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Newsline - January 24, 1995

Artillery bombardment and street fighting continued in Grozny on 23 January as Russian troops backed by reinforcements attempted to dislodge the Chechens from their new positions east of the Sunzha river, Russian and Western agencies reported. Interfax quoted a senior Russian military spokesman in Mozdok as claiming that the Chechen resistance "was weakening." In a telephone interview with Radio Liberty's Russian Service on 23 January, Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev again called for peace talks with Russia, but said that the issue of Chechnya's independence "is not negotiable." Speaking in Minsk on 23 January, Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Kozyrev suggested that Dudaev should "abandon the armed struggle" against Russia and present his case for secession to the Russian parliament, Reuters reported. -- Liz Fuller

Legislators and government officials of southern Russian and the northern Caucasus will meet at a two-day conference in Stavropol beginning 24 January to discuss the Chechen crisis, Interfax reported. Deputy Speaker of the Federation Council Ramazan Abdulatipov and other deputies tried to hold the conference earlier this month but it was twice postponed by the Security Council. Republican Party leader Vladimir Lysenko said the Council feared the consolidation of regional governments in Southern Russia in reaction to events in Chechnya. The conference will bring together deputy regional leaders responsible for ethnic issues from all the republics as well as the Krasnodar, Stavropol, and Rostov regions. On 23 January, Kremlin Chief of Staff Sergei Filatov said at a news conference that "the issue of power re-distribution between the federal authorities and the federation's constituent members has been placed at the top of the agenda once again," Interfax reported. He warned that the issue could not be resolved through pressure. Only new legislation on power redistribution, currently under consideration, could "dot the i's and cross the t's and put an end to the dispute," he said. -- Robert Orttung

Contrary to expectations and a vote by the European parliament, EU foreign ministers did not endorse the suspension of the interim economic agreement with Russia, AFP and Reuters reported. However, they may take strong measures if the situation in Chechnya worsens and called for an immediate end to hositlities. The German foreign minister, Klaus Kinkel, said the signing of the interim accord would go ahead on March 9. "We all agreed that economic sanctions at this point are not appropriate," Kinkel said, protesting that sanctions would only strengthen the nationalists in Russia. He added, "We have to wait and see how things develop but we don't want to make a menacing gesture. That would only help the wrong forces in Russia." Britain also supported the German position. "We have given a clear signal that we want to continue our aim of partnership with Russia but that what has been going on in Chechnya makes that difficult," British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd said. Both Ireland and Sweden had argued for stronger action against Russia. For now, any further EU response will await the report of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) mission to Chechnya. The EU will review its relations with Russia at a meeting on March 19.
-- Michael Mihalka

A letter signed by 50,000 residents of Naur and Shelkov Raions in Chechnya demanding that they be annexed to neighboring Stavropol Krai was sent to President Yeltsin, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, and the speakers of the two houses of Russia's parliament, Interfax reported on 23 January citing government sources. The two areas were placed under Chechen jurisdiction by former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1957. The letter claims that under Dudaev "ethnic Russians have been robbed, killed, raped, and humiliated." The Stavropol Krai administration is said to be "distancing itself" from the issue, but the request has the support of Cossack organizations there. -- Penny Morvant

Moscow Mayor Yurii Luzhkov said 23 January that he will seek to keep his job in the upcoming 1996 elections, Interfax reported. The mayor has repeatedly denied reports that he would run for president. "I have never had, do not have, nor ever will have any other plans," he said. President Yeltsin appointed Luzhkov mayor in June 1992 when Gavriil Popov resigned from the post. Luzhkov had been elected deputy-mayor in the June 1991 elections. -- Robert Orttung

An article complaining that draft laws for Russia's presidential and parliamentary elections have not been published yet, although they were adopted in their first reading, appeared in the 15-22 January issue of Moskovskie novosti. The newspaper speculates that final versions will be adopted soon. However, it warns, nobody is paying attention to the laws' potential defects. Both presidential and parliamentary elections are scheduled for the next eighteen months, although events in Chechnya have spurred calls for early elections. -- Robert Orttung

Defense Minister Pavel Grachev's recent outburst at liberal critics of the war in Chechnya are "totally unacceptable" said Sergei Filatov, the powerful head of Yeltsin's administration, at a 23 January news conference in Moscow. Filatov was reacting to Grachev's 20 January statements on Ostankino's "Vremya" in which he called Human Rights Commissioner Sergei Kovalev "a traitor of Russia" and lashed out at Duma Defense Committee Chairman Sergei Yushenkov, calling him a "vile toad." Filatov said that no responsible official should use such language against critics, and added that the Yeltsin administration would soon make a judgment on the incident. Grachev has already been informed by German Defense Minister Volker Ruehe that he is no longer welcome to attend a February conference on European defense in Munich. In a 21 January interview with Bild, Ruehe accused General Grachev of "unacceptable slander" against his liberal opponents. -- Julia Wishnevsky


Financial problems are destroying Russia's armed forces, and particularly the Air Force, say experts from the Federation Council's Analytical Center. According to a 22 January Interfax report, analysts noted that Russian pilots had been averaging 30-40 hours per year since 1991, little more than one-tenth that of Western pilots. The Air Force needed 280 new aircraft but was only able to purchase 33. Roughly half of the military's jets are grounded because of a shortage of spare parts, while less than half the needed fuel is available. The analysts found that the air bases were in similar shape. Of 209 airfields, 133 needed major repairs. -- Doug Clarke

Miners at eight pits belonging to the Rostovugol association have been on strike since 20 January and will be joined by miners from another 18 pits on 1 February if their demands are not met, according to the chairman of the Russian Coal-mining Industry Workers' Union, Vitalii Budko. Interfax reported that Budko said Rostov miners have not yet received their wages for October 1994 and that tension is mounting in other coal-mining regions for the same reason. The miners' leader argued that the situation could be stabilized if the government allocates 800 billion rubles for the industry in the short term. He expressed concern that the draft federal budget envisages only 6.3 trillion rubles for the industry, noting that even Economics Ministry experts believe the sector requires 10 trillion rubles. If funds are not increased, the price of coal will have to be doubled or tripled, making it unaffordable for consumers, who still owe 2 trillion rubles for deliveries last year, he said. A wave of miners' strikes swept the country in the winter of 1993-1994. -- Penny Morvant

The Central Bank of Russia has developed regulations on collateral loans in which commercial banks will be able to take Central Bank loans in exchange for stocks, the Financial Information Agency reported on 23 January. A Central Bank spokesman told the press that commercial banks will be allowed to take out collateral loans for a term of up to 30 days. The collateral interest rate will be set by the Central Bank board. The Central Bank hopes that introducing collateral loans will help increase liquidity within the banking system and will give a boost to banks that are experiencing temporary insolvency. -- Thomas Sigel


Ex-Georgian Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani, arrested on 13 January after an alleged abortive attempt to reconquer Abkhazia by force and/or prepare a coup against the Georgian leadership, could be sentenced to ten years' imprisonment as "his guilt is indisputable," according to Georgian deputy prosecutor-general Revaz Kipiani as quoted by Interfax on 19 January. In addition, Kitovani is likely to be charged with the illegal sale to Azerbaijan in 1992 for 300 million rubles of two military aircraft. -- Liz Fuller

A bloc of six right-wing Armenian political parties, including the ruling Armenian National Movement, rejected on 23 January the US State Department's criticism of a six-month ban imposed on the opposition Dashnaktsyutyun party, ITAR-TASS reported. The bloc called the criticism "unacceptable to forces that are struggling for statehood, democracy and universal values" and "interference in Armenia's internal affairs." It further termed "understandable, but regrettable" statements by Communist deputies of the Russian State Duma in support of the Dashnak Party. -- Liz Fuller


" A February 10 meeting of CIS heads of state and prime ministers in Almaty will debate a draft "Peace and Accord" pact drawn up by Russian President Boris Yeltsin, which "would be a blessing for all peoples in the post-Soviet era", Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev told journalists in Moscow on 23 January. Nazarbaev described the agreements on Russian-Kazakh bilateral cooperation, signed on 20 January, as a precedent for closer integration within the CIS, affirming that Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan could spearhead this process, Interfax reported. Evgenii Utkin, deputy head of the CIS Department of the Russian Foreign Ministry, similarly told Interfax on 23 January that integration, primarily economic, is increasing within the CIS. Utkin also gave a positive assessment of the concept of a Eurasian Union proposed by Nazarbaev in 1994. But not all CIS leaders share this enthusiasm. Turkmen President Sapurmurad Niyazov argued in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament on 20 January that the CIS should remain a purely consultative body; he rejected attempts to create alliances or supranational pacts as "prompted by overtly selfish interests", Interfax reported. -- Liz Fuller


The European Union (EU) signed a partnership and cooperation accord with Kazakhstan on January 23, AFP and Reuters report. The agreement, similar to others already signed with other former Soviet republics, is intended to promote trade, commercial, and political contacts between the EU and Kazakhstan. Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed the accord at an EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels. He said the economic, commercial, and technical help provided by the EU will help reforms in his country. The agreement also signals an important new phase in Kazakhstan's entry into the world marketplace. -- Michael Mihalka

Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma arrived in Moscow on 23 January for talks on trade and economic issues, Ukrainian radio reported. Among the topics to be discussed are trade agreements for 1995, energy imports and the delivery of components for goods manufactured in Ukraine by companies which have ties with Russia. The "zero option" and Ukraine's share of the former Soviet Union's debt will also be discussed, but it is not expected that Ukraine will agree to turn over its share of the former Soviet Union's assets in exchange for Russia taking over its share of the debt.
-- Ustina Markus

Ceremonies to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp will take place on 26 and 27 January, with German President Roman Herzog and Danish Queen Margrethe expected to attend, PAP and international news agencies report. Although Arnold Mostowicz, president of the Jewish War Veterans and Camp Survivors, said that most Polish Jews are satisfied with the way the ceremonies have been organized, Jews in Germany have complained that Poland is confusing victims and murderers by giving equal attention to Christian and Jewish victims, Reuters reports. Ninety percent of the people killed in the camp were Jewish, but Polish presidential aide Andrzej Zakrzewski said that the religions of all the Auschwitz victims should be equally represented. In an opinion poll sponsored by the Polish government and released on 23 January, only 8% of respondents said that mainly Jews were exterminated at Auschwitz, while 47% said it was a place where Poles were killed. -- Sharon Fisher

Agriculture ministers from the four member countries of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary) as well as Slovenia began a two-day meeting in Warsaw on 23 January to discuss speeding up the removal of barriers to free trade. Czech Agricultural Minister Josef Lux proposed an accelerated timetable for trade liberalization, saying that one of the biggest obstacles thus far has been "the protectionist policy of the European Union," Lidove noviny reports. -- Sharon Fisher

The Ukrainian Ministry of Energy and Electricity announced that it was bankrupt, Ukrainian radio reported on 23 January. The statement was made by the deputy minister for energy and electricity, Oleksii Sheberstov. According to Sheberstov, the ministry is owed over 20 trillion karbovantsy by consumers, while it owes around 32 trillion karbovantsy. The current exchange rate is 110,000 karbovantsy to the dollar. -- Ustina Markus

The socialist chairman of the Ukrainian legislature, Oleksander Moroz, says that the parliament will reject the government's proposed budget cuts for social welfare and culture, Interfax-Ukraine reported on 23 January. Moroz told Interfax that this year's draft budget, submitted by President Leonid Kuchma's team of economic reformers, will have difficulties getting through parliament. Kuchma announced recently that the 1995 draft budget will be the toughest ever in the social welfare sphere in the government's effort to lower the budget deficit to 4-5% and stabilize Ukraine's beleaguered economy. Moroz, a leader of the Socialist Party of Ukraine, pointed to economics ministry forecasts that prices will triple this year, while the proposed budget would increase wages in Ukraine's still large state sector no more than 2.6 times. -- Chrystyna Lapychak

Belarusian deputy Syarhei Antonchyk, has requested permission to read another report in parliament, Belarusian radio reported on 23 January. In December Antonchyk read a sensational report on corruption in President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's cabinet which prompted several cabinet members to submit their resignations. The request for permission to read the new report in February says the paper will deal with the legality of some of the decisions by the cabinet of ministers and president's administration and would take an hour and a half to read. -- Ustina Markus

The Council of the Lithuanian Democratic Labor Party on 21 January expelled parliament deputy Kestutis Gaska for not complying with party rules, RFE/RL's Lithuanian Service reported on 23 January. Gaska joined the LDLP in August 1992. He defeated eight other candidates in the single mandate Lazdijai electoral district several months later. In spring 1994 he formally left the LDLP faction, protesting the party's failure to fulfill its pre-election promises. As a member of the parliament's National Security Committee, he frequently criticized the activities of the Defense Ministry. --Saulius Girnius

A total of 1,373 candidates have registered to run in the 5 March parliament elections, the National Electoral Committee announced. Except for 13 candidates running as individuals, the candidates were included in lists submitted by seven coalitions and nine separate parties by the 19 January deadline. There are 101 seats in the parliament. -- Saulius Girnius

Czech and Slovak officials met on 23 January in the Slovak town of Casta-Papiernicka to discuss the customs union agreement which was been in effect since the split of Czechoslovakia, Slovak and Czech press report. While both sides recognized the importance of the customs union's continued existence, the Czech side expressed several concerns with its current structure. According to Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Vladimir Dlouhy, the Slovak government has unilaterally accepted measures which are not in the spirit of the customs union, leading to a drop in bilateral trade in the past year which has been especially unfavorable for the Czech Republic. In the first nine months of 1994, Czech exports to Slovakia fell by 23.4%, while Slovak exports to the Czech Republic decreased by only 1.5%. Problems related to the payment agreement should be solved by a group of experts by 10 February, Czech Deputy Premier and Finance Minister Ivan Kocarnik said, and a final agreement is expected to be decided by the two country's prime ministers. -- Sharon Fisher

In an effort to confirm Slovakia's interest in European integration, Vladimir Meciar traveled to Brussels on 23 January for a two-day visit, accompanied by Deputy Premier Jozef Kalman and Foreign Minister Juraj Schenk, Slovak dailies report. Meeting with officials from NATO, the WEU and the European parliament, one of the major topics of discussion concerned Slovak-Hungarian relations. Meciar said he realizes that Western integration depends on resolving the dispute over minorities with Hungary and assured officials that "there are no obstacles on our part" to an improvement in bilateral relations, Reuters reports. Meciar will travel to Hungary on 24-25 January at the invitation of his Hungarian counterpart Gyula Horn to discuss the bilateral state-treaty and European integration. -- Sharon Fisher

Conflicts between the two coalition partners were the focus of discussions on 21 January at separate meetings of the Hungarian Socialist Party's steering committee and the Alliance of Free Democrats' national council, Nepszabadsag reported on of 23 January. The AFD's council found that the coalition was "functioning" despite constant public quarrels, but regretted delays in implementing the government's program. It called for an "immediate turnabout in both the context and style of government work." The council elected Alajos Dornbach as its chairman and announced that the AFD would support current president Arpad Goncz's candidacy for the presidency. The HSP's steering committee stressed that the coalition parties needed to show more patience and restraint toward one another and push their daily controversies into the background. -- Edith Oltay

International media reported on 23 January that General Sir Michael Rose left Sarajevo for Zagreb at the end of his tour of duty and that he will be replaced by his British compatriot Lieutenant-General Rupert Smith, who won fame in the Gulf War. Rose chalked up one last achievement before leaving, persuading the Serbs and Muslims to sign yet another extensive accord. This would reopen supply routes to Sarajevo for all charities and civilians and free 600 prisoners by 1 February. Although this involved getting the Serbs to remake promises they have already broken repeatedly, Rose was pleased with the agreement. Reuters quoted him as saying that "it is all pointing to the fact that both sides see this opportunity as a very real opportunity for peace... [so that they could] return their people to proper normalized living as any European country should do." Die Welt noted on 21 January, however, that Rose will not be missed by Bosnian government officials and quoted Vice President Ejup Ganic as saying that "when General Rose goes, nobody will shed a tear or even shake his hand in farewell." Politika reports from London on 24 January that Smith can be expected to continue Rose's policies, which are widely believed in the Balkans to be those of a pro-Serb British Foreign Office. -- Patrick Moore

Reuters reported on 24 January that special envoy Charles Thomas held a second round of talks the previous day with Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic at Pale before going on to meet with Ganic and Bosnian Croat leader Kresimir Zubak. The Washington Post on 24 January quotes Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke, who inaugurated the policy of direct talks with Pale last month, as saying that Thomas talked with the Serbs without the Contact Group allies present because none of them could come. He added that the Bosnian government approved of the visit, although the Sarajevo authorities have publicly complained about Washington's new policy toward the Serbs. The newspaper points out that Germany opposed the unilateral mission and suggests that American domestic politics may lie behind the Clinton administration's friendly stance toward the Serbs. -- Patrick Moore

AFP reported on 23 January that Krajina Serbs fired more than 200 artillery or mortar shells around Velika Kladusa in the Bihac pocket. Meanwhile in Tuzla, Reuters said that the Bosnian army lifted its blockade of the UN facilities at the airport after a Serb liaison officer was taken out by helicopter. The Bosnian authorities argued that the man had no proper business there and that he was suspected of having committed war crimes. Finally, the UN Security Council voted to prolong economic and political sanctions imposed on the Bosnian Serbs a year before, saying that the conditions that prompted the move in the first place still obtain. -- Patrick Moore

"No to Beta" is how the state-sanctioned Borba of 24 January headlines its report on the decision by the state-controlled daily Vecernje Novosti to stop using the services of the independent news agency Beta. In other media-related developments, on 22 January over 100 independent journalists, employees of the daily Borba prior to its take-over by the regime of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, issued a statement dubbing the recent actions of the regime "despotic." The journalists on 19 January were involved with registering and launching a new independent daily, Nasa Borba. Sale of Nasa Borba has been delayed, ostensibly due to a newsprint shortage. The independent journalists, however, speculate the want of paper may be due more to the government's continuing harassment of the free press, and Nasa Borba in particular, than because of a genuine shortage. Finally, on 22 January the BBC reported on mass protests in Belgrade the previous day over cuts in electricity, a commodity which some analysts as well as opposition party leaders in Serbia allege is being consciously rationed by the Milosevic regime so as to export supplies to neighboring countries. -- Stan Markotich

The decision to start negotiations for an economic accord between the EU and Croatia depends on Zagreb's stance on the peace process in the former Yugoslavia, EU foreign ministers said at a meeting in Brussels on January 23. AFP reports that the ministers asked the European Commission to prepare proposals on the accord for a meeting next month. The decision on whether to proceed will then be made in March. The EU foreign ministers expressed concern about Croatia's decision not to renew the UN mandate for peacekeepers on its territory and asked Zagreb to reconsider its decision. -- Michael Mihalka

President Ion Iliescu called on 23 January on the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania to dismantle its newly-established council on local administration. Presidential spokesman Traian Chebeleu told reporters in Bucharest that the council, which includes mayors and local councilors, interferes with the work of local government and is illegal, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reports. Earlier, the government denounced the setting up of the council in a special declaration (see OMRI Daily Digest, 23 January 1995). HDFR leaders rejected the appeals. They protested the government's stance by refusing to join a government delegation led by Viorel Hrebenciuc, who heads the Council for National Minorities. HDFR president Bela Marko told Radio Bucharest that the "inexplicably vehement" declaration of the government made the HDFR reconsider its initial acceptance to join the delegation. The delegation left for Budapest on 23 January, where it started talks focusing on bilateral ties and national minority issues with Hungarian officials. Also on 23 January, the Senate's Defense, Public Order and National Security Commission said the HDFR's autonomy claims could have "serious consequences for political and social stability and for Romania's national security," Reuters reported. The commission called for a meeting of the Supreme Council of National Defense, which deals with threats to national security and is chaired by the President, to discuss the matter. -- Michael Shafir.

Hungary's six parliamentary parties, in a joint communique on 23 January, expressed their shock and concern about recent Romanian statements concerning the policy and status of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania, MTI reports. The communique stressed that the HDFR's policy complied with the rule of law as well as with the Romanian constitution and laws. The statement regretted that the Romanian government joined the campaign of extremist Romanian politicians against the Hungarian minority. Scheduled meetings between Romanian Government Secretary-General Viorel Hrebenciuc, who is currently visiting Hungary, and Prime Minister Gyula Horn and President Arpad Goncz were canceled, MTI reported on 24 January. MTI commented that the reason for the cancellation was probably the recent Romanian government attacks against the HDFR. -- Edith Oltay

The government on 23 January dismissed the mayor of the Transylvanian town of Brasov and top local administration officials in 27 other towns, an RFE/RL correspondent in Bucharest reported on the same day. In a press statement, the government claimed mayor Adrian Moruzzi had mismanaged the city's budget and illegally sold sites within the city. Moruzzi was elected in 1992 on the list of the Democratic Convention of Romania, the umbrella organization of Romania's centrist opposition. The government also announced it had dismissed the mayors of 10 smaller towns as well as town counselors in 17 towns. The Vacaroiu government has dismissed a large number of local administration officials since its appointment in fall 1992. Most of these were members of the opposition parties. -- Michael Shafir

Bulgaria's future government pledged to avoid inflationary spending, Reuters reported on 23 January. Rumen Gechev, who will be one of four deputy prime ministers and Minister for Economic Development in the Socialist-led cabinet, said that economic growth will allow the new government to fulfill promises made before the 18 December elections to make life easier for those living in poverty. Gechev was speaking in an interview with Bulgarian radio. He said that the BSP has no intention to raise the budget deficit, as this "would ruin the whole financial and economic system," adding that he would back Finance Ministry efforts to limit spending. The state budget for 1995 will be passed by the new cabinet by the end of March, 24 chasa reported on 24 January. BSP chairman and future Prime Minister Zhan Videnov informed President Zhelyu Zhelev about the new government on 23 January, Pari reported the following day. The cabinet will be presented to parliament on 25 January. -- Stefan Krause

Members of the ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedom protested against the nomination of Ilcho Dimitrov as Minister of Education and Science,Standart reported on 24 January. The local MRF leadership of Kazanlak issued a declaration which was addressed to parliament and to President Zhelev. In this declaration Dimitrov, a historian, is accused of having been one of the initiators of the forceful Bulgarization of ethnic Turks' names in the 1980s and of having actively taken part in it. -- Stefan Krause

Greece might partially lift the trade embargo on Macedonia by 1 February, Vecher reported on 24 January. The newspaper cited a representative of the Greek Chamber of Commerce in Thessaloniki as saying on Greek television that the proposal is linked to the session of the European Court, which will deal with the question of the embargo on 1 February. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos said on 22 January, however, that the embargo will remain in force and the Greek position will not change, no matter what the European Court decides. -- Stefan Krause

The leader of the Parliamentary Party of Kosovo, Bajram Kosumi, called in an interview with the Albanian-language service of Deutsche Welle on 22 January for an early meeting of parliament, which was elected in May 1992 but has still to meet. The old communist-era parliament continued its work in Macedonia until December 1993 when its mandate ended. Police prevented the new parliament from meeting and then expelled the legislators to Kosovo in December 1994. Kosumi said that there are no clear concepts on how the current deadlock in Kosovo can be ended. He also mentioned "misunderstandings" between the exile government in Stuttgart and the Coordinating Council of Albanian Political Parties in former Yugoslavia, a political structure which is functioning in the role of a parliament. He added that a new government should be elected and said that the current one is not able to organize functioning shadow-state structures in Kosovo from exile. -- Fabian Schmidt

The Amsterdam-based Aviation World MAK b.v. has bought Albania's bankrupt air company for $1 million, Reuters reported on 21 January. The company, which is owned by Kuwait's MA Kharafi group, promised to bring in a new fleet of Fokker and Boeing jets and employ the entire former staff of 60. Albanian Airlines, a $2 million 50/50 joint venture between Albanian state company Albtransport and Austria's Tyrolean Airlines AG, went bankrupt in July 1994. The new fleet will fly to Rome, Zurich, Skopje, Vienna, Munich, Bologna and Istanbul. Elsewhere, the World Bank has approved an $18 million loan to repair Albania's main north-south road. Work is already under way between Tirana and Milot, Reuters reported on 23 January. -- Fabian Schmidt