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Newsline - August 16, 1996


LEBED MEETS YANDARBIEV . . .
Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed held talks in the Chechen village of Starye Atagi on the afternoon of 15 August with acting Chechen President Zelimkhan Yandarbiev and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov, Russian and Western agencies reported. Lebed described the talks as "constructive" and "hopeful," saying that both sides had agreed that the conflict should be resolved by "exclusively peaceful means" but that "purely military issues" must be resolved before discussing the issue of Chechnya's status. Lebed also announced the creation of a supervisory commission to monitor "the strict observance of ceasefire conditions," saying it would include representatives from the neighboring republics of Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkariya, and Ingushetiya. Yandarbiev said Lebed's peace efforts "deserve the highest praise," while separatist spokesmen later said that Lebed had "confirmed his intention to withdraw troops from the territory of Chechnya," after an unspecified "transitional period." -- Scott Parrish

. . . AND PROMISES TO REVEAL THOSE "RESPONSIBLE" FOR THE CHECHEN CONFLICT.
At a press conference following his arrival in Grozny on the morning of 15 August, Lebed promised to disclose the names of the "heroes" responsible for both beginning and perpetuating the Chechen conflict, Russian media reported. He then expressed the opinion that the continuation of fighting in the republic is "profitable" for some unnamed groups. "Nobody knows if this is a war or not. Nobody knows who started it, what caused it," Lebed complained. Before his afternoon meeting with Yandarbiev, Lebed met at the federal forces headquarters in Khankala with Ruslan Aushev, president of neighboring Ingushetiya. Aushev, a frequent critic of federal government policy in Chechnya, said he fully backs Lebed's peace initiative. -- Scott Parrish

GROZNY RELATIVELY QUIET.
Despite sporadic gunfire, the night of 15-16 August was quieter than any in the past 10 days, ITAR-TASS reported. Russian military spokesmen said two federal servicemen were killed and 12 wounded overnight. One reason for the relative lack of fighting, according to NTV, is that separatist fighters now virtually control the entire city, with federal troops isolated in a few barracks and bunkers. The network reported that instead of federal troops, separatist fighters now run check points in central Grozny. Despite the current truce, the fighters are digging fortifications in anticipation of Russian efforts to storm the city. At a Moscow press conference, Interior Minister Anatolii Kulikov said 2,000 Chechen fighters confront 7,000 federal troops in the city. -- Scott Parrish

FOREIGN MINISTRY CRITICIZES OSCE ON CHECHNYA.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Demurin lambasted the OSCE for making statements that he claimed attributed "equal responsibility" to federal forces and Chechen separatist fighters for the recent intensification of the conflict. Demurin complained that current OSCE chairman Flavio Cotti's references to "the sides in the conflict" and "the warring parties" contradict the OSCE's position that Chechnya is an internal matter of the Russian Federation. He added that Cotti unjustifiably treated as equals the separatist fighters, whom he described as "unconstitutional armed formations," and federal troops, which he termed "government law enforcement organs." Meanwhile, Tim Guldimann, head of the OSCE assistance group in Chechnya, said he stands ready to mediate in any new negotiations aimed at resolving the conflict. -- Scott Parrish

BOLSHAKOV: "A NORMAL SOVIET APPARATCHIK."
First Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Bolshakov will be Chernomyrdin's main deputy in the new government. Former Finance Minister Boris Fedorov has labeled him "a normal Soviet apparatchik, not a radical reformer," Reuters reported. Izvestiya on 16 August described his rise as a "surprise," while Kommersant-Daily noted that he is the least known of the new first deputy prime ministers. He worked in the military industrial enterprises of Leningrad for more than 20 years. As deputy prime minister for the CIS from 1994-1996, he succeeded in restoring some economic ties between Russian and CIS enterprises and in creating a new financial network to stimulate trade and the payment of debts to Russia. His appointment indicates Yeltsin's priority on strengthening CIS ties, Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on 16 August. -- Robert Orttung

REACTION TO GOVERNMENT FORMATION.
Former Fuel and Energy Minister Yurii Shafranik was apparently one of the main losers in the government reshuffle as his ministerial post remains vacant. He may be paying for his inability to pacify the country's miners and his opposition to the IMF's proposals to replace export duties on oil and gas with excise taxes, which also fall on domestic customers, Kommersant-Daily reported. The deputy leader of the Communist Party Duma faction Valentin Kuptsov said that the new government will not change the social-economic situation in the country in any substantial way, NTV reported on 15 August. Former acting Prime Minister Yegor Gaidar said that there are too many deputy prime ministers in the new cabinet. Chernomyrdin said that some of the current vacancies could still go to members of the opposition. -- Robert Orttung

ILYUSHIN MOVES INTO GOVERNMENT.
As expected, President Yeltsin's senior aide, Viktor Ilyushin, was appointed first deputy prime minister in charge of "social affairs." Ilyushin is a former Komsomol organizer who had worked as Yeltsin's personal secretary since 1980, when Yeltsin was party chief in Sverdlovsk. There is much speculation over why Ilyushin has given up his crucial job as the "gatekeeper" who controls access to the president for the thankless task of dealing with Russia's bankrupt health, pension, and social welfare systems. He could have been pushed out at Chief of Staff Chubais's insistence; he could be trying to serve as "Yeltsin's man" inside the government; or he might be positioning himself for the post-Yeltsin succession struggle. -- Peter Rutland

VLADIMIR POTANIN PROFILE.
Vladimir Potanin, the 35-year-old chairman of Oneksimbank, was appointed on 13 August to the post of first deputy prime minister in charge of economic affairs. Potanin is seen as having close ties with a wide spectrum of Russia's political elite, from reformer Anatolii Chubais to conservative Oleg Soskovets. Although he describes himself as a banker and entrepreneur, he has spent most of his career in state and state-owned foreign trade organizations: the Soviet Foreign Trade Ministry, the Interros foreign trade association (1991), and the International Financial Company (1992). In 1993, he became president of Oneksimbank, one of the five leading banks of Russia which has close ties to the state. In March 1995, Potanin was instrumental in creating the consortium of seven banks that suggested the controversial loans-for-shares auction scheme to the government. His bank subsequently played an active role in the auctions, acquiring a 38% stake in the world's largest nickel producer, Norilsk Nickel. Potanin's task will be to improve tax collection while simultaneously reviving capital investment. -- Natalia Gurushina and Peter Rutland

ALEKSANDR LIVSHITS PROFILE.
The former economic adviser to President Yeltsin, Aleksandr Livshits, has been appointed the new finance minister and deputy prime minister, international media reported. His main task is to concentrate on increasing taxes. Livshits spent most of his professional career (1974-1992) in academic circles, and is known for his liberal and monetarist economic views. Still, he accepts that the country needs a social safety-net. He was behind the government's pre-election campaign in March to repay wage arrears. Livshits was also one of the first officials to draw attention to unfair tax benefits enjoyed by sport organizations and organizations for the disabled, which allowed them to make money on alcohol imports. -- Natalia Gurushina

STRIKES SPREAD.
Miners at five coal pits in the Kemerovo Oblast have joined their colleagues in Tula and Rostov by walking off the job due to wage arrears, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 August. By the end of July, the wage debts in the sector totaled 2 billion rubles ($400,000). It is highly unlikely that the government will be able to pay such a large amount of money by 25 August, the day on which miners plan to strike across the country. Workers at the Leningrad nuclear power plant are threatening to strike unless they are paid their wages for the March-July period, Segodnya reported on 13 August. Meanwhile, the federation leader of the Independent Trade Unions, Andrei Isaev, has announced that Russian trade unions are preparing a joint strike for this fall. He added that workers in all industries are owed a total of 34 trillion rubles in back wages. -- Anna Paretskaya

RYAZAN CITY DEPUTY KIDNAPPED.
A deputy of the Ryazan city legislature, Aleksandr Nazarov, was kidnapped by four masked men while he was on his way to work on 15 August, Radio Rossii reported the same day. Nazarov's car was stopped by a group of men with machine guns who claimed they were with the tax police. They took him to a nearby forest , where they beat him and threatened to kill him if he did not quit his deputy job. Nazarov remains hospitalized. The Ryazan legislature chairman, Pavel Mamatov, said that many deputies and their families have been threatened. Most local deputies are Communist Party members. -- Anna Paretskaya

FORCED HOLIDAYS FOR SATELLITE MANUFACTURER.
Some 8,000 workers at the Applied Mechanics Association company (OPM) in Zheleznogorsk (the former Krasnoyarsk-26), which manufactures space satellite communications systems, were sent on forced leave until 1 October, ITAR-TASS reported on 16 August. OPM lacks the money to pay wages and continue production, due to the fact that in 1996 its customers--the Defense Ministry, the Russian Space Agency, and the Moscow--based association Informkosmos--only paid 10% of the money they owed. The company was in part paid with bills of exchange issued by the recently collapsed Tveruniversalbank. -- Natalia Gurushina



SHEVARDNADZE CLIPS WINGS OF ANTI-SEMITE.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze reacted indignantly to an anti-Semitic article printed in the paper Noy, Segodnya reported on 15 August. Shevardnadze took the article, which described Jews as "vampires and sadists," to task during his weekly radio address. Western agencies reported that the paper's editor has been charged with inciting hatred, a crime which carries a maximum three-year prison sentence. He has also been fined, and the paper has been suspended from publication. -- Lowell Bezanis

DASHNAK ATTEMPTS TO REGISTER.
The Armenian Revolutionary Federation, Dashnaktsutyun (ARF), has applied to be registered once again as a political party with the Justice Ministry, Noyan Tapan reported on 14 August. The ARF, Armenia's largest opposition party, was banned in January 1995, following allegations that it had a clandestine wing, known as Dro, which was involved in drug trafficking and political assassinations. The ARF's candidate in the presidential election, Vahan Hovannessyan, has been arrested on charges of organizing a coup and acts of terrorism, according to Noyan Tapan on 15 August. Efforts to demonstrate that the Armenian ARFF is independent of its diaspora strongholds are likely to be met with skepticism in Yerevan and abroad. -- Lowell Bezanis

ARMENIAN EMBASSY IN GERMANY UNDER SCRUTINY.
Armenian Foreign Minister Vahan Papazian has announced plans to establish a commission that will examine the work of the consular section of Yerevan's embassy in Bonn following allegations raised in the German journal Focus that it was involved in extorting money from Armenians in Germany, ITAR-TASS reported on 15 August. The Armenian ambassador in Germany denied the accusations. -- Lowell Bezanis

BELGIAN FIRM BUYS FORMER KAZAKHSTANI STATE ENERGY COMPANY.
The Kazakhstani government has sold Almatyenergo, the former state energy company and the main provider of both electricity and heat to Almaty, to the Belgian company Tractebel for $5 million, Kazakhstanskaya pravda reported on 14 August. Tractebel also pledged to boost output by 30% and spend $270 million to upgrade Almatyenergo's several power stations and electricity grid. The government had feared that the indebted and capital-starved Almatyenergo would be unable to provide the capital with electricity and heat during the coming winter. The same day, ITAR-TASS reported that the U.S. company A.E.S. had concluded a similar deal for the Ekibastuz power station. -- Slava Kozlov in Almaty

RUSSIA CUTS OFF ENERGY TO NORTHERN KAZAKHSTAN.
Citing unpaid bills, Boris Syutkin of Russia's Unified Energy System announced on 15 August that his company has temporarily ceased delivering electricity to certain regions of northern Kazakhstan, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported the same day. Syutkin said Kazakhstan owes the company $420 million for earlier deliveries. Syutkin also criticized Kazakhstan for failing to fulfill its part of a deal to deliver coal to a Russian power station, claiming that no more than 40% of contacted coal had reached the Troitsk power station this year. Western Kazakhstan will not be cut off as regions in that part of the country have been making regular payments to Russian power stations. -- Bruce Pannier

CORRECTION:
In an item in OMRI Daily Digest, issue no. 158, vol. 2, Natik Aliev, president of the Azerbaijani oil company SOCAR, was incorrectly identified as President Heidar Aliev's son. Ilham Aliev, vice president of SOCAR is President Aliev's son.



UKRAINIAN CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR ON MONETARY REFORM.
Viktor Yushchenko said that he believes the hryvna, the country's new currency, may be introduced by the end of the year, Ukrainian agencies reported on 15 August. He noted that his bank is close to completing a package of bills outlining the principles and parameters of monetary reform in Ukraine. Yushchenko has been meeting with an IMF delegation in Kyiv to negotiate a $1.5 billion stabilization fund for the hryvna. IMF officials said their biggest concern is the size of Ukraine's budget deficit. In other news, Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Kinakh has noted that consumer debt for energy has continued to rise, despite the fact the government earlier this month cut off electricity to thousands of delinquent customers. He said the total debt now amounts to 226 trillion karbovantsi ($1.2 billion). -- Chrystyna Lapychak

UKRAINIAN DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS.
President Leonid Kuchma has accepted the resignation of Oleksander Yemets, the deputy prime minister for political and legal issues, Ukrainian TV reported on 14 August. Yemets resigned in order to keep his seat in the national legislature. Under the new Ukrainian Constitution, government officials cannot serve simultaneously as lawmakers. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT SAYS NO RUN-OFF PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS.
Alyaksandr Lukashenka, speaking in Hrodna on 15 August, announced elections will not be held in the upcoming months to fill the 61 vacant seats in the 260-member parliament, Reuters reported. He also declared that he was adding a fifth question to the 7 November referendum "to ask for a vote of confidence in the president." The referendum will also include questions on increasing the powers of the president and creating a new parliament with a second chamber. He said that his new proposed constitution will be published in a national newspaper early next month. -- Saulius Girnius

ESTONIA RATIFIES BALTIC AGREEMENT ON AGRICULTURAL FREE TRADE.
The Estonian parliament on 15 August ratified a free trade agreement with Latvia and Lithuania on agricultural products, ETA reported. The three countries' prime ministers signed the agreement in Vilnius in June. Lithuania has already ratified the agreement, and the Latvian parliament will probably do so later this month. Estonian lawmakers also discussed the Estonian-Latvian sea border agreement, signed on 12 July. Foreign Minister Siim Kallas said the failure to ratify the agreement would result in the loss of credibility in the West and would be a serious obstacle to EU and NATO membership. -- Saulius Girnius

LITHUANIAN MINISTER REJECTS LATVIAN ACCUSATIONS OVER OIL TERMINAL.
Environmental Protection Minister Bronius Bradauskas issued a statement on 14 August rejecting charges by his Latvian counterpart, Indulis Emsis, on the location and safety of the Butinge oil terminal (see OMRI Daily Digest, 13 August 1996), BNS reported. Bradauskas noted that Norwegian and local experts had found it to be reliable. Bradauskas said Emsis's statement was an attempt to resolve political and economic problems that have nothing in common with environmental protection. -- Saulius Girnius

POLISH CARDINAL ON POST-COMMUNISM.
Polish Primate Jozef Glemp, in a homily on 15 August at the Jasna Gora monastery celebrating the ascension of the Virgin Mary, described Poland's existing political system as a transitional "post-communist" mixture of communism and liberalism, Polish dailies reported. According to Glemp, this system has replaced the persecution of the Church with a "superficially Western" morality that emphasizes freedom but also downplays the role of God, the Church, and spirituality. Poland's true rebirth, Glemp declared, requires a more thorough "settling of scores" with Poland's communist past. Glemp was giving expression to the views of a significant portion of Poland's political forces, especially the right-of-center parties not represented in the parliament. -- Ben Slay

CZECH SOCIAL DEMOCRATS BEGIN CAMPAIGNING FOR SENATE.
The opposition Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) on 15 August launched its campaign for the November Senate elections, Czech media reported. Beginning in the southern Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov, CSSD Chairman Milos Zeman plans to tour the country in the "Zemak" bus, as he did before the May-June parliamentary elections. Zeman did not exclude the possibility of trade union sponsorship for CSSD candidates. Christian Democratic leader Josef Lux on 15 August said tensions within Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party should not affect the government and relations within the ruling coalition. But Mlada fronta Dnes the following day commented that the CSSD "could hardly have imagined better conditions for starting the Senate campaign." -- Sharon Fisher

GERMAN, CZECH PRESIDENTS TO MEET.
German President Roman Herzog will visit the Czech Republic on 4 September to meet with his Czech counterpart, Vaclav Havel, CTK reported on 15 August. The two presidents will take part in meeting of German and Czech young people in Policka, in eastern Bohemia. German opposition parties--particularly the Greens--have been urging German Chancellor Helmut Kohl to complete the Czech-German parliamentary declaration as soon as possible. That document has been blocked by the Christian Social Union of Bavaria, which supports the interests of the Sudeten Germans, who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II. In an interview with RTL TV last week, Kohl said he is "not under any time pressure." He noted that he has "great understanding for the Czech side" but added that, as the German chancellor, he must "represent German interests." -- Sharon Fisher

RUSSIA HELPS SLOVAKIA LAUNCH NATIONAL AIRLINE.
Igor Dula, director of Slovakia's Airport Authority, announced on 15 August that representatives of Russia's Aeroflot are helping to start a national carrier in Slovakia, RFE/RL reported. Since the Czech-Slovak split, Slovakia has been left without a national airline, although a number of small carriers do exist. Aeroflot official Yevgenii Shaposhnikov met in Bratislava earlier this month with Slovak government officials, including Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar. The Russians are reportedly prepared to provide four to six planes for the new airline. Dula said it is too early to say when the airline will begin operations. Nearly 200,000 passengers used Bratislava's airport in 1995, a 33% increase over the previous year. Because of Bratislava's proximity to Vienna, many Slovaks fly from that city's airport. -- Sharon Fisher

CONFLICT BREWING AMONG PRO-GOVERNMENT JOURNALISTS IN SLOVAKIA.
Peter Strelinger, deputy editor in chief of Slovenska Republika, on 15 August rejected the Ludovit Stur prize for journalism, Narodna obroda reported. In a letter to Slovak TV director Jozef Darmo, Strelinger said the reason for his refusal was the "personal and moral situation" at Slovenska Republika. The prize was awarded by the Association of Slovak Journalists in cooperation with the government. It recipients to date have been only pro-government journalists and newspapers. Slovenska Republika reported on 15 August that besides Strelinger, the winners include the weekly Literarny tyzdennik and the state press agency TASR. -- Sharon Fisher

SLOVAK ROUNDUP.
The Academic Senate of Bratislava's Comenius University on 15 August made clear its opposition to the government's draft law on universities, TASR reported. Particular concern was expressed over limitations of academic freedom by jeopardizing the universities' autonomy. Also on 15 August, Meciar attended ceremonies in Zilina, the first of Slovakia's eight new administrative regions to be inaugurated. In other news, the opposition Democratic Union called for the dismissal of Slovak TV (STV) Director Jozef Darmo and Prosecutor-General Michal Valo. The former has been accused of illegal labor practices, such as the firing of STV staff, while the latter has come under attack for violating the constitution (see OMRI Daily Digest, 9 August 1996). -- Sharon Fisher

HUNGARIAN INDUSTRY MINISTER RESIGNS.
Imre Dunai, a non-party technocrat, resigned from his post on 15 August, Hungarian dailies reported. Dunai seems likely to be replaced by current Privatization Minister Tamas Suchman of the Hungarian Socialist Party, the coalition government's senior partner. Dunai, in his resignation letter to Prime Minister Gyula Horn, cited ill health as the reason for his departure. However, he has been at odds with other ministers over several economic policy measures. For example, he has been a leading proponent of energy price increases scheduled for this fall, which the government decided to scale back for "social" reasons. Dunai has promised to refrain from public comment for at least six months after his resignation, and he is not expected to leave the government until the fall. -- Ben Slay




WILL KEY PLAYERS BOYCOTT BOSNIAN ELECTIONS?
U.S. officials said that Haris Silajdzic, former Bosnian prime minister and leader of the Party for Bosnia and Herzegovina, plans to boycott the 14 September vote. He fears that the ballot will be manipulated by the dominant nationalist parties of the Muslims, Serbs, and Croats and will serve to legitimize the partition of the country along ethnic lines. Silajdzic called it "ratification of genocide," AFP reported on 15 August. The previous day, parliamentary speaker Miro Lazovic said his Social Democratic Party and its anti-nationalist coalition of five parties is also considering a boycott. Meanwhile, in Sarajevo, the International Crisis Group, composed of former prime ministers, foreign ministers, and other public figures, called for the elections to be postponed and for a new Dayton-style agreement to be worked out, Oslobodjenje wrote on 16 August. President Alija Izetbegovic condemned attacks by his supporters on opposition rallies, Dnevni avaz said. Belgrade's Vreme added that the most recent such incident, in Gradacac, could trigger a mass boycott of the vote by the opposition. -- Patrick Moore

OSCE PENALIZES RULING BOSNIAN SERB PARTY.
The OSCE Election Appeals Subcommittee on 13 August decided that the ruling Serb Democratic Party (SDS) in Doboj, Republika Srpska, is guilty of having denied humanitarian aid to refugees unless they agree to vote in their new settlements in the upcoming Bosnian elections, Reuters reported on 15 August. The subcommittee levied a $25,000 fine against the SDS and demanded a public apology from its list of candidates in Doboj. It also noted that election rules had been violated in the Serb-held town of Modrica. Meanwhile, OSCE Chairman Flavio Cotti has cast serious doubt on how free and fair the Bosnian elections will be, AFP reported on 14 August. Cotti expressed his "greatest concern" over freedom of movement, the return of refugees, and prevailing attempts to create ethnically pure states. -- Daria Sito Sucic

SARAJEVO AIRPORT REOPENS FOR COMMERCIAL FLIGHTS.
U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic on 15 August presided over the opening of the Sarajevo airport to commercial flights for the first time since 1992, international and local media reported. The first such flight was to Turkey. The airport was a major battlefield during the Bosnian war and hundreds of lives were lost there. Christopher said he had come to Sarajevo to witness "Bosnia's summer of hope" ahead of the September general elections, AFP quoted him as saying. In an televised address to the nation, he appealed to Bosnian voters to support the landmark elections. -- Daria Sito Sucic

IS AN "OIL WAR" LOOMING BETWEEN SERBIA, MONTENEGRO?
Montenegrin police on 15 August blocked a convoy of 53 Serbian trucks transporting oil to Montenegro, local media reported. This move seemed to be in retaliation for an earlier incident in which Serbian police officials blocked oil shipments from private Montenegrin firms. At issue was likely oil prices. Montenegro has protested that local refineries--notably at Pancevo, in Serbia--are dictating prices higher than those demanded by facilities in other countries. The political consequences of an "oil war" between the two republics are difficult to predict. -- Stan Markotich

BELGRADE, BUDAPEST RESTORE DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS.
Full diplomatic relations have been restored between Belgrade and Budapest, Nepszabadsag reported on 16 August. Hungarian Ambassador Janos Toth presented his credentials to federal President Zoran Lilic on 15 August. Belgrade's ambassador, Balsha Shpadiyer, had presented his credentials earlier this year. Hungary withdrew its ambassador following the 1992 imposition of sanctions against Serbia-Montenegro but had maintained contacts at the level of chargé d'affaires. -- Stan Markotich
KOSOVO LOCAL AUTHORITIES SEEK TO ENFORCE LAW BANNING SALES OF LAND TO ALBANIANS.
Tanjug reported on 13 August that the ban on the sale of real estate to ethnic Albanians in Kosovo is widely being ignored. This prompted local politicians in Istok to put the issue on the agenda of the local municipal assembly and to appoint a commission to investigate sales of land. Malisa Perovic, president of the Istok Municipal Assembly, has now decided to publicize the names of Serbs who have sold land to Albanians and to call on the Serbian government to assist in enforcing the law that stipulates the ban. She also alleged that senior military officials, former and present government ministers, and other high ranking officials have been involved in selling land to Albanians. -- Fabian Schmidt

MACEDONIA SAYS CANCELED MEETING WITH GREECE WAS NOT PLANNED.
Sources within the Macedonian Foreign Ministry said that a meeting between the foreign ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Ljubomir Frckovski and Theodoros Pangalos, in September in New York, was not planned "so there is nothing to cancel," MIC reported on 15 August. Pangalos on 13 August had canceled what he described as a scheduled meeting after Frckovski said Macedonia would refuse to negotiate its name. The Macedonian source said there had been the possibility of a meeting between Frckovski and Pangalos but "it was not formally prearranged." Meanwhile in Greece, Antonis Samaras, leader of the small nationalist Political Spring party, called on the government to stop all negotiations with Macedonia. He claimed that the government was about to reach a compromise on the name issue and was causing a fuss that "convinces nobody." -- Stefan Krause

FURTHER REACTIONS TO AGREEMENT ON HUNGARIAN-ROMANIAN TREATY AGREEMENT.
The Hungarian government, responding to the announcement that Bucharest and Budapest is ready to sign the bilateral treaty, said on 15 August that an improvement in Hungarian-Romanian relations would be beneficial for Hungary. But former Hungarian Foreign Minister Geza Jeszenszky was quoted by Reuters as describing the treaty as "meaningless." The Hungarian Democratic Forum commented that the treaty agreement runs counter to the interests of Hungarians in both Hungary and Romania. Meanwhile, in an interview with Adevarul, Romanian President Ion Iliescu said that including a mention of Council of Europe Recommendation No. 1201 in an annex to the treaty is not tantamount to recognizing collective rights or territorial autonomy based on ethnicity. However, the Socialist Labor Party, a former member of the ruling coalition, rejected any reference to the controversial recommendation. -- Dan Ionescu

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT ON INTEGRATION INTO EUROPEAN STRUCTURES.
Mircea Snegur has called again for his country's integration into European structures, local agencies reported on 15 August, quoting an interview with a British publication. Snegur said that joining those structures would provide guarantees for consolidating Moldovan statehood and implementing democratic and economic reforms. He promised that his administration would work out a coherent program for cooperation with the EU, the Council of Europe, and the Western European Union. Snegur's main opponents in the fall presidential election--Prime Minister Andrei Sangheli and Parliamentary Speaker Petru Lucinschi--are widely seen as favoring closer relations with the CIS and Russia rather than with Western Europe. -- Dan Ionescu

BULGARIANS GET INFO FROM STATE MEDIA BUT DON'T TRUST IT.
According to a poll published in Standart on 16 August, the vast majority of Bulgarians living in Sofia and Plovdiv receive information on domestic affairs from the state media. Some 74% of respondents said state TV was their main source of information on events in Bulgaria and another 10% said state radio. Only 9% get their information from newspapers and 3% from private radio stations. At the same time, 56% of respondents said the news coverage and commentary of the state media is politically biased. -- Stefan Krause

ALBANIAN SOCIALIST LEADER CALLS FOR "CIVIL BOYCOTT."
Fatos Nano, in an interview with Koha Jone on 15 August, called for a "civil boycott of President Sali Berisha's illegal regime." Nano said he hoped that Berisha could be forced to the negotiating table, thereby increasing the chances of a change of government. He called on other opposition parties to continue their boycott of the parliament, adding that his goals are to approve a new constitution and to reach agreement on a date for early parliamentary elections. Nano also said that there are serious disagreements within the Socialist leadership over reform of the party's statute and program. He has demanded that all references to Marxism be dropped from the program and that long-time communist officials be removed from the party leadership. A Socialists party congress is scheduled for 24 August. -- Fabian Schmidt





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