CIS SUMMIT IN MOSCOW.
The presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
and Belarus met on 16 May and signed an integration agreement that covers 35
points, including tariff regulation, the unification of foreign currency
control, and statistical accounting, RFE/RL and ITAR-TASS reported. On 17 May,
the four presidents met with the other CIS leaders to discuss the 1996-1997
integration measures, and declare their "support of the democratic process in
Russia," a veiled show of support for President Yeltsin. Their agenda also
included an extension of the CIS peacekeeping mandate in Abkhazia, which was
decided at the CIS foreign ministers meeting on 16 May. -- Roger Kangas
YELTSIN DECREES GRADUAL ABOLITION OF CONSCRIPTION.
In a dizzying policy
reversal, President Yeltsin on 16 May issued a decree ordering the gradual
transformation of the Russian military into an all-volunteer force, Russian
media reported. The decree calls for conscription to end by the spring of 2000,
and orders the government to develop plans--including changes in the 1997
budget--to attract volunteers to military service. Yeltsin previously supported
retaining conscription and had even vetoed efforts by the Duma to reconsider
the April 1995 law lengthening the service term from 18 months to two years. In
a separate decree, Yeltsin also ordered that only volunteers be sent to combat
zones, like Chechnya. Yeltsin's about-face seems designed to help his
re-election campaign, although Boris Gromov, a former deputy defense minister
who now actively supports Yeltsin's re-election, denied any link with the
upcoming election. -- Scott Parrish
YELTSIN MEETS WITH YAVLINSKII AGAIN.
After a second meeting with
President Boris Yeltsin in less than two weeks, Yabloko leader Grigorii
Yavlinskii said he would continue to campaign as an independent candidate, NTV
reported on 16 May. Yavlinskii added that Yeltsin supports many of Yabloko's
positions, including a wide-ranging personnel shakeup to include Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, and First Deputy Prime
Minister Oleg Soskovets, a reduction in the powers of the presidency, direct
negotiations with the Chechen separatists, and major corrections to the course
of economic reforms. Presidential spokesman Sergei Medvedev's description of
the meeting as reported in ITAR-TASS was vague and did not mention the
personnel changes. ITAR-TASS commentator Tamara Zamyatina argued that the
Kremlin's negotiations with candidates Yavlinskii, Aleksandr Lebed, and
Svyatoslav Fedorov are aimed at gaining their support during the runoff, when
they could have a "decisive influence" on the outcome. -- Robert Orttung
FEDOROV OUTLINES PLANS FOR COALITION GOVERNMENT, ECONOMY.
voters in the Kuzbass region (Kemerovo Oblast), presidential candidate
Svyatoslav Fedorov said a new government should be formed after the first round
of the presidential election and should include communists, socialists, and
representatives of the "bourgeois" strata of society, ITAR-TASS reported on 16
May. In a 15 May campaign address on Radio Mayak, monitored by the BBC, Fedorov
outlined his plans to reorganize the economy on the model of "private workers'
collectives," in which workers would manage their own enterprises. Labor
productivity could rise by a factor of 10 under such a system, he argued, and
taxes paid to the government by profitable collectives could be spent on the
elderly, education, and health care. Because he believes workers should control
the output of their own labor, Fedorov described himself as a "real Marxist" in
an interview published in Rabochaya tribuna on 17 May. -- Laura Belin
ZYUGANOV, ZHIRINOVSKY ON COALITION GOVERNMENT.
Reaction was mixed among
the leading candidates to Svyatoslav Fedorov's proposal that President Yeltsin
appoint a coalition government of national trust and unity (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 16 May 1996). Gennadii Zyuganov said a new cabinet should be
appointed by the winner after the election, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 May. In
contrast, Vladimir Zhirinovsky suggested that Yeltsin should share power
immediately with his rivals, after which all other candidates should withdraw
from the upcoming election. Zhirinovsky said his Liberal Democratic Party of
Russia would request the "power ministries"--Defense, Interior, and Federal
Security Service--and possibly also the Finance Ministry, Reuters and AFP
reported. -- Laura Belin
ZYUGANOV CAMPAIGNS ON ENEMY TERRITORY.
Communist Party (KPRF) leader
Gennadii Zyuganov campaigned in President Yeltsin's home town of Yekaterinburg
on 16 May, where he accused the authorities of spreading lies about him and the
state of the country, Russian media reported. According to Radio Rossii,
Zyuganov said an unsigned document purporting to be the KPRF's secret economic
program, published in the 15 May Komskomolskaya pravda, was a
"falsification." KPRF member Valentin Varennikov, who was involved in the
August 1991 coup and now chairs the Duma's Veterans' Affairs Committee, caused
a stir in March when he said the Communists have an unpublished "maximum plan."
Zyuganov has consistently refuted Varennikov's statements. -- Laura Belin
TsIK CITES NUMEROUS CAMPAIGN VIOLATIONS.
The Central Electoral
Commission (TsIK) criticized Pravda, Sovetskaya Rossiya,
Pravda Rossiya, and Russkie vedomosti for beginning campaign
agitation in support of Communist candidate Gennadii Zyuganov earlier than
provided for by law, ITAR-TASS reported 16 May. It also accused the pro-Yeltsin
Stavropolskaya pravda of the same offense, and accused the
anti-communist Ne dai bog (God Forbid!) of lacking the proper
publication information in its masthead. The commission accused Zyuganov and
Vladimir Zhirinovsky of using their status as Duma members to gain access to
regional air time in Voronezh Oblast and Altai Krai. Mikhail Gorbachev also
allegedly received illegal air time in Buryatiya. The TsIK also criticized
Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov and St. Petersburg Mayor Anatolii Sobchak for
supporting Yeltsin's campaign without resigning their positions. Members of the
commission debated whether Yeltsin's numerous recent trips around the country
counted as campaign activity without coming to a conclusion. -- Robert
YELTSIN PROPOSES LIMITING USE OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT.
issued a decree on 16 May on gradually reducing the use of the death penalty in
Russia, international agencies reported. When Russia joined the Council of
Europe in February, it obligated itself to abolishing capital punishment within
three years, and the council urged Russia to place an immediate moratorium on
executions. Citing high crime rates and prison overcrowding, however, Russian
officials have said that the country will not give in to foreign pressure on
this issue, and Yeltsin's decree falls short of the council's recommendations.
It gives the government a month to draft a bill on Russia's adherence to the
European Convention on Human Rights. It also recommends that the parliament
consider reducing the categories of crimes subject to the death penalty and
gives the Interior Ministry three months to submit proposals on ensuring that
conditions for prisoners facing execution or serving life sentences meet UN
standards. -- Penny Morvant
YELTSIN WINS MOSCOW "PRIMARIES."
President Yeltsin won the voting
sponsored by the Round Table of Moscow Democratic Parties held on 15-16 May to
identify a single candidate from the democratic camp, ITAR-TASS reported 17
May. There were 1,469 participants in the elections which were announced in
Moskovskii komsomolets. Yeltsin won 73% of the vote, Yavlinskii 12%,
Gorbachev 5.7%, Lebed 4.8%, and Fedorov 4.3%. The results have only symbolic
significance since the sample of participants is not representative of Moscow
and the December Duma election showed that the preferences of Moscow voters
differ from those of voters outside the capital. -- Robert Orttung
YELTSIN MEETS UN SECRETARY-GENERAL.
Visiting UN Secretary-General
Boutros Boutros Ghali met with President Yeltsin on 16 May to discuss conflict
resolution in the CIS and Russia's role in the international organization,
Russian and Western agencies reported. Yeltsin emphasized Russia's continuing
political and financial support for the UN, and urged the UN not to
"underestimate" Russian peacekeeping operations in the CIS. Moscow has sought,
unsuccessfully, to gain UN sponsorship of operations like the one in
Tajikistan. In a 15 May speech to the Russian Duma, Boutros Ghali praised
Russia's "working for peace and security" but omitted any reference to the
ongoing Chechen conflict. The warm atmosphere of the visit may reflect an
implicit quid pro quo: Yeltsin's wants international support for his
re-election, while Boutros Ghali may need Russian backing if he decides to seek
a second term as secretary-general. -- Scott Parrish
FREE PRESS, HUMAN RIGHTS CONFERENCES.
Participants in the Free Press
Congress organized by Russia's Union of Journalists and attended by more than
250 journalists declared that attacks on press freedoms are continuing in
Russia and they may result in the introduction of new censorship regulations,
ITAR-TASS reported on 16 May. They claim that certain forces within the
country's power structure are trying to prevent the development of politically
free and financially independent media. In another conference in Moscow to mark
the 20th anniversary of the Moscow Helsinki Group, activists voiced concern
about unlawful, undemocratic trends in Russian government policies, the BBC
reported, citing a 14 May Interfax report. They also criticized the war in
Chechnya, the remilitarization of the country, government pressure on the
media, "a secrecy mania" among government bodies, the radical expansion of
police powers, the failure to carry out judicial reform, and the state of
prisons. Radio Rossii contended on 16 May that all of these points have been
addressed in President Yeltsin's pre-election platform. -- Anna Paretskaya and
COMPENSATION FOR INVESTORS.
President Yeltsin signed a decree on 17 May
authorizing the payment of compensation to depositors who are more than 80
years old and lost their savings in the 1991-92 inflation, ITAR-TASS reported.
The pensioners will be compensated on a sliding scale up to 1,000 times their
initial deposit, with a maximum payment of 1 million rubles ($200). A new
Federal Social State Fund for the Defense of Depositors and Shareholders was
formed at the beginning of May, Izvestiya reported on 15 May. It is
headed by Dmitrii Vasilev, the head of the Federal Securities Commission, and
includes representatives from the State Privatization Committee, the Russian
Federal Property Fund, and three public associations representing defrauded
investors. At the government meeting on 16 May, Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin castigated Vasilev's commission for failing to stop fraudulent
operations, Russian Public TV (ORT) reported. Chernomyrdin said that 70% of the
financial companies currently in operation lack licenses. The IMF has given $31
million to be used to compensate investors. -- Peter Rutland
RUSSIA ADOPTS SLIDING EXCHANGE RATE . . .
On 16 May, it was announced
that Russia will switch from the "ruble corridor" to a sliding exchange rate,
Russian media reported. Each day at 10 a.m., beginning on 17 May, the Central
Bank will announce selling and buying rates, based on prevailing market rates
and allowing a slow daily devaluation at a pace slightly below domestic
inflation. The current corridor of 4,550-5,150 rubles/$1 formally expires on 30
June. The ruble now trades at 4,970/$1: had the corridor continued, the 1 July
band would have been 5,000-5,600 rubles and the 31 December band 5,500-6,100
rubles. The introduction of the sliding rate is in effect a continuation of the
existing corridor approach rather than a new departure. The government has
shown that it can stabilize the value of the ruble despite worrying trends in
fiscal policy and the securities market. -- Peter Rutland
. . . AND CURRENT ACCOUNT CONVERTIBILITY.
Central Bank head Sergei
Dubinin also announced that Russia will move to full current account
convertibility, in conformity with Article 8 of the IMF Charter. Presidential
aide Aleksandr Livshits said joining Article 8 will attract foreign investors,
because otherwise Russia is regarded "as belonging in a second class of
states," Russian TV (RTR) reported on 16 May. In fact many countries, such as
China, have succeeded in attracting foreign investment without having fully
convertible currencies. -- Peter Rutland
FOREIGN TRADE INCREASES IN FIRST QUARTER OF 1996.
turnover reached $34.9 billion in the first quarter of 1996, increasing by 10%
over the same period last year, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 May. Total exports
went up by 12% to $21 billion, while total imports rose by 8% to $14 billion.
There was a 29% in Russia's exports to CIS countries (which now stands at $4.5
billion), and a 55% increase in imports ($4.6 billion). Russia's major trade
partners in the first quarter of the year were Ukraine (13% of the trade
turnover), Germany (9%), Kazakhstan (6%), and the U.S. (6%). -- Natalia
GEORGIAN-OSSETIYAN MEMORANDUM ON CONFIDENCE BUILDING SIGNED.
sidelines of the CIS summit, on 16 May representatives of Russia, Georgia, and
North and South Ossetiya signed a memorandum intended to expedite a settlement
of the continuing standoff between the Georgian authorities in Tbilisi and the
breakaway region of South Ossetiya, Russian and Western media reported. Under
the terms of the agreement, which was mediated by Russia and the OSCE, Georgia
and South Ossetiya renounce the use or threat of force political and economic
pressure against each other. -- Liz Fuller
ANTI-GOVERNMENT DEMONSTRATIONS SPREAD IN TAJIKISTAN.
entered their fifth day in the northern city of Khojent on 16 May, with new
rallies taking place in the cities of Shakristan and Isfana, Russian and
Western media reported. The protesters are demanding more representation for
northerners in the regional governments as well as greater economic rights.
RFE/RL reported that approximately 300 members of the Presidential Guard has
been sent from Dushanbe to Khojent, where an estimated 10,000 people are
participating in the demonstration. Meanwhile, fighting continued in the
Tavil-Dara region, as opposition forces advanced to the city of Komsomolabad,
NTV reported. Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev has stressed that Russian
peacekeepers will not become involved in the conflict. -- Roger Kangas
OIL, PIPELINE UPDATE.
Kazakhstan has decided to resume oil exports to
Russia's Yukos-owned refineries in Samara, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 May. The
head of Yukos described the agreement as the first step toward his company's
expanded role in Kazakhstan's oil sector. Meanwhile, talks are underway in
Ankara between the U.S. firm Chevron and Turkish officials, Reuters reported
the same day. It appears that Chevron, while indicating it is prepared to
discuss all options including the Baku-Ceyhan pipeline, is attempting to
persuade Turkey to permit Tengiz oil to pass by tanker through the Turkish
Straits. Earlier in the week, company representatives told a pipeline
conference in Istanbul that full-stream Tengiz output could add one tanker
(with a capacity up to 150,000 metric tons) to daily traffic in the Bosporus.
In other news, Mobil Corporation announced that it had paid $1.1 billion for a
25% interest in the Tengiz oil field, AFP reported on 16 May. -- Lowell
UKRAINIAN GOVERNMENT UPS SUBSIDIES TO COAL INDUSTRY.
government passed a resolution increasing state support for the ailing coal
sector, UNIAN reported on 13 May. The resolution calls for a revision of the
state budget, raising subsidies for loss-making mines to 35 trillion
karbovantsi ($189 million). The move was apparently made to head off a
threatened miners' strike over unpaid wages. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian
parliament has amended a law on the privatization of small- and medium-scale
state enterprises aiming to encourage the privatization of food-processing
plants, construction firms, some transportation industries, retail trade
outlets, local utilities, and municipal services, UNIAN reported on 15 May.
Lawmakers voted to continue allowing local authorities to sell off property
that falls under their jurisdiction. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
BELARUSIAN HUNGER STRIKER HOSPITALIZED.
Belarusian Popular Front (BPL)
leader Vyacheslau Svichyk, who was imprisoned for allegedly organizing a
demonstration on 26 April in Minsk against the pro-Russian policies of
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka, was hospitalized on 15 May after
losing consciousness and suffering from kidney failure, Reuters reported.
Svichhyk, 34, and his BPL colleague Yuriy Khadyka, 57, had been on a hunger
strike since two days after their arrests. About a fourth of the members of the
Belarusian parliament have signed a petition for their release, as did 5,000
protesters in Minsk on 14 May. -- Saulius Girnius
ESTONIAN PARLIAMENT AMENDS LOCAL ELECTIONS LAW.
The Estonian parliament
on 16 May voted unanimously to approve amendments to the local elections law as
requested by President Lennart Meri, ETA reported. Meri on 7 May refused to
sign the law because it required graduates of non-Estonian language schools
wishing to be political candidates to pass oral and written Estonian language
examinations, which he said contradicted the Estonian Constitution. The amended
law still requires candidates to sign a statement asserting their proficiency
in Estonian but does not require proof beforehand. Members of the Russian
caucus abstained in the vote, saying the language requirement should be
abolished completely. -- Saulius Girnius
RUSSIAN DIPLOMAT WOUNDED IN LITHUANIAN SHOOTING.
First Secretary of the Russian Embassy in Vilnius, was shot in the left hip on
15 May by a 24-year old man who spoke unaccented Russian and was attempting to
steal the embassy's Volvo-940 car, BNS reported. The Russian Foreign Ministry
sent a protest note to its Lithuanian counterpart asking for an investigation
into the attack and assurance of the embassy personnel's safety. Russian
Foreign Ministry spokesman Grigorii Karasin described the incident as an
attempted car theft, refuting an ITAR-TASS report that described it as an
assassination attempt. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH OPPOSITION SPURNS PRESIDENT'S COUNCIL.
Polish opposition parties
on 16 May criticized Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski's project to form
a cross-party National Security Council, Polish and international media
reported. Kwasniewski wanted opposition leaders to join the body as a sign of
broad national consensus on foreign policy matters, including rapid entry into
NATO and the EU. The cross-party council would also help Kwasniewski's efforts
to present himself as a president of all Poles, not tied just to the ruling
Democratic-Left Alliance. A leader of the Freedom Union, Janusz Onyszkiewicz,
said that the council would not work in the form the president proposed.
Poland's 1992 interim constitution called for a security council that would
advise the president on steering internal and external security policy. --
WALESA TO TOUR BRITAIN, U.S.
Former Polish President Lech Walesa began a
15-day speaking tour of Britain and the U.S. on 16 May during which he will
press for rapid decisions on NATO and EU membership for Poland and other
Eastern European countries, Polish and international media reported. Walesa has
speaking engagements in Leeds and at the Cambridge Union. He is due to meet
with members of the Polish community in London before leaving for the U.S.
where on 3 June he will meet with U.S. President Bill Clinton at the White
House. He is also scheduled to inaugurate the Lech Walesa Latin American
University in Miami and visit former U.S. President George Bush at his home in
Maine. -- Dagmar Mroziewicz
HUNGARY'S SUPREME COURT PASSES FIRST SENTENCE FOR RACIAL CRIME.
Hungary's first racial crime verdict, the Supreme Court has convicted a
self-described Nazi for stabbing another man while using anti-Semitic language,
domestic and international media reported on 16 May. The Hungarian man was
sentenced to two years in prison for the 1994 incident that took place on the
15 March commemoration of Hungary's 1848 revolution. Radical right-wing groups
have in recent years used national holidays for extremist demonstrations. Under
the newly tightened legislation, racist crimes and inciting racial hatred can
be punished with up to three-years imprisonment. Previously, the courts applied
other provisions of the penal code, such as disturbing peace or grievous bodily
harm, claiming racial crime verdicts implied restrictions on free speech. --
NEW DEVELOPMENTS IN HUNGARY'S JET FIGHTER DEAL.
The Israel Aircraft
Industries on 16 May announced it could bring Hungary's MiG fighter jets up to
NATO standards for $130-$150 million, less than a tenth the price of buying new
aircraft, Reuters reported. Israel hopes this offer will win out over the
Swedish and American competing proposals to sell Hungary Western-made planes
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 May 1996). The Israeli proposal to rebuild 28
of Hungary's aging MiG 21s would permit Hungary, which faces severe financial
difficulties, to delay purchasing new fighters while still bringing the MiGs up
to NATO standards. Israeli officials said the price for upgrading the MiGs was
about 9% that of buying Swedish-made Gripens and just under 14% of the cost of
upgrading American Lockheed F-16s, considered the main contenders for Hungary's
jet fighter deal. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
SLOVENIAN GOVERNMENT COALITION BREAKS UP.
Slovenian Premier Janez
Drnovsek on 16 May broke up the coalition alliance between his Liberal
Democratic Party (LDS), which holds 30 seats in the 90-seat parliament, and the
Christian Democratic Party (SKD), which has 15 seats, Radio Slovenija reported.
This move followed a no-confidence vote in Foreign Minster and LDS member Zoran
Thaler. The vote, supported by the SKD, was split 48-26, with Thaler tendering
his resignation in the wake of the result. Thaler had come under increasing
criticism in recent months, with Christian Democrats questioning his general
level of competence and claiming he failed to improve ties with Italy and to
bring Slovenia closer to EU membership. However, Drnovsek said on 17 May he
will try to maintain the working relationship with the SKD. -- Stan Markotich
INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY SUPPORTS SACKED BOSNIAN SERB PREMIER.
international community has strongly criticized the 15 May dismissal of
moderate Bosnian Serb Premier Rajko Kasagic by Bosnian Serb leader Radovan
Karadzic. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana met on 16 May with Serbian
President Slobodan Milosevic urging him to see to it that Kasagic remain Prime
Minister, Nasa Borba reported on 17 May. Meanwhile, Milosevic told U.S.
government officials he would ignore the dismissal, Reuters reported on 16 May.
Both Serbian and rump Yugoslav governments condemned the dismissal, calling it
"illegal, null and void." High Representative for Bosnia Carl Bildt and Kasagic
himself issued on 16 May a joint statement saying they will continue to work
together to break the forces of isolationism that threaten implementation of
the peace agreement. Kasagic said that Karadzic was not a "legitimate leader"
of Bosnian Serbs because "he had not been elected by people as called for in
the constitution but by a self-proclaimed parliament." -- Daria Sito Sucic and
PRESSURE TO CATCH KARADZIC GROWS.
At the conclusion of meetings in
Washington D.C. to shore up the shaky Croat-Muslim federation, federal Vice
President Ejup Ganic again demanded that IFOR capture indicted Bosnian Serb war
criminals Radovan Karadzic and Gen. Ratko Mladic, while the U.S. maintained
that Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic is responsible for arresting and
handing them over to the war crimes tribunal in The Hague, AFP reported on 17
May. Diplomats in Sarajevo are nonetheless considering pursuing Karadzic given
his role in the current Bosnian Serb power struggle and the growing feeling
that there will be no free elections while he remains free. Meanwhile in The
Hague, the indicted Bosnian Serb Goran Lajic told the court that he is not
guilty and that the case against him is one of mistaken identity. -- Patrick
FIRST CROATIAN JOURNALISTS TO APPEAR IN COURT FOR NEW PRESS LAW
Viktor Ivancic and Marinko Culic, two editors from the
independent Croatian satirical weekly Feral Tribune, will be the first
journalists tried under a new press law that forbids journalists to "offend"
leading officials, Novi List reported on 17 May. The
Prosecutor-General's Office on 16 May sent the journalists a court summons.
They are accused of making Croatian President Franjo Tudjman "an object of
libel and slander." Many international media organizations, political forums,
and the Croatian opposition parties have condemned the law, which in the case
of these journalists stipulates a maximum sentence of one year imprisonment for
libel and up to six months for slander, Novi list reported. -- Daria
CROATIA'S FUTURE WITH THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE UNCLEAR.
Foreign Ministry issued a statement that "the Republic of Croatia confirms its
commitment to the process of democratic development, thereby respecting the
Council of Europe's criteria and norms," Reuters reported on 16 May. This is
the first official comment on the Council's 14 May decision to block Croatia's
admission, over which the Croatian statement also "expressed regret." The
Council's move is widely viewed in Croatia as an attempt to hold the country to
higher standards than those required of some member states like Russia,
Romania, or Albania (see OMRI Daily Digest, 15 May 1996). Those who hold
this opinion say Croatia is being "punished" by Britain, France, and their
allies for regarding the U.S., and not the EU, as its main partner. An
editorial in the pro-government daily Vjesnik on 17 May said that
Croatia wants eventual "entrance into Europe" but that its chief interest now
is in close ties with the U.S. In Washington D.C., Croatian Foreign Minister
Mate Granic said that Croatia will "fulfill all its obligations [toward the
council] in the required time." He went on, however, to deny charges made by
that body that the Croatian government controls the media, has violated
democratic principles regarding the Zagreb city government, and shelters
indicted war criminals. -- Patrick Moore
SERBIAN PRESIDENT MEETS GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER.
Slobodan Milosevic met
Klaus Kinkel on 16 May to discuss bilateral relations and Belgrade's commitment
to the Dayton peace process, particularly Belgrade's willingness to cooperate
with the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, Tanjug
reported. Kinkel also met with his Belgrade counterpart, Milan Milutinovic, who
raised the issue of the Serb refugees from Bosnia and Croatia in rump
Yugoslavia. Milutinovic said he hoped Germany might use its influence to help
Belgrade integrate into international organizations such as the UN and the
IMF.-- Stan Markotich
MACEDONIA ASKS FOR EXTENSION OF UN MANDATE.
Macedonian Foreign Minister
Ljubomir Frckovski has asked UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali to
extend the mandate of the UN peacekeeping troops for another year. The current
mandate is due to expire at the end of May, AFP reported on 16 May. Frckovski
said the situation in the former Yugoslavia remains unstable despite the Dayton
peace accord and added that Macedonia is unable to defend its borders. The UN
force, which has been in Macedonia since 1992, includes 500 U.S. troops and 500
soldiers from Nordic countries. -- Fabian Schmidt
ILIESCU, LILIC SIGN BASIC TREATY.
Romanian President Ion Iliescu and
rump-Yugoslavia's President Zoran Lilic on 16 May signed in Belgrade a
bilateral basic treaty, Romanian and international media reported. The document
was initialed last month in Bucharest by the two countries' foreign ministers
and emphasizes Belgrade and Bucharest's desire to integrate in European
structures. The Romanian media played up the event, saying that the document is
the first of its kind signed by rump Yugoslavia and that Iliescu is the first
president to visit the federation since the cease-fire. Iliescu is scheduled to
meet federal Prime Minister Radoje Kontic, as well as Serbian President
Slobodan Milosevic. -- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIAN COALITION TO BREAK UP.
With local elections scheduled for next
month and against the background of repeated clashes between the two, the Party
of Social Democracy in Romania (PSDR) on 16 May decided to "start procedure"
for breaking the alliance with its last coalition partner, the Party of
Romanian National Unity (PUNR), domestic media reported. On 22 March the PSDR
had already announced this intention, but nothing was concretely done to
implement it. The coalition accord between the PSDR and the PUNR stipulates
several steps before the alliance can be dissolved. Also on 16 May, Premier
Nicolae Vacaroiu, hitherto officially a non-party affiliated technocrat, joined
the PSDR and was immediately elected vice-chairman of the party, Romanian and
international media reported. -- Michael Shafir
MOLDOVAN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENTS MEET.
On the eve of the CIS summit in
Moscow, Mircea Snegur met with Boris Yeltsin mainly to discuss the situation in
Moldova's breakaway Dniester region, Romanian media reported on 16 May. The two
presidents agreed the existing problems should be resolved in the spirit of the
Moldovan-Russian-Ukrainian joint declaration on the Dniester issue. They also
discussed better economic cooperation within the CIS. -- Matyas Szabo
BULGARIAN PRESIDENT CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT REFORMS.
Zhelyu Zhelev on 16
May criticized the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, saying its strategy to
reform the economy and steer the country away from impending financial and
economic ruin lacked vision. He said that, "The controversial statements by
representatives of the government...give the impression that they are launching
structural reforms without a clear concept," Reuters reported. Presidential
spokesman Valentin Stoyanov added on Zhelev's behalf, "It is disconcerting that
decisions related to structural reform are taken in the dark, in closed party
plenums without dialogue between state institutions and political forces." --
ALBANIA AND GREECE TO SIGN AGREEMENT ON SEASONAL LABOR.
Minister Alfred Serreqi will visit Athens on 17 May to sign a number of
bilateral agreements with his Greek counterpart, Theodoros Pangalos, including
one regulating the status of illegal Albanian immigrants to Greece,
Albania reported. Some 330,000 Albanians are currently estimated to do
seasonal work in Greece, but large numbers of them are expected to return for
the 26 May Albanian elections. The foreign ministers are also to sign an
agreement opening consulates in Thessaloniki and Korca. -- Fabian Schmidt
ALBANIAN OPPOSITION PARTY COMPLAINS ABOUT POLICE BEATINGS.
Alliance (AD) parliamentary candidate Blendi Gonxhe accused a police chief of
beating legislator Ridvan Peshkepia. Police allegedly detained Peshkepia while
searching his car. Gonxhe also said that five AD members were arrested by
police after a rally in the Tirana Student city, Reuters reported on 16 May. He
alleged plain-clothed officers also beat up an AD candidate and an accompanying
journalist in the south and charged police with obstructing the party's
campaign rallies there. The Interior Ministry denied the allegations and
accused the AD of using dirty campaign tactics, including provoking incidents
with the police, to win votes in the May 26 elections. A statement from the
ministry said, "The leaders of the AD cannot help but demonstrate this kind of
behavior which is more characteristic of villains than of politicians." --
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels