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Newsline - December 15, 1995


FIGHTING BREAKS OUT IN CHECHNYA.
The tenuous six-month ceasefire in Chechnya came to an end on 14 December when Chechen forces took the town of Gudermes and repulsed an attempt by Russian federal troops to dislodge them, Russian media reported. Up to 16 Russian servicemen were killed in the fighting. Also on 14 December, voting began in Chechnya for the Russian State Duma and for a new Chechen republican leader; District Electoral Commission Chairman Abdulkerim Arsakhanov told Russian TV that 45% of the registered voters in Grozny had cast their votes. -- Liz Fuller

GROUP NOMINATING RUTSKOI FOR PRESIDENT DENIED REGISTRATION.
Last month, Aleksandr Rutskoi successfully appealed to the Supreme Court to overturn the Central Electoral Commission's (TsIK) 28 October refusal to register his Derzhava movement for the parliamentary elections. Now the TsIK has denied registration to an initiative group supporting Rutskoi for president in 1996, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 14 December. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said some of Rutskoi's supporters had not filled out the documents correctly, listing their places of residence as "Moscow" without indicating their precise addresses. -- Laura Belin

RYABOV: ELECTION PREPARATIONS COMPLETE.
Ryabov also announced on 14 December that the TsIK's preparations for the 17 December parliamentary elections are complete, Russian TV reported. He said 96,000 regional, local, and district electoral commissions have been created, and that 50,000 observers (including 900 international observers) will monitor their activities on 17 December. Ryabov predicted a high turnout, and Russian TV said the presidential administration believes that more than 60% of eligible voters will participate in the elections. Turnout in December 1993 was officially put at 54%, but that figure is widely believed to have been inflated by fraud. -- Laura Belin

COMMUNIST OBJECTS TO VIDEO OF DRUNK DEPUTY.
Duma Deputy Eduard Kovalev of the Communist Party (KPRF) complained that the 13 December Russian TV program "Podrobnosti" attempted to "compromise" the Communists on the eve of parliamentary elections by showing a video of KPRF Duma Deputy Igor Bratishchev in police custody while drunk, Russian TV reported on 14 December. Kovalev said the footage of Bratishchev, one of the authors of the KPRF economic program, was filmed three years ago, in 1992. -- Laura Belin

LAST-MINUTE DEBATE PREPARATIONS.
The KPRF has apparently agreed to debate Yegor Gaidar on live television on 15 December, the last day campaign appearances by politicians will be allowed in the mass media. Gaidar told Russian TV on 14 December that he would like to face KPRF Duma Deputy Anatolii Lukyanov, and that the debate may take place on Russian Public TV (ORT) at 7:30 p.m.. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who had previously declined offers to debate Grigorii Yavlinskii, announced on 14 December that he is now prepared to debate the Yabloko leader, NTV reported. It was not clear whether a debate could be arranged on such short notice. -- Laura Belin

KORZHAKOV URGES RUSSIANS TO VOTE . . .
In a rare public appearance, Aleksandr Korzhakov, head of the presidential security service, urged Russians to vote in the Duma elections in order to prevent a Communist victory. He said he intended to vote for Ivan Rybkin, head of a flagging center-left bloc set up with the president's blessing, while his wife would opt for Viktor Chernomyrdin's Our Home Is Russia. Korzhakov, who is believed to exert considerable influence over the president, spent much of the interview reminiscing about his years in Yeltsin's service. He said Yeltsin would decide in February whether to run for the presidency again. Yeltsin, who has not made any public pronouncements for several days, is due to give a taped television address later today. -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND CRITICIZES DEFENSE MINISTER.
Asked what he thought of Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, Korzhakov was hardly effusive in his praise. "Pavel Sergeevich loves his wife very much," he said. "Pavel Sergeevich loves his children very much. Pavel Sergeevich loves his friends very much. As a commander, Pavel Sergeevich is very good at giving reports, but he's particularly talented at staging parades." Grachev, who is widely believed to have persuaded Yeltsin to launch the military operation in Chechnya, has been heavily criticized in many quarters but has managed to retain Yeltsin's support. Korzhakov also said he would vote for Yurii Luzhkov if he ran again for the office of Moscow mayor, but would not support him if he ran for the presidency in 1996. -- Penny Morvant

GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE QUITS RACE IN PRIMORSK KRAI.
Former Primorsk Krai Legislative Chairman Igor Lebedinets, who is one of the top candidates in the krai's gubernatorial elections, has dropped out of the race, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 December. Lebedinets asked his supporters to vote for former Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov. Lebedinets and Cherepkov hope that together they can defeat current Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko. The gubernatorial election will take place on 17 December. Meanwhile, on 14 December, the krai legislature asked the federal parliament to postpone legislative elections in the region until October 1996 on the grounds that local legislation has not been harmonized with the federal law on local self-government, Radio Rossii reported. According to an 18 September presidential decree, local legislatures must hold elections by March 1996. -- Anna Paretskaya

CHUVASHIYA TO HOLD REFERENDUM ON PRESIDENCY.
Chuvash Republic President Nikolai Fedorov ordered the government to allocate money to the 17 December republican referendum on whether the republic needs a president, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 December. Fedorov said he has been forced to allocate money to the referendum, despite the fact that he himself considers it to be an opposition ploy. The Federal Council of Chuvashiya voted to hold the referendum two month ago after a group of citizens submitted the number of signatures necessary to make a request for such a vote. -- Anna Paretskaya

SEGODNYA COMMENTATOR BLASTS THOMAS PICKERING.
Pavel Felgengauer, a Segodnya expert on military issues, argued in a front page commentary published on 14 December, that U.S. Ambassador to Russia Thomas Pickering's remarks on the South Kurils problem reflect a calculated effort to worsen U.S.-Russian relations. Felgengauer argues that as a "career diplomat," Pickering could never say anything "off-the-cuff," indicating that there are "influential advocates of bad relations with Moscow" within the U.S. administration. -- Constantine Dmitriev

LAVROV: RUSSIA IS AGAINST MULTINATIONAL ARMED FORCES IN BOSNIA.
The permanent spokesman for Russia at the UN, Sergei Lavrov, told journalists on 14 December that Russia welcomes a UN peacekeeping force in Eastern Slavonia but opposes a multinational coalition armed force in that region, ITAR-TASS reported. With regard to the UN secretary general's recent proposal to send a 9,300-strong multinational division to Eastern Slavonia instead of the 1,600 Russian and Belgian soldiers stationed there, Lavrov said that a resolution of the UN Security Council calls for a UN force in that region. -- Constantine Dmitriev

TEACHERS RESPOND TO STRIKE CALL.
Teachers in many Russian regions, including St. Petersburg, Arkhangel Oblast, Krasnodar Krai, and Buryatiya, went on strike on 14 December to demand more money for the education sector (see OMRI Daily Digest, 14 December 1995). Teachers in other areas, including Moscow, took part in demonstrations in support of their colleagues, ITAR-TASS reported. Unions say the government owes the education sector 550 billion rubles ($118 million) and that some teachers have not been paid since the new school year began. Nevertheless, the strike call was not heeded in every region, apparently because local officials had already taken steps to meet the teachers demands. Education Minister Yevgenii Tkachenko blamed the difficult situation in some regions on the attitude of local governors, saying some "simply pay no attention to education," according to ORT. -- Penny Morvant

BANKS CONTINUE TO DISPUTE YUKOS AUCTION.
The president of Inkombank, Vladimir Vinogradov, announced that the three-bank consortium which was barred from bidding for shares in YUKOS, Russia's second largest oil company, will take the case to court, NTV reported on 14 December. Vinogradov refuted suggestions that the government might retaliate against Inkombank by taking away key clients such as Transneft and Rosvooruzhenie, which control oil pipelines and arms exports. The latest news belies an earlier report that Menatep, ONEKSIMbank, and MFK, the winners in the loan/share auctions, had struck a deal with their adversaries. Segodnya reported on 9 December that they had agreed to form a consortium with Alfabank, Rossiiskii kredit and Inkombank which would sell 24% of the shares in the three privatized enterprises to foreign investors. -- Peter Rutland

INSIDER DEALS SEAL SHARE AUCTIONS.
On 13 December, 20% of the shares of the Novorossiisk shipping company were auctioned under the government's loan scheme, Segodnya reported on 14 December. Novoship, a firm created by the shipping company itself, offered a loan of $22 million guaranteed by Tokobank, beating out rival bids from Menatep Bank and ONEKISMbank. The auction of shares in the Arkhangel fleet, also due to take place on 13 December, was canceled due to the lack of bids. Kommersant reported on 14 December that Menatep bought 51% of the shares in the Kareliyan wood processing firm Pitkyarant for $20 million, in an auction organized by Menatep. -- Peter Rutland



MANDATE OF UN OBSERVERS IN TAJIKISTAN EXTENDED.
The UN Security Council voted unanimously on 14 December to extend the mandate of the UN observer mission in Tajikistan by another six months, according to RFE/RL. The 40-member mission's term was due to expire on 15 December. The extension hinges on whether the Tajik government and opposition continue to show progress in achieving peace in the republic -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZ COURT BARS THREE CANDIDATES FROM ELECTION.
The Kyrgyz High Court has narrowed the field of candidates competing in the 24 December presidential election from six to three, RFE/RL and Radio Mayak reported. The court ruled on 13 December to bar Deputy Prime Minister Jumgalbek Amanbayev, Ata Meken member Omurbek Tekebayev, and independent candidate Mamat Aybalayev from participating in the election because of mistakes on their registration applications. The court claims that the amount of signatures collected by the candidates in some regions exceeds the number of voters and that some of the signatures were not approved by the regional councils. The three remaining candidates are President Askar Akayev, former parliament speaker Medetken Sherimkulov, and Communist Party leader Absamat Masaliev. -- Bruce Pannier

INFLATION MAY BE RETURNING IN KYRGYZSTAN.
The monthly inflation rate jumped from 1.1% in October to 2.6% in November, Interfax reported on 13 December. The Kyrgyz National Statistics Committee attributed the rise to "seasonal factors," a 3.8% increase in food prices, and a 1.3% rise in tariffs on services. Over the first 11 months of 1995, however, consumer prices rose by only 27.6%, compared with an 80.6% rise during the same period in 1994. -- Bruce Pannier

KAZAKHSTAN JOINS THE ISLAMIC ORGANIZATION.
Representatives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) voted unanimously on 12 December to accept Kazakhstan as a member, according to a Saudi Arabian news agency (SPA) report cited by the BBC. Kazakhstan becomes the 52nd member and fifth former Soviet republic--along with Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan--to be accepted into the organization. -- Bruce Pannier

FORMER GEORGIAN DEPUTY SECRET SERVICE CHIEF GIVES TESTIMONY.
Former Georgian Deputy Secret Service Chief Temur Khachishvili, a member of the dissolved paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni, gave testimony in the case in which he is charged with involvement in the 29 August attempted assassination of Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze, Russian media reported on 14 December. Khachishvili said that former security chief Igor Giorgadze and Mkhedrioni leader Dzhaba Ioseliani organized the assassination attempt. Ioseliani has been in custody since 15 November, while Giorgadze has escaped from prison (see OMRI Daily Digest, 16 November 1995). -- Irakli Tsereteli



UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT WRAPS UP BRITISH VISIT.
Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma on 14 December ended a three-day visit to Britain, international agencies reported. Following meetings with British Prime Minister John Major and Queen Elizabeth II, he invited both to visit Ukraine next year. Major has already accepted the invitation. Kuchma urged Britain and the G-7 to sign a memorandum on the closure of Chornobyl offering adequate guarantees of compensation to Ukraine by the end of the year. He also met with EBRD representatives who promised him $75 million in funding for Ukrainian enterprises and $50 million in foreign trade financing. The bulk of the enterprise funding will be used to restructure Ukraine's energy sector. -- Ustina Markus

UKRAINE INITIALS SPACE DEAL WITH U.S.
AFP on 14 December reported that Ukraine has initialed an agreement on commercial space launches with the U.S. The deal allows Ukraine to enter the international space market on its own or in conjunction with a U.S.-led joint venture. The agreement permits Ukraine to win up to five contracts for launches into geosynchronous earth orbit and up to 11 contracts for the US-Ukrainian joint venture until 2001. Ukraine has been lobbying for access to the international market for its space industry for over a year, but there was opposition to this from the U.S. space lobby, which was concerned that Ukraine's entry could disrupt the world space market. In order to appease the U.S. lobby, the deal sets price guidelines to ensure Ukraine's entry into the satellite launch business does not disrupt the market. The agreement is similar to ones already negotiated with Russia and China. -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA ADOPTS NEW GOVERNMENT LAW.
After an all-night session ending on 14 December, the Estonian parliament adopted a new law reducing the number of government officials, BNS reported. The law splits the Culture and Education ministry into two and makes 40 offices and inspectorates that had previously operated as separate offices into ministry departments. Other sections of the law allow the post of prime minister to be combined with that of a minister and permits the cabinet to pass decisions when at least half of the members plus one are present. A record number of 312 amendments to the law had been previously voted on. -- Saulius Girnius

THIRD CANDIDATE FOR LATVIAN PREMIER NOMINATED.
President Guntis Ulmanis announced on 14 December in Frankfurt that he was asking 37-year-old businessman Andris Skele to try to form a new government, Reuters reported. Skele is chairman of the Latvian Shipping Company and was acting agriculture minister in 1993. Since the elections on 1 October, the Saeima has divided into two rival blocs, both of which unsuccessfully tried to form a government. Skele is a compromise candidate who appears to have the support of the right-of-center National Bloc and the left-of-center Democratic Party Saimnieks. Skele hopes to present a list of ministers next week so that the Saeima can vote on it before concluding its fall session on 21 December. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN VIEWS ON BALTIC MILITARY ALLIANCE.
Chairman of the Center Union Romualdas Ozolas told a press conference on 14 December that the Baltic States have no alternative but to ally themselves militarily, Radio Lithuania reported. Other political leaders have recently expressed the opposite position. Earlier that day, Defense Minister Linas Linkevicius said that during the current stage of the NATO integration process, it was not expedient to establish a Baltic military alliance. Joint military efforts were meaningful only if they served the goal of achieving membership in European-wide organizations, he said. Christian Democratic Party Chairman Algirdas Saudargas two days earlier said forming a Baltic military alliance now was a dangerous step since it could be interpreted as an alternative to NATO membership. An alliance should be formed only in the context of NATO and should be confirmed by its secretary-general. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT-ELECT APOLOGIZES TO ELECTORATE.
Aleksander Kwasniewski--speaking on 14 December in Kielce, where he began his election campaign--apologized to those who were disappointed with his performance during the election campaign. Rzeczpospolita on 15 December quotes him as saying that he did not receive an M.A. degree; although he had passed all the necessary examinations, he did not submit a thesis. Kwasniewski said that he has no doubts that the elections were valid, adding that his main aim as president will be to avoid deepening divisions. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz

WEIZSAECKER CONDEMNS BENES DECREES.
Former German President Richard von Weizsaecker on 14 December said the Benes decrees--under which up to three million Sudeten Germans were expelled from postwar Czechoslovakia and their property expropriated--were not legal acts but "additional war operations," CTK reported. In a lecture at Charles University in Prague, Weizsaecker nonetheless added that important progress has been made in preparing a joint parliamentary declaration intended to ease rifts in Czech-German relations. The Sudeten issue is still the most tendentious in ties between the two countries. Czech politicians have repeatedly refused to consider nullifying the decrees issued by President Edvard Benes in 1945. "Several souls in positions of responsibility must still overcome their inhibitions. But I believe that we are very quickly approaching the goal," Weizsaecker said. He was awarded an honorary law doctorate by Charles University. -- Steve Kettle

SLOVAK PRESIDENT RESPONDS TO SECRET SERVICE CHIEF.
Michal Kovac has responded to an open letter sent by Slovak Information Service chief Ivan Lexa on 20 October saying that "neither the SIS as a state organ . . . nor I myself personally had anything to do with the alleged kidnapping of your son." According to Sme on 15 December, Kovac said he decided to react to Lexa's letter after Slovak TV's recent broadcast of statements by convicted criminal Peter Krylov. Kovac said those statements were directed "not only against my son but also against me." Kovac said the testimony of witnesses "clearly shows the involvement of SIS members . . . in the assault and abduction of a Slovak citizen abroad." He also expressed "deep concern" about the SIS's interest in his son's alleged involvement in the Technopol fraud, which, he said, is not under the SIS's jurisdiction. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK POLITICAL UPDATE.
The parliament on 14 December approved a law on control over the state administration, which gives the government office additional powers. It also approved an audiovisual law that is less restrictive than the controversial bill passed by the government in late October. The new law states that 30% of distributed films must be European, of which 30% must be of Slovak origin, Sme reported. The parliament was forced to delay a vote on the budget of the National Property Fund after the opposition walked out of the parliament, leaving an insufficient number of deputies for the vote. Also on 14 December, the cabinet voted to send Slovak military engineers to join internatinoal forces in eastern Slavonia, Pravda reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SNOW IN HUNGARY DELAYS PREPARATION FOR BOSNIAN PEACEKEEPING.
Heavy snow has seriously delayed the U.S. Army's setting up of a logistics base in southern Hungary that will support forces in Bosnia, Hungarian and international media reported on 15 December. Most of the 20,000 American soldiers taking part in the NATO-led Bosnian peacekeeping force will pass through the Taszar air base, near the Croatian border, before entering the former Yugoslavia. Heavy snow falls canceled all flights of mainly C-130 transport planes earlier this week. A military official said the current delays will not affect the IFOR mission because most of the equipment is for use in Hungary. But he added that if flights do not resume soon, more equipment will have to come overland. Meanwhile, the mayor of Taszar commented that the NATO operation is a godsend since it has solved the town's serious unemployment problem. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN PREMIER CONCLUDES SOUTH KOREAN VISIT.
Gyula Horn, at the end of his three-day visit to South Korea, held talks on 14 December with President Kim Young Sam, Hungarian media reported. The two leaders agreed to promote cooperation in the fields of trade and investment. Horn asked Kim Young Sam to encourage South Korean investors to become more active in Hungary and to take part in the privatization of state assets. An agreement was signed whereby South Korea will extend a $25 million loan to Hungary for the modernization of the Dunaferr Iron and Steel company. Hungary is to repay the loan within 15 years following a five-year grace period. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



SERBIAN SHELLS FLY BEFORE INK DRIES ON PARIS PEACE ACCORD.
According to the Bosnian government military authorities, four grenades were fired from Serb districts of Sarajevo only an hour after the Bosnian peace accord was signed in Paris. Two of them fell in the demarcation zone dividing government and Serbian areas of the city, and others directly hit a house in southern Sarajevo, AFP reported on 14 December. The leaders of Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia unanimously condemned this grenade attack, with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic saying that this may be the last attempt aimed to halt peace and prolong the war. Meanwhile, Reuters on 14 December reported that Bosnian Croat militia and Islamic mujahideen forces clashed in the central Bosnian town of Zepce, and casualties were reported. Meanwhile in Washington, the Defense Department told news agencies that Islamic fighters have begun leaving Bosnia in response to Izetbegovic's promise to the Americans that they would go. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SARAJEVO, BELGRADE TO RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER?
AFP quoted diplomatic sources in Paris as saying that Bosnian Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey and his rump Yugoslav counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, exchanged letters of official mutual recognition on 14 December and agreed to exchange ambassadors within 60 days. Since Serb-dominated Yugoslavia strongly supported separatist Bosnian Serbs during the war, its recognition of an independent Bosnian state would affirm the statehood of Bosnia, as agreed by the peace accord. However, Croatian and rump Yugoslav mutual recognition has been delayed due to the unsolved issue of Prevlaka peninsula, Nasa Borba reported on 15 December. Reuters quoted Milutinovic as saying that Croatia, which allegedly earlier agreed to exchange Prevlaka for the Dubrovnik hinterland, had broken the promise but also "accepted rump Yugoslavia as the successor of former Yugoslavia." But Croatia has repeatedly said that no one state can claim to be the sole successor and that assets have to be divided fairly. -- Daria Sito Sucic

IZETBEGOVIC CALLS TREATY "A USEFUL BUT BITTER MEDICINE."
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic said in Paris that the Dayton agreement is far from ideal and is not embraced by his government with enthusiasm. He added, however, that it was a necessary measure in order to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of his embattled republic. Nasa Borba on 15 December quoted him as saying that the struggle would now continue by means of ideas rather than weapons. Izetbegovic promised to cooperate with the international forces in implementing the treaty and told Sarajevo's Serbs they should stay and "live in security." -- Patrick Moore

TUDJMAN SAYS "THIS IS A HISTORIC DAY."
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman told reporters in Paris that he is "very satisfied" with the Dayton treaty and with his meetings with his American and French counterparts. Hina on 14 December reported that he said on his return to Zagreb that Dayton "means an end to one of the most complex and most tragic wars [and] crises." Earlier at the signing ceremony he recalled the weaknesses of communist Yugoslavia and how these led to Serbia's attacks on Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia. Tudjman also noted that Croatia "is historically and geopolitically most closely linked to Bosnia-Herzegovina." Nasa Borba on 15 December also quoted him as saying that there will be no lasting peace until Croatia's occupied territories are reintegrated. Meanwhile, the Association of Croatian Displaced Persons issued a statement carried by Hina on 14 December calling for quicker measures to restore normal life to the territories already taken back this year. -- Patrick Moore

SERBIAN PRESIDENT REASSURES SARAJEVO SERBS.
Slobodan Milosevic, speaking on Television Serbia on 14 December after the signing of the peace accord--reassured Bosnian Serbs that no harm will come to them. "Room for fears or worries does not exist," he said. While suggesting that Sarajevo's Serbs may have legitimate concerns about life under Bosnian government jurisdiction, he said "I am sure that any legitimate concerns of the citizens of Serbian Sarajevo can be solved . . . with the engagement of the international community, including, of course, [rump] Yugoslavia." In a related story, Politika on 15 December reported that Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party of Serbia has greeted the signing of the peace in Paris by declaring "peace has emerged victorious." -- Stan Markotich

MACEDONIAN NATIONAL BANK PROMISES EASED MONETARY POLICY.
Addressing a gathering of banking and insurance officials, Macedonian National Bank Vice President Gligor Bisev promised that a recent easing of monetary policy will continue through 1996, Nova Makedonija reported on 14 December. This will lead to increased bank financing for productive investment. He predicted that retail price inflation in 1995 would be 6%, that social product would increase by 1.5%, and that the money supply would grow by 12.5%. -- Michael Wyzan

EX-YUGOSLAV ALBANIAN PARTIES CRITICIZE MARGINALIZATION.
The Council of Albanian Political Parties in the former Yugoslavia has issued a statement criticizing the "marginalization" of the Kosovo conflict by the Paris conference. The parties said the conference only "pretends to bring peace to the former Yugoslavia," noting that "without a just solution to the Kosovo question and the problem of Albanians in the entire former Yugoslavia, it will not be possible to overcome the Balkan crisis and prevent future conflicts," BETA reported on 14 December. -- Fabian Schmidt

HUNGARIAN MINORITY REPRESENTATIVES WALK OUT OF ROMANIAN SENATE.
Senators representing the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) walked out of a debate on amending the law on local government, Romanian media reported on 14-15 December. The UDMR senators objected to a provision in the new law obligating members of national minorities to submit a notarized translation in the Romanian language when they write to local government authorities. The stipulation applies even in localities where there is a majority of non-Romanian ethnics and where local councils have no Romanian ethnic members. Two senators representing the Party of Social Democracy in Romania claimed the UDMR wished to bring about chaos in the country. When UDMR chairman Bela Marko called the allegation a "chauvinist-nationalist instigation," he was asked by the session's chairman to withdraw the remarks. In protest, the UDMR walked out. -- Michael Shafir

MOLDOVAN PARLIAMENT APPROVES 1996 BUDGET.
The Moldovan parliament approved the law on the 1996 state budget by a vote of 66 to 12, Infotag reported on 14 December. The budget provides for a deficit amounting to 3.4% of GDP. Finance Minister Valeriu Chitan told Infotag that it is assumed that the annual rate of inflation will be 10% in 1996. -- Michael Shafir

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT GOES TO MADRID, PREMIER STAYS HOME.
Zhelyu Zhelev will fly to Spain on 15 December to attend the EU summit in Madrid, while Zhan Videnov will stay in Sofia, Bulgarian newspapers reported. Videnov was to have headed the Bulgarian delegation, which will submit Bulgaria's application for full EU membership. On 14 December, the cabinet decided that the government delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski. Videnov's participation in the parliamentary debate on the 1996 state budget was given as the official reason, but the fact that Pirinski rather than Zhelev will submit the application is widely seen as a deliberate affront to the president. Videnov and Zhelev have repeatedly clashed on a number of issues. Their strained relations are indicated by the fact that the two were scheduled to fly to Madrid on separate planes, 24 chasa reported on 14 December. -- Stefan Krause

BULGARIA TO OPEN EMBASSY IN SARAJEVO.
First Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan Staykov on 14 December announced that the government has decided to open an embassy in Sarajevo, Reuters reported the same day. The embassy will temporarily be headed by an acting ambassador, Staykov said. The government also decided to reopen Bulgaria's trade mission in Belgrade. This decision comes in the wake of the lifting of UN sanctions against rump Yugoslavia and a visit by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade Kiril Tsochev to Belgrade (see OMRI Daily Digest, 12 December 1995). -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN PRESIDENT ON PARIS PEACE TREATY, KOSOVO.
Sali Berisha has praised the Paris peace treaty as an historic achievement, Reuters reported on 14 December. But at the same time he noted that the agreement "constitutes a call to the international community to solve . . . the Kosovo issue, which is the sharpest and most important." The Kosovo conflict is not mentioned in the peace accord, but the UN security council will maintain an "outer wall" of sanctions until the rump Yugoslavia addresses the Kosovo conflict and cooperates with the War Crimes Tribunal. These sanctions include rump-Yugoslavia's admission to international political and financial institutions. Berisha has proposed direct talks between Belgrade and Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova under mediation of the U.S. -- Fabian Schmidt

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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