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Newsline - October 26, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 209, 26 October 1995
RUSSIA DISPUTES LEGALITY OF "DEAL OF THE CENTURY."
Less than one month after the Azerbaijani State Oil Company and the Azerbaijani International Operating Company announced their decision to export "early oil" from the Caspian Sea via both Russia and Georgia, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev has again affirmed that the original agreement on joint exploitation of three Azerbaijani oil fields is not legally valid, AFP reported on 25 October, quoting ministry spokesman Aleksandr Kodakov. -- Liz Fuller

TAJIK JOURNALIST RELEASED IN MOSCOW.
A journalist from the Tajik dissident newspaper Charogi Ruz, Mirzo Salimov, has been released by Moscow police, according to a Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by the BBC. The journalist was apprehended on 13 October by Russian police and the Tajik prosecutor-general wanted to extradite him to face charges in his homeland. The radio broadcast credits Salimov's release to the efforts of the Tajik opposition and international journalists' organizations. -- Bruce Pannier

BARCLAYS' CREDIT TO TURKMENISTAN.
Barclays Bank is to open a $31 million credit line to Turkmenistan for the purchase of British-manufactured equipment to be used in the construction of a second landing strip at Ashgabat airport, Interfax reported on 25 October. A new landing strip may be in order as the recently constructed air control tower was built without a view of the existing runway. -- Lowell Bezanis

IRANIAN-AZERBAIJANI RELATIONS.
Commenting on Azerbaijan's recent overtures to improve relations with Iran, Ali Majedi, a senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official, said Tehran and Baku will have good ties as long as Azerbaijan's behavior remains "rational," IRNA reported on 25 October. He welcomed Azerbaijan's "return to the fold" and noted that Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Hasan Hasanov will visit Iran in the near future. He also said Azerbaijan should not be "oversensitive" about his country's ties to Armenia. Relations between Iran and Azerbaijan deteriorated sharply in April when Iranian participation in the international consortium exploiting three Caspian Sea oil fields was rejected by Baku under U.S. pressure. When a two-track decision to export the oil was announced in Baku on 9 October, Azerbaijan quickly offered Iran a chance to join in the exploitation of the Shah Deniz field in the Caspian. -- Lowell Bezanis



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 209, 26 October 1995
NEW ESTONIAN GOVERNMENT APPROVED.
The Estonian parliament on 26 October approved the government proposed by Prime Minister Tiit Vahi, Reuters reported. President Lennart Meri is required to approve the decision by 2 November. The Reform Party replaces the Center Party as the coalition partner of the Coalition Party and Rural Union alliance. Reform Party Chairman Siim Kallas replaces Riivo Sinijarv as foreign minister and has also been named deputy prime minister. The party also received the five ministries formerly held by the Center Party: education, interior, social affairs, economics, and transportation and communications. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN PARLIAMENT APPOINTS PRIVATIZATION COMMISSION.
The Seimas on 25 October approved the formation of a 13-member commission on the privatization of state and municipal property, BNS reported. The commission will be headed by Director of the Vilnius-based Institute of Economics Eduardas Vilkas and includes nine deputy ministers. Its primary function will be to supervise the activities of the State Privatization Agency, which was established in September and charged with implementing the second wave of privatization (in which properties will be sold for cash only). -- Saulius Girnius

UKRAINE CRITICIZES RUSSIA OVER TRADE, BORDERS.
Deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko on 25 October said Ukraine has handed Russia a note asking that the demarcation of the border between the two countries begin and that the status of the Azov Sea be decided, Ukrainian TV reported. Hryshchenko discounted Russian statements that demarcating the border would impede free trade. He added that Ukraine was ready to unilaterally demarcate the border. Interfax the previous day reported Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk as saying Russia has withdrawn about 200 categories of goods covered by the free trade agreement, causing losses of $1.5 billion for Ukraine. Marchuk threatened to take retaliatory measures, even though these would contravene agreements signed by Ukraine and the IMF. -- Ustina Markus

MILITARY INSTALLATIONS TO CLOSE IN CRIMEA.
Russian Public Television on 25 October reported that the Ukrainian Defense Ministry is formulating a protocol to hand over military installations in Crimea to local civil authorities. Crimea is the most heavily militarized region in Ukraine, and some of the installations on the peninsula are of no use to the country. Crimean authorities are to recieve 16,000 hectares of former military land. The only installations that have not been agreed on are military sanatoriums. The Defense Ministry would like to hand these over to the privatization fund and build housing for military personnel using the money the sanatoriums bring in. Military space installations will be abolished, since these were built to handle up to 200 satellites and Ukraine owns only one. -- Ustina Markus

UPDATE ON POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
With the presidential elections looming, political parties are considering the possibility that incumbent President Lech Walesa, who is second only to Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski in recent polls, will be re-elected. Rzeczpospolita on 26 October quotes the Freedom Union's (UW) presidential candidate, Jacek Kuron, as suggesting that it is impossible to decide who would be worse--Kwasniewski or Walesa. UW leader Donald Tusk resigned from the party's presidium in protest against Kuron's statement. Tusk is the former head of the Liberal Democratic Congress, which supported Walesa in the 1990 presidential elections. Some candidates are trying to convince others to resign in the hope that the chances of candidates other than Kwasniewski and Walesa would be improved. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH PREMIER ON U.S. VISIT.
Jozef Oleksy, on his arrival from New York on 25 October, said U.S. administration officials were worried about changes in Poland's foreign policy after the presidential elections in November. Oleksy said he assured them that Poland's foreign policy, market reforms, and democratic development would not change. He was optimistic that Poland would be granted non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for 1996-1997. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER CONTRADICTS HAVEL OVER TAIWAN.
Josef Zieleniec, in an official reaction to remarks made by President Vaclav Havel, said on 25 October that the Czech Republic recognizes only one China, the People's Republic, Mlada fronta dnes reported. Havel told reporters in New York after attending the UN General Assembly that it was "regrettable" that Taiwan, a prosperous and democratic state, was not a member of the UN (see OMRI Daily Digest, 25 October 1995). Traditionally, China has been one country but now there are two states, Havel added. Zieleniec, however, stressed that in line with other countries, "we regard Taiwan as a part of Chinese territory." In June, China strongly protested a private visit to the Czech Republic made by Taiwan's Prime Minister Lien Chan. -- Steve Kettle

ROMA DEMONSTRATE OUTSIDE CZECH GOVERNMENT BUILDING.
Around 40 leaders of Romani groups demonstrated outside the Czech government building on 25 October during a cabinet meeting to protest the treatment of Roma in the Czech Republic, Czech media reported. Carrying candles and placards with the names of Roma killed in racist attacks, the demonstrators stood in largely silent protest for more than one hour. Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus told reporters he had not been aware that the protest was being held and that he would have met the Roma had he known they were outside his office. "It was an error of coordination," Klaus said. -- Steve Kettle

EU, U.S. WORRIED ABOUT SLOVAKIA.
Four European diplomats in Slovakia on 25 October delivered a note to Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar voicing concern that steps taken against President Michal Kovac could endanger democracy. The diplomats--representing the EU, Spain, France, and Italy--emphasized the importance of allowing the expression of differing political opinions, Narodna obroda reported. The U.S. Embassy in Bratislava the same day issued a statement correcting Slovak parliamentary chairman spokesman Lubos Jurik's remark the previous day that U.S. President Bill Clinton evaluated events in Slovakia "very positively." According to the embassy, Clinton is interested in Slovakia but "at the same time is anxious" about the situation there, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK NATIONAL PARTY ACCUSES PRESIDENT OF TREASON.
The Slovak National Party (SNS) on 25 October decided to bring charges of treason against President Michal Kovac, Narodna obroda reported. SNS Chairman Jan Slota first discussed the charges on 20 October following statements made by Kovac during his recent visit to Germany (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 October). The SNS called for a parliamentary commission to be created to investigate the situation. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union and the Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) on 25 October rejected claims by the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) that it will find the votes needed to dismiss the president among the opposition. All deputies from the DU and SDL have signed statements rejecting the attacks on Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT DELAYS RATIFICATION OF TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Dusan Slobodnik, chairman of the parliament's Foreign Relations Committee, on 25 October announced that the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty will be delayed until December, Narodna obroda reported. The treaty was signed by the Slovak and Hungarian prime ministers in March, and the Hungarian parliament ratified it in June. When asked why the ratification was being delayed, Slobodnik responded "because of a shortage of time." Discussions of the treaty in parliamentary committees will start in November. -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY NARROWS SCOPE OF SCREENING LAW.
A senior Interior Ministry official on 25 October said the ministry has drawn up a bill amending the screening law to cover only those who have had to take an oath of office before the president and the parliament, Magyar Hirlap reported the next day. Under the law, anyone who collaborated with or was a member of the security service or the fascist Arrow Cross party cannot hold a government post. The paper noted that since only 500-600 people are affected, screening could be completed by next summer. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARY SAYS "YES" TO NUCLEAR WEAPONS.
Foreign Ministry administrative state secretary Ferenc Somogyi, during a visit to the U.S., said on 25 October that Hungary fully accepts NATO requirements, including the readiness to deploy nuclear weapons on its territory if necessary, The Washington Times and Hungarian newspapers reported. Somogyi met with U.S. officials and delivered a speech to a UN General Assembly committee. Meanwhile, Turkish Defense Minister Vefa Tanir--in Budapest on 25 October for a meeting with his Hungarian counterpart, Gyorgy Keleti--said that Turkey fully backs Hungary's intention to join NATO, since this move would contribute to strengthening security in Central Europe. The two ministers signed a framework agreement on military training and military-industrial cooperation. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 209, 26 October 1995
BOSNIAN PEACE TALKS ON HOLD FOR A DAY.
International media on 26 October reported that peace talks between Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Croatian President Franjo Tudjman, and Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, slated for October 31 in the U.S., will be delayed by one day to allow the three leaders to meet first with Russian President Boris Yeltsin in Moscow. Meanwhile, Reuters on 25 October reported that President Tudjman will attend only the first few days of the talks, which, according to some U.S. officials, may continue for up to four weeks. Should Tudjman return to Zagreb, Croatia is expected to be represented by Foreign Minister Mate Granic. -- Stan Markotich

NATO SENDS SURVEY TEAMS TO BOSNIA.
NATO has begun to send soldiers into Bosnia to gather information on infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and communication, international agencies reported on 25 October. According to U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry, the units will help NATO plan for the deployment of a 60,000-strong peacekeeping force after a peace agreement is reached. German Defense Minister Volker Ruhe is quoted as saying that the main force could be deployed three to four days after an agreement is signed, but he estimated that this would take place in mid-November. U.S. President Bill Clinton, meanwhile, warned of "grave" consequences if the U.S. fails to send ground troops to Bosnia, arguing that the Yugoslav war may otherwise develop into a larger European war. -- Fabian Schmidt

THOUSANDS OF MUSLIMS MISSING AFTER FORCED EXPULSIONS.
According to the UNHCR, thousands of Muslim men from the Banja Luka, Prijedor, and Sanski Most regions are missing after being captured by Bosnian Serb forces, Reuters reported on 25 October. More than 6,000 people were forcefully expelled from the region in early October by units fighting alongside accused war criminal Zeljko Raznatovic, alias "Arkan." Most of those expelled have been pushed over the border into government controlled territory. The UNHCR, however, said that the refugee influx stopped about ten days ago and that an estimated 2,000-3,000 people are missing. -- Fabian Schmidt

TRILATERAL MEETING PAVES WAY FOR RETURN OF BOSNIAN REFUGEES.
The presidents of Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Turkey, meeting in New York on 23 October, signed an agreement aimed at creating the conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees from Velika Kladusa and Cazin who were among rebel Muslim forces in northwestern Bosnia and are currently in Croatia, HINA reported on 24 October. The foreign ministers of the three countries agreed on the size of the contingents each country will send to take part in the joint police forces to be deployed in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. Meanwhile, the Bosnian Ministry of Justice has demanded that Croatia extradite rebel Bosnian Muslim leader Fikret Abdic, HINA reported on 23 October. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN NEGOTIATORS MEET AGAIN WITH REBEL SERBS.
Slobodna Dalmacija reported on 26 October that Croatian negotiators resumed talks the previous day with representatives of the rebel Serbs who continue to occupy a portion of eastern Slavonia. Reuters on 26 October reported that a deal to avert a conflict between Croatia and rebel Serbs over the occupied land is almost at hand. It quotes one diplomatic source as saying that "on the substance of the agreement, we're 98.5% there." Meanwhile, Nasa Borba cited Ivan Pasalic, leader of the Croatian team, as suggesting that there were no breakthroughs in the latest round of talks in the Serb-held town of Erdut. -- Stan Markotich

CROATIAN POLICE ARREST ALLEGED SPIES.
Croatian authorities on 24 October arrested 15 people who are accused of spying for Serbia and the Yugoslav Army, including Radovan Jovic, a human rights activist and a participant in the Fourth Helsinki Citizens Assembly in Tuzla, Nasa Borba reported on 26 October. The Croatian Ministry of Internal Affairs alleges that the 15 people (13 Serbs and two Croats) are suspected of gathering intelligence for the so-called Republic of Serbian Krajina (RSK), the BBC reported on 26 October. All suspects are Croatian citizens, except one person whose citizenship "has not been determined"--an indirect reference to Jovic, who is from Belgrade and worked as a lawyer in Glina in the RSK. -- Daria Sito Sucic

ROMANIAN EXTREMIST SENATOR TO LOSE IMMUNITY?
Prosecutor-General Vasile Manea Dragulin, in a letter to the justice minister, has asked that the Senate start procedures for lifting the parliamentary immunity of Senator Corneliu Vadim Tudor, the leader of the chauvinistic Greater Romania Party (PRM), Radio Bucharest reported on 25 October. The move comes in the wake of Tudor's attacks against Romanian President Ion Iliescu and Virgil Magureanu, head of the Romanian Intelligence Service. Also on 25 October, the National Bloc, an alliance of small political groups dominated by the PRM, issued a communique saying Dragulin wanted to prevent Tudor from running in the next presidential elections against Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIAN STUDENTS SUSPEND STREET DEMONSTRATIONS...
Several hundred students on 25 October rallied in downtown Bucharest, despite bad weather, Romanian media reported. Cristian Urse, leader of the Bucharest University Students' League, later announced that the protests will continue but street demonstrations will be suspended until 30 October because of the religious holiday of Saint Demetrius (26 October) and because Orthodox Church leaders from abroad are in Romania to attend the Romanian Patriarchate's 70th anniversary celebrations. Urse also said that student organizations were discussing possible changes in the education law with leaders of the parliamentary parties. -- Dan Ionescu

...WHILE MOLDOVAN STUDENTS PREPARE FUTURE PROTESTS.
Chisinau students have temporarily suspended demonstrations in order to mobilize for a nationwide protest action, Infotag reported on 25 October. Student League Chairman Oleg Cernei said students will continue their passive protest by not returning to the classroom. Strike committee chairman Anatol Petrencu said the active strike will be resumed on 31 October. The students are hoping that the entire population will support their demand for the government's resignation, he added. -- Matyas Szabo

SOFIA ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE ENDS, KOZLODUY STAYS ON LINE.
The three-day Environment for Europe conference ended on 25 October with a pledge by Europe's environmental ministers to phase out unsafe nuclear facilities as soon as possible, Reuters reported the same day. A closing communique signed by more than 40 ministers said unsafe reactors should be shut down through international cooperation and urged all countries with nuclear reactors to join the International Convention on Nuclear Safety as soon as possible. The final statement mentioned neither the controversial Bulgarian reactor Kozloduy nor French nuclear tests. Meanwhile, Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Economic Development Rumen Gechev said Bulgaria will not immediately shut down Kozloduy, but he did not rule out talks with the EU. He said there is no document from experts proving the reactor is unsafe and added that Bulgaria "will take no decision...under political pressure without concrete proof from the experts." -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS UPDATE.
The Central Electoral Commission on 25 October set the date for the second round of the upcoming local elections for 12 November, Pari reported. A second round will be conducted wherever no mayoral candidate received a majority in the first round. The three candidates with the most votes will participate in the second round. The first round, in which municipal councils and mayors will be elected, will take place on 29 October. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIAN DAILY STANDART IN TROUBLE.
Valeri Zapryanov, editor-in-chief of the influential Sofia daily Standart, and his three deputies resigned on 25 October, Kontinent reported the following day. Zapryanov gave no reason for his resignation, while the other three said they resigned in support of him. Valeri Kostadinov, director-general of the Standart News Publishing House, said no one was fired and that he had not accepted anyone's resignation. Krasimir Stoychev, whose media conglomerate Tron owns Standart, told Pari that he wanted to move Zapryanov to the post of editor-in-chief of the Standart News Publishing House after a three-month vacation. Stoychev said that the daily needs "new ideas" and that changes were necessary. Standart appeared on 26 October, but its future remains uncertain. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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