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Newsline - July 14, 1997




ALBRIGHT DISCUSSES NATO WITH PRIMAKOV...

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Russian Foreign Minister Yevgenii Primakov on 12-13 July in St. Petersburg, international media reported. Primakov echoed statements by President Boris Yeltsin that the admission of the Baltic States to NATO sometime in the future would be "dangerous." Primakov said he was in favor of Russian assurances as the means to guarantee that the Baltic States maintain their "sovereignty." He added that the Baltic States are an area of "special interest" for Russia. Albright noted that NATO membership did not depend on where countries "are on the map." She added that membership is open to all "democratic market systems in Europe."

...AND OTHER ISSUES

Albright and Primakov announced that talks on the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty will be extended until the end of July in the hope that a framework agreement on reducing weapons ceilings can be reached by then. Progress on arms reduction will be reviewed "on the sidelines" of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Kuala Lumpur on 24 July. Responding to Russian Foreign Ministry criticism that recent NATO-led operations against war criminals in Bosnia-Herzegovina were a "cowboy raid," Albright asked Primakov if he could suggest any "better methods." The two also agreed that the U.S. and Russia should make all efforts to remove obstacles to stability in the Middle East. Primakov said the two sides would hold regular consultations on that issue.

BASAEV'S RESIGNATION "FINAL."

Speaking on local television on 12 July, Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Shamil Basaev said his decision to resign "is final," but he declined to offer an explanation for that decision, according to ITAR-TASS. "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 July that President Aslan Maskhadov has not yet accepted the resignation of either Basaev or security chief Abu Movsaev. The previous day, radical field commander Salman Raduev had said he is ready to take a public oath of loyalty to Maskhadov but that he reserved the right to espouse opposing political views, Interfax reported. On 13 July, gunmen in Grozny opened fire on a car belonging to the Russian government office, but no one was hurt. Both Chechen and Russian officials said they are certain the shooting was not politically motivated.

FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL IMPLICATED IN NEW SCANDAL...

Central Bank Chairman Sergei Dubinin on 14 July released a statement accusing former First Deputy Finance Minister Andrei Vavilov of arranging two fraudulent deals in 1996-1997 that allegedly cost the state budget $275 million and $237 million, Interfax reported. Dubinin's statement said then Finance Minister Aleksandr Livshits and then Presidential Chief of Staff Anatolii Chubais had been unaware of Vavilov's misuse of budget funds. On 11 July, the Procurator-General's Office confirmed that Vavilov and former First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Potanin will be questioned in a criminal investigation surrounding $237 million transferred in February to the International Financial Corporation (MFK), an Oneksimbank affiliate, Russian media reported. The funds were ostensibly intended to finance a purchase of MiG fighter jets by India. However, India reportedly had not signed a contract to buy the fighters, and the budget funds were said not to have reached MAPO, the company that manufactures MiGs.

...WHILE SPOKESMEN REJECT ALLEGATIONS

A spokesman for MAPO told Interfax on 14 July that the company did receive a government loan to construct MiGs for India. Vavilov and Potatnin have not commented on the criminal investigation, but spokesmen for Oneksimbank and the MFK have portrayed the allegations as false rumors sown by unscrupulous business competitors. Potanin was re-elected as president of Oneksimbank after his dismissal from the government in March. Vavilov became head of MFK after leaving the Finance Ministry in April. MFK press secretary Oleg Sapozhnikov issued a statement saying that media reports implicating company officials were inspired by rivals that cannot compete with MFK honestly, "Izvestiya" reported on 12 July. Oneksimbank spokesman Modest Kolerov said that newspaper articles on the scandal were "placed and paid for by our competitors," according to the "Financial Times." The official government newspaper "Rossiiskaya gazeta" is among the papers that have accused Potanin and Vavilov of wrongdoing.

"PARTY OF POWER" WINS NIZHNII NOVGOROD ELECTION...

Nizhnii Novgorod Mayor Ivan Sklyarov won the 13 July gubernatorial election in Nizhnii Novgorod Oblast with about 52 percent of the vote, compared with 42 percent for Communist State Duma deputy Gennadii Khodyrev, Russian news agencies reported on 14 July. Turnout was about 49 percent, higher than in the first round of the election. Former governor and First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov recently spent three days in the oblast campaigning for Sklyarov. In addition, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin visited the nuclear research center in Sarov on 11 July and promised federal support for the center. Although spokesmen said Chernomyrdin's visit was "not connected to the election," RFE/RL's correspondent in Nizhnii Novgorod noted that Khodyrev outpolled Sklyarov in the district containing Sarov in the first round. Even though Sklyarov's program and campaign rhetoric differed little from Khodyrev's, a Communist victory in Nizhnii would have damaged Nemtsov's political standing.

...BUT LOSES IN SAMARA

Georgii Limanskii, deputy chairman of the Samara Oblast legislature, gained 54.6 percent of the vote to win a 13 July runoff mayoral election in Samara, Russian news agencies reported on 14 July. Former Mayor Oleg Sysuev, who was appointed deputy prime minister in March, had supported Deputy Mayor Anatolii Afanasev, who polled about 38 percent. Turnout was just over 40 percent. Limanskii heads the Samara Oblast branch of former Security Council Secretary Aleksandr Lebed's Russian People's Republican Party, and Lebed campaigned for Limanskii in Samara in June. Yabloko leader Grigorii Yavlinskii and Forward, Russia! leader Boris Fedorov also backed Limanskii.

DAY OF PROTEST IN KEMEROVO

Trade unions staged a "day of protest" across Kemerovo Oblast on 11 July, but the demonstrations drew modest crowds and no enterprises were hit by strikes, RFE/RL's Moscow bureau reported. Protesters demanded the payment of back wages, changes in federal economic policies, and the resignation of the president and prime minister. Trade union leaders had long planned an oblast-wide strike for 11 July but changed their plans following the recent appointment of Governor Aman Tuleev (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2-3 July 1997). In an interview with RFE/RL, Tuleev said he supported the protesters' economic demands and said he had already moved to pay some wage arrears and child allowances. On 12 July, the Railroads Ministry signed an agreement with the Kemerovo Oblast administration to lower freight charges for enterprises in Kemerovo, a move Tuleev said would help the region's economy, ITAR-TASS reported.

MILITARY CORRUPTION UPDATE

Maj.-Gen. Viktor Maluzov, the head of the armored vehicle department of the North Caucasus Military District, has been arrested and charged with unspecified "violations related to the decommissioning of damaged armored vehicles" during the war in Chechnya, sources in the Military Procurator's Office told Interfax on 11 July. In addition, procurators have sent the case against the Navy's former Chief of Staff Igor Khmelnov to court. In June, Khmelnov was charged with misusing the proceeds from the sale of 64 ships to India and South Korea while he was Pacific Fleet Commander. Meanwhile, "Kommersant-Daily" reported on 12 July that the poor health of former First Deputy Defense Minister Konstantin Kobets, who was arrested in May on corruption charges, has stymied attempts by investigators to interrogate Kobets. However, the newspaper said other high-ranking Defense Ministry officials had been questioned in that case.

SUSPECTS IN 1996 MOSCOW METRO BOMBING ARRESTED

Law enforcement officials on 11 July arrested two people suspected of involvement in the June 1996 explosion in the Moscow metro after a year-long investigation involving the Procurator-General's Office, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the Moscow police, Russian media reported. An FSB spokesman said investigators are still searching for nine other suspects in the case. No details were released about those arrested or possible motives for the bombing. Four people were killed and 12 injured in the blast, which took place just five days before the first round of the presidential election. Meanwhile, no one has claimed responsibility for planting a bomb discovered outside the Chief Military Procurator's office in Moscow at 2 a.m. on 13 July, Russian Public Television reported. A guard carried the bomb away from the building; no one was injured when it eventually exploded.




RUSSIAN-CHECHEN-AZERBAIJANI OIL AGREEMENT SIGNED

Senior Russian officials, including First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fuel and Energy Boris Nemtsov and Security Council Deputy Secretary Boris Agapov were in Baku on 11 July. Nemtsov signed a five-point agreement with the heads of the Chechen and Azerbaijani state oil companies, Khozh-Ahmed Yarikhanov and Natik Aliev, on the export via Chechnya of Azerbaijan's Caspian oil, Turan and Russian agencies reported. Under an Azerbaijani-Russian agreement signed in January1996, Russia will receive $15.67 transit fees per metric ton. Yarikhanov declined to divulge what percentage of this Chechnya will receive under the 11 July agreement. Russian and Chechen oil executives signed another agreement in Grozny on 12 July whereby Russia undertakes to finance repairs to the pipeline in return for Chechen guarantees of the safety of Russian workers engaged in repair work, Interfax and AFP reported.

ARMENIAN RULING PARTY HOLDS CONGRESS

The ninth congress of the Armenian Pan-National Movement--the senior member within the majority Hanrapetutyun bloc--ended in Yerevan on 13 July, RFE/RL correspondents in Yerevan reported. Observers had predicted a competition for the post of chairman of the movement's board between Yerevan mayor Vano Siradeghyan and parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee chairman Eduard Yegoryan (see End Note, "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 June 1997). The congress elected a new board with 40 members proposed by Siradeghyan, not including Yegoryan. Siradeghyan then proposed postponing the election of a new board chairman for two months. Addressing the congress, President Levon Ter-Petrossyan enumerated the movement's achievements since its creation in 1989, including Armenia's declaration of independence, the successful defense of Nagorno-Karabakh, and the adoption of a new constitution. Ter-Petrossyan had earlier endorsed Siradeghyan's candidacy as chairman.

GEORGIA DEMANDS GIORGADZE'S EXTRADITION

Georgian Prosecutor-General Dzhamlet Babilashvili on 11 July released the text of a letter to his Russian counterpart, Yurii Skuratov, again demanding the extradition from Moscow of former Georgian Security Service chief Igor Giorgadze, Reuters reported. Georgian officials claim that Giorgadze was a key figure in the unsuccessful August 1995 attempt to assassinate Eduard Shevardnadze. The following day, Giorgadze's father, who heads the United Communist Party of Georgia, told a news conference that he received a telephone call from his son denying he was in Russia, according to ITAR-TASS. Meanwhile, Georgian parliamentary Security and Defense Committee chairman Revaz Adamia told journalists on 11 July that Tbilisi is demanding Russia provide financial compensation for weaponry worth $4 billion removed from Georgia after the collapse of the USSR.

UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINISTER IN YEREVAN...

Hennady Udovenko held talks in Yerevan on 11 July with his Armenian counterpart, Alexander Arzoumanian, and with President Levon Ter-Petrossyan, Armenian and Russian agencies reported. Udovenko called for increased bilateral and trilateral economic cooperation, with Russia as the third partner, and undertook to support Armenia's stated wish to participate in the TRASECA transport project. He also expressed support for proposals by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk group aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict.

...AND TBILISI

Also on 11 July, Udovenko met with Georgian Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili and President Eduard Shevardnadze in Tbilisi. He assured them that Kyiv still backs Georgia's claim to part of the Black Sea fleet, according to ITAR-TASS. Interfax quoted Udovenko as telling journalists that Russia should continue to play the key role in mediating a settlement of the Abkhaz conflict, but ITAR-TASS quoted the Georgian presidential press service as saying Ukraine wished to participate in a proposed peace conference on Abkhazia convened by Western states. Udovenko said Ukraine is prepared to provide a contingent of peacekeeping forces to serve in Abkhazia under UN auspices if the Security Council decides to deploy such a force.

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT IN U.S.

Askar Akayev is currently in the U.S. on a seven-day visit, RFE/RL correspondents reported. He has met with billionaire philanthropist George Soros, who has invested several million dollars in Kyrgyzstan, and with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In Washington on 11 July, he met with the IMF Deputy Managing Director Alassane Outtara. The surprise growth in Kyrgyz GDP from 1.3 percent in 1995 to 5.6 percent in 1996 led the IMF to increase credits to Kyrgyzstan. Also on 11 July, Akayev told a conference organized by the Carnegie Endowment that his country's transition from communism to capitalism is taking longer than expected.




U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY IN UKRAINE

William Cohen, meeting with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma in Kyiv on 12 July, said the special partnership charter with NATO "illustrates Ukraine's commitment to integration into the West." Cohen also praised Ukraine for its contributions to European security. At the same time, he urged the country's leaders to press ahead with economic reforms. Cohen told reporters after his meeting with the president that the relationship between the U.S. and Ukraine is strong and enduring. He said the two countries will share information, technology, and expertise on setting up female units in the armed forces. Kuchma offered the use of a training ground in western Ukraine for international exercises for military peace missions. Cohen also met with Ukrainian Defense Minister Olexander Kuzmuk. After their talks, he told a news conference that Ukraine needed to spend more to modernize its armed forces.

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT ON NATO EXPANSION

Alyaksandr Lukashenka told aircraft factory workers in northern Belarus on 13 July that Belarus needs tougher discipline and order in the face of NATO's eastward expansion. Lukashenka's remarks were broadcast by state television. He warned that neighboring Poland's invitation to join NATO means Belarus must pay more attention to facilities with potential military purposes. Lukashenka said factory managers do not have enough control to impose discipline on their workers. He said he is preparing a decree to change that situation. change Responsibility will flow "from the top to the bottom, from the president to the workers and peasants," he commented.

ALBRIGHT MEETS WITH BALTIC FOREIGN MINISTERS

U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, meeting with the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in Vilnius on 13 July, told them that NATO recognizes their countries as serious candidates for membership in the alliance. She did not say, however, when they might be admitted. Albright informed the ministers of her talks in St. Petersburg (see item in Part 1). She also made it clear that the U.S.-Baltic charter, which is expected to be signed in Washington in September, "will not be a security guarantee but a document enabling us to cooperate on the basis of common aims and qualities." Albright later told reporters she had raised the issue of the treatment of Russian minorities--which are sizable in Estonia and Latvia--with the Baltic leaders.

NATO-LED EXERCISE BEGINS IN ESTONIA

Some 2,600 troops from eight countries are taking part in a NATO-backed exercise called Baltic Challenge '97, which begins in northwestern Estonia on 14 July, ETA and BNS reported. The exercise, which is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program, involves some 1,500 troops from the U.S. and more than 1,000 troops from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden. The participants will simulate providing humanitarian aid to a disaster zone, mine-sweeping, and dealing with refugees. According to BNS, Baltic Challenge '97 is the largest military exercise in Estonia in 10 years.

ANOTHER LATVIAN MINISTER FOUND TO HAVE VIOLATED ANTI-CORRUPTION LAW

The Prosecutor-General's Office has found that Transport Minister Vilis Kristopans violated the anti-corruption law, BNS reported on 11 July. Kristopans had continued to hold posts in two companies and serve as president of the Latvian Basketball League after the law barring states officials from holding other posts went into effect in August 1996. He is also reported to have failed to include shares he owned when filling out an income declaration The Prosecutor-General's Office said that charges will not be brought against Kristopans because he has not committed any crime punishable under Latvian law.

FLOODS IN POLAND, CZECH REPUBLIC CONTINUE TO CLAIM LIVES

Floods in Poland and the Czech Republic have killed at least 58 people, international media reported. Flood waters rose to first-floor levels in the medieval city of Wroclaw on 13 July, requiring thousands of people to be evacuated. The Polish cabinet met in an emergency session the same day to discuss measures to cope with the floods. Prime Minister Wlodzimierz Cimoszewicz said the government will seek to amend this year's budget to allow more central bank financing and foreign borrowing. Damage in Poland is estimated at more than $1 billion. In the Czech Republic, flood waters moving downstream along the Morava River inundated the town of Uherske Hradiste and threatened Hodonin, where 7,000 people have been evacuated. Six bodies were found by rescuers in the Moravian village of Troubky nad Becvou, which was almost entirely destroyed.. Damage in the Czech Republic is estimated at $2-3 billion.

POLAND SETS UP NATO NEGOTIATING TEAM

Poland on 11 July set up a group of negotiators tasked with deciding precisely how the country will meet the criteria for NATO membership following its invitation to begin accession talks with the alliance, AFP reported. Polish Foreign Minister Dariusz Rosati told reporters that Poland is waiting for a formal letter of invitation to take part in the negotiations from NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana. He added that Warsaw hopes the letter will contain more precise information on the procedures to follow. Headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Andrzej Towpik, the team of negotiators comprises eight people who will represent the Polish president, the defense and finance ministers, and the army.

CZECH PRESIDENT ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR ANOTHER TERM

Vaclav Havel told a press conference on 12 July he will seek re-election by the parliament when his current five-year presidential mandate expires in February. He noted that if he is re-elected, he will do everything in his power to ensure that the Czech Republic becomes firmly established in Europe's democratic structures through full NATO and EU membership. Czech Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus welcomed Havel's decision to run. Klaus said he is confident that his Civic Democratic Party, the largest party in the parliament, will support Havel's candidacy. The leaders of the two junior coalition parties and the opposition Social Democrats also said they will support Havel.

SLOVAK PRESIDENT ON NATO, EU

Michal Kovac told reporters on 11 July at the East European Economic Summit in Salzburg that Slovakia's internal domestic problems led to the country's failed bid for NATO membership, RFE/RL's correspondent in Salzburg reported. Kovac said Slovakia lacked democratic principles and the rule of law. He noted that those problems, among others, were responsible for Slovakia's failure to receive an invitation. Kovac also said Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar had not demonstrated "clearly and unambiguously" Slovakia's genuine interest in NATO membership. Kovac said Slovakia's problems could best be resolved by its citizens in the next round of parliamentary elections. In an interview with Reuters the same day, Kovac said he hopes the member countries of the EU and NATO will not turn their backs on Slovakia. Kovac said he hopes both NATO and the EU will more actively support democratic forces in Slovakia that wish for the country's integration into the Western alliances.

SLOVAK OPPOSITION LEADS IN OPINION POLL

An opinion poll conducted earlier this month by the Factum agency and published on 13 July shows that overall support for the government coalition parties is lower than for the opposition. Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia gained 27 percent of the vote, while its coalition partners, the Slovak National Party and the Slovak Workers' Party, won 8.2 and 4 percent, respectively. The opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) was supported by 12.1 percent of the respondents, the Democratic Union by 11.8 percent, the three-party ethnic Hungarian alliance by 11.6 percent, and the post-Communist Democratic Left Party by 10.5 percent.

DEFENSE MINISTERS OF NATO CANDIDATE COUNTRIES MEET IN BUDAPEST

The Polish, Hungarian, and Czech Defense Ministers met in Budapest on 12 July to discuss coordination of their policies following the Madrid summit's invitation to join NATO. Hungarian Defense Minister Gyoergy Keleti told a press conference that they reached an agreement on close cooperation in developing their armed forces, adding that special attention will be paid to acquiring fighter aircraft. Czech Defense Minister Miloslav Vyborny said no decision has been reached on the type of aircraft the three states will purchase, Reuters reported. He said the decision was one involving not only the ministers of defense but also the three countries' governments and parliaments. Keleti, Vyborny, and Polish Defense Minister Stanisalw Dobrzanski agreed to maintain cooperation with other East European states that were not included in the first wave of NATO expansion.

HUNGARIAN DEFENSE MINISTER ON NATO

Keleti on 11 July told Hungarian state television that Hungary will not join NATO if the move is voted down in the planned referendum. But he noted he was confident that voters will back membership in the alliance since opinion polls show some 60 percent of the population supporting the idea. .The previous day, the seven parliamentary parties agreed that the referendum should be held after talks with NATO begin in September, in order to be certain of the conditions for joining, AFP reported.

HUNGARIAN OPPOSITION PARTY OUTLAWS INTERNAL FACTION

The leadership of the Christian Democratic Party has banned the so-called Barankovics Platform Group from operating within the party. The group was formed on 6 July by those opposed to the election the previous month of Gyoergy Giczy as party chairman. It includes a large number of the party's representatives in the legislature (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 1997). Karoly Czako, chairman of the party's disciplinary committee, said the group includes former top party officials who intended to "worm their way back" into the leadership. But one of the group's leaders, deputy Laszlo Varga, said the group will "continue to function in some form or another," Hungarian media reported on 13 July.




EXPLOSION ROCKS OSCE HOTEL IN REPUBLIKA SRPSKA

An explosive device went off in the night of 13-14 July in the eastern Bosnian town of Zvornik and damaged a building and cars used by Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe monitors and the UN. One OSCE truck was destroyed, but there were no casualties. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast. Western press reports from the area, however, suggested the explosion reflected Bosnian Serb anger at the international community following Operation Tango, in which one Bosnian Serb suspected of war crimes was killed and another taken to The Hague (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997). On 11 July, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a statement denouncing Operation Tango as a "cowboy raid." The Serbian government in Belgrade also condemned SFOR's actions. Politically-charged memorial services for Simo Drljaca, the former concentration camp commander killed by NATO troops, took place in Prijedor, Banja Luka, and elsewhere in the Republika Srpska on 12-13 July.

KRAJISNIK SEEKS TO GOAD PLAVSIC BACK INTO LINE

Momcilo Krajisnik, the hard-line Serbian member of the Bosnian joint presidency, on 13 July called on Biljana Plavsic, who opposes Krajisnik and others loyal to Radovan Karadzic, to resume talks by noon on 14 July. The two spoke in Banja Luka on 12 July, but Plavsic said she was "too ill" to attend a follow-up session slated for the next day, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Banja Luka. Plavsic has said she fears that the pro-Karadzic faction will take advantage of Bosnian Serb opposition to Operation Tango in order to force her into submission under the pretext of promoting Serbian unity in the face of a NATO threat. Krajisnik, indeed, said at memorial services for Drljaca on 13 July that the Serbs must close ranks.

WESTERN LEADERS SAY WAR CRIMINALS MUST BE BROUGHT TO TRIAL

British Defense Secretary George Robertson said on 13 July that Operation Tango will not be the last NATO action aimed at bringing indicted war criminals to justice. The previous day. U.S. President Bill Clinton said Bucharest that war criminals must go before the tribunal if the Dayton peace treaty is to survive. In The Hague, the court on 14 July sentenced Bosnian Serb prison guard Dusan Tadic to 20 years in prison for atrocities he committed against Muslims and Croats while serving as a concentration camp guard. And in Podgorica, Montenegrin Interior Minister Filip Vujanovic on 12 July denied press reports that Gen. Ratko Mladic is vacationing on the Montenegrin coast.

MILOSEVIC CRACKS DOWN IN SANDZAK

Police on 12 July prevented protests in Novi Pazar against the Serbian government's decision on 10 July to dissolve the local Muslim-dominated government, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Sandzak's main town. In Pristina, a Serbian court sent 15 ethnic Albanian defendants to jail on terrorism charges for the maximum sentences possible under the law. In Podgorica, the steering committee of the governing Democratic Socialist Party (DPS) voted on 11 July to remove Montenegrin President Momir Bulatovic as party president and to replace him with Milica Pejanovic-Djurisic of the anti-Milosevic faction. Bulatovic rejected the decisions and said that only a party congress can oust him, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from the Montenegrin capital. The following night, the Podgorica DPS organization voted to oust 15 reformers from its ranks, including Pejanovic-Djurisic and Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic.

ALBANIAN SOCIALISTS, ALLIES PLAN TO ESTABLISH PARLIAMENTARY REPUBLIC...

The Socialists, Social Democrats, and Democratic Alliance agreed on 12 July to change the constitution to establish a parliamentary republic. Executive power will be concentrated in the hands of the prime minister, rather than the president; the premier will responsible to the parliament. A joint statement, published in "Koha Jone," said "the president will have a non-party and non-executive role as a symbol of national unity." It added that the priorities of the new government are restoring public order, reorganizing and depoliticizing the police, carrying out judicial reform, licensing private radio stations, privatizing large and medium-sized enterprises, further liberalizing the economy, and establishing private banks. The parties also pledged to compensate cheated pyramid scheme investors as fully as possible and to bring in foreign auditors to investigate pyramid schemes.

...BUT ALBANIAN PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGES

Sali Berisha said on 13 July that the future government lacks the mandate to make constitutional changes. He argued that "the future of democracy will be put seriously in doubt by a parliament, one-half of which is represented by deputies controlled by armed bandits." Berisha added that plans by Socialist leader Fatos Nano to increase the powers of the prime minister "constitute a grave violation of the constitution and could have potentially destabilizing consequences for the country." He repeated that he will not remain president under a Socialist government but did not specify when he will step down. The Socialists and their coalition allies hold more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats. Elections were repeated on 13 July in two districts because of earlier irregularities.

LEKA ZOGU LEAVES ALBANIA

The claimant to the throne left Albania for South Africa on 12 July without responding to two court summons for questioning over violence at a monarchist rally in Tirana on 3 July, which left one dead and two wounded. Zogu had attended the rally wearing fatigues and armed with two guns and some hand grenades. On leaving the country, Zogu announced that he was going "temporarily" to prevent unnamed provocateurs from using his presence to aggravate an already tense political situation. Abedin Mulosmani, the "royal court minister," said that "very soon [Leka] will be back because the Albanian people will call him back."

PROTESTS IN ALBANIA OVER GOSTIVAR RIOTS

Several hundred persons demonstrated in Tirana on 12 July, burning a Macedonian flag to protest police treatment of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia. Most of the protesters were students from Macedonia or Kosovo. Two Albanians were shot dead, more than 50 seriously injured, and some 400 detained in rioting on 9 July in Gostivar, after police removed the Albanian national flag from the town hall. On 8 July, the parliament had passed a new law limiting the flying of national flags, other than the Macedonian one, to national and religious holidays and to private functions. Albanian President Berisha and the leaders of Albania's main political parties condemned the police action. Prime Minister Bashkim Fino blamed "Macedonian extremists" for the violence (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 1997).

U.S. PRESIDENT IN ROMANIA

Addressing an estimated crowd of some 100,000 in Bucharest's University Square on 11 July, Bill Clinton urged Romanians to "stay the course" in implementing economic reforms and democratization and told them their country would be one of the "strongest candidates" to join NATO in the near future if they did so. President Emil Constantinescu told the crowd that Romania wanted to build together with the U.S. a "solid partnership, based on the joint values of liberty, prosperity, free initiative and tolerance." Also on 11 July, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her Romanian counterpart, Adrian Severin, discussed the envisaged U.S.-Romanian strategic partnership. Severin told Radio Bucharest that they agreed to "talk less and do more" on the partnership.

RUSSIAN DEPUTY PREMIER ON RELATIONS WITH ROMANIA

Valerii Serov told the independent PRO-TV Romanian channel on 11 July that following the decision of the Madrid summit, "time was ripe for intensifying relations with Romania, particularly in the economic realm." He said it was "deplorable" that economic relations between the two states "had deteriorated" in the last years, adding that one of the chief reasons for the wish of East European countries to join NATO was "economic interest." In an interview with the independent Romanian news agency Mediafax the same day, Serov said that "if economic relations looked different, perhaps the political relations between Romania and Russia would look different as well."

MOLDOVAN, TRANSDNIESTER DEFENSE OFFICIALS MEET

Moldovan Defense Minister Valeriu Pasat and his counterpart in the Transdniestrian breakaway region, Stanislav Hadjeyev, met in Chisinau on 11 July, BASA-press and Infotag reported. This was their first meeting since the signing of the memorandum on ways to settle the conflict in early May in Moscow. An official press release in Chisinau said the main purpose of the encounter was to strengthen mutual confidence. The two officials agreed to inform each other on military training programs and set up a coordination team for this purpose. Special attention was paid to "the strict observance of the regime established in the security zone" as well as to "joint actions with the Joint Control Commission." They also agreed to set up a coordinating body for action in case of natural calamities.

U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY IN BULGARIA

William Cohen held talks in Sofia on 13 July with his Bulgarian counterpart, Georgi Ananiev, which he described as "very productive." Cohen noted it is important for Bulgaria to cut the size of its armed forces before joining NATO while maintaining "an effective capability" to both "defend Bulgaria and provide assistance to other NATO countries" in line with Article 5 of the NATO charter, Reuters reported. Cohen said he and Ananiev also discussed ways in which the U.S. can help Bulgaria restructure its military forces. Cohen said continuation of the reform process and military reform could lead to NATO membership "sometime in the future." Cohen also met with President Petar Stoyanov.

BULGARIA WILL NOT BUY RUSSIAN PLANES

Chief of Staff Gen. Miho Mihov told Radio Sofia on 12 July that he saw no possibility of a deal with Russia to purchase Russian-made fighter planes. An RFE/RL Sofia correspondent said Russia offered preferential prices and a $450 million credit to facilitate the purchase. Russia is insisting that Bulgaria also purchase equipment for a plant to repair Russian-made planes, a condition that Bulgaria rejects. In other news, Col. Seraphim Stoikov, the head of Bulgaria's Interior Ministry archives, told RFE/RL on 13 July that documents recording cooperation between the Soviet KGB and the Bulgarian communist Secret Service will be open to the public once the parliament passes the necessary legislation.

BULGARIAN PARLIAMENT REPLACES CHIEF OF NEWS AGENCY

Milen Valkov has been replaced as head of the official news agency by Panayot Denev, RFE/RL's Sofia bureau reported on 11 July. Denev is a BTA veteran and was its deputy chief for a short period following the collapse of communism in 1989. He later became an editor of "Demokratsiya," which supported the Union of Democratic Forces in the recent elections.

CORRECTION:

"RFE/RL Newsline" on 11 July incorrectly reported that the parliament appointed Vyacheslav Tunev to take over from Liljana Popovna as head of the state radio. In fact, Popovna was appointed to replace Tunev as state radio chief.




UNDERMINING NATO'S TIMETABLE


by Paul Goble

The timetable for NATO expansion announced at the Madrid summit on 8-9 July may break down even before the alliance takes in its first new members two years from now. The summit invited three countries--Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic--to begin accession talks leading to membership by 1999. The alliance leaders indicated they will consider inviting a second group of countries in that year and that they will keep the process of including ever more East European countries in the alliance both open and deliberate after that time.

This carefully worked-out timetable reflected calculations by some NATO leaders about how both their own populations and Moscow would react. Many NATO leaders noted that they could not hope to win popular support for the costs of expansion if the alliance tried to take in too many countries too quickly. Even more NATO leaders suggested that a slow, step-by-step expansion is the only way to avoid offending Moscow and pushing Russia back into an adversarial role.

But there are already at least three indications that the Western alliance may have a number of difficulties in holding to that script.

First, many of the countries that had hoped to be invited into the alliance now or in the near future are stepping up their campaigns for membership rather than accepting the Madrid timetable. The countries that had hoped to make it into the first round--Slovenia, Romania, and the three Baltic States--indicated that they will increase their efforts to be included sooner than the Madrid schedule. Lithuanian President Algirdas Brazauskas, for example, pointed out on 9 July that "a long-term cataclysm could occur in three, four, or five years." As a result, he said, Vilnius wanted "guarantees for the future" sooner rather than later.

Other East European countries that were not expected to be included took courage from the alliance's decision to expand and indicated that they, too, might press for membership far sooner than the NATO leaders had planned. Buoyed by their charter with the Western alliance, several Ukrainian political figures said they hoped Ukraine will achieve NATO membership in the not too distant future--something no one in the alliance now appears to be contemplating.

Second, the three countries that were invited to join at Madrid reportedly have agreed to press for the more rapid inclusion of the Baltic States into the Western alliance. The presidents of Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary met with their counterparts from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on 9 July and told them they will press for Baltic membership in the alliance as soon as possible. Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis said he and his Baltic colleagues looked to the three Madrid invitees "to become advocates" of the rapid inclusion of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Such support for Baltic membership may be more difficult to resist than the NATO planners expected. In addition to Polish, Hungarian, and Czech support, the Balts received backing from Thomas Siebert, the ambassador to Sweden. Siebert told the Swedish newspaper "Dagens Nyheter" on 9 July that "we will not consider the expansion of NATO to be accomplished or successful unless or before the Baltic States' ambitions are fulfilled."

Both the efforts of those who hope to join and the attitudes of those already invited to do so will put pressure on the alliance to move more quickly than it had planned, especially since those on the outside are likely to view any delay as a sell-out of their security.

But the third indication that the Madrid timetable may not be kept suggests that NATO may not expand as quickly as the Madrid summit planned. The pressure on NATO from both those included and those not yet in inevitably raises the stakes of the first round of alliance expansion and thus virtually guarantees increased opposition to any growth in the alliance from both Moscow and many in the West.

Russian leaders, including President Boris Yeltsin, have indicated that they can accept NATO's expansion only if it is both limited and deliberate. Consequently, at least some in Moscow are likely to consider the statements of those countries not invited in and especially of those invited to join at Madrid to pose a threat--one, moreover, that Russia is likely to respond to.

Such a response will have an impact on the ratification debates in the current NATO member countries and provide ammunition to those who oppose any growth in the alliance. As a result, the euphoria about the Madrid NATO summit could quickly evaporate, as some countries discover that their own enthusiasms threaten their own interests.


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