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Newsline - January 26, 1996


RUSSIAN TV PRODUCER MURDERED.
Oleg Slabynko, the producer of the Russian TV interview program "Moment Istiny" (Moment of Truth), was murdered on the evening of 25 January, ITAR-TASS reported the next day. Slabynko was shot in his apartment by two unknown assailants, and police investigators said the killers telephoned in advance to make sure Slabynko was at home. Last month, journalist Andrei Karaulov, who hosts "Moment Istiny," complained that Russian TV had censored the show by refusing to air an episode dealing with corruption, Ekho Moskvy reported on 15 December. -- Laura Belin

SHUMEIKO OFFERS CONDITIONAL SUPPORT FOR YELTSIN RE-ELECTION.
Former Federation Council Chairman Vladimir Shumeiko announced that his Reforms-New Course movement will support President Boris Yeltsin's re-election, provided the president meets certain conditions, Russian media reported on 25 January. Shumeiko wants the State Duma to be given the right to confirm appointments of key ministers and deputy prime ministers. He also called for changes in tax policy and privatization, including abolishing the State Property Committee. Shumeiko has long been loyal to Yeltsin as a member of the president's Security Council, but he warned that if the president does not change his policies, Reforms-New Course will be forced to support a different candidate in June. Yeltsin is unlikely to accept these terms. -- Laura Belin

PRIMORSK KRAI GOVERNOR SAYS HE SUPPORTS YELTSIN.
Primorsk Krai Governor Yevgenii Nazdratenko, who was popularly re-elected last month, said he will support President Yeltsin if he decides to run for a second term, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Nazdratenko said there is no other "consolidating figure" in Russian politics. The previous day, Nazdratenko met with Yeltsin, after which the president said he would issue a decree on government support for Primorsk Krai. -- Anna Paretskaya

KHABAROVSK WORKERS FORCED TO SUPPORT YELTSIN.
Several Khabarovsk newspapers have published letters from employees of various budget-financed organizations complaining that they were being forced to sign petitions which will go towards the 1 million signatures President Yeltsin needs to run for the June presidential elections, Segodnya reported on 25 January. The writers, who signed their letters with initials for fear of losing their jobs, said rail and army bosses have been particularly active. A high ranking official reportedly said the country's railway minister, Gennadii Fadeev, had ordered the collection and threatened to punish officials who were not vigorous enough in obtaining the signatures. -- Anna Paretskaya

REPLACEMENT FOR CHUBAIS NAMED . . .
Industrialist Vladimir Kadannikov has been appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of economic policy, Russian media reported on 25 January. Kadannikov, 54, worked his way up from the shopfloor to become director of AvtoVAZ in Togliatti, Russia's largest auto plant. Kadannikov was elected to the USSR Supreme Soviet in 1989, and headed the president's advisory council on industrial policy since 1990, but has never held a governmental office. He was a candidate to replace Yegor Gaidar as prime minister in December 1992. -- Peter Rutland

. . . GOVERNMENT MAY PURSUE A MORE INTERVENTIONIST INDUSTRIAL POLICY.
Speaking on Ekho Moskvy on 26 January, Gaidar said that Kadannikov had been a supporter of reforms in 1992, but Gaidar does not know his current views. Kadannikov joined Our Home Is Russia in May 1995. Auto producers have fared slightly better than other Russian manufacturers since 1992, in part because import tariffs have kept out foreign competitors. Kadannikov has lobbied hard for government support for the auto industry's ambitious investment program. -- Peter Rutland

SEMINAR ON MEDIA'S ROLE IN ELECTIONS.
The idea that Russian journalists should help shape reality rather than simply report information is alive and well, judging from comments made at a seminar on the role of the media in the Duma elections and the upcoming presidential elections hosted by the Central Electoral Commission (TsIK) and the Union of Journalists. TsIK Chairman Nikolai Ryabov said the media's primary task during campaigns should be "to help the public make the correct choice," ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Anatolii Vengerov, chairman of the President's Judicial Chamber on Information Disputes, also called for "strengthening the influence of the press on public opinion." Other topics discussed at the seminar included the poor quality of political advertising and the fact that so far neither federal nor regional budgets have reimbursed newspapers or radio and television stations that provided free space and air time to politicians. -- Laura Belin

MAKASHOV WINS LAWSUIT.
Duma Deputy Col. Gen. (ret.) Albert Makashov, a hard-line opponent of reforms, won his lawsuit against Samara Oblast's presidential representative, Yurii Borodulin, Russian TV reported on 25 January. Makashov sued Borodulin after the latter publicly called him the "fascist-like general." According to the court's sentence, Borodulin must apologize publicly and 10 million rubles (about $2,100) in damages, which Makashov said he would pass on to a kindergarten. -- Anna Paretskaya

COUNCIL OF EUROPE APPROVES RUSSIAN MEMBERSHIP.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved Russia's membership application 164-35, with 15 abstentions on 25 January, Russian and Western agencies reported. After formal endorsement by the council's Committee of Ministers, Russia will become the council's 39th member at a February ceremony. Recent events in Chechnya had clouded Russia's prospects of gaining admission. As a condition of membership, Russia must ratify the European Human Rights Convention and adhere to council agreements on minority rights. Before the vote, Vladimir Zhirinovsky contended that Russian membership would reinvigorate the council, which he described as "a slime pond for defunct politicians entitled to free meals." Russian human rights activist Sergei Kovalev expressed ambivalence about the decision, saying "I fear the council does not realize the responsibility it carries." -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN REACTION TO OLEKSY RESIGNATION.
Vladimir Karpov, a spokesman for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), described the accusations of spying against former Polish Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy as "an outright political provocation," Russian agencies reported on 25 January. Karpov again denied that Oleksy had ever been a Soviet or Russian agent and reiterated that Oleksy and former KGB Colonel Vladimir Alganov, who is alleged to have recruited him, had only a "personal" relationship. Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin responded calmly to Oleksy's resignation, calling it an "internal matter" and adding that Russia would continue to pursue the development of solid Russo-Polish relations. However, NTV reported speculation that Oleksy may actually have been a Russian agent whom the SVR deliberately "betrayed" in order to discredit Poland in the eyes of NATO. -- Scott Parrish

RUSSIAN ARMS EXPORTS UP IN 1995.
A spokesman for the state-run arms export company Rosvooruzhenie said that Russian arms sales in 1995 grew by 60% over the previous year. The Voice of Russia on 25 January quoted him as saying that Russian companies earned $2.7 billion from arms exports last year and secured 13.6% of the world's arms market. The industry now has contracts worth $6.5 billion. Negotiations are underway with the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and a number of Latin American countries, according to the report. -- Doug Clarke

NEW RUSSIAN PRESENCE IN AFGHANISTAN.
Russian military technicians have returned to Afghanistan six years after the Soviet army withdrew from that country, The Daily Telegraph reported on 25 January. Quoting diplomatic and intelligence officials, paper reported that Russian and Indian technicians are working to update Bagram airport. U.S. satellite pictures show that the Russians are building another airport, at Taloqan, to be used as a strategic base for military leader Ahmed Shah Masood should he be forced out of Kabul. The paper said that four Il-76 transports have been delivering arms, ammunition, and fuel from Tajikistan, Russia, and Ukraine to the Kabul government every day. -- Doug Clarke

YELTSIN INCREASES PENSIONERS' COMPENSATION PAYMENTS . . .
President Yeltsin issued a decree on 25 January raising compensation payments for recipients of old-age, survivor, invalid, and social pensions from 50,000 rubles to 75,000 rubles a month as of 1 February, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. The compensation payment is paid on top of the minimum pension, which currently stands at 63,250 rubles a month. The change means that there will be a slight reduction in the difference between the minimum and maximum pensions. The president's press service said the decision to raise the payment had been made a long time ago. -- Penny Morvant

. . . AND
STUDENT GRANTS.
Yeltsin issued another decree on 25 January raising grants for students at higher and vocational educational establishments by 20%, ITAR-TASS reported.
The raise will be implemented in April and remain in effect until a new law on the minimum wage is adopted. In a speech to students at the Bauman Moscow State Technical University the same day, Yeltsin said the average current student grant is 85,000 rubles a month, ORT reported. During his address, Yeltsin vehemently rejected reports that the recent personnel changes in the government signified a retreat from political and economic reform. -- Penny Morvant

1995 UNEMPLOYMENT FIGURES.
On 1 January 1996, 2.3 million people, or 3.1% of the working population, were registered as unemployed with the Federal Employment Service, an increase of 690,000 in comparison with the previous year, Finansovye izvestiya reported on 26 January. The highest unemployment rate was registered in Ingushetiya (23%), followed by Ivanovo Oblast (more than 11%). The lowest unemployment rates are in Moscow, Smolensk Oblast, and Yakutiya (Sakha). -- Penny Morvant

FOOD IMPORTS SOAR IN 1995.
In 1995, Russian imports increased by 15%, while the proportion of food imports rose to 30% of the total (up from 22% in 1993), ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January, citing the Foreign Trade Ministry. Meat and poultry imports rose 63%, for example. The rise in food imports has been attributed to declining domestic production and to the introduction of the ruble corridor in July 1995. At the same time, there was a 25% drop in grain imports by the state. Grain purchases in countries outside the former Soviet Union plunged by 52% to 1.01 million tons. -- Natalia Gurushina



POLICE DISPERSE BAKU DEMONSTRATORS.
Several people were injured when police used force to disperse an unsanctioned demonstration in Baku on 26 January, ITAR-TASS reported. Several hundred demonstrators from several political parties had gathered to protest the detention of former Foreign Minister Tofik Gasymov and former military commander Arif Pashaev. -- Liz Fuller

UZBEKISTAN CUTS OFF GAS SUPPLIES TO KYRGYZSTAN.
Uzbekistan has stopped delivering natural gas to Kyrgyzstan because of unpaid debts equaling about $11 million, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported on 25 January. Supplies of gas to the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, are already limited to enterprises, power stations, and boiler houses. The Kyrgyz government recently decided to compensate Russia for the debts it owes that country by handing over the rights to state enterprises, Vecherny Bishkek reported on 19 January. The Russian government has the right to select the plants it is interested in and then sell their shares to Russian buyers. The new ownership will then be registered as a joint venture. -- Bruce Pannier

KYRGYZSTAN'S 1995 INFLATION RATE LOWEST IN CENTRAL ASIA.
Kyrgyzstan's annual inflation rate of 31.9% for 1995 was the lowest in Central Asia, Russian media reported. According to the Kyrgyz National Committee for Statistics, food prices rose by 43.7%, consumer goods by 7.2%, and service rates by 28%. The figures for Kazakhstan are an inflation rate of 60.3%, with a 58.7% rise in food prices, 33.5% in consumer goods, and 158% in services. Uzbekistan had a 76.8% inflation rate in 1995, but no other details were given. Tajikistan and Turkmenistan have not released their figures yet. Government experts attribute Kyrgyzstan's lower rates to the stabilization of the national currency, the som, which is backed by a $74 million IMF loan. -- Bruce Pannier

UZBEKISTAN'S COTTON AND GRAIN HARVEST RESULTS.
The Uzbek cabinet announced on 23 January that the grain harvest fell about 600,000 metric tons short of the government's target of 3.3 million tons, Russian media reported. The cotton harvest was on target, at 4 million tons. -- Bruce Pannier



UKRAINIAN EX-PARTY CHIEF DIES IN MOSCOW.
The Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow told Reuters on 25 January that former Ukrainian Communist Party chief Petro Shelest died in the Russian capital this week at the age of 87. Shelest headed the Communist Party of Ukraine from 1963 to 1972 and largely supported its hardline anti-Western stance. But his policies promoting the use of the Ukrainian language over Russian and defending Ukrainian culture allowed him to preside over a brief cultural renaissance. In 1972, the Soviet leadership ousted Shelest for encouraging Ukrainian nationalism and ordered a crackdown on Ukrainian intellectuals. After his removal, Shelest served as deputy Soviet prime minister for one year, but owing to poor relations with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, he was dismissed and appointed director of a military enterprise outside Moscow, where he remained until his retirement. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

OSCE OFFICIAL ON CRIMEA.
OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Max van der Stoel has said Ukraine is unable to solve the problem of resettling Crimea's Tatars without financial support from abroad, ITAR-TASS reported on 25 January. Van der Stoel said he will ask OSCE countries to extend aid to Ukraine for the resettlement of the Tatars at an upcoming UN meeting in Switzerland. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Ivan Kuras said some 250,000 Tatars have returned to Crimea. Around 300 trillion karbovantsy (over $1.5 billion) are needed to resettle them, but Ukraine can afford to allocate only 4.5 trillion karbovantsy ($25 million) for the effort this year. Kuras also said Turkey has offered to construct 100,000 apartments for Tatars in Crimea. -- Ustina Markus

BELARUSIAN ECONOMIC WOES.
Prime Minister Mikhail Chyhir, in an interview with Belarusian TV on 25 January, said enterprises owe workers over 320 billion Belarusian rubles ($27.8 million) in back wages. Despite a December 1995 presidential decree on the regular payment of wages, the problem is likely to persist. Chyhir added that the Belarusian gas concern Beltranshaz owes its Russian supplier, Rosgazprom, $300 million. In other news, the Belarusian Popular Front is protesting the agreement between the government and the Russian-Belarusian joint-stock company Slavutych whereby 51% of the Mazyr oil refinery and 74% of the Novopolotsk refinery will be sold to the Russian companies Lukoil and Yukos. The BPF fears the sale of such strategic assets will undermine the country's sovereignty and harm the national economy. -- Ustina Markus

LITHUANIAN PREMIER'S FUTURE UNCLEAR.
Adolfas Slezevicius on 25 January said he has not yet decided whether to resign voluntarily or wait for the president to submit the recommendation to the parliament, Radio Lithuania reported. A meeting of the Council of the Democratic Labor Party on 27 January is likely to influence his decision. He said he would not act on the resignation letter of Interior Minister Romasis Vaitekunas until his own fate is settled. An agreement with the IMF on the restructuring of four problem banks was signed that day. They will be nationalized and a plan for compensating their depositors is to be drawn up by 15 February. -- Saulius Girnius

UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENTARY CHAIRMAN IN LITHUANIA.
Oleksandr Moroz, meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, Ceslovas Jursenas, in Vilnius on 24 January, signed a memorandum of cooperation between the two countries' parliaments, BNS reported. Moroz expressed satisfaction with the development of economic relations with Lithuania, stressing that Ukraine is involved only in the economic and not the military structures of the CIS. He also met with Seimas deputies from various caucuses and with Mayor of Vilnius Alis Vidunas. The next day, Moroz held talks with President Algirdas Brazauskas and addressed the Seimas. -- Saulius Girnius

POLAND LOOKS FOR NEW PRIME MINISTER.
President Aleksander Kwasniewski on 25 January met with outgoing Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy and leaders of the two coalition parties--the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD) and the Polish Peasant Party (PSL). Polish dailies on 26 January reveal that the SLD supports replacing Oleksy, who announced his resignation two days ago amid espionage charges, with either chief of the Government Office Marek Borowski or Deputy Sejm Speaker Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz (both SLD members). The SLD would also agree to Sejm Speaker Jozef Zych's (PSL) candidacy, while the PSL supports Miroslaw Pietrewicz (PSL), the head of the Central Planning Office. Meanwhile, members of the extraordinary Sejm commission investigating the spy allegations against Oleksy said on 25 January that contrary to a claim by Oleksy in his resignation speech, the secret service had not broken the law. -- Jakub Karpinski

SLOVAK PRESIDENT'S SON APPEALS TO CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
Jan Havlat, the attorney representing Michal Kovac Jr., has appealed to the Constitutional Court, Sme and Narodna obroda reported on 26 January. Havlat says the appeal points out that a citizen who is forcibly taken abroad can expect that Slovak authorities will ask the country of his whereabouts to provide for his return. Havlat hopes that Slovak authorities will be forced to apply to Austria for his client's extradition; the Slovak government has so far refused to do so. In other news, opposition Christian Democratic Movement chairman Jan Carnogursky on 25 January filed charges against Miroslav Miklas, who heads the district office in Prievidza, in central Slovakia. According to Carnogursky, Miklas in December abused his public office by calling on other state officials to demand resignation of President Michal Kovac. -- Sharon Fisher

PRIVATIZATION OF SLOVAK BANKS TO BE COMPLETED BY MID-FEBRUARY?
Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar on 25 January announced that the entire Slovak banking sector, with the exception of the National Bank of Slovakia, will be privatized by mid-February at the latest. Meanwhile, NBS governor Vladimir Masar noted that the central bank has not yet "received [the text of] a single project connected with the privatization of the banking structures." Meciar also said that Slovakia's 10% import surcharge, which has been in place since March 1994, will be abolished this year, Praca reported. -- Sharon Fisher

SECOND IFOR BASE TO BE ESTABLISHED IN HUNGARY.
A second rear base for IFOR troops in Bosnia is to be set up in Hungary, MTI news agency reported on 25 January. The base in Pecs will accommodate Danish, Norwegian, Polish, and Swedish troops attached to NATO's Northern Brigade. Their task will be to supply the rest of the brigade, which is to take part in building military infrastructure in northern Bosnia. U.S. logistics bases were set up last December in the southern town of Kaposvar and at the nearby Taszar air base to facilitate the deployment of U.S. troops to Bosnia. An agreement between NATO and the Hungarians has yet to be concluded. In another development, a U.S. army spokesman told Hungarian TV the same day that supplies from Hungary to U.S. NATO troops in Bosnia have been temporarily suspended due to heavy snow and bad road conditions throughout Hungary. -- Zsofia Szilagyi



KARADZIC SAYS HE'LL TRY HIS OWN BOSNIAN SERB WAR CRIMINALS.
Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic told TV Pale on 24 January that he does not dispute that there are war criminals among the Bosnian Serbs but that he insists his Republika Srpska will try them itself. Nasa Borba and the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes on 26 January added that Karadzic said his government is also preparing a case against Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic for war crimes. Karadzic apparently did not comment on the Hague-based international tribunal's indictment of him and top Bosnian Serb military commander, General Ratko Mladic. One of the international community's top representatives in Sarajevo, Michael Steiner, told German TV that he is convinced that Karadzic and the others will eventually be caught and brought to justice. -- Patrick Moore

GOLDSTONE PLEDGES NEW INDICTMENTS.
The Hague tribunal's chief, Judge Richard Goldstone, told U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher on 25 January that he is now "completely satisfied" with Washington's cooperation with his agency. He added, however, that the court is swamped with information but still plans to issue new indictments soon, German media reported. In Bosnia, a British journalist told the BBC about a trip to the Srebrenica area, where there is much evidence of mass graves. IFOR commander Admiral Leighton Smith said that there are between 200 and 300 mass graves in the entire republic and that his forces will secure them when they are under international investigation. He stressed, however, that a larger police forces is needed to deal with common crime, a problem that is expected to grow as refugees return to their looted or destroyed properties. -- Patrick Moore

LIFTING OF SANCTIONS CONDITIONAL ON BOSNIAN SERBS' WITHDRAWAL.
The UN Security Council on 25 January said the lifting of sanctions against the Bosnian Serbs can be expected after 3 February and is conditional on the Serbs' withdrawal to the borders of the Republika Srpska, Nasa Borba reported on 26 January. The council will rely on NATO to determine whether the Bosnian Serbs have fulfilled this condition by the deadline agreed in the Dayton accord. Meanwhile, Bosnian Serb leaders arrived in Belgrade on 25 January to ask Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to lift the blockade of the Serbian-Bosnian border, Reuters reported. Beta quoted Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic as saying that all disputes within the Bosnian Serb leadership are a result of the "pointless sanctions on the Drina River." -- Daria Sito Sucic

EU, MUSLIMS, CROATS TO FORM POLICE FORCE IN MOSTAR.
EU administrator for Mostar Hans Koschnick has announced that an EU-Muslim-Croatian police force will be formed in that city, international and local media reported on 25 January. Koschnick has said he will accept Croatia's offer to provide some 100 police officers, noting that continuing tensions in Mostar would threaten the Dayton peace accords. Ejup Ganic, vice president of the Muslim-Croatian federation, said in a letter to Koschnick that "the activities of criminal elements in west Mostar (the Croatian sector) have not been stopped, despite the presence of European police and administration." -- Michael Mihalka

ICRC APPEALS FOR PRISONER RELEASE.
The International Committee of the Red Cross on 25 January appealed for the three Bosnian factions to release the 645 prisoners remaining in their custody, international and local media reported. The ICRC also said "several dozen" unregistered Serbian prisoners were being held in the central prison in Tuzla. Amor Masovic, head of the Bosnian government commission for the exchange of POWs, told Sarajevo TV the same day that the ICRC statement was "misinformation" and that it was simply "not true" that the ICRC plan for prisoner release was in accord with the Dayton peace accords. Masovic stressed that the accords called for all prisoners to be released, alluding to the several thousand prisoners whom the Bosnian government claims the Bosnian Serbs are holding in the Potocari camp. -- Michael Mihalka

AGREEMENT ON MEDIA ACCESS IN BOSNIA.
The Dayton accords specify that there is to be freedom of movement and freedom of the press in the war-ravaged republic, but this has not always been the case in practice. In particular, journalists from each of the three sides have often had difficulty gaining access to the other two. Reuters reported on 25 January, however, that the Muslims, Croats, and Serbs agreed in Sarajevo to guarantee freedom of movement and access, including the right of journalists to interview the other sides' officials. A working group led by a Czech journalist will be set up to deal with any problems. Steiner called the talks "very encouraging." -- Patrick Moore

FORMER SERBIAN PREMIER AIMS TO HELP REBUILD RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
Beta on 25 January reports that Milan Panic, the former federal rump Yugoslav premier and the head of the California-based multinational ICN Pharmaceuticals, recently traveled to the rump Yugoslavia where he expressed a strong interest in assisting the country's economic development. "If we [help] make better economic conditions here, the political questions will be resolved relatively easily," he said. Panic, who held office in the last half of 1992, welcomed Belgrade's decision to back the Dayton peace agreement. Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 26 January reported that Panic has met in Belgrade with high-profile opposition party leaders such as Vuk Draskovic of the Serbian Renewal Movement and Dusan Mihajlovic of New Democracy. -- Stan Markotich

KOSOVO GOVERNOR SAYS ALBANIANS CAN FORGET INDEPENDENCE.
Serbian-appointed Kosovo governor Aleksa Jokic has told a U.S. State Department delegation that Kosovar Albanians will not be granted independence, Nasa Borba reported on 26 January. At a press conference, he said he was not informed that the U.S. is going to open a USIA office in Pristina. Christopher Hill, head of the U.S. delegation and an aide to Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, also met with Kosovar shadow-state President Ibrahim Rugova, but it is not known if any concrete proposals were made for a dialog between the Kosovar Albanians and Belgrade. -- Fabian Schmidt

ZAGREB MAYOR ELECTED.
Jozo Rados, a member of the Croatian Social-Liberal Party and the candidate of the seven opposition parties, was elected mayor of Zagreb on 24 January by a vote of 33 to 15 with two abstentions, Hina reported the same day. He was the second opposition candidate for the Croatian President Franjo Tudjman refused to confirm the election of the first one. Two opposition members voted against Rados, while some ruling party (HDZ) members voted for him. Zagreb City Assembly President Zdravko Tomac, member of the Social Democratic Party, responded to accusations that his party had reached a compromise solution with the HDZ, by saying that the Social Democrats are not in favor of radical moves. He added that Rados's election was a way to settle Zagreb's political crisis, Novi list reported on 26 January. -- Daria Sito Sucic

MACEDONIA, RUMP YUGOSLAVIA CLOSE TO RECOGNITION?
Rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic, speaking to his Italian counterpart, Susanna Agnelli, on the telephone, announced his country will recognize Macedonia "as soon as some simply technical questions are resolved," Nasa Borba reported on 26 /January. Milutinovic did not elaborate on the nature of those questions. Nova Makedonija the previous day reported that rump Yugoslav-Macedonian talks were held in Belgrade "in a constructive atmosphere" and may lead to mutual recognition by early February. The daily said the main problem is the question of continuity of the former Yugoslavia, but both sides are seeking "a mutually acceptable solution." Meanwhile, Macedonian media speculate that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic will visit Skopje soon. -- Stefan Krause

OSCE CHAIRMAN IN ROMANIA.
Flavio Cotti, chairman in office of the OSCE, arrived in Romania on 25 January, Radio Bucharest reported. Cotti met with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu to discuss, among other things, the situation in Bosnia, the Republic of Moldova, and Chechnya. The Romanian side asked the OSCE to step up its involvement in the Moldovan-Dniester conflict and to intercede in favor of the release of Ilie Ilascu and his colleagues from a Tiraspol jail. The so-called "Ilascu group" is being detained by Dniester authorities for alleged terrorist acts. Cotti, who is also foreign minister of Switzerland, praised diplomatic contacts between the two countries and noted that bilateral economic relations were expanding. Cotti the same day also met with President Ion Iliescu. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVA TO TAKE ACTIVE PART IN NATO'S PFP PROGRAM.
Moldova will participate in 85-90% of projects within the Partnership for Peace program in 1996, a spokesman for the Moldovan armed forces told journalists in Brussels on 25 January . Infotag quoted him as saying that Moldova's participation in the program is limited by financial possibilities and will be restricted to sending groups of observers. He noted that NATO "understands and respects the neutrality of Moldova, which, according to its constitution, cannot join any military-political blocs." But he did not exclude future Moldovan participation in NATO military exercises. Moldova plans to host this year a PfP international seminar on military medicine. -- Matyas Szabo

NEW GOVERNOR OF BULGARIAN NATIONAL BANK.
Lyubomir Filipov's appointment as governor of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) has prompted personnel changes in a number of parliamentary committees, Bulgarian media reported. The parliamentary Socialist majority on 24 January confirmed Filipov in that post as the successor of Todor Valchev, whose five-year term had expired. Nikolay Koychev has replaced Filipov as head of the parliamentary Economic Committee, while Yordan Shkolagerski replaces Koychev as chairman of the Committee on Labor, Social, and Demographic Problems. Both Koychev and Shkolagerski are members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party. -- Stefan Krause

UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN PRESIDENT GONCZ'S VISIT TO ALBANIA.
Arpad Goncz, addressing the Albanian parliament, called for Albania's full membership in the Central European Initiative, Magyar Hirlap reported on 26 January. Goncz also urged expanded political and economic ties as well as deeper cultural and scientific cooperation. Later he met with Prime Minister Alexander Meksi to discuss gradually lifting visas requirements after concluding an agreement on extradition. Meksi offered to ease restrictions on Hungarian business activities in Albania. -- Fabian Schmidt and Zsofia Szilagyi

[As of 1200 CET]

Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave




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