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Newsline

Newsline - June 7, 1999



IVANOV HEADS FOR BONN TO HELP DRAFT UN RESOLUTION

Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov left Moscow on 7 June for a meeting of the G-8 foreign ministers in Bonn to discuss a draft UN Security Council resolution on ending the Kosova crisis. The previous day, Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin said in Pushkinskie Gory that his government is not satisfied with NATO conditions for suspending its air campaign against Yugoslavia (see Part II), Reuters reported. He said that "too many questions are being solved with NATO calling the tune." Stepashin stressed, however, that "we must deal with the preparation of the resolution as seriously as we can, so [we can end the] war in Yugoslavia." On 6 June, Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari left for Beijing to seek Chinese support for a UN resolution on Kosova, the "Berliner Zeitung" reported. FS

CHERNOMYRDIN REJECTS NATO COMMAND FOR RUSSIAN TROOPS

Russia's special envoy to Yugoslavia Viktor Chernomyrdin told Russian Television in Moscow on 5 June that the joint Russian-Western peace plan for Kosova does not envisage a NATO command for Russian peace-keeping troops, AP reported. Pounding his fist on the table, Chernomyrdin said that "if NATO countries have a presence there..., then NATO will command its own troops. As for Russia and a Russian presence, we can never be under NATO. Never. This is out of the question." Chernomyrdin added that President Boris Yeltsin approves of his peace efforts. He quoted Yeltsin as saying that "I am pleased, and you must continue working." FS

RUSSIAN MILITARY BLAMES NATO FOR COLLAPSE OF TALKS

An unnamed Russian military official told Interfax in Moscow on 7 June that NATO is trying to dictate terms of the Serbian withdrawal from Kosova (see Part II). The official added that NATO's chief negotiator at the Kumanovo talks, General Sir Mike Jackson, "has taken on too much responsibility. Decisions on any international presence in [Kosova] are not made at his level." The Russian official complained that "the UN Security Council has been left outside the framework of the talks, which violates the peace agreements reached during the Chernomyrdin-Ahtisaari-Talbott trilateral talks in Bonn." An unnamed Russian diplomat, however, said that the situation should "not be dramatized," adding that it is "possible to get matters back on...track." Lieutenant-Colonel Yevgenii Barmyanchev, who is Russia's military attache to Belgrade, joined the failed talks in Kumanovo as an observer on 6 June, following a request by Yugoslav military officials. FS

NEW STRUGGLE OVER DEFENSE SPENDING IN THE OFFING...

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said on 5 June that Russia's army must be re-equipped with "powerful, high-precision weapons" in light of the Yugoslav crisis, Interfax reported. He added that Russia has many designs for new weapons but noted that financing is needed for their production. The same day, Prime Minister Stepashin told a meeting of defense enterprise heads that the 1999 budget earmarks 28.5 percent of expenditures for defense, state security, and law enforcement. Stepashin added that 40 percent would have been designated had funds not been necessary to meet the country's foreign debt obligations. According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta," a new battle between the Finance Ministry and defense officials may be gearing up. Citing anonymous Kremlin sources, the daily claimed that Russian President Yeltsin asked Stepashin to examine the question of increasing funding for national defense in light of the "worsening international situation." JAC

...AS NEW AGENCIES ESTABLISHED TO OVERSEE DEFENSE SECTOR

Klebanov also announced on 5 June that four new federal agencies will be formed to oversee the production of ammunition, conventional weapons, guidance systems, and military ships, Interfax reported. These agencies will begin work within one month and will be the "heart of the revived military-industrial complex," according to Klebanov. "Segodnya" reported earlier that a new state commission on the defense industry will encourage these agencies and the enterprises they manage to boost exports and improve profitability (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May 1999). JAC

NEXT IMF BILL TO FACE OPPOSITION

The State Duma on 4 June approved in its first reading the bill on the taxation of so- called luxury imported vehicles, Interfax reported. The legislation imposes a tax on cars with engines of 2,500 cubic meters or more and on motorcycles with engines of 500 cubic meters. The bill is part of a package of measures drafted by the government in accordance with its agreement with the IMF. According to the agency, the tax will bring in additional revenues of 3 billion rubles ($123 million). At the same time, the Duma postponed until 9 June consideration of a bill that would impose a tax on gasoline stations. Communist Party faction leader Sergei Reshulskii said his faction members do not support either the version of the bill proposed by the government or that submitted by the Duma Budget Committee, "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported on 5 June. JAC

ANOTHER GOVERNOR FORMS MOVEMENT AHEAD OF ELECTIONS

The new Revival and Unity movement will participate in parliamentary and presidential elections, Kemerovo Governor Aman Tuleev announced at the movement's founding congress on 5 June. Tuleev, who was elected chairman of the new movement, may run for the presidency of Russia, Agrarian Party Chairman Mikhail Lapshin told reporters the same day. Lapshin, who attended the congress, also insisted that Tuleev's new movement does not represent an attempt to break away from the Communist Party or the People's Patriotic Union. However, Tuleev said in his address to the congress that "the People's Patriotic Union gave nothing to the people in the three years of its existence, nor did the Communist Party of Russia," Interfax reported. According to ITAR-TASS, delegates from 51 regions attended the party's congress. JAC

ZHIRINOVSKII TO TRY HIS HAND IN NORTHWEST...

Following his decisive defeat in Belgorod last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 31 May 1999), leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia Vladimir Zhirinovskii will try his hand in the Leningrad gubernatorial elections. Aleksei Mitrofanov, a fellow party member and head of the State Duma Committee on Geopolitics, told Interfax-Northwest on 6 June about Zhirinovskii's intentions to run there, saying that he, Mitrofanov, is personally in charge of the LDPR leader's election campaign. According to Mitrofanov, the oblast needs someone capable of attracting foreign investors. Former First Deputy Prime Minister Vadim Gustov is also planning to take part in the Leningrad ballot, which is scheduled for 19 September, the news agency noted. JC

...OR IN THE URALS?

Two days earlier, "Vremya MN" reported that Zhirinovskii had told a local television channel in Sverdlovsk Oblast that he will run in the August gubernatorial elections there. Zhirinovskii reportedly told the television station that Yekaterinburg Mayor Arkadii Chernetskii, a chief rival of incumbent governor Eduard Rossel, will be one of his key allies in the elections. Chernetskii said that he had only just learned of his alliance with Zhirinovskii from the television station. Earlier this year, before announcing his plans to run in Belgorod, Zhirinovskii had told a Yekaterinburg television station that he would take part in gubernatorial elections this summer and then run for the presidency in 2000 as Russia's most effective governor (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 27 January 1999). JAC

RUSSIA, IRAN TO STEP UP NUCLEAR COOPERATION?

In a 6 June interview with the "Tehran Times" cited by ITAR-TASS, F. Doulatabadi, head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's department for the CIS and the Caucasus, said that Iran and Russia are considering a program to expand nuclear cooperation. That cooperation, Doulatabadi stressed, is "exclusively peaceful," and a new phase is under debate in connection with the construction of the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The diplomat suggested that within the next three years, Iran's annual trade turnover with Russia could be increased from its current level of $800 million to $3-5 billion. JC

US DIPLOMAT LEAVES POST IN FAR EAST FOLLOWING CONTROVERSY

US Consul General Douglas Kent will not return to his position at the US consulate in Vladivostok, a consulate spokeswoman told "The Moscow Times" on 5 June. According to the spokeswoman, Kent's transfer to a post in Albania was made "for the needs of the service." Kent has been the subject of a number of articles in the Russian media criticizing his role in a traffic accident last fall that left a local man paralyzed from the chest down (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 23 and 25 November 1998). US officials said that Kent was sober at the time of the accident and noted that his sports utility vehicle had hit a speeding Toyoto Camry. However, the family of the paralyzed man accused Kent of being slow in offering financial assistance for mounting medical bills and angrily rejected Kent's offer of a $7,000 settlement, according to the newspaper. JAC

CENTRAL BANK OFFICIAL PREDICTS BANK CONSOLIDATION

Central Bank Deputy Chair Tatyana Paramanova said at a meeting of bankers on 4 June that the optimal method of restructuring the banking sector would be through mergers and that such a process is inevitable in a year or two, ITAR-TASS reported. However, she added that the delay is necessary because of the extreme shortage of capital and liquidity among all but the major banks. Central Bank Chairman Viktor Gerashchenko said earlier that he intends to push for more mergers in order to consolidate the banking sector. Paramanova noted that SBS- Agro Bank remains weak but is supported by the Central Bank because of its importance to the country's payments system. According to "Vremya MN," she laid part of the blame for the fragile state of the banking sector on "larceny" among top banking officials, who often lend money to their banks' shareholders at low and sometimes non-existent interest rates. JAC

SYSUEV ON LONG VACATION?

Interfax reported on 7 June that the decree dismissing deputy head of the presidential administration Oleg Sysuev from his post has still not been signed. According to sources in the administration, Sysuev has been on "vacation" since 26 May. Sysuev submitted a letter of resignation on 12 May following President Yeltsin's dismissal of then Prime Minister Yevgenii Primakov. According to Sysuev, his resignation was primarily motivated by his disapproval of Yeltsin's decision to dismiss Primakov. JAC

CHECHEN PRESIDENT APPEAL FOR PUBLIC SUPPORT AGAINST CRIME

In an address to the Chechen population broadcast repeatedly on 4 June, Aslan Maskhadov solicited support for his latest crackdown on abductions, terrorism, and oil thefts, Interfax reported. He blamed the first two phenomena on unnamed foreign intelligence services seeking to thwart the creation in Chechnya of an independent Islamic state. Maskhadov expressed the fear that new internal conflicts between representatives of different Chechen clans may be imminent. On 6 June, Russian Premier Stepashin announced that he will meet with Maskhadov in the proposed new Ingushetian capital, Magas, on 11 June in preparation for Maskhadov's planned talks with President Yeltsin. Also on 6 June, former Russian presidential envoy to Chechnya Valentin Vlasov advocated convening the Maskhadov-Yeltsin meeting as soon as possible, adding that the emphasis should be on economic, rather than political issues. LF




FINAL ARMENIAN ELECTION RESULTS ANNOUNCED

The Central Electoral Commission on 4 June released the final results of the 30 May parliamentary elections, Noyan Tapan reported. The Miasnutyun alliance, comprising Defense Minister Vazgen Sargsian's Republican Party of Armenia and former Communist Party First Secretary Karen Demirchian's People's Party of Armenia, polled 41.67 percent of the vote, winning 29 of the 56 seats allocated under the proportional system. It also won 28 of the 75 seats allocated in single-mandate constituencies, giving it a total of 57. The Communist Party of Armenia polled 12.1 percent and has 10 deputies, the Right and Accord bloc 7.97 percent (seven deputies) the Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashhnaktsutiun 7.83 percent (seven deputies), Country of Law 5.28 percent (six deputies) and the National Democratic Union 5.17 percent (six deputies). The Armenian Pan-National Movement and the Arakelutiun (Mission) party have one deputy each. There are 32 independent deputies. LF

ARMENIAN PREMIER TO RESIGN

Armen Darpinian announced at a cabinet meeting on 5 June that he will step down as prime minister, adding that he has submitted his resignation to President Robert Kocharian, RFE/RL's Yerevan bureau reported the same day quoting Justice Minister Davit Harutiunian. Harutiunian did not specify whether other members of the cabinet also intend to quit. In an interview with several Armenian television channels on 5 June, Kocharian said one of the two leaders of the Miasnutyun alliance should assume the duties of parliamentary speaker and the other should head the new cabinet. At the same time, Kocharian said that the Armenian Constitution bars the prime minister from simultaneously holding a second cabinet post. A source within Miasnutyun told RFE/RL that Vazgen Sargsian, with whom Kocharian reportedly discussed the composition of the new government last week, wants to combine the posts of defense minister and premier. LF

PAPAL VISIT TO ARMENIA POSTPONED

Pope John Paul II will not visit Armenia in early July, as planned, because of the illness of Armenian Catholicos Garegin I, dpa reported on 5 June. The Armenian Apostolic Church issued a statement the previous day asking believers to pray for the Catholicos, who is suffering from cancer. LF

GEORGIAN POLICE DISPERSE DEMONSTRATORS

Georgian police on 6 June forcibly dispersed some 300 people who tried to stage a protest in front of the U.S. embassy building in Tbilisi, AP reported. The demonstrators oppose plans for an exhibition of Georgian Church treasures in several U.S. cities this fall. A group of Georgian students began a hunger strike in early May to protest those plans, after which Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze ordered the creation of a commission to assess the desirability of sending valuable artifacts to the U.S. for the planned exhibit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 and 5 May 1999). LF

GEORGIAN PRESIDENT SLAMS PLANNED ADJAR CONFERENCE

Addressing a government session on 3 June, Eduard Shevardnadze criticized the intention of Russia's "Glasnost" Fund and the leadership of Georgia's Adjar Autonomous Republic to hold a conference in Adjaria on the right of nations to self- determination, Caucasus Press reported on 5 June. Shevardnadze said the conference is intended to fuel centrifugal tendencies in Georgia, vowing that if it takes place, Georgia will respond by convening a conference on the same subject in either Chechnya, Dagestan, Tatarstan, or Bashkortostan. Adjar Supreme Council chairman Aslan Abashidze rejected Shevardnadze's criticism as unfounded, saying the conference will discuss European-drafted programs on minority rights. LF

KAZAKHSTAN DENIES PKK PRESENCE

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement on 4 June rejecting as "fiction" claims by Kurdistan Workers' Party leader Abdullah Ocalan that that organization has an office in Kazakhstan, Russian agencies reported. Kazakhstan "has never supported and is not going to support terrorist organizations and separatist activities," the statement said. In earlier evidence at his ongoing trial, Ocalan had said that the PKK maintains a presence in Armenia and receives financial support from that country's ethnic Kurdish minority, according to Anatolia News Agency on 1 June. Ocalan also claimed on 3 June that the PKK maintains an office in Azerbaijan that provides funds for the organization, according to Turan. The Azerbaijani authorities have made no official response to that claim. LF

KAZAKH POPULATION RESPONDS TO GOLD COLLECTION DRIVE

Up to 1,000 people have donated gold or hard currency in response to President Nursultan Nazarbaev's appeal to bolster Kazakhstan's dwindling gold and hard currency reserves, ITAR- TASS and AP reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). Some state employees in Almaty told AP that their directors are pressuring them to contribute. Marat Ospanov, chairman of the lower house of the parliament, endorsed a proposal by the president of Kazakhstan's jewelers' association that the government should print money to finance the purchase of gold from the population, which could then be sold on world markets, according to Interfax. Ospanov is considered a possible successor to embattled Prime Minister Nurlan Balghymbaev. LF

CENTRAL ASIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT CANCELLED

A session of the Central Asian Economic Union scheduled to be held in Kyrgyzstan on 4 June has been postponed, provisionally until 15 June, ITAR-TASS and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. The presidents of the other three members of the grouping, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, all announced that they would not be able to attend on 4 June "for objective reasons." In recent months, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan have been embroiled in disagreements over unpaid debts and import tariffs. LF

ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE IMMINENT IN TAJIKISTAN?

Meeting in Dushanbe on 6 June, UN and World Bank experts called for immediate measures to strengthen the insecure wall of a dam in the Pamirs Mountains, AP reported citing Interfax. Should the dam collapse, water from Lake Sarez could flood a 20,000 square mile area of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan inhabited by 5 million people. LF

TURKMENISTAN, CHINA TO INCREASE ECONOMIC TIES

Turkmen President Saparmurat Niyazov held talks in Ashgabat on 4 June with a visiting Chinese government delegation headed by Deputy Premier Qian Qichen, Interfax and "Nezavisimaya gazeta" reported. The two expressed satisfaction with the level of political understanding between their countries and agreed on the need to intensify economic ties. The oil, gas, and textile sectors and silk production were identified as promising areas for cooperation. Niyazov also noted that China's experience in conducting market reform is of interest to his country. LF




STEPASHIN VOWS TO FINALIZE UNION TREATY WITH BELARUS

During his meeting with Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in Minsk on 4 June, Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin pledged to step up efforts to prepare a full-fledged draft treaty on the Russia-Belarus union. "With regard to Russian- Belarusian relations, I fully support your positions.... It is time to move from words to work," Belarusian Television quoted Stepashin as telling Lukashenka. Stepashin added that Russian President Boris Yeltsin instructed him to work "openly and honestly" with "[our] Belarusian brothers." Lukashenka, for his part, expressed his satisfaction with the composition of Russia's new cabinet. "I am glad that we will not have to start all over again," he commented. JM

KUCHMA SAYS PARLIAMENTARY DEBATE TO OUST CABINET 'PROVOCATION'

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said in Simferopol on 4 June that the parliament's decision to discuss on 16 June a no-confidence vote in the government is a "political provocation," Interfax reported. "It suits some political forces to escalate the situation in Ukraine yet again, five months before presidential elections," Kuchma remarked. The debate was proposed by Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). Premier Pustovoytenko said the next day that the Communist motion is a "political reprisal." He stressed that the government is doing its best to improve the financial situation in the country, including the payment of wage and pension arrears. JM

ESTONIAN FINANCE MINISTER SPEAKS OUT ON BUDGET CRISIS

In an interview with "Postimees" on 5 June, Siim Kallas stressed the likelihood that by the end of this month, the budget deficit will total 2.0-2.5 billion kroons ($133-167 million). Emphasizing the need to cut spending, Kallas noted that "the billion-kroon austerity budget is the first essential step that will help us," adding that the 2.8 billion kroons reserve fund will be touched only as a last resort. Kallas harshly criticized the opposition Center Party's efforts to block the negative supplementary budget. He also emphasized that pension and other payments will be made to avoid the "Russian model." Finally, refuting claims that the crisis threatens the kroon's stability, Kallas unequivocally stated that the kroon's defense "is a fact." MH

RUSSIAN PARTIES IN ESTONIA SEEK LOCAL VOTE VICTORY

The People's Trust, an election alliance formed in April to represent the interests of Russian speakers (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 20 April 1999), believes it can take a majority in Tallinn and other cities in the October local elections. At the same time, the leader of the coalition, Sergei Ivanov, hopes to expand the coalition beyond purely Russophone interests: "We are ready to cooperate with Estonian political forces," "Postimees" quoted him as saying. In related news, the Russian Party in Estonia has re-elected Nikolai Maspanov as chairman. Last month, party rebels elected an alternative chairman, which caused a split in the party. MH

LITHUANIAN FOREIGN-POLICY BODY MEETS

The Lithuanian Foreign- Policy Coordination Council, meeting on 5 June, approved the maritime border agreement with Latvia, which the two countries' negotiators initialed last month (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 28 May 1999). The council discussed the upcoming trip to Moscow of Prime Minister Rolandas Paksas as well as energy issues, including the recent halt in crude oil deliveries from Russia. Other issues on the agenda included the restructuring of Belarus's debt for electricity supplies and the possible deployment of Lithuanian troops to assist in peacekeeping efforts in Kosova. The Council, chaired by President Valdas Adamkus, gathers high-level politicians to make vital foreign-policy decisions. MH

POPE STARTS 13-DAY VISIT TO POLAND WITH MESSAGE OF HOPE

"I state with joy that our country has made great progress on the road of economic development. Thanks to the efforts of all of its citizens, Poland can look into the future with hope," Pope John Paul II told a 700,000-strong crowd in Gdansk on 5 June, at the start of his 13-day trip to Poland. The trip, which is the pope's seventh to his native country, is widely expected to help unify Poles currently suffering from the effects of the transition to a market economy. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski greeted the pontiff as "the greatest moral authority of our times" and expressed his gratitude to him and the Roman Catholic Church for "inspiration and support" during Poland's transition period. Masses celebrated by the pope in the northern cities of Pelplin and Elblag attracted crowds of more than 200,000. JM

CZECH DEMONSTRATORS HURL ROCKS AT U.S. EMBASSY

Several thousand demonstrators protesting economic globalization hurled rocks and other objects at the U.S. embassy in Prague on 5 June, Reuters and CTK reported. The demonstrators also attacked police trying to protect the embassy and chanted anti-NATO and anti-capitalist slogans. More than 100 people were detained but later released. Some were carrying weapons, including petrol bombs. They were charged with the illegal possession of arms, attacking public officials, and throwing stones at the embassy. Most participants described themselves as anarchists or ecological activists. MS

CZECH REPUBLIC, SLOVAKIA TO SEEK JOINT APPROACH TO 'ROMANY PROBLEM'

Slovak Deputy Premier Pal Csaky and Czech Prime Minster Milos Zeman, meeting in Prague on 4 June, agreed to work out a "joint approach" to solving minority problems in general and Romany minority problems in particular, CTK reported. They also agreed to work together to set up a Czech-Slovak Euro-region and to examine preparing a law on dual citizenship. MS

SLOVAKIA TO RESTRICT ENTRY OF UKRAINIAN NATIONALS

The Interior and the Foreign Ministry will issue instructions "in the next days" on restricting the entry of, and the granting of residency permits to, Ukrainian nationals, CTK reported on 4 June. citing Radio Twist. Vladimir Palko, chairman of the parliament's Defense and Security Committee, said that the main reason for imposing the restrictions is that the "Ukrainian mafia has become a problem in Slovakia." Palko said that Ukrainians were involved in the murder of former Economy Minster Jan Ducky earlier this year and may be responsible for other murders as well. On 31 May, the Czech government said it will examine imposing visa requirements on Ukrainian nationals (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 1 June 1999). MS

HUNGARIAN PREMIER WANTS PEACE AGREEMENT TO INCLUDE VOJVODINA

"Ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina will have to work out a future plan for themselves, [while] Budapest's responsibility is to step up support for implementing those plans," Viktor Orban told a Freedom House-organized conference in Budapest on 4 June. "The logic of the wars waged by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic is that the 350,000 ethnic Hungarians in Vojvodina could be the next target," Orban said. He attributed the fact that atrocities have not been perpetrated in the province to three factors: NATO took the Hungarian position into consideration, the Hungarian cabinet took the necessary steps, and Serbia assessed the grave consequences of beginning ethnic cleansing in Vojvodina. MSZ




KOSOVA TALKS COLLAPSE...

NATO General Sir Mike Jackson said at Kumanovo, Macedonia, on 7 June that two days of talks between NATO and Yugoslav military officials ended without an agreement on a "full and speedy withdrawal" of all Yugoslav forces from Kosova. He added that the Yugoslav delegation "presented a proposal that would not provide a safe return of the refugees and full withdrawal of Serb troops. Their proposal was not consistent" with the peace agreement that Belgrade agreed to last week (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 4 June 1999). NATO officials told reporters that the Serbs tried to renegotiate the terms of the peace agreement in order to delay the withdrawal of their forces and to permit many more of those forces to remain in Kosova than the peace agreement allows. AP reported from Vienna that Belgrade may be seeking to delay an agreement on the troop withdrawal in the hope of getting better terms under the resolution that the UN Security Council is expected to approve soon (see Part I). PM

...NATO CONTINUES BOMBING

General Jackson also said in Kumanovo on 7 June that "there is no alternative but to continue and intensify the bombardments until the Yugoslav side is prepared to implement their commitment." Yugoslav Foreign Ministry spokesman Nebojsa Vujovic noted that the Yugoslav delegation has "a mandate to negotiate a technical agreement based on the principles...of respect for Yugoslav territorial integrity with [Kosova] as an integral part [of that country] and also the deployment of an international security presence under UN auspices or of an international presence established by a decision of the Security Council.... We came here in good faith [and]...we are ready to continue the talks." In Brussels, a NATO spokesman said that "operations on [7 June] are under way and accelerating towards their prior intensity," which had been reduced after Belgrade accepted the peace agreement. Elsewhere, NATO spokesman Jamie Shea stressed that the talks "have not been broken off" and that General Jackson is ready to resume them when the Serbs return. PM

SERBIAN FORCES SHELL ALBANIA

Serbian forces on 5 and 6 June fired shells up to 15 kilometers into Albanian territory, hitting the town of Kruma and several other villages in the Has Mountains, an RFE/RL correspondent reported from Tirana. Some shells hit power installations, interrupting the local electricity supply. Two people were injured in the shelling. UNHCR officials evacuated some 1,000 people from the village of Golaj, including 600 refugees. Local officials said they will not force local inhabitants to leave, but they advised local residents to avoid the border area during the shelling. Meanwhile, NATO planes pounded Serbian artillery positions on the Kosovar side of the border in response to the attacks on 6 June. And the Italian coast guard intercepted a ship carrying 350 Kosovar refugees in the Straits of Otranto on 5 June. FS

UCK REPORTS NEW SERBIAN OFFENSIVE

The Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) issued a statement in Tirana on 6 June saying that the Yugoslav army has launched a new offensive in Kosova. The statement stressed that since 1 June Serbian forces have been engaged in "a large-scale offensive not only against the UCK, but also against the Albanian civilian population," dpa reported. The statement added that Serbian forces are using heavy artillery and "chemical weapons" and that the attacks are particularly intense in western, central, and northwestern parts of Kosova. The charge regarding chemical weapons has not been independently confirmed. FS

KRASNIQI SAYS UCK WILL DISARM

UCK spokesman Jakup Krasniqi told RFE/RL on 6 June that "the Serbian military, police, and paramilitary forces [must] withdraw from Kosova. These forces have [committed] killings, massacres, and massive destruction. And if we achieve [the withdrawal], I am convinced that the UCK...will not reject [its] demilitarization and transformation [into a police force], which will take place in close coordination with the U.S. and NATO." Krasniqi warned that "Milosevic and his clan have [often] made agreements and commitments that they knew they would never carry out." He stressed that "the UCK has never attacked withdrawing Serbian forces and it will not do so now. But the Serbs claim that [the UCK does so in order] to justify Serbian operations not only against the UCK but also against the civilian population." He stressed that "even in recent days, [Serbian forces] have...shelled areas where the civilian population is hiding." FS

BLAIR: SERBIA HAS 'NO FUTURE' WITH MILOSEVIC

British Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters on 6 June in London that he "cannot imagine sitting down and dealing with" Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. Blair stressed that "if you've got an indicted war criminal in charge of your country, you're not going to be part of the family of nations. Countries are not going to be queuing up to give you aid and help and support. Milosevic has ruined the country, he's ruined its economy.... He's isolated it in the eyes of the respectable international community.... [There] isn't a future for Serbia with Milosevic," Blair concluded. PM

TAIWAN PLEDGES AID FOR KOSOVA, MACEDONIA

President Lee Teng- hui said in Taipei on 7 June that his government will provide $300 million in relief aid for Kosovar refugees, Reuters reported. He added: "Being a country that promotes human rights and to [demonstrate] our humanitarian spirit, we are willing to offer our aid to those suffering" in Kosova. Elsewhere, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said that Taiwan will provide $15 million in loans to Macedonia, including a $12 million low-interest loan for infrastructure such as roads and bridges and a $3 million "trade grant," AP reported. Taiwan has already provided Macedonia with $2 million in refugee relief aid. Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski is currently visiting Taiwan at the head of a 59-member delegation, which includes top government and business leaders. PM

GREECE BARS TRANSIT TO PEACEKEEPERS FOR KOSOVA

The Greek authorities have denied permission for 2,200 U.S. Marines to disembark on Greek territory and travel to Macedonia, where the troops will form part of the proposed peacekeeping force for Kosova, AP reported on 7 June. The Greek authorities fear unrest in the run-up to the 13 June elections for the European Parliament. Polls consistently show overwhelming popular opposition in Greece to NATO's policy in the Balkans. PM

DJUKANOVIC, DODIK CRITICIZE MILOSEVIC

Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said in Cetinje on 4 June that Milosevic made the "correct decision" in accepting the peace agreement, "but it has come very late and after a lot of suffering and destruction. No one has the right to consider themselves the victor. We have all been significantly defeated," Reuters quoted him as saying. He added that "we should now focus on how to rebuild the country, heal the wounds and plug into modern civilization." In Banja Luka, Republika Srpska Prime Minister Milorad Dodik told the daily "Glas Srpski" that Milosevic accepted an agreement that he could have had several months earlier before the bombing began. "The question is why he did not accept the terms when they were first offered. He is responsible for the death of 5,000 people in Serbia. Of course, NATO is responsible, too," Dodik concluded. PM

DJINDJIC APPEALS FOR SERBS IN KOSOVA

Zoran Djindjic, who is the leader of the opposition Serbian Democratic Party, appealed in a letter to international mediators for "serious guarantees for the security" of Kosova's Serbian minority, which makes up less than 10 percent of the province's population. Djindjic added that "it is difficult to imagine that most Serbs will stay" in Kosova without adequate guarantees for their safety. He addressed his letter to Russia's Viktor Chernomyrdin, Finland's Martti Ahtisaari and Strobe Talbott of the U.S., RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported on 6 June. The following day, "The Daily Telegraph" wrote that many Serbs in Kosova fear reprisal killings against them by the UCK once a peace agreement goes into effect. Many local Serbs have fought on the side of Milosevic's forces, the London-based daily added. PM

ROMANIAN PRESIDENT WARNS AGAINST 'SEPARATISM'

Addressing a forum of intellectuals in Targu Mures on 5 June, Emil Constantinescu said he will "never agree" to "separatist ideas" contravening the "fundamental interests" of Romanians and the constitution, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. Constantinescu said he was responding to a "document" signed by "Transylvanian intellectuals" who demand autonomy for Transylvania and the Banat region. Constantinescu said that similar "intellectual adventures" have been "dearly paid for," arguing that Yugoslavia's dismemberment began with a study of birth rates in Kosova. MS

ROMANIA MAY RENOUNCE BELL HELICOPTERS DEAL

Defense Minister Victor Babiuc on 4 June said Romania may be forced to shelve last year's deal with Bell Helicopters Textron in order to cope with budget constraints. The same day, Prime Minister Radu Vasile said that deal might be replaced by one with the Franco-German concern Eurocopter that would involve the construction by the Brasov IAR planemaker of transport helicopters and the servicing of Airbus planes owned by the national company TAROM. Babiuc also said that the Romanian army has drawn up three scenarios for its restructuring and modernization, depending on budgetary constraints. Those scenarios envisage cutting the size of military forces from the current level of 144,000 troops and 35,000 civilians to 140,000-85,000 and 35,000-21,250, respectively. MS

ROMANIAN LABOR UNREST SPREADS TO EDUCATION SECTOR

Trade unions representing teachers have renewed the general strike suspended on 28 October 1998, Romanian radio reported on 7 June. The unions are protesting wage arrears and insufficient funding from the state budget. Also on 7 June, a government commission headed by one of the premier's aides is to discuss with the protesters at the Tepro factory in Iasi how to solve the labor conflict there. MS

MOLDOVA PLUNGES INTO CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS

Local election run-offs were held in more than 430 localities on 6 June, as the country plunged into a constitutional crisis, RFE/ RL's Chisinau bureau reported. The Central Electoral Commission had voted by five to four the previous day to declare the non-biding referendum on introducing a presidential system as valid, despite the fact that turnout was below the 60 percent stipulated by the law. Those commission members who voted in favor said the electoral law gives the commission "the right" to annul the referendum but does not require it to do so. Deputy Ion Ungureanu, representing the parliament on the commission, said the decision will be appealed in the Supreme Court. On 4 June, the parliament approved the Control and Petitions Committee report that accuses President Petru Lucinschi of having violated the constitution. It also asked the prosecutor-general to launch an investigation. MS

BULGARIA TO DEFEND RIGHTS OF NATIONAL MINORITY IN YUGOSLAVIA

Prime Minister Ivan Kostov told the Bulgarian parliament on 4 June that Sofia will insist on defending the rights of the Bulgarian national minority in Yugoslavia, BTA reported. Kostov said the Bulgarian minority must enjoy "the same rights" as other ethnic minorities in Yugoslavia. He also expressed "concern" over the "mass drafting" into the Yugoslav army of members of the Bulgarian minority, including leaders of the community. One of those leaders, Marko Shukarev, is on trial charged with "absence without leave" from the military unit into which he was drafted. Kostov said Shukarev failed to return to his unit for medical reasons. MS

BULGARIAN PREMIER MEETS GAZPROM CHIEF

Kostov met with Gazprom chief Rem Vyakhirev on 3 June, three days before departing for a visit to Moscow. The two men discussed the issue of payment in part of Russian gas deliveries to Bulgaria with Bulgarian products in order to reduce Bulgaria's large trade deficit with Russia. They also discussed the extension of the right to transit Russian gas deliveries through Bulgaria, BTA reported. Kostov assured Vyakhirev that an investment program for the state-owned Bulgargas approved by the cabinet one day earlier will make it possible to increase transit deliveries. MS


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