Accessibility links

Newsline - October 4, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No.193, 4 October 1995


TRANSCAUCASIA & CENTRAL ASIA


SIBERIAN RIVER DIVERSION PROJECT DENIED.
A spokesman for the Russian Committee for Water Resources rebuffed speculation that Russia is willing to actively pursue a well-documented plan to supply water to Central Asia by diverting the flow from several Siberian rivers. According to Interfax on 2 October, the unnamed official said that the committee's chairman, Nikolai Mikheev, was simply misquoted. Mikheev, who was speaking at a recent conference on the Aral Sea, had been quoted by Komsomolskaya pravda as saying that Russia would be willing to re-evaluate the defunct project (see OMRI Daily Digest, 28 September 1995). At most, the spokesman said, Russia could supply some drinking water to Central Asia, "though no specific measures or dates were discussed." -- Roger Kangas

NIYAZOV SIGNS NUKUS DECLARATION.
Turkmen President Saparmurad Niyazov signed the Nukus Declaration on 2 October, thereby joining his Central Asian counterparts in a pledge to cooperate on various strategies aimed at saving the Aral Sea. Niyazov did not attend the conference in Nukus last month, ostensibly due to his talks with then visiting Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao; Niyazov's reluctance may be traced as well to Ashgabat's ongoing, if submerged, dispute with Uzbekistan over water-use issues. -- Lowell Bezanis

U.S., KAZAKHSTAN SIGN ACCORD TO SEAL KAZAKHSTANI NUCLEAR SITE.
The U.S. is to offer up to $171 million aid to permanently seal the world's largest underground nuclear testing-complex at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan, Western and Russian sources reported on 3 October. The agreement signed by U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Kazakhstani Foreign Minister Kassymjomart Tokaev in Washington, D.C. on 3 October is part of a wider Pentagon program called "cooperative threat reduction," which offers U.S. defense funds to help Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus to get rid of their nuclear weapons and convert defense industries to commercial use. A U.S. Defense Department spokesman told VOA on 3 October that geological and radiological tests will begin at the former nuclear site later this month and appropriate methods for sealing the tunnel will be recommended. The plan is to seal about 60 tunnels a year in order to complete the project by 1999. The last nuclear device stored at this site was destroyed in May this year. -- Bhavna Dave

THE DANGERS OF BEING A TAJIK DEPUTY.
In the eight months since the Tajik parliament began work, six deputies have been killed, according to the Tajik parliament's Legislation and Law and Order Committee chairman, Safarli Kenjaev, speaking at a recent session of the legislature, Radio Mayak reported on 3 October. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN SEEKS MORE OIL AND GAS INVESTORS.
Kazakhstani Oil and Gas Minister Nurlan Balgimbaev assured legal protection to foreign investors asking them to take advantage of the "favorable climate," especially in the oil and gas industry of the republic, Interfax reported on 2 October. Addressing the Oil and Gas-95 international conference in Almaty, Balgimbaev offered tax privileges and "broad rights" to investors and welcomed proposals from potential partners. Kazakhstan's capacity for investments in its oil and gas sector exceeds $40 billion, which is significantly less than the amount invested by some 30 foreign petroleum companies, Balgimbaev said. He also announced his plan to visit Iran at the end of the month to discuss the oil issue. -- Vyacheslav Kozlov

AZERBAIJAN TO APPEAL TO NATO OVER KARABAKH?
Baku officials are "so impressed by NATO's choice of methods in Bosnia" that given the inability of the OSCE Minsk Group to make progress in resolving the Karabakh conflict they may appeal to NATO to join the peace process, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov told Segodnya on 3 October. -- Liz Fuller

CIS


CIS FOREIGN MINISTERS MEET IN MOSCOW.
The foreign ministers of the 12 CIS states discussed joint peacekeeping operations, economic cooperation, and joint border policing during a 3 October meeting in Moscow, Russian and Western agencies reported. Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev said after the meeting, which was also attended by the defense ministers and border service directors of the CIS states, that an "entire packet of documents" on the formation of a CIS collective security system had been adopted, although he did not give any details. He also said the meeting had agreed to recommend extending the mandate of the CIS peacekeepers in Tajikistan. Elaborating on President Yeltsin's recent decree calling for intensified integration of the CIS, Kozyrev said Russia is prepared to go as far towards integration as other CIS members are willing to accept. -- Scott Parrish

DAVYDOV CALLS FOR CIS INTEGRATION.
Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov said on 3 October that he favors "deep integration" within the CIS, even if other states had not completed economic reform programs, ITAR-TASS reported. Davydov said Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia should form a customs union, which would eventually become an economic free trade zone. While Kazakhstan and Belarus have already signed agreements with Russia on forming a customs union, implementation has been spotty and Ukraine has shown little interest in joining the arrangement. Davydov also said that Russian trade with the CIS, which had collapsed following the disintegration of the USSR, is now recovering. Through August 1995, Davydov said, Russian trade with the CIS had totaled $19.5 billion, accounting for 23% of all Russian foreign trade, and representing a 9% increase over the corresponding figure for 1994. -- Scott Parrish



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No.193, 4 October 1995
U.S. REACTION TO BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S STATEMENT ON BALLOON DOWNING.
According to an RFE/RL correspondent, U.S. State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns described as "indefensible" Alyaksandr Lukashenka's comment that the Belarusian military was not responsible for the death of two Americans whose balloon was downed by Belarusian air defense forces. Burns charged that Lukashenka was attempting to deflect responsibility for the killings and that the statement "outraged" Americans. Lukashenka's statement was made during a TV interview in which he appeared to be giving his personal viewpoint rather than a prepared response. Burns rejected allegations that Belarus may have been taking a tough line with the West to please Russia. Burns said it was unfair to "tag Russia with this kind of outrageous behavior." -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENTARY CRISIS.
Russian Television and Interfax on 3 October reported that the parliamentary crisis in Belarus is continuing. President Lukashenka the previous day appealed to deputies not to resume their parliamentary session as this would only destabilize the situation in the country. Parliamentary speaker Mechyslau Hryb informed deputies on 3 October that Lukashenka is refusing to sign any legislatuion passed by the parliament, but he added that "laws that the president failed to sign or reject within ten days will be considered passed." The Constitutional Court has been asked to resolve the dispute over parliament's legitimacy and decide whether legal acts by the parliament should be considered valid. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN RELATIONS.
UNIAN on 2 October reported that a Kuwaiti delegation, led by the deputy speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, met with Deputy Prime Minister for the Fuel and Energy Complex Vasyl Yevtukhov in Kiev. They discussed, among other things, opening a Ukrainian embassy in Kuwait, establishing direct air links, and cooperating to secure the release of Ukrainian POWs still held in Afghanistan. Parliamentary speaker Oleksandr Moroz said transport facilities will be developed if Kuwait sells oil to Ukraine. Reuters reported the same day that Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Abdelati al-Obeidi met with President Leonid Kuchma and also discussed oil production and transport. Roy Romanow, prime minister of Canada's Saskatchewan province, who is of Ukrainian descent, was also in Ukraine to meet with Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk. Marchuk asked Romanow to use his influence to have Canada put pressure on the G-7 to offer more funds for closing down Chornobyl. -- Ustina Markus

BALTS REACT TO RUSSIA'S REPORTED INVASION PLAN.
Lithuanian Deputy Defense Minister Albinas Januska, responding to the outline in Komsomolskaya Pravda of a draft new military doctrine prepared by the Russian General Staff calling for the invasion of the Baltic States if they join NATO, said the draft's purpose was to convince the West that Russia has greater interest in the Baltic States than in other East European countries, Radio Lithuania reported on 3 October. Estonian parliamentary Foreign Affairs Commission Chairman Eino Tamm said the alleged contingency plan was very dangerous and regrettable, even though he did not believe the Russian political leadership had approved it. -- Saulius Girnius

POLITICAL MANEUVERING IN POST-ELECTION LATVIA.
A National Bloc coalition was formed on 3 October by the three right-wing groupings that won parliamentary seats in the elections earlier this week--namely, the alliance of the National Conservative Party and Green Party; the coalition of the Farmers' Union, Christian Democrats, and Latgale Democratic Party; and For the Fatherland and Freedom, BNS reported. The National Bloc has 29 deputies and hopes to reach an agreement with the 17 deputies of Latvia's Way to form a minority government. Ziedonis Cevers, chairman of the Democratic Party Saimnieks, which won 18 seats, claimed his party is ready to unite all "opposing forces" and set up a stable government with the support of 50 deputies. He did not say who his coalition partners would be but noted that there have been no talks with the National Bloc or the Socialist Party. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN NEW YORK.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski on 2 October met with members of the American Jewish Committee to discuss student and teacher exchanges. In meetings with UN officials, Bartoszewski sought their backing for Poland's non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council in 1996-1997. He assured them that Poland is ready to take on additional duties in peacekeeping and international security. Addressing the UN General Assembly on 3 October, Bartoszewski said Poland wants to support the UN, Polish media reported on 3-4 October. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

ON DEPLOYMENT OF NATO TROOPS, NUCLEAR WEAPONS IN POLAND . . .
Jerzy Szmajdzinski, head of the Sejm's Commission on Foreign Affairs and Defense, said on 3 October that he backed Polish Defense Minister Zbigniew Okonski's recent statement in Brussels that Poland would not object to having NATO troops and nuclear weapons stationed on its territory once it became a member of the alliance. Deputy Minister of Defense Andrzej Karkoszka, however, noted that this is still a hypothetical issue, Gazeta Wyborcza reported on 4 October. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

. . .AND IN CZECH REPUBLIC.
Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus on 3 October said the Czech Republic should accept the deployment of nuclear weapons on its territory if it becomes a member of NATO, Czech media reported. "It's not possible to play the [passenger] who rides on a tram but does not pay the fare," he told reporters, while visiting a 14-nation military exercise in Moravia. Klaus also said there is no need for a referendum on NATO membership as, unlike joining the EU, it does not involve giving up any state sovereignty. Five NATO members and nine countries in the Partnership for Peace program are taking part in the "Cooperative Challenge" exercise, the largest held in the Czech Republic since the end of communist rule and designed to simulate a UN peacekeeping operation. -- Steve Kettle

CZECH DOCTORS THREATENED WITH DISMISSAL IN EVENT OF STRIKE.
Czech Health Minister Ludek Rubas on 3 October said that doctors who go on strike next month could face instant dismissal, Czech media reported. An unlimited strike over pay and working conditions has been called by mainly young hospital doctors for 1 November (see OMRI Daily Digest, 22 September 1995). Rubas said he will meet regional hospital directors this week and urge them to persuade doctors not to strike but, if they do, to fire them. Several hospital directors said they doubted the wisdom of firing doctors and the head of the main doctors' organization, who has strongly condemned the proposed strike, told Czech Television that "repression" would not solve problems in the health service. * Steve Kettle

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE.
Thirty-five deputies representing all opposition groups on 3 October delivered a petition to parliamentary chairman Ivan Gasparovic asking him to call an extraordinary parliamentary session. According to the constitution, the parliament chairman is obliged to call the session within seven days of receiving the request. The deputies suggested that the session be held on 9 October, and they included a proposed program for the session (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 October). Although Gasparovic said he is prepared to call the session, he said he does not think such a meeting is necessary, Pravda reported. He also noted that the parliament must vote on every point of the program at the beginning of the session, which makes it unlikely that the opposition's proposals will be discussed. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY CHAIRMAN ON NATO.
Jan Slota, in an interview with ITAR-TASS published in Narodna obroda on 4 October, said Slovakia should not enter any military block and should remain neutral. "I am convinced that Slovakia will remain a friend of Russia and the West," he stated. According to Slota, the expansion of nuclear weapons into East European countries would be "a step back, a step toward increased tension, and maybe also toward something dangerous." He commented that "Slavic states must realize that if they are forced to aim weapons against their friends, they will dig their own grave." -- Sharon Fisher

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN HUNGARY.
Klaus Kinkel marked the fifth anniversary of German unification by visiting Hungary on 3 October, Hungarian media reported the next day. He thanked Hungarian officials for their role in bringing down the Berlin Wall, saying Germany has "not forgotten and will never forget that Hungary made a decisive contribution to German unification." Two days earlier, Hungarian Prime Minister Gyula Horn was awarded a Prisma prize by the German city of Kassel for his role in the 1989 events. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN, ROMANIAN DEFENSE MINISTERS MEET.
Gyorgy Keleti and his visiting Romanian counterpart, Gheorghe Tinca, have agreed to enhance military cooperation and joint arms production, international media reported on 4 October. They plan to issue a joint declaration stressing the two countries' efforts to forge closer military ties and showing their commitment to improving mutual relations. Western governments have said the two countries need to resolve bilateral disputes if they want to join NATO. Talks between Bucharest and Budapest on a bilateral treaty broke off in July following disagreements over the treatment of the more than 1.6 million ethnic Hungarians living in Transylvania. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

ROMANIAN EDUCATION LAW DISCUSSED IN BUDAPEST.
A delegation from the Hungarian Ministry of Culture and Education presented the Hungarian parliament with its conclusions on the new Romanian education law, Radio Bucharest reported on 2 October. The delegation, which paid a fact-finding visit to Romania to study the effects of the law, concluded that it gravely affected Romania's Hungarian minority. The report said that the law hindered ethnic Hungarians from receiving vocational education and created difficulties for Hungarian students seeking admission to institutes of higher education in Romania. It added that in the long run, the law may discourage the Hungarian minority from opting for mother-tongue tuition at lower levels. -- Matyas Szabo



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No.193, 4 October 1995
CONTRADICTORY REPORTS ON MACEDONIAN PRESIDENT'S CONDITION.
One day after the attempt to assassinate Kiro Gligorov (see OMRI Daily Digest, 3 October 1995), reports by international and Macedonian media about his condition are still contradictory. Parliamentary chairman Stojan Andov said Gligorov's life is not in danger "at this moment." A hospital statement says that Gligorov is in a "serious but stable situation" after undergoing surgery, that he risks losing his right eye, and that he has several pieces of shrapnel lodged in his brain. Gligorov was operated on for several hours, and more operations may take place in the next few days. Surgeons from France, Greece, Germany, and the U.S. are in Skopje to offer assistance. The New York Times on 4 October cites a Western diplomat as saying it is "touch and go" and "not sure if he is going to make it." Latest reports suggest that about 20 kg of explosives were used in the attempt on Gligorov's life. So far, no one has claimed responsibility, and the identity of the arrested suspects still has not been disclosed. -- Stefan Krause

REACTIONS TO ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
Representatives of all Macedonian parties, regardless of political or ethnic orientation, have condemned the attempt on Gligorov's life, MIC and international media reported on 3 October. Ljupco Georgievski, chairman of the nationalist Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization--Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity, called the attempt an "act of terrorism" and canceled a demonstration against the government scheduled for 4 October. Meanwhile, politicians from abroad have expressed their hope that Gligorov will recover soon and that the attempt on his life will not have a negative influence on recent developments in the southern Balkans. Greek Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou, Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev, and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke were among those who wished Gligorov a speedy recovery. -- Stefan Krause

PRELIMINARY SETTLEMENT REACHED IN EASTERN SLAVONIA.
Croatian and rebel Serb negotiators met with UN and U.S. mediators in Erdut in eastern Slavonia on 3 October. They reached a preliminary agreement that provides for a transition period before the region returns to Croatian control. The area has first-rate agricultural land and is rich in oil and gas, and there had been speculation that Serbia, which borders eastern Slavonia, would not give it up. But U.S. Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith told the BBC that the Serbian negotiators have made the major concession of accepting Croatian sovereignty. That broadcast said there were differences over the length of a transition period, with the Croats accepting a maximum of one year and the Serbs wanting five years. Reuters reported that both sides agreed on a two-year transition, but not on the nature of the interim authority. Croatian negotiator Hrvoje Sarinic said that Croatia would still consider a military option if no final settlement were reached by 30 November. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES OFFENSIVE.
International media on 3 October reported that Bosnian government forces began a major offensive around Mt. Treskavica aimed at blocking the Serbian supply route along the Sarajevo-Trnovo road. Four heavy mortars fired scores of shells at Serbian positions from what the UN said was within the 20 km heavy weapons exclusion zone around the Bosnian capital. A UN spokesman called the action "outrageous" and said there would be a protest to the Bosnian authorities "at the highest level." He said the Serbs have demanded to be allowed to return their big guns to the area but were told "no way." He added that the UN intends to enforce the exclusion zone. -- Patrick Moore

OTHER REGIONAL DEVELOPMENTS.
The UN Security Council on 3 October criticized Croatia for forcing Bosnian refugees to go home before those areas could be considered safe, the BBC reported. Novi list on 4 October quoted Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic as saying that his government will ask Croatia to extradite renegade Muslim kingpin Fikret Abdic. Meanwhile in Croatia, the opposition has invited international observers to monitor the 29 October parliamentary elections. The Rijeka daily also carries the full declaration by the Croatian Helsinki Committee on the "massacre in the village of Varivode" of 12 elderly Serbs by uniformed men on 28 September. -- Patrick Moore

HUMAN RIGHTS IN KOSOVO.
The Kosova Daily Report on 3 October announced that the Helsinki Committee on the Human Rights Situation in Kosova has just completed a 27-page report on the region since 1994. According to the report, overall conditions remain grim, with Serbian police continuing to exercise authority through repression and torture. The report says that in 1994 alone, 17 Albanians were killed, six of whom were tortured to death. As of late September, at least 11 ethnic Albanians have been killed so far this year, most likely as a result of torture. -- Stan Markotich

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT ENDS U.S. VISIT.
Ion Iliescu on 3 October ended an eight-day working visit to the U.S., Romanian media reported. Addressing Rand Corporation staff and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council the day before, Iliescu said Romania's "strategic preferences" were to join the EU and NATO. At a press conference held in Bucharest on 3 October, Oliviu Gherman, chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, described Iliescu's visit as "an unprecedented success" for Romanian diplomacy since December 1989. But Gheorghe Funar, leader of the chauvinistic Party of Romanian National Unity, said in Cluj that he expected a public apology from Iliescu for having depicted him as "a Romanian Zhirinovsky" in the U.S. media. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA TO RESTART NUCLEAR REACTOR.
The Bulgarian government on 3 October approved restarting Reactor No. 1 of the Kozloduy nuclear plan, despite appeals from Western countries to shut it down completely, RFE/RL and Reuters reported. The Bulgarian Atomic Energy Committee gave permission for the reactor to reopen after a last round of checks, according to an official statement. Meanwhile, Bulgarian officials and officials of the International Atomic Energy Agency continued their meetings in Sofia. The BBC quotes Hans Meyer of the IAEA as saying that Bulgarian officials have agreed to postpone restarting the reactor. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev will meet with the EU's representative to Bulgaria on 4 October to discuss the issue, RFE/RL's Bulgarian correspondent reported. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT INVALIDATES ANOTHER LAW.
The Bulgarian Constitutional Court on 3 October invalidated the state budget law, which provides for judges to be paid by the government, international agencies reported the same day. The contested article said the Justice Ministry was responsible for the funding of the Supreme Judicial Council, which appoints and dismisses judges, prosecutors, and investigators. The Constitutional Court acted at the request of Prosecutor-General Ivan Tatarchev, who claimed the article violated the independence of the judiciary. It is the sixth time since the last elections that the Constitutional Court has invalidated a law. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIA TO OPEN MINORITY SCHOOLS.
Montena-fax quoted a representative of the Interior Ministry as saying that Tirana is prepared to open schools for the country's Greek minority in three southern cities. The announcement comes in the wake of a series of meetings between Greek and Albanian officials, most recently between Albanian Foreign Minister Alfred Serreqi and his Greek counterpart, Karolos Papoulias, on 27 September. The status of the Greek minority in Albania was high on the agenda of their New York meeting. -- Stan Markotich

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG