Accessibility links

Newsline - July 23, 2002


WAGE ARREARS SOARED IN JUNE...
At a government session on 22 July, President Vladimir Putin called on the government and the heads of the regions to take emergency measures to reduce wage arrears to state-sector workers, ITAR-TASS reported. Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksei Kudrin announced the same day that wage arrears now total some 3.2 billion rubles ($101 million). According to the Kudrin, the backlog grew by 1.5 billion rubles in June alone. Part of the problem was that "a significant part of [federal] support in June was directed in the southern regions to eradicate the consequences of the flooding," Kudrin said. However, the regions cited with most severe problems -- Krasnoyarsk Krai, Orenburg and Omsk oblasts, the republics of Tuva and Khakasia, and the Koryak Autonomous Okrug -- are not located in the Southern Federal District. JAC

...POVERTY WIDESPREAD IN MILITARY...
Forty-six percent of Russian soldiers live at or below the poverty line, "Die Welt" reported on 22 July. Citing a report in the Defense Ministry newspaper "Krasnaya zvezda," the German daily wrote that about 1.2 million officers and soldiers have not received their wages for June and that they likely will not receive their July wages on time. Ironically, the wage arrears have accumulated just when a 1 July salary increase for officers of 988 rubles ($32) per month, which was approved at the initiative of President Putin, comes into effect. "We live worse than homeless people, and this can't continue any longer," the German paper quoted one unidentified officer as saying. The average monthly income for an officer, including all benefits, stands at 6,114 rubles. Moonlighting in order to make ends meet is rampant, the newspaper asserted. RC

...AND PROJECTIONS FOR THE ECONOMY RELEASED
Inflation in Russia for the current year will amount to 10-12 percent, Prime-TASS reported on 23 July, citing a forecast submitted to the government by the Economic Development and Trade Ministry. According to the forecast, GDP growth will be from 3.4-4.4 percent and productivity is expected to grow by 3.2-4.1 percent. The report was discussed on 23 July at a meeting of the government's Council on Entrepreneurship, which also discussed Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization. Meanwhile, Oleg Belyi, director of the Academy of Sciences' Transport Institute, told reporters that Russia could earn up to $15 billion a year in cargo-transit fees, ITAR-TASS reported on 23 July. He urged active development of both east-west and north-south transport corridors, starting with a $100 million project to connect the Trans-Korean Railway with the Trans-Siberian. RC

INTERIOR MINISTRY TO TAKE ON SHADOW ECONOMY
Interior Ministry Boris Gryzlov will present a radical new program aimed at underground businesses as early as this fall, "Vremya novostei" reported on 23 July. According to the report, the plan will target the most criminalized sectors of the economy including gaming, the production and sale of tobacco products, and the export of consumer goods. The ministry believes that the plan could bring in an additional $5 billion to $6 billion in budget revenues each year. The daily reports that the plan includes requiring Russian fishing vessels to return to a Russian port before off-loading their catches, taxing casinos at a fixed rate per gaming table or slot machine, and renationalizing some of the country's leading domestic cigarette brands. Ultimately, the plan envisages state control over the tobacco industry analogous to that presently exercised over hard liquor. RC

CIA DEFECTOR DEAD?
The U.S. State Department reported on 22 July that it believes former CIA officer Edward Lee Howard, who defected to the Soviet Union in 1985, has died, Western and Russian news agencies reported. Spokesman Richard Boucher said that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow had received reports that Howard died on 12 July after falling down a flight of stairs in his home near Moscow. Russian authorities have declined to comment. Howard began working for the CIA in 1981 and was dismissed in 1983 under suspicion of selling information to the Soviets. Although he always maintained his innocence, U.S. authorities believe that the information he disclosed led to the execution of at least one Soviet agent working for the CIA. RC

OFFICIAL SAYS GO SLOW ON WTO
Federation Council Chairman Sergei Mironov, winding up a tour of Altai Krai, told reporters in Barnaul on 22 July that Russia should not be in a hurry to join the World Trade Organization, "Kommersant-Daily" reported the next day. "Russia shouldn't rush to enter the WTO until it is able to negotiate away the burdensome conditions that some governments in the WTO want to impose on our country," Mironov was quoted as saying. Mironov said that a government working group is now focusing on 17 specific conditions that he feels must be eliminated. Mironov also lauded the krai town of Belokurikha, which he said has "considerable perspectives of becoming a world-class resort." He called on the federal government to assist the krai in developing the town's alpine skiing potential. Krai Governor Aleksandr Surikov told the same press conference that he believes President Putin will visit the resort this winter. RC

MINISTER HEAPS PRAISE ON LENINGRAD OBLAST...
Deputy Prime Minister and Labor and Social Affairs Minister Valentina Matvienko on 22 July praised Leningrad Oblast as one of the most rapidly developing regions in the country, ITAR-TASS reported. She noted that the oblast leads the country in industrial-production growth and that it has no wage arrears to state-sector workers. On the contrary, she pointed out, teachers and doctors in the region receive additional payments from a regional fund to supplement their state salaries. Matvienko urged other regions to follow Leningrad Oblast's model. She also categorically denied that she will run for governor of St. Petersburg in 2004. RC

...AS GOVERNOR MEETS WITH PUTIN
Leningrad Oblast Governor Valerii Serdyukov met in the Kremlin with President Putin on 23 July, RosBalt reported. Serdyukov reported on plans for the celebration of the oblast's 75th anniversary, which will be marked on 1 August. He also discussed regulation of the forestry industry and the status of property at previously closed military settlements. Putin informed Serdyukov of his views of a plan to develop small business that was submitted earlier this year by a committee headed by Serdyukov. RC

HEAT PLUS ALCOHOL EQUALS DEATH
Moscow continues to swelter in record temperatures around 33 degrees Celsius with forecasts of daily highs above 30 degrees for the rest of the week, ntvru.com reported on 23 July. Meanwhile, the number of Muscovites reported drowned in city swimming areas continues to mount, "Izvestiya" reported the same day, comparing the daily reports to "dispatches from the front lines." "Since the opening of the swimming season -- that is, in the period from 1 June to 21 July -- 138 people have drowned in Moscow and 87 have been rescued," reported the press office of the municipal rescue service. "The majority were in a condition of extreme drunkenness." According to the daily, 30 people have drowned this year in Novgorod Oblast, and 94 in Bashkortostan. RC

FAR EASTERN GOVERNOR BLAMES FLOODING ON CHINA
Russian news agencies reported on 22 July that the Oktyabrskii and Ussuriiskii raions in Primorskii Krai were flooded. According to ITAR-TASS, some 1,500 people were affected, as 783 houses and 20,000 hectares of cropland were inundated. According to TV-6, Governor Sergei Darkin said that the flooding might have been caused by opened spillways at a Chinese water reservoir located near the krai's border. He added that Chinese officials have so far not confirmed that the spillways were open. However, some specialists at the federal Ministry for Natural Resources believe that the northeastern part of China does not have enough water in its system to cause the kind of damage that occurred in the krai, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 July. JAC

GOVERNMENT TO MULL NEW TAX AND QUOTAS FOR FOREIGN WORKERS
Minister Vladimir Zorin, who oversees nationalities policies, announced on 22 July that the government commission on migration policy will consider at its meeting in September new migration regulations for Russia, as well as the introduction of quotas and taxes on foreign labor, Russian news agencies reported. The tax on employers that hire foreign workers would amount to 200-3,000 rubles (about $6-$95), depending on the jobs the foreign workers perform, rbc.ru reported. According to Zorin, foreigners may be employed in Russia in positions that are not sought after by the domestic labor force, Interfax reported. Zorin told reporters that Russia's population drops by 500,000-600,000 people per year, and therefore immigration is "an important resource for adding to population numbers," ITAR-TASS reported. At the same time, he noted, the Russian Federation's migration policy "should proceed only in correspondence with the interests of the government." MD

NEW DEPARTMENT FOR COMPATRIOT RELATIONS ESTABLISHED
The presidential administration has created a department to work with "compatriots" abroad, RIA-Novosti reported on 22 July. The department was created within the main administration on external policies of the presidential administration, which is headed by Sergei Prikhodko, but its activities will be overseen by deputy presidential administration head Vladislav Surkov. Aleksei Sitnin, who will head the new department, said the Kremlin considers compatriots to be "all those who speak Russian, are interested in Russian culture, and want to support connections with Russia" and are not defined by "citizenship or nationality, which is secondary." Sitnin is a former head of information policy for the presidential administration on external policy. He also headed the press service for the Alfa Group, where Surkov also worked (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 1 May 2001). JAC

SOROS FUND SUSPENDS ITS WORK IN RUSSIA
Late in the day on 22 July, the employees of the Soros Foundation's Open Society Institute-Russia found themselves locked in their Moscow office, RIA-Novosti reported. According to Open Society Institute-Russia President Yekaterina Genieva, she and five of her colleagues found themselves trapped in their offices when representatives of Nobel Technologies hung a lock on the gate at about 6:30 p.m., preventing them from leaving the building. The Soros Foundation and Nobel Technologies are engaged in litigation, both claiming the right to the premises located at 8 Ozerkovskaya Naberezhnaya. Genieva insists that Nobel Technologies' claim is baseless and says that no arbitration court has ever ruled in favor of Nobel Technologies in any of its suits. "Such a situation forces me to suspend the activity of the Soros Foundation in Russia until the foundation is provided with normal working conditions," RIA-Novosti quoted her as saying. MD

LAST ADAMOV CRONY REPORTEDLY OUSTED
Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a decree dismissing Bulat Nigmatulin from his post as deputy atomic energy minister and naming Andrei Malyshev to replace him, "Izvestiya" reported on 20 July. Malyshev was most recently director of the Atomenergoproekt Institute. According to the daily, Nigmatulin was one of the last close associates of former Atomic Energy Minister Yevgenii Adamov still at the ministry. Adamov was dismissed by President Putin last spring amid corruption charges (see "RFE/RL Russian Political Weekly," 12 March 2001). Nigmatulin also supported the bill allowing Russia to import spent nuclear fuel for reprocessing. The daily noted that current Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev has managed to cleanse the ministry of all the officials who lobbied for that law. However, it concluded that their departure does not mean that the controversial idea itself has been rejected. JAC

CHAVASH PRESIDENT WINS MAJORITY IN LEGISLATURE
The majority of deputies selected for the Chavash Republic's legislature in 21 July elections allegedly come from the so-called presidential list, although the republic's executive continues to deny that such a list exists, RFE/RL's Cheboksary correspondent reported the next day. The majority of the new legislators are also directors of agricultural enterprises, medium-sized industrial enterprises, and various state-sector enterprises, particularly in the field of heath care. The administration can look forward to a productive relationship with the legislature since the only organized opposition party in the republic, the Communist Party, won in only eight of 73 districts. According to ITAR-TASS, the Chavash elections are one of the last to be conducted under the old rules, which did not require that at least half of the legislators be selected according to party lists. JAC

FIRST STOP, THE GOVERNOR'S MANSION -- NEXT STOP, VEGAS
Novosibirsk Oblast Governor Viktor Tolokonskii has launched a weekly concert series in a central park of Novosibirsk featuring -- himself, "Izvestiya" reported on 22 July. At the first concert on 21 July, around 200 people -- most of them pensioners -- gathered to hear Tolokonskii offer up his renditions of musical hits from the past 15 years such as "Lilac Fog" (Sirenevyi tuman). The audience was enthusiastic, responding at the end of each song with applause and bouquets of lilies-of-the-valley, according to the daily. Yurii Korobchenko, director of the oblast's information department, explained that "singing is an opportunity for the governor to become closer to the people" and to relate to them not as an authority figure but "as an ordinary person." Meanwhile, local political analysts offered a different explanation: They told the daily that they consider the governor's decision to take up crooning as an indication that the next gubernatorial campaign has already begun. JAC

U.S. AMBASSADOR, COUNCIL OF EUROPE OFFICIAL CRITICIZE CHECHEN SEARCH OPERATIONS
In separate presentations at a Moscow Oblast conference on human rights, Alexander Vershbow and Council of Europe Human Rights Commissioner Alvaro Gil-Robles both denounced human rights violations committed by Russian troops during search operations in Chechnya, Interfax reported on 22 July. Vershbow advocated beginning negotiations with Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov's supporters. LF

RUSSIAN MILITARY DISCLOSES CASUALTY FIGURES IN CHECHNYA, DAGHESTAN
Interfax on 22 July quoted unidentified Russian military officials as saying that a total of 4,200 Russian troops have been killed since the start of the Chechen-led incursion into Daghestan in August 1999. That is more than double the figure of 1,670 cited by President Putin in November 2000. The same unidentified source told Interfax that 13,500 Chechen fighters have been killed since the beginning of the war in Chechnya in October 1999. LF

BRITISH CITIZEN SENTENCED IN DAGHESTAN
Daghestan's Supreme Court has sentenced British citizen John Benini to seven years' imprisonment on charges of illegal possession of weapons and membership in an illegal armed group, Interfax reported. Benini was detained in November 2001 on the border between Daghestan and Chechnya (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 November 2001). LF

ARMENIAN OPPOSITION LEADER CRITICIZES 'ASSETS FOR DEBTS' DEAL...
People's Party of Armenia (HZhK) Chairman Stepan Demirchian has criticized as "wrong" a deal signed last week under which Armenia ceded several major enterprises, including the Mars electronics factory of which Demirchian is director, to Moscow in payment of its $98 million debt, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reported on 22 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 and 18 July 2002). Demirchian said it is "not normal" to cede major assets for debts, and it would have been more appropriate to set up joint ventures with Russia. He also pointed out that there is no guarantee that the enterprises in question will continue to function under Russian ownership. He denied that his own previously unannounced visit to Moscow last week was connected with the deal; some observers in Yerevan had suggested that he had hoped to obtain assurances from the Russian government that he will retain his position as Mars director. LF

...AS DOES FORMER ARMENIAN PREMIER
National Democratic Union Chairman Vazgen Manukian, who served as prime minister in 1990-1991, similarly told RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau on 19 July that he considers the exchanging assets for debt "a very outdated business model." He added that although he believes it is important to strengthen economic ties between Armenia and Russia, he doubts the assets-for-debt deal will contribute to doing so. LF

AZERBAIJAN'S PRESIDENT AGAIN CRITICIZES OSCE
Heidar Aliev met with journalists at the Baku Press Club on 22 July, which Azerbaijan observes as National Press Day, Turan reported. Aliev said he does not consider he has made any mistakes over the past nine years in the ongoing negotiations aimed at resolving the Karabakh conflict. He criticized the OSCE, whose Minsk Group is tasked with mediating such a solution, for its passivity and failure to achieve that objective, casting doubts on its commitment to the principles of territorial integrity and the inviolability of state borders. Aliev said with regard to domestic politics that his priority is political stability, and that he does not believe personal changes are a major factor in preserving it. He ruled out the "Yeltsin option" of resigning in order to hand over power to a chosen successor, affirming once again that he is in good health and will run for a third presidential term in 2003. LF

IMF DELAYS LOAN TRANCHE FOR AZERBAIJAN
The Azerbaijani government's failure to act on International Monetary Fund (IMF) recommendations to privatize two large state-owned banks and to raise domestic prices for oil and heating oil impelled the fund to withhold until later this year the third $10 million tranche of a $100 million Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility Loan agreed on last year, Turan and "Ekho" quoted IMF official John Odling-Smee as telling journalists in Baku on 19 July. He added that the Azerbaijani government has agreed to draft plans within two weeks for complying with the recommendations. LF

AZERBAIJAN, UZBEKISTAN SIGN ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS
The fifth session of the Azerbaijan-Uzbekistan Commission for Economic Partnership took place in Baku on 19 July, Turan and uza.uz reported. Delegations from the two governments expressed satisfaction that bilateral trade increased in 2001 and in the first quarter of 2002, and that Azerbaijan has discharged part of its $1.23 million debt to Uzbekistan. Three bilateral cooperation agreements were signed. But the outcome of discussions on the leasing by Azerbaijani Airlines of Uzbek passenger aircraft, the possible purchase by Azerbaijan of drilling equipment for the oil sector, and cooperation in the chemical sector is unclear. LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT DENIES HE WILL PARDON FORMER INTELLIGENCE CHIEF...
Eduard Shevardnadze on 22 July rejected as misplaced widespread media speculation that he will pardon former intelligence chief Igor Giorgadze, Caucasus Press reported. But he added that he will no longer pressure Moscow to extradite Giorgadze. Giorgadze is accused of masterminding the car-bomb attempt on Shevardnadze in August 1995; last month, Shevardnadze formally pardoned three members of the paramilitary organization Mkhedrioni who were jailed for their alleged role in that attack. Giorgadze left Georgia in the fall of 1995, and his current whereabouts are unknown. He has given several interviews in recent years to Russian media saying that he plans eventually to return to Georgia where, he says, many people support him (see "RFE/RL Caucasus Report," Vol. 3, No. 6, 11 February 2000). LF

...WARNS AGAINST NEW ABKHAZ OFFENSIVE
Shevardnadze also said on 22 July during his weekly press briefing that he does not support calls for a Georgian guerrilla campaign to bring the breakaway Republic of Abkhazia back under Georgian central-government control, Caucasus Press reported. Imereti Governor Temur Shashiashvili last year warned that Georgian guerrilla formations would launch such an offensive if the Georgian government failed to reach a negotiated solution to the conflict, and Abkhaz parliament in exile Chairman Tamaz Nadareishvili was quoted last week as expressing his support for new hostilities (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 19 July 2002). In late May, Shashiashvili extended his original deadline for reaching a settlement from 26 May to 31 July. LF

GERMANY CONCERNED OVER CRIME, LAGGING REFORMS IN GEORGIA
Meeting on 22 July with Minister of State Avtandil Djorbenadze and Interior Minister Koba Narchemashvili, German Ambassador Uwe Schramm expressed concern that the Georgian authorities are apparently incapable of taking measures to prevent abductions, religious intolerance, and violence against NGOs, Caucasus Press reported. He referred specifically to the still unsolved murder last December of a German diplomat serving with the EU mission in Tbilisi (see "RFE/RL Newsline, 10 December 2001), and the disappearance two weeks ago of businessman Klaus Droege (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 8 July 2002). At a separate meeting with Djorbenadze, the head of a delegation from Germany's Ministry for Scientific Cooperation and Development expressed dissatisfaction with the slow pace of economic reform in Georgia, especially in the energy sector, Caucasus Press reported. LF

GEORGIAN PARLIAMENT DEPUTY BRINGS SLANDER SUIT AGAINST NGO OFFICIAL
Guram Sharadze has brought a slander suit against Levan Ramishvili of the Liberty Institute, Caucasus Press reported. During a TV talk show two weeks ago, Ramishvili dubbed Sharadze a fascist and former KGB official (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 11 July 2002). LF

KAZAKH OPPOSITION LEADER OUTLINES TACTICS...
In an address to Kazakhstan's opposition parties carried by forumkz.org, Republican People's Party of Kazakhstan (RNPK) Chairman Akezhan Kazhegeldin suggested how they should best respond to the most recent repressive measures undertaken by the Kazakh authorities, in particular the law on political parties that bars from reregistration any party with fewer than 50,000 members (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24, 26, and 27 June and 16 July 2002). Kazhegeldin attributed the passage of that law to the erosion of support within the country's leadership for President Nursultan Nazarbaev. He advised opposition parties to ignore the requirement to reregister before the end of the year and to continue functioning as before. That is, he said, especially important in the case of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan, as Nazarbaev is prepared to reregister that party and then try to persuade the West that further repression is the only way to prevent the Communists from returning to power. LF

...PROPOSES CONSOLIDATION OF FORCES
Kazhegeldin noted that although his RNPK joined forces late last year with two other opposition parties to create the Unified Democratic Party (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 January 2002), subsequent talks between that alignment and the opposition movement Democratic Choice for Kazakhstan proved inconclusive. He said the only possible course of action now remaining is for opposition parties to set aside disputes among themselves, to align to create a new organization that would be capable of mobilizing all opposition forces and removing Nazarbaev from power, and to form an election bloc to contest democratic elections under international supervision. He affirmed his readiness to join the collective leadership of such an opposition bloc. LF

KYRGYZ PRESIDENT SAYS OPPOSITION SHARES BLAME FOR AKSY DEATHS
In an interview published by "Nezavisimaya gazeta" on 19 July, Askar Akaev said "irresponsible would-be politicians who incited the population to disorder and disregard for the law" share the blame for clashes in Aksy in March between police and demonstrators in which five people died. At the same time, Akaev noted that "democratic traditions have not yet become a behavioral norm" and, for that reason, "excesses of any kind" should not be "overdramatized." Akaev said he will not seek a third presidential term in 2005, and that although he has identified several candidates qualified to succeed him as president, he will not "create hot-house conditions" or undertake any measures to facilitate the election of any one of those candidates. LF

TURKMENISTAN TO REDEFINE DUTIES OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES
President Saparmurat Niyazov announced at a meeting of heads of law enforcement agencies that next month's session of the People's Council will adopt a decree redefining the rights and duties of the Defense Ministry, Interior Ministry, National Security Committee, Supreme Court and the Prosecutor-General's office, Interfax and turkmenistan.ru reported on 22 and 23 July respectively. Niyazov said that measure is necessary in order to ensure that such agencies are staffed by honest individuals. Dozens of National Security Ministry officials have been fired in recent months for abuse of office and crimes including murder and drug trafficking. The defense minister has also been replaced (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 March, 18 June, and 9 July 2002). LF

BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT COURTS ILO CHIEF
President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has sent a letter to Juan Somavia, director-general of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Belapan reported on 22 July, quoting the presidential press service. "Fruitful social dialogue is regarded in Belarus as an important condition of harmonizing the interests of different strata of society. We are grateful to the International Labor Organization for [its] readiness to assist in this work," Lukashenka said in his message. The Belarusian president emphasized that Belarus will continue contributing to the achievement of the ILO's goal of securing proper labor conditions for everyone. Alyaksandr Bukhvostau, a trade union leader, told Belapan on 16 July that last week's election of deputy presidential administration chief Leonid Kozik as the chairman of the Trade Union Federation of Belarus (see "RFE/RL Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine Report," 23 July 2002) took place under pressure from the executive and constituted a blatant violation of ILO rules. JM

OUR UKRAINE TO USE 'EXTREME MEASURES' AGAINST KUCHMA?
UNIAN on 22 July quoted Our Ukraine lawmaker Roman Bezsmertnyy as saying that "the parliamentary elections and repeat elections have shown that there is no constitutional way in Ukraine's political realities to change the power system." Bezsmertnyy was commenting on the repeat parliamentary elections on 14 July in three constituencies -- No. 18, No. 35, and No. 201. A court invalidated the election results in constituency No. 18 in Vinnytsya Oblast where the winner was Mykola Odaynyk supported by Our Ukraine. Bezsmertnyy added that Our Ukraine is now pondering whether to use "extreme measures" against the existing power system. "It is becoming obvious that [the presidential administration] is working on scenarios to elect President Leonid Kuchma for a third term, and the repeat elections tested the mechanisms that will be put in operation in 2004," Bezsmertnyy said. JM

ESTONIA MAKES PROGRESS IN AGRICULTURAL TALKS WITH EU
Agriculture Minister Jaanus Marrandi announced on 22 July that talks on agriculture with the European Union are progressing favorably, BNS reported. He said Estonia has already been offered larger quotas for milk and grain output, with the annual milk quota of 560,000 tons initially proposed by the European Commission increased by 100,000 tons. Marrandi cautioned that these were the results of technical discussions and that "the political aspect will follow later." Estonia is still seeking a milk quota of 900,000 tons, but Marrandi noted that the quota system may be eliminated altogether if the EU's farming policy is changed to become more open and market-oriented. Estonian farmers fear that any milk quota below 900,000 tons is too small and could drive Estonia's dairy-farming sector into decline. SG

LATVIAN PARTICIPATION WITH NATO DISCUSSED
Defense Ministry State Secretary Edgars Rinkevics held talks on 22 July with Lieutenant General Luis Feliu, the Spanish military representative to NATO, LETA reported. The two discussed NATO expansion and the development of Latvia's armed forces. Feliu expressed Spain's support for Latvia's NATO bid and said the country is prepared to offer assistance to help Latvia reach its goal. Feliu also said Latvia should have no difficulties in integrating with NATO upon accession, as it has already met most of the accession targets set by the alliance. In addition, Feliu noted Latvia's achievements in forming specialized military units and emphasized NATO's need for military medical specialists. SG

POLISH NATIONAL BANK HEAD PRAISES LITHUANIA'S FINANCIAL POLICY
Following discussions with Finance Minister Dalia Grybauskaite in Vilnius on 22 July, Polish National Bank Governor Leszek Balcerowicz gave a positive evaluation of Lithuania's fiscal policy and hailed the country's success in reducing its budget deficit and improving macroeconomic indicators, ELTA reported. The two spoke about their respective countries' efforts to join the EU and recent financial developments such as the fall in the value of the U.S. dollar against the euro. During the meeting, Balcerowicz and Bank of Lithuania President Reinoldijus Sarkinas signed a banking supervision appendix to the cooperation agreement between the two countries' central banks that was signed in December 2000. Lithuania has signed similar agreements with Finland, Germany, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, and Belarus. The bank heads later discussed the macroeconomic situations in the two countries with President Valdas Adamkus. SG

POLISH PREMIER DOWNPLAYS CHIRAC'S STATEMENT ON KALININGRAD
Premier Leszek Miller told Polish Radio on 22 July that last week's pronouncement by French President Jacques Chirac opposing the introduction of EU visas for residents of Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast was mere "propaganda" and will not entail any practical moves. Following his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi on 19 July, Chirac said it would be "unacceptable" to require Russians to get visas "to go from one part of Russia to another" following expected EU expansion. "I think [Chirac's] declaration...was a public utterance without any real consequences, and that France will not change its position," Miller said. He stressed that EU leaders in June confirmed the need for countries joining the EU to tighten border controls and extend visa requirements for non-EU residents. JM

FORMER CZECH FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIAL HELD ON SUSPICION OF CONTRACTING MURDER...
Four people, including former Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Karel Srba, have been taken into custody for allegedly plotting to have Czech journalist Sabina Slonkova murdered, CTK and international media reported on 22 and 23 July. Srba was forced to resign from his post in March 2001 after Slonkova, a journalist for the daily "Mlada fronta Dnes," wrote a series of articles describing the suspicious circumstances under which the ministry leased the Cesky Dum (Czech House) in Moscow to a private firm. Srba had submitted the lease contract to then-Foreign Minister Jan Kavan for signing. Slonkova said on 22 July her murder was planned for 17 July and that three contract assassins intended to shoot her with a pistol and slash her face to prevent identification. According to AP, Srba contracted the assassins through his girlfriend, who is also among those arrested. MS

...AS JOURNALIST WRITES ABOUT HER ORDEAL...
Writing in "Mlada fronta Dnes" on 23 July, Slonkova said police took her under their protection prior to the planned murder and hid her for 10 days, CTK reported. On 22 July, CTK, quoting prosecution sources from Ceske Budejovice, reported that police were informed of the plot by one of the potential perpetrators. The man is not among the four detained suspects, who face between 12 and 15 years in prison if convicted. MS

...AND REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS CALLS FOR EXEMPLARY PUNISHMENT
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on 22 July called on Czech authorities to "see to it that nobody escapes punishment, whatever their position, especially if it is true that one or more top Foreign Ministry officials ordered the murder or knew about the plan," according to a RSF press release. The organization said, "With only a few months to go before the country joins the EU, police and the courts must demonstrate, through exemplary measures, that they will no longer compromise where press freedom is concerned." Pavel Safr, editor in chief of "Mlada fronta Dnes," told Czech radio on 22 July that the daily's management has taken additional measures to protect its journalists and that the publication will not lower its standards as a result of the threat and will keep watching and reporting on dubious practices in the civil service or elsewhere. MS

FORMER FOREIGN MINISTRY STAFF MEMBER WANTS HIS CASE REVIEWED
Vaclav Hruby, former director of the Czech Foreign Ministry's Stirin conference center, on 22 July said he wants the investigation over the so-called "Stirin affair" to be reopened, CTK reported. Hruby, who was dismissed as director of the center in 1999, claimed at that time that Srba forced him to falsely testify that former Foreign Minister Josef Zieleniec had bribed journalists. He told CTK on 22 July that he has also been threatened by people connected with Srba and that his life and his family's safety are in danger. Police shelved the "Stirin affair" and Hruby subsequently lost a lawsuit against Srba, who called him a "blackmailer." MS

GERMAN OPPOSITION PARTY PRAISES 'CZECH CHANGE' OVER BENES DECREES
The German opposition Christian Democratic Union-Christian Social Union (CDU-CSU) on 22 July praised what it described as indications that the new Czech government is changing Prague's position of refusing to discuss the controversial Benes Decrees, CTK reported. CDU-CSU spokesman Hartmut Koschyk said that a "nascent readiness" to discuss the decrees is evident, and that such discussions would be "a great step forward" in Czech-German relations. In an interview with the daily "Lidove noviny" last week, Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said the new government supports the parliament's resolution ruling out compensation or property restitution for Sudeten Germans but that discussion with the German government over the issue is not ruled out. "Democrats have the courage to talk on issues on which they disagree," Svoboda said. Koschyk said the German government must "immediately seize" the opportunity and added that it must "push for the abolition of the Benes Decrees." MS

CZECH PRESIDENT SAYS COMMUNISTS NO DANGER TO CZECH FUTURE
In an interview with the French weekly "Marianne," President Vaclav Havel said on 22 July that despite its recent electoral success, he does not believe the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM) poses a threat to the country's future, CTK reported. Havel said those who voted for the KSCM "can develop" and that such an evolution is to a large extent dependent on the impact politicians and the media will have on pro- KSCM voters. Havel said the traditional KSCM voters belong to the older generation and those who devoted their lives to "building up the paradise of socialism." However, Havel said, these voters were joined by new social categories in the June ballot whose members voted for the KSCM as a "protest vote." He added that the KSCM's nationalist rhetoric draws support, and that people "incapable of adopting to freedom and facing personal responsibility" are attracted to the KSCM. MS

FORMER SLOVAK INTELLIGENCE CHIEF APPEALS AGAINST CUSTODY
On 22 July, lawyers representing former Slovak Information Service chief Ivan Lexa formally appealed before the Supreme Court against their client's detention, CTK reported. The lawyers said the detention is illegal because as a member of parliament Lexa enjoys immunity, and that his detention must be approved by the legislature. The lawyers also claimed that Lexa's extradition from South Africa was carried out under pressure from the Slovak government. MS

SLOVAK CENTRAL ELECTION COMMISSION SET UP, CHOOSES CHAIRMAN
The Central Election Commission on which all parties running in the September elections are represented, was set up on 22 July, CTK reported. The commission should have 29 members, each representing a party, but since three formations have not designated a representative just 26 political parties and movements are represented on the commission. The representatives were unable to agree on a candidate for commission chairman and deputy chairman, and as a result the two officials were selected by draw. They are Christian Democratic Movement Pavol Baxa and Communist Party representative Ladislav Jaca. Ahead of the ballot, the chief task of the commission is to approve the registration of parties running in the elections. Its decision can be appealed before the Supreme Court. MS

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER ON U.S. VISIT
In Washington on 22 July, Laszlo Kovacs said during a live interview on CNN that Hungary is prepared to contribute to the establishment of a new Afghan army by providing military hardware, primarily radio and electronic equipment. In addition, he said Hungary is also prepared to dispatch surgeons and nurses to assist the international military mission in Afghanistan. Hungary is playing a role in fighting terrorism through its new law to combat money laundering, he said, noting that law enforcement officers are being trained on antiterrorism tactics at an FBI academy in Budapest. Kovacs later met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to discuss tasks facing NATO and stability in Southeast Europe. He also met with national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. MSZ

HUNGARIAN PREMIER'S, PREDECESSOR'S ASSETS SCRUTINIZED
Socialist parliamentary deputy Alajos Jozsef Geczi, chairman of the parliament's Immunity Commission, said on 22 July that Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy has clarified the controversial aspects of his declaration of assets, and that the commission does not need to convene to consider the matter, Hungarian media reported. Geczi said he received a letter from Medgyessy that says that by law, he is not required to declare properties he has access to but does not own (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 and 17 July 2002). Geczi also said he has received a letter from former Prime Minister Viktor Orban regarding his assets declaration and will study it before deciding whether to launch proceedings against him (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 12 July 2002). In his letter Orban denied any inconsistencies in his asset declarations. MSZ

SERBIAN PRESIDENTIAL RACE SHAPES UP...
Following the declaration by Yugoslav Deputy Prime Minister Miroslav Labus that he will seek the Serbian presidency in the 29 September elections, the governing Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition announced in Belgrade on 22 July that it will discuss its presidential choice on 26 July, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 2002). In Cacak, Mayor Velimir Ilic of the New Serbia party announced his candidacy. The Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS) decided in Belgrade that President Vojislav Kostunica will declare his intentions on 8 September, which is one day before the deadline. The Socialist Party of Serbia and the Serbian Radical Party will decide on their respective candidates by 27 July. PM

...AS DOES MONTENEGRIN LEGISLATIVE VOTE
The governing Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) and the Social Democrats (SDP) will run joint slates in the 6 October elections consisting not only of their own candidates but also of independent intellectuals, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported from Podgorica on 22 July (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 July 2002). PM

EU IS UPBEAT ON BOSNIA...
At their meeting in Brussels on 22 July, the EU foreign ministers said in a statement that they "strongly condemn local obstruction of population return and urge the respective countries to honor their commitment to address outstanding legal and administrative issues," Reuters reported. An estimated 1 million refugees and displaced persons still seek to return to their prewar homes, while about 1.5 million have already done so throughout the former Yugoslavia, including 300,000 members of ethnic minorities. The ministers stressed, however, that more must be done to facilitate refugee return, especially for members of Kosova's Serbian minority. The ministers were optimistic in their report on Bosnia, which is in stark contrast to their attitude one year ago, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. Bosnia has completed almost all 18 of the tasks the European Union gave it to fulfill as it seeks to move toward a stability and association agreement with Brussels. The ministers appealed to Bosnians to hold orderly elections in October. PM

...AND DEMANDS DISSOLUTION OF IRREGULAR ARMED GROUPS IN MACEDONIA...
At their session on 22 July in Brussels, the EU foreign ministers called on all sides in Macedonia to dissolve irregular armed groups before the parliamentary elections slated for 15 September, Macedonian media reported. Ever since the Ohrid peace agreement was signed in August 2001, irregular armed groups as well as special police units subordinate to Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski have been involved in a number of violent incidents (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 17 July 2002). "The organization of the pre-election campaign and the [holding] of elections -- [if]...free and fair and [without]...violence and intimidation -- will contribute to the improvement in relations between Macedonia and the EU," the daily "Utrinski vesnik" quoted the EU statement as saying. UB

...WHILE OSCE OPENS ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION IN SKOPJE
The Warsaw-based OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) officially opened a large-scale election-observation mission in the Macedonian capital Skopje on 22 July, an ODIHR press release said. The mission will include 17 election experts, 45 mid-term and long-term observers, and some 750 short-term election observers. "The forthcoming elections are an important step in closing the chapter of violence and instability the country witnessed last year," said Julian Peel Yates, who heads the observation mission. UB

CROATIA ANNOUNCES OIL-PRIVATIZATION CANDIDATES
The government has narrowed to five the list of candidates for a 25 percent-plus-one-share stake in the state-run INA oil company, Hina reported on 22 July. The five are: Austria's OMV, Russia's LUKoil and Rosneft, Hungary's MOL, and Italy's Edison Gas. In Ljubljana, the Slovenian oil company Petrol said it is disappointed that it was left off the list. Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel will take up the matter with his Croatian counterpart Tonino Picula on 23 July. PM

CROATIA RELEASES WAR CRIMES SUSPECTS
A panel of judges in Split decided on 22 July to release seven former policemen held in detention in conjunction with the torture of hundreds of Serbs and Yugoslav Army servicemen at Split's Lora military prison during the 1991-95 war, AP reported. The seven men are expected to return when their trial resumes in the fall. Such rulings are very rare in Croatian courts. The presiding judge, Stanko Lozina, is widely regarded as sympathetic to former military and police officials who have been indicted for war crimes (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 3 July 2002). Critics charge that the behavior of judges such as Lozina shows that Croatia is not yet able to try indicted Croatian war criminals in a serious fashion. Human rights groups have protested the decision to release the seven. PM

TENSIONS PERSIST OVER CROATIAN-BOSNIAN BORDER
The Croatian Foreign Ministry has sent a note to its Bosnian counterpart saying the Bosnian government's statement of 22 July on resolving the dispute about the exact location of the frontier at border crossing at Kostajnica does not go far enough to settle the matter, RFE/RL's South Slavic and Albanian Languages Service reported on 23 July. The Bosnian ministers called for preserving the status quo -- set down provisionally in a 1999 agreement -- until a definite solution is worked out, which is the view of the government of the Republika Srpska. The Croatian ministry argues that this approach limits Croatia's right to exercise sovereignty on its own territory. During the past weekend, UN officials ordered Bosnian border police to withdraw 50 meters into Bosnian territory in order to relieve tensions. On 23 July, Bosnian European Integration Minister Dragan Mikerevic is scheduled to lead a delegation to inspect the disputed border crossing, Deutsche Welle's Bosnian Service reported. PM

BABO TO RUN IN BOSNIA
On 23 July, the Election Commission in Sarajevo ruled that Fikret Abdic may run for a seat on the Presidency in the 5 October general elections despite the fact that his is standing trial in Karlovac, Croatia, for war crimes, dpa reported. The commission made its ruling after Croatian Interpol confirmed that Abdic had turned himself into the authorities there voluntarily. He is charged with war crimes committed while he ruled the Bihac pocket in northwest Bosnia as a private fiefdom between 1993-95. Known locally as "Babo," or Daddy, Abdic was a powerful kingpin in the Bihac area for many years. A Muslim politician at odds with Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic, Abdic collaborated with Serbs and Croats alike. Abdic maintains that he worked only for the good of the Bihac region and that he is a victim of a frame-up by the Muslim political establishment. PM

MASS GRAVE FOUND IN BOSNIA
Forensic experts have discovered a grave containing the remains of perhaps 100 Muslims near Kamenica northeast of Sarajevo, AP reported on 23 July. It is believed that the victims were males who fled Srebrenica in July 1995. The grave appears to be a "secondary mass grave," where victims were reburied to conceal evidence at the place where they were killed and originally buried. PM

MILOSEVIC AIDE TESTIFIES ON KOSOVA KILLINGS
Serbian police Captain Dragan Karleusa told the war crimes tribunal in The Hague on 22 July that, as early as March 1999, former President Slobodan Milosevic discussed with top security officials the "clearance of battlefields in Kosovo and removing traces of anything that might be of interest of the tribunal," AP reported. Karleusa added that later that same year, former Interior Minister Vlajko Stojiljkovic and police General Vlastimir Djordjevic ordered the reburial of 86 Kosovars whose bodies were originally dumped into the Danube River in a refrigerator truck. The bodies were moved to a police-training base near Belgrade, where they have since been exhumed. PM

KFOR SAYS SITUATION IN MITROVICA IMPROVING
KFOR commander General Marcel Valantin of France said in Mitrovica on 22 July that the UN civilian authority (UNMIK) is now regularly present in the northern, Serb-held part of the town, and that the overall situation has improved, Hina reported. Valantin noted the plan for Mitrovica put forward by UNMIK head Michael Steiner stresses the economic development of the town, particularly of the north. In the first six months of 2002, "only" 44 murders were reported, which included 42 Albanians, one Serb, and one Bosnian Muslim. Valantin added that he does not agree with a recent report by the NGO International Crisis Group (ICG), which called for some of the French peacekeepers to be replaced by British troops. The Albanians generally consider the French to be pro-Serbian. PM

KOSOVARS GET DRIVING LICENSES
Steiner presented the first UNMIK-issued driver's licenses to five motorists in Prishtina on 22 July, dpa reported. The plastic cards have laser engravings and are printed by the Gieseke and Devrient security printing firm in Munich. Since 1999, Kosovars have been driving with old Yugoslav licenses or with none at all. PM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT INTERVIEWED AHEAD OF RUSSIA VISIT
President Ion Iliescu, in a 22 July interview with ITAR-TASS ahead of his visit to Moscow, said that relations between the two countries have "good prospects" and that the basic treaty between them will be signed during the visit, as will a joint political statement. He said Romania "hails the changes in Russia in recent years," observing that the country's political climate has been "more stable" and there is "consistent economic growth." Iliescu added that Russia "actively participates in the settlement of international conflicts, in the alliance against international terrorism, [and] in the development of the trans-European energy network." The president said his visit to Russia, which is likely to take place in September, will come at a time when "the international climate" is favorable to objectives pursued by both states, such as "economic reform, consolidation of democracy, building a state based on the rule of law," and that this atmosphere should be "maximally used for the benefit of both countries." MS

BISHOP TOEKES RENEWS ATTACKS ON UDMR...
Speaking at the traditional summer university at Balvanyos, near Tusnad Bai, on 22 July, Bishop Laszlo Toekes, honorary chairman of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania (UDMR), said that communist values survive in Romania "under the euphemistic disguise" of social democracy, Mediafax reported. Toekes said national communism is powerfully at work to annihilate any effort for autonomy and, in a hint to the UDMR leadership, warned against the "risk of becoming servants of foreign interests." He said Romania's ethnic Hungarians must not give up promoting values such as autonomy and self-determination and added that the UDMR is not representing the interest of the Hungarian ethnic community and instead promotes "short-term political interests." He said the current UDMR leadership "has nothing in common with pluralism" and its "relations with the traditional Hungarian churches in Transylvania" are "problematic." The actions of the UDMR leaders, he added, are "demagogic," as demonstrated by an agreement with the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD). He said that agreement transformed the UDMR into an "instrument of Romanian policy," and is "helping the government in Bucharest improve its image in the West." MS

...AND RECEIVES REBUKE
UDMR Senator Attila Verestoy countered that Toekes's declarations show that he is "far from political reality," Romanian radio reported on 23 July. Verestoy said that if Toekes considers the extension of teaching in Hungarian, the law on the local administration giving more rights to minorities, the legislation on individual property restitution, and that on restitution of church property to be "short-term policy," then "I believe the Bishop is not sufficiently lucid to produce a valid analysis of our realities." He added that if Bishop Toekes presents the policies of the current UDMR leadership as being "integrationist," there is probably no way to escape concluding that, "We have become political adversaries, and we find ourselves in different camps." MS

ROMANIAN PARLIAMENTARY COMMISSION ON CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS BEGINS WORK
The ad hoc parliamentary commission on constitutional amendments began its work on 22 July, discussing debate procedure, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. The UDMR representative on the commission, Attila Varga, said his formation wants the proposals made by the UDMR and not included on the previously approved list of amendments -- which includes only proposals backed by a two-thirds majority in the commission -- to be rediscussed. PSD representative Valer Dorneanu said his party is ready to revisit the issues, provided other political formations agree, but National Liberal Party representative Valeriu Stoica and Democratic Party representative Emil Boc said the two-thirds majority agreement must be abided by. The Greater Romania Party earlier withdrew from the debates. MS

OECD SAYS ROMANIA MUST ACCELERATE REFORMS
In a report published on 22 July, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said that in order to join NATO and the EU, Romania must accelerate reform, reduce its annual rate of inflation, and intensify the struggle against corruption, Romanian radio reported. The OECD at the same time noted positive developments in macroeconomic trends and said it expects annual growth in 2002 to be between 3.5 and 4 percent of GDP. MS

ROMANIAN AGENCY FOR FOREIGN INVESTMENT OPENS ITS DOORS
The Agency for Foreign Investments, which was set up in June, was formally inaugurated on 22 July in the presence of Premier Adrian Nastase, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Nastase said the agency, whose task is to promote investments in Romania, must provide information on opportunities for investment and added that Romania's image as an investment country has suffered as a result of the country's general negative foreign image. Foreign direct investment in Romania in the last 12 years has totaled only $7.8 billion, while neighboring Hungary has taken in $20 billion during the same period. Last year, investments were $1.3 billion, while investments in the first three months of 2002 were a disappointing $112 million, according to data provided by Romanian television on the same day. MS

MOLDOVAN PRESIDENT QUESTIONS VIABILITY OF GUUAM
President Vladimir Voronin told the recent meeting of GUUAM members in Yalta that his country has grounds for concern about the organization's viability, Flux reported, citing a presidential office press release. Voronin told his counterparts from Georgia, Ukraine, and Azerbaijan that the results of GUUAM cooperation are not in line with "the declarations we make" on the occasions of summits. He said Moldova is "practically excluded" from debates when these focus on important projects such as Caspian Sea oil transportation, and that on such occasions he feels Moldova is occupying "the seat of an observer" because of the country's "reduced economic potential." Voronin also said he shares U.S. fears that GUUAM has become an "atrophied" body. He said Moldova wants the organization to "clarify" its relations with the CIS and the EU. "GUUAM must find its place and role in this dialogue, in order to make a contribution to the intensification of the process of global integration," he said. MS

PPCD TO RENEW RALLIES IN MOLDOVAN CAPITAL?
Popular Party Christian Democratic (PPCD) Chairman Iurie Rosca on 22 July wrote to Chisinau Mayor Serafim Urechean to announce that the PPCD intends to hold a "National Assembly of Electors" in the city's main square on 31 August. Rosca wrote that the rally will mark 13 years since "Romanian" was granted the status of official language and 11 years since the proclamation of independence. Rosca also said the rally will debate the implementation of the 24 April recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the plan to federalize Moldova presented by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. MS

BULGARIAN PRIVATIZATION AGENCY ANNOUNCES BIDS FOR BULGARTABAC TENDER
The Privatization Agency on 22 July opened the final bids for the state tobacco company Bulgartabac, BTA reported. Four bidders submitted their offers in the tender. The Privatization Agency assessed the bids on the basis of a number of criteria, including the price offered and planned investment in the company. According to the initial assessment, the consortium Tobacco Capital Partners, of which Deutsche Bank and the Netherlands-based Clar Innis are members, made the best offer. The Sofia-based consortium Metatabak, which is backed by Russian businessman Mikhail Chernyi, had the second-best bid, according to the Privatization Agency. Observers believe that the final assessment of the offers, which is to take place in the coming weeks, will be overshadowed by a smear campaign against Tobacco Capital Partners (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 and 21 July 2002). UB

BULGARIAN EDUCATION MINISTRY LAYS OFF 9,500 TEACHERS
Since 1 July, the Education Ministry has laid off some 9,500 teachers, BTA reported on 22 July, citing a ministry press release. The job cuts are part of a plan to streamline school operations that envisions cutting some 11,000 jobs, according to the ministry. Yanka Takeva, the chairwoman of the Bulgarian Teachers Union, said the union's executive committee will meet on 25 and 26 July to discuss ways to fight the layoffs. UB

BULGARIAN JUNIOR COALITION PARTNER CALL FIRST YEAR OF GOVERNMENT 'DIFFICULT'
Ahmed Dogan, the chairman of the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), on 22 July referred to the first year of Prime Minister Simeon Saxecoburggotski's government as "difficult," mediapool.bg reported. Dogan said the first year was "a time of adaptation as well as clear definition and redefinition of the priorities in the country in the context of NATO and EU integration," adding, "If we talk about EU integration and NATO, one has to understand that the voters have little interest in the issue. For the administration it is important that the [people's] fridges are full and that there is security for the next day -- these are the basic indicators for what we have achieved." UB

There is no End Note today.


XS
SM
MD
LG