UN spokesman Chris Gunness told news agencies the previous day that 50 bodies have been found in the area and that the first reports have emerged of the destruction or desecration of Serbian Orthodox churches. Slobodna Dalmacija on 6 September discussed a report by the International Helsinki Federation on the alleged systematic torching of Serbian homes and property. Politika wrote that Serbian lawyers intend to challenge a threat by the speaker of the Croatian lower house of parliament to confiscate property left behind by fleeing Krajina Serbs. Novi list quoted liberal legislator Vlado Gotovac as warning that the ruling party's political behavior over the re-conquest foreshadowed "the Croatian way to totalitarianism." -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.

SERBS EXPEL MORE REFUGEES FROM BANJA LUKA.
AFP reported on 5 September that Bosnian Serbs have rounded up some 2,000 Croats and Muslims in a football field prior to deportation. Since 15 August, the Serbs have driven out some 17,582 people and another 11,000 are expected to follow. The Serbs began the systematic "ethnic cleansing" of the region's once large Croatian and Muslim populations in 1992. They have also tried to eliminate all physical traces of those communities and have destroyed all of Banja Luka's mosques, including two that were UNESCO-registered international cultural properties. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.


HOLBROOKE MEETS WITH MILOSEVIC.
U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke continued peace talks with Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade on 5 September, Reuters reported the same day. Milosevic strongly protested the resumption of air strikes. But Holbrooke said "the meeting in other ways was productive," adding that he did not believe the NATO attacks would jeopardize the planned meeting of foreign ministers from Croatia, Bosnia, and rump Yugoslavia in Geneva on 8 September. Milosevic, who has formed an alliance with Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic against Bosnian Serb political leader Radovan Karadzic, promised the withdrawal of Bosnian Serb weapons from the exclusion zone around Sarajevo. Mladic, however, has challenged Milosevic by resuming the shelling of the Bosnian capital. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.

RESTITUTION OF JEWISH PROPERTY IN ROMANIA.
Chamber of Deputies chairman Adrian Nastase on 5 September said that "synagogues confiscated by the former regime and turned into warehouses should be restored to the Jewish community," Reuters reported the same day. The agency stressed that Nastase was referring only to property owned by the Jewish community, not to real estate confiscated from individuals by Romania's fascist and communist governments. The Israeli parliament in July passed a resolution demanding that Romanian Jews be compensated for properties they were dispossessed of. President Ion Iliescu rejected that demand. Iulian Sorin, secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Romania, revealed soon afterward that a commission to study the return of property belonging to the Jewish community had been set up within the Council for the National Minorities. Nastase's 5 September statement comes amid preparations for Iliescu's unofficial meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton in Washington on 26 September. Two U.S. congressmen had protested Romania's stance on the matter in July, and U.S. Ambassador to the EU Steward Eisenstadt discussed the matter with Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu in Bucharest in late August. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

ROMANIAN INTERNATIONAL MILITARY CONTACTS.
Radio Bucharest on 5 September announced that Romanian and Hungarian troops have conducted joint military exercises within the framework of the Partnership for Peace program. The nature of the exercises, held in Timis County, was not specified. Defense Minister Gheorghe Tinca will attend a ceremony marking the end of the exercises on 6 September. Meanwhile, Radio Bucharest also reported that Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dumitru Cioflina has returned from a visit to Greece to discuss Balkan collaboration on improving regional security. Greece proposed that former Yugoslav states that have a "clear political identity and status" also participate. Radio Bucharest the same day reported the departure for Angola of a new battalion of Romanian peacekeeping forces. Col. Lucian Radulescu was quoted as saying that Romanian peacekeepers in Angola will total 659. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

MORATORIUM EXTENDED ON CHISINAU STRIKES.
The strike committee of students and teachers has decided to extend the moratorium on protests declared on 4 May, Infotag and BASA-press reported on 5 September. The committee said the government has not met the strikers' economic demands but that it has nevertheless decided not to resume demonstrations on 6 September. The decision took into account both President Mircea Snegur's initiative to amend the constitution's provisions on the state language and the harvesting season. Meanwhile, Snegur on 5 September submitted to the parliament draft amendments to the property law and to land-ownership related legislation, Infotag reported the same day. His proposals are aimed at facilitating the sale and purchase of land. According to current legislation, land can be neither sold nor purchased before 2001. -- Michael Shafir, OMRI, Inc.

GONZALEZ SAYS SPAIN WILL HELP BULGARIA TO JOIN NATO, EU.
Spanish Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez, during his two-day visit to Sofia, said on 5 September that his country will support Bulgaria's efforts to join NATO and the European Union, Reuters and Demokratsiya reported. According to Gonzalez, the EU "has an obligation to expand eastwards . . . [and] Bulgaria has the right to belong to the EU." But he noted that meeting EU requirements will be "difficult and complicated" for Bulgaria. Gonzalez said Spain will also support Bulgaria's bid to join NATO, saying "no other country has the right to veto such a decision." Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov said his country has a long way to go to comply with EU standards. Experts estimate that the country has to adopt about 2,000 new laws to meet EU legislative standards, Videnov said. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

VANCE SAYS GREECE TO LIFT MACEDONIAN EMBARGO.
UN mediator in the Greek-Macedonian conflict Cyrus Vance on 5 September said Greece will lift the trade blockade on Macedonia as soon as an agreement between the two countries is signed, Western agencies reported the same day. In return, Macedonia will change its flag and amend certain articles of its constitution. The agreement is expected to be signed by Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias and his Macedonian counterpart, Stevo Crvenkovski, in New York early next week. Vance called the meeting "the culmination of a long mediation effort" and added that the agreement will cover all outstanding issues, except for the name of the former Yugoslav republic, which will be discussed separately. Vance said that he does not expect the name issue to be resolved before the opening of the next UN General Assembly on 19 September. Both the Greek government and Skopje hailed the announcement, with the former denying it had bowed to U.S. pressure. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave




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