YELTSIN IN GROZNY.
In the course of a brief four-hour visit to Chechnya
on 28 May, President Boris Yeltsin visited a village behind the Russian lines
and a Russian military base in Grozny where he told troops that although "the
war is over," it is unlikely that the Chechen fighters will surrender their
arms, and that "any attempts to resume terrorist or criminal activities will
meet with the toughest measures in response," Russian media reported. Yeltsin
also told the 205th motorized-rifle brigade that conscripts with 18 months of
service in the military who have served in "danger areas" for six months are to
be sent home. Acting President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev flew back to Ingushetiya on
28 May after continuing talks with Russian officials on the implementation of
the 27 May ceasefire agreement. Yandarbiev said that the Chechen side had made
"great compromises," and would not abide by the ceasefire agreement if the
Russian military failed to observe it and "dirty politics" continued, according
to AFP. -- Liz Fuller
REACTION TO CHECHNYA EVENTS.
Predictably, government figures and
supporters of President Yeltsin lauded his trip to Grozny and the ceasefire
agreement as vital steps toward solving one of Russia's most important
problems. However, rival presidential candidates Gennadii Zyuganov and Vladimir
Zhirinovsky dismissed the visit and the deal as a campaign trick, NTV reported
on 28 May. While NTV supports Yeltsin, the network's coverage was skeptical
about the long-term prospects for peace, noting that no one in Chechnya
entertains the illusion that the war will end quickly. At the same time, one
NTV reporter criticized Yeltsin's political opponents for seeming to have an
interest in prolonging the war for their own electoral benefit. The strongly
pro-Yeltsin but anti-war Izvestiya on 29 May praised the president for
opening the road to peace but regretted that such steps were not taken earlier.
-- Laura Belin
IZVESTIYA: MILITARY SKEPTICAL OF CHECHEN ACCORD.
published in Izvestiya on 29 May contends that the leadership of the
Russian Defense Ministry is not enthusiastic about the Chechen ceasefire
agreement. Officially, ministry officials are reluctant to comment on the
agreement, saying they are charged with implementing the orders of the
president, not discussing them. But unofficially, the paper claimed that top
brass believe the new agreement will merely repeat the experience of last
July's Russian-Chechen military agreement. Many Russian officers feel that the
agreement prevented them from crushing the Chechen separatist forces and
winning a military victory. The paper also suggested that Yeltsin had
intentionally refrained from personally signing the 27 May agreement in order
to keep his future options open. -- Scott Parrish
JUDGES: VERDICT ON COMMUNIST PARTY NOT FULFILLED.
Two of the 19
Constitutional Court judges, Ernst Ametistov and Tamara Morshchakova, charged
that a May 1992 ruling prohibiting the recreation of the Communist Party of the
Soviet Union (KPSS) has not been enforced, ITAR-TASS and
Ekspress-khronika reported on 28 May. In 1992, the court upheld in large
part President Yeltsin's August 1991 decrees banning most KPSS activities.
Gennadii Zyuganov was among those who appealed to the court on behalf of the
KPSS. Ametistov noted that since its creation in February 1993, the Communist
Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF)--which Zyuganov now leads--has built
national structures and become very much like the KPSS. The press conference at
which Ametistov and Morshchakova appeared was organized by the movement
supporting President Yeltsin's re-election, even though the federal law on the
Constitutional Court prohibits judges from taking part in political activities
or election campaigns. -- Laura Belin
ROSTOV MINERS DENOUNCE COAL INDUSTRY LEADERSHIP.
A Rostov Oblast
regional conference of the Russian Coal Industry Workers' Union, representing
divisions of 150,000 members, passed a resolution expressing the miners'
disagreement with the government's current economic policies and demanding the
resignation of Russian Coal corporation (Rosugol) President Yurii Malyshev,
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported on 28 May. A recent conference in the
Kuzbass basin (Kemerovo Oblast), attended by Malyshev, passed a resolution
supporting the economic reforms in general while appealing to President Yeltsin
to change the tax system and resolve the nonpayment crisis in the industry,
Rabochaya tribuna reported on 25 May. Nezavisimaya gazeta
speculated that despite the president's recent promises to coal miners in
Vorkuta (see OMRI Daily Digest, 27 May 1996) the Rostov Oblast coal
miners will not support Yeltsin. -- Laura Belin
OUSTED VLADIVOSTOK MAYOR DECLARES HUNGER STRIKE.
Viktor Cherepkov, the
first democratically-elected mayor of Vladivostok who was ousted on corruption
charges in March 1994, announced plans to begin a hunger strike in front of a
Moscow court, Moskovskii komsomolets reported on 28 May. The charges
against Cherepkov were later dropped and the tax police chief of Primorsk Krai
was arrested for fabricating them, but Cherepkov was never reinstated as mayor
(see OMRI Daily Digest, 19 May and 25 July 1995). The Helsinki
International Human Rights Organization will request that Cherepkov's case be
considered by the European Court, according to Moskovskii komsomolets.
-- Laura Belin
NORTH KOREA WANTS NEW TREATY WITH RUSSIA.
Meeting with visiting Russian
Duma Speaker Gennadii Seleznev, North Korean Foreign Minister Kim Yong-nam said
his country wants to conclude a new bilateral treaty with Russia to replace the
1961 Soviet-North Korean Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. In 1993, Moscow
unilaterally annulled the military assistance clauses of the old treaty, and
has since pressed Pyongyang to negotiate a new agreement. Kim said North Korea
is carefully studying a new draft treaty, which Russia sent it last August.
However, he complained that "tactless" reporting on North Korea by Russian
media is hampering the development of bilateral ties. Seleznev and Kim also
discussed North Korea's Soviet-era debt to Russia, valued at 3 billion
foreign-exchange rubles. -- Scott Parrish
PRIMAKOV VISITS ITALY, VATICAN.
Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov began
a two-day official visit to Italy and the Vatican on 28 May, meeting with his
Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro, and Pope
John Paul II, Russian and Western agencies reported on 28 May. According to a
Vatican spokesman, Primakov and John Paul II discussed "the situation in
Russia," including religious freedom and ecumenical dialogue. At his meeting
with Dini, Primakov held talks on bilateral ties, the Yugoslav peace process,
and Russia's integration into Western international institutions. Dini said he
expected the 27-29 June G-7 summit in Lyon, France, to boost links between
Russia and the leading Western powers. Before leaving Italy on 29 May, Primakov
will meet with the EU "troika" of foreign ministers, composed of
representatives from the previous, current, and next countries to hold the
rotating EU presidency--Italy, Spain, and Ireland. -- Scott Parrish
CIS INTER-PARLIAMENTARY ASSEMBLY MEETS.
The CIS Inter-parliamentary
assembly met for its seventh session in Bishkek on 28 May, Russian media
reported. Delegates from Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia,
Russia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan discussed a draft agreement on
social guarantees for former Soviet veterans living in the CIS, other draft
integration legislation, and their own budget for the coming year. On the same
day, also in Bishkek, parliamentarians from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and
Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement forming a quadripartite inter-parliamentary
committee, as called for by their 29 March integration agreement. The
committee, which will draft proposed integration legislation, will consist of
40 deputies--10 from each member-state. -- Scott Parrish
SCIENCE MINISTER BEMOANS LOSS OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY.
Russia is losing
millions of dollars in intellectual property to foreign countries, Science
Minister Boris Saltykov told a meeting of the State Commission on Science and
Technical Policy on 28 May. The loss to the U.S. alone is estimated at $600
million to $700 million, ITAR-TASS reported. About 8,000 Russian scientists are
said to be participating in U.S. government programs. Saltykov attributed
Russia's poor record in protecting its intellectual property rights to a lack
of experience and legislative shortcomings. He added that presidential decrees
have been drafted on licensing consulting services and introducing a system of
state registration for agreements envisaging international cooperation. The
government has also drafted a resolution on state ownership rights over the
results of all work carried out with federal budget money. -- Penny Morvant
STATUE OF LAST TSAR UNVEILED.
An 11-meter high monument to Tsar Nicholas
II was unveiled in Moscow Oblast on 27 May to mark the 100th anniversary of the
last tsar's coronation, Komsomolskaya pravda reported on 28 May. First
lady Naina Yeltsin and presidential Chief of Staff Nikolai Yegorov attended the
ceremony in the village of Taininskoe, north of Moscow. Yegorov said that the
statue of the tsar, who was killed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 in Yekaterinburg,
was a monument to all the victims of "malice and mistrust." Sculptor Vyacheslav
Klykov, who designed the monument, had sought permission to place it in Moscow,
near the Kremlin, but was turned down by the government. -- Penny Morvant
CENTRAL BANK TAKES NEW STEPS TO STABILIZE BANKING SYSTEM.
Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 20 May unveiled a new plan to head off a looming
banking crisis at a closed meeting of 22 commercial banks,
Kommersant-Daily reported on 28 May. Dubinin called for still tighter
restrictions on the licensing of new banks, including "daughter banks," to
prevent the appearance of new problem banks. The new stricter accounting rules
introduced for all banks on 1 March are to be modified. By way of risk
allowance, loans with government or securities guarantees will be written down
by 10% instead of the previous 50% requirement, and the coefficient on
long-term loans to local authorities will be cut from 50% to 20%. On the other
hand, the risk assessment of loans to other banks will increase from 50% to
70%, and that of bank premises from 20% to 70%. The net impact of these changes
will probably be to increase the liquidity of average banks. -- Natalia
Gurushina and Peter Rutland
IRANIAN AZERIS PROTEST ARRESTS IN AZERBAIJAN.
A rally protesting the
arrest of nine Islamists in Azerbaijan took place in Ardabil, in the Iranian
province of East Azerbaijan, AFP reported on 28 May. The report did not say how
many Iranian Azeri protesters took part in the rally, which was held during the
Ashura ritual of mourning for Imam Hussein, the seventh century Shiite Muslim
martyr. The agency noted that authorities in Baku arrested three Islamists on
21 May, and charged them with illegally transporting Azerbaijani citizens to
Iran. -- Lowell Bezanis
KARIMOV VISITS GEORGIA.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov arrived in Tbilisi
on 28 May to sign 16 bilateral agreements with his Georgian counterpart, Eduard
Shevardnadze, ITAR-TASS reported the same day. Speaking at a press conference
after their talks, Karimov and Shevardnadze emphasized the importance of the
agreements in principle on forming financial and industrial groups and
cooperation in air and rail transport. Shevardnadze noted that an ad hoc group
will work on opening a ferry link between Georgian and Bulgarian ports.
Uzbekistan is interested in reaching European markets through Georgia. Both
leaders stressed that there is no alternative to the CIS, RFE/RL reported. --
NAZARBAYEV VISITS MALAYSIA, SINGAPORE.
Kazakhstani President Nursultan
Nazarbayev concluded his four-day visit to Malaysia by signing several
bilateral agreements to promote investment, trade, and scientific and technical
cooperation, AFP reported on 29 May. Nazarbayev invited Malaysian companies to
take part in development projects in Kazakhstan, including the construction of
the new capital, Akmola. From there, Nazarbayev, accompanied by a delegation
consisting of government and private sector representatives, arrived in
Singapore. Nazarbayev is expected to sign an agreement on establishing air
links between the two countries and on expanding bilateral trade and economic
cooperation. -- Bhavna Dave
FLOODING IN TAJIKISTAN.
Heavy rains that began on 27 May have caused
flooding in many areas of Tajikistan, ITAR-TASS and RFE/RL reported. ITAR-TASS
reported that the Kofirnikhon, Varsovskii, and Leninskii regions are among the
hardest hit. The Tajik commission for emergencies said that hundreds of homes
have been destroyed, bridges and roads have been washed out, and power lines
are down in several places. Thousands of hectares of winter crops and cotton
have been lost. The flooding is expected to compound a recent outbreak of
typhoid. -- Bruce Pannier
NEW UKRAINIAN PREMIER OUTLINES ECONOMIC PRIORITIES.
In an official
statement, the country's newly appointed Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko pledged
his support for President Leonid Kuchma's economic policies, Ukrainian and
Western agencies reported on 28 May. Lazarenko said his economic priorities
include speeding up privatization and structural changes in the economy,
attracting more foreign investment, overcoming the payments and wage debt
crises, reorganizing the government, and pushing a recently submitted package
of reform-related bills through parliament. Meanwhile, Yevhen Marchuk, fired as
prime minister on 27 May, rejected the Kuchma administration's reasons for his
dismissal, Ukrainian TV reported. He said it was easy to blame a single prime
minister for all of the country's economic woes, but the "roots are much
deeper" and that although it was the president's right to oust him, "history
and time will put everything in its place." -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINIAN LAWMAKERS BEGIN DEBATE OVER DRAFT CONSTITUTION.
weeks of resolving differences between various factions, the chairman of a
special parliamentary commission, Mykhailo Syrota, presented a finalized draft
of a new post-Soviet Ukrainian Constitution for debate in parliament on 28 May,
Ukrainian TV reported. Syrota said the draft included changes and additional
articles on human and civil rights, the justice system, Crimea, local
self-government, and the structure of the legislature. Serhii Hmyria of the
Communist caucus presented an alternative draft authored by the Communists.
During the evening session, leftist deputies refused to register, demanding the
debate over the drafts be postponed until June so they could "consult with
their constituencies." Reformers accused the deputies of delay tactics as the
leftists pin their own political hopes on a Communist victory in the Russian
presidential race next month. In the end, however, a quorum was reached and the
debate continued. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
UKRAINE DEMANDS BELARUS RELEASE DETAINED UKRAINIANS.
deputy Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Hryshchenko met with his Belarusian
counterpart Valeryi Tsapkala and later with Foreign Minister Uladzimir Syanko
in Minsk on 27 May to discuss problems in Ukrainian-Belarusian relations,
border demarcation, trade and economic cooperation, Belarusian TV reported the
next day. Hryshchenko demanded that the seven Ukrainians being held in Belarus
for their part in the 26 April demonstrations be released, Reuters reported on
28 May. He warned that their continued detention would have a negative effect
on Ukrainian-Belarusian relations. Most of the seven are members of the radical
nationalist Ukrainian Self Defense Organization, which supports the former
Soviet republics' independence from Moscow as well as Chechnya's independence
movement. -- Ustina Markus
NEW BELARUSIAN POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS.
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka
issued a decree making several new ministerial appointments, Belarusian TV
reported on 27 May. Appointments included Anatol Kharlap as Minister of
Industry, Viktar Hroshau as first deputy Minister of Sports and Tourism, Col.
Valeryi Basavets as deputy Defense Minister and head of Rear Forces, and Ivan
Dyrman as Chief of Armaments. -- Ustina Markus
BALTIC PRESIDENTS TO ASK FOR JOINT ENTRY INTO NATO.
Meri (Estonia), Guntis Ulmanis (Latvia), and Algirdas Brazauskas (Lithuania)
issued a joint communique on 28 May in Vilnius asserting that their countries
will apply together for NATO and EU membership, Western agencies reported. They
noted that they share the same viewpoint toward all major current international
issues, including the upcoming Russian presidential elections. Estonian Social
Affairs Minister Toomas Vilosius signed treaties on cooperation in social
security guarantees with his Latvian and Lithuanian counterparts. These
countries signed a similar agreement in 1993 that went into effect in January
1995. -- Saulius Girnius
BALTIC FREE TRADE AGREEMENT IN FARM GOODS INITIALED.
At a meeting of the
Baltic Council of Ministers in Vilnius on 27 May, trade committee experts
initialed a free trade agreement on farm goods, BNS reported the next day. The
agreement will probably be signed during a meeting of Baltic prime ministers on
14 June and come into effect after ratification by the respective parliaments.
It was drafted taking into account the three states' common goals to join the
EU and implement trade policies that would meet requirements of the World Trade
Organization. The Latvian government formally approved the agreement on 28 May.
-- Saulius Girnius
WEIMAR TRIANGLE'S PARLIAMENTARY MEETING IN WARSAW.
German, French, and
Polish members of the three parliaments' foreign commissions met on 28 May in
Warsaw. President of the French commission, former French President Valery
Giscard d'Estagne, and Bundestag's President Rita Suessmuth attended. Polish
Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said the three countries' collaboration
"is the most effective form of confirming Poland's ties with Europe." Polish
politicians supported German and French ideas of closer European integration.
The Weimar triangle was named after a 1991 meeting of German, French, and
Polish foreign ministers. Since then, the three countries' foreign ministers
have met annually. Giscard d'Estagne invited Polish and German parliamentarians
to a similar meeting next year in Paris. -- Jakub Karpinski
CZECH ELECTORAL COMMISSION'S DECISION OVERRULED.
Constitutional Court ruled on 28 May that the Free Democrats-Liberal Social
National Party (SD-LSNS) can compete in the upcoming parliamentary elections as
a party, rather than as a coalition, Czech media reported. The group, led by
former Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jiri Dienstbier, came into existence last
year when its two constituent members--the SD and the LSNS--merged. SD-LSNS
registered for the elections as a party. While parties have to gain 5% of the
popular vote to win seats in the parliament, coalitions must gain 7%. The Czech
Electoral Commission ruled in April that the SD-LSNS was a coalition, prompting
protests not only from the party's leaders but also from President Vaclav
Havel. Despite the court's decision, the chances of the SD-LSNS winning seats
in the next parliament appear to be minimal; the party currently commands about
2% of the popular support in various opinion polls. -- Jiri Pehe
PUBLIC TENDER FOR SLOVAK MOBILE PHONE LICENSES.
Slovakia's Ministry of
Transport, Post, and Telecommunications will grant two licenses for the mobile
telephone network in August, Praca reported on 29 May. Eurotel, which
has operated in Slovakia for several years since winning an exclusive license
in the former Czechoslovakia, will be given one of the licenses if it meets the
requirements. Two international consortia are competing for the second license:
SlovTel, which includes France Telecom and top Slovak energy firms, and Telenor
comprised of Norwegian telecommunications, the Slovak iron and steel giant VSZ
Kosice, and Slovak Railroad. Stanislav Vanek, a ministry official, said the
main criteria include quality, variety of services, tariff policy, and prices.
Vanek said Slovak Telecommunications will be transformed into a joint stock
company with 100% state ownership. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN PREMIER CLEARS DEFENSE MINISTER OF CHARGES.
two-day investigation, Gyula Horn exempted Gyorgy Keleti from responsibility in
the MiG fighter affair, Hungarian media reported. Horn blamed the
constitutional violation on the air defense division of the Hungarian Armed
Forces and a deputy state secretary at the Defense Ministry (see OMRI Daily
Digest, 22 May 1996). Horn also proposed that the Constitutional Court
reinterpret the constitution regarding which military transports require the
preliminary assent of parliament. He urged an investigation into similar
affairs that occurred under the previous government and were not regarded as
constitutional violations. Opposition parties that demanded Keleti's dismissal
said the Socialists should not draw a distinction between minor and major
violations of the constitution. According to Nepszabadsag, the junior
coalition partner Alliance of Free Democrats believes that Keleti is not
personally responsible for the constitutional violation but should be held
politically responsible. -- Zsofia Szilagyi
MINORITY WIRETAPPING INVESTIGATION CONCLUDED.
Hungary's Secret Services
Minister Istvan Nikolits on 28 May gave an account of the national security
surveillance of ethnic minorities in southern Hungary, noting that the local
office of the National Security Office ordered measures to be taken for the
protection of minorities in the summer of 1992, Hungarian media reported. He
added that the office proceeded in accordance with legal regulations because it
used no secret service methods and gathered no information on minority leaders.
Meanwhile, the Hungarian parliament on 28 May rejected the opposition's
proposal to call on the Slovak legislature to repeal the Benes decrees, which
declared the collective guilt of ethnic Hungarians in World War II. -- Zsofia
OSCE CRITICIZES ALBANIAN ELECTIONS.
A preliminary statement issued by
the OSCE in Vienna on 29 May criticized legal shortcomings and insufficient
government cooperation in the 26 May Albanian parliamentary elections, Reuters
reported. The OSCE noted a number of serious violations of the Albanian
election law but stopped short of calling the elections unfree or unfair. "In
many instances the implementation of the law failed to meet its own criteria,"
the statement said, adding that "the level of official cooperation offered to
[OSCE monitors] was of a limited nature." The OSCE observed manipulations of
ballot sheets, counting irregularities, and intimidation of voters. "In direct
violation to the law, observers noted that decisions of the polling station
commissions were not made by majority vote but by the arbitrary decisions of
the government-appointed chairman and secretary," according to the OSCE. On 28
May, a group of British and Norwegian OSCE monitors had issued an unofficial
statement that "the elections did not meet international standards for free and
fair elections, and they did not conform with the requirements of the election
law." -- Fabian Schmidt in Tirana and Stefan Krause
ALBANIAN POLICE VIOLENTLY BREAK UP OPPOSITION RALLY . . .
On 28 May at
noon the police broke up an opposition rally on Tirana's Skanderbeg Square,
arresting an unspecified number of people. The police beat and severely injured
several individuals, including party leaders, parliamentarians, parliamentary
candidates, and journalists. After the incident, the police surrounded the
Socialist Party headquarters, where injured people were being treated and to
which some 100 Socialist supporters fled. During the siege, the electricity was
shut off and telephone lines cut. The headquarters remained blocked until 20:00
local time when, after a press conference of the Socialists and visits by
international diplomats, the police agreed to let the Socialist supporters
leave the building. At the press conference, the Socialists demanded new
elections and the resignation of the prime minister, interior minister, and a
TV director whom they accused of spreading false information. -- Fabian Schmidt
. . . GOVERNMENT CHARGES SOCIALISTS WITH PREPARING CIVIL WAR.
issued reports, claiming that the Socialists are building up terrorist groups
and preparing to take up arms. Unspecified Socialist supporters were quoted as
saying they will "fight until the last drop of blood." Socialist leader
Kastriot Islami, however, said these reports were designed to justify further
violence. He added that he expects police raids of the Socialist headquarters
under the pretext of arms searches and stressed that his party is committed to
a policy following the
principles of democracy and non-violence. The
Socialists, however, told OMRI they will begin to hold rallies all over the
country protesting alleged election manipulations by the government. Albanian
TV, meanwhile, warned the public not to participate in any "illegal"
demonstrations, implying that opposition rallies will not be tolerated. --
Fabian Schmidt in Tirana
BOSNIAN SERB LEADERS VISIT SERBIAN PRESIDENT . . .
Bosnian Serb civilian
leader Radovan Karadzic and his military counterpart, Gen. Ratko Mladic, were
in Serbia on 28 May for secret talks with Slobodan Milosevic. The BBC reported
that while no details of the discussions are known, topping the agenda was the
issue of the two Bosnian Serb leaders' continuing political influence in
Republika Srpska (RS) despite intensifying demands from the international
community for them to stand trial for war crimes. Meanwhile, RS acting
President Biljana Plavsic and RS parliamentary speaker Momcilo Krajisnik were
also in Belgrade for talks with Milosevic but declined to comment on the
substance of their meetings, Nasa Borba reported on 29 May. -- Stan
. . . WHILE UN "DEPLORES" MILOSEVIC.
In a related development, Reuters
on 28 May reported that the UN Security Council that same day "deplored"
Belgrade's "continued failure" to cooperate with the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Most recently, Belgrade authorities did not
execute arrest warrants against Mladic, who attended the 21 May Belgrade
funeral of his colleague and fellow accused war criminal, Gen. Djordje Djukic.
Some reports now say Karadzic himself may also have been present at Djukic's
funeral. -- Stan Markotich
CHANGES IN SERBIAN GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL.
On 28 May the Serbian
government, headed by Premier Mirko Marjanovic, publicly announced a cabinet
shuffle, selecting a total of six new ministers, Nasa Borba reported on
29 May. Representatives of the small New Democracy (ND) party reacted to the
news even before it was officially announced, saying their party will probably
continue to back the government. Following the "reconstruction" of the
government, Deputy Speaker and ND member Vojislav Andric said, "I am hoping the
status quo will remain, but we'll see," Beta reported. The ND has functioned as
a wing of the ruling Socialist Party of Serbia, giving Milosevic's Socialists a
de facto majority in the republic's legislature. -- Stan Markotich
CROATIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO MORE DICTATES.
Franjo Tudjman on the Croatian
Armed Forces Day said the country has been continuously pushed to accept
unacceptable conditions and thus must have a ready armed force to guarantee
Croatian independence, Hina reported on 28 May. He added that despite pressure
to expand amnesty for Croatian Serbs in eastern Slavonia to all regions
previously inhabited by Serbs, he has refused and will accept no more dictates,
Nasa Borba on 29 May reported. Meanwhile, the Permanent Committee of the
Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly on 29 May will consider the status
of Croatia's application for full membership. The Permanent Committee noted in
a resolution draft of Croatia's application that Croatia acted discordantly to
its liabilities. The committee speakers repeated their reserves and criticism
regarding Croatia, Vjesnik reported on 29 May. -- Daria Sito Sucic
MUSLIM REFUGEES PREVENTED FROM VISITING STOLAC.
Bosnian Croat police on
28 May prevented some 200 Muslim refugees from visiting their homes in Stolac
in southern Bosnia-Herzegovina, AFP and Onasa reported. Radoslav Lavric, an
official of the self-proclaimed Bosnian Croat republic of Herceg-Bosna, said
the Croatian authorities have already allowed some 600 Muslim refugees to visit
the town, which was more than agreed. Later, the Croatian authorities in Stolac
said the visits were "officially completed," and denied more visits because "it
is not clear how long they will take," Onasa reported on 28 May. Lavric said
the Bosnian side had not requested additional visits, but if it had, more would
have been approved. -- Daria Sito Sucic
DIPLOMATIC CONFLICT BETWEEN ROMANIA, CROATIA.
Florin Radulescu Botica,
head of Romania's delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of
Europe, said his country will not respond to Croatian President Franjo
Tudjman's criticism of Romania's democracy, Romanian media reported on 29 May.
On 25 May, Tudjman commented on the council's decision to delay Croatia's
admission, ironically adding that such "democratic countries" as Albania,
Romania, Moldova, and Russia have already been admitted to the council. Botica
suggested that Romania's support of the council's decision caused Tudjman's
criticism. He added that the Parliamentary Assembly considered the decision
justified, recalling freedom of press and human rights violations in Croatia.
-- Matyas Szabo
ROMANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN JAPAN.
Teodor Melescanu on 28 May ended a
three-day official visit in Japan, Radio Bucharest reported. He discussed on 27
May bilateral relations with his Japanese counterpart Yukihiko Ikeda and other
senior Japanese officials and was received by Emperor Akihito the next day.
Mutual trade and economic cooperation figured high on the talks' agenda. The
Japanese side pledged to support the process of privatization and industrial
restructuring in Romania through loans that will be used for re-equipping the
iron and steel combine in Galati and modernizing the Constanta harbor and
several Romanian plants. Melescanu stressed Romania's interest in an agreement
similar to the one with the EU that would remove obstacles to Romanian exports
to Japan. Japanese officials, on their part, insisted that Romania must offer
better treatment to foreign investors if it is to attract more Japanese
investment. -- Dan Ionescu
ATTACKS ON BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT CONTINUE.
The Union of Democratic Forces
on 28 May decided to file a no-confidence vote against the Socialist government
for its failure to deal with the aggravating economic crisis,
Demokratsiya reported. At the same time, the Bulgarian Socialist Party
(BSP) is increasing pressure on Prime Minister Zhan Videnov to reshuffle his
cabinet, Standart and Trud reported. At a meeting of the BSP
parliamentary faction, deputies asked for the dismissal of Deputy Prime
Minister and Agriculture Minister Svetoslav Shivarov, Industry Minister Kliment
Vuchev, and Culture Minister Georgi Kostov. According to Demokratsiya,
the deputies also asked for the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister and
Minister of Economic Development Rumen Gechev. Meanwhile, the Confederation of
Labor "Podkrepa"--one of two big Bulgarian trade unions--announced it will
organize protests against the government and launch a campaign of civil
disobedience. -- Stefan Krause
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Victor Gomez and Deborah Michaels