YELTSIN CALLS FOR UNION WITH BELARUS.
After a 28 February Kremlin
meeting with his Belarusian counterpart, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, President
Yeltsin said that deeper Russo-Belarusian integration is aimed at eventually
reach the "goal" of "unity" between the two states, Russian and Western
agencies reported. Without defining unity, Yeltsin described this goal as
"achievable" during his presidency. Lukashenka agreed, and subsequently told
journalists that in March a major agreement would be signed accelerating the
integration of the two states and creating a supra-national organization with a
jointly funded budget to oversee military cooperation and work on overcoming
the consequences of the Chornobyl disaster. Later on 28 February, Lukashenka
departed for a two-day tour of oil and gas producing enterprises in Tyumen
Oblast. -- Scott Parrish
REACTION TO LUKASHENKA VISIT.
Under the deal signed on 28 February,
Russia will cancel $470 million in outstanding state credits and in return
Belarus will waive their $300 million claim on Russia. Russian commentators
observed that Yeltsin used Lukashenka's visit to bolster his re-election
campaign, casting himself as the champion of reintegration among the former
Soviet republics. Russian TV reported that Yeltsin and Luka-shenka's agreement
on the goal of "unity" would deprive the Russian president's communist and
nationalist opponents of "one of their main trump cards...the promise to
restore the USSR." Izvestiya warned on 28 February that "only the blind"
could fail to see that the "cause of integration" is being used as "a
bargaining chip in the presidential campaign," a charge Segodnya
bolstered by questioning the economic wisdom of integration with Belarus. --
LEFT-CENTER POLITICIANS CREATE "THIRD FORCE."
A group of Duma members
including Aleksandr Lebed, Svyatoslav Fedorov, Stanislav Govorukhin, and other
politicians, including Sergei Glazev, Konstantin Zatulin, and Oleg Rumyantsev,
have agreed to create a coalition called "Third Force" that will support
neither Yeltsin nor Zyuganov in the presidential campaign, Segodnya
reported on 28 February. The new group is expected to back Lebed or Fedorov as
its candidate. The absence of the Congress of Russian Communities' Yurii Skokov
suggests that the fissures in that party are growing more serious. -- Robert
YELTSIN TELLS DEMOCRATS THAT HE IS THEIR ONLY CHOICE.
Yeltsin said on 28 February that pro-reform activists and voters "have no other
choice but to support me" since "there is nobody else," Russian and Western
agencies reported. He said that his support will grow as the elections
approach, an assertion borne out by the latest VCIOM polls which show him
closing in on Communist leader Gennadii Zyuganov, with 27% to Zyuganov's 39% in
a one-on-one race. However, Konstantin Borovoi's Party of Economic Freedom
announced that it would support Yabloko's Grigorii Yavlinskii in the
presidential campaign, ITAR-TASS reported. -- Robert Orttung
MUSCOVITES BACK LUZHKOV.
One hundred well-known Muscovites have signed a
letter published in Obshchaya gazeta on 29 February endorsing the
re-election of Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov. Among the signatories were Duma
deputies Irina Khakamada and Svyatoslav Fedorov, former Russian TV head Oleg
Poptsov, and actors Aleksei Batalov and Oleg Yefremov. According to the latest
opinion polls, an overwhelming majority of Muscovites want Luzhkov to run for
re-election and 70% of respondents said they would not want Luzhkov to leave
his post, even to run for the presidency. Moscow's mayoral elections will take
place on 16 June along with the presidential poll. -- Anna Paretskaya
ST. PETERSBURG LEGISLATURE EXPANDS ITS POWERS.
The St. Petersburg
Legislative Assembly passed a bill on 28 February that considerably extends the
powers of the city's legislative institutions, ITAR-TASS reported. According to
the bill, two-thirds of the legislature's deputies can pass a vote of no
confidence in any executive official of the city, including head of local
administration and the Constitutional Court will have the power to resolve any
conflicts between the city's executive and legislative bodies. The law also
introduces the post of a city governor to replace that of mayor and sets
gubernatorial elections for 16 June. The new law must now be approved by the
current Mayor Anatolii Sobchak. -- Anna Paretskaya
RUSSIA JOINS COUNCIL OF EUROPE.
At a Strasbourg ceremony on 28 February,
Russia officially became the 39th member of the Council of Europe, Russian and
Western agencies reported. Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov handed
council Secretary-General Daniel Tarschys documents affirming Russian adherence
to the council charter. Primakov then signed the European Human Rights
Convention, a convention outlawing torture, a charter on local self-government,
and a convention to protect minorities. Primakov said Russia's acceptance into
the council showed that Europe believes it will continue with democratic
reform. Russian human rights advocate Sergei Kovalev urged the council to
carefully monitor Russian compliance with the obligations of council
membership, especially in Chechnya. Otherwise, he said, "nothing good will
come" of Russian membership. -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN CHIDES U.S. OVER CUBAN PLANE INCIDENT.
President Yeltsin told
journalists on 28 February that he was "concerned" by the recent incident in
which a Cuban fighter shot down two U.S. civilian aircraft, Russian agencies
reported. Yeltsin praised the UN Security Council--which adopted a resolution
with softer wording than that requested by the U.S.--for "diplomatically
telling the U.S. that it cannot declare war over every such incident." The
council's resolution "deplored" the incident, and called for an investigation
by the International Civil Aviation Organization but did not impose any
sanctions against Cuba. Yeltsin added that Russia is "re-establishing" its ties
with Cuba, which broke down after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Last week,
Russian Nuclear Power Minister Viktor Mikhailov visited Cuba to discuss the
possible completion of the unfinished Juragua nuclear plant, which the U.S.
opposes, citing safety concerns. -- Scott Parrish
RUSSIAN ARMS COMPANIES GET GREEN LIGHT.
Five major Russian military
companies have been granted the right to sign export deals independently, AFP
reported on 28 February. According to a spokesman for the state-owned export
firm Ros-vooruzhenie, the firms Rosvertol (helicopters), Antei (anti-aircraft
systems), Gipromash (hydraulic systems), Ufim plant (jet engines), and the Tula
instrument design bureau (anti-tank weapons) can now sign deals without
intermediation by Rosvooruz-henie. Since 1994, only Rosvooruzhenie and MIG-MAPO
aircraft company have been allowed to sign independent deals with foreign
clients. Podgrebenkov said Ros-vooruzhenie regards these companies "as
colleagues, not competitors." He added that other Russian companies may soon be
granted similar privileges. -- Constantine Dmitriev
WAGE DEBT CONTINUES TO GROW.
By 20 February, the total Russian wage debt
had grown to 23.7 trillion rubles ($4.9 billion) from 20.4 trillion a month
earlier, Trud reported on 28 February. The largest debt is in the
engineering sector (3.75 trillion rubles), followed by education (1.87
trillion), the coal industry (1.28 trillion), and health (1.22 trillion).
President Yeltsin has repeatedly promised to resolve the wage arrears crisis,
but presidential economics adviser Aleksandr Livshits was forced to acknowledge
on 28 February that the situation remains difficult, Ekho Moskvy reported.
Officials in public and private firms who delay wage payments are being
threatened with criminal prosecution. -- Penny Morvant
ANTI-CORRUPTION CAMPAIGN CONTINUES.
Citing a source in the Presidential
Security Service, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 February that $3 million worth of
jewels bought with embezzled funds had been confiscated at Sheremetevo Airport
in Moscow in a case of high-level corruption. The report did not name the
accused but said that the investigation, which began a year ago, is under the
jurisdiction of the Presidential Security Service and the main military
procurator, suggesting that the suspects are from the military or the KGB.
Meanwhile, Deputy Finance Minister Anatolii Golovaty, who was responsible for
overseeing Ros-komdragmet, has tendered his resignation over charges that
senior committee officials robbed the state of more than $170 million. -- Penny
Strikes occurred at 2,108 enterprises and
organizations in Russia in January, the BBC reported, citing Interfax. Labor
Ministry official Valentin Tinyakov said all but 31 of the strikes were in the
education sector. In 1995, a total of 8,856 strikes were recorded, up from 514
in 1994, according to Goskomstat. Unpaid wages were the main grievance. The
number of hunger strikes has also increased dramatically in recent months,
indicating the degree of despair felt by employees in a number of sectors,
including education, health, mining, and law enforcement. At present, guards
are on hunger strike at a penal colony in Kareliya, the second such protest by
Interior Ministry officials in the republic this year. -- Penny Morvant
BUDGET DEFICIT WIDENS.
In a 29 February speech to the government on
economic policy, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin reaffirmed his commitment
"to use basic market instruments for managing the economy," even while trying
to reduce the social costs of reform, ITAR-TASS reported. However, he
identified low tax revenues as a major problem. Budget income in the first two
months was 15 trillion rubles ($3.1 billion), only 33% of the planned level,
while spending was 33 trillion rubles, 70% of the planned level, according to
Segodnya of 28 February. The gap was plugged in part by the sale of 7.5
trillion rubles worth of treasury bonds. First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir
Kadannikov presented a similar gloomy prognosis in an interview with ITAR-TASS
on 28 February, in which he said they expect tax receipts of 22 trillion rubles
in March but plan to spend 32 trillion rubles. -- Peter Rutland
COAL INDUSTRY SUBSIDIES.
The Russian coal industry should receive 10.4
trillion rubles ($2.2 billion) in subsidies this year, about 1% of GDP. This
includes 7.4 trillion rubles from the budget, a $500 million loan from the
World Bank, and $100 million credit from British and German equipment
suppliers, Russian TV reported on 27 February. It is expected that pit closures
will mean the firing of 100,000 of Russia's 800,000 miners this year. Yurii
Malyshev, the head of the monopoly state company Rosugol, complained that the
World Bank loan is aimed at closing pits rather than investing in new capacity,
in an interview with the New York Times of 29 February. -- Peter
RUSSIA RUNS TRADE SURPLUS WITH U.S.
In 1995, Russia ran a $1,209 million
trade surplus with the U.S., exporting $4,035 million and importing $2,826
million, ITAR-TASS reported on 28 February. This was up from a surplus of $667
million in 1994. The U.S. ran a surplus of $109 million with the remaining CIS
countries in 1995 (down from $381 million in 1994), with imports of $875
million and exports of $984 million. -- Peter Rutland
GEORGIAN PARLIAMENTARY OPPOSITION CRITICIZES LATEST BILLS.
parliamentary faction of the opposition Georgian National Democratic Party
lambasted the hasty passage of new bills on land privatization, the budget, and
commercial banks, Russian media reported on 27 February. According to the
party's political secretary, Mamuka Giorgadze, the bills were not properly
prepared. Parliament rejected a proposal by the National Democrats that the
bills be re-drafted. The IMF had set the passage of these bills as a condition
for the release of its $240 million Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility
(ESAF) loan to Georgia. -- Irakli Tsereteli
OPPOSITION TURNS DOWN TAJIK GOVERNMENT INVITATION.
A spokesman for the
United Tajik Opposition (UTO), Ali Akbar Tura-jonzoda, said the UTO will not
send any representatives to an 11 March session of the Tajik parliament,
according to a Radio Voice of Free Tajikistan broadcast monitored by the BBC.
The parliament had offered the opposition an opportunity to address the
session, which would also have been attended by Ramiro Piriz Ballon, the UN
special envoy to Tajikistan, and representatives of observer states to the
Tajik peace talks. Turajonzoda claimed that "the Dushanbe regime will not be
able to ensure either their own security or that of the guests that parliament
has invited to take part in the session." -- Bruce Pannier
WOLVES THREATEN HUMANS IN NORTHWESTERN KAZAKHSTAN.
government has set aside 3 million tenge ($46,000) to organize special brigades
of hunters and offer bounties to deal with an increasing number of attacks on
humans by a growing wolf population, Kaztag reported on 28 February. An Almaty
zoologist reported that the number of wolves in the country has grown to 60,000
since the government stopped paying bounties a few years ago. A region in
Eastern Kazakhstan pays a bounty of about $74 per wolf. -- Bhavna Dave
CRIMEAN LAWMAKERS ELECT PRIME MINISTER.
Crimean deputies have elected
Arkadii Demydenko as the region's prime minister, interna-tional and Ukrainian
agencies reported on 28 February. The 46-year-old engineer is considered a
moderate and served as deputy prime minister in the government of Anatolii
Franchuk, who was dismissed in December for his alleged pro-Kiev sympathies.
Demydenko promised to pursue greater economic independence for the peninsula,
particularly through developing offshore oil and gas deposits and alternative
energy sources. UNIAN on 26 February reported that Ukrainian President Leonid
Kuchma expressed satisfaction with Demy-denko's nomination for the post. --
EUROPEAN COMMISSION URGES TRADE ACCORD WITH BELARUS.
Commission has proposed that EU countries sign a temporary trade agreement with
Belarus, Reuters reported on 28 February. The accord will apply until a
comprehensive agreement on partnership and cooperation comes into force. The
comprehensive accord was signed last March but has not been ratified because
the EU has been waiting for confirmation that Belarus is sincere in its
commitment to economic and political reform. -- Ustina Markus
DENMARK TO HELP ESTONIA PREPARE FOR EU MEMBERSHIP.
Minister Siim Kallas and Danish Ambassador to Estonia Sven Roed Nielsen on 28
February signed an agreement on Danish technical and expert assistance to help
Estonia join the EU, BNS reported. The accord allows Estonian ministries and
other institutions to receive advice on how to amend legislation to bring it
into line with EU requirements. The implementation of the agreement will be
controlled by a committee of Estonian senior officials set up to coordinate
EU-related questions. -- Saulius Girnius
ENERGY PRICES IN LITHUANIA MAY INCREASE.
Prime Minister Mindaugas
Stankevicius, speaking on Radio Lithuania on 28 February, said the government
will probably have to raise energy costs for consumers since the budget deficit
is growing. He noted that while Lietuvos Dujos owed $36 million to Russian
natural gas suppliers, Lithuania's consumers owed the energy system more than
$75 million. He regretted that the government used a large part of foreign
loans to pay energy debts rather than for investments to increase production.
He also said he expected to announce the appointment of a new energy minister
by the end of the week. -- Saulius Girnius
NEW CHIEF OF POLISH STATE SECURITY OFFICE.
Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz on 28 February accepted the resignation of Gromoslaw Czempinski,
head of the Polish State Security Office (UOP). Czempinski stepped down in
connection with the leaks to the press about spy allegations against former
Prime Minister Jozef Oleksy. Cimo-szewicz the same day named Andrzej Kapkowski
as the new UOP chief. Kapkowski has worked in counter-intelligence since 1968,
Polish dailies reported on 29 February. -- Jakub Karpinski
POLISH TELEVISION PRESIDENT TENDERS RESIGNATION.
Wieslaw Walendziak has
tendered his resignation, Rzeczpospolita reported on 29 February.
Walendziak gave no reasons for his decision. He had supported extending the
contract of Maciej Pawlicki, former director of Polish TV's First Channel, but
three deputy presidents had opposed such a move. Rzeczpospolita said
that Walendziak may have resigned on finding out that he had limited influence
over the day-to-day running of the company. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
POLAND, UKRAINE TO FORM JOINT PEACEKEEPING BATTALION.
Poland and Ukraine
have agreed to form a joint peacekeeping battalion, Interfax reported on 28
February. The unit will be financed by both countries and will consist of
Ukrainian units based in Lviv and Polish units in Przemysl. The first joint
military exercise are to be held in April on the outskirts of Lviv. English
will be the battalion's official language. -- Jakub Karpinski
CZECHS RELAX MONETARY PO-LICY, CUT TAXES.
The Czech National Bank (CNB)
on 28 February widened the band in which the koruna can fluctuate from plus or
minus 0.5% of the basket of currencies to which it is fixed (the German mark
and U.S. dollar) to plus or minus 7.5%, Czech media reported. CNB Governor
Josef Tosovsky said the move would aid anti-inflation policy and keeping the
currency stable. The Czech (and previously, Czechoslovak) koruna had been kept
under tight control for more than five years. IMF officials had recommended
easing monetary policy to help stem a large inflow of foreign speculative
capital into the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, the government approved cuts in
income tax and VAT that will remove 9.4 billion koruny ($348 million) from the
1997 state budget. -- Steve Kettle
CZECH DEPUTIES DESERT PARTY.
The caucus leader of the centrist Free
Democrats-Liberal National Social Party (SD-LSNS) on 28 February announced that
at least five of its six deputies have formed a new group called the Civic
National Movement, Czech media reported. The deputies, who previously
represented the LSNS, have been in conflict with the new party leadership since
last fall when the LSNS merged with the SD, headed by former Czechoslovak
Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier. Caucus leader Tomas Sterba has been
threatened with expulsion from the party for contravening official policy. He
has accused the SD of highjacking the LSNS. The split comes exactly three
months before parliamentary elections are due to be held. -- Steve Kettle
SLOVAK OPPOSITION PARTY TO JOIN COALITION?
Party of the Democratic Left
(SDL) chairman Peter Weiss on 28 February told reporters that his party will
not join the current government. Weiss called it "unacceptable" for the SDL to
work with the Slovak National Party, which "is in the cabinet only to profit
from privatization" and which has "repeatedly tried to rehabilitate the
quasi-Fascist war-time state." Weiss said the SDL is considering joining a
restructured cabinet because of increasing social tension and Slovakia's weak
international position at a time when expansion of the EU and NATO is being
decided. Criticizing the cabinet's plans to privatize Slovakia's biggest banks
by selling them to the country's largest firms (which are also the banks'
debtors), Weiss stressed the need to restructure the banks' portfolios, to
weaken their monopoly, and to pass legislation on state supervision and
protection of deposits. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN FINANCE MINISTER OUTLINES REFORM PROGRAM.
Peter Medgyessy has
said he wants to continue with the stabilization program of his predecessor,
Lajos Bokros, and will aim for larger economic growth, Hungarian media reported
on 29 February. Medgyessy was addressing the parliamentary Economic Committee,
which backed his ideas. Medgyessy said there is a realistic chance of
increasing economic growth from 1.5% of GDP in 1995 to 4-5% in 1997. He added
that reducing inflation from the current 29% to 20%, as stipulated by the
government, is his top priority. Medgyessy also aims to reduce interest rates
and reform the pension and health insurance systems. -- Szilagyi Zsofia
BOSNIAN FEDERAL POLICE ENTER ILIJAS.
The multi-ethnic police force of
the Bosnian Federation has taken up posts in the second of the formerly
Serb-held suburbs of Sarajevo to pass to federal control under the terms of the
Dayton agreement. The 90-strong contingent included 25 Serbs and 15 Croats. As
before, most local Serbs were driven out by their own authorities, which
withdrew essential services and utilities and contributed to a climate of panic
and fear but did not always provide transportation. Armed gangs then looted and
intimidated local residents, so that only the old and infirm remained. This
will help consolidate "ethnic cleansing" and is in keeping with the view of the
Bosnian Serb leadership that people of different nationalities cannot live
together, but it is not the concept of the Dayton accords. -- Patrick Moore
IFOR FAILS TO ARREST KARADZIC AGAIN.
IFOR commander U.S. Admiral
Leighton Smith admitted that Bosnian Serb leader and indicted war criminal
Radovan Karadzic was in Banja Luka at the same time as some of Smith's men on
27 February. Smith claimed, however, that they could not have arrested him.
Reuters on 28 February quoted Smith as saying: "We did not have Karadzic in our
hands. We happened to be in the same city. He happened to have a fairly
substantial number of guards. He was also in public places where civilians were
around. If IFOR had attempted to detain him, there clearly would have been some
resistance. It would have been unwise frankly on the part of those IFOR people
who may have seen him in Banja Luka to have pursued any sort of a detention."
This is the latest in a series of reports that Karadzic was in the vicinity of
the peacekeepers, who did nothing to apprehend him. -- Patrick Moore
WAR CRIMES UPDATE.
Nasa Borba and Novi list on 1 March
reported that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has
deferred until 2 March its ruling on a request to free Bosnian Serb General
Djordje Djukic. This was a rebuff to his lawyer's request for him to be
released by 1 March "at the latest," AFP reported. Onasa on 28 February quoted
Bosnian Prime Minister Hasan Muratovic as saying that evidence is being
collected against Canadian General Lewis McKenzie on suspicion of his
participating in war crimes, "mainly rapes," when he was UNPROFOR commander in
Bosnia. McKenzie was linked to reports about gatherings at a Serb-run brothel
near Sarajevo and later became a lobbyist for the Serbian cause. Meanwhile in
Zagreb, parliament agreed on 27 February after heated discussion to postpone
until March a vote on a bill to enable Croatia to extradite suspected war
criminals wanted by the tribunal. -- Patrick Moore
BOSNIAN JOURNALISTS BOYCOTT CARL BILDT.
The Independent Union of
Professional Journalists of Bosnia-Herzegovina broke off all contacts with the
international community's High Representative Carl Bildt as of 1 March, Onasa
reported on 27 February. This is to protest the Serbs' continued detention of
Bosnian photographer Hidajet Delic, whom the Serbs captured and accused of "war
crimes" on 8 February in apparent response to the arrest of Djukic and other
Serb officers. The journalists said that Bildt is responsible for ensuring
freedom of movement in Sarajevo. OMRI special correspondents Jan Urban and
Yvonne Badal visited Delic and said he "was not in a good mental state,
although he kept repeating he had not been physically abused." Urban added that
the Serbs have not filed charges against Delic or let him contact a lawyer. --
EU MAINTAINS ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST BOSNIA, CROATIA, RUMP YUGOSLAVIA.
EU Council of Ministers, meeting in Brussels on 27 February, decided maintain
its arms embargo against Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and the rump Yugoslavia
until the IFOR mission ends and eastern Slavonia is transferred to the Croatian
government, Novi list reported on 29 February. The embargo does not
include equipment needed to clear mines. Requests by Slovenia and Macedonia to
be allowed to import arms will be discussed on a "case-by-case" basis. The EU
will reconsider its decision again shortly before the IFOR mandate in Bosnia
and the UN mandate in eastern Slavonia expires. -- Daria Sito Sucic
INTERNATIONAL MONITORS CONCLUDE RUMP YUGOSLAV MISSION.
monitors observing cross-border activity between the rump Yugoslavia and the
Republika Srpska have ended their mission following the lifting of sanctions
against the Bosnian Serbs, Nasa Borba reported on 29 February. The
mission began in September 1994, after Belgrade had agreed to halt all traffic,
except humanitarian aid deliveries, to the Bosnian Serbs. Belgrade will now
resume responsibility for monitoring the border. In other news, on 28 February
Tanjug reported that UN special representative Kofi Annan, who on 27 February
announced he was resigning his post, paid a visit to Belgrade where he met with
Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and other officials. -- Stan Markotich
BOSNIAN CARDINAL WARNS OF DANGER OF "ISLAMIZING" BOS-NIA.
during a visit to Bonn for talks with German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, has warned
of the danger of "Islamizing" Bosnia-Herzegovina, Nasa Borba reported on
29 February, citing Deutsche Welle. Puljic asked Kohl for political, moral, and
material aid in the reconstruction of Bosnia. He expressed special concern for
the refugees who have found safe haven in Germany, saying he feared they would
become beggars on returning home. -- Daria Sito Sucic
SLOVENIA REACHES DEAL WITH FOREIGN CREDITORS.
Slovenia has become the
first former Yugoslav republic to reach a deal with its foreign creditors to
pay its share of the former Yugoslavia's debts, Radio Slovenia reported on 28
February. The parliament formally approved the deal. Governor of the Bank of
Slovenia France Arhar was quoted as saying "the bonds for covering the debt
will be issued before the end of June." Slovenia and the London Club of
creditors last year agreed that Ljubljana will pay 18% of the former
Yugoslavia's debts. -- Stan Markotich
Mace-donian President Kiro Gligorov was awarded the
annual peace prize of the Crans Montana Forum, MIC reported on 28 February.
Gligorov will receive the prize at the next session of the forum, which will be
held under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the European Commission,
UNIDO, and UNESCO. Meanwhile, Defense Minister Blagoy Handziski on 27 February
received the first Russian military attache to Macedonia, Col. Stanislav
Gromov. The EU Council of Ministers concluded that the EU should adopt a
restrictive approach toward arms exports to Macedonia and Slovenia, given the
situation in the former Yugoslavia. Export licenses will now have to be
approved on a case-by-case basis. Finally, Politika on 29 February
reported that rump Yugoslav Foreign Minister Milan Milutinovic is in Skopje to
negotiate preparations for the mutual recognition of the two states. -- Fabian
ROMANIAN SENATE CHAIRMAN IN U.S.
A Romanian parliamentary delegation
headed by Senate Chairman Oliviu Gherman is paying an official visit to the
U.S., Radio Bucharest reported on 28-29 February. Gher-man, who is also
chairman of the ruling Party of Social Democracy in Romania, met with U.S.
congressmen and members of the Clinton administration to discuss the progress
of reforms in Romania and its efforts to join Euro-Atlantic structures. The
visit has been sponsored by the congressional research service, which has
launched an assistance program for Romania. -- Dan Ionescu
ROMANIA RESUMES TREATY TALKS WITH NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES.
Foreign Ministry official Dumitru Ceausu and Vladimir Vasilenko, a special
envoy to Ukraine's Foreign Ministry, resumed bilateral treaty talks in
Bucharest on 27 February following a four-month break, Romanian and
international media reported. Negotiations on a Romania-Yugoslav Federation
basic treaty began in Belgrade the same day. The talks had been postponed after
the UN Security Council imposed sanctions on the rump Yugoslav government. A
new round of negotiations between Romania and Hungary over Romanian President
Ion Iliescu's "historic reconciliation proposal" also began on 28 February in
Bucharest. -- Matyas Szabo
MOLDOVAN PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER ON BASIC TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
on 28 February said Moldova and Russia should denounce both the 1990 bilateral
treaty and a 1995 additional protocol stipulating military assistance in case
of need. Moldovan agencies quoted him as saying that due to the rapid
development of events over the past several years, the treaty is outdated,
although it has not yet been ratified by the Russian State Duma. Dascal said
the two countries should begin negotiations on a new treaty that would take
into account the current state of bilateral relations. -- Matyas Szabo
BANK TAKEOVER IN BULGARIA.
The Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) has
effectively taken over the private Bank for Agricultural Credit Vitosha (BZK),
Pari reported on 29 February. BZK's shareholders will hand over their
shares to BNB without compensation and BNB will continue to refinance BZK.
Since the beginning of 1996, BNB has pumped some 2.5 billion leva ($33.1
million) into BZK in order to avoid insolvency. The latest move is aimed at
stabilizing the bank and protecting depositors. BZK head Atanas Tilev, who is
also the biggest shareholder with some 40%, has agreed to the deal. The BNB
insists on changes in BZK's statutes and management. Such changes have to be
approved by 75% of shareholders. -- Stefan Krause
BOMBS EXPLODE THROUGHOUT ALBANIA.
Unrelated bomb explosions took place
throughout Albania on 27-28 February. Unidentified assailants in Vlora blasted
a hole in the balcony of an apartment building, Koha Jone reported on 29
February. The blast shattered glass in the building. A bailiff in Gramsh found
a bomb with a burning fuse on his balcony but was able to throw it away before
it exploded. Gazeta Shqiptare reported that a garbage can near an
apartment block in Shkoder was blasted by a bomb. The explosion was so loud
that it could be heard in most parts of the city. Investigations into all three
incidents have begun. Meanwhile, police have published sketches of a person who
left the car containing the bomb that went off in Tirana on 26 February,
Lajmi i Dites reported. -- Fabian Schmidt
AGREEMENT REACHED "IN PRINCIPLE" TO FORM TURKISH COALITION GOVERNMENT.
Turkish caretaker Prime Minister Tansu Ciller, leader of the True Path
Party, and Mesut Yilmaz, chief of the Motherland Party, have agreed "in
principle" to form a "grand coalition," Western agencies reported. But the
former bitter rivals reportedly remain divided over who should initially serve
as prime minister if a rotation scheme is agreed on. A second round of talks
between Ciller and Yilmaz is scheduled for 1 March. There have been three
abortive attempts to form a coalition government since the general elections
last December. -- Lowell Bezanis
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Jan Cleave