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Newsline - January 18, 1996


HIJACKED FERRY HEADS FOR ISTANBUL.
The ferry Eurasia, hijacked in Trabzon by pro-Chechen fighters, continued steaming toward Istanbul, Russian and Western agencies reported on 18 January. Reports identified the leader of the hijackers as Mohammed Tokcan, an ethnic Abkhazian who fought with Shamil Basaev in the Chechen and Abkhaz conflicts. Although the hijackers earlier threatened to blow up the vessel unless Russian forces ceased their attack on Pervomaiskoe, the Turkish news agency Anatolia reported that a deal had been reached under which the hijackers would surrender in return for being allowed to hold a news conference on their arrival in Istanbul. On 17 January, Russian officials complained that although they had repeatedly warned the Turkish government about the activities of Chechen extremists in Turkey, they had been "lightheartedly" ignored, a charge the Turkish Foreign Ministry denied. Estimates of the number of ethnic Chechens living in Turkey range from 5,000 to 40,000. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN FORCES POUND PERVOMAISKOE. . .
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) spokesman Aleksandr Mikhailov announced on 17 January that since there "are no hostages left" in Pervomaiskoe, federal troops would give up trying to rescue them and would launch an intensive bombardment of the village in order to eliminate the band of Chechen fighters led by Salman Raduev, Russian and Western agencies reported. However, at the time, only 28 of an estimated 70-150 hostages had been freed, although Mikhailov yet again claimed that Raduev was executing hostages. GRAD multiple-rocket launchers then began a withering bombardment of the village. Heavy fighting amid flaming buildings continued overnight as ITAR-TASS reported that federal troops had repulsed an attempt by Raduev's fighters to break out of the village and also turned back an attack by pro-Dudaev fighters who had crossed the border from Chechnya and attempted to break through the forces encircling the village. -- Scott Parrish

. . .WHILE TIGHTENING CONTROL OF PRESS.
As the bombardment of Pervomaiskoe continued, the FSB ordered journalists in the neighboring village of Sovetskoe to leave the area, AFP reported on 17 January. The expulsion left journalists without a direct view of the buildings in Pervomaiskoe. Nonetheless, Izvestiya correspondent Valerii Yarov, who had been out of touch with the paper for four days, (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 January 1995) filed a report detailing the botched storming of the village, which he said had been reduced to rubble. Yakov added that if any hostages survived, it would not be because they had been "saved" but because they were "lucky." He condemned the entire operation as a failure, saying that its only "clear success" was the muzzling of journalists trying to cover it. Ekho Moskvy and NTV offered similar negative appraisals of the operation. -- Scott Parrish

INTERNATIONAL REACTION TO PERVOMAISKOE.
While condemning the taking of hostages by Chechen fighters, Western governments and international organizations have also cautioned the Russian government against a disproportionate use of force, Russian and Western agencies reported on 17 January. Council of Europe officials, whose Parliamentary Assembly will consider Russia's application for membership on 25 January, warned that Moscow's harsh military actions might reduce the chances of Russia gaining admission. A German Foreign Ministry spokesman condemned the hostage-taking as terrorism but urged Russia to use "commensurate means" to combat it, a view seconded by the U.S. and Ukraine. Danish Defense Minister Hans Haekkerup openly denounced Moscow's military actions, however, and spokesmen for the opposition German Social Democratic Party slammed Western governments for a "lack of principle and cynicism" in failing to openly criticize Russia's massive use of military force. -- Scott Parrish

HOSTAGE-TAKING IN SIBERIA THWARTED.
Interior Ministry special forces used force to free more than 20 oil workers taken hostage on a bus in the town of Surgut in Tyumen Oblast on 17 January, ITAR-TASS reported. None of the hostages was hurt, but the armed assailant, a young Russian, was fatally wounded during the storming of the bus. Early TASS reports said the hijacker had demanded to be taken by plane to the Kizlyar region in Dagestan, where Russian troops have been battling Chechen forces. -- Penny Morvant

DUMA ADOPTS STATEMENT ON TERRORISM.
The Duma adopted a statement on 17 January calling on the government to adopt adequate measures to stop the terrorist activities of Chechen separatists, ITAR-TASS reported. However, the statement pointed out that the previous Duma had repeatedly called for a peaceful solution to the conflict but that "practically none" of these appeals were taken into account by the president and government. The same day, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin asked the Duma to support the government's policy in Chechnya. He warned against those who deliberately or unconsciously exacerbate the situation by demanding the "separation of Chechnya from Russia, division of Chechnya, preservation of inter-Chechen confrontation, or the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops." -- Robert Orttung

DUMA ELECTS COMMUNIST SPEAKER.
The Duma elected Gennadii Seleznev, a Communist-backed candidate, as its speaker in the third round of voting on 17 January with 231 votes, just above the 226 required for victory, ITAR-TASS reported. Former Duma Speaker Ivan Rybkin, supported by Our Home Is Russia, won 150 votes and Yabloko's Vladimir Lukin won 50. The Agrarian and Popular Power factions and some members of the Liberal Democratic Party supported Seleznev, NTV reported. Russian Regions did not reveal its position before the voting. The new speaker began his career as a reporter in 1974 at the youth paper Smena. He edited Komsomolskaya pravda from 1980-1988, later moving to Uchitelskaya gazeta and ultimately becoming editor of Pravda. A member of the previous Duma, he became deputy speaker in January 1995. Seleznev, 48, said his first task will be to review and act on more than 500 proposed laws leftover from the previous Duma and to adopt decisions on the violence in the Caucasus. -- Robert Orttung

COMMUNISTS DO NOT PLAN NO-CONFIDENCE VOTE.
In discussing future relations between the president and the Duma, Seleznev approved Yeltsin's recent cabinet reshuffle and efforts to give workers their unpaid wages, as well as Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's decision to reevaluate his social policy, all demands previously made by the Communists. Seleznev told reporters that he does not plan any no-confidence votes in the government "tomorrow," ITAR-TASS reported. However, Yabloko deputy Yelena Mizulina called a no-confidence vote to be taken soon. Presidential adviser Georgii Satarov said that he would have preferred Rybkin as speaker but added that it is possible to work with Seleznev, Radio Rossii reported. -- Robert Orttung

YABLOKO KEY TO SPEAKER VOTE.
Yabloko's maneuvering in the vote for the speakership allowed the Communists to win by preventing the election of Rybkin as an anti-communist speaker. Yabloko initially made a deal with the Communists that they would not support a united non-communist candidate for speaker. Under the deal the Communists would nominate Seleznev as speaker instead of Valentin Kuptsov, while Yabloko, the smallest of the four factions to cross the 5% barrier, would be allowed to preserve its chairmanship of the budget and international affairs committees, Izvestiya reported on 18 January. After the initial stalemate, the Communists were able to collect the few more votes than they needed in the absence of a united opposition candidate. The failure of Our Home Is Russia, Yabloko, and the LDPR to work together before the Duma session began will cost them committee assignments, since at this point the committees must be divided among the seven deputy factions currently registered rather than the initial four. -- Robert Orttung

UNITED COMMUNIST CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENCY?
Nikolai Ryzhkov, former Soviet prime minister and leader of the Popular Power faction in the new Duma, said he probably will not stand for the presidency in June, RIA-Novosti reported on 17 January. Ryzhkov said he was not going to copy former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev by running for the presidency without national support. Ryzhkov said he would change his position only if he receives the backing of a serious public movement. His refusal to join the race will increase the chances of other Communist candidates. Although the Communists are considering nominating one candidate for the presidency, it is unlikely that they will have a single candidate in the first round of elections, Segodnya reported on 17 January. The Central Electoral Commission has already registered three initiative groups which nominated the leftist candidates Gennadii Zyuganov, Aman Tuleev, and Viktor Anpilov. Communist Duma member Petr Romanov has also announced plans to run. -- Anna Paretskaya

NEW DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF CENTRAL BANK APPOINTED.
Russian Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin appointed Aleksandr Turbanov as his deputy on 16 January, Interfax reported the same day. A source at the bank said that there had been no reshuffling of responsibilities among members of the bank's board of directors yet, and a final decision on the matter will be made after the composition of the board is confirmed by the government. However, Turbanov is likely to take over the bank's legal department and deal with security issues at the bank's various branches. -- Natalia Gurushina

ENERGY CONSUMERS' DEBTS TOP $9.4 BILLION.
Only 77% of all the energy delivered to Russian consumers in 1995 has been paid for, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 January, citing Anatolii Dyakov, president of the United Energy System of Russia Company. As of 1 January 1996, Russian fuel and energy producing companies were owed about 44 trillion rubles ($9.4 billion), a 76% increase over the amount owed on 1 January 1995. Whereas in the third quarter of the year the level of overdue payments was comparatively low (4-11% of total deliveries), in November-December it soared to 30-55%, amounting to 17 trillion rubles ($3.63 billion) in that period. According to Dyakov, the fact that many consumers are not paying has resulted in a substantial increase in the debt owed by energy-producers to the budget and fuel suppliers. The debt is now 35 trillion rubles ($7.48 billion), of which 17 trillion is owed to the federal budget and 11 trillion to fuel suppliers. -- Natalia Gurushina



GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT RATIFIES FRIENDSHIP TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
The Georgian parliament voted by 141-34 on 17 January to ratify the treaty on friendship and cooperation with the Russian Federation which was signed in February 1994. Deputies from the opposition National Democratic Party voted against ratifying the treaty on the grounds that its ratification by the Russian State Duma was questionable and that it provides for an "unacceptable" military union between the two countries, according to Interfax. -- Liz Fuller

EBRD, DEUTSCHE BANK CREDITS TO TURKMENISTAN.
The EBRD will invest $17.8 million in joint venture involving Turkmenistan's Textile Industry Ministry and the Turkish firm GAP-Iplik Sanayi ve Ticaret, Interfax reported on 17 January. The funds will be used to upgrade an existing denim producing factory outside Ashgabat. Meanwhile, Deutsche Bank will extend Turkmenistan a $24 million credit to import food, Interfax reported the same day. The bank earlier provided a $54 million credit to Turkmenistan to construct a runway for Ashgabat international airport. -- Lowell Bezanis

UZBEK-TURKMEN AGREEMENTS.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in Chardzhou, Turkmenistan on 16 January to sign a package of agreements with his Turkmen counterpart, Saparmurad Niyazov, Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported the same day. The paper called the meeting a "historic summit," pointing out that a consensus on outstanding problems over borders and the sharing of the waters of the Amu Darya River was reached. Relations between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have been icy in the post-independence period; lately tension along the Chardzhou-Bukhara Oblast border has reportedly been on the rise. -- Lowell Bezanis

TAJIK OPPOSITION FIGURE REJECTS PARDON.
Oynihol Bobonazarova, deputy chairman of the Democratic Party of Tajikistan, has rejected a pardon granted to her by the Tajik government, calling it "an absurd act," according to a Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan report cited by the BBC on 18 January. On 12 January, Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov granted pardons to three opposition figures, Bobonazarova, Shodmon Yusuf, and Bozor Sobir--effectively ending the government's legal actions against the three begun in 1993. -- Roger Kangas



UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR AUTHORITY STRAPPED FOR CASH.
Officials from Ukraine's State Atomic Energy Committee have said that despite a 2.5% increase in electricity generation last year, the agency responsible for the country's five nuclear power plants is strapped for cash, Ukrainian TV and Infobank reported on 17 January. Committee officials said consumer debt totaling 98 trillion karbovantsi ($54 million) meant the agency has only half the funds needed to purchase enough nuclear fuel from Russia to keep its stations operational. The lack of money may also prevent repairs being carried out at the Rivne and Pivdennyi plants and outmoded equipment being replaced at Ukraine's five atomic energy stations. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

DRAFT CRIMEAN CONSTITUTION NEEDS REVISION, LAWMAKER SAYS.
Volodymyr Stretovych, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament's commission on legislative affairs, said the draft of a new Crimean Constitution, passed by the Crimean legislature on 1 November, will not be considered for approval by his body until several provisions deemed too "separatist" are removed, Ukrainian TV reported 16 January. He said the articles on property rights, citizenship, and state symbols contravene Ukrainian law and must be amended. The new Crimean constitution must be approved by the Ukrainian legislature before it can be adopted by Crimean lawmakers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUS SETS UP CURRENCY CORRIDOR.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has created a "currency corridor" limiting the Belarusian ruble's value to 11,300-13,100 to $1, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 January. This regulation is to remain in place until 1 June. The exchange rate against the Russian ruble is regulated the same way. Also on 17 January, Interfax reported that the National Bank of Belarus has limited the amount of Russian and Belarusian rubles that individuals can take out of the country to 500 times the minimum wage, which stands at 100,000 Belarusian rubles ($8.70). -- Ustina Markus

ESTONIA TO RECEIVE FOREIGN SUPPORT FOR REGISTERING NON-CITIZENS.
Estonian Interior Minister Mart Rask, Deputy Director of the Citizenship and Migration Department Ulo Laanoja, and UN representative Jan Wahlberg on 17 January signed a UN Development Program project giving Estonia 8 million kroons ($686,000) to register and issue residence permits to its 300,000 non-citizens, ETA reported. Seven million kroons are to be supplied by Nordic countries. The parliament authorized the Citizenship and Migration Department, which also receives 25 million kroons from the state budget, to complete issuing passports by 12 July. -- Saulius Girnius

FINNISH PRESIDENT IN LITHUANIA.
Martti Ahtisaari on 17 January held talks in Vilnius with his Lithuanian counterpart, Algirdas Brazauskas, on Lithuania's banking problems and integration into the EU, BNS reported. Ahtisaari said he favored abolishing visas between the two countries, and he offered Finnish assistance in improving border control. He later met with Seimas chairman Ceslovas Jursenas. The next day Ahtisaari met with the representatives of the local Finnish community before returning home. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH PRESIDENT IN BRUSSELS.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels on 17 January, said he hoped Poland will be invited to join NATO by the end of the year and that it will become a member of the alliance by 2000, Polish and international media reported. He said he did not believe that Poland's membership in NATO would represent a threat to Russia "or any other country." NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana said NATO has full confidence in Poland, and he praised the Polish contribution to the NATO-led peace operations in Bosnia. Kwasniewski on 18 January is to meet with officials from the European Commission and the Belgian government. -- Jakub Karpinski

FORMER POLISH PRESIDENT PROPOSES NEW ROUNDTABLE NEGOTIATIONS.
Lech Walesa on 17 January called for closed-door roundtable talks in an effort to resolve the crisis over spying allegations against Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy, Polish dailies reported on 18 January. Walesa said that about 20 of the country's largest political parties should be invited to the talks. He added that the talks should be initiated by Primate Jozef Glemp and should resemble the 1989 roundtable meetings at which Poland's communist authorities negotiated the transfer of power to the "constructive opposition." Government spokesperson Aleksandra Jakubowska welcomed Walesa's proposal, while opposition deputies were less enthusiastic, favoring instead that special Sejm commission investigation into the Oleksy affair be made public. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK OPPOSITION EXPRESSES CONCERN ABOUT TREATY WITH HUNGARY.
Party of the Democratic Left (SDL) deputy chairman Milan Ftacnik on 17 January said that the ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) has confirmed it is "in the tow of the nationalists." Ftacnik's statement comes in the wake of the HZDS's decision to meet the conditions set by its coalition partner, the Slovak National Party (SNS), for the ratification of the Slovak-Hungarian treaty. Ftacnik noted that those conditions could "devalue" the aim of the treaty, which was meant to calm and stabilize relations with Budapest. Hungarian Christian Democratic Movement deputy chairman Pal Csaky said the SNS's demand for a bill on the protection of the republic was a "dangerous step" that would remove Slovakia from "the family of democratic countries," Slovak Radio reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN MOST POPULAR POLITICIAN.
A FOCUS agency poll conducted in December showed that Ivan Gasparovicis is the country's most popular politician, with 24.7% support, TASR reported on 17 January. Opposition SDL deputy chairwoman Brigita Schmoegnerova received (23.3%) and President Michal Kovac (22.6%). Ethnic Hungarian Coexistence chairman Miklos Duray drew the most negative responses (64.0%), followed by Slovak Information Service director Ivan Lexa (50.2%), and Association of Workers of Slovakia chairman Jan Luptak (48.7%). -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARY TO JOIN OECD BY APRIL?
Istvan Major, head of the Hungarian team negotiating with the OECD, said Hungary may join the organization in April, Hungarian media reported on 18 January. Negotiations over the next few weeks will focus on questions of taxation, foreign exchange regulations, international tax agreements, and exchange of tax information. According to OECD officials, the issue of withholding banking information in Hungary has to be resolved. OECD countries expect banks of member countries to exchange information on clients suspected of fraud; access to such information in Hungary is prohibited. -- Zsofia Szilagyi

HUNGARIAN CABINET DISCUSSES SURPLUS PRIVATIZATION REVENUES.
Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman is urging the government to allocate some of the surplus privatization revenues to infrastructure development. The parliament in late December approved spending all surplus revenues--some 285 billion forints ($2 billion)--on repaying the foreign debt. But Hungary's coalition parties have been split over the issue since last November; Finance Minister Lajos Bokros and Alliance of Free Democrats are in favor of using the money to pay off the debt, while most socialist deputies, including Prime Minister Gyula Horn, are opposed. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



DEADLOCK ON MOSTAR, PRISONER EXCHANGES.
The EU told AFP on 17 January that plans for the reunification of Mostar have "de facto been put back." The town has been the focus of severe Croatian-Muslim tensions in recent weeks, despite efforts by the international community to ease matters in order to shore up the federation, which is an essential component of the Dayton system. Elsewhere, the U.S. State Department has urged the Bosnian government to respect the 20 January deadline for the prisoner exchange, but Sarajevo still wants the question of missing persons cleared up as part of the arrangement. Oslobodjenje on 18 January reported Foreign Minister Muhamed Sacirbey as saying the government wants the truth about the dead and demands that all prisoners be released without exception. Sacirbey noted that more than 1,000 prisoners do not appear on the lists provided by the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

SARAJEVO SERBS STRESS NEED FOR OWN ADMINISTRATION.
The Bosnian Serbs are following up on their switch in tactics to accept the transfer of their suburbs to government control under certain conditions (see OMRI Daily Digest, 17 January 1996). The BBC on 18 January said that they were now willing to back the terms of the Dayton agreement and that their representatives were meeting with the international community's Michael Steiner to discuss cooperation. Reuters reported that the Serbs want a local administration that will guarantee their rights. Steiner said that he and the Serbs agreed that the agreement would be implemented without any changes but that Serbian concerns would be taken into account. -- Patrick Moore

BOSNIAN SERB SOLDIERS DESERTING TO GOVERNMENT SIDE.
Concern about the future for themselves and their families has prompted "several dozen" Bosnian Serbs to desert their units and report to government authorities. AFP said on 18 January that the men were especially concerned that their families living in the Sarajevo suburbs not join any exodus. The government authorities jokingly greeted one man with "Welcome to the Muslim fundamentalist side." The government officials said they were obliged to make sure the deserters were not wanted for war crimes but added that "those who come over have a clear conscience." -- Patrick Moore

IFOR SEIZES SECRET GOVERNMENT AIR BASE.
French IFOR troops seized a secret Bosnian government air base on 17 January after repeatedly being denied access to it, international agencies reported. The Visoko airstrip, about 20 kilometers from Sarajevo, was reportedly used to store weapons smuggled into the country in contravention of the UN arms embargo. IFOR was asserting its right to unrestricted freedom of movement under the Dayton peace accords. -- Michael Mihalka

BILDT TALKS WITH NATO.
International community representative Carl Bildt on 17 January met with the North Atlantic Council, NATO's executive body, international agencies reported. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana expressed full support for Bildt's efforts, saying "peace is reconciliation and...the main task...is in the hands of Carl Bildt." Relations between Bildt and NATO have been strained because of continuing NATO grumbling over the slow pace of the civilian peace effort. Bildt, for his part, has complained that the U.S. has prevented him from using UN facilities and that he has received funding only from the EU. Bildt said he expected a substantial contribution from the U.S. in the near future. -- Michael Mihalka

SERBIA PROPOSES AMNESTY.
The rump Yugoslavia's Supreme Defense Council has advocated the drafting of a law granting an amnesty to 12,455 people indicted by military authorities for failing to serve in the regions' wars over the past few years, Nasa Borba, citing Tanjug, reported on 18 January. The council is the country's highest military executive authority. Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic, and federal rump Yugoslav President Zoran Lilic are among its members. -- Stan Markotich

BOSNIAN REFUGEES IN CROATIA FORCED TO MOVE AGAIN.
Oslobodjenje on 18 January reported that some 900 Bosnian refugees in Zagreb collective centers are being forcibly moved to the Gasinci refugee camp. Croatia has requested that refugees not be moved before 1 March, when the Bosnian government is expected to have completed preparations for accommodating the refugees. In another development, Bosnian refugees from Srebrenica and Zepa have begun to leave the rump Yugoslavia for third countries, Nasa Borba reported on 18 January. UNHCR officials explained that the refugees were leaving because of poor living conditions and the mistreatment of refugees, who are reluctant to return to Bosnia due to the lack of safety there. -- Daria Sito Sucic

CROATIAN, BULGARIAN PRESIDENTS SIGN AGREEMENT ON FRIENDSHIP.
Franjo Tudjman and Zhelyu Zhelev signed an agreement on friendship and cooperation in Zagreb on 17 January, Vecernji list reported. Zhelev emphasized that Bulgaria was interested in participating in the reconstruction of Croatia and was ready to support Croatia's applications for admission to the Council of Europe and Black Sea Alliance, Hina reported. Tudjman said that the agreement "will lay a foundation for overall cooperation." -- Daria Sito Sucic

INVESTIGATIONS INTO CEAUSESCU'S CHILDREN DROPPED.
Prosecutors on 17 January announced that they have dropped investigations into the three children of late Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, Reuters reported. Zoe, Valentin, and Nicu Ceausescu have been cleared of "undermining the national economy" by using their privileged position to exploit the assets of the former Communist Party. The authorities also lifted a foreign travel ban on the three. -- Dan Ionescu

ROMANIA SETS BROADCASTING RULES FOR ELECTIONS.
The National Audiovisual Council (CNA) on 16 January released broadcasting guidelines for the April local elections, Romanian and Western media reported. Free and equal time on state media will be given to all candidates, irrespective of their political affiliation. "Audio or video material that slanders opponents" is prohibited, and no opinion polls may be published in the run-up to the elections. Private radio and TV stations can charge for air time. Similar regulations are expected to apply to the general and presidential elections, due to take place by the end of the year. The opposition has often accused the state-controlled media of favoring candidates from the ruling party in election campaigns. -- Dan Ionescu

TV JOURNALIST KIDNAPPED IN MOLDOVA.
Five men in police uniforms have kidnapped the deputy head of a private television company in Moldova, BASA-press reported on 17 January. Ion Frunza was beaten up and abducted in a Chisinau street on 13 January. He works for the Catalan TV company, which began broadcasting last year. Police rejected claims that the kidnappers might be members of the police force. This is the third attack on Moldovan journalists since late December. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIAN PRESIDENT ON RELATIONS WITH NATO.
Zhelyu Zhelev warned the Socialist government of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov that reluctance to join NATO could have adverse effects on Bulgaria's economic and political relations with the West, international agencies reported on 17 January, citing an interview with the weekly Sega. Zhelev said Bulgarian reservations about full membership in NATO could lead NATO to look at Bulgaria "with suspicion." He also said Bulgaria has a "moral and political" right to take greater part in the reconstruction of the former Yugoslavia since it "incurred great losses...without being guilty." But he added that the government's foreign policy could affect Bulgaria's participation in reconstruction programs. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT REVIEWS GENOCIDE LAW.
The Albanian Constitutional Court is reviewing the Law on Genocide and Crimes against Humanity Committed in Albania During Communist Rule Out of Political, Ideological, and Religious Motives, the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle reported on 17 January. Deputies from the Socialist Party, the Social Democrats, and the Democratic Alliance
requested a ruling on the constitutionality of the law, which bans communist-era high ranking officials as well as members or collaborators of the security service from holding public office until December 2001. The opposition argues the law is designed to ban its politicians from running in the upcoming elections. -- Fabian Schmidt

GREECE, MACEDONIA OPEN LIAISON OFFICES.
Greece and Macedonia on 17 January opened liaison offices in each other's capitals, as stipulated by the interim accord signed in September 1995, Nova Makedonija reported the following day. The Greek office is headed by Alexandros Malias. Macedonia is expected to name the head of its delegation by 1 February. -- Stefan Krause

RULING GREEK PARTY SETS PROCEDURES FOR PAPANDREOU SUCCESSION.
The ruling Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) on 17 January issued the procedures for the succession of Andreas Papandreou as Greek prime minister, international media reported. The new prime minister will be elected by the 168 PASOK parliamentary deputies from among four candidates: former Industry Minister Kostas Simitis; Defense Minister Gerasimos Arsenis; Interior, Public Administration, and Decentralization Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos; and former Foreign and Defense Minister Jannis Charalambopoulos. The election is to take place on 18 January. -- Stefan Krause

[As of 1200 CET]


Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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