CONFUSION OVER NEW CHECHEN CEASE-FIRE.
A Chechen government delegation
held what were termed "discussions not talks" in Moscow on 17 January with
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai and First Deputy Minister for
Nationalities Vyacheslav Mikhailov on the feasibility of enforcing a cease-fire
in Chechnya, Interfax reported. (Minister for Nationalities Nikolai Egorov is
reportedly "in poor health" and failed to attend either these "discussions" or
the Federation Council session on 17 January.) The Chechen delegation told
journalists on 17 January that at a subsequent meeting with Prime Minister
Viktor Chernomyrdin, agreement was reached on a cessation of hostilities,
possibly beginning in the evening of 18 January. But ITAR-TASS later quoted
Russian government spokesman Valerii Grishin as stating that Chernomyrdin's
talks with the Chechens had been "unofficial" and that a formal response to the
Russian proposal for a cease-fire was awaited from Chechen President Dzhokhar
Dudaev in Grozny. The head of Yeltsin's presidential staff, Sergei Filatov,
expressed doubt whether the proposed cease-fire would take effect given that
Dudaev "clearly does not control the situation" in Chechnya, according to
The New York Times of 18 January. Meanwhile, AFP reported that the
Russian artillery bombardment of Grozny continued on 17 January, while the
Russian government press service claimed that street-to-street fighting was
subsiding and that Chechen forces were retreating from the city in groups of
700-900 men. -- Liz Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Earlier on 17 January, Federal Counter-Intelligence
Service (FSK) Director Sergei Stepashin told Interfax in Mozdok that talks with
Dudaev's representatives should focus only on the conditions under which
illegal militias would lay down their arms, and not on political issues.
Stepashin added that Dudaev's present whereabouts were unknown, and predicted
that anti-Dudaev Chechen forces subordinate to Provisional Council Chairman
Umar Avturkhanov and Beslan Gantemirov could enter Grozny on 18 or 19 January
to begin "mopping up" operations. (Ruslan Labazanov, the former head of
Dudaev's bodyguards, who subsequently went over to the anti-Dudaev opposition,
realigned himself with Dudaev in early January, according to The
Economist of 6-12 January.) Russian Security Council secretary Oleg Lobov
told Interfax on 17 January that any government installed in Chechnya following
the "restoration of constitutional order" will only be a temporary one, but
that given that many of its members have lived in Chechnya for years and had a
power base there it would be wrong to regard it as Moscow's puppet. Lobov
discounted the possibility of either a protracted guerrilla war in Chechnya or
any attempt to launch a resistance movement with the help of foreign media and
mercenaries. US military intelligence experts testifying on 17 January before
the US Senate Committee on Armed Services and quoted by AFP predicted, however,
that although the Russians were poised to gain control of Grozny they would
then face "a long siege" against guerrilla forces in the mountains. -- Liz
Fuller, OMRI, Inc.
KOZYREV, CHRISTOPHER MEET.
Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev
assured Secretary of State Warren Christopher of his country's commitment to
democracy and market reform and its determination to negotiate a peaceful
settlement of the conflict in Chechnya during a three-hour dinner in Geneva on
17 January, The New York Times reported on 18 January. Kozyrev did not
indicate what concrete steps his country intended to take; he claimed that
Russia's inability to find Chechens to negotiate with prevented any progress
from being made. Christopher warned Kozyrev to find a political way out of the
conflict so that Russia can have a normal relationship with other countries, a
senior official paraphrased Christopher as saying. Christopher also mentioned
several issues that have put a strain on US-Russian relations: Russia's
determination to sell arms to Iran, its eagerness to end the international
embargo against Iraq, its refusal to provide information about its chemical
weapons program and, most important, its unwillingness to halt attacks on
civilians in prosecuting its war in Chechnya. Nevertheless, Christopher praised
President Boris Yeltsin as "the most committed democrat in the country who is
in a high position." Yeltsin has invited US President Bill Clinton to come to
Moscow around May 9 to participate in the 50th anniversary of the victory over
Nazi Germany. Christopher told Kozyrev that Clinton could not yet make a firm
commitment on the invitation. The diplomats plan to meet again on 18 January.
-- Robert Orttung, OMRI, Inc.
CHUVASHIA TOLD TO CANCEL DECREE ON CHECHNYA.
President Yeltsin has
called on Chuvash President Nikolai Fedorov to rescind a decree issued last
week challenging Moscow's right to intervene in Chechnya, telling him it is
unconstitutional, ITAR-TASS reported on 17 January. In addition, the Russian
government was quoted as saying that the decree "stirs up disobedience" among
residents of the republic and encourages draft dodging. The Presidium of the
Chuvash parliament, however, called for an amendment to the constitution to
limit the use of military power in circumstances similar to those in Chechnya.
-- Penny Morvant, OMRI, Inc.
KORZHAKOV SPEAKS OUT.
The head of President Yeltsin's security service,
Aleksandr Korzhakov, suggested creating a special body to coordinate the
activities of Russia's special services, Interfax reported 17 January, quoting
an article to be published in Argumenty i fakty on 18 January. Korzhakov
claimed the need to create such a body was strong because criminal financial
and industrial groups were buying officials in the special services and
dictating their will through them. He declared that he will not be one of the
leaders of the new body. Korzhakov also denounced claims that his service was
becoming an independent political force in Russian politics. He said that his
duties included working out security arrangements for the president's
activities as well as fighting corruption. Korzhakov claimed that the Interior
Ministry and Federal Counter-Intelligence Service (FSK) as well as his staff
were responsible for security in the country, and that the new body was
necessary to coordinate all their activities. Korzhakov rejected allegations
that he was the leader of a "war party" in Russia, saying that if the point at
issue was a war on crime, corruption, and illegal armed groups, he was
certainly a supporter of such a party and would uncompromisingly fight against
that evil. He denied sole responsibility for initiating the conflict in
Chechnya, implying that the decision had been taken collectively by
presidential advisors, the chief of the presidential staff, the former deputy
chief of the FSK and security council members. In light of concerns that Russia
was becoming a police state, he pointed out that "the real threat to society is
posed not by the security service, but by those who unceremoniously and
outrageously walk about the center of Moscow heavily armed under the nose of
the mayor and the financial mafia, which nurtures a new generation of
politicians in order to have a puppet government." -- Robert Orttung, OMRI,
SENATORS STOP SHORT OF REPLACING SHUMEIKO.
The opposition in the
Federation Council's Defense and Security Committee did not succeed on 17
January in their attempt to replace Vladimir Shumeiko as the speaker Federation
Council, Russian television newscasts, ITAR-TASS and an RFE/RL correspondent in
Moscow reported. The attempt was initiated by Petr Romanov, who is the reported
joint candidate of communists and moderate Russian nationalists for the next
presidential election. Romanov disapproved of the speaker's pronouncements on
the Chechen war (Shumeiko has made a number of contradictory public statements,
proclaiming his whole-hearted support for the use of force in order to crush
Chechnya one day, and protesting the bombing of Grozny a day later.) Apart from
this, critics have accused Shumeiko and Ivan Rybkin, the speaker of the State
Duma, of "acting as the president's representatives in the parliament, rather
than representing their positions within their chambers of the parliament . . .
" Romanov further complained that Shumeiko does not report to the Federation
Council on the proceedings of the Security Council, of which Shumeiko is a
member. Although five of the nine members of the Federation Council's Defense
and Security Committee shared Romanov's opinion on the speaker (according to
ITAR-TASS), after the day of debates the Committee decided not to include
Shumeiko's status on the agenda. -- Julia Wishnevsky, OMRI, Inc.
RUSSIA'S GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT DROPS 39% IN THREE YEARS.
product (GDP) in 1994 numbered 630 trillion rubles ($165.78 billion), a 15%
decline from 1993 and a 39% drop from pre-reform 1991, Interfax reported on 17
January. The official figures, released by the Russian Statistics Committee on
17 January, stated that 62% of the GDP came from the private sector. The rate
of decline in industry in 1994 appeared higher than in the two previous years
and totaled 20.9%, compared to 16.2% in 1993 and 18% in 1992. The Statistics
Committee noted that the 1994 fourth quarter, as compared to a year earlier,
showed a 17.8% growth in production. Other 1994 figures showed a continued
reduction of capital investments in the economy--a fall of 27% in the past
year. Overall, investments have fallen 61% since 1991. Retail prices grew 220%;
wholesale prices rose 230%. Real income figures for the population were up 14%
from 1993, while unemployment increased 28.6%, up 5.3 million from the previous
year. -- Thomas Sigel, OMRI, Inc.
CENTRAL BANK CURBS OPEN CURRENCY POSITION OF BANKS UP TO 30%.
effort to ease the problems of crediting and monetary policies amidst rising
inflation, the Central Bank has reduced the open-currency positions of
commercial banks. All currency above the 30% limit must be sold effective 18
January, Russian agencies reported. This move will most likely force many banks
to withdraw from the currency market. Central Bank of Russia Vice President
Aleksandr Khandruyev, according to Interfax on 17 January, said that "the
degree and extent of the dollarization of the Russian economy cannot be
underestimated." He said that foreign cash is often used for savings and
settlements between companies and individuals, which is a breach in the
country's legislation Khandruyev said that the ultimate goal of the Central
Bank is to establish a predictable floating ruble rate, but in order to achieve
this, the Central Bank needs to strengthen gold and foreign exchange reserves
and utilize part of the excessive ruble reserves built up by commercial banks
operating in the currency markets. Khandruyev hoped that this latest Central
Bank move would be a step toward financial stabilization. -- Thomas Sigel,
OFFICIAL STATEMENTS ON UKRAINIANS IN CHECHNYA.
Minister Henadii Udovenko has sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Andrei
Kozyrev, denouncing reports by the Russian media of Ukraine's involvement in
the Chechen conflict, Ukrainian Television reported on 17 January. According to
Udovenko, there is no evidence of Ukraine's involvement in Chechnya and
allegations by senior Russian officials of Ukrainian mercenaries participating
in the fighting are an attempt to damage Russian-Ukrainian relations. He
charged the Russian media with not taking Ukraine's official position into
account in their reporting. Reuters reported the same day that the leader of
the ultra-nationalist Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA), Dmytro Korchynsky, had
openly acknowledged that as many as 100 members of UNA's paramilitary arm, the
Ukrainian National Self-Defense Organization (UNSO), were involved in the
fighting on the side of Chechen President Dudaev. -- Ustina Markus, OMRI, Inc.,
No report today.
CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
PAWLAK, PRESIDENT REMAIN AT ODDS.
Polish Prime Minister Waldemar Pawlak
offered on 17 January to hold "immediate consultations" with President Lech
Walesa on filling the two empty posts at the "presidential" ministries, Radio
Warsaw reports. Clearly unnerved by Western criticism prompted by charges from
departing Foreign Minister Andrzej Olechowski that the government is deviating
from the established, pro-Western foreign policy course, Pawlak again
emphasized that Poland's priorities are EU and NATO membership. Speaking to
reporters on his departure for the Czech Republic, Walesa criticized coalition
plans to appoint "directors" to the two vacant ministries as a way of
circumventing the constitutional requirement of presidential approval for
ministerial candidates. This would be an "attack on democracy," Walesa said. --
Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
POLISH COALITION FIGHTS BACK.
In a move that is certain to heighten
hostilities between the ruling coalition and the president, Sejm Speaker Jozef
Oleksy (who represents the Democratic Left Alliance) indicated to other
parliament leaders on 17 January that he is considering calling a session of
the National Assembly for 4 February, Gazeta Wyborcza reports. On that
date, the three-month constitutional deadline for passage of the budget
expires. The Assembly is a joint session of the Sejm and Senate. The parliament
has already approved the budget, but there is still debate over whether the
deadline has already been met or will be fulfilled only when the president
signs it into law. Much of the press speculated that calling the session would
be an implicit threat to force the president to stand before the State Tribunal
should he attempt to dissolve the parliament. -- Louisa Vinton, OMRI, Inc.
WALESA SAYS RELATIONS WITH CZECHS ARE BETTER.
After arriving in Prague
on 17 January, Walesa said relations with the neighboring Czech Republic have
improved after a cool period. "Before, I used to come to Prague to knock down
problems that were bothering both nations; today, I am here to build," Czech
media reported Walesa as saying. Czech President Vaclav Havel said Walesa's
visit demonstrated the end of a period when Poles and Czechs had nothing to say
to each other. In the presence of the two presidents, Interior Ministers Jan
Ruml and Andrzej Milczanowski signed an agreement allowing people living near
the Czech-Polish border to cross the frontier freely without needing passports.
Walesa's two-day visit is due to end on 18 January when he travels to towns
close to the Czech-Polish border. -- Steve Kettle, OMRI, Inc.
FATE OF ESTONIAN TRANSPORT MINISTER.
Prime Minister Andres Tarand told a
press conference on 17 January that he will not decide before 15 February
whether to ask Transport and Communications Minister Andi Meister to resign,
BNS reports. The Estonian National Independence Party is demanding Meister's
resignation, arguing that since Meister left the ENIP in December it no longer
had the ministry that the current coalition agreement had assigned to it.
Tarand said that Meister was given three weeks to solve "certain concrete tasks
in the field under his government" and if he succeeded he would not be asked to
resign. Tarand refused to say what the "concrete tasks" were, but admitted that
they were of a "political, not technical" character." -- Saulius Girnius,
LATVIAN HEALTH MINISTER RESIGNS.
Health Minister Normunds Zemvaldis
denied on 17 January that his resignation the previous day was connected with
pressure from the Cabinet or the Welfare Ministry, BNS reports. "It's fatigue,
it's health problems, it's other problems," he said. Unofficial sources,
however, suggest that Prime Minister Maris Gailis had suggested the
resignation. Zemvaldis mentioned three possible candidates as his replacement
while the Latvia's Way party proposed Physicians Society Chairman Peteris
Apinis. -- Saulius Girnius, OMRI, Inc.
BELARUSIAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 1995 BUDGET.
The Belarusian parliament
approved the state budget for 1995 on 17 January, international agencies
reported. The budget complies with IMF conditions for releasing credits to the
country. The budget's revenues were set at 13.06 trillion Belarusian rubels
($1.11 billion) and spending at 15.74 trillion rubels ($1.34 billion). This
left a deficit of some 2.7 trillion rubels, or 4% of the country's GDP. The IMF
had specified a deficit within that range as a condition for the release of
credits. Taxes are the main source of revenue, and the main expenditure will be
social services, 19.28%. A further 13.5% will be spent on eliminating the
aftereffects of the 1986 Chornobyl disaster; 7.8% will be spent on external
economic activity, including the maintenance of embassies; law enforcement
agencies are allotted 4% of the budget; the military will receive 5.7%. The
budget also aims to reduce inflation to 1-2% by the end of the year. -- Ustina
Markus, OMRI, Inc.
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT RECONVENES.
The Ukrainian Parliament convened its
third session on 17 January with socialist speaker Oleksander Moroz calling on
legislators to avoid confrontations and seek cooperation among themselves and,
more importantly, with President Leonid Kuchma, Radio Ukraine reported on the
same day. Among the issues scheduled for debate is a controversial new law on
the division of powers submitted by Kuchma, giving the president sweeping
executive powers and sharply limiting the parliament's authority, which the
deputies preliminarily approved in December. Radio Ukraine also reported that
the large Communist faction in parliament may once again attempt to introduce
for debate a possible lifting of the ban on the former Communist Party of
(Soviet) Ukraine. A vote on the party's reinstatement last autumn was ruled
illegal after violations of voting procedures were discovered. The session is
scheduled to last until July. -- Chrystyna Lapychak
SLOVAKIA'S NUCLEAR FACILITIES UNDER REVIEW.
Slovak and French builders,
Slovenske Elektrarne Bratislava and Electricite de France, on 17 January
defended the construction of Slovakia's nuclear power plant at Mochovce and
refused to accept an invitation from the Austrian Environment Ministry to
attend a public discussion on the subject, Reuters reports. On 16 January,
Austrian President Thomas Klestil asked his Slovak counterpart Michal Kovac to
ensure that the builders attend the meeting, scheduled for 23-24 January in
Vienna, but the firms expressed reluctance, expecting it will turn into an
anti-nuclear demonstration. According to TASR of 17 January, international
auditors and consultants studying the costs, environmental impact and safety of
the plant have concluded that the completion of Mochovce is "economically
advantageous" for Slovakia. The European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development is expected to decide by March whether to offer the loan needed to
finish construction of the plant. Only if Mochovce is completed can Slovakia
close down its Chornobyl-style plant at Jaslovske Bohunice, which is presently
being inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency. -- Sharon Fisher
HUNGARIAN SCREENING COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN REFUSES TO RESIGN.
the chairman of the committee of judges screening high-ranking officials for
ties to the former internal security service or to paramilitary groups that
participated in the armed suppression of the 1956 revolution, told a press
conference on 17 January that he will not resign, MTI reports. The parliament's
National Security Committee asked Eigner to resign last week on the grounds
that he passed sentences between 1945 and 1963 that were annulled by parliament
in 1990. Those sentences involved border violations and unlawful possession of
arms. Eigner said that he revealed everything about his past when he was
nominated to head the screening committee under the previous conservative
government. The head of the National Security Committee, former prime minister
Peter Boross, voted against the decision to ask Eigner to resign; he argued
that the National Security Committee had no legal means of forcing Eigner to
resign and that the call for his resignation will only serve to make the work
of the screening committee impossible. -- Edith Oltay, OMRI, Inc.
BOSNIANS GIVE UN ULTIMATUM OVER TUZLA AIRFIELD.
The New York
Times reports on 18 January that the Bosnian government has told UN
commander General Sir Michael Rose to reopen the Tuzla airfield by 1 February
or pull out the UN forces now stationed there. The paper says there are over
200 men involved, while news agencies put the figure at 450. The UN is supposed
to reopen the airfield for relief flights and first tried to do so last March.
But Serb gunners in surrounding hills made this impossible, so Rose allowed a
Serb liaison officer to be smuggled into the airfield area to verify that no
government military flights would be allowed. The Bosnian authorities, however,
have long regarded Rose as pro-Serb and objected to the presence of Colonel
Slavko Guzvic, the liaison officer. The BBC added that the Muslims suspect
Guzvic of involvement in war crimes. The New York paper noted further that it
is "not clear how Rose could justify the Serbian officer's presence at the
airport, since the UN headquarters in Tuzla is located elsewhere." -- Patrick
Moore, OMRI, Inc.
OTHER BOSNIAN DEVELOPMENTS.
News agencies on 17 January quote UN
spokesmen as saying that the Serbs forced some 500 Muslims and Croats out of
their homes in the past two weeks. The main areas involved are Banja Luka,
Kotor Varos, Bosanska Gradiska, Kljuc, and Doboj. Elsewhere, France announced
that General Bernard Janvier will take over the UNPROFOR command for the former
Yugoslavia from General Bertrand de Lapresle when the later finishes his
assignment in March. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
UN ASKS CROATIA TO RECONSIDER ABOUT UNPROFOR.
News agencies reported on
17 January that the Security Council made its first official response to
Croatia's decision announced last week not to renew UNPROFOR's mandate at the
end of March. The 15-member body asked Croatia to reconsider the move,
stressing that the forces are vital to regional security. The statement added
that the Council understands Croatia's frustration over the continued Serbian
occupation of one-third of its territory. Vecernji list notes on 18
January that President Franjo Tudjman and other top government officials met
the previous day with US ambassador Peter Galbraith. The UNPROFOR issue appears
to have been at the top of their agenda. Elsewhere, that same paper indicates
that continued contacts at various levels have failed to break the impasse in
relations between Croatia and Slovenia. -- Patrick Moore, OMRI, Inc.
WILL KARADZIC GAIN FROM OPPOSITION PARTY CONTACTS?
The 16 January
edition of the weekly Vreme poses this question in an article analyzing
contacts between Serbia's opposition parties, notably the Democratic Party
(DS), the Democratic Party of Serbia (DSS), the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) and
the leadership of the Bosnian Serbs. Related queries explored include: "How
great is the political effect of the pilgrimages by the Serbian opposition for
Dr. Karadzic?" and "What does this all mean on the international, Bosnian, and
Serbian political scenes?" According to the piece, leaders of the above
mentioned parties have a record of lending support to Bosnian Serb leader
Radovan Karadzic, notably since backing his decision to reject an international
peace plan for Bosnia and Herzegovina turning over control of 49% of the
country to the Bosnian Serbs. While Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic and
his Socialist Party of Serbia endorsed this plan, the opposition parties'
decision to side with Karadzic has done little to change the regional balance
of political power, notes the article. In conclusion, it observes that the
opposition is too "weak and disunited . . . and shall remain that way for the
foreseeable future" for Milosevic to seriously worry about its activities, a
fact which is "impossible" for Karadzic to miss. -- Stan Markotich, OMRI,
ROMANIAN WORKERS RESUME PROTESTS.
At a rally on 17 January in the
western Romanian town of Resita, some 2,000 workers demanded better pay and
improved working conditions. Their claims included a minimum net monthly wage
of 300,000 lei, a 13th monthly salary, and the payment of back wages. According
to Radio Bucharest, the meeting was staged by the trade unions at the local
machine building factory. In December Resita was the scene of strong labor
protests, which ended only after Premier Nicolae Vacaroiu agreed to an aid
package for the town's ailing metal industries. Participants in the rally said
the government has failed to meet its pledges. A spokesman for the
demonstrators said more protests are planned. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ROMANIAN RULING PARTY REJECTS HUNGARIAN AUTONOMY.
In a statement
broadcast by Radio Bucharest on 17 January, the National Council of the ruling
Party of Social Democracy in Romania "firmly rejected" recent statements of the
Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania on possible autonomy for the
country's ethnic Magyar population. The communique spoke of an
"anti-constitutional" approach, which might seriously affect the rule of law in
Romania. The PSDR also expressed surprise over the setting up of a Council of
HDFR mayors and counselors at Sfantu-Gheorghe in southern Transylvania. It
asked HDFR leaders to "renounce a policy that leads to manifestations of
extremism, irredentism and chauvinism." Most political parties, including the
HDFR's allies from the Democratic Convention of Romania, have already
criticized that party's statements on territorial autonomy based on ethnic
criteria. -- Dan Ionescu, OMRI, Inc.
ZHAN VIDENOV TO FORM NEW BULGARIAN GOVERNMENT.
Chairman of the Bulgarian
Socialist Party Zhan Videnov was asked on 17 January by President Zhelyu Zhelev
to form a new government, Standart reported the following day. The
Executive Bureau of the BSP will decide on the structure and the program of the
government on 19 January. The names of the ministers will be presented to
Zhelev on 23 January and to parliament on the 25th. The new cabinet will
include four deputy prime ministers, who will supervise the economy,
infrastructure and investments, social questions, and culture, respectively.
Videnov admitted that he has problems in finding appropriate candidates for the
economic positions, as he does not want to include ministers from former
cabinets. On foreign policy, he said that parliament and the Foreign Ministry
should play a bigger role, implying that there might be frictions between
government and president. "We will make all efforts to build up regional,
continental and global security structures of the Euro-Atlantic type," Reuters
quoted Videnov as saying on 17 January. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
UNION OF DEMOCRATIC FORCES WANTS COOPERATION AMONG BULGARIAN OPPOSITION.
The National Coordinating Council of the UDF on 17 January issued a
declaration on cooperation among opposition parties, Demokratsiya
reported the following day. UDF chairman Ivan Kostov said that everyone voting
against a socialist government is part of the opposition. The aim of the UDF is
to effectively oppose the BSP if it acts against reforms and national security,
Standart said on 18 January. The UDF also wants to reach an agreement on
joint legislative initiatives, the paper reported. The UDF leadership also
discussed possible changes of its statutes, which will be decided on 24
January. These changes would turn the UDF into a party, although its present
status as a coalition of parties would be officially retained, Standart
said. -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
NEGOTIATIONS ON BULGARIA'S DEBT TO GERMANY WILL RESUME SOON.
Negotiations with Germany on Bulgaria's debt will continue after the
formation of the new government, Standart reported on 18 January.
Bulgaria owes Germany 532 million transfer rubles, or about DM 1.2 billion.
Part of the sum includes Bulgarian debts to the GDR, which stopped buying
Bulgarian products while Bulgaria was still importing goods from it. Officials
of the Bulgarian Finance Ministry said the obligations should be covered by
increasing trade with Germany, exporting tobacco, wine and products of
"Balkancar". -- Stefan Krause, OMRI, Inc.
TEN PEOPLE DIE IN ALBANIAN BLOOD FEUDS.
Ten people have been killed in a
week of blood feuds around Albania, Gazeta Shqiptare reported on 18
January. Meanwhile, police have caught three out of 20 prisoners who escaped
from Tirana prison in the night from 15 to 16 January, the newspaper added.
According to a declaration of the Ministry of Justice, published in Rilindja
Demokratike on 17 January, among those who fled were dangerous criminals
who had been sentenced for murder and rape. Bedri Como, deputy director of the
country's prisons, said the escape was well-organized and the prisoners
received outside help, Reuters reported on 16 January. A reward of 100,000 lek
(or about $950, which is twice the average annual salary) has been offered for
information leading to the prisoners' recapture. -- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI,
SANDZAK MUSLIM LEADER DISMISSED.
Rasim Ljajic, General Secretary of the
mainly Muslim Party of Democratic Action of Sandzak, was dismissed at a party
congress on 14 January, the independent Borba reported on 17 January.
Ljajic had offered to leave already last July. Borba said that the resignation
had to do with Ljajic's unhappiness with leading trends in the party. According
to Politika on 18 January, Ljajic opposed the idea of a separation of Sandzak
from rump-Yugoslavia as advocated by party leader Sulejman Ugljanin. -- Fabian
Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
ALBANIA AND NATO TO HOLD MILITARY EXERCISE.
Albania will hold its first
joint military exercise with NATO in the context of Partnership for Peace at
the end of January, Reuters reported on 17 January. The exercise, code named
Sarex 95, will be held on the Albanian coast with a unit of the US 6th Fleet.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman Pandeli Ristani, Italy, Britain and
Germany have confirmed their participation with ships, helicopters and troops.
-- Fabian Schmidt, OMRI, Inc.
[As of 1200 CET]
Compiled by Pete Baumgartner and Steve Kettle