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Newsline - September 12, 2001




PUTIN OFFERS SYMPATHY AND SUPPORT FOR U.S...

In both a telegram and a telephone conversation to U.S. President George W. Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, President Vladimir Putin on 11 September expressed his sympathies to Bush and the American people for what he called "these terrible tragedies" of the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, ITAR-TASS reported. He and other Russian officials offered whatever assistance they could to help the United States find and punish those responsible. "There is no doubt that such inhuman actions must not remain unpunished," Putin said. PG

...CONDEMNS TERRORISM AND CALLS FOR COMMON FRONT AGAINST IT

In a speech carried on ORT on 11 September, Putin said that what happened in the United States "goes far beyond the borders of the U.S." Rather, he said, it is a clear challenge to all of humanity, and "this yet again underscores the importance of Russia's proposals to unite the forces of the international community in the struggle with terror, with this plague of the 21st century." Putin's points in this regard were amplified by his adviser Serge Yastrzhembskii, who suggested to the press in Moscow that the attacks would force many to see terrorist acts wherever they occur as "links" in a common chain and thus phenomena that require a common approach. Meanwhile, Putin convened his top security officials at the Kremlin and ordered them to take measures to counter any threat against Russia. PG

RUSSIAN POLITICIANS, PEOPLE EXPRESS OUTRAGE AT TERRORIST ACTIONS

Russian political and social figures unanimously condemned the terrorist attacks in the United States, pledged their support and understanding, and said they willingly accept the heightened security measures in Russia as a price worth paying in the fight against terrorism, Russian and Western media reported on 11 September. Duma deputies were especially outspoken, calling for a special session of the parliament -- the Duma council is to convene on 12 September to consider that -- and urging additional measures against terrorism everywhere. PG

ZHIRINOVSKY SAYS ATTACKS OPEN NEW PROSPECTS FOR PUTIN

Duma Deputy Speaker and Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky told Interfax on 11 September that the United States will need to turn to Moscow for help in dealing with terrorism and that this represents a unique opportunity for President Putin to increase his influence in the world. Zhirinovsky said Putin "must make use of the situation." The often outspoken Zhirinovsky called for Russia to triple the size of its army and increase its air defenses by a factor of 10. He noted that "200 years ago, Russia was the gendarme of Europe. Today we can increase the role of our country throughout the entire world, and we ought to do so." Zhirinovsky concluded that "without us, the Americans will not be able to deal with the terrorists." PG

RUSSIA AGREES NOT TO FIRE ROCKETS DURING EXERCISE

In response to a U.S. request following the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September, the Russian air force agreed not to fire any missiles during its current military exercise, Interfax-AFI reported. That action came after the Russian military denied a report in "The Washington Times" that a Russian air force plane had threatened an American one, the news agency said. PG

TERRORIST ATTACKS SEEN UNDERMINING DOLLAR

Russian bankers told Interfax-AFI on 11 September that the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington are likely to complicate the work of international financial markets, drive up prices for oil and gold, and depress the dollar, Interfax-AFI reported. The financial analysts said that this news will not destabilize the U.S. economy but may make a modest contribution to improving the attractiveness of the Russian economy for investors. VY

GOVERNMENT OUTLINES ANTIDRUG PROGRAM

An 11 September conference devoted to combating illegal drug use chaired by Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov ended with the announcement that the government plans a broad program of activities in schools, including drug searches, television programs, and other actions to try to combat the rising tide of drug abuse, Russian agencies reported. PG

MOSCOW WILL NOT DEPRIVE REGIONAL HEADS OF CONTROL OVER NATURAL RESOURCES LICENSES

Natural Resources Minister Vitalii Artyukhov said on 11 September that the government has no plans to take away the power the heads of regions now have to award licenses for the exploitation of natural resources, Interfax reported. PG

GOVERNMENT SAID GOING BACK ON ITS WORD ON PAY INCREASES

According to an article in "Kommersant-Daily" on 10 September, the Russian government is "going back on its word" to increase the salaries of state-sector employees. It quoted Deputy Prime Minister Valentina Matvienko as saying that the cabinet had planned to raise salaries by 20 percent in September 2001, but will not be able to do so. PG

GOVERNMENT PREPARED TO INCREASE INTERVENTION IN GRAIN MARKETS

Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Aleksei Gordeev said on 11 September that the Russian government is prepared to intervene more actively than planned in the grain market to help keep prices up in the wake of a bumper crop, Interfax reported. He said that President Putin had directed that the government take this step. Gordeev also repeated his earlier prediction that Russia will be able to export as much as 5 million tons of grain this year. PG

DUMA FACES ABOUT 2,000 DRAFT BILLS

Duma deputy (Fatherland-All Russia) Konstantin Kosachev said on 11 September that there are currently some 2,000 draft bills before the Duma, of which the deputies are likely to be able to consider only 450, Interfax reported. As a result of this burden, he said, the deputies will have to plan their schedules carefully. PG

YABLOKO THREATENED WITH SPLIT

Andrei Sharomov, the former leader of the Moscow youth organization of Yabloko, has "declared war" against the party's leader, Grigorii Yavlinsky, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 September. Sharomov has accused Yavlinsky of authoritarian tendencies and high-handedness in dealing with colleagues, a criticism that the paper said has some basis in fact. PG

LEFT RADICALS TO UNITE

The Russian Communist Workers' Party (RKRP) and the Russian Party of Communists (RPK), both of whom reject Gennadii Zyuganov's Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) as "collaborationist" and "revisionist," announced on 11 September that they will unite at a constituent congress on 28 October, Interfax reported. Viktor Tyulkin, the first secretary of the RKRP, said that "in unity there is strength." PG

RUSSIA HAS FULLY PAID ITS UN DUES

Sergei Lavrov, Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations, said in New York on 11 September that Russia has fully paid its UN dues and also its share of peacekeeping costs, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze the same day praised the decision of the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo on Belgrade, Russian agencies reported. PG

ECONOMIC INTERESTS SAID STRENGTHENING THE CIS

According to an article in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 11 September, the Commonwealth of Independent States now is in no danger of breaking up. The reason, the paper said, is that it serves the interests of bankers and traders, not just diplomats. PG

MOSCOW CRITICIZES OSCE COMMENTS ON BELARUS VOTE...

Deputy Foreign Minister Yevgenii Gusarov on 11 September told officials of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) that Russia is displeased with some of the critical comments members of the OSCE observer mission made about the recent presidential elections in Belarus, Russian and Western agencies reported. Gusarov said that Russia is pleased that the elections took place and that they reflected "the will of the people of that country." PG

...BUT MOSCOW COMMENTATORS SUGGEST RUSSIA'S APPROACH TO BELARUS WILL CHANGE

Several Russian commentators on 11 September suggested that Moscow's approach to Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka will change in the wake of the election there. Writing in "Izvestiya," Svetlana Babaeva said that Russia needs to push Belarus in a democratic direction. And writers in "Nezavisimaya gazeta" and "Vremya MN" suggested that the election has created an alternative leader in Belarus in the person of the opposition leader whom Moscow will now have to take into consideration. PG

MOVEMENT ON MISSILE DEFENSE?

Russian and American negotiators met in Moscow on 11 September to discuss the fate of the 1972 ABM Treaty and American plans to build a missile defense system, Russian and Western agencies reported. Colonel General Yuri Baluevskii, the first deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, said that Moscow will continue to discuss arms reductions even if the U.S. pulls out of the 1972 accord. His comments come only a day after Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that "theoretically" he does not exclude modifications in the earlier agreement that would allow for the development of some kind of missile defense system. But both officials said they were waiting for more specificity from Washington. PG

PUTIN, SCHROEDER DISCUSS MACEDONIA

On 11 September, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder telephoned President Putin to discuss the situation in Macedonia and also to discuss preparations for Putin's planned visit to Germany at the end of September, Russian and Western agencies reported. PG

MOSCOW SEEKS REGIONAL CONSULTATION AFTER ATTEMPT ON AFGHAN REBEL LEADER

Moscow on 11 September invited officials from Iran, India, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan for urgent consultations about Afghanistan in the wake of the recent attempt on the life of Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the anti-Taliban forces in Afghanistan, the BBC reported. Meanwhile, "Izvestiya" the same day carried an article suggesting that Massoud's demise would drive the countries of Central Asia even closer to Russia and force Moscow to devote more to defense in that region. VY/PG

PUTIN PLEASED WITH CHINA TIES

Following a 11 September meeting with visiting Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, President Putin said that he is pleased by the level of development of bilateral ties, Russian agencies reported. He used the occasion to say that he will seek the rapid ratification of the accord he signed with China's leader Jiang Zemin. Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said that he expects bilateral trade to increase over the next few years to $20 billion annually. PG

PUTIN SAYS RUSSIA MUST AVOID 'REPEATING MISTAKES' IN PAST...

At a Kremlin ceremony on 11 September to award those journalists whose work he said has contributed to a proper understanding of what is going on in Chechnya, President Putin said that the most important task ahead in that North Caucasus republic is "not to repeat the mistakes of the past and to make peaceful life in Chechnya genuinely irreversible," Russian agencies reported. He said that in this process, the media have a major role to play, noting that "the colossal political and economic successes in Russia would have been impossible without free mass media." PG

...AS DEFENSE MINISTER IVANOV SAYS RUSSIAN ARMY WILL STAY IN CHECHNYA

Defense Minister Ivanov said on 11 September that the Russian forces in Chechnya "will never leave there," ORT television reported. Ivanov added that the military is fulfilling "specific tasks understood clearly by all." PG

SAKHALIN GROUPS APPEAL TO MOSCOW TO 'CLOSE' KURILES DISPUTE

Representatives of Sakhalin Cossacks, the Communist Party regional committee, and the oblast trade union leadership on 11 September appealed in a letter to President Putin to take steps to "close the Kuriles territorial dispute" with Japan by clearly declaring that those islands are and will remain part of Russia, Interfax reported. The same day, on Sakhalin itself, Japanese journalists were kept out of hearings about the future status of the Kuriles, the news agency reported. Meanwhile in Moscow, also on 11 September, Russian and Japanese officials met to discuss their dispute over the sale of fishing rights near the Kuriles, Russian news agencies reported. PG

FUEL RESERVES IN FAR NORTH SAID CRITICALLY LOW

The press service of the Emergency Situations Ministry said on 11 September that despite Moscow's assistance in recent weeks, many regions in the Far North have not yet succeeded in putting aside the fuel reserves necessary for the upcoming winter, Interfax reported. In many cases, the spokesman said, the fuel reserves in this area are only 20 percent of what is needed. Meanwhile, residents in a village in Leningrad Oblast blockaded a road to press their demands that the authorities provide them with hot water, Interfax-Northwest reported. There has not been any hot water there for several months, the news service reported. PG

PROSECUTORS CHARGE PERM CAMP COMMANDER WITH MISTREATING INMATES

Following complaints by journalists and human rights activists, prosecutors in Perm announced on 11 September that they have brought charges against the commander of a special forces commander who heads one of the prison colonies in the region for mistreating inmates, Interfax reported. Meanwhile, Moscow has announced a number of charges against Russian troops fighting in Chechnya, a move "Vremya novostei" on 10 September said is designed to make Russia look good in advance of the fall meeting of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. PG

EBRD OFFICIAL PRAISES PUTIN'S POLICIES

Dragica Pilopovic-Chaffey, the Russia Team director of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), told Reuters in an interview released on 10 September that her bank is "very happy with what we have seen" in Russia since Putin became president. She added that she hopes Russia will move to reform its banking system in the near future and that the EBRD will provide Russia with more financial assistance. PG

KHODORKOVSKII CALLS FOR BETTER BUSINESS ETHICS

Yukos President Mikhail Khodorkovskii on 11 September told a Moscow business conference that Russian firms should voluntarily agree to adopt the business ethics practiced in Western countries, including a ban on hostile takeovers, Interfax reported. He said that such a step would attract more investment and help the country's economy grow. PG

UES WANTS NOT LESS THAN 50 PERCENT OF SHARE IN RETAIL NETWORK

Vyacheslav Sinyugin, the chief of the corporate strategy department of Unified Energy Systems (UES), said on 11 September that the management of his company believes that it must retain not less of 50 percent of control over the retail electric power distribution system, Interfax reported. At present, he said, the UES share in this sector is 60-70 percent. PG

GAZPROM TO SELL OFF NONESSENTIAL SUBSIDIARIES

Gazprom President Aleksei Miller said in Moscow on 11 September that his company plans to sell off companies it owns that do not relate closely to its basic business in the gas industry, Russian agencies reported. PG

FSB FOILS ILLEGAL EXPORT OF RUSSIAN DIAMONDS

A spokesman for the Federal Security Service said on 11 September that his agency has arrested a group of Russian and Israeli citizens who were attempting to export several million dollars worth of Russian diamonds, RIA-Novosti reported. VY

MOSCOW OPENS ARCTIC PORTS TO FOREIGN SHIPS

Prime Minister Kasyanov has signed a decree calling for the opening over the next year of the ports on Russia's Arctic coast to foreign ships, Interfax reported on 11 September. Meanwhile, the Natural Resources Ministry announced that Moscow will ask the United Nations Commission on the Continental Shelf to legally demarcate Russia's Arctic Ocean border 200 miles from the shoreline, RIA-Novosti reported. That will give Russia the legal basis for exploiting the oil and gas beds on the shelf and also serve as a means to block any NATO involvement on the Spitzbergen archipelago. PG/VY

BAN ON STURGEON FISHING SAID NOT EFFECTIVE

A spokesman for the Federal Border Service (FPS) said on 11 September that the moratorium on catching caviar-bearing sturgeon in the Caspian Sea is being violated, and that too many poachers are still catching the valuable fish, Interfax reported. PG

LICENSE TO SHOW RUSSIAN TV SHOW SOLD ABROAD FOR FIRST TIME

Nona Agadzhanova, the deputy general producer of TV-6, said on 11 September that her station has sold the license to show one of its programs to a foreign broadcaster, Interfax reported. She said that the purchaser was Georgian television and that the price was "peanuts," but noted that the sale represents an important breakthrough and will be repeated. PG

RUSSIANS DON'T BELIEVE DOMESTIC CARS WILL BECOME WORLD CLASS IN NEAR FUTURE...

A poll conducted by monitoring.ru and reported by Interfax on 11 September showed that 68 percent of Russians do not believe that domestic automobile producers will be able to produce cars as good as those produced abroad. PG

...AS MOSCOW LAWYER FIGHTS AGAINST PAYING FOR STREET PARKING

Leonid Olshanskii, a leading Moscow lawyer, on 11 September called on Muscovites not to pay for parking on the streets and at airports, Interfax reported. He said that such payments have always been illegal even though the authorities have routinely demanded that they be made. PG

PAPER MARKS 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF KHRUSHCHEV'S DEATH

"Izvestiya" on 11 September carried an interview with the grandson of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev who died on that date in 1971. The grandson, Nikita Alekseevich, said that his grandfather was often lonely after being deposed from power but spent a great deal of time reading, writing, and with his family. PG

MAKING ICE SWIMMING AN OLYMPIC SPORT

A group of Russians fond of swimming in icy waters has formed the All-Russian Federation of Ice Water Sport both to promote what they say is a healthy activity and to seek its recognition as an Olympic sport, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 11 September. PG

SHAIMIEV SLAMS NEW FEDERATION COUNCIL...

In comments to Interfax on 11 September, Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiev criticized the new principles under which the Federation Council is now organized. According to Shaimiev, the principle for delegating representatives from the regions to the upper legislative chamber is "imperfect and primitive," and the electability of all levels of power in the country is a necessary condition for developing democratic institutions. Shaimiev added that he thinks the upper house in its current form will not exist for long. With regard to the State Council, Shaimiev suggested the status of that organ will perhaps be resolved through changes to the constitution, but until then the council will function as an advisory organ for the president. JAC

...AS TATARSTAN MULLS DROPPING SOVEREIGNTY CLAUSE

Farit Mukhametshin, speaker of Tatarstan's Legislative Assembly, told RIA-Novosti on 10 September that a Constitutional Commission for drafting a new version of the republic's fundamental law will be formed at the legislature's next session, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported. Mukhametshin acknowledged that "correcting the constitution is a major issue on Tatarstan's political agenda." He added that the article saying Tatarstan is a sovereign state "associated with the Russian Federation" will be dropped. JAC

MEDIA MINISTRY EXTENDS BAN ON BROADCASTING BY LOCAL TV STATION

The Media Ministry has extended its suspension of the broadcasting license of the embattled TVK television company in Lipetsk Oblast from the original 10 days to one month -- until 11 October, the website polit.ru reported on 11 September. According to the website, the ministry considers the new leadership of the television station illegitimate. Journalists at the station have barricaded themselves in their offices, refusing to vacate them, and charging that the station's takeover is linked with upcoming gubernatorial elections (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 2001). JAC

SUPREME COURT DECLINES TO OVERTURN IRKUTSK ELECTION RESULT...

The Supreme Court on 11 September rejected a citizens' complaint about an earlier decision of an Irkutsk Oblast court, which refused to cancel the election registration of incumbent Irkutsk Oblast Governor Boris Govorin in elections held on 29 July, Interfax-Eurasia reported. Govorin had been accused of violating laws on campaigning and using his official position to further his election chances (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 30 July 2001). JAC

...AS CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION BACKS LOCAL COUNTERPART IN ROSTOV

The Central Election Commission upheld on 11 September the decision of the Rostov Oblast Election Commission to cancel the registration of local entrepreneur Valentin Chistyakov in 23 September gubernatorial elections, RIA-Novosti reported. The previous day, Sergei Yusov, the chairman of Rostov Oblast's Election Commission, told reporters that although "only God" knows what will happen, he personally does not think the candidacy of local Communist Party leader Sergei Ivanchenko will be reinstated, Interfax-Eurasia reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 September 2001). JAC

A SNAPSHOT OF POLICE CONDUCT IN SIBERIAN REGION

Since the beginning of the year, 423 police officers in Novosibirsk Oblast have faced disciplinary action for violating the rights of citizens, Interfax-Eurasia reported on 11 September, citing the press service of the oblast's prosecutor. In addition, criminal cases have been launched against 16 police officers. The number of searches conducted without approval of the prosecutor-general has increased 17 percent since the beginning of the year. According to the press services, some indicators have shown improvement: the number of persons arrested under Article 122, suspicion of committing a crime, dropped, and in a number of raions in the oblast not one citizen was found to have been arrested without grounds. JAC




OUTGOING U.S. AMBASSADOR NOTES ARMENIA'S PROGRESS...

Speaking at a farewell press conference in Yerevan on 11 September to mark the end of his three-year tour of duty, departing U.S. Ambassador Michael Lemmon praised the transformation that has taken place in Armenia since his arrival there in October 1998, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported. He contrasted Armenia's achievements with negative trends in some other former Soviet republics, but added that the Armenian leadership must follow through with the implementation of those economic and democratic reforms already embarked upon, however difficult it may prove to do so. Lemmon said that the U.S. remains committed to helping Armenia become "a secure, prosperous, democratic country living at peace with its neighbors." He also praised as "wise and successful" Armenia's so-called "complementary" foreign policy that aims to maintain close ties with both Russia and the West. LF

...COMMENTS ON KARABAKH PEACE PROCESS

At his 11 September press conference, Lemmon indirectly took issue with a statement made to the Armenian parliament the previous day by Lord Russell-Johnston, chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, according to Mediamax as cited by Groong. Russell-Johnston reportedly expressed disappointment at the lack of progress toward resolving the Karabakh conflict, and advocated a role for the Council of Europe in the mediation process, given that both Armenia and Azerbaijan are members of that organization. He also raised the possibility of a withdrawal by Karabakh Armenian forces from part of the occupied territories contiguous to the unrecognized enclave, a suggestion that elicited a negative response from legislators, according to AP. Lemmon for his part said on 11 September that to the best of his knowledge there exists an agreement among European organizations that mediation in the Karabakh conflict is the exclusive preserve of the OSCE Minsk Group. He denied that the Karabakh peace process is deadlocked, characterizing it as being "in a normal period of consolidation, reflection, and assessment." LF

ESTIMATES OF KARABAKH POPULATION DIFFER

The authorities of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic recently released statistics according to which the region's present population is just over 143,000, which is close to the number of Armenians living there prior to the onset of the Karabakh conflict in early 1988, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on 10 September. (In early 1988, Armenians accounted for approximately 75 percent of the total 160,000 population of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.) Officials in Yerevan say that over 1,000 Armenian families, most of them refugees from Azerbaijan, have moved from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh or the Armenian-controlled district of Lachin since 1994, and that up to 100,000 more families are ready to do so on condition that the Armenian government provides them with financial assistance. But Armenian journalist Vahram Aghadjanian challenged those figures in an interview published in the independent Azerbaijani daily "Ekho" on 8 September and reproduced by Groong. He said that families from Armenia who have settled in Nagorno-Karabakh are numbered only in "dozens," not hundreds. LF

AZERBAIJANI ECOLOGISTS DEMAND CLOSURE OF CONTROVERSIAL RADAR STATION

At a roundtable in Baku on 11 September, ecologists called for the closure of the Gabala radar facility in Azerbaijan that is currently leased to Russia, Turan reported. After years of inconclusive talks, Azerbaijani Defense Minister Colonel General Safar Abiev and his Russian counterpart Sergei Ivanov succeeded during talks in Moscow on 7 September in coming close to agreement on the conditions under which that lease will be extended (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 September 2001). The roundtable participants argued that the radar station causes serious damage to the environment and to the health of the population nearby, and could be a prime target for a nuclear strike. LF

STANDOFF BETWEEN GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT MAJORITY, OPPOSITION PERSISTS...

Addressing parliament on 11 September, speaker Zurab Zhvania and majority faction leader Niko Lekishvili both appealed to their fellow deputies to try to find common ground rather than risk precipitating "civic confrontation," Caucasus Press reported. At the same time, Zhvania warned that he "will not tolerate" ultimatums from the opposition. But in apparent defiance of that warning, opposition leader and deputy speaker Vakhtang Rcheulishvili read to journalists the same day a list of opposition demands on which opposition deputies' attendance at future parliamentary debates is contingent. Those demands include amendments to the revised election code and to the law on local elections. The opposition claims that the latter is invalid as voting on it took place in absence of a quorum (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 August 2001). LF

...AS MORE DEPUTIES QUIT GEORGIAN MAJORITY FACTION

Also on 11 September, deputy Koba Davitashvili announced his intention to quit the majority Union of Citizens of Georgia (SMK) parliament faction, Caucasus Press reported. A second SMK deputy, Anzor Tamarashvili, similarly announced on 12 September that he is quitting the SMK faction to join the "New Right-Wing," which is composed primarily of former SMK deputies who quit that faction a year ago. Those two defections leave the SMK with 98 of a total 235 deputies. A spokesman for the Majoritarian--Georgia's Regions faction, which numbers 22 deputies, said on 10 September that the faction may quit its present alliance with the SMK. LF

PRESIDENTS EXPRESS SHOCK, OUTRAGE, SYMPATHY FOLLOWING U.S. TERRORIST ATTACKS

The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan have sent telegrams of condolence to U.S. President George W. Bush following the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Uzbek President Islam Karimov has sent a note to the U.S. ambassador in Tashkent, and Kazakhstan's Foreign Ministry has issued a statement condemning the "acts of barbarism." As of 2 p.m. CEST, no information was available on official statements from Tajikistan or Turkmenistan. LF

KAZAKHSTAN'S PRESIDENT, MINISTERS DISCUSS BUDGET FOR 2002

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev met in Astana on 11 September with Prime Minister Qasymzhomart Toqaev to discuss the final draft budget for 2002, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reported. That draft reportedly "took into consideration" unspecified recommendations made by the president, who during a four-hour session on 27 August criticized the proposed targets for both revenues and expenditures in earlier versions, according to Caspian News Agency. In May, Economy Minister Zhaqsybek Kulekeev had said that three alternative variants would be prepared for economic development in 2002, based on "optimistic," "pessimistic," and "realistic" assessments of average world market prices next year for oil. (Those predictions were $21.5, $18.5, and $19.5 per barrel respectively.) Reporting on a 4 September government session, Interfax said GDP in 2002 is predicted to reach 2.85 trillion tenges ($17.8 billion), 7 percent higher than the anticipated figure for this year. LF

KAZAKHSTAN TO SUSPEND EXPORT OF FUEL OIL

Kazakhstan's government has imposed a ban on exports of fuel oil between 1 October 2001 and 1 March 2002 in order to ensure that sufficient reserves remain available for the country's domestic needs, Interfax reported on 11 September. LF

KYRGYZ-RUSSIAN ECONOMIC COMMISSION MEETS

The third session of the Kyrgyz-Russia intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation took place in Cholpon-Ata on 10-11 September under the joint chairmanship of Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Trade and Industry Minister Arzymat Sulaimankulov and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantsev, RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau reported. Among the issues on the agenda were the joint Russian-Kyrgyz-Kazakh joint venture established last year to produce nuclear fuel in Kyrgyzstan on the basis of Kazakh uranium (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 August 2000); the transfer to Russia of shares in some 27 Kyrgyz industrial enterprises in partial repayment of Kyrgyzstan's $150 million debt to Moscow; and Russian participation in developing gold deposits in southern Kyrgyzstan and in completion of the construction of two hydroelectric power stations on the Kambar-Ata River, Russian agencies reported. LF

KYRGYZ GOVERNMENT APPROVES INFORMATION PROGRAM

The Kyrgyz government has approved an information program that will be submitted to the Security Council for approval next month, Transport and Communications Minister Kubanychbek DjumAliyev told RFE/RL's Bishkek bureau on 11 September. Some 5 million soms ($100,000) have been allocated for its implementation next year. LF

UNIDENTIFIED AIRCRAFT VIOLATES TAJIK AIRSPACE

A single unidentified aircraft entered Tajik airspace from Afghanistan on three separate occasions on 11 September, Reuters and AP reported, quoting an unnamed Russian Border Guard spokesman. LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY OFFICIAL DENIES MASSOUD HOSPITALIZED IN TAJIKISTAN

Valentin Orlov, commander of the Russian 21st Infantry Division stationed in Tajikistan, told Interfax on 11 September that Russian press reports that Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud was brought to Tajikistan for medical treatment following the 9 September attempt on his life are untrue (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). Speaking in Magas the same day, Ingushetian President Ruslan Aushev, a former Soviet army general and veteran of the war in Afghanistan, paid tribute to Massoud, whom he termed "an outstanding person...respected by many of the Soviet officers and generals for his noble conduct and for the fact that he never engaged in treachery," Interfax reported. Aushev said that if rumors of Massoud's death prove to be true, it would be "a serious blow" to the Northern Alliance. LF




EU CANNOT NORMALIZE RELATIONS WITH BELARUS

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on 11 September said the EU cannot conduct normal relations with Belarus following the 9 September presidential election. "We're not going to normalize relations with a country which does not respect the freedom of an election," Solana told Reuters during a EU-Ukraine summit at Yalta. EU Commission spokesman Gunnar Wiegand said the same day that "one thing is perfectly clear, the elections were not held in a normal way," and added that current relations between the EU and Belarus are "practically nonexistent" because of the political climate in Minsk. JM

OSCE CHAIRMAN CALLS FOR INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE WITH BELARUS

In a statement released on 11 September, OSCE Chairman Mircea Geoana deplored that Belarus's presidential election failed to meet OSCE standards and called for consultations between Belarusian authorities and the international community, Belapan reported. Geoana said the international isolation of Belarus runs counter to the interests of the Belarusian people. He suggested opening a new chapter of cooperation between Belarusian authorities, the democratic structures of civil society, and the OSCE Advisory and Monitoring Group headed by Hans Georg Wieck. JM

LUKASHENKA SENDS CONDOLENCES TO BUSH OVER TERRORIST ATTACKS

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent condolences to U.S. President George W. Bush over the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S. "On behalf of the Belarusian people, I extend heartfelt sympathy to the families of the victims, and express solidarity with the United States and the world community in combating international terrorism and crime," Belapan quoted from Lukashenka's message. JM

EU PLEDGES HELP FOR UKRAINE'S NUCLEAR SECTOR

In a communique issued following an EU-Ukraine summit at Yalta on 11 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001), the EU pledged to help Ukraine with the costs involved in making its nuclear power plants safe and solving social problems related to the closure of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant. During the summit, the Ukrainian side repeated its demands for EU countries to provide some $800 million promised to Ukraine for closing Chornobyl. The communique noted that the EU and the Euroatom energy agency will make a final decision on the means and size of funding "as soon as possible." Other issues discussed at the Yalta meeting included deliveries of Central Asian gas and oil to Europe via Ukrainian pipelines, increasing bilateral trade, the coordination of legal and customs laws, military cooperation, and joint responses to natural disasters. JM

UKRAINE'S AN-225 PLANE CLAIMS WORLD CARGO RECORD

Ukraine's Antonov aircraft company on 11 September said the world's biggest plane, the An-225 (dubbed "Mriya," or Dream), has set a world record for cargo lifting, world agencies reported. The company said a cargo of 253.8 tons (four tanks) was carried at an altitude of two kilometers for 1,000 kilometers on a flight from Kyiv to the Black Sea's Serpents Island and back. JM

KUCHMA SENDS CONDOLENCES OVER TERRORIST ATTACKS ON U.S.

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma has send a telegram to U.S. President Bush, expressing sympathy with the families of the victims and the American people in connection with the 11 September terrorist attacks on Washington D.C. and New York, Interfax reported on 11 September. "We expect that the perpetrators of these terrible crimes will not avoid just punishment," Kuchma said. JM

SPANISH PRIME MINISTER VISITS ESTONIA

As part of his plan to visit all EU candidate countries before Spain takes over the EU presidency in the first half of 2002, Jose Maria Aznar held talks in Tallinn on 11 September with Prime Minister Mart Laar on EU enlargement and Estonian-Spanish relations, BNS reported. Aznar said that he hopes to see Estonia conclude its EU membership talks next year and become a full member of the union in 2004. Prompted by the terrorist attacks in the U.S., the two prime ministers also spoke about the expansion of security cooperation and made a common statement that expressed condolences to the American people, the relatives of victims, and President Bush. As a result of the terrorist actions in the U.S., Aznar cancelled planned visits to Lithuania and Latvia, and flew back to Spain. SG

LATVIAN GOVERNMENT DECIDES TO LOWER CORPORATE INCOME TAX

The cabinet decided on 11 September to cut the corporate income tax over three years from 25 to 15 percent, LETA reported. It passed amendments to the law "On Enterprise Income Tax" that will lower the tax rate to 22 percent in 2002, 19 percent in 2003, and 15 percent in 2004. The Finance Ministry noted that the tax rate decrease will lower budget revenues for the next several years, but will provide for a more rapid growth of GDP. Having more disposable income, enterprises will be able to increase their investments into capital, boosting the modernization and restructuring of production. The lower tax rate might also help attract new investors to develop existing enterprises, or to establish new enterprises. SG

EBRD PRESIDENT REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO INVEST IN LITHUANIA

European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) President Jean Lemierre declared during the opening of a new bank office in Vilnius on September 10 that his bank expects to invest up to 100 million euros ($90 million) in Lithuania this year, ELTA reported. The EBRD plans to be involved in the granting of a $54 million loan for upgrading Lithuanian railroads. Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite noted that the EBRD may also become the biggest investor in the modernization of Mazeikiai Nafta (Oil). In talks with Vilnius Mayor Arturas Zuokas, Lemierre said that the capital will not need to obtain government guarantees to obtain EBRD loans for major projects. The next day he discussed with Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas a feasibility study on constructing a power bridge between Lithuania and Poland, the privatization of Lithuanian Gas, and the financing of the shutdown of the nuclear power plant in Ignalina. On his way to Riga, Lemierre stopped in Siauliai where he signed an agreement with Siauliai Bankas for a 2 million euro loan meant for local farmers, traders, and producers of foodstuffs. SG

POLISH PRESIDENT CONDEMNS ATTACKS ON U.S. AS 'CRIME OF GENOCIDE'

Speaking on Radio Zet on 12 September, Aleksander Kwasniewski used the expression "crime of genocide" to describe the carnage and devastation caused by the 11 September terrorist attacks on the U.S., dpa reported. "I believe that Americans will not react blindly...to appease public opinion, but that the reaction will be directed against the centers of world terrorism," Kwasniewski added. The previous day, Kwasniewski said he sent a message of "full solidarity with families of the victims, with the American people, and with U.S. President George W. Bush," to Washington over the attacks, which he termed as "unfathomable acts of terror." JM

POLISH PREMIER BACK IN HOSPITAL

Jerzy Buzek was back in the hospital on 12 September in Warsaw following a short release in the evening of 11 September when he met with his cabinet to plan Poland's security response to the terrorist attacks in the United States, dpa reported. "The prime minister has been readmitted to the hospital due to the general state of his health and circulatory problems," government spokesman Krzysztof Luft told the agency. JM

POLAND OPENS BORDER GUARD POST IN MIDLAND

Poland's Border Guard has opened a special post in Lodz, central Poland, Polish Radio reported on 11 September. The post, which employs some 20 officers, is to check whether foreigners who stay in Lodz Province do so legally. According to police and security service reports, Lodz, which is Poland's second-largest city, lies at a crossroads of drug trafficking and smuggling of illegal migrants. "Officers from the Border Guard are no longer limited to the so-called border zone that is 15 kilometers from the border line, but they may act and carry out checks on the whole territory of the country. We will have the right to use police operational techniques within the same scope as the police do," Border Guard chief Marek Biernacki said. JM

CZECH PRESIDENT CALLS TERRORIST ACT IN U.S. ATTACK ON FREEDOM, DEMOCRACY

Vaclav Havel called yesterday's terrorist attack in the United States an assault on human freedom and democracy, adding that the event was a "big warning to civilization that forces us to fully mobilize our responsibility for this world," CTK reported on 11 September. Senior politicians from all over the political spectrum condemned the attacks. A number of Czech canine rescue units, which assisted rescue efforts following devastating earthquakes in Turkey in 1999, said they were prepared to depart immediately for New York and Washington, and had informed the President's Office and the Czech Foreign Ministry of their offer to help. AH

CZECH TV MAGNATE TESTIFIES IN FRAUD INVESTIGATION

A Prague district court on 12 September began hearing testimony from the embattled head of TV Nova, Vladimir Zelezny, over a roughly $30 million transaction that his former partners say was aimed at defrauding them, CTK reported. The Czech court is acting at the request of authorities in Liechtenstein, where one of the parties to the transaction, the Astrona Foundation, is based. The Czech daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" has reported that Zelezny appeared to be using the foundation to evade possible debts to Central European Media Enterprises, which helped establish the country's most popular commercial television station. AH

APPELLATE COURT COMMUTES SENTENCES AGAINST CZECH SKINHEADS

A Czech regional appellate court has reduced the sentences of several youths convicted of a racially motivated attack on a group of Roma in the central Bohemian town of Podebrady, the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes" reported on 12 September. The Central Bohemian Regional Court commuted their prison sentences to suspended sentences. The attack came last April after the youths shouted insults at a group of Roma children and forced them to leave a public playground. The newspaper did not offer the court's reasoning. AH

SENIOR CZECH POLITICO FORCED TO RESIGN FROM ODS PARTY

The deputy chairman and a cofounder of the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS), Miroslav Macek, resigned from the party leadership on 11 September following news reports that he received huge sums for consulting work in connection with a major bank sale, CTK reported. Macek was paid upward of 10 million Czech crowns ($268,700) by a company working on behalf of Austrian Erste Bank, which purchased former monopoly savings bank Ceska Sporitelna from the state two years ago. Publicly disgraced in the early '90s over a privatization scandal, and at the heart of the financing scandal that cast the party from power in 1997, Macek has not held an elected post since 1992. Party leader and former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus, who has tacitly supported Macek through years of criticism, welcomed Macek's decision as a "radical, determined" response to the recent scandal. AH

CZECH SMUGGLERS SENTENCED BY HUNGARIAN COURT

A city court in Lenti, southern Hungary, has sentenced four Czechs to prison terms of between 24 and 35 months for trafficking in humans and forgery of documents, CTK reported on 11 September. Three others were acquitted of similar charges, which stem from the interception of a bus carrying 28 Ukrainians holding forged passports in November 2000. Some 13 Czech citizens are currently serving sentences in Hungarian prisons for human trafficking, CTK reported. AH

AUSTRIA BEGINS SECOND PHASE OF WWII COMPENSATION

A representative of the Czech Council for Victims of Nazism on 11 September said Austria has begun the second phase of compensation to forced laborers who worked on its territory during World War II, CTK reported. Payments will for the first time include compensation to the heirs of some of the total 10,000 applicants, roughly one-tenth of whom have died since filing their applications. Some 1.2 billion Czech crowns ($32.13 million) will be distributed among forced laborers from the territory of the Czech Republic and their relatives. AH

SLOVAK PREMIER CANCELS VISIT TO CANADA FOLLOWING TERRORIST ATTACKS ON U.S.

Mikulas Dzurinda has described the 11 September attacks on American cities as jeopardizing civilization and an attack on the foundation of democracy, TASR reported on 12 September. "This day has become a memento and roused us to a reality of new dangers," Dzurinda said on Slovak Television. Dzurinda, who arrived in Ottawa on 11 September, canceled his official visit to Canada and decided to return to Slovakia. JM

NATO MEETING IN HUNGARY CANCELED

NATO's Military Commission has canceled its meetings in Hungary this week after learning of the catastrophic events in New York and Washington, Hungarian media reported on 12 September. Nancy Goodman Brinker, the new U.S. ambassador to Hungary who was scheduled to arrive in Budapest on 12 September, will take up her post at a later date. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban cut short a two-day visit to Berlin and returned to Budapest. He told reporters before leaving Germany that as a U.S. ally, Hungary "must assess this attack directed against the entire free world. What is happening now in the U.S. is in a way also happening to us." The U.S. military air base in Taszar has been placed on high alert and a special air defense alert has been ordered over Hungary. MSZ

TALKS ON HUNGARIAN STATUS WILL CONTINUE IN BUCHAREST

A Hungarian-Romanian intergovernmental joint committee is to resume work in Bucharest next week, following a subcommittee meeting in Budapest on 11 September. Tibor Szabo, chairman of the Office for Hungarians Abroad, described the meeting in Budapest as "a successful start." Foreign Ministry State Secretary Zsolt Nemeth said tensions surrounding Hungary's Status Law have lessened, and that Romania's concerns on the issue will be taken into consideration by the Hungarian side. Nemeth added that Hungary wants to conclude discussions by the end of the year, in order for the law to be implemented in January 2002. MSZ




SLOVENIAN CABINET IN SPECIAL SESSION

Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek said that the government will discuss security issues in a special session on 12 September, Hina reported from Ljubljana. Drnovsek and President Milan Kucan sent telegrams of condolences and support to U.S. President George W. Bush. The Foreign Ministry condemned the terrorist attacks on Washington D.C. and New York in a statement on 11 September. Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said that the attacks were also an attack on the international order and will have great consequences. Austrian Foreign Minister Benita Ferrero-Waldner canceled a planned visit to Slovenia so that she could attend an emergency session of EU foreign ministers in Brussels. At that meeting, EU Commission President Romano Prodi said: "Our cooperation with the United States in the fight against terrorism is more necessary than ever and it will be pursued with necessary and renewed vigor," RFE/RL reported. PM

CROATIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS 'ATTACK ON CIVILIZATION'

Stipe Mesic said in Zagreb on 11 September that the attacks were not one of "ordinary terrorism" but a "declaration of war against the United States and all civilization," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. Cardinal Josip Bozanic sent a message of sympathy and support to the Roman Catholic Church in the U.S., Hina reported. Croatian dailies on 12 September discussed the world's "helplessness against global terrorism," as "Slobodna Dalmacija" put it. "Vecernji list" noted that people everywhere in Zagreb closely followed the news from the U.S. "Novi List" quoted legal expert Nikola Viskovic as saying that "globalization has led to the globalization of terrorism." Military affairs expert Zarko Puhovski wrote that the U.S. will most likely "respond with terror" of its own. Elsewhere, Croatian authorities tightened security at borders and airports, canceling all flights to Tel Aviv, dpa reported. PM

YUGOSLAV PRESIDENT: 'NO WORDS' CAN EXPRESS REVULSION

Vojislav Kostunica said in Podgorica on 11 September that the attack was "senseless and terrorist," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. He added that it is not possible for one to find the right words to condemn such an act, Hina reported. Kostunica noted that it will now be necessary to rethink existing ideas about terrorism, adding that "we live in a region that is exposed to terrorist attacks." Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said that the attack was a "great tragedy with frightful consequences." Belgrade dailies speculate on the "danger of revenge by the U.S.," as "Danas" put it. "Glas javnosti" ran a banner headline superimposed over a photo of the burning World Trade Center reading "America attacked" and "New York and Washington the targets of terrorists." "Blic" wrote of "America in flames," and "Politika" described the "greatest terrorist attack in history" and the "greatest tragedy in American history." "Vecernje novosti" wrote of "America's black day." In Paris, President Jacques Chirac's office said he has postponed a trip to Yugoslavia scheduled for 14-15 September, Reuters reported. PM

MACEDONIAN GOVERNMENT CONDEMNS 'TERRORIST ATTACKS'

Government spokesman Antonio Milosovski told Makfax news agency on 11 September that "the Macedonian government is shocked by the...terrorist attacks in the United States." He added that "we are shocked by what we saw [on television]. Macedonia expresses its deepest condolences to the American people and families that lost their family members in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York." He stressed that the Macedonian government "most vigorously condemns terrorist acts, which have become a common enemy to democracy worldwide." PM

BOSNIA SLAMS 'ATTACKS ON INNOCENTS'

Bosnian federal Defense Minister Mijo Anic said in a telegram to his U.S. counterpart Donald Rumsfeld that he is "shocked and deeply moved...over the cowardly series of terrorist attacks on innocent American citizens and the U.S. government," Hina reported from Sarajevo on 11 September. Anic called on "the entire world" to pool efforts "against this evil." Federal President Karlo Filipovic and Sarajevo Mayor Muhidin Hamamdzic each sent a telegram of sympathy and solidarity to the U.S. embassy, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported on 12 September. In Banja Luka, Republika Srpska President Mirko Sarovic and Vice President Dragan Cavic sent President Bush a telegram of condolence. Prime Minister Mladen Ivanic sent the U.S. embassy and Secretary of State Colin Powell a telegram in which he "strongly condemned" the terrorist attacks in his own name and that of the government. PM

U.S. THANKS KOSOVARS FOR SUPPORT

Ambassador John Menzies, Washington's chief representative in Kosova, said in a statement on 12 September: "On behalf of the government and people of the United States, I want to thank the people of Kosovo for the tremendous outpouring of support you have shown over the past 24 hours in the wake of yesterday's horrible terrorist attacks in New York and Washington. Just as we stood by you during your darkest hour, so you are standing by us now during this time of our great national tragedy. We have received messages of support from Kosovars of all ethnic communities, and this fact alone demonstrates the revulsion everyone shares for this horrible act of cowardly, terrorist violence." PM

MACEDONIA 'ON HORNS OF DILEMMA'

Major Macedonian dailies ran editorials on 11 September in which they expressed concern that the country might soon be forced to accept a new international force that could lead to the partition of Macedonia along ethnic lines, Makfax news agency reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). "Dnevnik" wrote that Macedonians' "worst nightmares" might thus come true. "Nova Makedonija" noted that "we are all well aware that the ethnic Albanians [want] an extended presence of NATO soldiers despite the fears among the Macedonian population that certain parts of Macedonia's territory will be declared an international protectorate" in the process. Commenting on the West's concern about a "vacuum" arising in Macedonia once Operation Essential Harvest ends, the daily noted: "too much concern raises suspicions." It added that NATO troops are likely to stay for some time once they arrive, and that Macedonians should decide whether this is acceptable. "Dnevnik" wondered if one can "fill a security vacuum with gunpowder." PM

MONTENEGRIN, YUGOSLAV LEADERS TALK PAST EACH OTHER

Djukanovic and Kostunica participated in a meeting of the Supreme Defense Council in Podgorica on 11 September, "Dan" reported. Among those participating was Serbian President Milan Milutinovic, an indicted war criminal. Djukanovic and Kostunica then discussed their differences on the future of relations between Belgrade and Podgorica, repeating their long-standing positions (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). The two agreed to continue dealing with their differences by political means. "Vijesti" noted that only once the question of Belgrade-Podgorica relations is settled can the military expect to be considered for membership in NATO's Partnership for Peace program. PM

BOSNIAN STRIKERS REJECT OFFER

The 400 workers on hunger strike at Polihem in Tuzla have rejected an offer from the Elektroprivreda company to pay $120,000 toward their back wages, "Avaz" reported on 12 September (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 September 2001). The workers rejected the offer of "social assistance" as "immoral" and an attempt to skirt the real issues involved. The workers want the company to restore Polihem's electric power so that they "can work and earn ourselves." PM

MOODY'S CRITICAL OF ROMANIA'S ECONOMIC REFORMS

Moody's rating agency's latest annual report has criticized the state of structural reforms in the Romanian economy, Romanian media reported. Report author Nina Ramondelli, a Moody's vice president, wrote that the lack of serious structural reforms "continues to undermine the sustainability of macroeconomic performances, to hold back economic growth and, sometimes, to put pressure on the foreign debt service." According to the report, Romania's situation can improve only by formulating, together with the International Monetary Fund, an economical stabilization program and by completing the privatization process of state-owned companies recently offered for sale. ZsM

RULING, ETHNIC HUNGARIAN PARTY TO CONTINUE COOPERATION

Despite their divergent opinions on the Hungarian Status Law, the ruling Party of Social Democracy (PSD) and the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR) will continue to cooperate, Mediafax reported on 11 September. Premier and PSD Chairman Adrian Nastase and UDMR Chairman Bela Marko reportedly discussed different chapters of their cooperation agreement during their 10 September meeting, and noted that the Status Law recently adopted by the Hungarian Parliament is causing "difficulties and the slowing down of [bilateral] relations." Nastase, who has protested previously against the Status Law, referred to it as "nationalist." Marko said he hopes ongoing consultations between the Romanian and Hungarian governments will eventually lead to solutions. ZsM

BULGARIAN PREMIER'S VISIT TO BRUSSELS POSTPONED

Simeon Saxecoburggotski postponed his 11 September visit to Belgium in the wake of the terrorist attacks in the U.S., AP reported. The meeting was to be Saxecoburggotski's first trip abroad, and he was to meet with European Commission President Prodi and Belgian Premier Guy Verhofstadt. Belgium currently holds the rotating chair of the EU and the Bulgarian premier's visit is seen as symbolic of the country's hopes of joining the EU and NATO. The same day, Foreign Minister Solomon Pasi said in a telegram to his U.S. counterpart Powell that "together with all Bulgarian people, [I] sharply condemn the organizers and the perpetrators of this act of cruelty and madness." Meanwhile, the Bulgarian National Assembly adopted a declaration on 12 September urging the UN to declare 11 September an international day for the "Victims of Terrorism." PB

NATO MANEUVERS BEGIN IN BULGARIA

Troops from several NATO member states as well as forces from 13 countries belonging to NATO's Partnership for Peace program began 10 days of military exercises in Bulgaria on 11 September, Reuters reported. The maneuvers, code-named Cooperative Key 2001, will include land, air, and command and medical operations and involve troops from Austria, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, and Switzerland, along with NATO forces. Some 1,300 personnel as well as 72 aircraft are involved in the exercises, which are being held near the southern city of Plovdiv. U.S. Major Tim Dunne, chief of media operations for NATO's Southern Regional headquarters, said: "The basis of the exercise is an imaginary request from the UN for multinational support for a humanitarian operation." PB


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