YELTSIN DENOUNCES INFIGHTING, CALLS FOR COOPERATION.
In his regular
radio address on 25 October, President Boris Yeltsin denounced political
infighting among his subordinates and called on all parts of the state and
society to work together, ITAR-TASS reported. Yeltsin blamed the infighting for
holding up the payment of wages and pensions and warned that he would continue
firing those responsible. He said that he had taken the first step to promote
cooperation by ordering regular meetings between the prime minister,
presidential chief of staff, and the speakers from both houses of parliament.
He also said he was prepared to work with all elected governors. Yeltsin
reminded politicians that Russia had elected him as its leader for the next
four years and that it was not time to engage in electoral campaigns. The day
before, Yeltsin rejected statements by former Security Council Secretary
Aleksandr Lebed that he was about to dismiss Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Russian Public TV reported. -- Robert Orttung
KUCHMA AND YELTSIN ANNOUNCE "AGREEMENT" ON BLACK SEA FLEET . . .
Following Yeltsin's 24 October meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart
Leonid Kuchma at the Barvikha sanatorium, his spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembskii
announced that the two leaders had reached agreement "on all questions
connected with the problem of the Black Sea Fleet," Russian and Western
agencies reported. Yastrzhembskii added that the agreement "resolved" the
problem of the status of Sevastopol, where much of the fleet is based. He said
Chernomyrdin would travel to Kyiv in mid-November to sign a formal agreement on
the fleet, and also declared that Yeltsin's first foreign visit after he
recovers from his scheduled heart surgery will be to Kyiv for the signing of
the long-delayed bilateral friendship treaty. -- Scott Parrish
. . . BUT DETAILS REMAIN UNCLEAR.
Yeltsin's and Kuchma's dramatic
announcement bears many of the hallmarks of previous failed agreements
supposedly resolving the fleet problem, which foundered amid disagreements over
the terms under which Russia will lease facilities in Sevastopol.
Yastrzhembskii told journalists that it was "too early" to disclose the details
of the agreement, while Kuchma later admitted that a Russian-Ukrainian working
group under the chairmanship of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov and
Ukrainian First Deputy Prime Minister Vasyl Durdynets would have to hammer out
some remaining points before Chernomyrdin came to Kyiv. When later pushed for
details, Kuchma was vague, promising only that the "necessary conditions" would
be provided, and refusing to specify the length of the lease Ukraine would be
willing to grant Russia. -- Scott Parrish
DUMA WARNS UKRAINE ON SEVASTOPOL.
The Duma adopted a resolution by 282-0
calling on the Ukrainian Rada to reverse its "unilateral approach" to the
division of the Black Sea Fleet, the status of Sevastopol and the "arbitrary"
1954 transfer of Crimea to Ukraine, Russian agencies reported on 24 October.
Citing Soviet-era documents, the resolution repeated claims that Sevastopol
remains under Russian jurisdiction. It also proclaimed that Sevastopol "has
been, and will be the main base of the Russian Black Sea Fleet." Ukrainian
President Kuchma said the Duma's recent resolutions on the fleet and Sevastopol
"alarmed" Kyiv. -- Scott Parrish
DISAGREEMENT OVER RUSSIAN TROOP WITHDRAWAL FROM CHECHNYA.
prime minister of Chechnya's newly created interim coalition government, Ruslan
Khutaev, told the Russian State Duma's Committee on Geopolitics on 24 October
that the Chechen leadership insists on the withdrawal from Chechnya of all
Russian forces, NTV reported. Under the terms of the June Nazran agreement, two
Russian brigades are to be permanently stationed in Chechnya; the Khasavyurt
agreement signed in late August by then Security Council Secretary Aleksandr
Lebed and Chechen Chief of Staff Aslan Maskhadov fails to clarify the troop
withdrawal issue. Also on 24 October, a spokesman for the Chechen interim
government said that the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for
January 1997 will be organized directly by Chechnya's Central Electoral
Commission without help from its Russian counterpart, ITAR-TASS reported. --
RYBKIN, AUSHEV CALL FOR AMNESTY.
Following a lengthy discussion of the
situation in the North Caucasus, Security Council Secretary Ivan Rybkin and
Ingushetiyan President Ruslan Aushev called on 24 October for an immediate
amnesty for all participants in armed conflicts in Chechnya and elsewhere in
the North Caucasus, ITAR-TASS and Radio Rossii reported. The two also called
for joint measures to preclude attempts by "extremist forces" to sabotage the
peace process. -- Liz Fuller
ROMANIAN PRIME MINISTER IN MOSCOW.
Nicolae Vacaroiu met with his Russian
counterpart Viktor Chernomyrdin on 24 October to discuss bilateral economic
ties and cooperation in the fight against organized crime, ITAR-TASS reported.
The two approved an agreement between Gazprom and the Romanian gas company
Romgaz, under which Russia will deliver 8 billion cubic meters of natural gas
to Romania and export another 24.8 billion cubic meters to third countries via
Romania in 1997. Those numbers will increase to 14 billion cubic meters and
50.7 billion cubic meters by 2010. -- Scott Parrish
RUTSKOI OFFERS OLIVE BRANCH TO YELTSIN.
Aleksandr Rutskoi, who won the
gubernatorial election of Kursk Oblast by a landslide on 20 October, said in a
TV interview on 24 October that he is willing to find a compromise with Yeltsin
and Chernomyrdin, ITAR-TASS reported. The new governor, whose election victory
also provided him a seat in the Federation Council, noted that he is going to
work without conflict with Russian leaders and said he wants to meet with
Yeltsin. On the same day, Yeltsin sent Rutskoi, his long-time foe, a telegram
congratulating him on his victory. -- Ritsuko Sasaki
UDMURTIYA LEGISLATURE FIRES ELECTED MAYOR.
Udmurtiya's State Council
fired Anatolii Saltykov, the mayor of the republic's capital Izhevsk, who was
elected to his office in 1994, Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 October.
The move follows the State Council's April decision to eliminate all elective
local government posts and subordinate all local leaders directly to the
republic's legislature. In April, the legislature abolished the post of mayor
and appointed Saltykov as the city's chief administrator. Udmurtiya does not
have a presidency. The Russian Constitutional Court is currently examining the
validity of the State Council's April decision and Saltykov has been one of its
most vocal critics (see OMRI Russian Regional Report, 16 October 1996).
State Council Speaker Aleksandr Volkov charged that Saltykov was removed for
irregularities in the use of the city's money. In a similar case, a Moscow
court ruled that a Yeltsin decree removing Vladivostok Mayor Viktor Cherepkov
was unconstitutional. -- Robert Orttung
FEDOROV BROUGHT BACK TO NATIONAL SPORTS FUND.
Boris Fedorov, former
president of the National Sports Fund who was sacked in May, was appointed vice
president of the fund for a four-month trial period, Russian media reported on
24 October. By January, Fedorov has promised to locate $100-$120 million that
has gone missing from the fund's coffers. Fedorov was nearly assassinated in
June and recently filed charges against former presidential bodyguard Aleksandr
Korzhakov, whom he accused of trying to extort $40 million from him (see
OMRI Daily Digest, 7, 10 and 15 October1996). In the personnel
reshuffle, former Olympic diving champion Vladimir Vasin was elected president
of the sports fund. Citing Vitalii Smirnov, the head of Russia's Olympic
Committee, ORT and NTV reported that Korzhakov is being considered to head one
of Russia's sports federations. -- Laura Belin
PRESSURE ON JOURNALISTS INCREASING.
Russian regional authorities have
increased their pressure on journalists, according to Oleg Panfilov, who
monitors media freedom for the Glasnost Defense Foundation. He told OMRI on 24
October that the current regional elections had intensified the struggle for
power and increased constraints on the media. However, he said the situation
for journalists had improved in Chechnya since a ceasefire agreement was
reached there. According to the foundation's latest report on the CIS, two
Russian journalists and one Armenian were detained during the month of
September; another 12 journalists were beaten up, including five from Russia.
Kim Yen Chan, a print journalist from Sakhalin Oblast, was killed in Moscow on
19 September, but Panfilov believes that murder was not related to Chan's
journalistic work. Infringements on journalists' rights have increased during
the last month in Belarus and Armenia, while remaining rather steady in other
CIS countries, Panfilov said. -- Anna Paretskaya in Moscow
COURT REFUSES TO RECOGNIZE RIGHT TO ALTERNATIVE MILITARY SERVICE.
Moscow court sentenced Aleksandr Seregin to two years in jail for draft dodging
on 24 October after refusing to recognize his constitutional right to
alternative service, Ekspress-Khronika reported. The court, however,
suspended the sentence for three years. The judge said that there is currently
no law defining how conscientious objectors can use their right to participate
in alternative service. Seregin is a member of the Anti-military Radical
Association. -- Nikolai Iakoubovski.
ALCOHOL PRIME IN DEATHS.
The director of the Anti-Alcoholism Center in
Moscow, Aleksandr Nemtsov, told ITAR-TASS on 25 October that alcohol is the
"main culprit" in the decline of male life expectancy from 65 years in 1990 to
57 in 1996. Nemtsov said that 400,000 Russians died in 1994 from
over-consumption and drinking adulterated alcohol products. Alcohol abuse is
involved in 80% of murders and 50% of suicides and road accidents. -- Peter
IMF TO DELAY LOAN PAYMENT.
An IMF delegation visiting Moscow this week
was unable to report that Russia is in compliance with the terms of the $10.1
billion extended fund facility agreed to in April, ITAR-TASS and AFP reported
on 24 October. The IMF will reconsider release of the $340 million payment in
three weeks. The July tranche was similarly delayed. The Russian Central Bank
said that the IMF was concerned over alcohol import quotas, foreigners' access
to the GKO market, and delays in the introduction of new tax measures. Tax
receipts in the first nine months of the year were only 65% of the planned
level. Worse still, in September tax revenue was 24% down on August, ITAR-TASS
reported on 14 October. -- Peter Rutland
GOVERNMENT HAS NEW DRAFT BUDGET.
On 24 October the government presented
a revised draft of the 1997 budget which was returned by the State Duma on 16
October, Reuters reported. The new draft shaves 800 billion rubles ($150
million) off total spending and revenue -- a change of 0.25% -- but includes a
new 6.5 trillion rubles ($1.2 billion) item to finance cuts in the army. The
new draft will be resubmitted to the Duma next week. -- Peter Rutland
TATARSTAN FACES FINANCIAL SQUEEZE.
Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev
criticized the federal government's efforts to increase tax collection, saying
it was like "trying to get more milk from chronically undernourished cows,"
Kommersant-Daily reported on 25 October. He opposed the plan to initiate
bankruptcy proceedings against the local truck manufacturer KamAZ, and said the
federal budget owes Tatarstan some 300 billion rubles ($60 million). At the
same time, under a 1994 agreement between Russia and Tatarstan, the Central
Bank has agreed to give the republic a 100 billion ruble, one-month loan to
ease its acute financial problems. Tatarstan's wage arrears alone top 1.7
trillion rubles. -- Natalia Gurushina
SHEVARDNADZE CALLS ON ABKHAZ POPULATION TO BOYCOTT ELECTIONS.
statement issued on 24 October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze called
on the population of the breakaway Black Sea region of Abkhazia not to
participate in the parliamentary elections which its leadership has scheduled
for 23 November, ITAR-TASS and NTV reported. Georgia's parliament declared the
planned elections illegal on 2 October; on 22 October the UN Security Council
called for their postponement pending a formal agreement on the status of
Abkhazia vis-a-vis the government in Tbilisi that would expedite the
repatriation of some 200,000 ethnic Georgians who fled the fighting in Abkhazia
in 1993. -- Liz Fuller
ARMENIAN OPPOSITION APPEALS TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT.
presidential candidate Vazgen Manukyan has formally filed an appeal with the
Armenian Constitutional Court, asking that it annul the 22 September election
results, Noyan Tapan reported on 24 October. Manukyan's campaign officials
submitted a document of more than 500 pages containing "the evidence of
election rigging." According to Armenian laws, the court must issue its verdict
within one month of the appeal being lodged. Ashot Manucharyan, another
opposition candidate and leader of the Scientific-Industrial and Civic Union,
will also appeal to the court on 25 October. Meanwhile, several Armenian
political parties, including the pro-government Shamiram party, have called for
a boycott of the local elections scheduled for November. -- Emil Danielyan
KAZAKSTANI OFFICIAL ON CIS ECONOMIC INTEGRATION.
First Deputy Prime
Minister and chairman of the custom's union committee Nigmatzhan Isingarin was
interviewed in the 24 October edition of Nezavisimaya Gazeta. He said
that agreements between CIS states are often ineffective, and bilateral deals
more useful. He said that in some respects integration is proceeding slower
with CIS members than with other countries. Kazakstan has signed 20 agreements
preventing double taxation with non-CIS countries and only one with another CIS
country. Agreements on investment protection were signed with 12 foreign
countries but not a single CIS country. With regard to VAT, Isingarin noted
that Ukraine did not sign the relevant agreement and does not levy VAT on its
exports, which complicates trade relations. He argued that Turkmenistan and
Uzbekistan support the CIS politically, but not economically. -- Bruce
BELARUSIAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT TO RULE ON REFERENDUMS.
Justice of the Constitutional Court, Valeryi Tsikhinya, told Belapan on 23
October that the court will examine both President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's
proposed constitution and the parliament's. Under the current constitution,
amendments may be put to a national referendum but not new constitutions. If
the court finds the two drafts are equivalent to new constitutions, then a
referendum would be illegal. The same day, Belarusian TV reported Justice
Minister Valentin Sukala (a Lukashenka appointee who was also a member of the
All Belarusian Congress) as saying it was not within the Constitutional Court's
purview to judge whether the draft constitution proposed by the president was
actually a new constitution or amendments to the basic law. -- Ustina Markus
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT'S APPOINTEE TAKES OVER PARLIAMENT'S NEWSPAPER.
conflict over two editors-in-chief of Narodnaya Hazeta--Leanid Yunchyk
and Mikhail Shymanski, who were appointed by the parliament and president,
respectively--has reached the boiling point, Belarusian Radio reported on 24
October. President Lukashenka has ordered that his decrees on the appointment
of Shymanski be implemented, assuring the editorial staff of his support and
confidence in their "ability to withstand...all provocations from political
bankrupts." The Main Directorate of Sociopolitical Information of the
presidential administration has put the blame for the conflict on political
forces that are trying to play out a "scandalous farce" around Narodnaya
Hazeta. -- Sergei Solodovnikov
CANADA TO OFFER SOME $550 MILLION IN CREDITS TO UKRAINE.
Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy concluded agreements worth almost $550 million
with Ukraine, an RFE/RL correspondent reported on 25 October. Axworthy was in
Kyiv on an official visit with some 40 Canadian businessmen who concluded
investment deals amounting to around $425 million. In addition, the Canadian
government has agreed to offer $100 million to Ukraine in credits and project
grants. -- Ustina Markus
GERMAN NAVAL ASSISTANCE TO ESTONIA.
Nine German minesweepers and a
supply ship carrying 20 tons of donated medical supplies arrived in Tallinn on
24 October, ETA reported. Commander Manfred Nielson said Germany will soon give
Estonia two used minesweepers with special equipment worth some $26 million and
provide training for ten officers and forty seamen. The ships would form the
core of the Estonian navy and help clear mines remaining from World War II that
are still found in gulfs along Estonia's coast. -- Saulius Girnius
LATVIA, SOUTH KOREA SIGN INVESTMENT AGREEMENT.
Latvian and South Korean
Foreign Ministers Valdis Birkavs and Gong Ro Myung, meeting in Seoul on 23
October, signed an agreement on the protection and promotion of mutual
investments, BNS reported. Latvia is hoping to receive South Korean investments
in heavy industry, textiles, shipbuilding, forestry, and computer software. The
two ministers also discussed increasing bilateral trade, which totaled almost
$16 million in 1995. Birkavs and a delegation of businessmen will leave Seoul
on 28 October to visit Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand. -- Saulius Girnius
POLISH PRESIDENT IN GREAT BRITAIN.
Aleksander Kwasniewski, during his
two-day visit to London from 23-24 October, met with British Foreign Secretary
Malcolm Rifkind to discuss issues such as NATO and EU enlargement as well as
technical details related to achieving that foreign-policy goal. In an
interview with the Financial Times, Kwasniewski said that for the Polish
side it is unacceptable that NATO enlargement should be preceded by the reform
of the organization and a special treaty between NATO and Russia. Kwasniewski
also met with Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister John Major. -- Jakub
POLISH SEJM ON 1997 TAX RATES.
In a surprise vote on the 1997 income tax
rates, the Sejm has lowered the 21% rate to 20% and introduced an additional
rate of 17% for those in the lowest income bracket, Polish dailies reported on
25 October. Both measures had been proposed by the opposition Labor Union (UP).
The Sejm also decided that tax rates will range from 17% to 45%. The
government's proposal to lower rates for all taxpayers was rejected. The
co-ruling Polish Peasant Party's (PSL) motion to vote on UP's proposal was
supported by all parliamentary parties except for the PSL's coalition partner,
the Democratic Left Alliance. After the vote, Prime Minister Wlodzimierz
Cimoszewicz said the outcome of the vote is the "result of political game"
before the 1997 parliamentary elections. He called it a "shame for the Sejm's
majority." -- Beata Pasek
CZECH PREMIER, PRESIDENT DISCUSS CZECH-GERMAN DECLARATION.
and Vaclav Havel met on 24 October to discuss how the Czech-German declaration
should be adopted, Czech media reported. Preparations for the declaration,
which is intended to promote reconciliation between the two nations, began
almost two years ago. The Czech and German governments hope that their
parliaments will approve the declaration by December. Some Czech opposition
parties, however, have suggested that the parliament be given the right to
either change the text of the declaration or pass an accompanying resolution.
Both Klaus and Havel categorically reject such an option. Klaus has said any
additional resolution would "depreciate the declaration," while Havel argues
that "it is absurd that the parliament should adopt a resolution on its
resolution." -- Jiri Pehe
SLOVAKIA PLANS REFERENDUM ON EU, NATO.
Pavol Kacic, secretary of the
ruling Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), has announced that Slovakia
may hold a referendum next year on NATO and EU membership, Slovak media
reported on 24 October. The HZDS's junior coalition partners--the Slovak
National Party and the Association of Workers--have frequently questioned the
need for Western integration. Following numerous signals that Slovakia has
fallen from the first tier of candidates for NATO and EU membership, Prime
Minister and HZDS Chairman Vladimir Meciar has recently begun questioning the
benefits of joining such organizations. Kacic also denied recent reports in the
Russian media that Meciar has a brain tumor and is preparing to undergo surgery
in Germany. -- Sharon Fisher
SLOVAK PARLIAMENT WITHDRAWS PENAL CODE AMENDMENT.
The parliament has
withdrawn from its current agenda the controversial amendment on the protection
of the republic, Slovak media reported on 24 October. The legislation has drawn
strong warnings from the West. But HZDS legal expert Jan Cuper told Reuters
that there is no direct relationship between the withdrawal and recent U.S. and
EU criticism. The parliament is expected to approve the amendment in a future
session after toning down controversial points (see OMRI Daily Digest,
22 October 1996). Also on 24 October, the parliament approved the law on
parliamentary procedures, which had been vetoed by President Michal Kovac. A
provision preventing the president and other constitutional officials from
participating in closed parliamentary sessions was dropped. Meanwhile, the
Council of Europe is waiting for the Slovak government's response to a
confidential report criticizing its human rights record, Narodna obroda
reported on 25 October. -- Sharon Fisher
UPDATE ON HUNGARIAN PRIVATIZATION SCANDAL.
The supervisory board of the
state privatization agency APV on 24 October submitted an investigative report
on the Marta Tocsik case (see OMRI Daily Digest, 24 October 1994),
Hungarian media reported. The board blames a number of top privatization
officials for the scandal and questions whether Tocsik, a lawyer who received
an 804 million forint ($5.1 million) consulting fee for negotiating with
municipalities on the APV's behalf, did any work of substance. It also says
that APV officials committed numerous irregularities in swapping shares for
land with local governments. The board plans to send the report to the prime
minister, the parliamentary constitutional and economic committees, the special
investigative commission, and the State Auditing Office. Also on 24 October,
the government appointed eight out of eleven new members of the APV board of
directors. -- Sharon Fisher and Petronella Gaal
HUNGARIAN POLICE INTERROGATE NEO-NAZI.
Budapest police are interrogating
Albert Szabo after establishing that statements made during a 23 October rally
could be interpreted as an incitement against a community, Hungarian media
reported. Szabo, head of the Hungarian People's Welfare Federation, had called
for the resettling of Hungarian Jews to Israel. The presidium of the far-right
Hungarian Justice and Life Party on 24 October dissociated itself from Szabo's
rally and asked police to keep both him and his associates away from their
gathering outside the parliament scheduled for 27 October. -- Sharon Fisher
U.S. ARMS FOR BOSNIAN FEDERATION ARRIVE.
A U.S. arms shipment for the
Bosnian Federation army arrived on 24 October in the Croatian port of Ploce,
AFP reported. In addition to tanks, helicopters, and armored personnel
carriers, the $100 million "Train and Equip" program includes some 45,000 M16
assault rifles and ammunition, and 800 M60 machine-guns, 840 anti-tank weapons.
The U.S. aid is aimed at creating a military balance between the Muslim-Croat
federation and Bosnian Serbs. Meanwhile, James Pardew, U.S. envoy for military
stabilization in the Balkans, told Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic that a
last shipment of military supplies will be conditional on the resignation of
Hasan Cengic, the Muslim deputy defense minister. Cengic, a Muslim hard-liner,
is suspected of blocking the implementation of a defense law calling for a
joint command for the Muslim-Croatian forces. -- Daria Sito Sucic
Bosnian Serb presidency member Momcilo Krajisnik has
told Roberts Owen, international arbitrator for the disputed northern town of
Brcko, that a wrong decision on Brcko would be catastrophic for peace,
relations between the two entities, and the functioning of joint institutions,
AFP reported. In other news, Bosnian Serb assembly speaker Dragan Kalinic said
the Muslim and Croatian deputies must swear an oath of allegiance to the
Republika Srpska before taking up their duties. Muslim and Croatian deputies,
together with Serbian deputies of the opposition coalition Alliance for Peace
and Progress, refused to take the oath at the 19 October inauguration of the
Bosnian Serb Assembly.
-- Daria Sito Sucic
INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL SAYS MASS GRAVE BODIES ARE FROM VUKOVAR HOSPITAL.
Clint Williamson of the International Criminal Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia
confirmed on 24 October that bodies found in a mass grave in eastern Croatia
were patients from the Vukovar hospital killed by Serbs in 1991, international
and local media reported. Some 90 autopsies and 30 tentative identifications
have been carried out on the 200 bodies exhumed. Almost all those identified
appear on the list of names from the Vukovar hospital, according to Williamson.
The Hague-based tribunal has indicted three former Yugoslav army officers for
the Vukovar hospital killings. Meanwhile, Manfred Nowak, a member of the UN
Human Rights Commission, said on 22 October that some people registered as
missing in Croatia are being secretly held in concentration camps in Serbia,
Hina reported. Nowak said that documentation on the 1,400 missing persons
existed but Belgrade has not submitted it to international organizations. --
Daria Sito Sucic
SERBIAN PARTY OFFICIAL ON SECRET SERVICE, CRIME FIGHTING.
Bogdanovic, a high ranking official of the governing Socialist Party of Serbia,
told the daily Dnevni telegraf on 23 October that the government will
redouble efforts to fight crime and even abolish the state security service.
Bogdanovic added that the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia will adopt a
legislative system ensuring that federal Yugoslavia "will be well rounded as a
legal state." But when questioned about the activities of war criminals--in
particular the internationally wanted Zeljko Raznatovic, alias
Arkan--Bogdanovic replied that he took his hat off to "anyone who helped the
Serbian people [in Bosnia and Croatia] and fought as a volunteer." -- Stan
YUGOSLAV, AUSTRIAN OFFICIALS MEET.
Milan Milutinovic, foreign minister
of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, arrived in Vienna on 23 October for an
official visit, the first by a high-ranking Belgrade official since 1991.
According to Tanjug, the main purpose of Milutinovic's trip is to help restore
bilateral ties and promote the normalization process. Milutinovic told
Austria's ORF Television that the Austro-Hungarian empire had adopted "a more
balanced approach" than Austria today, adding that "I cannot tell you that as
foreign minister but only as a private person." Austrian Foreign Minister
Wolfgang Schuessel said that Belgrade and Vienna were only a "few days" away
from signing a bilateral economic accord, Reuters reported on 24 October.
Meanwhile, Nasa Borba on 25 October reported that Milutinovic will
travel to Zagreb next week. -- Stan Markotich
CROATIAN DEFENSE MINISTRY TO SUE INDEPENDENT PAPER.
Minister Gojko Susak has said his ministry will sue the independent weekly
Globus over a report that a Bosnian Croat war crimes suspect is living
in the hotel in Split owned by the ministry, international agencies reported on
24 October. According to Globus, Gen. Ivica Rajic, who is accused by the
Hague-based criminal tribunal of massacring Muslim civilians during the
Muslim-Croatian war, is living in the state-owned hotel. Meanwhile, AFP on 24
October quoted a tribunal official as saying that the tribunal has been
informed of the alleged presence of Rajic in Croatia. -- Daria Sito Sucic
MACEDONIA REACHES AGREEMENT WITH LONDON CLUB.
Following four days of
negotiations in New York, Macedonia and the London Club of commercial banks
have reached agreement on reducing and rescheduling the country's $644 million
debt to the club,
Nova Makedonija reported on 25 October. The
deal reduces that debt by $364 million and stipulates Macedonia's acceptance of
4.99% of the former Yugoslavia's debt to the club ($280 million) and the
rescheduling of payments on that sum over 15 years, with a four-year grace
period. Macedonia is the third former Yugoslav republic to reach an agreement
with the club. Slovenia accepted 18% of the debt and Croatia 29.5%. -- Michael
For two hours on 24 October, most factories in
Slovenia shut down as part of a nation-wide general strike action, Reuters
reported. According to some estimates, nearly 300,000 workers took part in the
action, which is in protest of employers' plans to reduce benefits in 1997. In
other news, the European parliament on 24 October approved a partnership accord
between Slovenia and the EU--a move "which could pave the way for EU
membership," AFP reported. Finally, a poll published recently by the daily
Dnevnik shows the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) in the lead
ahead of the 10 November elections. A recent telephone survey in Delo, however,
suggests that the LDS is trailing in rural constituencies, behind the Slovenian
People's Party. -- Stan Markotich
ROMANIA, NATO WRAP UP LATEST ROUND OF TALKS.
The third round of
"enhanced dialogue" between NATO and Romania came to an end in Brussels on 23
October, Radio Bucharest reported. The talks ended the second phase of
evaluating candidates for NATO membership. NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana
is expected to submit a report on the talks with all prospective candidates at
a NATO summit meeting in early December, which is to set the agenda for next
year's NATO summit on the alliance's enlargement. RFE/RL reported on 24 October
that while Romania and Slovakia are still under consideration to be among the
"first group" of countries admitted to the alliance, they are unlikely to end
up with an invitation to join. Slovenia has a good chance, however, alongside
the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary. -- Zsolt Mato and Michael Shafir
TWO CANDIDATES IN DNIESTER "PRESIDENTIAL" ELECTIONS.
Only two contenders
have registered as candidates in the December "presidential" elections in the
breakaway Dniester region, BASA-Press reported on 24 October. They are the
current leader of the region, Igor Smirnov, and Vladimir Malakhov, manager of
the Tiraspol Mestprombyt Association. The deadline for submitting supporting
signatures, as required by the electoral law, was 24 October. -- Michael
MORE ON BULGARIAN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS.
A 24 October poll shows the
united opposition presidential candidate Petar Stoyanov with an 11% lead over
Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) candidate Ivan Marazov, Reuters reported.
Bulgarian Business Bloc leader Georges Ganchev, a populist candidate offering
an alternative to those disillusioned with both the BSP and the Union of
Democratic Forces, is close behind Marazov. Sofia University political analyst
Ognian Minchev said Ganchev could become the next president if he is backed by
socialist supporters in a second round of voting, RFE/RL reported. Today is the
last day of the election campaign. -- Maria Koinova
ALBANIAN LOCAL ELECTION RESULTS.
The Central Electoral Commission,
announcing on 24 October the official results of the first round of the local
elections, has confirmed that the Democratic Party scored an overwhelming
victory in 88% of the county halls, Dita Informacion reported on 25
October. The Socialists gained only 10%. Democrats will govern in 37
municipalities and the Socialists in four. The Greek minority Human Rights
Party--considered influential in the south of the country--gained less than 3%.
According to the commission, run-offs will take place between Democratic and
Socialist candidates in 22 municipalities. -- Dukagjin Gorani
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Steve Kettle and Jan Cleave