Accessibility links

Newsline - November 17, 1995


OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 225, 17 November 1995
RUSSIA AND LONDON CLUB AGREE TO DEBT RESCHEDULING.
Meeting in Frankfurt, Russia and the London Club of 600 creditor banks have concluded a framework agreement on the rescheduling of loans and interest totaling $32.5 billion, Russian and Western agencies reported on 16 November. Russia will be granted a seven-year grace period, during which it will only pay interest. The agreement does not formally forgive any of Russia's debt, as did a similar agreement with Poland, but it spreads out the repayments over 25 years. Over the past four years the banks have avoided the embarrassment of Russia going into default by rolling the loans forward every 90 days. On 15 November ITAR-TASS reported that the Paris Club of official creditors had also agreed to reschedule the $40 billion it is owed by Russia, although they failed to agree on a timetable. -- Scott Parrish

ZYUGANOV WARNS AGAINST CANCELING, POSTPONING ELECTIONS.
Communist Party leader Gennadii Zyuganov warned on 15 November that there will be "painful upheavals" if the citizens are denied the chance to vote on 17 December. He is against amending the current election law now, arguing that it is a task for the next Duma, Segodnya reported on 16 November. Zyuganov's party benefits from the current law because it will almost certainly cross the 5% barrier and will gain an even greater proportion of the seats if numerous small parties are excluded from the parliament because they won less than 5%. -- Robert Orttung

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT WILL NOT DECIDE ELECTORAL LAW UNTIL NEXT WEEK.
The Constitutional Court will not decide whether it will rule on the constitutionality of the electoral law until next week, ITAR-TASS reported 16 November. The Court must meet in full session to decide whether it will hear a case. The Supreme Court and a group of Duma members have asked the court to rule on the constitutionality of the 5% barrier that parties must reach in order to gain representation in the Duma. -- Robert Orttung

CHERNOMYRDIN OFFERS SUPPORT TO MEDIA LEADERS.
In a meeting with media leaders, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin said that President Boris Yeltsin could sign the law on financial support to the media -- approved by the Federation Council 15 November -- as early as December and it will come into effect 1 January. The law will exempt all forms of media from a variety of taxes and customs duties, and reduce the costs of their buildings, equipment, and paper. NTV reported that it is not clear how the law will be put into effect, since it will cost 1.5-2 trillion rubles ($330 million to $440 million). -- Robert Orttung

CLINTON BACKS CHERNOMYRDIN.
According to an article in Komsomolskya pravda on 15 November, Russian observers have concluded that U.S. President Bill Clinton now supports Viktor Chernomyrdin as the best possible successor to President Yeltsin, should his health prevent him from running for a second term in 1996. The paper said supportive remarks Clinton made to Chernomyrdin at their recent meeting on the sidelines of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin's funeral had left a strong impression on members of the Yeltsin administration, because they suggested that Clinton favors Chernomyrdin and that the U.S. president has started to "give up on" Yeltsin. The paper suggested that American support could significantly bolster Chernomyrdin in any struggle to succeed Yeltsin. -- Scott Parrish

FEDERATION COUNCIL OVERTURNS VETO ON SUBSISTENCE MINIMUM.
The Parliament's upper house voted on 15 November to override President Yeltsin's veto of the draft law on the Subsistence Minimum, Interfax reported. The veto had been overturned by the Duma on 12 August, and the law must now be signed by the president within seven days. The draft legislation envisages a new social security benefit to be paid to families whose income is below the official subsistence minimum. According to the Federation Council's Social Policy Committee, the law would provide the basis for other legislation that would set specific subsistence levels and determine how the allowances would be funded. -- Penny Morvant

PLANS TO IMPROVE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FINANCING.
On 16 November the government devoted its weekly meeting to a discussion of a draft law to strengthen the powers of local governments. Russian cities currently operate in something of a legal vacuum with respect to budgetary powers. For example, the same day the city of Togliatti, home to the giant auto plant Volzhskii AZ, announced it would seek designation as a "federal city" -- a status currently held only by St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 16 November that Togliatti wants to leave the jurisdiction of Samara Oblast and deal directly with the federal authorities. City officials complain that they were only able to retain 40% of the 1.5 trillion rubles ($330 million) in local taxes they collected this year. -- Peter Rutland

YAKUTIYA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON EXTENDING PRESIDENT'S TERM.
The Federal Assembly of the Sakha Republic (Yakutiya) has decided to hold a referendum on the extension of President Mikhail Nikolaev's term of office until 2001, Radio Rossii reported on 16 November. Backers of the referendum collected 204,000 signatures in its support. Communist deputies of the Federal Assembly objected to the decision, saying that Nikolaev's attempts to prolong his term violates several articles of the republican constitution. -- Anna Paretskaya

VOLOGDA CORRUPTION SCANDAL.
President Yeltsin has asked Procurator-General Yurii Skuratov to look into a corruption scandal in Vologda which was exposed in an Izvestiya article on 15 November, Radio Mayak reported the next day. Senior officials of the farming region were reportedly involved in the diversion of 26 billion rubles ($5.8 million) of federal funds and the harassment of journalists who tried to uncover the story. -- Peter Rutland

NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AS CFE TREATY DEADLINE PASSES.
Diplomats from the 30 signatories of the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) treaty met through the night in Vienna to try and reach a last-minute compromise on the controversial flank limits that Russia refuses to meet, Russian and Western agencies reported on 16 November. Treaty limits were scheduled to go into effect on 17 November, and Reuters reported that negotiators "seem to be inching forwards, but it could be hours yet." On the same day, a Russian delegation arrived in Ankara to discuss the issue with Turkish officials. Turkey has opposed changes to the flank limits, and has threatened to retaliate if Russia fails to honor them. ITAR-TASS quoted anonymous Russian military officials as saying that despite the dispute over the flank provisions, Russia was in compliance with the treaty's overall weapons limits. -- Doug Clarke and Scott Parrish

PERRY: RUSSIANS IN BOSNIAN FORCE MUST OBEY OR WITHDRAW.
Contradicting Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's claim that Moscow could veto any order given to its troops in a Bosnian peace implementation force that it did not like, U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry on 16 November said the Russians must either obey all orders by an American commanding general or withdraw. Western agencies quoted him as saying the Russians could not "pick and choose" which orders to carry out. Perry conceded that any national military force could disregard an order if they felt it was contrary to their national interest, but their only other option would be to withdraw from Bosnia. -- Doug Clarke

DUDAEV SPOKESMEN SLAM ELECTION PLANS.
Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev's negotiator, Khozh-Akhmed Yarikhanov, blasted plans to hold simultaneous elections for the Duma and a Chechen head of state on 17 December, Ekho Moskvy reported on 16 November. Yarikhanov said the announcement of the elections effectively scuttled the already stalled political talks between his delegation and federal authorities. Dudaev spokesman Movladi Udugov later suggested to Interfax that separatist fighters would seek to disrupt the elections if they were held before Russian troops leave Chechnya. Citing Udugov, Interfax also reported that 2 civilians had been killed and 12 wounded when federal forces shelled villages in the Vedeno region, although Gen. Anatolii Shkirko, commander of federal forces in Chechnya, categorically refuted reports of such shelling as "provocations," according to ITAR-TASS. -- Scott Parrish

DEBATE OVER RUSSIAN LOSSES IN CHECHNYA.
As the first year of the Chechen war draws to a close, Russian media are calling upon security officials to give a more open accounting of the scale of the conflict. The official casualty list for Russian forces stands at 2,000 federal troops killed, 600 missing and 6,000 wounded, NTV reported on 16 November. The monthly death toll peaked at 693 in January and fell to 142 in April, since then losses have averaged about 2-3 deaths per day. NTV suggested that the real losses may be much higher. Estimates of civilian casualties are even less reliable. Radio Rossii reported on 16 November that separatist forces still have an estimated 6,000 fighters at their disposal (including about 300 mercenaries), of whom some 2,000 are opposed to peace on any terms. An upsurge in attacks is expected as the December elections draw near. -- Peter Rutland

GRACHEV: RUSSIA CANNOT AFFORD A PROFESSIONAL ARMY.
Contract soldiers have proven to be too expensive for Russia, according to Defense Minster Pavel Grachev, and the military has decided to cut their numbers from the more than 350,000 presently in service to a little over 100,000, Radio Mayak reported on 15 November. "If Russia were to have a professional army," he said, "the entire country would be working for the army alone just to feed the army." He said the contract system had failed because the contract soldiers were, as a rule, family men and needed to be paid much higher than the minimum wage. "If we were rich," he said, "it would be a different matter. It would, of course, be wonderful to have professional personnel." -- Doug Clarke

BILL BANNING MILITARY POWER CUT-OFFS SENT TO YELTSIN.
A law providing for up to 3 year's imprisonment for cutting off the power to military facilities has been sent to President Yeltsin for signature, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 November. The law would put some teeth into a 5 November government resolution banning such blackouts. The military over the past year has been plagued by a series of embarrassing incidents when local authorities cut off the utilities to military bases because the military had not paid its bills. -- Doug Clarke

MANY BORDER GUARDS UNFIT TO CARRY GUNS.
Two days after a border guard in eastern Siberia killed five of his colleagues on a shooting spree, a report was released concluding that 60% of Russia's border guards are so unstable they shouldn't be carrying guns. According to ITAR-TASS, the report was based on tests conducted by doctors, psychologists, and lawyers following a series of similar rampages by border guards over the past two years. -- Penny Morvant

PATRIARCH VISITS GERMANY.
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, Aleksii II, arrived in Germany on 16 November, Radio Rossii reported. During his first visit to Germany, at the invitation of the German Catholic and Lutheran churches, Aleksii II will meet with German clergymen, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel, and other politicians. Aleksii II told his German counterparts that he opposes transforming international Christian organizations into a copy of the UN. Meanwhile, Pope John Paul II announced that he would like to meet with Aleksii II in Moscow soon, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Constantine Dmitriev



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 225, 17 November 1995
KAZAKHSTAN COURT CONVICTS COSSACK CHIEF. Th
e chief of the Semirechie Cossacks in Kazakhstan, Nikolai Gunkin, was convicted on 17 November on charges of holding illegal demonstrations, Reuters reported the same day. Gunkin told the court that he organized a religious meeting on 8 January to mark the Orthodox Christmas day, but denied holding any "illegal demonstrations." Gunkin, who faces up to a year in jail, plans to appeal to international human rights organizations. Reuters reported Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev as saying that investigations by foreign journalists into the case may be prohibited under a constitutional clause that bans activities which may destabilize the country. A report issued by the Kazakhstani-American Civil Rights Bureau noted that since mid 1994 the Kazakhstani authorities have frequently denied permission to hold meetings "without giving any reasons," and arrested the violators by calling them "criminals," Kaztag reported on 16 November. -- Bhavna Dave

RELIGIOUS CONCERNS IN SOUTHERN KYRGYZSTAN.
The activities of various religious organizations in southern Kyrgyzstan continue to be a source of concern for the Kyrgyz government. Authorities in Bishkek have been attempting to keep close watch on "propagators of Islamic Fundamentalism" in the Osh area. A 13 November report from the Kabar news agency cited by the BBC claims fundamentalist schools are being opened and imams are calling for a break with Kyrgyz authorities, saying also that they promote negative attitudes "towards all those who speak Russian." The same source also claimed that western missionaries are abusing humanitarian aid to spread their message, saying that when political parties cannot fill the needs of the people, religious organizations are quick to appear. -- Bruce Pannier



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 225, 17 November 1995
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT VETOES LAND REFORM BILL.
The Ukrainian parliament on 15 November voted 245 to 13 with 21 abstentions against the draft law on land reform, claiming it was "a danger to Ukraine's economic security," UNIAR reported. Supported by President Leonid Kuchma, the bill would have provided for private ownership of land. Deputy Prime Minister Petro Sabluk told Reuters the next day that the veto "does not mean the process of land reform has stopped or will be stopped." But Ukrainian Agricultural Minister Pavlo Haidutsky said the dismantling of the collective farm system could lead to the sorts of decline in agriculture that East European countries suffered after they allowed private ownership. This year's grain harvest is estimated to be 36.5 million tons, which, according to Reuters, is an improvement over last year. -- Bruce Pannier

UKRAINE GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO NUCLEAR REACTOR.
Following a 10-day shutdown, the sixth reactor at the Zaporizha nuclear power station was put back on line, Reuters reported on 16 November. The reactor, the first opened since the ban on new stations was lifted in 1993, began operating in early October but was closed shortly after for repairs to the steam generator and for examinations of possible leaks of radioactive water. An official from Derzhkomatom noted that there was no danger and that "some faults in a new reactor" are only natural. He added that the reactor will operate at 40% capacity, increasing to 75% in the near future. -- Roger Kangas

CONFLICT BETWEEN ESTONIAN DEFENSE MINISTER, ARMY CHIEF.
Defense Minister Andrus Oovel openly criticized Lt. Gen. Aleksander Einseln on 15 November for what he called shortcomings in building up the state defense, BNS reported the next day. Oovel said he opposed the recent appointment of Col. Vello Loema as acting chief of staff, noting that it had not been discussed with his ministry, as required by Estonian law. Opposition parliament deputy Juri Adams said such an open conflict was something that a democratic country could not allow and suggested that a no confidence vote against Oovel be initiated. Einseln will meet with Oovel on 18 November after returning from Germany where he is to give a lecture at a course for senior NATO officers. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIA DEPORTS ILLEGAL REFUGEES.
Lithuanian officials on 15 November deported 108 illegal Asian refugees by placing them on the train to Moscow. Most of the deported had been detained during the previous week although one group had been held since the beginning of October. Since Lithuania does not have an agreement with Russia and Belarus on the unconditional return of such refugees, they are sent back on the basis of case-to-case negotiations. The extent of the problem of refugees trying to reach the West through Lithuania was shown by the detention of a group of 49 Afghan refugees near the Polish border later that evening and another group of 20 Asians the next day, BNS reported. -- Saulius Girnius

RISE IN CRIME IN BELARUS.
Belarusian acting Prosecutor-General Vasil Kapitan told a news conference on 16 November that crime in Belarus was getting worse, Belarusian Radio reported. The number of crimes registered in the first ten months of the year was 108,527 or 12,500 more than in the same period last year. Of particular concern is the 53.5% increase in serious crimes. -- Saulius Girnius

FINAL STAGES OF POLISH PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN.
Incumbent President Lech Walesa on 16 November said that if he wins the 19 November second round of presidential elections, Jozef Oleksy's government should resign. Rzeczpospolita on 17 November reported the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Social Research Bureau according to which Democratic Left Alliance leader Aleksander Kwasniewski would have won 50.8% of votes and Walesa 49.2% if elections had taken place on 15 November. Two-thirds of those who voted in the first round for former Prime Minister Jan Olszewski intend to vote for Walesa, as do more than half of those who cast their ballot for former Labor Minister Jacek Kuron and Central Bank President Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz. The Polish presidential campaign officially ends at noon on 17 November. -- Jakub Karpinski

POLISH FOREIGN MINISTER IN MOSCOW.
Wladyslaw Bartoszewski paid a one-day visit to Moscow on 16 November, Polish dailies reported the next day. In a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Andrei Kozyrev, Bartoszewski discussed bilateral relations, which, he said, were "developing well" despite political differences. Moscow supported Bartoszewski's proposal to organize a Polish-Russian round table in spring 1996. With regard to European security, Bartoszewski said that while Poland wants to take part in a new, expanded NATO, it cannot envisage the transformation of the alliance without NATO reaching agreements with Russia and Ukraine. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

CZECH FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON GERMANY TO COMPENSATE VICTIMS OF NAZISM.
Josef Zieleniec on 16 November called on Germany to compensate unconditionally Czech victims of the wartime Nazi occupation, Czech media reported. In a speech at Prague's Charles University, Zieleniec said both governments should contribute to a Czech-German fund for the benefit of those whose suffered. The Czech Republic is the only country occupied by the Nazis that has never received wholesale compensation from postwar Germany; victims of Nazism have so far received only money from a special fund set up by the Czech government last year. In negotiations over a joint parliamentary declaration currently being prepared to heal old wounds in Czech-German relations, the German side has linked the question of compensation with recognizing claims by Sudeten Germans, 3 million of whom were forcibly expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. -- Steve Kettle

CZECH DOCTORS SUSPEND PROTEST ACTION.
Czech doctors, who have been taking industrial action since the beginning of this month, temporarily called off their protest on 16 November after being asked to do so by President Vaclav Havel. After meeting with Havel, David Rath, chairman of the Medical Trade Union Club (LOK), said the "administrative strike" will be immediately suspended until the end of this month. Rath said Havel told him that he sympathized with doctors' concerns over pay and conditions but that he believed protest action was not the way to solve the situation, Czech media reported. LOK members and other health service workers staged a one-day strike on 1 November and since then have refused to carry out normal administrative tasks. Health officials threatened the doctors with sanctions, including cutting their pay and possible criminal charges, if they continued with the protest. -- Steve Kettle

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PASSES RESOLUTION ON SLOVAKIA.
The European parliament on 16 November approved a resolution recommending that the Slovak government respect democratic principles, cease attempts to cast doubt on the mandates of democratically elected legislators, and guarantee all citizens the right to freedom of expression in the media and public life. The parliament warned that it might close its office in Slovakia and stop its assistance programs if Vladimir Meciar's government does not take democratic principles into account. The Foreign Ministry rejected the resolution, which, it said, was "neither a dialogue nor a discussion" but "a monologue and decision" made without listening to the other party. Meciar's party--the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS)--responded by saying that the resolution "is reminiscent of recent history, when the leader of Nazi Germany first sent demarches to states and then occupied them with tanks." -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY CRITICIZES SLOVAK LANGUAGE LAW.
The Hungarian government on 16 November released a sharply worded statement expressing "sorrow and dissatisfaction" at the Slovak parliament's adoption of a controversial language law the previous day. It also stressed that the law might hinder the development of bilateral ties, Hungarian and international media reported. Foreign Minister Ladislav Kovacs said that before taking any further measures, the Hungarian government will study the final text of the new law. "Then we will make our concerns known to the Slovak authorities before consulting the Council of Europe and the OSCE," Kovacs said. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Istvan Szent-Ivanyi said the language law contravenes the Slovak-Hungarian treaty and pointed out that if the treaty is ratified by the Slovak parliament, it will repeal the language law. -- Sharon Fisher



OMRI DAILY DIGEST

Vol. 1, No. 225, 17 November 1995
TOP TWO BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS INDICTED FOR "SAVAGERY" AT SREBRENICA.
The International Herald Tribune on 17 November said that the Hague-based war crimes tribunal has again indicted Serb civilian leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, General Ratko Mladic. This time they are charged with being "directly responsible" for the "systematic mass killings" of up to 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in July, which the paper called "what may be the worst massacre committed in Europe since World War II." One of the judges noted "scenes of unimaginable savagery: thousands of men executed and buried in mass graves, hundreds of men buried alive, men and women mutilated and slaughtered, children killed before their mothers' eyes, a grandfather forced to eat the liver of his own grandson." -- Patrick Moore

U.S., GOLDSTONE AGREE THAT WAR CRIMINALS MUST FACE JUSTICE.
Richard Goldstone, chief justice of the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, said there cannot be real peace in the Balkans as long as war criminals go unpunished, the BBC reported on 16 November. The Independent also quoted him as saying that diplomats have no right to offer war criminals deals as part of a peace settlement. The State Department stressed that there can be no peace without justice and said that it expects Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia to cooperate with the tribunal, international media noted. To date, Belgrade has been unwilling to hand over Karadzic, Mladic, or any other of the 45 indicted Serbs. No Muslims have yet been indicted. -- Patrick Moore

CROATIA DUCKS ON WAR CRIMINALS.
The Guardian on 16 November reported that Croatian Prime Minister Zlatko Matesa has indicated he has no intention of handing over the six Bosnian Croats indicted on 13 November. Reuters quoted him as saying the charges have not been substantiated and that Croatia must "abide by procedure." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on 17 November quoted Croatian spokesmen as calling General Tihomir Blaskic's transfer back to Zagreb a rotation rather than a promotion, as it has widely been viewed. Globus asked Matesa why another of the six, Dario Kordic, recently got a medal for promoting Croatia's reputation abroad. The newly appointed premier replied: "It is not my job to give views on why Dario Kordic received that medal. He was most probably given this medal by the president himself." Elsewhere, Novi list wrote on 17 November that the Bosnian army has been guilty of "genocide" against the Bosnian Croats. Slobodna Dalmacija said that Blaskic is a professional who could not have committed war crimes. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN CROAT LEADER DISSATISFIED WITH DAYTON TALKS.
Kresimir Zubak, in a letter sent to U.S. negotiator Richard Holbrooke on 15 November, said he cannot sign the proposed peace agreement because it does not sufficiently take Bosnian Croat interests into account, the BBC reported on 17 November, quoting Radio Herceg-Bosna. Zubak added that he had expected to be more actively involved in drawing up the text, especially with regard to the maps but that he had been informed via intermediaries only. Meanwhile, a UN spokesman in Sarajevo complained that despite a recent agreement, Bosnian government and Bosnian Croat forces are denying the UN free movement, Nasa Borba reported on 17 November. -- Daria Sito Sucic

BOSNIA, CROATIA AGREE TO LINK CURRENCIES.
Bosnia's Muslim-Croatian Federation and the Croatian government agreed on 16 November to link the Bosnian dinar and the Croatian kuna, German media reported on 16 November. The link will be based on the Deutsche mark and will go into effect on 20 January 1996. The agreement was worked out with the assistance of officials from the IMF and World Bank. -- Michael Wyzan

KOSOVAR HUMAN RIGHTS GROUP WANTS MILOSEVIC INDICTED.
Kosovo's Council for the Defense of Human Rights and Freedoms has said it will hand over documents to the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia that could lead to an indictment of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic. International agencies on 16 November reported that the council has charged Milosevic, former Serbian police chief Zoran Sokolovic, and other police officials with responsibility for crimes against humanity and genocide, including the killing of about 150 Albanians since 1989. It also points to some 300,000 cases of harassment and torture. According to Kosova Daily Report, the council said that in October 188 persons were arbitrarily arrested or detained and 123 Albanian households raided. It also reported cases of plundering, torture, and forcible induction into the army during that period. -- Fabian Schmidt

MONTENEGRIN PREMIER'S U.S. VISIT.
BETA on 16 November reported that developments surrounding the official recent visit to the U.S. by a Montenegrin delegation, led in part by Premier Milo Djukanovic, may be unnerving some officials in Belgrade. Djukanovic, who was in the U.S. from 5-13 November, met with top U.S. administration staff for discussions over NATO's possible use of the port of Bar. Tanjug on 15 November reported that Djukanovic discussed using Bar as a transit point for personnel and equipment that may be involved in enforcing a peace for Bosnia. The premier was quoted as stressing that "this was not a matter of...installing NATO forces in Montenegro but of transportation." BETA reported, however, that Djukanovic held the talks "without consulting Belgrade." -- Stan Markotich

ITALIAN DELEGATION IN SKOPJE PROMISES LOAN.
Italian government officials, during a visit to Macedonia on 16 November, offered the country a credit worth 24 billion lire (about $15 million), Nova Makedonija reported the next day. The loan is for support of small and medium-sized enterprises. Italy, which will take over the rotating EU presidency in January, promised to use its good offices to help complete the process of Macedonia's integration into international institutions. -- Michael Wyzan

ROMANIA'S HUNGARIAN MINORITY RESUMES PROTESTS.
The Covasna County branch of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania has called on Hungarian pupils, teachers, and parents to resume their protests in support of mother-tongue tuition at all levels, Adevarul reported on 17 November. The organization proposed hoisting white flags and forming human chains around the county's Hungarian schools. Adevarul quoted Romanian President Ion Iliescu in Paris as saying the ethnic Hungarians' criticism of the education law was "demagogic." -- Matyas Szabo

ROMANIAN CHIEF OF STAFF AT NATO HEADQUARTERS.
A military delegation led by Romanian Chief of Staff Gen. Dumitru Cioflina has ended its visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Radio Bucharest reported on 16 November. A NATO spokesman praised Romania's participation in the Partnership for Peace program and its active role in developing military cooperation with NATO. Cioflina stressed that joint activities with NATO proved that Romania was a "serious partner" whose final political goal was full membership in the alliance. In another development, Romania on 16 November announced that it had met the demands of the 1990 Conventional Forces in Europe treaty by cutting its armed forces by half, Reuters reported. -- Matyas Szabo

MOLDOVA WILL NOT APPLY TO JOIN NATO.
President Mircea Snegur on 16 November stressed again that his country does not intend to apply to join NATO, BASA-press reported. Snegur told senior Moldovan officers at the Defense Ministry that Moldova's participation in the Partnership for Peace program does not mean it is planning to join the alliance, as claimed by leaders of the breakaway Dniester region. Snegur stressed that the Moldovan Constitution stipulated neutrality and that the country would therefore not be part of any military alliance. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIA TO GET RUSSIAN SPARE PARTS FOR DEBT.
Russian and Bulgarian negotiators on 15 November in Moscow signed an agreement whereby Russia will provide $48 million worth of maintenance and spare parts for Russian-built Bulgarian warplanes in partial repayment of its $100 million debt to Bulgaria, BTA reported. The agreement was reached during a meeting of the Bulgarian-Russian Commission on Special Production. The report said the Russians expressed an interest in setting up joint ventures for the development, production, and sale of military equipment to third countries. -- Doug Clarke

ALBANIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH ITALY.
The Albanian parliament on 16 November ratified a treaty between Albania and Italy calling for wider economic cooperation and joint efforts to fight organized crime, drug trafficking, and illegal immigration, international agencies reported on 16 November. The treaty also includes a provision regulating the immigration of Albanian seasonal workers to Italy. The parliament the same day passed a law on the privatization of the state-owned Trade Bank, Rilindja Demokratike reported. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Jan Cleave




XS
SM
MD
LG